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neither coldly, as if the salvation were little worth, nor partially, reserving a share of the glory of it to herself; but with the "whole heart," with an affection pure and flaming, like the holy fire upon the altar. She is determined to "show forth" to the world, for its conviction and conversion, "all his marvellous works," the most "marvellous" of which are those wrought for, and in the souls of men. Outward miracles strike more forcibly upon the senses; but they are introductory only to those internal operations, which they are.intended to represent.
"2. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High."
Christians are taught to "be glad and rejoice," not in abundance of wealth, or plenitude of power, not in the pleasures of sense or the praise of men, but in God their Saviour; and their joy is as far superior to the joy of the worldly, as the object of one is to that of the other. 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.
"3. When mine enemies are driven back, they shall fall, or, they stumble, or, fall; and perish at thy presence.'
The church begins to explain the subject of her joy, which is a victory over her "enemies;" a victory not gained by herself, but by the "presence of God" in the midst of her. The grand enemy of our salvation was first vanquished by Christ in the wilderness, and "driven back," with the words "Get thee behind me, Satan." The same blessed person afterwards completely triumphed over him upon the cross, when the "prince of this world was cast out." This is that great victory, which we celebrate in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, from generation to generation; and, through faith in him who achieved it, we are likewise enabled to fight,
and to overcome.
"4. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right."
The same important transaction is here described in forensic, as before it was in military terms. Satan having gotten possession of mankind, might have pleaded his right to keep it, since by transgression they had left God, and sold themselves to him. But Christ, as the church's representative and advocate, made the satisfaction required, paid down the price of redemption," took the prey from the mighty, and delivered the lawful captive," Isa. xlix. 24. Thus was our "right and our cause maintained;" thus we were rescued from the oppressor, and he who "sat on the throne judged righteous judgment." Something of this sort may be supposed to pass concerning each individual, between the Accuser of the brethren and the eternal Intercessor in the court of heaven.
"5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever."
To the victory of Christ succeeded the overthrow of Satan's empire in the pagan world. "The heathen were rebuked," when, through the power of the Spirit in those who preached the 'gospel, men were convinced of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; "The wicked were destroyed, and their name put out for ever," when the Roman power became Christian, and the ancient idolatry sunk, to rise no more. A day is coming when all iniquity shall perish, and be forgotten in like manner.
"6. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: or, the destructions of the enemy are completed to the utmost: and thou, O God, hast destroyed their cities, their memorial is perished with them!"*
The Christian church when repeating these words, may be supposed to
*Bishop Lowth renders this verse to the same effect. "Desolations have consumed the enemy for ever: and as to the cities which thou, O God, hast destroyed, their memory is pe rished with them." See Merrick's Annotations on the Psalms, p. 9.
take a retrospective view of the successive fall of those empires, with their capital cities," in which the "enemy" had from time to time fixed his residence, and which had vexed and persecuted the people of God in different ages. Such were the Assyrian, or Babylonian, the Persian and the Grecian monarchies. All these vanished away, and came to nothing. Nay, the very "memorial" of the stupendous Nineveh and Babylon is so "perished with them," that the place where they once stood is now no more to be found. The Roman empire was the last of the pagan persecuting powers; and when the church saw "that" under her feet, well might she cry out, "The destructions of the enemy are completed to the utmost!" How lovely will this song be in the day when the last enemy shall be destroyed, and the world itself shall become what Babylon is at present. Next to the glory and triumph of that day, is the jubilee which the Christian celebrates, upon his conquest over the body of sin.
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."
In opposition to the transient nature of the earthly kingdoms, the eternal duration of Messiah's kingdom is asserted; as also its universality, extending over the whole "world ;" together with the consummate rectitude of its administration. To him, as Supreme Judge in an unerring court of equity, lies an appeal from the unjust determinations here below and by him in person shall every cause be reheard, when that court shall sit, and all nations shall be summoned to appear beforo it.
9. The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in time of trouble."
In the mean time, and until he returneth to judgment, the poor in spirit, the meek and lowly penitent, however "oppressed in times of trouble," by worldly and ungodly men, and by the frequent assaults of the wicked one, still finding a refuge in Jesus: who renews his strength by fresh supplies of grace, arms him with faith and patience, and animates him with the hope of glory.
10. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee; for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee."
Therefore, they who "know God's name," that is, who are acquainted with, and have experienced his merciful nature and disposition, expressed in that name, will take no unlawful methods to escape affliction, nor "put their trust" in any but him for deliverance; since a most undoubted truth (and O, what a comfortable truth) it is, that "thou Lord Jesus, hast not forsaken," nor ever wilt finally "forsake them that" sincerely and diligently, with their whole heart "seek" to "thee" for help; as a child, upon apprehension of danger, flies to the arms of its tender and indulgent parent.
"11. Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion; declare among the people his doings."
The church, having celebrated the power and the goodness of her Lord, exhorteth all her children to lift up their voices and sing together in full chorus, the praises of him whose tabernacle is in "Zion," who resides with men upon the mountain of his holiness, and saith, "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." And thus, not only "among the people," but also to principalities and powers in heavenly places, will be "declared" and made known by the voice of thanksgiving in the church, the manifold wisdom and mercy of God, in his "doings" towards man. See Eph. iii. 10.
"12. When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble."
An objection might be started to the so much extolled loving-kindness of God, namely, that in this world his faithful people are often afflicted and persecuted; nay, sometimes suffered to be killed all the day long, as sheep appointed to the slaughter. But this is obviated by the consideration, that all
is not over, as wicked men may suppose, at death; that a strict "inquisition" will be appointed hereafter, when the "blood" of martyrs, and the sufferings of confessors shall not be "forgotten." He remembereth THEM, that is, those who seek him, mentioned verse 10; so that the exhortation to "sing praises," &c. ver. 11, seems parenthetic.
"13. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider the trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death."
We are now come to the second part of this Psalm. The church, after having, in a former part, strengthened her faith by commemoration of the mighty works God had wrought for her, proceeds, in this, to pour forth a prayer for farther and final deliverance. She speaks, as still militant upon earth, still in an enemy's country, surrounded by them that hate her, and suffering much from them. To whom therefore should she address herself, but to him, whose high prerogative it is, literally to "raise from the gates of death;" to him who is, in every possible sense, "the resurrection and the life ?"
14. That I may show forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion; I will rejoice in thy salvation."
The members of the church militant despair of being able to "show forth all God's praise," till they become members of the church triumphant. There is a beautiful contrast between "the gates of death," in the preceding verse, and "the gates of the daughter of Zion," or the heavenly Jerusalem, in this: The one lead down to the pit, the other up to the mount of God; the one open into perpetual darkness, the other into light eternal; from the one proceeds nothing but what is evil, from the other nothing but what is good; infernal spirits watch at the one, the other are unbarred by the hands af angels. What a blessing then is it, to be snatched from the former, and transported to the latter! Who but must "rejoice" in such "salvation!"
"15. The heathen are sunk, or sink, 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."
Faith beholds, as already executed, that righteous judgment, whereby wicked men and evil spirits will fall into the perdition which they had prepared for others, either openly by persecution, or more covertly by temptation. See Psalm vii. 15, 16.
"17. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."
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 for ever. The true state both of "nations," and the individuals of which they are composed, is to be estimated from one single circumstance, namely, whether in their doings they remember, or "forget God." Remembrance of Him is the well-spring of virtue; forgetfulness of Him, the fountain of vice.
"18. For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever."
They who remember God shall infallibly be remembered by Him, and let this be their anchor in the most tempestuous seasons. The body of a martyr is buried in the earth; and so is the root of the fairest flower; but neither of them "perisheth for ever." Let but the winter pass, and the spring return, and lo, the faded and withered flower blooms; the body sown in corruption, dishonour, and weakness, rises in incorruption, glory, and power.
"19. Arise, O LORD, let not man prevail; let the heathen be judged in thy sight."
And now, the Spirit and the Bride say, Come; Arise, O Lord Jesus, from thy throne of glory, and come quickly; "let not" the "man" of sin " "pre
vail" against thy church; but let the long depending cause between her and her adversaries, "be judged" and finally determined "in thy sight."
20. Put them in fear, O LORD, that the nations may know themselves to be but men.' 99
Strange, that man, dust in his original, sinful by his fall, and continually reminded of both, by everything in him and about him, should yet stand in need of some sharp affliction, some severe visitation from God, to bring him to the knowledge of himself, and make him feel who, and what he is. But this is frequently the case; and when it is, as there are wounds which cannot be healed without a previous application of caustics, mercy is necessitated to bring her work with an infliction of judgment.
This Psalm is, in the LXX, joined to the preceding, but in the Hebrew divided from it. The church under persecution from the spirit of Antichrist in the world, after 1. an humble expostulation with her Lord, setteth down the marks whereby that spirit may be known; such as 2. hatred of the faithful; 3. self-willedness and worldly-mindedness; 4. infidelity; 5, 6. profligacy and pride; 7. profaneness and perjury; 8-10. subtlety and treachery employed against the people of God; 11. security and presumption. From the persecutions of such a spirit the church, 12-15. prayeth earnestly to be delivered; and, 16—18. through faith, rejoiceth in tribulation.
"1. Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?"
During the conflict between the church and her adversaries, God is represented as one withdrawing to a distance, instead of affording succour; nay, as one concealing himself, so as not to be found by those who petitioned for aid and counsel. To behold the righteous cause oppressed, and good men seemingly deserted by Heaven, at a time when they most need its assistance, is apt to offend the weak, and oftentimes stagger those who are strong. It is indeed a sore trial, but intended to make us perfect in the practice of three most important duties, humility, resignation, and faith. That we may not faint under the severity of this discipline, let us ever bear in mind that the beloved Son of the Father, the Son in whom he was well pleased, had occasion to utter these words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?"
"2. The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor; let them, or they shall, be taken in the devices that they have imagined."
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. And what wonder? Since it is a copy of the hatred which Satan bears to Christ. But the devices of the adversaries, like those of their leader, will end in their own eternal confusion.
3. For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth."
The first part of this verse points out that alarming symptom of a reprobate mind, a disposition to exult and glory in those lusts, which are the shame and disgrace of human nature, whether the world or the flesh be their object. The latter clause is differently rendered, as implying either that "the wicked blesseth the covetous whom God abhorreth," or that "the wicked, being covetous, or oppressive, blesseth himself and abhorreth God." Either way, an oppressing, griping, worldly spirit, is characterized with its direct opposition to the Spirit of God, which teaches, that sin is to be con
fessed with shame and sorrow; that in God alone man is to make his boast; and that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
4. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after GOD; God is not in all his thoughts; or, all his imaginations are, there is no God."
The counsels of heaven are not known by the wicked, because they are not sought after; and they are not sought after, because of a diabolical selfsufficiency, which having taken possession of the heart, displays itself in the countenance, and reigns throughout the man. He wants no Prophet to teach him, no Priest to atone for him, no King to conduct him; he needs neither a Christ to redeem, nor a Spirit to sanctify him; he believes no Providence, adores no Creator, and fears no Judge. Thus he lives a 66 stranger from the covenants of promise, and without God in the world," Eph. ii. 12. O that this character now existed only in the Psalmist's description.
5. His ways are always grievous, or, corrupt; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them."
As are a man's principles, such will be his practices; and if he hath not God in his thoughts, his course of life will be corrupt and abominable, his end, his means, and his motives, being all wrong, and polluted with concupiscence. There would have been some chance of holding him by fear, but that is gone with his faith; for no man can tremble at judgments in which he does not believe.
"6. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved; for I shall never be in adversity."
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 long-suffering 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.
"His mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity."
From the thoughts of the sinner's "heart," mentioned in the preceding verse, David goes on to describe the words of his "mouth." And here we may illustrate the character of the antichrist, by setting that of Christ in opposition to it. The mouth of one poureth forth a torrent of curses and lies; from that of the other flowed a clear and copious stream of benediction and truth. Under the serpentine tongue of the former is a bag of mischief and vanity; but honey and milk were under the tongue of the latter, so pleasant and so nourishing to the spirits of men were all his communica
"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."
From "words," the description proceeds to "actions." And with regard to these, as the Son of God went publicly preaching through cities and villages to save men's lives, so this child of Satan lieth in ambush to destroy them, privily bringing into the church, and diffusing among the people, pestilent errors, and damnable heresies, for that purpose.
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."
The disciples of Jesus, like their blessed Master, are ever vigilant to catch men in the evangelical net, in order to draw them from the world to God: the partizans of Satan, in imitation of their leader, are employed in watching, from their lurking-places, the footsteps of the Christian pilgrim,