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with joy unspeakable and full of glory," by reason of that humble and holy confidence which they have in him.
22. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in
The "hope" of the church was always in Messiah. Of old she prayed for the "mercy" of his first advent; now she expecteth his second. Grant us, O Lord, hope, of which we may never be disappointed.
The prophet, escaped out of the hands of his enemies, uttereth a song of praise, in words which the Christian now employeth to celebrate the far greater deliverance of his Saviour, and himself by him, from the power of more formidable adversaries. 1-7. He calleth his brethren to rejoice with him, and to magnify God for the favour and protection vouchsafed to his servant, in a time of danger; 8-10. he exhorteth others to taste and experience the goodness of Jehovah to such as fear him; and for that purpose, 11-14. instructeth them in the nature and effects of divine fear; after which, 15-22. he sweetly descanteth on the certainty of redemption from all the tribulations endured by the faithful in this mortal life.
"1. I will bless the LORD, at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."
The Christian, delivered from many perils, yet continually liable to more, finds cause, at all seasons, and in all situations, to bless God. "In all things he gives thanks, and rejoices even in tribulation," which cannot deprive him of the true ground of all joy, the salvation of Christ.
"2. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad."
The glory of every action is to be ascribed to God, whose interpositions, in behalf of his people of old time, afford consolation and joy to the humble and afflicted. But chiefly are the members of the church bound to give thanks for the resurrection and triumph of Christ, their head. "The humble" can never "hear" of this without being "glad."
"3. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together." The Christian not only himself magnifies God, but exhorts others to do likewise; and longs for that day to come, when all nations and languages, laying aside their contentions and animosities, their prejudices and their errors, their unbelief, their heresies, and their schisms, shall make their sound to be heard as one, in magnifying and exalting their great Redeemer's
"4. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."
The ground of this rejoicing to the typical David, might be his deliverance from his enemies; to the true David, it was his rescue from the powers of darkness; to the believing soul, it is her salvation from sin; and to the body, it will be redemption from the grave. Then the Lord will deliver us "from all our fears; and this he will do, if we seek him, in his Scriptures, and in his ordinances.
5. They locked unto him, and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed."
Faith is the eye, sin the blindness, and Christ the light of the soul. The blindness must be removed, and the eye must be directed to the light, which will then illuminate the whole man, and guide him in the way of salvation. He who thus looketh unto the Sun of righteousness, for light and direction, shall never be confounded.
"6. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles."
David, when he escaped from his enemies, might be "poor" and destitute. But HE was emphatically "the poor man," who became so for our sakes; who not only possessed nothing, but desired nothing in this world. HE" cried, and Jehovah heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles;" as he will hear and deliver the "poor in spirit," who pray unto him. For,
7. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."
The Divine protection and salvation, vouchsafed to the faithful, is here signified, whether we suppose that by "the angel of Jehovah," is meant the presence of Christ in the church militant, as of old in the camp of Israel; or the ministration of created spirits to the heirs of salvation, as in the case of Elisha; 2 Kings vi. 17. Let the consideration of these invisible guardians, who are also spectators of our actions, at once restrain us from evil, and incite us to good.
8. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."
David saw and tasted the goodness of Jehovah, when delivered from his adversaries; the Son of David, when raised from the dead. Both invite us, by trusting" in God, to behold and experience, in our own persons, the mercies and consolations of heaven.
9. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. 10. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing."
He who seeketh the Lord, shall find him; and he who hath found him, can want nothing. Faith, hope, charity, temperance, purity, patience, and contentment, are the true riches; and the lack of them, the poverty to be most dreaded; since to a Christian, persecution, loss, sickness, nay death itself, is gain. In the mean time, God is never wanting to provide for his servants what he seeth needful and best, in matters temporal; while tyrants and oppressors, who are in the world what "lions" are in a forest, are often, by the just judgment of heaven, reduced to want that which they have ravished from others.
"11. Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD."
They who, by contemplating the advantages described above, which attend the fear of the Lord, are become desirous of obtaining that fear, must hearken to their heavenly Father, who by his prophet "speaketh unto them as unto children," offering to teach them the good and the right way. 12. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?"
Every Christian professeth to "desire," not only an animal, but a spiritual "life;" to love, not an old age in time, but an eternal duration; that he may "see those good things" which God hath prepared, not upon earth, but in heaven, for them that love him. Let us observe, therefore, upon what terms such blessings are offered.
"13. Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile." The tongue is an instrument of much good, or much evil. Life and death are in its power: he that keepeth it, keepeth his soul; and he who offendeth not therewith is a perfect man; it is an unruly member, and the first work of the fear of God must be to bridle it, that no profane, unclean, slanderous, deceitful, or idle words, proceed out of the mouth. And as the heart is to the tongue what the fountain is to the stream, that must first be purified. "14. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it."
Not the tongue only, but the whole man, is to be corrected and regulated by the fear of God, operating unto repentance from dead works, and, through faith, unto ebedience of life. And he who hath thus obtained
peace with God, must ever remember to follow peace with men, reconciling his brethren, if at variance; himself, if it be possible, being at variance
with no one.
"15. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth."
The righteous may be afflicted, like David, and like a greater than David; and their oppressors may for a time be triumphant; but in the end, the former will be delivered and exalted; the latter will either cease to be remembered, or they will be remembered with infamy.
"17. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles."
This great and comforting truth, is attested by the history of the deliverances of Israel from Egypt, Babylon, &c., of Jonah from the whale; of the three children from the flames, &c., wrought at the supplications of the respective parties in distress: but above all, by the salvation of the world, through the intercession of Jesus Christ. The death of martyrs is their deliverance; and the greatest of all deliverances.
"18. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
We are apt to overlook men, in proportion as they are humbled beneath us; God regards them in that proportion. Vessels of honour are made of that clay, which is "broken" into the smallest parts.
"19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all."
Afflictions all must suffer; but those of the righteous end in victory and glory. What soldier would not cheerfully undergo the hardships of a campaign upon this condition? "In the world," saith the Captain of our salvation, "ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world;" John xvi. 33.
"20. He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken."
It is God who preserveth to man the strength of his body, which lieth in the bones; and that vigour of his spirit, which consisteth in firm and wellestablished principles of faith and holiness. The bones of the true Paschal Lamb continued whole during the passion, and those of the saints shall be raised whole at the last day, when the mystical body of Christ shall come out of its sufferings, no less perfect and entire than did the natural.
"21. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate."
The evil of punishment springs from the evil of sin; and no sin works such "desolation," as a malicious "hatred" and persecution of the true sons and servants of God. Whoso doubts the truth of this, let him only survey and consider attentively the desolation of the once highly favoured nation, for their enmity against the King of righteousness, and his faithful subjects.
22. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants; and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate."
The frequent prosperity of the wicked, and the troubles of the righteous in this world, strike powerfully upon the sense, and are for that reason too apt to efface from our minds the notices given us by faith, of that future inversion of circumstances, which is to take place after death. To renew, therefore, the impression of such an interesting truth, the redemption of the afflicted righteous is so often insisted on in the course of this Psalm. Enable us, O Lord, to “walk by faith, and not by sight," until we come to the heavenly kingdom; where, with all thy saints, made perfect through sufferings, we shall "bless and magnify thee at all times," and thy "praise will continually be in our mouth," for evermore.
SEVENTH DAY.-MORNING PRAYER.
The prophet in this Psalm, as in the xxiid, which it resembles, personating Messiah in his state of humiliation and suffering, 1-3. beseecheth Jehovah to interpose in his behalf; 4-8. predicteth the confusion of his enemies, and, 9, 10. his own triumph; 11-16. describeth the malice of his persecutors against him, and his love towards them; 17-25. repeateth his supplications for deliverance, and enlargeth upon the cruel insults he met with; 26. he again foretelleth the destruction of the adversary, and, 27, 28. the exultation of the faithful.
66 1. Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me; fight against them that fight against me."
David in his afflictions, Christ in his passion, the church under persecution, and the Christian in the hour of temptation, supplicate the Almighty to appear in their behalf, and to vindicate their cause.
2. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help. 3. Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation."
Jehovah is here described as a " man of war," going forth to the battle against the enemies of Messiah and his church: the protection afforded by his mercy is prefigured by the shield of the warrior, covering his body from the darts of the enemy: and the vengeance of his uplifted arm is represented by the offensive weapons used among men, such as the spear and the sword. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" If he speaketh salvation, who shall threaten destruction? See Deut. xxxii. 41. Wisdom v. 20.
4. Let them be confounded, or, they shall be confounded, and put to shame, that seek after my soul: let them be, or, they shall be, turned back and brought to confusion, that devise my hurt."
The consequence of the Omnipotent appearing in arms against his adversaries is here foretold. And the prediction has long since been verified in the "confusion" of Saul, and of the Jews, as will be finally fulfilled in that of Satan and all his adherents at the last day: for the manifestation of which day the church now walteth in faith and patience.
5. Let them be, or, they shall be, as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD, or, the angel of the LORD shall, chase them."
The Jews, separated from the church and people of Christ, become useless and unprofitable to any good work, possessing only the empty ceremonies and husks of their religion, and by the breath of the Divine displeasure dispersed over the face of the earth, afford a striking comment on this verse, and as striking an admonition to every opposer of the holy Jesus. See Psalm i. 4.
6. Let their way, or, their way shall, be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD, or, the angel of the LORD shall, persecute them."
A traveller, benighted in a bad road, is an expressive emblem of a sinner walking in the slippery and dangerous ways of temptation, without knowledge to direct his steps, to show him his danger, or to extricate him from it; while an enemy is in pursuit of him, whom he can neither resist nor avoid. Deliver us, O Lord, from all blindness, but above all, from that which is judicial!
7. For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul. 8. Let destruction, or, destruction shall, come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath
hid, or, his net that he hath hid shall, catch himself; into that very destruction let him, or, he shall, fall."
The causeless persecution raised against David by Saul, and against our Lord by the Jews, reverted through the righteous judgment of God, on the head of the persecutors. The innocent birds escaped; and they who set the toils, were themselves taken therein. Saul lost the kingdom which he thought to have secured, and his life also; and the Jews, who crucified Christ lest the Romans should take away their place and nation," had their place and nation taken away by those Romans for that very reason. In these histories, all impenitent persecutors of the faith, the church, and the servants of God, may read their doom.
9. And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation. 10. All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?"
These verses, as they describe the joy which the soul and body of Christ were to experience after the resurrection, so shall they one day be sung by the mystical body of the Lord, when delivered from the power of the spoiler, and raised entire from the dust. In the mean time, they may express our gratitude for any temporal preservation from enemies, from sad casualties, and dangerous temptations.
"11. False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge, Heb. asked me, things that I knew not. 12. They rewarded me evil for good, to the spoiling of my soul."
This was never more literally true of David, than it was of the Holy Jesus; when standing before Pontius Pilate, he received no other return from the Jews, for all the gracious words which he had spoken, and all the merciful works which he had done among them, than that of being slandered and put to death.
13. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled, or, afflicted, my soul with fasting; and mine prayer returned into mine own bosom.'
If David prayed, fasting in sackcloth, for Saul and his associates, the Son of David, to heal the souls of men, put on the veil of mortal flesh, and appeared in the form and habit of a penitent, fasting forty days and forty nights, making continual intercession for transgressors, and grieving to think that any men, by their obstinacy, should deprive themselves of the benefits thereof.
"14. I behaved myself, Heb. I walked, as though he had been my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother, or, as a mother that mourneth."
He who so passionately lamented the natural death of Saul, doubtless bewailed greatly his spiritual death of sin: and he who took a comprehensive view of the sins and sorrows of Jerusalem, wept over that wretched city, with the tender affection of a "friend," a "brother," and a "mother" "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings!"
"15. But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects, or, smiters, gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not."
When the blessed Jesus was suffering for the sins of men, he was insulted by those me for whose sins he suffered. He gave not only his reputation to the revilers, but also his back to the "smiters," though not conscious of the crimes for which they pretended to punish him.
"16. With hypocritical mockers in feasts, or, among the profligates, the makers of mock, they gnashed upon me with their teeth."
However this might be true in the case of David, it certainly had a literal accomplishment in the scoffs and taunts of the chief priest and others, when Christ was hanging on the cross, "Ah, thou that destroyest the temple,"