Monthly Archives: December 2014

Psalm 51

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-19
Title. To the Chief Musician. Therefore not written for private meditation only, but for the public service of song. Suitable for the loneliness of individual penitence, this matchless Psalm is equally well adapted for an assembly of the poor in spirit. A Psalm of David. It is a marvel, but nevertheless a fact, that writers have been found to deny David’s authorship of this Psalm, but their objections are frivolous, the Psalm is David like all over. It would be far easier to imitate Milton, Shakespeare, or Tennyson, than David. His style is altogether sui generis, and it is as easily distinguished as the touch of Rafaelle or the colouring of Rubens. “When Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” When the divine message had aroused his dormant conscience and made him see the greatness of his guilt, he wrote this Psalm. He had forgotten his psalmody while he was indulging his flesh, but he returned to his harp when his spiritual nature was awakened, and he poured out his song to the accompaniment of sighs and tears. The great sin of David is not to be excused, but it is well to remember that his case has an exceptional collection of specialities in it. He was a man of very strong passions, a soldier, and an Oriental monarch having despotic power; no other king of his time would have felt any compunction for having acted as he did, and hence there were not around him those restraints of custom and association which, when broken through, render the offence the more monstrous. He never hints at any form of extenuation, nor do we mention these facts in order to apologize for his sin, which was detestable to the last degree; but for the warning of others, that they reflect that the licentiousness in themselves at this day might have even a graver guilt in it than in the erring King of Israel. When we remember his sin, let us dwell most upon his penitence, and upon the long series of chastisements which rendered the after part of his life such a mournful history.
Divisions. It will be simplest to note in the first twelve verses the penitent’s confessions and plea for pardon, and then in the last seven his anticipatory gratitude, and the way in which he resolves to display it.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. Have mercy upon me, O God. He appeals at once to the mercy of God, even before he mentions his sin. The sight of mercy is good for eyes that are sore with penitential weeping. Pardon of sin must ever be an act of pure mercy, and therefore to that attribute the awakened sinner flies. “According to thy lovingkindness.” Act, O Lord, like thyself; give mercy like thy mercy. Show mercy such as is congruous with thy grace.
“Great God, thy nature hath no bound:
So let thy pardoning love be found.”
What a choice word is that of our English version, a rare compound of precious things: love and kindness sweetly blended in one– “lovingkindness.” According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies. Let thy most loving compassions come to me, and make thou thy pardons such as these would suggest. Reveal all thy gentlest attributes in my case, not only in their essence but in their abundance. Numberless have been thine acts of goodness, and vast is thy grace; let me be the object of thine infinite mercy, and repeat it all in me. Make my one case an epitome of all thy tender mercies. By every deed of grace to others I feel encouraged, and I pray thee let me add another and a yet greater one, in my own person, to the long list of thy compassions. Blot out my transgressions. My revolts, my excesses, are all recorded against me; but, Lord, erase the lines. Draw thy pen through the register. Obliterate the record, though now it seems engraven in the rock for ever; many strokes of thy mercy may be needed, to cut out the deep inscription, but then thou has a multitude of mercies, and therefore, I beseech thee, erase my sins.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. “After he had gone in to Bathsheba.” This was the devil’s nest egg that caused many sins to be laid, one to, and upon another. See the woeful chain of David’s lust, 2Sa 11:1-27 12:1-31. John Trapp.
Title. “When Nathan the prophet came unto him as he (i.e., David) had come unto Bathsheba.” The significant repetition of the phrase came unto, is lost in the English and most other versions. “As” is not a mere particle of time, simple equivalent to when, but suggests the idea of analogy, proportion, and retaliation. J. A. Alexander.
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is the brightest gem in the whole book, and contains instruction so large, and doctrine so precious, that the tongue of angels could not do justice to the full development. Victorinus Strigelius, 1524-1569.
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is often and fitly called THE SINNER’S GUIDE. In some of its versions it often helps the returning sinner. Athanasius recommends to some Christians, to whom he was writing, to repeat it when they awake at night. All evangelical churches are familiar with it. Luther says, “There is no other Psalm which is oftener sung or prayed in the church.” This is the first Psalm in which we have the word Spirit used in application to the Holy Ghost. William S. Plumer.
Whole Psalm. I cannot doubt the prophetic bearing of this Psalm upon the nation of Israel. In the latter day they shall consider their ways: repentance and self loathing will be the result. Blood guiltiness heavier than that of David has to be removed from that nation. They will become the teachers of the Gentiles, when first the iniquity of their own transgressions has been purged away. Arthur Pridham.
Whole psalm. This is the most deeply affecting of all the Psalms, and I am sure the one most applicable to me. It seems to have been the effusion of a soul smarting under the sense of a recent and great transgression. My God, whether recent or not, give me to feel the enormity of my manifold offences, and remember not against me the sins of my youth. What a mine of rich matter and expression for prayer! Wash, cleanse me, O Lord, and let my sin and my sinfulness be ever before me. Let me feel it chiefly as sin against thee, that my sin may be of the godly sort. Give me to feel the virulence of my native corruption, purge me from it thoroughly, and put truth into my inward parts, that mine may be a real turning from sin unto the Saviour. Create me anew, O God. Withdraw not thy Spirit. Cause me to rejoice in a present salvation. Deliver me, O God, from the blood guiltiness of having offended any of thy little ones; and so open my lips that I may speak of the wondrous things thou hast done for my soul! May I offer up spiritual sacrifices; and oh! let not any delinquencies of mine bring a scandal upon thy church; but do thou so purify and build her up, that even her external services, freed from all taint of corruption or hypocrisy, may be well pleasing in thy sight. Thomas Chalmers.
Ver. 1. Have mercy upon me, O God. I tremble and blush to mention my name, for my former familiarities with thee only make me more confounded at being recognized by thee after my guilt. I therefore say not, “Lord, remember David, “as on a happier occasion; nor as propitiating thee, I used to say, to thy “servant, “or, “to the son of thy handmaid.” I suggest nothing that should recall my former relation to thee, and so enhance my wickedness. Ask not, then, Lord, who I am, but only forgive me who confess my sin, condemn my fault, and beseech thy pity. Have mercy upon me, O God. I dare not say my God, for that were presumption. I have lost thee by sin, I have alienated myself from thee by following the enemy, and therefore am unclean. I dare not approach thee, but standing afar off and lifting up my voice with great devotion and contrition of heart, I cry and say, Have mercy upon me, O God. From “A Commentary on the Seven Penitential Psalms, chiefly from ancient sources.” By the Right Rev. A. P. Forbes, Bishop of Brechin, 1857.
Ver. 1. Have mercy. The Hebrew word here translated have mercy. signifieth without cause or desert; Ps 35:19 69:4 Ezekiel 14:23; and freely, without paying any price, Exodus 21:11. And it is made use of in Leviticus 6:8, where Noah is said to have found grace in the eyes of the Lord, that is, special favour, such as the Lord beareth to his chosen in Christ Jesus. Charles D. Coetlogon, A.M., in “The Portraiture of the Christian Penitent, “1775.
Ver. 1. Mercy, lovingkindness, tender mercies. I cannot but observe here, the gradation in the sense of the three words made use of, to express the divine compassion, and the propriety of the order in which they are placed, which would be regarded as a real excellence and beauty in any classical writer. The first (yngx), denotes that kind of affection which is expressed by moaning over any object that we love and pity–that otorge, natural affection and tenderness, which even brute creatures discover to their young ones, by the several noises which they respectively make over them; and particularly the shrill noise of the camel, by which it testifies its love to its foal. The second, (Kdoxk), denotes a strong proneness, a ready, large, and liberal disposition to goodness and compassion powerfully prompting to all instances of kindness and bounty; flowing as freely and plentifully as milk into the breasts, or as waters from a perpetual fountain. This denotes a higher degree of goodness than the former. The third, (Kymxr), denotes what the Greeks express by oplagcnizeoyai; that most tender pity which we signify by the moving of the heart and bowels, which argues the highest degree of compassion of which human nature is susceptible. And how reviving is the belief and consideration of these abundant and tender compassions of God to one in David’s circumstances, whose mind laboured under the burden of the most heinous complicated guilt, and the fear of the divine displeasure and vengeance! Samuel Chandler.
Ver. 1. According to the multitude. Men are greatly terrified at the multitude of their sins, but here is a comfort–our God hath multitude of mercies. If our sins be in number as the hairs of our head, God’s mercies are as the stars of heaven; and as he is an infinite God, so his mercies are infinite; yea, so far are his mercies above our sins, as he himself is above us poor sinners. By this the Psalmist seeketh for multitude of mercies, he would show how deeply he was wounded with his manifold sins, that one seemed a hundred. Thus it is with us, so long as we are under Satan’s guiding, a thousand seem but one; but if we betake ourselves to God’s service, one will seem a thousand. Archibald Symson.
Ver. 1. Tender mercies, or, according to Zanchy in his treatise upon the attributes of God, such a kind of affection as parents feel when they see their children in any extremity. 1 Kings 3:26. Charles D. Coetlogon.
Ver. 1. Blot out my transgressions. (hxm), mecheh, wipe out. There is reference here to an indictment: the Psalmist knows what it contains; he pleads guilty, but begs that the writing may be defaced; that a proper fluid may be applied to the parchment, to discharge the ink, that no record of it may ever appear against him: and this only the mercy, lovingkindness, and tender compassions, of the Lord can do. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 1. Blot out my transgressions. What the psalmist alludes is not, as Mr. Leclerc imagines, debts entered into a book, and so blotted out of it when forgiven; but the wiping or cleansing of a dish, so as nothing afterwards remains in it. The meaning of the petition is, that God would entirely and absolutely forgive him, so as that no part of the guilt he had contracted might remain, and the punishment of it might be wholly removed. Samuel Chandler.
Ver. 1. Blot out, or, as it is used in Exodus 17:14, utterly extirpate, so as that there shall not be any remembrance of them forever. Isa 43:25 44:22. Charles de Coetlogon.
Ver. 1. MY transgressions. Conscience, when it is healthy, ever speaks thus: “MY transgressions.” It is not the guilt of them that tempted you: they have theirs; but each as a separate agent, has his own degree of guilt. Yours is your own: the violation of your own and not another’s sense of duty; solitary, awful, unshared, adhering to you alone of all the spirits of the universe. Frederick William Robertson.
Ver. 1,5. Transgressions…iniquity…sin.
1. It is transgressions, (evp), pesha, rebellion.
2. It is iniquity, (Nwe), avon, crooked dealing.
3. It is sin, (tajx), chattath, error and wandering. Adam Clarke.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
The Psalm is upon its surface so full of suggestions for sermons that I have not attempted to offer any of my own, but have merely inserted a selection from Mr. G. Rogers and others.
Ver. 1.
1. The Prayer.
1. For mercy, not justice. Mercy is the sinner’s attribute–as much a part of the divine nature as justice. The possibility of sin is implied in its existence. The actual commission of sin is implied in its display.
2. For pardon, not pity merely, but forgiveness.
II. The plea.
1. For the pardon of great sins on account of great mercies, and lovingkindness.
2. Many sins on account of multitude of mercies.
3. Hell deserving sins on account of tender mercies. We who have sinned are human, he who pardons is divine.
“Great God, thy nature hath no bound,
So let thy pardoning love be found.”
WORKS UPON THE FIFTY-FIRST PSALM
Exposition of the Fifty-first Psalm, by MARTIN LUTHER, in “Select works of Martin Luther, translated by REV. HENRY COLE.” Vol. I., pp.
51-197.
“An Exposition upon the 51 Psalm, “in “Certain Godly and learned Expositions upon divers parts of Scripture. As they were preached and afterwards more briefly penned by that worthy man of God, Maister GEORGE ESTEY…Late preacher of the word of God in St. Edmund’s Burie.” 1603. (4to.)
“David’s Penitential Psalm opened: in thirtie severall Lectures thereon. By SAM. HIERON. 1617.” (4to.)
“Good News from Canaan; or, An Exposition on the 51 Psalm, “in “The Workes of Mr. William Cowper, late Bishop of Galloway.” 1629. (Folio.)
“David’s Repentance; or, A plaine and familiar Exposition of the LI. Psalm: first preached, and now published for the benefit of God’s church. Wherein euery faithful Christian may set before his eyes the Patterne of vnfeigned Repentance, whereby we may take heed of the falling into sin again. The eighth edition, newly revised and profitably amplified by the author, SAMVEL SMITH, preacher of the word of God at Prittlewell in Essex…1630.” (12mo.)
“A Godly and Fruitful Exposition of the Fifty-one Psalm, the fifth of the Penitential, “in ARCHIBALD SYMSON’S “Sacred Septenarie.”
1638.
“Meditations and Disquisitions upon the 51 Psalm of David, “in “Meditations and Disquisitions upon the seven Psalms of David, commonly called the Penitential Psalmes.” By SIR RICHARD BAKER, Knight. 1639.
“CLII. Lectures upon Psalm LI. Preached at Ashby Delazovch, in Leicester Shire. By the late faithful, and worthy Minister of Jesus Christ, Mr. ARTHUR HILDERSAM. 1642.” (Folio.)
“An Exposition of the one-and-fiftieth Psalm, “in pp. 51-239, of “Sermons with some religious and divine Meditations. By the Right Reverend Father in God, ARTHVRE LAKE, late Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells.” 1639. (Folio.)
“David’s Broken Heart; or, an Exposition upon the whole Fifty-one Psalm. By that Reverend divine Doctor SAMUEL PAGE, late Pastour of Deptford Stroud, in Kent…1646.” (4to.)
Exposition of Psalm LI., in “Chandler’s Life of David.” Vol. 2 pg 254-273.
“The Portraiture of the Christian Penitent: attempted in a course of Sermons upon Psalm LI …By the Rev. CHA. DE COETLOGON, A.M. 1775.”
“Lectures on the Fifty-first Psalm, delivered in the Parish Church of St. James’, Bristol. By the Rev. THOMAS T. BIDDULPH, A.M. 1835.”
“The Penitent’s Prayer: a Practical Exposition of the Fifty-first Psalm. By the Rev. THOMAS ALEXANDER, M.A., Chelsea.”
Psalms 51:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. Wash me throughly. It is not enough to blot out the sin; his person is defiled, and he fain would be purified. He would have God himself cleanse him, for none but he could do it effectually. The washing must be thorough, it must be repeated, therefore he cries, “Multiply to wash me.” The dye is in itself immovable, and I, the sinner, have lain long in it, till the crimson is ingrained; but, Lord, wash, and wash, and wash again, till the last stain is gone, and not a trace of my defilement is left. The hypocrite is content if his garments be washed, but the true suppliant cries, “wash me.” The careless soul is content with a nominal cleansing, but the truly awakened conscience desires a real and practical washing, and that of a most complete and efficient kind. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity. It is viewed as one great pollution, polluting the entire nature, and as all his own; as if nothing were so much his own as his sin. The one sin against Bathsheba, served to show the psalmist the whole mountain of his iniquity, of which that foul deed was but one falling stone. He desires to be rid of the whole mass of his filthiness, which though once so little observed, had then become a hideous and haunting terror to his mind. And cleanse me from my sin. This is a more general expression; as if the psalmist said, “Lord, if washing will not do, try some other process; if water avails not, let fire, let anything be tried, so that I may but be purified. Rid me of my sin by some means, by any means, by every means, only do purify me completely, and leave no guilt upon my soul.” It is not the punishment he cries out against, but the sin. Many a murderer is more alarmed at the gallows than at the murder which brought him to it. The thief loves the plunder, though he fears the prison. Not so David: he is sick of sin as sin; his loudest outcries are against the evil of his transgression, and not against the painful consequences of it. When we deal seriously with our sin, God will deal gently with us. When we hate what the Lord hates, he will soon make an end of it, to our joy and peace.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. Wash me. David prays that the Lord would wash him; therefore sin defiles, and he was made foul and filthy by his sin; and to wash him much, and to rinse and bathe him, to show that sin had exceedingly defiled him and stained him both in soul and body, and made him loathsome, and therefore he desireth to be washed, and cleansed, and purged from the pollution of sin. Hence we may learn what a vile, filthy and miserable thing sin is in the sight of God: it stains a man’s body, it stains a man’s soul, it makes him more vile than the vilest creature that lives: no toad is so vile and loathsome in the sight of man, as a sinner, stained and defiled with sin, is in the sight of God, till he be cleansed and washed from it in the blood of Christ. Samuel Smith.
Ver. 2. Wash me, etc. (Mbk) is peculiarly applied to the washing and cleansing of garments, as fullers wash and cleanse their cloths. 2 Kings 18:7, Exodus 19:10, Leviticus 17:15. Samuel Chandler.
Ver. 2. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity. No other washing will do but lava tu, wash thou; so foul as it will need his washing throughly. Samuel Page, in “David’s Broken Heart, “1646.
Ver. 2. Was me throughly. Hebrew multiply to wash me; by which phrase he implies the greatness of his guilt, and the insufficiency of all legal washings, and the absolute necessity of some other and better thing to wash him, even of God’s grace, and the blood of Christ. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 2. Wash me…cleanse me. But why should David speak so superfluously? use two words when one would serve? For if we be cleansed, what matter is it whether it be by washing or no? Yet David had great reason for using both words; for he requires not that God would cleanse him by miracle, but by the ordinary way of cleansing, and this was washing; he names therefore washing as the means, and cleansing as the end: he names washing as the work a doing, and cleansing as the work done; he names washing as considering the agent, and cleansing as applying it to the patient; and indeed, as in the figure of the law there was not, so in the verity of the gospel there is not any ordinary means of cleansing, but only by washing; and therefore out of Christ our Saviour’s side there flowed water and blood. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 2. Cleanse me from my sin. Observe, it is from the guilt, and not from the punishment, that he thus asked deliverance. That the sword should never depart from his house; that the sin, begun, not only secretly even in its full accomplishment, but far more secretly in the recesses of David’s heart, should be punished before all Israel and before the sun; that the child so dear to David should be made one great punishment of his offence; these things, so far as this Psalm is concerned, might, or might not be. It is of the offence against God; of the defiling, although it were not then so expressly declared, God’s temple by impurity, that David speaks. Ambrose, in J. M. Neale’s Commentary.
Ver. 2. Sin. The original word signifies to miss an aim, as an archer does who shoots short of his mark, beyond, or beside it. It is also used for treading aside, or tripping, in the act of walking. In a spiritual sense it denotes deviation from a rule, whether by omission or commission. Thomas T. Biddulph, A.M., in Lectures on the Fifty-first Psalm, 1835.
Ver. 2. Sin is filthy to think of, filthy to speak of, filthy to hear of, filthy to do; in a word, there is nothing in it but vileness. Archibald Symson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 51:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. For I acknowledge my transgressions. Here he sees the plurality and immense number of his sins, and makes open declaration of them. He seems to say, I make a full confession of them. Not that this is my plea in seeking forgiveness, but it is a clear evidence that I need mercy, and am utterly unable to look to any other quarter for help. My pleading guilty has barred me from any appeal against the sentence of justice: O Lord, I must cast myself on thy mercy, refuse me not, I pray thee. Thou hast made me willing to confess. O follow up this work of grace with a full and free remission! And my sin is ever before me. My sin as a whole is never out of my mind; it continually oppresses my spirit. I lay it before thee because it is ever before me: Lord, put it away both from thee and me. To an awakened conscience, pain on account of sin is not transient and occasional, but intense and permanent, and this is no sign of divine wrath, but rather a sure preface of abounding favour.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. For I acknowledge my transgressions, etc. To acknowledge our transgressions, there’s confession; and to have our sin ever before us, there’s conviction and contrition. To acknowledge our transgressions, I say, is to confess our sins; to call them to mind, to bring them back to our remembrance what we can; to own them with shame, and to declare them with sorrow; to reckon them up one by one, to give in a particular account of them, as far as our memory will serve, and to spread them before the Lord, as Hezekiah did Rabshakah’s letter, and in a humble sense of our own vileness to implore his goodness, that he would multiply his mercies over us, as we have multiplied our transgressions against him, in their free and full forgiveness of them all. To have our sin ever before us, is throughly to be convinced of it, to be continually troubled in mind about it, to be truly humbled under the sense of it, and to be possessed of those dreads and terrors of conscience which may never let us rest or enjoy any quiet within our own breast till we have reconciled ourselves to a gracious God for it. Adam Littleton.
Ver. 3. I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. There cannot be agnitio if there be not cognitio peccati, and acknowledging, unless there precede a knowledge of sin. David puts them together. If our sins be not before us, how can we set them before God? And therefore, to the right exercise of this duty, there is required a previous examination of our hearts, inspection into our lives, that we may be enabled to see our sins. He that hath not yet asked himself that question, Quid feci? What have I done? can never make the confession, si feci, thus and thus have I done; and in this respect I would, thought not require, yet advise it as a pious and prudent practice, and that which I doubt not but many Christians have found benefit by, to keep a constant daily catalogue, as of mercies received, so of sins committed. Nathaneal Hardy.
Ver. 3. I, my, my. David did not think it sufficient to acknowledge that the whole human race were sinners; but as if he stood alone in the world, and was the only offender in it, he says, “I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.” Charles de Coetlogon.
Ver. 3. MY sin. David owneth his sin, and confesseth it his own. Here is our natural wealth: what can we call our own but sin? Our food and raiment, the necessaries of life, are borrowings. We came hungry and naked into the world, we brought none of these with us, and we deserved none of them here. Our sin came with us, as David after confesseth. We have right of inheritance in sin, taking it by traduction and transmission from our parents: we have right of possession. So Job: “Thou makest me to possess the sins of my youth.” Samuel Page.
Ver. 3. My SIN. It is sin, as sin, not its punishment here, not hereafter, not simply any of its evil consequences; but sin, the sin against God, the daring impiety of my breaking the good and holy law of this living, loving God. Thomas Alexander, D.D., in “The Penitent’s Prayer, “1861.
Ver. 3. Ever before me. Sorrow for sin exceeds sorrow for suffering, in the continuance and durableness thereof: the other, like a landlord, quickly come, quickly gone; this is a continual dropping or running river, keeping a constant stream. My sins, saith David, are ever before me; so also is the sorrow for sin in the soul of a child of God, morning, evening, day, night, when sick, when sound, fasting, at home, abroad, ever within him. This grief begins at his conversion, continues all his life, ends only at his death. Thomas Fuller.
Ver. 3. Before me. Coram populo, before the people; shame to him: coram ecclesia, before the church; grief to them: coram inimicis, before the enemies; joy to them: coram Deo, before God; anger against him: coram Nathane, before Nathan; a chiding. But if any hope of repentance and amendment, it is peccatum meum coram me, my sin before me. Here is the distress of a sinner, he never discerneth how unhappy he is, till his sin is before him. Samuel Page.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3.
1. Confession. “I acknowledge, “etc.
2. Humiliation, not a mere confession with the lips, but ever before me–in its guilt–defilement– consequences in this life and hereafter.
Ver. 3-4,11-12,17.
1. Scripture estimate of sin.
1. Personal accountability–My sin.
2. Estimated as hateful to God–Against thee, etc.
3. Sin estimated as separation from God.
2. Spiritual restoration. First step–Sacrifice of a broken spirit. Last step–Spirit of liberty. Thy free spirit. F. W. Robertson.
Psalms 51:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. Against thee, thee only have I sinned. The virus of sin lies in its opposition to God: the psalmist’s sense of sin towards others rather tended to increase the force of this feeling of sin against God. All his wrong doing centred, culminated, and came to a climax, at the foot of the divine throne. To injure our fellow men is sin, mainly because in so doing we violate the law of God. The penitent’s heart was so filled with a sense of the wrong done to the Lord himself, that all other confession was swallowed up in a broken hearted acknowledgment of offence against him. And done this evil in thy sight. To commit treason in the very court of the king and before his eye is impudence indeed: David felt that his sin was committed in all its filthiness while Jehovah himself looked on. None but a child of God cares for the eye of God, but where there is grace in the soul it reflects a fearful guilt upon every evil act, when we remember that the God whom we offend was present when the trespass was committed. That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. He could not present any argument against divine justice, if it proceeded at once to condemn him and punish him for his crime. His own confession, and the judge’s own witness of the whole transaction, places the transgression beyond all question or debate; the iniquity was indisputably committed, and was unquestionably a foul wrong, and therefore the course of justice was clear and beyond all controversy.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight. This verse is differently expounded by different persons, and it has ever been considered, that this one little point is the greatest difficulty that is met with in the whole Psalm. Although, therefore, I leave it to others to go according to their own interpretations, yet I have a good hope that I shall be enabled to give the true and genuine meaning of the text. This, then, I would first of all advise the reader to do–to bear in mind that which I observed at the beginning of the Psalm, that David is here speaking in the person of all the saints, and not in his own person only, not in his own person as an adulterer. Although I do not say it might not be, that it was this fall which, as a medium, brought him under the knowledge of himself and of his whole human nature, and made him think thus: “Behold! I, so holy a king, who have with so much pious devotedness observed the law and the worship of God, have been so tempted and overcome by the inbred evil and sin of my flesh, that I have murdered an innocent man, and have for adulterous purposes taken away his wife! And is not this an evident proof that my nature is more deeply infected and corrupted by sin than ever I thought it was? I who was yesterday chaste am today an adulterer! I who yesterday had hands innocent of blood, am today a man of blood guiltiness!” And it might be that in this way he derived the feeling sense of his entire sinfulness, from his fall into adultery and murder, and from thence drew his conclusion–that neither the tree nor the fruit of human nature were good, but that the whole was so deformed and lost by sin, that there was nothing sound left in the whole of nature. This I would have the reader bear in mind, first of all, if he desire to have the pure meaning of this passage. In the next place, the grammatical construction is to be explained, which seems to be somewhat obscure. For what the translator has rendered by the preterperfect, ought to be the present:Against thee only do I sin; that is, I know that before thee I am nothing but a sinner; or, before thee I do nothing but evil continual; that is, my whole life is evil and depraved on account of sin. I cannot boast before thee of merit or of righteousness, but am evil altogether, and in thy sight this is my character–I do evil. I have sinned, I do sin, and shall sin to the end of the chapter. Martin Luther.
Ver. 4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. Is there not matter here to make us at a stand? For, to say, “Against thee have I sinned, “is most just and fit; but to say, Against THEE ONLY I have sinned, seems something hard. It had perhaps been a fit speech in the mouth of our first parent Adam; he might justly have said to God, Against thee only have I sinned, who never sinned against any other; but for us to say it, who commit sins daily against our neighbours, and especially for David to say it, who had committed two notorious sins against his neighbour and faithful friend Uriah, what more unfit speech could possibly be devised? But is it not that these actions of David were great wrongs indeed, and enormous iniquities against Uriah; but can we properly say they were sins against Uriah? For what is sin, but a transgression of God’s law? And how then can sin be committed against any but against him only whose law we transgress? Or is it, that it may justly be said, Against thee only have I sinned, because against others perhaps in a base tenure, yet only against God in capite? Or is it, that David might justly say to God, “Against the only have I sinned; “because from others he might appeal, as being a king and having no superior; but no appealing from God, as being King of kings and supreme Lord over all? Or is it that we may justly say, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, seeing that Christ hath taken and still takes all our sins upon him; and every sin we commit is as a new burden laid upon his back and upon his back only? Or is it, lastly, that I may justly say, Against thee, the only, have I sinned, because in thy sight only I have done it? For from others I could hide it, and did conceal it? But what can be hidden from the All-seeing eye? And yet if this had been the worst, that I had sinned only against thee, though this had been bad enough, and infinitely too much, yet it might perhaps have admitted reconcilement; but to do this evil in thy sight, as if I should say, I would do it though thou stand thyself and look on, and as if in defiance; what sin so formidable? what sin can be thought of so unpardonable? A sin of infirmity may admit apology; a sin of ignorance may find out excuse; but a sin of defiance can find no defence. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. There is a godly sorrow which leads a man to life; and this sorrow is wrought in a man by the Spirit of God, and in the heart of the godly; that he mourns for sin because it has displeased God, who is so dear and so sweet a Father to him. And suppose he had neither a heaven to lose, nor a hell to gain, yet he is sad and sorrowful in heart because he has grieved God. John Welch, 1576-1622.
Ver. 4. Have I sinned. Me, me, adsum, qui feci: Here, here am I that did it. I whom thou tookest from following the ewes great with lambs, whose sheep hook thou hast changed for a sceptre, whose sheep for thine own people Israel, upon whose head thou hast set a crown of pure gold. I whom thou didst lately invest in the full monarchy of thy people; to whom thou gavest the possession of Jerusalem from the Jebusites; I who settled peace, religion, and courts of justice in Jerusalem, that thou mightest be served and honoured, and I would fain have built thee an house there; Ego, I, to whom God committed the trust of government to rule others, the trust of judgment to punish others, as king over his inheritance. I, to whom God committed the care of others’ souls to guide them by his word, to direct them by good counsel, to allure them by his gracious promises, to terrify them by his threatenings, as the Lord’s holy prophet. I, who both ways as king and prophet should have been am example of holiness and righteousness to all Israel. Nathan said, Tu es homo, thou art the man, in just accusation, and now David saith, Ego sum homo, I am the man, in humble confession. Samuel Page.
Ver. 4. I have done this evil. We may find this in experience, that there be many who will not stick at a general speech that they be sinners, and yet will scarcely be known of one special evil to account for. If you fall with them into the several commandments, they will be ready to discover a conceit that there is scarce one that they are faulty in. In the first commandment they acknowledge no God but one; in the second, they do not worship images; in the third, they swear as little as any, and never but for the truth; in the fourth, they keep their church on Sundays as well as most; in the second table, there is neither treason, nor murder, nor theft, nor whoredom, nor the like gross sin, but concerning it they are ready to protest their innocency. He that shall hear them in particular, I do not see how he shall believe them in the general, when they say they be sinners; for when you arraign them at the several commandments they are ready to plead not guilty to them all. So long as men are thus without sense and apprehension of particulars, there is no hope of bringing them ever unto good. Happy is he that is pricked to the heart with the feeling of this evil. The truth of repentance for that one, will bring him to a thorough repentance for his whole estate. This one evil thoroughly understood, brought David on his knees, brake his heart, melted his soul, made him cry for pardon, beg for purging, and importune the Lord for a free spirit to establish him. Samuel Hieron, in “David’s Penitential Psalm opened, “1617.
Ver. 4. In thy sight. David was so bent upon his sin, as that the majesty and presence of God did not awe him at all: this is a great aggravation of sin, and which makes it to be so much the more heinous. For a thief to steal in the very sight of the judge, is the highest piece of impudence that may be; and thus it is for any man to offend in the sight of God and not to be moved with it. Thomas Horton.
Ver. 4. That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. But hath not David a defence for it here, and that a very just one? For, in saying, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, ” doth he not speak as though he had sinned to do God a pleasure? therefore sinned that God might be justified? And what can be more said for justifying of God? But far is it from David to have any such meaning; his words import not a lessening but an aggravating of his sin, as spoken rather thus: Because a judge may justly be taxed of injustice if he lay a greater punishment upon an offender than the offence deserves; therefore to clear thee, O God, from all possibility of erring in this kind, I acknowledge my sins to be so heinous, my offences so grievous, that thou canst never be unmerciful in punishing though thy punishment should be never so unmerciful. For how can a judge pass the bounds of equity where the delinquent hath passed all bounds of iniquity? and what error can there be in thy being severe when the greatness of my fault is a justification of severity? That thou canst not lay so heavy a doom upon me, which I have not deserved? Thou canst not pronounce so hard a sentence against me, which I am not worthy of. If thou judge me to torture, it is but mildness; if to die the death, it is but my due; if to die everlastingly, I cannot say it were unjust. Sir Richard Baker.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3-4,11-12,17.
1. Scripture estimate of sin.
1. Personal accountability–My sin.
2. Estimated as hateful to God–Against thee, etc.
3. Sin estimated as separation from God.
2. Spiritual restoration. First step–Sacrifice of a broken spirit. Last step–Spirit of liberty. Thy free spirit. F. W. Robertson.
Ver. 4.
1. The person–I.
2. The commission–done.
3. The trespass–evil.
4. The particularity–this.
5. The daring of it–in thy sight. Samuel Page.
Ver. 4. Against thee.
1. Thee, an holy God–a God of pure eyes, and that cannot endure to behold iniquity.
2. Thee, a just God–who will punish sin.
3. Thee, an Almighty God.
4. Thee, a gracious God. T. Horton.
Ver. 4.
1. Self condemnation.
1. For the greatness of sin. Not against self merely, or fellow men, but God. This includes all guilt, for all is against him.
2. Its effrontery, “in thy sight.”
2. Divine justification.
1. In the permission of sin.
2. In its punishment.
3. In its forgiveness. God must be justified when he justifies the ungodly.
Psalms 51:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity. He is thunderstruck at the discovery of his inbred sin, and proceeds to set it forth. This was not intended to justify himself, but it rather meant to complete the confession. It is as if he said, not only have I sinned this once, but I am in my very nature a sinner. The fountain of my life is polluted as well as its streams. My birth tendencies are out of the square of equity; I naturally lean to forbidden things. Mine is a constitutional disease, rendering my very person obnoxious to thy wrath. And in sin did my mother conceive me. He goes back to the earliest moment of his being, not to traduce his mother, but to acknowledge the deep tap roots of his sin. It is a wicked wresting of Scripture to deny that original sin and natural depravity are here taught. Surely men who cavil at this doctrine have need to be taught of the Holy Spirit what be the first principles of the faith. David’s mother was the Lord’s handmaid, he was born in chaste wedlock, of a good father, and he was himself, “the man after God’s own heart; “and yet his nature was as fallen as that of any other son of Adam, and there only needed the occasion for the manifesting of that sad fact. In our shaping we were put out of shape, and when we were conceived our nature conceived sin. Alas, for poor humanity! Those who will may cry it up, but he is most blessed who in his own soul has learned to lament his lost estate.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1,5. Transgressions…iniquity…sin.
1. It is transgressions, (evp), pesha, rebellion.
2. It is iniquity, (Nwe), avon, crooked dealing.
3. It is sin, (tajx), chattath, error and wandering. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, etc. He said not, “Behold, this evil have I done, “but, Behold, I was conceived in sin, etc. He says not, “Behold, I, David, “a king, that have received such and such mercies from God, who would have given me more (as God told him), who had that entire communion with him, and graces from him, I, even I, have done this evil. No; he keeps it in till he came to this, and then his heart could hold no longer: Oh, behold I was conceived in sin. His debasement was at his auge here. And to whom is it he utters this behold? What, to men? No; his meaning is not to call on men, q.d., O ye sons of men, behold! That is but his secondary aim, arising out of his having penned it, and delivered it unto the church; but when he uttered it, it was to God, or rather afore God, and yet not as calling on God to behold, for that needed not. David had elsewhere said, “God looked down, “etc., “and beheld the sons of men, “when speaking of this very corruption. He therefore knew God beheld it sufficiently; but he utters it afore God, or, as spoken of himself between God and himself, thereby to express his own astonishment and amazement at the sight and conviction of this corruption, and at the sight of what a monster he saw himself to be in the sight of God in respect of this sin. It was a behold of astonishment at himself, as before the great and holy God; and therefore it was he seconds and follows it with another behold made unto God: “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts.” And it is as if he had said in both, Oh, how am I in every way overwhelmed, whilst with one eye cast on myself I see how infinitely corrupt I am in the very constitution of my nature; and with the other eye I behold and consider what an infinite holy God thou art in thy nature and being, and what an holiness it is which thou requirest. I am utterly overwhelmed in the intuition of both these, and able to behold no more, nor look up unto thee, O holy God! Thomas Goodwin.
Ver. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, etc. We are not to suppose that David here reflects upon his parents as the medium of transmitting to him the elements of moral evil; and that by the introduction of the doctrine of original sin he intended to extenuate the enormity of his own crimes. On the contrary, we are to regard him as afflicting himself by the humbling consideration that his very nature was fallen, that his transgressions flowed from a heart naturally at enmity with God; that he was not a sinner by accident, but by a depravity of purpose extending to the innermost desires and purposes of the soul; and that there was “a law in his members, warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin and death” Romans 7:23; and that he was one of a race of guilty beings, none of whom could plead an exemption from an evil heart of unbelief, ready at all times to depart from the living God. Till we see sin in the fountain of the heart, we shall never truly mourn over it in the life and conversation. John Morison.
Ver. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity. He is not low enough down yet, he must come lower. It is not enough for him to confess that the water is filthy at the pool; he goes back to the source, and confesses that the whole river is polluted up to its head. The source is unclean; the very spring wells forth foul waters. Thomas Alexander.
Ver. 5. I was shapen in iniquity. I shall not easily be persuaded to think that parents who are sinners themselves and too much under the influence of bad affections and passions, will be very likely to produce children without transmitting to them some of those disorders and corruptions of nature with which they themselves are infected. And if this be a difficulty, I would beg leave to observe that it is a difficulty which affects natural as well as revealed religion. Since we must take human nature as it is, and if it be really in a state of disorder and corruption, and cannot be otherwise, considering the common law of its production, the difficulty must have been as ancient as the first man that was born; and therefore can be no objection against the truth of revelation, but it must be equally so against natural religion, which must equally allow the thing, if it be in reality a fact, with revelation itself. Samuel Chandler.
Ver. 5. Infants are no innocents, being born with original sin, the first sheet wherein they are wrapped is woven of sin, shame, blood, and filth. Ezekiel 16:4, etc. They are said to sin as they were in the loins of Adam, just as Levi is said to pay tithes to Melchizedek, even in the loins of his forefather Abraham Hebrews 7:9-10; otherwise infants would not die, for death is the wages of sin Romans 6:23; and the reign of death is procured be the reign of sin, which hath reigned over all mankind except Christ. All are sinners, infected with the guilt and filth of sin; the rot (according to the vulgar saying) over runs the whole flock. Hence David reflects upon original sin as the cause of all his actual, saying, Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Thus man’s malady begind betimes, even in our conception; this subtle serpent sowed his tares very early, so that we are all “born in sin.” John 9:34. Christopher Ness’s “Divine Legacy, “1700.
Ver. 5. Notwithstanding all that Grotius and others have said to the contrary, I believe David to speak here of what is commonly called original sin; the propensity to evil which every man brings into the world with him, and which is the fruitful source whence all transgression proceeds. Adam Clarke.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 51:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. Behold. Here is the great matter for consideration. God desires not merely outward virtue, but inward purity, and the penitent’s sense of sin is greatly deepened as with astonishment he discovers this truth, and how far he is from satisfying the divine demand. The second “Behold” is fitly set over against the first; how great the gulf which yawns between them! Thou desirest truth in the inward parts. Reality, sincerity, true holiness, heart fidelity, these are the demands of God. He cares not for the pretence of purity, he looks to the mind, heart, and soul. Always has the Holy One of Israel estimated men by their inner nature, and not by their outward professions; to him the inward is as visible as the outward, and he rightly judges that the essential character of an action lies in the motive of him who works it. And in the hidden parts thou shalt make me to know wisdom. The penitent feels that God is teaching him truth concerning his nature, which he had not before perceived. The love of the heart, the mystery of its fall, and the way of its purification–this hidden wisdom we must all attain; and it is a great blessing to be able to believe that the Lord will “make us to know it.” No one can teach our innermost nature but the Lord, but he can instruct us to profit. The Holy Spirit can write the law on our heart, and that is the sum of practical wisdom. He can put the fear of the Lord within, and that is the beginning of wisdom. He can reveal Christ in us, and he is essential wisdom. Such poor, foolish, disarranged souls as ours, shall yet be ordered aright, and truth and wisdom shall reign within us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. Behold. Before he entereth on any of the parts of the verse he useth the particle of admiration, Behold; which he never useth but in some remarkable manner, thereby the more to raise us up to the contemplation of such great matters to be told. Archibald Symson.
Ver. 6. Thou desirest truth in the inward parts. Thou lovest truth, not shadows or images, but realities; thou lovest truth in the inward parts, inside truth, a true heart, a pure conscience: he is a Christian who is one inwardly. Romans 2:29. John Bull.
Ver. 6. Truth in the inward parts. A great French pear is called le bon hretien, the good Christian, because they say it is never rotten at the core. George Swinnock.
Ver. 6. In the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Piscator, in his annotations on this Psalm, puts this sense upon it, that David should bless God for having made him to know this special wisdom in this hidden thing or matter, and had brought the knowledge thereof home, as a point of saving wisdom, to the hidden man of his heart, so as to see fully and clearly this native corruption as the cause of all sin, and on that account to cause him to lay it to heart. Thomas Goodwin.
Ver. 6. In the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. It is one thing to be wise headed and wise tongued, and another to be wise hearted, and therefore in Scripture nothing more ordinary than to set forth wisdom that is true indeed by the heart. God himself is said to be wise of heart. Foolish creatures are like Ephraim, “a silly dove without heart.” They may have head enough, notion enough, flashing light, appearing to others enough, but they are without a heart; they have not the great work there, a new head and an old heart, a full head and an empty heart, a light and burning profession, and a dark, dead, and cold heart; he that takes up in such a condition is a fool and an errant fool. John Murcot, 1657.
Ver. 6. And in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Some read it, “In the hidden part thou hadst made me to know wisdom; “that thou hadst done it, but I have fallen from my high state, marred thy handiwork. “By one plunge into lust I have fallen and fouled myself.” Arthur Jackson.
Ver. 6. The copulative particle which connects the two clauses, implies the correspondence between the revelation of the divine will on the one part and the desire and prayer of the penitent heart on the other. Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. “What I want thou hast promised to give.” Repentance and faith are the gifts of God, and the awakened mind is conscious that they are so. Thomas T. Biddulph.
Ver. 6-8. The right conviction of sin comprehends its being acknowledged not only in our works, but also in our entire being. Agustus F. Tholuck.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. See T. Goodwin’s Treatise, entitled, “An Unregenerate Man’s Guiltiness before God, in respect of Sin and Punishment.” Book 9 cap. 1-2. (Nichol’s edition, Vol. X., p. 324 et seq.)
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 51:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. Purge me with hyssop. Sprinkle the atoning blood upon me with the appointed means. Give me the reality which legal ceremonies symbolise. Nothing but blood can take away my blood stains, nothing but the strongest purification can avail to cleanse me. Let the sin offering purge my sin. Let him who was appointed to atone, execute his sacred office on me; for none can need it more than I. The passage may be read as the voice of faith as well as a prayer, and so it runs–“Thou wilt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.” Foul as I am, there is such power in the divine propitiation, that my sin shall vanish quite away. Like the leper upon whom the priest has performed the cleansing rites, I shall again be admitted into the assembly of thy people and allowed to share in the privileges of the true Israel; while in thy sight also, through Jesus my Lord, I shall be accepted. Wash me. Let it not merely be in type that I am clean, but by a real spiritual purification, which shall remove the pollution of my nature. Let the sanctifying as well as the pardoning process be perfected in me. Save me from the evils which my sin has created and nourished in me. And I shall be whiter than snow. None but thyself can whiten me, but thou canst in grace outdo nature itself in its purest state. Snow soon gathers smoke and dust, it melts and disappears; thou canst give me an enduring purity. Though snow is white below as well as on the outer surface, thou canst work the like inward purity in me, and make me so clean that only an hyperbole can set forth my immaculate condition. Lord, do this; my faith believes thou wilt, and well she knows thou canst. Scarcely does Holy Scripture contain a verse more full of faith than this. Considering the nature of the sin, and the deep sense the psalmist had of it, it is a glorious faith to be able to see in the blood sufficient, nay, all sufficient merit entirely to purge it away. Considering also the deep natural inbred corruption which David saw and experienced within, it is a miracle of faith that he could rejoice in the hope of perfect purity in his inward parts. Yet, be it added, the faith is no more than the word warrants, than the blood of atonement encourages, than the promise of God deserves. O that some reader may take heart, even now while smarting under sin, to do the Lord the honour to rely thus confidently on the finished sacrifice of Calvary and the infinite mercy there revealed.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6-8. The right conviction of sin comprehends its being acknowledged not only in our works, but also in our entire being. Agustus F. Tholuck.
Ver. 7. Purge me with hyssop. Do I well to prescribe to God with what he shall purge me, as though I knew all God’s medicines as well as himself and which is worse, I to prescribe and he to administer? But excuse me, O my soul, it is not I that prescribe it to God, it is God that prescribes it to me; for hyssop is his own receipt, and one of the ingredients prescribed by himself to make the water of separation for curing the leprosy…I must confess I was glad at heart when I first heard hyssop spoken of; to think I should be purged so gently, and with a thing that may so easily be had, for hyssop grows in every garden; and then I thought I might go fetch it thence and purge myself, but now I perceive this is not the hyssop of which Solomon writ when he writ from the cedar to the hyssop; but this hyssop is rather the herb grace, which never grew in garden but in that of Paradise, and which none can fetch thence unless God himself deliver it. The truth is, this hyssop was sometimes a cedar; the highest of all trees because the lowest of all shrubs, only to be made this hyssop for us: for Christ indeed is the true hyssop, and his blood the juice of hyssop that only can purge away my sins. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 7. Purge me with hyssop. (ynajxt) Properly, expiate my sin with hyssop. The Psalmist alludes to the purification from the leprosy Leviticus 14:52, or from the touch of a dead body Numbers 19:19, both of which were to be done by the sprinkling of water and other things with hyssop. Samuel Chandler.
Ver. 7. Hyssop. The lasaf or asaf, the caper plant, the bright green creeper which climbs out of the fissures of the rocks in the Sinaitic valleys, has been identified on grounds of great probability with the “hyssop” or ezob of Scripture; and thus explains whence came the green branches used, even in the desert, for sprinkling the water over the tents of the Israelites. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, in “Sinai and Palestine.” 1864.
Ver. 7. Hyssop. Between twenty and thirty different plants have been proposed, but no one of them comes so near the above requirements as the caper plant (Capparis spinosa). It grows “out of the wall; ” its stalks supply both bunch and rod admirably fitted for the ends indicated; and it has ever been esteemed in the East as possessing cleansing properties. John Duns, D.D., in “Biblica; Natural Science.”
Ver. 7. Hyssop. What a pity that Solomon’s botany is lost, in which he spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall! The cedar we know, but what is the hyssop of the royal botanist? Mr. B—, French consul of this city (Sidon), and an enthusiastic botanist, exhibited to me two varieties of hyssop; one, called zátar by the Arabs, having the fragrance of thyme, with a hot, pungent taste, and long, slender stems. A bunch of these would answer very well for sprinkling the paschal and sacrificial blood on the lintel and posts of the doors, and over the persons and houses cleansed from the leprosy. Mr. B—, however, thinks that a very small green plant, like a moss which covers old walls in damp places, is the hyssop of Solomon. This I doubt. The other kind also springs out of walls, those of the garden especially, and was much more likely to attract the attention of the royal student. W. M. Thomson, D.D., in “The Land and the Book.”
Ver. 7. The paraphrase of this verse in the Chaldee is: “Thou wilt sprinkle me like the priest, which sprinkleth the unclean with the purifying waters, with hyssop, with the ashes of an heifer, and I shall be clean.” John Morison.
Ver. 7. I shall be whiter than snow. But how is this possible? All the dyers on earth cannot dye a red into a white; and how, then, is it possible that my sins which are as red as scarlet should ever be made as white as snow? Indeed such retrogradation is no work of human art; it must be only his doing who brought the sun ten degrees back in the dial of Ahaz: for God hath a nitre of grace that can bring not only the redness of scarlet sins, but even the blackness of deadly sins, into its native purity and whiteness again. But say it be possible, yet what need is there of so great a whiteness, as to be “whiter than snow”? seeing snow is not as paries dealbatus, a painted wall, white without and foul within; but it is white, intus et in cute, within and without, throughout and all over; and what eye so curious but such a whiteness may content? Yet such a whiteness will not serve, for I may be as white as snow and yet a leper still; as it is said of Gehazi that “he went from Elisha a leper as white as snow:” it must be therefore whiter than snow. And such a whiteness it is that God’s washing works upon us, makes within us; for no snow is so white in the eyes of men as a soul cleansed from sin is in the sight of God. And yet, a whiter whiteness than this too; for being purged from sin we shall, induere stolam album, put on the whiter robe; and this is a whiteness as much whiter than snow as angelical whiteness is more than elemental. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 7. In the Hebrew language there are two words to express the different kinds of washing, and they are always used with the strictest propriety; the one, to signify that kind of washing which pervades the substance of the thing washed, and cleanses it thoroughly; and the other to express that kind of washing which only cleanses the surface of a substance which the water cannot penetrate. The former is applied to the washing of clothes; the latter is used for washing some part of the body. By a beautiful and strong metaphor, David uses the former word in this and in Psalms 51:2 : “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin; “wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. So in Jeremiah 4:14, the same word is applied to the heart. Richard Mant.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7. Here is,
1. Faith in the act of an atonement for sin. “I shall be clean.”
2. Faith in the method of its application. “Purge me, “etc. Sprinkled as the blood of sacrifices.
3. Faith in its efficacy. “I shall be whiter, “etc.
Psalms 51:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. Make me to hear joy and gladness. He prays about his sorrow late in the Psalm; he began at once with his sin; he asks to hear pardon, and then to hear joy. He seeks comfort at the right time and from the right source. His ear has become heavy with sinning, and so he prays, “Make me to hear.” No voice could revive his dead joys but that which quickeneth the dead. Pardon from God would give him double joy–“joy and gladness.” No stinted bliss awaits the forgiven one; he shall not only have a double blooming joy, but he shall hear it; it shall sing with exultation. Some joy is felt but not heard, for it contends with fears; but the joy of pardon has a voice louder than the voice of sin. God’s voice speaking peace is the sweetest music an ear can hear. That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. He was like a poor wretch whose bones are crushed, crushed by no ordinary means, but by omnipotence itself. He groaned under no mere flesh wounds; his firmest and yet most tender powers were “broken in pieces all asunder; “his manhood had become a dislocated, mangled, quivering sensibility. Yet if he who crushed would cure, every wound would become a new mouth for song, every bone quivering before with agony would become equally sensible of intense delight. The figure is bold, and so is the supplicant. He is requesting a great thing; he seeks joy for a sinful heart, music for crushed bones. Preposterous prayer anywhere but at the throne of God! Preposterous there most of all but for the cross where Jehovah Jesus bore our sins in his own body on the tree. A penitent need not ask to be an hired servant, or settle down in despairing content with perpetual mourning; he may ask for gladness and he shall have it; for if when prodigals return the father is glad, and the neighbours and friends rejoice and are merry with music and dancing, what need can there be that the restored one himself should be wretched?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6-8. The right conviction of sin comprehends its being acknowledged not only in our works, but also in our entire being. Agustus F. Tholuck.
Ver. 8. Make me to hear joy and gladness. This is the exceeding great love of the Lord toward his children, that he hath not only provided a sure salvation for them through the remission of their sins in Christ Jesus, but also seals up in their heart the testimony thereof by his Holy Spirit of adoption, that for their present consolation, lest they should be swallowed up of heaviness through continual temptations. Though he speak not to all his children as he did to Daniel, by an angel, “O man, greatly beloved of God, “nor as he did to the blessed Virgin Mary, “Hail, Mary, freely beloved, “yet doth he witness the same to the hearts of his children by an inward testimony: when they hear it they are alive; when they want it they are but dead; their souls refuse all other comforts whatsoever. William Cowper.
Ver. 8. Make me to hear joy and gladness. As a Christian is the most sorrowful man in the world, so there is none more glad than he. For the cause of his joy is greatest. In respect his misery was greatest, his delivery greatest, therefore his joy greatest. From hell and death is he freed, to life in heaven is he brought…The person from whom he seeketh this joy is God: Make me to hear, saith he; whereby he would teach us that this joy cometh only from God; it is he who is the fountain of joy and all pleasure, for “all good things come from above.” Natural joys proceed from a natural and fleshly fountain; spiritual joys spring only from God: so he who seeketh those joys beneath seeketh hot water under cold ice. Archibald Symson.
Ver. 8. Make me to hear joy and gladness. Another reference to the expiation of the leper, whose ear was to be touched with the blood of the trespass offering and the oil, as well as thumb and toe, to show that his faculties were now prepared for the service of God; so David prays that his ears may be sanctified to the hearing of joy and gladness; this an unsanctified heart can never receive. W. Wilson.
Ver. 8. The bones which thou hast broken. God, in favour to his children, doth afflict them for sin; and the very phrase of breaking his bones, though it express extremity of misery and pain, yet it hath hope in it, for broken bones by a cunning hand may be set again and return to their former use and strength; so that a conscience distressed for sins is not out of hope; yet upon that hope no wise man will adventure upon sin, saying, though I am wounded, yet I may be healed again; though I am broken, I may be repaired; for let him consider–1. Who breaks his bones–Thou; he that made us our bones and put them in their several places, and tied them together with ligaments, and covered them with flesh; he that keepeth all our bones from breaking; it must be a great matter that must move him to break the bones of any of us. The God of all consolation, that comforteth us in all our distresses, when he cometh to distress us, this makes affliction weigh heavy…2. The pain of the affliction expressed so feelingly in the breaking of bones, which, as is said, is the anguish of the soul for sin, and fear of the consuming fire of God’s wrath, and the tempest, as Job calls it, of anger. 3. The pain of setting these bones again: for, though bones dislocated may be put in joint, and though bones broken may be set again, yet this is not done without pain and great extremity to the patient. Repentance setteth all our broken, pained bones; it recovers the soul from the anguish thereof; but he that once feels the smart of a true repentance, will say, the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, are as hard a bargain as ever he made, and as dear bought; they cost tears, which are sanguis vulnerati cordis, the blood of a wounded heart; they cost sighs and groans which cannot be expressed; they cost watching, fasting, taming of the body to bring it in subjection, even to the crucifying of the flesh with the lusts thereof. Therefore, let no man adventure his bones in hope of setting them again. Samuel Page.
Ver. 8. That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. The displeasure which God expressed against the sins he had been guilty of, and the deep sense he had of the aggravated nature of them, filled him with those pains and agonies of mind, as that he compares them to that exquisite torture he must have felt had all his bones been crushed, for the original word (tykd), signifies more than broken, namely, being entirely mashed; and he compares the joy that God’s declaring himself fully reconciled to him would produce in his mind, to that inconceivable pleasure, which would arise from the instantaneous restoring and healing those bones, after they had been thus broken and crushed to pieces. Samuel Chandler.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 51:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. Hide thy face from my sins. Do not look at them; be at pains not to see them. They thrust themselves in the way; but, Lord, refuse to behold them, lest if thou consider them, thine anger burn, and I die. Blot out all mine iniquities. He repeats the prayer of the first verse with the enlargement of it by the word “all.” All repetitions are not “vain repetitions.” Souls in agony have no space to find variety of language: pain has to content itself with monotones. David’s face was ashamed with looking on his sin, and no diverting thoughts could remove it from his memory; but he prays the Lord to do with his sin what he himself cannot. If God hide not his face from our sin, he must hide it forever from us; and if he blot not out our sins, he must blot our names out of his book of life.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9. Hide thy face from my sins. The verb (rtk) properly signifies to veil, or hide with a veil. Samuel Chandler.
Ver. 9. Hide thy face from my sins. He said in the third verse, that his sin was always in his sight; and now he prays that God would put it out of his sight. This is a very good order. If we hold our sins in our eyes to pursue them, God will cast them behind his back to pardon them: if we remember them and repent, he will forget them and forgive: otherwise, peccatum unde homo non advertit Deus: et si advertit, animadvertit –the sin from which man turns not, God looks to it; and if he look to it, sure he will punish it. William Cowper.
Ver. 9. All mine iniquities. See how one sin calleth to mind many thousands, which though they lie asleep a long time, like a sleeping debt, yet we know not how soon they may be reckoned for. Make sure of a general pardon, and take heed of adding new sins to the old. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 51:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. Create. What! has sin so destroyed us, that the Creator must be called in again? What ruin then doth evil work among mankind! Create in me. I, in my outward fabric, still exist; but I am empty, desert, void. Come, then, and let thy power be seen in a new creation within my old fallen self. Thou didst make a man in the world at first; Lord, make a new man in me! A clean heart. In the seventh verse he asked to be clean; now he seeks a heart suitable to that cleanliness; but he does not say, “Make my old heart clean; ” he is too experienced in the hopelessness of the old nature. He would have the old man buried as a dead thing, and a new creation brought in to fill its place. None but God can create either a new heart or a new earth. Salvation is a marvellous display of supreme power; the work in us as much as that for us is wholly of Omnipotence. The affections must be rectified first, or all our nature will go amiss. The heart is the rudder of the soul, and till the Lord take it in hand we steer in a false and foul way. O Lord, thou who didst once make me, be pleased to new make me, and in my most secret parts renew me. Renew a right spirit within me. It was there once, Lord, put it there again. The law on my heart has become like an inscription hard to read: new write it, gracious Maker. Remove the evil as I have entreated thee; but, O replace it with good, lest into my swept, empty, and garnished heart, from which the devil has gone out for a while, seven other spirits more wicked than the first should enter and dwell. The two sentences make a complete prayer. Create what is not there at all; renew that which is there, but in a sadly feeble state.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 10. Create in me a clean heart, O God. O you that created the first heaven and the first earth of nothing! O you that will create the new heaven and the new earth (wherein dwells righteousness), when sin had made the creature worse than nothing! O you that creates the new creature, the new man, fit to be an inhabitant of the new world, of the new Jerusalem! O thou that hast said, “Behold, I make all things new:” create thou in me, even in me, a clean heart; and renew a right spirit within me. Matthew Lawrence.
Ver. 10. Create in me a clean heart, O God, etc. David prayeth the Lord to create him a new heart, not to correct his old heart, but to create him a new heart; showing that his heart was like an old garment, so rotten and tattered that he could make no good of it by patching or piecing, but even must cut it off, and take a new. Therefore Paul saith, “Cast off the old man; “not pick him and wash him till he be clean, but cast him off and begin anew, as David did. Will ye know what this renewing is? It is the repairing of the image of God, until we be like Adam when he dwelt in Paradise. As there is a whole old man, so there must be a whole new man. The old man must change with the new man, wisdom for wisdom, love for love, fear for fear; his worldly wisdom for heavenly wisdom, his carnal love for spiritual love, his servile fear for Christian fear, his idle thoughts for sanctified works. Henry Smith.
Ver. 10. Create in me a clean heart. Creating, to speak properly, is to make of nought, and is here used improperly. The prophet speaketh according to his own feeling and present judgement of himself, as though he had lost all, and had no goodness in himself. No doubt the prophet’s heart was in part clean, though not so much as he desired. These things thus opened, here cometh a question first to be answered. Quest. Whether David could have lost the cleanness of heart, having once had it? Ans. No. The gifts and calling of God, that is (as I take it), the gifts of effectual calling, are such as God never repenteth of or taketh away. Faith, hope, and charity are abiding gifts, as sure as the election of God, which is unchangeable. Indeed, the children of God, if we only considered them in themselves with their enemies, night fall away, but being founded upon the unchangeable nature of God, and immutability of his counsel, they cannot, the gates of hell shall not prevail against them, the elect cannot be deceived or plucked out of Christ’s hands. Nay, certain it is that David did not actually leave his former cleanness. For sure it is, his heart smiting him (as here it did), so doing before in less matters, it was not wholly void of cleanness. And again, it could not pray for cleanness if it were not somewhat clean. This is most sure, that by grievous sins much filthiness cometh to the soul, as by a boisterous wind a tree may lose his leaves and some branches, so as that the party sinning may be brought into as great passions almost as if he had lost all, but the desire of grace is an infallible certainty of some grace of that kind. The prophet therefore desireth not a clean heart because he had it not in any sort, but because he could not so well perceive it in himself, and take such comfort in it as he had dome before, and for that he desired it a great deal more than now he had it. So learned, so rich men, think themselves not learned, not rich, in respect of that which they do desire, and when the sun is up, the moon seemeth to have no light. George Estey, in “Certain Godly and Learned Expositions, “1603.
Ver. 10. Create in me a clean heart, O God, etc. This “creation” is from nothing. David uses the same word of our creation which Moses uses of “the creation of the heaven and the earth.” Our creation “in Jesus Christ” is no mere strengthening of our powers, no mere aiding of our natural weakness by the might of the grace of God, it is not a mere amendment, improvement of our moral habits; it is a creation out of nothing, of that which we had not before. There was nothing in us whereof to make it. We were decayed, corrupt, dead in trespasses and sins. What is dead becometh not alive, except by the infusion of what it had not. What is corrupt receiveth not soundness, save by passing away itself and being replaced by a new production. “The old man” passeth not into the new man, but is “put off.” It is not the basis of the new life, but a hindrance to it. It must be “put off” and the new man “put on, “created in Christ Jesus. E. B. Pusey, D.D., 1853.
Ver. 10. (first clause). He used the word creat (Heb. Bara), a word only used of the work of God, and showing that the change in him could be wrought only by God. Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 10. A clean heart. The priest was required to make a strict examination of the skin of the leper before he could pronounce him clean; David prays God to make his heart clean. W. Wilson.
Ver. 10. A right spirit. A steadfast spirit, i.e., a mind steady in following the path of duty. French and Skinner.
Ver. 10-12. Who was to do this work? Not himself; God alone. Therefore, he prays: “O God, create–O lord, renew; uphold by thy Spirit.” Adam Clarke.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 10.
1. The change to be effected.
1. A clean heart.
2. A right spirit.
1. The power by which it is accomplished.
1. A creative power, such as created the world at first.
2. A renewing power, such as continually renews the face of the earth.
3. The acquirement of these blessings. The prayer, “Create, “etc.
Psalms 51:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. Cast me not away from thy presence. Throw me not away as worthless; banish me not, like Cain, from thy face and favour. Permit me to sit among those who share thy love, though I only be suffered to keep the door. I deserve to be forever denied admission to thy courts; but, O good Lord, permit me still the privilege which is dear as life itself to me. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Withdraw not his comforts, counsels, assistances, quickenings, else I am indeed as a dead man. Do not leave me as thou didst Saul, when neither by Urim, nor by prophet, nor by dream, thou wouldst answer him. Thy Spirit is my wisdom, leave me not to my folly; he is my strength, O desert me not to my own weakness. Drive me not away from thee, neither do thou go away from me. Keep up the union between us, which is my only hope of salvation. It will be a great wonder if so pure a spirit deigns to stay in so base a heart as mine; but then, Lord, it is all wonder together, therefore do this, for thy mercy’s sake, I earnestly entreat thee.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 10-12. Who was to do this work? Not himself; God alone. Therefore, he prays: “O God, create–O lord, renew; uphold by thy Spirit.” Adam Clarke.
Ver. 11. Cast me not away from thy presence. David lamented before that sin had slain him, and made him like a dead man, wanting a heart or quickening spirit; and now he fears lest, as the dead are abhorred by the living, so the Lord should cast him as a dead and abominable thing out of his presence. Whereof we learn this is one of the just punishments of sin; it procures the casting out of a man from the face of God; and it may let us see how dear bought are the pleasures of sin when a man to enjoy the face of the creature deprives himself of the comfortable face of the Creator; as David here, for the carnal love of the face of Bathsheba, puts himself in danger to be cast out forever from the presence of the Lord his God. If a man could remember this in all Satan’s temptations, what it is that the deceiver offers, and what it is again that he seeks, he would be loath to buy the perishing pleasures of sin upon such a price as Satan selleth them, but would answer him as the apostle did Simon Magus, “Thy money, with thyself, go into perdition; “thy gain, thy glory, thy pleasure, and whatever thou wouldst give me to offend the Lord my God, go with thyself into perdition, for what canst thou offer me comparable to that which thou wouldst steal from me? But how is it that he prays, Cast me not out from thy presence? May a man be cast any way from it? Saith he not himself, “What way can I flee from thy presence?” This is soon answered by distinguishing his twofold presence–one in mercy, wherewith he refresheth and comforteth his own, and this without intermission they enjoy who are in heaven; another, in wrath, whereby he terrifies and torments without intermission the damned in hell. As to them who are upon the earth, certain it is he is displeased with many, who, because they see not his angry face, regard it not, borne out with temporal recreations of the creature, which will fail them; and there are many, again, to whom he looks as a loving father in Christ, and yet they see not his merciful face by reason of many interjected veils; but to them who once have felt the sweetness of his favourable face it is death to want it. William Cowper.
Ver. 11. Cast me not away from thy presence. Like the leper who is banished from society till cleansed, or as Saul was rejected from being king, because he obeyed not the word of the Lord. 1 Samuel 15:23. David could not but feel that his transgression would have deserved a similar rejection. W. Wilson.
Ver. 11. Cast me not away. Lord, though I, alas! have cast thee from me, yet cast me not away: hide not thy face from me, although I so often have refused to look at thee; leave me not without help, to perish in my sins, though I have aforetime left thee. Fra Thomé de Jesu.
Ver. 11. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. The words of this verse imply that the Spirit had not altogether been taken away from him, however much his gifts had been temporarily obscured…Upon one point he had fallen into a deadly lethargy, but he was not “given over to a reprobate mind; “and it is scarcely conceivable that the rebuke of Nathan the prophet should have operated so easily and suddenly in arousing him had there been no latent spark of godliness still remaining…The truth on which we are now insisting is an important one, as many learned men have been inconsiderately drawn into the opinion that the elect, by falling into mortal sin, may lose the Spirit altogether, and be alienated from God. The contrary is clearly declared by Peter, who tells us that the word by which we are born again is an incorruptible seed 1 Peter 1:23; and John is equally explicit in informing us that the elect are preserved from falling away altogether. 1 John 3:9. However much they may appear for a time to have been cast off by God, it is afterwards seen that grace must have been alive in their breasts even during that interval when it seemed to be extinct. Nor is there any force in the objection that David speaks as if he feared that he might be deprived of the Spirit. It is natural that the saints, when they have fallen into sin, and have thus done what they could to expel the grace of God, should feel an anxiety upon this point; but it is their duty to hold fast the truth, that grace is the incorruptible seed of God, which never can perish in any heart where it has been deposited. This is the spirit displayed by David. Reflecting upon his offence, he is agitated with fears, and yet rests in the persuasion that, being a child of God, he would not be deprived of what, indeed, he had justly forfeited. John Calvin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3-4,11-12,17.
1. Scripture estimate of sin.
1. Personal accountability–My sin.
2. Estimated as hateful to God–Against thee, etc.
3. Sin estimated as separation from God.
2. Spiritual restoration. First step–Sacrifice of a broken spirit. Last step–Spirit of liberty. Thy free spirit. F. W. Robertson.
Ver. 11. (first clause). I am not cast away, and would be thankful. I deserve to be cast away, and ought to be penitential. I am afraid of being cast away, and must be prayerful. “Cast me not away.” 1. From thy protecting presence into danger. 2. From thy loving presence into wrath. 3. From thy joyous presence into distress. 4. From thy affluent presence into destitution. 5. From thy gracious presence into despair. Sin hurries us away from God; grace hastens us into his embrace: the former severs, and the latter unites, God and the soul. W. Jackson.
Ver. 11.
1. There is often much comfort in much grief. “Cast me not, “etc. A consciousness of still having the divine presence, and a dread of losing it, prompts the prayer.
2. There is often much faith in much fear. “Take not, ” etc. Faith in the spirit works within him while he fears.
Psalms 51:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation. Salvation he had known, and had known it as the Lord’s own; he had also felt the joy which arises from being saved in the Lord, but he had lost it for a while, and therefore he longed for its restoration. None but God can give back this joy; he can do it; we may ask it; he will do it for his own glory and our benefit. This joy comes not first, but follows pardon and purity: in such order it is safe, in any other it is vain presumption or idiotic delirium. And uphold me with thy free Spirit. Conscious of weakness, mindful of having so lately fallen, he seeks to be kept on his feet by power superior to his own. That royal Spirit, whose holiness is true dignity, is able to make us walk as kings and priests, in all the uprightness of holiness; and he will do so if we seek his gracious upholding. Such influences will not enslave but emancipate us; for holiness is liberty, and the Holy Spirit is a free Spirit. In the roughest and most treacherous ways we are safe with such a Keeper; in the best paths we stumble if left to ourselves. The praying for joy and upholding go well together; it is all over with joy if the foot is not kept; and, on the other hand, joy is a very upholding thing, and greatly aids holiness; meanwhile, the free, noble, royal Spirit is at the bottom of both.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 12. Restore. It is no small comfort to a man that hath lost his receipt for a debt paid when he remembers that the man he deals with is a good and just man, though his discharge is not presently to be found. That God whom thou hast to deal with is very gracious; what thou hast lost he is ready to restore (the evidence of thy grace I mean). David begged this, and obtained it. Yea, saith faith, if it were true what thou fearest, that thy grace was never true, there is mercy enough in God’s heart to pardon all thy former hypocrisy if thou comest in the sincerity of thy heart; and so faith persuades the soul by an act of adventure to cast itself upon God in Christ. Wilt not thou, saith faith, expect to find as much mercy at God’s hands, as thou canst look for at a man’s? It is not beyond the line of created mercy to forgive many unkindnesses, much falseness and unfaithfulness, upon an humble, sincere acknowledgment of the same. The world is not so bad but it abounds with parents who can do thus much for their children, and masters for their servants; and is that hard for God to do which is so easy in his creature? Thus faith vindicates God’s name. And so long as we have not lost sight of God’s merciful heart, our head will be kept above water, though we want the evidence of our own grace. William Gurnall.
Ver. 12. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, etc. How can God restore that which he took not away? For, can I charge God with the taking away the joy of his salvation from me? O gracious God, I charge not thee with taking it, but myself with losing it; and such is the miserable condition of us poor wretches, that if thou shouldest restore no more to us than what thou takest from us, we should quickly be at a fault in our estates, and our ruin would be as sudden as inevitable. But what am I so earnest for restoring? for what good will restoring do me? and how shall I more keep it being restored, than I kept it before being enjoyed? and if I so enjoy it, as still to fear to lose it, what joy can there be in such enjoying? O therefore, not restore it only, but establish me with thy free spirit; that as by thy restoring I may enjoy it entirely, so by thy establishing I may enjoy it securely. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 12. Uphold me. I am tempted to think that I am now an established Christian, that I have overcome this or that lust so long that I have got into the habit of the opposite grace, so that there is no fear; I may venture very near the temptation, nearer than other men. This is a lie of Satan. I might as well speak of gunpowder getting by habit a power of resisting fire, so as not to catch the spark. As long as powder is wet it resists the spark, but when it becomes dry it is ready to explode at the first touch. As long as the Spirit dwells in my heart, he deadens me to sin, so that if lawfully called through temptation I may reckon upon God carrying me through. But when the Spirit leaves me, I am like dry gunpowder. Oh, for a sense of this! Robert Murray Macheyne.
Ver. 12. Uphold ne with thy free spirit. A loving mother chooses a fitting place, and a fitting time, to let her little child fall; it is learning to walk, it is getting over confident, it may come to a dangerous place, and if possessed of all this confidence, may fall and destroy itself. So she permits it to fall at such a place, and in such a way as that it may be hurt, wholesomely hurt, but not dangerously so. It has now lost its confidence, and clings all the more fondly and trustingly to the strong hand that is able to hold up all its goings. So this David, this little child of the great God, has fallen; it is a sore fall, all his bones are broken, but it has been a precious and a profitable lesson to him; he has no confidence any longer in himself, his trust is not now in an arm of flesh. “Uphold me with thy free spirit.” Thomas Alexander.
Ver. 12. (last clause). Let a free spirit sustain me; that is, let me not be enslaved, as I have been, by my sinful passions. Henry Dimock, M.A., 1791.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3-4,11-12,17.
1. Scripture estimate of sin.
1. Personal accountability–My sin.
2. Estimated as hateful to God–Against thee, etc.
3. Sin estimated as separation from God.
2. Spiritual restoration. First step–Sacrifice of a broken spirit. Last step–Spirit of liberty. Thy free spirit. F. W. Robertson.
Ver. 12-13. A threefold desire.
1. To be happy –“Restore, “etc.
2. To be consistent –“Uphold, “etc.
3. To be useful –“Then will I teach, “etc. W. Jackson.
Psalms 51:13*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 13. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways. It was his fixed resolve to be a teacher of others; and assuredly none instruct others so well as those who have been experimentally taught of God themselves. Reclaimed poachers make the best gamekeepers. Huntingdon’s degree of S.S., or Sinner Saved, is more needful for a soul winning evangelist than either M.A. or D.D. The pardoned sinner’s matter will be good, for he has been taught in the school of experience, and his manner will be telling, for he will speak sympathetically, as one who has felt what he declares. The audience the psalmist would choose is memorable–he would instruct transgressors like himself; others might despise them, but, “a fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind.” If unworthy to edify saints, he would creep in along with the sinners, and humbly tell them of divine love. The mercy of God to one is an illustration of his usual procedure, so that our own case helps us to understand his “ways, “or his general modes of action: perhaps, too, David under that term refers to the preceptive part of the word of God, which, having broken, and having suffered thereby, he felt that he could vindicate and urge upon the reverence of other offenders. And sinners shall be converted unto thee. My fall shall be the restoration of others. Thou wilt bless my pathetic testimony to the recovery of many who, like myself, have turned aside unto crooked ways. Doubtless this Psalm and the whole story of David, have produced for many ages the most salutary results in the conversion of transgressors, and so evil has been overruled for good.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 13. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, etc. We see our duty craves that when we have received mercy from God for ourselves, we should make vantage of it for the edification of others. Every talent received from God should be put to profit, but specially the talent of mercy; as it is greatest, so the Lord requires greater fruit of it, for his own glory, and for the edification of our brethren. Seeing we are vessels of mercy, should not the scent and sweet odour of mercy go from us to others? This duty Christ craved from Peter: “And thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren.” And this duty, as David here promises, so we may read how he did perform it: “Come unto me, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.” The property of a Christian is, fides per delectionem efficax, faith worked by love. What availeth it to pretend faith toward God, where there is no love toward thy neighbour? and wherein can thy love be declared more than in this, to draw thy neighbour to the participation of that same merit whereunto God hath called thee? By the law a man was bound to bring home his neighbour’s wandering beast if he had met with it before; how much more, then, to turn again his neighbour himself when he wanders from the Lord his God? If two men walking on the way should both fall into one pit, and the one being relieved out of it should go his way and forget his neighbour, might it not justly be called a barbarous and inhuman cruelty? We have all fallen into one and the same mire of iniquity; since the Lord hath put out his merciful hand to draw us out of this prison of sin, shall we refuse to put out our hand to see if possibly we may draw up our brethren with us? William Cowper (Bishop).
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 12-13. A threefold desire.
1. To be happy –“Restore, “etc.
2. To be consistent –“Uphold, “etc.
3. To be useful –“Then will I teach, “etc. W. Jackson.
Ver. 13.
1. It is not our duty to seek the conversion of others until we are converted ourselves.
2. The greater enjoyment we have in the ways of God, the more faithfully and earnestly we shall make them known to others.
3. The more faithfully and earnestly we make them known to others the more they will be influenced by them.
Psalms 51:14*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 14. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness. He had been the means of the death of Uriah, the Hittite, a faithful and attached follower, and he now confesses that fact. Besides, his sin of adultery was a capital offence, and he puts himself down as one worthy to die the death. Honest penitents do not fetch a compass and confess their sins in an elegant periphrasis, but they come to the point, call a spade a spade, and make a clean breast of all. What other course is rational in dealing with the Omniscient? O God, thou God of my salvation. He had not ventured to come so near before. It had been, O God, up till now, but here he cries, Thou God of my salvation. Faith grows by the exercise of prayer. He confesses sin more plainly in this verse than before, and yet he deals with God more confidently: growing upward and downward at the same time are perfectly consistent. None but the King can remit the death penalty, it is therefore a joy to faith that God is King, and that he is the author and finisher of our salvation. And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. One would rather have expected him to say, I will sing of thy mercy; but David can see the divine way of justification, that righteousness of God which Paul afterwards spoke of by which the ungodly are justified, and he vows to sing, yea, and to sing lustily of that righteous way of mercy. After all, it is the righteousness of divine mercy which is its greatest wonder. Note how David would preach in the last verse, and now here he would sing. We can never do too much for the Lord to whom we owe more than all. If we could be preacher, precentor, doorkeeper, pew opener, foot washer, and all in one, all would be too little to show forth all our gratitude. A great sinner pardoned makes a great singer. Sin has a loud voice, and so should our thankfulness have. We shall not sing our own praises if we be saved, but our theme will be the Lord our righteousness, in whose merits we stand righteously accepted.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 14. (first clause). Deliver me from bloods. The term bloods in Hebrew may denote any capital crime; and in my opinion he is here to be considered as alluding to the sentence of death, to which he felt himself to be obnoxious, and from which he requests deliverance. John Calvin.
Ver. 14. (first clause). The Chaldee reads, Deliver me from the judgment of murder.
Ver. 14. O God, thou God of my salvation. O God, is a good invocation, for he heareth prayers. Yet to distinguish him from all false gods he is so particular as to single him from all other: Thou God. And to magnify him, and to reenforce his petition, he calleth him Deum salutis, “the God of my salvation, “which expresses him able to deliver him; for it is his nature, and his love, and his glory, to be a preserver of men. And to bring home this joy and comfort into his own heart, he addeth, salutis meae, “of my salvation.” So it is oratio fervens, and the apostle telleth us that such a prayer prevaileth much with God. For God may be a Saviour and a deliverer, and yet we may escape his saving hand, his right hand may skip us. We can have no comfort in the favours of God, except we can apply them at home; rather we may “think on God and be troubled.” Samuel Page.
Ver. 14. And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. Hierom, Basil, Euthymius, and other ancient doctors observe that natural corruptions and actual sins are the very rampiers which stop the free passage of song Psalms 51:15. So David doth himself expound himself: Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. His lack of thankfulness did cry, his adultery cry, his murder cry unto the Lord for revenge; but alas! himself was mute, till God in exceeding great mercy did stop the mouths of his clamorous adversaries, and gave him leave to speak. John Boys.
Ver. 14. Aloud. This for God, for himself, for the church. 1. For God, that his honour may be proclaimed, therefore they borrowed the voice of still and loud instruments…2. For himself. Having received such a benefit, he cannot contain himself, this new wine of spiritual joy which filleth his vessel must have a vent. All passions are loud. Anger chides loud, sorrow cries loud, fear shrieks loud, and joy sings loud. So he expresses the vehemency of his affection; for to whom much is forgiven, they love much. 3. For others. Iron sharpens iron–examples of zeal and devotion affect much, and therefore solemn and public assemblies do generally tender the best service to God, because one provoketh another. Samuel Page.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 51:15*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 15. O Lord, open thou my lips. He is so afraid of himself that he commits his whole being to the divine care, and fears to speak till the Lord unstops his shame silenced mouth. How marvellously the Lord can open our lips, and what divine things can we poor simpletons pour forth under his inspiration! This prayer of a penitent is a golden petition for a preacher, Lord, I offer it for myself and my brethren. But it may stand in good stead any one whose shame for sin makes him stammer in his prayers, and when it is fully answered, the tongue of the dumb begins to sing. And my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. If God opens the mouth he is sure to have the fruit of it. According to the porter at the gate is the nature of that which comes out of a man’s lips; when vanity, anger, falsehood, or lust unbar the door, the foulest villainies troop out; but if the Holy Spirit opens the wicket, then grace, mercy, peace, and all the graces come forth in tuneful dances, like the daughters of Israel when they met David returning with the Philistine’s head.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 15. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. As man is a little world in the great, so the tongue is a great world in the little. Nihil habet medium; aut grande malum est, aut grande bonum. (Jerome.) It has no mean; it is either a great evil, or a great good. If good (as Eunapius said of that famous rhetorician) a walking library, a whole university of edifying knowledge; but if bad (as St. James doth tell us, James 3:6), “a world of wickedness.” No better dish for God’s public service, when it is we; seasoned; again, none worse, when ill handled. So that if we desire to be doorkeepers in God’s house, let us entreat God first to be a doorkeeper in our house, that he would shut the wicket of our mouth against unsavoury speeches, and open the door of our lips, that our mouth may shew forth his praise. This was David’s prayer, and ought to be thy practice, wherein observe three points especially: who, the Lord; what, open my lips; why, that my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For the first–man of himself cannot untie the strings of his own stammering tongue, but it is God only which opened “a door of utterance.” Colossians 4:3. When we have a good thought, it is (as the school doth speak) gratia infusa; when a good word, gratia effusa; when a good work, gratia diffusa. Man is a lock, the Spirit of God has a key, “which openeth and no man shutteth; “again, “shutteth and no man openeth.” Revelation 3:7. He did open the heart of Lydia to conceive well, the ears of the prophet to hear well, the eyes of Elisha servant to see well, and here the lips of David to speak well. Acts 16:1-40, Isaiah 50:1-11, 2 Kings 6:1-33. And therefore, whereas in the former verse he might seem too peremptory, saying, My tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness; he doth, as it were, correct himself by this later edition and second speech: O Lord, I find myself most unable to sing or say, but open thou my lips, and touch thou my tongue, and then I am sure my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. John Boys.
Ver. 15. O Lord, open thou my lips, etc. Again he seems to have the case of the leper before his mind, with the upper lip covered, and only crying unclean, unclean; and he prays as a spiritual leper to be enabled, with freedom and fulness, to publish abroad the praise of his God. W. Wilson.
Ver. 15. (first clause). He prays that his lips may be opened; in other words, that God would afford him matter of praise. The meaning, usually attached to the expression is, that God would so direct his tongue by the Spirit as to fit him for singing his praises. But though it is true that God must supply us with words, and that if he do not, we cannot fail to be silent in his praise, David seems rather to intimate that his mouth must be shut until God called him to the exercise of thanksgiving by extending pardon. John Calvin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 15.
1. Confession. His lips are sealed on account–
1. Of his fall–and well they might be.
2. Of natural timidity.
3. Of want of zeal.
2. Petition, “Open thou, “etc. Not my understanding merely and heart, but “lips.”
3. Resolution. Then he would speak freely in God’s praise.
Ver. 15.
1. When God does not open our lips we had better keep them closed.
2. When he does open them we ought not to close them.
3. When he opens them it is not to speak in our own praise, and seldom in praise of others, but always in his own praise.
4. We should use this prayer whenever we are about to speak in his name. “O Lord, open, “etc.
Psalms 51:16*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 16. For thou desirest not sacrifice. This was the subject of the last Psalm. The psalmist was so illuminated as to see far beyond the symbolic ritual; his eye of faith gazed with delight upon the actual atonement. Else would I give it. He would have been glad enough to present tens of thousands of victims if these would have met the case. Indeed, anything which the Lord prescribed he would cheerfully have rendered. We are ready to give up all we have if we may but be cleared of our sins; and when sin is pardoned our joyful gratitude is prepared for any sacrifice. Thou delightest not in burnt offering. He knew that no form of burnt sacrifice was a satisfactory propitiation. His deep soul need made him look from the type to the antitype, from the external rite to the inward grace.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 16. For thou desirest not sacrifice; etc. There may be another reason why David here affirms that God would not accept of a sacrifice, nor be pleased with a burnt offering. No particular sacrifices were appointed by the law of Moses to expiate the guilt of murder and adultery. The person who had perpetrated these crimes was, according to the divine law, to be punished with death. David therefore may be understood as declaring, that it was utterly vain for him to think of resorting to sacrifices and burnt offerings with a view to the expiation of his guilt; that his criminality was of such a character, that the ceremonial law made no provision for his deliverance from the doom which his deeds of horror deserved; and that the only sacrifices which would avail were those mentioned in the succeeding verse, “The sacrifice of a broken heart.” John Calvin.
Ver. 16. Else would I give it thee. And good reason it is, that we who lie daily at the beautiful gate of the temple begging alms of him, and receiving from his open hand, who openeth his hand, and filleth with his plenty every living thing, should not think much to return to him such offerings of our goods as his law requireth. Samuel Page.
Ver. 16-17. And now I was thinking what were fit to offer to God for all his lovingkindness he has showed me; and I thought upon sacrifices, for they have sometimes been pleasing to him, and he hath oftentimes smelt a sweet odour from them; but I considered that sacrifices were but shadows of things to come, are not now in that grace they have been; for old things are past, and new are now come; the shadows are gone, the substances are come in place. The bullocks that are to be sacrificed now are our hearts; it were easier for me to give him bullocks for sacrifice, than to give him my heart. But why should I offer him that he care not for? my heart, I know, he cares for; and if it be broken, and offered up by penitence and contrition, it is the only sacrifice that now he delights in. But can we think God to be so indifferent that he will accept of a broken heart? Is a thing that is broken good for anything? Can we drink in a broken glass? Or can we lean upon a broken staff? But though other things may be the worse for breaking, yet a heart is never at the best till it be broken; for till it be broken we cannot see what is in it; till it be broken, it cannot send forth its sweetest odour; and therefore, though God loves a whole heart in affection, yet he loves a broken heart in sacrifice. And no marvel, indeed, seeing it is himself that breaks it; for as nothing but goat’s blood can break the adamant, so nothing but the blood of our scapegoat, Jesus Christ, is able to break our adamantine hearts. Therefore, accept, O God, my broken heart, which I offer thee with a whole heart; seeing thou canst neither except against it for being whole, which is broken in sacrifice, nor except against it for being broken, which is whole in affection. Sir Richard Baker.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 16-17.
1. Men would gladly do something towards their own salvation if they could. “Thou desirest not, “etc., else would I give it.
2. All that they can do is not of the least avail. All the ceremonial observances of Jewish or Gentile churches could not procure pardon for the least transgression of the moral law.
3. The only offering of man which God will not despise is a broken and a contrite heart.
4. All other requirement for his salvation God himself will provide.
Psalms 51:17*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. All sacrifices are presented to thee in one, by the man whose broken heart presents the Saviour’s merit to thee. When the heart mourns for sin, thou art better pleased than when the bullock bleeds beneath the axe. “A broken heart” is an expression implying deep sorrow, embittering the very life; it carries in it the idea of all but killing anguish in that region which is so vital as to be the very source of life. So excellent is a spirit humbled and mourning for sin, that it is not only a sacrifice, but it has a plurality of excellences, and is preeminently God’s sacrifices. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. A heart crushed is a fragrant heart. Men contemn those who are contemptible in their own eyes, but the Lord seeth not as man seeth. He despises what men esteem, and values that which they despise. Never yet has God spurned a lowly, weeping penitent, and never will he while God is love, and while Jesus is called the man who receiveth sinners. Bullocks and rams he desires not, but contrite hearts he seeks after; yea, but one of them is better to him than all the varied offerings of the old Jewish sanctuary.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 16-17. See Psalms on “Psalms 51:16” for further information.
Ver. 17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, etc. When speaking of thankfulness, we might have expected him to say, “a joyful heart, or a thankful heart, ” but instead of that he says, “a contrite heart.” For the joy of forgiveness does not banish sorrow and contrition for sin: this will still continue. And the deeper the sense of sin, and the truer the sorrow for it, the more heartfelt also will be the thankfulness for pardon and reconciliation. The tender, humble, broken heart, is therefore the best thank offering. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Ver. 17. It may be observed that the second word, (xkbn) which we render contrite, denotes the being bruised and broken to pieces, as a thing is bruised in a mortar (See Numbers 11:8), and therefore, in a moral sense, signifies such a weight of sorrow as must wholly crush the mind without some powerful and seasonable relief. Samuel Chandler.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3-4,11-12,17.
1. Scripture estimate of sin.
1. Personal accountability–My sin.
2. Estimated as hateful to God–Against thee, etc.
3. Sin estimated as separation from God.
2. Spiritual restoration. First step–Sacrifice of a broken spirit. Last step–Spirit of liberty. Thy free spirit. F. W. Robertson.
Ver. 16-17. See Psalms on “Psalms 51:16” for further information.
Psalms 51:18*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 18. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion. Let blessings according to thy wont be poured upon thy holy hill and chosen city. Zion was David’s favourite spot, whereon he had hoped to erect a temple. The ruling passion is so strong on him, that when he has discharged his conscience he must have a word for Zion. He felt he had hindered the project of honouring the Lord there as he desired, but he prayed God still to let the place of his ark be glorious, and to establish his worship and his worshipping people. Build thou the walls of Jerusalem. This had been one of David’s schemes, to wall in the holy city, and he desires to see it completed; but we believe he had a more spiritual meaning, and prayed for the prosperity of the Lord’s cause and people. He had done mischief by his sin, and had, as it were, pulled down her walls; he, therefore, implores the Lord to undo the evil, and establish his church. God can make his cause to prosper, and in answer to prayer he will do so. Without his building we labour in vain; therefore are we the more instant and constant in prayer. There is surely no grace in us if we do not feel for the church of God, and take a lasting interest in its welfare.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 18. In thy good pleasure. Whatever we seek must ever be sought under this restriction, Thy good pleasure. Build thou, but do it in thine own wise time, in thine own good way. Build thou the walls of separation that divide the church from the world; let them be in it, not of it; keep them from its evil. Build thou the walls that bind, that unite thy people into one city, under one polity, that they all may be one. Build thou, and raze thou; raze all the inner walls that divide thy people from thy people; hasten that day when, as there is but one Shepherd, so shall there be but one sheepfold. Thomas Alexander.
Ver. 18-19. Some few learned Jewish interpreters, while they assign the Psalm to the occasion mentioned in the title, conjecture that the 18th and 19th verses were added by some Jewish bard, in the time of the Babylonish captivity. This opinion is also held by Venema, Green, Street, French and Skinner. There does not, however, seem to be any sufficient ground for referring the poem, either in whole or part, to that period. Neither the walls of Jerusalem, nor the buildings of Zion, as the royal palace and the magnificent structure of the temple, which we know David had already contemplated for the worship of God (2 Samuel 7:1, etc.), were completed during his reign. This was only effected under the reign of his son Solomon. 1 Kings 3:1.
The prayer, then, in the 18th verse might have a particular reference to the completion of these buildings, and especially to the rearing of the temple, in which sacrifices of unprecedented magnitude were to be offered. David’s fears might easily suggest to him that his crimes might prevent the building of the temple, which God had promised should be erected. 2 Samuel 7:13. “The king forgets not, ” observes Bishop Horne, “to ask mercy for his people as well as for himself; that so neither his own nor their sins might prevent either the building and flourishing of the earthly Jerusalem, or, what was of infinitely greater importance, the promised blessing of Messiah, who was to descend from him, and to rear the walls of the New Jerusalem.” James Anderson’s Note to Calvin, in loc.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 18.
1. For whom is the prayer offered–for the church or Zion?
1. Next to our own welfare we should seek the welfare of Zion.
2. All should seek it by prayer.
2. For what is the prayer offered?
1. The kind of good, not worldly or ecclesiastical, but spiritual.
2. The measure of good. “In thy good pleasure.” Thine own love to it, and what thou hast already done for it.
3. The continuance of good. “Build, “etc. Its doctrines, graces, zeal.
Psalms 51:19*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 19. In those days of joyful prosperity thy saints shall present in great abundance the richest and holiest thank offerings to thee, and thou shalt be pleased to accept them. A saved soul expects to see its prayers answered in a revived church, and then is assured that God will be greatly glorified. Though we bring no more sacrifices for sin, yet as priests unto God our solemn praises and votive gifts are thank offerings acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. We bring not the Lord our least things–our doves and pigeons; but we present him with our best possessions–our bullocks. We are glad that in this present time we are able to fulfil in person the declaration of this verse: we also, forecasting the future, wait for days of the divine presence, when the church of God, with unspeakable joy, shall offer gifts upon the altar of God, which will far eclipse anything beheld in these less enthusiastic days. Hasten it, O Lord.

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Psalm 50

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-23
Title. A Psalm of Asaph. This is the first of the Psalms of Asaph, but whether the production of that eminent musician, or merely dedicated to him, we cannot tell. The titles of twelve Psalms bear his name, but it could not in all of them be meant to ascribe their authorship to him, for several of these Psalms are of too late a date to have been composed by the same writer as the others. There was an Asaph in David’s time, who was one of David’s chief musicians, and his family appear to have continued long after in their hereditary office of temple musicians. An Asaph is mentioned as a recorder or secretary in the days of Hezekiah 2 Kings 18:18, and another was keeper of the royal forests under Artaxerxes. That Asaph did most certainly write some of the Psalms is clear from 2 Chronicles 29:30, where it is recorded that the Levites were commanded to “sing praises unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer, “but that other Asaphic Psalms were not of his composition, but were only committed to his care as a musician, is equally certain from 1 Chronicles 16:7, where David is said to have delivered a Psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. It matters little to us whether he wrote or sang, for poet and musician are near akin, and if one composes words and another sets them to music, they rejoice together before the Lord.
Division. The Lord is represented as summoning the whole earth to hear his declaration, Psalms 50:1-6; he then declares the nature of the worship which he accepts, Psalms 50:7-15, accuses the ungodly of breaches of the precepts of the second table, Psalms 50:16-21, and closes the court with a word of threatening, Psalms 50:22, and a direction of grace, Psalms 50:23.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. The mighty God, even the Lord. El, Elohim, Jehovah, three glorious names for the God of Israel. To render the address the more impressive, these august titles are mentioned, just as in royal decrees the names and dignities of monarchs are placed in the forefront. Here the true God is described as Almighty, as the only and perfect object of adoration and as the self existent One. Hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun until the going down thereof. The dominion of Jehovah extends over the whole earth, and therefore to all mankind is his decree directed. The east and the west are bidden to hear the God who makes his sun to rise on every quarter of the globe. Shall the summons of the great King be despised? Will we dare provoke him to anger by slighting his call?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The exordium or beginning of this Psalm is the most grand and striking that can possibly be imagined—the speaker GOD, the audience an assembled world! We cannot compare or assimilate the scene here presented to us with any human resemblance; nor do I imagine that earth will ever behold such a day till that hour when the trumpet of the archangel shall sound and shall gather all the nations of the earth from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other; when the dead, small and great, shall stand before God, and the sea shall give up the dead which are in it, and death and hell shall deliver up the dead that are in them. Barton Bouchier.
Ver. 1. El, Elohim, Jehovah has spoken! So reads the Hebrew. Andrew A. Bonar.
Ver. 1. (first clause). Some have observed that these three names, El, Elohim, Jehovah, here mentioned, have three very distinct accents set to them, and which being joined to a verb singular (dbd), hath spoken, contains the mystery of the trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine Essence. John Gill.
Ver. 1. And called the earth, etc., i.e., all the inhabitants of the earth he has commanded to come as witnesses and spectators of the judgment. Simon de Muis.
Ver. 1-5. —
No more shall atheists mock his long delay;
His vengeance sleeps no more; behold the day!
Behold! —the Judge descends; his guards are nigh,
Tempests and fire attend him down the sky.
When God appears, all nature shall adore him.
While sinners tremble, saints rejoice before him.
Heaven, earth and hell, draw near; let all things come,
To hear my justice, and the sinner’s doom;
But gather first my saints (the Judge commands),
Bring them, ye angels, from their distant lands.
When Christ returns, wake every cheerful passion,
And shout, ye saints; he comes for your salvation.
Isaac Watts.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. It unspeakably concerns all men to know what God has spoken. W. S. Plumer.
Ver. 1.
1. Who has spoken? The Mighty, not men or angels, but God himself.
2. To whom has he spoken? To all nations—all ranks— all characters. This calls for,
1. Reverence—it is the voice of God.
2. Hope—because he condescends to speak to rebels.
3. Where has he spoken?
1. In creation.
2. In providence.
3. In his word. G. R.
Ver. 1-6.
1. The court called in the name of the King of kings.
2. The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat; Psalms 50:2-3.
3. The parties summoned; Psalms 50:8.
4. The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Psalms 50:6.
Matthew Henry.
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
WORKS UPON THE FIFTIETH PSALM
In the old quarto edition (1634) of “Mr. Paul Bayne’s Commentary on Colossians, “among the “divers places of Scripture briefly explained, “there is an exposition of Psalms 50:21-23, of this Psalm, entitled, “The Terror of God displayed against carnal security.”
Psalms 50:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. The Lord is represented not only as speaking to the earth, but as coming forth to reveal the glory of his presence to an assembled universe. God of old dwelt in Zion among his chosen people, but here the beams of his splendour are described as shining forth upon all nations. The sun was spoken of in the first verse, but here is a far brighter sun. The majesty of God is most conspicuous among his own elect, but is not confined to them; the church is not a dark lantern, but a candlestick. God shines not only in Zion, but out of her. She is made perfect in beauty by his indwelling, and that beauty is seen by all observers when the Lord shines forth from her.
Observe how with trumpet voice and flaming ensign the infinite Jehovah summons the heavens and the earth to hearken to his word.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1-5. — See Psalms on “Psalms 50:1” for further information.
Ver. 2. Out of Zion, the perfection of God’s beauty hath shined; or, God has caused the perfection of beauty to shine out of Zion. Martin Geier.
Ver. 2. God hath shined. Like the sun in his strength, sometimes for the comfort of his people, as Psalms 80:1; sometimes for the terror of evil doers, as Psalms 94:1, and here. But evermore God is terrible out of his holy places. Ps 68:35 89:7. John Trapp.
Ver. 2. God hath shined. The proper meaning of (epy) is to scatter rays from afar, and from a lofty place, and to glitter. It is a word of a grand sound, says Ch. Schultens, which is always used of a magnificent and flashing light …It is apparently used of the splendid symbol of God’s presence, as in De 34:2, where he is said to scatter beams from Mount Paran. From which it is manifest that it may refer to the pillar of cloud and fire, the seat of the Divine Majesty conspicuous on Mount Sinai, or on the tabernacle, or the loftiest part of the temple. Hermann Venema.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-6.
1. The court called in the name of the King of kings.
2. The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat.
3. The parties summoned; Psalms 50:8.
4. The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Psalms 50:6. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Ver. 2.
1. The internal beauty of Zion.
1. Positive beauty of wisdom—holiness—love.
2. Comparative with the beauty of Paradise and the heaven of angels.
3. Superlative —all the perfections of God combined.
2. Its external glory. Out of it God hath shined.
1. On this world.
2. On gracious souls.
3. On angels who desire to look, etc.
4. On the universe. “All the creatures heard I, “etc.
Psalms 50:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. Our God shall come. The psalmist speaks of himself and his brethren as standing in immediate anticipation of the appearing of the Lord upon the scene. “He comes, “they say, “our covenant God is coming; “they can hear his voice from afar, and perceive the splendour of his attending train. Even thus should we await the long promised appearing of the Lord from heaven. And shall not keep silence. He comes to speak, to plead with his people, to accuse and judge the ungodly. He has been silent long in patience, but soon he will speak with power. What a moment of awe when the Omnipotent is expected to reveal himself! What will be the reverent joy and solemn expectation when the poetic scene of this Psalm becomes in the last great day an actual reality! A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. Flame and hurricane are frequently described as the attendants of the divine appearance. “Our God is a consuming fire.” “At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hailstones and coals of fire.” Psalms 18:12. “He rode upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.” “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8. Fire is the emblem of justice in action, and the tempest is a token of his overwhelming power. Who will not listen in solemn silence when such is the tribunal from which the judge pleads with heaven and earth?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1-5. — See Psalms on “Psalms 50:1” for further information.
Ver. 3. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. He kept silence that he might be judged, he will not keep silence when he begins to judge. It would not have been said, He shall come manifestly, unless at first he had come concealed; nor, He shall not keep silence, had he not at first kept silence. How did he keep silence? Ask Isaiah: “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7. But he shall come manifestly, and shall not keep silence. How manifestly? A fire shall go before him, and round about him a mighty tempest. That tempest is to carry wholly away the chaff from the floor which is now in threshing; that fire, to consume what the tempest carries off. Now, however, he is silent; silent in judgment, but not in precept. For if Christ is silent, what mean these gospels? What the voices of the apostles? the canticles of the Psalms? the lofty utterances of the prophets? Truly in all these Christ is not silent. Howbeit he is silent for he present in not taking vengeance, not in not warning. But he will come in surpassing brightness to take vengeance, and will be seen of all, even of those who believe not on him; but now, forasmuch as although present he was not concealed, it behoved him to be despised: for unless he had been despised he would not have been crucified; if not crucified he would not have shed his blood, the price with which he redeemed us. But in order that he might give a price for us, he was crucified; that he might be crucified he was despised; that he might be despised, he appeared in humble guise. Augustine.
Ver. 3. (first clause). The future in the first clause may be rendered he is coming, as if the sound of his voice and the light of his glory had preceded his actual appearance. The imagery is borrowed from the giving of the law a Sinai. J. A. Alexander.
Ver. 3. (first clause). May our God come! (Version of Junius and Tremellius.) A prayer for the hastening of his advent, as in the Apocalypse, 22:20. Poole’s Synopsis.
Ver. 3. A fire shall devour before him. As he gave his law in fire, so in fire shall he require it. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-6.
1. The court called in the name of the King of kings.
2. The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat.
3. The parties summoned; Psalms 50:8.
4. The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Psalms 50:6. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Psalms 50:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth. Angels and men, the upper and the lower worlds, are called to witness the solemn scene. The whole creation shall stand in court to testify to the solemnity and the truth of the divine pleading. Both earth beneath and heaven above shall unite in condemning sin; the guilty shall have no appeal, though all are summoned that they may appeal if they dare. Both angels and men have seen the guilt of mankind and the goodness of the Lord, they shall therefore confess the justice of the divine utterance, and say “Amen” to the sentence of the supreme Judge. Alas, ye despisers! What will ye do and to whom will ye fly? That he may judge his people. Judgment begins at the house of God. The trial of the visible people of God will be a most awful ceremonial. He will thoroughly purge his floor. He will discern between his nominal and his real people, and that in open court, the whole universe looking on. My soul, when this actually takes place, how will it fare with thee? Canst thou endure the day of his coming?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1-5. — See Psalms on “Psalms 50:1” for further information.
Ver. 4. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth. That these dumb creatures may be as so many speaking evidences against an unworthy people, and witness of God’s righteous dealings against them. See De 32:1, Isaiah 1:2, Micah 6:2. The Chaldee thus paraphrases: He will call the high angels from above; and the just of the earth from beneath. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-6.
1. The court called in the name of the King of kings.
2. The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat.
3. The parties summoned; Psalms 50:8.
4. The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Psalms 50:6. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Ver. 4.
1. What God will do for his people. He will judge them.
1. Deliver.
2. Defend.
3. Uphold.
2. The means at his disposal for this purpose. “He shall call, “etc. —Heaven and earth are subservient to him for the good of his church. G. R.
Ver. 4. The judgment of the visible church. It will be by God himself, public, searching—with fire and wind, exact, final.
Psalms 50:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. Gather my saints together unto me. Go, ye swift winged messengers, and separate the precious from the vile. Gather out the wheat of the heavenly garner. Let the long scattered, but elect people, known by my separating grace to be my sanctified ones, be now assembled in one place. All are not saints who seem to be so—a severance must be made; therefore let all who profess to be saints be gathered before my throne of judgment, and let them hear the word which will search and try the whole, that the false may be convicted and the true revealed. Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice; this is the grand test, and yet some have dared to imitate it. The covenant was ratified by the slaying of victims, the cutting and dividing of offerings; this the righteous have done by accepting with true faith the great propitiatory sacrifice, and this the pretenders have done in merely outward form. Let them be gathered before the throne for trial and testing, and as many as have really ratified the covenant by faith in the Lord Jesus shall be attested before all worlds as the objects of distinguishing grace, while formalists shall learn that outward sacrifices are all in vain. Oh, solemn assize, how does my soul bow in awe at the prospect thereof!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1-5. — See Psalms on “Psalms 50:1” for further information.
Ver. 5. Gather, etc. To whom are these words addressed? Many suppose to the angels, as the ministers of God’s will; but it is unnecessary to make the expression more definite than it is in the Psalm. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Ver. 5. My saints, the objects of my mercy, those whom I have called and specially distinguished. The term is here descriptive of a relation, not of an intrinsic quality. J. A. Alexander.
Ver. 5. Gather my saints together unto me. There is a double or twofold gathering to Christ. There is a gathering unto Christ by faith, a gathering within the bond of the covenant, a gathering into the family of God, a gathering unto the root of Jesse, standing up for an ensign of the people. “In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:10. This is the main end of the gospel, the great work of ministers, the gathering of sinners unto Christ. But then there is a gathering at the general judgment; and this is the fathering that is here spoken of. This gathering is consequential to the other. Christ will gather none to him at the last day but those that are gathered to him by faith here; he will give orders to gather together unto him all these, and none but these, that have taken hold of his covenant…
I would speak of Christ’s owning and acknowledging the saints at his second coming. His owning and acknowledging them is imported in his giving these orders: Gather my saints together unto me. … Now upon this head I mention the things following: — 1. Saintship will be the only mark of distinction in that day. There are many marks of distinction now; but these will all cease, and this only will remain. 2. Saintship will then be Christ’s badge of honour. Beware of mocking at saintship, or sanctity, holiness and purity; for it is Christ’s badge of honour, the garments with which his followers are clothed, and will be the only badge of honour at the great day. 3. Christ will forget and mistake none of the saints. Many of the saints are forgotten here, it is forgotten that such persons were in the world, but Christ will forget and mistake none of them at the great day; he will give forth a list of all his saints, and give orders to gather them all unto him. 4. He will confess, own, and acknowledge them before his Father, and his holy angels. Matthew 10:32 Lu 12:8, Revelation 3:5. They are to go to my Father’s house, and they are to go thither in my name, in my right, and at my back; and so it is necessary I should own and acknowledge them before my Father. But what need is there for his owning them before the angels? Answer. They are to be the angel’s companions, and so it is necessary he should own them before the angels. This will be like a testimonial for them unto the angels. Lastly. The evidences of his right to and propriety in them, will then be made to appear. Malachi 3:17 : “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” It is too late for persons to become his then; so the meaning is, they shall evidently appear to be mine. James Scot, 1773.
Ver. 5. Gather my saints together unto me. Our text may be considered as the commission given by the great Judge to his angels —those ministering spirits who do his will, hearkening to the voice of his power. The language of the text is in accordance with that which was uttered by our Lord when, alluding to the coming of the Son of Man, he says, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” But previous to this final, this general gathering together of his saints to judgment, Jehovah gathers them together in various ways, in various places, and by various means, both of providence and of grace. Previous to his being seated on a throne of judgment, we behold him sitting on a throne of mercy, and we hear him saying, Gather my saints together unto me. These words lead us to notice—I. The characters described, My saints. II. The command issued, Gather my saints together unto me. I. THE CHARACTERS HERE DESCRIBED— my saints, we are to understand my holy ones —those who have been sanctified and set apart by God. None of us possess this character by nature. We are born sinners, and there is no difference; but by divine grace we experience a change of nature, and consequently a change of name. The title of saint is frequently given to the people of God in derision. “Such an one, “says a man of the world, “is one of your saints.” But, my brethren, no higher honour can be conferred upon us than to be denominated saints, if we truly deserve that character; but in what way do we become saints? We become saints—1. By divine choice. The saints are the objects of everlasting love; their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life; and it is worthy of remark that wherever the people of God are spoken of in sacred Scripture, as the objects of that everlasting love, it is in connection with their personal sanctification. Observe, they are not chosen because they are saints, nor because it is foreseen that they will be so, but they are chosen to be saints; sanctification is the effect and the only evidence of election. We become saints—2. By a divine change which is the necessary consequence of this election. An inward, spiritual, supernatural, universal change is effected in the saints by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus they are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and made partakers of a divine nature…Remember, then, this important truth, that Christians are called by the gospel to be saints; that you are Christians, not so much by your orthodoxy as by your holiness; that you are saints no further than as you are holy in all manner of conversation. 3. The people of God furnish an evidence of being saints by their godly conduct. “By their fruits, “not by their feelings; not by their lips, not by their general profession, but, “by their fruits shall ye know them.” 4. The character of the saints is evidenced by divine consecration. The people of God are called holy inasmuch as they are dedicated to God. It is the duty and the privilege of saints to consecrate themselves to the service of God. Even a heathen philosopher could say, “I lend myself to the world, but I give myself to the gods. But we possess more light and knowledge, and are therefore laid under greater obligation than was Seneca.”
II. THE COMMAND ISSUED. Gather my saints together unto me. Jehovah gathers his saints to himself in various ways. 1. He gathers them to himself in their conversion. The commission given by Christ to his ministers is, “Go ye forth into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, “or in other words, Gather my saints together unto me. The gospel is to be preached to sinners in order that they may become saints. 2. Saints are gathered together by God in public worship …3. He gathers his saints together to himself in times of danger. When storms appear to be gathering around them, he is desirous to screen them from the blast. He say to them, in the language of Isaiah, “Come, my people, and enter into thy chamber—the chamber of my perfections and my promises—enter into thy chamber and shut the doors about thee, and hide thyself until the calamity is overpast.”
4. God gathers his saints together in the service of his church. Thus Christ collected his apostles together to give them their apostolic commission to go and teach all nations. At the period of the Reformation, the great Head of the church raised up Luther and Calvin, together with other eminent reformers, in order that they might light up a flame in Europe, yea, throughout the world, that the breath of popery should never be able to blow out. 5. God gathers his saints together in death, and at the resurrection. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” This is the commission which death is habitually receiving—”Go, death, and gather such and such of my saints unto me.” As the gardener enters the garden, and plucks up the full blown flower and the ripened fruit, so Jesus Christ enters the garden of his church and gathers his saints to himself; for he says, “Father, I will that all they whom thou hast given me may be with me, where I am, and behold my glory.” Condensed from J. Sibree’s “Sermon preached at the reopening of Surrey Chapel, August 29th, 1830.”
Ver. 5. (second clause). Made, or ratifying a covenant; literally, cutting, striking, perhaps in allusion to the practice of slaying and dividing victims as a religious rite, accompanying solemn compacts. (See Genesis 15:10-18.) The same usage may be referred to in the following words, over sacrifice, i.e., standing over it: or on sacrifice, i.e., founding the engagement on a previous appeal to God. There is probably allusion to the great covenant transaction recorded in Exodus 24:4-8. This reference to sacrifice shows clearly that what follows was not intended to discredit or repudiate that essential symbol of the typical or ceremonial system. J. A. Alexander.
Ver. 5. Made a covenant with me. Formerly soldiers used to take an oath not to flinch from their colours, but faithfully to cleave to their leaders; thus they called sacramentum militaire, a military oath; such an oath lies upon every Christian. It is so essential to the being of a saint, that they are described by this, Gather together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me. We are not Christians till we have subscribed this covenant, and that without any reservation. When we take upon us the profession of Christ’s name, we enlist ourselves in his muster roll, and by it do promise that we will live and die with him in opposition to all his enemies …He will not entertain us till we resign up ourselves freely to his disposal, that there may be no disputing with is commands afterwards, but, as one under his authority, go and come at his word. William Gurnall.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-6.
1. The court called in the name of the King of kings.
2. The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat.
3. The parties summoned; Psalms 50:8.
4. The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Psalms 50:6. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Ver. 5. The great family gathering.
1. Who are gathered.
2. How they are gathered.
3. To whom.
4. When they are gathered.
Ver. 5. (last clause).
1. The covenant.
2. The sacrifice which ratifies it.
3. How we may be said to make it.
Psalms 50:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness. Celestial intelligences and the spirits of just men made perfect, shall magnify the infallible judgment of the divine tribunal. Now they doubtless wonder at the hypocrisy of men; then they shall equally marvel at the exactness of the severance between the true and the false. For God is judge himself. This is the reason for the correctness of the judgment. Priests of old, and churches of later times, were readily deceived, but not so the all discerning Lord. No deputy judge sits on the great white throne; the injured Lord of all himself weighs the evidence and allots the vengeance or reward. The scene in the Psalm is a grand poetical conception, but it is also an inspired prophecy of that day which shall burn as an oven, when the Lord shall discern between him that feareth and him that feareth him not. Selah. Here we may well pause in reverent prostration, in deep searching of heart, in humble prayer, and in awe struck expectation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. The heavens shall declare his righteousness. It is the manner of Scripture to commit the teaching of that which it desires should be most noticeable and important to the heavens and the earth: for the heavens are seen by all, and their light discovers all things. Here it speaks of the heavens, not the earth, because these are everlasting, but not the earth. Geier and Muis, in Poole’s Synopsis.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. (last clause). Then slander will not pervert the sentence, undue severity will not embitter it, partiality will not excuse, falsehood will not deceive, justice will surely be done.
Psalms 50:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7-15. The address which follows is directed to the professed people of God. It is clearly, in the first place, meant for Israel; but is equally applicable to the visible church of God in every age. It declares the futility of external worship when spiritual faith is absent, and the mere outward ceremonial is rested in.
Ver. 7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak. Because Jehovah speaks and they are avowedly his own people, they are bound to give earnest heed. “Let me speak, “saith the great I AM. The heavens and earth are but listeners, the Lord is about both to testify and to judge. O Israel, and I will testify against thee. Their covenant name is mentioned to give point to the address; it was a double evil that the chosen nation should become so carnal, so unspiritual, so false, so heartless to their God. God himself, whose eyes sleep not, who is not misled by rumour, but sees for himself, enters on the scene as witness against his favoured nation. Alas! for us when God, even our fathers’ God, testifies to the hypocrisy of the visible church. I am God, even thy God. He had taken them to be his peculiar people above all other nations, and they had in the most solemn manner avowed that he was their God. Hence the special reason for calling them to account. The law began with, “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, “and now the session of their judgment opens with the same reminder of their singular position, privilege, and responsibility. It is not only that Jehovah is God, but thy God, O Israel; this is that makes thee so amenable to his searching reproofs.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Ver. 7. Sins of God’s people specially against God, and only known to God. A searching subject.
Psalms 50:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been ever before me. Though they had not failed in maintaining his outward worship, or even if they had, he was not about to call them to account for this: a more weighty matter was now under consideration. They thought the daily sacrifices and the abounding burnt offerings to be everything: he counted them nothing if the inner sacrifice of heart devotion had been neglected. What was greatest with them was least with God. It is even so today. Sacraments (so called) and sacred rites are them main concern with unconverted but religious men, but with the Most High the spiritual worship which they forget is the sole matter. Let the external be maintained by all means, according to the divine command, but if the secret and spiritual be not in them, they are a vain oblation, a dead ritual, and even an abomination before the Lord.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices; i.e., for thy neglect of them, but for thy resting in them, sticking in the bark, bringing me the bare shell without the kernel, not referring to the right end and use, but satisfying thyself in the work done. John Trapp.
Ver. 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings continually before me. Those words to have been, which our translators supply, may be left out, and the sense remain perfect: or if those words be continued, then the negative particle not, is to be reassumed out of the first part of the verse, and the whole read thus, I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt offerings not to have been continually before me. That is, I will not charge thee with a neglect of outward duty or worship, the inward or spiritual (of which he speaks, Psalms 50:14), being that which is most pleasing unto me. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 8-9. It is the very remonstrance which our Lord himself makes against the Pharisees of his days, for laying so much stress on the outward observance of their own traditions, the washing of pots and cups and other such like things; the paying of tithes of anise and mint and cummin; the ostentatious fulfilment of all ceremonious observances in the eyes of men, the exalting the shadow to the exclusion of the substance. And have we not seen the like in our own days, even to the very vestment of the minister, the obeisance of the knee, and the posture of the body? as if the material church were all in all, and God were not Spirit, that demanded of those that worshipped him that they should worship him in spirit and in truth; as if the gold and ornaments of the temple were far beyond the hidden man of the heart in that which is incorruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Barton Bouchier.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 50:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. I will take no bullock out of thy house. Foolishly they dreamed that bullocks with horns and hoofs could please the Lord, when indeed he sought for hearts and souls. Impiously they fancied that Jehovah needed these supplies, and that if they fed his altar with their fat beasts, he would be content. What he intended for their instruction, they made their confidence. They remembered not that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Nor he goats out of thy folds. He mentions these lesser victims as if to rouse their common sense to see that the great Creator could find not satisfaction in mere animal offerings. If he needed these, he would not appeal to their scanty stalls and folds; in fact, he here refuses to take so much as one, if they brought them under the false and dishonouring view, that they were in themselves pleasing to him. This shows that the sacrifices of the law were symbolical of higher and spiritual things, and were not pleasing to God except under their typical aspect. The believing worshipper looking beyond the outward was accepted, the unspiritual who had no respect to their meaning was wasting his substance, and blaspheming the God of heaven.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8-9. It is the very remonstrance which our Lord himself makes against the Pharisees of his days, for laying so much stress on the outward observance of their own traditions, the washing of pots and cups and other such like things; the paying of tithes of anise and mint and cummin; the ostentatious fulfilment of all ceremonious observances in the eyes of men, the exalting the shadow to the exclusion of the substance. And have we not seen the like in our own days, even to the very vestment of the minister, the obeisance of the knee, and the posture of the body? as if the material church were all in all, and God were not Spirit, that demanded of those that worshipped him that they should worship him in spirit and in truth; as if the gold and ornaments of the temple were far beyond the hidden man of the heart in that which is incorruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Barton Bouchier.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Psalms 50:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. For every beast of the forest is mine. How could they imagine that the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, had need of beasts, when all the countless hordes that find shelter in a thousand forests and wildernesses belong to him? And the cattle upon a thousand hills. Not alone the wild beasts, but also the tamer creatures are all his own. Even if God cared for these things, he could supply himself. Their cattle were not, after all, their own, but were still the great Creator’s property, why then should he be beholden to them. From Dan to Beersheba, from Nebaioth to Lebanon, there fed not a beast which was not marked with the name of the great Shepherd; why, then, should he crave oblations of Israel? What a slight is here put even upon sacrifices of divine appointment when wrongly viewed as in themselves pleasing to God! And all this to be so expressly stated under the law! How much more is this clear under the gospel, when it is so much more plainly revealed, that “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”? Ye Ritualists, ye Sacramentarians, ye modern Pharisees, what say ye to this?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 10. “For to me (belongs) every beast of the forest, the cattle in hills of a thousand.” This last idiomatic phrase may either mean a thousand hills, or hills where the cattle rove by thousands, with probable allusion to the hilly grounds of Bashan beyond Jordan. According to etymology, the noun in the first clause means an animal, and that in the second beasts or brutes in general. But when placed in antithesis, the first denotes a wild beast, and the second domesticated animals or cattle. Both words were necessary to express God’s sovereign propriety in the whole animal creation. Thus understood, the verse assigns a reason for the negative assertion in the one before it. Even if God could stand in need of animal oblations, for his own sake, or for their sake, he would not be under the necessity of coming to man for them, since the whole animal creation is his property and perfectly at his disposal. J. A. Alexander.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Psalms 50:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. I know all the fowls of the mountain. All the winged creatures are under my inspection and near my hand; what then can be the value of your pairs of turtledoves, and your two young pigeons? The great Lord not only feeds all his creatures, but is well acquainted with each one; how wondrous is this knowledge! And the wild beasts of the fields are mine. The whole population moving over the plain belongs to me; why then should I seek you beeves and rams? In me all things live and move; how mad are you to suppose that I desire your living things! A spiritual God demands other life than that which is seen in animals; he looks for spiritual sacrifice; for the love, the trust, the praise, the life of your hearts.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11-12. We show our scorn of God’s sufficiency, by secret thoughts of meriting from him by any religious act, as though God could be indebted to us, and obliged by us. As though our devotions could bring a blessedness to God more than he essentially hath; when indeed “our goodness extends not to him.” Psalms 16:2. Our services to God are rather services to ourselves, and bring a happiness to us, not to God. This secret opinion of merit (though disputed among the Papists, yet) is natural to man; and this secret self pleasing, when we have performed any duty, and upon that account expect some fair compensation from God, as having been profitable to him; God intimates this: “The wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” He implies, that they wronged his infinite fulness, by thinking that he stood in need of their sacrifices and services, and that he was beholden to them for their adoration of him. All merit implies a moral or natural insufficiency in the person of whom we merit, and our doing something for him, which he could not, or at least so well do for himself. It is implied in our murmuring at God’s dealing with us as a course of cross providences, wherein men think they have deserved better at the hands of God by their service, than to be cast aside and degraded by him. In our prosperity we are apt to have secret thoughts that our enjoyments were the debts God owes us, rather than gifts freely bestowed upon us. Hence it is that men are more unwilling to part with their righteousness than with their sins, and are apt to challenge salvation as a due, rather than beg it as an act of grace. Stephen Charnock.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Psalms 50:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee. Strange conception, a hungry God! Yet if such an absurd ideal could be truth, and if the Lord hungered for meat, he would not ask it of men. He could provide for himself out of his own possessions; he would not turn suppliant to his own creatures. Even under the grossest ideal of God, faith in outward ceremonies is ridiculous. Do men fancy that the Lord needs banners, and music, and incense, and fine linen? If he did, the stars would emblazon his standard, the winds and the waves become his orchestra, ten thousand times ten thousand flowers would breathe forth perfume, the snow should be his alb, the rainbow his girdle, the clouds of light his mantle. O fools and slow of heart, ye worship ye know not what! For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. What can he need who is owner of all things and able to create as he wills? Thus overwhelmingly does the Lord pour forth his arguments upon formalists.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11-12. See Psalms on “Psalms 50:11” for further information.
Ver. 12. If I were hungry, etc. Pagan sacrifices were considered as feasts of the gods. Daniel Cresswell.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Psalms 50:13*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 13. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Are you so infatuated as to think this? Is the great I AM subject to corporeal wants, and are they to be thus grossly satisfied? Heathens thought thus of their idols, but dare ye think thus of the God who made the heavens and the earth? Can ye have fallen so low as to think thus of me, O Israel? What vivid reasoning is here! How the fire flashes dart into the idiot faces of trusters in outward forms! Ye dupes of Rome, can ye read this and be unmoved? The expostulation is indignant; the questions utterly confound; the conclusion is inevitable; heart worship only can be acceptable with the true God. It is inconceivable that outward things can gratify him, except so far as through them our faith and love express themselves.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 13. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? That is, did I want anything I would not tell thee; but hast thou indeed such gross notions of me, as to imagine that I have appointed and required the blood and flesh of animals for their own sake and not with some design? Dost thou think I am pleased with these, when they are offered without faith, love, and gratitude? Nay, offer the sacrifice of praise, etc. Render to me a spiritual and reasonable service, performing thy engagements, and then thou wilt find me a very present help in trouble. B. Boothroyd.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Ver. 13-15. What sacrifices are not, and what are acceptable with God.
Psalms 50:14*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 14. Offer unto God thanksgiving. No longer look at your sacrifices as in themselves gifts pleasing to me, but present them as the tributes of your gratitude; it is then that I will accept them, but not while your poor souls have no love and no thankfulness to offer me. The sacrifices, as considered in themselves, are contemned, but the internal emotions of love consequent upon a remembrance of divine goodness, are commended as the substance, meaning, and soul of sacrifice. Even when the legal ceremonials were not abolished, this was true, and when they came to an end, this truth was more than ever made manifest. Not for want of bullocks on the altar was Israel blamed, but for want of thankful adoration before the Lord. She excelled in the visible, but in the inward grace, which is the one thing needful, she sadly failed. Too many in these days are in the same condemnation. And pay thy vows unto the most High. Let the sacrifice be really presented to the God who seeth the heart, pay to him the love you promised, the service you covenanted to render, the loyalty of heart you have vowed to maintain. O for grace to do this! O that we may be graciously enabled to love God, and live up to our profession! To be, indeed, the servants of the Lord, the lovers of Jesus, this is our main concern. What avails our baptism, to what end our gatherings at the Lord’s table, to what purpose our solemn assemblies, if we have not the fear of the Lord, and vital godliness reigning within our bosoms?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Ver. 1-15. What sacrifices are not, and what are acceptable with God.
Psalms 50:15*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 15. And call upon me in the day of trouble. Oh blessed verse! Is this then true sacrifice? Is it an offering to ask an alms of heaven? It is even so. The King himself so regards it. For herein is faith manifested, herein is love proved, for in the hour of peril we fly to those we love. It seems a small think to pray to God when we are distressed, yet is it a more acceptable worship than the mere heartless presentation of bullocks and he goats. This is a voice from the throne, and how full of mercy it is! It is very tempestuous round about Jehovah, and yet what soft drops of mercy’s rain drop from the bosom of the storm! Who would not offer such sacrifices? Troubled one, haste to present it now! Who shall say that Old Testament saints did not know the gospel? Its very spirit and essence breathes like frankincense all around this holy Psalm. I will deliver thee. The reality of thy sacrifice of prayer shall be seen in its answer. Whether the smoke of burning bulls be sweet to me or no, certainly thy humble prayer shall be, and I will prove it so by my gracious reply to thy supplication. This promise is very large, and may refer both to temporal and eternal deliverances; faith can turn it every way, like the sword of the cherubim. And thou shalt glorify me. Thy prayer will honour me, and thy grateful perception of my answering mercy will also glorify me. The goats and bullocks would prove a failure, but the true sacrifice never could. The calves of the stall might be a vain oblation, but not the calves of sincere lips.
Thus we see what is true ritual. Here we read inspired rubrics. Spiritual worship is the great, the essential matter; all else without it is rather provoking than pleasing to God. As helps to the soul, outward offerings were precious, but when men went not beyond them, even their hallowed things were profaned in the view of heaven.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 15. Call upon me, etc. Prayer is like the ring which Queen Elizabeth gave to the Earl of Essex, bidding him if he were in any distress send that ring to her, and she would help him. God commandeth his people if they be in any perplexity to send this ring to him: Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. George Swinnock.
Ver. 15. Call upon me in the day of trouble, etc. Who will scrape to a keeper for a piece of venison who may have free access to the master of the game to ask and have? Hanker not after other helpers, rely on him only, fully trusting him in the use of such means as he prescribes and affords. God is jealous, will have no co-rival, nor allow thee (in this case) two strings to thy bow. He who worketh all in all must be unto thee all in all; of, through, and to whom are all things, to him be all praise for ever. Romans 11:36. George Gipps, in “A Sermon preached (before God, and from him) to the Honourable House of Commons, 1645.”
Ver. 15. Call upon me in the day of trouble, etc. The Lord hath promised his children supply of all good things, yet they must use the means of impetration; by prayer. He feed the young ravens when they call upon him. Psalms 147:9. He feeds the young ravens, but first they call upon him. God withholds from them that ask not, lest he should give to them that desire not. (Augustine.) David was confident that by God’s power he should spring over a wall; yet not without putting his own strength and agility to it. Those things we pray for, we must work for. (Augustine.) The carter in Isidore, when his cart was overthrown, would needs have his god Hercules come down from heaven, to help him up with it; but whilst he forbore to set his own shoulder to it, his cart lay still. Abraham was as rich as any of our aldermen, David as valiant as any of our gentlemen, Solomon as wise as any of our deepest naturians, Susanna as fair as any of our painted pieces. Yet none of them thought that their riches, valour, policy, beauty, or excellent parts could save them; but they stirred the sparks of grace, and bestirred themselves in pious work. And this is our means, if our meaning be to be saved. Thomas Adams.
Ver. 15. I will deliver thee: properly, I will draw forth with my own mighty hand, and plant thee in liberty and prosperity. Hermann Venema.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-15.
1. God’s call to man.
2. Man’s call to God.
Ver. 13-15. What sacrifices are not, and what are acceptable with God.
Ver. 15.
1. The occasion—”trouble.”
2. The command—”call upon me.”
3. The promise—”I will deliver thee.”
4. The design—”Thou shalt, “etc. G. R.
Ver. 15. Thou shalt glorify me. This we do by praying, and by praising when prayer is heard; as also by confidence in his promises, submission to his chastisements, concern for his honour, attachment to his cause, affection to his people, and by continual obedience to his commands.
Ver. 15.
1. A special invitation as to person and time.
2. Special promise to those accepting it.
3. Special duty involved when the promise is fulfilled.
Psalms 50:16*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 16-21. Here the Lord turns to the manifestly wicked among his people; and such there were even in the highest places of his sanctuary. If moral formalists had been rebuked, how much more these immoral pretenders to fellowship with heaven? If the lack of heart spoiled the worship of the more decent and virtuous, how much more would violations of the law, committed with a high hand, corrupt the sacrifices of the wicked?
Ver. 16. But unto the wicked God saith. To the breakers of the second table he now addresses himself; he had previously spoken to the neglectors of the first. What hast thou to do to declare my statutes? You violate openly my moral law, and yet are great sticklers for my ceremonial commands! What have you to do with them? What interest can you have in them? Do you dare to teach my law to others, and profane it yourselves? What impudence, what blasphemy is this! Even if you claim to be sons of Levi, what of that? Your wickedness disqualifies you, disinherits you, puts you out of the succession. It should silence you, and would if my people were as spiritual as I would have them, for they would refuse to hear you, and to pay you the portion of temporal things which is due to my true servants. You count up your holy days, you contend for rituals, you fight for externals, and yet the weightier matters of the law ye despise! Ye blind guides, ye strain out gnats and swallow camels; your hypocrisy is written on your foreheads and manifest to all. Or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth. Ye talk of being in covenant with me, and yet trample my holiness beneath you feet as swine trample upon pearls; think ye that I can brook this? Your mouths are full of lying and slander, and yet ye mouth my words as if they were fit morsels for such as you! How horrible and evil it is, that to this day we see men explaining doctrines who despise precepts! They make grace a coverlet for sin, and even judge themselves to be sound in the faith, while they are rotten in life. We need the grace of the doctrines as much as the doctrines of grace, and without it an apostle is but a Judas, and a fair spoken professor is an arrant enemy of the cross of Christ.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 16. Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes? etc. “As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.” Is it not? No wonder then that divine wisdom requires us ourselves to put off the old man (as snakes put off their skins) before we take on us the most honourable office of reproving sin; a duty which above any other brings praise to God, and profit to men; insomuch that God hath not a more honourable work that I know of to set us about. And what think you? Are greasy scullions fit to stand before kings? Are dirty kennel rakers fit to be plenipotentiaries or ambassadors? Are unclean beasts fit to be made lord almoners, and sent to bestow the king’s favours? Are swine fit to cast pearl, and the very richest pearl of God’s royal word? No man dreams it; consequently none can believe himself qualified or commissioned to be a reprover of sin “till he is washed, till he is sanctified, till he is justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.” A lunatick beggar in Athens would not believe but that all the ships in the harbour were his. His mistake exceeded not theirs, who persuade themselves that this richer office is theirs, before they are “alive from the dead, “and “born of the Spirit, “before they are returned to God or to themselves. The Duke of Alva is said to have complained that `his king sent him in fetters to fight for him; ‘because without his pardon given him, and while he was a prisoner, he employed him in war. But the Supreme King is a more merciful one, and orders our charity to begin at home; making it our first duty to break off our sins; and then when we have put off these our shackles, go to fight his battles. Daniel Burgess (1645—1712-13) in “The Golden Sufferers.”
Ver. 16. The wicked. By whom are meant, not openly profane sinners; but men under a profession of religion, and indeed who were teachers of others, as appears from the following expostulations with them: the Scribes, Pharisees, and doctors among the Jews, are designed, and so Kimchi interprets it of their wise men, who learnt and taught the law, but did not act according to it. John Gill.
Ver. 16. What hast thou to do to declare my statutes? etc. All the medieval writers teach us, even from the Mosaic law, concerning the leper, how the writer of this Psalm only put in words what those statutes expressed in fact. For so it is written: “The leper in whom the plague is, …he shall put a covering upon his upper lip.” As they all, following Origen, say: Let them who are themselves of polluted lips, take good heed not to teach others. Or, to take it in the opposite way, see how Isaiah would not speak to his people, because he was a man of polluted lips, and he dwelt among a people of polluted lips, till they had been touched with the living coal from the altar; and by that, as by a sacrament of the Old Testament, a sentence of absolution had been pronounced upon them. J. M. Neale.
Ver. 16. (second clause). Emphasis is laid on the phrase, to declare God’s statutes, which both denotes such an accurate knowledge of them as one may obtain by numbering them, and a diligent and public review of them. Properly speaking the word is derived from the Arabic, and signifies to reckon in dust, for the ancients were accustomed to calculate in dust finely sprinkled over tablets of the Abacus. Hermann Venema.
Ver. 16. But unto the wicked God saith, What has thou to do…to take my covenant into thy mouth? For whom is the covenant made but for the wicked? If men were not wicked or sinful what needed there a covenant of grace? The covenant is for the wicked, and the covenant brings grace enough to pardon those who are most wicked; why, then, doth the Lord say to the wicked, What hast thou to do to take my covenant unto thy mouth? Observe what follows, and his meaning is expounded: Seeing thou hatest to be reformed. As if God had said, You wicked man, who protects you sin, and holds it close, refusing to return and hating to reform; what hast thou to do to meddle with my covenant? Lay off thy defiled hands. He that is resolved to hold his sin takes hold of the covenant in vain, or rather he lets it go, while he seems to hold it. Woe unto them who sue for mercy while they neglect duty. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 16. When a minister does not do what he teaches, this makes him a vile person; nay, this makes him ridiculous, like Lucian’s apothecary, who had medicines in his shop to cure the cough, and told others that he had them, and yet was troubled with it himself. With what a forehead canst thou stand in a pulpit and publish the laws of God, and undertake the charge of souls, that when thine own nakedness appears, when thy tongue is of a larger size than thy hands, thy ministry is divided against itself, thy courses give thy doctrine the lie; thou sayest that men must be holy, and thy deeds do declare thy mouth’s hypocrisy; thou doest more mischief than a hundred others. William Fenner.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 16-17.
1. The prohibition given.
1. The prohibited things —”declare my statutes.” “Take my covenant, “etc. (1.) Preaching. (2.) Teaching, as in Sunday schools. (3.) Praying. (4.) Attending ordinances.
2. Prohibited persons. Wicked preachers, etc., while they continue in wickedness.
2. The reason assigned; Psalms 50:17.
1. No self application of the truth.
2. Inward hatred of it.
3. Outward rejection. G. R.
Psalms 50:17*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 17. Seeing thou hatest instruction. Profane professors are often too wise to learn, too besotted with conceit to be taught of God. What a monstrosity that men should declare those statutes which with their hearts they do not know, and which in their lives they openly disavow! Woe unto the men who hate the instruction which they take upon themselves to give. And castest my words behind thee. Despising them, throwing them away as worthless, putting them out of sight as obnoxious. Many boasters of the law did this practically; and in these last days there are pickers and choosers of God’s words who cannot endure the practical part of Scripture; they are disgusted at duty, they abhor responsibility, they disembowel texts of their plain meanings, they wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. It is an ill sign when a man dares not look a Scripture in the face, and an evidence of brazen impudence when he tries to make it mean something less condemnatory of his sins, and endeavours to prove it to be less sweeping in its demands. How powerful is the argument that such men have no right to take the covenant of God into their mouths, seeing that its spirit does not regulate their lives!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 17. And castest my words behind thee. Thou castest away contemptuously, with disgust and detestation, as idols are cast out of a city; or as Moses indignantly dashed to the earth the tables of the law. Martin Geier.
Ver. 17. My words: apparently the ten commandments, accustomed to be called the ten words, by which God is often said to have made his covenant with Israel. Hermann Venema.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 16-17.
1. The prohibition given.
1. The prohibited things —”declare my statutes.” “Take my covenant, “etc. (1.) Preaching. (2.) Teaching, as in Sunday schools. (3.) Praying. (4.) Attending ordinances.
2. Prohibited persons. Wicked preachers, etc., while they continue in wickedness.
2. The reason assigned; Psalms 50:17.
1. No self application of the truth.
2. Inward hatred of it.
3. Outward rejection. G. R.
Ver. 17.
1. The fatal sign.
1. Hating to be taught.
2. Hating what is taught.
2. What it indicates.
1. Pride.
2. Contempt of God.
3. Indifference to truth.
4. Atheism at heart.
5. Deadness of conscience.
3. What it leads to. See Psalms 50:22.
Ver. 17-18. Rejection of salutary instruction leads sooner or later to open transgression. Instances, reasons, inferential warnings.
Psalms 50:18*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him. Moral honesty cannot be absent where true grace is present. Those who excuse others in trickery are guilty themselves; those who use others to do unjust actions for them are doubly so. If a man be ever so religious, if his own actions do not rebuke dishonesty, he is an accomplice with thieves. If we can acquiesce in anything which is not upright, we are not upright ourselves, and our religion is a lie. And hast been partaker with adulterers. One by one the moral precepts are thus broken by the sinners in Zion. Under the cloak of piety, unclean livers conceal themselves. We may do this by smiling at unchaste jests, listening to indelicate expressions, and conniving at licentious behaviour in our presence; and if we thus act, how dare we preach, or lead public prayer, or wear the Christian name? See how the Lord lays righteousness to the plummet. How plainly all this declares that without holiness no man shall see the Lord! No amount of ceremonial or theological accuracy can cover dishonesty and fornication: these filthy things must be either purged from us by the blood of Jesus, or they will kindle a fire in God’s anger which will burn even to the lowest hell.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him; or didst run with him. This was literally true of the Scribes and Pharisees; they devoured widow’s houses, and robbed them of their substance, under a pretext of long prayers; they consented to the deeds of Barabbas, a robber, when they preferred him to Jesus Christ; and they joined with the thieves on the cross in reviling him; and, in a spiritual sense, they stole away the word of the Lord, every man from his neighbour; took away the key of knowledge from the people, and put false glosses upon the sacred writings. John Gill.
Ver. 18. Thou consentedst with him; became his accomplice. Sunetreces. LXX, i.e., you helped him to carry off his booty and to make his escape. Samuel Horsley.
Ver. 18. Thou consentedst with him. Or, thou runnest along with him. Hast been partaker with; namely, thou art his companion; a term taken from commerce of merchants, or from banquets made after the ancient manner, to which divers did contribute, and had their shares therein. John Diodati.
Ver. 18. (last clause). To give entertainment to them we know to be dissolute, is to communicate with their sins. Thomas Adams.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 17-18.
Rejection of salutary instruction leads sooner or later to open transgression. Instances, reasons, inferential warnings.
Psalms 50:19*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 19. Thou givest thy mouth to evil. Sins against the ninth commandment are here mentioned. The man who surrenders himself to the habit of slander is a vile hypocrite if he associates himself with the people of God. A man’s health is readily judged by his tongue. A foul mouth, a foul heart. Some slander almost as often as they breathe, and yet are great upholders of the church, and great sticklers for holiness. To what depths will not they go in evil, who delight in spreading it with their tongues? And thy tongue frameth deceit. This is a more deliberate sort of slander, where the man dexterously elaborates false witness, and concocts methods of defamation. There is an ingenuity of calumny in some men, and, alas! even in some who are thought to be followers of the Lord Jesus. They manufacture falsehoods, weave them in their loom, hammer them on their anvil, and then retail their wares in every company. Are these accepted with God? Though they bring their wealth to the altar, and speak eloquently of truth and of salvation, have they any favour with God? We should blaspheme the holy God if we were to think so. They are corrupt in his sight, a stench in his nostrils. He will cast all liars into hell. Let them preach, and pray, and sacrifice as they will; till they become truthful, the God of truth loathes them utterly.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 19. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, etc. Thou givest. Hebrew, thou sendest forth; to wit, free; for the word is used of men dismissing their wives or their servants, whom they left to their freedom. Thou hast an unbridled tongue, and castest off all restraints of God’s law, and of thine own conscience, and givest thy tongue liberty to speak what you please, though it be offensive and dishonourable to God, and injurious to thy neighbour, or to thy own soul; which is justly produced as an evidence of their hypocrisy. To evil, either to sinful or mischievous speeches. Frameth deceit, i.e., uttereth lies or fair words, wherewith to circumvent those who deal with them. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 19. The ninth commandment is now added to the other two, as being habitually violated by the person here addressed. J. A. Alexander.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 50:20*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 20. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother. He sits down to it, makes it his meat, studies it, resolves upon it, becomes a master of defamation, occupies the chair of calumny. His nearest friend is not safe, his dearest relative escapes not. Thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. He ought to love him best, but he has an ill word for him. The son of one’s own mother was to the Oriental a very tender relation; but the wretched slanderer knows no claims of kindred. He stabs his brother in the dark, and aims a blow at him who came forth of the same womb; yet he wraps himself in the robe of hypocrisy, and dreams that he is a favourite of heaven, an accepted worshipper of the Lord. Are such monsters to be met with nowadays? Alas! they pollute our churches still, and are roots of bitterness, spots on our solemn feasts, wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Perhaps some such may read these lines, but they will probably read them in vain; their eyes are too dim to see their own condition, their hearts are waxen gross, their ears are dull of hearing; they are given up to a strong delusion to believe a lie, that they may be damned.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 20. Thou sittest and speakest, etc. A man may both speak and do evil while he sits still and doth nothing; an idle posture may serve the turn for such work as that. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 20. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother, etc. When you are sitting still, and have nothing else to do, you are ever injuring your neighbour with your slanderous speech. Your table talk is abuse of your nearest friends. Samuel Horsley.
Ver. 20. Thine own mother’s son. To understand the force of this expression, it is necessary to bear in mind that polygamy was allowed amongst the Israelites. Those who were born to the same father were all brethren, but a yet more intimate relationship subsisted between those who had the same mother, as well as the same father. French and Skinner.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 20-21.
1. Man speaking and God silent.
2. God speaking and man silent.
Psalms 50:21*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence. No swift judgment overthrew the sinner—longsuffering reigned; no thunder was heard in threatening, and no bolt of fire was hurled in execution. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. The inference drawn from the Lord’s patience was infamous; the respited culprit thought his judge to be one of the same order as himself. He offered sacrifice, and deemed it accepted; he continued in sin, and remained unpunished, and therefore he rudely said, “Why need believe these crazy prophets? God cares not how we live so long as we pay our tithes. Little does he consider how we get the plunder, so long as we bring a bullock to his altar.” What will not men imagine of the Lord? At one time they liken the glory of Israel to a calf, and anon unto their brutish selves. But I will reprove thee. At last I will break silence and let them know my mind. And set them in order before thine eyes. I will marshall thy sins in battle array. I will make thee see them, I will put them down item by item, classified and arranged. Thou shalt know that if silent awhile, I was never blind or deaf. I will make thee perceive what thou hast tried to deny. I will leave the seat of mercy for the throne of judgment, and there I will let thee see how great the difference between thee and me.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence. Neither sleep nor slumber, nor connivance, nor neglect of anything can be incident to God. Because he doth not execute present judgment and visible destruction upon sinners, therefore blasphemy presumptuously infers—will God trouble himself about such petty matters? So they imagined of their imaginary Jupiter. Non vacat exiguis rebus adesse Jovem. What a narrow and finite apprehension this is of God! He that causes and produces every action—shall he not be present at every action? What can we do without him, that cannot move but in him? He that taketh notice of sparrows, and numbers the seeds which the very ploughman thrusts in the ground, can any action of man escape his knowledge, or slip from his contemplation? He may seem to wink at things, but never shuts his eyes. He doth not always manifest a reprehensive knowledge, yet he always retains an apprehensive knowledge. Though David smote not Shimei cursing, yet he heard Shimei cursing. As judges often determine to hear, but do not hear to determine; so though God does not see to like, ye he likes to see. Thomas Adams.
Ver. 21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. Such is the blindness and corruption of our nature, that we have very deformed and misshapen thoughts of him, till with the eye of faith we see his face in the glass of the word; and therefore Mr. Perkins affirms, that all men who ever came of Adam (Christ alone excepted) are by nature atheists; because at the same time that they acknowledge God, they deny his power, presence, and justice, and allow him to be only what pleaseth themselves. Indeed, it is natural for every man to desire to accommodate his lusts with a conception of God as may be most favourable to and suit best with them. God charges some for this: Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. Sinners do with God as the Ethiopians do with angels, whom they picture with black faces that they may be like themselves. William Gurnall.
Ver. 21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. This men do when they plead for sins as little, as venial, as that which is below God to take notice of; because they themselves think it so, therefore God must think it so too. Man, with a giant like pride, would climb into the throne of the Almighty, and establish a contradiction to the will of God by making his own will, and not God’s, the square and rule of his actions. This principle commenced and took date in Paradise, where Adam would not depend upon the will of God revealed to him, but upon himself and his own will, and thereby makes himself as God. Stephen Charnock.
Ver. 21. I will set them in order before thine eyes. This is to be understood more militari, when sins shall be set in rank and file, in bloody array against thy soul; or more forensi, when they shall be set in order as so many indictments for thy rebellion and treason. Stephen Charnock.
Ver. 21. And set them in order before thine eyes: as if he should say, Thou thoughtest all thy sins were scattered and dispersed; that there was not a sin to be found; that they should never be rallied and brought together; but I assure thee I will make an army of those sins, a complete army of them, I will set them in rank and file before thine eyes; and see how thou canst behold, much less contend with, such an host as they. Take heed therefore you do not levy war against your own souls; that’s the worst of all civil or interstine wars. If an army of divine terrors be so fearful, what will an army of black, hellish sins be? when God shall bring whole regiments of sins against you—here a regiment of oaths, there a regiment of lies, there a third of false dealings, here a troop of filthy actions, and there a legion of unclean or profane thoughts, all at once fighting against thy life and everlasting peace. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 21. Atheists do mock at those Scriptures which tell us that we shall give account of all our deeds; but God shall make them find the truth of it in that day of their reckoning. It is as easy for him to make their forgetful minds remember as to create the minds in them. When he applies his register to their forgetful spirits they shall see all their forgotten sins. When the printer presseth clean paper upon his oiled irons, it receiveth the print of every letter: so when God shall stamp their minds with his register, they shall see all their former sins in a view. The hand was ever writing against Belshazzar, as he was ever sinning, though he saw it not till the cup was filled: so is it to the wicked; their sins are numbered, and themselves weighed, and see not till they be divided by a fearful wakening. William Struther.
Ver. 21. (last clause). God setteth his sins in order before his eyes. Imprimis, the sin of his conception. Item, the sins of his childhood. Item, of his youth. Item, of his man’s estate, etc. Or, Imprimis, sins against the first table. Item, sins against the second; so many of ignorance, so many of knowledge, so many of presumption, severally sorted by themselves. He committed sins confusedly, huddling them up in heaps; but God sets them in order, and methodizes them to his hands. Thomas Fuller.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 20-21.
1. Man speaking and God silent.
2. God speaking and man silent.
Ver. 21.
1. God leaves men for a time to themselves.
2. They judge of God on this account by themselves.
3. He will in due time reveal their whole selves to themselves. “I will reprove, “etc. G. R.
Ver. 21,23. Note the alternative; a life rightly ordered now, or sins set in order hereafter.
Psalms 50:22*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 22. Now or oh! it is a word of entreaty, for the Lord is loath even to let the most ungodly run on to destruction. Consider this; take these truths to heart, ye who trust in ceremonies and ye who live in vice, for both of you sin in that ye forget God. Bethink you how unaccepted you are, and turn unto the Lord. See how you have mocked the eternal, and repent of your iniquities. Lest I tear you in pieces, as the lion rends his prey, and there be none to deliver, no Saviour, no refuge, no hope. Ye reject the Mediator: beware, for ye will sorely need one in the day of wrath, and none will be near to plead for you. How terrible, how complete, how painful, how humiliating, will be the destruction of the wicked! God uses no soft words, or velvet metaphors, nor may his servants do so when they speak of the wrath to come. O reader, consider this.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 22. Now consider this, ye that forget God, etc. What is less than a grain of sand? Yet when it comes to be multiplied, what is heavier than the sands of the sea? A little sum multiplied rises high; so a little sin unrepented of will damn us, as one leak in the ship, if it be not well looked to, will drown us. “Little sins” as the world calls them, but great sins against the majesty of God Almighty, whose majesty, against which they are committed, doth accent and enhance them, if not repented of, will damn. One would think it no great matter to forget God, yet it has a heavy doom attending on it. The non improvement of talents, the non exercise of grace, the world looks upon as a small thing; yet we read of him who hid his talent in the earth—he had not spent it, only not trading it is sentenced. Thomas Watson.
Ver. 22. Lest I tear you in pieces. This is a metamorphic expression, taken from the strength and irresistible fury of a lion, from which the interference of the shepherd can supply no protection, or defence, for his flock. William Walford.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 22.
1. The accusation—”Ye that forget God, “his omniscience, his power, his justice, his goodness, his mercy, his word, his great salvation.
2. The admonition—”Consider this, “rouse yourselves from your forgetfulness into serious reflection.
3. The condemnation—”Lest, “etc.
1. The awfulness. “Tear, “as a lion or eagle its prey —tear body and soul.
2. Its irresistibleness—”None to deliver.” G. R.
Psalms 50:23*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 23. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me. Praise is the best sacrifice; true, hearty, gracious thanksgiving from a renewed mind. Not the lowing of bullocks bound to the altar, but the songs of redeemed men are the music which the ear of Jehovah delights in. Sacrifice your loving gratitude, and God is honoured thereby. And to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God. Holy living is a choice evidence of salvation. He who submits his whole way to divine guidance, and is careful to honour God in his life, brings an offering which the Lord accepts through his dear Son; and such a one shall be more and more instructed, and made experimentally to know the Lord’s salvation. He needs salvation, for the best ordering of the life cannot save us, but that salvation he shall have. Not to ceremonies, not to unpurified lips, is the blessing promised, but to grateful hearts and holy lives.
O Lord, give us to stand in the judgment with those who have worshipped thee aright and have seen thy salvation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 23. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me. Thanksgiving is a God exalting work. Though nothing can add the least cubit to God’s essential glory, yet praise exalts him in the eyes of others. Praise is a setting forth of God’s honour, a lifting up of his name, a displaying the trophy of his goodness, a proclaiming his excellency, a spreading his renown, a breaking open the box of ointment, whereby the sweet savour and perfume of God’s name is sent abroad into the world. To him that ordereth his conversation aright. Though the main work of religion lies within, yet “our light must so shine, “that others may behold it; the foundation of sincerity is in the heart, yet its beautiful front piece appears in the conversation. The saints are called “jewels, “because they cast a sparkling lustre in the eyes of others. An upright Christian is like Solomon’s temple, gold within and without: sincerity is a holy leaven, which if it be in the heart will work itself into the life, and make it swell and rise as high as heaven. Philippians 3:20. Thomas Watson.

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Psalm 49

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-20
Title. To the Chief Musician, a Psalm for the sons of Korah. This is precisely the same as on former occasions, and no remark is needed.
Division. The poet musician sings, to the accompaniment of his harp, the despicable character of those who trust in their wealth, and so he consoles the oppressed believer. The first four verses are a preface; from Psalms 49:5-12 all fear of great oppressors is removed by the remembrance of their end and their folly; Psalms 49:13 contains an expression of wonder at the perpetuity of folly; Psalms 49:14-15 contrast the ungodly and the righteous in their future; and from Psalms 49:16-20 the lesson from the whole is given in an admonitory form. Note the chorus in Psalms 49:2; Psalms 49:20, and also the two Selahs.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1-4. In these four verses the poet prophet calls universal humanity to listen to his didactic hymn.
Ver. 1. Hear this, all ye people. All men are concerned in the subject, it is of them, and therefore to them that the psalmist would speak. It is not a topic which men delight to consider, and therefore he who would instruct them must press them to give ear. Where, as in this case, the theme claims to be wisdom and understanding, attention is very properly demanded; and when the style combines the sententiousness of the proverb with the sweetness of poesy, interest is readily excited. Give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world. “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.” Men dwelling in all climes are equally concerned in the subject, for the laws of providence are the same in all lands. It is wise for each one to feel I am a man, and therefore everything which concerns mortals has a personal interest to me. We must all appear before the judgment seat, and therefore we all should give earnest heed to holy admonition which may help us to prepare for that dread event. He who refuses to receive instruction by the ear, will not be able to escape receiving destruction by it when the Judge shall say, “Depart, ye cursed.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Strange it is that two Psalms so near together, as this and the forty-fifth should, and should alone imitate, or be the forerunners of, two works of David’s son; this—Ecclesiastes, the former—the Canticles. J. M. Neale.
Ver. 1. None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. Both low and high, rich and poor, together. Sons of great men, and children of mean men, men of large estate, and ye who pine in poverty, ye are all bidden to hear the inspired minstrel as he touches his harp to a mournful but instructive lay. The low will be encouraged, the high will be warned, the rich will be sobered, the poor consoled, there will be a useful lesson for each if they are willing to learn it. Our preaching ought to have a voice for all classes, and all should have an ear for it. To suit our word to the rich alone is wicked sycophancy, and to aim only at pleasing the poor is to act the part of a demagogue. Truth may be so spoken as to command the ear of all, and wise men seek to learn that acceptable style. Rich and poor must soon meet together in the grave, they may well be content to meet together now. In the congregation of the dead all differences of rank will be obliterated, they ought not now to be obstructions to united instructions.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. In this Psalm David, as it were, summons and divides mankind. In the first verse he summons: “Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world.” In the second verse he divides: Both low and high, rich and poor, together. The word in the Hebrew for high is (vya ynb), bene ish, sons of Ish, and the word for low is (Mda ynb) bene Adam, sons of Adam. If we should translate the text directly, according to the letter, the words must run, sons of men and sons of men; for, sons of Adam and sons of Ish are both translated sons of men. Yet when they are set together in a way of opposition, the one signifieth low and the other high; and so our translators render it according to the sense, not sons of men and sons of men, but low and high. Junius translates to this sense, though in more words, as well they who are born of mean men, as they who are born of the honourable. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2.
1. The common needs of rich and poor men.
2. The common privileges of rich and poor saints.
3. Their common service.
4. Their common heaven.
Psalms 49:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. My mouth shall speak of wisdom. Inspired and therefore lifted beyond himself, the prophet is not praising his own attainments, but extolling the divine Spirit which spoke in him. He knew that the Spirit of truth and wisdom spoke through him. He who is not sure that his matter is good has no right to ask a hearing. And the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. The same Spirit who made the ancient seers eloquent, also made them thoughtful. The help of the Holy Ghost was never meant to supersede the use of our own mental powers. The Holy Spirit does not make us speak as Balaam’s ass, which merely uttered sounds, but never meditated; but he first leads us to consider and reflect, and then he gives us the tongue of fire to speak with power.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. The deep things of God are intended,
1. To exercise our minds to understand them.
2. To try our faith by believing them—”incline” implies a submissive mind.
3. To excite our joy as we grasp them—”upon the harp.”
4. To employ our faculties in explaining them to others.
Psalms 49:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. I will incline mine ear to a parable. He who would have others hear, begins by hearing himself. As the minstrel leans his ear to his harp, so must the preacher give his whole soul to his ministry. The truth came to the psalmist as a parable, and he endeavoured to unriddle it for popular use; he would not leave the truth in obscurity, but he listened to its voice till he so well understood it as to be able to interpret and translate it into the common language of the multitude. Still of necessity it would remain a problem, and a dark saying to the unenlightened many, but this would not be the songster’s fault, for, saith he, I will open my dark saying upon the harp. The writer was no mystic, delighting in deep and cloudy things, yet he was not afraid of the most profound topics; he tried to open the treasures of darkness, and to uplift pearls from the deep. To win attention he cast his proverbial philosophy into the form of song, and tuned his harp to the solemn tone of his subject. Let us gather round the minstrel of the King of kings, and hear the Psalm which first was led by the chief musician, as the chorus of the sons of Korah lifted up their voices in the temple.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. I will incline mine ear to a parable, i.e, I will diligently attend, that I may not sing anything ungracefully; a metaphor taken from musicians who bring their ear close to the harp, that they may ascertain the harmony of the sound. Victorinus Bythner.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? The man of God looks calmly forward to dark times when those evils which have dogged his heels shall gain a temporary advantage over him. Iniquitous men, here called in the abstract iniquity, lie in wait for the righteous, as serpents that aim at the heels of travellers: the iniquity of our heels is that evil which aims to trip us up or impede us. It was an old prophecy that the serpent should wound the heel of the woman’s seed, and the enemy of our souls is diligent to fulfil that premonition. In some dreary part of our road it may be that evil will wax stronger and bolder, and gaining upon us will openly assail us; those who followed at our heels like a pack of wolves, may perhaps overtake us, and compass us about. What then? Shall we yield to cowardice? Shall we be a prey to their teeth? God forbid. Nay, we will not even fear, for what are these foes? What indeed, but mortal men who shall perish and pass away? There can be no real ground of alarm to the faithful. Their enemies are too insignificant to be worthy of one thrill of fear. Doth not the Lord say to us, “I, even I, am he that comforteth thee; who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass?”
Scholars have given other renderings of this verse, but we prefer to keep to the authorised version when we can, and in this case we find in it precisely the same meaning which those would give to it who translate my heels, by the words “my supplanters.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5. Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? Those that are full of years are approaching the nearer to their happiness. They have finished their voyage, and now are in sight of the haven. Nature’s provision is spent, her stock is exhausted, and now the good man doth not so much descend as fall into the grave, and from thence he rises to heaven and eternal bliss. And shall he be disturbed at this? shall he be afraid to be made happy? If I mistake not, this is the meaning of the psalmist’s words. They are generally interpreted concerning his ways in general, but they seem to me to refer particularly to the calamity which his old age was incident to: for the days of evil are old age, and are so called by the wise man Ecclesiastes 12:1; and as the heel is the extreme part of the body, so it is here applied to the last part of man’s life, his declining age; and iniquity (as the word is sometimes used among the Hebrews) signifies here penal evil, and denotes the infirmities and decays of the concluding part of a man’s life. So that the true meaning of the psalmist’s words is this—I will not now in my last days be dejected with fear and trouble of mind, for I am coming towards my happiness, my declining years shall deliver me up to death, and that shall consign me to everlasting life. This certainly is matter of joy rather than of fear. For this reason I account my last days to be the most eligible part of my whole life. John Edwards, D.D. (1637-1716), in “The Theologia Reformata.”
Ver. 5. Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? That is, when my sins or failings in what I have done, come to my remembrance, or are chastened upon me. Every man’s heels hath some iniquity: as we shall have some dirt cleaving to our heels while we walk in a dirty world, so there is some dirt, some defilement, upon all our actions, which we may call, the iniquity of our heel. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 5. When the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? With Bishop Lowth, the celebrated Michaelis, Bishop Hare, and a host of other critics, I decidedly incline to the idea, that (ybqe), rendered “my heels” is to be regarded as the present participle of the verb (bqe), to supplant, to act deceitfully, to deceive, to hold one by the heel, etc., etc. If this be correct, then the proper translation will be: —
Wherefore should I fear in the days of adversity,
The iniquity of my supplanters who surround me?
The Syriac and Arabic read, as does also Dr. Kennicott: —
Why should I fear in the evil day,
When the iniquity of my enemies compasses me about? John Morison.
Ver. 5-9.
Why should I fear the evil hour,
When ruthless foes in ambush lie,
Who revel in their pride of power,
And on their hoarded wealth rely?
A brother’s ransom who can pay,
Or alter God’s eternal doom?
What hand can wrest from death his prey,
Its banquet from the rotten tomb?
From “The Psalter, or Psalms of David, in English verse. By a member of the University of Cambridge.” (Benjamin Hall Kennedy, D.D.) 1860.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5.
1. The effects of our sin remain.
1. In ourselves.
2. In others.
2. In a time of conviction they compass us about: better to do so in this life, than to haunt us as ghosts for ever.
3. When they are pardoned we have nothing to fear. G.R.
Psalms 49:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. What if the good man’s foes be among the great ones of the earth! yet he need not fear them. They that trust in their wealth. Poor fools, to be content with such a rotten confidence. When we set our rock in contrast with theirs, it would be folly to be afraid of them. Even though they are loud in their brags, we can afford to smile. What if they glory and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches? yet while we glory in our God we are not dismayed by their proud threatenings. Great strength, position, and estate, make wicked men very lofty in their own esteem, and tyrannical towards others; but the heir of heaven is not overawed by their dignity, nor cowed by their haughtiness. He sees the small value of riches, and the helplessness of their owners in the hour of death, and therefore he is not so mean as to be afraid of an ephemera, a moth, a bubble.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-9. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:5” for further information.
From “The Psalter, or Psalms of David, in English verse. By a Member of the University of Cambridge.” (Benjamin Hall Kennedy, D.D.) 1860.
Ver. 6. They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches. Here we have the rich man trusting and boasting; surely this is a very confident trusting which issues itself into boasting! That man is ascended to the highest step of faith in God, who makes his boast of God; such faith have they in fine gold who boast in it. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 6. They that trust in their wealth. “THE COVETOUS MAN’S SOLILOQUY.” Believe me, the times are hard and dangerous; charity is grown cold, and friends uncomfortable; an empty purse is full of sorrow, and hollow bags make a heavy heart. Poverty is a civil pestilence, which frights away both friends and kindred, and leaves us to a “Lord, have mercy upon us.” It is a sickness very catching and infectious, and more commonly abhorred than cured. The best antidote against it is Angelica and providence, and the best cordial is aurum potabile. Gold taking fasting is an approved sovereign. Debts are ill humours, and turn at last to dangerous obstructions. Lending is mere consumption of the radical humour, which, if consumed, brings a patient to nothing. Let others trust to courtiers’ promises, to friends’ performances, to princes’ favours; give me a toy called gold, give me a thing called money. O blessed Mammon, how extremely sweet is thy all commanding presence to my thriving soul! In banishment thou art my dear companion; in captivity thou art my precious ransom; in trouble and vexation thou art my dainty rest; in sickness thou art my health; in grief my only joy; in all extremity my only trust. Virtue must veil to thee; nay, grace itself, not relished with thy sweetness, would even displease the righteous palates of the sons of men. Come, then, my soul, advise, contrive, project; go, compass sea and land; leave no exploit untried, no path untrod, no time unspent; afford thine eyes no sleep, thy head no rest; neglect thy ravenous belly, unclothe thy back; deceive, betray, swear, and forswear, to compass such a friend. If thou be base in birth, it will make thee honourable; if weak in power, it will make thee formidable. Are thy friends few? It will make them numerous. Is thy cause bad? It will gain thee advocates. True, wisdom is an excellent help, in case it bend this way; and learning is a genteel ornament, if not too chargeable; yet, by your leave, they are but estates for the term of life: but everlasting gold, if well advantaged, will not only bless thy days, but thy surviving children from generation to generation. Come, come, let others fill their brains with dear bought wit, turn their pence into expensive charity, and store their bosoms with unprofitable piety; let them lose all to save their imaginary consciences, and beggar themselves at home to be thought honest abroad: fill thou thy bags and barns, and lay up for many years, and take thy rest. Francis Quarles, in “The Covetous Man’s Care.”
Ver. 6. The form of money agreeth well with the condition of it; for it is stamped round, because it is so apt to run from a man. Fire, thieves, waters, and infinite causes there are of consuming riches, and impoverishing their possessors, though they have even millions and mountains of gold; but suppose that contrary to their nature they stay by a man, yet cannot he stay by them, but must leave them in spite of his teeth, as the psalmist saith Psalms 49:17, “The rich man shall take away nothing when he dieth, neither shall his pomp follow after him.” Thus death makes a violent divorce between the rich man and his goods, when it is said unto him, “Thou fool, this night shall they take away thy soul.” The rich man sleeps (saith Job very elegantly), and when he openeth his eyes there is nothing. It fares with a rich man at his death, as it doth with a sleeping man when he wakes out of his dream. A man that dreams of the finding or fruition of some rich bounty is wonderful glad, yet when he awaketh he findeth nothing, but seeth it was only a dream, and he is sorry; so the rich man seemed in the time of his life, to have somewhat, but in the days of his death all vanisheth like the idea of a dream, and it vexes him. J. D., in “The Threefold Resolution, “1608.
Ver. 6. Who knocks more boldly at heaven gate to be let in than they whom Christ will reject as workers of iniquity? Oh, what delusion is this! Caligula never made himself more ridiculous than when he would be honoured as a God, while he lived more like a devil. Before you would have others take you for Christians, for God’s sake prove yourselves men and not beasts, as you do by your brutish lives. Talk not of your hopes of salvation so long as the marks of damnation are seen upon your flagitious lives. If the way to heaven were thus easy, I promise you the saints in all ages have been much overseen, to take so great pains in mortifying their lusts, in denying to satisfy their sensual appetite. To what purpose did they make so much waste of their sweat in their zealous serving God? and of their tears that they could serve him no better, if they might have gone to heaven as these men hope to do? That friar was far more sound in his judgment in this point, who, preaching at Rome one Lent, when some cardinals and many other great ones were present, began his sermon thus abruptly and ironically, Saint Peter was a fool, Saint Paul was a fool, and all the primitive Christians were fools; for they thought the way to heaven was by prayers and tears, watchings and fastings, severities of mortification, and denying the pomp and glory of this world; whereas you here in Rome spend your time in balls and masks, live in pomp and pride, lust and luxury, and yet count yourselves good Christians, and hope to be saved; but at last you will prove the fools, and they will be found to have been the wise men. William Gurnall’s Funeral Sermon for Lady Mary Vere, 1671.
Ver. 6-10. David speaks of some that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches. Rich men can do great things, but here is a thing that they cannot do: None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him. From what cannot a rich man redeem his brother? It is true of spiritual redemption; yea, that is furthest out of the rich man’s reach, money will not do it: “We are not redeemed with corrupt things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Son of God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19. But the psalmist speaks of a lower redemption, to which all the riches of man cannot reach: None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: for the redemption of their soul (that is, of their person from the grave), is precious, and it ceaseth for ever. And that he speaks of their redemption from the grave, is more clearly expressed in Psalms 49:9 : That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. Jesus Christ did not redeem us that we should live for ever, and not see corruption. It was the privilege of Jesus Christ the Redeemer not to see corruption; but Jesus Christ hath not redeemed us that we should not see corruption. He hath redeemed us that we should live for ever in heaven, but he hath not redeemed us from corruption, that we should live for ever on earth, or not see corruption in the grave; for, as it is said in Psalms 49:10 of the Psalm, we see that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others; as if he had said, Neither the one nor the other sort of men could make this use or improvement of their wealth, to deliver themselves from going to the grave, for if they could they would have laid all out on that purchase; but they could not do it, therefore, they leave their wealth to others. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. None of them can by any means redeem his brother. With all their riches, the whole of them put together could not rescue a comrade from the chill grasp of death. They boast of what they will do with us, let them see to themselves. Let them weigh their gold in the scales of death, and see how much they can buy therewith from the worm and the grave. The poor are their equals in this respect; let them love their friend ever so dearly, they cannot give to God a ransom for him. A king’s ransom would be of no avail, a Monte Rosa of rubies, an America of silver, a world of gold, a sun of diamonds, would all be utterly contemned. O ye boasters, think not to terrify us with your worthless wealth, go ye and intimidate death before ye threaten men in whom is immortality and life.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-9. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:5” for further information.
Ver. 6-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:6” for further information.
Ver. 7. None of them can by any means redeem his brother, etc. Some animals devoted to God could be redeemed at a price, but no price could be assigned to the ransom of a soul. That such a ransom was to be provided, the faith of the church had always anticipated: “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” Psalms 130:8. W. Wilson, D.D.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7.
1. Implied. The soul needs redeeming.
2. Denied. Wealth, power, learning, none can redeem.
3. Supplied —a ransom by Jesus.
4. Applied —by the Spirit to our actual deliverance.
Psalms 49:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever. Too great is the price, the purchase is hopeless. For ever must the attempt to redeem a soul with money remain a failure. Death comes and wealth cannot bribe him; hell follows and no golden key can unlock its dungeon. Vain, then, are your threatenings, ye possessors of the yellow clay; your childish toys are despised by men who estimate the value of possessions by the shekel of the sanctuary.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-9. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:5” for further information.
Ver. 6-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:6” for further information.
Ver. 8. For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever. In this judgment tears will not prevail, prayers will not be heard, promises will not be admitted, repentance will be too late, and as for riches, honourable titles, sceptres, and diadems, these will profit much less, and the inquisition shall be so curious and diligent, that not one light thought, not one idle word (not repented of in thy life past) shall be forgotten, for truth itself hath said, not in jest, but in earnest, of every idle word which men have spoken, they shall give an account in the day of judgment. Oh, how many which now sin with great delight, yea, even with greediness (as if we served a god of wood or of stone which seeth nothing nor can do nothing) will be then astonished, ashamed, and silent. Then shall the days of thy mirth be ended, and thou shalt be overwhelmed with everlasting darkness, and instead of thy pleasures thou shalt have everlasting torments. Thomas Tymme.
Ver. 8. For it cost more to redeem their souls: so that he must let that alone forever. Prayer book Version.
Ver. 8. It ceaseth for ever. That is, wealth for ever comes short of the power necessary to accomplish this. It has always been insufficient; it always will be. There is no hope that it ever will be sufficient, that by any increase in the amount, or by any change in the conditions of the bargain, property or riches can avail for this. The whole matter is perfectly hopeless as to the power of wealth is saving one human being from the grave. It must always fail in saving a man from death. The word rendered ceaseth —(ldx), khadal, means to leave off, to desist, to fail. Genesis 11:8, Exodus 9:34, Isaiah 2:22. Albert Barnes.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. No price could secure for any man that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. Mad are men now after gold, what would they be if it could buy the elixir of immortality? Gold is lavished out of the bag to cheat the worm of the poor body by embalming it, or enshrining it in a coffin of lead, but it is a miserable business, a very burlesque and comedy. As for the soul, it is too subtle a thing to be detained when it hears the divine command to soar through tracks unknown. Never, therefore, will we fear those base nibblers at our heels, whose boasted treasure proves to be so powerless to save.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-9. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:5” for further information.
Ver. 6-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:6” for further information.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. For he seeth that wise men die. Every one sees this. The proud persecuting rich man cannot help seeing it. He cannot shut his eyes to the fact that wiser men than he are dying, and that he also, with all his craft, must die. Likewise the fool and the brutish person perish. Folly has no immunity from death. Off goes the jester’s cap, as well as the student’s gown. Jollity cannot laugh off the dying hour; death who visits the university, does not spare the tavern. Thoughtlessness and brutishness meet their end as surely as much care and wasting study. In fact, while the truly wise, so far as this world is concerned, die, the fool has a worse lot, for he perishes, is blotted out of remembrance, bewailed by none, remembered no more. And leave their wealth to others. Not a farthing can they carry with them. Whether heirs male of their own body, lawfully begotten, inherit their estates, or they remain unclaimed, it matters not, their hoardings are no longer theirs; friends may quarrel over their property, or strangers divide it as spoil, they cannot interfere. Ye boasters, hold ye your own, before ye dream of despoiling the sons of the living God. Keep shoes to your own feet in death’s dark pilgrimage, ere ye seek to bite our heels.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:6” for further information.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. Their inward thought is, their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations. He is very foolish who is more a fool in his inmost thought than he dare to be in his speech. Such rotten fruit, rotten at the core, are worldlings. Down deep in their hearts, though they dare not say so, they fancy that earthly goods are real and enduring. Foolish dreamers! The frequent dilapidation of their castles and manor houses should teach them better, but still they cherish the delusion. They cannot tell the mirage from the true streams of water; they fancy rainbows to be stable, and clouds to be the everlasting hills. They call their lands after their own names. Common enough is this practice. His grounds are made to bear the groundling’s name, he might as well write it on the water. Men have even called countries by their own names, but what are they the better for the idle compliment, even if men perpetuate their nomenclature?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever. This is the interpretation of our actions, when we do not make God our portion, but trust in the abundance of our riches; this is our inward thought, the saying of our heart, Ye are my god. We do in effect say, Thou art my confidence, my hope, and my joy, and will stand by me when all things cease and fail, and wilt not suffer me to want, or to be wrong, as long as you last: these are the secret speeches of our hearts. Christians! many may (orator like), declaim against the vanity of the creature, and speak as basely of money as others do, and say, We know it is but a little refined earth; but their hearts close with it, they are loathe to part with it for God’s sake, or upon God’s declared will. As he that speaketh good words of God, is not said to trust in God; so speaking bad words of worldly riches doth not exempt us from trusting them. There is a difference between declaiming as an orator, and acting like a Christian. Thomas Manton.
Ver. 11. Their inward thought. If good thoughts be thy deep thoughts, if, as we say, the best be at the bottom, thy thoughts are then right, and thou art righteous; for as the deep thoughts of worldlings are worldly thoughts, and the deep thoughts of wicked men are wicked thoughts, so the deep thoughts of good men are good thoughts. It is a notable observation of the Holy Ghost’s concerning worldly men, that their inward thought is that their houses shall continue for ever, etc. Why? is there any thought that is not an inward thought? No, but the meaning is, though they have some floating thoughts of their mortality, and the vanity and transitoriness of all worldly things, swimming, as it were, on the top; yet they do not suffer such thoughts to sink into their hearts, or to go to the bottom; but the thoughts that lodge there are such as his, who is said by our Saviour to have thought within himself, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” Lu 12:19. Note the phrase, “he thought within himself.” There are other kinds of thoughts that sometimes knock at the door of the worldling’s heart, nay, sometimes look in at his windows, as Paul’s sermon began to press in upon Felix his heart, and to set him trembling; but there are other thoughts within, which if they cannot keep good thoughts quite out, they will keep them off from making any due or deep impression upon the heart. Now, these thoughts that nestle themselves as it were at the very heart roots, to keep others out from reaching thither, these deep thoughts are they which the Scriptures call the inward thoughts, according to that of the psalmist Psalms 64:6, “The inward thought of every one of them and the heart, is deep.” Faithful Teat in “Right Thoughts the Righteous man’s Evidence, ” 1666.
Ver. 11. They call their lands after their own names. God makes fools of them, for how few have you that go beyond the third generation? How few houses have you that the child or the grandchild can say, “This was my grandfather’s and my great grandfather’s”? How few houses have you that those that are now in them can say, “My ancestor dwelt here, and these were his lands”? Go over a whole country, few can say so. Men when they build, together with building in the earth they build castles in the air; they have conceits. Now I build for my child, and for my child’s child. God crosses them. Either they have no posterity, or by a thousand things that fall out in the world, it falls out otherwise. The time is short, and the fashion of this world passeth away; that is, the buildings pass away, the owning passeth away, all things here pass away; and, therefore, buy as if you possessed not, buy, so as we neglect not the best possession in heaven, and so possess these things, as being not possessed and commanded of them. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 11. Mr. A was a wealthy farmer in Massachusetts, about sixty years of age, and it had been his ruling, and almost only passion in life to acquire property. His neighbour B owned a small farm, which came too near the centre of A’s extended domain, was quite a blot in his prospect, destroyed the regularity of his lands, and on the whole it was really necessary, in his opinion, that he should add it to his other property. B became embarrassed, and was sued; judgments were obtained, and executions issued. A now thought he should obtain the land, but one execution after another was arranged, and finally the debt was paid off without selling the land. When A heard of the payment of the last execution, which put an end to his hopes of obtaining the land, he exclaimed, “Well, B is an old man, and cannot live long, and when he dies I can buy the lot.” B was fifty-eight, A was sixty! Reader, do you ever expect to die? K. Arvine’s Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes.
Ver. 11. I have purchased, saith one, such lands, and I have got so good a title to them, that certainly they will remain mine and my heirs for ever; never considering how all things here below are subject to ebbings and flowings, to turns and vicissitudes every day. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 11. The fleeting nature of all earthly possessions is well illustrated in the life of William Beckford, and the unenduring character of gorgeous fabrics in the ruin of his famous Babel, Fonthill Abbey. Byron sang of Beckford’s palace in Spain, in language most applicable to Fonthill:
“There, too, thou Vathek! England’s wealthiest son—
Once formed thy Paradise, as not aware
When wanton wealth her mightiest deeds hath done,
Meek Peace voluptuous lures was ever wont to shun.
Here didst thou dwell; here schemes of pleasure plan,
Beneath yon mountain’s ever beauteous brow.
But now, as if a thing unblessed by man,
Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou!
Here giant weeds a passage scarce allow,
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide;
Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
Vain are the pleasures on earth supplied,
Swept into wrecks anon by Time’s ungentle tide!” C. H. S.
Ver. 11-12. “They call their GROUNDS after their names. But the GROUNDLING, in the midst of splendour, endureth not.” In Psalms 49:11, we have (twmra), “grounds.” In Psalms 49:12, it is (Mra), “groundling, “with a designed iteration and play upon the word; for want of an attention to which the passage has not been fully understood. John Mason Good.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not. He is but a lodger for the hour, and does not stay a night: even when he dwells in marble halls his notice to quit is written out. Eminence is evermore in imminence of peril. The hero of the hour lasts but for an hour. Sceptres fall from the paralysed hands which once grasped them, and coronets slip away from skulls when the life is departed. He is like the beasts that perish. He is not like the sheep which are preserved of the Great Shepherd, but like the hunted beast which is doomed to die. He lives a brutish life and dies a brutish death. Wallowing in riches, surfeited with pleasure, he is fatted for the slaughter, and dies like the ox in the shambles. Alas! that so noble a creature should use his life so unworthily, and end it so disgracefully. So far as this world is concerned, wherein does the death of many men differ from the death of a dog? They go down—
“To the vile dust from whence they sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”
What room is there, then, for fear to the godly when such natural brute beasts assail them? Should they not in patience possess their souls?
We make a break here, because this stanza appears to be the refrain of the song, and as such is repeated in Psalms 49:20.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11-12. See Psalms on “Psalms 49:11” for further information.
Ver. 12. Man being in honour abideth not. The Rabbins read it thus: “Adam being in honour, lodged not one night.” The Hebrew word for abide signifies “to stay or lodge all night.” Adam, then, it seems, did not take up one night’s lodging in Paradise. Thomas Watson’s Body of Divinity.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 12. (last clause). Wherein the ungodly are like beasts, and wherein different.
Ver. 12. Here is a twofold thwarting or crossing of the purposes of the ungodly worldling.
1. The first is, he shall not be that which he ever wished to be: he shall not continue in honour.
2. The other is this, he shall be that which he never desired to be: he shall be like the beasts that die. He shall miss of that which he sought for, and he shall have that which he looked not for.
S. Hieron.
Psalms 49:13*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 13. Their vain confidences are not casual aberrations from the path of wisdom, but their way, their usual and regular course; their whole life is regulated by such principles. Their life path is essential folly. They are fools ingrain. From first to last brutishness is their characteristic, grovelling stupidity the leading trait of their conduct. Yet their posterity approve their sayings. Those who follow them in descent follow them in folly, quote their worldly maxims, and accept their mad career as the most prudent mode of life. Why do they not see by their father’s failure their father’s folly? No, the race transmits its weakness. Grace is not hereditary, but sordid worldliness goes from generation to generation. The race of fools never dies out. No need of missionaries to teach men to be earthworms, they crawl naturally to the dust. Selah. Well may the minstrel pause, and bid us muse upon the deep seated madness of the sons of Adam. Take occasion, reader, to reflect upon thine own.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 13. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Master Baxter speaks very well of this in his “Saints Everlasting Rest, “which is a very choice book. The gentry teach their children to follow pleasure, and the commonalty their children to follow profit, and young ones are ready to follow old ones. This their way is their folly. The very heathens condemn this, and yet Christians mind it not. Crates the philosopher said, that if possible he might, he would willingly mount to the highest place of the city, and there cry aloud in this manner, “What mean you, my masters, and whither run you headlong? carking and caring all that ever you can, to gather goods and make riches as you do, whiles in the meantime you make little or no reckoning at all of your children, unto whom you are to leave all your riches? Do not most care more for the wealth of their children’s outward man, than for the health of their inward man?” J. Votier’s Survey of Effectual Calling, 1652.
Ver. 13. This their way is their folly. The folly of man seldom appears more than in being very busy about nothing, in making a great cry where there is little wool; like that empty fellow that showed himself to Alexander—having spent much time, and taken much pains at it beforehand—and boasted that he could throw a pea through a little hole, expecting a great reward; but the king gave him only a bushel of peas, for a recompense suitable to his diligent negligence, or his busy idleness. Things that are vain and empty are unworthy of our care and industry. The man that by hard labour and hazard of his life did climb up to the top of the steeple to set an egg on end, was deservedly the object of pity and laughter. We shall think him little better than mad that should make as great a fire for the roasting of an egg as for the roasting of an ox. George Swinnock.
Ver. 13. Their folly: yet their posterity approve. Dr. Leifchild, in his “Remarkable Facts, “records the following incident, of a person of property, who had been accustomed regularly to attend his ministry, but who had always manifested a covetous disposition: “I was sent for to offer to him the consolation of religion as he lay upon his dying bed. What was my surprise, after having conversed and prayed with him, to find that he was unwilling to take my hand, muttering that he knew that he had not done what was right in reference to the support and furtherance of religion, but intended to amend in that respect. He then requested me to say what I thought would become of him. How could I reply, but by exhorting him to repent, and relinquishing all further thoughts of a worldly nature, to betake himself to the sacrifice and mediation of the Son of God for pardon, safety, and salvation in that world which he was to all appearance soon about to enter. He gazed at me with a look of disappointment. Upon a hint being given me to inquire into his thought at that moment, I questioned him very pointedly, and to my astonishment and horror, he reluctantly disclosed to me the fact that while thus seemingly about to breathe his last, his hands were under the bed clothes grasping the keys of his cabinet and treasures, lest they should be taken from him! Soon after he departed this life, and there was, alas! reason to fear that, together with his property, he had transmitted somewhat of his fatal passion to those who survived him. It was distressing to me to reflect that a hearer of mine should quit this world with his fingers stiffened in death around the keys of his treasures. How strong, how terrible, was the ruling passion in the death of this man!”
Ver. 13. Selah. See “Treasury of David, “Vol. I, pp. 25, 29, 346, 382; and Vol. II., pp. 249-252.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 13.
1. In secular things men imitate the wisdom of others.
2. In spiritual things they imitate their folly. G. R.
Psalms 49:14*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 14. Like sheep they are laid in the grave. As dumb driven cattle, they are hurried to their doom, and are penned in within the gates of destruction. As sheep that go whither they are driven, and follow their leader without thought, so these men who have chosen to make this world their all, are urged on by their passions, till they find themselves at their journey’s end, that end the depths of Hades. Or if we keep to our own translation, we have the idea of their dying peaceably, and being buried in quiet, only that they may wake up to be ashamed at the last great day. Death shall feed on them. Death like a grim shepherd leads them on, and conducts them to the place of their eternal pasturage, where all is barrenness and misery. The righteous are led by the Good Shepherd, but the ungodly have death for their shepherd, and he drives them onward to hell. As the power of death rules them in this world, for they have not passed from death unto life, so the terrors of death shall devour them in the world to come. As grim giants, in old stories, are said to feed on men whom they entice to their caves, so death, the monster, feeds on the flesh and blood of the mighty. The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning. The poor saints were once the tail, but at the day break they shall be the head. Sinners rule till night fall; their honours wither in the evening, and in the morning they find their position utterly reversed. The sweetest reflection to the upright is that “the morning” here intended begins an endless, changeless, day. What a vexation of spirit to the proud worldling, when the Judge of all the earth holds his morning session, to see the man whom he despised, exalted high in heaven, while he himself is cast away! And their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling. Whatever of glory the ungodly had shall disappear in the tomb. Form and comeliness shall vanish from them, the worm shall make sad havoc of all their beauty. Even their last dwelling place, the grave, shall not be able to protect the relics committed to it; their bodies shall dissolve, no trace shall remain of all their strong limbs and lofty heads, no vestige of remaining beauty shall be discoverable. The beauty of the righteous is not yet revealed, it waits its manifestations; but all the beauty the wicked will ever have is in full bloom in this life; it will wither, fade, decay, rot, and utterly pass away. Who, then, would envy or fear the proud sinner?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 14. Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling, or as we put in the margin, The grave being an habitation to every one of them, shall consume their beauty. Some may object, Is not this true of godly men too? are not they thus handled by death and the grave? doth not death feed on them? and doth not the grave consume their beauty? I answer, Though it doth, yet it hath not to feed upon, nor consume them, as it feeds upon and consumes wicked men. For the psalmist speaks here of death as it were triumphing over the wicked, whereas the godly triumph over death. For, first, he saith, The wicked are laid in the grave like sheep: they lived like wolves or lions, but they are laid in the grave like sheep. If it be asked, Why like sheep? I answer, not for the innocency of their lives, but for their impotency in death; as if it had been said, when once death took them in hand to lay them in the grave, they could make no more resistance than a sheep can against a lion or a wolf. And when death hath thus laid them in the grave, then secondly, saith the psalmist, Death shall feed on them, as a lion doth upon a sheep, or any wild beast upon his prey, which is a further degree of death’s triumph over the wicked. And, thirdly, Their beauty shall consume in the grave, that is, all their bodily and natural beauty (and this is all the beauty which they have) shall consume in the grave, whereas the godly have a beauty (and they count it their only beauty) which the grave cannot consume, and that is the beauty of their graces, the beauty of holiness, the spiritual beauty of the inner man, yea, and the spiritual beauty of their outward holy actings shall not consume in the grave; for, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 19:13. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 14. Death shall feed on them: rather, Death shall be their shepherd. (Sept.) At the end of the foregoing Psalm, the psalmist had said in the name of his people, that, “God is our God, for ever and ever; he will lead us as a shepherd over death, “and here he takes up the same pastoral figure, and contrasts with their case the case of the proud and prosperous worldly men, who trust in their earthly riches and power. They will not be led in safety, under the pastoral care of God, over death. No; death itself will be their Shepherd, and the grave will be their sheepfold; where they will be laid together like sheep in a pen. As Augustine says, “Death is the shepherd of the infidel. Life (i.e., Christ) is the Shepherd of the faithful.” “In inferno sunt oves quibus pastor Mors est; in caelo sunt oves quibus pastor Vita est.” And so Keble
Even as a flock arrayed are they
For the dark grave; Death guides their way,
Death is their Shepherd now. Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 14. In the morning, that is, saith Dathe, in the time of judgment. He thinks there is here an allusion to the usual time of holding courts of justice, which was in the morning. See Ps 73:14 101:8 Jeremiah 21:12. Editorial note to Calvin in loc.
Ver. 14. Their beauty shall consume in the grave, And now if we do but consider a little of the tombs and sepulchres of princes and noblemen, whose glory and majesty we have seen when they lived here on earth, and do behold the horrible forms and shapes which they now have, shall we not cry out as men amazed, Is this that glory? Is this that highness and excellency? Whither now are the degrees of their waiting servants gone? Where are their ornaments and jewels? Where is their pomp, their delicacy and niceness? All these things are vanished away like the smoke, and there is now nothing left but dust, horror, and stink. The soul being dissolved, there lieth upon the ground not a human body, but a dead carcase without life, without sense, without strength, and so fearful to look upon, that the sight thereof may hardly be endures. To be sure, it is a little better (as touching the substance) than the body of a horse, or a dog, which lieth dead in the fields, and all that pass by stop their noses and make haste away, that they be not annoyed with the sight and stink thereof. Such is man’s body now become; yea, and though it were the body of a monarch, emperor, or a king. Where is that majesty, that excellency, that authority which he had aforetime when all men trembled to behold it, and might not come in presence thereof without all reverence and obeisance? what are all those things become? were they a dream or shadow? After those things the funeral is prepared, the which is all that men can carry with them, of all their riches and kingdom, and this also they should not have, if in their lifetime they did not appoint it for their dignity and honour. For the prophet David saith truly Psalms 49:16, “Be not thou afraid though one be made rich, or, if the glory of his house be increased; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away with him, neither shall his pomp follow him.” Thomas Tymme.
Ver. 14. When we look to a charnel-house, and take a view of the grave, what amazing and dismal scenes present themselves! How many great and important images appear! Distracting horrors strike our imagination, and hideous sounds of diseases, destruction, and death, with all their woeful and black train, terrify us. Ah! the melancholy confused heap of the ruins of mankind, what a terrible carnage is made of the human race! and what a solemn and awful theatre of mortality, covered with the disordered remains of out fellow creatures, presents itself to our minds! There lie the bones of a proud monarch, who fancied himself a little god, mingled with the ashes of his poorest subjects! Death seized him in the height of his vanity, he was just returning from a conquest, and his haughty mind was swelled with his power and greatness, when one of these fatal arrows pierced his heart, and at once finished all his perishing thoughts and contrivances, then the dream of glory vanished, and all his empire was confined to the grave. Look how pale that victorious general appears, how dead, and cold, and lifeless these arms that were once accustomed to war; see if you can discern any difference betwixt his dust and that of the most despicable slave. Yonder, a numerous army, once fierce and resolute, whose conquests were rapid as lightning, and made all the nations to shake for fear of them, are now so weak that they lie a prey, exposed to the meanest animals, the loathsome worms, who crawl in triumph over them, and insult their decayed ruins. There is a body that was so much doted on, and solicitously cared for, and the beauty and shape whereof were so foolishly admired, now noisome and rotten, nothing but vermin are now fond of it, so affecting a change hath death made upon it. Look, next to this, upon the inglorious ashes of a rich, covetous wretch, whose soul was glued to this world, and hugged itself in its treasures; with what mighty throes and convulsions did death tear him from this earth! How did his hands cling to his gold! with what vehement desires did he fasten on his silver, all of them weak and fruitless! Look now if riches saved him in that day, if you can perceive any of his useless treasures lying beside him in the grave, or if the glory of his house have descended after him! Yonder, an ambitious statesman, his rotten bones are scarce to be discerned: how did he applaud his artful schemes! how securely did he think them laid, and flattered himself with the hopes of an established greatness! but death stepped in, blew them all up at once; this grave is the whole result of his counsels. And lo, there, what horrid and suffocating stink ascends from these many hellish sacrifices of lust and impurity, who wasted their strength in debauch, and carried down with them nothing but the shame of beastly pleasures to the grave. But there is no end to the corpses, nor can we survey this terrible field of death’s conquests. William Dunlop.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 14.
1. In proportion to the prosperity of the ungodly here, will be their misery hereafter: as sheep from the fat pasture led to the slaughterhouse.
2. In proportion to the luxury here, will be their corruption hereafter—Death shall feed on them: they have become well fed for death to feed on them.
3. In proportion to their dignity here, will be their degradation hereafter—The upright shall have, etc. Oh, what a contrast between the rich man and Lazarus then!
4. In proportion to their beauty here, will be their deformity hereafter. “Art thou become like one of us?” G. R.
Ver. 14. Sheep, how far they image the wicked.
Ver. 14. In the morning. See the various Biblical prophecies of what will happen “in the morning.”
Psalms 49:15*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 15. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave. Forth from that temporary resting place we shall come in due time, quickened by divine energy. Like our risen Head we cannot be holden by the bands of the grave; redemption has emancipated us from the slavery of death. No redemption could man find in riches, but God has found it in the blood of his dear Son. Our Elder Brother has given to God a ransom, and we are the redeemed of the Lord: because of this redemption by price we shall assuredly be redeemed by power out of the hand of the last enemy. For he shall receive me. He shall take me out of the tomb, take me up to heaven. If it is not said of me as of Enoch, “He was not, for God took him, “yet shall I reach the same glorious state. My spirit God will receive, and my body shall sleep in Jesus till, being raised in his image, it shall also be received into glory. How infinitely superior is such a hope to anything which our oppressors can boast! Here is something which will bear meditation, and therefore again let us pause, at the bidding of the musician, who inserts a Selah.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 15. (last clause). For he shall take me. This short half verse is, as Bottcher remarks, the more weighty, from its very shortness. The same expression occurs again, Psalms 73:24, “Thou shalt take me, “the original of both being Genesis 5:24, where it is used of the translation of Enoch, “He was not, for God took him.” J. J. Stewart Perowne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 15.
1. Return to the dust I shall.
2. Redeem from the dust he will.
3. Receive into heaven he will.
4. Rejoice for ever I shall.
Psalms 49:16*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 16. In these last verses the psalmist becomes a preacher, and gives admonitory lessons which he has himself gathered from experience. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich. Let it not give thee any concern to see the godless prosper. Raise no questions as to divine justice; suffer no foreboding to cloud thy mind. Temporal prosperity is too small a matter to be worth fretting about; let the dogs have their bones, and the swine their draff. When the glory of his house is increased. Though the sinner and his family are in great esteem, and stand exceedingly high, never mind; all things will be righted in due time. Only those whose judgment is worthless will esteem men the more because their lands are broader; those who are highly estimated for such unreasonable reasons will find their level ere long, when truth and righteousness come to the fore.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:17*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 17. For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away. He has but a leasehold of his acres, and death ends his tenure. Through the river of death man must pass naked. Not a rag of all his raiment, not a coin of all his treasure, not a joy of all his honour, can the dying worldling carry with him. Why then fret ourselves about so fleeting a prosperity? His glory shall not descend after him. As he goes down, down, down for ever, none of his honours or possessions will follow him. Patents of nobility are invalid in the sepulchre. His worship, his honour, his lordship, and his grace, will alike find their titles ridiculous in the tomb. Hell knows no aristocracy. Your dainty and delicate sinners shall find that eternal burnings have no respect for their affectations and refinements.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 17. For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away. The form of money agrees well with the condition of it; it is stamped round, because it is so apt to run away. Could we be rich so long as we live, yet that were uncertain enough for life itself is but a dream, a shadow, but a dream of a shadow. (Augustine.) Rich men are but like hailstones; they make a noise in the world, as the other rattle on the tiles of a house; down they fall, lie still, and melt away. So that if riches could stay by a man, yet he cannot stay by them. Spite of his teeth, he shall carry away nothing when he dies. Life and goods are both is a vessel, both cast away at once; yea, of the two, life hath the more likelihood of continuance. Let it fly never so fast away, riches have eagles’ wings, and will outfly it. There be thieves in the highways, that will take our moneys and spare our lives. In our penal laws, there be not so many ways to forfeit our lives as our goods. Rich Job lived to see himself poor to a proverb. How many in this city reputed rich, yet have broken for thousands! There are innumerable ways to be poor; a fire, a thief, a false servant, suretyship, trusting of bad customers, an unfaithful factor, a pirate, an unskilful pilot, hath brought rich men to poverty. One gale of wind is able to make merchants rich or beggars. Man’s life is like the banks of a river, his temporal estate is the stream: time will moulder away the banks, but the stream stays not for that, it glides away continually. Life is the tree, riches are the fruit, or rather the leaves; the leaves will fall, the fruit is plucked, and yet the tree stands. Some write of the pine tree, that if the bark be pulled off, it lasts long; being on it rots. If the worldling’s bark were stripped off, he might perhaps live the longer, there is great hope he would live the better. Thomas Adams.
Ver. 17. He shall carry nothing away. It is with us in this world, as it was in the Jewish fields and vineyards: pluck and eat they might what they would while they were there; but they might not pocket or put up ought to carry with them. De 23:24. Thomas Gataker.
Ver. 17. He shall carry nothing away. “He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly.” Job 20:15.
Ver. 17. Descend. Death takes the sinner by the throat, and “hauls him down stairs to the grave.” The indulgence in any sinful propensity has this downward, deathly tendency. Every lust, whether for riches or honours, for gambling, wine or women, leads the deluded wretched votary step by step to the chambers of death. There is no hope in the dread prospect; trouble and anguish possess the spirit. Hast thou escaped, O my soul, from the net of the infernal fowler? Never forget that it is as a brand snatched from the burning. Oh, to grace how great a debtor! George Offor’s note in “The Works of John Bunyan.”
Ver. 17. —
You will carry none of your riches, fool, to the waters of Acheron. You will be ferried over quite naked in the infernal boat.
Propertius.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 17. The loaded and unloaded sinner.
Psalms 49:18*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 18. Though while he lived he blessed his soul. He pronounced himself happy. He had his good things in this life. His chief end and aim were to bless himself. He was charmed with the adulation of flatterers. Men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself. The generality of men worship success, however it may be gained. The colour of the winning horse is no matter; it is the winner, and that is enough. “Take care of Number One, “is the world’s proverbial philosophy, and he who gives good heed to it is “a clever fellow, “”a fine man of business, “”a shrewd common sense tradesman, “”a man with his head put on the right way.” Get money, and you will be “respectable, “”a substantial man, “and your house will be “an eminent firm in the city, “or “one of the best county families.” To do good wins fame in heaven, but to do good to yourself is the prudent thing among men of the world. Yet not a whisper of worldly congratulation can follow the departing millionaire; they say he died worth a mint of money, but what charm has that fact to the dull cold ear of death? The banker rots as fast as the shoeblack, and the peer becomes as putrid as the pauper. Alas! poor wealth, thou art but the rainbow colouring of the bubble, the tint which yellows the morning mist, but adds not substance to it.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 18. How foolish is it to account thyself a better man than another, only because thy dunghill is a little bigger than his! These things are not at all to be reckoned into the value and worth of a man; they are all without thee, and concern thee no more than fine clothes do the health or strength of the body. It is wealth, indeed, that makes all the noise and bustle in the world, and challengeth all the respect and honour to itself; and the ignorant vulgar, whose eyes are dazzled with pomp and bravery, pay it with a stupid and astonished reverence. Yet know, that it is but thy silks and velvet, thy lands, or thy retinue and servants, they venerate, not thee: and if thou thinkest otherwise, thou art as justly ridiculous as that ass in the apologue, that grew very gravely proud, and took state, when the people fell prostrate before him, adoring, not him, but to the idol he carried. Ezekiel Hopkins.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:19*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 19. He shall go to the generation of his fathers. Where the former generations lie, the present shall also slumber. The sires beckon to their sons to come to the same land of forgetfulness. Mortal fathers beget not immortal children. As our ancestors have departed, so also must we. They shall never see light. To this upper region the dead worldling shall never return again to possess his estates, and enjoy his dignities. Among the dead he must lie in the thick darkness, where no joy or hope can come to him. Of all his treasures there remains not enough to furnish him one poor candle; the blaze of his glory is out for ever, and not a spark remains to cheer him. How then can we look with fear or envy upon a wretch doomed to such unhappiness?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 49:20*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 20. The song ends with the refrain, Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish. Understanding differences men from animals, but if they will not follow the highest wisdom, and like beasts find their all in this life, then their end shall be as mean and dishonourable as that of beasts slain in the chase, or killed in the shambles. From the loftiest elevation of worldly honour to the uttermost depths of death is but a step. Saddest of all is the reflection, that though men are like beasts in all the degradation of perishing, yet not in the rest which animal perishing secures, for, alas! it is written, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” So ends the minstrel’s lay. Comforting as the theme is to the righteous, it is full of warning to the worldly. Hear ye it, O ye rich and poor. Give ear to it, ye nations of the earth.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 20. Like the beasts that perish. My lords, it is no wonder at all, if men that affect beastly pleasures, and dote upon perishing honours, become like the beasts that perish. It is no miracle if he that lives like a beast dies like a beast. Take a man that hath lived like the fool in the gospel, and tell me, what hath this man done for his immortal soul more than a beast doth for its perishing soul? Soul, soul, cease from care, eat, drink, and take thine ease; this is the constant ditty of most men in honour: they have studied clothes and victuals, titles and offices, ways of gain and pleasure. Am I not yet at highest? They have, it may be, studied the black art of flattery and treachery; they understand the humour of the times, the compliances and dependences of this and other statesman, the projects of divers princes abroad, and the main design here at home. Is this all? Why, then be it known unto you, that the men of this strain have made no better provision for their precious souls, than if they had the soul, the vanishing soul of a beast within them; and certainly, if we were to judge of the substance of men’s souls by their unworthy and sensual conversation, we might easily fall into that heresy, that dangerous dream of some who conceive that their souls are mortal. Francis Cheynell, in a Sermon entitled, “The Man of Honour, “… preached before the Lords of Parliament, 1645.
Ver. 20. Like the beasts that perish. Sin is both formaliter and effective vile. As it is so in itself, so it has made man vile. No creature so debased as man, being in this respect become viler than any creature. There is no such depravation in the nature of any creature, except in the diabolical nature. No creature ever razed God’s image out of its nature, but only man. There is no aversions to the will of God, no inclination to what offends him, in any creature on earth but man. Man, then, who was once the glory of the creation, is become the vilest of all creatures, for that is vilest which is most contrary to the infinite glory, but so is our nature, “Man being in honour, abideth not, “is now like the beast that perish; nay, worse than they, if the greatest evil can make him worse. Man was made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory, advanced to be lord and governor of all the works of his hands; and all creatures in this world were put under his feet. Psalms 8:5-6. But by this natural corruption he that was but a little lower than the angels is now something below the beasts. He was to have dominion, but is made baser than those over whom he rules. They were put under his feet, but now he is as low as they. This is the sad issue of natural corruption. David Clarkson.
Ver. 20. Like the beasts. Man is so much a beast, that he cannot know himself to be one till God teach him. And we never learn to be men till we have learned that we were beasts…It is not said he is like this or that beast, but he is like the beasts that perish. Take any beast, or all beasts, the worst of beasts, he is the picture of them all, and he daily exemplifies the vilest of their qualities in his own. Joseph Caryl.

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Psalm 48

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-14
Title. A Song and Psalm for the Sons of Korah. A song for joyfulness and a Psalm for reverence. Alas! every song is not a Psalm, for poets are not all heaven born, and every Psalm is not a song, for in coming before God we have to utter mournful confessions as well as exulting praises. The Sons of Korah were happy in having so large a selection of song; the worship where such a variety of music was used could not become monotonous, but must have given widest scope for all the sacred passions of gracious souls.
Subject and Division. It would be idle dogmatically to attribute this song to any one event of Jewish history. Its author and date are unknown. It records the withdrawal of certain confederate kings from Jerusalem, their courage failing them before striking a blow. The mention of the ships of Tarshish may allow us to conjecture that the Psalm was written in connection with the overthrow of Ammon, Moab, and Edom in the reign of Jehoshaphat; and if the reader will turn to 2 Chronicles 20:1-37, and note especially 2 Chronicles 20:19; 2 Chronicles 20:25; 2 Chronicles 20:36, he will probably accept the suggestion. Psalms 48:1-3, are in honour of the Lord and the city dedicated to his worship. From Psalms 48:4-8 the song records the confusion of Zion’s foes, ascribing all the praise to God; Psalms 48:9-11 extolling Zion, and avowing Jehovah to be her God for evermore.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. Great is the Lord. How great Jehovah is essentially none can conceive; but we can all see that he is great in the deliverance of his people, great in their esteem who are delivered, and great in the hearts of those enemies whom he scatters by their own fears. Instead of the mad cry of Ephesus, “Great is Diana, “we bear the reasonable, demonstrable, self evident testimony, “Great is Jehovah.” There is none great in the church but the Lord. Jesus is “the great Shepherd, “he is “a Saviour, and a great one, “our great God and Saviour, our great High Priest; his Father has divided him a portion with the great, and his name shall be great unto the ends of the earth. And greatly to be praised. According to his nature should his worship be; it cannot be too constant, too laudatory, too earnest, too reverential, too sublime. In the city of our God. He is great there, and should be greatly praised there. If all the world beside renounced Jehovah’s worship, the chosen people in his favoured city should continue to adore him, for in their midst and on their behalf his glorious power has been so manifestly revealed. In the church the Lord is to be extolled though all the nations rage against him. Jerusalem was the peculiar abode of the God of Israel, the seat of the theocratic government, and the centre of prescribed worship, and even thus is the church the place of divine manifestation. In the mountain of his holiness. Where his holy temple, his holy priests, and his holy sacrifices might continually be seen. Zion was a mount, and as it was the most renowned part of the city, it is mentioned as a synonym for the city itself. The church of God is a mount for elevation and for conspicuousness, and it should be adorned with holiness, her sons being partakers of the holiness of God. Only by holy men can the Lord be fittingly praised, and they should be incessantly occupied with his worship.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. A Song and Psalm. Wherein both voice and instrument were used; the voice began first and the instrument after: and where the inscription is a Psalm and Song, there likely the instrument began and the voice followed. John Richardson.
Whole Psalm. According to Dr. Lightfoot, the constant and ordinary Psalm for the second day of the week was the forty-eighth.
Ver. 1. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, etc. The prophet, being about to praise a certain edifice, commences by praising the architect, and says that in the holy city the wonderful skill and wisdom of God, who built it, is truly displayed. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; and so he is, whether we look at his essence, his power, his wisdom, his justice, or his mercy, for all are infinite, everlasting, and incomprehensible; and thus, so much is God greatly to be praised, that all the angels, all men, even all his own works would not suffice thereto; but of all things revealed, there is no one thing can give us a greater idea of his greatness, or for which were should praise and thank him more, than the establishment of his church; and therefore, the prophet adds, in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness; that is to say, the greatness of God, and for which he deserves so much praise, is conspicuous in the foundation and construction of his church. Robert Bellarmine (Cardinal).
Ver. 1. Great is the Lord. Greater, Job 33:12. Greatest of all, Psalms 95:3. Greatness itself, Psalms 145:3. A degree he is above the superlative. John Trapp.
Ver. 1. Mountain of his holiness. The religion in it holy, the people in it a holy people. William Nicholson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
All the suggestions under this Psalm except those otherwise designated, are by our beloved friend, Rev. George Rogers, Tutor of the Pastor’s College.
Ver. 1.
1. What the church is to God.
1. His “city:” not a lawless rabble, but a well organised community.
2. A mountain of holiness, for the display of justifying righteousness, of sanctifying grace.
2. What God is to the church.
1. Its inhabitant. It is his city, his mountain. There he is great. There was no room for the whole of God in Paradise, there is no room for him in his law, no room for him in the heaven of angels: in the church only is there room for all his perfections, for a triune Jehovah. Great everywhere, he is peculiarly great here.
2. The object of its praises. As he is greatest here, so are his praises, and through the universe on this account.
Psalms 48:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. Beautiful for situation. Jerusalem was so naturally, she was styled the Queen of the East; the church is so spiritually, being placed near God’s heart, within the mountain of his power, upon the hills of his faithfulness, in the centre of providential operations. The elevation of the church is her beauty. The more she is above the world the fairer she is. The joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion. Jerusalem was the world’s star; whatever light lingered on earth was borrowed from the oracles preserved by Israel. An ardent Israelite would esteem the holy city as the eye of the nations, the most precious pearl of all lands. Certainly the church of God, though despised of men, is the true joy and hope of the world. On the sides of the north, the city of the great King. Either meaning that Jerusalem was in the northern extremity of Judah, or it may denote that part of the city that lay to the north of Mount Zion. It was the glory of Jerusalem to be God’s city, the place of his regal dwelling, and it is the joy of the church that God is in her midst. The great God is the great King of the church, and for her sake he rules all the nations. The people among whom the Lord deigns to dwell are privileged above all others; the lines have fallen unto them in pleasant places, and they have a goodly heritage. We who dwell in Great Britain in the sides of the north, have this for our chief glory, that the Lord is known in our land, and the abode of his love is among us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. What is there, or was there, about Zion to justify the high eulogium of David? The situation is indeed eminently adapted to be the platform of a magnificent citadel. Rising high above the deep valley of Gihon and Hinnom, on the west and south, and the scarcely less deep one of the Cheesemongers on the east, it could only be assailed from the northwest; and then on the sides of the north it was magnificently beautiful, and fortified by walls, towers, and bulwarks, the wonder and terror of the nations: “For the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.” At the thought of it the royal psalmist again bursts forth in triumph: “Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.” Alas! her towers have long since fallen to the ground, her bulwarks have been overthrown, her palaces have crumbled to dust, and we who now walk about Zion can tell no other story than this to the generation following. There is another Zion, however, whose towers are still more glorious, and shall never be overthrown. “God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” And “this God is our God for ever and ever.” How often is this name synonymous with the church of the living God! and no other spot but one can divide with it the affection of his people—no other name but one can awaken such joyful hopes in the Christian’s heart. The temporal Zion is now in the dust, but the true Zion is rising and shaking herself from it, and putting on her beautiful garments to welcome her King when he comes to reign over the whole earth. W. M. Thompson, D.D.
Ver. 2. When I stood that morning on the brow of Olivet, and looked down on the city, crowning those battlemented heights, encircled by those deep and dark ravines, I involuntarily exclaimed, Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. And as I gazed, the red rays of the rising sun shed a halo round the top of the castle of David; then they tipped with gold each tapering minaret, and gilded each dome of mosque and church, and at length, bathed in one flood of ruddy light the terraced roofs of the city, and the grass and foliage, the cupolas, pavements, and colossal walls of the Haram. No human being could be disappointed who first saw Jerusalem from Olivet. J. L. Porter.
Ver. 2. (first clause). Beautiful in climate, that is, Mount Zion is situated in a fair and lovely climate. This is the view taken by Montanus and Ainsworth. Bate and Parkhurst read, “Beautiful in extension, i.e., in the prospect which it extends to the eye.” Editorial Note to Calvin in loc.
Ver. 2. Beautiful for situation. This earth is, by sin, covered with deformity, and therefore justly might that spot of ground, which was thus beautified with holiness, be called the joy of the whole earth, i.e., what the whole earth had reason to rejoice in, because God would thus in very deed dwell with man upon the earth. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 2. Beautiful for situation.
—Fair Jerusalem
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious temple reared
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alabaster, topped with golden spires.
John Milton in “Paradise Regained.”
Ver. 2. On the sides of the north. Jerusalem, that is the upper and best part of it, was built on the north side of Mount Zion. Hadrian Reland, 1676-1718.
Ver. 2. Jerusalem lay to the north of Sion, and this circumstance is mentioned as a proof of Mount Zion’s greatest security, for it was almost inaccessible on any other side except the north, and there is was defended by Jerusalem, which was very strong. Samuel Burder.
Ver. 2. The great King. God is named the great King in opposition to the kings in Psalms 48:4. E. W. Hengstenberg.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2.
1. Was the ancient Zion beautiful for situation? So is the New Testament church founded upon a rock, upon eternal purpose and grace.
2. Was it the joy of the whole earth? So the New Testament church will become.
3. Was it the special joy of the tribes of Israel that were almost entirely to the north of Jerusalem? So the church is to the saints.
4. Was it a royal as well as a holy city? So is the church. “Yet I have set, “etc.
Psalms 48:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. We worship no unknown God. We know him as our refuge in distress, we delight in him as such, and run to him in every time of need. We know nothing else as our refuge. Though we are made kings, and our houses are palaces, yet we have no confidence in ourselves, but trust in the Lord Protector, whose well known power is our bulwark.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3.
1. God is a refuge in his church. The church is a city of refuge, but the refuge is not in its church, but its God.
1. For sinners from wrath.
2. For saints from trials and fears.
2. God is there known as such, known to thousands, not known as such elsewhere. “They that know thy name, “etc.
Psalms 48:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. The kings were assembled, they passed by together. They came and they went. No sooner together than scattered. They came one way and fled twenty ways. Boastful the gathering hosts with their royal leaders, despairing the fugitive bands with their astonished captains. They came like foam on the angry sea, like foam they melted away. This was so remarkable that the psalmist puts in a note of exclamation, Lo! What! have they so suddenly fled! Even thus shall the haters of the church vanish from the field. Papists, Ritualists, Arians, Sceptics, they shall each have their day, and shall pass on to the limbo of forgetfulness.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. They were many and powerful: kings and a plurality of them. They were confederate kings. The kings were assembled. Forces united are the more powerful. But all the endeavours of these confederate kings came to nothing. They passed by together — together they came, and together they vanished. William Nicholson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4-7.
1. The opposition of worldly powers to the church. “The kings, “etc.
2. The manner in which they are subdued—by their own fears; conscience has persecuted those who have persecuted the church of God. They who have seized the ark of God have been glad to return it with an offering.
3. The completeness of their overthrow, As a fleet of ships of Tarshish, dispersed, broken, and engulfed by the east wind.
Psalms 48:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. They saw it, and so they marvelled. They came, they saw, but they did not conquer. There was no veni, vidi, vici for them. No sooner did they perceive that the Lord was in the Holy City, than they took to their heels. Before the Lord came to blows with them, they were faint hearted, and beat a retreat. They were troubled and hasted away. The troublers were troubled. Their haste in coming was nothing to their hurry in going. Panic seized them, horses were not fleet enough; they would have borrowed the wings of the wind. They fled ignominiously, like children in a fright. Glory be to God, it shall be even thus with the foes of his church; when the Lord cometh to our help, our enemies shall be as nothing. Could they foresee their ignominious defeat, they would not advance to the attack.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-6. The potentates of the world saw the miracles of the apostles, the courage and constancy of the martyrs, and the daily increase of the church, notwithstanding all their persecutions; they beheld with astonishment the rapid progress of the faith through the Roman empire; they called upon their gods, but their gods could not help themselves; idolatry expired at the foot of the victorious cross. George Horne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4-7.
1. The opposition of worldly powers to the church. “The kings, “etc.
2. The manner in which they are subdued—by their own fears; conscience has persecuted those who have persecuted the church of God. They who have seized the ark of God have been glad to return it with an offering.
3. The completeness of their overthrow, As a fleet of ships of Tarshish, dispersed, broken, and engulfed by the east wind.
Psalms 48:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. Fear took hold upon them there. They were in Giant Despair’s grip. Where they hoped to triumph, there they quivered with dismay. They did not take the city, but fear took hold on them. And pain, as of a woman in travail. They were as much overcome as a woman whose fright causes premature delivery; or, as full of pain as a poor mother in her pangs—a strong expression, commonly employed by Orientals to set forth the extremity of anguish. When the Lord arises for the help of his church, the proudest of his foes shall be as trembling women, and their dismay shall be but the beginning of eternal defeat.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-6. See Psalms on “Psalms 48:5” for further information.
Ver. 6. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. Nothing is more unaccountable than panic. No man, no body of men can adequately guard against such terror. He who made the ears can easily make them to tingle. He who holds the winds in his fist, can easily make them whisper alarm, or roar dismay. This is specially to be expected when men so act as to have their own conscience against them. Job 15:21. But God can at any time so forsake men as that they shall be unmanned, and play the fool exceedingly. Leviticus 26:36. Men have fought bravely several battles, and then played the coward. William S. Plumer.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4-7.
1. The opposition of worldly powers to the church. “The kings, “etc.
2. The manner in which they are subdued—by their own fears; conscience has persecuted those who have persecuted the church of God. They who have seized the ark of God have been glad to return it with an offering.
3. The completeness of their overthrow, As a fleet of ships of Tarshish, dispersed, broken, and engulfed by the east wind.
Psalms 48:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. As easily as vessels are driven to shipwreck, dost thou overturn the most powerful adversaries; or it may mean the strength of some nations lies in their ships, whose wooden walls are soon broken; but our strength is in our God, and therefore, it fails not; or there may be another meaning, though thou art our defence, yet thou takest vengeance on our inventions, and while thou dost preserve us, yet our ships, our comforts, our earthly ambitions, are taken from us that we may look alone to thee. God is seen at sea, but he is equally present on land. Speculative heresies, pretending to bring us wealth from afar, are constantly assailing the church, but the breath of the Lord soon drives them to destruction. The church too often relies on the wisdom of men, and these human helps are soon shipwrecked; yet the church itself is safe beneath the care of her God and King.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. It is only by her Lord that the church gained “the true riches; “when she enters into traffick with the world, she takes the means of the world for her resources; and when she trusts in her wealth, in her political power, in earthly cunning, to make merchandise, the instruments she adopts come to nothing in her hands, and leave her helpless and poor. From “A Plain Commentary on the Book of Psalms (The Prayer Book Version), chiefly founded on the Fathers, “1859.
Ver. 7. With an east wind, which, in Judea, is a very violent and destructive wind. Kennicot renders the verse thus, As the east wind dasheth in pieces the ships of Tarshish; founding his conjecture upon the similarity in form of two Hebrew letters, signifying the one in, and the other as. Daniel Cresswell.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4-7.
1. The opposition of worldly powers to the church. “The kings, “etc.
2. The manner in which they are subdued—by their own fears; conscience has persecuted those who have persecuted the church of God. They who have seized the ark of God have been glad to return it with an offering.
3. The completeness of their overthrow, As a fleet of ships of Tarshish, dispersed, broken, and engulfed by the east wind.
Psalms 48:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God. Our father’s stories are reproduced before our very eyes. We heard the promise, and we have seen the fulfilment. The records of Zion, wonderful as they are, are proved to be truthful, because present facts are in perfect harmony therewith. Note how the Lord is first spoken of as Lord of hosts, a name of power and sovereignty, and then as our God, a name of covenant relation and condescension. No wonder that since the Lord bears both titles, we find him dealing with us after the precedents of his lovingkindness, and the faithfulness of his promises. God will establish it for ever. The true church can never be disestablished. That which kings establish can last for time only, that which God establishes endures to all eternity. Selah. Here is a fit place to pause, viewing the past with admiration, and the future with confidence.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8.
1. God has ever been to his people what he now is; the same heard as seen.
2. He is now what he ever has been: the same seen as heard.
3. He will ever be what he now is. “Will establish it for ever.”
Psalms 48:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. We have thought. Holy men are thoughtful men; they do not suffer God’s wonders to pass before their eyes and melt into forgetfulness, but they meditate deeply upon them. Of thy lovingkindness, O God. What a delightful subject! Devout minds never tire of so divine a theme. It is well to think of past lovingkindness in times of trial, and equally profitable to remember it in seasons of prosperity. Grateful memories sweeten sorrows and sober joys. In the midst of thy temple. Fit place for so devout a meditation. Where God is most seen he is best loved. The assembled saints constitute a living temple, and our deepest musings when so gathered together should have regard to the lovingkindness of the Lord, exhibited in the varied experiences of each of the living stones. Memories of mercy should be associated with continuance of praise. Hard by the table of show bread commemorating his bounty, should stand the altar of incense denoting our praise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9. We have thought. The Hebrew (Mwd) and (Mmd) and (hmd) belong all to the same signification, of quiet, rest, silence, patient expecting, thinking, considering, and must be determined to any of these senses by the context. And here that of expecting or patient waiting, with affiance in him, and without all distrust or repining at his delays, seems to be most proper for it. For coming to the sanctuary to pray for mercy, it is most agreeable to say we wait for it there, as in the place where he hath promised to afford it, in return to prayers. Henry Hammond.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9.
1. What are the lovingkindnesses of God? Pity to the wretched, pardon to the penitent, help to the prayerful, comfort to the afflicted, etc.
2. Where are they to be found? “In the midst of, “etc.
1. Here they are revealed.
2. Here they are dispensed.
3. Here they are sought.
4. Here they are enjoyed.
Psalms 48:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth. Great fame is due to his great name. The glory of Jehovah’s exploits overleaps the boundaries of earth; angels behold with wonder, and from every star delighted intelligences proclaim his fame beyond the ends of the earth. What if men are silent, yet the woods, and seas, and mountains, with all their countless tribes, and all the unseen spirits that walk them, are full of the divine praise. As in a shell we listen to the murmurs of the sea, so in the convolutions of creation we hear the praises of God. Thy right hand is full of righteousness. Thy sceptre and thy sword, thy government and thy vengeance, are altogether just. Thy hand is never empty, but full of energy, of bounty, and of equity. Neither saint nor sinner shall find the Lord to be an empty handed God; he will in both cases deal out righteousness to the full: to the one, through Jesus, he will be just to forgive, to the other just to condemn.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 10. As the name of God, so his praises are—
1. Supreme.
2. Unqualified.
3. Universal.
4. Everlasting.
Ver. 10. Thy right hand, etc.
1. The justice of omnipotence.
2. Omnipotence controlled by justice.
3. The omnipotence of justice.
Psalms 48:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. Let mount Zion rejoice. As the first of the cities of Judah, and the main object of the enemies’ attack, let her lead the song. Let the daughters of Judah be glad, let the smaller towns join the chorus, for they join in the common victory. Let the women, who fare worst in the havoc of war, be among the gladdest of the glad, now that the spoilers have fled. All the church, and each individual member, should rejoice in the Lord, and magnify his name. Because of thy judgments. The righteous acts of the Lord are legitimate subjects for joyful praise. However it may appear on earth, yet in heaven the eternal ruin of the wicked will be the theme of adoring song. Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:3 : “Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God. For true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia, and her smoke rose up for ever and ever.” Justice which to our poor optics now seems severe, will then be perceived to be perfectly consistent with God’s name of love, and to be one of the brightest jewels of his crown.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 11.
1. The subjects of his peoples’ joy. Not mercies merely, but judgments
2. Reasons:
1. Because they are holy—needful to the purity of moral government
2. Just—needful to vindicate law.
3. Good—needful for the greatest amount of good.
Psalms 48:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. Walk about Zion; often beat her bounds, even as Israel marched around Jericho. With leisurely and careful inspection survey her. And go round about her. Encircle her again and again with loving perambulations. We cannot too frequently or too deeply consider the origin, privileges, history, security, and glory of the church. Some subjects deserve but a passing thought; this is worthy of the most patient consideration. Tell the towers thereof. See if any of them have crumbled, or have been demolished. Is the church of God what she was in doctrine, in strength and in beauty? Her foes counted her towers in envy first, and then in terror, let us count them with sacred exultation. The city of Lucerne, encircled by its ancient walls, adorned with a succession of towers, is a visible illustration of this figure; and as we have gone around it, and paused at each picturesque tower, we have realised the loving lingering inspection which the metaphor implies.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 12-13. In a spiritual sense the towers and bulwarks of Sion are those doctrines of the true faith, which are the strength and glory of the church, which are to be maintained in their soundness and stability against the assaults of heretical teachers, so that they may be transmitted unimpaired to following generations. Origen and Theodoret, quoted by Wordsworth.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 12.
1. What is to be understood by the preservation and protection of the church?
2. What is meant by searching into, and considering of, these causes and means of the church’s preservation?
3. What are those causes and means of the church’s preservation, those towers and bulwarks which will not fail?
4. What reason is there why we should thus search into and consider these causes of the church’s preservation and protection?
5. What is the testimony which we have to give concerning this matter to the ensuing generation? John Owen’s Sermon.
Psalms 48:13*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 13. Mark ye well her bulwarks. Consider most attentively how strong are her ramparts, how safely her inhabitants are entrenched behind successive lines of defence. The security of the people of God is not a doctrine to be kept in the background, it may be safely taught, and frequently pondered; only to base hearts will that glorious truth prove harmful; the sons of perdition make a stumbling stone even of the Lord Jesus himself, it is little wonder that they pervert the truth of God concerning the final perseverance of the saints. We are not to turn away from inspecting Zion’s ramparts, because idlers skulk behind them. Consider her palaces. Examine with care the fair dwellings of the city. Let the royal promises which afford quiet resting places for believers be attentively inspected. See how sound are the defences, and how fair are the pleasaunces of “that ancient citie, “of which you are citizens. A man should be best acquainted with his own home; and the church is our dear and blest abode. Would to God professors were more considerate of the condition of the church; so far from telling the towers, some of them scarcely know what or where they are; they are too busy counting their money, and considering their ledgers. Freehold and copyhold, and leasehold, men measure to an inch, but heaven hold and grace hold are too often taken at peradventure, and neglected in sheer heedlessness. That ye may tell it to the generation following. An excellent reason for studious observation. We have received and we must transmit. We must be students that we may be teachers. The debt we owe to the past we must endeavour to repay by handing down the truth to the future.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 12-13. See Psalms on “Psalms 48:13” for further information.
Ver. 13. Mark ye well her bulwarks. Margin as in the Hebrew, “Set your heart to her bulwarks.” That is, pay close attention to them; make the investigation with care, not as one does whose heart is not in the thing, and who does it negligently. The word rendered bulwarks, (lyx), khail —means properly, a host or army, and then a fortification or entrenchment, especially the ditch or trench, with the low wall or breastwork which surrounds it. 2 Samuel 20:15, Isaiah 26:1. (Gesenius, Lex.) —Albert Barnes.
Ver. 13. Mark ye well: set your heart, mind earnestly, set your affections on. Henry Ainsworth.
Ver. 13. Her bulwarks.
1. The designation and constitution of Jesus Christ to be King of the church, King of Zion, is the great bulwark of Zion.
2. The second bulwark of Zion is the promises of God, which are innumerable.
3. The watchful providence of God over the church.
4. Another bulwark is God’s special presence. God is in a special manner present in his church.
5. The last bulwark unto which all others may be reduced, is the covenant of God: “For this God is our God.” John Owen.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 48:14*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 14. For this God is our God for ever and ever. A good reason for preserving a record of all that he has wrought. Israel will not change her God so as to wish to forget, nor will the Lord change so as to make the past mere history. He will be the covenant God of his people world without end. There is no other God, we wish for no other, we would have no other even if there were. There are some who are so ready to comfort the wicked, that for the sake of ending their punishment they weaken the force of language, and make for ever and ever mean but a time; nevertheless, despite their interpretations we exult in the hope of an eternity of bliss, and to us “everlasting, ” and “for ever and ever” mean what they say. He will be our guide even unto death. Throughout life, and to our dying couch, he will graciously conduct us, and even after death he will lead us to the living fountains of waters. We look to him for resurrection and eternal life. This consolation is clearly derivable from what has gone before; hitherto our foes have been scattered, and our bulwarks have defied attack, for God has been in our midst, therefore all possible assaults in the future shall be equally futile.
“The church has all her foes defied
And laughed to scorn their rage;
Even thus for aye she shall abide
Secure from age to age.”
Farewell, fear. Come hither, gratitude and faith, and sing right joyously.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 14. This God is our God for ever and ever. What a portion then is that of the believer! The landlord cannot say of his fields, these are mine for ever and ever. The king cannot say of his crown, this is mine for ever and ever. These possessions shall soon change masters; these possessors shall soon mingle with the dust, and even the graves they shall occupy may not long be theirs; but it is the singular, the supreme happiness of every Christian to say, or have a right to say, “This glorious God with all his divine perfections is my God, for ever and ever, and even death itself shall not separate me from his love.” George Burder.
Ver. 14. This God is our God. The people of God are sometime represented as so taken with this apprehension of their peculiar relation to God, that they cannot be content to know, but they proclaim it; nor was it enough the present age should know, but they must have it told the following generation: “Let Mount Zion rejoice, ” etc. Mark, “That ye may tell the generation following, “For this is our God. See their ostentation of him! This God; q.d., Behold what a God have we! view him well, and take notice how glorious a God he is. And as they glory in the greatness of the God to whom they were related, so they do in the eternity of the relation. “This God is our God for ever and ever.” John Howe.
Ver. 14. God is not only a satisfying portion, filling every crevice of thy soul with the light of joy and comfort; and a sanctifying portion, elevating thy soul to its primitive and original perfection; and a universal portion; not health, or wealth, or friends, or honours, or liberty, or life, or house, or wife, or child, or pardon, or peace, or grace, or glory, or earth, or heaven, but all these, and infinitely more, but also he is an eternal portion. This God would be thy God for ever and ever. Oh, sweet word ever! thou art the crown of the saints’ crown, and the glory of their glory. Their portion is so full that they desire no more; they enjoy variety and plenty of delights above what they are able to ask or think, and want nothing but to have it fixed. May they but possess it in peace without interruption or cessation, they will trample all kingdoms of the earth as dirt under their feet; and lo! thou art the welcome dove to bring this olive branch in thy mouth. This God is our God for ever and ever. All the arithmetical figures of days, and months, and years, and ages, are nothing to this infinite cipher ever, which, though it stand for nothing in the vulgar account, yet contains all our millions; yea, our millions and millions of millions are less than drops in this ocean ever. George Swinnock.
Ver. 14. Some expositors have strangely found a difficulty in the last verse, deeming such a profession of personal faith as inappropriate termination for a national song. Even Dr. Delitzch, a wise and devout interpreter, shares in this notion; going, indeed, so far as to throw out the surmise, that some word must have been lost from the Hebrew text. To me it seems that the verse, as it stands, is admirably in harmony with the song, and is its crowning beauty. When the Lord does great things for church or nation, he means that all the faithful, however humble their station, should take courage from it, should repose in him fresh confidence, and cling to him with a firmer hope, and say, This God shall be our God for ever; he will guide us even unto death. William Binnie.
Ver. 14. Unto death, or as some explain it, at death, i.e., he will save us from it; others, over death, beyond it. But the most obvious explanation, and the one most agreeable to usage, is that which makes the phrase mean even to the end of life, or as long as we live. The idea of a future state, though not expressed, is not excluded. J. A. Alexander.
Ver. 14. (last clause). The last clause is much misunderstood. It is not, “Our guide unto death, “for the words are, (twm-le wnghny), “shall lead us over death.” Surely it means, “It is he who leads over death to resurrection” —over Jordan to Canaan. The (Heb.) is used in Leviticus 15:25, for “beyond, “in regard to time, and is not this the sense here? “Beyond the time of death”? Till death is to us over? Till we have stood upon the grace of death? Yes; he it is who leads us on to this last victory; he swallows up death in victory, and leads us to trample on death. And so viewed, we easily discern the beautiful link of thought that joins this Psalm to that which follows. Such is the celebration of The Mighty One become the glory of Jerusalem. Andrew A. Bonar.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 14. (first clause). This is the language of a proprietary in God: 1. Of an assured proprietary—”This God is our God.” 2. Of a permanent proprietary—for ever and ever. 3. Of an exulting proprietary. W. Jay.
Ver. 14.
1. The language of discrimination. This God. This God in Christ, in the church.
2. The language of Faith—our God.
3. Of Hope—For ever and ever.
4. Of Resignation—He will be our guide, etc.

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Psalm 47

holy-bible-backgroundVerses 1-9
Title. To the Chief Musician. Many songs were dedicated to this leader of the chorus, but he was not overloaded thereby. God’s service is such delight that it cannot weary us; and that choicest part of it, the singing of his praises, is so pleasurable that we cannot have too much of it. Doubtless, the chief musician, as he was commissioned with so many sacred songs, felt that the more the merrier. A Psalm for the Sons of Korah. We cannot agree with those who think that the sons of Korah were the authors of these Psalms; they have all the indications of David’s authorship that one could expect to see. Our ear has grown accustomed to the ring of David’s compositions, and we are morally certain that we hear it in this Psalm. Every expert would detect here the autography of the Son of Jesse, or we are greatly mistaken. The Sons of Korah sang these Psalms, but we believe they did not write them. Fit singers were they whose origin reminded them of sin, whose existence was a proof of sovereign grace, and whose name has a close connection with the name of Calvary.
Subject. Whether the immediate subject of this Psalm be the carrying up of the ark from the house of Obededom to Mount Zion, or the celebration of some memorable victory, it would be hard to decide. As even the doctors differ, who should dogmatise? But it is very clear that both the present sovereignty of Jehovah, and the final victories of our Lord, are here fitly hymned, while his ascension, as the prophecy of them, is sweetly gloried in.
Division. In so short a Psalm, there is no need of any other division than that indicated by the musical pause at the end of Psalms 47:4.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. O clap your hands. The most natural and most enthusiastic tokens of exultation are to be used in view of the victories of the Lord, and his universal reign. Our joy in God may be demonstrative, and yet he will not censure it. All ye people. The joy is to extend to all nations; Israel may lead the van, but all the Gentiles are to follow in the march of triumph, for they have an equal share in that kingdom where there is neither Greek nor Jew, but Christ is all and in all. Even now if they did but know it, it is the best hope of all nations that Jehovah ruleth over them. If they cannot all speak the same tongue, the symbolic language of the hands they can all use. All people will be ruled by the Lord in the latter days, and all will exult in that rule; were they wise they would submit to it now, and rejoice to do so; yea, they would clap their hands in rapture at the thought. Shout, let your voices keep tune with your hands. Unto God, let him have all the honours of the day, and let them be loud, joyous, universal, and undivided. With the voice of triumph, with happy sounds, consonant with such splendid victories, so great a King, so excellent a rule, and such happy subjects. Many are human languages, and yet the nations may triumph as with one voice. Faith’s view of God’s government is full of transport. The prospect of the universal reign of the Prince of Peace is enough to make the tongue of the dumb sing; what will the reality be? Well might the poet of the seasons bid mountains and valleys raise their joyous hymn—
“For the GREAT SHEPHERD reigns,
And his unsuffering kingdom yet will come.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Some have applied this Psalm to Christ’s ascension; but it speaks of his Second Coming. The Mighty One is seated peacefully on his throne. We are referred back to Psalms 45:1-17. Andrew A. Bonar.
Ver. 1. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. This should be done, 1. Cheerfully, Clap your hands, for this is a sign of inward joy, Na 3:19. 2. Universally: “O clap you hands, all ye people.” 3. Vocally: Shout unto God with the voice of triumph. 4. Frequently: “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises”, Psalms 47:6; and again “sing praises”, Psalms 47:7. It cannot be done too frequently. 5. Knowingly and discreetly: “Sing ye praises with understanding; “know the reason why ye are to praise him. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 1. O clap your hands, etc. Such expressions of pious and devout affection as to some may seem indecent and imprudent, yet ought not to be hastily censured and condemned, much less ridiculed; because if they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection, and excuse the weakness of the expressions of it. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 1. O clap your hands. The voice of melody is not so much to be uttered with the tongue, as with the hands; that it, it is our deeds not our words, by which God is here to be praised. Even as it was in him whose pattern we are to follow: “Jesus began both to do and to teach.” J. M. Neale.
Ver. 1. All ye people. Peoples, in the plural. Here it is used to call both Jews and Gentiles—all nations. William S. Plumer.
Ver. 1. Shout unto God. Jubilate Deo: in God, and concerning God, and in honour of God. He does not excite them to carnal joy. Martin Geier.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. Unusual and enthusiastic expressions of joy when justifiable and even desirable.
Ver. 1-4. Joy the true spirit of worship. 1. Joy in God’s character. 2. In his reign. 3. In the triumphs of his gospel. 4. In his favour to his saints.
WORKS UPON THE FORTY-SEVENTH PSALM
In the Works of JOHN BOYS, 1626, folio, pp. 931-937, there is an Exposition of this Psalm.
Psalms 47:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. For the Lord, or JEHOVAH, the self existent and only God; Most high, most great in power, lofty in dominion, eminent in wisdom, elevated in glory. Is terrible, none can resist his power or stand before his vengeance; yet as these terrors are wielded on the behalf of his subjects, they are fit reasons for rejoicing. Omnipotence, which is terrible to crush, is almighty to protect. At a grand review of the troops of a great prince, all his loyal subjects are filled with triumph, because their liege lord is so able to defend his own, and so much dreaded by his foes. He is a great King over all the earth. Not over Judea only, but even to the utmost isles his reign extends. Our God is no local deity, no petty ruler of a tribe; in infinite majesty he rules the mightiest realm as absolute arbiter of destiny, sole monarch of all lands, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Not a hamlet or an islet is excluded from his dominion. How glorious will that era be when this is seen and known of all; when in the person of Jesus all flesh shall behold the glory of the Lord!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great king over all the earth. The church celebrates the ascension of Christ, because then he was “highly exalted; “then he became terrible to his enemies, all power in heaven and earth being committed to him; and then he began to display the excellent majesty of his universal kingdom, to which he was then inaugurated, being crowned “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” George Horne.
Ver. 2. The Lord most high is terrible. Christ is terrible, that is, fearful, or meet to be feared, not of his children only for their good, but of the wicked also for their punishment; terrible to the devil, as being stronger than he, casting out the prince of darkness by the finger of God. Lu 11:22 John 12:31. And therefore so soon as an unclean spirit saw Jesus, he cried out, “What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us?” Mr 1:24; or as other devils, Matthew 8:29, “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” for the devils in believing tremble. Terrible to hypocrites, and other impious agents of the devil, as having his fan in his hand to make clean his floor, and to gather his wheat into his garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:12. Or Christ is excelsus in potentia, terribilis in justitia; high in power, and fearful in justice; high in exalting the good, and terrible in humbling the bad. John Boys.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-4. Joy the true spirit of worship. 1. Joy in God’s character. 2. In his reign. 3. In the triumphs of his gospel. 4. In his favour to his saints.
Ver. 2. The terrors of the Lord viewed by faith as a subject of joy.
Ver. 2. (second clause). The universal reign of Christ as it is and is to be.
Psalms 47:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. He, with whom is infinite power, shall subdue the people under us. The battle is not ours but the Lord’s. He will take his own time, but he will certainly achieve victory for his church. Truth and righteousness shall through grace climb to the ascendant. We wage no doubtful warfare. Hearts the most rebellious, and wills the most stubborn, shall submit to all conquering grace. All the Lord’s people, whether Jews or Gentiles, may clap their hands at this, for God’s victory will be theirs; but surely apostles, prophets, ministers, and those who suffer and labour the most, may take the largest share in the joy. Idolatry, infidelity, superstition, we shall yet tread upon, as men tread down the stones of the street. And the nations under our feet. The church of God shall be the greatest of monarchies, her victory shall be signal and decisive. Christ shall take to himself his great power and reign, and all the tribes of men shall own at once his glory and the glory of his people in him. How changed will be the position of affairs in coming ages! The people of God have been under the feet of men in long and cruel persecutions, and in daily contempt; but God will reverse the position, and the best in character shall be first in honour.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. The consequence of our Lord’s ascension was the going forth of the all subduing Word, under the influence and direction of which, the convinced and converted nations renounced their idols and their lusts, and bowed their willing necks to the yoke of Jesus. This is that great conquest, fore showed by the victories of Joshua, David, and all the faithful heroes of old time, and foretold in language borrowed from their history. George Horne.
Ver. 3. He shall subdue the people under us, etc., or he shall lead like sheep; or bring unto to fold; as divers render the word, by comparing Isaiah 5:17, Micah 2:12. He seems to speak of such a subjugation of them, as was for the good of the people subdued, because this is matter of rejoicing to them, verse 1; which is true both of these people whom David subdued, who thereby had opportunities, obligations, and encouragements to own and worship the true God, which was the only way to their true and lasting happiness; and especially of those Gentiles who were subdued to Christ by the preaching of the gospel. The Gentile converts were in some sort brought under the Jews, because they were subjected to Christ and to his apostles, and to the primitive church, which were Jews. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 3. And the nations under our feet. By this manner of speech is meant, that the Gentiles should be scholars, and the Jews schoolmasters, as it were to them; for to sit under the feet, or at the feet, is used in Scripture for being a scholar, or learning, as Acts 22:3. Thomas Wilcocks.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-4. Joy the true spirit of worship. 1. Joy in God’s character. 2. In his reign. 3. In the triumphs of his gospel. 4. In his favour to his saints.
Ver. 3. The hope of victory to the church. What shall be subdued? By whose instrumentality? Us. By whose power? He. When shall it be accomplished? What is the token of it? The ascension, Psalms 47:5.
Ver. 3.
1. The final triumph of the saints. All enemies subdued under them in earth and hell, within and without.
1. Gradually.
2. Completely.
2. The power by which it is accomplished. He shall, etc.
1. Not without means.
2. Not by means only.
3. But by appointed means made potent by divine energy. G. R.
Psalms 47:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. While as yet we see not all things put under him, we are glad to put ourselves and our fortunes at his disposal. He shall choose our inheritance for us. We feel his reign to be so gracious that we even now ask to be in the fullest degree the subjects of it. We submit our will, our choice, our desire, wholly to him. Our heritage here and hereafter we leave to him, let him do with us as seemeth him good. The excellency of Jacob whom he loved. He gave his ancient people their portion, he will give us ours, and we ask nothing better; this is the most spiritual and real manner of clapping our hands because of his sovereignty, namely, to leave all our affairs in his hands, for then our hands are empty of all care for self, and free to be used in his honour. He was the boast and glory of Israel, he is and shall be ours. He loved his people and became their greatest glory; he loves us, and he shall be our exceeding joy. As for the latter days, we ask nothing better than to stand in our appointed lot, for if we have but a portion in our Lord Jesus, it is enough for our largest desires. Our beauty, our boast, our best treasure, lies in having such a God to trust in, such a God to love us. Selah. Yes, pause, ye faithful songsters. Here is abundant room for holy meditation—
“Muse awhile, obedient thought,
Lo, the theme’s with rapture fraught;
See thy King, whose realm extends
Even to earth’s remotest ends.
Gladly shall the nations own
Him their God and Lord alone;
Clap their hands with holy mirth,
Hail him MONARCH OF THE EARTH.
Come, my soul, before him bow,
Gladdest of his subjects thou;
Leave thy portion to his choice,
In his sovereign will rejoice,
This thy purest, deepest bliss,
He is thine and thou art his.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. He shall choose. Futures are variously rendered; and accordingly the vulgar Latin, Syriac, and Arabic, render this word, He hath chosen. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 4. He shall choose our inheritance for us. It is reported of a woman who, being sick, was asked whether she was willing to live or die; she answered, “Which God pleases.” But, said one, if God should refer it to you, which would you choose? “Truly, “replied she, “I would refer it to him again.” Thus that man obtains his will of God, whose will is subjected to God. We are not to be troubled that we have no more from God, but we are to be troubled that we do no more for God. Christians, if the Lord be well pleased with your persons, should not you be well pleased with your conditions? There is more reason that you should be pleased with them, than that he should be pleased with you. Believers should be like sheep, which change their pastures at the will of the shepherd; or like vessels in a house, which stand to be filled or emptied at the pleasure of their owner. He that sails upon the sea of this world in his own bottom, will sink at last into a bottomless ocean. Never were any their own carvers, but they were sure to cut their own fingers. William Secker.
Ver. 4. He shall choose our inheritance for us, means that he who knows what is better for us than ourselves, hath chosen, that is, hath appointed, and that of his own good will and mercy towards us, our inheritance; not only things meet for this life, as lands, and houses, and possessions, etc., but even all other things concerning the hope of a better life, to wit, a kingdom that cannot be shaken, an everlasting habitation, and inheritance which is immortal and undefiled, and fadeth not away, reserved for us in heaven. John Boys.
Ver. 4. The excellency (or glory) of Jacob, whom he loved; that is, even all those excellent things that he gave and promised to Jacob, wherein he might glory and rejoice. The faithful mean, that they had as great, both abundance and assurance of God’s grace and goodness, as ever Jacob had. Thomas Wilcocks.
Ver. 4. It may be thou art godly and poor. It is well; but canst thou tell whether, if thou wert not poor, thou wouldst be godly? Surely God knows us better than we ourselves do, and therefore can best fit the estate to the person. Giles Fletcher.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-4. Joy the true spirit of worship. 1. Joy in God’s character. 2. In his reign. 3. In the triumphs of his gospel. 4. In his favour to his saints.
Ver. 4. This comprehends time and eternity. It is a matter of fact, of holy acquiescence, of desire, of thankfulness.
Ver. 4.
1. God is willing to choose our inheritance for us in time and eternity.
2. His choice is better than ours—the excellency of Jacob.
3. He will leave us to the consequences of our own choice.
4. He will help us in obtaining that which he chooses for us. G. R.
Psalms 47:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. God is gone up with a shout. Faith hears the people already shouting. The command of the first verse is here regarded as a fact. The fight is over, the conqueror ascends to his triumphant chariot, and rides up to the gates of the city which is made resplendent with the joy of his return. The words are fully applicable to the ascension of the Redeemer. We doubt not that angels and glorified spirits welcomed him with acclamations. He came not without song, shall we imagine that he returned in silence? The Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Jesus is Jehovah. The joyful strain of the trumpet betokens the splendour of his triumph. It was meet to welcome one returning from the wars with martial music. Fresh from Bozrah, with his garments all red from the winepress, he ascended, leading captivity captive, and well might the clarion ring out the tidings of Immanuel’s victorious return.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5. God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. It is worthy (as Origen suggests) that this mention of the shout, and the voice of the trumpet, serves to connect together past and future events in the history of the church and of the world, and carry our thoughts forward to Christ’s coming to judgment. Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 5. Thou hast great cause, O my soul, to praise him, and to rejoice before him, especially if thou considerest that Christ ascended not for himself, but also for thee: it is God in our nature that is gone up to heaven: whatever God acted on the person of Christ, that he did as in thy behalf, and he means to act the very same on thee. Christ as a public person ascended up to heaven; thy interest is in this very ascension of Jesus Christ; and therefore dost thou consider thy Head as soaring up? O let every member praise his name; let thy tongue (called thy glory), glory in this, and trumpet out his praise, that in respect of thy duty it may be verified: “Christ is gone up with a shout, the Lord with a sound of a trumpet.” Isaac Ambrose.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5. The ascension. Its publicity, solemnity, triumph, joy. Who went up. Where he went up. To what he went up. For what purpose. With what result.
Psalms 47:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. Sing praises. What jubilation is here, when five times over the whole earth is called upon to sing to God! He is worthy, he is Creator, he is goodness itself. Sing praises, keep on with the glad work. Never let the music pause. He never ceases to be good, let us never cease to be grateful. Strange that we should need so much urging to attend to so heavenly an exercise. Sing praises unto our King. Let him have all our praise; no one ought to have even a particle of it. Jesus shall have it all. Let his sovereignty be the fount of gladness. It is a sublime attribute, but full of bliss to the faithful. Let our homage be paid not in groans but songs. He asks not slaves to grace his throne; he is no despot; singing is fit homage for a monarch so blessed and gracious. Let all hearts that own his sceptre sing and sing on for ever, for there is everlasting reason for thanksgiving while we dwell under the shadow of such a throne.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The importance of holy song. The repetition rebukes our slackness, and implies that earnestness, frequency, delight, and universality should characterise the praises offered.
Psalms 47:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. For God is the King of all the earth. The Jews of our Saviour’s time resented this truth, but had their hearts been right they would have rejoiced in it. They would have kept their God to themselves, and not even have allowed the Gentile dogs to eat the crumbs from under his table. Alas! how selfishness turns honey into wormwood. Jehovah is not the God of the Jews only, all the nations of the earth are, through the Messiah, yet to own him Lord. Meanwhile his providential throne governs all events beneath the sky. Sing praises with understanding. Sing a didactic Psalm. Sound doctrine praises God. Even under the economy of types and ceremonies, it is clear that the Lord had regard to the spirituality of worship, and would be praised thoughtfully, intelligently, and with deep appreciation of the reason for song. It is to be feared from the slovenly way in which some make a noise in singing, that they fancy any sound will do. On the other hand, from the great attention paid by some to the mere music, we feel sadly sure that the sense has no effect upon them. Is it not a sin to be tickling men’s ears with sounds when we profess to be adoring the Lord? What has a sensuous delight in organs, anthems, etc., to do with devotion? Do not men mistake physical effects for spiritual impulses? Do they not often offer to God strains far more calculated for human amusement than for divine acceptance? An understanding enlightened of the Holy Spirit is then and then only fully capable of offering worthy praise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7. For God is the King of all the earth: as if he had said, “our King, said I? it is too little; he is King of all the earth.” John Trapp.
Ver. 7. Sing ye praises with understanding. How may we make melody in our hearts to God in singing of Psalms? We must sing with understanding. We must not be guided by the time, but the words of the Psalm; we must mind the matter more than the music, and consider what we sing, as well as how we sing; the tune may affect the fancy, but it is the matter affects the heart, and that God principally eyes. The psalmist advises us in this particular, and so doth the apostle 1 Corinthians 14:15. Otherwise this sweet duty would be more the work of a chorister than of a Christian, and we should be more delighted in an anthem of the musician’s making, than in a Psalm of the Spirit’s making. A. Lapide observes that in the text, 1 Corinthians 14:15, the word understanding is maschil, (lyksm), profound judgment: we must sing wisely, if we will sing gratefully; we must relish what we sing. In a word, we must sing as we must pray; now the most rude petitioner will understand what he prays. 1 Corinthians 14:15. If we do not understand what we sing, it argues carelessness of spirit, or hardness of heart; and this makes the service impertinent. Upon this the worthy Davenant cries out, “Adieu to the bellowing of the Papists, who sing in an unknown tongue.” God will not understand us in that service which we understand not ourselves. One of the first pieces of the creation was light, and this must break out in every duty. John Wells(—1676), in “Morning Exercises.”
Ver. 7. Sing ye praises with understanding, sing an instructive song. Let sense and sound go together. Let your hearts and heads go with your voices. Understand what you sing, and feel what you understand. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 7. Sing ye praises with understanding; because in the full light of the new dispensation, the darkness of the patriarchal ages, the seeing as through a glass of the Levitical law, are turned into the vision of full and very reality. Hugo Victorinus.
Ver. 7. Sing ye praises with understanding. Mark this, thou who daily readest the Psalms, and yet does not understand them. Simon de Muis.
Ver. 7. With understanding. If they had sung with understanding, they had not adored stones. When a man sensible sang to a stone insensible, did he sing “with understanding”? But now, brethren, we see not with our eyes whom we adore, and yet correctly we adore. Much more is God commended to us, that with our eyes see him not. Augustine.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7. (last clause). The psalmody of the instructed, and instruction by psalmody; praise should be both the fruit and the vehicle of teaching.
Psalms 47:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. Now at this moment, over the most debased idolaters, God holds a secret rule; here is work for faith. How we ought to long for the day when this truth shall be changed in its aspect, and the rule now unrecognised shall be delighted in! The great truth that God reigneth in providence is the guarantee that in a gracious gospel sense his promises shall be fulfilled, and his kingdom shall come. He sitteth upon the throne of his holiness. Unmoved he occupies an undisputed throne, whose decrees, acts, and commands are holiness itself. What other throne is like this? Never was it stained with injustice, or defiled with sin. Neither is he who sits upon it dismayed, or in a dilemma. He sits in serenity, for he knows his own power, and sees that his purposes will not miscarry. Here is reason enough for holy song.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. (last clause). Divine sovereignty always connected with holiness.
Ver. 8.
1. God has a throne of holiness, for which he is to be feared by all men.
2. A throne of grace, for which he is to be loved by his redeemed.
3. A throne of glory, for which he is to be praised by his whole creation.
Psalms 47:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. The princes of the people are gathered together. The prophetic eye of the psalmist sees the willing subjects of the great King assembled to celebrate his glory. Not only the poor and the men of low estate are there, but nobles bow their willing necks to his sway. “All kings shall bow down before him.” No people shall be unrepresented; their great men shall be good men, their royal ones regenerate ones. How august will be the parliament where the Lord Jesus shall open the court, and princes shall rise up to do him honour! Even the people of the God of Abraham. That same God, who was known only to here and there a patriarch like the father of the faithful, shall be adored by a seed as many as the stars of heaven. The covenant promise shall be fulfilled, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Shiloh shall come, and “to him shall the gathering of the people be.” Babel’s dispersion shall be obliterated by the gathering arm of the Great Shepherd King.
For the shields of the earth belong unto God. The insignia of pomp, the emblems of rank, the weapons of war, all must pay loyal homage to the King of all. Right honourables must honour Jesus, and majesties must own him to be far more majestic. Those who are earth’s protectors, the shields of the commonwealth, derive their might from him, and are his. All principalities and powers must be subject unto Jehovah and his Christ, for He is greatly exalted. In nature, in power, in character, in glory, there is none to compare with him. Oh, glorious vision of a coming era! Make haste, ye wheels of time! Meanwhile, ye saints, “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9. The princes of the people are gathered together. I note from hence, 1. That it is not impossible for great men to be good men; for the heads of a country to be members of Christ; and for princes as well as the people to serve the God of Abraham. It is said by the prophet, “upon my peace came great bitterness; “”a thousand fell on the left hand, but ten thousand at the right hand” Psalms 91:7 : ten perish in their prosperity, for one that falleth in adversity. Homo victus in paradiso, victum in stercore: Adam in the garden of pleasure was overcome by the subtil serpent, whereas Job on the dunghill of misery was more than a conqueror. Woodmen say that deer are more circumspect in fat pastures; so the godly fear most in a rich estate: nihil timendum video (saith one), timeo tamen. (Seneca.) It is a sweet prayer of our church in the Litany, “Good Lord, deliver us in all time of our wealth, “insinuating that our minds are not so wanton as in abundance: yet, as you see, such is Christ’s unspeakable goodness towards all sort of men, in preventing them even with the riches of his mercy, that not only the mean people, but also the mighty princes among the heathen are joined unto the church of the God of Abraham. John Boys.
Ver. 9. Gathered together. Christ’s gathering of the saints together unto him will be at his second coming, his coming to judgment, the general and final judgment. “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1. James Scott (—1773), in “A Collection of Sermons, “1774.
Ver. 9. The people of the God of Abraham. First, touching the God of Abraham, it is Christ, whose day Abraham desired to see, and in seeing whereof he did so much rejoice John 8:1-59; that is, not only the day of his birth, which he saw, as we learn by the oath which he caused his servant to take Genesis 24:1-67 but also the day of his passion, which he saw long ago, and rejoiced in seeing it, when he said to his son Isaac in the mount, “The Lord will provide a sacrifice.” Genesis 22:8. Secondly, The people of the God of Abraham, are his children and posterity: not only that they are the seed of Abraham, coming out of his loins, and are “the children of the flesh” Romans 9:9; but “the children of the promise; “for if they that come out of Abraham’s loins were only his children, then the Hagarins, the Turks, and Ishmaelites should be the people of God; “But in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” They that lay hold of the promise by faith, “They that are of the faith, are the children of Abraham” Galatians 3:7, that have the same spirit of faith that Abraham had. As the apostle saith Romans 2:28, “He is not a Jew that is one outwardly, but a Jew inwardly is the true Jew.” They that worship the Messias by believing in him with the faith of Abraham, they are Abraham’s children, and the people of Abraham’s God, which thing John Baptist affirms Matthew 3:1-17, “God can of stones raise up children unto Abraham.” So the Gentiles, which worshipped stones, and therefore were “like unto them” Psalms 115:1-18, were notwithstanding raised up to be children to Abraham. Lancelot Andrewes.
Ver. 9. The shields of the earth belong unto God. There we have the rulers of the earth set forth by a double relation; the one upward, they are scuta Deo, they belong to God; the other downward, they are scuta terae, “the shields of the earth; “and both these noting two things, their dignity and their duty. They belong to God, it is their honour that he hath sealed them: they belong to God, it is their duty to be subject to him. They are shields of the earth, it is their honour that they are above others: they are the shields of the earth, it is their duty to protect others. Edward Reynolds (Bishop).
Ver. 9. The shields of the earth are God’s, is understood by many as spoken of princes. I admit that this metaphor is of frequent occurrence in Scripture, nor does this sense seem to be unsuitable to the scope of the passage…Yet the sense will be more simple if we explain the words thus: That, as it is God alone who defends and preserves the world, the high and supreme majesty which is sufficient for so exalted and difficult a work as the preservation of the world, is justly looked upon with admiration. The sacred writer expressly uses the word shields in the plural number, for, considering the various and almost innumerable dangers which unceasingly threaten every part of the world, the providence of God must necessarily interpose in many ways, and make use, as it were, of many bucklers. John Calvin.
Ver. 9. The shields of the earth. Magistrates are said to bear the sword, not to be swords; and they are said to be shields, not to bear shields; and all this to show that protection and preservation are more essential and intrinsical to their office than destruction and punishment are. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9.
1. A shield is a merciful weapon, none more so.
2. A shield is a venturous weapon, a kind of surety, which bears the blows and receives the injuries which were intended for another.
3. A shield is a strong weapon, to repel the darts of wickedness and break them in pieces.
4. A shield is an honourable weapon, none more: taking away of shields was a sign of victory; preserving them a sign of glory.
5. Remember, a shield must ever have an eye to guide it —you the shields, the law the eye. Bishop Reynolds

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Psalm 46

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-11
Title. To the Chief Musician. He who could sing other Psalms so well was fitly entrusted with this noble ode. Trifles may be left to commoner songsters, but the most skilful musician in Israel must be charged with the due performance of this song, with the most harmonious voices and choicest music. For the Sons of Korah. One alone cannot fulfil the praise, there must be picked choristers under him, whose joyful privilege it shall be to celebrate the service of song in the house of the Lord. As to why the sons of Korah were selected, see our remarks at the head of Psalms 42:1-11. It may be well to add that they were a division of the Levites who took their turn in serving at the temple. All the works of holy service ought not to be monopolised by one order of talent, each company of believers should in due course enjoy the privilege. None ought to be without a share in the service of God.
A Song upon Alamoth. Which may denote that the music was to be pitched high for the treble or soprano voices of the Hebrew virgins. They went forth in their dances to sing the praises of David when he smote the Philistine, it was meet that they should make merry and be glad when the victories of Jehovah became their theme. We need to praise God upon virgin hearts, with souls chaste towards his fear, with lively and exalted expressions, and happy strains. Or the word Alamoth may refer to shrill sounding instruments, as in 1 Chronicles 15:20, where we read that Zechariah, and Eliab, and Benaiah were to praise the Lord “with psalteries on Alamoth.” We are not always, in a slovenly manner, to fall into one key, but with intelligence are to modulate our praises and make them fittingly expressive of the occasion and the joy it creates in our souls. These old musical terms cannot be interpreted with certainty, but they are still useful because they show that care and skill should be used in our sacred music.
Subject. Happen what may, the Lord’s people are happy and secure, this is the doctrine of the Psalm, and it might, to help our memories, be called THE SONG OF HOLY CONFIDENCE, were it not that from the great reformer’s love to this soul-stirring hymn it will probably be best remembered as LUTHER’S PSALM.
Division. It is divided by inspired authority into three parts, each of which ends with Selah.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. God is our refuge and strength. Not our armies, or our fortresses. Israel’s boast is in Jehovah, the only living and true God. Others vaunt their impregnable castles, placed on inaccessible rocks, and secured with gates of iron, but God is a far better refuge from distress than all these: and when the time comes to carry the war into the enemy’s territories, the Lord stands his people in better stead than all the valour of legions or the boasted strength of chariot and horse. Soldiers of the cross, remember this, and count yourselves safe, and make yourselves strong in God. Forget not the personal possessive word our; make sure each one of your portion in God, that you may say, “He is my refuge and strength.” Neither forget the fact that God is our refuge just now, in the immediate present, as truly as when David penned the word. God alone is our all in all. All other refuges are refuges of lies, all other strength is weakness, for power belongeth unto God: but as God is all sufficient, our defence and might are equal to all emergencies. A very present help in trouble, or in distress he has so been found, he has been tried and proved by his people. He never withdraws himself from his afflicted. He is their help, truly, effectually, constantly; he is present or near them, close at their side and ready for their succour, and this is emphasized by the word very in our version, he is more present than friend or relative can be, yea, more nearly present than even the trouble itself. To all this comfortable truth is added the consideration that his assistance comes at the needed time. He is not as the swallows that leave us in the winter; he is a friend in need and a friend indeed. When it is very dark with us, let brave spirits say, “Come, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm.”
“A fortress firm, and steadfast rock,
Is God in time of danger;
A shield and sword in every shock,
From foe well known or stranger.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. The LXX referring to the notion of the theme (Mlu), occultavit, render it uper twn krufiwn, for the hidden; and the Latin, pro arcanis; and the rest of the ancient interpreters take the same course; the Chaldee referring it to Coreh, and those that were hidden, i.e., swallowed up, by the earth with him, whilst these sons of Coreh escaped; as if the mention of the sons of Coreh in the title, by whom this song was to be sung, referred the whole Psalm to that story. Accordingly, verse 2, when the Hebrew reads, “Though the earth be removed, “the paraphrase is, “When our fathers were changed from the earth.” Henry Hammond.
Title. The title is peculiar, “Upon Alamoth, “suggesting “a choir of virgins, “as if this virgin choir were selected to sing a Psalm that tells of perils and fears and alarms abounding, in order to show that even the feeble virgins may in that day sing without dread, because of “The Mighty One” on their side. Andrew A. Bonar.
Title. —”Upon Alamoth.” (To be sung) en soprano. Armand de Mestral, quoted by Perowne.
Whole Psalm. We sing this Psalm to the praise of God, because God is with us, and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends his church and his word, against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh and sin. Martin Luther.
Whole Psalm. Luther and his companions, with all their bold readiness for danger and death in the cause of truth, had times when their feelings were akin to those of a divine singer, who said, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” But in such hours the unflinching Reformer would cheerily say to his friend Melancthon, “Come, Philip, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm; and they could sing it in Luther’s own characteristic version”: —
A sure stronghold our God is He,
A timely shield and weapon;
Our help he will be, and set us free
From every ill can happen.
And were the world with devils filled,
All eager to devour us,
Our souls to fear shall little yield,
They cannot overpower us.
S. W. Christophers, in “Hymn Writers and their Hymns, “1866
Ver. 1. God is our refuge and strength, etc. It begins abruptly, but nobly; ye may trust in whom and in what ye please; but GOD (ELOHIM) is our refuge and strength. A very present help. A help found to be very powerful and effectual in straits and difficulties. The words are very emphatic: (dam aumn twrub hrze), ezrah betsaroth nimtsa meod, “He is found an exceeding, or superlative, help in difficulties.” Such we have found him, and therefore celebrate his praise. Adam Clarke.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. The song of faith in troublous times.
1. Our refuge. Our only, impregnable, accessible, delightful place of retreat is our God.
2. Our strength. Our all sufficient, unconquerable, honourable, and emboldening strength is our God.
3. Our help. Ever near, sympathising, faithful, real, and potent is our God.
Ver. 1. A very present help in trouble. Religion never so valuable as in seasons of trouble, sickness, and death. God is present helping us to bear trouble, to improve it, and to survive it. Present by gracious communications and sweet manifestations; present most when he seems absent, restraining, overruling, and sanctifying trouble. Trust and wait. James Smith.
Psalms 46:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. Therefore. How fond the psalmist is of therefores! his poetry is no poetic rapture without reason, it is as logical as a mathematical demonstration. The next words are a necessary inference from these. Will not we fear. With God on our side, how irrational would fear be! Where he is all power is, and all love, why therefore should we quail? Though the earth be removed, though the basis of all visible things should be so convulsed as to be entirely changed. And though the mountains be carried into the middle of the sea; though the firmest of created objects should fall to headlong ruin, and be submerged in utter destruction. The two phrases set forth the most terrible commotions within the range of imagination, and include the overthrow of dynasties, the destruction of nations, the ruin of families, the persecutions of the church, the reign of heresy, and whatever else may at any time try the faith of believers. Let the worst come to the worst, the child of God should never give way to mistrust; since God remaineth faithful there can be no danger to his cause or people. When the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the heavens and the earth shall pass away in the last general conflagration, we shall serenely behold “the wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds, “for even then our refuge shall preserve us from all evil, our strength shall prepare us for all good.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. Though the earth be removed. John Wesley preached in Hyde park, on the occasion of the earthquake felt in London, March 8, 1750, and repeated these words. Charles Wesley composed Hymn 67, Wesley’s Collection, the following lines of which illustrate this verse: —
How happy then are we,
Who build, O Lord, on thee!
What can our foundation shock?
Though the shattered earth remove,
Stands our city on a rock,
On the rock of heavenly love.
Ver. 2-3. The earth thrown into a state of wild confusion, the mountains hurled into the mighty deep, the sea tossed into a tempest, and the everlasting hills drifting on its foaming billows, are the vivid images by which the divine judgments on wicked and persecuting nations are described in the language of the prophets. John Morison.
Ver. 2-3,5. Palestine was frequently subject to earthquakes, as might have been expected from its physical character and situation; and it is a remarkable circumstance, that although all other parts of the land seem to have been occasionally the scene of those terrible convulsions, the capital was almost wholly free from them. Mount Moriah, or the hill of vision, was so called from its towering height, which made it a conspicuous object in the distance. It stands in the centre of a group of hills, which surround it in the form of an amphitheatre, and it was chiefly to this position, under the special blessing of God, that it stood firm and immoveable amid the frequent earthquakes that agitated and ravaged the Holy Land. Paxton’s Illustrations of Scripture.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. The reasons, advantages, and glory of holy courage.
Ver. 2-3.
1. The great and many causes for fear.
1. What might come—mountains, waters, etc., persecution, pestilence, etc.
2. What must come—afflictions, death, judgment.
2. The great and one cause for not fearing. Fearlessness under such circumstances should be well grounded. God himself is our refuge, and we confiding in him are fearless. G. Rogers.
Psalms 46:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled. When all things are excited to fury, and reveal their utmost power to disturb, faith smiles serenely. She is not afraid of noise, nor even of real force, she knows that the Lord stilleth the raging of the sea, and holdeth the waves in the hollow of his hand. Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Alps and Andes may tremble, but faith rests on a firmer basis, and is not to be moved by swelling seas. Evil may ferment, wrath may boil, and pride may foam, but the brave heart of holy confidence trembles not. Great men who are like mountains may quake for fear in times of great calamity, but the man whose trust is in God needs never to be dismayed.
Selah. In the midst of such a hurly burly the music may well come to a pause, both to give the singers breath, and ourselves time for meditation. We are in no hurry, but can sit us down and wait while earth dissolves, and mountains rock, and oceans roar. Ours is not the headlong rashness which passes for courage, we can calmly confront the danger, and meditate upon terror, dwelling on its separate items and united forces. The pause is not an exclamation of dismay, but merely a rest in music; we do not suspend our song in alarm, but tune our harps again with deliberation amidst the tumult of the storm. It were well if all of us could say, Selah, under tempestuous trials, but alas! too often we speak in our haste, lay our trembling hands bewildered among the strings, strike the lyre with a rude crash, and mar the melody of our life song.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2-3. See Psalms on “Psalms 46:2” for further information.
Ver. 2-3,5. See Psalms on “Psalms 46:2” for further information.
Ver. 3. Selah. See “Treasury of David, “Vol. I., pages 25, 29, 346, 382; and Vol. II., pages 249-252.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2-3.
1. The great and many causes for fear.
1. What might come—mountains, waters, etc., persecution, pestilence, etc.
2. What must come—afflictions, death, judgment.
2. The great and one cause for not fearing. Fearlessness under such circumstances should be well grounded. God himself is our refuge, and we confiding in him are fearless. G. Rogers.
Psalms 46:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. There is a river. Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilising, full, and never failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers. This is the river of the water of life, of which the church above as well as the church below partakes evermore. It is no boisterous ocean, but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it follows its serene course without disturbance. Happy are they who know from their own experience that there is such a river of God. The streams whereof in their various influences, for they are many, shall make glad the city of God, by assuring the citizens that Zion’s Lord will unfailingly supply all their needs. The streams are not transient like Cherith, nor muddy like the Nile, nor furious like Kishon, nor treacherous like Job’s deceitful brooks, neither are their waters “naught” like those of Jericho, they are clear, cool, fresh, abundant, and gladdening. The great fear of an Eastern city in time of war was lest the water supply should be cut off during a siege; if that were secured the city could hold out against attacks for an indefinite period. In this verse, Jerusalem, which represents the church of God, is described as well supplied with water, to set forth the fact that in seasons of trial all sufficient grace will be given to enable us to endure unto the end. The church is like a well ordered city, surrounded with mighty walls of truth and justice, garrisoned by omnipotence, fairly built and adorned by infinite wisdom: its burgesses the saints enjoy high privileges; they trade with far off lands, they live in the smile of the King; and as a great river is the very making and mainstay of a town, so is the broad river of everlasting love, and grace their joy and bliss. The church is peculiarly the City of God, of his designing, building, election, purchasing and indwelling. It is dedicated to his praise, and glorified by his presence. The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. This was the peculiar glory of Jerusalem, that the Lord within her walls had a place where he peculiarly revealed himself, and this is the choice privilege of the saints, concerning which we may cry with wonder, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” To be a temple for the Holy Ghost is the delightful portion of each saint, to be the living temple for the Lord our God is also the high honour of the church in her corporate capacity. Our God is here called by a worthy title, indicating his power, majesty, sublimity, and excellency; and it is worthy of note that under this character he dwells in the church. We have not a great God in nature, and a little God in grace; no, the church contains as clear and convincing a revelation of God as the works of nature, and even more amazing in the excellent glory which shines between the cherubim overshadowing that mercy seat which is the centre and gathering place of the people of the living God. To have the Most High dwelling within her members, is to make the church on earth like the church in heaven.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God. What is the river that makes glad the city of God? I answer, God himself is the river, as in the following verse, “God is in the midst of her.” 1. God the Father is the river: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jer 2:13. 2. God the Son is the river, the fountain of salvation: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Zec 13:1. 3. God the Spirit is the river: “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Joh 7:38 4:14. What are the streams of this river? Answer—the perfections of God, the fulness of Christ, the operations of the Spirit, and these running in the channel of the covenant of promise. Ralph Erskine.
Ver. 4. There is a river, etc. This is that flood which Ezekiel beheld in vision, the waters that came down from the right side of the house, and rising first to the ankles—then as the prophet passed onward, to the knees—then to the loins—became afterwards a river that he could not pass over; for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. Shall we see in this, with the angelic doctor, the river of grace which burst forth from Mount Calvary? streams branching off hither and thither, the pelagim of the Hebrew—”to satisfy the desolate and waste ground, and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth.” Job 38:1-41. O “fountain of gardens, “”well of living waters, ” “streams from Lebanon, “how do you, the “nether springs” of this world, bring to us something of the everlasting loveliness and peace of those “upper springs, “by which the beautiful flock now feed and lie down, none making them afraid! Or with S. Ambrose and S. Bernard, understand the verse of the “river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” And then the rivers of that flood shall indeed make glad the city of God, the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, where is the tree of life, that beareth twelve manner of fruits, and yieldeth her fruit every month; that country and that river of which the old liturgies say, “They who rest in the bosom of Abraham are in the tabernacle of joy and rest, in the dwellings of light, in the world of pleasure, in the church of the true Jerusalem, where there is no place for affliction, nor way of sadness, where there are no wars with the flesh, and no resistance to temptation, where sin is forgotten, and past danger is only remembered as a present pleasure.” Thomas Aquinas, Ambrose, and Bernard, in Neale’s Commentary.
Ver. 4. There is a river. The river of God that flows from his throne. No enemy can cut off this stream from the church of Christ. Observe the reference to Isa 36:2 37:25, compared with 2 Chronicles 32:2-4. These gently flowing, but full streams, are contrasted with the roaring waves of the sea. T. C. Barth.
Ver. 4. There is a river, etc. The allusion is either to the river Kidron, which ran by Jerusalem, or to the waters of Shiloah, which by different courses and branches ran through the city of Jerusalem, and supplied the several parts of it with water, to the joy and comfort of its inhabitants. But the words are to be understood in a figurative sense, as applicable to gospel times; and this river either designs the gospel, the streams of which are its doctrines, which are living waters, that went out from Jerusalem, and which publish glad tidings of great joy to all sensible sinners; or the Spirit and his graces, which are compared to a well and rivers of living water, in the exercises of which the saints have much joy and peace; or else the Lord himself, who is the place of broad rivers and streams to his people, and is both their refreshment and protection; or rather his everlasting love to them is here intended. John Gill.
Ver. 4. Compared with the waterless deserts around, Judaea and Jerusalem were well watered, and drought pressed more severely on the besiegers than the besieged. The allusion here is to the well known rill and pool of Siloam. So in Isaiah 8:6, the blessing of God’s protection is represented by the waters of Shiloah, which go softly. From “The psalms Chronologically arranged. By Four Friends, ” 1867.
Ver. 4. The city. The church of God is like a city, 1. Because a city is a place of security. 2. A place of society: what one wants another supplies; they have mutual fellowship. 3. A place of unity, that people may therein live in peace and concord. 4. A place of trade and traffic. Here is the market of free grace: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, “etc. Here is the pearl of great price exposed for sale. 5. A place of freedom and liberty, freedom from the guilt of sin, wrath of God, curse of the law, present evil world, bondage to Satan, etc., etc. 6. A place of order and regularity; it hath its constitutions and ordinances. 7. A place of rest, and commodious to live in, and thus it is opposed to the wilderness. 8. A place of privileges. 9. A place of pomp and splendour; there is the king, the court, the throne. 10. A place of pleasure and beauty; Psalms 48:2.
Ralph Erskine.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. Glad tidings in sad times; or, the city of God in the times of trouble and confusion, watered with the river of consolation. Ralph Erskine.
Ver. 4. What can this river be but that blessed covenant to which David himself repaired in the time of trouble? …And what are the streams of this river, but the outgoings and effects of this divine constitution?
1. The blood of Jesus.
2. The influences of the Holy Spirit.
3. The doctrines and promises of the gospel.
4. The ordinances of religion.
5. All the means of grace. W. Jay.
Ver. 4. Make glad the city of God. There are four ways in which the streams of a river would gladden the citizens.
1. The first regards prospect.
2. The second regards traffic.
3. The third regards fertility.
4. The fourth regards supply. W. Jay.
Ver. 4. City of God. The church may be called “the city of God” because, 1. He dwells in it (see Psalms 44:5). 2. He founded it and built it. 3. It derives all privileges and immunities from him. 4. He is the chief Ruler or Governor there. 5. It is his property. 6. He draws the rent of it. Ralph Erskine.
Ver. 4-5. To the church, Joy, Establishment, Deliverance.
Psalms 46:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. God is in the midst of her. His help is therefore sure and near. Is she besieged, then he is himself besieged within her, and we may be certain that he will break forth upon his adversaries. How near is the Lord to the distresses of his saints, since he sojourns in their midst! Let us take heed that we do not grieve him; let us have such respect to him as Moses had when he felt the sand of Horeb’s desert to be holy, and put off his shoes from off his feet when the Lord spake from the burning bush. She shall not be moved. How can she be moved unless her enemies move her Lord also? His presence renders all hope of capturing and demolishing the city utterly ridiculous. The Lord is in the vessel, and she cannot, therefore, be wrecked. God shall help her. Within her he will furnish rich supplies, and outside her walls he will lay her foes in heaps like the armies of Sennacherib, when the angel went forth and smote them. And that right early. As soon as the first ray of light proclaims the coming day, at the turning of the morning God’s right arm shall be outstretched for his people. The Lord is up betimes. We are slow to meet him, but he is never tardy in helping us. Impatience complains of divine delays, but in very deed the Lord is not slack concerning his promise. Man’s haste is often folly, but God’s apparent delays are ever wise; and when rightly viewed, are no delays at all. Today the bands of evil may environ the church of God, and threaten her with destruction; but ere long they shall pass away like the foam on the waters, and the noise of their tumult shall be silent in the grave. The darkest hour of the night is just before the turning of the morning; and then, even then, shall the Lord appear as the great ally of his church.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2-3,5. See Psalms on “Psalms 46:2” for further information.
Ver. 5. God is in the midst of her. It is the real presence of Christ, and the supernatural power of his Spirit, which makes the church mighty to the conquest of souls. The church spreads because her God is in the midst of her. When at any time she has forgotten her dependence on the invisible intercession of her Head, and the gracious energy of his Spirit, she has found herself shorn of the locks of her great strength, and has become the laughing stock of the Philistines. William Binnie, D.D.
Ver. 5. God is in the midst of her, etc. The enemies of the church may toss her as waves, but they shall not split her as rocks. She may be dipped in water as a feather, but shall not sink therein as lead. He that is a well of water within her to keep her from fainting, will also prove a wall of fire about her to preserve her from falling. Tried she may be, but destroyed she cannot be. Her foundation is the Rock of Ages, and her defence the everlasting Arms. It is only such fabrics as are bottomed upon the sand, that are overthrown by the wind. The adversaries of God’s people will push at them as far as their horns will go, but when they have scoured them by persecution, as tarnished vessels, then God will throw such wisps into the fire. William Secker.
Ver. 5. When the Papists were in their ruff, and Melancthon began sometimes to fear lest the infant Reformation should be stifled in the birth, Luther was wont to comfort him with these words: “Si nos ruemus, ruet Christus und, scilicet ille regnator mundi, esto ruat, malo ego cum Christo rures, quam cum Caesare stare; “that is, If we perish, Christ must fall too (he is in the midst of us), and if it must be so, be it so; I had rather perish with Christ, that great Ruler of the world, than prosper with Caesar. John Collings.
Ver. 5. And that right early. Therefore, notice that all the great deliverances wrought in Holy Scripture, were wrought so early, as to have been brought to pass in the middle of the night. So Gideon, with his pitchers and lamps against the Midianites; so Saul, when he went forth against Nahash, the Ammonite; so Joshua, when he went up to succour Gibeon; so Samson, when he carried off in triumph the gates of Gaza; so also the associate kings, under the guidance of Elisha, in their expedition against the Moabites, when they, according to God’s command, filled the wilderness with ditches, and then beheld their enemies drawn to their destruction, by the reflection of the rising sun upon the water. Michael Ayguan.
Ver. 5. Right early. Rather, with the margin, when the morning appeareth. The restoration of the Jews will be one of the first things at the season of the second advent. It will be accomplished in the very dawning of that day, “when the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing on his wings.” Samuel Horsley.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4-5. To the church, Joy, Establishment, Deliverance.
Psalms 46:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. The heathen raged. The nations were in a furious uproar, they gathered against the city of the Lord like wolves ravenous for their prey; they foamed, and roared, and swelled like a tempestuous sea. The kingdoms were moved. A general confusion seized upon society; the fierce invaders convulsed their own dominions by draining the population to urge on the war, and they desolated other territories by their devastating march to Jerusalem. Crowns fell from royal heads, ancient thrones rocked like trees driven of the tempest, powerful empires fell like pines uprooted by the blast: everything was in disorder, and dismay seized on all who knew not the Lord. He uttered his voice, the earth melted. With no other instrumentality than a word the Lord ruled the storm. He gave forth a voice and stout hearts were dissolved, proud armies were annihilated, conquering powers were enfeebled. At first the confusion appeared to be worse confounded, when the element of divine power came into view; the very earth seemed turned to wax, the most solid and substantial of human things melted like the fat of rams upon the altar; but anon peace followed, the rage of man subsided, hearts capable of repentance relented, and the implacable were silenced. How mighty is a word from God! How mighty the Incarnate Word. O that such a word would come from the excellent glory even now to melt all hearts in love to Jesus, and to end for ever all the persecutions, wars, and rebellions of men!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. What man did and what God did.
Psalms 46:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. The Lord of hosts is with us. This is the reason for all Zion’s security, and for the overthrow of her foes. The Lord rules the angels, the stars, the elements, and all the hosts of heaven; and the heaven of heavens are under his sway. The armies of men though they know it not are made to subserve his will. This Generalissimo of the forces of the land, and the Lord High Admiral of the seas, is on our side—our august ally; woe unto those who fight against him, for they shall fly like smoke before the wind when he gives the word to scatter them. The God of Jacob is our refuge, Immanuel is Jehovah of Hosts, and Jacob’s God is our high place of defence. When this glad verse is sung to music worthy of such a jubilate, well may the singers pause and the players wait awhile to tune their instruments again; here, therefore, fitly stands that solemn, stately, peaceful note of rest, SELAH.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7. The Lord of hosts is with us. There be three sorts of God’s special presence, all which may be justly accounted the church’s privilege. First, his glorious presence, or his presence testified by eminent glory, and the residence thereof. Thus God is said to be in heaven differentially, so as he is not anywhere else; and heaven is therefore called his throne or dwelling place 1 Kings 8:39; as a king is nowhere so majestically as upon his throne, or in his chair of state; and this is so great a privilege of the church as that she comes not to enjoy it, unless she be triumphant in heaven, and therefore is not the presence here intended. Secondly, his gracious presence, or his presence testified by tokens of his grace and favour toward a people, whether visible as in the temple where he chose to place his name, and wherein above all places he would be worshipped, in which respect he is said to dwell between the cherubim 2 Samuel 6:2; or spiritual tokens of his grace, as assistance and acceptance in the duties of his worship, together with enjoyment and benefit of his ordinances. Thus he is present with his church and people in times of the gospel: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20. This kind of presence is a privilege of the church militant, that he will be with her in holy and spiritual administrations and ordinances; yet this is not the presence principally intended here. Thirdly, the providential presence, or his presence testified by acts of special providence, wherein the power, wisdom or any other of God’s attributes are eminently put forth, either by way of assistance or defence fro a people. Thus the Lord was present with Israel in the wilderness by the pillar of fore and of a cloud Exodus 13:21; “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light.” And as this presence was intended for a guide, so was it also for a defence to his people against their enemies, and at which their enemies the Egyptians were troubled. Exodus 15:20. By this kind of presence the Lord is with his church militant, in reference to her external regiment, and more especially in her warfare, standing up for her and with her against her enemies; and this is the church’s privilege in these words, The Lord of hosts is with us. John Strickland, B.D. (1601-1670), in a Sermon, entitled, “Immanuel, “1644.
Ver. 7. The God of Jacob. If any shall ask me, Why then the God of Jacob more than the God of Isaac? Though it might suffice that the Spirit of God is pleased so to speak, yet Mr. Calvin gives this reason, the covenant of grace was more solemnly made and publicly ratified with Abraham and Jacob, than it was with Isaac, and therefore when he will be looked upon as a God in covenant with his people, he holds forth himself more frequently by the name of the God of Abraham, and the God of Jacob, than of the God of Isaac; albeit sometimes he is pleased to take upon him that style also. John Strickland.
Ver. 7. Our refuge. Our refuge, or stronghold, where the church, as a ship in quiet haven, amy anchor and ride safe; or it may be a metaphor from the dens or burrows, where weaponless creatures find shelter, when they are hunted and pursued by their enemies, as Proverbs 30:26, “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” They are safe in the rock if they can get thither, though never so weak in themselves. So the church, though pursued by bloody enemies, and though weak in herself, if yet she get under the wing of the God of Jacob, she may be fearless, for she is safe there. He is our refuge. It were to undervalue God, if we should fear the creatures, when he is with us. Antigonus, when he overheard his soldiers reckoning how many their enemies were, he steps in unto them suddenly, demanding, “And how many do you reckon me for?” John Strickland.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 46:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. Come, behold the works of the Lord. The joyful citizens of Jerusalem are invited to go forth and view the remains of their enemies, that they may mark the prowess of Jehovah and the spoil which his right hand hath won for his people. It were well if we also carefully noted the providential dealings of our covenant God, and were quick to perceive his hand in the battles of his church. Whenever we read history is should be with this verse sounding in our ears. We should read the newspaper in the same spirit, to see how the Head of the Church rules the nations for his people’s good, as Joseph governed Egypt for the sake of Israel. What desolations he hath made in the earth. The destroyers he destroys, the desolators he desolates. How forcible is the verse at this date! The ruined cities of Assyria, Babylon, Petra, Bashan, Canaan, are our instructors, and in tables of stone record the doings of the Lord. In every place where his cause and crown have been disregarded ruin has surely followed: sin has been a blight on nations, and left their palaces to lie in heaps. In the days of the writer of this Psalm, there had probably occurred some memorable interpositions of God against his Israel’s foes; and as he saw their overthrow, he called on his fellow citizens to come forth and attentively consider the terrible things in righteousness which had been wrought on their behalf. Dismantled castles and ruined abbeys in our own land stand as memorials of the Lord’s victories over oppression and superstition. May there soon be more of such desolations.
“Ye gloomy piles, ye tombs of living men,
Ye sepulchres of womanhood, or worse;
Ye refuges of lies, soon may ye fall,
And amid your ruins may the owl, and bat,
And dragon find congenial resting place.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. Come, behold the works of the Lord. Venito, videto. God looks that his works should be well observed, and especially when he hath wrought any great deliverance for his people. Of all things, he cannot abide to be forgotten. John Trapp.
Ver. 8. What desolations he hath made in the earth. We are here first invited to a tragical sight. We are carried into the camera di morte, to see the ghastly visage of deaths and desolations all the world over; than which nothing can be more horrible and dreadful. You are called out to see piles of dead carcasses; to see whole basketfuls of heads, as was presented to Jehu: a woeful spectacle, but a necessary one. See, therefore, what desolation the Lord hath wrought in all the earth. Desolations by wars: how many fields have been drenched with blood, and composted with carcasses; how many millions of men have been cut off in all ages by the edge of the sword! Desolations by famine; wherein men have been forced to make their bodies one another’s sepulchres, and mothers to devour their children of a span long. Desolations by plagues and pestilence; which have swept away, as our story tells us, eight hundred thousand in one city. Desolations by inundations of waters; which have covered the faces of many regions, and rinsed the earth of her unclean inhabitants. Desolations by earthquakes, which have swallowed up whole cities; and those great and populous. Desolations wrought by the hand of his angels; as in Egypt; in the tents of the Assyrians, one hundred and eighty five thousand in one night; in the camp of Israel, in David’s pestilence. Desolations wrought by the hand of men, in battles and massacres. Desolations by wild beasts; as in the colonies of Ashur planted in Samaria. Desolations by the swarms of obnoxious and noisome creatures; as in Egypt, and since in Africa: “He spoke the word, and the grasshoppers came, and caterpillars innumerable, “Psalms 105:34. In so much as, in the consulship of M. Fulvius Flaccus, after the bloody wars of Africa, followed infinite numbers of locusts; which, after devouring of all herbs and fruit, were, by a sudden wind, hoised into the African sea: infection followed upon their putrefaction, and thereupon a general mortality: in number, four score thousand died: upon the sea coast betwixt Carthage and Utica, above two hundred thousand. Desolations every way, and by what variety of means soever; yet all wrought by the divine hand; What desolations he hath wrought. Whoever be the instrument, he is the Author. Joseph Hall (Bishop.)
Ver. 8. Doth not God make great desolations, when he makes that man that counted himself a most religious man, to confess himself not sufficient for one good thought? As it was with Paul, does he not make wars to cease when he turns the heart of a persecutor, earnestly to seek peace with God and man, yea, with his very enemies? Doth he not break the bow and all weapons of war asunder, and that in all the earth, when he proclaims peace to all that are far off and near, professor and profane, Jews and Gentiles? Richard Coore.
Ver. 8-10. Come, behold the works of the Lord. What works? ruining works. What desolations he hath made in the earth. God made strange work in the world at that time. Those countries which before were as the garden of God, became like a desolate wilderness: who was able to bear this with patience? Yet the Spirit of God saith in the next words, it must be patiently borne. When God lets men strive and war with one another to a common confusion, yet no man may strive with God about it: and the reason given why no man may, is only this (which is indeed all the reason in the world), He is God. So it follows in the Psalm; Be still, and know that I am God; as if the Lord had said, Not a word, do not strive nor reply; whatever you see, hold your peace; know that I, being God, give no account of any of my matters. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. Behold the works of the Lord.
1. They are worth beholding, for they are like himself; well becoming his infinite power, wisdom, justice,
2. Our eyes were given us for this very purpose —not for the beholding of vanity, not for the ensnaring or wounding of the soul; but for the use and honour of the Creator.
3. The Lord delights to have his works beheld; he knows their excellency and perfection, and that the more they are seen and noted the more honour will accrue to the Maker of them.
4. None but we can do it; there is great reason then that we should carefully behold, etc.
5. This shall be of great benefit to ourselves. Bishop Hall.
Ver. 8. The desolations of the Lord, the consolation of his saints.
I. A declaration of what has happened.
II. A promise of what shall be achieved. Spurgeon’s Sermons, No. 190.
Psalms 46:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth. His voice quiets the tumult of war, and calls for the silence of peace. However remote and barbarous the tribe, he awes the people into rest. He crushes the great powers till they cannot provoke strife again; he gives his people profound repose. He breaketh the bow, the sender of swift winged death he renders useless. And cutteth the spear in sunder —the lance of the mighty man he shivers. He burneth the chariot in the fire —the proud war chariot with its death dealing scythes he commits to the flames. All sorts of weapons he piles heaps on heaps, and utterly destroys them. So was it in Judea in the days of yore, so shall it be in all lands in eras yet to come. Blessed deed of the Prince of Peace! when shall it be literally performed? Already the spiritual foes of his people are despoiled of their power to destroy; but when shall the universal victory of peace be celebrated, and instruments of wholesale murder be consigned to ignominious destruction? How glorious will the ultimate victory of Jesus be in the day of his appearing, when every enemy shall lick the dust!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8-10. Come, behold the works of the Lord. See Psalms on “Psalms 46:8” for further information.
Ver. 9. He that destroyeth all the instruments of war doth surely make peace; and that he maketh war to cease, doth certainly make peace begin. Peace is made two ways; first, by taking up the differences and reconciling the spirits of men; secondly, by breaking the power and taking away all provisions of war from men. The Lord maketh peace by both these ways, or by either of them. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 9. He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. When the Romans had, in their way of speaking, given peace to a nation, by extirpating the greatest part of the miserable inhabitants, they collected the arms of the vanquished, and setting them on fire, reduced them to ashes. A medal, struck by Vespasian, the Roman emperor, on finishing his wars in Italy, and other parts of the world, represents the goddess of peace holding an olive branch in on hand, and with a lighted torch in the other, setting fire to a heap of armour. The custom is thus alluded to by Virgil: —
“O mihi praeteritos referat si Jupiter annos!
Qualis eram, cum primam Praeneste sub ipsa
Stravi, scutorumque incendi victor acervos.”
An, lib. 3 v. 1. 560.
“O that Jupiter would restore to me the years that are past! Such as I was, when under Praeneste itself, I routed the foremost rank of the enemy, and victorious set fire to heaps of armour.”
The same practice, by the command of Jehovah, prevailed among the Jews; the first instance of it occurs in the book of Joshua 11:6. It is also celebrated in the songs of Zion, as the attendant of peace, and the proof of its continuance “He maketh war to cease, “etc. Paxton’s Illustrations of Scripture.
Ver. 9. He burneth the chariot in the fire. By degrees, the chariot came to be one of the recognised forces in war, and we find it mentioned throughout the books of Scriptures, not only in its literal sense, but as a metaphor which every one could understand. In the Psalms, for example, are several allusions to the war chariot. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire., Psalms 46:9. Again: “At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep, ” Psalms 76:6. And: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Psalms 20:7. Now, the force of these passages cannot be properly appreciated unless we realise to ourselves the dread in which the war chariot was held by the foot soldiers. Even calvary were much feared; but the chariots were objects of almost superstitious fear, and the rushing sound of their wheels, the noise of the horses’ hoofs, and the shaking of the ground as the “prancing horses and jumping chariots” Nahum 3:2, thundered along, are repeatedly mentioned. J. G. Wood.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9. The Great Peacemaker, or the principle of the gospel our only hope, for the total abolition of war.
Psalms 46:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. Be still, and know that I am God. Hold off your hands, ye enemies! Sit down and wait in patience, ye believers! Acknowledge that Jehovah is God, ye who feel the terrors of his wrath! Adore him, and him only, ye who partake in the protection of his grace. Since none can worthily proclaim his nature, let “expressive silence muse his praise.” The boasts of the ungodly and the timorous forebodings of the saints should certainly be hushed by a sight of what the Lord has done in past ages. I will be exalted among the heathen. They forget God, they worship idols, but Jehovah will yet be honoured by them. Reader, the prospects of missions are bright, bright as the promises of God. Let no man’s heart fail him; the solemn declarations of this verse must be fulfilled. I will be exalted in the earth, among all people, whatever may have been their wickedness or their degradation. Either by terror or love God will subdue all hearts to himself. The whole round earth shall yet reflect the light of his majesty. All the more because of the sin, and obstinacy, and pride of man shall God be glorified when grace reigns unto eternal life in all corners of the world.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8-10. Come, behold the works of the Lord. See Psalms on “Psalms 46:8” for further information.
Ver. 10. Be still, and know that I am God. The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. In the words may be observed, 1. A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as to actions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be. 2. We may observe the ground of this duty, namely, the divinity of God. His being God is a sufficient reason why we should be still before him, in no wise murmuring, or objecting, or opposing, but calmly and humbly submitting to him. 3. How we must fulfil this duty of being still before God, namely, with a sense of his divinity, as seeing the ground of this duty, in that we know him to be God. Our submission is to be such as becomes rational creatures. God doth not require us to submit contrary to reason, but to submit as seeing the reason and ground of submission. Hence, the bare consideration that God is God may well be sufficient to still all objections and oppositions against the divine sovereign dispensations. Jonathan Edwards.
Ver. 10. Be still, and know that I am God. This text of Scripture forbids quarrelling and murmuring against God. Now let me apply as I go along. There are very few, and these very well circumstanced, that find themselves in no hazard of quarrelling with God. I think almost that if angels were on earth, they would be in hazard of it. I will assure you, there are none that have corruption, but they have need to be afraid of this. But many give way to this quarrelling, and consider not the hazard thereof. Beware of it, for it is a dreadful thing to quarrel with God: who may say unto him, “What doest thou?” It is a good account of Aaron, that when God made fire to destroy his sons, he held his peace. Let us then, while we bear the yoke, “sit alone and keep silence, and put our mouths in the dust, if so be there may be hope.” La 3:28-29. Ye know, the murmuring of the children of Israel cost them very dear. Be still, that is, beware of murmuring against me, saith the Lord. God gives not an account of his matters to any; because there may be many things ye cannot see through; and therefore ye may think it better to have wanted them, and much more, for the credit of God and the church. I say, God gives not an account of his matters to any. Beware, then, of drawing rash conclusions. Richard Cameron’s Sermon, preached July 18th, 1680, three days before he was killed at Airsmoss.
Ver. 10. Be still and know that I am God. Faith gives the soul a view of the Great God. It teacheth the soul to set his almightiness against sin’s magnitude, and his infinitude against sin’s multitude; and so quenches the temptation. The reason why the presumptuous sinner fears so little, and the despairing soul so much, is for want of knowing God as great; therefore, to cure them both, the serious consideration of God, under this notion, is propounded: Be still, and know that I am God; as if he had said, Know, O ye wicked, that I am God, who can avenge myself when I please upon you, and cease to provoke me by your sins to your own confusion; and again, know, ye trembling souls, that I am God; and therefore able to pardon the greatest sins, and cease to dishonour me by your unbelieving thoughts of me. William Gurnall.
Ver. 10. Be still, and know that I am the Lord. Not everyone is a fit scholar for God’s school, but such as are purified according to the purification of the sanctuary. Carnal men are drowned in fleshly and worldly cares, and neither purged nor lifted up to receive the light of God, or else indisposed by prejudice or passion, that they cannot learn at all. We will never savingly know him, till our souls be free of these indispositions. Among all the elements the earth is fitted to receive seed of the sower; if he cast it into the fire, it burneth; if in the air, it withereth; if in the waters, it rots, the instability of that body is for producing monsters, because it closes not straitly the seeds of fishes. Spirits of a fiery temper, or light in inconstancy, or moving as waters, are not for God’s lessons, but such as in stayed humility do rest under his hand. If waters be mixed with clay in their substance, or their surface be troubled with wind, they can neither receive nor render any image; such unstable spirits in the school of God lose their time and endanger themselves. William Struther.
Ver. 10. Be still, and know, etc. As you must come and see Psalms 46:8, so come and hear what the Lord saith to those enemies of yours. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 10. Be still, and know that I am God. The sole consideration that God is God, sufficient to still all objections to his sovereignty. Jonathan Edwards.
Ver. 10. I am God. 1. In that he is God, he is an absolutely and infinitely perfect being. 2. As he is God, he is so great, that he is infinitely above all comprehension. 3. As he is God, all things are his own. 4. In that he is God, he is worthy to be sovereign over all things. 5. In that he is God, he will be sovereign, and will act as such. 6. In that he is God, he is able to avenge himself on those who oppose his sovereignty. Jonathan Edwards.
Psalms 46:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. It was meet to sing this twice over. It is a truth of which no believer wearies, it is a fact too often forgotten, it is a precious privilege which cannot be too often considered. Reader, is the Lord on thy side? Is Emmanuel, God with us, thy Redeemer? Is there a covenant between thee and God as between God and Jacob? If so, thrice happy art thou. Show thy joy in holy song, and in times of trouble play the man by still making music for thy God. SELAH. Here as before, lift up the heart. Rest in contemplation after praise. Still keep the soul in tune. It is easier to sing a hymn of praise than to continue in the spirit of praise, but let it be our aim to maintain the uprising devotion of our grateful hearts, and so end our song as if we intended it to be continued.
SELAH bids the music rest.
Pause in silence soft and blest;
SELAH bids uplift the strain,
Harps and voices tune again;
SELAH ends the vocal praise,
Still your hearts to God upraise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11. The Lord of hosts is with us. On Tuesday Mr. Wesley could with difficulty be understood, though he often attempted to speak. At last, with all the strength he had, he cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us.” Again, raising his hand, and waving it in triumph, he exclaimed with thrilling effect, “The best of all is, God is with us.” These words seem to express the leading feature of his whole life, God had been with him from early childhood; his providence had guided him through all the devious wanderings of human life; and now, when he was entering the “valley of the shadow of death, “the same hand sustained him. From “Wesley and his Coadjutors. By Rev. W. C. Larrabee, A.M. Edited by Rev. B. F. Tefft, D.D. Cincinnati. 1851.”

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Psalm 45

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-17
Title. The many titles of this Psalm mark its royalty, its deep and solemn import, and the delight the writer had in it. To the Chief Musician upon Shoshannim. The most probable translation of this word is upon the lilies, and it is either a poetical title given to this noblest of songs after the Oriental manner, or it may relate to the tune to which it was set, or to the instrument which was meant to accompany it. We incline to the first theory, and if it be the true one, it is easy to see the fitness of borrowing a name for so beautiful, so pure, so choice, so matchless a poem from the golden lilies, whose bright array outshone the glory of Solomon. For the sons of Korah. Special singers are appointed for so divine a hymn. King Jesus deserves to be praised not with random, ranting ravings, but with the sweetest and most skilful music of the best trained choristers. The purest hearts in the spiritual temple are the most harmonious songsters in the ears of God; acceptable song is not a matter so much of tuneful voices as of sanctified affections, but in no case should we sing of Jesus with unprepared hearts. Maschil, an instructive ode, not an idle lay, or a romancing ballad, but a Psalm of holy teaching, didactic and doctrinal. This proves that it is to be spiritually understood. Blessed are the people who know the meaning of its joyful sound. A Song of loves. Not a carnal sentimental love song, but a celestial canticle of everlasting love fit for the tongues and ears of angels.
Subject. Some here see Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter only— they are short sighted; others see both Solomon and Christ—they are cross eyed; well focused spiritual eyes see here Jesus only, or if Solomon be present at all, it must be like those hazy shadows of by passers which cross the face of the camera, and therefore are dimly traceable upon a photographic landscape. “The King, “the God whose throne is for ever and ever, is no mere mortal and his everlasting dominion is not bounded by Lebanon and Egypt’s river. This is no wedding song of earthly nuptials, but an Epithalamium for the Heavenly Bridegroom and his elect spouse.
Division. Psalms 45:1 is an announcement of intention, a preface to the song; Psalms 45:3 adores the matchless beauty of Messiah; and from Psalms 45:3-9, he is addressed in admiring ascriptions of praise. Psalms 45:10-12 are spoken to the bride. The church is further spoken of in Psalms 45:13-15, and the Psalm closes with another address to the King, foretelling his eternal fame, Psalms 45:16-17.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. My heart. There is no writing like that dictated by the heart. Heartless hymns are insults to heaven. Is inditing a good matter. A good heart will only be content with good thoughts. Where the fountain is good good streams will flow forth. The learned tell us that the word may be read overflows, or as others, boils or bubbles up, denoting the warmth of the writer’s love, the fulness of his heart, and the consequent richness and glow of his utterance, as though it were the ebullition of his inmost soul, when most full of affection. We have here no single cold expression; the writer is not one who frigidly studies the elegancies and proprieties of poetry, his stanzas are the natural outburst of his soul, comparable to the boiling jets of the geysers of Hecla. As the corn offered in sacrifice was parched in the pan, so is this tribute of love hot with sincere devotion. It is a sad thing when the heart is cold with a good matter, and worse when it is warm with a bad matter, but incomparably well when a warm heart and a good matter meet together. O that we may often offer to God an acceptable minchah, a sweet oblation fresh from the pan of hearts warmed with gratitude and admiration. I speak of the things which I have made touching the King. This song has “the King” for its only subject, and for the King’s honour alone was it composed, well might its writer call it a good matter. The psalmist did not write carelessly; he calls his poem his works, or things which he had made. We are not to offer to the Lord that which costs us nothing. Good material deserves good workmanship. We should well digest in our heart’s affections and our mind’s meditations any discourse or poem in which we speak of one so great and glorious as our Royal Lord. As our version reads it, the psalmist wrote experimentally things which he had made his own, and personally tasted and handled concerning the King. My tongue is the pen of a ready writer, not so much for rapidity, for there the tongue always has the preference, but for exactness, elaboration, deliberation, and skilfulness of expression. Seldom are the excited utterances of the mouth equal in real weight and accuracy to the verba scripta of a thoughtful accomplished penman; but here the writer, though filled with enthusiasm, speaks as correctly as a practised writer; his utterances therefore are no ephemeral sentences, but such as fall from men who sit down calmly to write for eternity. It is not always that the best of men are in such a key, and when they are they should not restrain the gush of their hallowed feelings. Such a condition of heart in a gifted mind creates that auspicious hour in which poetry pours forth her tuneful numbers to enrich the service of song in the house of the Lord.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. “Upon Shoshannim, “or upon lilies. It will be remembered that lilies were an emblem of purity and loveliness, and were introduced as such in the building of Solomon’s temple (see 1 Kings 7:19; 1 Kings 7:22; 1 Kings 7:26, 2 Chronicles 4:5); and the church is compared in the Canticles to a “lily among thorns.” Song of Solomon 2:2. The Psalms which bear this title, “upon lilies, “are the present, the sixty-ninth, and the eightieth (compare Psalms 60:1-12); and all these contain prophecies of Christ and his church. The sixtieth is a parallel to the forty-fourth, and represents her supplicating appeal to God, and Christ’s victories. The sixty-ninth displays the victories gained by Christ through suffering. The eightieth is also parallel to the forty-fourth and sixtieth, a plaintive lament of the church in distress and a supplicating cry for deliverance. All these three Psalms are (if we may venture to use this expression) like the voice of the “lily among thorns.” That there is, therefore, some reference here to the spiritual meaning of the word (Mynvs), or lilies, in this title, seems at least to be probable. Christopher Wordsworth.
Title. We think that Shoshannim signifies an instrument of six strings, or a song of rejoicing. Augustin Calmet, 1672-1757.
Kitto, on the other hand, says that the word is so clearly lilies, that he is disinclined to go out of the way to bring in the Hebrew word for six.
Title. “To the chief musician upon Shoshannim.” Some would have it that instruments whereon were many engravings of lilies, which are six leaved flowers, are here meant. And, indeed, some interpreters, because of that derivation of the word, do thus translate it, upon Shoshannim, that is, upon lilies; and that either in reference to their wedding garlands, that were made much of lilies, or as intending by these lilies Christ and his church. Arthur Jackson.
Title. “A song.” The word (ryv), shir, the meaning of which (song), is unquestioned, is prefixed to many of the Psalms, three times simply and thirteen times in connection with Mizmor. There is no mark of peculiarity in their composition. The meaning of the word seems to be discriminated from Mizmor, as signifying a thing to be sung, with reference to its poetical structure. John Jebb.
Whole Psalm. The Psalter, which sets forth so much truth respecting the person and work of Christ—truth more precious than gold and sweeter than the honeycomb—is not silent respecting the bond subsisting between him and his people, THE MYSTICAL UNION BETWEEN CHRIST AND THE CHURCH. When a prince sets his affections on a woman of lowly rank, and takes her home to be his wife, the two are so united that her debts become his, his wealth and honours become hers. Now, that there is formed between Christ and the church, between Christ and every soul that will consent to receive him, a connection, of which the most intimate of all natural relations is the analogue and type, we have already found to be not only taught in the Psalms, but to be implied in the very structure of many of them. He takes his people’s sins upon him, and they receive the right to become the sons of God: the One Spirit of God wherewith he was baptised without measure, dwells in them according to the measure of the grace that is given them. I will only add further, that this union, besides being implied on so many places, is expressly set forth in one most glorious Psalm—the Nuptial Song of Christ and the Church—which has for its peculiar theme the home bringing of Christ’s elect, that they may be joined to him in a union that shall survive the everlasting hills. William Binnie, D.D.
Ver. 1. My heart is inditing a good matter, and then My tongue shall be like the pen of a ready writer. Oh, then I shall go merrily on in his service, when I have matter prepared in my heart. And, indeed, as the mariner sees further new stars the further he sails, he loseth sight of the old ones and discovers new; so the growing Christian, the further he sails in religion he discovers new wants, new Scriptures affect him, new trials afflict him, new business he finds with God, and forgetting those things that are behind, he reacheth after those things that are before, and so finds every day new business with the Lord his God; and he that’s busy trifles not; the more business the less distractions. Richard Steele.
Ver. 1. My heart is inditing a good matter. (vxr) (rakhash); boils or bubbles up; denotes the language of the heart full and ready for utterance. Victorinus Bythner.
Ver. 1. My heart is inditing a good matter. Here you have the work of the Spirit of prophecy. By his operation the good “matter” is engendered in the psalmist’s bosom, and now his heart is heaving and labouring under the load. It is just beginning to throw it up, like water from a fountain, that it may flow off in the channel of the tongue. Here, therefore, you have some insight given you of the manner of the operation of the Spirit in the heart of man. The psalmist says his heart is doing what the spirit is doing in his heart. The heart does it, indeed, but it is the Spirit’s working. The psalmist took all the interest and pleasure in his subject that he could have done, if the Spirit had had nothing to do with it; for when the Spirit works, he works not only by the heart, but in the heart; he seizes upon all its affections, every fibre of it is bent to his will. George Harpur, in “Christ in the Psalms, “1862.
Ver. 1. Good matter, the good spell, or gospel. Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 1. A similitude taken from the mincah, or meat offering in the law, which was dressed in the frying pan Leviticus 7:9, and there boiled in oil, being made of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil Leviticus 2:5, and afterwards was presented to the Lord by the priest, verse 8. Here the matter of this Psalm is as the mincah or oblation, which with the oil, the grace of the Spirit, was boiled and prepared in the prophet’s heart, and now presented. Henry Ainsworth.
Ver. 1. It is reported of Origen, saith Erasmus, that he was ever earnest, but most of all when he discoursed of Christ. Of Johannes Mollias, a Bononian, it is said, that whenever he spake of Jesus Christ, his eyes dropped, for he was fraught with a mighty fervency of God’s Holy Spirit; and like the Baptist, he was first a burning (boiling or bubbling), and then a shining light. John Trapp.
Ver. 1. Touching the king. It does not all concern the king immediately, for much of it concerns the queen, and about one half of it is directly addressed to her. But it relates to him inasmuch as it relates to his family. Christ ever identifies himself with his people; so that, whatever is done to them, is done to himself. Their interests are his. George Harpur.
Ver. 1. My tongue shall be like the pen of one that takes minutes or writes shorthand: for I shall speak very briefly, and not in words at length, or so as to be understood in a literal sense, but in figures and emblems. From “Holy David and his old English Translators cleared, “1706. (Anon.)
Ver. 1. The pen. We call the prophets the penmen of Scripture, whereas they were but the pen.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. In the preface, the prophet commends the subject he is to treat of, signifying,
1. That it is a good matter—good as speaking of the Son of God, who is the chief good.
2. Good for us; for upon the marriage of Christ to his church depends our good. Bishop Nicholson.
Ver. 1. Character read by heart writing.
1. The true lover of Christ is sincere—my heart?
2. He is a man of emotion.
3. A man of holy meditation.
4. A man of experience—things I have made.
5. A man who bears witness for his Lord.
Ver. 1. Three things requisite for Christian teaching:
1. That the matter be good; and concerning the best of all subjects, touching the King.
2. That the language be fluent like the pen, etc.
1. Partly from nature.
2. Partly from cultivation.
3. Partly from the Spirit of God.
3. That the heart be absorbed in it—My heart is inditing. G. R.
WORKS UPON THE FORTY-FIFTH PSALM
Exposition of Psalm XLV, in the works of JOHN BOYS, Dean of Canterbury. 1638. Folio edition, pages 920-931.
The Mystery of the Marriage Song, and Mutual Spiritual Embraces between Christ and his Spouse, opened as an Exposition with practical notes and observations on the whole Forty-fifth Psalm. By W. TROUGHTON, Minister of the Gospel. 1656.
In “Christ set forth in all types, figures, and obscure places of the Scripture, by RICHARD COORE, 1683, “there is an Exposition of this Psalm.
A Treatise of Solomon’s Marriage; or, a Congratulation for the happie and hopeful Marriage betweene the most illustrious and Noble Prince, Fredericke the V. Count Palatine of Rhine…and the most gratious and excellent Princisse, the Lady Elizabeth, sole daughter unto the high and mighty Prince James, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland. Joyfully solemnized on the 14th day of February, 1612…(On Psalms 45:10-16. By ANDREW WILLET.)
The Bride Royall; or, the Spirituall Marriage betweene Christ and his Church. Delivered by way of congratulation upon the happy and hopeful marriage betweene the two incomparable Princes, the Palsegrave, and the Ladie Elizabeth. In a sermon…By GEORGE WEBBE. 1613…(On Psalms 45:13-15)
Psalm XLV applied to Messiah’s First Advent, and Psalm XLV applied to Messiah’s Second Advent, in pages 242-341, of The Anointed Saviour set forth as the Principal Object of Saving Faith. By the Rev. DAVID PITCAIRN. 1846.
Five Discourses on Christ in the Psalms. An Exposition of the second, forty-fifth and hundred and tenth Psalms. In a series of Discourses. By the Rev. GEORGE HARPUR, B.A. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt. 1862.
Psalms 45:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. Thou. As though the King himself had suddenly appeared before him, the psalmist lost in admiration of his person, turns from his preface to address his Lord. A loving heart has the power to realise its object. The eyes of a true heart see more than the eyes of the head. Moreover, Jesus reveals himself when we are pouring forth our affections towards him. It is usually the case that when we are ready Christ appears. If our heart is warm it is an index that the sun is shining, and when we enjoy his heat we shall soon behold his light. Thou art fairer than the children of men. In person, but especially in mind and character, the King of saints is peerless in beauty. The Hebrew word is doubled, “Beautiful, beautiful art thou.” Jesus is so emphatically lovely that words must be doubled, strained, yea, exhausted before he can be described. Among the children of men many have through grace been lovely in character, yet they have each had a flaw; but in Jesus we behold every feature of a perfect character in harmonious proportion. He is lovely everywhere, and from every point of view, but never more so than when we view him in conjugal union with his church; then love gives a ravishing flush of glory to his loveliness. Grace is poured into thy lips. Beauty and eloquence make a man majestic when they are united; they both dwell in perfection in the all fair, all eloquent Lord Jesus. Grace of person and grace of speech reach their highest point in him. Grace has in the most copious manner been poured upon Christ, for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell, and now grace is in superabundance, poured forth from his lips to cheer and enrich his people. The testimony, the promises, the invitations, the consolations of our King pour forth from him in such volumes of meaning that we cannot but contrast those cataracts of grace with the speech of Moses which did but drop as the rain, and distil as the dew. Whoever in personal communion with the Wellbeloved has listened to his voice will feel that “never man spake like this man.” Well did the bride say of him, “his lips are like lilies dropping sweet smelling myrrh.” One word from himself dissolved the heart of Saul of Tarsus, and turned him into an apostle, another word raised up John the Divine when fainting in the Isle of Patmos. Oftentimes a sentence from his lips has turned our own midnight into morning, our winter into spring. Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. Calvin reads it, Because God hath blessed thee for ever. Christ is blessed of God, blessed for ever, and this is to us one great reason for his beauty, and the source of the gracious words which proceed out of his lips. The rare endowments of the man Christ Jesus are given him of the Father, that by them his people may be blessed with all spiritual blessings in union with himself. But if we take our own translation, we read that the Father has blessed the Mediator as a reward for all his gracious labours; and right well does he deserve the recompense. Whom God blesses we should bless, and the more so because all his blessedness is communicated to us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips. Thus he begins to set forth his beauty, wherein is the delightfulness of any person; so is it with the soul when God hath made known to man his own filthiness and uncomeliness through sin, and that only by Jesus sin is taken away; oh, how beautiful is this face, the first sight of him! Secondly, Full of grace are thy lips: here is the second commendation; which is, when Jesus hath opened his lips to us, from them he pours out grace into our soul, when he makes known the Father to us, and speaks peace to all that are far off and near; when he calls, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you:” and all this is because God hath blessed him for ever; we are assured he comes from God, and that he and his works are eternal, and therefore all his grace poured out upon us shall remain with us, and make us blessed for ever; for he is the Word of God, and he speaks the mind of God, for he speaks nothing but what he hath heard from the Father; and when he speaks to our souls with his Word, the Spirit is given, a certain testimony to our soul that we are the sons of God, and a pledge of our inheritance; for the Spirit and the Word cannot be separated. Richard Coore, in “Christ set forth.”
Ver. 2. Thou art fairer than the children of men, etc. Nothing can be more beautiful than this abrupt way of discourse. The prophet sets out with a professed design to speak of the king. But as if in the moment he had so intended, the glorious Person of whom he was going to speak appeared to his view, he instantly leaves every other consideration to speak to him himself. And what a rapturous address he makes! He first describes the glories, the beauties, the astonishing loveliness, of his person. Though to a carnal eye there was no beauty to desire him, his visage was marred more than any man’s, and his form more than the sons on men, yet to an eye truly enlightened, he is the king in his beauty, fairer, as the glorious Mediator, the Head, the Bridegroom of his Church and people, than all the children of men. And, in the Father’s view, so greatly beloved, so truly glorious, that grace was poured into his lips. Reader, observe the expression; not simply grace put into his heart, for the holiness and purity of his person, but poured into his lips, that, like the honey, it might drop upon his people, and be for ever communicated to all his redeemed, in an endless perpetuity of all suited blessings here, and glory hereafter. Robert Hawker, D.D.
Ver. 2. Thou art fairer than the children of men. Are you for beauty? That takes with most: for this none like Christ. For beauty and comeliness he infinitely surpasses both men and angels. We read of Moses, that he was exceeding fair; and of David, that he was ruddy, and of a beautiful countenance; and Josephus reports of the one of them, that all that saw him were amazed at and enamoured of his beauty. Oh, but what was their beauty to Christ’s? Were their beauty, and with theirs the beauty of men and angels put together, it would all be nothing to the beauty of Christ; not so much as the light of a farthing candle is to the light of the sun at noonday. Edward Pearse in “The Best Match.” 1673.
Ver. 2. Thou art fairer, etc. Fair he was (1) in his conception, conceived in purity, and a fair angel brought the news. Fair (2) in his nativity: wraioz is the word in the Septuagint, tempustivus, in time, that is, all things are beautiful in their time, Ecclesiastes 3:11. And in the fulness of time it was that he was born, and a fair star pointed to him. Fair (3) in his childhood; he grew up in grace and favour, Lu 2:52. The doctors were much taken with him. Fair (4) in his manhood; had he not been so, says S. Jerome, had there not been something admirable in his countenance and presence, some heavenly beauty, the apostles and the whole world (as the Pharisees themselves confess) would not so suddenly have gone after him. Fair (5) in his transfiguration, white as the light, or as the snow, his face glittering as the sun Matthew 17:2, even to the ravishing the very soul of S. Peter, that “he knew not what he said, “could let his eyes dwell upon that face for ever, and never come down the mount again. Fair (6) in his passion. Nihil indecorum, no uncomeliness, in his nakedness; his very wounds, and the bloody prints of the whips and scourges drew an ecce from the mouth of Pilate: “Behold, the man!” the sweetness of his countenance and carriage in the midst of filth and spittle, whips and buffets. His very comeliness upon the cross, and his giving up the ghost, made the centurion cry out, he “was the Son of God:” there appeared so sweet a majesty, so heavenly a lustre in him through that very darkness that encompassed him. Fair (7) in his resurrection; so subtle a beauty, that mortal eyes, even the eyes of his own disciples, were not able to see or apprehend it, but when he veiled it from them. Fair (8) in his ascension; made his disciples stand gazing after him so long (as if they never could look long enough upon him), till an angel is sent from heaven to rebuke them, to look home, Acts 1:2. Mark Frank.
Ver. 2. O fair sun, and fair moon, and fair stars, and fair flowers, and fair roses, and fair lilies; but O ten thousand thousand times fairer Lord Jesus! Alas! I have wronged him in making the comparison this way. O black sun and moon! but O fair Lord Jesus! O black flowers, and black lilies, and roses! but O fair, fair, ever fair, Lord Jesus! O black heaven! but O fair Christ! O black angels! but O surpassingly fair Lord Jesus! Samuel Rutherford.
Ver. 2. In one Christ we may contemplate and must confess all the beauty and loveliness both of heaven and earth; the beauty of heaven is God, the beauty of earth is man; the beauty of heaven and earth together is this God man. Edward Hyde, D.D., 1658.
Ver. 2. Thou. “I have a passion, “observed Count Zinzendorf in one of his discourses to the congregation at Herrnhut, “and it is He —He only.”
Ver. 2. Thou art fairer. Hebrew, thou art double fairer; the Hebrew word is doubled, ad corroborandum, saith Kimchi. John Trapp.
Ver. 2. Grace is poured into thy lips. This is said as if this grace were a gift, and not something inherent in our Lord himself. And is not this exactly what we learn from the histories of the evangelists? Before Jesus went forth to the work of his public mission, the Holy Ghost descended from heaven like a dove, and lit upon him. The Spirit who imparts all its graces to the church of Christ, imparted his graces to Christ himself. Not that the Son of God needed the anointing of the Spirit of God, but he suffered it to be so that he might be in all things like his brethren. If he was to be their example, he must show them wherein their great strength lay. They see in him the fruits of the Holy Ghost who is promised to themselves. All that Christ ever did as the Head and Representative of his people, he did by that very Spirit which is still resident in his church. George Harpur.
Ver. 2. Grace is poured into thy lips. Full of grace are thy lips. Full of grace for the matter, and full of grace for the manner.
1. For the matter, he delivered acceptable doctrine: “The law was given by Moses, but grace came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. Moses had harsh and hard words in his law; “Cursed is he that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them; “but Christ on the contrary speaks better things, the first words in his first sermon are, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3. He cometh unto his people, cum verbo gratiae, cum osculo gratae, saith Augustine: his lips are full of grace, that is, pouring out gracious words abundantly. Matthew 11:28, John 3:16 Lu 4:18. “His lips are like lilies dropping down myrrh” Song of Solomon 5:13; all that heard him wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, Lu 4:22. II. For the manner, he taught not as the scribes; he spake so sweetly that the very catch poll officers, astonished at his words, gave this testimony, “Never man spake like this man, “John 7:46. He spake so graciously that the apostles forsook all things and followed him; at his call Andrew left his nets straightway, James and John their father without tarrying, Matthew from the receipt of custom, Zacchaeus from the like worldly course came hastily to receive him joyfully. Mr 10:28 Mt 4:20-21 9:9 Lu 19:6. Nay, beloved, he was so powerful an orator, that the very winds and waves obeyed his word, Mr 4:39. It is reported in Holy Writ that all princes and people were desirous of hearing Solomon’s eloquence; the Queen of Sheba wondering at the same, cried out, “Happy are these thy servants which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom, “1 Kings 10:8. Solomon is type here, but Christ is the truth; and this showeth evidently that Christ is not a tyrant, but a mild prince, persuading obedience plausibly, not compelling his people violently; his sayings are his sceptre and his sword: his piercing exhortations are, as it were, his sharp arrows by which his followers are subdued unto him.
To conclude this argument, his fair words (as the Scripture speaks) “are as an honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” Proverbs 16:24 : “an honeycomb, “and what more toothsome? “sweetness to the soul and health to the bones; “and what, I pray, more wholesome? The good man’s soul is Christ’s own spouse, to which he speaks a great many ways graciously; sometimes correcting, and what stronger argument of love? for “whom he loveth he chasteneth” Hebrews 12:6; sometimes instructing, and his gospel is able to make “the man of God perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” 2 Timothy 3:17; sometimes wooing in amorous terms, as in his love song everywhere: “my beloved, “”my sister, “”my spouse, ” “the fairest among women, “”my love, “”my dove.” etc.; sometimes promising, and that both the blessings of this life present. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: etc., Isaiah 41:10, and of that life which is to come. John 17:21; John 17:24. But Christ’s excellent intercession every day to God the Father, appearing in the court of heaven, and as an advocate pleading for us, is yet fuller of grace; for if Caleb easily granted his daughter’s request, and bestowed on her “the springs above and the springs beneath” Jude 1:15, how shall Almighty God (whose mercies are above all his works) deny the suits of such a Son in whom he is well pleased?
John Boys.
Ver. 2. Grace is poured into thy lips. The former clause noted his inward perfections; and this signifies his ability and readiness to communicate them to others. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 2. (second clause). Never were there such words of love and sweetness spoken by any man as by him: never was there such a loving and tender heart as the heart of Jesus Christ: Grace was poured into his lips. Certainly never were there such words of love, sweetness, and tenderness spoken here upon this earth as those last words of his which were uttered a little before his sufferings, and are recorded in the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th chapters of John. Read over all the books of love and friendship that were ever written by any of the sons of men, they do all come far short of these melting strains of love that are there expressed. So sweet and amiable was the conversation of Jesus Christ, that it is reported of the apostle Peter in the Ecclesiastical History, that after Christ’s ascension he wept so abundantly, that he was always seen wiping his face from the tears; and being asked why he wept so, he answered, He could not choose but weep as often as he thought of that most sweet conversation of Jesus Christ. John Row.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. In what respects Jesus is fairer than the best of men.
Ver. 2. Jesus—his person, his gospel, his fulness of blessing.
Ver. 2.
I. We may and ought to praise Christ. Angels do, God
does, Scripture does, Old Testament saints and New, so
should we. It is the work of heaven begun on earth.
2. For what should we praise him?
1. For his beauty. Is wisdom beauty? Is righteousness? Is love? Is meekness? All are found in him supremely—
“All human beauties, all divine,
In our Redeemer meet and shine.”
2. For his grace. Grace of God treasured up in him.
3. For his blessedness—of God and for ever. G.R.
Ver. 2-5. In these verses the Lord Jesus is presented,
1. As most amiable in himself.
2. As the great favourite of heaven.
3. As victorious over his enemies. Matthew Henry.
Psalms 45:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh. Loving spirits jealous of the Redeemer’s glory long to see him putting forth his power to vindicate his own most holy cause. Why should the sword of the Spirit lie still, like a weapon hung up in an armoury; it is sharp and strong, both for cutting and piercing: O that the divine power of Jesus were put forth to use against error. The words before us represent our great King as urged to arm himself for battle, by placing his sword where it is ready for use. Christ is the true champion of the church, others are but underlings who must borrow strength from him; the single arm of Immanuel is the sole hope of the faithful. Our prayer should be that of this verse. There is at this moment an apparent suspension of our Lord’s former power, we must by importunate prayer call him to the conflict, for like the Greeks without Achilles we are soon overcome by our enemies, and we are but dead men if Jesus be not in our midst. O most mighty. A title well deserved, and not given from empty courtesy like the serenities, excellencies and highnesses of our fellow mortals—titles, which are but sops for vain glory. Jesus is the truest of heroes. Hero worship in his case alone is commendable. He is mighty to save, mighty in love. With thy glory and thy majesty. Let thy sword both win thee renown and dominion, or as it may mean, gird on with thy sword thy robes which indicate thy royal splendour. Love delights to see the Beloved arrayed as beseemeth his excellency; she weeps as she sees him in the garments of humiliation, she rejoices to behold him in the vestments of his exaltation. Our precious Christ can never be made too much of. Heaven itself is but just good enough for him. All the pomp that angels and archangels, and thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers can pour at his feet is too little for him. Only his own essential glory is such as fully answers to the desire of his people, who can never enough extol him.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh. The sword, according to ancient custom was hung in a belt put round the shoulders, and reaching down to the thigh. It was suspended on the back part of the thigh, almost to the ground, but was not girded upon it; the horseman’s sword was fixed on the saddle by a girth. When David, in spirit invites the Redeemer of the church to gird his sword upon his thigh, and the spouse says of the valiant of Israel, “every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night” Song of Solomon 3:8, they do not mean that the weapon was literally bound upon their thigh, but hung in the girdle on the back part of it; for this was the mode in which, by the universal testimony of ancient writers, the infantry wore their swords. It is still the practice in the East to wear swords in this manner, for Chardin informs us, that “the Eastern people wear their swords hanging down at length; and the Turks wear their swords on horseback, and on their thigh.” But in his poetical invitation to the Redeemer, to gird his sword upon his thigh, David manifestly points to some special occasion of solemn and official character; and a clear light is thrown upon his meaning by a custom to this day observed in the East. “When a Persian or an Ottoman prince ascends the throne, “says Mr. Morier, “he girds on his sabre. Mohammed Jaffer, for example, was proclaimed by the Khan, governor pro tempore, till the arrival of his brother, and was invested in this dignity by the girding of a sword upon his thigh, and honour which he accepted with a reluctance perhaps not wholly feigned.” — “This ceremony, “says Dr. Davey, giving an account of an Eastern coronation, “remained to be performed before the prince could be considered completely king—it was that of choosing a new name, and putting on the regal sword. The prince went in great state to the temple, where he presented offerings, and then, the sword having been girded on his thigh, the priest presented a pot of sandal powder, in which the prince, who may now be called king, dipped his fingers.” From these anecdotes, it is evident girding a sword on the thigh is part of the ceremony of royal inauguration; and that when the psalmist addresses the Messiah, he refers to his receiving the honours and powers of the Lord of all. G. Paxton’s Illustrations of Scripture.
Ver. 3. Thy sword. The word of God is compared to such a weapon, for the apostle informs us that it is quick, or living, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and laying open the thoughts and intents of the heart. It must be observed, however, that this description of the word of God is applicable to it only when Christ girds it on, and employs it as his sword. Of what use is a sword, even though it be the sword of Goliath, while it lies still in its scabbard, or is grasped by the powerless hand of an infant? In those circumstances it can neither conquer nor defend, however well suited it might be to do both in the hand of a warrior. It is the same with the sword of the Spirit. While it lies still in its scabbard, or is wielded only by the infantile hand of Christ’s ministers, it is a powerless and useless weapon; a weapon at which the weakest sinner can laugh, and against which he can defend himself with the utmost ease. But not so when he who is the Most Mighty girds it on. Then it becomes a weapon of tremendous power, a weapon resistless as the bolt of heaven. “Is not my word like a fire, and a hammer, saith the Lord, which breaketh the rock in pieces?” It is indeed, for what can be more efficacious and irresistible than a weapon sharper than a two edged sword, wielded by the arm of omnipotence? What must his sword be whose glance is lightning? Armed with this weapon, the Captain of our salvation cuts his way to the sinner with infinite ease, though surrounded by rocks and mountains, scatters his strongholds and refuges of lies, and with a mighty blow cleaves asunder his heart of adamant, and lays him prostrate and trembling at his feet. Since such are the effects of this weapon in the hand of Christ, it is with the utmost propriety that the psalmist begins by requesting him to gird it on, and not suffer it to be inactive in its scabbard, or powerless in the feeble grasp of his ministers. Edward Payson.
Ver. 3. O most mighty. Christ is almighty, and so able to make good all that he speaketh, and to make his word of precept, promise, and threatening effectual unto the errand for which it is sent. David Dickson.
Ver. 3-4. We may reflect with pleasure on the glorious cause in which Christ is engaged, and the holy war which he carries on, and in which he shall prosper. It is the cause of truth, of meekness, and righteousness. His gospel, his sword, which is the word of God, tends to rectify our errors by truth; to control our passions by that meekness which it promotes, and to regulate our lives by the laws of righteousness which it inculcates. Let us rejoice that this sacred cause has hitherto prospered, and shall prosper. Job Orton, 1717-1783.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2-5. In these verses the Lord Jesus is presented,
1. As most amiable in himself.
2. As the great favourite of heaven.
3. As victorious over his enemies. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 3. The captain’s presence desired by the soldier. It is our honour, our delight, our safety, our strength, our victory, our reward.
Ver. 3-5. Messiah’s victory predicted and desired. E. Payson’s Sermon.
Psalms 45:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. And in thy majesty ride prosperously. The hero monarch armed and apparelled is now entreated to ascend his triumphal car. Would to God that our Immanuel would come forth in the chariot of love to conquer our spiritual foes and seize by power the souls whom he has bought with blood. Because of truth and meekness and righteousness. These words may be rendered, ride forth upon truth and meekness and righteousness. —Three noble chargers to draw the war chariot of the gospel. In the sense of our translation it is a most potent argument to urge with our Lord that the cause of the true, the humble, and the good, calls for his advocacy. Truth will be ridiculed, meekness will be oppressed, and righteousness slain, unless the God, the Man in whom these precious things are incarnated, shall arise for their vindication. Our earnest petition ought ever to be that Jesus would lay his almighty arm to the work of grace lest the good cause languish and wickedness prevail. And thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Foreseeing the result of divine working, the psalmist prophesies that the uplifted arm of Messiah will reveal to the King’s own eyes the terrible overthrow of his foes. Jesus needs no guide but his own right hand, no teacher but his own might; may he instruct us all in what he can perform, by achieving it speedily before our gladdened eyes.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-4. See Psalms on “Psalms 45:3” for further information.
Ver. 4. And in thy majesty ride prosperously, etc. The wheels of Christ’s chariot, whereupon he rideth when he goeth to conquer and subdue new converts to his kingdom, are majesty, truth, meekness, righteousness, manifested in the preaching of his gospel; majesty, when the stately magnificence of his person and offices is declared; truth, when the certainty of all that he teacheth in Scripture is known; meekness, when his grace and mercy is offered to rebels; and righteousness, when justification by faith in his name is clearly set forth. Christ goeth no voyage in vain, he cometh not short of his intent and purpose, but doth the work for which he cometh, preaching the gospel; in his majesty, truth, meekness, and righteousness, he rideth prosperously. David Dickson.
Ver. 4. Ride prosperously, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness. The literal translation would be, “Ride on the word of truth, and the meekness of righteousness, “and so the Syriac has it. If this rendering be adopted, the meaning will then be, that the great object of Christ’s gospel was to vindicate the cause of truth and righteousness in the world. Christ is said to ride on the word of truth, because the knowledge of the truth depends on the word—it is by the word that truth is made known. He is said to ride on the meekness or humility of righteousness, because meekness or humility is its distinguishing characteristic. The former relates to what man is to believe, the latter to how he is to live. George Harpur.
Ver. 4. Thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. This expression seems only used to imply, either that by his power he should be enabled to do terrible things, because teaching enables men to do what they are taught, or that by his almighty power he should experimentally see what great and terrible things should by done by him. Arthur Jackson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2-5. In these verses the Lord Jesus is presented,
1. As most amiable in himself.
2. As the great favourite of heaven.
3. As victorious over his enemies. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 3-5. Messiah’s victory predicted and desired. E. Payson’s Sermon.
Psalms 45:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. Thine arrows. Our King is master of all weapons: he can strike those who are near and those afar off with equal force. Are sharp. Nothing that Jesus does is ill done, he uses no blunted shafts, no pointless darts. In the heart of the King’s enemies. Our Captain aims at men’s hearts rather than their heads, and he hits them too; point blank are his shots, and they enter deep into the vital part of man’s nature. Whether for love or vengeance, Christ never misses aim, and when his arrows stick, they cause a smart not soon forgotten, a wound which only he can heal. Jesus’ arrows of conviction are sharp in the quiver of his word, and sharp when on the bow of his ministers, but they are most known to be so when they find a way into careless hearts. They are his arrows, he made them, he shoots them. He makes them sharp, and he makes them enter the heart. May none of us ever fall under the darts of his judgment, for none kill so surely as they. Whereby the people fall under thee. On either side the slain of the Lord are many when Jesus leads on the war. Nations tremble and turn to him when he shoots abroad his truth. Under his power and presence, men are stricken down as though pricked in the heart. There is no standing against the Son of God when his bow of might is in his hands. Terrible will be that hour when his bow shall be made quite naked, and bolts of devouring fire shall be hurled upon his adversaries: then shall princes fall and nations perish.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies. In a still bolder metaphor the arrows which are discharged from the bow of Christ are the preachers of the gospel, especially the apostles and evangelists. “His sagittis, “says S. Jerome, “totus orbis vulneratus et captus est.” Paul, the apostle, was an arrow of the Lord, discharged from his bow from Jerusalem to Illyricum, and from Illyricum to Spain, flying from east to west, and subduing Christ’s enemies beneath his feet. Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 5. While beseeching the Redeemer to ride forth prosperously, and predicting his success, he seems suddenly to have seen his prayers answered and his predictions fulfilled. He saw his all conquering Prince gird on his resistless sword, array himself in glory and majesty, ascend the chariot of his gospel, display the banner of his cross, and ride forth, as on the wings of the wind, while the tremendous voice of a herald proclaimed before him: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, “exalt the valleys, and level the hills; make the crooked ways straight, and the rough places plain; for, behold, the Lord God comes; he comes with a strong hand, his reward is with him, and his work before him. From the bright and fiery cloud which enveloped his chariot, and concealed it from mortal eyes, he saw sharp arrows of conviction shot forth on every side, deeply wounding the obdurate hearts of sinners, and prostrating them in crowds around his path, while his right hand extended raised them again, and healed the wounds which his arrows had made; and his omnipotent voice spoke peace to their despairing souls, and bade them follow in his train, and witness and share in his triumph. From the same bright cloud he saw the vengeful lightnings flashing thick and dreadful, to blast and consume everything that opposed his progress; he saw sin, and death, and hell, with all its legions, baffled, defeated, and flying in trembling consternation before him; he saw them overtaken, bound, and chained to his triumphant chariot wheels; while enraptured voices were heard from heaven exclaiming, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ.” Such was the scene which seems to have burst upon the ravished sight of the entranced prophet. Transported with the view, he exclaims, Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. Edward Payson.
Ver. 5. The king’s enemies, is not simply an expression for “Thy enemies, “as some think, but rather implies that Christ’s kingship is the ground of their enmity; just as in the second Psalm their cry was, “Let us break their bands asunder.” George Harpur.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2-5. In these verses the Lord Jesus is presented,
1. As most amiable in himself.
2. As the great favourite of heaven.
3. As victorious over his enemies. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 3-5. Messiah’s victory predicted and desired. E. Payson’s Sermon.
Ver. 5.
1. Arrows of judicial wrath are sharp.
2. Arrows of providential goodness are sharper still.
3. Arrows of subduing grace are sharpest of all. The quiver of the Almighty is full of these arrows. G.R.
Ver. 5. Arrows—what they are; whose they are; whom they strike; where they strike; what they do; and what follows.
Psalms 45:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. To whom can this be spoken but our Lord? The psalmist cannot restrain his adoration. His enlightened eye sees in the royal Husband of the church, God, God to be adored, God reigning, God reigning everlastingly. Blessed sight! Blind are the eyes that cannot see God in Christ Jesus! We never appreciate the tender condescension of our King in becoming one flesh with his church, and placing her at his right hand, until we have fully rejoiced in his essential glory and deity. What a mercy for us that our Saviour is God, for who but a God could execute the work of salvation? What a glad thing it is that he reigns on a throne which will never pass away, for we need both sovereign grace and eternal love to secure our happiness. Could Jesus cease to reign we should cease to be blessed, and were he not God, and therefore eternal, this must be the case. No throne can endure for ever, but that on which God himself sitteth. The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. He is the lawful monarch of all things that be. His rule is founded in right, its law is right, its result is right. Our King is no usurper and no oppressor. Even when he shall break his enemies with a rod of iron, he will do no man wrong; his vengeance and his grace are both in conformity with justice. Hence we trust him without suspicion; he cannot err; no affliction is too severe, for he sends it; no judgment too harsh, for he ordains it. O blessed hands of Jesus! the reigning power is safe with you. All the just rejoice in the government of the King who reigns in righteousness.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. Thy throne, O God. The original word is, probably vocative, both in the Greek and in the Hebrew; and is so taken by modern Unitarians, who seek their refuge by explaining away yeos. Henry Alford, D.D., on Hebrews 1:8.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The God, the King, his throne, its duration, his sceptre. Let us worship, obey, trust, acquiesce, rejoice.
Ver. 6-7. Empire, Eternity, Equity, Establishment, Exultation.
Psalms 45:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness. Christ Jesus is not neutral in the great contest between right and wrong: as warmly as he loves the one he abhors the other. What qualifications for a sovereign! what grounds of confidence for a people! The whole of our Lord’s life on earth proved the truth of these words; his death to put away sin and bring in the reign of righteousness, sealed the fact beyond all question; his providence by which he rules from his mediatorial throne, when rightly understood, reveals the same; and his final assize will proclaim it before all worlds. We should imitate him both in his love and hate; they are both needful to complete a righteous character. Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Jesus as Mediator owned God as his God, to whom, being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient. On account of our Lord’s perfect life he is now rewarded with superior joy. Others there are to whom grace has given a sacred fellowship with him, but by their universal consent and his own merit, he is prince among them, the gladdest of all because the cause of all their gladness. At Oriental feasts oil was poured on the heads of distinguished and very welcome guests; God himself anoints the man Christ Jesus, as he sits at the heavenly feasts, anoints him as a reward for his work, with higher and fuller joy than any else can know; thus is the Son of man honoured and rewarded for all his pains. Observe the indisputable testimony to Messiah’s Deity in verse six, and to his manhood in the present verse. Of whom could this be written but of Jesus of Nazareth? Our Christ is our Elohim. Jesus is God with us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness. Many a one loves righteousness, but would not be its champion; such a love is not Christ’s love. Many a one hates iniquity, not for its own sake, but for the sake of its consequences; such a hate is not Christ’s hate. To be like Christ we must love righteousness as he loved, and hate wickedness as he hated. To love and hate as he loves and hates is to be perfect as he is perfect. The perfection of this love and hate is moral perfection. George Harpur.
Ver. 7. Therefore. Observe how usual it is to impute Christ’s exaltation to his merits. God blessed him for ever, as in the second verse of this Psalm (if such be the sense of that verse), because he was fairer than the children of men, and grace was poured into his lips. And so the apostle. God highly exalted him, and gave him a name above every name, because he had humbled himself, and became obedient unto death. And here God anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows, because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity. George Harpur.
Ver. 7. Therefore. He says not, “Wherefore he anointed thee in order to thy being God, or King, or Son, or Word; “for so he was before, and is for ever, as has been shown; but rather, “Since thou art God and King, therefore thou wast anointed, since none but thou couldest unite man to the Holy Ghost, thou the image of the Father, in which we were made in the beginning: for thine is even the Spirit.” Athanasius.
Ver. 7. Therefore God, thy God. God was the God of Christ in covenant, that he might be our God in covenant; for in his transactions, whole Christ, Head and members, are to be considered Galatians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 12:12, the covenant being first transacted with the Head (who is given for a covenant to us, Isaiah 42:6), and then with the members, with him in reference to us and for us. As God did not fail our surety, but supported him in his great conflict, when out of the depths he called unto him; so neither will he fail us in time of need. Heb 4:16 13:5-6. William Troughton.
Ver. 7. Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows; i.e., enriched and filled thee in a singular manner with the fulness of the Spirit, whereby thou art consecrated to thy office; and by reason whereof you out shine and excellest all the saints who are thy fellows, or copartners in these graces. So that in these words you have two parts, namely, first, the saint’s dignity; and, secondly, Christ’s preeminence. First. The saint’s dignity, which consists in this, that they are Christ’s fellows. The Hebrew word (Kyrkxm), is very full and copious, and is translated consorts, companions, copartners, partakers; or as ours reads it, fellows; i.e., such as are partakers with him in the anointing of the Spirit, who do in their measure receive the same Spirit, every Christian being appointed, modo sibi proportionato, with the same grace and dignified with the same titles. 1 John 2:27, Revelation 1:6. Christ and the saints are in common one with another. Doth the Spirit of holiness dwell in him? So he doth in them too. Is Christ King and Priest? Why, so are they, too, by the grace of union with him. He hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father. This is the saints’ dignity, to be Christ’s fellows, consorts, or copartners; so that look whatever grace or excellency is in Christ, it is not impropriated to himself, but they do share with him; for indeed he was filled with the fulness of the Spirit for their sakes and use. As the sun is filled with light not to shine to itself, but to others, so is Christ with grace; and therefore some translate the text not prae consortibus, above thy fellows, but propter consortes, for thy fellows; (Rivetus), making Christ the first receptacle of all grace, who first and immediately is filled from the fountain of the Godhead, but it is for his people who receive and derive from him according to their proportion. This is a great truth; and the dignity of the saints lies chiefly in the partnership with Christ, though our translation, above thy fellows, suits best both with the importance of the word and scope of the place. Secondly. But then, whatever dignity is ascribed herein to the saints, there is, and still must be, a preeminence acknowledged and ascribed to Christ: if they are anointed with the spirit of grace, much more abundantly is Christ: God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. John Flavel.
Ver. 7. Oil of gladness. For sweet smelling oils were also used to beautify the face upon occasions of feasting and mirth. Ps 23:5 104:15 Isaiah 61:3. And likewise this oil of consecration and infusion of the gifts of the Holy Ghost hath been the cause and foundation of Christ’s human nature’s obtaining of the everlasting joys and glory. Philippians 2:9, Hebrews 12:2. John Diodati.
Ver. 7. Behold, O ye Arians, and acknowledge even hence the truth. The psalmist speaks of us all as fellows or partakers of the Lord, but were he one of things which come out of nothing, and of things generate, he himself had been one of those who partake. But since he hymned him as the eternal God, saying, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, and has declared that all other things partake of him, what conclusion must we draw, but that he is distinct from generated things, and he only the Father’s veritable Word, Radiance, and Wisdom, which all things generate partake, being sanctified by him in Spirit? And, therefore, he is here anointed, not that he may become God, for he was so even before; nor that he may become king, for he has the kingdom eternally, existing as God’s image, as the sacred oracle shows; but in our behalf is this written, as before. For the Israelitish kings, upon their being anointed, then became kings, not being so before, as David, as Ezekias, as Josias, and the rest; but the Saviour, on the contrary, being God, and ever ruling in the Father’s kingdom, and being himself the dispenser of the Holy Ghost, nevertheless is here said to be anointed, that, as before, being said as man to be anointed with the Spirit, he might provide for us more, not only exaltation and resurrection, but the indwelling and intimacy of the Spirit…And when he received the Spirit, we it was who, by him were made recipients of it. And, moreover, for this reason, not as Aaron, or David, or the rest, was he anointed with oil, but in another way, above all his fellows, with the oil of gladness, which he himself interprets to be the Spirit, saying by the prophet, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me; “as also the apostle has said, “How God anointed him with the Holy Ghost.” Athanasius.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-7. Empire, Eternity, Equity, Establishment, Exultation.
Ver. 7. Thou hatest wickedness. He hated it when it assailed him in his temptation, hated it in others, denounced it, died to slay it, will come to condemn it.
Ver. 7. Christ’s love and hate.
Psalms 45:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. The divine anointing causes fragrance to distil from the robes of the Mighty Hero. He is delightful to every sense, to the eyes most fair, to the ear most gracious, to the spiritual nostril most sweet. The excellences of Jesus are all most precious, comparable to the rarest spices; they are most varied, and to be likened not to myrrh alone, but to all the perfumes blended in due proportion. The Father always finds a pleasure in him, in him he is well pleased; and all regenerated spirits rejoice in him, for he is made of God unto us, “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” Note that not only is Jesus most sweet, but even his garments are so; everything that he has to do with is perfumed by his person. All his garments are thus fragrant; not some of them, but all; we delight as much in his purple of dominion as in the white of his priesthood, his mantle as our prophet is as dear to us as his seamless coat as our friend. All his dress is fragrant with all sweetness. To attempt to spiritualise each spice here mentioned would be unprofitable, the evident sense is that all sweetnesses meet in Jesus, and are poured forth wherever he is present. Out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. The abode of Jesus now is imperial in splendour, ivory and gold but faintly image his royal seat; there is he made glad in the presence of the Father, and in the company of his saints. Oh, to behold him with his perfumed garments on! The very smell of him from afar ravishes our spirit, what must it be to be on the other side of the pearl gate, within the palace of ivory, amid those halls of Zion, “conjubilant with song, “where is the throne of David, and the abiding presence of the Prince! To think of his gladness, to know that he is full of joy, gives gladness at this moment to our souls. We poor exiles can sing in our banishment since our King, our Wellbeloved, has come to his throne.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Although there is considerable obscurity overhanging these words, still the general idea of a supereminent fulness of anointing is quite apparent, combined, however, with the other idea that the anointing oil or ointment os of the most exquisite quality. Myrrh, and aloes, and cassia were celebrated for their peculiar fragrance, on which account they were used in compounding the choicest unguents. Myrrh and cassia are mentioned in Exodus 30:23-24, as two of the spices of which the holy anointing oil was made up. All its ingredients were considered sacred. The Israelites were forbidden to pour it upon man’s flesh, or to attempt any imitation of it in their own perfumes. Ivory was in early times, as it still is, rare and costly, and it was highly esteemed as a material for household decoration, on which the finest workmanship and the most princely expenditures were displayed. In palaces of ivory, therefore, it was to be expected that, in correspondence with the magnificence of their structure and the costliness of their furniture, the ointment employed for anointing would be of the richest perfume, and in the greatest profusion. According to our version of the Psalm, the divine Saviour is thus represented as being anointed with oil of the very best kind, even oil taken from the ivory palaces; and also as receiving it in no ordinary measure. His anointing was not confined to a few ceremonial drops poured upon the head, but so abundant is it said to have been, that all his garments smelled of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Bishop Horsley has proposed a change in the translation, by which means the idea of abundance is connected, not with the fragrance arising from the anointing, but with the anointing itself, which is a different and far more important thing. “Thy garments are all myrrh, aloes, and cassia, excelling the palaces of ivory, excelling those which delight thee.” This translation, which is strictly literal as well as poetical, is at the same time comparatively free from obscurity, and it visibly sets forth, under the most expressive imagery, the surpassing measure of that anointing which was conferred on our Lord above all his fellows. His garments are supposed not merely to have been all richly perfumed, or even thoroughly saturated with the oil of gladness, but to have consisted of the very articles which entered into the composition of the most precious and odoriferous unguent: Thy garments are all myrrh, aloes, and cassia. This is figurative language, but nothing could more emphatically exhibit how truly “the Spirit rested on Jesus, and abode with him” in all the plenitude of his heavenly gifts. That heavenly anointing constituted, as it were, his very dress, “excelling” in the quantity or measure of the anointing “the palaces of ivory; “because their furniture, however highly scented, were not made of aromatic materials. The strength of the perfumes would evaporate, the fragrance would soon diminish; but permanent as well as plentiful fragrance is secured to him whose “garments are all myrrh, aloes, and cassia.” It is added, in the way of parallelism, “excelling those which delight in thee, “or those which make thee glad. To say that the persons here alluded to are the occupiers of the ivory palaces, might perhaps be objected to as fanciful; but palaces are the abodes of kings; and anointed kings wither literally, or typically, or spiritually, are the fellows of the Lord’s Anointed One; and it does seem manifest that, as his anointing causes joy and gladness to all the parties concerned in it, so likewise there is an anointing of those who are honoured to be his fellows which causes joy and gladness to him. The persons who are in the one verse spoken of as giving delight to Christ, there is no reason to regard as any other than the persons spoken of in the former verse as his “fellows.” And if this is the case, then we have a comparison drawn betwixt the one and the other in the matter of their anointing, and to that of Christ a decided superiority is ascribed. David Pitcairn, in “The Anointed Saviour, “1846.
Ver. 8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, etc. These things are true in Jesus; by his garments in meant his righteousness; for it is written, He clothed himself with righteousness and zeal. And here the translator hath put in smell, which rather should have been are, for “his garments are of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, ” that is, truly purging, cleansing, and making sound; for his righteousness, which is the righteousness of faith, maketh sound hearted Christians; whereas, man’s righteousness, which is the righteousness of works, maketh filthy hypocrites. And by “ivory palaces, “is meant the true faith and fear of God; for ivory is solid and white, and palaces are king’s houses; and by Christ we are made kings, and our dwelling is in faith and fear of God; and this is the gladness and joy of our Lord Jesus, that he brings many sons and daughters unto God. Richard Coore, 1683.
Ver. 8. Out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Commentators have been more perplexed in explaining these words than any other part of the Psalm. Not to detain you with the various expositions that have been proposed, I will give you what I conceive to be the meaning of the passage. The word rendered whereby, is also the name of a region in Arabia Felix, namely, Minnaea, which, according to the geographer Strabo, “abounded in myrrh and frankincense.” Now, it is singular that, according to the historian, Diodorus Siculus, “the inhabitants of Arabia Felix had sumptuous houses, adorned with ivory and precious stones.” Putting these two things together, therefore, namely, that this region abounded in myrrh and frankincense, and that its inhabitants adorned their houses with ivory, we may, I conceive, find a clue to the psalmist’s meaning. If we substitute “Minnaea” for “whereby, “the passage will run thus—
“Myrrh, aloes, and cassia, are all thy garments.
From ivory palaces of Minnaea they have made thee glad.”
You recollect in the verse just going before, the oil with which Christ was said to be anointed, is called the oil of “gladness.” Accordingly, he is here said to be made glad (it is the same word in both places in the Hebrew), by the spices of which that oil is composed. This spices are said to have been brought out of the most spicy region of the land of spices, and it is implied that they are the best spices of that spicy region. Out of the ivory palaces, says the psalmist; not only houses, but palaces—the mansions of the great, where the best spices would naturally be kept—out of these have come the myrrh, aloes, and cassia, that have composed the oil of gladness whereby thou art made glad. God anointed Christ, when he set him on his everlasting throne, with the oil of gladness; and this anointing was so profuse, his garments were so overspread with it, that they seemed to be nothing but myrrh, aloes, and cassia. The spices, moreover, of which the anointing oil was composed, were the best of their kind, brought, as they were, from the ivory palaces of Minnaea. Such appears to be the psalmist’s meaning; and when thus understood, the passage becomes most beautifully expressive of the excellency and unmeasured supply of the gifts and graces of that Spirit with which Christ was anointed by his Father. George Harpur.
Ver. 8. The ivory palaces. The ivory courts. Probably so called from the great quantity of ivory used in ornamenting and inlaying them; as the emperor Nero’s palace, mentioned by Suetonius, was named, “aurea, “or “golden, “because “lita auro, “”overlaid with gold.” This method of ornamenting or inlaying rooms was very ancient among the Greeks. Homer in the fourth book of the Odyssey, seems to mention it, as employed in Menelaus’s palace at Lacedaemon; and that the Romans sometimes ornamented their apartments in like manner, seems evident from Horace and Ovid. So in modern times, the winter apartment of the fair Fatima at Constantinople, has been described by an eye witness as “wainscotted with inlaid work of mother of pearl, ivory of different colours, and olive wood.” Ivory is likewise employed at Aleppo, as Dr. Russell informs us, in the decoration of some of the more expensive apartments. Richard Mant.
Ver. 8. Ivory palaces. Either edifices 1 Kings 22:39 So 7:14, or ivory coffers, and wardrobes, whence those garments were taken, and are kept. Westminster Assembly’s Annotations.
Ver. 8. Whereby they have made thee glad. The best sense of the phrase—from which they rejoice thee —is had by making they refer to the king’s daughters mentioned in the next verse. William S. Plumer.
Ver. 8. Gesenius and Delitzsch consider (ynm) an abbreviated form of the plural (Mynm) Psalms 105:4, “strings, “or “stringed instruments, “and would render thus: —”Thee glad out of the ivory palaces stringed instruments have made.” Dalman Hapstone. (With this rendering Ewald and Lange agree.) J. L. K.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. Christ’s garments—his offices, his two natures, his ordinances, his honours, all are full of fragrance.
Ver. 8. Whereby they have made thee glad. We make Jesus glad by our love, our praise, our service, our gifts, our holiness, our fellowship with him.
Ver. 8.
1. The odour of his garments, not of blood and battle, but of sweet perfume.
2. The splendour of his palaces—ivory for rareness, purity, durability, etc.
3. The source of his delight.
1. Himself, the sweet odour of his own graces.
2. His people, the savour of those who are saved.
3. His enemies, “even in them that perish.”
4. All holy happy creatures who unite to make him glad. G.R.
Psalms 45:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. King’s daughters were among thy honourable women. Our Lord’s courts lack not for courtiers, and those the fairest and noblest. Virgin souls are maids of honour to the court, the true lilies of heaven. The lowly and pure in heart are esteemed by the Lord Jesus as his most familiar friends, their place in his palace is not among the menials but near the throne. The day will come when those who are “king’s daughters” literally will count it their greatest honour to serve the church, and, meanwhile every believing sister is spiritually a King’s daughter, a member of the royal family of heaven. Upon thy right hand, in the place of love, honour, and power, did stand the queen in gold of Ophir: the church shares her Lord’s honour and happiness, he sets her in the place of dignity, he clothes her with the best of the best. Gold is the richest of metals, and Ophir gold the purest known. Jesus bestows nothing inferior or of secondary value upon his beloved church. In imparted and imputed righteousness the church is divinely arrayed. Happy those who are members of a church so honoured, so beloved; unhappy those who persecute the beloved people, for as a husband will not endure that his wife should be insulted or maltreated, so neither will the heavenly Husband; he will speedily avenge his own elect. Mark, then, the solemn pomp of the verses we have read. The King is seen with rapture, he girds himself as a warrior, robes himself as a monarch, mounts his chariot, darts his arrows, and conquers his foes. Then he ascends his throne with his sceptre in his hand, fills the palace hall with perfume brought from his secret chambers, his retinue stand around him, and, fairest of all, his bride is at his right hand, with daughters of subject princes as her attendants. Faith is no stranger to this sight, and every time she looks she adores, she loves, she rejoices, she expects.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9. King’s daughters. Albeit the Catholic church consisting of true converts or real saints be but the one and only true spouse of Christ, yet particular visible churches consisting of saints by calling, by obligation, by profession, and common estimation, their own or others, are many. The true church consisting of true converts (whose praise is of God, to whom only they are certainly known, and not of men), being but one, is compared to the queen; but the particular, whose collections and consociations are known to men, being many, are compared to ladies of honour who serve the queen. David Dickson.
Ver. 9. The queen. It is written of Matilda, the empress, that she was the daughter of a king, the mother of a king, and the wife of a king.
Ortu magna, viro major, sed maxima prole,
Hic jacet Henrici filia, nupta, parens.
So David intimates in this hymn, that the church is the daughter of a King, at the 13th verse, “The king’s daughter is all glorious within; “and the mother of a king, at the 16th verse, “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth; “and the wife of a king, in this verse, Upon thy right hand did stand the queen, as being (I speak in the language of Canaan), spiritually the wedded and bedded wife to the king of glory. John Boys.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9-10.
1. The connections of the Bridegroom are to be remembered, those of the Bride to be forgotten.
Psalms 45:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. Hearken, O daughter, and consider. Ever is this the great duty of the church. Faith cometh by hearing, and confirmation by consideration. No precept can be more worthy of the attention of those who are honoured to be espoused to Christ that that which follows. And incline thine ear. Lean forward so that no syllable may be unheard. The whole faculties of the mind should be bent upon receiving holy teaching. Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house. To renounce the world is not easy, but it must be done by all who are affianced to the Great King, for a divided heart he cannot endure; it would be misery to the beloved one as well as dishonour to her Lord. Evil acquaintances, and even those who are but neutral, must be forsaken, they can confer no benefits, they must inflict injury. The house of our nativity is the house of sin—we were shapen in iniquity; the carnal mind is enmity against God, we must come forth of the house of fallen nature, for it is built in the City of Destruction. Not that natural ties are broken by grace, but ties of the sinful nature, bonds of graceless affinity. We have much to forget as well as to learn, and the unlearning is so difficult that only diligent hearing, and considering, and bending of the whole soul to it, can accomplish the work; and even these would be too feeble did not divine grace assist. Yet why should we remember the Egypt from which we cam out? Are the leeks and the garlic, and the onions anything, when the iron bondage, and the slavish tasks, and the death dealing Pharaoh of hell are remembered? We part with folly for wisdom; with bubbles for eternal joys; with deceit for truth; with misery for bliss; with idols for the living God. O that Christians were more mindful of the divine precept here recorded; but, alas! worldliness abounds; the church is defiled; and the glory of the Great King is veiled. Only when the whole church leads the separated life will the full splendour and power of Christianity shine forth upon the world.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 10. Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house. Three alls I expect you to part with, saith Christ. 1. All your sinful lusts, all the ways of the old Adam, our Father’s house. Ever since Adam’s apostasy, God and man have parted houses. Ever since, our Father’s house is a house of ill manners, a house of sin and wickedness. 2. All your worldly advantages. “If any man come unto me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” He that hath all these must be ready to part with all; they are joined not disjunctively but copulatively. 3. All self, self will, self righteousness, self sufficiencies, self confidence, and self seekings. Lewis Stuckley.
Ver. 10. Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house. If you see a bee leave a fair flower and stick upon another, you may conclude that she finds most honey dew in that flower she most sticks upon: so here God’s people would never leave so many fair flowers in the world’s garden, had they not some other in which they find most sweetness. Christ hath his garden, into which he brings his beloved, and there she finds other manner of flowers than any the world hath, in which there is sweetness of a higher nature, even the honey dew of the choice mercy and goodness and blessing of God himself: if God’s people do leave the full breasts of the world, it is because they have found the breasts of consolation from which they have sucked other manner of sweetness than the breast of the world can afford. Jeremiah Burroughs, in “Moses, his self denial.” 1649.
Ver. 10. Forget. If thou be on the mountain, have no love to look back to Sodom. If thou be in the ark, fly not back to the world, as the raven did. If thou be set on Canaan, forget the flesh pots of Egypt. If marching against Midian, forget stooping to the waters of Harod. Jude 7:1-25. If on the house top, forget that is below thee. Mr 13:15. If thy hand be put to the plough, forget that is behind thee. Lu 9:62. Themistocles desired rather to learn the art of forgetfulness than of memory. Philosophy is an art of remembering, divinity includes in it an art of forgetting. The first lesson that Socrates taught his scholars was, Remember; for he thought that knowledge was nothing else but a calling to remembrance of those things the mind knew ere it knew the body. But the first lesson that Christ teacheth his scholars is, Forget:Forget thine own people; “Repent” Matthew 4:17; first, “eschew evil, “1 Peter 3:11. Thomas Adams.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9-10.
1. The connections of the Bridegroom are to be remembered, those of the Bride to be forgotten.
Ver. 10. “Christ the best husband: or, an earnest invitation to young women to come and see Christ.” George Whitefield’s “Sermon, Preached to a Society of Young Women, in Fetter Lane.”
Psalms 45:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. Wholehearted love is the duty and bliss of the marriage state in every case, but especially so in this lofty mystic marriage. The church must forsake all others and cleave to Jesus only, or she will not please him nor enjoy the full manifestation of his love. What less can he ask, what less may she dare propose than to be wholly his? Jesus sees a beauty in his church, a beauty which he delights in most when it is not marred by worldliness. He has always been most near and precious to his saints when they have cheerfully taken up his cross and followed him without the camp. His Spirit is grieved when they mingle themselves among the people and learn their ways. No great and lasting revival of religion can be granted us till the professed lovers of Jesus prove their affection by coming out from an ungodly world, being separated, and touching not the unclean thing. For he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. He has royal rights still; his condescending grace does not lessen but rather enforce his authority. Our Saviour is also our Ruler. The husband is the head of the wife; the love he bears her does not lessen but strengthen her obligation to obey. The church must reverence Jesus, and bow before him in prostrate adoration; his tender union with her gives her liberty, but not license; it frees her from all other burdens, but places his easy yoke upon her neck. Who would wish it to be otherwise? The service of God is heaven in heaven, and perfectly carried out it is heaven upon earth. Jesus, thou art he whom thy church praises in her unceasing songs, and adores in her perpetual service. Teach us to be wholly thine. Bear with us, and work by thy Spirit in us till thy will is done by us on earth as it is in heaven.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. This is a most sweet promise. For the Holy Spirit knoweth that this monster, Monk, sticks fast in our heart—that we want to be pure and without spot before God. Thus, under Popery, all my temptation was this. I used to say, `that I would willingly go to the sacrament if I were but worthy.’ Thus we seek, naturally, a purity in ourselves; and we examine our whole life and want to find a purity in ourselves, that we might have no need of grace, but might be pronounced righteous upon the grounds of our own merit…Thou wilt certainly never become righteous by thyself and thine own works…The Holy Spirit saith, therefore, I will give thee wholesome counsel; and if thou wilt hear me, thou shalt become a virgin all fair. For, if thou wouldst be beautiful in the sight of God, so that all thy works should please him, and he should say, “Thy prayer pleaseth me; all that thou sayest, doest, and thinkest, pleaseth me!” proceed thou thus: “hear, see, and incline thine ear; “and thou shalt thus become all fair. When thou hast heard, hast seen, hast forgotten all thine own righteousness, all the law, all traditions, and all that monkery, and hast believed, then art thou fair; not in thine own beauty, but in the beauty of the King who has adorned thee with his Word; because he has brought unto thee thereby his righteousness, his holiness, truth, and fortitude, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit…The Holy Spirit uses the most exalted language. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: that is, thou wilt by this faith prevail upon him to do whatever thou desirest: so that, as one urged by the power of love, he will spontaneously follow thee, abide with thee, and take up his abode with thee. For wherever God has given his Word, there he does not leave his work which he has begun in thee; but he brings upon thee first the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh; that by them he may work upon thee. These are his embraces whereby he embraces his spouse through impatience of love…The sum of the whole therefore, is this: That our beauty does not consist in our own virtues, now even in the gifts which we have received from God, by which we put forth virtues, and do all those things which pertain unto the life of the law; but in this—our apprehending Christ and believing in him. Then it is that we are truly beautiful: and it is this beauty alone that Christ looks upon, and upon no other. Martin Luther.
Ver. 11. In this Psalm Christ is set forth in all his royalty and majesty; yet he is said greatly to desire or delight in the beauty of his queen, that is, the graces of the saints; and that not with an ordinary delight, but he “greatly desires; “his desire is increased as her beauty is. For that is there brought in as a motive unto her to be more holy and conformed unto him, “to incline her ear, and forsake her father’s house.” So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. Christ hath a beauty that pleaseth him as well as we have, though of another kind; and, therefore, ceaseth not till he hath got out every spot and wrinkle out of his spouse’s face, as the apostle speaks Ephesians 5:27, “so as to present her glorious unto himself, “that it, delightful and pleasing in his eyes. Thomas Goodwin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. Christ delighting in the Beauty of the Righteous. Martin Luther. (Select Works, by H. Cole. I. 281.)
Psalms 45:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift. When the church abounds in holiness, she shall know no lack of homage from the surrounding people. Her glory shall then impress and attract the heathen around, till they also unite in doing honour to her Lord. The power of missions abroad lies at home: a holy church will be a powerful church. Nor shall there be lack of treasure in her coffers when grace is in her heart; the free gifts of a willing people shall enable the workers for God to carry on their sacred enterprise without stint. Commerce shall send in its revenue to endow, not with forced levies and imperial taxes, but with willing gifts the church of the Great King. Even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. Not by pandering to their follies, but by testifying against their sins, shall the wealthy be one to the faith of Jesus. They shall come not to favour the church but to beg for her favour. She shall not be the hireling of the great, but as a queen shall she dispense her favours to the suppliant throng of the rich among the people. We go about to beg for Christ like beggars for alms, and many who should know better will make compromises and become reticent of unpopular truth to please the great ones of the earth; not so will the true bride of Christ degrade herself, when her sanctification is more deep and more visible; then will the hearts of men grow liberal, and offerings from afar, abundant and continual, shall be presented at the throne of the Pacific Prince.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 12. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift. The daughters of Tyre are the daughters of the Gentiles, the part standing for the whole. Tyre, a city bordering on this country where the prophecy was delivered, typified the nations that were to believe in Christ. Thence came that Canaanitish woman, who was at first called a dog; for that ye may know that she was from thence, the gospel speaks thus Matthew 15:21-28, “Jesus departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, “with all the rest that is related there. She who at first, at the house of her “father, “and among her “own people, “was but a dog, who by coming to, and crying after that “King, “was made beautiful by believing in him, what did she obtain to hear? “O woman, great is thy faith.” The King has greatly desired thy beauty. Augustine.
Ver. 12. With a gift. Those who sold their property, came with presents to entreat the face of this “queen, “and “laid what they brought at the apostle’s feet.” Warm then was love in the church. Augustine.
Ver. 12. The rich. They are, indeed, rich in grace, whose graces are not hindered by riches, whose souls prosper when their bodies prosper, as the apostle John speaks in his third Epistle; or, who, as it is prophesied in the verse, being full of worldly blessings, are yet hungry and eager in their pursuit after Christ. The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour, saith the psalmist; that is, either the favour of Christ himself, or the favour of the church, by reason of that spiritual excellence and inward glory which she hath received from Christ. Now, to see the rich bring their gifts, and, which is the thing chiefly aimed at here, giving up themselves to Christ, this is a rare sight, and a remarkable work of grace. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 45:13*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 13. The king’s daughter is all glorious within. Within her secret chambers her glory is great. Though unseen of men her Lord sees her, and commends her. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Or the passage may be understood as meaning within herself— her beauty is not outward only or mainly; the choicest of her charms are to be found in her heart, her secret character, her inward desires. Truth and wisdom in the hidden parts are what the Lord regards; mere skin deep beauty is nothing in his eyes. The church is of royal extraction, of imperial dignity, for she is a king’s daughter; and she has been purified and renewed in nature; for she is glorious within. Note the word all. The Bridegroom was said to have all his garments perfumed, and now the bride in all glorious within—entireness and completeness are great points. There is no mixture of ill savour in Jesus, nor shall there be alloy of unholiness in his people, his church shall be presented without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Her clothing is of wrought gold. Best material and best workmanship. How laboriously did our Lord work out the precious material of his righteousness into a vesture for his people! no embroidery of golden threads can equal that masterpiece of holy art. Such clothing becomes on so honoured by relationship to the Great King. The Lord looks to it that nothing shall be wanting to the glory and beauty of his bride.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 13. The king’s daughter is all glorious within, etc. When the children of God recollect their glorious and heavenly pedigree, they endeavour to excel others, both in the beautiful disposition of soul and manner of life. The king’s daughter, that is, the daughter of the heavenly Father, who is also the bride of the king’s Son; every believing soul is all glorious, adorned with a holiness not only glorious to herself, but also to the Father and the Bridegroom, and is the beginning of a heavenly glory; and that chiefly within, not only when she appears abroad, and presents herself to the view of men, but also when she sits in the inner bed chamber in the secret exercises of religion, in which she in private pleases the Father and the Bridegroom, who having a regard to the inward man, she above all endeavours to keep that pure and chaste. Her clothing is of gold; in comparison of which whatever excellency natural men were even possessed of, is but a shining vanity; nay, it was wrought gold, curiously beautified with various resemblances, which represents the perfections of God himself; and of different colours, on account of the different yet harmoniously corresponding graces of the Holy Spirit; or of needlework of the Phrygian embroiderers, or rather the work of the cunning workman, mentioned in Song of Solomon 7:1. Nor is the spouse only beautiful within, but also without; “holding forth the word of life, “Philippians 2:16, she practises charity, glorifies Christ, edifies her neighbour, and in this manner she is brought unto the king, worthy to be presented to him. This is the only way by which we are to endeavour to obtain familiarity with him, and the sweetest intercourse of the most chaste love, both on earth and in heaven. Hermann Witsius. 1636-1708.
Ver. 13. The king’s daughter is all glorious within. The meaning is, either (1.) that her chief glory consisted in this, that she was admitted to such a familiar privacy with the king; or, (2.) that when she sat in the inmost rooms of the king’s palace, she was there in her greatest glory, because those rooms were most gorgeously set forth with all kinds of bravery and glorious furniture; or, (3.) that she used to be gloriously attired, not only when she went abroad in public, but also when she stayed within, as being indeed adorned (which may be implied) only for the delight of the king, and not that others might gaze upon her; or, (4.) —which I like best—that the inward virtues and endowments of her mind were her greatest ornament and glory. Arthur Jackson.
Ver. 13. All glorious within. Saints must shine by the comeliness of Christ, as a gracious husband labours to change his spouse into his own image and likeness by kindnesses, precepts, and example, that he may take the more delight in her person; so does our spiritual Solomon change the hue of his Egyptian queen to deem of things and persons as her Lord and husband judges, and frames her spirit to delight in doing his will and pleasure, and take the highest solace in obedience, to enjoy a heavenly freedom, mixed with amiable and joyful reverence. He roots out of her heart all changeable affections and worldly fancies, and hankering longings after the fond fashions of Shechem, and all carnal inclinations to the daughters of Canaan’s lineage, and all the beggardly humours of the besotted world, and to pass by with a holy scorn all the pitiful pageantry of this perishing and fading life, and rise to a mean estimate of the baubles and trifles that enchant a carnal heart. At length she arrives to a noble and generous judgment, counting all but dung and dross that she may win Christ. As her prince of life was crucified by the world for her redemption, so she begins to be crucified to it in token of conformity to him, and at length becomes all glorious within. Samuel Lee, in “The Triumph of Mercy.” 1676.
Ver. 13. Within. The ark was pitched within by the same pitch with which it was pitched withal; such is the sincere man, within and without alike, inside and outside, all one. Yea, he is rather better than he shows, as the king’s daughter, whose outside might sometimes be sackcloth, yet was all glorious within, and her inward garments of wrought gold. Or as the temple, outwardly nothing but wood and stone to be seen, inwardly all rich and beautiful, especially the sanctum sanctorum (when the veil was drawn) was all gold. The very floor, as well as the roof, was overlaid with gold. 1 Kings 6:30. John Sheffield.
Ver. 13. Her clothing is of wrought gold. Some read it purled works, or closures of gold, enamelled gold, such as precious stones were set in, which were exceeding splendid and glorious; such were the clothes of service in the tabernacle, and the garments and robes of the high priest, which shadowed forth Christ’s righteousness. Exodus 28:11-14, Exodus 39:1-6. William Troughton.
Ver. 13. About this time, Father La Combe was called to preach on some public occasion. The new doctrine, as it was termed, was not altogether a secret. Public curiosity had become excited. He choose for his text the passage in Psalms 45:13, The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. By the king he understood Christ; by the king’s daughter, the church. His doctrine was, whatever might be true in regard to men’s original depravity, that those who are truly given to Christ, and are in full harmony with him, are delivered from it: that is to say, are all glorious within. Like Christ, they love God with a love free from selfishness, with pure love. Like Christ, they are come to do the will of the Father. Christ is formed in them. They not only have faith in Christ, and faith in God through Christ, but, as the result of this faith, they have Christ’s disposition. They are now in a situation to say of themselves individually, in the language of the apostle Paul, “I live, and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” He did not maintain that all Christians are necessarily the subjects of this advanced state of Christian experience, but endeavoured to show that this is a possible state; that, however intense human depravity may be, the grace of God has power to overcome it; that the example of Christ, the full and rich promises, and even the commands, give encouragement to effort, and confidence in ultimate victory. From the “Life, Religious Opinions and Experience of Madame de la Mothe Guyon.”
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 13-15.
1. The Bride’s new name —”The king’s daughter.” She is the king’s daughter for two reasons.
1. She is born of God; and
2. She is espoused to the Son of God.
2. The Bride’s character —”All glorious within.”
1. Because Christ reigns on the throne of her heart.
2. Because she is the temple of the Holy Ghost.
3. The Bride’s raiment —”wrought gold, ” “needlework:” this is the righteousness of Christ; in other words,
1. His perfect obedience.
2. His atoning death.
4. The Bride’s companion —”Virgins that follow her.”
5. The Bride’s home going —”She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework…With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.”
1. She shall see the king in his beauty.
2. There will be an open declaration of his love to her before all worlds. Duncan Macgregor, M.A.
Psalms 45:14*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 14. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework. The day comes when the celestial marriage shall be openly celebrated, and these words describe the nuptial procession wherein the queen is brought to her royal Husband attended by her handmaidens. In the latter-day glory, and in the consummation of all things, the glory of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall be seen by all the universe with admiration. While she was within doors, and her saints hidden ones, the church was glorious; what will be her splendour when she shall appear in the likeness of her Lord in the day of his manifestation? The finest embroidery is but a faint image of the perfection of the church when sanctified by the Spirit. This verse tells us of the ultimate rest of the church—the King’s own bosom; of the way she comes to it, she is brought by the power of sovereign grace; of the time when this is done—in the future, she shall be, it does not yet appear; of the state in which she shall come—clad in richest array, and attended by brightest spirits. The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. Those who love and serve the church for her Lord’s sake shall share in her bliss “in that day.” In one sense they are a part of the church, but for the sake of the imagery they are represented as maids of honour; and, though the figure may seem incongruous, they are represented as brought to the King with the same loving familiarity as the bride, because the true servants of the church are of the church, and partake in all her happiness. Note that those who are admitted to everlasting communion with Christ, are pure in heart—virgins, pure in company—her companions, pure in walk—that follow her. Let none hope to be brought into heaven at last who are not purified now.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 14. The virgins, her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto thee. The highest and most excellent Christian cannot say, I have no need of thee: the queen will not be without any of her true companions. As it is in the body natural, so it is in the church of Christ, or body mystical; all the members being fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16, Colossians 2:19. William Troughton.
Ver. 14. The virgins her companions that follow her. These are members of the church, but the figure of a bridal train is employed to sustain the allegory. What bright train the Royal Bride will have as she goes forth to meet the Bridegroom! King’s daughters will be there, for every crowned head on earth shall one day bow at the foot of the cross. The daughter of Tyre shall be there—Tyre, the ancient emporium of the nations—to show that the merchandise of the world shall be holiness from the Lord. The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Jews and Gentiles will be there— representatives from all peoples, and tongues, and nations. They are virgins. They keep themselves unspotted from the world. They are weaned from its idols; they dread its contaminations. Their first care is to preserve the whiteness of their souls by daily washing in the blood of the Lamb…They follow the royal Bride. They keep by her side in storm and sunshine. They follow her in the regeneration. They follow her in the search after her Beloved. Song of Solomon 3:2-3. They follow her to the green pastures and the still waters. They follow her without the camp bearing his reproach. Like Ruth, they leave father and mother to follow her. Ruth 1:16. Like Caleb, they follow the Lord fully. When a crisis comes, and the question, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” involves heavy issues, and hollow hearted professors fly away like swallows before the storm, they follow her. When persecution comes, and Christ’s faithful witnesses have to prophesy clothed in sackcloth, and perhaps to pass through a baptism of blood to the crown, they follow her: like Peden, when—the bloodhounds of persecution in full chase after him, and the lone moor his home—he thought of Richard Cameron gone to glory, and sighed “Oh, to be with Richie!” Duncan Macgregor, M.A., in “The Shepherd of Israel; or, Illustrations of the Inner Life, “1869.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 13-15. See Psalms on “Psalms 45:13” for further information.
Ver. 14.
1. The presentation of the church to Christ.
1. When souls are first brought to him—”I have espoused you as, “etc.
2. When they come before him at death.
3. When the perfected church is presented to him— “That he might present it, “etc.
2. The manner of presentation—
1. “In raiment, “etc., such as he himself wrought out.
2. With all her followers. (a) Their purity—”virgins.” (b) their fellowship—”companions.” (c) Their succession—”that follow thee, “from one age to another until they are complete. G.R.
Psalms 45:15*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 15. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought. Joy becomes a marriage feast. What joy will that be which will be seen at the feasts of paradise when all the redeemed shall be brought home! Gladness in the saints themselves, and rejoicing from the angels shall make the halls of the New Jerusalem ring again with shoutings. They shall enter into the King’s palace. Their peaceful abodes shall be where Jesus the King reigns in state for ever. They shall not be shut out but shut in. Rights of free entrance into the holiest of all shall be accorded them. Brought by grace, they shall enter into glory. If there was joy in the bringing, what in the entering? What in the abiding? The glorified are not field labourers in the plains of heaven, but sons who dwell at home, princes of the blood, resident in the royal palace. Happy hour when we shall enjoy all this and forget the sorrows of time in the triumph of eternity.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 15. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought. No marriage was ever consummated with that triumphal solemnity as the marriage of Christ and believers shall be in heaven. Among the Jews the marriage house was called bethillulah —the house of praise; there was joy on all hands, but not like the joy that will be in heaven when believers, the spouse of Christ, shall be brought thither. God the Father will rejoice to behold the blessed accomplishment and consummation of that glorious design and project of his love. Jesus Christ the Bridegroom will rejoice to see the travail of his soul, the blessed birth and issue of all his bitter pangs and agonies. Isaiah 53:11. The Holy Spirit will rejoice to see the complement and perfection of that sanctifying design which was committed to his hand 2 Corinthians 5:5; to see those souls, whom he once found as rough stones, now to shine as the bright polished stones of the spiritual temple. Angels will rejoice; great was the joy when the foundation of this design was laid, in the incarnation of Christ Lu 2:13; great, therefore, must their joy be when the top stone is set up with shouting, crying, Grace, grace. The saints themselves shall rejoice unspeakably, when they shall enter into the king’s palace, and be for ever with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Indeed, there will be joy on all hands, except among the devils and damned, who shall gnash their teeth with envy, at the everlasting advancement and glory of believers. John Flavel.
Ver. 15. They shall be brought. Reader! do not fail to observe the manner of expression, the church is brought, she doth not come of herself. No, she must be convinced, converted, made willing. No one can come to Christ, except the Father, who hath sent Christ, draw him. John 6:44. Robert Hawker, D.D.
Ver. 15. They shall enter into the king’s palace. There are two rich palaces mentioned in this Psalm: the one an ivory palace Psalms 45:8, whereby is signified the assemblies of the saints, and ordinances of divine worship, in which the Lord manifests himself graciously. Here the presence of the Lord is sweet and amiable. Song of Solomon 1:8, Psalms 84:2. The other “palace” is mentioned in this fifteenth verse, and it is a palace of glory, a palace more bright and splendid than the finest gold glorious mansions. John 14:2. William Troughton.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 13-15. See Psalms on “Psalms 45:13” for further information.
Psalms 45:16*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 16. Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children. The ancient saints who stood as fathers in the service of the Great King have all passed away; but a spiritual seed is found to fill their places. The veterans depart, but volunteers fill up the vacant places. The line of grace never becomes extinct. As long as time shall last, the true apostolical succession will be maintained. Whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. Servants of Christ are kings. Where a man has preached successfully, and evangelised a tribe or nation, he gets to himself more than regal honours, and his name is like the name of the great men that be upon the earth. Jesus is the king maker. Ambition of the noblest kind shall win her desire in the army of Christ; immortal crowns are distributed to his faithful soldiers. The whole earth shall yet be subdued for Christ, and honoured are they, who shall, through grace, have a share in the conquest—these shall reign with Christ at his coming.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 16. Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children. O church of God, think not thyself abandoned then, because thou seest not Peter, nor seest Paul—seest not those through whom thou wast born. Out of thine own offspring has a body of “fathers” been raised up to thee. Augustine.
Ver. 16. Thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. The new connexion is glorious to the King. Many were his glorious and royal ancestors down to Jesse, but now there are born to him, the Eternal King, sons as the dew from the womb of the morning Psalms 110:3, who shall, as princes, occupy the thrones of the world. So our Lord promised to his disciples, “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Matthew 19:28. And Paul says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” 1 Corinthians 6:2. Augustus F. Tholuck.
Ver. 16. Princes in all the earth. Others are but princes in their own dominion, but he will make you princes in all lands…Such a kingdom you shall have, if you will come into Christ, you shall have the liberty of kings, the abundance and plenty of kings, the power of kings, the victory of kings, and the glory of kings. John Preston.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 45:17*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 17. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations. Jehovah by the prophet’s mouth promises to the Prince of Peace eternal fame as well as a continuous progeny. His name is his fame, his character, his person; these are dear to his people now—they never can forget them; and it shall be so as long as men exist. Names renowned in one generation have been unknown to the next era, but the laurels of Jesus shall ever be fresh, his renown ever new. God will see to this; his providence and his grace shall make it so. The fame of Messiah is not left to human guardianship; the Eternal guarantees it, and his promise never fails. All down the ages the memories of Gethsemane and Calvary shall glow with inextinguishable light; nor shall the lapse of time, the smoke of error, or the malice of hell be able to dim the glory of the Redeemer’s fame. Therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever. They shall confess thee to be what thou art, and shall render to thee in perpetuity the homage due. Praise is due from every heart to him who loved us, and redeemed us by his blood; this praise will never be fully paid, but will be ever a standing and growing debt. His daily benefits enlarge our obligations, let them increase the number of our songs. Age to age reveals more of his love, let every year swell the volume of the music of earth and heaven, and let thunders of song roll up in full diapason to the throne of him that liveth, and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and hath the keys of hell and of death.
“Let him be crowned with majesty
Who bowed his head to death,
And be his honours sounded high
By all things that have breath.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 17. Therefore shall the people praise thee. Christ’s espousing unto himself a church, and gathering more and more from age to age by his word and Spirit unto it, his converting souls and bringing them into the fellowship of his family, and giving unto them princely minds and affections, wherever they live, is a large matter of growing and everlasting glory unto his majesty; for in regard of this point, and what is said before in this Psalm, he addeth as the close of all, Therefore shall the people praise thee. David Dickson.
Ver. 17. In the Hebrew text, which is here quoted, there is a particle added to the word ever, which in that case intends a proper everlastingness, without any period or end at all, and thereupon translated for ever and ever. William Gouge, D.D., on Hebrews 1:8.
Ver. 17. (last clause): —
“When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awakening cries;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“When sleep her balm denies,
My silent spirit sighs;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“In heaven’s eternal bliss,
The loveliest strain is this;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“To God the Word on high.
The hosts of angels cry;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“Let mortals too, upraise
Their voice in hymns of praise;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“Let earth’s wide circle round,
In joyful notes resound;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“Let air, and sea, and sky,
From depths to height reply;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“Be this while life is mine,
My canticles divine;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
“Be this the eternal song
Through all the ages on;
May Jesus Christ be praised.”
Translated by Edward Caswall, in “Poems.” 1861.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 17.
1. Christ is the Father’s delight. “I will make, “etc.
2. He is the church’s theme—his name shall be remembered; and
3. He is heaven’s glory, “Shall praise thee, “etc. G.R.

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