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church among them; and to rule with a sceptre of righteousness, in the hearts of his people. "Arise" yet once again, O Lord Jesus, from thy throne, where thou sittest at the right hand of the Father; "judge the earth" again, corrupted and overwhelmed with iniquity; do away sin, and put an end for ever to the power of Satan; "inherit all nations," redeemed from death, and ransomed from the grave: and reign to eternity, King of righteousness, peace, and glory.
In this Psalm, the church, 1-8. complaineth to God of the insolence, subtilty, rage, and malice of her enemies, united in close confederacy against her; 9-12. she prayeth for a manifestation of that power, which formerly discomfited Jabin, Sisera, and the Midianites; that so the hostile nations, 13— 15. made sensible of the superiority of Israel's God, 16—18. might either themselves be induced to acknowledge him, or else, by their destruction, become a warning and admonition to others. As, while the world endureth, there will be a church, and while there is a church, she will have her enemies, who are to increase upon her as the end approacbeth, this Psalm can never be out of date. And to the spiritual adversaries of his soul every private Christian may apply it at all times.
1. Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. 2. For lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lift up their head.
The church entreateth God again and again to hear and help her in the day of trouble. Her enemies and haters are here said to be the enemies and haters of God, because Christ and the church, like man and wife, are one: they have one common interest; they have the same friends and the same foes. To him therefore she applieth, terrified by the tumultuous noise of confederated nations, roaring against her like the roaring of the sea, "lifting up their heads," as so many monsters of the deep, to devour her at once. When temptations are urgent upon the soul, and the passions rise in arms against her peace and innocence, then do "the enemies of God make a tumult, and they that hate y him lift up their heads; and then is the time for her to be instant in prayer.
3. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consult ed against thy hidden ones, 4. They have said, Come, and let us cut
them off from being a nation: that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
The combination, so much dreaded, is described as having been formed upon the best principles of secular policy, with much subtilty, and the most determined malice, against the "people" of God, and his “hidden ones," that is, his peculiar nation, separated from the world, and taken under the cover and protection of his wings. To root up the plantations of paradise, to extirpate the holy seed, to extinguish the very "name of Israel," was the scheme intended by these associated adversaries of Sion. Such are our spiritual enemies; such is their cunning, their rage, and their resolution; what prudence, what vigilance, what courage, are necessary, that we may oppose them with success?
5. For they have consulted together with one consent; they are confederate against thee.
When Christ was about to be crucified, it is observed by St. Luke, that "the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together; for before they were at enmity between themselves," Luke xxiii. 12. And however the enemies of the church may quarrel with one another, when they have nothing else to do, yet if a favourable opportunity offer itself for making an attack upon her, they lay aside their differences, and unite as one man ; by no means refusing the friendly aid even of infidels and atheists, who are always ready to join in carrying on the war against the common adversary.
6. The tabernacles of Edom and the Ishmaelites: of Moab and the Hagarenes. 7. Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines, with the inhabitants of Tyre. 8. Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot.
These are the names of the confederates. The Edomites were descended from Esau, that old original enemy of Jacob; the Ishmaelites from Ishmael, the son of the bond woman, and sworn foe to Isaac, heir of the promises; the Moabites sprang from Moab, one of the incestuous children of Lot; the Hagarenes were other descendants of Hagar; who the Gebalites were is uncertain; the Ammonites came from Ammon, the son of Lot, and incestuous brother of Moab; the Amalekites were of the progeny of Amalek, the grandson of Esau; Gen. xxxvi. 16. the Philistines and Tyrians are well known; and to complete all, Assur, or the power of Assyria, was called in by the children of Lot, the Moabites and Ammonites, to assist in the great work of exterminating Israel from the face of the earth. These
were the ten nations banded together by a solemn league and covenant, against the people of God. And as Israel was the grand figure of the Christian church, which is now "the Israel of God," so her enemies are often represented by the above recited nations, and in prophetical language are called by their names. Every age has its Edomites, and its Ishmaelites, &c. The actors are changed, and the scenes are shifted: but the stage and the drama continue the same.
9. Do unto them as unto the Midianites: as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: 10 Which perished at Endor: they became as the dung of the earth. 11. Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb: : yea, all their princes like as Zeba and Zalmunna: 12. Who said, Let us take ourselves the houses of God in possession.
The church having recounted the enemies which compassed her about on every side, looks up for succour to that Almighty power which had of old so graciously interposed on her behalf, and rescued her from her persecutors, in the days of Deborah, Barak, and Gideon. See Judg. iv.-viii. Fully sensible that those deliverances were wrought by the immediate hand of Jehovah, she offers the prayer of faith for a like manifestation of his glory, and a like victory over those who intended, in the same manner, to seize and devour his inheritance. Of how great use and comfort are the Old Testament histories to us in all our afflictions! 13. O my God, make them like a wheel; or, like thistle-down; as the stubble before the wind. 14. As the fire burneth the wood, and as the flame selleth the mountains on fire; 15. So persecute, or, thou shalt pursue them with thy tempest, and make, or, thou shalt make, them afraid with thy storm.
The fate of those is here predicted, who invade the inheritance of Jehovah, and say, Let us take to ourselves the houses" of God in possession." The inconstancy and mutability of their fortunes is resembled to "thistle-down," or some such light revolving body, and to “stubble," or chaff, whirled about and dissipated by the "wind:" the suddenness, horror, and universality of their destruction are set forth by the similitude of a "fire" consuming the dry trees in a "forest," or some combustible matter on the "mountains." Such is the storm and tempest of God's indignation, which pursues and terrifies the sacrilegious and ungodly.
16. Fill their faces with shame: that they may seek thy name, O Lord. 17. Let them, or, they shall, be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them, or, they shall, be put to shame and perish. 18. That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAII, art the Most High over all the earth.
The punishments inflicted by heaven upon wicked men are primarily intended to humble and convert them. If they continue incorrigible under every dispensation of merciful severity, they are at last cut off, and finally destroyed; that others, admonished by their example, may repent, and return, and give glory to God. Salutary are the afflictions, which bring men, and happy the men who are brought by them, to an acknowledgment of " JEHOVAH Our Righteousness," our exalted and glorified Redeemer, the most high over all the earth; whom all must acknowledge, and before whom all must appear to be judged, in the great and terrible day. PSALM LXXXIV.
This Psalm, for the subject matter of it, bears a resemblance to the xliid. Under the figure of an Israelite, deprived of all access to Jerusalem and the sanctuary (whether it were David, when driven away by Absalom, or any other person in like circumstances, at a different time) we are presented with, 1, 2. the earnest longing of a devout soul after the house and presence of God; 3-7. a beautiful and passionate eulogy on the blessedness of his ministers and servants; 8-10. a fervent prayer for a participation of that blessedness; and, 11, 12, an act of faith in his power and goodness, which render him both able and willing to grant requests of this nature.
1. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts.
Thus ardently doth a banished Israelite express his love for Sion, his admiration of the beauty of holiness. Nay, Balaam himself, when from the top of Peor he saw the children of Israel abiding in their tents, with the glory in the midst of them, could not help exclaiming, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!" Numb. xxiv. 5. "How amiable,” then, may the Christian say, are those eternal mansions, from whence sin and sorrow are excluded; how goodly that camp of the saints, and that beloved city, where righteousness and joy reign triumphant, and peace and unity are violated no more; where thou, O blessed Jesus, "Lord of hosts," King of men and angels, dwellest in glorious majesty, constituting by thy presence the felicity of thy chosen!
2. My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out, or, shouteth for the living God.
It is said of the queen of Sheba, that upon beholding the pleasantness of Jerusalem, the splendour of Solomon's court, and above all, the magnificence of the temple, with the services there
in performed, "there was no more spirit in her," 1 Kings x. 5. What wonder therefore, if the soul should be affected, even to sickness and fainting, while, from this land of her captivity, she beholdeth by faith the heavenly Jerusalem, the city and court of the great King, with all the transporting glories of the church triumphant; while in her meditations she draweth the comparison between her wretched state of exile upon earth, and the un speakable blessedness of being delivered from temptation and affliction, and admitted into the everlasting "courts of Jehovah." Whose "heart and flesh" doth not exult, and "shout” aloud for joy, at a prospect of rising from the bed of death, to dwell with "the living God;" to see the face of him, " in whom is life, and the life is the light of men ?" John i. 4. Did the Israelites, from all parts of Judea, go up, with the voice of jubilee, to keep a feast at Jerusalem; and shall Christians grieve, when the time is come for them to ascend, and to celebrate an eternal festival in heaven?
3. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow, or, ring dove, a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
The Psalmist is generally supposed, in this verse, to lament his unhappiness, in being deprived of all access to the tabernacle, or temple, a privilege enjoyed even by the birds, who were allowed to build their nests in the neighbourhood of the sanctuary. It is evidently the design of this passage to intimate to us, that in the house, and at the altar of God, a faithful soul findeth freedom from care and sorrow, quiet of mind, and gladness of spirit; like a bird that has secured a little mansion for the reception and education of her young. And there is no heart endued with sensibility, which doth not bear its testimony to the exquisite beauty and propriety of this affecting image.
4. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be, or, are still, praising thee.
Here the metaphor is dropped, and the former sentiment expressed in plain language. "Blessed are," not the mighty and opulent of the earth, but, "they that dwell in thy house," the ministers of the eternal temple in heaven, the angels and the spirits of just men made perfect; their every passion is resolved into love, every duty into praise; hallelujah succeeds hallelujah; "they are still," for ever "praising thee." And blessed, next to them, are those ministers and members of the church here below, who, in disposition, as well as employment, do most resemble them.
5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee: in whose heart are the ways of them; Heb. the ways are in the heart of them.