A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks
By William S. Plumer

INTRODUCTION

§ 1. The Wonderful Character of The Psalms.

THE PSALMare wonderful. They have been read, repeated, chanted, sung, studied, wept over, rejoiced in, expounded, loved and praised by God's people for thousands of years. The most ancient of these productions is now [1866] three thousand three hundred and twenty-six years old. The least ancient of them is two thousand four hundred and fifty-three years old. The difference in date between the most ancient and the most modern of them is eight hundred and seventy-three years. They were all written in Asia, so that we in this Western World can have no national pride respecting them. Yet pious people here and all over the earth have found and can find no compositions more suitable for delineating their devout emotions, and for expressing their pious sensibilities than those of inspired Psalmists. If to any man these songs are unsavoury, the reason is found in the blindness and depravity of the human heart. Hengstenberg: "The Psalms are expressions of holy feeling, which can be understood by those only, who have become alive to such feeling."

Horne: "Composed upon particular occasions, yet designed for general use; delivered out as services for Israelites under the law, yet no less adapted to the circumstances of Christians under the Gospel, the Psalms present religion to us in the most engaging dress; communicating truths which philosophy could never investigate, in a style which poetry can never equal, while history is made the vehicle of prophecy, and creation lends all its charms to paint the glories of redemption. Calculated alike? to profit and to please, they inform the understanding, elevate the affections, and entertain the imagination. Indited under the influence of Him to whom all hearts are known, and all events foreknown, they suit mankind in all situations, grateful as the manna which descended from above, and conformed itself to every palate. The fairest productions of human wit, after a few perusals, like gathered flowers, wither in our hands, and lose their fragrance; but these unfading plants of paradise become, as we are accustomed to them, still more and more beautiful; their bloom appears to be daily heightened; fresh odours are emitted, and new sweets extracted from them. He who hath once tasted their excellences will desire to taste them yet again; and he who tastes them oftenest will relish them best."

Other things being equal, he who has the most heavenly mind, will be the most successful student of the Psalms. Carnal tempers are in suited to spiritual truths. The blind cannot see afar off. No natural acuteness, no learning, no amount of examination will answer the purpose unless we are taught from heaven and thus made docile. The best qualification for studying any portions of God's word is the influence of the Holy Spirit abiding in us, warning our cold hearts, and right affections. Augustine: "Form they spirit by the affection of the Psalm...If the Psalm breathes the spirit of prayer, do you pray; if it is filled with groaning, groan also thyself; if it gladsome, do thou rejoice also; if it encourages hope, then hope thou in God; if it calls to godly fear, then tremble thou before the divine majesty; for all things herein contained are mirrors to reflect our own real characters...Let the heart do what the words signify."

Cassian: "That we may enjoy this treasure, it is necessary that we say the Psalms with the same spirit with which they were composed, and accommodate them unto ourselves in the same manner as if every one of us had composed them, or as if the Psalmist had directed them purposely for our uses; not satisfying ourselves that they had their whole completion in or by the Prophet, but discerning every one of us our own parts still to be performed and acted over in the Psalmist's words, by exciting in ourselves the same affections which we discern to have been in David, or in others at that time, loving when he loves, fearing when he fears, hoping when he hopes, praising God when he praises, weeping for own or others' sins when he weeps, begging what he wants with the like spirit wherein his petitions are framed, loving our enemies when he shows love to his, praying for ours when he prays for his, having zeal for the glory of God when the Psalmist professes it, humbling ourselves when he id humbled, lifting up our spirit to heaven when he lifts up his, giving thanks for God's mercies when he does, delighting and rejoicing in the beauty of the Messias, and of the Church his spouse, when he is delighted and rejoices; when he relates the wonderful works of God in the creation of the world, bringing his people out of Egypt, etc., admiring and glorifying God as he stands amazed and glorifies him; and when he mentions the punishments inflicted upon rebellious sinners, and rewards and favours bestowed on the obedient, we likewise are to tremble when he trembles, and exult when he exalts, and walk in the court of heaven, the sanctuary, as he walks, and wish to dwell in it as he wishes. Finally, where he as a master teaches, exhorts, reprehends, and directs the just man, each of us must suppose him speaking to him, and answer him in such due manner as the instruction as the master exacts." That we may in some measure perform this vital substantial part of our task, "Let us at the beginning of the Psalm, beg of God that light and affection, and gust and savour, with which David was affected when he made it, and that with the affection and desire of obtaining what he felt." As well might men hope that improvements in agriculture would render unnecessary the rain of heaven, as that any advancement in Biblical science would make us independent of the grace and Spirit of God, imparting to us right tempers and right views.

§ 2. Testimony of Commentators.

Many, who have written on the Psalms, have left their testimony to the pleasantness of their labours. They seem to have been walking through the green pastures and by the still waters. Thus Calvin: "If the reading of these COMMENTARIES confer as much benefit on the church of God as I myself have reaped advantage from the composition of them, I shall have no reason to regret that I have undertaken this work."

Horne: "And now, could the author flatter himself, that any one would take half the pleasure in reading the following exposition, which he has taken in writing it, he would not fear the loss of his labour. The employment detached him from the bustle and hurry of life, the din of politics, and the noise of folly; vanity and vexation flew away for a season, care and disquietude came not near his dwelling. He arose fresh as the morning to his task; the silence of the night invited him to pursue it: and he can truly say, that food and rest were not preferred before it. Every Psalm improved infinitely on his acquaintance with it; and no one gave him uneasiness but the last; for then he grieved that his work was done. Happier hours than those, which have been spent on these Songs of Zion, he never expects to see in this world. Very pleasantly did they pass, and moved swiftly along: for when thus engaged, he counted no time. They are gone, but have left a relish and a fragrance upon the mind, and the remembrance of them is sweet." Chalmers quotes this experience of Horne as "an actual specimen of heaven upon earth, as enjoyed for a season of devotional contemplation on the word of God."

Morison speaks of his labours in this department as "a delightful task," and says, "Should the benefit of perusing this exposition be equal to that which has attended the writing of it, it will not be consulted in vain. Truly it has proved a source of spiritual excitement to the author, for which he hopes ever to be grateful to the God of his life. It has tended to endear the retirements of the closet, and to discover beauties in the word of God, which never fell with equal interest upon his mind."

Hengstenberg: "However this work may be received, the author has found an ample recompense in itself, and hopes that he shall be able to look back upon it with pleasure, even in eternity."

During a Christian and ministerial life, neither short, uneventful, nor free from dark days and sharp sorrows, the author has freely mingled with the suffering people of God of various names and conditions, and has never bean able to secure to himself, or administer to others full support and abounding consolation without a resort to the Psalms. Here was always something well suited to every stage of religious experience and to every kind and degree of affliction. He has therefore preached much on texts chosen from this part of Scripture. This has been especially true of his weekly lecture, which he has maintained wherever he has exercised his ministry. And although this work has been prepared in the midst of other and pressing duties, yet writing or revising even a paragraph has often refreshed him. "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage forever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart."

§ 3. The Psalms Excellent.

The testimonies in favour of the Book of Psalms are illustrious and striking. Athanasius calls it "an epitome of the whole Scriptures." Basil says it is "the common treasure of all good precepts...the voice of the church...a compendium of all theology." Ambrose: "The law instructs, history informs, prophecy predicts, correction censures, and morals exhort. In the Book of Psalms you find the fruit of all these, as well as a remedy for the salvation of the soul. The Psalter deserves to be called, the praise of God, the glory of man, the voice of the church, and the most beneficial confession of faith." Augustine: "What is there that may not be learned in the Psalms?" Luther: "The Psalter is a little Bible, and the summary of the Old Testament. One verse of the Psalms is sufficient for the meditation of a day; and he, who at the end of the day finds himself fully possessed of its sense and spirit, may consider his time well spent." Cassiodorus: "The Book of Psalms is splendid, illuminated with brightness, solacing the wounded heart, like the honey-comb refreshing the inner man, speaking the language of hidden virtues, inclining the proud to humility, making kings poor in spirit, yet gently nourishing and animating the timid and the feeble." Gerhard: "The Psalter is a theatre, where God allows us to behold both himself and his works; almost pleasant green field, a vast garden, where we see all manner of flowers; a paradise, having the most delicious flowers and fruits; a great sea in which are hid costly pearls; a heavenly school, where we have God for our teacher; a compend of all Scripture; a mirror of divine grace, reflecting the lovely face of our heavenly Father; and the anatomy of our souls." Melanchthon says the Book of Psalms is "the most elegant work extant in the world." Calvin: "I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, 'an anatomy of the soul;' for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated...There is no other book in which are recorded so many deliverances, nor one in which the evidences and experiences of the fatherly providence and solicitude, which God exercises towards us, are celebrated with such splendour of diction, and yet with the strictest adherence to truth." Rivet, borrowing from one of the early Fathers, compares this book to Paradise, where grow all manner of fruits, and says that his object in his expositions is to show the beauty, and gather the fruit of this pleasant garden and place it before his readers. Hooker adopts and amplifies the language of Augustine on the subject. On his death-bed the learned Salmasius said, "O I have lost a world of time. If one year more were added to my life, it would be spent in reading David's Psalms and Paul's epistles" John Brent says, "You may rightly and fitly call the Psalter an epitome of the sacred book." Of these sacred songs John Milton says, "Not in their divine argument alone, but in the very critical art of composition, they may be easily made appear over all the kinds of lyric poesy to be incomparable." Sir Daniel K. Sandford: "In lyric flow and fire, in crushing force and majesty, that seems still to echo the awful sounds once heard beneath the thunder-clouds of Sinai, the poetry of the ancient Scriptures is the most superb that ever burned within the breast of man." Why should not such a book be studied from age to age? I marvel not that Jerome in his letter to Læta respecting the education of her grand-daughter, said, "Let her learn the psalms." I am not surprised, when a pious, infirm friend, nearly eighty years old, writes to me saying, "I constantly read the Psalms and often commit them to memory." Could a child of God on the verge of the grave have a more heavenly employment? Well does David Dickson speak of "this sweet-smelling bundle of psalms." Dodd: "The Psalms are fitted to all persons and ages, to all manner of employments, and to all conditions and circumstances of life: but they have still one further excellence, that they contain a variety of striking proprieties concerning Christ and his church." Clarke: "I know nothing like the Book of Psalms: it contains all the lengths, breadths, depths, and heights of the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian Dispensations. It is the most useful book in the Bible, and is every way worthy of the wisdom of God." Tholuck: "Piety, Jewish or Christian, if genuine, and not formal, has derived more nourishment from the Psalms than from any other source."

He cites beautiful testimonies to the same effect from the great statesman, Moser, from the classical Herder, and from the historian, John Müller.

Müeller: "The Psalms teach one to prize a much tried life...David yields me every day the most delightful hour. There is nothing Greek, nothing Roman, nothing in the West, nor in the land towards midnight, to equal David, whom the God of Israel chose to praise him higher than the gods of the nations. The utterance of his mind sinks deep into the heart, and never in my lifenever have I thus seen God."

Herder: "The use of the Psalms became the blessing of humanity, not only on account of their contents,, but also on account of their form...For two thousand years have the Psalms frequently and differently been translated, and still there are many new formations of their much embracing and rich manner possible...The Psalter is the hymn-book for all times.

Moser: "How much comfort, light, and strength have the Psalms imparted to my fainting soul. I often not only missed the way, but lost the very trace of it. I sat me down as if I had become petrified. One word from the Psalms was a sunbeam to me; like a lark I settled on the pinions of that eagle; carried by her, I scaled the rock, and beheld from that eminence the world, with its cares and mine, stretched out beneath me; I acquired to think, infer, mourn, pray, wait, hope, and speak in the spirit of David. I thank thee, O Lord, that thou hast humbled me. I acquired to know and understand the rights of God—his purposes of love and frightfulness to every man, but especially to myself—his mighty wisdom towards us his creatures in our present state of probation, as well as the blessedness, benefit, and necessity of sufferings for our cleansing, purification, and perfection. I learned to esteem myself happy in being permitted to endure suffering. I attained to a better knowledge of the wisdom and love of God, the truth of his word and assurance, the unalterable faithfulness of his promises, the riches of his mercy and long-suffering; of my own dependence, insufficiency, nothingness, and inability without him, of the wickedness and deceit of my heart, of the world, of men, and of the profound wisdom of God in the blending of evil with good. I became less in my own sight, more suffering and affectionate, nature sparing and forgiving, more severe with myself, more lenient to others. I learned to trust God in all my ways and to renounce the claims of fame, honour, and comfort. It was nourishment to my soul to be enabled to say: 'Lord, let me possess but Thee.' I asked for no mere aid in temporal concerns than his wisdoms might find good for the best of my soul. I learned to become more contented in my desires, more moderate in my enjoyments. I was enabled with tears to express my gratitude for mercies, which formally I counted not as blessings, but as my right and due. If my soul would keep holy-day, the Psalms became my temple and my altar. Next to the writings of the New Testament, they are now to me my dearest and most precious book⎯the golden mirror, the Cyclopædia of the most blessed and fruitful knowledge and experience of my life; to thoroughly understand them will be the occupation of eternity, and our second life will form their commentary."

In his Cours de Literature the celebrated Lamartine, probably regarding the last four Psalms (the Hallelujah Hymns) as one whole (as Hengstenberg also does) thus speaks: "The last Psalm ends with a chorus to the praise of God, in which the poet calls on all people, all instruments of sacred music, all the elements, and all the star to join. Sublime finale of that opera of sixty years sung by the shepherds, the hero, the king, and the old man! In this closing Psalm we see the almost inarticulate enthusiasm of the lyric poet; so rapidly do the words press to his lips, floating upwards towards God their source, like the smoke of a great fire of the soul wafted by the tempest! Here we see David, or rather the human heart itself will all its God-given notes of grief, joy, tears, and adoration—poetry sanctified to its highest expression; a vase of perfume broken on the step of the temple, and shedding abroad its odours from the heart of David to the heart of all humanity! Hebrew, Christians, or even Mohammedans, every religion, every complaint, every prayer has taken from this vase, shed on the heights of Jerusalem, wherewith to give forth their accents. The little shepherd has become the master of the sacred choir of the Universe. There is not a worship on earth, which prays not with his words, or sings not with his voice. A chord of his harp is to be found in all choirs, resounding everywhere and forever in unison with the echoes of Horeb and Engedi! David is the psalmist of eternity; what a destiny—what a power has poetry when inspired by God! As for myself, when my spirit is excited, or devotional, or sad, and seeks for an echo to its enthusiasms, its devotion, or its melancholy, I do not open Pindar, or Horace, or Hafiz, those purely Academic poets; neither do I find within myself murmurings to express my emotion. I open the Book of Psalms, and there I find words which seem to issue from the soul of the ages, and which penetrate even to the heart of all generations. Happy the bard who has thus become the eternal hymn, the personified prayer and complaint of all humanity! If we look back to that remote age when such song's resounded over the world; if we consider that, while the lyric poetry of all the most cultivated nations only sang of wine, love, blood, and the victories of coursers at the games of Elidus, we are seized with profound astonishment, at the mystic accents of the shepherd-prophet, who speaks to God the Creator as one friend to another, who understands and praises his great works, admires his justice, implores his mercy, and becomes, as it were, an anticipative echo of the evangelic poetry, speaking the soft wards of Christ, before his coming. Prophet or not, as he may be considered by Christian or sceptic, none can deny in the poet-king an inspiration granted to no other man. Read Greek or Latin poetry after a Psalm, and see how pale it looks."

§ 4. Peculiarities of The Psalter.

The Book of Psalms is very peculiar. It differs from all other parts of God's word. It contains one hundred and fifty distinct compositions. Of these, some consist of a very few short sentences. Others are quite extended. One has a one hundred and seventy-six verses. In the Hebrew the Psalter contains two thousand five hundred and seventeen verses. The middle verse is in Psalm 78:36. Of these compositions, sometimes seventy-four sometimes seventy-three and commonly seventy-two are ascribed to David, "The man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel." There never arose another Psalmist like him. Jerome: "Simonides, Pindar, and Alceus, among the Greeks; Horace, Catullus, and Serenus, among the Latins, were famous for their poetic writings; but in his lyrics David personates Christ, and with his ten-stringed psaltery celebrates his rising from the dead." Augustine: "David was a little eminently skilled in songs, being one who loved musical harmony, not to produce a carnal delight, but with the will of faith." The son of Sirach says of David: "In all his works he praised the Holy One most high with words of glory;" with his whole heart he sung songs, and loved him that made them. He set singers also before the altar, that by their voices they might make sweet melody and daily sing praises in their songs. He beautified their feasts, and set in order the solemn times unto the end, that they might praise his holy name, and that the temple might sound from morning." Ecclus 47:8-10.

Several of the Fathers and some more modern writers make David the sole author of the Book of Psalms, but this is unquestionably a mistake.

Twelve of the Psalms are ascribed to Asaph, who seems to have been a man of exquisite sensibilities, much tempted, but remarkably delivered. He was contemporary with David, and wrote his first Psalm about one thousand and twenty years before Christ. He is mentioned as a composer of Psalms in 2 Chronicles 29:30, where he is also called a Seer. Two of the Psalms are ascribed to Solomon, the son of David, a great preacher, and the wisest of mere men 1 Kings 4:29-34. Only one Psalm is believed to have been written by Moses, (and Kennicott denies even, that to him, though on insufficient grounds,) Moses, the man that spoke to God in the mountain till his face had an intolerable brightness. Although Angus claims that Psalm 88., is of the greatest antiquity, being written, he thinks, B. C. 1531, yet in this he is pretty certainly mistaken; and we may safely say that Psalm 90; is the most ancient of all these song's. Scott dates it 1460, and Angus 1489 years B.C.

One Psalms is ascribed to Heman the Ezrahite, and one to Ethan the Ezrahite. Of these men we know that they were the sons of Mahol, that they lead two eminent brothers, Chalcol and Darda, that they were contemporary with Solomon and that they were wise men, though surpassed by their monarch. Some think Ethan and Jeduthun the same; but that is doubtful. Some think Psalms 88; Psalm 89. were written by persons living before the time of David. But this cannot be proven. Compare 1 Kings 4:31; 1 Chronicles 15:17, 19; 1 Chronicles 25:1; 2 Chronicles 24:15. That the Ethan and Heman mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:6 cannot be the authors of Psalms 88; and Psalm 89; is evident from the contents of Psalm 89. which records things said and done long after their day. Of the remaining sixty-one Psalms the authorship is either wholly unknown or somewhat uncertain. Of these, eleven are ascribed to the sons of Korah as authors, or are addressed to them as musical performers; but learned men are not agreed on this point. It is almost certain that David wrote some of those ascribed to the sons of Korah. It would not profit the reader here to inquire at length into this matter, which will probably in several cases never be fully settled. To us the sense of the Psalm, if clearly ascertained, is the same, whoever may have been the writer. It is certain that David was the author of several to which his name is not prefixed. Thus the second Psalm is not on its face ascribed to David, yet in Acts 4:25 we learn from infallible authority that it was composed by him. In substance the same may be said respecting Psalm 95, in Hebrews 4:7 is expressly ascribe to David, though there is no statement to the effect in the Psalter. It is said in Psalm 72:20: "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." Whatever else that phrase may mean, it cannot teach that no portion of the Psalms subsequent to the Psalm 72 in our arrangement was written by David.

§ 5. The Psalms Inspired.

The real author of the Psalms is the Holy Spirit. In other words, the penmen of these compositions were inspired of God. So Chrysostom: "How does it concern me whether David was the author of all the Psalms, or whether some of them were written by others since it is certainly known that they were all written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?" Williams: "The divine authority of the Book of Psalms has, we believe, never been controverted by those who admit the inspiration of any part of the Old Testament." David expressly claims inspiration for himself: "The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me." 2 Samuel 23:2, 3. This clearly claims inspiration. David was certainly inspired. On the day of Pentecost, Peter did but declare the judgement of the Church and the mind of God, when he said, "Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas..." Acts 1:16. And in Acts 13:29-37, Paul, speaks of the Psalms in a way that he surely would not do if he did not regard them as the word of God. Our Saviour himself teaches that in the hundred and tenth Psalm David spoke "by the Holy Spirit," and that "David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,'" Matthew 22:43, and Mark 12:36. In his last interview with his disciples, just before his ascension, our Lord puts Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms on the same level, as containing unfailing truths — Luke 24:44. Indeed, Christ and his apostles always treated the Psalms as the infallible Word of God. Hebrews 3:7. They are quoted or referred to scores of times in the New Testament as of the highest authority in religion, as may be seen from the following

Table ... Of Verses Of The Psalms Quoted In The New Testament.

 

Psalm

Verse

Quoted in

Psalm

Verse

Quoted in

 

2

1, 2.

Acts 4:25, 26

69

10

John 2:17

 

2

7

Acts 13:33

69

10

Romans 11:9, 10

 

2

9

Revelation 2:27

69

26

Acts 1:20

 

5

10

Romans 3:13

78

2

Matthew 13:35

 

8

3

Matthew 21:16

78

24

John 6:31

 

8

5

Hebrews 2:6

82

6

John 10:34

 

8

6

1 Corinthians 15:27

89

20

Acts 13:22

 

10

7

Romans 3:14

90

1

Matthew 22:44

 

14

1

Romans 3:10

91

11, 12

Matthew 4:6

 

16

8

Acts 2:25

94

11

1 Corinthians 3:20

 

18

50

Romans 15:9

95

7

Hebrews 3:7

 

19

5

Romans 10:18

97

7

Hebrews 1:6

 

22

2

Matthew 27:46

98

22

Matthew 21:42

 

22

19

Matthew 27:35

102

25

Hebrews 1:10

 

22

19

John 19:24

104

4

Hebrews 1:7

 

22

23

Hebrews 2:12

109

3

John 15:25

 

24

1

1 Corinthians 10:26

109

8

Acts 1:20

 

32

1, 2

Romans 4:7, 8

110

1

Matthew 22:24

 

34

13

1 Peter 3:10

110

1

Mark 12:30

 

35

19

John 15:25

110

1

Luke 10:27

 

36

2

Romans 3:18

110

4

Hebrews 5:6

 

40

7

Hebrews 10:5

112

9

2 Corinthians 9:9

 

41

9

John 13:18

116

10

2 Corinthians 4:13

 

44

22

Romans 8:36

117

1

Romans 15:11

 

45

7, 8

Hebrews 1:8, 9

118

6

Hebrews 13:6

 

60

6

Romans 3:4

118

22, 23

Matthew 21:42

 

68

19

Ephesians 4:8

140

4

Romans 3:13

 

69

10

Romans 15:3


Some of the Jews deny to David the title of prophet; but in Acts 2:30 Peter expressly calls him a prophet. In whatever sense the word prophet may be taken, it surely belongs to David. He was a great teacher. He predicted many great events. No man can consistently deny inspiration to the Psalms without denying it to all the Scriptures. If the Psalms are inspired it is easy to understand why they should be so powerful in their influence over the minds and hearts of men. They are a fire and a hammer. They are life and spirit.

§ 6. Difficulty of Understanding The Psalms.

If any ask, why should a divinely inspired and devotional book be so hard to be understood, and lead to so considerable diversity of interpretation? the answer has been given a thousand times: The human mind is very weak, and liable to many prejudices and to much darkness; and the things of God are very excellent and glorious. The fact that the book is highly devotional and experimental takes nothing from the difficulty; for the nearer we are to the throne, the more dazzling is its effulgence found to be; and the more deeply truth enters into our spirits, the less able do we feel ourselves to tell its relations and describe its beauties. The Psalms were written a long time ago, in an age and country very diverse from our own, and in a language so peculiar as to have now no parallel. In his preface to the book of Psalms with notes, the learned Creswell thus accounts for much of the difficulty: "The Hebrew is not only a dead language, but the oldest of all dead languages; it is, moreover, the language of a people that lived under institutions and in a climate very different from those of our own country, so that the idioms with which it abounds cannot but be strange to our habits of thinking, and our modes of speech; nor have we any book but the Bible itself to consult for an illustration of these phraseological peculiarities.

The paucity of the words also contained in that ancient tongue is such, that the same Hebrew term very often bears a great variety of significations, the connection of which with each other cannot always be satisfactorily ascertained: and, again, there are words, each of which is found but once in the whole volume of Scripture, so that their meanings call only be conjectured, either from their affinity to other words, or from the purport of the passage where they occur.

"The following are amongst the many grammatical Hebraisms which we meet with In the Book of Psalms. The future and past tenses are put almost indiscriminately, the one for the other, and the former of them is used occasionally to designate not that which will happen, but that which is accustomed to happen. The infinitive is put for every other mood, and also for nouns even in the accusative case. The future tense is sometimes expressed by a verb in the imperative mood. Two substantives are put instead of a substantive and an adjective; a substantive is frequently used adverbially; and the same substantive repeated denotes multitude. When the negative particle occurs in the first member of a sentence, it is sometimes to be understood, and must be supplied, in the following members. Hebrew sentences are also in other respects very often elliptical, broken and imperfect; and in the same sentence there is in many instances a change of person in the speaker, without any express intimation of it.

"From the peculiarities above mentioned, and especially from the different ways in which an ellipse may be supplied, it is plain that the text of Scripture must needs admit of a considerable latitude of interpretation; so that although none of its important doctrines, whether they relate to faith or morals, are thereby left doubtful, yet does it contain passages the exact meanings of which are more or less uncertain. The candid and pious reader, however, will with Augustine gladly acknowledge that all which he fully comprehends in the sacred volume is most excellent; whilst he looks with feelings of veneration upon that smaller portion of it which he less perfectly understands, but which the diligence and erudition of future times may, through divine aid, be enabled to elucidate."

This is the proper place to remark on those forms of expression in the Psalms, which taken according to the sound are imprecations of evil upon enemies. Respecting these the following remarks are offered to show that the inconsistency of such passages with the existence of genuine benevolence is merely apparent. True piety is ever the same. It teaches us to do good for evil, to bless and curse not. the Psalms themselves show that the law of love was understood by David as we now understand it. See Psalm 7:4. True religion requires men, always did require men to supplicate blessings, such as repentance, forgiveness and salvation on our earthly foes.

To explain these imprecators forms of speech some say that they are not expressive of the feelings of the writers as private persons, but that they are inspired by the Holy Spirit to say these things in the name of God, or of Christ. But God swears that he has no pleasure in the death of sinners; Christ when dying prayed for his murderers; and the Divine Spirit is the author of all holy love in man's heart. The representative of the Holy One must be like him.

Nor does it aid the matter to say that all these persons, against whom imprecations are uttered, are incorrigible foes of God and good men; for first, it cannot be shown that in all cases they were so; and, secondly, Jesus Christ wept over the city, which he knew to be hopelessly doomed to destruction. We must be like Christ. If a man is known to be incorrigibly wicked, we may not pray for him; but we may not ask God to hasten his perdition.

Others say that such imprecations are simple expressions of a strong sense of the justice of God in sending calamities and curses on the wicked. No doubt every sin deserves God's terrible and eternal displeasure, and all ought to say so. But personal ill-desert is not confined to those, who shall be lost. The righteous are not saved because they have not sinned, nor because they have sinned less than others, nor because they do not deserve perdition. Their salvation is wholly gratuitous. Every regenerate man has a strong sense of the justice of his own destruction, if God should finally cast him off: Yet no good man uses any form of imprecatory words, respecting himself. And he has no right to use such phrases merely to convey the idea that the thing is just. For there are other modes, well known to pious men, of doing the same thing. It would be just in God to damn the world, but in saying that, we may not seem to ask him to do it. On the contrary we should pray for all, who are in the land of the living, and have not sinned unto death, even while we confess that no man deserves anything but wrath. It should never be forgotten, however, that all such passages are based upon the fact that the punishment of the wicked will be perfectly just.

Many say that the verbs in the clauses under consideration might and should be rendered in the future.

Horne: "The offence taken at the supposed uncharitable and vindictive spirit of the imprecations, which occur in some of the Psalms, ceases immediately if we change the imperative for the future, and read, not 'let them be confounded,' etc., but, 'they shall be confounded,' etc., of which the Hebrew is equally capable. Such passages will then have no more difficulty in them than the other frequent predictions of divine vengeance in the writings of the prophets, or denunciations of it in the gospels intended to warn, to alarm, and to lead sinners to repentance, that they may fly from the wrath to come. This is Dr. Hammond's observation; who very properly remarks, at the same time, that in many places of this sort, as particularly in Psalm 109., (and the same may be said of Psalm 69,) it is reasonable to resolve, that Christ himself speaks in the prophet; as being the person there principally concerned, and the completion most signal in many circumstances there mentioned; the successions especially of Matthias to the apostleship of Judas. It is true, that in the citation made by St. Peter from Psalm 109, in Acts 1:20, as also in that made by St. Paul from Psalm 69., in Romans 11:9, 10, the imperative form is preserved: 'Let his habitation be void' etc. 'Let their table be made a snare,' etc. But it may be considered, that the apostles generally cited from the Greek of the LXX. version; and took it as they found it, making no alteration, when the passage, as it there stood, was sufficient to prove the main point which it was adduced to prove. If the imprecatory form be still contended for, all that can be meant by it, whether uttered by the prophet, by Messiah, or by ourselves, must be a solemn ratification of the just judgments of the Almighty against his impenitent enemies, like what we find ascribed to the blessed spirits in heaven, when such judgments were executed: Revelation 11:17, 18; Revelation 16:5, 6, 7; See Merrick's Annotations on Psalm 109., and Witsii Miscellan. Sacr. lib. i., cap. 18, sect. 24. But, by the future rendering the verbs, every possible objection is precluded at once."

Scott: "The future tense is often used for the imperative, or the optative mood, in the Hebrew, which has not that precision, as to tenses and moods, which prevails in many other languages. But where the literal rendering contains simply a predictions, and changing the future from the inoperative, or optative, implies an imprecation, or a wish, the literal version is frequently preferable...We must by no means desire and pray for the destruction of our enemies, but we may predict the ruin of God's enemies, who will fall by their own counsels, and in the multitude of their iniquities." If these seeming imprecations are mere predictions, the matter is relieved of all serious difficulty. This view is well supported by authority.

But the use of the future tense instead of the optative mood does not in all cases satisfy Scott, for he says, "Yet it cannot be denied that the form of imprecation is often used, implying that, the impenitent enemies of God and Christ will perish, with the approbation of all holy creatures; and that the very prayers of believers for themselves and the Church will be answered in the destructions of their enemies." Others leave expressed similar views.

Therefore some adopt and enlarge on the idea that "we may predict the ruin of God's enemies." Surely we may do that. We must do it in all fidelity and tenderness. The view then is that the form of expression in our English Bible in many places is an ordinary method of prophetically announcing both curses and blessings. An examination of many passages in the Psalms and in the prophets would confirms this view.

Either this or the next preceding mode of explaining the difficulty will to most candid persons be satisfactory. The latter is perhaps to be preferred.

Some, however, unite both, and so cover the whole ground. Cobbin: "Such passages admit of translation in the future, and are rather predictions than imprecations." Morison also says that Psalm 5:10, "and all similar passages in the Psalms, will bear to be translated in the future tense. For the want of observing this circumstance, many have been stumbled at the apparent want of benevolence on the part of David. These words are a distinct but awful prophecy of the judgements which await the enemies of Christ and his Church."

The sense of the Christian world so far coincides with the idea that these seeming imprecations were mere predictions, that, with very limited exceptions, persons professing the Christian name have never been led to use similar forms of expressions in their devotions. Those who form the exception have commonly been men heated with the intense malignity of partisans in political or theological controversy.

It should also be stated that such is the pious, benevolent spirit of the Psalms, that any one using these forms of speech to express real imprecations, would shock a Christian community. Alexander: "Such expressions in the Psalms have never really excites or encouraged a spirit of revenge in any reader, and are no more fitted to have that effect than the act of a judge who condemns a criminal to death or of the officer who executes the sentence." God will surely, by his very nature, be led to destroy the incorrigibly wicked. Nothing is more certain. Such truth should be proclaimed. The belief of it is eminently salutary.

Let us then not be surprised at these difficulties in ascertaining the sense of the Psalmists; in doubtful cases let us propose our views with unfeigned modesty; let us make reasonable allowance for human infirmity; and especially let us implore the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is that unction which teaches us all things. No wit, nor learning, nor study can ever render his teachings unnecessary. Let us thank God that so much is clear and intelligible. Let us also often cry, "Teach me thy statutes;" "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." God is himself the great Teacher.

§ 7. Various Versions. The English Good.

Various translations of the Psalms are before the public. Many of them have much merit and preserve much of the heavenly savour of the original. All of them may occasionally afford a good hint. Of those made into English none can compare with the Authorised Version. Many devout persons have by long use become attached to the translation found in the prayer-book of the Church of England. This version, bears date from A.D. 1539. Their preference for this shows how precious God's word is in any translation, which is much used; but no competent scholar would agree that our Authorized Version has any successful rival. That just referred to is far more a translation of the Septuagint than of the Hebrew text. The Commentator Scott, who well deserves the epithet Judicious, says, "The Prayer-book translation is in no respect comparable to the Bible translation." Nearly all the translations now claiming public attention may be profitably consulted. The older English versions from quaintness, if not from elegance, do often give the sense in a very striking way. The Polyglot, Bibles may with great advantage be consulted by those whose scholarship is sufficiency. The author thinks proper here to record his high estimate of the value of the English Bible now in common use. It seems to him that his brethren, who seek to bring it into disrepute, might be much better employed. He gives it as his deliberate judgment that he has never seen even one chapter done into English so well anywhere else. The learning of the men, who made it, was vast, sound, and unquestionable. In this respect their little fingers were thicker than the loins of the men, who decry their labours. The common people ought to be told that they have God's Word in a better translation than that of the Septuagint, which was freely quoted by Christ and his apostles. Nothing is inspired but the original; yet those learned and modest men, who have suggested improvements in the rendering of any text, should receive all due honour, and not be looked upon with suspicion. The old mode of paraphrasing Scripture had more serious objections to it than that of suggesting a new rendering.

For these reasons no new translation is presented in this work. One absolutely new, and paying any decent regard to the Hebrew text, is quite impossible, although it may be fairly original with its author. Yet the various translations, where they can cast any light on the text or where candour requires the statement of views opposed to the sense conveyed by the common versions, are freely given.

§ 8. How Far are The Psalms Messianic?

The weightiest matter in controversy respecting the interpretation of the Psalms regards their application to Christ. How far are they Messianic? Has any portion of them a primary application to David or Solomon, and a secondary reference to Christ? Were these kings types of the Saviour? if so, how far may we go in regarding them as typical? In this matter there may have been rashness and folly on both sides. An unbridled fancy may find supposed analogies, Where none were intended to be suggested. And a cold critical turn of mind may reject the most striking types. To say that nothing in the Old Testament is a type of Christ unless in the New Testament it is expressly declared to be so is as contrary to reason as to say that no prophecy of the Old Testament relates to Christ unless it is quoted as such in the New. The entire old dispensation was full of figures. So Paul teaches in Hebrews 10:1. On the other hand fanciful men will pervert anything. In explaining God's word we must exercise sobriety. The Scripture calls on men to use common sense. Lacking this, they will err whatever may be the rules of interpretation adopted by them. They must prove all things.

It has often been said that Cocceius carried the typical interpretation to an extreme, finding Christ everywhere. Both Christ and his apostles taught that the Old Testament was very full of Messiah and his kingdoms. See Luke 24:44 and Acts 3:24. These passages are supported by Luke 24:27; 2 Timothy 3:15, and made others. lf therefore Cocceius did find Christ "in all the prophets," inspired men did the same thousands of years ago. He may have erred in some of his views, but some examination of his work on the Psalms satisfies me that he is a far safer and sounder guide than any of his traducers. This great man wrote at a time when the world was far gone astray, and his attempt to recall mankind to the simple truths of Scripture provoked violent opposition, which covered his name with unmerited reproach. He laid down no rule of interpreting the Psalms more comprehensive than that of Horsley: "There is not a page of this Book of Psalms, in which the pious reader will not find his Saviour, if he read with a view of finding him." Henry: "In the Book of Psalms there is so much of CHRIST and his gospel, as well as of God and his law, that it has been called the abstract or summary of both Testaments...David was a type of Christ, who descended from him, not from Moses, because he came to take away sacrifice (the family of Moses was soon lost and extinct) but to establish and perpetuate joy and praise: for of the family of David in Christ there shall be no end."

The great key to the interpretation of the Psalms respecting David and Solomon is found in 2 Samuel 7. where God gives a clear promise that the seed of David should reign for ever. In no sense can that promise be made good except in Christ Jesus. Bishop Chandler very justly remarks that the Jews "must have understood David, their prince, to have been a figure of Messiah. They would not otherwise have made his Psalms a part of their daily worship, nor would David have delivered them to the church to be so employed, were it not to instruct and support them in the belief of this fundamental article. Was the Messias not concerned in the Psalms, it were absurd to celebrate twice a day, in their public devotions, the events of one man's life, who was deceased so long ago as to have no relation now to the Jews, and the circumstances of their affairs; or to transcribe whole passages from them into their prayer's for the coming of Messiah."

Bellarmine says, that in some of the Psalms the coming, the kingdom, the miracles, the sufferings, the resurrection, the ascension of Christ are so manifestly foretold, that one rather seems to be reading an evangelist than a prophet. Gill says, that "the subject-matter of the Psalms is exceeding great and excellent; many of the Psalms respect the person, offices and grace of Christ; his sufferings and death, resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God; and so are exceeding suitable to the gospel dispensation." Dr. J. A. Alexander; "The chain of Messianic promises, which for ages had been broken, or concealed beneath the prophetic ritual, was now renewed by the addition of a new link in the great Messianic promise made to David (2 Samuel 7.) of perpetual succession in his family."

In discussing the question "whether all the Psalms should be applied to Christ or not," Scott says, "No doubt every pious mind will allow that each of them immediately points to him in his person, character, and offices; or may be so applied as to lead the believer's thoughts to Him who is the centre of all acceptable religion."

Leighton: "There are many things in the Psalms and other parts of the Old Testament applied by the apostles to Christ, which, but for their authority, perhaps no one would have considered as referring to him."

We might therefore agree with Morison, that we "perceive no infallible guide but in the comments and appropriations of Christ and his apostles;" and yet with consistency we might with him say, "That many of the Psalms have a double sense attached to them cannot be fairly disputed." And there is much truth in the remark of Dr. Allix, that "although the sense of near fifty Psalms be axed and settled by divine authors, yet Christ and his apostles did not undertake to quote all the Psalms they could quote, but only to give a key to their hearer, by which they might apply to the same subject the Psalms of the same composure and expression."

Nothing heretofore said was designed to oppose the rule of interpretation laid down by Melancthon, that we must always seek the grammatical sense of Scripture; nor that laid down by Hooker: "I hold it for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the farthest from the letter is commonly the worst." Let us then in all cases admit the literal or primary sense of Scripture. But this should not hinder us from also admitting in many case's the spiritual or secondary sense. A thing spoken of David may be literally true of him. Thus we have the primary sense. But David was a type of Christ, and what he says primarily of himself may have a secondary fulfilment in Christ, and so we get the spiritual sense. Without admitting thus much, how is it possible ever to apply the doctrine of types in persons to the antitype? When we have a figure, the first thing is to discover the foundation and sense of the figure; the next is to apply it to the matter in hand.

This is not giving unbridled license to the vagaries of men of no judgment. Vitringa was right when he condemned what has often passed under the name of spiritualising: "I do not deny that many men of uninstructed faculties and of shallow judgment have, in almost every age of the Church, commended to persons like themselves, under the name of allegorical interpretations of Scripture, certain weak and stupid fancies, in which there is neither unction, judgment, nor spiritual discernment: and have sought for those mysteries of theirs which spring from a most frigid invention, either in improper places, or promiscuously in every place, without any discrimination of circumstances, without any foundation in allegory, or in verisimilitude of language: so that I do not wonder that it has occurred to many sensible persons to doubt, whether it would not be better to abandon this study altogether, to the skilful use of which experience teaches us the abilities of but very few are adequate, than to expose Holy Scripture to the senseless experiments of the unskilful, so as to cause great injury to itself; and to excite the applause of the profane." The truth is that nothing is of more importance to the interpreter of Scripture than good common sense. A foolish or fanciful man will misapply the best rules of exposition. In vain do we expect wisdom from those who lack sobriety.

Martin Bucer: "It would be worth a great deal to the Church, if, forsaking allegories, and other frivolous devices, which are not only empty, but derogate very much from the majesty of the doctrine of Christ, we would all simply and soberly prosecute that which our Lord intends to say to us."

Nor can we rightly apply to Christ the penitential Psalms, or represent him as asking forgiveness. In himself he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinner, perfectly innocent, having nothing to repent of. And if sin imputed to him was to him forgiven, then it was not atoned for by him. Indeed, forgiveness is non-imputation. Nor can we ever apply to Christ those parts of the Psalter which plead for the subduing of corruption. He had no corruptions to subdue. Yet the remark of Hilary is of great weight: "The key of the Psalms is the faith of Christ."

§ 9. Name of The Psalter.

The name of this collection of songs in the Hebrew is Book of Praises, or Praise-songs. This is given because praise is a striking characteristic of these compositions. In them God is greatly exalted and extolled both for what he is and for what he does. According to all the teachings of this book, the Lord is a great God and King, greatly to be feared and greatly to be praised. Let men study the Book of Praises. From the Greek Testament we get the titles, PSALMS, and BOOK OF PSALMS. These names are chosen by inspiration. The word Psalm denotes a composition intended to be sung in connection with an instrument of music. The first men among the Levites were those who led the singing. They did not, like the rest of their tribe, fulfil their course and then retire to the villages and rural districts of Judea, but they made the holy city their home.

1 Chronicles 9:33, 34. This work of praise was a great matter among the ancient people of God. The instrumental used were chiefly psalteries, and harps, and cymbals, 1 Corinthians 15:16-22; also trumpets, 1 Chronicles 16:4-6. In 1 Chronicles 16:42, we read of "musical instruments of God." Those who led this part of public worship were divided into twenty-four classes or choirs. 1 Chronicles 25. Perhaps devotional music was never carried to greater perfection, nor shall be in this world, than when the thousands of trained Levites united in singing the Psalms. The music used is entirely lost, though Rabbi Benjamin says that in his time there were at Baghdad some Jews who knew how to sing the songs as the singers did when the temple was standing. There doubtless were men who so pretended, but they could hardly have retained this knowledge to so late a period.

§ 10. Inspections.

The titles of the several Psalms (Hengstenberg calls them superscriptions; others, inscriptions) are as old as the Psalms themselves, being always found in the Hebrew. They were doubtless put there by divine authority. Tholuck: "The titles of the Psalms did not originate with the compilers, but with those which first wrote them down, or in the authors themselves." God, who would have all things done decently and in order, deigned to give minute directional for arranging the temple service, and especially respecting the public praise offered to his heavenly majesty. See 2 Chronicles 29:25. He who did these things, also directed these inscriptions to be put to the Psalms, not always to give us the doctrine or knitter therein contained, but to set up a memorial respecting events through which the writer has passed, or to give some general idea of the theme, or to address the piece to certain performers. The import of some of these titles may not be intelligible to us, though they may have been very clear when given. Many of them greatly aid us in giving a lively view of the state of things, in which the writer uttered his song. Where remark is called for in explanation of given titles it will be offered at the proper place. It is surprising that Fry should have ventured to say, "These titles are destitute of authority, as the careful reader of the Psalms will soon remark; they are to be regarded merely as marginal glosses of the Jews, but poor guides to the interpretation of Scripture." Even Morison says, "The authority of the several inscriptions is, to say the least, somewhat doubtful." And the annotator of Calvin quotes Fry's remark with approbation. But Alexander has well observed that "in all Hebrew manuscripts they bear the same relation to the body of the Psalm, that the inscriptions in the prophets or in Paul's epistles bear to the substance of the composition." This shows the great rashness of those, who boldly set aside the Hebrew heading. Jerome; "The titles of the Psalms are the keys, opening the door to a right understanding of them." Bossuet: "There can be no reason for expunging them, since they are found in the text and all the versions, and have been thought worthy of explanation by Jewish as well as Christian commentators. It is true, there are many who take these titles in different senses; but I cannot find one ancient interpreter who doubts of their authority."

§ 11. The Psalms are One Book.

The very first remark of Hilary in his Prologue to the Psalms is that "the Book of Psalms is one, not five." He here refers to the fact that some of the Jews divided the Psalms into five books, corresponding to the five books of Moses. It is not necessary here to dwell on this matter. It is sufficient to inform the reader that such a division was a mere human invention, deriving no authority from God, and not even founded on the nature of the contents of these wondrous songs. In Luke 20:42 and in Acts 1:20, we read of "The Book of Psalms," but nowhere do we read of "The Books of Psalms," nor of the firstsecondthirdfourth or fifth Book of Psalms.

§12. Pairs of Psalms.

Some have asserted that in several instances the Psalms were in pairs. It may be so, but there is no proof of it contained in the text of Scripture. Nor would the reader be profited by a long inquiry into this matter. All truth is related, and is harmonious. In this sense, almost any one Psalm may well be put as the mate of more than one other Psalm At least, there seems to be no reason from the contents of any two psalms, why a close affinity should be discovered between them, and not between either of them, and some other portions of these divine songs. The classification here spoken of is harmless, and if any think it is based in the nature of these compositions, such an opinion should give no offence. Alexander thinks that "we may trace not only pairs but trilogies and even more extensive systems of connected Psalms, each independent of the rest, and yet together forming beautiful and striking combinations." Any remark from such a source is entitled to respect.

§ 13. Alphabetical Psalms.

A peculiarity of several Psalms is that they are alphabetical. That is "the successive sentences or paragraphs begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their order." Without extraordinary ingenuity this could not be made to appear in any translation. Thus it would not be easy to make the first eight verses of Psalm 119., begin with the first letter of our alphabet, and the second eight verses begin with the second letter of our alphabet, and so on. Nor is it necessary that we should make such an attempt. The sense of Scripture is of infinite weight. But it is of no importance to us whether our translation should in this respect copy the original. The mind of the Spirit is what we should seek. The version which givens that is what we need.

§ 14. Hebrew Poetry.

The reader need hardly be told that the Psalms are highly poetical, and that our knowledge of Hebrew Poetry is very limited. On all subjects of sacred criticism our utterances should be modest; but in relation to the poetical portions of God's word we should be doubly careful to say nothing rashly. At the same time we may very properly consult all sober writers on such subjects, and get the best lights within our reach. Nor can we judge of Hebrew odes by canons applicable to modern languages. "The poetry of the Psalms is formed, not like that of modern languages, by the response of answering syllables, but of answering thoughts."

§ 14. Selah.

The word, Selah, is found nowhere in Scripture but in thirty-nine of the Psalms and in the 3rd chapter of Habakkuk 3., —in the Psalms seventy-four times and in Habakkuk thrice. Our translators have left it as they found it. Bishop Jebb has devoted great attention to this word, and has reached the following safe conclusions, viz., that the word is an integral part of the sacred text; that it does not mean "amen," "forever," "mark this well" or "nota bene;" that it never occurs in the alphabetical Psalms, nor in the Songs of degrees, nor in any Psalm composed after the Captivity; that the prayer of Habakkuk was composed at a time when the Temple service lead been restored to great grandeur; that nothing can be confidently spoken respecting the etymological meaning of this word; that the Septuagint renders the word invariably by Diapsalma, which marks a division of some kind; and that the word is put as a musical notation. Many will doubt whether this writer has fairly maintained another view which had been formerly given by Burkius in his Gnomon Psalmorum, that Selah is a mark of division, discriminating one moral portion of a Psalm from another. Without discussing at length this theory, which has been presented with some plausibility, it may be said that it does not seem to suit every case. The only ground yet taken, and successfully maintained is that Selah is a simple direction to the musicians, the precise force of which is not known to us. The word is not found "in the later editions of the Vulgate, nor in the Syriac, nor in the Arabic translations," nor does the church of England use it in her Psalter. Yet it is very properly retained in our Authorized Version of the Scriptures. And if any should feel disposed to pronounce it let none be offended. It is undoubtedly a part of the holy writings given to us. Patrick: "And here I must note once for all, that it cannot be certainly known what is meant by the word Selah, which we meet withal thrice in this (the 3rd) short Psalm The most probable opinion is that it was a note in music...That music being now lost, some interpreters have wholly omitted this word, Selah, as I shall also do." Calvin: "As the word Selal, from which Selah is derived, signifies "lift up, we incline to the opinion of those who think it denotes the lifting up of the voice in harmony in the exercise of singing; Venema thinks it calls for an elevation of the voice in singing the Psalm Alting thinks it calls for a repetitions of the words immediately preceding. The Chaldee renders it forever. It should be stated however that it is designed to fix the minds of the godly on the matter, which has just been spoken of in any given case, as well as to regulate the singing in such a manner as to make the music correspond to the words and the sentiment. Alexander also says, that Selah is "properly a musical term, but generally indicates a pause in the sense as well as the performance." A writer in the Bibliotheca Sacra says:

"Rabbi Kimchi regards it as a sign to elevate the voice. The authors of the Septuagint translation appear to have regarded it as a musical or rhythmical note. Herder regarded it as indicating a change of note; Mathewson as a musical note, equivalent, perhaps, to the word repeat. According to Luther and others, it means silence! Gesenius explains it to mean, "Let the instruments play and the singers stop." Wocher regards it as equivalent to sursum corda⎯up, my soul! Sommer, after examining all the seventy-four passages in which the word occurs, recognizes in every case "an actual appeal or summons to Jehovah." They are calls for aid and prayers to be heard, expressed either with entire directness, or if not in the imperative, "Hear, Jehovah!" or Awake, Jehovah! and the like still earnest addresses to God that he would remember and hear, etc. The word itself he regards as indicating a blast of the trumpets by the priests. Selah, itself, he thinks an abridged expression, used for Higgaion Selah⎯Higgaion indicating the sound of the stringed instruments, and Selah a vigorous blast of trumpets."

§ 16. The Words Rendered Man.

In the Psalter there are three Hebrew words rendered man, Adam, Ish and Enosh. The first and third of these occur in our Hebrew Bible more than five hundred times each, and the second more than fifteen hundred times. Each of these words is found in the Law, the Prophets, and the poetic books of Scripture. They are in the Pentateuch and in books written after the captivity. Adam is first found in Genesis 1:26, 27. In the 2nd chapter of Genesis it occurs twelve times, where it is sometimes rendered man, and sometimes given as the proper name of the first man.

Ish is first found in Genesis 2:23, 24, where it is rendered man. Enosh is first found in the plural at the close of Genesis 6:4, and is rendered men of renown. By far the most common rendering of each of those words is man,, or, in the plurals men. Indeed the first (Adam) is never otherwise translated except in seven cases (Numbers 31:28, 30, 35, 40, 46; Proverbs 6:12; Jonah 4:11,) where it is rendered person or persons. The second (Ish) is also rendered simply man; very often to conform to English idiom, every manevery oneany man; sometimes oneany with a negative noneno man: sometimes that manhe or him; frequently one followed by the word another, sometimes person, or, in the plural, persons; sometimes, anothereacha certain, meaning man; a few times one followed by the word other; once or twice each oneone maneveryeitherthe good-manchampion (literally middle-man) fellowpeople, applied to the male head of a family, often husband; once eloquent (literally man of words); a very few times whosowhosoever; sometimes Canaanite, Egyptian, for man of Canaan, man of Egypt, reprover for man reproving, stranger, for man strange. It is but once rendered male, and then in application to brutes.

Enosh is but about thirty times rendered otherwise than manor, in the plural, men, and then by such words as they or themcertaindiverssomepersonsfellowscounsellors for men of counsel, archers for men of bows, etc. These statements are made in view of a discussing of some importance respectably the import of allege words. Some claim that at least at times each of these words is emphatic, and especially when preceded by the Hebrew word rendered son, or sons. Thus it is contended that in Psalm 49:2, where for sons of Adam our translators give the word low, and in Psalm 62:9, where they render the same words men of low degree, the original is emphatic; and yet in Psalm 49:12, 20 we read of man being in honour and of man that is in honour, and yet the word Adam is used in both these verses. It is also said to have the same meaning in Proverbs 8:4, where it is rendered literally son of man, Adam. In Isaiah 2:9 the common version renders Adam, mean man,. In like manner some contend that our translators render sons of Ish in Psalm 4:2, sons of men, meaning great men; and certainly in Psalm 49:2 they render sons of Ish by the word high, and in Psalm 62:9 by men of high degree, and in Proverbs 8:4 the plural of Ish by simply men; but in Isaiah 2:9 the singular Ish by great man. The words sons of Enosh are never found in the Hebrew Bible, but son of Enosh occurs once, Psalm 144:3. Yet it is contended that the word Enosh is itself sometimes emphatic as in Psalm 8:4; Psalm 9:19, 20, and in some other places. Indeed in Job 4:17 it is rendered mortal man.

Patrick: "The son of man [Ben Adam] and the sons of men [Bene Ish] are phrases which often occur; which I have good ground to think belong in the Scripture language to Princes; and sometimes the greatest of Prince? So I have expounded that known place, Psalm 80:17: Let Your hand be upon the man [Ish] of Your right handUpon the son of man [Adam] whom You made strong for Yourself; and Psalm 8:4: What is man [Enosh] that You are mindful of himAnd the son of man [Ben Adam] (i.e., the greatest of men) that You visit him? Psalm 146:3: Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, [Ben Adam] (how great a prince, that is, soever he may be, though of never such dignity and power) in whom there is no help.

"And thus the counsellors of Saul are called the sons of men [Adam]. And so I understand these words in Isaiah 51:12:— I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man [Enosh] who will die, And of the SON OF A MAN [Ben Adam] (that is, a prince) who will be made like grass?" Having made some other statements, he adds: "As for Ben Enosh, which we also render son of man,, (Psalm 144:3,) it has another signification; importing the wretchedness of any man's condition."

It is best here once for all to examine this theory of interpreting these terms. In Psalm 4:2, we have sons of men (Bene Ish]. Some think this means strong and powerful men, or nobles, or persons of rank. Edwards renders it, You great ones. Calvin: regards the title here given as "an ironical concession of what they claimed to themselves, by which he ridicules their presumption in esteeming themselves to be noble and wise, whereas it was only blind rage which impelled them to wicked enterprises." Hengstenberg asserts that the expression rendered sons of men is in many places unquestionably used in the emphatic sense." In proof he cites Psalm 49:2; Psalm 22:9; Proverbs 8:4. Let us look a little at Psalm 8:4: What is man [Enosh] that You are mindful of himAnd the son of man [Ben Adam] that You visit him? Piscator and Edwards render Enosh a mortal. Calvin: "The Hebrew word, which we have rendered man, expresses the frailty of man, rather than any strength or power which he possesses." For man Venema reads miserable man; and Henry paraphrases it sinfulweakmiserable man. The words son of man [Ben Adam] are commented on in like manner. Ainsworth says, "As men are called Enosh for their doleful estate by sin, so are they called Adam, and sons of Adam, that is, earthy, to put them in mind of their original and end, who were made of Adamah, the earth, even of the dust, shall to return again." Patrick regards the phrase son of man in this verse as equivalent to or the greatest of men." Anderson quotes Pye Smith as reading the words thus; "What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? " Psalms 8:4; and as saying, "Our language has no single terms to mark the distinction expressed" by these two words; and adding, "I have endeavoured to approach the idea by one insertion of an epithet."

Patrick thinks that his theory gives us the key to the right understanding of the phrase, the son of man, so often found in the New Testament. But that title is sufficiently explained by simply saying that it declares the entire humility of our Lord. No further meaning is required, or has been commonly accepted.

It may seem almost presumption to express a doubt whether this theory is correct. Yet candour and truth are always worth more than they cost. The author has studied the matter with some care, and is not satisfied that any Psalmist ever used either of the words, Adam, Ish, or Enosh, in an emphatic sense, or as conveying the ideas contended for, or that the primary meaning of the words is ever to be insisted on in any part of these sacred songs.

Besides the views already presented at the beginning of this section, it is proper to say that the words and phrases under consideration occur with great frequency, and if ever used emphatically, and in the senses contended for, it is very rarely in them, and there is nothing requiring us so to regard them anywhere. As the words Adam, Ish, and Enosh occur so often, no collection of instances is here presented for comparison. Such a labour would be tedious. It is also quite unnecessary. But let any one compare the texts where the expression son of man [Adam] is found. See Numbers 23:19; Job 25:6; Job 24:8; Psalm 80:17; Psalm 146:3; Ecclesiastes 1:13; Jeremiah 49:18; Jeremiah 50:40; Jeremiah 51:43; scores of times in Ezekiel, as an appellation of that prophet; and Daniel 8:17.

Let him go further and compare the cases where the words son of man [Adam] are found: Psalm 31:19; Psalm 33:13; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 58:1; Psalm 145:12; Proverbs 8:31; Ecclesiastes 1:13; Ecclesiastes 2:3, 8; Ecclesiastes 3:10, 18, 19; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ecclesiastes 9:3, 12; Isaiah 52:14; Jeremiah 32:19; Daniel 10:16; Micah 5:7; Joel 1:12.

The phrase son of man (Adam) occurs in Psalm 49:2; Proverbs 8:4. Besides those previously cited, these are the only cases where either of these phrases occurs in all the Hebrew Scriptures.

The expression son of man [Adam] is never found. That of son of man [Ish] is found but once, Psalm 22:9, where our version reads men of high degree. That of sons of men is in but two places, in Psalm 4:2 where it is rendered literally, and in Psalm 49:2 high. It is evident that any theory built on so small an induction as this must have a very slender foundation, unless there is something in the context or connection defining the word, or making it necessary to give it such a translation.

We never find the expression son of man or sons of men, where Enosh is used. And we but once find son of man [Enosh] in Psalm 144:3. It call hardly be esteemed wise to build any doctrine of language on this one expression.

That these three Hebrew words are used so as to make it impossible to tell from any fair literal translation what the original word is in all ordinary cases may easily be made to appear by looking over the English concordance for the words man and men, trying to form an opinion of what the original is, and then turning to the Hebrew. Where memory gives no clue, it will be found to be mere guess-work. Let any one try his powers on these verses where man occurs, Psalm 1:1; Psalm 32:2; Psalm 39:11; Psalm 55:13; Psalm 104:15; Psalm 112:1; and on these where men, occurs, Judges 20:17; Psalm 17:4; Psalm 76:5; 1 Samuel 25:13; Psalm 66:12; Psalm 82:7. He will often find it impossible to tell what the original is.

It is not at all here asserted that there is any impropriety in adverting at any time to the primary meaning of these or any other words of Scripture, if thereby the seller of any passage receives force. But it is simply denied that we have satisfactory evidence that allege Hebrew words rendered man have an emphatic sense in the Psalms.

At the same time there is no impropriety in rendering two of these "men of low degree and men of high degree," because that phrase in English is equivalent to this, "men by whatever name called," or "men of all conditions."

§ 17. Authors Consulted.

It is not necessary here to give an extended list of authors consulted in preparing this work. Except in a very few instances due credit is formally given. Any exception to this remark is unintentional, or is found in those places where many writers without giving credit to each other say the same thing. In all branches of study there are things, which have become tile common property of mankind. To quote would be mere pedantry, unless the very words of an author are copied. For instance, many things are said by every commentator on the first Psalm, because they obviously belong to the matter in hand, and not because they have been said by others at previous times.

Nearly a century ago Dodd stated that "the number of commentaries on the Book of Psalms was almost endless; above six hundred are enumerated, exclusive of those which have been written on the whole body of the Scriptures, and on particular Psalms." Since that time the number has been much increased.

§ 18. Object or This Work.

The great object of this work is the glory of God in the edification of his church. If it shall fail of practical usefulness and religious profit, it will gain no important end. The author has endeavoured to embody all the most valuable suggestions of others together with his own reflections on this inspired book. And he begs his readers to remember that as it is in vain to light a candle to examine the sun-dial, so human wit will make no good progress in learning this or any other portion of God's word except as the Sun of Righteousness by his Holy Spirit shines upon the sacred page. All attempts to understand the spiritual import of God's word without divine teaching must ever prove failure's. This fact and the reasons of it are clearly given in Scripture. Let every one, therefore, seek help from God in earnest fervent prayer. John Newton: "A few minutes of the Spirit's teaching will furnish us with more real useful knowledge, than toiling thorough whole folios of commentators and expositors, — they are useful in their places, and are not to be undervalued by those, who can perhaps in general do better without them; but it will be our wisdom to deal less with the streams, and be more close in applying to the fountainhead. The Scripture itself, and the Spirit of God are the best and the only sufficient expositors of Scripture. It is absurd to read or study the Scripture with any other view than to receive its doctrines, submit to its reproofs, and obey its precepts that we may be made wise unto salvation. All disquisitions and criticisms that stop short of this, that do not amend the heart as well as furnish the head, are empty and dangerous, at least to ourselves of whatever use they may be to others. An experience of this caused a learned critic and eminent commentator (Grotius) to confess towards the close of his life, 'Alas! I have wasted my life in much labour to no purpose.'" Luther: "We must not simply read or sing the Psalms, as if they did not concern us; but we must read and sing them for this purpose, that we may be improved by them, may have our faiths strengthened, and our hearts comforted amid all sorts of necessities. For the Psalter is nothing else than a school and exercise for our heart and mind, to the end, that we may have our thoughts and inclinations turned into the same channel. So that he reads the Psalter without spirit, who reads it without faith and understanding."

§ 19. Ignorance of some Languages Quoted.

As the author is not acquainted with Ethiopic, Syriac and Arabic, and yet freely quotes them, he would state that he relies upon the Latin translation of those versions, found in Walton's Polyglot. In many cases too he finds those versions given in Latin or English by other commentators. So that he hopes the quotations will be found sufficiently accurate.

§ 20. Why this Work was Undertaken.

If any ask why this work was undertaken the answer is,

1. The word of God is not bound. It is open to all.

2. The author had a mind to it. He has never felt more disposed to any work. He has always found it best to pursue that kind of literary labour, for which he had a strong inclination.

3. He saw no way in which lie could more fitly spend a portion of the afternoon of his life than in the special study of this incomparable collection of sacred poems.

4. Others, who had devoted considerable time to the Psalms, uniformly testified that they were thereby great gainers. The author felt his own poverty and wished to be enriched. Archibald Symson in his preface to his work on the seven penitential Psalms says he undertook it; "Because this ocean is not dried up, and he that comes last may as well fill his bucket as he that came first." Musculus on a like occasion said: "If the treasure of the holy Scriptures be such that it can be drawn so dry by the diligent searches of pious and learned men, as that nothing shall remain to exercise the studies of them that succeed them; if there be at any time such an elusion of God's Holy Spirit, that after that time it is in vain to labour in finding out its mind, in the holy Scriptures; if there have been in the church, after the prophets, Christ, and his Apostles, men of such perfect accomplishments, that to them was imparted such a universal fullness of divine knowledge, as to make their writings absolutely complete; so that we heed do nothing, but night and day study them alone: then truly I refuse not the censure of folly, nay of madness, for attempting anything now in the holy Scriptures, after such absolute writers. But if that most rich fountain of the divine oracles be altogether inexhaustible, and no age can be assigned to which alone the grace of the Holy Spirit was confined; and there were never any doctors at any time in the church, after Christ, the apostles and prophets, of such esteem, that nothing is wanting in their writings, nothing can be rightly added to them; nothing is in them which can be rightly taken away, or changed for the better: then I do not see why we may not profitably travel in the same way that others have done; with hopes of adding more light to that which they have left us."

5. Many of the most valuable works. on the Psalms are in Latin, or are very scarce and high-priced. The endeavour here is to aid the reader with the best suggestions of writer inaccessible to most, as well as to make original remarks, critical, explanatory, doctrinal and practical.

6. Several learned and judicious persons, who heard of the contemplated design and have examined parts of it after it was commenced, greatly encouraged the author to go on with his undertaking.

§ 21. Names of The Most High

It will be satisfactory to the plain reader and will save time here to note that the names of the Almighty occurring in the Psalter are significant, and are briefly explained in this work:—

 

On Jehovah LORD, see on Psalm 1:2,


 

On Adonai Lord, see on Psalm 2:4.

 

On Elohim God, see on Psalm 3:2.


 

On El God, see on Psalm 5:4.


 

On Gel-yohn Most High, see on Psalm 7:17.


 

On Eloah God, see on Psalm 18:31.

 

On Jah LORD,

See introduction to Psalm 68.

 

On Shaddai The Almighty,

§ 22. Punctuation

In punctuation the usual rules are observed, except where a single sentence or phrase is cited in the various renderings of a clause or of a verse, and the author's name is immediately prefixed. In that case the quotation marks are not given; but then the words cited do not go beyond one sentence or verse. In all other cases, the credit is given in the usual way.

Psalm 8.

posted 3 Apr 2014, 06:19 by Stephen Chaffer

Psalm 8.

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.
  1. O Lord our Lord,
    How excellent is thy name in all the earth!
    Who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 
  2. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength
    Because of thine enemies,
    That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 
  3. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
    The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 
  4. What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
    And the son of man, that thou visitest him? 
  5. For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
    And hast crowned him with glory and honour. 
  6. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
    Thou hast put all things under his feet: 
  7. All sheep and oxen,
    Yea, and the beasts of the field; 
  8. The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea,
    And whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 
  9. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! 

IT requires no lengthened argument to prove that David is the author of this Psalm The title says it is his. The only occasion of doubt on the subject has been found in Hebrews 2:6, where Paul, quoting a part of the Psalm, mentions not David, but simply says, “One in a certain place testifies.” But surely this cannot create any rational doubt. Similar modes of quotation are common, because natural. 

There is no special importance attached to the inquiry, at what period of his life David wrote this Psalm It does not appear that in it he celebrates any particular event in his own history.

Upon the words, To the chief musician, see on the title of Psalm 4. The word Gittith, has occasioned considerable discussion. Some regard this Psalm as one of triumph, sung to God, the author of a great victory obtained over some haughty enemy, as Goliath of Gath, or the Gittite. This view is taken by Hammond and Patrick. It is also favoured by Edwards.

This method of explaining Gittith seems to be effectually set aside by its recurrence in the titles of Psalms 81 and 84., where neither of these modes of solution would be at all admissible. Neither of these last-named Psalms can possibly be supposed to have any reference to Goliath, the Gittite.

The word Gath in Hebrew signifies a winepress. See Judges 6:11; Lamentations 1:15; Joel 3:13. In the plural we have in Nehemiah 13:15, Gittoth, very nearly the same as Gittith. From this some have supposed that this was a song to be sung “concerning the wine-presses.” This view is taken by Theodoret, Ainsworth, Horsley, and Clarke. The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Vulgate: For the wine-presses; Doway: For the presses; but it has a note stating Gittith is supposed to be a musical instrument. Bellarmine says he cannot doubt that the Hebrew word should be the same as is found in Nehemiah 13:15. But he is the blind follower of the Septuagint and Vulgate. He also says, it is hard to divine what is designed. Others, who favoured the rendering of the Septuagint, suppose that the reference is to a style of music, common at the vintage. But all these views will probably appear to most readers as strained.

Others think that Gittith means an instrument from Gath. Mudge says, it is “in all probability the Gath-instrument, as we say the Cremona fiddle, the German Flute;” Alexander: “As David once resided in Gath, and had afterwards much intercourse [[Page:121]] with the inhabitants, the word may naturally here denote an instrument there invented or in use, or an air or style of performance, borrowed from that city;” Calvin: “Whether Gittith signifies a musical instrument or some particular tune, of the beginning of some famous and well-known song, I do not take upon me to deter mine. … Of these three opinions, it is not of much importance which is adopted;” Venema thinks that Gittith clearly points to the air or melody to be used in singing this Psalm; The Chaldee: “A Psalm of David to be sung upon the harp that came from Gath;” Hengstenberg thinks it should be rendered, Upon the harp of Gath, or in the Gathic style; Rivet says it is uncertain what Gittith signifies; Fry says, that on this point, “nothing is known for certain. The most probable conjecture refers it to the tune or music;” Scott: “Gittith is perhaps the name of some tune, which David had learned when in Gath, or from the Gittites, and to which this and two other Psalms were set.” Sebastian Schmidt, having noticed some of the most plausible of the foregoing opinions, says that he had rather give no account of the matter than one so full of uncertainty. Piscator says the point is of little moment. The other opinions respecting Gittith are probably not deserving of consideration. At least one of the other Psalms upon Gittith was composed by Asaph; so that whatever is meant thereby was not confined to David. Hengstenberg: “It is worthy of remark, that all the three Psalms distinguished by this name are of a joyful, thanksgiving character.” Yet an examination of them shows that this remark needs some qualification.

There is not an agreement among commentators whether this Psalm is to be interpreted by reference to any historical event. Mudge says “it is evident enough from Psalm 8:2, that it was occasioned by some particular incident; either a remarkable deliverance from wild beasts, or something of that kind, perhaps granted to a child.” Edwards agrees with Mudge in the general opinion, but suggests the victory over Goliath as the event celebrated, “or some other surprising conquest effected by very weak forces, whom the Psalmist may, in a poetical manner, call babes and sucklings.” Patrick paraphrases it throughout as a celebration of the victory gained over Goliath by David. Hengstenberg thinks this Psalm “needs no historical exposition and bears none.” It is a great error to suppose that every devotional composition in the Scriptures had its origin in some stirring incident Perhaps we commonly err in attempting by conjecture to fix on some event in history, as the key of the interpretation of any Psalm Scott fixes the date of this Psalm at 1050 B. C.

In the Hebrew the first word of the first and of the eighth verses is Jehovah.

Although this Psalm is thrice quoted in the New Testament (Matthew 21:16; Hebrews 2:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:27); yet there has been more than usual diversity in the views taken of its scope and design. Without noticing all the opinions presented on this subject, it is safe and proper to say that the obvious sense of the words grammatically construed must give us the primary meaning, and then that any authorized or sober use of a secondary import may properly be received.

Hengstenberg says the theme of this Psalm is, “The greatness of God in the greatness of man.” Elsewhere he speaks of this Psalm as a devotional composition on the first chapter of Genesis This is probably the correct view of the primary sense of the words. But the Syriac scholiast says, “The eighth Psalm is concerning Christ our Redeemer;” Luther says, “This is a prophecy concerning Christ-concerning his passion, his resurrection, and his dominion over all creatures;” Rivet also says, “It is certain that here the Psalmist had respect to the Messias, who was to come.” So uniformly has the more pious and sober part of the Christian world regarded this as a highly Messianic Psalm that an assertion to the contrary rather shocks the godly than awakens their doubts. These suggestions concerning the purport of the Psalm [[Page:122]] have led many to take the ground, that both the foregoing views are correct, the one primary, the other secondary, the one literal, the other typical. Pool would apply it to man in general and to the man Christ Jesus in particular, to God’s glory as manifested in creation and providence, but especially in redemption. He says the Psalmist first admires the excellent glory of God in heaven and earth, but most of all sings the love of God, by which he hath so wondrously exalted vile man. He adds that without doubt this Psalm is a prophecy respecting Christ. Alexander: “We have here a description of the dignity of human nature, as it was at first, and as it is to be restored in Christ, to whom the descriptive terms may be applied, without forced or fanciful accommodation on the one hand, and without denying the primary generic import of the composition on the other;” Morison: “While we may here be reminded of the first Adam and his posterity, and of the eminent rank and dominion of man over all the creatures of God upon this terrestrial globe; we shall yet, in a more striking manner, be reminded of Him, who, as ‘the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, ’ has been placed, in glorious majesty, at the head of that new creation, which, consisting of redeemed and sanctified men, shall reflect the lustre of his matchless beauty and excellence through all eternity.” Many others present substantially the same views.

The Psalm opens with an outburst of strong emotion, showing that the mind was already full of matter. The apparent abruptness of the beginning is quite in keeping with the genius of true poetry and true devotion.

Venema favours the opinion that this Psalm was composed at night, when David was watching the flock, notes the fact that the sun is not here mentioned among the heavenly bodies, and adds that the contemplation of the heavens under these circumstances was well suited to stir up such meditations. Hengstenberg rejects this view, but does not give very strong reasons. The probability is that the Psalm was an evening meditation, not composed during David’s pastoral life, but afterwards. Yet the thoughts naturally suggested by gazing at the heavens during his early life were doubtless familiar to him, when he actually wrote this song.

  1. O Lord our Lord. John Rogers’ Translation, the Bishops’ Bible and the church of England read, O Lord our governor. The Septuagint renders both these names of God by the word which in the New Testament is always rendered Lord. The latter word Lord is derived from a verb, which would justify us in rendering it as above, governor, judge, supporter. The Chaldee renders it preceptor. In our English version it is almost invariably rendered Lord. O Jehovah, our Ruler, How excellent is thy name in all the earth! For excellent some would read glorious, as the Syriac; admirable, as the Septuagint, Ethiopic, Vulgate and Arabic; adorable, as Fry; wonderful, as Calvin. Others suggest great, illustrious, magnificent, renowned, powerful. Our English Bible renders it elsewhere sometimes excellent, Psalm 16:3, 76:4; glorious, Isaiah 33:21; famous, Psalm 136 18; Ezekiel 32:18; mighty, Zechariah 11:2; applied to ships, gallant, Isaiah 33:21; to flocks, principal, Jeremiah 25:34, 36; applied to men, noble, Judges 5:13; goodly, Ezekiel 17:8; worthy, Nahum 2:5.

    The name of God is that by which he is known. “Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name, ” Psalm 138:2, i e., above all whereby thou hast made thyself known. Alexander regards
    manifested excellence as synonymous with name in this case; Calvin: “The name of God is here to be understood of the knowledge of the character and perfections of God, in so far as he makes himself known to us.” The form of announcing this glory of God is a clear confession of weakness and ignorance in man. In contemplating the Divine glory often the most and the best we can do is to cry out, How excellent! how wonderful! It is a mark of a wise man to know the limits of human knowledge, and of a devout man to adore where he cannot further [[Page:123]] inquire. Some ignorance is better than some knowledge. Paul was wiser in saying, O the depth of the riches, etc., Romans 11:33, than if he had claimed to know all about it. So here David gives us his idea by telling us that his theme is above any words he can command. There is some diversity in rendering the rest of the verse. Our translation is, who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Fry: Thy glory that is set forth above the heavens; Edwards: Thou who settest thy majesty above the heavens; Calvin: To set thy glory above the heavens! The French translation quoted by Anderson: Because thou hast set, etc.; and the marginal reading of the same is, Who hast set, or even to set; Hengstenberg: Who hast crowned the heavens with thy majesty. The old versions show a like diversity. The Septuagint, Ethiopic and Vulgate read, For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens; Syriac after magnificence adds the words [of thy splendour;] Arabic: That thou shouldest give thy name above the heavens. The Chaldee is very nearly if not quite the same with our common version. The foregoing variations are not material improvements on the English version. The word glory is elsewhere rendered beauty, comeliness, more frequently majesty, honour, yet oftener glory. Our translation doubtless gives the sense. Hengstenberg’s rendering is perhaps the next best. The Jews spoke of three heavens; first the atmosphere, and so we read of the fowls of heaven; secondly the starry heavens, see Psalm 6:1; and the heaven of heavens, or the third heavens, where God peculiarly manifests himself. Neither one nor all of these can contain him. His glory is above them all; and yet his glory is on them all. The starry heavens are covered with the proofs of his majesty. So great is God’s glory in this respect that the young and feeble-minded find themselves absorbed in contemplations on these works of God.
  2. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. In every generation God has received and shall receive great honour s from children, youth and simpleminded people, in their admiration of his works and in their wonderful questions and observations respecting his nature and works. Ofttimes the excellency of a principle is shown in its application to new and unexpected cases. Jesus Christ quoted this verse to show that praise to God proceeding from the lips of the young and the simple was no new thing, that if they wondered and praised God for the glories spread abroad in the heavens, they might very reasonably be expected to be moved to speak his honour’s when he should be filling the land with his miracles of love and with his words of grace and truth, Matthew 21:14-16. Our Saviour delighted to dwell on such truths as this, that the kingdom of heaven was open to the little ones, to babes, Matthew 11:25, 26; Luke 10:21; 18:17. Instead of ordained strength the Septuagint version reads perfected praise, and Christ quotes this paraphrase rather than the literal original. This shows that it is lawful to make a free use of a version, even if it be not perfect, as indeed no work of uninspired man can be. Although the word rendered strength occurs more than ninety times in the Hebrew Scriptures, yet in our English Bible it is nowhere rendered praise. Except in Ecclesiastes 8:1, where it is rendered boldness, it is invariably translated, might, power, strength, or turned into the adjective corresponding to these words. So obviously is this rendering correct that even the church of England, which very much follows the Septuagint, departs from it here and reads ordained strength. The word rendered ordained is commonly translated founded. Some would read constituted, appointed, or decreed. Appointed gives the sense. Some have tried to show that it was merely in babes as works created by God that he got praise. But this makes no provision for the phrase out of the mouths. It may relieve some minds to state that Hebrew mothers seem to have nursed their children much longer than is now customary in [[Page:124]] Europe or America. Hengstenberg says they suckled their children till the third year. Hannah did not wean her son till he was old enough to appear before the Lord and to abide in the temple and to worship the Lord there, though it is still said of him, he was young, 1 Samuel 1:22, 24, 28. The enemies of the truth have a wretched cause, when it can be shaken and subverted by the mouths of babes and sucklings. Hengstenberg: “God obtains the victory over his rebellious subjects, by means of children, in so far as it is through their conscious or unconscious praise of his glory, as that is manifested in the splendour of creation, especially of the starry firmament, that he puts to shame the hardihood of the deniers of his being or his perfections.” Even Koester quoted by Hengstenberg admits that in the word which we render strength “there is contained a pointed irony, indicating that the lisping of infants forms a sort of tower of defence against the violent assaults of the disowners of God, which is perfectly sufficient.” To still is to silence, or confound. Calvin prefers put to flight. The verb rendered still is in other forms rendered rest or rested, Genesis 2:2, 3 and many other places. Some would read cause to cease. Our translation often has it so, Nehemiah 4:11; Isaiah 13:11; Ezekiel 7:24. Enemy and avenger are names here given to the wicked. They are not too strong. Mortal hatred against God and holiness belong to the unregenerate heart of man. Fry for avenger reads accuser; Ainsworth, Horsley and Morison, self-tormentor; Edwards and Hengstenberg read revengeful. This better corresponds with the true import, than the word avenger in its modern sense. The spite and malice of the human heart against God are dreadful. They are without a cause. They are inveterate. They are invincible except by divine grace. That the wicked bear malice against God is manifest in many ways. If they do not hate God, how can we account for the extent to which a large part of mankind have long been ignorant of Jehovah? At two periods, once in the family of Adam, and once in the family of Noah, the knowledge of God has been in the possession of every member of the human family; yet the great mass of men have rejected the true religion, and taken up with idolatry. In no way can this loss of divine knowledge be accounted for except by a strange aversion. Paul tells the secret. Men did not “like to retain God in their knowledge.” This is a clear and the only satisfactory explanation. The enmity of men against God is also manifest by the way in which God’s name is treated. It is continually profaned and blasphemed, even by millions, who know the third commandment, and the terrible doom of him, who violates it. There are more hard speeches uttered on this earth against God than against any thousand wicked men or any thousand fallen angels. Men would not curse and contemn God as they do, if they did not cordially hate him. See too how they reject and despise his laws. They break them every day openly, wilfully, insultingly. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be, ” Romans 8:7. If men did not hate God, they would not hate his people as they have always done. From the first generation of men to this hour, the blood of the saints has been crying to heaven. Millions on millions have died cruel deaths for no other reason than that they were followers of the Lamb. Besides, the Bible expressly says that unregenerate men hate God, and all goodness; that they hate him without a cause; that they hate hint continually. Nor is this all. When God was manifest in the flesh and filled the world with miracles of mercy, he was persecuted, denied, rejected, derided, and crucified. They who hated the Son hated the Father also. The wicked are enemies of God by wicked works, and revengeful against all who take sides with him. Yet often have they been stilled by men and means apparently contemptible. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things of the world to confound the things which were mighty; and base things [[Page:125]] of the world, and things which are despised, yea, and things, which are not, to bring to naught things that are.” Many a time has the unlettered confessor confounded the philosopher, the plain man put to silence the prating of the learned, the child silenced the bold infidel. See church history. See what Sabbath-schools have done. Calvin: “Babes and sucklings are the invincible champions of God, who, when it comes to the conflict, can easily scatter and discomfit the whole host of the wicked despisers of God, and those who have abandoned themselves to impiety.” God loves to stain the pride of all glory and show that man is a worm.
  3. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained. As in all curious workmanship men use the fingers, so in condescension to our capacities God is said to have made the heavens by his fingers, though he is without bodily parts. Such a mode of speech is no more liable to mislead than any other form of figurative language. To ordained, Calvin prefers arranged; Fry, disposed; Edwards, established; Alexander, fixed; Hengstenberg, founded. Although the word here rendered consider is used many hundreds of times simply in the sense of see, look, behold; yet it has other meanings, as to regard, Psalm 66:18, and it is also very properly several times rendered consider as in Psalm 9:13; 31:7; Ecclesiastes 4:4, 15. It is here in the future, that is the form of expressing a habit, q. d., when I am accustomed to consider the heavens, etc. A view of the firmament by night seems to have begotten at once the most elevated conceptions and the most devout afflictions. Astronomy is a sublime science. It always was so. It carries our contemplations far out into the boundless fields of space, and shows us creation. But theology is a still sublimer science. It takes the honest inquirer far beyond the remotest star up to God. The one shows us nature; the other, nature’s author; the former, creation; the latter, the Creator. There is nothing in any of the heavenly bodies, which renders them objects in any way fit to receive worship. It is evident to any one that they are not intelligent, nor independent He, who worships them must be as truly sottish as he who worships a brute. All idolatry is stupid, though not all equally indecent. But a devout admiration of the works of God is promotive of true piety. The heavens bear no marks of self-existence. The Psalmist very properly calls them God’s heavens. Hs kingdom ruleth over all. He fills immensity. The number of the stars is known to be immense. Though our earth is more than ninety-five millions of miles from the sun, yet the planet Neptune is more than thirty-one times further. No man would be able in one hundred and sixty-five years to count the miles between the sun and that distant world, whose year is equal to 164 of ours. But the nearest fixed star is many thousands of times further from our sun than any of the known planets. And the number of the fixed stars is countless. Six thousand men busily counting for a whole day, from morning till night, could not raise their aggregate total as high as the number of the smallest-sized stars. There are known to be at least 300, 000, 000 of them. The probability is that these are but as a drop of the bucket, or as the small dust of the balance compared with the whole. Our sun is more than a million times larger than our earth. And there may be worlds a million times larger than the sun. If on the day that Adam and Eve were created, a messenger had been started from the Sun to announce to the inhabitants of Neptune the creation of man on earth, and if he had travelled day and night at the rate of fifty miles an hour in a straight line, he would not yet have reached his destination nor delivered his message. The Lord is a great God. Infants praise him. The heavens declare his name to be great above that of all others. It is excellent in all the earth. It is excellent in every respect. The next verse finishes the sentence here begun:
  4. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest [[Page:126]] him? For remarks on the words rendered man, and son of man, See Introduction, § 16. Whether the views there suggested by Piscator, Venema, and others be correct or not, Calvin well observes that “the prophet teaches that God’s wonderful goodness is displayed the more brightly in that so glorious a Creator, whose majesty shines resplendently in the heavens, graciously condescends to adorn a creature, so miserable and vile as man is, with the greatest glory, and to enrich him with numberless blessings.” However considered man had an humble origin. He was of the earth, earthy. In some respects he is inferior to other creatures. He is not so long-lived, so strong, so active, or in his gait so elegant as some beasts, over whom at creation God gave him perfect dominion, and over whom to some extent he still has authority.

    The word rendered
    visitest is of frequent occurrence, being found in twenty-eight of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. It is used in a good sense in Genesis 21:1; 50:24-25; Ruth 1:6; 1 Samuel 2:21; Psalm 65:9; 80:14; in abad sense in Exodus 20:5; 32:34; Job 35:15; Psalm 89:32, and in many other places. Indeed it is often in our English Bible rendered punish. So that if the context (lid not give another sense we might paraphrase it thus, Man is so feeble, so frail, and compared with God, so insignificant that it fills me with wonder that thou regardest him in any way, either to govern or to judge, to bless or to curse him. I marvel that thou leavest him not as an atom too small to be accounted of at all. The pious John Newton tells us that at one stage of his religious experience he was greatly distressed, not with a fear of being punished for his sins so much as with an apprehension that God would entirely overlook him. The poet Pollok has described a very similar feeling in one understood to be himself. But the whole Psalm shows that David is speaking of the kindly visits, the merciful regards of God. Calvin paraphrases the words thus: “This is a marvellous thing, that God thinks upon men, and remembers them continually.” If we take visitest in a good sense, then the force of the whole is much heightened. If to notice at all is condescension, to notice favourably is amazing loving-kindness.
  5. For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels. The chief difficulties in this clause relate to the words little and angels. According to our version man even here is in degree but little lower than the angels. But is this so? Is there not a vast difference between them both in attainment and in position? In the next world, indeed, there is an important sense, in which the righteous shall be equal unto the angels, Luke 20:36. But now it is far otherwise. To meet this difficulty many have proposed to read for a little while. Our translators have set the example in Job 24:24; Ps 37:10; Haggai 2:6. This rendering is also admissible in the corresponding Greek in Hebrews 2:7. The word is so used in Luke 22:58, and in Acts 5:34. The word equally applies to time, space, or degree. The context must decide to which it refers. In case of doubt we may choose that which gives the best sense. It will be found in this case safest to read for a little while. The church of England avoids the difficulty by wholly omitting the word little. Thou madest him lower, etc. Rivet, Moller, Cocceius, Venema, Fabritius, S. Schmidt, Dodd, Morison and Fry all read, for a little while. John Rogers’ translation reads, for a season. The word rendered angels is the same that in Genesis 1:1, and in thousands of other cases is rendered God. It is plural. The Genevan translation reads, Thou hast made him a little lower than God. Calvin does the same and says, “I explain the words of David as meaning the same thing as if he had said, that the condition of men is nothing less than a divine and celestial state.” But earth never was heaven, or comparable to it. Scott: “Adam, even when created in the image of God was infinitely beneath his Maker.” There is no greater [[Page:127]] gulf than that, which separates the created and untreated, the finite and infinite, man and God. Fry reads, For a little while lower than the gods, and lie undertakes to prove that the proper application of the term is never in Scripture made to any being less than the Most High and that it is applied to angels or demons only in respect of their having become objects of worship to idolatrous men. But this view is hardly tenable. The inspired writers would surely not sanction an improper application of any name ever given to God: The Septuagint renders the word angels here, in Psalm 97:7, quoted by Paul in Hebrews 1:6, and in Psalm 13 8:1. This rendering is followed by the Chaldee, Ethiopic, Arabic, Syriac, Vulgate, by numerous Jewish interpreters, by Rivet, Edwards and others. When we find the Apostle in Hebrews using angels we may safely follow him, though it is not claimed that the inspired writers in quoting Scripture invariably paid further regard to the Hebrew than to give the sense so far as fell in with their argument. Angels are very exalted creatures. Man is inferior to nothing that God has made except the angels. God has done great things for him. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour. The great mass of translations in different languages commonly cited use the word, crowned, or a precisely corresponding word. But some have suggested encircled, decorated. Our English version prefers to render it crowned, Psalm 65:11, or compassed. Psalm 5:12. The nouns rendered glory and honour are in our English version both translated by the word glory and both by the word honour. The latter is also rendered majesty, and Fry prefers so to read here. Alexander: “These nouns are elsewhere put together to express royal dignity.” Psalm 21:5; 45:3. Calvin thinks that by the language of this verse the Psalmist “intends the distinguished endowments which clearly manifest that men were formed after the image of God, and created to the hope of a blessed and immortal life. The reason with which they are endued, and by which they can distinguish between good and evil; the principle of religion, which is planted in them; their intercourse with each other, which is preserved from being broken up by certain sacred bonds; the regard to what is becoming, and the sense of shame which guilt awakens in them, as well as their continuing to be governed by laws; all these things are clear indications of pre-eminent and celestial wisdom. ‘Not without good reason therefore does David exclaim that mankind are adorned with glory and honour.”
  6. Thou, madest him to have dominion, over the works of thy hands. This seems to be a devout rehearsal of the truths taught in Genesis 1:26, 28; 9:2, and often alluded to in the sacred writings down to near the close of the canon of Scripture. James 3:7. Thou hast put all things under his feet, i. e., thou hast placed them in subjection to him. This subjection was at creation perfect. By the fall it has been impaired. Still it is not destroyed. Calvin: “What David here relates belongs properly to the beginning of the creation, when man’s nature was perfect.”

    The Psalm 8:3, 4, 5 verses of this Psalm are quoted at length in Hebrews 2:6-8, and applied to Christ. This has given rise to a considerable diversity of views. Calvin goes so far as to express the opinion that “what the apostle says in Hebrews 2:6-8 concerning the abasement of Christ for a short time is not intended by him as an explanation of Psalm 8:5-7; but, for the purpose of enriching and illustrating the subject on which he is discoursing, he introduces and accommodates to it what had been spoken in a different sense.” But is not this going too far? In all the early part of the epistle to the Hebrews the apostle is conducting an argument respecting the priesthood of Christ, and if there is loose reasoning, the mind of the church would be much disturbed. Samson speaks more advisedly when he says, “It requires but little stretch of faith to believe that a passage which so easily admits of the application here made, is so applied, not by
    accommodation merely, but in consistency with its proper original meaning.” Let us not attempt to weaken the apostle’s argument. That is [[Page:128]] impregnable. Yet we may with Hengstenberg say that by the quotation in Hebrews 2:6-8 we are not “necessitated to refer the Psalm, in its primary and proper sense, to Christ. Although David, in the first instance, speaks of the human race generally, the writer of the epistle might still justly refer what is said to Christ, in its highest and fullest sense. For while the glory of human nature, as here delineated, has been so deteriorated through the fall, that it is to be seen only in small fragments, and what is here said is to be referred to the idea rather than the reality, it appears anew in Christ in full splendour. The writer of the epistle describes the glory obtained for humanity in Christ over the things of creation, whereby it is to be raised above the angels.” If these views of interpretation are correct, they are alike applicable to the quotation and use of Psalm 8:6 of this Psalm in 1 Corinthians 15:27. Still the question recurs, where is the great grace to man in the humiliation and exaltation of Christ? Is not Christ divine? The answer is, first, Christ had two natures. One was divine. By this he was equal with the Father, and was infinitely removed from us. His other nature was human and as such had in itself no more claim to authority than that of any other sinless human being. But he was God’s elect. To him was this honour given that his human nature should be assumed into an eternal and ineffable union with the divine. This is the most amazing exercise of God’s love and sovereignty on record. Augustine: “The highest illustration of predestination and grace is in the Saviour himself, the man Christ Jesus, who has acquired this character in his human nature, without any previous merit either of works or of faith;” and Calvin: “What was bestowed upon Christ’s human nature was a free gift, nay, more, the fact that a mortal man, and the son of Adam, is the only Son of God, and the Lord of glory, and the head of angels, affords a bright illustration of the mercy of God.” Thus human nature, in this one instance, is exalted. But secondly, Jesus Christ was a public person, a representative of all our race, whose existence beyond this life shall be either desirable or tolerable. In his exaltation and glory they all partake. The higher he rises the greater their glory. They reign by sitting on his throne. To man here is love beyond a parallel-beyond all names of tenderness.
  7. God gives to man here, even in his fallen estate, some tokens and remnants of power. He has therefore put under him all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field. Morison thinks that by the last phrase the Psalmist exclusively designates those animals, which are not domesticated. But an examination of the passages, where it is found, will probably lead to the opinion that his language is too strong. The Scriptures expressly speak of wild beasts of the field, when then wish them to be exclusively regarded. Psalm 50:11; 80:13. See also Isaiah 13:21, 22; 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39. The phrase seems to denote all beasts wild and tame. Man’s impaired though real dominion over cattle, and flocks, and the whole race of brute beasts enables him to live in some peace and comfort. But the passage has a far higher application than this, even to the dominion given to Christ over all sorts and conditions of men. His people are his sheep, John 10:1-16. His ministers are called oxen, 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10. And the prophet employs the boldest figures drawn from the animal kingdom to represent the subjection of all classes of men to the authority of Christ, Isaiah 11:6-9; 60:6, 7. Nor does the matter of dominion stop here.
  8. God has also given him power to some extent over the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. Broken as man’s power is, and liable as he is to be made the prey of wild beasts, of the birds of heaven, of the sea-monsters, yet to a remarkable extent he still has dominion over them. The food, and clothing, and ornament, and treasure he daily obtains from the regions noticed in this verse are worth many millions of money. Home thus applies Psalm 8:7, 8 to Christ and his kingdom: “The souls of the faithful, lowly and harmless, are [[Page:120]] the sheep of his pasture; those who, like oxen, are strong to labour in the church, and who, by expounding the word of life, tread out the corn for the nourishment of the people, own him for their kind and beneficent Master; nay, tempers fierce and intractable as the wild beasts of the desert, are yet subject to his will; spirits of the angelic kind, that, like the bird of the air, traverse freely the superior region, move at his command: and those evil ones, whose habitation is in the deep abyss even to the great Leviathan himself; all, all are put under the feet of King Messiah.” It is sufficient to maintain that the terms employed in these verses are designed to be very comprehensive. But to give this verse in connection with the preceding the higher application to Christ, it is not necessary to become fanciful and insist that each of the terms corresponds to some one thing in the spiritual world, though the ravens are subject to Christ and at his bidding fed the prophet, and the angels who fly through the midst of heaven are his ministers to do his pleasure, and the devils, the spirits of the bottomless abyss, are subject to him. The kingdom of Christ has as its willing subjects all holy intelligences, and has subsidized all, whether friendly or hostile, that can in any wise affect its progress. Such thoughts may well fill the pious mind with adoring exclamations.
  9. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth. This verse is like the first. There seems to be no variation of design or of application. It is a devout repetition of words of adoration.

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. We must not give up the truths of natural religion, Psalm 8:1. We must maintain them and insist on them. They are as clear as they are necessary. They are declared in all the earth.
  2. God’s names and titles are to be reverently and adoringly used, repeated, celebrated and extolled, Psalm 8:1.
  3. To plead our covenant relation with God as our God is a duty enforced by the constant example of the pious, Psalm 8:1.
  4. God’s mercies of every kind are to be duly noticed. Moller: “Among the wonderful bounties of God conferred on man, the chief are these two, viz.: the creation of all men in Adam, and the restoration of the elect in Christ.”
  5. Dickson: “The godly are not always borne down with trouble; sometimes they have liberty to go and delight themselves in beholding God’s glory and goodness towards themselves.”
  6. Morison: “What a reverential view does it convey to us of the spirit of prophecy when we contemplate it as surmounting the imperfection of an obscure dispensation, as penetrating into the hidden mysteries of future ages and generations, and as giving forth to the church, as in historic narrative, an announcement of facts, which could be known only to the omniscient research of the Infinite mind.”
  7. In all our plans of usefulness let children hold their proper place. Nothing ever awakened the hatred of Christ’s enemies more than the praises of children, because they knew the power of such an example. Scott: “The new-born infant is such a display of God’s power, skill, and goodness, as unanswerably confutes the cavils of atheism. Even little children have been taught so to love and serve him that their praises and confessions have baffled and silenced the rage and malice of persecutors.” We should therefore labour to promote early piety. He who is old enough to hate God and break his commandments, is old enough to love him and walk in the way of his testimonies. Piscator: “Those who deny the providence of God are confuted by the support and preservation of sucking children and of those in the tender age, commonly given to play. Consider Christ’s saying in Matthew 18:10.”
  8. [[Page:130]] One reason why God makes so much use of plain, humble, and feeble instruments, is that he would let all men see that the excellency of the power is of him and not of man. He will have all the glory.
  9. The reason why men must be born again, is because they are wicked, enemies, and revengeful, Psalm 8:2.
  10. The wicked have a very bad cause and as feeble as it is wicked. They sometimes cry out that a fox running on the walls of Zion will shake them down. But little David is a match for their greatest giants. Yea, babes and sucklings have often confounded them, Psalm 8:2.
  11. While we reverently study God’s word let us not slight his works, but consider them, Psalm 8:3. Everything that God has made or has done may teach us some lesson. Sin will pervert anything, even the noblest truths and sciences, but wisdom will grow wiser thereby.
  12. The stability of the heavenly bodies and of the universe is well suited to beget confidence in God. This is one great use of such studies. Isaiah 40:26.
  13. And if the use of the telescope in the blazing universe above us should at any time lead us to doubt God’s care of us, let us seize the microscope and see his wondrous care of the myriads of creatures beneath us, and surely our reason must be satisfied, and by God’s blessing our faith must be strengthened.
  14. And let all God’s works and mercies humble us, Psalm 8:4. This is their proper effect on every rational creature. Scott: “What are we but mean, guilty, polluted, ungrateful, rebellious, and apostate creatures?” Our place is in the dust. And let us not fear to take a low place. Our origin, our wickedness, our feebleness all put us there. If we shall ever rise, it must be by lying down; if we are ever exalted, it must be by self-abasement.
  15. How blessed is the truth that our Saviour can no more be brought low for the suffering of death, Psalm 8:5, 6, compared with Hebrews 2:6-9. His work is done, his conflict is over, his temptations are ended. Just so shall it in due time be with all his chosen ones.
  16. The great power God has given to man over the brute creation should be exercised mercifully. Cruelty to dumb creatures dreadfully hardens the heart, and must be provoking to God. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10. Compare Deuteronomy 22:6.
  17. The church will stand. Christ has it by covenant of old, Psalm 8:6.
  18. How great is our Immanuel. He is the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. He rules the universe, Psalm 8:5-9.
  19. What revelations are effected by redemption. The whole of man’s happy state lost by sin is recovered and restored by faith in the incarnation and mediation of Jesus Christ.
  20. That is a happy train of thought which begins and ends in devout and hearty adoration, Psalm 8:1, 8.
  21. As oft as we behold the heavens, let us meditate on God and praise him for what he is and does; and especially let our views of creative power and providential care lead us to the higher theme of salvation by Christ.
  22. It is marvellous that men who have no heart to praise God here should expect to be admitted to heaven to praise him there. Dying will not make any man fond of celestial music or employments.
  23. When Christ’s work shall all be done, all his enemies be put down, and all his redeemed brought home, then it will be confessed that the greatest movement ever made respected man’s recovery, the greatest kingdom ever set up was the kingdom which is not of this world, the greatest conqueror ever known was the Captain of our [[Page:131]] salvation. Now indeed nothing is finished. In fact oftentimes all seems tohu vau bohu, “without form and void.” Calvin: “Paul reasons in this manner, If all things are subdued to Christ, nothing ought to stand in opposition to his people. But we see death still exercising his tyranny against them. It follows then that there remains the hope of a better state than the present.” But when the top-stone is put on the church, and its glory revealed, none will say that Zion is not glorious, nor that her Head is not the chiefest among ten thousand.

Psalm 9.

posted 3 Apr 2014, 06:13 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 3 Apr 2014, 06:14 ]

Psalm 9.

To the chief Musician upon Muth-labben, A Psalm of David,
  1. I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. 
  2. I will be glad and rejoice in thee:
    I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. 
  3. When mine enemies are turned back,
    They shall fall and perish at thy presence. 
  4. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause;
    Thou satest in the throne judging right. 
  5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked,
    Thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. 
  6. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end:
    And thou hast destroyed cities;
    Their memorial is perished with them. 
  7. But the Lord shall endure for ever:
    He hath prepared his throne for judgment. 
  8. And he shall judge the world in righteousness,
    He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. 
  9. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
    A refuge in times of trouble. 
  10. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee:
    For thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. 
  11. Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion:
    Declare among the people his doings. 
  12. When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them:
    He forgetteth not the cry of the humble. 
  13. Have mercy upon me, O Lord;
    Consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me,
    Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: 
  14. That I may shew forth all thy praise In the gates of the daughter of Zion:
    I will rejoice in thy salvation. 
  15. The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made:
    In the net which they hid is their own foot taken. 
  16. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth:
    The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
    Higgaion. Selah. 
  17. The wicked shall be turned into hell,
    And all the nations that forget God. 
  18. For the needy shall not alway be forgotten:
    The expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever. 
  19. Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail:
    Let the heathen be judged in thy sight. 
  20. Put them in fear, O Lord:
    That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah. 

FOR remarks on the words, To the chief musician, see on Psalm 4, at the beginning. There is much diversity of opinion, as to the right explanation of upon muth-labben. The word muth taken by itself means death, and labben may mean white, fair, or for a son. This is all that is certainly known on the subject. All the rest is conjecture, with various degrees of probability, but no one view is to be received without some doubt. Some interpret it of the death of Saul. But in this there is nothing plausible. Others think it refers to the death of David’s son, Absalom. But David’s feelings and behaviour on that mournful occasion were very diverse from the tenor of [[Page:132]] this Psalm, 2 Samuel 18:33. Others suppose that Labben was the name of some great captain, who commanded forces hostile to David and to Israel, and that this Psalm celebrates deliverance from him after his death. It is not pretended that any such name is found in the catalogues of names of the hostile contemporaries of David. The whole is a sheer conjecture as to the name, though it is not a wild conjecture. The contents of the Psalm show indeed that David’s enemies had been signally defeated once or oftener. Some have supposed that this Psalm celebrates the victory gained by the death of Goliath. Some, who take this view, hold that Labben is a fictitious name given to the giant. Calvin mentions some, who so held. Patrick has warmly embraced the view that Goliath is intended, but not under a fictitious name. He says, “I mention, Goliath, because, among the various opinions about muth-labben, I find none so probable as theirs, who think it hath some relation to him: to whom there are three ways of applying those Hebrew words. All of them by Almuth understand to be meant upon the death. And then Labben, some think, signifies the Son, that is, a great man, as I have expounded in my preface to this work. Others render it the White; that is an illustrious, noble person, or one famous in arms, as Goliath was. Others render it intermediate; which agrees also to that champion, who came out and stood between the two armies, and defied Israel, 1 Samuel 17:4 and onward.” The whole of the remarks here offered on labben are so strained that perhaps no one will feel disposed to follow the venerable author. It is, however, due to him to say that the Chaldee has it, “To praise upon the death of the man, who went out between the camps.” Some have thought it related to the death of the Son of man on Calvary; but the contents of the Psalm show this to be pretty certainly a mistake. Bythuer quotes Arias Montanus as inverting the letters and reading, nabal; and Hengstenberg says, “The true mode of explanation was hit upon by Grotius, who supposed that labben, or Laban was put by a transposition of letters for Nabal, and that the superscription marks the object of the Psalm But he erred in this that he took Nabal as a proper name, upon the dying of Nabal — a subject to which the Psalm could not possibly refer-instead of: upon the dying of a fool. This error being rectified, the superscription accords precisely with the contents, the destruction of the fool (comp. Psalm 14:1) is actually the subject of the Psalm” The number, who will be persuaded that the inspired writer was here giving us an anagram, will probably be very small. Others would read it, For the hidden things of the son. This is the rendering of the Septuagint, Ethiopic and Vulgate. The Arabic is much the same, Concerning the mysteries of the son, but it adds, with respect to the glory of Christ, and his resurrection a n d kingdom, and the destruction of all the disobedient. Houbigant reads, The mysteries of the Son. Theodoret applies it to Christ’s victory over death, by submitting to death, which was a hidden thing. The remaining opinions interpret muth-labben of either the tune, the music, or the instrument to be used in singing the Psalm Ainsworth and others think it may signify the note, which is called counter-tenor. Fry mentions some, who hold that it relates to some unknown regulations for the music. Mudge thinks the two words upon and moth should be read as one, which he regards as “the beginning of a celebrated composition, to which, perhaps, a particular kind of instrument was appropriated, or at least a particular tune; to which this Psalm is directed to be sung.” Calvin thinks it more probable that muth-labben was the beginning of some well known song, to the tune of which this Psalm was composed. The remaining view is that it signifies the musical instrument to be used in singing this Psalm Calvin says some held this opinion. Such unite the words upon and Muth, and read alamoth, which word is found in the title of Psalm 46. They also think that Ben in labben is the name of the chief musician, who with his family and companions were appointed to sing with psalteries on alamoth. 1 Chronicles 15:18, 20. The reader will probably be ready [[Page:133]] to say that none of the views presented are sustained by satisfactory evidence or authority. It is even so. Venema and Edwards admit the difficulty to be beyond their powers of solution.

The subject of the Psalm will be best learned by an examination of each verse. Jerome, Ainsworth and Gill all apply it to Anti-Christ. But the Psalm seems to record past victories rather than to predict future triumphs. The Psalm will be found a mixed devotional composition, containing praises, expressions of confidence in God, and supplications for mercies considerably mixed together.

That David was the author of this Psalm we have no reason to doubt. The inscription gives it to him.

We cannot fix the date of this Psalm Scott puts it at ten hundred and twenty-one years, and Clarke about ten hundred and forty-two year, before Christ. It was written after the ark was carried to Mount Zion, as is evident from Psalm 9:11, 14. In his Introduction Clarke expresses the opinion that this Psalm was sung by David on bringing the ark from the house of Obed-edom. But God could not be said to have “dwelt in Zion, ” nor to have been “praised in the gates of the daughter of Zion” till the ark was brought to that hill. It is useless to attempt to interpret this Psalm by any historical incident The life of David was full of conflicts and troubles, out of which he was, however, mercifully delivered. This song would therefore suit almost any period of his reign. And as David was identified with the people of Israel, the Psalm is evidently composed in the name of the chosen nation, the visible church. Calvin: “It is a mistake to limit to one victory this thanksgiving, in which David intended to, , comprehend many deliverances.” Luther: “The Prophet here speaks in his own person, and in that of all the saints also, who are afflicted for the sake of the word of God.”

The names of the Almighty found in this Psalm are Jehovah Lord, and Gel-yohn Most High, on which respectively see above on Psalm 1:2; 7:17.

  1. I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart. The Septuagint for praise uses a word, which is in the New Testament frequently rendered confess, as in Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5. But it is also translated by the verb thank as in Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21. Sometimes it means to own or acknowledge as a friend, and sometimes to covenant or promise as in Luke 22:6. Sometimes it seems to include all the acts of religious worship, even when rendered confess as in Romans 14:11; 15:9. So that the Vulgate, which uses the word confess, may be followed without great error, if we take that word in its old and fullest sense. Yet thankfulness is here the prominent idea in the word. Worshippers are divided into three classes. There are those whose whole service is sheer and gross hypocrisy. How many are of this description no mortal can tell. We may hope that where God’s word is freely and abundantly preached, the number is comparatively small. A second class is made up of those, who would shudder at wilful hypocrisy, but they serve God with a divided heart. There is reason to fear that in the purest churches there are many such. The third class of worshippers consists of those, who bring the whole heart into God’s service. This is a form of expression often used in Scripture. It declares the sincerity and earnestness of the worshipper. It is the opposite of feigned. Jeremiah 3:10. It does not imply absolute perfection in the service offered. In the same spirit David says, I will show forth all thy marvellous works. For show forth Edwards and Alexander read recount; Calvin and Fry, tell of; church of England speak of: Clarke, number out or reckon up; Morison, publish abroad, openly declare. Instead of marvellous works, Jebb reads marvels; Hengstenberg and Alexander, wonders. The word is rendered in our English Bible, wonders, marvels, miracles, wondrous works, wondrous things. The honour, which God has received by the wonders he has wrought on the earth is very great. Christians [[Page:134]] are not wise when they yield an iota of the argument in favour of the true religion drawn from miracles. What a profound impression was made on nearly all the nations of the world by the stupendous displays of the power of God in the days of Moses! The reason of the hostility of wicked men to the doctrine of miracles is found in the fact that if miracles are true, the ungodly are utterly undone. Until the modern Deistical controversy, by a miracle was meant any wonderful display of divine power, whether the laws of nature were suspended or not. Of late it implies a suspension of those laws. To thank God, and devoutly speak of the wonders he has wrought at any time or for any purpose is a great part of piety and a great nourisher of holy affections.
  2. I will be glad and rejoice in thee. For rejoice Calvin, Morison and Fry read exult; Alexander, triumph. In our common version in Psalm 25:2, it is rendered triumph, everywhere else, rejoice or be joyful. Venema paraphrases the words thus, I will rejoice even to exultation. It is our duty not only to submit to God, but to be happy not only in his word and his government, but in himself, in his nature and perfections. Communion with God has ever been a precious doctrine in the church of God. I will sing praise to thy name, O thou Most High. For sing praise Jebb reads make a psalm. The word is commonly rendered sing praise, sing praises, or simply sing; but in 1 Chronicles 16:9 and Psalm 105:2 it is rendered in our common version sing psalms. Calvin and Edwards read, I will celebrate in [or with] songs thy name; Horsley and Fry read I will chant; Calvin, celebrate in songs; Venema and Edwards, celebrate with songs; Alexander, praise or celebrate in song. God’s name is that by which he is known. Alexander thinks it equivalent to manifested excellence. If men ever worship God aright, they must purpose to do it.
  3. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence. The verbs fall and perish are in the future, but this does not exclude the past. It expresses what is habitually done. Hengstenberg: “The use of the future is to be explained from the lively nature of the representation.” See Introduction to this work, Introduction, § 6. When his enemies are forced to retreat they fall into great confusion, are terrified, adopt foolish, and reject wise measures for their preservation. Or from their past defeat, he argues to what shall be their dismay. The beginning of defeat to the wicked is a sign that, without repentance, a terrible overthrow is coming, Esther 6:13. The word rendered fall, is in Psalm 27:2; Isaiah 8:15, and many other places translated stumble; though it is as often perhaps rendered fall; and sometimes, be overthrown. Hammond: “It refers to those that either faint in a march or are wounded in a battle, or especially that in flight meet with galling traps in their way, and so are galled and lamed, rendered unable to go forward, and so fall, and become liable to all the chances of pursuits, and as here are overtaken and perish in the fall.” One of the strongest marks of wisdom is simply to know whence our help comes. If our enemies fall or flee, it is at Gods presence. He can alarm the most resolute, take away natural courage, put a dreadful sound in men’s ears, and fight terribly, though invisibly, against his foes. Some, however, change the pointing and so alter the relation of these clauses. Thus Fry

    Psalm 9:2-3. — I will rejoice and exult in thee;
    I will chant thy name, O Most High; 
    Because my enemies are turned back
    They fall; they perish at thy presence.

    Edwards points in very much the same way. Alexander thinks the third verse may either be connected with what goes before, or it may begin a new sentence. If [[Page:135]] it belongs to the preceding, then Fry and Edwards are right in reading because instead of
    when. For remarks on the name, Most High, see Psalm 7:17. “God is in the loftiest and most exalted pre-eminence, and sovereignty over the whole creation; and in essence and glory, surpassing all comprehension.”
  4. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right. The word rendered hast maintained, is in Genesis 1:31, 2:2, and in hundreds of cases translated hast made. It is also frequently rendered hast done, and sometimes hast wrought, chewed, executed, fulfilled, granted. Edwards: hast asserted. Fry hast done me justice and right. Hengstenberg: hast made my judgment and right. The work done was judicial. The Judge of all the earth took up the matter. The right must be mighty, when God is on the side of the wronged. The last clause is rendered by Calvin, Thou satest upon the throne a righteous judge; Hengstenberg: Thou satest on the throne as righteous judge; Edwards: Thou satest upon thy throne judging righteously. The sense is given by either, or by our version. As kings, when, about to try a cause in a solemn manner, sat down on their thrones, so God had in good earnest taken up the cause of David and decided against his enemies.
  5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen. Rebuked in our Bible commonly so rendered, sometimes reproved. Here the rebuke was the pronouncing and execution of the judicial sentence, formed by God sitting as judge, as noticed in Psalm 5:4. The word here rendered heathen, is plural, and in that form occurs five times in this Psalm, Psalm 9:5, 15, 17, 19, 20. In Psalm 9:17, 20, it is translated nations. It is very often rendered Gentiles. The list of the names of the people, who often conspired against God’s people is long and shows the most singular alliances and combinations. See Genesis 15:19-21; Deuteronomy 7:1; 2 Kings 24:2; Ezra 4:7-10; Psalm 83:2-8. But numerous as the enemies of God’s church have ever been, he has always overpowered them. What is the stubble to the fire? So it is added, Thou hast destroyed the wicked. The word rendered wicked here is in the first Psalm rendered ungodly, and in this Psalm three times, wicked, Psalm 9:5, 16-17. It is in the singular, and may mean that these hostile nations were leagued as one man, or as Alexander suggests, we may read many a wicked enemy. The word rendered destroyed is in another form in Psalm 9:3, 18, of this Psalm rendered perish. When transitive, it is the usual word for destroy; when intransitive, for perish. The destruction of the wicked is perdition. And so, Thou hast put out their name forever and ever. Calvin, Edwards, and Fry read, blotted out. Hengstenberg: “Thou hast so completely extirpated them that their memory has perished with them.” The phrase rendered forever and ever is very strong and emphatic. Clarke: “He who contends it means only a limited time, let him tell us where the Hivites, Perizzites, Jebusites, etc., now dwell, and when it is likely they are to be restored to Canaan?”
  6. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end; and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them. There is much diversity in rendering this verse. Boothroyd: Desolations have utterly consumed the enemy; thou didst destroy their cities; their remembrance is lost; Edwards: As for the enemy, they are utterly destroyed; they are become everlasting desolations, for their cities hast thou erased; the memory of them, as well as themselves, is perished; Mudge: As for the enemy, they are quite destroyed; everlasting desolations; their cities thou hast extirpated; their memory, as well as themselves, is annihilated; Fry: Desolations have consumed the enemy forever: the cities thou hast destroyed, their memory is perished with them; Jebb: O thou enemy, thy swords are come to a perpetual end: and cities thou hast brought to ruin: their memorial is destroyed with them; Home reads the first clause, The destructions of the enemy are completed to the utmost, meaning that the [[Page:136]] work of their ruin as enemies is forever finished; Venema: The enemies are consumed by destructions forever: and thou hast destroyed the foes: their memory is perished with them; Clarke: The enemy is desolated forever: for thou hast destroyed their cities, and their memory is perished with them; Hengstenberg: The enemy, finished are the destructions forever, and thou hast destroyed cities, their memorial is perished with them; Alexander: The enemy, or as to the enemy, finished are (his) ruins forever: and their cities hast thou destroyed: gone is their very memory; Morison: Devastations have utterly consumed the enemy; and their cities which thou hast destroyed, their very names have perished with them. In a note he supports this translation by a reference to the Hebrew and Latin Bible of Montanus, by the renderings of Home and Horsley, and by that of Bishop Lowth in Merrick’s Annotations. Green renders the first clause, The desolations of the enemy are ceased forever. Dimock supposes we may perhaps read, The houses of the enemy are desolations forever. The marginal rendering of this verse, which Scott prefers, is, The destructions of the enemy are come to a perpetual end: and their cities hast thou destroyed, etc. The first difficulty regards the word enemy. Is he here addressed, or is he spoken of? Perhaps the latter is correct. The weight of modern authority is on that side. The word, thou, in that case is simply continued from the preceding verse, and refers to God. The next difficult word is that variously rendered destructions, desolations, ruins, swords. The first three renderings are substantially the same. The last has for its support the Septuagint, Ethiopic, Vulgate. The Arabic also reads arms. A very slight variation in the Hebrew would allow us to read either swords or desolations. Perhaps the latter is here to be preferred. The rendering of Edwards probably conveys as accurate an idea as we can get in so few words. The interpretations of this passage are as various as the renderings. Calvin has thus summed up several of the leading views: “Some read this sixth verse interrogatively … as if David, addressing his discourse to his enemies, asked whether they had completed their work of devastation, even as they had resolved to destroy everything; for the first verb signifies sometimes to complete, and sometimes to put an end to anything. And if we here take it in this sense, David, in the language of sarcasm or irony, rebukes the foolish confidence of his enemies. Others, reading the verse without any interrogation, make the irony still more evident, and think that David describes, in Psalm 9:6-8, a twofold state of matters; that, in the first place (Psalm 9:6.) he introduces his enemies persecuting him with savage violence, and persevering with determined obstinacy in their cruelty, so that it seemed to be their fixed purpose never to desist until the kingdom of David should be utterly destroyed; and that, in the second place (Psalm 9:7-8) he represents God as seated on his judgment-seat directly over against them, to repress their outrageous attempts. If this sense is admitted, the first word of the seventh verse must read but, not and, thus: Thou, O enemy, didst seek after nothing except slaughter and the destruction of cities; but, at length, God has shown that he sits in heaven on his throne as judge, to put into proper order the things, which are in confusion on the earth. According to others, David gives thanks to God, because, when the ungodly were fully determined to spread universal ruin around them, he put an end to their devastations. Others understand the words in a more restricted sense, as meaning that the desolations of the ungodly were completed, because God, in his just judgment, had made to fall upon their own heads the calamities and ruin which they had devised against David. According to others, David, in the sixth verse, complains that God had, for a long time, silently suffered the miserable devastation of his people, so that the ungodly, being left unchecked, wasted and destroyed all things according to their pleasure; and, in the seventh verse, they [[Page:137]] think he subjoins for his consolation that God, notwithstanding, presides over human affairs.” But if the sixth verse speaks of the enemy and not to him, then none of these views are so good as that suggested by the rendering of Edwards, of Fry, or of Alexander. Hengstenberg says that the three verbs in this sixth verse “stand in exact parallelism. Now, if the affairs of the enemy are described by the last two, as going to perdition, the same explanation must be held also to be the only correct one in regard to the first.” He also thinks there is here a reference to Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 25:19; Numbers 24:20, where we find these expressions, “I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven;” “thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven;” “Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish forever.” It is a great and universal principle of God’s government, that “the memory of the wicked shall rot.” This verse therefore may be regarded as having a sense complete in itself without any reference to succeeding verses. It is a blessed truth that though the enemies of God pass away and perish, yet Jehovah is unchangeable.
  7. But the Lord shall endure forever. The word here rendered endure is in Psalm 9:11, and very often elsewhere rendered by the verb dwell; but in Psalm 9:4 of this Psalm as also in Psalm 1:1; 2:4 and in many places it is rendered by some form of the verb sit; Calvin and Fry: sitteth; Alexander: will sit. It probably has reference to his sitting in his throne as noticed in Psalm 5:4. Hengstenberg is so confident of this that he reads, The Lord is enthroned forever. This is pretty certainly the correct view. It derives support from the preceding context, the imagery here filling the writer’s mind, the use of the word in Psalm 9:4, and the parallelism in the next clause. He hath prepared his throne for judgment. Men, who live in opposition to God, have a great dislike to the doctrine of divine and eternal judgment. Yet its importance and the very hostility of the human mind render it proper that it should often be repeated. So we had it in Psalm 1:5, and now here also. Nor is it obscurely revealed. We have it still more clearly in the next verse.
  8. And he shall judge the world in righteousness. Even Paul in his great address on Mars’ hill a thousand years after could find no better words, in which to teach the Athenians the doctrine of the judgment-day than the Septuagint rendering of this clause. Calvin: “The pronoun, He, is of ‘great weight.’ ” It is as if he had said, He himself, or He exclusively shall judge the world. The same is again repeated, He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. The word people is plural, peoples, or nations. The word uprightness is plural. Job: “He is excellent in power and in judgment, and in plenty of justice:” Psalm 37:23. In Psalm 98:9; 99:4, it is rendered equity. The words here used are different from those in the preceding clause. Edwards: He administers judgment to the nations in equity. Fry gives the same except he puts justice for judgment. Nor is this doctrine at all unwelcome to the righteous. Nay, it is their hope; for, 
  9. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed. The word here rendered refuge is in the margin hero-and elsewhere rendered an high place. It occurs twice in this verse, and thirteen times elsewhere. It Isaiah variously rendered defence, refuge, high tower, high fort, place of defence; and in Jeremiah 48:1, it is left as a proper name. The idea seems to be that of a fortification of great natural strength, where an enemy cannot come, or even get a sight of those, whom he would destroy. Venema: “David is the first, so far as I have noticed, who by this term calls God, a high place.” He first uses it in 2 Samuel 22:3, where it is rendered my high tower. David often experienced safety in such places, when fleeing from Saul. For will be Fry reads was; the Arabic, Septuagint, Ethiopic and Vulgate also use the past tense; Edwards: Isaiah But the Chaldee and Syriac agree with our version, which is to be preferred. The word rendered [[Page:138]] oppressed is found also in Psalm 10:18; 74:21 and in Proverbs 26:28. In the latter case it is rendered afflicted; in the others, oppressed. The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Vulgate, Arabic and Syriac read poor instead of oppressed. For the Lord the Chaldee reads the word of the Lord. This gives a good sense, but cannot be admitted because it narrows down the broad truth of the text to one thing, and because it does not agree with the Hebrew text; yet it is but a paraphrase. The truth is repeated in the next clause. The Lord will be a refuge in times of trouble. Morison: “In their greatest straits, God’s people shall find themselves garrisoned by omnipotent love.” One of the excellencies of true religion is that it is a source of the greatest consolation, when consolation is most needed, viz., in times of trouble, or, as Alexander reads, in times of distress, or, as Edwards, at critical times of distress, or, as Calvin, in seasonable times in distress. He makes the seasonableness of the protection and aid prominent in the exposition. The word rendered trouble is also rendered anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction and distress; our translators evidently regarding either of these words a fit rendering. Nor is God a high place inaccessible to his saints. So the Psalmist adds:
  10. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee. The word rendered trust is very generally so rendered, or hope, or put confidence. In this Book it is first found in Psalm 4:5, and next here. The word here rendered name is the same as was found in Psalm 5:11; 7:17; 8:1. Calvin: “His name means his character, so far as he has been pleased to make it known to us.” To know God’s name is to have his excellence revealed in our hearts by his Spirit, so that we apprehend his nature, and have a spiritual discernment of his beauty and glory. It is impossible truly to see beauty without loving it. It is impossible to have essentially right views of God without delighting in him. So that there is a broad difference between the saving knowledge of God, and those dreamy speculations of him, which float in the minds of the unrenewed. Right apprehensions of God’s character will inspire confidence in him. And the more men thus know of him, the more will they trust in him: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. It is a great and delightful truth that in the annals of redemption not one case has been found, where God deserted to the ruinous power of sins or enemies any soul, that had fled to him for refuge. One well authenticated case of that kind would destroy all confidence in the divine character and government. To seek God is put for the whole of religion, which consists in seeking to know him, to be like him, to possess his favour and his protection, to serve and obey him, to have communion with him, and finally to be with him in glory. Men must seek him intelligently, not superstitiously; diligently, not carelessly; humbly, not proudly; with all the heart, not hypocritically; in the name of Christ, and not relying on any merits but those of the Redeemer. Such truths as God here reveals, authorizing our confidence in him, may well animate us with joy. Therefore it is said, 
  11. Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion. To speak of God as dwelling in Zion proves this Psalm to have been written after the removal of the tabernacle to that holy hill, and not at the slaying of Goliath, nor at any time previous to the removal of the ark from the residence of Obed-edom. The call upon men to sing praises is a declaration that not merely one man, but that all men were bound to magnify the name of the Lord for such mercies as are here recorded. No man has a heart truly to praise God, but when he also wishes all others to do it. Nor is secret praise for public mercies enough. We must sing a song or psalm, or, as Jebb reads it, “make a psalm, ” to God on such occasions. We must not only tell a few friends, but spread abroad the fame of Jehovah. Therefore it is added, “Declare among the people his doings.” The word rendered people is here plural. It is sometimes rendered foIk, nation, nations, but most commonly people. It is not the same word that is found in Psalm 9:8. Here it clearly refers to surrounding nations. Calvin, Edwards, Jebb. Fry, [[Page:139]] and Alexander have nations. The things to be declared were God’s doings. Elsewhere this word is rendered in a good sense works, deeds, acts, actions; in a bad sense works, inventions. Psalm 14:1; 99:8. Morison: “By the doings of God, we may understand either the mighty acts of his providence, or his revealed designs and purposes concerning his church and her enemies;” Calvin: “The meaning is that his doings are not published or celebrated as they deserve, unless the whole world is filled with the renown of them. To proclaim God’s doings among the nations was indeed, as it were, to sing to the deaf; but by this manner of speaking David intended to show that the territory of Judea was too narrow to contain the infinite greatness of Jehovah’s praises.” His mighty acts in Egypt, in the settlement of David, and in subduing his enemies are proper matters of praise in all lands and ages, because they were illustrious, and because what God did then he will, if necessary, do again. He does not work miracles now. His providence may, however, be as truly marvellous as if he did. There must be some very serious and alarming malady in the souls of men to make it necessary for inspiration so often to call on us to praise God, which is one of the most obvious and ought to be one of the most pleasant duties in the life of a good man.
  12. When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. This verse has occasioned much perplexity. Various renderings have been proposed. Calvin: For in requiring blood he hath remembered it; he hath not forgotten the cry of the afflicted; Edwards: For he that maketh inquisition after blood remembereth them; he forgets not the cry of the afflicted; Fry: He hath required blood, he hath taken account of it, he hath not disregarded the cry of the afflicted; Hengstenberg: For the avenger of blood is remembered by him, lie forgetteth not the cry of the afflicted; Alexander: For seeking blood, or as an inquisitor of blood, he has remembered it, i. e., the blood; he has not forgotten the cry of the distressed. The interpretations of these verses are also very diverse. Scott: “God sometimes indeed permitted his servants to be tried by persecution; but there would be a season of inquisition for blood, when the prayers of the humble would be remembered and completely answered;” Horsley gives this paraphrase: “When God requireth the innocent blood of Jesus at the hands of the Jews, his murderers, he will not forget the peoples; but will manifest himself to them, mindful of the original promises. When the Jews are cut off the Gentiles shall be grafted in;” Patrick’s paraphrase is: “Though God may seem to wink for a time at the cruelty of violent men, yet he will call them at last to a strict account for all the innocent blood they have shed, and for their unjust and unmerciful usage of meek and humble persons, whose cry he never forgets (though he doth not presently answer it) but takes a fit time to be avenged of their oppressors.” Many other views might be quoted. The first clause of the verse is, When he maketh inquisition for blood. All agree that he refers to Jehovah. To make inquisition for blood is to require blood. Under all dispensations God has declared his abhorrence of bloody crimes. The first persecutor was a murderer. To him God said, “Thy brother’s blood trieth unto me from the ground.” To Noah he said, “Surely your blood of your lives will I require.” The word rendered make inquisition is in Genesis 9:5, and often elsewhere rendered require. It is the same word that in Psalm 9:10, of this Psalm is rendered seek. It is often so rendered, as also by the words inquire, search for, etc. The meaning then is that God will see that innocent blood is rightly avenged. The Hebrew word for blood is plural here as often elsewhere. See Psalm 5:6, and comment on it. When God requires, searches or makes inquisition for blood, it is said, he remembereth them or it. If we read it we refer to blood. As the noun in Hebrew is plural, bloods, so is the pronoun them. If in following the English idiom we make the noun singular, we must make the [[Page:140]] pronoun singular also, if we believe it refers to blood. But it is evident our translators and many others regarded the pronoun as referring to persons, not to bloods, or murders. But what persons are intended, the enemies of all goodness, or the humble mentioned in the last clause? The word rendered remembereth is used in the Bible both in a good and bad sense. God may remember men to bless them, or to punish them. So that we can get no light from that quarter. If them refers to the enemies of God’s people, we should have to go back several verses to find the noun of which them is the substitute. If them refers to God’s friends, we can find its noun in Psalm 9:10, or in the last word of Psalm 9:12. There are difficulties in each of these modes of explanation. Hengstenberg thinks the parallelism is best preserved by giving this sense, “God remembers blood, he forgets not the cry of the afflicted.” But the parallelism in many places, as in Psalm 9:4, 11, 14, 17, 19, of this very Psalm would suggest the contrary. It is evident, however, to any candid mind that the method of reading the verse adopted by Calvin and others who follow him is far the most free from difficulties. Mudge and Edwards suppose them refers to the last word humble, or afflicted. And Calvin admits that the pronoun often precedes the noun in Hebrew. Whichever of these modes of explanation is adopted, the doctrine of the verse is not altered. If God requires blood he of course remembers it, and the man who shed it and the man who was slain; and in particular he forgetteth not the cry of the humble, or, as some read it the afflicted, or the poor, or the meek. The word is fitly rendered either way. Such views of God must encourage a pious persecuted man to pray. Therefore the Psalmist earnestly addresses himself to God.
  13. Have mercy upon me, O Lord. The marginal reading is, Be gracious unto me. In our version it is rendered by such phrases as those already given, and by Have pity, Show favour. The human heart is distressingly inclined to despair of the mercy of God, and when it has no hope toward God, its ruin is complete. It is a great thing for a poor soul to be able so far to confide as to pray in hope of being heard. And we make a right use of past deliverances when we employ them to arouse us humbly to beg for yet other mercies. Luther: “In the same way do all feel and speak, who have already overcome some tribulation and misfortune, and are once more oppressed, tormented and plagued. They cry and beg that they may be delivered.” The Psalmist repeats his cry for mercy, saying, Consider my trouble, which I suffer of them that hate me. The word rendered consider is in our version often so given, for more frequently see, sometimes mark, sometimes behold, look upon, have respect to. It is a great matter when we can get the Judge of all the earth to mark our cause, to look upon our trouble, to have respect to our affliction. The word rendered trouble is more than thirty times in our version rendered affliction, and but two or three times trouble. But our translators use these and several other words as synonymous. The words, which I suffer, are not in the original, but are properly supplied, as all admit. Even the Doway Bible has them. This affliction came to David from them that hated him. Of these there were not a few. They often far outnumbered his friends; so that his case would have been hopeless, if he could not have pleaded with Jehovah, as thou that liftest me up from the gates of death. The word rendered death is Muth, not Sheol, as some expositions would lead one to suppose. Sheol is never in our version rendered death. The word rendered gates is the same as is found in Psalm 9:14, and is commonly so translated. The gates of death is a phrase found elsewhere. See Psalm 107:18. It denotes great peril, as if we were about to enter the grave. The figure in the mind of the writer was probably that of a prison with gates and bars. The same figure is in Scripture applied to the state of the dead. Job 17:16; Isaiah 38:10. It is hardly probable that David had the figure of a fortified city in his mind. He says thou liftest. He refers not merely to what God would do, or was now doing, [[Page:141]] but what he was in the habit of doing, or had often done. Calvin: God is accustomed not only to succour his servants, and to deliver them from their calamities by ordinary means, but also to bring them from the grave, even after all hope of life is cut off.” Such deliverances from death, whether threatened by violence or by pestilence, should be received by us with the utmost humility and the liveliest gratitude, and should be by us improved as occasions for glorifying God. So David thought:
  14. That I may show forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. Public mercies call for public praise, and great mercies for great thanksgivings. If those who experience gracious interpositions shall keep silence, how can God be honoured any more by the righteous, than by the wicked? We may all say as Bishop Hall, “O my God, I am justly ashamed to think what favours I have received from thee, and what poor returns I have made to thee! Truly, Lord, I must needs say, thou hast thought nothing either in earth or in heaven too good for me. … O thou who hast been so bountiful in heaping thy rich mercies upon me, vouchsafe to me yet one gift more: give me grace and power to improve all the gifts to the glory of the Giver.” Show forth, in this verse is the same word as is found in the beginning of this Psalm See on second clause of the first verse. To show forth all God’s praise is to enter largely into the work. An occasional God I thank thee is no fit return for a perpetual stream of rich benefits. This work of public praise was to be conducted in the most public place in Jerusalem, here called the daughter ofZion. Cities are in Scripture often spoken of as young women, delicate ladies, or venerable matrons. Psalm 45:12: Isaiah 23:10, 12: Galatians 4:26. So Jerusalem was beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth. Hengstenberg is very confident that in the gates means simply within and no more. There is no evidence as some have asserted that Jerusalem was called the daughter of Zion, because that city was built round about that holy hill, nor because Jerusalem derived its chief importance from the religious solemnities celebrated on -fount Zion. Some praise God in a manner decent for its solemnity, but gloomy in its temper. This was not David’s mind. “I will rejoice in thy salvation. Blessed is he, who loves to praise and give thanks. Mudge, Edwards, and others regard Psalm 9:13, 14, as containing the cry of the afflicted, mentioned in Psalm 9:12, and so Edwards put them in marks of quotation. But there is no evidence that these verses are words put into the lips of another. They are an appropriate part of this devotional composition. God’s salvation is the deliverance God secures to believers and accomplishes in them. The word rendered rejoice is always in our version as translated, or be glad, or be joyful. And while God’s people are shouting deliverance, his enemies are gnawing their tongues for anguish; for, 
  15. The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made. For an explanation of the figure here employed, see above on Psalm 7:75. The particular event or events here referred to are concealed, perhaps designedly, from our view. The wicked are always meeting such overthrows. Hengstenberg thinks the prophet here speaks of an “ideal past, ” but we have as good and as true a sense by making it a historical past. Some, yea, many of Israel’s and of David’s foes had actually fallen. Instead of the pit Alexander prefers a pit, and in the next clause a net. For David adds, In the net, which they hid is their own foot taken. The persons here spoken of are the same as before, the heathen, or the nations, see comment on Psalm 9:5. It is impossible to tell which is most detestable, the malice or the deceit of the enemies of God. The best of them is a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge. They have the cunning and venom of the serpent, the fierceness of wild beasts, the malice of fallen angels. They love to dig pits and spread nets. But cunning is not wisdom. Every device of the wicked, like the cannon of a captured fort, may be turned to [[Page:142]] the destruction of those whom it was designed to defend. Nothing is too hard for God. He taketh the wise in their craftiness. And so, 
  16. The Lord is known by the judgment, which he executeth. Even a child is known by his doings, ‘rise and foolish kings thus reveal their characters. Let God be known in the same way; by the worlds he has made; by the providence he exercises over them; by the laws he has given them; by the mercy he has revealed to sinners; and by the judgment, which he executeth, both for the righteous and against the wicked. So well is God’s character known in this way that at times the wicked have the most fearful apprehensions of coming wrath. The whole ungodly world in Christian, Mohammedan and Pagan lands may in a moment be brought into the deepest distress by the terrors of God. For although when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, yet this very failure to do known duty is the greatest element of weakness in the cause and character of the wicked. Their counsels are so narrow compared with omniscience that they fall by the very means devised for their safety; and so the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. The wicked, singular, each and every incorrigible sinner, is thus snared. There is more than one sense, in which every sinner is his own destroyer. The figure of being snared is as old as the days of Moses. Deuteronomy 12:30. This verse concludes with the words: Higgaion. Selah. For remarks on Selah See Introduction. § 15. The word Higgaion occurs here for the first time. It is also found in Psalm 19:14, where it is rendered meditation; in Psalm 92:3, where it is translated a solemn sound; and in Lamentations 3:62, where we rsaddevice. In Psalm 19:14, and in Lamentations 3:62, it clearly means meditation, a musing, or thought. Junius, Amesius, Henry and Scott, hold that the two words here are equivalent to a thing to be meditated on with the greatest attention. Edwards thinks Higgaion a term relating to the music. Morison inclines to the opinion that it was intended to mark with emphasis the sentiment of the Psalm Calvin is of the same mind. Bythner says the word means a discourse, a meditation, a murmur, a sound, and thinks the import of the two words here much the same as that given by Junius, etc. Hengstenberg thinks it may be rendered a musing in every case, even in Psalm 92:3. He thinks the word here calls for reflection. The Doway Bible neither gives the word, nor any translation, or interpretation of it; though in his Explanation of the Psalms Bellarmine admits that it is in the Hebrew, and says, it signifies that the judgments of God aforementioned are to be assiduously and continually thought of. If the word signifies anything beyond a musical notation, the import of which is not now understood, there is no better explanation given of it than that of the old commentators first quoted. Clarke says it means, “Meditate on this.”
  17. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. The wicked hers are the same as mentioned in the preceding verse. The word is here plural. In the first Psalm and elsewhere it is rendered the ungodly. The wicked, universally and indiscriminately, shall be turned into hell. But what does this mean? There is nothing in the verb shall be turned that necessarily signifies evil. Some say the meaning is that the wicked shall all die and go into the grave. But that is as true of the righteous as of the wicked. The Hebrew word (Sheol) is in our version according to its connexion rendered grave, pit, hell. In this case it must be hell, else nothing happens to God’s enemies but what comes on his friends also. It may be well to cite attention to a few places where it must mean hell. In Psalm 89:8, it is the opposite of heaven: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there.” In Proverbs 5:5; 7:27, it is said of the vile woman that her steps take hold on hell, and that her house is the way to hell. Does this mean no more than that those who visit her will die? In Proverbs 15:24: “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.” A good man, here called wise, does [[Page:143]] not escape the grave, but he does escape hell. In Isaiah 14:9, it is said to Belshazzar, “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming, it stirreth up the dead for thee, ” etc. Now the grave never received Belshazzar. He never was buried. In Psalm 5:19 it is said, Thou art cast out of thy grave as an abominable branch, etc. The word here rendered grave is not Sheol, but the word which in Psalm 5:9 is rendered sepulchre, and in Psalm 88:5, 11, the grave. Besides the grave is silent. In Isaiah 14:10-20 hell is spoken of as a place abounding in taunts and derisions. Something more than the grave must be meant in all these places. Home says, “All wickedness came originally with the wicked one from hell: thither it will be again remitted, and they who hold on its side must accompany it on its return to that place of torment, there to be shut up forever;” Clarke says the full rendering is, The wicked shall be turned “headlong into hell, down into hell. The original is very emphatic;” Scott “The future condemnation of the wicked seems to be intended; for as all men go down to the grave, the word, rendered hell, must in this connexion have a more awful meaning;” Henry speaks here of Sheol as “a state of everlasting misery and torment; a pit of destruction, in which the wicked and all their comforts will be cast forever.” Nor shall any of the incorrigibly wicked escape this dreadful doom. The word and is not in the original. It would have been better omitted here, so that we might read, The wicked shall be turned into hell, all nations that forget God. Numbers on the side of the wicked shall not save them. If whole nations forget God, whole nations shall perish. How mild these words, yet how terrible their import, if we consider the sin here spoken o£forgetfulness of God. Henry: “Forgetfulness of God is the cause of all the wickedness of the wicked.” To forget God, or the Lord, occurs very often in Scripture and is descriptive of irreligion. It is not confined as Venema seems to think to those who “tread all law and righteousness beneath their feet, and manifest that they have thrown off all regard to God, the Judge of the world, and the avenger of crime.” That forgetfulness of God naturally leads to the worst open sins, , and does actually lead many into the greatest excesses is true. The same may be said of unbelief. But both these are spiritual sins. They may both be practised while there is a decent exterior. Let the reader examine Deuteronomy 8:14; Psalm 106:21; Isaiah 17:10; Jeremiah 3:21, and parallel passages, and he will see that forgetfulness of God is not necessarily and in all cases accompanied with the most profligate morals. It is a sin of the heart, the seat of depravity.
  18. For the needy shall not always be forgotten. That is, by a well-known figure of speech he says, they shall never be forgotten. We have a like figure in 1 Peter 4:3. There seems to be an allusion to the preceding verse, q. d., if the wicked, even nations of them, forget God, yet it is a glorious truth, publish it abroad, that God shall not always seem to have forgotten the needy. The word, For, if that is the correct translation, gives the reason, why the wicked shall be turned into hell. But the word is elsewhere rendered surely, certainly, truly, assuredly, doubtless. See Genesis 29:32; Exodus 3:12; Joshua 2:24; 1 Kings 1:13; Isaiah 63:16. Either of these words would here give a very good sense. The word rendered, for, is also sometimes translated when, while, whereas, Genesis 4:12; Deuteronomy 19:6: Genesis 31:37. If this is the rendering we may read the two verses thus: The wicked shall be turned into hell, all nations that forget God; while (or whereas) the needy shall not be always forgotten. And because they are not forgotten, they shall not be ruined. The expectation ofthe poor shall not perish forever: The word not is properly supplied from the preceding clause, or we may read this hemistich as a question, Shall the expectation of the poor perish forever? A strong mode of asserting, it shall not. The word rendered needy is always in our version rendered poor or needy, except once when it is translated beggar. This is the first place in the Psalms, where it occurs. The word rendered poor in the last clause is [[Page:144]] the same that occurred in Psalm 9:12., and is there rendered humble, or in the margin afflicted. It is elsewhere in our version translated meek, lowly. Psalm 25:9; Proverbs 3:34. In both clauses the persons spoken of are the pious sufferers. Their full deliverance may be lawfully prayed for, as David does in the next verse.
  19. Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail. Some here render man by adding a word such as frail, or mortal. On that point See Introduction. § 16. Trie prevailing of man is the carrying of his counsels and measures against the laws of God and the principles of righteousness. God is invoked to arise to his throne, and put down this monstrous state of things where a worm seems to be strong, as the word prevail might read, against omnipotence. And so let the. heathen be judged in thy sight. The heathen, or nations here are the same spoken of in the whole Psalm They had long vexed the people of God. The prayer is that God as Judge would decide against their cruel and unrighteous course. But the verb judge is often taken in a good sense. See Psalm 72:4; Leviticus 3:17; Isaiah 1:17, and many other places. In this very Psalm, Psalm 9:4, the corresponding noun commonly rendered judgment is translated right. See also Psalm 72:1; Isaiah 32:1; 42:1, 3-4, and many other places. So that the prayer, Let the heathen be judged might perhaps signify, Let them be brought under the power of truth and righteousness. The serious difficulty to this view arises from the fact that the phrase in thy sight, and the whole preceding structure of the Psalm refer to God sitting as a Judge, and not to his becoming the author of salvation to the wicked. The only reason for supposing the word Judge to be here as in some other cases used in a good sense is the fact that the next verse has been so interpreted by some. In our version it reads
  20. Put them in fear, O Lord that the nations may know themselves to be but men. John Rogers’ translation: O Lord, set a schoolmaster over them, that the heithen maye knowe themselves to be but men. Coverdale: O Lorde, set a schoolmaster over them. Fenwick renders it thus

    Let them a guide and teacher have, O Lord!
    Their helpless state make thou the nations know.
  21. Moller: Set a teacher over them, but he thinks teacher means one who chastises, as Cyrus was the teacher of Belshazzar. He says it cannot signify that the Holy Spirit was to he their teacher. Piscator mentions this view and expresses no dissent from it; Horsley: O Lord, place a teacher among them. Brent uses a Latin translation, which reads, Place a teacher over them; The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Syriac, Vulgate and Doway all read, Put a law-giver over them; Morison: Place a teacher or law-giver over them; The Arabic: Appoint a teacher of the law over them; Bellarmine thinks it a prophecy respecting Constantine and other Christian Emperors, who were afterwards set over the nations. Scott first gives the sense as indicated by our translation and adds, “The original word, rendered fear, by varying a vowel point, means a Teacher; and in this sense the prayer is for their instruction and conversion. Bythner allows it may read, Instruct them. Having given the view suggested by the English version, as specially applied to Anti-Christian powers, Gill says, “Or these words are a prayer for the conversion of many among the nations, and may be rendered put, O Lord, fear in them; that is, the true grace of fear, that the nations may know themselves, their sin and guilt and danger, and know God in Christ, and Christ, and the way of salvation by him; for at the word know should be a stop, concluding a proposition, since the accent Athnach is there; and then follows another, they are men, Selah destitute of the fear and grace of God, are capable of it, but cannot give it to themselves. Some notice that the word rendered fear sometimes means a razor, and refer to Judges 13:5; Isaiah 7:20. Calvin, Cocceius, Patrick, Edwards, Fry, [[Page:145]] Hengstenberg and Alexander reject the foregoing interpretations, and suppose that our version gives the true idea, taking the word fear in the sense of dread. They are probably correct. Calvin: “The scope of the passage requires that we should understand it of fear or dread; and this is the opinion of all sound expositors.” There is nothing malevolent in this prayer. It is a mercy to any man so far to be put in fear as to make him know that he is but a man, a frail, dying, feeble creature. Calvin says that David’s “language is as if he had said, Lord, since it is their ignorance of themselves, which hurries them into their rage against me, make them actually to experience that their strength is not equal to their infatuated presumption, and after they are disappointed of their vain hopes, let them lie abashed and confounded with shame. It may often happen that those, who are convinced of their own weakness do not yet reform; but much is gained when their ungodly presumption is exposed to mockery and scorn before the world, that it may appear how ridiculous was the confidence which they presumed to place in their own strength. With respect to the chosen of God, they ought to profit under his chastisements after another manner. It becomes them to be humbled under a sense of their own weakness, and willingly to divest themselves of all vain confidence and presumption. And this will be the case, if they remember that they are but men.”

    For the sense of Selah See
    Introduction. § 15.

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. What a great teacher is experience! How it enriches the soul with knowledge and with confidence. The Christian’s strength is acquired in exercising himself unto godliness. Of this truth, this whole Psalm is proof.
  2. The first great element of true religion is godly sincerity. When we begin to worship and do other duties with our whole heart, we begin to live, Psalm 9:1. Without this all our doings are dead works, offensive to God.
  3. Hengstenberg: “A spirit of thankfulness is one of the marks by which the family of God is distinguished from the world. He who cannot from the heart give thanks shall beg in vain. The receiver raises himself more easily to the hope of future kindnesses, when he throws himself back on the remembrance of former benefits derived from the giver. The foundation of despair is always ingratitude, ” Psalm 9:1.
  4. It is no less a duty than a privilege to recount God’s wonders, Psalm 9:1. What a great advantage in this respect is possessed by old Christians, who have seen many marvellous tokens of God’s love to his chosen. He, who has been in the wars, is commonly listened to with interest.
  5. One good work or purpose naturally leads to another. If the people will heartily praise God, they will soon have something to tell of his wonderful works, Psalm 9:1.
  6. In true religion nothing will satisfy but God himself, Psalm 9:2. Dickson: “Not any benefit or gift received of God, but God himself, and his free favour is matter of the believer’s joy.” Calvin remarks that David means to say “that he finds in God a full and overflowing abundance of joy, so that he is not under the necessity of seeking even the smallest drop in any other quarter, ”
  7. We should find out the most fitting way of making known God’s praises, Psalm 9:2, 11, 14, and not tire in that good work. Home: “He, who, with the spirit and the understanding, as well as with the voice, ‘sings praise to thy name, O Most High, ’ is employed as the angels are, and experiences a foretaste of the delight they feel.” Let us learn to sing with grace in our hearts, making melody to the Lord, praising him for existence, for his many temporal gifts, and passing to the higher themes of redemption and glory.
  8. We need never fear that God will be dethroned, or overreached, or defeated. [[Page:146]] He is the Most High, Psalm 9:2. His natural no less than his moral perfections put him beyond the reach of all malice, earthly and infernal.
  9. How easily the wicked are discomfited. Their flight is a rout, Psalm 9:3. Their ruin comes like an armed man. Saints and sinners commonly both die a natural death, but any wise man had rather die the death of the Christian a thousand times than the death of the sinner once.
  10. God’s presence will confound any foe, Psalm 9:3. Nor should we make much of the means, but only of the Author of our deliverances from dismayed enemies. Dickson: “The way of giving God the glory in every action, and in special of our victories over our enemies, is to acknowledge him to be the chief worker thereof, and the creatures to be but instruments, by whom he turneth the enemy back.”
  11. The side God is on is sure to conquer, Psalm 9:4. No other reason of victory need be assigned. This covers the whole ground.
  12. Past defeats should forewarn the wicked of the sad disasters and inevitable destruction, that must speedily come on them, Psalm 9:4. Since the world began, they have never carried a point. Even the death of Christ was the most dreadful blow ever given to the empire of darkness. And before they leave the shores of time the great mass of then confess that sin is a lie and the world a cheat. Who ever heard “the people of the world speak well of it at parting?”
  13. At earthly tribunals a good cause is not enough to ensure success; but God is always with the right, Psalm 9:4. He judges righteous judgment. Three things should make our confidence in God perfect.” God is ever the same, and his throne remains unshaken-his administration of the affairs of the world is one of strict justice-he is still his people’s refuge, and still the hearer of prayer.”
  14. The men, the cities, the nations, that have perished, might well warn every man inclined to revolt against God to beware, Psalm 9:5. The fall of every rebel is God’s advertisement that none can transgress with impunity. The persecutors and persecuting powers of earth, when found irreclaimable, have always had a dreadful overthrow. Nations, inflamed by ambition, lusting for conquest, and regardless of right, ht, have always sooner or later met a terrible doom. Clarke solemnly warns “all the nations of the earth, who, to enlarge their territory, increase their wealth, or extend their commerce, have made destructive wars. For the blood, which such nations have shed, their blood shall be shed.”
  15. The wicked and the righteous are every way opposite, Psalm 9:6. If one is right, the other must be wrong; if one pleases God, the other must be continually provoking the heavenly majesty; if one is saved, the other must be damned. The converse is true. If one is wrong, the other is right; if one shall be damned, the other must be saved. God cannot love both. He must love him, whose moral character is like that of his Maker.
  16. Amidst all the changing scenes of earth and men, how glorious is the truth that God endures and reigns forever, Psalm 9:7. In human governments one dies and another succeeds. But he, who alone hath immortality, is on the throne of the universe. If on earth we have a good chief magistrate, we know not that he will live a day, nor have we any certainty that his successor will not be a foolish or bad man.
  17. Because God cannot deny himself, he must preside over all human affairs. He cannot vacate the throne of judgment any more than he can cease to exist. Dickson: “Courts of justice among men are not always ready to hear plaintiffs; but the Lord holdeth court continually; the taking in of no man’s complaint is delayed so much as one hour, though thousands should come at once, all of then with sundry petitions.” Morison: “Delightful is it to feel, that the reign of evil will not be everlasting; that [[Page:147]] however long it may be permitted to exist, it shall, at last, cease; nor is it less reviving to know, that the reign of peace, and truth, and righteousness, shall be everlasting.”
  18. The day of judgment will be a great revealer, Psalm 9:8. It cannot be otherwise.
  19. How vain is a religion of forms. How idle it is to attempt to hide ourselves in ordinances and ceremonies, seeing Jehovah himself is the refuge of his saints, Psalm 9:9.
  20. God can easily put his people beyond the reach of their mightiest foes. He is their high place, Psalm 9:9.
  21. The true knowledge of God promotes quietude. Henry: “The better God is known, the more he is trusted.”
  22. What everlasting pillars of truth are set up through all the Scriptures for the comfort of the saints, Psalm 9:10. See also Hebrews 13:5. Every such doctrine and promise is as durable as the throne of God.
  23. The duty of publishing all the truth, that shall be honour able to God and advance his kingdom, is no novelty, Psalm 9:11. The Old Testament reveals many of the principles on which the missionary enterprise rests. And in this work we have great encouragement; for, as Dickson says, “The acts of the Lord for his people are so stamped with the impression of his divinity, that they are able to purchase glory to God even among the nations that are without the church, and to draw them to him, and so it is not a needless, fruitless, or hopeless work to declare his doings among the nations.”
  24. Let men be warned against all murder and against all malice, which leads to murder, Psalm 9:12. Scott: “The blood of many martyrs has been shed, and their persecutors have supposed that no inquisition would be made for it: but from time to time the Lord anticipates that day when ‘the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.’ He is ever mindful of the cry of the humble.”
  25. Let not those persecuted for righteousness fear lest they shall be overlooked or forgotten by God, Psalm 9:12.
  26. An humble, fervent prayer is never lost, Psalm 9:12. Chrysostom: “Prayer is a haven to the shipwrecked man, an anchor to them that are sinking in the waves, a staff to the limbs that totter, a mine of jewels to the poor, a healer of diseases, and a guardian of health. Prayer at once secures the continuance of our blessings, and dissipates the clouds of our calamities. O blessed prayer! thou art the unwearied conqueror of human woes, the firm foundation of human happiness, the source of ever enduring joy, the mother of philosophy. The man who can pray truly, though languishing in extremest indigence, is richer than all beside; whilst the wretch who never bowed the knee, though proudly sitting as monarch of all nations, is of all men most destitute.” Never give up prayer.
  27. How harmonious is the character of a good man. He is called humble, Psalm 9:12, and yet the very same word may be rendered by other words and there will be no error taught. He is meek, he is afflicted, he is lowly. One evil passion may expel another so as completely to take its place, but the graces of the Christian all dwell together in unity.
  28. The old way of coming to God, stripped of self-righteousness, is the best, the only way. The holiest mere man that ever lived had great need to cry for mercy, Psalm 9:13.
  29. Great notice should be taken of the marvellous escapes from death which we experience, Psalm 9:13. God lifts us up from the gates of that dark prison. I know a man who was puny all his childhood, and in youth had so little health that it was often said, he will soon be in his grave. Almost invariably he was attacked with every prevailing malignant disease until he was thirty years old. Once in his early childhood he was within a few yards of a huge, ravenous bear. Soon after he was felled [[Page:148]] to the ground by a terrible blow from an axe, unintentionally inflicted on his face. Once he fell from a great height, and barely escaped death. Once lie was so nearly drowned that his life was saved only by his crawling to shore on the bottom of the river. Once it seemed impossible but that he should be pitched headlong down a precipitous bank, towards which lie and his wagon were borne by a powerful and uncontrollable team. He has been in a storm at sea under the command of a drunken captain, who soon afterwards lost his vessel in a gentle breeze in broad daylight inside the capes. Repeatedly has the most furious personal violence been threatened hint. Often has be been in the power of drunken drivers, who had not sense enough to guide the gentlest team. Yet after more than a half century of such narrow escapes lie still lives to recount God’s mercies. Ought he not to do it with glowing love? And yet perhaps half his contemporaries might narrate things no less strange.
  30. Till God undertakes our cause we must despair. But with his aid we may shout on the field of battle before a gun is fired, or a sword drawn, Psalm 9:14.
  31. Clarke: “There is nothing that a wicked man does that is not against his own interest. He is continually doing himself harm, and takes more pains to destroy his soul than the righteous man does to get his saved unto eternal life, ” Psalm 9:15, 16.
  32. How dreadful must be the doom of the wicked, Psalm 9:17. By whatever sound law of language we interpret the words of Scripture respecting their doom, we must tremble when we think of their passing out of time into eternity. Morison says that the seventeenth verse of this Psalm undoubtedly contains “a threatening of punishment in an unseen state of existence; and establishes the position that a future state of rewards and punishments was not unknown to the ancient Jewish church. Whatever difficulties may arise as to the critical meaning of the word hell, two things perhaps will be admitted; first, that it is here introduced as a threatening; and second, that it is intended to describe a fate peculiar to the wicked. If it be a threatening, it cannot be the peaceful repose of the grave; and if it be intended to represent the ignominy of the wicked, it must, of course, involve conscious existence; and if so, the hell spoken of can be neither more nor less than that prison of darkness, in which the spirits of the lost are reserved till the judgment of the great day.”
  33. Let the distressed people of God know that the day of their deliverance is at hand, Psalm 9:18. Their time is coming; and a blessed time it shall be. Malachi 3:16-18.
  34. However far the wicked may go, they shall establish nothing. God will arise, and their plans will be dissipated like the morning mist, Psalm 9:19.
  35. Every decision that God has ever made, or ever shall make, has been or shall be against the wicked, Psalm 9:19.
  36. What a blessing it would be if men but knew enough of themselves to abate their extravagant folly, and still more to give them some genuine modesty. Augustine says that “all man’s humility consists in a knowledge of himself.” But alas, “Sin doth so beset’ ignorant and graceless people, that they forget that they are mortal, and that God is their judge.”
  37. This whole Psalm shows that the church is not likely to be called to endure more than she has already triumphed over.
  38. Will not each reader lay to heart these great and awful truths? Surely we all have an interest in securing salvation. But when shall it once be? Chalmers says, “Faith is the starting post of obedience; but what I want is, that you start immediately — that you wait not for more light to spiritualise your obedience; but that you work for more light, by yielding a present obedience up to the present light which you profess — that you stir up all the gift which is now in you; and this is the way to have the gift enlarged, that whatever your hand findeth to do in the way of service to God, you now do it with all your might. And the very fruit of doing it [[Page:149]] because of his authority, is that you will at length do it because of your own renovated taste. As you persevere in the labours of his service, you will grow in the likeness of his character. The graces of holiness will both brighten and multiply upon you. These will be your treasures, and treasures for heaven, too, — the delights of which mainly consist in the affections, and feelings, and congenial employments of the new creature.” Surely if men have any reason or sense left, they will use them to urge their flight from the wrath to come.

Psalm 10.

posted 3 Apr 2014, 05:57 by Stephen Chaffer



Psalm 10.

  1. Why standest thou afar off, O Lord?
    Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? 
  2. The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor:
    Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. 
  3. For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire,
    And blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. 
  4. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, 
    Will not seek after God
    God is not in all his thoughts. 
  5. His ways are always grievous;
    Thy judgments are far above out of his sight:
    As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. 
  6. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved:
    For I shall never be in adversity. 
  7. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud:
    Under his tongue is mischief and vanity. 
  8. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages:
    In the secret places doth he murder the innocent:
    His eyes are privily set against the poor. 
  9. He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den:
    He lieth in wait to catch the poor:
    He doth catch the poor,
    When he draweth him into his net. 
  10. He croucheth, and humbleth himself,
    That the poor may fall by his strong ones. 
  11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten:
    He hideth his face; he will never see it
  12. Arise, O Lord;
    O God, lift up thine hand:
    Forget not the humble. 
  13. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God?
    He hath said in his heart,
    Thou wilt not require it
  14. Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite,
    To requite it with thy hand:
    The poor committeth himself unto thee;
    Thou art the helper of the fatherless. 
  15. Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man:
    Seek out his wickedness till thou find none. 
  16. The Lord is King for ever and ever:
    The heathen are perished out of his land. 
  17. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the Humble:
    Thou wilt prepare their heart,
    Thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: 
  18. To judge the fatherless and the oppressed,
    That the man of the earth may no more oppress. 

IN the Septuagint this Psalm is merged into the ninth so as with it to form one Psalm, and so as to change all the numbers by one on to Psalm 114, into which Psalm 115, is also merged. To complete the number ofone hundred and fifty the Septuagint divides our Psalm 116, into two and our Psalm 147, into two also, so that in the Septuagint, Psalm 10, corresponds to our Psalm 11, and so on. Only the first Nine and the last Three Psalms correspond in number in all the Bibles. The Vulgate and Doway follow the Septuagint. We follow the Hebrew original. The Vulgate and Doway admit that the union of Psalms 9.; 10.; in one is not according to the Hebrew. The reason for uniting the two may probably be found in the similarity of topics and in the modes of treating them. But this reason would as much apply to many other Psalms confessedly distinct. It is also probable that the absence of any title invited to this union. Even Venema joins it with the ninth. No one claims any original caption for it.

[[Page:150]] Many have expressed the opinion that this Psalm referred to particular times and events. Some have supposed that it respected Saul’s persecution of David. No solid reason is given for this. It certainly derives very little strength from the contents of the Psalm Piscator thinks it relates to domestic enemies. Others apply it to the invasion of Canaan by the hordes of Philistines. This receives some countenance from the contents, but very few will think the amount of evidence sufficient. Mudge and Edwards think “that this Psalm was penned when the Assyrians made inroads under Hezekiah.” Some have thought it was written during the Babylonish captivity. ‘Morison: “It is not, by any means, an improbable conjecture that the envious and persecuting conduct of Sanballat and his associates occasioned its composition by some unknown bard of Israel.” Clarke also: “It was probably made in reference to Sanballat and the other enemies of the Jews.” Some contend that it refers to the dreadful persecutions under Antiochus Epiphanes and the times of the Maccabees. See Venema on the place. Luther, Bugenhagius, Cocceius, Tillius, Gill and Fry think it refers to Antichrist. Luther and Gill insist on this view. The Syriac version has this caption: “Of the attack of the enemy on Adam and his race, and how Christ shall put down his arrogance.” Horsley regards this Psalm as a general account of the oppression of the righteous by apostate spirits, atheists, and idolaters. He seems to have followed Patrick, who says this Psalm “is a most lively description of the insolency of wicked atheistical men, when they have power and are in authority.” Slade thinks it “describes the character of some wicked and cruel enemy, or enemies, who persecuted

David and the church in his day; and, no doubt, was intended to describe the enemies of Christ and his church.” Calvin regards this Psalm as a complaint “that fraud, extortion, cruelty, violence, and all kinds of injustice prevailed everywhere in the world.” Although Scott is inclined to the opinion that this Psalm was composed with reference to the persecutions of David and other good men during the reign of Saul, yet he makes this very just remark: “Several of the Psalms seem intentionally to have been written in general terms, that they might serve to direct the devotions of the church in persecution, and those of every believer in his personal troubles and afflictions.” Hengstenberg is strongly in favour of its general character: “No trace is anywhere to be found of an individual reference.” This is probably the correct view. The fact of so great diversity among good men who would give it a historic origin or interpretation rather tends to confirm this opinion. The Psalm suits the pious of very different countries and ages. Surely sinners in power often show very much the same dispositions towards God’s people.

Those who hold that this Psalm was written after David’s time do not of course regard him as the author. But Calvin, Venema, Amesius, Henry, Scott, Hitzig, Hengstenberg and Alexander very properly ascribe it to the “sweet Psalmist of Israel.” It is found in the midst of Psalms, confessedly Davidic in authorship. Hengstenberg notices the fact that the words rendered in times of trouble in the first verse are found nowhere else but in Psalm 9:9, which was written by David.

The names of the Almighty occurring in this Psalm are Jehovah Lord, Elohim God and El God, on which see above on Psalm 1:2; 3:2; 10:4.

Of course the date of this Psalm is put down according to the views of different writers respecting its authorship and the events it notices. Clarke thinks it was written B. C. 445, and Scott B. C. 1058. Cocceius: “This Psalm is indeed not difficult in its matter or sense; but some difficulty arises from the changeable manner of its construction and from the ambiguity of some words found in it.”

  1. Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? The verb in this clause is generally given in the present tense in modern versions. The original is in the future; so also is the Chaldee. Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic and Vulgate use the preterit. Alexander says, [[Page:151]] the futures here and in the next clause imply the present with a prospect of continuance. The expostulation is reverent and not unusual. A like form was employed by the Saviour on the cross. It is based on the belief that God sees what is going on, has power to give relief, is a righteous God, and will finally do justice. Why then does he seem to be an indifferent spectator and withhold aid when it is so much needed? The question is repeated in other words: Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? Thewhy is brought forward from the first clause and thyself’is also supplied. All the old versions make both clauses of the verse interrogative. Some moderns drop the why and read Dost thou hide, etc. So Montanus and Ainsworth. But Venema drops the form of question in this clause; so also does Alexander, both of them reading, Thou wilt hide, etc.; Jebb: Thou hidest, etc.; Hengstenberg: Thou coverest, etc. These various renderings do not materially affect the sense. Either gives an idea weighty and solemn, but the parallelism is best preserved by retaining the interrogative form. The expostulation is thus strengthened. On the phrase in times of trouble, see above on Psalm 9:9.
  2. The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor. There seems to be no good ground for including this verse, as Edwards does, in the same sentence with the first, and rendering it, During the insolence of the wicked, whilst he persecutes, etc. The word wicked here is the same that is so rendered in Psalm 7:9; 9:5; in Psalm 1:1, 4-6 and Psalm 3:7, it is rendered ungodly. The word rendered pride is in Psalm 68:34 and in Deuteronomy 33:26, 29, translated excellency. This has led some to think the word here refers to the elevated position, occupied by persecutors, and employed to oppress the righteous. Yet the word is commonly rendered pride, and so most think it should be translated here. The poor of this verse are the humble of Psalm 9:12 and the poor of Psalm 9:18. The wordpersecute some would read is inflamed or burneth. Some of the old translations as well as some critics so read. Although the word may be so rendered yet it is given pursued, hotly pursued, chased, Genesis 31:36; Lamentations 4:19; 1 Samuel 17:53. In Psalm 7:73 the participle is rendered persecutors. Our version is probably the best. The wicked are often “exceeding mad, ” hot with rage, against the afflicted people of God. The next clause reads, Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. Edwards: And they are taken in the plots that they have devised. The word here rendered devices is in Psalm 10:4, thoughts. It may be taken in either a good or bad sense. Here it is evidently in a bad sense. Fry and Horsley render it “subtleties.” Horsley: “I choose this ambiguous word; being in doubt whether the petition against the wicked be that they may be ruined by their own stratagems against the righteous, or that they may be the dupes of their own atheistical speculations upon moral and religious subjects.” This goes on the supposition that the wicked are caught in their own traps. If so, the idea is the same as is presented in Psalm 7:14-16; 9:15, 16. Home and Morison seem inclined to favour the reading, They shall betaken, etc. This is better than that of our version. But none of these seem to give the true sense. It is not probable that the Psalmist here offers a petition. He does that towards the close of the Psalm He is now stating his case. The Septuagint and Vulgate read, They are caught in the counsels which they have plotted. Venema, Gill, Fry, Hengstenberg and Alexander favour the interpretation, That the poor are caught in the devices of the wicked. This makes the words harmonize with the context. If this view be followed, the best sense is obtained by reading, They [the poor] are caught in the counsels which they [the wicked] have plotted.
  3. For the wicked boasteth of his hearts desire. This rendering closely follows the Chaldee. The Septuagint and Vulgate: The sinner is praised in the desires of his soul; Syriac and Arabic: The ungodly glories in the lusts of his soul; Seeker and Horsley: The wicked is mad upon the desire of his soul; Hengstenberg: The wicked [[Page:152]] extols the desire of his soul. The word rendered boasteth is also very often rendered praise, sometimes glory, commend, celebrate. The sense is that the wicked here spoken of has ceased to be ashamed of his vileness, but openly speaks of it in a commendatory strain. Clarke: “This shows the excess of a depraved and imbruted spirit. He, who can boast of his iniquity, is in the broad road to ruin. Should such a one repent, and turn to God, it will be equal to any miracle.” Hengstenberg: “When the wicked ventures to laud in public the shameful lusts of his heart, as what need not shun the light, this is the highest degree of depravity, and betokens, at the same time, how secure he has become in consequence of his impunity, how sad the condition of the poor, how much occasion there is for such to fear, how necessary it hence is for God to interfere, and what reason there was for the why in the first verse.” He, who has thus far departed from God, goes further, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. Mudge and Edwards read, And the greedy of gain blesseth himself; the marginal reading is, The covetous blesseth himself, he abhorreth the Lord. Fry He adoreth gain, despising Jehovah; Calvin: The violent man blesseth himself; he despiseth Jehovah; Hengstenberg: Whosoever makes gain blesses, despises God; Alexander: And winning blesses, despises Jehovah. The last two authors regard this clause as parallel to Zechariah 11:3-5. If this is the correct view, then blesses has God for its object, and the man, who is filled with unlawful gains, is represented as attempting to sanctify, or at least to sanction his iniquities by blessing God for his unrighteous possessions; and in so doing he despises God, contemns his moral character, as if he would make him a partaker of his evil deeds. But our version gives a good sense, and has long been approved by pious scholars. The original fairly allows it. When a wicked man is quite vile and secure in his own sins, the next thing is to practise that gratuitous kind of iniquity, which consists in having pleasure in the sins of others. Romans 1:32. The reader may see that the word whom is not in the Hebrew. If any change is made in the reading it would perhaps be best to follow Calvin in this last clause: The violent man blesseth himself; he despiseth Jehovah. But there seems to be no good reason for using violent instead of covetous. That the wicked bless the vile, who are successful, is evident from Psalm 49:16-18.
  4. As a natural consequence of despising the Lord, the ungodly fall into general irreligion: The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God. Here and in the Chaldee, the words after God are supplied. Kimchi: “To seek God or to seek after God is a common phrase to designate the whole of religion.” Dimock and Jebb read seek God. A wicked man’s devices, and boastings, and pleasure in evil doers are tokens of a ruinous pride, which excludes all honest desires after the knowledge, favour, image, service and fellowship of God. Ainsworth: The wicked inquireth not into the height of his [God’s] anger; Fry: The wicked in the pride of his anger inquireth not. In the Psalms as elsewhere anger is the more common rendering of the word which we here render countenance. But the English translation in this case is to be preferred. Bad tempers are the basis of all the cruelty, persecutions and irreligion of evil men. Calvin would read, The wicked, etc. inquireth not; Edwards: He will make no inquiry. Calvin thinks that supplying any noun improperly limits the signification: “David simply means, that the ungodly, without examination, permit themselves to do anything, or do not distinguish between what is lawful and unlawful because their own lust is their law, yea, rather, as if superior to all laws, they fancy it is lawful for them to do whatever they please. The beginning of welldoing in a man’s life is inquiry … The exercise of inquiry proceeds from humility, when we assign to God, as is reasonable, the place of Judge and Ruler over us;” but Hengstenberg, following Venema, who had followed Dieu, would read it: The wicked, in his pride (says) he (God) searches, or perceives not. The Hebrew verb [[Page:153]] in this sentence is that found in Psalm 9:10, 12, rendered seek and make inquisition; and in Psalm 10:13, 14 of this Psalm, rendered require and seek out. So that this makes the wicked deny a providence. In accordance with this view, Venema says of these men, “Their counsels and projects were such, that in their very nature they involved the denial of God, and if an inference might be drawn from these concerning the faith of those who entertain them, we should conclude them to be deniers of God.” Either of these interpretations gives us a weighty doctrine consistent with truth elsewhere clearly revealed. Yet that which leaves the text very much as it is in our common version, will probably be found, on full investigation, the most satisfactory. The natural tendency of every error is to downright atheism. This ungodly man was ready for any gross opinion, and so it is added, God is not in all his thoughts. The is here properly supplied. The literal rendering of the Hebrew is, No God, all his thoughts. The Septuagint and Vulgate read, God is not before his face; Arabic: God is not before him; Syriac: Nor is God in all his thoughts; Edwards: He will make no inquiry; There is no God, are all his wicked thoughts; Waterland: All his thoughts are without God; Jebb: There is no God, are all his thoughts; Brent: All his thoughts tend to this, that there is no God; the margin: All his thoughts are, There is no God; Mudge: No God is all his wicked politics; Horsley No God is the whole of his philosophy; Hengstenberg: God is not, are all his purposes; q. d., his purposes are a continued practical denial of God; Alexander: He will not require, there is no God-are all his thoughts; Fry: “There is no God, ” is all his thought. For thoughts Ainsworth reads “presumptuous cogitations.” Chaldee: He says in his heart that all his thoughts are not manifest to God. It will be remembered that the word rendered thoughts is in Psalm 10:2 translated devices. To say that God is not in all his devices, that is, that he lives, and plans, and feels, and thinks as if he were persuaded that there is no God is as good a sense and as consistent with the text and context as any other.
  5. His ways are always grievous. The Septuagint: His ways are always profane; Arabic: He defiles his ways; John Rogers’ translation, : His wayes are allwaye filthye; Genevan translation: His wayes alway prosper; Schroeder: His ways are crooked; Calvin, Venema and Hengstenberg: His ways are always prosperous; Horsley and Fry: His ways are ever confident; Alexander: His ways are firm in all time; Bernard’s Bible: His ways are always secure; Edwards: His ways are impious at all times. For grievous Edwards reads perverse; Slade, offensive and hurtful. These renderings are of three classes; one asserts his ways to be sinful, wicked, profane, defiled, filthy, crooked, impious, perverse; the second represents them as successful, prosperous, firm, confident, secure; i e., he has no fears and no reverses; the third is that his ways are sorrowful, grievous, painful, vexatious, to himself at least, and perhaps to others also. The difficulty in the case arises from this, that all these explanations are in accordance with facts often existing in the lives of the wicked, and with the teachings of Scripture respecting them; and from the further fact that the original will bear various renderings, the translations differing according to the derivation of one word. A forcible reason for preferring the Genevan translation in this case is that it best suits the context. The Psalmist is expostulating with God on the existing state of things, and he brings in the persecutions, artifices, boastings, pride, and atheism of the wicked; and to crown all, he adds that this man is prosperous. Moreover he is as stupid as he is vile; for thy judgments are far above out of his sight. The mind of such a man is debased, “the thoughts are otherwise occupied, the taste is perverted, the conscience is seared, the judgment itself is bewildered; nothing, in short, pertaining to the spiritual world can be seen in its true character.” God’s judgments, whether by that term we understand the decisions of his word, his usual and righteous sway over the events of life, or the terrific displays of his anger sometimes made against atrocious rebels, are quite beyond the apprehension of such a besotted man, quite out of his sight. He is blind and cannot see afar off. This is the most obvious sense. But Hengstenberg thinks it has regard to his exemption from afflictions — ”thy righteous chastisements are so far removed from him, that they never reach him.” If this is the correct view, this clause is no advance on the last, but only a repetition. Alexander thinks this “clause describes him as untouched or unaffected by God’s providential judgments.” When a man ceases to fear God, he soon learns not to regard men, Luke 18:2, 4. So here: As for allhis enemies, hepuffeth at them. The Septuagint, Vulgate and Arabic read, He lords it over them; Chaldee: He is wrathful towards them; Ainsworth thinks it means that he defies faem; Syriac: He despises them; Patrick’s paraphrase: He contemns them all and values them not a straw; Clarke: “He whistles at them; insults God, and despises men. He overthrows them with his breath; he has only to give orders and they are destroyed;” Hengstenberg: He blows at them, i e., he drives them away with little trouble, he has only to breathe and they vanish. This clause describes him, says Alexander, “as easily ridding himself of all his human adversaries.” Venema, however, properly suggests that this language refers to his own estimate of what he can do. Using the plural instead of the singular respecting the wicked, Calvin gives this explanation of the whole verse: “As they enjoy a continued course of prosperity, they dream that God is bound or plighted to them; and hence they put his judgments far from them; and if any man oppose them, they are confident they can immediately put him down, or dash him to pieces with a puff or breath.”

    So confident is he that, 

  6. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never bo, in adversity. The first negative here is very strong, q. d., I shall not from age to age, I shall not generation upon generation, I shall not in all coming ages, I shall never, no never’be moved. Edwards employs simply never. Hengstenberg says, The meaning is: Misfortune shall never overtake me. Home gives the spirit of the passage: “Prosperity begets presumption, and he who has been long accustomed to see his designs succeed, begins to think it impossible they should ever do otherwise. The longsuffering of God, instead of leading such an one to repentance, only hardens him in his iniquity. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, he thinks it will not be executed at all. He vaunteth himself, therefore, like the proud Chaldean monarch, in the Babylon which he hath erected, and fondly pronounceth it to be immortal. Such, it is too evident, are often the vain imaginations of triumphant wickedness.” The word rendered adversity in the last clause is used to express both natural evil, and moral evil. Here it evidently means natural evil. In this sense it is also translated evil, wretchedness, hurt, trouble, affliction. This vain man says, he shall never see these things. So strong and so strange are these delusions of wicked men, that some have thought we have here an ideal personage. But it is not necessary to frame such a device. Many a wicked man thinks all this, see Isaiah 28:15. That is he says it in his heart, in his wish, in his desire, and often he believes this horrid lie. He does not stop to think soberly or honestly, for
  7. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud; under his tongue is mischief and vanity. The word here rendered cursing, is elsewhere oath, swearing, Jeremiah 23:10; curse, Job 31:30; execration, Jeremiah 42:18; Calvin adds, perjury; the word deceit is plural, deceits, and is elsewhere subtlety, treachery; the word fraud is in our version always rendered so, or deceit. Calvin gives it malice; Fry, injury; Hengstenberg, oppression. For mischief ‘the church of England reads ungodliness; Hengstenberg, sorrow; Alexander, trouble; in our version it is elsewhere renderedperverseness, sorrow, [[Page:155]] wickedness, trouble, mischief, misery, travail, grievousness, iniquity, etc. The word vanity is in our version elsewhere rendered iniquity (the rendering also of Calvin, Edwards, Jebb and Alexander) mischief (used also by Hengstenberg) affliction, wickedness, etc. Surely when the ruling power of a country was in the hands of a man or men ready to do such deeds, it was high time for the righteous to call on God, and it was time for him to work. Some think that the imagery of this verse is partly drawn from serpents, which carry their poison in their mouths, under their tongue. It may be so, Psalm 140:3. But it is probable that it refers to the sweet morsel under the tongue, Job 20:12. Such vileness of character will show itself; and so, “From words the description proceeds to actions.”
  8. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. All the verbs in this verse are in Hebrew in the future, and are so given by Calvin and Alexander. Calvin says he leaves these verbs in the future, “because they imply a continued act, and also because this Hebrew idiom has extended even to other languages.” Many have been perplexed with this and the two following verses by regarding them as a literal description of the wicked previously noticed, whereas they contain the language of bold comparison; q. d., he is like the lurking, cruel, sneaking felon. Thieves have long had their dens; murderers, their caves; and robbers, their plots. Striking parallel passages are in Job 24:14-17 Psalm 56:6; Proverbs 1:11, 12. John Rogers’ translation is, He sytteth lurkyng in the gardens; the Bishops’ Bible: He sitteth lurking in the thievish corners of the streetes; Horsley gives the whole verse thus, “He sitteth in ambush in the villages in secret places; he murdereth the innocent; his eves are ever watching for the helpless.” In a note he expresses a preference for another form of rendering the first clause: “He sitteth prowling about the farmhouses.” He adds, “The image is that of a beast of prey of the lesser order, a fox or a wolf, lying upon the watch about the faun-yard in the evening.” Perhaps no other commentator agrees with Horsley in this view. The assassin, murderer and robber seem to be in the writer’s mind. Scott applies it to Saul’s bloody and deceitful conduct; Clark, to the insidious behaviour of Sanballat and his companions. But it cannot be shown that the Psalm has a special reference to any particular person. The word rendered villages is often found. In the singular it generally signifies an enclosure or court as of the temple, or tabernacle, of a prison, or of a king’s house. In the plural it is rendered courts in Psalm 65:4; 84:2, 10. It is also rendered towns, and in many cases villages. In our version it is never rendered palace or palaces. Yet upon the supposition that it may be so translated is based the remark of Gill that “the allusion is not to mean thieves and robbers, but to persons of note and figure. Hence the Septuagint, the Vulgate, Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it, he sitteth in lurking-places with the rich; and may be fitly applied to the pope and his cardinals.” But there is no proof that this Psalm is prophetic of events under the gospel further than that what wicked persecutors are in one age they will in like circumstances be in all ages. All the enemies of God’s people, when unrestrained, display the worst tempers. If intrigue, deceit, oppression, iniquity, blood-thirstiness and violence could have exterminated the church of God, there would not have been left of it a vestige. The word rendered poor in the last clause is found in this Psalm, Psalm 10:8, 10, 14, and nowhere else. The rendering in our version is uniform. In many other places poor is equivalent to humble; here, to afflicted. Alexander uses the word sufferer. Calvin reads the last clause, His eyes will take their aim, etc., and adds that their eyes are bent or leering, by a similitude borrowed from the practice of dart-shooters, who take aim with leering, or half-shut eyes, etc. Mant uses the phrase peering eyes, and assigns the same reason as given [[Page:156]] by Calvin above. But the simile drawn from the felons of those ancient times did not cover the whole ground. Therefore it is said, 
  9. He lieth in wait secretly, as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. For den Gesenius and Horsley read lair. In Jeremiah 25:38, it is covert. The word twice rendered poor in this verse is not the same found in Psalm 10:8, but that found in Psalm 10: 2, 12 in the latter case rendered humble. It is also rendered humble in Psalm 9:12 and poor in Psalm 9:18. In this verse the comparison is changed from that of an assassin and murderer to that of a lion and then again to that of a hunter. Calvin and Alexander also very properly retain the futures in this verse, and for the reason given under the last. Violence, cunning and cruelty are the ideas here involved. There has never been an honest, candid, kind, gentle, tender-hearted persecutor of God’s servants. Net, the same as in Psalm 9:15.
  10. He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. There is much diversity in the rendering of this clause. The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Arabic and Vulgate: He will crouch and fall when he shall have power over (or overcome) the poor; Syriac: He shall lie low and fall, and in his bones are or shall be grief and pangs; Ainsworth: He [the lion] falleth with his strong paws on the troop of poor; Brent: He smites, he humbles, and violently casts down the poor; Edwards: The feeble are borne down, and fall by his superior strength; Calvin He will crouch low, and cast himself down, and then shall an army of the afflicted fall by his strengths, or by his strong members; Fry: He croucheth, lie stoopeth, and falleth down. The wretched are in his snares; church of England: He falleth down and humbleth himself, that the congregation of the poor may fall into the hands of his captains; Amesius: He lessens himself, he bends himself, he falls down flat in all his limbs as if they had no strength; Jebb: And the destitute fall by his strong ones; Hengstenberg: Crushed, he [the poor man] sinks down; and the poor falls through his strong ones; Alexander: And bruised he will sink; and by his strong ones fall the sufferers. The margin for croucheth reads breaketh himself. The following explanations are offered. The word rendered poor is here plural. It is a long word and some think it is composed of two words, the first of which means company, army, congregation, troop. Scholars of former times held this view more than those who have written in the present century. The teaching is precisely the same whether we say the afflicted generally, or the company of the afflicted. The word strong is also a plural adjective, and has no noun following it. Some think the figure of a lion is not kept up here, but suppose the wicked is spoken of as a persecutor in power and so they add ones, meaning men and captains. Others suppose he is here spoken of as a hunter and so they read snares, meaning strong snares. This gives us precisely the same idea of the enemy, on the whole, as if we suppose with many that the figure of a lion is to be preserved in the whole verse. In that case we read strong parts, limbs, bones, jaws, paws, members, teeth. The Assembly’s Annotations gives teeth or paws. This explanation is probably to be preferred. It is harmonious throughout; it is drawn from the context; it is consistent with the habits of the lion; it suits the meaning of the words. Buffon says, “When the lion leaps upon his prey he gives a spring often or fifteen feet, falls on it, seizes it with his fore paws, tears it with his claws, and afterwards devours it with his teeth.” Cumming gives quite the same account of the habits of this animal. Indeed they are notorious. If this view is correct then the sense is that the wicked imitates the lion in crouching, lying low, not showing himself, seeming even careless about his prey, but at the moment when without trouble he has his victims in his power, he pounces upon the harmless and defenceless, and they are overcome at once. If any more [[Page:157]] satisfactory exposition has been furnished let it be adopted. The simile of a lion is here dropped, and the wicked is next spoken of as an infidel or atheist, as in Psalm 10:2-7.
  11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. For the import of the first clause see comment on Psalm 10:6. Although all the Hebrew verbs here are in the preterit, yet our translation probably gives the sense of the whole by employing the past, present and future. See Introduction. § 6. The word rendered never would literally be not forever, not to eternity. The sense is that the wicked denies that God has a providence over the world, that he remembers, sees, or has his face turned towards human affairs, or holds men accountable to him. They deny his moral government. That the wicked rise to this awful height of presumption is elsewhere declared, Isaiah 29:15. God’s delay to punish sinners is not pardon of their sins; it is not even connivance, though they often think it Isaiah Such dreadful atheism makes the case urgent, and so David says:
  12. Arise, O Lord; i e., arise to thy throne of judgment. See Psalm 9:19. Try and decide this cause. O God, lift up thine hand. For the name here given to God, see Psalm Psalm 10:4. He is invoked not only to give a decision, but also to execute it. The hand is lifted up for various purposes. Here it seems to be equivalent to address thyself to this matter. Forget not the humble. The reference is clearly to Psalm 10:11. The same verb is used in both places. For remarks on humble see Psalm 9:12. The import of the prayer is, Show all men that these thy enemies are mistaken in saying that thou hast forgotten the cause between thy people and their persecutors.
  13. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he bath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it. The phrase in his heart is here found for the third time in this Psalm See above on Psalm 10:6. For contemn many read despise. But in Hebrew it is the past tense, hath despised, hath contemned; i. e., why has the wicked been allowed so long to despise or contemn God? The word here rendered doth contemn is in Psalm 10:3 abhorred. The church of England reads, Wherefore should the wicked blaspheme God, while he doth say in his heart, Tush, thou God carest not for it? This verb is rendered by provoke, abhor, blaspheme, contemn, despise. Besides the two places in this Psalm, see Psalm 107:11; Proverbs 1:30; Numbers 16:30; Psalm 74:18. Why should the wicked do either or all of these things? He who does one of them will do them all. The Scriptures word blaspheme does not necessarily imply scornful railing, but only evil speaking of any description. The oldest translations terminate the interrogation with the first clause, but Amesius, Edwards, Jebb, Fry, Hengstenberg and Alexander continue it to the end of the verse. The word here rendered require is found also in Psalm 9:10-12, and in Psalm 10:4, 15 of this Psalm See comment on Psalm 9:12. Edwards’ translation gives the sense, Why should the wicked despise God? Why should he say in his heart, Thou wilt make no inquisition?
  14. Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite to requite it with thy hand. That is, Thou, who seest all things, hast seen all this wrong of which I complain; although the wicked say the contrary, Psalm 10:11. Nor art thou indifferent to mischief and spite. Edwards has mischief and injustice; church of England, ungodliness and wrong; Calvin, mischief and vexation; Hengstenberg, suffering and anger; Alexander, trouble and persecution; Do way, labour and [[Page:158]] sorrow. The word rendered mischief is the same that is so rendered in Psalm 7:14, 16; in Psalm 25:18, pain; in Psalm 55:10, sorrow; in Psalm 73:5, trouble; in Psalm 90:10, labour; in Proverbs 31:7, misery. The word rendered spite is in Psalm 6:7, rendered grief in Psalm 85:4, anger; in Proverbs 12:16, wrath; in Ecclesiastes 7:3, sorrow; in 1 Kings 21:22, provocation. God sees and marks all these things whether we are the objects or the subjects of them. In particular he never fails to mark for retribution all the unwept and unforsaken cruelties and wrongs manifested to his people. The Chaldee reads, It is known (or clear) unto thee, that thou wilt send upon the wicked sorrow and wrath; thou lookest to render a good reward to the righteous, ‘he word rendered requite here is in Psalm 1:3, bring forth; in Psalm 2:8, give; in Psalm 4:7, put; in Psalm 8:1, set. Elsewhere it means to deliver, to grant, etc. To give what is due is the sense here. Thus confidence in God’s moral character is maintained. And so the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless. The word poor is the same as in Psalm 10:8, 10, found in this Psalm only. The word rendered fatherless is never in our version translated otherwise, yet it often has the sense of friendless, forlorn, comfortless. So we have a variety of versions of these clauses all good, though some are excellent. The Septuagint and Vulgate: The poor is left to thee, and to the orphan thou wilt be a helper; Arabic: In thee the poor is comforted; thou art the help of the orphan; Syriac: To thee the poor commits himself, and thou art the helper of the orphan; Chaldee: In thee the poor shall hope; thou wilt sustain the orphan; Calvin: Upon thee shall the poor leave [himself and his concerns]; thou shalt be a helper to the fatherless; church of England: The poor committeth himself unto thee; for thou art the helper of the friendless; Edwards: The feeble leaveth himself to thee; for thou art the helper of the friendless; Amesius: He, who is wanting in strength, commits himself to thy faithfulness, and thou art the helper of the orphan boy; Venema: To thee each sorrowful one leaves it, thou hast been the helper of the fatherless; Brent: On thee the poor is cast; to the orphan thou art a helper; Jebb: To thee the destitute committeth himself: The fatherless, it is ThouWzo art indeed his helper; Fry: Upon thee the wretched casteth himself: thou hast been the helper of the destitute; Hengstenberg: The poor surrenders to thee. The orphan, thou art the helper; Alexander: Upon thee the sufferer will leave [his burden]. An orphan thou hast been helping. Not one of these renderings teaches error. We have here a delightful illustration of the harmony of God’s people in their views of practical truth, and of the rich and varied fullness of the promises of God.
  15. Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none. To break the arm is utterly to destroy the power. Our version agrees with the ancient versions. For evil Edwards reads flagitious; church of England, malicious; Alexander, bad. Fry reads this clause, The arm of the wicked is broken; thus making the pious sufferer rejoice in a deliverance fully secured by relief already experienced, or by faith distinctly foreseen. The word man is supplied in our version. The word rendered evil may be either an adjective or a noun. As the latter it is found in Psalm Psalm 10:4; 7:4, 9; 10:6. Commonly in the Psalms it points to a person. This has led some to terminate the first clause with the word wicked. Hengstenberg reads the last clause — and the evil, seek out his wickedness, find them not. The sense he gathers is, Thou mayest seek his wickedness, and not find it. That is, it will be utterly overthrown and, as it were, annihilated; Houbigant: Seek out for his iniquity, that it may not prevail; Fry: Thou mayest search for the wicked, thou canst not find him; Dimock: Thou shalt seek the wicked, but shalt not find him. But the word rendered seek is the same as is found in Psalm 9:10, 12; 10:4, 13. Some think it has the same meaning here as in Psalm 10:13, require; Houbigant has it require his iniquity. And so they understand the Psalmist as asking God so to subvert and bring to naught this wickedness that not a trace of it shall be left even where it seemed most rampant. This view is confirmed by the next verse. Clarke paraphrases it, Continue to judge and punish transgressors, till not one is to be found. For the form of imprecation here used, See Introduction, § 6.
  16. The Lord is King for ever and ever. The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Arabic and Vulgate read this clause in the future; The Lord shall be king, or shall reign forever. The verb is here supplied. See comment on Psalm 9:5. Scott says, The original words rendered for ever and ever appear “always strictly to denote eternity.” All comfort would at once fail God’s people, if there was a shadow of doubt thrown over [[Page:159]] the stability and eternity of the divine government. In proof of the truth of the two preceding clauses a great and notorious fact is called up: The heathen are perished out of his land; Fry reads, from off his earth, i e., God’s earth, God’s land; either the whole earth, or that part of it, which they once inhabited. The word is the same so often rendered earth in the early part of Genesis It is also rendered land, country, ground. Hitherto in the Psalms it has been rendered earth. Psalm 2:2, 8, 10; 8:1, 9. The heathen here are called by the same Hebrew name as in Psalm 2:1, 8; 9:5, 15, 17, 19, 20.
  17. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble. It is often said God hears the prayers and cries of his people. In Psalm 5:1, he is asked to hear a meditation. Here it is said he has heard a desire. Right desires are in God’s esteem good prayers. In Psalm 10:3, the wicked is said to boast of his heart’s desire; but the righteous was too humble to boast; he longed; he had his desire; God heard it-the same word is used in both verses. The humble are the needy, the meek, the afflicted, the poor. The same word as in Psalm 9:12, 18; 10:12, is rendered humble and poor. This clause may teach that God has been in the habit of hearing the desire of the meek, or that he has done so in this particular case. The latter is probably what is here intended. If so, then the sense may be that God has done so, either in the anticipations of a strong faith, or in the terrible overthrow already visited on the enemy. There was good cause for the favourable regard shown to the wishes of the righteous. Thou wilt prepare their heart, i e. God by his Holy Spirit has always given his people right dispositions before him, and he always will do it. The mercy here spoken of is never to be discontinued, Romans 8:26. Of course God will honour and answer the desires put into the hearts of his people by the Comforter. This is the more obvious sense of the passage, and is adopted by Henry, Scott, and others. Clarke says, “See the economy of the grace of God; 1. God prepares the heart; 2. Suggests the prayer; 3. Hears what is prayed; 4. Answers the petition. He who has got a cry in his heart after God, may rest assured that that cry proceeded from a Divine preparation, and that an answer will soon arrive. -No man ever had a cry in his heart after salvation but from God. He, who continues to cry, shall infallibly be heard.” The most common rendering of this and some other forms of the verb of this clause is to prepare or make ready. See Genesis 43:25; 1 Chronicles 15:1; Psalm 65:9; Proverbs 30:25. Yet good scholars have suggested other renderings. Some instead of prepare read direct. This is much the same as, prepare. If God directs our hearts, that is the very preparation we need in prayer and in all duties. This rendering of the word is elsewhere sometimes found in our version. Fry, reads strengthenest, but in none of its forms is the verb ever so translated in our English Bible. Boothroyd, Horsley and Jebb, prefer establish. This ‘is frequently the meaning of the word, and it is so rendered by our translators. Psalm 89:2, 4; 2 Chronicles 17:5. With this substantially agrees the rendering of Hengstenberg, Make firm; and of Alexander, Settle (or confirm.) Yet how does God establish the hearts of his people but by giving them grace, which leads them to cry mightily to him for help, and then granting them strength? Perhaps most will prefer our common version. For, Thou wilt cause thine ear to hear. Calvin: “The meaning of this clause is, that it is not in vain that God directs the hearts of his people, and leads them in obedience to his command, to look to Himself, and to call upon him in hope and patience, — it is not in vain, because his ears are never shut against their groanings. Thus the mutual harmony between two religious exercises is here commended. God does not suffer the faith of his servants to fail, nor does he suffer them to desist from praying; but he keeps them near him by faith and prayer, until it actually appears that their hope has been neither vain nor ineffectual.”
  18. [[Page:160]] This verse is connected with the preceding. God will hear cries and grant desires offered to him, to judge the fatherless and the oppressed. The fatherless, the same word and of the same import as in Psalm 10:14. Oppressed, the same as in Psalm 9:9, found four times, thrice rendered oppressed, once in Proverbs 26:28, afflicted. The wordjudge is the same as in previous Psalms. The meaning is that God will decide in favour of the defenceless and the wronged. And he will do this, that the man of the earth may no more oppress. There is benevolence in all God does. His government is amiable. So far as it is respected and honour ed, his creatures are happy. Indeed the only perfectly joyful society in the universe is one, where there is never an infraction of any law of God. But some men will not learn by words. Examples must be put before them. Such is “the man of the earth, ” a phrase found no where else, but like men of the world, found in Psalm 17:14, although in the Hebrew the two phrases have not a word in common. The man of the earth is earthy, terrestrial, in his aims, hopes and desires. The men of the world have their portion in this life. They may become persecutors and oppressors at any moment. Compare these verses. For oppress some read out-brave, withstand, terrify. Mudge gives this paraphrase “This worthless mortal, how much so ever a man of earth, cherished with all its favours, and supported with all its strength, shall no longer be able to terrify the people of Jehovah, the God of heaven”

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. It is no new thing for God to seem for a while to leave his people to the power of their enemies, Psalm 10:1. This ought not to cast them down. God’s servants of former days endured all this, and yet came off conquerors.
  2. There is not in all the militant church of Christ a case of wrong suffered, or of persecution endured so bad as to render it doubtful whether we should at once bring it before God, Psalm 10:1. “Good people would be undone, if they had not a God to go to, a God to trust in, and a future bliss to hope for.” Cast all your care on hint, for he careth for you. It is God’s office, work and personal delight to help the feeble and defend the injured.
  3. However sore may be the trials of his saints, God never finally, nor totally forsakes them. True, as Henry says, “God’s with drawings are very grievous to his people at any time, but especially in times of trouble.” But God’s time of coming to the rescue is often the nearest, when we think it furthest off. “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” Amesius draws this as the first lesson from this Psalm, that “in their straits pious men chiefly complain of the absence of God; because they have found that in all that concerns them, God and his providence are chiefly to be regarded, because the absence of God is cause of the greatest consternation to all creatures, and because the presence of God brings adequate consolation against all evils.”
  4. The abuse of God’s patience and mercy by each successive generation of his enemies does not seem to vary in the least particular. The cavils, and scoffs, and arts of the wicked, when they dare indulge them, have a tedious uniformity. The language of the wicked found in this Psalm has been repeated in every succeeding age. See other Psalms, the prophets, the evangelists, the last chapter of second Peter, and church history generally.
  5. Persecution is no new thing, Psalm 10:2. When God’s people have much of the Spirit of Christ, and when Christ’s enemies have the power, the blood of the martyrs will flow. But blessed be God, it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. The temper of the wicked cares not for righteousness if they can have their way. Their pride will carry them on. Henry: “Tyranny, both in State and Church, owes its original [[Page:161]] to pride;” Home: “Inconceivable is that malignant fury, with which a conceited infidel persecutes an humble believer, though that believer hath no otherwise offended him than by being such.” Were there any mercy in the hearts of persecutors, the harmlessness and the helplessness of God’s people would awaken their compassions. But they are relentless. Truly it is a great mercy to be kept out of the power of the wicked. No wonder God is aroused by the violence done to his saints.
  6. Nor is it any new thing for the wicked to glory in their shame, Psalm 10:3. They have long been foaming it out.
  7. But let men beware how they attempt to sanction their wickedness by pleading that God gives them power, Psalm 10:3; Isaiah 10:12-15.
  8. One of the most dangerous things man can do is to bless wicked men, to put bitter for sweet and light for darkness, Psalm 10:3. He, whose commendations are for the vilest, is utterly ruined.
  9. Will men ever learn the evil of covetousness? It is the root of all evil. It is condemned in the moral law, in the Psalms, in the prophets, in the gospels, in the epistles, by conscience, by common sense, by the voice of mankind, by many dreadful examples made of men, who were greedy of gain. The covetous man abhorreth the Lord, and the Lord abhorreth him, Psalm 10:3. It is no more possible for a man to be saved without hating covetousness, than for him to be saved without hating lying or murder.
  10. Pride is a sin of like description, Psalm 10:3-4. It turns all blessings into curses. It makes men shameless. It is denounced by all, renounced by few. One is proud of his humble origin, another of his noble birth, one of his fine clothing, another of his rough garments, one of his virtues, another of his vices. There is no ascertainable difference in the destructive tendency of the different kinds of pride, Proverbs 16:18; 29:23.
  11. One of Amesius’ lessons drawn from this Psalm is that “In nothing does the impiety of the proud overleap all bounds more than in this that they are accustomed to praise themselves and those who resemble them in wickedness, ” Psalm 10:3; Deuteronomy 29:19, 20, 21.
  12. A sufficient cause of the irreligion of all wicked men is found in their bad passions, Psalm 10:3-4. What crowds of men, like King Saul, have convictions, and sometimes express them with seriousness and tenderness, but are hurried away into sin by their self-will, malice, worldliness, ambition, or jealousy.
  13. And how can men be expected to come to a saving knowledge of divine things, when they will not seek to be informed? Psalm 10:4. No honest inquirer after truth has ever perished. The personal history of every infidel gives the clue to his scepticism. It is a fact that the history of the world has not yet told us of one calm, praying, unprejudiced rejecter of Gospel doctrine and Gospel mercy.
  14. If sin had its way, it would both dethrone and annihilate God, Psalm 10:4. As far as it can, it acts and feels and thinks as if he existed not.
  15. We should not be surprised at finding the sinner vile, Psalm 10:5. Security in sin is an infallible token of impiety, no less than gross outbreakings. All transgressions are the fruit of an unregenerate heart. It ought to confound us, if an evil tree brought forth good fruit.
  16. Nor should we be surprised to find the ways of sinners grievous even to themselves, Psalm 10:5. The wicked always were and always must be like the troubled sea.
  17. Nor should the prosperity of the wicked amaze us, Psalm 10:5. They get nothing worth having in eternity. They get all their good things in this life.
  18. It is no new thing for sinful men to lack spiritual discernment, Psalm 10:5. They are so blinded by sin, so in love with delusion, that, without a supernatural change, they cannot perceive any beauty even in holiness.
  19. [[Page:162]] “If thou seest the perversion of the poor and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter, ” Psalm 10:5. It was so in Solomon’s day; it has always been so; but God will yet put all right.
  20. Though wicked men do sometimes rise to wondrous heights of power, yet their arrogance commonly rises still higher, Psalm 10:5.
  21. The incorrigibly wicked could not continue in the secure commission of his sins but for some strange delusions, some remarkable rejection of evidence, some wonderful capacity of false reasoning, Psalm 10:6. A living man may as wisely say, I shall never die, as a prosperous man say, I shall never be in adversity, or as a sinner say, I shall not lose my soul.
  22. None will be more surprised than the wicked themselves at the depth and suddenness of their fall. This is unavoidable, if they remain in unbelief. An angel from heaven could not open their eyes to see their coming doom, if they have no willingness to know the truth, Psalm 10:6-7.
  23. There is a consanguinity between all sins. Compare Psalm 10:6 with several preceding and succeeding verses. Pride, cruelty, cunning, boasting, lust, covetousness, false peace, want of docility, practical atheism, spiritual blindness, contempt, cursing, deceit, fraud, mischief and vanity are a frightful sisterhood.
  24. The apostle James told us no new thing when he depicted (James 3:2-13) the dreadful evils of a wicked tongue, Psalm 10:7. Death and life are in its power. There is no greater wickedness than that, which breaks out in words.
  25. It is amazing what mean artifices are resorted to by the best of the opposers of God’s truth and people, even by people commonly fair in other matters, Psalm 10:7-8.
  26. The fawning, crouching, sycophantic part often played by the cruel and wicked can deceive none but the simple and inexperienced, Psalm 10:10.
  27. Scripture account of the folly of sin, is fully sustained by the defences which it sets up. No maniac ever reasoned more illogically than the unbeliever, Psalm 10:6-11.
  28. It is very safe for those, who have a good cause, to petition the infallible judge to proceed at once to decide the controversy between them and their enemies, Psalm 10:12. Calvin: “This verse contains the useful doctrine, that the more the ungodly harden themselves, through their slothful ignorance, and endeavour to persuade themselves that God takes no concern about men and their affairs, and will not punish the wickedness which they commit, the more should we endeavour to be persuaded of the contrary; yea, rather their ungodliness ought to incite us vigorously to repel the doubts, which they not only admit, but studiously frame for themselves.”
  29. When men see the lengths to which sin leads the ungodly, Psalm 10:13, is it unreasonable to suppose that every sinner would be appalled and scream out in horror, if at the beginning of any course of folly the end should be clearly seen by him?
  30. The divine omniscience is as comforting to saints as it is terrible to sinners, Psalm 10:14.
  31. The divine vengeance, which seems so slow to do its work, will not tarry. Its approach is more swift than is thought by many. It lingereth not; it slumbereth not, Psalm 10:14.
  32. When we consider what a friend the poor and the orphan have in God, it is not wonderful that they rise from the dunghill and sit among princes. Their very hardships are a good school for them. Their very helplessness makes them fit objects of divine compassion. Let all such remember God’s readiness to help them, Psalm 10:14. Divine power can crush any number of foes to save its friends.
  33. The destruction of the wicked will be utter, Psalm 10:15. God will leave them neither root nor branch.
  34. If we did not read history like atheists, we must learn some awful and salutary [[Page:163]] lessons, Psalm 10:16. Where are all the ancient empires and emperors? Where are the nations that forgot God? Dickson: “Earthly kings cannot live still to help their friends, followers, or flatterers, or to persecute and molest God’s church: but Christ is the Lord and King forever and ever to defend his people, and punish his foes.”
  35. If we are sure we have good desires, we should be encouraged to hope for their fulfilment, Psalm 10:17.
  36. It is as really a mercy as it is a revealed truth that we are dependent on God for everything, even for one right thought or feeling. If he did not prepare our hearts, they would never be fit for any part of his service, Psalm 10:17.
  37. It is not possible that scriptural prayer should not be heard and answered, Psalm 10:17. It must be so because God is God.
  38. It is a great mercy that God judges in the earth, Psalm 10:18. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.
  39. In all ages wickedness is much the same. The most learned men are not agreed whether this Psalm best suits Saul and his courtiers, Antiochus Epiphanes, Belshazzar, Sanballat and his coadjutors, or the Pope and his myrmidons. The fact is that the temper and arts of the haters of God’s church are so much alike in disposition, that as they have opportunity, they act very much alike.
  40. The Assembly’s Annotations says, “This whole Psalm may serve for an ample confutation of the error of those, who make the worldly success of great undertakers an argument of the goodness of their cause; as also for the consolation and confirmation of those, who suffer though it be much and long.”
  41. It is unquestionably wise to serve God. The last account will bring all right. Here there is darkness about some things. But saints and sinners will in the last day have the same judgment respecting the folly of sin and the wisdom of piety.
  42. Cobbin: “Our ground of glorying in God is that he is just. He tries the righteous as gold is tried in the furnace, but he punishes the wicked. The one is corrected, the other is destroyed. Both may suffer: but the one for his present and eternal good, the other as the prelude to everlasting ruin.” “Cecil was pacing to and fro in the Botanic Garden at Oxford, when he observed a fine specimen of the pomegranate almost cut through the stem. On asking the gardener the reason, he got an answer which explained the wounds of his own bleeding spirit. ‘Sir, this tree used to shoot so strong, that it bore nothing but leaves. I was, therefore, obliged to cut it in this manner, and when it was almost cut through, then it began to bear plenty of fruit.’ Ye suffering members of Christ, be thankful for every sorrow which weakens a lust or strengthens a grace. Though it should be a cut to the heart, be thankful for every sin and idol shorn away. Be thankful for whatever makes your conscience more tender, your thoughts more spiritual, and your character more consistent. Be thankful that it was the pruning-knife and not the weeding-hook which you felt: for if you suffer in Christ, you suffer with him; and if with him you suffer, with him you shall also reign.”
  43. What an awful lesson this Psalm teaches to tyrants, tyrant monarchs, tyrant Judges, tyrant executive officers, tyrant landlords, tyrant husbands, tyrant masters, rant creditors, tyrant teachers. O how the down-trodden of earth will yet rise up, and clank their chains, and show their scars, and call to mind their cries for mercy when were in vain.
  44. To the weary, tempted, persecuted follower of Christ, how sweet the rest of heaven will be. Scott: “From heaven alone will all sin and temptation be excluded: no Canaanite shall find entrance there; no lust shall then remain in the heart of any inhabitant; no imperfection will be known; but all shall be complete in love, purity, and joy.

Psalm 11.

posted 2 Apr 2014, 13:08 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 2 Apr 2014, 13:12 ]

Psalm 11.

To the chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

  1. IN the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul,
    “Flee as a bird to your mountain ?”
  2. For, lo, the wicked bend their bow,
    They make ready their arrow upon the string,
    That they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
  3. If the foundations be destroyed,
    What can the righteous do ?
  4. The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven:
    His eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men.
  5. The Lord trieth the righteous:
    But the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
  6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares,
    Fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest:
    This shall be the portion of their cup.
  7. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness;
    His countenance doth behold the upright.

FOR remarks on the caption, see on Psalm 4. The words A Psalm are not found in the Hebrew, but are properly supplied in the Septuagint, and other versions ancient and modern, including the English. There is no good reason for doubting that David was the author of this ode.

Commentators have frequently expressed the opinion that David here describes some part of his troubled life during the reign of Saul. Theodoret thus held. This view is favoured by Calvin, Moller, Fabritius, Patrick, Edwards, Henry, Gill, Dodd, Scott and Morison. Hengstenberg thinks quite differently: “How little colour the Psalm affords for a personal construction is evident from this, that among those, who take that view, it is a subject of perpetual controversy, whether it refers to the times of Saul or of Absalom.” To this it may be replied that such controversy does not disprove its reference to either time, or even to both, so far as they were alike. But nothing is gained by fixing on a given time or event to suit a Psalm, if it has as much fitness to many other conditions of its author, or of the just man, whom he personifies. It is entirely probable that much of the language is suggested by occurrences in the eventful life of David. Rosenmuller: “The occasion of this Psalm is wholly uncertain, but we may reckon it, with De Wette, among those, which, in the name of the people, implore divine aid against barbarous enemies.” Yet this view is not sustained by the contents. Brent’s first remark is, “This Psalm is not a prayer, but a confession of faith, against calumniators;” Amesius; “The scope of David in this Psalm is openly to declare that consolation, which he possessed, and which he studied more and more to enjoy, in opposition to all those temptations, which assailed him on every side.” Hengstenberg quotes with approbation Claus, saying, “Confidence in the Lord and his protection, even against the huge force of the wicked, is the one subject of this Psalm” Throughout the Psalm the original for Lord is Jehovah. See on Psalm 1:2. Some have thought that this Psalm was put next the tenth on account of a general similarity of contents, and especially of a resemblance between Psalm 10:8; 11:2. But no such reason seems to have governed in making the arrangement, else many other changes would have been made, differing from the present order.

  1. In the Lord put I my trust; how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? 

    The first verb in this verse is the same as is found in Psalm 2:12; 5:11; 7:1. Our version always gives it trust, oxput trust in, except in Psalm 57:1, where it is rendered make any refuge, and in Proverbs 14:32, where we read, hath hope. Many Latin versions read confide in. Trust in God is a vital matter in religion. It is at the foundation of all rational piety. The Chaldee has: In the word of the Lord do I hope; [[Page:165]] Ainsworth: In Jehovah do I hope for safety. Commentators are not agreed as to the persons addressed by the pronounce. Luther says that they are “erroneous and fanatical spirits, who draw away men.. characters having the peculiar mark of hypocrites, -that they arrogantly, proudly, and with high looks despise and deride the truly godly;” Slade supposes that “David’s friends recommended him to fly;” Patrick thinks “David’s friends” were here his tempters; Morison calls them “his short-sighted and misjudging friends;” Alexander speaks of them as “timid and desponding friends rather than taunting and exulting enemies;” Scott supposes “timid friends” to be addressed; Gill holds the same view; so also does Clarke; but Hengstenberg regards the tempters here as “godless enemies;” Amesius also speaks of the language as that of “adversaries.” If they were friends, they were very much like Job’s wife. Cowardice is always dangerous. Nothing is so rash. It is commonly criminal, proceeding from unbelief. Any advice to desert a post of duty is unwise and wicked. On the words to my soul, see comment on the same expression in the Hebrew in Psalm 3:2. What they said distressed him, wounded his feelings. The advice given him was, Flee as a bird to your mountain. The word rendered bird is commonly so rendered, but in Psalm 8:8; 148:10, and some other cases, it is rendered
    fowl; and in Psalm 84:3; 102:7 it is rendered sparrow. Morison: “The words which denote the names of most animals in the Hebrew admit of application to the individual or the species.” Some have thought this clause proverbial, but if so, the evidence seems not to have been afforded. It is clear that Proverbs 27:8, relied on by some, does not prove it. There is some diversity in the rendering also. Hammond: “The Hebrew reads, ‘To your mountain, a sparrow;’ all the ancient interpreters, uniformly, ‘to your mountain as a sparrow;’ and so possibly the reading anciently was. However, if it be, ‘fly, sparrow, to your mountain, ’ the sense will be the same;” Horsley: Flee, sparrows, to your hill; Alexander: Flee (to) your mountain (as) a bird. But none of these variations materially alter the sense. We get the same idea whether we read bird or sparrow, and whether we suppose David is called a bird and bid to flee, or whether he is told to flee as a bird. In each case we have the same general idea. But instead of reading, Flee to your mountain, some would readfrom your mountain, meaning Zion, or the hill country of Judea, or some particular hiding-place. The first who suggested this rendering were certain Jewish expositors. Gill names Kimchi and Ben Melech, and Morison speaks of “many of the Jewish writers” as taking this view; and adds, “It must be admitted that the word [rendered flee] does signify more the act of passing from than that of fleeing to.” This remark is hardly borne out by the use of the word. But some have proposed to read in or through the mountain. If the word rendered^ee is to determine the preposition following, this would be as good as either of the others, if not better. The participle is in Genesis 4:12, 14 rendered vagabond. If they said to him, Go, wander in the mountain, having no certain place of resort, then we have the whole sense contended for by Calvin, though he reads into, and not in or through. He says that “men advised David to leave his country, and retire into some place of exile, where he might be concealed, inasmuch as there remained for him no hope of life, unless lie should relinquish the kingdom, which had been promised to him.” Calvin: “I do not, however, think that any particular mountain is pointed out, but that David was sent away to the desert rocks, wherever chance might lead him.” To, into, in, or through, gives a better sense than from. But the pronoun your and the verb flee are in Hebrew plural. So this counsel given is not merely to David, but to all his associates, all, who made common cause with him. The church of England version is therefore not good: How say ye to my soul that she should flee as a bird unto the hill? Instead of as a bird, Brent [[Page:166]] reads swiftly. Our translators never so render the word. No doubt swiftness is implied in the flight, so also are danger, fearfulness and helplessness.
  2. For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. The translations of this verse vary. Edwards: For behold the wicked bend the bow, they fix their arrows upon the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; Fry: For, lo! the wicked bend their bow; they have fixed their arrow upon the string; to shoot secretly at the upright in heart; Jebb: For behold, the ungodly bend the bow; they make ready their arrow upon the string, to shoot at them in darkness, even at the upright in heart; Calvin: Surely, behold! the ungodly shall bend their bow, they have fixed their arrows upon the string, to shoot secretly at the upright in heart; church of England: For lo, the ungodly bend their bow, and make ready their arrows within the quiver, that they may privily shoot at them which are true of heart; Hengstenberg: For, lo! the wicked bend the bow, place their arrow upon the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright. The word rendered string is in our version never translated quiver, and ought in no case to be. For quiver two other and very different words are found in the Hebrew. Genesis 27:3; Psalm 127:5. The bending of the bow here is to be explained as in Psalm 7:12. The word rendered arrow is in the singular. The tenses of the verbs in our version will be found as good as in any other translation. See Introduction. § 6. But are the words of this verse spoken by those who advised David to flee, or by David himself? The former opinion is embraced by Boothroyd, Edwards, Gill, Home, Slade, Scott, Clarke, Morison, Hengstenberg and Alexander. But Calvin thinks that David “here continues his account of the trying circumstances in which he was placed. His design is not only to place before our view the dangers with which he was surrounded, but to show us that he was even exposed to death itself. He therefore says, that wherever he might hide himself, it was impossible for him to escape the hands of his enemies.” This view is probably to be preferred. If so, then in the first verse David tells us what others said, and in this informs us of the actual state of things. Everywhere the enemies of David and his associates were surrounded by foes already armed and prepared in the most stealthy manner to shoot at the upright in heart, the men of rectitude. Vitringa: “It is implied in the idea of rectitude, that there is some canon, rule, or common measure, according to whichjudgment may be given in regard to all spiritual operations. What is conformed to this standard is morally straight, as that is also called in architecture, which is done according to the line or plummet.” God’s people, so far as they are sanctified, are not crooked, but straight, straightforward, upright. The same word is found in Psalm 7:10, and in the [[7th verse>>Psalm 11:7]] of this Psalm
  3. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? There is great diversity in the renderings of this verse. Septuagint: They have destroyed the things which thou hast prepared: but what has the righteous done? Chaldee: For if the foundations be destroyed, why does the righteous work good? Arabic: They have destroyed that which thou hast prepared: but what has the innocent done? Boothroyd: When the foundations of justice are subverted, what can even a righteous man do? Calvin: Truly, the foundations are destroyed: what hath the righteous One done? Edwards: When the foundations are pulled up, what has the righteous man to do? church of England: For the foundations will be cast down; and what hath the righteous done? Amesius: When the foundations themselves are destroyed, what shall the just man do? Jebb: For the foundations will be cast down: the righteous, what can he do? Fry: For the foundations are overthrown: what has the Just One done? Hengstenberg: For the foundations are destroyed: the righteous, what does lie do? Alexander: For the pillars (or foundations) will be (are about to be) destroyed; [[Page:167]] what has the righteous done, i e., accomplished? The word rendered foundations is also in Isaiah 19:10, where it is translated purposes in the text, but in the margin foundations. By foundations Jerome understands laws. But this is not defining the word, but interpreting it. Some Jewish writers suppose the reference to be to the counsels, plots and snares of wicked men, which are broken and overthrown by the Lord, and not by men, for what can the righteous do in a matter of so cunning and extensive devices? Some apply it to the destruction of the priests of Nob, 1 Samuel 22. The other opinions are that the word should be rendered pillars or foundations. Figuratively pillars may signify princes or nobles. But the more common impression is that David is speaking of the foundations of justice as Boothroyd and others. Alexander: “The pillars or foundations are those of social order or society itself;” Clarke “They have utterly destroyed the foundations of truth and equity;” Venema: “The foundations are destroyed in communities remarkably corrupt, in which the laws of right and equity are wantonly trodden under foot.” Hengstenberg regards the clause as descriptive of a general state of moral dissolution, which deprived the righteous of any footing, subverting the basis of society, which is the supremacy of justice and righteousness.” This is pretty certainly the correct view. The verb be destroyed is in Hebrew future. The idea is that this dreadful disorder now exists and is likely to continue. If so, what can the righteous do? Some put this in the past tense, literally rendering the Hebrew, What has the righteous done? They understand the question to be in substance, What has the righteous effected to hinder this dreadful state of things? But the obvious sense gathered from our version is very good, i e., This state of things continuing, what can a righteous man accomplish? The grammar will admit of this rendering. There is no evidence that for righteous man we should read Just One, meaning Messias. Calvin understands the question, What hath the righteous done? as equivalent to, what evil hath he done? But this is pretty certainly a misapprehension of the sense. The Psalmist thus distressed looks around for relief. Nor is his faith without an object.
  4. The Lord is in his holy temple. This doubtless should read, The Lord is in the palace of his holiness. The word here rendered temple is repeatedly rendered palace, plural palaces. 2 Kings 20:18; Psalm 45:8, 15; 144:12; Proverbs 30:28; Isaiah 13:22, and many other places. It is true that the name of temple is given to the tabernacle before David was born, 1 Samuel 1:9; 3:3, so that no argument can be drawn from that source. But the connection shows that David is here speaking of God as a Judge and King, governed by righteousness, sitting in heaven, not presenting himself in the Shechinah of the tabernacle. See Comment on Psalm 5:7. Calvin renders this clause, Jehovah is in the palace of his holiness; Alexander: Jehovah (is) in his palace (or temple) of holiness; Fry: Jehovah is in his holy habitation; Venema and Patrick also use palace. That David here refers to heaven, the true sanctuary of which the temple was but a figure, is evident from the next clause, where he says expressly, The Lord’S throne is in heaven; q. d., On earth at present all is confusion, one can obtain no justice or equity, but I do not trust in man, but in him whose kingdom ruleth over all, ever dealing in righteousness, ever lifted up above the power of malice, and never relinquishing his rights as Governor and Judge of all. Calvin “There is in these words an implied contrast between heaven and earth; for if David’s attention had been fixed on the state of things in this world, as they appeared to the eye of sense and reason, he would have seen no prospect of deliverance from his present perilous circumstances. But this was not David’s exercise; on the contrary, when in the world all justice lies trodden under foot, and faithfulness has perished, he reflects that God sits in heaven perfect and unchanged, from whom it became him to look for the restoration of order from this state of miserable confusion. [[Page:168]] He does not simply say that God dwells in heaven; but that he reigns there, as it were, in a royal palace, and has his throne of judgment there.” Such is David’s confidence in the existence and efficiency of the providence of Jehovah that he immediately adds: His eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men. God is an earnest spectator of all that passes even in states of the wildest confusion. His book of remembrance is continually recording all that occurs whether good or bad. There is no authority for adding, as the Septuagint and Fry, after behold the words “the poor one, ” or “the afflicted one.” The verb rendered behold is found also in Psalm 11:7. There is no better translation of it than that of our version. The verb rendered try is found also in Psalm 11:5. It is often rendered by the verb prove, Psalm 77:3; 66:70; 51:7. In Psalm 26:2 it is rendered examine. Eyelids is parallel to eyes in the preceding clause. The children of men, literally, the sons of Adam. See Introduction. § 16. Patrick’s paraphrase of this verse is striking. He makes David say to those who tempted him and to all these sad disorders, “My answer is, that the world is not governed by chance, nor can men carry things just as they please: but the Lord into whose holy palace no unjust counsels can possibly enter, and whose throne is infinitely above that of the highest king on earth: He, I say, is the supreme and most righteous Ruler of all affairs; and no mischief can be so secretly contrived, no wicked design so artificially dissembled, but it lies open before his eyes, and he sees through it: nor need he take any pains to discover it; for at the first glance, as we speak, he perfectly discovers how all men are inclined, and looks to the very bottom of their hearts.” So grateful is this view of the Divine government that David dwells on it in the next verse.
  5. The Lord trieth the righteous. Godproves, examines his people. See Psalm 11:4. For trieth Edwards uses explores. The word rendered righteous is the same as in Psalm 1:5, 6; 5:12; 7:9. In Hebrew the verb tryhsre and in Psalm 11:4 is in the future, thus declaring that God does this thing and will continue to do it. There is no danger that he will ever cease to do it. Some think that this clause ought to be extended so as to include the word wicked, and so as to read, The Lord trieth the righteous and the wicked. This is favoured by the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Arabic, and by Ainsworth, Brent, Edwards and Fry. Alexander also regards this division as admissible. On the other hand the Chaldee and Syriac with Calvin, Amesius and Hengstenberg retain the division of our version. There seems to be no good reason for adopting the suggestion of some so as to read, The righteous Jehovah trieth, i e., God proceeds as a righteous Judge. This is indeed true, but is not the truth here taught. If we adopt the pointing suggested above, then the last clause reads, And him that loveth violence his soul hateth. For loveth Edwards gives delighteth; Calvin and Fry, approveth. The cruelty, rage and pride of violence are utterly repugnant to the divine nature. Luther says this clause “is spoken emphatically, in that the prophet does not simply say that God hates, but his soul hates, thereby declaring that God hates the wicked in a high degree, and with his whole heart.” In our version hardly any word has so uniform a rendering as the last verb in this verse. When given as a verb it is uniformly translated hate. Not fire is so opposed to water as the nature of God to sin. To him it is a horrible thing. Consequently, 
  6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest this shall be the portion of their cup. In this verse the word snares has occasioned considerable discussion. Hare and Edwards think it does not belong to the Hebrew text, and ought to be stricken out. They object that it injures the metre. But the Psalms have never been shown to be metrical in the original. They further object that this word injures the sense. But this will be easily answered. Edwards indeed [[Page:169]] translates it, putting it in Italics. But he thinks that if any word be used, it should be another word than the one commonly found in the Hebrew Bible, and so reads hot cinders. Brent also reads hot cinders. The word rendered coals in Proverbs 26:21; Isaiah 44:12; 54:16, very much resembles the word here rendered snares. But it is not the same. The word rendered snares is found in the singular or plural in the Psalms nine times, and in our version is uniformly translated. In some other parts of Scripture our version uses the word gin as a fit rendering, but agin is a snare. Jebb regards the word much as Edwards does, and connects it with the next word and reads the whole, He shall rain upon the ungodly coals of fire, and brimstone, and a wind of horror; Boothroyd: On the wicked he raineth flakes of sulphurous fire, a horrible tempest is the portion of their cup; Waterland: Upon the wicked he shall rain snares: Fire and brimstone and a tempestuous wind shall be the portion of their cup; Horsley: Upon the impious he shall rain glowing embers: Fire and brimstone, and a tempestuous blast, is the portion of their cup; Fry: He will rain upon the wicked lightning, fire, and sulphur; and the hot “wind of the desert, ” shall be the portion of their cup. Amesius reads, burning coals; the margin, quick burning coals; Lowth prefers live coals or hot burning coals. He says, “This is certainly more agreeable to the context than snares. Michaelis and others say that the Arabians call lightnings, snares, i e., fiery ropes. The verb rendered shall rain expresses a great abundance of anything good or bad descending from above. Thus it is applied to the descent of manna and of quails in the wilderness. Exodus 16:4; Psalm 78:24, 27. So also it is applied to the descent of hail, Exodus 9:23. In Genesis 19:24 it is used to show how Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone, viz.: by a copious descent of those destructive elements. That the wicked are to be caught in snares is frequently asserted in Scripture. In Job 18:9; Psalm 69:22; Proverbs 7:23; 22:5; Ecclesiastes 9:12; Isaiah 8:14; 24:17, 18; Jeremiah 28:43, 44 the same word is used as is found in the text, showing how familiar to inspired writers was the idea of the destruction of the wicked by snares. And even where the same word is not used, the same idea is often presented in other words as in Psalm 7:15; 9:15, 16; Isaiah 8:15; 28:13. So that destruction by snares is not, without better cause than has yet been shown, to be rejected from this place. Hengstenberg: “While the wicked believe that they have the righteous in their snares, and are now able, with little difficulty, to destroy them, suddenly a whole load of snares is sent down upon them from heaven, and after all flight is cut off for them, they are smitten by the overpowering judgment of God.” Calvin: “The Psalmist, with much beauty and propriety, puts snares before fire and brimstone. We see that the ungodly, while God spares them, fear nothing, but give themselves ample scope in their wayward courses, like horses let loose in an open field; and then if they see any adversity impending over them, they devise for themselves ways of escape: in short, they continually mock God as if they could not be caught, unless he first entangle and hold them fast in his snares. God, therefore, begins his vengeance by snares, shutting up against the wicked every way of escape; and when he has them entangled and bound, he thunders upon them dreadfully and horribly, like as he consumed Sodom and the neighbouring cities with fire from heaven.” No doubt the figure of fire and brimstone is taken from the overthrow of the cities of the plain. An horrible tempest shall also beat on the wicked. The word rendered horrible is found also in Psalm 119:53 where we read horror and in Lamentations 5:10 where we read terrible. Bythner thinks it signifies a sudden tempest that burns and scorches as it goes. It is literally a wind of horrors or ofterrors. Some commentators think the figure is drawn from the wind, which the Arabs call Smum, Samum, or Samoom, as it is variously spelled. But this wind never blows in Palestine, and would hardly be here mentioned. Hengstenberg: “The only well-grounded [[Page:170]] exposition is strong wrath.” Edwards reads it stormy tempests; Alexander, raging wind, literally wind or (blast of furies;) church of England, storm and tempest; Calvin, a storm of whirlwinds. The last phrase, the portion of their cup, is probably originally taken from the custom of putting into the cup of each guest the portion designed for him at feasts. It is a common figure of Scripture denoting the allotments of providence. It is often taken in a bad sense. Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17; Ezekiel 23:32-34; Matthew 20:22, 23; 26:39; Luke 22:42. The prominent ideas presented in the whole verse are the abundance, the suddenness, the terribleness, the destructiveness and the irresistible violence of the calamities, which shall at last come on the wicked, however appearances may for a long time be to the contrary. Morison: “All these terrific images are but sensible, and therefore defective representations of invisible and spiritual realities. The most fearful objects, with which the human eye or the human imagination is familiar, can furnish no just [adequate?] representation of that scene of horror and dismay upon which the wicked enter at death. Enough, however, is revealed of it, to awaken salutary fear, and to cause every man to tremble lest he should come into this place of torment.” Nor is the punishment of the wicked, nor the treatment of the righteous capricious. God acts as he does because he is what he Isaiah And so it is said, 
  7. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. For doth behold, Calvin reads approveth. Edwards reads the whole verse, For Jehovah is righteous; he loveth upright actions; his countenance beholds with pleasure that which is just; Hengstenberg: For righteous is the Lord, he loves righteousness, his countenance beholds the upright; Alexander: For righteous (is) Jehovah; righteousness he loves; the upright (man) shall his face behold. Instead of the upright, the church of England reads the thing which is just. The sense given by each of these renderings is good and scriptural. None of them is any improvement on our English version, which is concise, and well corresponds to the original. There is no good reason for reading with Dimock, Jehovah will justify him that loveth righteousness, etc. The word behold is the same that is so rendered in Psalm 11:4. There it is said his eyes behold, here his countenance doth behold, i e., the aspect of his countenance is friendly towards the upright. In the former part of the Psalm David had argued from God’s office as King and Judge that he would be against the wicked. Here he argues from the divine nature that he will favour the righteous. Calvin appropriately says, “It is a strained interpretation to view the last clause as meaning that the upright shall behold the face of God.” The reason why such a rendering has been thought of is that the verb is singular, and the word upright is singular, while the word countenance is plural. But it is not inconsistent with Hebrew usage to have a singular verb and a plural nominative. See Introduction. § 6. This is especially the case, where the doctrine of the Trinity may be supposed to be brought to view, as here. The aspect of every person in the Godhead is unitedly benignant towards God’s people.

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. Faith in God is necessary under all dispensations and in all situations. It is impossible to proceed a step in the right way without it, Psalm 11:1.
  2. There is always ground of hope to one who trusts in God. All is not lost, that is brought into jeopardy. While God lives and reigns, there is hope for a good cause and for a good man. We may boldly challenge all who would drive us to despair, Psalm 11:1.
  3. He, who purposes to do his duty, must make up his mind to know no man [[Page:171]] after the flesh, and to listen to no counsel however kindly it may seem to be given, if it conflicts with the known will of God, Psalm 11:1.
  4. How extreme is the folly of sin. Nothing seems more justifiable in the eyes of carnal men than flight in time of peril. Yet we must often cry out, How say ye, etc., Psalm 11:1.
  5. It is always wise to stand in our lot, Psalm 11:1. The post of duty is a high tower. Henry: “That which grieved David in this matter, was, not that to flee would savour of cowardice, and ill become a soldier, but that it would savour of unbelief, and would ill become a saint, who had so often said, In the Lord put I my trust.” Calvin: “This verse teaches us, that however much the world may hate and persecute us, we ought nevertheless to continue steadfast at our post, that we may not deprive ourselves of a right to lay claim to the promises of God, or that these may not slip away from us, and that however much and however long we may be harassed, we ought always to continue firm and unwavering in the faith of our having the call of God.”
  6. In maintaining an unwavering profession and steadfastness we must carefully avoid all influence from the wisdom of the flesh, Psalm 11:1. Men, who are Christians, may yet be carnal to a sad degree, 1 Corinthians 3:1. When they are so their advice often is much the same as that given by ungodly men.
  7. Good men should not be surprised at any amount of wickedness they shall witness. Bad men have always been very bad, Psalm 11:2. The wicked always shall do wickedly. It is in their hearts. Every generation has its Cain, its Ahithophel, its Sanballat, its Judas, its Demas, its false brethren, its dogs, its unprincipled cowards and brutal tyrants.
  8. There is a nice adaptation between the proceedings and purposes of evil men. Stealthy acts befit stealthy plans, Psalm 11:2. Many a sinner shoots privily, who has too much shame to enable him to attack openly. Deeds of darkness befit the children of darkness.
  9. It is important that we often ask ourselves, Are we upright? Psalm 11:1. If we are, we are also downright, outright, straight, straightforward. Crooked ways belong not to godliness. When we find ourselves inclined to an uncandid course, we may know all is not right.
  10. It is always necessary to adhere to first principles, Psalm 11:3. This is as important in religion as in anything else. Henry: “If you destroy the foundations, if you take good people from off their hope in God, if you can persuade them that their religion is a cheat and a jest, and can banter them out of that, you ruin them, and break their hearts indeed, and make them of all men the most miserable.” With care and examination adopt first principles. When adopted, stick to them.
  11. In temptations, which lead us to deny first truths in religion, there is one advantage, viz., we see at once that we must hold fast our integrity, or give up conscience, peace of mind, principle, God and salvation. It is a great point when we are able to see the bearings of our conflicts. If the foundations shall fail, all is lost, Psalm 11:3.
  12. What an inestimable blessing is a good government, established and conducted on true, just and uniform principles. If those, who complain of ordinary burdens in a good government, were placed even for a short time under the terrors of misrule or anarchy, they would find a state of things, which would probably make them thankful for a return to any form of regular and free government, Psalm 11:3.
  13. But if we are placed by God in states of social and civil life, wholly unsettled, let us remember that others before us have seen all order subverted, all justice denied, Psalm 11:3. Through God they have outlived such a state and come to better days; and [[Page:172]] so may we. A Roman would not despair of the republic. A Christian should hope well of all affairs in the government of God. Home: “All is not over, while there is a man left to reprove error, and bear testimony to the truth; and a man, who does it wits becoming spirit, may stop a prince, or senate, when in full career, and recover the day … No place on earth is out of the reach of care and trouble. Temptations are everywhere; and so is the grace of God.”
  14. We see what would be the state of things if infidels sad the sway. All virtue and wits it all justice and all order would perish. Every foundation would be destroyed. Morison: “Such men are wont to boast of liberty; but woe to the righteous of the land when left to their tender mercies! Those, who save impiously shaken off their allegiance to the Almighty, cannot be supposed to treat wits much deference his humble and devoted servants. The liberty, of which infidels talk so much, is but an exhibition of that selfishness, above which their system can never elevate them, and it only requires that the same selfishness should dictate a line of persecution, for them instantly to adopt it. In the absence of all principle they are necessarily driven wherever passion, or prejudice, or interest may impel them.”
  15. However wild confusion may reign around us, and the true ends of government be forgotten, yet it may well make the hearts of the righteous to rejoice that God is not, and cannot be dethroned, Psalm 11:4. All other sceptres shall be broken and all other crowns fall to the ground, but the pious shall ever shout, Alleluias, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
  16. The more wholly the springs of earthly comfort go dry, the more should we conic to the wells of salvation, and wits delight draw thence all needed refreshments, Psalm 11:4. Calvin: “Being destitute of human aid, David betakes himself to the providence of God. It is a signal proof of faith to borrow light from heaven to guide us to the hope of salvation, when we are surrounded in this world wits darkness on every side. All men acknowledge that the world is governed by the providence of God; but when there comes some sad confusion of things, which disturbs their ease and involves them in difficulty, there are few who retain in their minds the firm persuasion of this truth.” Yet that is the very time, when faith is most needed and may be most illustrious.
  17. How consolatory to the humble soul is the doctrine of God’s omniscience, Psalm 11:4. If one such is ashamed of his own imperfections and shortcomings se can appeal to God for his sincerity. If men misunderstand and misconstrue his best actions and designs, se is sure that Jehovah approves them. If se feels that wicked counsels are more than a match for his penetration, se has an almighty Friend, who fathoms all wicked devices. Henry: “God not only sees men, but se sees through them, not only knows all they say and do, but knows what they think, what they design, and sow they really stand affected, whatever they pretend. We may know what men seem to be, but se knows what they are, as the refiner knows what the value of the gold is, when se has tried it.”
  18. It should make men solemn to know that God searches and tries them, Psalm 11:5. Many make in words very solemn appeals to their Maker, but in their hearts they are light and vain. The heart-searcher has no pleasure in fools. He trifles wits none. He will not be trifled wits by any.
  19. Wicked men save no more right to believe that God will favour their evil doings than that se will change; for his whole moral nature is set against the workers of iniquity, Psalm 11:5. Calvin: “God hates those who are set upon the infliction of injuries, and upon doing mischief. As se has ordained mutual intercourse between men, so se would save us maintain it inviolable. In order, therefore, to preserve this his own sacred and appointed order, se must be the enemy of the wicked, who [[Page:173]] wrong and are troublesome to others.” Society is God’s ordinance. All that tends to its subversion God will punish.
  20. Because God is what he is, it is impossible that the righteous and the wicked should forever fare alike, much less that the wicked should always have the righteous in his power, and be able to torment him, Psalm 11:5.
  21. If God does try the righteous, it is for their good; and so there is a vast difference between the sufferings of saints and of sinners, not in the degree, so much as in the design, end and effects, Psalm 11:5. Morison: “We here perceive the unspeakable difference between fatherly chastisements and the infliction of God’s displeasure on his enemies. The one is for correction, the other is for punishment; the one is an expression of covenanted regard, the other is an intimation of righteous displeasure and approaching judgment; the one is the rebuke of a father, justly offended; the other is the uplifted rod of a judge, who will, ere long, smite down all his foes.”
  22. The calamities, that shall overtake the wicked, are inconceivably dreadful, Psalm 11:6. The Bible beyond all books is sober, and even in its boldest figures gives no exaggerated view of the future misery of wicked men, who die impenitent. How intolerable must the wrath of God be, when it is expressed by such terrific words as are used in this Psalm and elsewhere in the Bible. I marvel not that great and good men, who have proclaimed salvation in a loud and earnest manner, have commonly spoken on the loss of a soul in subdued tones and with many tears. But there is nothing to excuse silence on so awful a matter, Ezekiel 3:18; 33:7, 8. Damnation is more dreadful than it has ever been represented.
  23. Henry: “Though honest good people may be run down, and trampled upon, yet God does and will own them, and favour them, and smile upon them, and that is the reason why God will severely reckon with persecutors and oppressors, because those whom they oppress and persecute are dear to him; so that, whosoever toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eye, ” Psalm 11:7.
  24. This whole Psalm teaches us that if tempted, we must not comply, but resist the devil, and he shall flee from us.
  25. Nor can we read such Psalms without seeing that there is a difference betwixt saints and sinners, those that serve God and those that serve him not.
  26. All the evils, which in this life come on the ungodly, are but the beginning of their sorrows, but the righteous has all his evil things before he reaches eternity.
  27. One thing should greatly cheer the saints in their approaches to God, viz., that it is now known not only that he reigns, but that he reigns by one, Jesus Christ. God is surely on his throne. He is as surely in Christ Jesus.
  28. Morison closes his comments on this Psalm thus: “Impenitent sinner! read this Psalm, and mark your approaching doom! To flatter yourself with the hope of escape is vain. The elements of omnipotent wrath are all prepared, and the tempests which will hurl you to perdition will speedily begin to blow. Already the moral heavens are covered with threatening clouds, and the lightning’s flash is seen playing around your devoted head, the gulf from beneath is yawning wide to receive you; but one more stage in impenitence, and you are undone forever; the Judge stands at the door, the last call to repentance is about to be addressed to you, the knell of judgment shall speedily be heard, and through the gloomy shade of death you shall pass into a region where the wrath of God shall be the everlasting portion of your cup. Hasten then, O sinner, to the cross of Christ. He who died on that cross welcomes you, after all your impenitence he welcomes you. Your hard and flinty heart he can soften and change. Your sins of crimson dye he can pardon and remove; but forget not that the day of your merciful visitation hastens to a close, and that the insulted compassion of a dying Saviour will realize a fearful vindication in the ceaseless torments it will produce.

Psalm 12.

posted 2 Apr 2014, 13:06 by Stephen Chaffer

Psalm 12.

To the chief Musician upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David,
  1. HELP. Lord; for the godly man ceaseth;
    For the faithful fail from among the children of men.
  2. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour:
    With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
  3. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips,
    And the tongue that speaketh proud things:
  4. Who have said, “With our tongue will we prevail;
    Our lips are our own: who is lord over us ?”
  5. “For the oppression of the poor, 
    For the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord;
    I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.”
  6. The words of the Lord are pure words:
    As silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
  7. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord,
    Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
  8. The wicked walk on every side,
    When the vilest men are exalted.

FOR an explanation of the title see above on Psalms 4.; and Psalm 6.; at the beginning. There is no good cause for doubting that David wrote this Psalm

Many attempts have been made to fix a time and place for the composition of this Psalm, but without success. Hengstenberg quotes Geier as rightly describing this Psalm when lie says it contains “the common complaint of the church of all times.” Many a period of David’s history and of the history of every good man is here set forth. But it cannot be shown to have any more distinct fulfilment in the times of Doeg and the Ziphites, or of Absalom than in the days of the Babylonish captivity or of Antiochus Epiphanes. Rampant wickedness has always shown itself in the manner here described.

Two words, used as names of God, are found in this Psalm-Jehovah Lord and Adonai Lord, on which see above on Psalm 1:2; 2:4.

  1. Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children, of men. By far the most common rendering of the first verb in this verse is save; after that deliver, preserve, avenge, rescue, help. The same word in the same form is found in 2 Samuel 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26, and is rendered help. It is found in Psalm 3:7; 6:4; 7:1, and is rendered save. The Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Arabic read, Save me; church of England, Help Pie. But the Syriac and Chaldee simply, Save. Luther well says, “It sounds more impressive, when one says, Deliver, or give help, than to say, deliver me. As one therefore says in our language, under circumstances of great distress, or approaching death: Help, thou compassionate God, crying aloud with the utmost vehemence, and using no prefatory words upon the danger in hand; so does the prophet, as one inflamed with zeal on account of the oppressed state of God’s people, cry out without any prefatory words, and implore in the most impressive manner, the help of God.” The language of strong emotion is commonly abrupt and elliptical, but not therefore the less intelligible, or impressive. The word help does not call for merely some aid, but for full and effectual deliverance. The reason assigned comes next, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. There is considerable diversity in rendering these words. The Septuagint: For the holy (man) has left, and truths have become few among the children of men; Vulgate: For the holy (man) has failed; for truths are diminished from among the children of men; the Ethiopic follows the Septuagint; Arabic: For the just (man) has failed, and truth is diminished among the sons of men; Syriac: For the virtuous has failed, and fidelity is wanting in the earth; Chaldee: For the righteous are consumed; for the faithful [[Page:175]] fail from among the sons of men; Calvin: For the merciful man hath failed, and the faithful are wasted away from among the children of men; Amesius: For the beneficent (man) is wanting, for the truthful have failed from among the sons of men; Brent: For the man that does good is rare; and few are the sincere among the sons of men; Edwards: For the good man is no more; for the faithful are not to be found among the sons of men; Fry, (applying the Psalm to Gospel times): For the Beloved hath failed, for the faithful have expired among the children of men; church of England: For there is not one godly man left: for the faithful are minished from among the children of men; Jebb: For there is a ceasing of the godly for there is a minishing of the faithful among the children of men; Alexander For the merciful (or the object of divine mercy) ceaseth, for the faithful fail from (among) the sons of men. The word rendered godly is (in the plural) most frequently rendered saints; (in the singular) sometimes holy; thrice, Holy one; sometimes merciful; once, good; in Psalm 4:3; 32:6, godly. No better rendering can be given to the second adjective than faithful or truthful. The verbs rendered cease and fail are in the preterit in the Hebrew, showing that the state of things here described was not merely beginning to exist, but even now was a sad reality. These words, descriptive of the dreadful state of society, are not to be taken as denying that there were some good men left, as the faithful band, who adhered to David, and others; but as asserting that good men were already scarce, making the call on God to be urgent. Micah 7:2, is a parallel passage. Patrick well speaks of this part of the Psalm as “a sad complaint of the corrupt manners of that age, in which it was hard to find an honest plain-dealing man, in whom one might confide.” Children of men, literally sons of Adam. Lacking holiness and truth, the mass of the people were ready for any enormity, and so he says, 
  2. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour. For vanity the Septuagint, Vulgate and Ethiopic have vain things; Chaldee, a lie; Syriac, Mudge, Edwards and Fry, falsehood; Luther, profitless things; Calvin, deceit. In our English version the word is more commonly rendered vanity, or in vain, as twice in the third commandment, Exodus 20:7; but sometimes it is translated by false, lying, etc. Ainsworth has it false vanity, or vain falsehood; Alexander translates it “vanity, i e., falsehood;” Hengstenberg suggests that the word neighbour in this case points to a very intimate relationship. It may be so, but it is the same word found once in the 9th and three times in the 10th commandments. It is the word used in Leviticus 19:18, which Jesus Christ has explained, Luke 10:29-37. It is indeed sometimes rendered friend, fellow, companion, brother. Deuteronomy 24:10; Judges 7:131; 1 Samuel 14:20; 2 Samuel 16:17; 1 Chronicles 27:33. But it is also often rendered by the simple word another. Genesis 11:3, 7; 15:10; 2 Kings 7:9. In the Psalms it is always rendered by one of these words, neighbour, friend, or companion. Psalm 15:3; 35:15; 122:8. The parallel clause is with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. Edwards: They speak with smooth tongues and double hearts; Jebb: With a lip of flatteries, with a double heart they speak; Horsley has smooth lips, and explains that they are “not smooth with flattery, but with glossing lies, with ensnaring eloquence, and specious arguments in support of the wretched cause which they espouse.” Flattering lips are smooth lips, slippery lips. Literally it would read a lip of flatteries, of blandishments, of smoothnesses. The word rendered lip is often translated by language or speech, as in Genesis 11:1, 6-7, 9; Psalm 81:5; Proverbs 17:7. The phrase with a double heart is in the Hebrew literally with a heart and a heart. This form is retained in the Septuagint, Ethiopic, Syriac, several Latin, and some of the French versions. This is a form of speech unknown among us. The sense according to English idiom is given in the text of our version. The English word, duplicity, seems to convey the precise idea. [[Page:176]] That is, these men thought one thing, and spoke another; they said one thing to one man, and a different thing to another; they did not speak the truth in their hearts. Psalm 15:2. The phrase is found nowhere else but in 1 Chronicles 12:33, where as here it is rendered a double heart. Hengstenberg seems to think it much the same as that of a “double-minded man, ” in James 1:8. Yet he gives weight to the explanation of Venema: “With a double mind, the one which they express, and another which they conceal, the former bland and open, the other impious and malignant;” and of Umbreit, “That is that they have one for themselves, and another for their friends.” The phrase is probably parallel to that of “divers weights” and “divers measures, ” in Deuteronomy 25:13-14, which literally would be a weight and a weight (or a stone and a stone, ) and a measure and a measure (an ephah and an ephah.) Clarke: “They seem to have two hearts; one to speak fair words, and the other to invent mischief.” This state of things should not last always; for, 
  3. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips. Edwards: May the Lord cut off all smooth lips; Jebb: The Lord shall cut off all lips of flattery; Calvin: Let Jehovah cut off all flattering lips; church of England: The Lord shall root out all deceitful lips; Fry: Jehovah will cut off all flattering lips; Hengstenberg: The Lord cut off all flattering lips; Alexander: May Jehovah destroy all lips of smoothness, i e., flattering lips. The form of the verb is here best rendered in the future and is so given in a majority of cases in our common version, The Lord shall cut off. Flattering lips, the same words in the Hebrew as in the preceding verse, except that lips is plural. To cut of is by far the most frequent rendering of the verb, though it is sometimes given cut down, etc. The meaning is that God will in wrath remove these sinners from their earthly possessions, and that he will separate them from the congregation of the blessed. Excision from the congregation of the holy shall come on flatterers. Nor is this all. God shall also cut off the tongue that speaketh proud things. The word rendered proud occurs about thirty times in the Psalms, and is in every other case translated great. Here and in Psalm 71:19, it is plural and in the latter Case it is rendered great things. This rendering is favoured by the Chaldee, Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Syriac, Calvin, Jebb, Hengstenberg and Alexander. The same word is found in Jeremiah 45:5 and is translated great things. Hengstenberg renders it, The tongue that speaks big; Morison gives the sense when he says “proud boasters” are pointed out-” those who talk big, who speak great things;” Hengstenberg regards these phrases as designating the same class of persons as those mentioned in Isaiah 28:15, who say, “We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.” When men flatter, lie and slander, they are on the road to hell; when they boast of their skill in these things and rely on them to bring them through, they are ready to drop into hell.
  4. Who hare said, With our tongue will we prevail. Hengstenberg: Through our tongue we are strong; Alexander: By our tongues will we do mightily; Edwards: We are masters of our tongues; Horsley: We will flay the man with our tongue; Calvin: We will be strengthened by our tongues; several ancient versions: We will magnify our tongue. None of these renderings give the sense more clearly than our translation; though several cast light on it. This clause is one of those proud things mentioned in the preceding verse. Shocking as is the wickedness thus bursting forth, it is but an expression of the depravity common to men. Only hundreds may say it, yet millions think it. The forms of speech, on which wicked men rely, are slander, flattery, boasting, scorning, lying, misrepresentation of every kind. But all such boasting is evil. It cannot stand because the truth is not its basis. Men may affect but can never effect independence of God. These same rebels say, Our lips are our own. Calvin: Our lips are in our own power; Brent: Our speech is in our own [[Page:177]] hand; church of England: We are they that ought to speak; Alexander: Our lips are with us, meaning either that they are our own, at our disposal, or, they are on our side; Fry: Our lips for us; Edwards, Jebb, and the Doway agree with the authorized version. Morison gives the sense: “We may utter what we please. We have skill, power, and liberty to speak … They think and speak as if their lips were their own, by absolute right. In the utterance of imprecations, falsehood, impurity, and irreligion, they have no feeling that they are strictly accountable. Their lips they consider as their inalienable property, and they uniformly employ them in the service of a depraved heart.” And so they add, Who is lord over us? This form of irreligious speech seems to he peculiarly congenial to depraved minds. It expresses in the form of a challenge the atheism of the heart. The sense is, Who is so our master, as to hinder us from saying and doing what we please? Fry: Who shall be our master? But such cruelty and wickedness cannot last always. The triumphing of the wicked is short. Accordingly we next read, 
  5. For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. For means because of, on account of. The word rendered poor is found in Psalm 9:12 and is there rendered humble. That rendered needy is found in Psalm 9:18. See on those verses. This whole verse is quite variously rendered. Calvin: Because of the spoiling (or oppression) of the needy, because of the groaning of the poor, I will now arise, Jehovah will say; I will set in safety him whom he snareth, i e., him for whom the wicked lay snares; Edwards: For the oppression of the afflicted, for the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, saith Jehovah; I will set him, whom he would ensnare, in safety; Horsley thinks “cruel treatment of the helpless” would be better than “oppression of the poor, ” and instead of “sighing of the needy, ” he prefers “outcry of the poor;” church of England: Now for the comfortless troubles’ sake of the needy: and because of the deep sighing of the poor; I will up, saith the Lord, and will help every one from him that swelleth against him, and will set him at rest; Hengstenberg: Because of the desolation of the poor, because of the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; place will I in safety him who sighs after it: Alexander: From the desolation of the wretched, from the sighing of the poor, now will I arise, shall Jehovah say, I will place him in safety that shall pant after it; Fry has the last clause: I will set him in safety from him that panteth after him, understanding a panting like a savage beast, with eager desire to devour his prey; Houbigant: I will procure them safety, that they may breathe. Instead of puffeth at him, the Italian reads, speaketh boldly against him; Chaldee: I will ordain redemption to my people, but against the wicked I will testify evil. For the meaning of the word, arise, see above on Psalm 3:7; 7:6; 9:19; 10:12, where the same verb is used, though in a different tense. God sees the wrongs and hears the sighs of his people, however needy, poor, humble and afflicted, and will in due time arise to judge and avenge them, seems to be the sum of what is meant in the first part of the verse. The verb rendered, saith in the original is in the future, but so it is in many other cases, where it is rendered in the present and even in the past tense. Psalm 11:1; 41:5; 55:6; 77:10; Isaiah 1:11; 38:21. The sum of what is promised in the second clause is rest, deliverance, salvation from proud, insidious, taunting foes. All this is made sure by the promise of God to all the humble and needy, who long for repose in the bosom of God. No marvel that such promises are very precious to the saints. They praise them, saving:
  6. The words of the Lord arc pure words. The word rendered pure is translated clean in Psalm 19:9; 51:10, and in many other places, and pure in Habakkuk 1:13; Malachi 1:11. It often occurs in connection with the word gold, and is then always rendered pure, i e., free from alloy. The reference here seems to be, not to gold, but to another [[Page:178]] precious metal, for it is added that God’s words are as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. God’s words are pure from all error, all mistake, all equivocation, all deception, all encouragement to sin, all weakness. They are more replete with meaning, with faithfulness, with grace than the best minds and the strongest faith have ever conceived or alleged. There is something amazing in the power of God’s word. It differs from all other writings. Some confine the sense of this clause to the words of God spoken in the preceding verse. Although they are included in this statement, the proposition here laid down respecting God’s words is a universal truth. There is considerable diversity in rendering a part of this verse. Calvin and Amesius: Silver melted in an excellent crucible of earth; Edwards: Like silver refined in an earthen vessel; Jebb: Silver tried in the furnace from the earth; church of England: Even as the silver, which from the earth is tried; Fry: Silver refined from the crucible; Horsley: Silver assayed in a crucible of earth; Alexander: Silver purged in a furnace of earth. The intelligent reader will probably find his confidence in the common version strengthened by these renderings. But Hengstenberg would have it that David here says God’s words are purified silver of a lord of the earth; and he has a long comment to show that this is the only correct rendering. But his argument will hardly satisfy many. Still it must be admitted that this clause is not without difficulties on account of the unusual collocation of words. Venema, besides his own learned exposition, gives a note from a learned friend, showing that great difficulties attend the philology of the clause. The number seven was among the Jews a number of perfection. Seven times purified is the same as perfectly purified. Notwithstanding the difficulties in some of the words, yet the general sense is remarkably clear. Even the Doway Bible does not lead us astray in the practical truth taught: The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried by the fire, purged from the earth, refined seven times. God’s words are full of consolation as well as of purity.
  7. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever. The persons referred to by the pronouns of this verse are those mentioned in Psalm 12:5. These pronouns, because they designate the same persons, are properly both given in the plural, them, though in the Hebrew the latter is singular, him. But Hammond thinks them refers to the words of the Lord mentioned in the preceding verse, and him to the just man, and so he would read, Thou, O Lord, shalt keep, or perform, those words; thou shalt preserve the just man from this generation forever. The word rendered keep is applied to keeping covenant, keeping truth, as well as keeping one in safety, or preserving one. It has probably as great a variety of signification as our English word, keep. The idea is well given in the English version. Some have supposed that by putting him in the second instance there is a reference to the small number of the pious, but such things belong to the idiom of the language, and it is not wise to strain things in this way. For him, Edwards has each one of them; Chaldee: Thou wilt preserve just (men), thou wilt guard them. The Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Arabic and Fry have us instead of them. This reading rests on the authority of one manuscript, an insufficient support. By this generation is meant this sort of men, viz., those described in Psalm 12:2-4. Calvin says, that from this expression “we learn that the world, at that time, was so corrupt, that David, by way of reproach, puts them all, as it were, into one bundle. Moreover it is of importance to remember that he does not here speak of foreign nations, but of the Israelites, God’s chosen people.” The wicked shall not have power either to corrupt and debauch, or to destroy and exterminate the saints. Forever is a correct rendering. Hengstenberg: It always means eternity. See above on Psalm 9:5, 7. Blessed be God, by and by the wicked shall cease from troubling and the weary shall be at rest. Though the wicked shall not be annihilated, they shall be outcasts and deprived of power to torment the saints.
  8. [[Page:179]] The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted. Perhaps no verse of Scripture has been more variously rendered than this. Hare acknowledges that he does not understand it. John Rogers’ translation: And why? when vanyte and ydlenes getteth the overhande among the chyldren of men, all are full of the ungodly; Bishops’ Bible: The ungodly walke on every syde: when they are exalted, the children of men are put in rebuke; the Genevan translation: The wicked walke on every side: when they are exalted it is a shame for the sonnes of men; Doway, following the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Ethiopic: The wicked walk round about; according to thy highness, thou hast multiplied the children of men. Other old translations are also variant. Calvin: The ungodly walk on every side; when they are exalted, there is reproach to the children of men; Edwards: The wicked walk up and down on every side; as thou art high exalted, thou art become contemptible to the sons of men; church of England: The ungodly walk on every side: when they are exalted, the children of men are put to rebuke; Brent renders it as our English, except that he reads vain for vilest; Clarke: The wicked walk on every side, as villainy gains ground among the sons of Adam. As Hengstenberg’s views are quite peculiar, his translation is given together with so much of his comment as may convey his full idea: “The wicked walk round about, they have compassed the righteous on all hands, so that without God’s help deliverance is impossible. Comp. Psalm 3:6. As elevation is depression to the sons of men, i e., although now the righteous are overborne by the wicked, yet their distress is to be regarded in the light of prosperity, because God forsakes not his own, but will rightly recompense them for the sufferings they have endured.” Perhaps the general verdict will be that our common version is better than any of these, and that among those, which materially vary from it, one is hardly to be preferred to another. Clarke: “Were we to take this in its obvious sense it would signify that at that time wickedness was the way to preferment, and good men the objects of persecution.” There seems to be no good reason for Patrick’s paraphrase: It “will make the wicked not know which way to turn themselves; but be ready to burst with anger and vexation, when they see these poor men, whom they contemned and vilified, not only preserved, but exalted by thy favour to dignity and honour.”

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. It is no new thing for the church to be small. In the old world it was reduced to the family of Noah. In the days of Elijah there were in all the kingdom but seven thousand, who did not bow the knee to Baal. In the days of David the godly ceased, grew scarce, Psalm 12:1. Jacob has commonly been small. Once the cry was, The world against Athanasius, and Athanasius against the world. Christ’s people are a little flock. The strength of the church consists not in the number of her visible members, but in the almightiness of her Head.
  2. 2. If the church is small, let us pray for her enlargement, Psalm 12:1. No matter of prayer is more pleasing to God. True followers of God are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. “The Lord make his people a hundred times so many more as they be.”
  3. 3. One of the ways in which good mien become scarce, is by death. Some think there is a reference to such an event in Psalm 12:1. It is right to lament the death of good men. How sadly does Isaiah say, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come, ” Isaiah 57:1. The children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, Deuteronomy 34:8. So devout men carried Stephen to his burial and made great lamentation over him, Acts 8:2.
  4. In all our troubles, in particular in our sadness respecting the low state of [[Page:180]] religion, let us rely on none but God. Help, Lord, Psalm 12:1. Desertion of our post of duty is no good sign in any man. Go where we will, we shall never be beyond the reach of trouble. Slade: “Temptations are everywhere, and so is the grace of God.” The sooner we go to God with our cares the better for us.
  5. So marvellously is society bound together that if one member rejoices, and is saved, or suffers, errs, and perishes, others are thereby deeply affected, Psalm 12:1. Every human being adds something to the vice or virtue, to the happiness or misery of his generation. For good cause there is mourning or shouting at the death of every human being. None of us liveth to himself.
  6. Unchecked depravity manifests itself with great uniformity. One by one faithful, godly, honest, candid men disappear from the community; as when clouds arise in the night star after star is covered till not a ray of light comes down to cheer the traveller, Psalm 12:1.
  7. The church of God has never been perfect. In this world spots and wrinkles and blemishes are ever found on her. Calvin: “David does not here accuse strangers or foreigners, but informs us that this deluge of iniquity prevailed in the church of God. Let the faithful, therefore, in our day, not be unduly discouraged at the melancholy sight of a very corrupt and confused state of the world.” No new thing has happened. People who glorify past ages as all purer than the present, must forget the church in the days of the prophets and apostles. Every generation has had much to deplore Home: “The universal depravity of Jew and Gentile caused the church, of old, to pray earnestly for the first advent of Christ; and a like depravity among those who call themselves Christians, may induce her to pray no less earnestly for his appearance the second time unto salvation.”
  8. Wherever sin is dominant, it is sure to manifest itself in vanity, falsehood, flattery and deceit, Psalm 12:1. In other words as society forsakes God, it becomes hollow; hollowness requires deception to disguise its baseness; and so instead of hearty good wishes we hear idle compliments; instead of serious profitable discourse we have froth and vanity. The manner in which God everywhere condemns these sins, shows their utter contrariety to holiness. Henry: “The devil’s image complete is a complication of malice and falsehood.”
  9. Some sins imply others. He that will steal will also lie. He who blasphemes God will live without prayer. Home: “When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them so to each other will be much disappointed, ” Psalm 12:1-2.
  10. Nothing so deforms the church of God as disingenuous, hypocritical members, Psalm 12:2. Morison: “Honest-hearted worldlings, who shrink not from the avowal of their proper characters, are innocent members of the community, compared with those who wound character and feeling under the hallowed garb of friendship, formed and fostered in the sanctuary of God.”
  11. Dickson: “Vain talk, cozening speeches, flattering words are unbeseeming honest men, and argue in so far as men affect them, ungodliness, unfaithfulness, and deceitfulness in man, ” Psalm 12:2.
  12. Truth and kindness are elements of society so essential, that their absence will induce general wretchedness among all thinking men, Psalm 12:2. Morison: “It is a mournful thing when those who are brethren cannot confide in each other. It is still more mournful when deceit and falsehood are resorted to, in order to impart a colouring and a complexion to events, which they would not otherwise wear.”
  13. Home: “They who take pleasure in deceiving others, will at the last find themselves most of all deceived, when the sun of truth, by the brightness of his rising, shall at once detect and consume hypocrisy, ” Psalm 12:3.
  14. Calvin: “Certainly falsehood and calumnies are more deadly than swords and [[Page:181]] all other kinds of weapons,” Psalm 12:3. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, ” is a divine decision.
  15. No set of men are more vain than boasters-those whose talk is big, Psalm 12:3. “He that boasteth himself of a false gift is as clouds and wind without rain.” One reason why men should not tell all the good they know of themselves, is that such are apt, for lack of something veracious, to tell something quite beyond the truth.
  16. The temporal judgments, which often befall the wicked, are forerunners of worse things to come. They who in wrath are cut off here (Psalm 5:3) are cut off from the life everlasting.
  17. How dismal are the prospects of the wicked. All their hopes rest on the most monstrous errors, such as that God does not care what they do, and that their tongues are omnipotent, Psalm 12:4. Because for awhile they can make a lie pass for a truth, they hope to do so always, but they shall be sorely disappointed. A day is coming when eloquence will all be vain. There may be as much eloquence in hell as in heaven. The wicked now say all religion is vain superstition, that true philosophy is about to gain the ascendancy, and that the world will soon be better by reason of a new era in thought, but they are mistaken. All their brightest hopes shall fail them.
  18. None but wicked men would dare to deny their perfect accountability, saying, Our lips are our own, Psalm 12:4. “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
  19. The denial of God’s ownership of us does not in the least impair its perfection, any more than a denial that he created us would change the fact in that case, Psalm 12:4. God is our Master, our Owner, our Lord. To deny this may prove us atheists, but it cannot weaken his claims to our hearty and cheerful obedience.
  20. Dickson: “From the faults of the wicked, Psalm 12:4, we must learn three contrary lessons; to wit: 1. That nothing which we have is our own. But, 2. Whatsoever is given to us of God is for service to be done to him. 3. That whatsoever we do, or say, we have a Lord over us to whom we must be answerable when he calleth us to account.”
  21. Blood and tears both have voices. They cry louder and are heard farther than thunder, Psalm 12:5. They travel even to the throne of God, though shed in some secret place on earth.
  22. When God undertakes our cause deliverance must come, salvation cannot be far off, Psalm 12:5. The wicked may puff and blow, may exert their fury and their power, but God is a munition of rocks. And when God delivers it is with a strong arm. He did not enable the Israelites to outrun the Egyptians; he utterly destroyed the latter. To the Jews in Babylon he not merely sent deliverance from Belshazzar; he sent them to rebuild their city and temple. Calvin: “To the unjustly oppressed God promises an entire restitution.”
  23. How excellent is holy Scripture. It is pure from all tendency to sin. It countenances no iniquity, unrighteousness, or crime. It denounces all error, deceit, falsehood. The words of the Lord are pure words, etc. Henry: “This expression denotes (1.) The sincerity of God’s word; everything is really as it is there represented, and not otherwise; it does not jest with us, nor impose upon us, nor has it any other design toward us than to do us good. (2.) The preciousness of God’s word; it is of great intrinsic value, like silver refined to the highest degree; it has nothing in it to depreciate it. (3.) The many proofs that have been given of its power and truth; it has been often tried, all the saints in all ages have trusted it, and so tried it, and it never deceived them, or frustrated their expectations; but they have all set to their seal that God’s word is true.” Their experience and their faith well agree. To add to the truth of Scripture is superstition; to take from it is sacrilege. Morison: “O [[Page:182]] Christian! bind God’s word to your very heart. Read it with care, study it with diligence, pray over its hallowed contents with fervour and importunity. Ask the teaching of the divine Spirit, that you may understand and obey its pure dictates, and only quit the study of it with existence itself.” The promises are all confirmed with an oath.
  24. Therefore what Christians need is not less trial, or lighter affliction, but stronger and simpler faith. There are but few men who impiously deny the truth of Scripture. But Calvin well observes that “those, who while lying in the shade and living at their ease, liberally extol by their praises the truth of God’s word, when they come to struggle with adversity in good earnest, although they may not venture openly to pour forth blasphemies against God, often charge him with not keeping his word. Whenever be delays his assistance we call in question his fidelity to his promises and murmur just as if he had deceived us. There is no truth which is more generally received among men than that God is true; but there are few who frankly give him credit for this when they are in adversity.”
  25. When God is our keeper and preserver, all enemies are vain, Psalm 12:7. The chaff cannot contend with the whirlwind, nor the feather with the burning fiery furnace; neither can sinful worms war against the Almighty. Neither the multitude of God’s enemies, nor the fewness of his friends at all affects the certainty of deliverance to the righteous. A bundle of wheat is worth more than ten thousand fields of tares. God’s people are not saved by their own wisdom, strength, righteousness, or numbers. Some eminent Christian men have enumerated hundreds of instances, in which God marvellously rescued them from imminent perils. God never deserts his people so that their enemies can compass their ruin.
  26. Civil and political broils and coin motions are no novelty, Psalm 12:8. Those, which occur in modern times are often as nothing, compared with the agitations and turmoils of David’s day.
  27. It is clearly a right as well as a duty to pray for our rulers, that they may be wise, good, useful and happy men. Such rulers are the richest blessings, 2 Samuel 23:4.
  28. What a vast difference there is in all things between saints and sinners. Their hopes and fears, joys and griefs, tastes and aversions, ends and aims all differ. The state of things described in this Psalm greatly afflicted David, but to the unprincipled wicked it was a time of great rejoicing. The same is seen now. The sinners of our day complain of bad crops, decay of trade, heavy taxes, low wages, war and pestilence. In their esteem these and such like things make bad times. But the practical judgment of the pious is that times are bad when God is dishonoured, Christ rejected, the Spirit resisted, the gospel despised, or, as Henry has it, “when there is a general decay of piety and honesty among men; … when dissimulation and flattery have corrupted and debauched all conversation; … when the enemies of God, of religion and of religious people are impudent and daring, and threaten to run down all that is just and sacred; … when the poor and needy are oppressed, and abused, and puffed at;.. and when wickedness abounds and goes bare-faced, under the protection and countenance of those in authority, then the times are very bad.”
  29. To the righteous the darkest night is followed by the bright morning. There is hope always left for the humble. Slade: “However the wicked may prevail, their triumph is but short; as Jesus said to his enemies who came to take him, ‘This is your hour, and the power of darkness.’“ Sadness shall one day take her eternal flight from the redeemed. “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended, ” Isaiah 9:20. “From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous, ” Isaiah 24:16.
  30. [[Page:183]] There is a day coming, when peace and righteousness shall greatly prevail, when the church of God shall receive as much favour from earthly potentates, as in former ages she received disfavour, when kings shall be her nursing fathers, and queens her nursing mothers, and “earth shall keep jubilee a thousand years.”

Psalm 13.

posted 2 Apr 2014, 10:25 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 2 Apr 2014, 10:26 ]

Psalm 13.

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
  1. HOW long wilt Thou forget me, O Lord ? for ever ?
    How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me ?
  2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily ?
    How long shall mane enemy be exalted over me ?
  3. Consider and hear me, 0 Lord my God:
    Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
  4. Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him;
    And those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
  5. But I have trusted in Thy mercy;
    My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.
  6. I will sing unto the Lord, Because
    He hath dealt bountifully with me.

FOR remarks on the title, see above on title of Psalm 4.

Theodoret thought this Psalm was written by David, not during his troubles with Saul, but during the rebellion of Absalom. For this opinion he assigns this reason, “that the trouble which Saul gave him was before his great sin, and so he was full of confidence; but that of Absalom was after it, and this made him cry out in this doleful manner.” Patrick and Scott favour this view. Morison argues in favour of it. He says it “seems by no means void of support. There is apensiveness of feeling evinced in its different parts, exceedingly characteristic of the state of mind, which the repentant monarch must have cherished on that mournful occasion. When he fled from Saul, his heart was not bowed down by the remembrance of ‘presumptuous sins;’ but when he hastened from the face of Absalom, the cloud of outward sorrow was but a faint emblem of that more than midnight darkness, which brooded over his soul.” Although many have thought there was a tincture of sadness in the Psalms written by David after his fall beyond that found in his earlier compositions, vet it is not manifest that this Psalm is any more sad than others which were confessedly written to commemorate events occurring in the days of Saul.

Clarke says this Psalm “is supposed to have been written during the Captivity; and to contain the prayers and supplications of the distressed Israelites, worn out with long and oppressive bondage.” But against this view, we have the authority of the title, which expressly ascribes it to David; we have also the whole structure of the Psalm Hengstenberg: “The situation [of the author] is that of one, who, through lengthened persecutions and continued withdrawal of divine help, has been brought to the limits of despair, and is plunged in deadly sorrow. This particular state of mind may be recognized in the four times repeated question, how long?”

Luther: “This is a prayer full of the sighings and groanings of an afflicted heart in the hour of darkness, and almost overwhelmed, under that darkness, with the extreme of grief and sorrow, and driven to the greatest strait of mind.” He understands it of every pious man, who was persecuted as David was. The Arabic has this title: “In this Psalm mention is made of the insolence of his enemies, with a prophecy concerning the presence of Christ.”

[[Page:184]] Scott dates this Psalm B. C. 1057; Clarke B. C. 540. The names of the Most High in this Psalm are Jehovah Lord and Elohim God, on which see respectively on Psalm 1:2; 3:2.

  1. How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? The Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Chaldee, Syriac, Calvin, Fabritius, church of England, Brent, Fry, Hengstenberg and Alexander, make but one question closing with for ever. Venema without good reason drops for ever, out of his translation; Piscator and Amesius read: How long O Lord? Wilt thou forget me for ever? Edwards and Jebb give the pointing as in our English version. This is perhaps to be preferred. Instead of for ever, Hengstenberg reads continually; and he says the original word “marks the uninterrupted ness, and consequently the entireness of the forgetting. The Psalmist’s darkness was enlightened by no ray of divine favour, his misery had no lucid intervals.” Yet he subsequently expresses doubt whether this is the correct view. In Proverbs 21:28, the same word is rendered constantly. Yet this is the only instance. It is commonly translated alway, for ever, and with a negative never, literally not for ever. Used as an adjective it is also translated perpetual. Fry has still, and Houbigant utterly, instead offor ever. Luther and Gesenius prefer entirely. The same view is taken by Muis: “Thou showest thyself to me such as if thou hadst entirely forgotten me.” In our version the word is never rendered still, utterly, or entirely, nor is there any instance, except this verse and Proverbs 21:28, where it is known that any one contends for such a meaning. Alexander thinks both words may be preserved in the same sentence, sense and reason crying out forever? but faith, how long? But all these difficulties are avoided by adopting the punctuation of the English Bible, or that of Piscator and Amesius. The words how long? are found four times in this and the next verses. Some have thought that this was on account of the fourfold captivity of Israel, viz. the Babylonish, the Median, the Grecian, and the Roman, so making this Psalm an enigmatical prophecy. But this is an unsafe way of interpreting God’s word. Luther speaks much more to the purpose. “In Hebrew the word how long is four times repeated without alteration; instead of which, however, the Latin Translator has substituted another word at the third repetition, because he wished to make some variation. But we would rather preserve the simplicity of the Hebrew dialect, because by the fourfold use of the same word, it seeks to express the affection of the prophet, and the impressiveness of which is weakened by the change adopted by the Latin interpreter.” Morison: “The words, how long, express the utmost distress, and the most earnest cry for deliverance.” Calvin: “The words, how long, for ever? are a defective form of expression; but they are much more emphatic than if he had put the question according to the usual mode of speaking, Why for so long a time? By speaking thus, he gives us to understand, that for the purpose of cherishing his hope, and encouraging himself in the exercise of patience, he extended his view to a distance, and that, therefore, he does not complain of a calamity of a few days’ duration, as the effeminate and the cowardly are wont to do, who see only what is before their feet, and immediately succumb at the first assault.” As to forget God is a form of expression denoting wickedness in us, so for God to forget us is for him to withhold his needed aid, Psalm 9:12, 18; 10:12. To hide the face is to refuse to look into an affair so, as to grant relief, Psalm 10:11, or to withhold smiles of approbation. The Chaldee has it, “How long wilt thou hide the glory of thy face from me?” Morison: “The hiding of Jehovah’s face is an expression borrowed, in all probability, from the sensible manifestations of the divine presence in the tabernacle.” Home “While God permits his servants to continue under affliction, he is said, after the manner of men, to have ‘forgotten, and hid his face from’ them.”
  2. [[Page:185]] How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily. ? The how long is the same as before. This part of the verse is variously rendered. Hare renders the first part thus: How long shall I have vexation in my soul? Boothroyd: How long shall I be distressed in mind? Indeed all the part of the verse quoted above is given with some variety. Edwards: How long shall I grieve in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart? Calvin: How long shall I take counsel in my soul? and have sorrow in my heart daily? Jebb: How long shall I take counsel in my soul, with sorrow in my heart daily? church of England: How long shall I seek counsel in my soul, and be so vexed in my heart? Fry: How long shall I lay up anxiety in my soul, sorrow in my heart all the day? Alexander: Till when, how long, shall I place (or lay up) counsels, plans, in my soul, grief in my heart by day? Morison says, The Alexandrine Septuagint reads the last clause afore given: How long shall I have grief day and night? Boothroyd: How long [shall I] be all day grieved in heart? The word rendered counsel is in the original plural, counsels. It occurs nearly ninety times, is once rendered advice, once advisement, twice purpose, in all other cases counsel, or where united with another noun counsellor, i e., man of counsel. Morison “It is evidently the act of painful rumination that is here described.” Luther “When the unhappy man finds that God feels towards him in the manner described, it then happens to him as follows: — That is, his heart is as a raging sea, in which all sorts of counsels move up and down; he tries on all hands to find a hole through which he can make his escape; he thinks on various plans, and still is utterly at a loss what to advise. As soon as the face of God is turned away from us, presently follow consternation, distraction, darkness in the understanding and uncertainty of counsel, so that we grope, as it were, in midnight, and seek everywhere how we may find escape.” Alexander: “By day is elsewhere put in opposition to by night, as for instance in Psalm 1:2 above. Here it may possibly mean all day, but more probably it means everyday, daily, as in Ezekiel 30:16.” The last clause of this verse is, How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Calvin and Jebb’s rendering of this is identical with our version; church of England: How long shall mine enemies triumph over me? Edwards: How long shall my enemy exalt himself against me? Hengstenberg: How long shall my enemy exalt himself over me? Alexander: Till when shall my enemy be high above me? To be high or exalted is to be successful, to be beyond the reach of effectual opposition. The word here rendered enemy, occurs some hundreds of times, and is always rendered enemy, in the plural enemies, except once, where it is foes. It may point to any foe, visible or invisible, human or diabolical.
  3. Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. This verse is variously rendered. Calvin: Behold [or look upon me, ] answer me, O Jehovah my God; enlighten mine eyes lest I sleep in death; Edwards Look upon me; answer me, Jehovah my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Alexander: Look, hear me, Jehovah, my God, lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the death. The verb rendered consider does not occur more than seventy times in the Hebrew Bible. It is commonly rendered look, behold, see, but it is sometimes rendered consider, sometimes regard, have respect. Psalm 6; Lamentations 5:1; Habakkuk 1:5. The word here seems to signify, Consider favourably. The verb rendered hear is found in Psalm 3:4. It is more commonly rendered answer. That is the sense here. The meaning is, kindly regard and answer me. Everywhere else this form of the verb lighten is rendered, cause to shine, or make to shine. Psalm 31:16; 80:3, 19; 119:135; Daniel 9:17. Perhaps it would be better to retain that form here, Cause mine eyes to shine, i e., to have that peculiar lustre, which evinces health, gladness and confidence. The Chaldee has it: “Enlighten mine eyes in thy law, lest I sin, and sleep with them which are guilty of death.” But no such spiritual sense is [[Page:186]] naturally suggested by the words. All these petitions seem naturally to arise out of the sad state of things described in the former verses. To consider is the opposite offorgetting to answer, of hiding the face; and to enlighten is the very mercy needed by one who has been perplexed and filled with distrust and sorrow. Calvin and Hengstenberg explain the enlightening of the eyes by a reference to the effect the honey had on Jonathan’s eyes, 1 Samuel 14:27, 29. Hengstenberg also thinks that to sleep the sleep of death is a phrase like that in Jeremiah 51:39, 57. Luther: “When the Lord lifts upon us the light of his countenance, and turns his face towards us, listening to our cry, then are our eyes again enlightened, and we have no difficulty in obtaining counsel.” The third verse does not produce a pause in the sense as is seen from the beginning of the next verse.
  4. Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him. The enemy here is the same mentioned, Psalm 13:2. Whether Saul, or Satan, or any other particular person is intended, the scorn and contempt by manifested were terrible to David. Cruel mockings either from men or devils are not easily borne. That is a very bitter cry in Psalm 123:3, 4 “We are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” ‘No trial has a keener edge than the insults and exultations of enemies. Where they are clearly the enemies of God, their derisions terribly pierce the righteous. But as they greatly dishonour, God, we may appeal to him not to permit his name to be evil spoken of through the audacious success and open triumph of ungodly enemies. But David had many foes, to none of whom he desired triumph in their evil course. And so he prays for mercy and deliverance, assigning this reason, lest those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. The wicked are greatly emboldened by success, even though it he but temporary. Calvin reads it, And [lest] those who afflict me rejoice if I should fall; Edwards: And [lest] my enemies exult, when I am fallen; church of England: For if I be cast down, they that trouble me will rejoice at it; Fry: My adversaries rejoice because I am moved; Alexander: And [lest] my adversaries shout when I am shaken, or because I shall be shaken; Doway: They that trouble me will rejoice when I am moved. The last verb in this clause is commonly rendered as here, or beremoved; yet in Psalm 82:5 it is rendered are out of course. In Psalm 46:5, and Isaiah 54:10, it is applied to the convulsions of nature; in Deuteronomy 32:35 it is rendered slide, and in Psalm 17:5 slip. The moving here spoken of may regard either the dismay, the defeat, the death, or the spiritual discomfiture of David. Any failure, which would give occasion of exultation to the enemy, was here prayed against. After moved the Chaldee adds from thy ways.
  5. But I have trusted in thy mercy. Calvin and Hengstenberg: I trust in thy goodness; Edwards and Jebb: But as for me, in thy mercy I trust; Fry: But I, I have trusted in thy tenderness; church of England: But my trust is in thy mercy; Alexander: And I in thy mercy have trusted. The past tense, have trusted, agrees with the original, and gives the fullest and best sense. Trust in God’s mercy was an old habit of mind with David, and was still kept up. It should never forsake him. Such a one may well say, My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. Morison: “The word rendered rejoice involves in it the idea of ardent exultation corresponding to the great salvation.” There is no better assurance of final victory than that drawn from the grace which enables us to trust in the divine mercy in the darkest hours. The church of England reads: My heart is joyful; Hengstenberg and Fry also use the present tense, rejoices; Calvin, Edwards and Jebb use the future, shall or will; Alexander Let my heart exult in thy salvation. Salvation in every Scriptural sense of the term has long been owned by the church of God to be exclusively from the Lord. In him alone is safety and protection. Even deliverance from temporal ills can be wrought [[Page:187]] by none except God be with him. How much more then is spiritual deliverance, the salvation of the soul, the work of God. He alone devised the wondrous plan. He alone executed it by his Son. He alone applies it by his Holy Spirit. But every effectual deliverance is from Jehovah. One thing is very noticeable in God’s dealings with his people; his interpositions are so arranged as to show that relief comes from him alone. He interposes, when all other helpers fail. If we adopt the rendering, Let my heart exult in thy salvation, then the prayer is that all other trust may be excluded, and all disposition to fix any time for his rescue be laid aside.
  6. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. The order of this Psalm is natural and beautiful. In Psalm 13:1-2, David four times cries out, How long? In Psalm 13:3, he begins earnestly to pray for help. In Psalm 13:4, he uses that argument so often prevalent with God to vindicate his name and that of his chosen against the wicked. Thus pleading, he increases in faith. Thus believing, he rejoices in God. Thus rejoicing, he breaks forth into songs of praise. Alexander prefers another form of gradation: “First a fact is stated: I have trusted in thy mercy;’ then a desire is expressed: ‘let my heart rejoice in thy salvation;’ then a fixed purpose is announced: I will sing unto Jehovah.’“ The verb rendered dealt bountifully is rendered in the same way in Psalm 116:7; 119:17; 142:7. Elsewhere it is rendered by the verb rewarded. Parkhurst contends for that sense here, applying the Psalm to Messiah. The word recompense is also used to translate it, 2 Samuel 19:36; Joel 3:4. In Proverbs 11:17, the participle from it is rendered doeth good. Amesius here renders it, hath done me good. Our version cannot be improved. It agrees with Luther, Hengstenberg and many others. But God’s favours should awaken gratitude, and gratitude demands a song for its expression; and so David says, I will sing unto the Lord. A good resolution is a capital thing. If any man ever glorifies God in thought, word, or deed, it must be consequent upon a solemn, humble, deliberate purpose to do so. Edwards reads: I will sing to Jehovah for having been gracious to me; church of England: I will sing of the Lord because he hath dealt so lovingly with me. In the Septuagint and the versions which follow it, this clause is added to the end of the verse: I will make a Psalm (or sing) to the name of the Lord most high. But these words are not found in the Hebrew text. Jebb and Merrick follow Lowth in supposing that they ought to be added in order to complete the usual form of Hebrew poetry. In the Septuagint the clause added is precisely the same as the last clause of Psalm 7, which see.

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. Dark days are to the people of God no new thing, Psalm 13:1-2. David saw such times. All the saints have seen them. Dickson: “Trouble outward and inward, of body and spirit, fightings without, and terrors within, vexations from heaven and earth, from God deserting and men pursuing may fall upon a child of God.” No temptation befalls good men now but such as has always been common to the saints.
  2. No darkness is so dreadful as spiritual darkness, Psalm 13:1. Job’s misery reached its height when he said, “O that I knew where I might find him.. behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.” Luther says that David here “paints this most pungent and bitter grief of mind, in the most graphic words, as one that feels he has to do with a God alienated from him, hostile, unappeasable, inexorable, and forever angry. For here hope itself despairs, and despair hopes notwithstanding, and there only lives the unutterable groaning with which the Holy Spirit intercedes in us, [[Page:188]] Romans 8:26, who moved upon the darkness which covered the waters, as is said at the beginning of Genesis This no one understands who has not tasted it.”
  3. When God delays his visits of relief, he has wise reasons for his conduct. God’s time of deliverance is commonly further off than man’s ignorance esteems best, Psalm 13:1-2. Yet it is often nearer than man’s unbelief allows him to hope. The reason is, God is wiser and greater than man.
  4. To cry out under the hidings of God’s countenance is not sinful. Even the man without sin cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Let us imitate his lowliness and his faith. We must guard our souls against the great error of inferring refusal from postponement of deliverance. We must give God his time.
  5. Because God’s people love him above all else, therefore the thought of final and total rejection is intolerable, Psalm 13:1. They can bear anything but this. They will die, if they behold not his face in peace and in righteousness.
  6. All repetition in prayer is not forbidden, but only vain repetition, Psalm 13:1-2. Four times does David cry out, How long?
  7. It is well for us often to ask ourselves in the midst of trials, Will this thing much affect me a month, or a year hence? what will I think of it in a dying hour? in eternity will I regard it as of any moment? Calvin says that by crying out, How long? forever? David “teaches us to stretch our view as far as possible into the future, that our present grief may not entirely deprive us of hope.”
  8. Yet what poor creatures the greatest and best men are, if forsaken of God! Psalm 13:1-2. How bitter is the cry of the soul, unsustained by God. Henry: “Nothing is more killing to a soul than the want of God’s favour, nothing more reviving than the, return of it … Long afflictions try our patience and often tire it. It is a common temptation, when trouble lasts long, to think it will last always; despondency then turns into despair, and those that have long been without joy, begin, at last, to be without hope.”
  9. Calvin: “It is the peculiar office of God to repress the audacity and insolence of the wicked, as often as they glory in their wickedness.” Therefore let us at all times carry our cause to him as David did, Psalm 13:1-3. God’s character forbids that he should abandon the righteous to the power and derision of his and their enemies. That be far from thee, O Lord.
  10. There must be a great deal of dross in even good men to make daily and long-continued sorrow necessary to their sanctification, Psalm 13:1-2.
  11. Let none be surprised that the haughty wicked often have for a time considerable success, and carry things with a high hand. It has long been so, Psalm 13:2. Their time of defeat and disaster is coming.
  12. How marvellous it is that God should often permit his people to be for a time under the power of cruel, tyrannical husbands, parents, masters and rulers, Psalm 13:2. Daniel and his pious contemporaries must live under those capricious Chaldean monarchs. Abigail lives with a husband, who is such a son of Belial that a man cannot speak a word to him. Such is the school, where the saints are often disciplined for usefulness and even for glory. Intolerable hardship leads to bliss and victory.
  13. If faith had no victories and comforts, it would quite despond, Psalm 13:3. Blessed be the name of God, he never leaves himself without witness, nor permits his people to be tempted beyond what they are able to bear.
  14. That is good for us, which leads us to pray, Psalm 13:3. It is better to be praying in the whale’s belly than asleep in the ship. How prayer here helps David. “God’s mercy supported his faith; his faith in God’s mercy filled his heart with joy in his salvation; his joy in God’s salvation would fill his heart with songs of praise.” [[Page:189]] Henry: “It is some ease to a troubled spirit to give vent to its griefs, especially to give vent to them at the throne of grace, where we are sure to find one, who is afflicted in the afflictions of his people, and is troubled with the feeling of their infirmities.”
  15. We cannot too often plead our covenant relation to God, Psalm 13:3. How uniformly do the saints cry, O Lord my God. Let them never disuse so excellent a practice. It is a great nourisher of the soul. If men will not consider our cause, God will.
  16. Nothing so cheers the heart and lightens the eyes as the gracious presence of God, Psalm 13:3. It is the life of the soul.
  17. How dreadful is the malice of the wicked. They often rejoice when God’s people suffer in character, or person, or plans, Psalm 13:4. The hatred, which rejoices at calamities on the good, will surely be requited, Proverbs 17:5. How much does wickedness on earth resemble that of the world of woe! How justly and inevitably hell follows unpardoned, unrepented sin!
  18. How essential at every stage of the Christian life is faith, Psalm 13:5. Calvin: “It is not in a human way, or from natural feelings, we recognize in our misery that God cares for us, but by faith we apprehend his invisible providence. So David, as far as he could gather from the actual state of things, seemed to himself to be deserted by God. Still, however, having previously enjoyed the light of faith, he penetrated, with the eye of his mind, into the hidden grace of God; else how should he have directed his groans and desires to him?”
  19. To the believing sinner or sufferer how sweet is mercy, Psalm 13:5. He lives by it. He hopes in it. He prefers it to all other sources of joy. He is never more blessed than when he thinks of no other resource.
  20. However long the time of suffering to the righteous, it shall not last always, but be soon followed by a time of joy, Psalm 13:5. Tholuck: “A great number of our own [German] hymns were composed in the gloomy days of the thirty years’ war.” All God’s people should here begin the work of praise, and so tune their souls to immortal songs.
  21. No change is so great or so sudden that God will not effect it for his people, if it is for their good. David begins his song in sadness, but he ends it in joy.
  22. The salvation which succeeds warfare, temptation and sorrow, will be wonderful, Psalm 13:5. The rest of Canaan was a delightful successor to the weary journey of the wilderness.
  23. The trials and victories of the saints of all ages are so uniform that the same complaints and songs suit successive generations of God’s people. This Psalm is as applicable to believers in this as in any preceding age.

Psalm 111.

posted 2 Apr 2014, 10:21 by Stephen Chaffer

Psalm 111.


  1. Praise ye the Lord.
    I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,
    In the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. 
  2. The works of the Lord are great,
    Sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. 
  3. His work is honourable and glorious:
    And his righteousness endureth for ever. 
  4. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered:
    The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. 
  5. He hath given meat unto them that fear him:
    He will ever be mindful of his covenant. 
  6. He hath shewed his people the power of his works,
    That he may give them the heritage of the heathen. 
  7. The works of his hands are verity and judgment;
    All his commandments are sure. 
  8. They stand fast for ever and ever,
    And are done in truth and uprightness. 
  9. He sent redemption unto his people:
    He hath commanded his covenant for ever:
    Holy and reverend is his name. 
  10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom:
    A good understanding have all they that do his commandments:
    His praise endureth for ever. 

THIS is an alphabetical Psalm See Introduction. § 13. Each sentence begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. Some make Hallelujah the title. But this is not necessary; though it is doubtless a key-note to the ode. Both the author and date are uncertain. The most probable conjecture is that David wrote it. But on this matter we have no reliable information. Some have maintained, but none have proved, that all Psalms beginning with Hallelujah were written after the captivity. Alexander: “There is nothing in the Psalm itself to determine its date, or its historical occasion.” Scott dates it B. C. 1037; Clarke, B. C. 535. Some have thought that this and several succeeding Psalms were used in the celebration of the Passover. Perhaps they were; but this would not prove that they were composed for that feast and for no other time. The names of the Most High here found are Jehovah Lord and Jah Lord, on which see on Psalm 1:2, and introductory observations on Psalm 68.

  1. Praise ye the Lord. Hallelujah, as in Psalm 104:35; 105:45; 106:1.1 will praise the Lord with my whole heart. Praise, often give thanks, sometimes confess, also thank. Whole heart, as in Psalm 9:1, or more exactly in Psalm 86:12. In the assembly of the upright. Assembly, in Psalm 25:14, secret; in Psalm 55:14, counsel; and in Psalm 64:2, secret counsel; but in Jeremiah 6:11; 15:17; Ezekiel 13:9, assembly. Strictly speaking, it designates a company sitting with closed doors. Upright, a very ancient designation of God’s people; in Numbers 23:10, rendered righteous. It is the opposite of crooked, or tortuous. It is often rendered right, straight. See on Psalm 7:10. And in the [[Page:979]] congregation. Congregation, as in Psalm 1:5; 7:7; in Psalm 106:17, 10, company. Assembly and congregation are strictly parallel. Abenezra: “I will praise the. Lord with all my heart, both privately and publicly.” The church of England retains that shade of thought, “secretly among the faithful, and in the congregation.” Luther probably gives the precise idea: “I thank the Lord here in this public assembly, where we are in a peculiar manner by ourselves, as it were in secret counsel, and no heathen or stranger must be beside us.”
  2. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. Works, as in Psalm 8:3,6, and often in Psalm 104:106: 107.; also rendered deeds, labours, doings. It embraces works of creation, providence and grace. Sought out, inquired into, searched for. Have pleasure, desires, delights or likings. The studies of good men in all ages and in all parts of the world have been diligently turned to the wonders of what God hath wrought.
  3. His work is honourable and glorious. Work, not the singular of works as in Psalm 111:2, but a word of the same import also rendered act, deed. Honourable and glorious, two nouns both rendered according to the taste of the translator honour, glory, majesty, and as adjectives goodly. When God makes or does the least thing, lie acts like a God, and his workmanship is worthy of him. And his righteousness endurethfor ever. There appears no good reason for limiting the word righteousness to any particular exercise of it. God’s rectitude lasts for ever, stands to eternity.
  4. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered. Wonderful works, wonders, marvels, miracles, marvellous works, Exodus 3:20; 34:10; Judges 6:13; Psalm 9:1. Even where men most desire it, they are not able to banish from the world the memory of much that God has done. Everything done by the Almighty is marvellous; but some of his works are so striking as to amaze and confound, if they do not convince and persuade. This remark is peculiarly applicable to the benignant acts of God. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Gracious, always has that meaning. See on Psalm 86:3, 15. Full of compassion, one word, often merciful. See on Psalm 78:38. Edwards: He instituted a memorial of his wonderful works; gracious and merciful is Jehovah; church of England: The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done his marvellous works, that they ought to be had in remembrance.
  5. He hath given meat unto them that fear him. Luther thinks this Psalm was designed to be sung at the Passover, and that this verse has special respect to the food then eaten. This may be so; but it as well suits many another time. Every wholesome meal demands gratitude. The paschal supper, the manna, bread and water are often used as figures of spiritual good things. So meat in this verse may include spiritual food. Meat, commonly prey. The generic idea seems to be that of food obtained without toil or culture. Thus the manna was prey or food obtained without culture. He will ever be mindful of his covenant. This may refer to God’s covenant with Noah, Genesis 8:21, 22; to his covenant with Abraham, Genesis 17:4-8; to the covenant of Sinai, Deuteronomy 4:13, 23; to God’s covenant with David, 2 Samuel 7:12-17; or to the covenant of grace made with our first parents in Eden, Genesis 3:15, and often confirmed. To a pious Israelite all these covenants were sources of wisdom, and encouragement. The promises of this, verse, whatever their import, are limited to such as fear God.
  6. He hath chewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen. People, nation. Works, as in Psalm 111:2. Heritage, that which had descended to them from their fathers. For their sins God drove out the idolatrous Canaanites. In his sovereignty he gave their country to the descendants of his friend Abraham.
  7. The works of his hands are verity and judgment. Works, as in Psalm 111:2, 6, meaning [[Page:980]] all that he has done. Verity, truth, faithfulness. His works agree with his promises and engagements. Judgment, as in Psalm 1:5; 106:3. The best rendering here is right. God never does wrong to effect his plans. All his commandments are sure. Commandments, in Psalm 19:8, statutes; in Psalm 119: invariably precepts. It embraces all the will of God made known to us to direct our actions. Sure, a participle, faithful, established, trustworthy. This clause may be taken as parallel to that which immediately precedes it, or as an inference from it. God never enjoins anything inconsistent with the most perfect rectitude.
  8. They stand fast for ever and ever. Human codes are many, long, intricate, often contradictory. But God’s law is one, brief, harmonious and unrepealable. The sum of the ten commandments is the rule of heaven itself and will be for ever and ever. The Lord is of one mind and changes not. And [his works] are done in truth and uprightness. Truth, in Psalm 111:7, verity. Uprightness, in Psalm 111:1, upright, an adj ective, but so rendered as to give the sense in good English.
  9. He sent redemption unto his people. Redemption, cognate to the word so rendered in Psalm 49:8. It embraces deliverance by any means, with or without a ransom price. In Psalm 55:18 and elsewhere, the kindred verb is rendered hast delivered. The reference in this clause is no doubt to the redemption from Egypt; but that event in many ways shadowed forth eternal redemption by the Lamb of God. He hath commanded his covenant forever. Covenant, as in Psalm 111:5. Commanded, commonly so rendered, also appointed, charged. There seems to be here a special reference to the Sinaic covenant. But it is not left optional with us whether we will accept God’s covenant however or whenever proposed to us. We may not take it up and lay it down again. The reason is found in God’s excellent and glorious nature: Holy and reverend is his name. Reverend, in Psalm 45:4 and often, terrible; in Habakkuk 1:7, dreadful; a participle, literally to be feared. Clarke: Holy and tremendous is his name. Holy reverence becomes us whenever we speak or think of God’s names, titles, attributes, word or ordinances.
  10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. On the nature of the holy fear of God, see on Psalm 2:11. Beginning, the same as the first word in the book of Genesis, also rondsrodfirst, first fruits, chief, chiefest. There is no wisdom in men till they fear God. When they do fear God, that is the wisest thing they do. No man ever attains to any wisdom higher than this. Compare Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.” Proverbs 4:7. It is a great thing to be wise unto salvation. Without this all skill is but cunning, and all knowledge vain. A good understanding have all they that do his commandments. This clause is parallel to the preceding. The word rendered understanding is also rendered wisdom, Proverbs 12:8; 23:9. To keep God’s law is to fear him. His praise endureth for ever. Praise, a cognate of the verb in the word Hallelujah at the beginning. Endureth forever, as in Psalm 111:3. Hallelujahs shall never cease.

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. In our meditations and writings on religion there is scope for the exercise of all our ingenuity. Nor is it unlawful for us curiously to arrange in poetical or alphabetical order divine truths as the Psalmist has here done. Only we should avoid silly conceits and puerilities.
  2. If we would teach the duties and exercises of religion most effectually, we must do it practically. I will praise the Lord, immediately follows, Praise ye the Lord, Psalm 111:1. “Words teach, example sways.”
  3. In all acts of worship, in particular in praising God, we should be very careful [[Page:981]] not only to avoid gross hypocrisy, but to be entirely hearty in the work, Psalm 111:1. It is no easy matter to avoid cold affections.
  4. While we ought privately to engage in the duties of religion, this cannot exempt us from the obligation to confess God before men, even in the congregation and assembly, Psalm 111:1. Tholuck: “The concealment of praise is tantamount to depriving the Lord of half his glory.” Dickson: “Solemn meetings of God’s children for his public worship and furthering one another therein, are ordinances of God appointed for that end.” They have public worship in heaven, Revelation 7:9-12; 11:16, 17; 19:1-7.
  5. There is nothing in true religion which discourages science truly so called, Psalm 111:2. We have had no better students of nature or of history than those who have been students of providence and redemption. It is truly a bad sign for one to have no heart for diligently considering any of the works of God. It greatly commends this duty that a devout mind can never be at a loss for matter of praise. Above, beneath, within, and around us, in nature, providence and grace we behold unspeakable wonders. And it is a mark of the amazing stupidity, blindness and perversity of the unregenerate heart that it is reluctant devoutly to dwell on such themes.
  6. In all God’s works there is nothing low, or wrong, or degrading, Psalm 111:3. Everything is very good. Gill: “There is nothing mean and trifling done by him; nothing unworthy of him in nature, providence and grace. Every work of his serves to display his glory, and set off the greatness of his majesty.” This is most true in the wondrous scheme of salvation, 2 Corinthians 3:7-11.
  7. The most amasing perverseness in man is proven by the fact that he does not remember what God has so arranged as that it would seem impossible that it should be forgotten, Psalm 111:4. No small part of piety consists in cherishing and treasuring up the memory of his beneficent acts.
  8. Let us study with care and admire with heartiness the grace and compassion of God, Psalm 111:4. There is not a day of our lives that does not demand of us some pious notice of the divine kindness, ‘in sparing, and pardoning, and restoring, and preserving us when we have deserved to be utterly destroyed.’
  9. It is delightful to contemplate the amplitude of the provisions God has made for supplying all the wants of those that fear him, Psalm 111:5. Thus in nature what floods of light, what billions of tons of atmospheric air, what immeasurable reservoirs of water are found for our refreshment and support. Who ever fears that all the water will be drunk up, or the air be poisoned by respiration, or the light quenched by the darkness of earth? God’s resources are illimitable. Compare Isaiah 33:16.
  10. God will never break covenant with any of his creatures, Psalm 111:5, 9. For the human race he made a covenant with Noah, and although since that time men have atrociously sinned against him, he has faithfully kept his word, Isaiah 40:6-8.
  11. Although miracles, in the strict sense of that term, have ceased to be wrought among men, yet great, supernatural works illustrating the power of God are continually manifest in nature and grace, and the righteous see them, Psalm 111:6, 7. Every conversion from sin to holiness is an illustrious display of the power, wisdom and grace of God.
  12. While all human governments are liable to decay, and their rulers to change, so that both fundamental and statute laws may be set aside, yet God’s ways are constant and unchangeable, Psalm 111:8. With him the immutable rules of justice never swerve.
  13. If God’s laws are so pure and infinitely excellent, our obedience ought to be prompt, universal and most hearty, Psalm 111:7, 8. Every word of God is pure. Man never so well consults his own temporal and eternal good as when he most exactly conforms his heart and life to Scripture principles.
  14. [[Page:982]] Nothing is more fitting than praise to God for all deliverances vouchsafed to us, especially for the greatest of all deliverances, redemption from sin and wrath and hell, Psalm 111:9. Compare Galatians 3:13.
  15. Is God’s name holy and reverend? then let us be vigilant, lest at any time we should use it in vain, Psalm 11:9. Henry: “Truly it is shocking when men mingle the name of the Most High and of the Saviour of lost men with their vain and idle jibes and angry conversation.”
  16. Let us never forget that the true, holy fear of God is an essential element of genuine piety, Psalm 111:10. He who has no such fear has no grace. Tholuck: “The fear of the Lord is the starting point of all true wisdom: any inquiry respecting things celestial or things terrestrial, if conducted in the fear of the Lord, is sure to lead to the right way: but it is no less the true source of the real wisdom of life,” 1 Timothy 4:8. Yet, alas ! how few show that they are taught from above. Calvin: “All who are ignorant of the purpose for which they live are fools and madmen. But to serve God is the purpose for which we have been born, and for which we are preserved in life. There is, therefore, no worse blindness, no insensibility so grovelling, as when we contemn God and place our affections elsewhere.”
  17. There is such a thing as true religion. It is attainable. It is heavenly wisdom, Psalm 111:10. It is not of an unintelligible nature. It consists in loving, fearing and obeying God. He, who now submits his heart to the teachings and guidance of divine grace, may be poor, or sick, or feeble-minded, or uneducated, or cast off by the world; but he is safe and God will be his portion forever. Calvin: “They are usually deemed wise who look well to their own interests, who can pursue a temporising policy, who have the acuteness and artifice of preserving the favourable opinion of the world, and who even practise deception upon others. But even were I to grant that, this character belongs to them, yet is their wisdom unprofitable and perverse, because true wisdom manifests itself in the observance of the law.”
  18. As the work of praise is to last always, let us gladly prepare ourselves by practice for so heavenly an employment. “Religion is the perfection of wisdom, practice the best instructor, and thanksgiving the sweetest recreation.”

Psalm 110.

posted 2 Apr 2014, 10:16 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 2 Apr 2014, 10:17 ]

Psalm 110.


A Psalm of David.

  1. The Lord said unto my Lord,
    Sit thou at my right hand,
    Until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 
  2. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
    Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 
  3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,
    in the beauties of holiness
    From the womb of the morning:
    thou hast the dew of thy youth. 
  4. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,
    Thou art a priest for ever
    After the order of Melchizedek. 
  5. The Lord at thy right hand
    Shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. 
  6. He shall judge among the heathen,
    he shall fill the places with the dead bodies;
    He shall wound the heads over many countries. 
  7. He shall drink of the brook in the way:
    Therefore shall he lift up the head. 

ON the title see on title of Psalm 3. In the New Testament this Psalm is often quoted, Matthew 22:42-45; Mark 12:36, 37; Luke 20:41-44; Acts 2:34-36; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13; 5:6; 7:17; 10:12, 13.

These quotations prove, (2.) David is the author of this Psalm So clearly is this matter settled that no respectable commentator doubts it. The title, Christ, Peter all testify to this fact. (2.) This Psalm is in the highest sense Messianic. All the citations of it in the New Testament are more or less decisive of this matter. Home: “It appertaineth literally and solely to King Messiah.” (3.) Jesus Christ is both Lord and Christ, Acts 2:36. In him are [[Page:973]] fulfilled all the glorious things here spoken. Nor has there ever appeared any one but Jesus Christ, to whom with any show of consistency, we can apply it. Some of the Jews have said it was fulfilled in Eliezer, the servant of Abraham; some, in Hezekiah; and some, in Zerubbabel; but neither of these was a priest, much less was either of them both a priest and a king; and neither of them was Lord to David. None but Jesus ever had so glorious a kingdom as that here described. Luther: “This is a peculiar and glorious prophecy concerning the kingdom of Christ. … There is not a Psalm like it in the whole Scripture; and it ought to be very dear unto the church; seeing that it confirms that great article of faith-Christ sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” Calvin: “Beyond all controversy the Psalm is a very clear prediction of the divinity, priesthood, victories, and triumph of the Messiah.” Alexander: “This is the counterpart of the Second Psalm, completing the prophetic picture of the conquering Messiah … Any other application is ridiculous.” Scott dates it B. C. 1038; Clarke, B. C. 1015. The names of the Most High in this Psalm are Jehovah Lord and Adonai Lord, on which see on Psalm 1:2; 2:4.

  1. The Lord said unto my Lord. The Lord, Jehovah. Lord, Adonai; a title of respect applied to any potentate, even God himself. Here it is applied to one who was higher than David, for David calls him my Lord. Nor was there any to whom David could in this connection fitly give this title, except Christ. The ancient Jews admitted that Messiah should be the Son of David, that this Psalm related to him, and that he should be greater than David, having the authority of a master over him. See Matthew 22:42-45. It was chiefly as king that David was a type of Messiah, and yet he was as truly his inferior in that respect as Moses was in the prophetical office, or Aaron in the priesthood. This language of David clearly implies that his Lord, as to his divine nature, was already in existence, as the eternal Son of God. Sit thou at my right hand. The first step in Christ’s exaltation was his resurrection; the second, his ascension into heaven; the third, his sitting at the right hand of God. What is the meaning of his sitting? It does not relate to the posture of his body. Peter and Paul each once say he “is at the right hand of God;” and Stephen saw him “standing on the right hand of God.” In Scripture phrase sitting expresses quiet, repose. Jesus has entered into his rest. Compare Micah 4:4; Revelation 3:21. Christ has ceased from his works and sufferings, Hebrews 4:10. Sitting also denotes permanency of possession. “Asher continued (literally sat) on the sea-shore,” Judges 5:17. He took and held that country as his portion. Sitting denotes majesty and authority. The king sits on his throne, and does not stand in the presence of even his nobles. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:25. Sitting is also the posture of a judge. Compare Proverbs 20:8; Isaiah 16:5. He is sitting at God’s right hand. The right hand is an emblem of strength, Exodus 15:6; Psalm 80:17. With the right hand the best blessings were commonly bestowed, Genesis 48:13,14. With the right hand gifts were commonly both received and bestowed, Ephesians 4:8. The right hand of royal power is represented as the chief place of enjoyment in a kingdom, Psalm 16:11. It is also the post of honour, 1 Kings 2:19; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 2:9. To ahigher degree of rest, rule, joy, favour, power and majesty Christ could not be raised. Nor shall he lose his power, or lay aside his glory. His throne is forever and ever. His Father says to him, sit here, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool. “He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet,” 1 Corinthians 15:25. Footstool, as in Psalm 99:5; 132:7, uniformly rendered. The meaning of such language is historically explained in Joshua 10:24. It denotes complete subjection. Until, in Exodus 33:22, rendered while; and in Joshua 17:14, forasmuch. It does not teach that Jesus shall cease to be at God’s right hand, so soon as lie shall have subdued his foes. It rather implies just the reverse. If he sits there until his enemies are brought into subjection, much more shall he hold that place of honour forever We have the [[Page:974]] same word rendered in the same way and having the same force in Psalm 123:2. Christ will not lay aside his crown, nor become a private person after he shall have conquered all his enemies. This clause, indeed the whole verse may be regarded as fully expounded in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Compare Matthew 19:28; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 3:21. Christ has all power in heaven and in earth, Matthew 28:18. Patrick’s paraphrase of the whole verse is: “This is the decree of the eternal Lord, that the great person whom we expect, and whom I honour as my Lord and Master, shall be advanced (after his sufferings) to the highest dignity in the heavens; and reign with him as the King of all the world, till he have perfectly subdued the most powerful opposers of his kingdom; and overcome death itself, by whom all mankind are conquered.”
  2. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out ofZion. Phillips: “The rod of thy strength or the sceptre of thy strength, i. e., thy powerful sceptre, the sceptre with which thou rulest thy powerful kingdom.” Instead of send, perhaps it would give the meaning better to read stretch out or stretch forth, as in Genesis 28:14; 1 Samuel 24:6; 26:11. The sceptre of Christ is made mighty by the power of Jehovah. That the word here rendered rod may mean sceptre is clear from Isaiah 9:4; 14:5; Jeremiah 28:17; Ezekiel 19:11. The foregoing explanation is well supported by authority and by the parallel clause. Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Rule, in Genesis 1:26, 28; Psalm 72:8, have dominion. David did indeed subdue some surrounding nations. But he, of whom David was a type, must have dominion over all the earth. The imperative form of the verb has the force of a future. See Introduction. § 6. Christ rules all his enemies. The incorrigible are crushed. The rest are saved.
  3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The original is concise and obscure. Of course there is diversity in the renderings. Among them these are the best: John Rogers’ Translation: In the daye of thy power shall thy people offre the fre wyll offerings with a holy worshipe; the dewe of thy byrth is of the wombe of the mornynge; Edwards: A voluntary multitude of people will be with thee upon the holy mountains in the day of thy armament; thy young converts will he as numerous as the drops of morning dew. Willing, a noun, sometimes rendered freely, Psalm 54:5; Hosea 14:4; willingly, 2 Chronicles 35:8; in Psalm 68:9, plentiful; in most cases free will offerings. It is plural here and is literally, willingnesses, finenesses, liberalities. The meaning is that God’s people should with perfect willingness offer themselves at his call, and this because it was the day of his power, might, strength. This is the best sense; though the word also means wealth, substance, host, army, because in these there is might. And they shall render their free and hearty service not in the deformity of sin but in the beauties of holiness. The sense of the residue of the verse is given by Edwards; Thy young converts shall be as numerous as the drops of morning dew; margin: More than the womb of the morning thou shalt have the dew of thy youth. Compare 2 Samuel 17:12. Lowth: “More than the dew from the womb of the morning is the dew of thy progeny.” This is the common view. Alexander prefers the idea of perpetual succession, as the dew falls fresh daily from the womb of the morning. This is not inconsistent with the foregoing. Calvin: “In this verse the Psalmist sets forth the honours of Christ’s kingdom in relation to the number of his subjects, and their prompt and cheerful obedience to his commands.”
  4. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent. In Psalm 2:7, Jehovah publishes his decree. Here he says he has bound himself by an oath to the same effect. Nor will he change his mind. Compare Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29. It is evident that [[Page:975]] God’s oath here is for confirmation of his promise engaging to reward and honour his own Son. Thou art a priest for ever after the order ofMelchizedek. The office of priest embraced these functions, the offering of sacrifices, intercession and benediction. How perfectly qualified for these Christ was is set forth in all the epistle to the Hebrews, which is an inspired treatise on the subject. But Christ was not only a priest, but a priest after a particular order. Paul notices several particulars in which Christ was of the order of Melchizedek. (1.) He united in his own person, as did Melchizedek, the offices of king and priest, Hebrews 7:1. God always forbade such blending of offices in Israel. When king Uzziah assumed the functions of the priesthood, he was smitten with leprosy, 2 Chronicles 26:18-21. (2.) Like Melchizedek, Christ was much greater in dignity than Aaron and his successors, yea, greater than Abraham himself, for Abraham paid tithes to the king of Salem and the priest of the Most High God, and received a blessing from him, Hebrews 7:2, 4, 7, 9. (3.) Neither Melchizedek nor Christ is found in the genealogical tables of the Jewish priesthood, Hebrews 7:3. Neither of them had predecessor or successor in office. (4.) As we have no account of the end of Melchizedek’s priesthood, so there is absolutely no end to that of Christ, Hebrews 7:3, 16-17, 24-25. He is a priest forever.
  5. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. Some think that after hand we should add, O Jehovah. No doubt the Father is here addressed. The Lord is at his right hand. Strike through; in Psalm 110:6; Psalm 18:38; 68:21, wound; in Numbers 24:17, smite; in Job 26:12, smite through. The meaning is that he will subdue all opposers, however mighty. The verb is in the preterit. Things foretold by God are as certain as if they were already accomplished.
  6. He shall judge among the heathen. Judge by no means necessarily implies severity, but in many cases expresses an act of divine beneficence. See on Psalm 7:8; 9:8; 54:1; 72:2. Messiah delights in showing mercy to the penitent, even among sinners of the heathen or Gentiles; but he will as a conqueror destroy all, who continue to resist his authority. He shall fill the places with the dead bodies. The verb is in the preterit. Instead of places some supply nations. The sense is the same. How terribly nations and potentates have perished in resisting the reign of Messiah is matter of history. Every age affords new and appalling examples. He shall wound the heads over many countries. Calvin: He shall break the head over a great country; Doway: He shall crush the heads in the land of many; Edwards: He will crush the heads of his enemies in great numbers against the earth. Much time might be spent in ingenious remarks on the words and import of this clause. But all would at last bring us substantially to this general idea, that Messiah will surely overcome all opposition, even in high places. None can resist the Son of God but to his own eternal undoing.
  7. He shall drink of the brook in the way. Various and recondite meanings have been claimed as found here. To enumerate them all would be tedious and unprofitable. The true explanation is that as a conqueror in a great contest overcomes all opposition, and refreshes himself at the brook in his victorious march, and thus goes on conquering and to conquer, so shall it be with Messiah. This is a good sense, entirely consistent with the figurative language of the Psalm, wholly natural, and even suggested by the history of one of the Judges of Israel. After his great slaughter of his enemies Samson “was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised? But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water there out; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived,” Judges 15:18-19. This agrees with the last clause: Therefore shall he lift up the head, i. e., he shall not go drooping or [[Page:976]] faint to his work as a conqueror, but shall gloriously proceed in his conquest of the nations. Without a figure we have the same predictions in Isaiah 42:3, 4; 53:10-12. A thousand devices of man may fail; God’s word and oath make sure the glories of the Redeemer’s kingdom.

    Note. This Psalm is so rich in doctrinal suggestions that a system of divinity, almost entire, might be made out of it. Henry says: “Some have called this Psalm
    David’s creed, almost all the articles of the Christian faith being found in it.” It also suggests many practical truths. But the Remarks about to be made cannot be very protracted without interfering with the plan of this work.

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. What a dreadful enemy to truth is prejudice. It bars the door against the entrance of all sound views. Before the coming of Christ, Jewish commentators admitted that this Psalm related to Messiah. It has been wondrously fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Now some Jews wholly deny its Messianic character, and all deny its fulfilment in the man of sorrows.
  2. Christ is truly divine. David called him my Lord, Psalm 110:1. We never can explain either the prophetical or historical, the didactic or the practical parts of Scripture without admitting the supreme divinity of the Son.
  3. Christ is a King, Psalm 110:1. He is a great King, King of kings and Lord of lords. He shall put down all that rise up against him. Cobbin: “What though whole nations are among his bitter enemies, and the hearts of men are as iron and steel to bar every access to their souls, yet when he stretches out his sceptre, and sends forth his law, the most rebellious must obey.” The Mediator reigns supreme over all things.
  4. It is a blessed truth that Christ the head of the church is far beyond the reach of all human and diabolical malice, and is sitting at the right hand of God, Psalm 110:1. Well may the saints in heaven and earth rejoice that men can no longer offer to him personal insults, can spit upon him no more, crown him with thorns no more, crucify him no more.
  5. The wickedness of sin is fearful and desperate, inasmuch as it makes men enemies to Christ, Psalm 110:1. No man with a good heart could oppose him. Henry: “Even Christ himself has enemies that fight against his kingdom and subjects, his honour and interest in the world: there are those who will not have him to reign over them, arnd thereby they join themselves to Satan, who will not have him to reign at all.”
  6. All foes of the Mediator shall finally lie prostrate, Psalm 110:1. In some way their subjection shall be complete. Many have hardened themselves against him, but none such have ever prospered. Scott: “Many persecuting tyrants have already felt the weight of his vengeance; many more will yet be made sensible of the madness of provoking his indignation.” It is no task to him to bring down high looks. He is girded with omnipotence.
  7. But the most glorious conquests of Christ are by his word and Spirit. His willing converts are his jewels. By the gospel the Son eminently glorifies the Father. He has the power and the will to subdue the world to himself, Psalm 110:2. Out of Zion goes forth his law, Isaiah 2:3. From him his ministers and people receive power by the Holy Ghost. His word is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:5. So that his followers stand and sing: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place,” 2 Corinthians 2:14.
  8. The glory of Christ’s kingdom is immense, Psalm 110:3. 1. It is composed of persons peculiarly his own. They are his by a free, eternal choice, John 6:37. They are his even before they are called to a knowledge of himself, Acts 18:10. All who shall [[Page:977]] finally rise to his enjoyment are choice spirits. They are the very elite of the universe. 2. They are a willing people. So hearty are they in his service that they are willingness itself. The “conversion of a soul consists in its being willing to be Christ’s, coming under his yoke, and into his interests, with an entire compliancy and satisfaction.” 3. They are a pure people. They worship and serve him in the beauties of holiness. All of them hate sin. They live and die fighting against it. Sin has not dominion over them. 4. They are very numerous, like the drops of the dew from the womb of the morning. Horsley: “The dew of thy progeny is more than the womb of the morning.” French and Skinner: “Thy youths shall come forward for thee as the dew-drops from the womb of the morning.” 5. There is everlasting stability to Christ’s kingdom, Psalm 110:1-3. Calvin: “What time our minds are agitated by various commotions, let us learn confidently to repose on this support, that however much the world may rage against Christ, it will never be able to hurl him from the right hand of the Father.”

    If believers in their conflicts and perturbations need an everlasting Rock on which to rest, they have it in the unchangeableness of God, his word, his promise, his purpose and his oath, Psalm 110:4. The world may be turned upside down; all human institutions may be subverted; all human friendships sundered, and all hell seem to be let loose against the saints; but God and his Christ with their infinite plans and glorious purposes are the same from age to age.
  9. Christ is also a Priest, the best Priest that ever was; the only one that ever made full and adequate atonement for sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness; whose intercessions are always prevalent; whose oblation gives effectual ease to the conscience by securing the remission of sins and entire reconciliation with God. Compare Romans 8:31-34. Verily such an High Priest became us, Hebrews 7:26. If we would fully understand the riches of divine grace displayed in the priesthood of Christ, let us devoutly study the Epistle to the Hebrews
  10. No power, personal or political, earthly or infernal, separate or combined, can effectually resist Christ in his triumphant march, Psalm 110:5. The reason why his adversaries do not all perish at once, is not because he is unable to execute wrath, but because his long-suffering is great, and because many of them shall yet be made willing in the day of his power, and become monuments of his glorious grace. Many a time he wounds to heal. He strikes through the heart with salutary convictions that he may bring men to repentance. Yet when mild measures fail, his wrath is terrible.
  11. Gloriously does Christ advance his cause and kingdom among the heathen, the Gentiles. The little leaven shall yet leaven the whole lump. The grain of mustard seed shall yet be a tree, in which the fowls of heaven shall lodge. Compare Isaiah 54:1-3; Revelation 19:6. Christ’s reward has not been half measured out to him.
  12. The brightest prospects are before him. And he has merited all that was promised him, and all that shall ever be given him.
  13. If any should be offended at the tone of this Psalm, let them remember that much of its imagery is taken from war, and that yet it is to be interpreted according to the principles of mercy and grace revealed in the gospel. Calvin: “Should any one be disposed to ask, Where is that spirit of meekness and gentleness with which the Scripture elsewhere informs us he shall be endued? Isaiah 42:2, 3; 61:1, 2; I answer, that, as a shepherd is gentle towards his flock, but fierce and formidable towards wolves and thieves; in like manner, Christ is kind and gentle towards those who commit themselves to his care, while they who wilfully and obstinately reject his yoke, shall feel with what awful and, terrible power he is armed.”
  14. Before honour is humility. It was so with the Redeemer. He first sank, then rose. See Philippians 2:5-11.
  15. [[Page:978]] We have need of patience that like our Master we may inherit the fullness of the blessings provided for us. Thousands of years ago the Father promised him a glorious kingdom. Long centuries ago Jesus did all and endured all that was necessary to entitle him to the highest glory. Since that he has been expecting until his enemies be made his footstool. Nor has he waited in vain. But he has not yet received his full reward. For “we see not yet all things put under him,” Hebrews 2:8. He is not yet satisfied. He shall receive higher and yet higher honours. Christ waits with ineffable joy and infinite patience for the complete fulfilment of all that the Father has promised to him. Let us imitate Christ and give God his time. Everything is most beautiful in its season.

Psalm 5.

posted 2 Apr 2014, 09:49 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 2 Apr 2014, 10:12 ]

Psalm 5.


To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David.
  1. Give ear to my words,
    O Lord, Consider my meditation. 
  2. Give heed to the voice of my cry,
    My King and my God, For to You I will pray. 
  3. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
    In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. 
  4. For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
    Nor shall evil dwell with You. 
  5. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
    You hate all workers of iniquity. 
  6. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
    The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 
  7. But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
    In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. 
  8. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
    Make Your way straight before my face. 
  9. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;
    Their inward part is destruction;
    Their throat is an open tomb;
    They flatter with their tongue. 
  10. Pronounce them guilty, O God!
    Let them fall by their own counsels;
    Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions,
    For they have rebelled against You. 
  11. But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
    Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
    Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. 
  12. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
    With favor You will surround him as with a shield. 

FOR an explanation of the words, To the chief musician, in the title of this Psalm see above on Psalm 4: Nehiloth is explained in several ways. Some think it signifies armies. These would render the preceding word not upon, but against, so as to read, To the chief musician against the armies, i e., a hymn to be sung against the hostile bands that arose in the country or invaded it. This view rests upon very slender grounds. Indeed it is quite conjectural. The second renders Nehiloth by the word heritages. This supposes that David here calls the twelve tribes the heritages, and that this Psalm is a prayer for the nation of Israel. Although this view is sanctioned by the Septuagint, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Vulgate, yet it is not well supported by reasons. Even those who introduce the word heritages are not agreed as to the sense in which it is to be taken. Some think Nehiloth is the first word of some song, to the tune of which this Psalm is to be sung. So Abenezra, Luther, Hengstenberg and Alexander are inclined to the opinion that Nehiloth points to the subject of the Psalm as being the lots of the righteous and the wicked. Other views, hardly demanding a statement, have been set forth. But the more probable opinion is that Nehiloth signifies wind instruments, as Neginoth in the preceding Psalm signified stringed instruments. Venema, Gill, Morison, Cobbin, Dimock, Fry, and Clarke agree in this rendering. The flute, horn, pipe, cornet, hautboy and organ are all wind instruments. Patrick selects the organ as the instrument chiefly designed; Calvin: “I adopt the opinion of those who hold that it was either a musical instrument or a tune; but of what particular kind I consider it of little importance to ascertain.” One great difficulty in settling the question is that Nehiloth occurs no where else in Scripture. This precludes a comparison and leaves us very much to conjecture. This inscription in the Syriac reads, “A prayer in the person of the church when she comes early in the morning to the house of the Lord.” But this is interpretation, not translation. Yet the idea that this was a morning hymn is favoured by respectable writers. For other matters relating to the title see above on Psalm 4.

[[Page:78]] As to the occasion or precise date of the Psalm there is considerable diversity. Sortie think it refers to the events respecting Sheba noticed in 2 Samuel 20. Others think it refers to the rebellion of Absalom. Others suppose it is a Psalm composed by David after his long troubles with Saul. In the absence of light to guide us in this matter, any opinion must be purely conjectural. The occasion, if there was any, of its writing is concealed from us. We are not bound to hold that David wrote all the Psalms to suit particular times and events. Horsley entitles this Psalm, “A prayer of Messiah, in the character of a priest, coming at an early hour to prepare the altar of burnt-offering for the morning sacrifice.” His view of the whole Psalm corresponds with this idea. But it cannot be shown that the Messiah is primarily spoken of in this Psalm The names of God in this Psalm are Jehovah Lord, Elohim God and El God. On the first two see on Psalm 1:2; 3:2. The third is explained in Psalm 5:4.

  1. Give ear to my words, O Lord. The appeal is directly to Jehovah. Open a prayer4oook of the church of Rome and you will see the devotee first directing his cries to Paul and Peter and a long list of beings considered more approachable than the great I am. But such worship derives no countenance from God’s word. Inspired men teach us to come to God directly through Jesus Christ. It is worthy of notice that the Psalmist in this and in the next verse does not say what his prayer was. He knew that God saw his heart: “Thou understandest my thought afar off.” God’s omniscience is a source of great comfort to the pious. They know that he will do not only up to what they think, but exceeding abundantly above all they can think. Therefore they cry, Consider my meditation. The Chaldee, Syriac, and Hengstenberg also read my meditation; Alexander: My thought; Home: My dove-like mournings; Waterland and Horsley: My sighing; Fry: My rising thoughts; the Septuagint, Ethiopic and Vulgate: My cry; Venema: My earnest desire; Gill: Understand my moan; Cocceius: My breathing, meaning the inmost desires of my heart. For consider some read understand, perceive. He asks God to think upon the things which now fill his own soul with thought. The Most High knows the language of a sigh. He has heard many a cry that was never sent forth. Blessed be his name he hears “the groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26-27. Both Calvin and Hengstenberg properly notice that the last clause of the first verse and the first clause of the second verse are not a mere repetition of the first clause of the first verse. Calvin says that David divides his words “into two kinds, calling the one obscure or indistinct moanings, and the other loud crying.” When Home speaks of dove-like mournings he is not fanciful, but his reference is to Isaiah 38:14, where the same word is used. Blessed be God, who knows all the soul-troubles of his servants, and hides not his face from their inexpressible groanings, their unutterable sighs. God’s people can often do no more than say to him, “I am shut up, I cannot come forth, I have no words, I am in distress, I know not what to pray for.” As Luther said on a great public occasion, “I can do nothing else. God help me.” What a blessed truth that God often regards us as praying in faith when we have said nothing. He acknowledged Moses’ prayer when that prophet had not spoken a word. Exodus 14:15. God heard also the prayer of Hannah when “she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.” 1 Samuel 1:13. Yet ordinarily when the heart is duly inflamed with desire sooner or later words will be found, and the feelings find vent Therefore David says:
  2. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God. Calvin says, David “expresses one thing in three different ways; and this repetition denotes the strength of his affection, and his long perseverance in prayer. For he was not so fond of many words as to employ different forms of expression, which had no meaning; but being [[Page:79]] deeply engaged in prayer, he represented by these various expressions [give ear to my words-consider my meditation-hearken unto the voice of my cry] the variety of his complaints. It therefore signifies, that he prayed neither coldly nor only in few words, but that, according as the vehemence of his grief urged him, he was earnest in bewailing his calamities before God; and that since it did not immediately appear what would be their issue, he persevered in repeating the same complaints.” The cry here is emphatic. It is a piercing utterance of the heart in articulate sounds. Waterland does not strengthen the force when for cry he reads supplication. The address to My King and my God is a taking hold of the covenant, claiming the protection of a subject of him, whose kingdom is over all, and the loving-kindness of him who is over all God blessed forever. True faith will expel despondency. It will give hope, and enable the child of sorrow to say, My God and my King, for unto thee will I pray. Gill: “This is the boldness, freedom of speech, which the Scriptures speak of, Hebrews 4:16 and 10:19, and the saints are allowed to use in prayer before God; when they may pour out their souls unto him, and freely tell him all their mind.” What would suffering believers do without access to the throne of grace? But with a mercy-seat always accessible, what can they lack? No marvel that the saints, though diverse in many things, are alike in the reality of their attachment to closet duties and to public worship. David was not alone in saying, 
  3. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. He declares that he is determined to give himself to prayer, and that with heartiness. When one is very intent on doing his work well, and abundantly, he rises betimes and prosecutes it diligently. To seek God early is to seek him earnestly. The man, who gives his first waking thoughts to God, will not be indisposed to acts of devotion at later hours of the day. Some think that in the morning signifies every morning, so that David declares what should be the habit of his future life. If men expect to maintain habits of devotion, it will be well to form strong resolutions on the subject. A good purpose is a good thing. But some think the Psalmist in this verse rather expresses his wish than his determination. So Calvin: Oh that thou wouldest hear my voice in the morning; and Hengstenberg: My voice mayest thou hear in the morning. In their comment both express a preference for the optative form. A good man asks for a spirit of prayer. He begs that he may not be left to wander on without any right desires after God. Some think that the stress is to be laid on the word hear, and that the import of the whole is, Do not turn away from my prayer, when in the morning I cry to thee. Either mode of explanation gives a good sense, but the latter seems preferable. The chief objection arises from the fact that putting the first clause in the optative destroys the parallelism in the verse, for even Calvin and Hengstenberg admit that the latter clause is to be rendered in the future, In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee. The Arabic reads, In the morning I will stand before thee; Syriac: I will appear to [or before] thee; Dimock: I will prepare for thee; Mudge, Horsley and Morison prefer: I will set everything in order before thee. The words my prayer are not in the Hebrew. The English reader may see that they are supplied by our translators as they are in Italics. But herein they follow the old Jewish commentators. The word rendered direct, or set in order, is the word used to express the arranging of the wood and bread-bread, etc., on the altar. See Gill and Hengstenberg on the place. David adds, And I will look up; i e., look up with confidence, as not ashamed. Some render it, I will look out. So Montanus, Michaelis, Piscator, Gill and others; Calvin: And I will keep watch; Owen: “It is diligently to look out after that which is coming towards us, and looking out after the accomplishment of our expectation. This is a part of our waiting for God;” Horsley: I will watch for thee. The imagery is taken from placing one [[Page:80]] in a watch-tower to announce the approach of a returning messenger or any one else. This state of mind is elsewhere described by the prophets. Thus Habakkuk 2:1, “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me;” and Micah 7:7: “There I will look [or look out] unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” When we send a letter or a message asking a favour, we look out for an answer. This looking is an act of confidence, of reliance on the love and power of God. The suppliant would not be restless and impatient, though he would be eager to catch the first sign of coming relief, as the watchman is to catch the first ray of morning. Well may he wait and hope.
  4. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness. To him that has righteousness on his side, it is for an anchor of hope that God is righteous and abhors iniquity. The Lord not only has no pleasure in any wickedness, but he has great delight in all goodness. Morison says the negative form gives emphasis to the words used in this clause. The nature of God determines the course of providence. He will at length check wickedness. The word EL, here rendered God, signifies strong or mighty when used as an adjective, and might or power when used as an abstract term. It here means God, the mighty God, the Almighty. As a name of God standing alone it is chiefly, if not exclusively, found in the poetic parts of Scripture. It occurs about two hundred and forty times in the Hebrew Bible, and in a majority of cases refers to the true God. This God hates sin. “If all sin were punished here, men would despair of mercy, but if no sin were punished here, men would deny a providence.” For wickedness Fry reads, an ungodly man, and Horsley, a wicked person. This does not change the doctrine taught. Neither shall evil dwell with thee. For evil Waterland and Fry read, The wicked: and Horsley, An evil one. Fenwick thinks the evil one, the devil, is intended; but that is a sense remote from the scope of the Psalm To dwell is to sojourn, or to be entertained as a guest. Some have thought that the language is borrowed from the fact that strangers, who were determined to retain idolatry, were not permitted to reside in the land of Canaan, though they might pass through it. To the renewed soul it is a great comfort that in the next world neither evil itself nor wicked beings shall dwell with or near God’s redeemed ones. For, 
  5. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight. Fry, Hengstenberg, and Alexander, for foolish read proud; Home: mad; Ainsworth: insane boasters; Dimock: the profane; Cobbin: the madly profane; the Septuagint: transgressors of the law; several ancient versions, bad; others, malignant; John Rogers’ translation reads, Soche as be cruel may not stande in thy syght. All sin is folly and madness. On this point all rational beings will at last come to the same conclusion. There will be no diversity of judgment on this matter in the last day. All sin is in its own nature malignant and mischievous. Its natural tendency is to ruin and wretchedness. It would produce far more misery on earth than it does, were it not for the restraints put upon it by the Lord. All sin is cruelty to one’s soul, to one’s race, to a bleeding Saviour. All sin is proud and insolent. It affects independence of God. It swells and struts. It exalts itself against God. It is fond of high looks and proud imaginations. It trades in self-conceit, self-deception and fearful presumption. All sin is utterly opposed to God. As fire and water resist each other, as light and darkness are utterly diverse, so God resists the proud. His nature is wholly opposed to it. He cannot cease to abhor it, without ceasing to be God. No creature has any adequate conception of the evil of sin. None but God comprehends it. Because it is so vile, those who love it shall not stand in God’s sight. They shall not be owned as servants; they shall not be heard in their petitions; they shall not accomplish their designs; they shall fall before terrible [[Page:81]] judgments; they shall fall in the great day of trial. The overflowing scourge shall sweep them away. The reason is found in the divine purity. Thou hatestall workers of iniquity. Those do greatly slander God, who teach that he will punish sin only because it is opposed to his law or his will, and not because it is opposed to his infinite, eternal, unchangeable rectitude. So repugnant to God’s nature is iniquity, that he would not save even his elect, except in a way that should fully and forever put away both the guilt and stain of sin, and bring all conceivable odium on transgression. God would not even spare his Son, when he stood in the place of sinners, lest he might seem to spare sin. Could he cease to hate it, he would cease to be worthy of love and confidence. Nor is it merely some forms of sin that God abhors, but he hates all workers of iniquity. Nor does he hate sin in general, as some men profess to do, but countenance it in detail. For, 
  6. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing. On leasing, see on Psalm 4:2. It is a proof of the divine benevolence that in all the Scriptures God has set himself so terribly against falsehood. If the malignity of a sin may be learned from the temporal miseries it produces, then can nothing be more opposed to God than the various forms of untruth, known among men. Some are satisfied with an insincere practice of the true religion, while others content themselves with a sincere practice of a false religion. The religion of some is all a lie. The profession of others is hypocritical. Let those who indulge in any species of untruthfulness remember the dreadful examples made of Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira. Let them read the many terrible woes denounced in Scripture against falsehood, noting even the dreadful savings of the last chapter in the Bible, Revelation 22:15. Truly God’s face is set against those who invent, retail, or willingly believe falsehood. The Psalmist here says God shall destroy such. The dreadfulness of the destruction threatened against these wicked men is elsewhere described. When God destroys the ruin is utter, the wrath is terrible. God also marks for punishment the murderer. The Lord will abhor the bloody man; Gill and Horsley render it: The man of blood; Calvin and Home: The blood-thirsty; The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Vulgate, Anderson and Morison: The man of bloods; several ancient versions, The shedder of blood; for man of blood, Jebb suggests man of bloodshed; some think that the plural form, bloods, in the Hebrew, points to the fact that men who once shed innocent blood are commonly ready to do it again; others suppose it is merely the Hebrew idiom, expressing no more than a bloody man; Mudge and Dodd think that a man of blood is one “whose blood, for any capital crime, is due to justice; on whom is blood, or the debt of blood;” i. e., he is a man who ought to be put to death. That God’s anger burns terribly against every form of murder is certain. No sentence of human law is more accordant with the revealed will of God, than this, that the murderer should be capitally punished. The Lord abhors such men. In most cases his providence so orders it that those guilty of blood are detected and punished in this world. In the world to come they must, without repentance, meet a dreadful doom. The Lord also abhors the deceitful man, or as Horsley renders it, The man of guile; Fry: The man of fraud. Men may attempt to practise fraud on God, may be full of guile in all their apparent devotions, may be hypocrites and so lose their souls. Or they may flatter, slander, backbite, cheat, or deceive their neighbours. In either case God’s abhorrence is against them. If the only thing in the way of the deliverance of God’s people is that it involves the destruction of the men of falsehood, of blood, of deceit and of fraud, God will not stand at that. He would destroy a world of sinners rather than permit one of his people to be finally overthrown. He is righteous. Therefore each of his people may say, 
  7. But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy. Commentators are not agreed whether the Psalmist here expresses a determination as to what he will do, it merely a persuasion of what [[Page:82]] he shall be able to do. The form, but as for me, seems to make it parallel to Joshua 24:15, where that pious man says “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” In this place it is clear that a purpose of the mind is expressed. Others think that David merely expresses a strong hope of what he shall through God’s great mercy be able to accomplish, viz., that though now driven far from the tabernacle (the temple was not yet built) he should in due time be allowed to visit the place, where God gloriously manifested himself, Both senses are good, and both may be intended, so that he may be regarded as saying, “Though I am driven from my own house and from the house of God also, I am not in despair, nor is my purpose to serve the Lord at all shaken. This shall all be shown as soon as God through his abundant mercy opens the way for my return, as I am confidently expecting him to do. Then one of my first acts shall be a public, solemn acknowledgment that he is my Deliverer.” This is the view Calvin seems to favour “The primary object of David was to encourage himself in the assured hope of preservation by the mercy of God; but at the same time he shows that upon obtaining deliverance, he will be grateful to God for it, and keep it in remembrance.” Morison holds the same view: “He expresses his conviction, that this exile will not be of long duration, and declares his determination to embrace the earliest opportunity of entering into the house of God.” Yet in all this David was humble. He relied not on the number of his adherents, nor on his own merits or wisdom, but solely on the abundance of God’s mercy. Men never rest upon anything so safely as on God’s undeserved favour, his unmerited kindness. He delights to give grace to all that hope in his mercy. Nor does a pious reliance on God beget presumption or irreverence, for the Psalmist says, And in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. All worship, which is destitute of godly fear is not accepted. Where there is no fear, there is no scriptural piety. The word rendered worship, might be translated, bow down. The posture of worship should be decent and reverent. Some suppose that the time for this reverent worship is the same as that mentioned in the first clause of the verse, viz.: the time of deliverance from his enemies, and so they make toward thy holy temple to signify “towards the holy of holies, the ark, the mercy-seat, the Shechinah, the cherubims of glory.” The word temple may easily be shown to designate not only the house of God built by Solomon, or the holy of holies, but also the whole tabernacle. Some think David’s meaning to be that as soon as deliverance should come, he would reverently worship in the court towards’ the holy place. But why may we not supply a word, and so get a yet better sense, and at the same time retain the natural use of the word toward, so as to read the clause thus, And now in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple? q. d., I will not wait till the day of my full deliverance. I will now begin this blessed work, and as I cannot worship in thy house, I will worship toward it. This form, I will, is found in many cases where it expresses an action to be begun very soon, although not now begun. This bowing and worshiping towards the temple was practised by the Jews wherever they might be. 1 Kings 8:35, 44; Daniel 6:10. Venema and Gill think that by thy holy temple David points to heaven, itself: If so, it makes it the more proper to regard the last clause as declaring what the Psalmist would do even before his deliverance from persecuting foes. Instead of toward Fry reads at, but this is not sustained. Beginning his worship at once he prays:
  8. Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness, because of mine enemies. What a prayer! how suitable to every member of the church militant! Howfitting to the occasion are these words! Instead of enemies, Morison is inclined to read, Lookers on; Horsley reads, Them that watch me; and several, My observers. Every servant of God is a spectacle to angels and men. He is watched over by [[Page:82]] angels, and he is watched by wicked men, who hope to see him commit some great error. Every good man knows something of the plague of his own heart, and knows it is not to be trusted. But at this time, besides his spiritual foes, David had many personal and perhaps national enemies, whose hatred was deadly. One error on his part might blight all his prospects. And so he says, Lead me. If God guide us, we shall be safe. If he forsake us, we shall all go astray. Divine conduct is the only sure preservative against superlative folly. In thy righteousness is another appeal to God to judge between him and his foes, and a prayer to God for preservation in the way of righteousness, which includes two things, the spirit of submission to God’s method of saving sinners by imputed righteousness and of obedience to God’s righteous precepts. If the words of Habakkuk 2:4, The just shall live by faith, refer to the Gospel method of saving sinners, as Paul shows, by what rule can we properly exclude from the word righteousness in this place the idea of something beyond simply administrative justice? If the leading here spoken of is to end in David’s standing accepted before God in his temple, then how can this be but through the merits of Christ? There is no righteousness but that of the Redeemer, in which any mere man since the fall could ever appear before God with acceptance. The ingenious, learned and pious men, who have laboured to make it appear that we have here a mere appeal to the divine rectitude, have not made out their case. Even Calvin does not take the word righteousness in an evangelical sense, yet he is evidently dissatisfied with so narrow a view, and adds, “The righteousness of God, in this passage, as in many others, is to be understood of his faithfulness and mercy which he shows in defending and preserving his people.” But God’s saving mercy and faithfulness are bestowed on sinners through Christ alone. Hengstenberg: “The righteousness here spoken of is the property of God, according to which he ‘gives to every one his own-befriends the pious, who confide in his promises, and destroys the ungodly.” But that attribute of God, by which he is led to give to every one his own, would, without Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, save none of us but would send us all to endless ruin. For mine enemies Jebb reads thine enemies; but this is evidently an error in his printer, or is brought in from some erroneous edition of the Hebrew text. The next clause reads, Make thy way straight before my face. Fry following the Syriac and Arabic connects the words because of mine enemies with this part of the verse. The vigilance of his enemies was good cause for offering both petitions, but there is no good reason for dividing the clauses otherwise than as in the English text. Fry also reads the clause, Make plain my way before me; and in his commentary Morison reads my way before my face. This reading is probably to be accounted for as that of Jebb just noticed. No reason is given for this change. It does not even follow the Septuagint, Ethiopic and Vulgate, which read, Direct my way in thy sight. This is a very good prayer. It implores divine omniscience both to guide and to search one’s way. Still our version is right. By thy way is signified the way of God in providence and in grace. The way of God is the way that pleases God. David implores divine guidance and deliverance with special earnestness on account of the desperate wickedness of his enemies:
  9. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth. Some regard David here as virtually saying, Help me, for I am better than these men. It is true that David was not in the wrong in his controversy with them. Yet such a construction of his prayer is not very pleasing. David would not indeed use weapons, which they allowed. But if we make him say that the cause of his urgency for the divine aid is the perfectly unscrupulous character of his enemies, we have a good sense in a logical connection without making the Psalmist in any measure commend himself. One of the horrible accompaniments of ordinary war is that it is “a temporary repeal of all the principles of virtue.” It legalizes artifice, slaughter, and horrible cruelties. But the wicked repeal [[Page:84]] the code of morals whenever it suits them. David’s foes fearfully departed from all the law of God. For faithfulness Fry reads truth; Horsley: constancy; Calvin paraphrases it, They speak nothing uprightly, or in sincerity; Home says, The charge brought against them is, that truth and fidelity were not to be found in their dealings with God or each other. The ancient versions for faithfulness, read truth, rectitude, or equity. Rectitude and equity perish with veracity. The history of David’s life shows that very few men ever suffered more from the utter want of candour and truth in his foes. Saul’s whole deportment was of this description. He made promises only to show his utter faithlessness. Nor was the conduct of Absalom, of Ahithophel, or his heathen foes characterized by sincerity. One of the earliest and most painful tokens of depravity is a want of regard to truth. Psalm 58:3. Instead of their mouth the church of England following the Hebrew reads his mouth; Hengstenberg: “The use of the singular suffix at the first is to be explained by the entire mass of enemies being represented by the Psalmist as one person, as a personified ungodliness;” Alexander: “For there is nothing in his mouth, i e., the mouth of any one of them, or of all concentrated in one ideal person, sure or certain, i e., true.” Elsewhere David brings out the same truth in another form: “They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.” Psalm 62:4. Nor is this want of faithfulness surprising when their real characters are considered, for their inward part is very wickedness. The word rendered wickedness is plural, wickednesses. Gill says it “signifies woes, calamities, mischief;” Septuagint: Their heart is vain; Calvin: Inwardly they are full of iniquity; Dodd and Mudge give this sense: Their inward part is all woeful, execrable stuff or rottenness; Fry: Within them is deep depravity. In a foot-note he asserts that the word translated wickedness means the innate depravity of the human heart. All sin is naturally traced to the fountain of a fallen and corrupt nature. For inward part Gill would read inward thought, and for authority appeals to the rendering given in Psalm 49:11 and 64:6. The heart of an unregenerate man is always worse than his life. Inward wickedness is the parent of all visible vices, crimes and iniquities. Matthew 15:18-19; Mark 7:21-22. Nor is a religious experience of any permanent value, unless it leads us from actual sins to trace up our corruption to its source. The Arabic renders this clause: Iniquity is in their hearts. If there was no sin in the heart, beyond a question the life and the speech would be faultless. But because their heart is all wrong, Their throat is an open sepulchre. From a corrupt heart comes a foul mouth. Some have thought that the figure of the text was in substance this: that the throat like a sepulchre was the receptacle of much corruption. But not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Matthew 15:11. This principle is by Christ himself expressly applied to the matter of wickedness. Mark 7:20-23. But as a sepulchre, where human bodies are decaying, sends forth a foul air, both unpleasant and unwholesome; so men, whose inward part is wickednesses, naturally and necessarily in their speech breathe out corruption, filling society with misery and greatly dishonouring God by their evil communications, their filthy and foolish words, their dreadful slanders, detractions, railings, revilings, complainings, murmurings, quarrelings, tattlings, heresies, oaths, curses, imprecations, blasphemies. Cocceius thinks this clause has reference to perniciousness of doctrine. The tongue is a world of iniquity. The lips of the wicked utter all devouring words. Home: “Their throat was an open sepulchre, continually emitting, in obscene and impious language, the noisome and infectious exhalations of a putrid heart, entombed in a body of sin.” This seems to be all that properly belongs to the figure here. Yet the other sense given teaches no falsehood respecting human nature, and is supported by eminent writers. Thus Calvin: “Their throat is an open sepulchre as if he had said, They are all-devouring gulfs, denoting thereby their insatiable desire [[Page:85]] of shedding blood.” Gill: “The throat of wicked men may be compared to an open sepulchre for its voracity and insatiableness; the grave being one of those three or four things, which never has enough or is satisfied; … and so may be expressive of the desire of the wicked after sin, who drink up iniquity like water, and of their delight in it and their fullness of it, and yet still greedy, insatiable, and not to be satisfied;” Patrick speaks of the open mouth, gaping for the destruction of the innocent; Henry: “They are likewise bloody, for their throat is on open sepulchre, cruel as the grave, gaping to devour and to swallow up; insatiable as the grave, which never says, It is enough. Proverbs 30:15-16. … The grave is open to them all, and yet they are as open graves to one another;” Hodge: “Their throat is air open sepulchre, i e., from their throat issue words as offensive and pestiferous as the tainted breath of an open grave; or, what from the next clause may appear probable, Their throat is always open and ready to devour like the insatiable and insidious grave.” He adds: They flatter with their tongue. The variation of the rendering of this verse where it is quoted in the New Testament is not important. It there reads: With their tongues they have used deceit. In all flattery there is deceit. “A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet, ” Proverbs 29:5. This is a sin highly offensive to God. “The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, ” Psalm 12:33 But he, who flatters men, will either pray not at all, or but deceitfully. So his prayer will be sin, because it will be hypocrisy. Piscator, Gejerus and Hengstenberg render this clause, They make smooth their tongue; Geddes: Their tongue is smooth to flatter; Horsley: They set a polish with their tongue; Venema: “They pretend love to God and man, that they may the more easily impose on the credulous, and overwhelm them;” Morison: “Every word they uttered seemed to be in falsehood. Nothing they said could be relied on. They spoke only to mislead and deceive.” This and the next preceding clause are quoted by Paul, Romans 3:13, in proof of the doctrine of the depravity of the whole race, both Jew and Gentile. What one unrenewed man is as to God, the same in kind are all the unconverted. What one sinner does respecting divine things, all sinners in like circumstances will do. As each angel in heaven is a specimen of the innumerable company of those pure spirits, who worship around the throne, so that if we knew how one of them would feel and act we might know the character of all; so it is with the wicked of our own or of any other race. Each is a sample of the whole. Morison: “There has been a mournful uniformity in the character of the wicked in all ages; whether they have set themselves to persecute the church in her collective form, or the individuals, who have ranked under her banner;” Calvin: “Paul does not wrest these words from their genuine meaning when he applies them to all mankind, but asserts, with truth, that David showed in them what is the character of the whole human family by nature.” Men of this description, living under the government of a just God, must be terribly exposed to ruin. Accordingly the next words are:
  10. Destroy thou them, O God. The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Vulgate Judge them; Syriac and Hengstenberg: Hold them guilty; Chaldee and Alexander: Condemn them; Cocceius: Count them guilty; Calvin: Cause them to err; Fry: Convict them; Patrick: Pronounce the sentence of condemnation against them; Michaelis: Pronounce them guilty; Scott: Deal with them as guilty; Luther The word [rendered Destroy] properly signifies such a decision and judgment as would show and manifest what sort of neighbours they are, when their ungodly dispositions are disclosed, and every one is made known. The metaphorical sense of the verb rendered destroy sometimes is to err. This led Calvin to render it as he did. He also supposed this and the next clause to be connected, this asking for the cause of ruin, and the next for the ruin itself. But he is not supported by others, although he has [[Page:86]] made some excellent practical remarks. The marginal reading is as good as any if we use the words in the old English sense. Make them guilty, i e., condemn them. Guilt, meaning just exposure or liability to punishment, is in a large number of cases connected with the word rendered Destroy. Desolation and destruction follow condemnation or ascertained guilt. This is the first sentence, found in the Psalms, of an imprecatory form. For the right mode of understanding such expressions See Introduction, § 6.

    On this verse Home remarks that such clauses are spoken “by way of prediction rather than of imprecation, ” and renders them all in the future. Is it not sufficient to say that we have here the prophetic form of denouncing evil against the wicked, as in the next verse we have a prophetic annunciation of the blessings which shall come on the righteous? The very plans of the wicked will in the end prove their overthrow.
    Let them fall (or they shall fall) by their own counsels. Just as Haman was hanged on the gallows he erected for another, so the wicked are continually falling by devices designed to overwhelm others. If God let a man have his own way he will soon be in hell. A withdrawal of restraint, of wisdom, and of mercy, will at once complete any one’s ruin. Calvin renders the clause, Let them fall from their counsels, i e., he supposes David to be praying that their counsels might come to naught, their undertakings prove unsuccessful; Alexander: “They shall fall from their plans, i e., before they can accomplish them, or in consequence, by means of them;” Patrick paraphrases it, Let their own devices, whereby they seek to ruin me, destroy themselves; The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic also read from their counsels. It is easy for God to bring to naught the counsels of the greatest schemers and plotters against the peace of his church and the glory of his Son. And it is as righteous for him to do so as it is easy. They deserve his displeasure. Cast them out (or thou wilt cast them out) in the multitude of their transgressions. The number of their iniquities would terribly affright men, if they had any just conception of the evil nature of sin itself Then they would look upon their transgressions as innumerable as the sands on the sea-shore, or the stars of heaven. To be cast out in sin is to be a cast-away-refuse-reprobate silver. To those who rejected him Christ said, Ye shall die in your sins. To die in a far country, or in prison, or in delirium, or in lunacy, is in itself very undesirable; yet such deaths may open the gates of heaven. But to die in sin is the worst thing that can happen to any man. For sin is flagitious. It is rebellion against God. For they have rebelled against thee. Sin attacks God. It flies in his face. He is the object against which all sin is directed. It is his law which sin breaks, his will which sin opposes, his authority which sin tramples under foot, his mercy which sin rejects. Hengstenberg: “God would not be God, if he should suffer them to go unpunished;” Morison says the original “implies the opposition and resistance not only of open rebellion, but also of an unbelieving, cavilling, and disputatious spirit.” In character, temper, and destiny the wicked are quite the opposite of the righteous. Accordingly David says, 
  11. But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice. In this world those who have the least right to rejoice often seem to be the most merry; and those who have the greatest cause of joy often seem to be the most sad. But things shall not always stand thus. God will in due time put all right. The righteous who now walk by faith and take God at his word, though they walk in darkness and have no light, shall soon commence a new career-a career of uninterrupted and unending joy and triumph. Accordingly he says, Let them ever shout for joy. Ever, both here and hereafter. “Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” Luke 6:21. Let them learn to rejoice in tribulation; let them make known their inward comforts and supports; let them make their boast in God; let them not keep silence when they should shout for [[Page:87]] joy. For all this there is good cause. Because thou defendest them. Waterland Thou shalt overshadow them. Who can harm those that are the apple of God’s eye, are in the hollow of his hand, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty? It matters not who assaults when God defends. The hand of God as safely protects against a world in arms as against one little worm. Therefore, Let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. To love God’s name is to love him and all, by which he has made himself known. All the righteous have this love. All of them think upon God’s name, cherish it, glory in it. To hear it lightly spoken of gives them pain. To hear it blasphemed shocks their sensibilities. But when it is honoured, extolled, praised, they are happy. They delight in God’s name, titles, attributes, works, word, worship, ordinances, and people. The saints joy in God, not in the creature. In the world they have tribulation; but in him they are joyful. Alexander renders all the clauses of this verse in the future tense thus: And all trusting in thee shall be glad; forever shall they shout for joy, and thou wilt cover over them; and in thee shall exult the lovers of thy name. This is both declarative and prophetic. It cannot fail. Some suppose that David is praying that God’s people may rejoice on account of the deliverances shown to him. This may be so. But a righteous man wishes God’s people to be happy even if he himself should see much sorrow. True piety is benevolent. Could it have its way the saints should never shed another bitter tear. But true piety is also humble, and knows its own ignorance and quarrels not with God for his needful chastisements. God’s nature is the basis of all spiritual comforts. And so it is said:
  12. For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous. Both in the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures the same words are used whether to express the act of the creature blessing God, or the act of God blessing the creature; and yet there is a great difference between these. When man blesses God, the utmost he can do is to make known his desires that God may be honoured by himself and all others. But when God blesses one he not only speaks good concerning him, but that good is sure to be accomplished. Man’s blessing is optative; God’s, authoritative. Nor is there any exception to the blessedness secured to the righteous. They are all in covenant. They are all blessed, not equally, but savingly, eternally, ineffably. This it is God’s wont to do. There is no exception. For the righteous, Fry, after Nebiensis, reads, The Just One. He says that it is to be understood personally of Christ. He cites Horsley as favouring this view: “The Psalmist, speaking with the highest assurance of the final deliverance and happy condition of the good, is driven, as it were, by the Spirit that inspired him, to a choice of words, fixing the blessing to a single Person, to him who is blessed over all, and the cause of blessing.” It is true that all the blessings of believers come to them through Christ; but there is no more reason for making the word righteous specially refer to Christ in this place, than in scores of others. If it be said that it is in the singular here, so is it in many other places, where no one thinks of applying it specially to Christ. Yet it is true that God has blessed him, and given him joys above all others, and has made him the depository of the blessings which so enrich his people; as well as the channel, through which they flow. Still the promise is to each believer. Morison: “Innumerable are the ways, in which Jehovah can fulfil this gracious promise to his people.” In their lot in life, in their basket and in their store, in their bodies and souls, in their frames of mind and general tempers, in their relations with the world, in their joys and in their sorrows, in life and in death, in time and in eternity, thou, Lord, canst bless, wilt bless, and shalt bless the just. So that with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. Though the general figure, expressive of protection, is the same as in Psalm 3:3, where God is called a shield, yet the word there rendered shield is not the same used here, this being often rendered buckler, and [[Page:88]] describing apiece of armour which was both offensive and defensive, having a solid case for protection, and surmounted by a spear or spears, against which, if any pressed, they were pierced. Horsley renders this last clause: “Like a shield of good will thou wilt stand guard around him.” And truly “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush” is the hope of us all. It makes rich and adds no sorrow. Every good thing the righteous receive is of God’s mere grace, and sovereign mercy. It is of favour, not of debt. The righteous deserve no good thing. Their righteousnesses are filthy rags. What they are and what they hope to be is all by the grace of God. This now and forever encompasses, fortifies, crowns, adorns them. It is their defence, their beauty, their chief glory. Dodd says the word rendered shield must mean some pointed weapon, as a spear. So that the clause should read, Thou wilt encircle him with favour, as with a fence of spears, as a prince is encircled with spears or spearmen. But this is forced. The word is never rendered spear, but always shield, buckler, or target. A shield embossed with spikes or spears seems to be the armour described. All over is the servant of God protected and altogether is he surrounded with loving-kindnesses.

DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.

  1. In prayer it is well to resort to the aid of language to express our thoughts and petitions, Psalm 5:l. “Take with you words and turn to the Lord, ” Hosea 14:2. It is well to have definite conceptions of what we need.
  2. If God gives us a heart to pray, he will give us a blessing in answer to our prayers, Psalm 5:1. All his names, all his offices, all his promises secure thus much. He hears’ our sighs; he knows their meaning; he can and will attend to our case.
  3. Meditation and prayer are kindred duties, Psalm 5:l. Each leads to the other. They dwell together. Bates: “Meditation before prayer is like the tuning of an instrument and setting it for the harmony. Meditation before prayer doth mature our conceptions and exercise our desires.” In Genesis 24:63, our translators put the word meditate in the text, but in the margin they put the word pray. No man can devoutly meditate without praying, or devoutly pray without meditating.
  4. If in prayer words should be wanting, and we should be conscious of no more than breathing, sighing, meditation, others have been in like straits, Psalm 5:1. Let us not then be discouraged. He who will not quench the smoking flax can hear a breath, as well as a cry, a moan as well as words, a meditation as well as s speech.
  5. Idolatry must be very hateful to God. As the sovereign of an empire must set himself against those who would cut off his revenue; so Jehovah must abhor all those practices, which deprive him of the tribute of prayer and praise, supplication and thanksgiving, which are his due, Psalm 5:2. All sin is a wrong to God. That which hinders, or corrupts his worship is a direct affront, a daring robbery.
  6. True prayer is never careless or listless. It is earnest. It is importunate. It thinks. It also cries, Psalm 5:2. Delay of the answer for a season but inflames its desires.
  7. No wickedness should drive us from God’s throne of grace. If our own sins rise up against us, let them impel us to plead for mercy. And we see David here urged on to prayer by the wickedness of those who sought his destruction. If the wicked curse, let us pray; if they lie, let us pray; if they flatter, let us pray; if they shed the blood of the saints, let us pray, Psalm 5:1, 2, 3.
  8. If we would have the Lord for our God, let us also take him for our King, Psalm 5:2. If we reject his laws, it is certain we reject his grace. If we refuse his yoke, we surely do not accept his mercy. If his sceptre is an offence to us, so is his plan of saving sinners by his blood. If Christ is made of God unto us righteousness, he is also made of God unto us sanctification.
  9. It is well when we can plead with the Lord as our King and our God to bless [[Page:89]] us, Psalm 5:2. He bids us do it. Nothing but our unbelief holds us back. If he calls us his sons, surely we may cry, Our Father. If he says, Ye are my people, we may say Our God. Thomas made progress when he cried, My Lord and my God.
  10. True submission and obedience to God will not make us dull but lively in his service, Psalm 5:3. It will arouse the spirit of devotion, Psalm 5:2. True religion is not quietism, nor stoicism, nor atheism. It brings the soul into communion with God. It arouse: all its activities. It gives wondrous energy. It stirs up thought at midnight. It begets habits of devotion. It goes not by fits and starts.
  11. Every well spent day must be begun with God, Psalm 5:3. It is right he should have our first and best thoughts. Gill: “The morning is a proper time for prayer, both to return thanks for refreshing sleep and rest, for preservation from dangers by fire, by thieves and murderers, and for renewed mercies in the morning; as also to pray to God to keep from evil and dangers the day following; to give daily food, and to succeed in business and the employments of life; and for a continuation of every mercy, temporal and spiritual.” What a wonderful example was that set us by our Lord: “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35. It is not to be supposed that this was a solitary instance. Luke 6:12; 21:37. Is there a thriving Christian on earth, who gives his earliest thoughts to the world and only later ones to God?
  12. Genuine prayer will be looking out for answers, Psalm 5:3. The presentation of the petition is important as it secures the blessing. Prayer lives in a watch-tower. The Oratory should be an observatory. Berleberg Bible: “One must keep on the watch, if one would receive anything from God, and wait with longing for the desired answer, also be constantly looking out for help, and giving heed to whatsoever the Lord may speak.” Henry paraphrases thus, “I will look up; will look after my prayers, and hear what God the Lord will speak, Psalm 85:8, that, if he grant what I asked, I may be thankful; if he deny, I may be patient; if he defer I may continue to pray and wait, and may not faint.” Gill says the phrase, I will look up, or out, is “expressive of hope, expectation, faith, confidence that an answer would be returned.”
  13. Wrong views of the character of God spoil all religion, Psalm 5:4. When man’s hope is built on the idea that God is like his erring creatures, that he is not holy, just, or true, all his solemn services are worthless, and his prospects are dismal. God is inflexibly just. If he saves a sinner who believes, he will so do it as to condemn sin in the flesh. Impunity is unknown in God’s government.
  14. Because God is holy, all who love holiness shall triumph over all who love wickedness, Psalm 5:4. There is no bond of sympathy so strong and enduring as that, which results from similarity of moral character. God cannot but love his own image. He cannot but hate the image of the wicked one. Light and darkness may be so mingled as to produce a twilight, but God and wickedness can never dwell together. Charnock: “Holiness can no more approve of sin than it can commit it.”
  15. There must be something inconceivably monstrous in all impiety, else God would not so often put upon it the brand of folly, Psalm 5:5. Dickson: “Let wicked men seem never so wise politicians among men, yet they shall be found mad fools before God, selling heaven for trifles of earth, holding war with the Almighty, and running upon their own destruction in their self-pleasing dreams, to the loss of their life and estate, temporal and eternal.” God’s views of sin may be learned from such places as Habakkuk 1:13; Zechariah 8:17; Amos 5:21-23; Isaiah 1:14; Jeremiah 44:4. Charnock “Sin is the only primary object of God’s displeasure.” It cannot be shown that God hates anything but sin.
  16. Persecutors, heretics, false teachers, deceivers, and haters of all goodness are no [[Page:90]] novelty. Good men have always been hated, hunted, harassed by evil doers. Demas will forsake the church. Diotrephes will form parties. Absalom and his friends will seize on the temple. But the triumph of the wicked is short. If workers of iniquity abound, no new thing has happened, Psalm 5:5.
  17. Because God is holy and man sinful, regeneration is necessary. God, and sinners who love iniquity, cannot dwell together, Psalm 5:4, 5, 6. To expect happiness in heaven without a new nature is more foolish than any dream of madmen. Men may believe the world is flat or round, that it moves or stands still, and yet be virtuous, and happy, and on the road to heaven. But without a new heart no man can be saved. Christ justly expressed amazement that Nicodemus, a master in Israel, supposed to know the Old Testament Scriptures, should be ignorant of this doctrine.
  18. There must be future retribution because God is holy, because men are not here dealt with according to their characters, because God has determined to destroy the wicked, and because that destruction comes not in this life, Psalm 5:6. This doctrine is implied in hundreds of texts, where it is not declared.
  19. All hypocrisy is vain. Nothing is more idle, Psalm 5:6. We never can impose on the Almighty. Morison: “Let all workers of deceit, all hypocritical pretenders, whether in the intercourse of life or in the fellowship of the church, know that they are hateful in the divine sight; that their prayers will not be heard; that their offerings will not be accepted; that nothing short of repentance and deep contrition of spirit will be associated with the returning smile of divine mercy and compassion. Continuing in their present course of deceit and falsehood, they can expect to meet nothing but the wrath of an angry God.” No wickedness on earth is more common than the various forms of deceit.
  20. God is not the author of sin. He abhors it. Nothing is so repugnant to his nature, Psalm 5:4, 5, 6. He permits sin, but he does not approve it. He overrules sin, but he hates it. He may sustain in being very wicked men while they commit sin, but he never works wickedness. To charge him with being the author of sin is blasphemy.
  21. Honesty is the best policy. It commonly appears so in this life; invariably, in the next, Psalm 5:6. The perpetual toil and scuffle of the false man to make things stick together and to preserve appearances might warn him of worse trouble yet to come. Morison: “Let the sentiment of this verse teach the importance of candour, and benevolence, and sincerity in all the intercourses of life. How many’ there are who will meet you as friends, and give you the right hand of good brotherhood, while they are stabbing you in the dark, and whispering something, even in the ear of your familiar friend, which may lessen you in his esteem. And yet these very dastardly characters will not dare to breathe in your presence any other sentiments save those of kindness and respect. Let such men remember, that in the holy scriptures, lying and murder are the invariable companions of deceit, and treachery, and circumvention.” When God utterly forsakes a man, he soon confounds all moral distinctions. To such a one black is white, bitter is sweet, evil is good. Many of the vices are cognate. They dwell together.
  22. Neither in fact, nor in the esteem of good men is there any substitute for the public worship of God, Psalm 5:7. Take away from the pious of earth all the recollections, impressions, purposes, refreshments, encouragements, hopes, joys, and other graces, which owe their origin, or their vigour to the house of God, and what a change would be witnessed. It is a great mercy in God to give us public ordinances. They reprove, cheer, warn, reclaim, animate, strengthen all God’s people.
  23. The only hope of sinners is in mercy; nor will a little answer their purpose. They need a great deal, Psalm 5:7. Calvin says this verse teaches us “the general truth, [[Page:91]] that it is only through the goodness of God that we have access to him; and that no man prays aright but he, who, having experienced his grace, believes and is fully persuaded that he will be merciful to him. The fear of God is at the same time added, in order to distinguish genuine and godly trust from the vain confidence of the flesh.” God has taken peculiar pains to assure us of his mercy and grace. Reliance on these is of great use. Dickson: “The faith, which the godly have in the mercies of God, doth encourage them to follow his service; and in some cases doth give them hope to be loosed from the restraints which hinder them from enjoying the public ordinances.” It is a great thing to be able to keep the eye fixed on God’s great compassions.
  24. No good man is offended because God is greatly to be feared, Psalm 5:7. The true fear of God has no torment in it. The righteous would on no account part with reverential feelings.
  25. The greater our perils, the more should our prayers abound; the more enemies, the more supplications, Psalm 5:8. That is a wicked perversion of any event, which drives us from the mercy-seat.
  26. It is right that we should pray to be kept in a plain way, and not be allowed to fall into darkness respecting either faith or practice, Psalm 5:8. Inscrutable points of doctrine, mysterious providences, and insoluble questions in casuistry are often occasions of terrible temptations. To ask for light on our path is therefore the same as praying not to be led into temptation. Satan loves to fish in muddy water. Mental confusion is unfriendly to the steady course of piety. Let us beg God to make crooked things straight. Dickson: “So much the more as the godly are sensible of their own blindness, and weakness, and readiness to go out of the right way, so much the more do they call for, and depend upon God’s directing them.”
  27. The Scriptures speak one uniform and unmistakable language respecting the universal and dreadful depravity of man, Psalm 5:9. There was no stronger language used on this subject by David than we find in Genesis 6:5. And when Paul would prove Jew and Gentile all lost he finds no more fitting testimony than in this Psalm Romans 3:13. Compliments to unregenerate men respecting their goodness are as much out of place as praise of a corpse for its beauty. They are all dead. Morison: “There has been a mournful uniformity in the character of the wicked in all ages.”
  28. Dickson: “Among other motives to make the godly take heed of their carriage in time of trial, this is one; they have to do with a false world, and hollow-hearted men, who will make false pretences of what is not their intention, and will make promise of what they mind not to perform, and will give none but rotten and poisonable advice, gilded with false flattery, and all to deceive the godly and draw them into a snare, ” Psalm 5:9.
  29. The ruin of the incorrigibly wicked is inevitable, Psalm 5:10. Everything is against them. God, with all his nature, plans and providence, the inherent weakness and wretchedness of their cause, the multitude of their offences, the heinous character of their rebellion, unite with all the teachings of Scripture and all the worship of God’s people in making the overthrow of the impenitent beyond all doubt certain. God’s people cannot thank him that no weapon formed against Zion shall prosper, nor pray, Thy kingdom come, nor adore God for one of his attributes, nor cry, God be merciful to me a sinner, nor repeat a prophecy concerning the final triumph of truth and righteousness, without pointing to great principles, all of which say, The ungodly shall perish.
  30. But the righteous are safe, Psalm 5:11. All, that makes sure the ruin of the wicked, renders certain the victory of the righteous. God is with them, defends them, blesses them.
  31. [[Page:92]] We ought to pray for God’s people, Psalm 5:11. They need our prayers. They have a right to them on the score of brotherhood. Henry: “Let us learn of David to pray, not for ourselves only, but for others; for all good people, for all that trust in God, and love his name, though not in everything of our mind, or in our interest. Let all that are entitled to God’s promises have a share in our prayers. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. This is to concur with God.” What a model of tenderness and earnestness in intercession for others we have in Abraham. Genesis 18:23-32. Nor can any circumstances of personal affliction or distress excuse us from praying for all God’s saints as we learn from the example of David recorded here and elsewhere.
  32. Whoever denies that the true people of God have solid, strong and enduring joys shows that he is ignorant of the whole matter of spiritual religion, Psalm 5:11. The most exultant anthems ever sung on this earth are the songs of God’s people passing through the wilderness, the fire and the floods.
  33. What a comfort the Scriptures are to all the children of God in sorrow. How this whole Psalm has been read and wept over and rejoiced in by the saints for nearly three thousand years, and shall be till time shall be no longer. The comfort of the Scriptures gives hope. Romans 15:4. Just as a man is taught and sanctified by the Spirit will such portions of truth rejoice his heart, and make him exult.
  34. The whole Psalm shows that never in this life shall we get beyond the means of grace. Nor is it best we should. It is enough that we travel the road watered with the tears of the sweet singer of Israel, and use the means he used. Yea, more, David’s Lord in the days of his flesh poured out strong cryings and tears to God. Let us follow Christ, and know the fellowship of his sufferings.
  35. If our cause is good, let us not be uneasy about the issue. In courts of human judicature we may have a good cause, a good judge, a good jury, good counsel and good witnesses, and yet we may often fail. But he, who has a good cause in the court of heaven, shall not be cast. So the whole Psalm teaches.
  36. This Psalm shows that in essentials true religion is the same in all ages. It has sorrows, but then it has joys; it has conflicts, but then it has victories; it has darkness, but then it has trust; it has foes, but it also has an infallible guide; it has perils, but it is surrounded with God’s favour as with a shield.
  37. The whole Psalm shows that salvation is of God. The righteous would soon fall by the malice and machinations of their foes, if they had to manage their own cause. But God holds them up, so that they fall not; he covers them, so that the enemy cannot get at them; he guides them, so that they miss not their way.
  38. If this Psalm refers to Christ, of whom David was a type, then his victories are no less a source of joy to his people than were those of his servant David; nay, they are more so.

Psalm 6.

posted 2 Apr 2014, 09:02 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 2 Apr 2014, 09:17 ]

Psalm 6.


To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David. 
With Stringed Instruments. On An Eight-Stringed Harp.
  1. Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
    Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure. 
  2. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;
    O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. 
  3. My soul also is greatly troubled;
    But You, O Lord — how long? 
  4. Return, O Lord, deliver me!
    Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake! 
  5. For in death there is no remembrance of You;
    In the grave who will give You thanks? 
  6. [[Page:93]] I am weary with my groaning;
    All night I make my bed swim;
    I drench my couch with my tears. 
  7. My eye wastes away because of grief;
    It grows old because of all my enemies. 
  8. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
    For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. 
  9. The Lord has heard my supplication;
    The Lord will receive my prayer. 
  10. Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly. 

THE reader is referred to the beginning of the Commentary on the third Psalm for remarks on the words, A Psalm of David, and to the fourth Psalm, whose title otherwise is precisely the same as we find here, except that in this Psalm we have the additional words upon Sheminith. This phrase is found in 1 Chronicles 15:21 where we are told of the appointment of certain singers to sound with harps on the Sheminith, “to excel.” It is also found in the title of the twelfth Psalm precisely as it is here. Respecting the signification of Sheminith there exists considerable diversity. Fenwick renders it, On the unction, meaning the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But how this sense could be gotten from the word, Sheminith, or why any special unction should be claimed either for the words or the music of this song over others in the same collection does not appear. Bellarmine mentions an opinion, which he says is not to be slighted, viz. that Sheminith points to the day of final judgment, which is to follow the six days of toil of this life and the seventh day of rest of souls, and then comes the eighth day, which is the end of the world. But the contents of the Psalm clearly show that the eternal judgment is not even once referred to unless it be very remotely, as in the preceding Psalm Horsley renders it, upon the superabundance. But the difficulty is that it is only by some very remote and perhaps fanciful allusion that the idea of superabundance could in any way be connected with Sheminith. The literal rendering of upon Sheminith is upon the eighth. This is the marginal reading in the best editions of our English Bible wherever the word occurs. Some of the Jewish writers thought there was a reference to the eighth day, the day of circumcision. Gill says some ancient Christians referred it to the Lord’s day, being the day after the seventh, or the Jewish a Sabbath. Theodoret refers it to the eighth age, the millennium. But these three views are purely fanciful, receiving no support from the contents of the Psalm Nor is there more support to the opinion that the eighth refers to a song of eight notes, to the tune of which this Psalm was sung, if for the eighth we read the octave, our minds instantly turn to something relating to music, and so this term seems to point to something pertaining to music in the public worship of God. Hengstenberg: “The correct explanation is given by those who take it for an indication of the tune.” He cites no one as agreeing with him, nor does any one appear to take the same view as himself. Vatablus supposes it to be a tune in which the octave note prevails. Pool thinks Sheminith is “the shrillest or loftiest note;” while Gill cites some as thinking that it refers “to the eighth note, which was grave, and which we call the bass.” Many others think it refers to an instrument, perhaps a harp of eight strings. This view is favoured by the Chaldee, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech; by Bellarmine, Waterland, Moller, Gill, Patrick, Morison, Cobbin, Fry, and Scott. Venema is in doubt whether it is an instrument of eight cords, or the lower octave tune that is designed; Calvin: “I do not know whether it would be correct to say it was a harp of eight strings. I am rather inclined to the opinion that it refers to the tune;” Alexander says Sheminith “corresponds exactly to our octave; but its precise application in the ancient music we have now no means of ascertaining.” It may well be left to each one to form his own opinion in the case, and specially to commend care in rejecting the view maintained by the great mass of commentators, viz. that a particular [[Page:94]] instrument is referred to. But no heresy is taught, nor spiritual truth rejected by holding any of the fore-cited explanations, though some of them are wild and unreasonable.

The authorship of this Psalm is properly ascribed to David. Of his having written it there is no cause of serious doubt. Seven of the Psalms have long been styled penitential. These are the Psalm 6; 3; 2; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143. From this list some drop the Psalm 102; and insert Psalm 25. They have been called penitential not merely because they contain earnest supplications becoming sinners, but also confessions of sin and expressions of sorrow appropriate to a penitent. But the very same reasons would lead us to include at least three others under the same designation, viz. Psalm 25; 69; 86. Still there is no objection to calling this a penitential Psalm But on what occasion it was written we cannot determine. There is a strong tendency in commentators to refer many of the sorrowful Psalms to David’s penitence respecting the matter of Uriah. But David was a penitent before he incurred guilt in that affair. And both before and after that sad business his great trouble, as is that of every believer, was the plague of his own heart, the fountain of depravity within him. His whole life was a conflict with corruption. Paul had committed no recent outbreaking sin when he uttered that exceedingly bitter cry, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” It was indwelling sin that distressed him.

Some have supposed that this Psalm has special reference to bodily disease, and for proof refer to Psalm 6:2, 5. Others think it has special reference to the terrible machinations and assaults of his enemies, and refer to Psalm 6:7, 10. Others suppose there is special reference to some spiritual troubles, Psalm 6:3, 4. The fact is that all these things may have borne him down at the same time. It has grown into a proverb that troubles never come alone. See how affliction brought on a sense of sin in Joseph’s brethren. It is a great thing to learn to bow to the rod of correction in a, temper becoming a sinner, who through grace has become a child of God. It is not probable that this Psalm was composed at the time of the affliction, but after it had passed away. Yet it doubtless contains the petitions offered during the anguish occasioned by the sore visitation. It also records the blessed issue of his troubles and his happy deliverance from them. In this Psalm the original of the word Lord is in each case Jehovah, on which see above on Psalm 1:2.

  1. O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. The variations in rendering this verse are slight. For hot displeasure, some have proposed to read wrath, indignation, glow or heat. But in each case the sense is the same. The two clauses express the same idea — “Fury untempered with grace and insupportable wrath.” Each contains a petition, the purport of which has not been always agreed upon. Some suppose that David here implores the removal of his afflictions. Others with more reason regard him as asking that his afflictions may be the chastisements of a son, not the punishments of a cast-away. Such suppose this petition to be the same in substance as that of the weeping prophet: “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing, ” Jeremiah 10:24. The same idea is expressed in Jeremiah 46:28, “I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet I will not leave thee wholly unpunished.” This view therefore consists with the analogy of Scriptural teaching. Nor would a wise and good man under divine inspiration be ready to ask that he might be exempt from trial. But any man may without qualification humbly ask to be dealt with as a child, not as a rebel. Luther: “This he regards not, nay, he will readily suffer, that he be punished and chastened; but he begs that it might be done in mercy and goodness, not in anger and fury. … Therefore the prophet teaches us here, that there are two rods of God, one of mercy and goodness, another of anger and fury;” Calvin gives this as the sense: [[Page:95]] “O Lord, I confess that I deserve to be destroyed and brought to naught; but as I would be unable to endure the severity of thy wrath, deal not with me according to my deserts, but rather pardon my sins, by which I have provoked thine anger against me;” De Wette: “The sufferer prays not for a remission, but only for an alleviation of the calamity;” Patrick’s paraphrase is: “O Lord, who delightest in mercy, moderate, I beseech thee, thy sharp correction; and do not proceed to inflict upon me the severest marks of thy displeasure;” Morison: “He does not deprecate the divine rebuke, for he remembers how awfully it had been provoked; but he entreats that Jehovah would not rebuke him in his anger, that he would not chasten him in his hot displeasure. He felt that a creature’s weakness would not withstand the shock of incensed Omnipotence;” Henry: “He does not pray, Lord, rebuke me not; Lord, chasten me not; for, as many as God loves, he rebukes and chastens, as the father the son in whom he delights.” This view is also taken by Venema, by Gill and, as Hengstenberg owns, by “most expositors.” The wrath of God destroys, but his paternal love corrects, reclaims and saves. It is itself a mercy and he who receives it may well pray.
  2. Have mercy upon me, O Lord. How suitable to every condition in life is the cry for mercy. It is first an acknowledgment of the justice of all the evil that has befallen us. It is also a confession of our utter weakness and incapacity for relieving ourselves. It is next a confession of our faith in the power of God to give us succour if he will but undertake our cause. It is also a declaration that the divine compassions are so great that whatever our distress may be, we may safely rely on him. Such a prayer befits us, in health and in sickness, in life and in death. No more appropriate words ever fell from the lips of mortals. No man ever promotes his own comfort by denying the justice of the sufferings he is called to endure at the hand of God. Indeed a suspicion to the contrary will fill any mind with torture, and a conviction to the contrary will make any man outrageous. Listen to Cain: “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” Listen to Quintilian on the death of his wife and children, especially the recent death of a promising son: “Who would not detest my insensibility, if I made any other use of my voice, than to vent complaints against the injustice of the gods, who made me survive all that was dearest to me? … There reigns a secret envy, j ealous of our happiness, which pleases itself in nipping the bud of our hopes.” Let sinners always feel and say that justice is against them, and that their hope for anything good is in the divine mercy. Let them continually admit that they deserve all sorts of afflictions, and if saved from them, it must be by the mere favour of God. Let them bring all their woes before him and cry for mercy, as did David, when he said, for I am weak. Hengstenberg reads, for I am faint, or withered; Morison: I am extremely weak, or I am languishing; Jebb: very weak am I; Alexander: drooping am I: David here complains of bodily distress, though it may have arisen from mental anguish. Calvin says: “David calls himself weak, not because he was sick, but because he was cast down and broken by what had now befallen him.” There is a very mysterious connection between our souls and our bodies. No man in great anguish of mind ever felt well in body, although he might have done so in an hour, if his mind had been put quite at ease. Morison: “The weakness or debility, of which David complains, seems to attach more immediately to the soul, and to the soul as enervated and wasted in its spiritual strength by sin.” The reason he assigns is not valid: “This appears from the circumstance that the divine mercy is appealed to for relief. Mercy has relation to guilt and unworthiness, rather than to mere bodily malady and distemper.” But is not every blessing a mercy to sinners? Especially is not our continued existence a great mercy? Lamentations 3:22. Have we not all forfeited our lives? Several commentators seem at a loss on this clause; and all from not [[Page:96]] admitting that David’s affliction was not one. He had enemies plotting against him; he had mental distress; he had bodily infirmity. All these at once pressed him hard. In this way every expression in the Psalm may be made clear, and even the commentators made generally to harmonize. The same remarks suit the next clause: O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed. For vexed Calvin reads are afraid; Hengstenberg: Are terrified; Fry and Alexander: Are shaken. Morison observes that by the bones Jewish expositors understand the body generally, but says, he can see no reason why the bones should not be spoken of literally. Calvin: “He attributes fear to his bones, not because they are endued with feeling, but because the vehemence of his grief was such that it affected his whole body. He does not speak of his flesh, which is the more tender and susceptible part of the corporeal system, but he mentions his bones, thereby intimating that the strongest parts of his frame were made to tremble for fear.” The sense seems to be that his bodily distress was not slight, but deep, and incapable of being removed by any ordinary remedies. God alone could heal him. He therefore betook himself to the great physician. Luther: “Where the heart is troubled, the whole body is faint and broken.” “A wounded spirit who can bear?” Alexander: “To regard the bodily distress as a mere figure for internal anguish would be wholly arbitrary and destructive of all sure interpretation. The physical effect here ascribed to moral causes is entirely natural and confirmed by all experience.” This state of things was itself sad. But the sufferer adds:
  3. My soul is also sore vexed. The Syriac and Hengstenberg read: And nay soul is greatly terrified; most of the ancient versions and Morison: My soul is exceedingly troubled; Calvin: My soul is greatly afraid; Fry: My soul is shaken exceedingly; Alexander: My soul is greatly agitated. The verb rendered vexed in this place is the same rendered vexed in the preceding verse. There are no troubles like soul-troubles. Sin will mar anything. It will make any soul wretched. Morison: “It depresses its spiritual energies, quenches the ardours of devotion, darkens the prospect of faith and hope, produces slavish dread, creates an inaptitude to spiritual services and enjoyments, and acts, in all respects upon the mind of a believer, as fell disease does upon the body.” Calvin very properly rejects the opinion, which here takes soul for life. It does not suit the scope of the passage. The soul of David was so distressed that time seemed long. This is very natural. Many have experienced this effect of pain, bodily and mental, in making the hours tedious. He cries out, But thou, O Lord, how long? The Chaldee: How long ere thou wilt refresh me? church of England How long wilt thou punish me? Hengstenberg tells us that the words, O Lord, how long? were Calvin’s motto, and that the most intense pain could not extort from him anything more expressive of desire for relief. They have been the words of many a great sufferer. The sentence is unfinished, but neither unmeaning nor unimpressive. The very ellipsis points to great distress, and is a piteous cry for relief. Dimock proposes to supply what is wanting thus: And how long wilt thou be angry, Jehovah? and refers to Psalm 79:5 in support. But great grief is apt to utter broken sentences. Ejaculations are often abrupt and incomplete, yet nothing is more expressive. Highly finished periods do not beseem those, who are sorely afflicted. The sentence may be filled up many ways, and give a good sense thus: How long before thou wilt have mercy? how long shall my bones and my soul be thus vexed? how long wilt thou permit me to suffer as I do? how long before I shall be rescued? An afflicted saint familiar with Scripture, does not care to have all words supplied. Morison: “David seems like an individual choked with grief, and feels himself incapable of completing the sentence he had begun.” He thus paraphrases the words, O Lord, how long? “Howlong wilt thou continue to hide thy face, to afflict my spirit, to chastise my body, to deny me the refreshing tokens of thy love, to shut thine ears against my complaints, [[Page:97]] to leave me, the victim of grief, and the subject of torturing disease? How long, O Lord, shall this be the case? Shall not a day of mercy and deliverance at last dawn? Wilt thou not again look upon my pain, and forgive all my sins? Hast thou afflicted, and wilt thou not heal?” Calvin: “This elliptical form of expression serves to express more strongly the vehemence of grief, which not only holds the minds but also the tongues of men bound up, breaking and cutting short their speech in the middle of the sentence.” Luther: “In all emotions of the heart, such as fear, love, hope, hatred, and the like, a state of suspense and delay is vexatious and difficult to be borne, as Solomon says in Proverbs 13:12, ‘Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.’ But in troubles of this kind, delay is the most severe and insupportable pain.” At such a time what a privilege is prayer! What a mercy to be allowed to pour out our tears and complaints to GOD, and to cry, 
  4. Return, O Lord, deliver my soul. God’s essential presence is everywhere. This encourages his people to pray to him, knowing that he can hear them. But his gracious presence is often wanting to his people. One of the most grievous afflictions is the absence of God. In this alarming strain he threatens his people: “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.” Hosea 5:15. When God hides his face his people are troubled. His return is regarded as a great mercy. The Arabic reads, Be propitious, O Lord. “When the humble and penitent soul is made conscious of the divine withdrawment, nothing will satisfy it but a sense of God’s returning smile.” If he comes, he will bring salvation, and so David cries, deliver my soul. He not only prayed for his life, but for his soul. If that is lost, all is lost. If that is safe, other things are of slight importance. Our worst foes are the enemies of our souls. They are our sins, our tempters and our tormentors. To deliver from these is the work of God alone. Yea, it is his sovereign work. If moved to it, it cannot be by anything seen in the creature. In bestowing any favour God is self-moved. Therefore David says, Oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. The ancient versions, with Calvin, Jebb, Gill, Home, and Alexander follow the original and read mercy, not mercies. Fry reads, tenderness. The word here rendered mercy occurs more than two hundred times in the Hebrew Bible and is rendered favour, pity, kindness, mercy, goodness, loving-kindness, merciful-kindness. So that beyond all question we here have a confession that hope of deliverance for a sinner in any distress is found in the unmerited compassions of God. Luther’s paraphrase is: “Not for mine own services, which indeed are nothing, as is sufficiently and more than sufficiently proved by this terror at thy anger, and my trembling bones, and the sadness of my heart and soul. Therefore help me for thy mercies’ sake, that thine honour and the glory of thy compassion may be forever connected with my deliverance.” God takes great pains to inform his people in all ages that all their hope is in his sovereign favour and rich grace, and that it is not the merit or the misery of mortals, that moves him to show them pity, or extend deliverance. Ezekiel 36:22-32; Ephesians 2:4-9. It is well when we have faith to draw arguments from God in favour of our petitions. God’s mercy gets great honour when it extends great favours to great sinners. We may safely plead with God to do that which will be an honour to his attributes. In this verse David pleads for God’s mercy’s sake; in the next he urges an argument drawn from the silence of the grave.
  5. For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks? John Rogers and the Bishops’ Bible both render the first clause thus: “For in death no man remembereth the;” in this they follow some of the ancient versions, which read, “In death there is no one remembering thee.” The doctrine of this verse may be the same as that of Psalm 30:9; 88:10; 115:17-18: and [[Page:98]] Isaiah 38:18. This last reads, “The grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee.” Two senses have been given to this fifth verse. The first is that in this world true religion, in which God’s honour is deeply involved, is kept alive by means of the testimony of his friends. God says to such, Ye are my witnesses. If the witnesses are dead, they can testify no more. One of the chief ways of honouring God on earth is by speaking his praise. “Whose hose praise glorifieth me.” Psalm 50:23. The same doctrine is taught in Hebrews 13:15. The voice of the dead is never heard any more on all the earth praising God. This is a good sense, consistent with other portions of revealed truth, and given by Calvin, Patrick, Gill, and Alexander. The other sense supposes that David had a fearful discovery of his sin and misery, and felt that if God pursued him in wrath he must soon drop into hell, being utterly consumed by divine terrors, bereft of hope, and left among those miserable outcasts, who on earth forget God, and who in the future world have no pleasure in ever remembering him. The death here spoken of then is the death of the soul — eternal death. If this view is correct, then we must read the last clause, as Jebb does, In hell who shall give thanks to thee? The original word here rendered grave occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures sixty-five times. Thirty-two times it is rendered grave, thirty times hell, and three tines pit. Sometimes it cannot signify anything but hell as we now understand that word. See Psalm 9:17. Strange to say, even the Doway Bible here reads hell. The church of England reads the pit. Henry’s paraphrase is, “Lord, send me not to that dreadful place where there is no devout remembrance of thee, nor any thanks given to thee.” Laboured criticisms on the words used to designate the separate state of souls departed seem not to have been profitable, owing perhaps to the fact that too much of the material for them has been taken from the mythology of the heathen, or that they have been written to establish some preconceived theory. In the two clauses of this verse death and the grave are parallel, and the question of the second clause is in general import equivalent to the negation of the first. The word rendered give thanks is of frequent occurrence and is otherwise rendered praise, thank, confess. The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Syriac, and Vulgate read confess. The foregoing interpretations are entirely consistent with each other. Both are admissible. If either of them is true, then this passage cannot be brought to prove that between death and the resurrection men’s souls are unconscious. Such a view derives no countenance from Scripture, but is opposed to many of its clear teachings. Nor does this verse teach that death is an eternal sleep. We know that it is not. Old Testament believers knew it was not. Jude 1:14-15; Exodus 3:6; Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38; 2 Samuel 12:23. One thus exercised must be sorely troubled. No wonder he says: 
  6. I am weary with my groaning. The pains, the sins, the enemies of David had so long filled him with groanings that he was wearied with them. He knew the sharp pains of bodily disease, the sorest afflictions of life, the saddest disappointments and failures, terrible temptations, inherent and outbreaking sins, the hidings of God’s flee, the pangs of deep conviction, and fears full of torment. He groaned till he was weary, and begged God to show him mercy. Was not this a case, in which divine mercy would be greatly honoured by extending help before it became worse? All the night make 1 my bed to swim. Calvin: I soak my couch; Jebb: I wash every night my bed; Fry and Hengstenberg: Every night I make my bed to swim. Of course this language is exaggerated; but it is a lawful use of the hyperbole. He does not say in this clause how he made his bed to swim. It may have been in good part by those dreadful sweats, which break out on persons suffering from mental anguish while in bed whether awake or asleep. This is the view of Venema and Patrick. But the more common opinion is that his bed swam with the tears he shed. Every night is a [[Page:99]] better rendering than all the night. The Septuagint, Ethiopic, Arabic, Vulgate and Alexander, following the original, put the verb make in this clause and the verb water in the next in the future tense. Alexander thus connects the clauses: “I am weary in my groaning … and unless I am relieved, I shall (still as hitherto) make my bed swim every night, my couch with tears I shall dissolve, or make to flow.” The meaning is that his grief will never cure itself, and that if God shall not interpose, his sorrows will utterly waste and exhaust him. Indeed they had already made sad work with him; for he says, 
  7. Mine eye is consumed because of grief. For consumed, some read withered, sunken, blasted, dimmed, become dull, fretted, worn away. Poets have sung of the effects of grief on the eye.

    His eye-balls in their hollow sockets sink. — Dryden.
    Sunk was that eye
    Of sovereignty; and on the emaciate cheek
    Had penitence and anguish deeply drawn
    Their furrows premature, etc. — Southey.

    There is great force in that phrase, He wept his eyes out. For
    eye Morison reads countenance; John Rogers’ Translation: My countenance is changed for very inwarde grefe; Bishops’ Bible: My beautie is gone for eerie trouble; Genevan Translation Mine eye is dimmed for despite. Hengstenberg thinks the word rendered eye never occurs in the sense of face. But in this is he not mistaken? In 2 Kings 9:30, it is rendered face, and cannot mean the eye. And in Numbers 11:7, it is twice rendered colour. And why may it not mean the same here? My colour or complexion is consumed because of grief, etc., would give a good sense. For grief, Calvin, Hengstenberg and Alexander read vexation; Gill and many others, indignation. But whether it is his own indignation at the outrageous wrongs done him, or the indignation of God towards him for his sins is not agreed. The latter is the better sense. My beauty is wasted, my colour is consumed by thy indignation, etc. He adds, respecting his eye, or countenance, It waxeth old because of all mine enemies. The marks of premature old age are often brought on by bodily disease, by mental distress, and by the vexatious behaviour of wicked men. Pain, or spiritual distress, or oppressive cares, will make their mark on the eye, on the whole countenance. In this case a premature old age showed that, unless mercy interposed, death would soon follow. Morison: “By his own inward griefs, the afflictions of his body, and the cruel persecutions of his enemies, he felt the encroachments of a premature old age; and beheld in the languid eye, and in the sunken cheek, and in the pallid countenance; the appearances of a dissolution rapidly approaching.” But with the saints the darkest hour is just before day. Therefore in a very altered strain David begins the next verse.
  8. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. Iniquity the same as in Psalm 5:5; also, vanity as in Psalm 10:7; also, mischief as in Psalm 4:10; also sorrow, in Psalm 90:10. Fry here has vanity. Those who work iniquity, always work mischief, vanity and sorrow. He, who would avoid these, must shun that. And so David says to all who work iniquity, depart from me, thus declaring that he will not be of their company. This is the sense most naturally suggested by the words themselves. But the subsequent context shows the language to be that of defiance and triumph. He orders them off with all their menaces and taunts and disheartening speeches. He says, I will listen to you no longer; I will be distressed by you no more; you have tormented me long enough; I am myself again; take yourselves off; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. By what sign David knew that his prayer was heard we are not told. Some favourable change in the aspect of public affairs, some check [[Page:100]] to corruption, some succour from temptation, some sweet sense of God’s love, some improvement in health, one or all of these may have united with an increase of faith to persuade him that the worst was over, and that deliverance was sure and near at hand. This Psalm may have been composed some time after the sore trials mentioned in preceding verses. If it was, then the clause under consideration may express David’s gratitude after deliverance had been fully and openly secured to him. Yet he would on no account forget by whom he was saved. When prayer is answered and we are rescued, let us give God the glory. He often comes suddenly to the confusion of his enemies and the rescue of his chosen. Amyrald: “Those violent commotions, in which after the most bitter and dolorous lamentations and testimonies concerning human weakness, faith suddenly regains the ascendant, and through the offered hope of deliverance, sheds light and serenity over the mind, are very common in the Psalms.” He might have added that they still abound in Christian experience. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Mercies, obtained by weeping and prayer, are well suited to give courage. They are like armour won in battle and hung up as trophies to show what can be done.

    The Lord can clear the darkest skies, 
    Can give us day for night, 
    Make drops of sacred sorrow rise, 
    To rivers of delight.

    The voice of my weeping
    is the same as my loud weeping. There are many sorrows, which we cannot tell to men. There are others, which overwhelm us and strike us dumb. But it is well when God enables us to roll all our burdens over on him; and permits us to weep and plead before him. The voice of weeping was not confined to eastern saints. It is heard by God wherever his suffering people dwell. David insists that his deliverance was by God’s gracious answer to his strong crying and tears, and so he says, 
  9. The Lord hath heard my supplication. This is but another form of repeating what he had said in the last clause. But the next expression has given rise to some difficulty. The Lord will receive my prayer. If the idea in the mind of the Psalmist was of the future, then it is the expression of a confident assurance, supported by past experience that God will never refuse to hear his prayer. This would convey a proper and weighty idea, consistent with Scripture and with Christian experience. The future tense is preferred by our translators, and by Jebb and others, who follow the Hebrew. Alexander: “The combination of the past and future represents the acceptance as complete and final, as already begun and certain to continue.” All the ancient versions and Calvin employ the past tense — hath received, thus making this clause re-affirm the substance of the two previous clauses. But Fry and Hengstenberg think it best to employ the present tense — receiveth or receives. Thus the Psalmist asserts that he is now receiving evidence of a gracious acceptance. Either rendering teaches truth, but the present tense is perhaps preferable to the past, and the future to the present. Because his prayer was heard, he says:
  10. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed. For sore vexed, Calvin reads greatly confounded; Hengstenberg: terrified; Fry: greatly terrified. There is the same variety in the rendering here as in some other cases. Our English version and some others use the imperative form of all the verbs in this verse, making the several clauses imprecatory. If read thus, see commentary on Psalm 5:10. Fry uses the present tense of the indicative mood, and reads, All mine enemies are confounded, etc. But the church of England, Gill, Jebb, Hengstenberg and Alexander prefer the future, making the whole a prediction, All mine enemies shall be ashamed, etc. [[Page:101]] This reading is on all accounts to be preferred. Meantime we have here a strong confirmation of the fact that those parts of the Psalms, which look like asking God to send evil on one’s enemies are but prophetic and infallible declarations that the evil will come. See Introduction. § 6. And so they shall return and be ashamed suddenly. Some of the older commentators as well as some more modern, instead of return read again, thus; they shall be again ashamed. But this is no improvement on the common version. The sense is, They shall return from their pursuit of David, and shall be ashamed suddenly. It is easy for God in a moment to put to confusion all our enemies. The overthrow of the wicked commonly takes them by surprise. No faithful warnings, no clear prophecies can prepare the minds of unbelievers for dreadful coming events. Hengstenberg thinks that the returning of the Lord in v.4, and the returning (or flight) of the enemies in v.10, stand related to each other as cause and effect.
DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL REMARKS.
  1. With believers when things get to the worst then they get better. To then darkness is the harbinger of light; grief, of gladness; humility, of exaltation; death, of life. The whole Psalm teaches thus.
  2. Let men beware how they harden themselves in sin by pleading the falls of David. If they resemble him only in sinfulness, they will miserably perish. Unless like him they repent, they are undone forever. And this repentance must be speedy, for as Augustine says, “Though after this life repentance be perpetual, it is in vain.”
  3. It is better to weep now when God will hear than hereafter when mercy shall be clean gone forever. To us sinners sorrow must come. The wise prefer to mourn when mourning for sin shall be followed by peace and joy.
  4. No small part of spiritual wisdom consists in knowing how to behave under severe and complicated trials. Some melt away under them and lose all heart and courage. This is one extreme, and very dangerous. Others harden the heart and act as if God was not chastising them. Hengstenberg: “That supposed greatness of soul which considers suffering as a plaything, upon which one should throw himself with manly courage, is not to be met with on the territory of Scripture; upon that everywhere appear faint, weak, and dissolving hearts, finding their strength and consolation only in God. This circumstance arises from more than one cause. 1. Suffering has quite another aspect to the members of God’s church than to the world. While the latter regard it only as the effect of accident, which one should meet with manly courage, the pious man recognizes in every trial the visitation of an angry God, a chastisement for his sins. This is to him the real sting of the suffering, from which it derives its power to pierce into marrow and bone. ‘Rightly to feel sin, ’ says Luther, ‘is the torture of all tortures.’ … To make light of tribulations is all one, in the reckoning of Scripture, with making light of God. 2. The tenderer the heart the deeper the pain. Living piety makes the heart soft and tender, and refines all its sensibilities, and, consequently, takes away the power of resistance, which the world possesses, from the roughness of its heart. Many sources of pain are opened up in the Christian, which are closed in the ungodly. Love is much more deeply wounded by hatred, than hatred itself; righteousness sees wickedness in, suite a different light from what wickedness itself does; a soft heart has goods to lose which a hard one never possessed. 3. The pious man has a friend in heaven, and on that account has no reason to be violently overcome by his sorrow. He permits the floods of this quietly to pass over him, gives nature its free, spontaneous purse, knowing well that beside the natural principle there is another also existing him, which always unfolds its energy the more, the more that the former has its [[Page:102]] rights reserved to it — that according to the depths of the pain, is the height of the joy which is derived from God — that every one is consoled after the measure in which he has borne suffering — that the meat never comes but from the eater, and honey from the terrible. On the contrary, whosoever lives in the world without God, he perceives that for him all is lost when he is lost himself. He girds himself up, gnashes at his pain, does violence to nature, seeks thereby to divert himself, and to gain from nature on the one side what it abstracts from him on the other, and thus he succeeds in obtaining the mastery over his pain, so long as God pleases. 4. The pious man has no reason to prevent himself and others from seeing into his heart. His strength is in God, and so he can lay open his weakness. The ungodly, on the other hand, consider it as a reproach to look upon themselves in their weakness, and to be looked upon by others in it. Even when smarting with pain inwardly, he feigns freedom from it, so long as he can.”
  5. How different is all this from the miserable shifts to which ungodly men are driven. In their extremity dreadful sullenness and remorse, alternate bluster and fainting, boasting and cowering mark their state. Shortly before his death, Byron said: “Shall I sue for mercy?” Pausing a considerable time, be made this desperate answer to his own question: “Come, come, no weakness; let’s be a man to the last.” That miserable pupil of Voltaire, the pedantic king Frederick II. of Prussia, had lived to feed his ambition, and after remarkable successes was compelled to say: “It is unhappy that all who suffer must flatly contradict Zeno, as there is none but will confess pain to be a great evil. It is noble to raise one’s self above the disagreeable accidents to which we are exposed, and a moderate stoicism is the only means of consolation for the unfortunate. But whenever the stone, the gout, or the hull of Phalaris mix in the scene, the frightful shrieks which escape from the sufferers, leave no doubt that pain is a real evil. … When a misfortune presses us, which merely affects our person, self-love makes a point of honour to withstand vigorously this misfortune: but the moment we suffer an injury which is forever irreparable, there is nothing left for us in Pandora’s box which can bring us consolation, besides, perhaps, for a man of my advanced years, the strong conviction that I must soon be with those who have gone before me, (i e., in the land of nothingness.) The heart is conscious of a wound, the Stoic freely confesses; I should feel no pain, but I do feel it against my will, it consumes, it lacerates me; an internal feeling overcomes my strength, and extorts from me complaints and fruitless groans.”
  6. This Psalm shows us what extreme and terrible sufferings of conscience may come upon a good man after sad departures from God. It is thought by some that the convictions and distresses of the real children of God, when aroused to a sense of their backsliding and guilt, far surpass the anguish of the same persons at the time of their first conversion. No doubt this is often so. Let the people of God flee from sin as from hell. It will bring the pains of hell into their consciences. Spiritual distress and spiritual conflicts are the worst trials on earth.
  7. But whatever our afflictions may be, let us betake ourselves to God, Psalm 6:1. The child, that falls into the bosom of parental faithfulness, shortens the stroke and breaks the force of the rod, which is lifted in chastisement. Morison: “Whether we contemplate the maladies of the soul, or those of the body, we are equally compelled to turn to Jehovah as the great Physician.” The sooner we learn this lesson, the better for us. The very name, Jehovah, rightly understood must encourage all to pour their tale of sorrow into his ear.
  8. In all our afflictions it is our duty promptly to inquire, Wherefore contendest thou with me? And it is always safe to take it for granted that a sufficient cause may be found in our corruptions and iniquities, Psalm 6:1. Calvin: “Those persons are [[Page:103]] very unsuitably exercised under their afflictions who do not immediately take a near and steady view of their sins, in order thereby to produce the conviction that they have deserved the wrath of God. And yet we see how thoughtless and insensible almost all men are on this subject; for while they cry out that they are afflicted and miserable, scarcely one among a hundred looks to the hand which strikes. From whatever quarter, therefore, our afflictions come, let us learn to turn our thoughts instantly to God, and to acknowledge him as the Judge who summons us as guilty before his tribunal, since we, of our own accord, do not anticipate his judgment.”
  9. Amazing is God’s kindness in not punishing his people as they deserve, Psalm 6:1. This is their only hope. This is a sufficient hope. “Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the Loin: for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet I will not leave thee wholly unpunished, ” Jeremiah 46:28. Jehovah will discriminate between saints and sinners. He will not punish them alike, Genesis 18:25.
  10. If blessings are delayed, let us continue in prayer. It is never wise nor safe to cease calling on God, however sad our state. Dickson: “No delay of comfort, no sense of sin, no fear of God’s utter displeasure can be a reason to the believer to cease from prayer, and dealing with God for grace: for the prophet is weary, but giveth not over.”
  11. Prayer and praise should go together, Psalm 6:1-5. The Assembly’s Annotations: “God having revealed, that the most acceptable service men can render him is to call on him in trouble, and after deliverance to glorify him, those holy men of old, being in danger of death, could fix on no better consideration than this of God’s glory, by which to press the plea of their prayers for life and prosperity.” All ten of the lepers were glad to be healed, yet but one returned to give glory to God. Many a man prays for recovery from sickness, and, when it comes, he returns no thanks.
  12. The only hope of sinful men for any good thing is in the mere mercy of God, Psalm 6:2, 4. Moller: “To the pious the grace of God is the only light of life. As soon as God gives any sign of his wrath, they not only grow pale, but are well nigh plunged into the darkness of death; but as soon as they behold him reconciled and propitious, their life is restored.” Calvin: “Men will never find a remedy for their miseries until, forgetting their own merits, by trusting to which they only deceive themselves, they have learned to betake themselves to the free mercy of God.” If men would always forsake their own righteousness, and look to Christ alone, all would be safe. Human merits can help none into heaven. And human demerits can shut out of heaven none who flee to Christ and take him for their righteousness.
  13. How reasonable it is that we should pray and labour for that cheerfulness of mind, without which life is a burden, and devotion a source of distress. Calvin: “It is only the goodness of God sensibly experienced by us, which opens our mouth to celebrate his praise; and whenever, therefore, joy and gladness are taken away, praises also must cease.”
  14. He, who knows us better than we know ourselves, often sees fit to send on us severe bodily pain, that we may draw nigh to him, Psalm 6:2. It is a great secret to know how to be sick, and to profit by sickness. Dickson: “The Lord can make the strongest and most insensible parts of a man’s body, sensible of his wrath, when he pleaseth to touch him; for here David’s bones are vexed.” Many a man’s soul has been saved by the destruction of his body with wasting disease. Muis: “As often as we are visited with sickness, or any other suffering, we should, after the example, of David, call our sins to remembrance, and flee to God’s compassion: not like the ‘Ungodly, who derive their evil, as well as their good, everywhere else than from God, and hence are never led, either by the one to repentance, or by the other to gratitude. [[Page:104]] Sickness or calamity is not to be estimated according to the mind of the flesh, but of the Spirit; and we must reflect that if God afflicts us, he deals towards us as sons, that he may chasten and improve us.”
  15. In all our distresses, bodily and mental, we should avoid a spirit of petulance and impatience. It is dreadful to be left to find fault with God, to charge him foolishly. Such a course provokes the Almighty, hardens the heart, and sooner or later gives great power to the conscience to torment us. We may cry: “O Lord, how long?” Psalm 6:3. Calvin: “God, in his compassion towards us, permits us to pray to him to succour us; but when we have freely complained of his long delay, that our prayers or sorrow, on this account, may not pass beyond bounds, we must submit our case entirely to his will, and not wish him to make greater haste than shall seem good to him.”
  16. What mighty motives to activity and fidelity in our Master’s work are furnished in the brevity of our lives and in the silence of the tomb, Psalm 6:5. See Ecclesiastes 9:10; John 9:4. It is said that as men grow old they become covetous. This may be so. But if we should find them covetous of time, instead of money, it would be a proof of advancing wisdom. Even Paul and Whitefield and Brainerd and Nevins are no longer allowed to say one word for God in this world. O ye ministers, preach away! O ye Christians, pray on!
  17. The end of life is to glorify God, Psalm 6:5. If we fail here, we fail utterly. Let us honour him with all our faculties of body and mind.
  18. After reading accounts of such sufferings as are described in this Psalm we ought not to make much ado over any light afflictions, which may come on us. If better men suffered more than we, and without a murmur, we ought to take heed lest we displease God by our complaints under any trials. There was true virtue in that saying of the church, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, ” etc., Micah 7:9.
  19. Dreadful must sin be in its very nature, when even in this life and on a pardoned man it produces such effects as are described in this Psalm Moller: “Sorrow proceeding from a sense of the Divine wrath exceeds all others.”
  20. Very terrible sufferings on account of particular sins may come on even good men. It was so with David. It was so with Jacob. It was so with some of the early Christians. 1 Corinthians 11:30. God loves his people too well to let them wander on in sin, and drop into hell for the want of a little needful and wholesome severity. 1 Corinthians 11:32.
  21. Nothing enables a good man to defy the malice and power of his enemies, like an assurance that his prayers are heard and answered, Psalm 6:8. God’s grace and power are infinite. Faith in him will dispel any sadness. Dickson: “The Lord can shortly change the cheer of an humble supplicant, and raise a soul trembling for fear of wrath, to a triumphing over all sorts of adversaries, and over all temptations to sin arising from them.” The presence of divine grace expels all foes, or disarms them of their dreaded power. The Berleberg Bible on the words, Depart from me, etc., says: “Depart from me ye false tormenting accusations, ye rage and fury of menacing spirits and powers, that terrify me to death, and have shut up my blessed life as in the abyss of hell; ye are the real evil-doers, whom my external foes merely represent.”
  22. If God hears our prayers once, it should encourage us to hope that he will hear us again, Psalm 6:9.
  23. How highly we should prize the privilege of communion with God. It is our life and our joy. Morison: “Those, who have once known the unspeakable enjoyment of communion with a reconciled God, cannot long endure the sensible withdrawment of divine mercy. They have breathed an element out of which they cannot long exist; they have stood with their Redeemer on the mount of transfiguration, and they are ready to exclaim, ‘Lord, it is good to be here.’ Nor must it be forgotten that [[Page:105]] the divine return to any backsliding soul is its true deliverance. As the rising sun scatters the darkness of night, so when God returns to his people, in smiling mercy, he scatters the dark forebodings of unbelief, and liberates their souls from the bondage of sin.”
  24. If sin has such power to bring anguish in this world, what will it not do hereafter, when it shall be finished? James 1:15; Luke 23:31; Jeremiah 12:5.
  25. It is right and profitable often to say that our deliverances are from God, and when our prayers are answered, to celebrate God’s mercies. David twice or thrice tells how God had heard him, Psalm 6:8-9.
  26. Is there wanted in our day anything so much as a fervent spirit of prayer? Morison: “Where are those mighty meltings of heart which took place in days of old, when our forefathers were deprived of liberty, and sought shelter ‘in the mountains, and caves, and dens of the earth?’ It may be said, indeed, that this is the age of action; but how worthless and unacceptable will that action be which is not fostered and urged on by ‘the spirit of grace and supplications?’ ”
  27. As what is promised to one believer is also promised to all, so that which is denounced against one enemy of God, is alike denounced against all of like character. The result of the conflict between David and his foes is a sample of what shall fall out in every like case. Let the righteous rejoice. Let sinners tremble.
  28. Let us never fall into the error of the wicked, who have long and always delighted in deriding the suffering people of God, and especially in making light of their pious grief for sin. Dickson: “The insulting of enemies over the godly when the Lord’s hand is heavy upon them, because it reflecteth upon religion and upon God’s glory, is a main ingredient in the sorrow of the godly, ” Psalm 6:7. There is a great difference between “encouraging the exercise of a salutary repentance, ” and provoking feelings of “unmitigated despair.”
  29. How apt God is to punish in kind. David’s enemies pursued him till lie was sore vexed. In the end they were sore vexed themselves, Psalm 6:3, 10. Compare Judges 1:5-8; 2 Samuel 22:27; Psalm 18:26; 109:17-18; Matthew 5:7; James 2:13.
  30. All is well that ends well. Home: “Many of the mournful Psalms end in this [triumphant] manner, to instruct the believer, that he is continually to look forward, and solace himself with beholding that day, when his warfare shall be accomplished; when sin and sorrow shall be no more; when sudden and everlasting confusion shall cover the enemies of righteousness; when the sackcloth of the penitent shall be exchanged for a robe of glory, and every tear become a sparkling gem in his crown: when to sighs and groans shall succeed the songs of heaven, set to angelic harps, and faith shall be resolved into the vision of the Almighty.”

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