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that they may spring upon him in an unguarded moment, and draw him from God to the world, and from thence to the devil.

10. He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.

Our Lord, who is styled "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," became a "Lamb," for the salvation of mankind; but when his adversary at any time "humbleth" himself, when the wolf appears in sheep's clothing, let the flock beware; it is for their more effectual destruction. And if, allured by an outward show of moderation and benevolence, the simple ones shall venture themselves within his reach, they will soon find that his nature is disguised, but not altered.

"11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten; he hideth his face; he will never see it."

For the chastisement of his people, God often suffers the enemy to prevail and prosper, who then ridicules the faith and hope of the church, and solaces himself in the conceit, that if there be a God, he either knows not, or cares not, what is done upon earth. These Epicurean notions, however absurd and unworthy of the Deity they may seem, do yet in some measure take possession of every man's mind at the instant of his committing a sin; since it is most certain, that with a due impression of the Divine omniscience upon his soul at the time, he would not commit it for all that the tempter could offer him. But faith is apt to sleep, and then sin awakes.

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."

The church now prays, that Jehovah, in vindication of his own honour and attributes, would arise to judgment, and make bare his glorious arm for the defence of his elect, who cry day and night unto him. Thus would the insolence of the wicked one and his agents, founded on the Divine forbearance, be repressed, and all the world would see, that God had not forgotten, but still, as ever, remembered and regarded the low estate of his handmaid. "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."

"The wicked" above "saith in his heart, Thou wilt not require it." But the faithful are taught other things by the promises in Scripture, and the experience of unnumbered histories. They know assuredly, that God beholds all that travail and vexation which some inflict, and others sustain, upon the earth; and that he will infallibly recompense to the former their deeds, to the latter their sufferings. Destitute should we be of every earthly help, in the state of beggars and orphans, yet in him will we trust, who, as the Father and protector of all such, saith unto every one of us, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

"15. Break thou the arm of the wicked and evil man : seek out his wickedness till thou find none.'

This may be either a prayer or a prediction, implying that the time will come, when the power of Jehovah will dash in pieces that of the enemy, by the demolition either of sin or the sinner, until wickedness become utterly to an end, and righteousness be established for ever in the kingdom of Messiah. And lo,


16. The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land."

Faith beholds the Lord Jesus, as already manifested in his glorious majesty, the kingdoms of this world become his, and the Canaanite no more in the land of promise. Each individual experiences in himself a happy prelude to this manifestation, when Christ rules in his heart by the Spirit, and every appetite and affection is obedient to the sceptre of his kingdom.

"17. LORD, thou hast heard, or, hearest, the desire of the humble: thou

wilt prepare, or, thou preparest, their heart; thou wilt cause, or, thine ear to hear."

thou causest,

How many important and comforting truths have we here, in a few words? As, that the humble" and lowly, whatever they may suffer in the world, are the favourites of Jehovah: that he attends to the very "desires" of their hearts that such hearts "prepared" to prayer, are so many instruments strung and tuned by the hand of Heaven: and that their prayer is as music, to which the Almighty himself listens with pleasure.

"18. To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress."

For the sake of the elect, and their prayers, the days of persecution and tribulation will be shortened; the insolence of the earth-born oppressor, the man of sin, will be chastised; the cause of the church will be heard at the tribunal of God, and victory, triumph, and glory, will be given unto her. In the foregoing exposition, regard has been chiefly had to the case of the church, and to her sufferings from the spirit of antichrist, in whomsoever existing and acting, from time to time in the world; this being judged the most generally useful application, which Christians, as such, can make of the Psalm. Particular accommodations of it to the various oppressions of innocent poverty by iniquitous opulence, will meet the eye, and offer themselves at once to persons so circumstanced, for their support and comfort under their respective afflictions; which will be also not a little alleviated by the consideration, that the whole church of God groaneth with them, and travaileth in pain, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. Then, and not till then, tears shall cease to run down the cheeks of misery; and sorrow and sighing shall fly away to return no more for ever.



The Psalmist, under persecution, 1-3. declareth himself resolved to trust in God alone, at a time when he was advised to fly to some place of refuge; 4. he expresses his faith in the omniscience and overruling power of Jehovah ; 5, assigns the reason why good men are afflicted; who, after that the wicked, 6. shall be destroyed, will appear to have been all along, 7. the favoured of God.

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

The Christian, like David, in perilous times, should make God his fortress, and continue doing his duty in his station; he should not, at the instigation of those about him, like a poor, silly, timorous, inconstant bird, either fly for refuge to the devices of worldly wisdom, or desert his post, and retire into solitude, while he can serve the cause in which he is engaged. Nor indeed is there any "mountain" on earth out of the reach of care and trouble. Temptations are everywhere; and so is the grace of God.

"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."

These seem to be still the words of David's friends, representing to him, as a motive for his flight, the extreme danger he was in from the "arrows" of the enemy, already, as it were, fitted to the "string" and pointed at him "in secret," so that not knowing from whence they were to come, he could not guard against them. The Christian's danger, from the darts of the infernal archers, lying in wait for his soul, is full as great as that of David. But "the shield of FAITH" sufficeth in both cases.

"3. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"
This likewise seems to be spoken by the same persons, discouraging Da-

vid from making any farther resistance, by the consideration, that all was over; the " foundations" of religion and law were subverted; and what could a man, engaged in the most "righteous" designs, hope to "do," when that was the case? Such arguments are often urged by the timid, in similar circumstances; but they are fallacious; since 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 with becoming spirit, may stop a prince, or senate, when in full career, and recover the day. But let us hear David's farther reply

to his advisers.

"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."

In the first verse, the Psalmist had declared his trust to be in Jehovah. After reciting the reasonings of his friends, he now proceeds to evince the fitness and propriety of such trust, notwithstanding the seemingly desperate situation of affairs. "Jehovah is in his holy temple;" into which, therefore, unholy men, however triumphant in this world, can never enter: "Jehovah's throne is in heaven; and consequently superior to all power upon earth, which may be controlled and overruled by him in a moment: "his eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men;" so that no secret wickedness can escape his knowledge, who scrutinizeth the hearts as well as the lives of all the sons of Adam. Why, then, should the man despair, who hath on his side holiness, omnipotence, and omniscience?

"5. The LORD trieth the righteous; but the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth."

As to the afflictions which persons may suffer, who are embarked in a righteous cause, they are intended to purge away the dross, and to refine them for the Master's use. 66 Gold," saith the son of Sirach, "is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity," Eccles. ii. 5. In the mean time, God's displeasure against the wicked is ever the same, and their prosperity, instead of benefiting, will in the end destroy them. The cases of David and Saul, Christ and the Jews, the martyrs and their persecutors, are all cases in point, and should be often in our thoughts, to teach us patience, and guard us against despair, in seasons of calamity, pain, or disgrace.


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6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, or, burning coals, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup.' St. Jude, ver. 7. tells us, that the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, &c., for their abominable sins, "poxvras duqua, are set forth for an example, or specimen, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." And here we see the images are plainly taken from the dreadful judgment inflicted on those cities, and transferred to the vengeance of the last day. Then the sons of faithful Abraham shall behold a prospect, like that which once presented itself to the eyes of their father; when rising early in the morning, and looking towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and towards all the land of the plain, he "beheld, and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace!" Gen. xix. 28. Such must be the portion of their cup," who have dashed from them the cup of salvation. He, therefore, who would enjoy the prosperity of the wicked here, must take with it their torment hereafter; as he who is ambitious of wearing the crown of righteousness in heaven, must be content to endure tribulation upon earth.


7. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright."

He who is in himself essential righteousness, cannot but love his own resemblance, wrought in the faithful by his good Spirit; with a countenance full of paternal affection, he beholds, and speaks peace and comfort to them in the midst of their sorrows; until, admitted through mercy to the glory from which justice excludes the wicked, and beholding that countenance which has always beheld them, they shall enter upon a life of boundless and everlasting felicity.




The church, through David, 1, 2. laments the decrease of God's faithful servants, and the universal corruption among men, but, 3-5. rests upon the Divine promises, the truth and certainty of which, 6, 7. she celebrates, and comforts herself therewith, while in the world, where oftentimes, 8. the wicked walk uncontrolled.

"1. Help, (Heb. save,) LORD, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men."

Our Lord foretells, that in the latter days, "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;" and seems to question whether, "when the Son of Man cometh, he shall find faith upon the earth." The universal depravity of Jew and Gentile caused the church of old to pray earnestly for the first advent of Christ; and the like depravity among those who call themselves Christians, may induce her to pray no less earnestly for his appearance the second time unto salvation. It is frequently a benefit to be destitute of help from man, both as it puts us upon seeking it from God, and inclines him to grant it when we do seek.

"2. They speak vanity, or, a lie, every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips, and with a double heart do they speak."

When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them so to each other will be much disappointed. The primitive sincerity will accompany the primitive piety in her flight from the earth; and then interest will succeed conscience in the regulation of human conduct, till one man cannot trust another farther than he holds him by that tie. Hence, by the way, it is, that although many are infidels themselves, yet few choose to have their families and dependents such; as judging, and rightly judging, that true Christians are the only persons to be depended on, for the exact discharge of social duties.

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 ?"

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. And as to men of another stamp, who speak great swelling words of vanity; who vaunt themselves in the arm of flesh, thinking to prevail by human wit or human power; equally deplorable will be their case, when the Lord God" omnipotent" reigneth.

"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 the consolation of the afflicted and poor in spirit, Jehovah is here introduced promising, out of compassion to their sufferings, to "arise, and set them in safety," or place them in a state of "salvation." Such all along has been his promise to the church, who by looking back to the deliverances wrought of old for the servants of God, and above all, to that wrought for the Son of God, is now encouraged to look forward, and expect her final redemption from the scorn and insolence of infidelity.

6. The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace, or crucible of earth, purified seven times."

The church rejoices in the promises of God her Saviour, because they

are such as she can confide in. His words are not like those of deceitful boasting man, but true and righteous altogether. Often have they been put to the test, in the trials of the faithful, like silver committed to the furnace, in an earthen crucible; but like silver in its most refined and exalted purity, found to contain no dross of imperfection, no alloy of fallibility in them. The words of Jehovah are holy in his precepts, just in his laws, gracious in his promises, significant in his institutions, true in his narrations, and infallible in his predictions. What are the thousands of gold and silver, compared to the treasures of the sacred page?

7. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."

As if it had been said, Yes, blessed Lord, what thou hast promised shall surely be performed, since there is with thee no variableness, nor shadow of turning thou wilt keep thy poor and lowly servants, as thou hast promised, from being circumvented by treachery, or crushed by power: thou wilt preserve them undefiled amidst an evil and adulterous generation; thou wilt be with thy church to the end of the world, and then admit her to be with thee for ever.

"8. The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted." While the faithful repose, as they aught to do, an unlimited confidence in God's promises, they have, in the mean time, but too much reason to mourn the prevalence of wickedness, stalking like its author, to and fro, and up and down in the earth, uncontrolled by those who bear the sword, but who either blunt its edge, or turn it the wrong way. Such is often the state of things here below; and a reflection, made upon the subject by our Lord, when his enemies drew near to apprehend him, may satisfy us how it comes to be so; "It is your hour, and the power of darkness." But that hour will quickly pass with us, as it did with him, and the power of darkness will be overthrown; the Lord will be our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning shall be ended.



This Psalm contains, 1, 2. a complaint of desertion; 3, 4. a prayer for the Divine assistance; 5, 6. an act of faith and thanksgiving.

"1. How long will thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?"

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." For the use, therefore, of persons in such circumstances, is this Psalm intended; and consequently, it suits the different cases of the church universal, languishing for the advent of her Lord, to deliver her from this evil world; of any particular church, in time of persecution; and of each individual when harassed by temptations, or broken by sickness, pain, and sorrow. He who bore our sins, and carried our sorrows, may likewise be presumed to have made it a part of his devotions in the day of trouble.

"2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?"

To excite compassions, and prevail for help from above, the petitioner mentions three aggravating circumstances of his misery; the perplexity of his soul, not knowing which way to turn, or what course to take; his heartfelt sorrow, uttering itself in sighs and groanings; and the mortifying reflection, that his enemies were exulting in their conquest over him. All this will happen, and be particularly painful, to him who has yielded to temptation, and committed sin.

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