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my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without, fled from me."
These particulars were never more applicable to David, than they were to the Son of David, when his acquaintance, at beholding him reviled by his enemies, were terrified from attending him, and when "all the disciples forsook him, and fled." The same things are cften too true of the faith and the church. They are true likewise of every man, when he suffers the dishonours of the last enemy, death; when he is "a fear" to his dearest friends, and they are obliged to forsake him.
"12. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind; I am like a broken vessel."
This was literally the case of Christ, when laid in the sepulchre, and esteemed no longer the object of hope by his friends, or of fear by his enemies. That he should be so "forgotten," while dead, is less wonderful, than that this should have happened since his glorious resurrection, and ascension into heaven.
13. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side; while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life."
The slander of Shimei, and the counsel of Ahitophel against king David, directs us to the slanders of the Jews, and the counsels of Judas and the Sanhedrim against the beloved Son of God, who, in his church, will be persecuted in like manner by the ungodly to the world's end.
14. But I trusted in thee, O LORD; I said, Thou art my God. 15. My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. 16. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake."
In all our afflictions, after the example of the typical, and of the true David, we are to have recourse to the prayer of faith; we are to consider, that Jehovah is our God and Saviour; that the times and the seasons of prosperity and adversity, of life and death, are in his hand; and therefore on him we are to wait, till the day of mercy shall dawn, and the shadows fly away.
"17. Let me not be ashamed, O LORD, for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. 18. Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous."
Ahitophel, for his treason against David; and Judas, for his treachery against Christ, felt the force of this prophetical imprecation, or prediction, which will also, one day, take its full effect, in the confusion of all impenitent calumniators and traitors.
"19. O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee, before the sons of men!"
Peace of conscience, the comforts of the Spirit, and the hope of future glory, will teach the soul, even in the darkest night of affliction, to break forth into this exulting strain of gratitude and praise, for the blessings experienced by those who confess their Saviour before men.
20. Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride, Heb. conspiracies, of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues."
In times of contention and persecution, there is a refuge for the faithful in the tabernacle of David," which is the mystical body of Christ, inhabited by the presence of God. In this sacred "pavilion," they enjoy the pleasures of contemplation and devotion, regardless of the distant tumult and confusion of the world.
"21. Blessed be the LORD; for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city."
The man Christ, and the church with him, like David of old, here rejoice
in the protection and saving power of God, in the same manner as in Isa. xxvi. 1. "We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks."
"22. For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes; nevertheless, thou heardest the voice of my supplications, when I cried unto thee." Whoever shall consider the troubles of the beloved Son of God, bereaved for a season of the light of heaven, only that it might afterwards arise upon him with a greater lustre, will be taught never to faint under the chastisement of the Lord; since the darkness of the night argues the approaching dawn of the day.
"23. O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. 24. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD."
The exhortation is raised from the consideration of the deliverance of Christ, with the destruction of his enemies; which ought to strengthen and comfort the hearts of believers under all their afflictions here below; that so, after having suffered courageously with their Master, they may triumphantly enter into his joy and glory.
SIXTH DAY.—EVENING PRAYER.
In this Psalm, which is the second of those styled penitential, David, as a model of true repentance, 1, 2. extolleth the blessedness of those whose sins are forgiven them; 3, 4. describeth the torment endured by him, before he confessed his sin; and, 5. the goodness of God in pardoning it, when confessed; 6. he foretelleth that others, after his example, should obtain the like mercy; 7. declareth his hope and confidence in his God; who, 8. is introduced, promising wisdom and grace to the penitent; 9, 10. sinners are warned against obstinacy; and, 11. the righteous exhorted to rejoice in God their Saviour.
“1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."
As the sick man is eloquent in the praise of health, so the sinner beginneth this his confession of sin with an encomium on righteousness, longing earnestly to be made a partaker of the evangelical "blessedness;" to be delivered from the guilt and the power of sin; to be pardoned and sanctified, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. See Rom. iv. 6.
"3. When I kept silence my bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long.'
In opposition to the blessedness above-mentioned, the penitent now proceeds to declare his own wretched estate, occasioned by his "keeping silence," or not confessing his sin, which therefore rankled and festered inwardly, occasioning torment inexpressible. The disorders of the mind, as well as those of the body, should be communicated to persons skilful in assuaging and removing them. Many might thereby be saved from the horrible crime of self-murder, which is generally committed in agonies of solitary remorse and despair.
"4. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer."
Outward calamities, and inward pangs of conscience, are the strokes of God's hand, designed to humble the sinner, and lead him to confession; and in the infliction of these, such severity is sometimes necessary, that the patient is brought to death's door, before a turn can be given to the
disease; but the pain of a blow upon an ulcerated part, however exquisite, is well compensated for, if, by promoting a discharge, it effect a cure.
"5. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."
What is this, but the Gospel itself "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," 1 John i. 9. And thus it happened, in one case, to David, who had no sooner confessed his sin to the prophet Nathan, but an answer of peace was instantly vouchsafed-"The LORD hath put away thy sin," 2 Sam. xii. 13. Were angels to descend from heaven, to comfort the dejected spirit of a sinner, they could say nothing more effectual for the purpose, than what is said in this verse of our Psalm. But practice will be the best comment upon it.
"6. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him."
Encouraged by this example and declaration of David, to hope for mercy, on confession of sin, it is here foretold, that humble penitents shall be led to make their prayer unto God in the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation, while he "may be found;" that so they may be forgiven, and preserved from great and overwhelming calamities: from the fears of death, and the terrors of judgment.
7. Thou art my hiding place: thou shalt preserve me from trouble: thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance."
The penitent, happily returned to the house of his heavenly Father, now esteemeth himself safe under his protection: and resteth in full assurance that all his sorrows shall one day be turned into joy, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
"8. I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."
The Redeemer is here introduced, returning an answer to the penitent's declarations of his humility and faith; promising "instruction" in that wisdom which every man wants, who continues in sin, together with the direction of the Spirit in the way of righteousness, and the superintendence of his watchful care. Man cannot prevent evils, because he cannot foresee them. "Next therefore to the protecting power of God's Wing, is the securing prospect of his Eye," saith Dr. South.
9. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee,"
The person speaking in the former verse, or the prophet himself, exhorts sinners to repent at the invitation and encouragement afforded them; and not to continue, like brutes, fierce, obstinate, and senseless, until, like them, they must be tamed and managed by force, and the severity of discipline.
10. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.”
They who are not to be reformed by gentler methods, must learn righteousness under the rod of affliction, in the school of the cross: and happy are they, if their "sorrows" may so turn to their advantage. But happier are those, who, led by the goodness of God to repentance and faith, enjoy the light and protection of "mercy."
11. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart."
Bishop Lowth is of opinion, this verse should be the first of the ensuing Psalm, the repetition being in the very style and manner of the Hebrews, and the words repeated and varied with the greatest art and elegance. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart-Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous; for praise is comely for the upright."-See Merrick's Annotations.
In the beginning of the Psalm, the penitent, smitten with a sense of his wretchedness on account of his sins, extolleth the blessedness of the righteous; he now again doth the same, through a joyful sense of his pardon, and restoration to that happy state. Let us "rejoice," O Lord Jesus; but let us rejoice in thee" and in thy salvation; so shall we rejoice indeed.
In this Psalm, the prophet, 1-3. exhorteth the faithful to a spiritual and holy joy in their God, whom they are to praise, 4, 5. for his truth, righteousness, and mercy; 6–9. for his power, displayed in the works of creation; 10—19. for the wisdom of his providence, and the care he hath of his people. 20, 21. The righteous, in answer to the exhortation, declare their joy and confidence in God their Saviour, and, 22. prefer a petition for his manifestation.
"1. Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous; for praise is comely for the upright."
God, and not the world, is the fountain of "joy ;" which sinners talk of, but the righteous only possess. "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice," Phil. iv. 4.
"2. Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery, and an instrument of ten strings."
Music, both vocal and instrumental, is of eminent use in setting forth the praises of God: but there is no instrument like the rational soul, and no melody like that of well-tuned affections. When this music accompanies the other, the sacred harmony of the church is complete.
3. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." "Old things are passed away," and the ideas of a Christian are to be transferred from the old world, and the old dispensation, to the "new;" since, under the Gospel, "all things are become new," and all men ought to become so, Rev. xxi. 1. 5. Abilities of every kind are never so well employed, as in the service of him who giveth them.
4. For the word of the LORD is right, and all his works are done in truth."
God is to be praised for his word, and his works; for his rectitude in one, and his truth in the other; for his faithfulness in accomplishing by the lat ter, what his goodness had promised in the former. The sense will be the same, if we suppose that by the "word of the Lord" is meant the personal WORD, or the Son of God, all whose "works," wrought for the salvation of men, 66 are done in truth," as witnessed by the law and the prophets. "5. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness, Heb. mercy, of the LORD."
"Justice" is an attribute inseparable from God: and what deserves the praises of men, as it excites the admiration of angels, is, that, without sacrificing this formidable attribute, he hath contrived to fill and overflow the earth with his "mercy."
"6. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made: and all the host of them by the breath, or, spirit, of his mouth."
It is true, that the world was created by the "word" or fiat of God, which may be here described, after the manner of men, as formed by "the breath of his mouth." It is also true, that by the instrumentality of the eternal WORD, and the eternal SPIRIT, the whole heavens and earth were made; as also the new heavens and earth, which shall succeed them. Glory is due from man to God, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.
"7. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in store-houses."
The next instance of divine power and goodness, for which we are here
excited to be thankful, is that of laying up the waters, which originally covered the face of the earth, in the great deep beneath. And let us reflect, that, by the same divine power and goodness, a deluge of wickedness and violence is prevented from overwhelming the faith and the church.
"8. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him: 9. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast."
He who made all things, who preserves all things, and can in a moment destroy all things, is the proper object of our "fear;" and that we fear him so little, is a most convincing proof of the corruption and blindness of our
"10. The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. 11. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."
The wisdom of God's providence is not less worthy of adoration than the power of his might. By this wisdom, the "counsels" of states and empires are either directed to the accomplishment of the great counsel of heaven; or, if they attempt to thwart it, are blasted, and "brought to nothing." History will force all who read it with this view, to acknowledge thus much. And with this view, indeed, it should always be read.
"12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people
whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance."
The foregoing considerations of the righteousness, truth, mercy, power, and wisdom of Jehovah, naturally suggest a reflection on the "blessedness" of the church, in whose cause all those attributes are, by the covenant of grace, engaged and exercised. But who now esteems this blessed, ness as it deserves?
13. The LORD looketh from heaven: he beholdeth all the sons of men. 14. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. 15. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works."
How great must be the advantage of living in his favour, and under his protection, who, from the watch-tower of his eternal throne, beholdeth, directeth, and controlleth at pleasure, not only the actions and the words, but the very thoughts and imaginations of the inhabitants of the earth! For, this being the case, it is most certain that,
"16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. 17. An horse is a vain thing for safety; neither shall he deliver any by his great strength."
All the power in the world is less than nothing, if brought into the field against that of God; so that the fate of every battle will depend upon the side which he shall please to take, who is equally able to confound the many and the mighty, and to give victory to the weak and the few. The same is true of that spiritual warfare, in which we are all engaged.
"18. Behold the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him; upon them that hope in his mercy: 19. To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine."
The ever-waking eye of Providence, which looketh on all, looketh with favour and loving-kindness on such "as fear" God without despondency, and "hope" in him without presumption: their bodies are often wonderfully preserved in times of danger and want; but, what is of far greater consequence, their souls are saved from spiritual and everlasting death, and nourished in the wilderness with the bread of heaven.
"20. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. 21, For our heart shall rejoice in him; because we have trusted in his holy name."
In answer to the foregoing exhortation, the "righteous" are here introduced, declaring their fixed resolution to persevere in faith and patience, "waiting" for the coming of their Lord and Saviour, in whom they" rejoice