The Treasury of David
Charles H. Spurgeon
Ps. 1-41 (Book I)
This work is a compilation drawn, with permission, from the best on the
web for viewing Spurgeon’s sermons (www.spurgeon.org ). This web
site has been graciously prepared by one of Spurgeon’s most able
students and scholars Phil Johnson. –Thanks!
The Treasury of David may also be purchased in various forms:
1983 ($110) the 1886 seven volume edition (Funk & Wagnalls). Hendricksen
Publishers has recently published a 3 volume version ($60; 2005; vid
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This digital version was
prepared by Ted Hildebrandt, 2007.
Table of Contents
Ch. 22 p.
My Preface shall at least possess the virtue of brevity, as I find it difficult to
impart to it any other.
The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and
ever-growing pleasure; common gratitude constrains me to communicate to
others a portion of the benefit, with the prayer that it may induce them to search
further for themselves. That I have nothing better of my own to offer upon this
peerless book is to me matter of deepest regret; that I have anything whatever
to present is subject for devout gratitude to the Lord of grace. I have done my
best, but, conscious of many defects, I heartily wish I could have done far
The Exposition here given is my own. I consulted a few authors before
penning it, to aid me in interpretation and arouse my thoughts; but, still I can
claim originality for my comments, at least so I honestly think. Whether they
are better or worse for that, I know not; at least I know I have sought heavenly
guidance while writing them, and therefore I look for a blessing on the printing
The collection of quotations was an after-thought. In fact, matter grew
upon me which I thought too good to throw away. It seemed to me that it might
prove serviceable to others, if I reserved portions of my reading upon the
various Psalms; those reserves soon acquired considerable bulk, so much so
that even in this volume only specimens are given and not the bulk.
One thing the reader will please clearly to understand, and I beg him to
bear it in mind; I am far from endorsing all I have quoted. I am neither
responsible for the scholarship or orthodoxy of the writers. The names are
given that each author may bear his own burden; and a variety of writers have
been quoted that the thoughts of many minds might be before the reader. Still I
trust nothing evil has been admitted; if it be so it is an oversight.
The research expended on this volume would have occupied far too much
of my time, had not my friend and amanuensis Mr. John L. Keys, most
aided me in investigations at the
Library, and other treasuries of theological lore. With his help I have ransacked
books by the hundred, often without finding a memorable line as a reward, but
at other times with the most satisfactory result. Readers little know how great
labour the finding of but one pertinent extract may involve; labour certainly I
have not spared: my earnest prayer is that some measure of good may come of
it to my brethren in the ministry and to the church at large.
The Hints to the Village Preacher are very simple, and an apology is due to
my ministerial readers for inserting them, but I humbly hope they may render
assistance to those for whom alone they are designed, viz., lay preachers whose
time is much occupied, and whose attainments are slender.
Should this first volume meet with the approbation of the judicious, I shall
hope by God's grace to continue the work as rapidly as I can consistently with
the research demanded and my incessant pastoral duties. Another volume will
follow in all probability in twelve months' time, if life be spared and strength be
It may be added, that although the comments were the work of my health,
the rest of the volume is the product of my sickness. When protracted illness
and weakness laid me aside from daily preaching, I resorted to my pen as an
available means of doing good. I would have preached had I been able, but as
my Master denied me the privilege of thus serving him, I gladly availed myself
of the other method of bearing testimony for his name. O that he may give me
fruit in this field also, and his shall be all the praise.
Psalm 1 5
Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. This Psalm may be regarded as THE PREFACE PSALM, having in it a notification of the contents
of the entire Book. It is the psalmists's desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure
destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some
respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon.
DIVISION. This Psalm consists of two parts: in the first (from verse 1 to the end of the 3rd) David sets out
wherein the felicity and blessedness of a godly man consisteth, what his exercises are, and what blessings
he shall receive from the Lord. In the second part (from verse 4 to the end) he contrasts the state and
character of the ungodly, reveals the future, and describes, in telling language, his ultimate doom.
Verse 1. "BLESSED"—see how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction,
even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! The word
translated "blessed" is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it
is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we
may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom
God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall
enjoy. We might read it, "Oh, the blessednesses!" and we may well regard it (as
Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man's felicity. May the
like benediction rest on us!
Here the gracious man is described both negatively (verse 1) and positively
(verse 2). He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He
takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To
him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are
ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of
carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed,
and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in
the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a
sinner himself, he is now a blood-washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit,
and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of
the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said,
"nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." He finds no rest in the atheist's
scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of
the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel,
Psalm 1 6
and has too much sense of God's presence to endure to hear His name
blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the
gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall
swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:
He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor SITTETH in the SEAT of SCORNFUL.
When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely
walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God—the evil is
rather practical than habitual—but after that, they become habituated to evil,
and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God's
commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become
themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the
seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors
of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in
Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong,
can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure
from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the
flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp,
bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.
And now mark his positive character. "His delight is in the law of the
Lord." He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and
he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it,
to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with
him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he
museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out
of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with
promises out of the same book. "The law of the Lord" is the daily bread of the
true believer. And yet, in David's day, how small was the volume of inspiration,
for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much
more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to
have in all our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from
heaven! We are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures. How few among us
can lay claim to the benediction of the text! Perhaps some of you can claim a
sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but
let me ask you—Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God's Word?
Do you make it the man of your right hand—your best companion and hourly
guide? If not, this blessing belongeth not to you.
Verse 3. "And he shall be like a tree planted"—not a wild tree, but "a tree
planted," chosen, considered as property, cultivated and secured from the last
terrible uprooting, for "every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted,
Psalm 1 7
shall be rooted up:" Matthew 15:13. "By the rivers of water;" so that even if
one river should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of
grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of communion with Christ, are
never-failing sources of supply. He is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;" not unseasonable graces, like
untimely figs, which are never full-flavored. But the man who delights in God's
Word, being taught by it, bringeth forth patience in the time of suffering, faith
in the day of trial, and holy joy in the hour of prosperity. Fruitfulness is an
essential quality of a gracious man, and that fruitfulness should be seasonable.
"His leaf also shall not wither;" his faintest word shall be everlasting; his little
deeds of love shall be had in remembrance. Not simply shall his fruit be
preserved, but his leaf also. He shall neither lose his beauty nor his fruitfulness.
"And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Blessed is the man who hath such a
promise as this. But we must not always estimate the fulfillment of a promise
by our own eye-sight. How often, my brethren, if we judge by feeble sense,
may we come to the mournful conclusion of Jacob, "All these things are against
me!" For though we know our interest in the promise, yet we are so tried and
troubled, that sight sees the very reverse of what that promise foretells. But to
the eye of faith this word is sure, and by it we perceive that our works are
prospered, even when everything seems to go against us. It is not outward
prosperity which the Christian most desires and values; it is soul prosperity
which he longs for. We often, like Jehoshaphat, make ships to go to Tarshish
for gold, but they are broken at Ezion-geber; but even here there is a true
prospering, for it is often for the soul's health that we would be poor, bereaved,
and persecuted. Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse
wrapped up in the wicked man's mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the
righteous man's crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine
husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.
Verse 4. We have now come to the second head of the Psalm. In this verse the
contrast of the ill estate of the wicked is employed to heighten the coloring of
that fair and pleasant picture which precedes it. The more forcible translation of
the Vulgate and of the Septuagint version is— "Not so the ungodly, not so."
And we are hereby to understand that whatever good thing is said of the
righteous is not true in the case of the ungodly. Oh! how terrible is it to have a
double negative put upon the promises! and yet this is just the condition of the
ungodly. Mark the use of the term "ungodly," for, as we have seen in the
opening of the Psalm, these are the beginners in evil, and are the least offensive
of sinners. Oh! if such is the sad state of those who quietly continue in their
morality, and neglect their God, what must be the condition of open sinners and
shameless infidels? The first sentence is a negative description of the ungodly,
Psalm 1 8
and the second is the positive picture. Here is their character — "they are like
chaff," intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable, without substance, and
easily carried away. Here, also, mark their doom, — "the wind driveth away;"
death shall hurry them with its terrible blast into the fire in which they shall be
Verse 5. They shall stand there to be judged, but not to be acquitted. Fear shall
lay hold upon them there; they shall not stand their ground; they shall flee
away; they shall not stand in their own defence; for they shall blush and be
covered with eternal contempt.
Well may the saints long for heaven, for no evil men shall dwell there, "nor
sinners in the congregation of the righteous." All our congregations upon earth
are mixed. Every Church hath one devil in it. The tares grow in the same
furrows as the wheat. There is no floor which is as yet thoroughly purged from
chaff. Sinners mix with saints, as dross mingles with gold. God's precious
diamonds still lie in the same field with pebbles. Righteous Lots are this side
continually vexed by the men of
general assembly and church of the firstborn" above, there shall by no means
be admitted a single unrenewed soul. Sinners cannot live in heaven. They
would be out of their element. Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the
even if he could be allowed to enter; but such a privilege shall never be granted
to the man who perseveres in his iniquities. May God grant that we may have a
name and a place in his courts above!
Verse 6. Or, as the Hebrew hath it yet more fully, "The Lord is knowing the
way of the righteous." He is constantly looking on their way, and though it may
be often in mist and darkness, yet the Lord knoweth it. If it be in the clouds and
tempest of affliction, he understandeth it. He numbereth the hairs of our head;
he will not suffer any evil to befall us. "He knoweth the way that I take: when
He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10.) "But the way of the
ungodly shall perish." Not only shall they perish themselves, but their way shall
perish too. The righteous carves his name upon the rock, but the wicked writes
his remembrance in the sand. The righteous man ploughs the furrows of earth,
and sows a harvest here, which shall never be fully reaped till he enters the
enjoyments of eternity; but as for the wicked, he ploughs the sea, and though
there may seem to be a shining trail behind his keel, yet the waves shall pass
over it, and the place that knew him shall know him no more for ever. The very
"way" of the ungodly shall perish. If it exist in remembrance, it shall be in the
remembrance of the bad; for the Lord will cause the name of the wicked to rot,
to become a stench in the nostrils of the good, and to be only known to the
Psalm 1 9
wicked themselves by its putridity.
May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the
doom of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. As the book of the Canticles is called the Song of Songs by a
Hebraism, it being the most excellent, so this Psalm may not unfitly be entitled,
the Psalm of Psalms, for it contains in it the very pith and quintessence of
What Jerome saith on
this Psalm; it is short as to the composure, but full of length and strength as to
the matter. This Psalm carries blessedness in the frontpiece; it begins where we
all hope to end: it may well be called a Christian's Guide, for it discovers the
quicksands where the wicked sink down in perdition, and the firm ground on
which the saints tread to glory.—Thomas Watson's Saints Spiritual Delight,
This whole Psalm offers itself to be drawn into these two opposite
propositions: a godly man is blessed, a wicked man is miserable; which seem to
stand as two challenges, made by the prophet: one, that he will maintain a
godly man against all comers, to be the only Jason for winning the golden
fleece of blessedness; the other, that albeit the ungodly make a show in the
world of being happy, yet they of all men are most miserable.—Sir Richard
I have been induced to embrace the opinion of some among the ancient
interpreters (Augustine, Jerome, etc.), who conceive that the first Psalm is
intended to be descriptive of the character and reward of the JUST ONE, i. e.
the Lord Jesus.—John Fry, B.A., 1842
Verse 1. The psalmist saith more to the point about true happiness in this short
Psalm than any one of the philosophers, or all of them put together; they did but
beat the bush, God hath here put the bird into our hand. John Trapp, 1660
Verse 1. Where the word blessed is hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we
shall find a godly man within. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 1. The seat of the drunkard is the seat of the scornful. Matthew Henry,
Verse 1. "Walketh NOT .... NOR standeth .... NOR sitteth, " etc. Negative precepts
are in some cases more absolute and peremptory than affirmatives; for to say,
"that hath walketh in the counsel of the godly," might not be sufficient; for, he
might walk in the counsel of the godly, and yet walk in the counsel of the
Psalm 1 10
ungodly too; not both indeed at once, but both at several times; where now, this
negative clears him at all times. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 1. The word (Heb) haish is emphatic, that man; that one among a
thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God created
him. Adam Clarke, 1844
Verse 1. "That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." Mark certain
circumstances of their differing characters and conduct. I. The ungodly man has
his counsel. II. The sinner has his way; and III. The scorner has his seat. The
ungodly man is unconcerned about religion; he is neither zealous for his own
salvation nor for that of others; and he counsels and advises those with whom
he converses to adopt his plan, and not trouble themselves about praying,
reading, repentance, etc., etc.; "there is no need for such things; live an honest
life, make no fuss about religion, and you will fare well enough at last." Now
"blessed is the man who walks not in this man's counsel," who does not come
into his measures, nor act according to his plan.
The sinner has his particular way of transgressing; one is a drunkard,
another dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to every species of vice.
There are many covetous men who abhor drunkenness, many drunkards who
abhor covetousness; and so of others. Each has his easily besetting sin;
therefore, says the prophet, "Let the wicked forsake HIS WAY." (Isaiah 55:7)
Now, blessed is he who stands not is such a man's WAY.
The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion and moral
feeling to an end. He has sat down—is utterly confirmed in impiety, and makes
a mock at sin. His conscience is seared, and he is a believer in all unbelief.
Now, blessed is the man who sits not down in his SEAT. Adam Clarke.
Verse 1. In the Hebrew, the word "blessed" is a plural noun, ashrey
(blessednesses), that is, all blessednesses are the portion of that man who has
not gone away, etc.; as though it were said, "All things are well with that man
who," etc. Why do you hold any dispute? Why draw vain conclusions? If a man
has found that pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be separate
from the ungodly, all blessednesses belong to that man; but, if he does not find
this jewel, he will seek for all blessednesses but will never find one! For as all
things are pure unto the pure, so all things are lovely unto the loving, all things
good unto the good; and, universally, such as thou art thyself, such is God
himself unto thee, though he is not a creature. He is perverse unto the perverse,
and holy unto the holy. Hence nothing can be good or saving unto him who is
evil: nothing sweet unto him unto whom the law of God is not sweet. The word
"counsel" is without doubt here to be received as signifying decrees and
doctrines, seeing that no society of men exists without being formed and
Psalm 1 11
preserved by decrees and laws. David, however, by this term strikes at the pride
and reprobate temerity of the ungodly. First, because they will not humble
themselves so far as to walk in the law of the Lord, but rule themselves by their
own counsel. And then he calls it their "counsel," because it is their prudence,
and the way that seems to them to be without error. For this is the destruction
of the ungodly—their being prudent in their own eyes and in their own esteem,
and clothing their errors in the garb of prudence and of the right way. For if
they came to men in the open garb of error, it would not be so distinguishing a
mark of blessedness not to walk with them. But David does not here say, "in
the folly of the ungodly," or "in the error of the ungodly;" and therefore he
admonishes us to guard with all diligence against the appearance of what is
right, that the devil transformed into an angel of light do not seduce us by his
craftiness. And he contrasts the counsel of the wicked with the law of the Lord,
that we may learn to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, who are always
ready to give counsel to all, to teach all, and to offer assistance unto all, when
they are of all men least qualified to do so. The term "stood" descriptively
represents their obstinacy, and stiff-neckedness, wherein they harden
themselves and make their excuses in words of malice, having become
incorrigible in their ungodliness. For "to stand," in the figurative manner of
Scripture expression, signifies to be firm and fixed: as in Romans 14:4, "To his
own master he standeth or falleth: yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to
make him stand." Hence the word "column" is by the Hebrew derived from
their verb "to stand," as is the word statue among the Latins. For this is the very
self-excuse and self-hardening of the ungodly—their appearing to themselves
to live rightly, and to shine in the eternal show of works above all others. With
respect to the term "seat," to sit in the seat, is to teach, to act the instructor and
teacher; as in Matthew 23:2, "The scribes sit in Moses' chair." They sit in the
seat of pestilence, who fill the church with the opinions of philosophers, with
the traditions of men, and with the counsels of their own brain, and oppress
miserable consciences, setting aside, all the while, the word of God, by which
alone the soul is fed, lives, and is preserved. Martin Luther, 1536-1546.
Verse 1. "The scornful." Peccator cum in profundum venerit contemnet—when
a wicked man comes to the depth and worst of sin, he despiseth. Then the
Hebrew will despise Moses (Exodus 2:14), "Who made thee a prince and a
judge over us?" Then Ahab will quarrel with Micaiah (1 Kings 22:18), because
doth not prophecy good unto him. Every child in
Kings 2:23), and be bold to call him "bald pate." Here is an original drop of
venom swollen to a main ocean of poison: as one drop of some serpents'
poison, lighting on the hand, gets into the veins, and so spreads itself over all
the body till it hath stifled the vital spirits. God shall "laugh you to scorn,"
Psalm 1 12
(Psalm 2:4), for laughing Him to scorn; and at last despise you that have
despised him in us. That which a man spits against heaven, shall fall back on
his own face. Your indignities done to your spiritual physicians shall sleep in
the dust with your ashes, but stand up against your souls in judgment. Thomas
Verse 2. "But his will is in the law of the Lord." The "will," which is here
signified, is that delight of heart, and that certain pleasure, in the law, which
does not look at what the law promises, nor at what it threatens, but at this only;
that "the law is holy, and just, and good." Hence it is not only a love of the law,
but that loving delight in the law which no prosperity, nor adversity, nor the
world, nor the prince of it, can either take away or destroy; for it victoriously
bursts its way through poverty, evil report, the cross, death, and hell, and in the
midst of adversities, shines the brightest. Martin Luther.
Verse 2. "His delight is in the law of the Lord."—This delight which the
prophet here speaks of is the only delight that neither blushes nor looks pale;
the only delight that gives a repast without an after reckoning; the only delight
that stands in construction with all tenses; and like AEneas Anchyses, carries
his parents upon his back. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 2. "In His law doth he meditate." In the plainest text there is a world of
holiness and spirituality; and if we in prayer and dependence upon God did sit
down and study it, we should behold much more than appears to us. It may be,
at once reading or looking, we see little or nothing; as Elij ah's servant went
once, and saw nothing; therefore he was commanded to look seven times. What
now? says the prophet, "I see a cloud rising, like a man's hand;" and by-and-by,
the whole surface of the heavens was covered with clouds. So you may look
lightly upon a Scripture and see nothing; meditate often upon it, and there you
shall see a light, like the light of the sun. Joseph Caryl, 1647.
Verse 2. "In His law doth he meditate day and night."—The good man doth
meditate on the law of God day and night. The pontificians beat off the
common people from this common treasury, by objecting this supposed
difficulty. Oh, the Scriptures are hard to be understood, do not you trouble your
heads about them; we will tell you the meaning of them. They might as well
say, heaven is a blessed place, but it is a hard way to it; do not trouble
yourselves, we will go thither for you. Thus in the great day of trial, when they
should be saved by their book, alas! they have no book to save them. Instead of
the Scriptures they can present images; these are the layman's books; as if they
were to be tried by a jury of carvers and painters, and not by the twelve
apostles. Be not you so cheated; but study the gospel as you look for comfort
Psalm 1 13
by the gospel. He that hopes for the inheritance, will make much of the
conveyance. Thomas Adams.
Verse 2. To "meditate," as it is generally understood, signifies to discuss, to
dispute; and its meaning is always confined to a being employed in words, as in
Psalm 32:30, "The mouth of the righteous shall meditate wisdom." Hence
Augustine has, in his translation, "chatter;" and a beautiful metaphor it is—as
chattering is the employment of birds, so a continual conversing in the law of
the Lord (for talking is peculiar to man), ought to be the employment of man.
But I cannot worthily and fully set forth the gracious meaning and force of this
word; for this "meditating" consists first in an intent observing of the words of
the law, and then in a comparing of the different Scriptures; which is a certain
delightful hunting, nay, rather a playing with stags in a forest, where the Lord
furnishes us with the stags, and opens to us their secret coverts. And from this
kind of employment, there comes forth at length a man well instructed in the
law of the Lord to speak unto the people. Martin Luther.
Verse 2. "In his law doth he meditate day and night." The godly man will read
the Word by day, that men, seeing his good works, may glorify his Father who
is in heaven; he will do it in the night, that he may not be seen of men: by day,
to show that he is not one of those who dread the light; by night, to show that
he is one who can shine in the shade: by day, for that is the time for working—
work whilst it is day; by night, lest his Master should come as a thief, and find
him idle. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 2. I have no rest, but in a nook, with the book. Thomas a Kempis, 1380-
Verse 2. "Meditate." Meditation doth discriminate and characterise a man; by
this he may take a measure of his heart, whether it be good or bad; let me allude
to that; "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7. As the
meditation is, such is the man. Meditation is the touchstone of a Christian; it
shows what metal he is made of. It is a spiritual index; the index shows what is
in the book, so meditation shows what is in the heart. Thomas Watson's Saints'
Verse 2. Meditation chews the cud, and gets the sweetness and nutritive virtue
of the Word into the heart and life: this is the way the godly bring forth much
fruit. Bartholomew Ashwood's Heavenly Trade, 1688.
Verse 2. The naturalists observe that to uphold and accommodate bodily life,
there are diverse sorts of faculties communicated, and these among the rest:
Psalm 1 14
1. An attractive faculty, to assume and draw in the food;
2. A retentive faculty, to retain it when taken in;
3. As assimilating faculty to concoct the nourishment;
4. An augmenting faculty, for drawing to perfection.
Meditation is all these. It helps judgment, wisdom, and faith to ponder, discern,
and credit the things which reading and hearing supply and furnish. It assists
the memory to lock up the jewels of divine truth in her sure treasury. It has a
digesting power, and turns special truth into spiritual nourishment; and lastly, it
helps the renewed heart to grow upward and increase its power to know the
things which are freely given to us of God. Condensed from Nathaniel Ranew,
Verse 3. "A tree."—There is one tree, only to be found in the valley of the
blossoms and dark green leaves, giving the aspect of a rich garden to any spot
where it grows. It is rarely if ever alluded to in the Scriptures. But it may be the
tree planted by the streams of water which bringeth forth his fruit in due
season, and "whose leaf shall not wither." A. P. Stanley, D.D., in "Sinai and
Verse 3. "A tree planted by the rivers of water."—This is an allusion to the
Eastern method of cultivation, by which rivulets of water are made to flow
between the rows of trees, and thus, by artificial means, the trees receive a
constant supply of moisture.
Verse 3. "His fruit in his season."—In such a case expectation is never
disappointed. Fruit is expected, fruit is borne, and it comes also in the time in
which it should come. A godly education, under the influences of the divine
Spirit, which can never be withheld where they are earnestly sought, is sure to
produce the fruits of righteousness; and he who reads, prays, and meditates,
will ever see the work which God has given him to do; the power by which he
is to perform it; and the times, places, and opportunities for doing those things
by which God can obtain most glory, his own soul most good, and his
neighbour most edification. Adam Clarke.
Verse 3. "In his season." The Lord reckons the times which pass over us, and
puts them to our account: let us, therefore, improve them, and with the impotent
at the pool of
church is afflicted, it is a season of prayer and learning; now the church is
enlarged, it is a season of praise; I am now at a sermon, I will hear what God
will say; now in the company of a learned and wise man, I will draw some
knowledge and counsel from him; I am under a temptation, now is a fit time to
Psalm 1 15
lean on the name of the Lord; I am in a place of dignity and power, let me
consider what it is that God requireth of me in such a time as this. And thus as
the tree of life bringeth fruit every month, so a wise Christian, as a wise
husbandman, hath his distinct employments for every month, bringing forth his
fruit in his season. John Spencer's Things New and Old, 1658.
Verse 3. "In his season." Oh, golden and admirable word! by which is asserted
the liberty of Christian righteousness. The ungodly have their stated days,
stated times, certain works, and certain places; to which they stick so closely,
that if their neighbours were perishing with hunger, they could not be torn from
them. But this blessed man, being free at all times, in all places, for every work,
and to every person, will serve you whenever an opportunity is offered him;
whatsoever comes into his hands to do, he does it. He is neither a Jew, nor a
Gentile, nor a Greek, nor a barbarian, nor of any other particular person. He
gives his fruit in his season, so often as either God or man requires his work.
Therefore his fruits have no name, and his times have no name. Martin Luther.
Verse 3. "His leaf also shall not wither." He describes the fruit before he does
the leaf. The Holy Spirit himself always teaches every faithful preacher in the
to know that the
Corinthians 4:20. Again, "Jesus began both to do and to teach." Acts 1:1. And
again, "Which was a prophet mighty in deed and word." Luke 24:19. And thus,
let him who professes the word of doctrine, first put forth the fruits of life, if he
would not have his fruit to wither, for Christ cursed the fig tree which bore no
fruit. And, as Gregory saith, that man whose life is despised is condemned by
his doctrine, for he preaches to others, and is himself reprobated. Martin
Verse 3. "His leaf also shall not wither." The Lord's trees are all evergreens. No
winter's cold can destroy their verdure; and yet, unlike evergreens in our
country, they are all fruit bearers. C. H. S.
Verse 3. "And whatsoever he doeth, [or, maketh or taketh in hand] shall
prosper." And with regard to this "prospering," take heed that thou
understandest not a carnal prosperity. This prosperity is hidden prosperity, and
lies entirely secret in spirit; and therefore if thou hast not this prosperity that is
by faith, thou shouldest rather judge thy prosperity to be the greatest adversity.
For as the devil bitterly hates this leaf and the word of God, so does he also
those who teach and hear it, and he persecutes such, aided by all the powers of
the world. Therefore thou hearest of a miracle the greatest of all miracles, when
thou hearest that all things prosper which a blessed man doeth. Martin Luther.
Psalm 1 16
Verse 3. A critical journal has shown that instead of "Whatsoever it doeth shall
prosper," the rendering might be, "Whatsoever it produceth shall come to
maturity." This makes the figure entire, and is sanctioned by some MSS. and
Verse 3. (last clause). Outward prosperity, if it follow close walking with God,
is very sweet; as the cipher, when it follows a figure, adds to the number,
though it be nothing in itself. John Trapp.
Verse 4. "Chaff." Here, by the way, we may let the wicked know they have a
thanks to give they little think of; that they may thank the godly for all the good
days they live upon the earth, seeing it is for their sakes and not for their own
that they enjoy them. For as the chaff while it is united and keeps close to the
wheat, enjoys some privileges for the wheat's sake, and is laid up carefully in
the barn; but as soon as it is divided, and parted from the wheat, it is cast out
and scattered by the wind; so the wicked, whilst the godly are in company and
live amongst them, partake for their sake of some blessedness promised to the
godly; but if the godly forsake them or be taken from them, then either a deluge
of water comes suddenly upon them, as it did upon the old world when Noah
it; or a deluge of fire, as it did upon
of the city. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 4. "Driveth away," or tosseth away; the Chaldee translateth for "wind,"
"whirlwind." Henry Ainsworth, 1639.
This shows the vehement tempest of death, which sweeps away the soul of
Verse 5. "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment," etc. And may
not a reason also be conceived thus, why the ungodly can never come to be of
the congregation of the righteous: the righteous go a way that God knows, and
the wicked go a way that God destroys; and seeing that these ways can never
meet, how should the men meet that go these ways? And to make sure work
that they shall never meet indeed, the prophet expresseth the way of the
righteous by the first link of the chain of God's goodness, which is his
knowledge; but expresseth the way of the wicked by the last link of God's
justice, which is his destroying; and though God's justice and his mercy do
often meet, and are contiguous one to another, yet the first link of his mercy
and the last link of his justice can never meet, for it never comes to destroying
till God be heard to say Nescio vos, "I know you not, " and nescio vos in God,
and God's knowledge, can certainly never possibly meet together. Sir Richard
Psalm 1 17
Verse 5. The Irish air will sooner brook a toad, or a snake, than heaven a sinner.
Verse 6. "For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the
ungodly shall perish." Behold how David here terrifies us away from all
prosperous appearances, and commends to us various temptations and
adversities. For this "way" of the righteous all men utterly reprobate; thinking
also, that God knoweth nothing about any such way. But this is the wisdom of
the cross. Therefore, it is God alone that knoweth the way of the righteous, so
hidden is it to the righteous themselves. For his right hand leads them on in a
wonderful manner, seeing that it is a way, not of sense, nor of reason, but of
faith only; even of that faith that sees in darkness, and beholds things that are
invisible. Martin Luther.
Verse 6. "The righteous." They that endeavour righteous living in themselves
and have Christ's righteousness imputed to them. Thomas Wilcocks, 1586.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. May furnish an excellent text upon "Progress in Sin," or "The Purity of
the Christian," or "The Blessedness of the Righteous." Upon the last subject
speak of the believer as BLESSED—
1. By God;
2. In Christ;
3. With all blessings;
4. In all circumstances;
5. Through time and eternity;
6. To the highest degree.
Verse 1. Teaches a godly man to beware, (1) of the opinions, (2) of the practical
life, and (3) of the company and association of sinful men. Show how
meditation upon the Word will assist us in keeping aloof from these three evils.
The insinuating and progressive nature of sin. J. Morrison.
Verse 1. in connection with the whole Psalm. The wide difference between the
righteous and the wicked.
Verse 2. THE WORD OF GOD.
1. The believer's delight in it.
2. The believer's acquaintance with it.
We long to be in the company of those we love.
Psalm 1 18
Verse 2. I. What is meant by "the law of the Lord."
II. What there is in it for the believer to delight in.
III. How he shows his delight, thinks of it, reads much, speaks of it, obeys
it, does not delight in evil.
Verse 2. (last clause). The benefits, helps, and hindrances of meditation.
Verse 3. "The fruitful tree."
I. Where it grows.
II. How it came there.
III. What it yields.
IV. How to be like it.
Verse 3. "Planted by the rivers of water."
I. The origination of Christian life, "planted."
II. The streams which support it.
III. The fruit expected from it.
Verse 3. Influence of religion upon prosperity.—Blair.
The nature, causes, signs, and results of true prosperity.
"Fruit in his season;" virtues to be exhibited at certain seasons— patience
in affliction; gratitude in prosperity; zeal in opportunity, etc.
"His leaf also shall not wither;" the blessing of retaining an unwithered
Verses 3, 4. See No. 280 of "Spurgeon's Sermons." "The Chaff Driven Away."
Sin puts a negative on every blessing.
Verse 5. The sinner's double doom.
1. Condemned at the judgment-bar.
2. Separated from the saints.
Reasonableness of these penalties, "therefore," and the way to escape them.
"The congregation of the righteous" viewed as the church of the first-born
above. This may furnish a noble topic.
Verse 6. (first sentence). A sweet encouragement to the tried people of God.
The knowledge here meant.
1. Its character.—It is a knowledge of observation and approbation.
2. Its source.—It is caused by omniscience and infinite love.
3. Its results.—Support, deliverance, acceptance, and glory at last.
Psalm 1 19
Verse 6. (last clause). His way of pleasure, of pride, of unbelief, of profanity, of
persecution, of procrastinating, of self-deception, etc.: all these shall come to an
WORKS UPON THE FIRST PSALM
The Way to
Blessedness: a Commentary on the First Psalm. By PHINEAS FLETCHER.
about the State of
David's Blessed Man; or, a Short Exposition on the First Psalm, directing a Man to True Happiness. By
preacher of the Word at Prittlewell in
and Disquisitions upon the First Psalm of David.—Blessed is the
of David," namely, 23, 27, 30, 84, 103, and 116.]
The Christian on the Mount; or a Treatise concerning Meditation; wherein the necessity, usefulness, and
excellency of Meditation are at large discussed. By THOMAS WATSON. 1660.
Psalm 2 20
Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. We shall not greatly err in our summary of this sublime Psalm if we call it THE PSALM OF
MESSIAH THE PRINCE; for it sets forth, as in a wondrous vision, the tumult of the people against the
Lord's anointed, the determinate purpose of God to exalt his own Son, and the ultimate reign of that Son
over all his enemies. Let us read it with the eye of faith, beholding, as in a glass, the final triumph of our
Lord Jesus Christ over all his enemies. Lowth has the following remarks upon this Psalm: "The
establishment of David upon his throne, notwithstanding the opposition made to it by his enemies, is the
subject of the Psalm. David sustains in it a twofold character, literal and allegorical. If we read over the
Psalm, first with an eye to the literal David, the meaning is obvious, and put beyond all dispute by the
sacred history. There is indeed an uncommon glow in the expression and sublimity in the figures, and the
diction is now and then exaggerated, as it were on purpose to intimate, and lead us to the contemplation of
higher and more important matters concealed within. In compliance with this admonition, if we take
another survey of the Psalm as relative to the person and concerns of the spiritual David, a noble series of
events immediately rises to view, and the meaning becomes more evident, as well as more exalted. The
which may perhaps seem too bold and glaring for the king of
when laid upon his great Antitype. After we have thus attentively considered the subjects apart, let us look
at them together, and we shall behold the full beauty and majesty of this most charming poem. We shall
perceive the two senses very distinct from each other, yet conspiring in perfect harmony, and bearing a
wonderful resemblance in every feature and lineament, while the analogy between them is so exactly
preserved, that either may pass for the original from whence the other was copied. New light is continually
cast upon the phraseology, fresh weight and dignity are added to the sentiments, till, gradually ascending
from things below to things above, from human affairs to those that are Divine, they bear the great
important theme upwards with them, and at length place it in the height and brightness of heaven."
DIVISION. This Psalm will be best understood if it be viewed as a four-fold picture. (In verses 1, 2, 3) the
Nations are raging; (4 to 6) the Lord in heaven derides them; (7 to 9) the Son proclaims the decree; and
(from 10 to end) advice is given to the kings to yield obedience to the Lord's anointed. This division is not
only suggested by the sense, but is warranted by the poetic form of the Psalm, which naturally falls into
four stanzas of three verses each.
Verse 1. We have, in these first three verses, a description of the hatred of
human nature against the Christ of God. No better comment is needed upon it
than the apostolic song in Acts 4:27, 28: "For of a truth against thy holy child
Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the
and the people of
thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." The Psalm begins
abruptly with an angry interrogation; and well it may: it is surely but little to be
wondered at, that the sight of creatures in arms against their God should amaze
the psalmist's mind. We see the heathen raging, roaring like the sea, tossed to
and fro with restless waves, as the ocean in a storm; and then we mark the
Psalm 2 21
people in their hearts imagining a vain thing against God. Where there is much
rage there is generally some folly, and in this case there is an excess of it. Note,
that the commotion is not caused by the people only, but their leaders foment
the rebellion. "The kings of the earth set themselves." In determined malice they
arrayed themselves in opposition against God. It was not temporary rage, but
deep-seated hate, for they set themselves resolutely to withstand the Prince of
Peace. "And the rulers take counsel together." They go about their warfare
craftily, not with foolish haste, but deliberately. They use all the skill which art
can give. Like Pharaoh, they cry, "Let us deal wisely with them." O that men
were half as careful in God's service to serve him wisely, as his enemies are to
attack his kingdom craftily. Sinners have their wits about them, and yet saints
are dull. But what say they? what is the meaning of this commotion? "Let us
break their bands asunder." "Let us be free to commit all manner of
abominations. Let us be our own gods. Let us rid ourselves of all restraint."
Gathering impudence by the traitorous proposition of rebellion, they add—"let
us cast away;" as if it were an easy matter — "let us fling off 'their cords from
us. '" What! O ye kings, do ye think yourselves Samsons? and are the bands of
Omnipotence but as green withs before you? Do you dream that you shall snap
to pieces and destroy the mandates of God—the decrees of the Most High—as
if they were but tow? and do ye say, "Let us cast away their cords from us?"
Yes! There are monarchs who have spoken thus, and there are still rebels upon
thrones. However mad the resolution to revolt from God, it is one in which man
has persevered ever since his creation, and he continues in it to this very day.
The glorious reign of Jesus in the latter day will not be consummated, until a
terrible struggle has convulsed the nations. His coming will be as a refiner's
fire, and like fuller's soap, and the day thereof shall burn as an oven. Earth
loves not her rightful monarch, but clings to the usurper's sway: the terrible
conflicts of the last days will illustrate both the world's love of sin and
Jehovah's power to give the kingdom to his only Begotten. To a graceless neck
the yoke of Christ is intolerable, but to the saved sinner it is easy and light. We
may judge ourselves by this, do we love that yoke, or do we wish to cast it from
Verse 4. Let us now turn our eyes from the wicked counsel-chamber and raging
tumult of man, to the secret place of the majesty of the Most High. What doth
God say? What will the King do unto the men who reject his only-begotten
Son, the Heir of all things?
Mark the quiet dignity of the Omnipotent One, and the contempt which he
pours upon the princes and their raging people. He has not taken the trouble to
rise up and do battle with them—he despises them, he knows how absurd, how
Psalm 2 22
irrational, how futile are their attempts against him—he therefore laughs at
Verse 5. After he has laughed he shall speak; he needs not smite; the breath of
his lips is enough. At the moment when their power is at its height, and their
fury most violent, then shall his Word go forth against them. And what is it that
he says?—it is a very galling sentence— "Yet, " says he, "despite your malice,
despite your tumultuous gatherings, despite the wisdom of your counsels,
despite the craft of your lawgivers, 'yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of
enemy seeks to prevent. While they are proposing, he has disposed the matter.
Jehovah's will is done, and man's will frets and raves in vain. God's Anointed is
appointed, and shall not be disappointed. Look back through all the ages of
infidelity, hearken to the high and hard things which men have spoken against
the Most High, listen to the rolling thunder of earth's volleys against the
Majesty of heaven, and then think that God is saying all the while, "Yet have I
set my kimg upon my holy hill of Zion." Yet Jesus reigns, yet he sees the
travail of his soul, and "his unsuffering kingdom yet shall come" when he shall
take unto himself his great power, and reign from the river unto the ends of the
Even now he reigns in
the Prince of Peace. Greater conflicts may here be foretold, but we may be
confident that victory will be given to our Lord and King. Glorious triumphs
yet to come; hasten them, we pray thee, O Lord! It is
that her King is in her, guarding her from foes, and filling her with good things.
Jesus sits upon the throne of grace, and the throne of power in the midst of his
In him is
"Thy walls are strength, and at thy gates
A guard of heavenly warriors waits;
Nor shall thy deep foundations move,
Fixed on his counsels and his love.
Thy foes in vain designs engage;
Against his throne in vain they rage,
Like rising waves, with angry roar,
That dash and die upon the shore."
Verse 7. This Psalm wears something of a dramatic form, for now another
person is introduced as speaking. We have looked into the council-chamber of
the wicked, and to the throne of God, and now we behold the Anointed
declaring his rights of sovereignty, and warning the traitors of their doom.
God has laughed at the counsel and ravings of the wicked, and now Christ
Psalm 2 23
the Anointed himself comes forward, as the Risen Redeemer, "declared to be
the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the
resurrection from the dead." Romans 1:4. Looking into the angry faces of the
rebellious kings, the Anointed One seems to say, "If this sufficeth not to make
you silent, 'I will declare the decree'." Now this decree is directly in conflict
with the device of man, for its tenour is the establishment of the very dominion
against which the nations are raving. "Thou art my Son. " Here is a noble proof
of the glorious Divinity of our Immanuel. "For unto which of the angels said he
at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?" What a mercy to
have a Divine Redeemer in whom to rest our confidence! "This day have I
begotten thee." If this refers to the Godhead of our Lord, let us not attempt to
fathom it, for it is a great truth, a truth reverently to be received, but not
irreverently to be scanned. It may be added, that if this relates to the Begotten
One in his human nature, we must here also rejoice in the mystery, but not
attempt to violate its sanctity by intrusive prying into the secrets of the Eternal
God. The things which are revealed are enough, without venturing into vain
speculations. In attempting to define the Trinity, or unveil the essence of
Divinity, many men have lost themselves: here great ships have foundered.
What have we to do in such a sea with our frail skiffs?
Verse 8. "Ask of me. " It was a custom among great kings, to give to favoured
ones whatever they might ask. (See Esther 5:6; Matthew 14:7.) So Jesus hath
but to ask and have. Here he declares that his very enemies are his inheritance.
To their face he declares this decree, and "Lo! here," cries the Anointed One, as
he holds aloft in that once pierced hand the sceptre of his power, "He hath
given me this, not only the right to be a king, but the power to conquer." Yes!
Jehovah hath given to his Anointed a rod of iron with which he shall break
rebellious nations in pieces, and, despite their imperial strength, they shall be
but as potters' vessels, easily dashed into shivers, when the rod of iron is in the
hand of the omnipotent Son of God. Those who will not bend must break.
Potters' vessels are not to be restored if dashed in pieces, and the ruin of sinners
will be hopeless if Jesus shall smite them.
"Ye sinners seek his grace,
Whose wrath ye cannot bear;
Fly to the shelter of his cross,
And find salvation there."
Verse 10. The scene again changes, and counsel is given to those who have
taken counsel to rebel. They are exhorted to obey, and give the kiss of homage
and affection to him whom they have hated.
"Be wise."—It is always wise to be willing to be instructed, especially
Psalm 2 24
when such instruction tends to the salvation of the soul. "Be wise now,
therefore;" delay no longer, but let good reason weigh with you. Your warfare
cannot succeed, therefore desist and yield cheerfully to him who will make you
bow if you refuse his yoke. O how wise, how infinitely wise is obedience to
Jesus, and how dreadful is the folly of those who continue to be his enemies!
"Serve the Lord with fear;" let reverence and humility be mingled with your
service. He is a great God, and ye are but puny creatures; bend ye, therefore, in
lowly worship, and let a filial fear mingle with all your obedience to the great
Father of the Ages. "Rejoice with trembling,"—There must ever be a holy fear
mixed with the Christian's joy. This is a sacred compound, yielding a sweet
smell, and we must see to it that we burn no other upon the altar. Fear, without
joy, is torment; and joy, without holy fear, would be presumption. Mark the
solemn argument for reconciliation and obedience. It is an awful thing to perish
in the midst of sin, in the very way of rebellion; and yet how easily could his
wrath destroy us suddenly. It needs not that his anger should be heated seven
times hotter; let the fuel kindle but a little, and we are consumed. O sinner!
Take heed of the terrors of the Lord; for "our God is a consuming fire." Note
the benediction with which the Psalm closes:—"Blessed are all they that put
their trust in him. " Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him?
Our faith may be slender as a spider's thread; but if it be real, we are in our
measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this
blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the
apostles:—"Lord, increase our faith."
The first Psalm was a contrast between the righteous man and the sinner;
the second Psalm is a contrast between the tumultuous disobedience of the
ungodly world and the sure exaltation of the righteous Son of God. In the first
Psalm, we saw the wicked driven away like chaff; in the second Psalm we see
them broken in pieces like a potter's vessel. In the first Psalm, we beheld the
righteous like a tree planted by the rivers of water; and here, we contemplate
Christ the Covenant Head of the righteous, made better than a tree planted by
the rivers of water, for he is made king of all the islands, and all the heathen
bow before him and kiss the dust; while he himself gives a blessing to all those
who put their trust in him. The two Psalms are worthy of the very deepest
attention; they are, in fact, the preface to the entire Book of Psalms, and were
by some of the ancients, joined into one. They are, however, two Psalms; for
Paul speaks of this as the second Psalm. (Acts 13:33.) The first shows us the
character and lot of the righteous; and the next teaches us that the Psalms are
Messianic, and speak of Christ the Messiah—the Prince who shall reign from
the river even unto the ends of the earth. That they have both a far-reaching
prophetic outlook we are well assured, but we do not feel competent to open up
that matter, and must leave it to abler hands.
Psalm 2 25
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 1. "Why do nations make a noise," tumultuate, or rage? The Hebrew verb
is not expressive of an internal feeling, but of the outward agitation which
denotes it. There may be an allusion to the rolling and roaring of the sea, often
used as an emblem of popular commotion, both in the Scriptures and the
classics. The past tense of this verb (Why have they raged?) refers to the
commotion as already begun, while the future in the next clause expresses its
continuance. J. A. Alexander, D.D., 1850.
Verse 1. "Rage." The word with which Paul renders this in the Greek denotes
rage, pride, and restiveness, as of horses that neigh, and rush into the battle.
'Efruaxag, from Fruassw, to snort or neigh, properly applied to a high-mettled
horse. See Acts 4:25.
Verse 1. "A vain thing." A medal was struck by Diocletian, which still remains,
bearing the inscription, "The name of Christians being extinguished." And in
"Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti, for having extended
name of Christians, who brought the Republic to ruin." II. "Diocletian Jovian
Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti, for having adopted Galerius in the east,
for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ, for having extended
the worship of the gods." As a modern writer has elegantly observed: "We have
here a monument raised by Paganism, over the grave of its vanquished foe. But
in this 'the people imagined a vain thing;' so far from being deceased,
Christianity was on the eve of its final and permanent triumph, and the stone
guarded a sepulchre empty as the urn which Electra washed with her tears.
Christianity; it is not, for the living have no tomb.'"
Verses 1-4. Herod, the fox, plotted against Christ, to hinder the course of his
ministry and mediatorship, but he could not perform his enterprise; 'tis so all
along, therefore it is said, "Why do the heathen imagine a vain thing?" A vain
thing, because a thing successless, their hands could not perform it. It was vain,
not only because there was no true ground of reason why they should imagine
or do such a thing, but vain also because they laboured in vain, they could not
do it, and therefore it follows, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the
Lord shall have them in derision." The Lord sees what fools they are, and men
(yea, themselves) shall see it. The prophet gives us a elegant description to this
purpose. Isaiah 59:5, 6. "They weave the spider's web . . . Their webs shall not
become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works." As if
Psalm 2 26
he had said, they have been devising and setting things in a goodly frame to
catch flies; they have been spinning a fine thread out of their brains, as the
spider doth out of her bowels; such is their web, but when they have their web
they cannot cut it out, or make it up into a garment. They shall go naked and
cold, notwithstanding all their spinning and weaving, all their plotting and
devising. The next broom that comes will sweep away all their webs and the
spiders too, except they creep apace. God loves and delights to cross worldly
proverbs and worldly craft. Joseph Caryl, 1647.
Verse 2. The many had done their part, and now the mighty show themselves.
Verse 2. "They banded themselves against the Lord, and against his Anointed."
But why did they band themselves against the Lord, or against his Anointed?
What was their desire of him? To have his goods? No, he had none for himself;
but they were richer than he. To have his liberty? Nay, that would not suffice
them, for they had bound him before. To bring the people unto dislike of him?
Nay, that would not serve them, for they had done so already, until even his
disciples were fled from him. What would they have, then? his blood? Yea,
"they took counsel," saith Matthew, "to put him to death." They had the devil's
mind, which is not satisfied but with death. And how do they contrive it? He
saith, "they took counsel about it." Henry Smith, 1578
Verse 2. "Against Jehovah and against his Anointed." What an honour it was to
David to be thus publicly associated with Jehovah! And because he was HIS
anointed, to be an object of hatred and scorn to the ungodly world! If this very
circumstance fearfully augmented the guilt, and sealed the doom of these
infatuated heathen, surely it was that which above everything else would
preserve the mind of David calm and serene, yea, peaceful and joyful
notwithstanding the proud and boastful vauntiness of his enemies. . . .When
writing this Psalm David was like a man in a storm, who hears only the roaring
of the tempest, or sees nothing but the raging billows threatening destruction on
every side of him. And yet his faith enabled him to say, "The people imagine a
vain thing." They cannot succeed. They cannot defeat the counsels of heaven.
They cannot injure the Lord's Anointed. David Pitcairn, 1851.
Verse 3. Resolved they were to run riot, as lawless, and aweless, and therefore
they slander the sweet laws of Christ's kingdom as bonds and thick cords,
which are signs of slavery. Jeremiah 27: 2, 6, 7. But what saith our Saviour?
"My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." It is no more burden to a regenerate
man than wings to a bird. The law of Christ is no more as bands and cords, but
Psalm 2 27
as girdles and garters which gird up his loins and expedite his course. John
Verse 4. "He that sitteth in the heavens." Hereby it is clearly intimated, (1) that
the Lord is far above all their malice and power, (2) that he seeth all their plots,
looking down on all; (3) that he is of omnipotent power, and so can do with his
enemies as he lists. "Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he
pleased." Psalm 115:3. Arthur Jackson, 1643.
Verse 4. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh," etc. Sinners' follies are the
just sport of God's infinite wisdom and power; and those attempts of the
Verse 4. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh." They scoff at us, God
laughs at them. Laugh? This seems a hard word at the first view: are the
injuries of his saints, the cruelties of their enemies, the derision, the persecution
of all that are round about us, no more but matter of laughter? Severe Cato
thought that laughter did not become the gravity of Roman consuls; that it is a
diminution of states, as another told princes, and it is attributed to the Majesty
of heaven? According to our capacities, the prophet describes God, as ourselves
would be in a merry disposition, deriding vain attempts. He laughs, but it is in
scorn; he scorns, but it is with vengeance. Pharaoh imagined that by drowning
the Israelite males, he had found a way to root their name from the earth; but
when at the same time, his own daughter, in his own court gave princely
education to Moses, their deliverer, did not God Laugh?
Short is the joy of the wicked. Is Dagon put up to his place again? God's
smile shall take off his head and his hands, and leave him neither wit to guide
nor power to subsist We may not judge of God's works until the fifth act:
the case, deplorable and desperate in outward appearance, may with one smile
from heaven find a blessed issue. He permitted his temple to be sacked and
rifled, the holy vessels to be profaned and caroused in; but did not God's smile
make Belshazzar to tremble at the handwriting on the wall? Oh, what are his
frowns, if his smiles be so terrible! Thomas Adams.
Verse 4. The expression, "He that sitteth in the heavens," at once fixes our
thoughts on a being infinitely exalted above man, who is of the earth, earthy.
And when it is said, "HE shall laugh," this word is designed to convey to our
minds the idea, that the greatest confederacies amongst kings and peoples, and
their most extensive and vigorous preparations, to defeat HIS purposes or to
injure HIS servants, are in HIS sight altogether insignificant and worthless. HE
looks upon their poor and puny efforts, not only without uneasiness or fear, but
Psalm 2 28
HE laughs at their folly; HE treats their impotency with derision. He knows
how HE can crush them like a moth when HE pleases, or consume them in a
moment with the breath of HIS mouth. How profitable it is for us to be
reminded of truths such as these! Ah! it is indeed "a vain thing" for the
potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of Heaven. David
Verse 4. "The Lord," in Hebrew, Adonai, mystically signifieth my stays, or my
sustainers—my pillars. Our English word "Lord" hath much the same force,
being contracted of the old Saxon word "Llaford," or "Hlafford," which cometh
from "Laef," to sustain, refresh, cherish. Henry Ainsworth.
Verse 4. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them: the Lord shall have
them in derision." This tautology or repetition of the same thing, which is
frequent in the Scriptures, is a sign of the thing being established: according to
the authority of the patriarch Joseph (Genesis 41:32), where, having interpreted
the dreams of Pharaoh, he said, "and for that the dream was doubled unto
Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will
shortly bring it to pass." And therefore, here also, "shall laugh at them," and
"shall have them in derision," is a repetition to show that there is not a doubt to
be entertained that all these things will most surely come to pass. And the
gracious Spirit does all this for our comfort and consolation, that we may not
faint under temptation, but lift up our heads with the most certain hope;
because, "he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." Hebrews 10:37.
Verse 5. "Vex them;" either by horror of conscience, or corporal plagues; one
way or the other he will have his pennyworths of them, as he always has had
the persecutors of his people. John Trapp.
Verses 5, 9. It is easy for God to destroy his foes Behold Pharaoh, his
wise men, his hosts, and his horses plouting and plunging, and sinking like lead
God's chosen. Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces, and others
high in office, who distinguished themselves by their zeal and bitterness in
persecuting the early Christians, one became speedily deranged after some
atrocious cruelty, one was slain by his own son, one became blind, the eyes of
one started out of his head, one was drowned, one was strangled, one died in a
miserable captivity, one fell dead in a manner that will not bear recital, one died
of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death
because they could not abide the stench that filled his room, two committed
suicide, a third attempted it, but had to call for help to finish the work, five
Psalm 2 29
were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most
miserable and excruciating deaths, several of them having an untold
complication of diseases, and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken
prisoners. Among these was Julian the apostate. In the days of his prosperity he
is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven defying the Son of God, whom he
commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle, he saw that
all was over with him, and he gathered up his clotted blood, and threw it into
the air, exclaiming, "Thou hast conquered, O thou Galilean." Voltaire has told
of the agonies of Charles IX. of
pores of the skin of that miserable monarch, after his cruelties and treachery to
the Hugenots. William S. Plumer, D.D., L.L.D., 1867.
Verse 6. "Yet have I set my King." Notice—1. The royal office and character of
our glorious Redeemer: he is a King, "This name he hath on his vesture and on
his thigh." Revelation 19:16. 2. The authority by which he reigns; he is "my
King," says God the Father, and I have set him up from everlasting: "The
Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." The
world disowns his authority, but I own it; I have set him, I have "given him to
be head over all things to the church." 3. His particular kingdom over which he
it is over "my holy hill of
temple was built upon
throne is in his church, it is his head-quarters, and the place of his peculiar
residence. Notice the firmness of the divine purpose with respect unto this
matter. "Yet have I set" him "King;" i. e., whatever be the plots of hell and earth
to the contrary, he reigns by his Father's ordination. Stephen Charnock, 1628-
Verse 6. "Yet have I set my KING," etc.—Jesus Christ is a threefold King.
First, his enemies' King; secondly, his saints' King; thirdly, his Father's King.
First, Christ is his enemies' King, that is, he is King over his enemies.
Christ is a King above all kings. What are all the mighty men, the great, the
honourable men of the earth to Jesus Christ? They are but like a little bubble in
the water; for if all the nations, in comparison to God, be but as the drop of the
bucket, or the dust of the balance, as the prophet speaks in Isaiah 40:15, how
little then must be the kings of the earth! Nay, beloved, Christ Jesus is not only
higher than kings, but he is higher than the angels; yea, he is the head of angels,
and, therefore, all the angels in heaven are commanded to worship him.
Colossians 2:12; Hebrews 1:6 He is King over all kingdoms, over all
nations, over all governments, over all powers, over all people. Daniel 7:14. . . .
. The very heathen are given to Christ, and the uttermost parts of the earth for
his possession. Psalm 2:8.
Psalm 2 30
Secondly. Jesus Christ is his saints' King. He is King of the bad, and of the
good; but as for the wicked, he rules over them by his power and might; but the
saints, he rules in them by his Spirit and graces. Oh! this is Christ's spiritual
kingdom, and here he rules in the hearts of his people, here he rules over their
consciences, over their wills, over their affections, over their judgments and
understandings, and nobody hath anything to do here but Christ. Christ is not
only the King of nations, but the King of saints; the one he rules over, the other
he rules in.
Thirdly. Jesus Christ is his Father's King too, and so his Father calls him: "I
have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." Well may he be our King, when
he is God's King. But you may say, how is Christ the Father's King? Because
rules for his Father. There is a twofold
Christ; first, a spiritual kingdom, by which he rules in the hearts of his people,
and so is King of saints; and, secondly, a providential kingdom, by which he
rules the affairs of this world, and so he is King of nations. Condensed from
William Dyer's Christ's Famous Titles, 1665.
the church is called "a distant view" (specula), not only because it views God
and heavenly things by faith (that is, afar off), being wise unto the things that
are above, not unto those that are of the earth; but also, because there are within
her true viewers, or seers, and watchmen in the spirit, whose office is to take
charge of the people under them, and to watch against the snares of enemies
and sins; and such are called in the Greek bishops (episkopoi), that is, spyers or
seers; and you may for the same reason give them, from the Hebrew, the
appellation of Zionists or Zioners. Martin Luther.
Verse 7. The dispute concerning the eternal filiation of our Lord betrays more
of presumptuous curiosity than of reverent faith. It is an attempt to explain
where it is far better to adore. We could give rival expositions of this verse, but
we forbear. The controversy is one of the most unprofitable which ever
engaged the pens of theologians. C. H. S.
Verse 8. "Ask of me. " The priesthood doth not appear to be settled upon Christ
by any other expression than this, "Ask of me." The Psalm speaks of his
investiture in his kingly office; the apostle refers this to his priesthood, his
commission for both took date at the same time; both bestowed, both confirmed
by the same authority. The office of asking is grounded upon the same
authority as the honour of king. Ruling belonged to his royal office, asking to
his priestly. After his resurrection, the Father gives him a power and command
of asking. Stephen Charnock.
Psalm 2 31
Verse 8. As the limner looks on the person whose picture he would take, and
draws his lines to answer him with the nearest similitude that he can, so God
looks on Christ as the archtype to which he will conform the saint, in suffering,
in grace, in glory; yet so that Christ hath the pre-eminence in all. Every saint
must suffer, because Christ suffered: Christ must not have a delicate body
under a crucified head; yet never any suffered, or could, what he endured.
Christ is holy, and therefore so shall every saint be, but in an inferior degree; an
image cut in clay cannot be so exact as that engraved on gold. Now, our
conformity to Christ appears, that as the promises made to him were performed
upon his prayers to his Father, his promises made to his saints are given to them
in the same way of prayer: "Ask of me, " saith God to his Son, "and I shall give
thee." And the apostle tells us, "Ye have not, because ye ask not." God hath
promised support to Christ in all his conflicts. Isaiah 42:1. "Behold my servant,
whom I uphold;" yet he prayed "with strong cries and tears," when his feet
stood within the shadow of death. A seed is promised to him, and victory over
his enemies, yet for both these he prays. Christ toward us acts as a king, but
toward his Father as a priest. All he speaks to God is by prayer and
intercession. So the saints, the promise makes them kings over their lusts,
conquerors over their enemies; but it makes them priests toward God, by prayer
humbly to sue out these great things given in the promise. William Gurnall,
Verse 8. It will be observed in our Bible that two words of verse eight are in
italics, intimating that they are not translations of the Hebrew, but additions
made for the purpose of elucidating the meaning. Now if the "thee" and the
"for" are left out, the verse will read thus, "Ask of me, and I shall give the
heathen, thine inheritance, and thy possession, the uttermost parts of the earth."
And this reading is decidedly preferable to the other. It implies that by some
previous arrangement on the part of God, he had already assigned an
inheritance of the heathen, and the possession of the earth, to the person of
whom he says, "Thou art my Son." And when God says, "I will give," etc., he
reveals to his Anointed, not so much in what the inheritance consisted, and
what was the extent of possession destined for him, as the promise of his
readiness to bestow it. The heathen were already "the inheritance," and the ends
of the earth "the possession," which God had purposed to give to his Anointed.
Now he says to him, "Ask of me," and he promises to fulfil his purpose. This is
the idea involved in the words of the text, and the importance of it will become
more apparent, when we consider its application to the spiritual David, to the
true Son of God, "whom he hath appointed heir of all things."
Psalm 2 32
Verse 9. The "rod" has a variety of meanings in Scripture. It might be of
different materials, as it was employed for different purposes. At an early
period, a wooden rod came into use as one of the insignia of royalty, under the
name of sceptre. By degrees the sceptre grew in importance, and was regarded
as characteristic of an empire, or of the reign of some particular king. A golden
sceptre denoted wealth and pomp. The right, or straight sceptre, of which we
read in Psalm 45:6, is expressive of the justice and uprightness, the truth and
equity, which shall distinguish Messiah's reign, after his kingdom on earth has
been established. But when it is said in Revelation 19:15, that he, "whose name
is called the Word of God," will smite the nations, and "rule them with a rod of
iron," if the rod signifies "his sceptre," then the "iron" of which it is made must
be designed to express the severity of the judgments which the omnipotent
"King of kings" will inflict on all who resist his authority. But to me it appears
doubtful whether the "rod of iron" symbolises the royal sceptre of the Son of
God at his second advent. It is mentioned in connection with "a sharp sword,"
which leads me to prefer the opinion that it also ought to be regarded as a
weapon of war; at all events, the "rod of iron" mentioned in the Psalm we are
endeavouring to explain. is evidently not the emblem of sovereign power,
although represented as in the hands of a king, but an instrument of correction
and punishment. In this sense the word "rod" is often used When the
correcting rod, which usually was a wand or cane, is represented as in this
second Psalm, to be of "iron," it only indicates how weighty, how severe, how
effectual the threatened chastisement will be—it will not merely bruise, but it
will break. "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron."
Now it is just such a complete breaking as would not readily be effected
excepting by an iron rod, that is more fully expressed in the following clause of
the verse, "Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." The
completeness of the destruction, however, depends on two things. Even an iron
rod, if gently used, or used against a hard and firm substance, might cause little
injury; but, in the case before us, it is supposed to be applied with great force,
"Thou shalt dash them;" and it is applied to what will prove as brittle and
frangible as "a potter's vessel" — "Thou shalt dash them in pieces." . . . . Here,
as in other respects, we must feel that the predictions and promises of this
Psalm were but very partially fulfilled in the history of the literal David. Their
real accomplishment, their awful completion, abides the day when the spiritual
shall come in glory and in majesty as
dash in pieces the great antichristian confederacy of kings and peoples, and to
take possession of his long-promised and dearly-purchased inheritance. And the
signs of the times seem to indicate that the coming of the Lord draws nigh.
Psalm 2 33
Verse 10. "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings," etc. As Jesus is King of kings
and Judge of judges, so the gospel is the teacher of the greatest and wisest. If
any are so great as to spurn its admonitions, God will make little of them; and if
they are so wise as to despise its teachings, their fancied wisdom shall make
fools of them. The gospel takes a high tone before the rulers of the earth, and
they who preach it should, like Knox and Melvill, magnify their office by bold
rebukes and manly utterances even in the royal presence. A clerical sycophant
is only fit to be a scullion in the devil's kitchen. C. H. S.
Verse 11. "Serve the Lord with fear." This fear of God qualifies our joy. If you
abstract fear from joy, joy will become light and wanton; and if you abstract
joy from fear, fear then will become slavish. William Bates, D.D., 1625-1699.
Verse 11. "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling." There are two
kinds of serving and rejoicing in God. First, a serving in security, and a
rejoicing in the Lord without fear; these are peculiar to hypocrites, who are
secure, who please themselves, and who appear to themselves to be not
unuseful servants, and to have great merit on their side, concerning whom it is
said (Psalm 10:5), "Thy judgments are far above out of his sight;" and also
afterwards (Psalm 36:1), "There is no fear of God before his eyes." These do
righteousness without judgment at all times; and permit not Christ to be the
Judge to be feared by all, in whose sight no man living is justified. Secondly, a
serving with fear and a rejoicing with trembling; these are peculiar to the
righteous who do righteousnesses at all times, and always rightly attemper
both; never being without judgments, on the one hand, by which they are
terrified and brought to despair of themselves and of all their own works; nor
without that righteousness on the other, on which they rest, and in which they
rejoice in the mercy of God. It is the work of the whole lives of these characters
to accuse themselves in all things, and in all things to justify and praise God.
And thus they fulfil that word of Proverbs 28:14, "Blessed is the man that
feareth alway;" and also that of Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord alway."
Thus, between the upper and nether millstone (Deuteronomy 24:6), they are
broken in pieces and humbled, and the husks being thus bruised off, they come
forth the all-pure wheat of Christ. Martin Luther.
Verse 11. The fear of God promotes spiritual joy; it is the morning star which
ushers in the sunlight of comfort. "Walking in the fear of God, and in the
comfort of the Holy Ghost." God mingles joy with fear, that fear may not be
slavish. Thomas Watson, 1660.
Verse 12. "Kiss," a sign of love among equals: Genesis 33:4; 1 Samuel 20:41;
Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20. Of subjection in inferiors: 1 Samuel 10:1.
Psalm 2 34
Of religious adoration in worshippers: 1 Kings 19:18; Job 31:27. John
Richardson, Bishop of Ardagh, 1655.
Verse 12. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry." From the Person, the Son, we shall
pass to the act (Osculamini, kiss the Son); in which we shall see, that since this
is an act which licentious men have depraved (carnal men do it, and treacherous
men do it—Judas betrayed his Master by a kiss), and yet God commands this,
and expresses love in this; everything that hath, or may be abused, must not
therefore be abandoned; the turning of a thing out of the way, is not a taking of
that thing away, but good things deflected to ill uses by some, may be by others
reduced to their first goodness. Then let us consider and magnify the goodness
of God, that hath brought us into this distance, that we may kiss the Son, that
the expressing of this love lies in our hands, and that, whereas the love of the
church, in the Old Testament, even in the Canticle, went no farther but to the
Osculator me (O that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! Canticles
1:1), now, in the Christian church, and in the visitation of a Christian soul, he
hath invited us, enables us to kiss him, for he is presentially amongst us. This
leads us to give an earnest persuasion and exhortation to kiss the Son, with all
those affections, which we shall there find to be expressed in the Scriptures, in
that testimony of true love, a holy kiss. But then, lest that persuasion by love
should not be effectual and powerful enough to us, we shall descend from that
duty, to the danger, from love, to fear, "lest he be angry;" and therein see first,
that God, who is love, can be angry; and then, that this God who is angry here,
is the Son of God, he that hath done so much for us, and therefore in justice
may be angry; he that is our Judge, and therefore in reason we are to fear his
anger: and then, in a third branch, we shall see how easily this anger departs—a
kiss removes it.
Verse 12. "Kiss the Son. " That is, embrace him, depend upon him all these
ways: as thy kinsman, as thy sovereign; at thy going, at thy coming; at thy
reconciliation, in the truth of religion in thyself, in a peaceable unity with the
church, in a reverent estimation of those men, and those means, whom he
sends. Kiss him, and be not ashamed of kissing him; it is that which the spouse
desired, "I would kiss thee, and not be despised." Canticles 7:1. If thou be
despised for loving Christ in his Gospel, remember that when David was
thought base, for dancing before the ark, his way was to be more base. If thou
be thought frivolous for thrusting in at service, in the forenoon, be more
frivolous, and come again in the afternoon: "Tanto major requies, quanto ab
amore Jesu nulla requies; " (Gregory) "The more thou troublest thyself, or art
troubled by others for Christ, the more peace thou hast in Christ." . . . . "Lest he
be angry." Anger, as it is a passion that troubles, and disorders, and
Psalm 2 35
discomposes a man, so it is not in God; but anger, as it is a sensible discerning
of foes from friends, and of things that conduce, or disconduce to his glory, so
it is in God. In a word, Hilary hath expressed it well: "Poena patientis, ira
decernentis; " "Man's suffering is God's anger." When God inflicts such
punishments as a king justly incensed would do, then God is thus angry. Now
here, our case is heavier; it is not this great, and almighty, and maj estical God,
that may be angry—that is like enough; but even the Son, whom we must kiss,
may be angry; it is not a person whom we consider merely as God, but as man;
may not as man neither, but a a worm, and no man, and he may be angry, and
angry to our ruin. . . . "Kiss the Son, " and he will not be angry; if he be, kiss the
rod, and he will be angry no longer—love him lest he be: fear him when he is
angry: the preservative is easy, and so is the restorative too: the balsamum of
this kiss is all, to suck spiritual milk out of the left breast, as well as out of the
right, to find mercy in his judgments, reparation in his ruins, feasts in his lents,
in his anger. From Sermons of John Donne, D.D., Dean of
Verse 12. "Kiss the Son. " To make peace with the Father, kiss the Son. "Let
him kiss me," was the church's prayer. Canticles 1:2. Let us kiss him — that be
our endeavour. Indeed, the Son must first kiss us by his mercy, before we can
kiss him by our piety. Lord, grant in these mutual kisses and interchangeable
embraces now, that we may come to the plenary wedding supper hereafter;
when the choir of heaven, even the voices of angels, shall sing epithalamiums,
nupital songs, at the bridal of the spouse of the Lamb. Thomas Adams.
Verse 12. "If his wrath be kindled but a little;" the Hebrew is, if his nose or
nostril be kindled but a little; the nostril, being an organ of the body in which
wrath shows itself, is put for wrath itself. Paleness and snuffling of the nose are
symptoms of anger. In our proverbials, to take a thing in snuff, is to take it in
anger. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 12. "His wrath." Unspeakable must the wrath of God be when it is
kindled fully, since perdition may come upon the kindling of it but a little. John
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Whole Psalm. Shows us the nature of sin, and the terrible results of it if it could
Verse 1. Nothing is more irrational than irreligion. A weighty theme.
The reasons why sinners rebel against God, stated, refuted, lamented, and
Psalm 2 36
The crowning display of human sin in man's hatred of the Mediator.
Verses 1 and 2. Opposition to the gospel, unreasonable and ineffectual. Two
sermons by John Newton.
Verses 1 and 2. These verses show that all trust in man in the service of God is
vain. Inasmuch as men oppose Christ, it is not good to hang our trust upon the
multitude for their number, the earnest for their zeal, the mighty for their
countenance, or the wise for their counsel, since all these are far oftener against
Christ than for him.
Verse 2. "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 495, "The Greatest Trial on Record."
Verse 3. The true reason of the opposition of sinners to Christ's truth, viz.: their
hatred of the restraints of godliness.
Verse 4. God's derision of the rebellious, both now and hereafter.
Verse 5. The voice of wrath. One of a series of sermons upon the voices of the
Verse 6. Christ's Sovereignty.
1. The opposition to it: "yet."
2. The certainty of its existence: "Yet have I set."
3. The power which maintains it: "have I set. "
4. The place of its manifestation: "my holy hill of Zion."
5. The blessings flowing from it.
Verse 7. The divine decree concerning Christ, in connection with the decrees of
election and providence. The Sonship of Jesus.
This verse teaches us faithfully to declare, and humbly to claim, the gifts
and calling that God hath bestowed upon us. Thomas Wilcocks.
Verse 8. Christ's inheritance. William Jay.
Prayer indispensable.—Jesus must ask.
Verse 9. The ruin of the wicked. Certain, irresistible, terrible, complete,
irretrievable, "like a potter's vessel."
The destruction of systems of error and oppression to be expected. The
gospel an iron rod quite able to break mere pots of man's making.
Psalm 2 37
Verse 10. True wisdom, fit for kings and judges, lies in obeying Christ.
The gospel, a school for those who would learn how to rule and judge well.
They may consider its principles, its exemplar, its spirit, etc.
Verse 11. Mingled experience. See the case of the women returning from the
sepulchre. Matthew 28:8. This may be rendered a very comforting subject, if
the Holy Spirit direct the mind of the preacher.
True religion, a compound of many virtues and emotions.
Verse 12. An earnest invitation.
1. The command.
2. The argument.
3. The benediction upon the obedient. "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 260.
Last clause.—Nature, object, and blessedness of saving faith.
WORK UPON THE SECOND PSALM
Psalm 3 38
Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. "A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his Son." You will remember the sad story of
David's flight from his own palace, when in the dead of the night, he forded the brook Kedron, and went
with a few faithful followers to hide himself for awhile from the fury of his rebellious son. Remember that
David in this was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, too, fled; he, too, passed over the brook Kedron when
his own people were in rebellion against him, and with a feeble band of followers he went to the garden of
expositors this is entitled THE MORNING HYMN. May we ever wake with holy confidence in our hearts,
and a song upon our lips!
DIVISION. This Psalm may be divided into four parts of two verses each. Indeed, many of the Psalms
cannot be well understood unless we attentively regard the parts into which they should be divided. They
are not continuous descriptions of one scene, but a set of pictures of many kindred subjects. As in our
modern sermons, we divide our discourse into different heads, so is it in these Psalms. There is always
unity, but it is the unity of a bundle of arrows, and not of a single solitary shaft. Let us now look at the
Psalm before us. In the first two verses you have David making a complaint to God concerning his
enemies; he then declares his confidence in the Lord (3, 4), sings of his safety in sleep (5, 6), and
strengthens himself for future conflict (7, 8).
Verse 1. The poor broken-hearted father complains of the multitude of his
enemies: and if you turn to 2 Samuel 15:12, you will find it written that "the
conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom,"
while the troops of David constantly diminished! "Lord how are they increased
that trouble me!" Here is a note of exclamation to express the wonder of woe
which amazed and perplexed the fugitive father. Alas! I see no limit to my
misery, for my troubles are enlarged! There was enough at first to sink me very
low; but lo! my enemies multiply. When Absalom, my darling, is in rebellion
against me, it is enough to break my heart; but lo! Ahithophel hath forsaken
me, my faithful counsellors have turned their backs on me; lo! my generals and
soldiers have deserted my standard. "How are they increased that trouble me!"
Troubles always come in flocks. Sorrow hath a numerous family.
"Many are they that rise up against me. " Their hosts are far superior to
mine! Their numbers are too great for my reckoning!
Let us here recall to our memory the innumerable host which beset our
Divine Redeemer. The legions of our sins, the armies of fiends, the crowd of
bodily pains, the host of spiritual sorrows, and all the allies of death and hell,
set themselves in battle against the Son of Man. O how precious to know and
believe that he has routed their hosts, and trodden them down in his anger!
Psalm 3 39
They who would have troubled us he has removed into captivity, and those who
would have risen up against us he has laid low. The dragon lost his sting when
he dashed it into the soul of Jesus.
Verse 2. David complains before his loving God of the worst weapon of his
enemies' attacks, and the bitterest drop of his distresses. "Oh!" saith David,
"many there be that say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. " Some of
his distrustful friends said this sorrowfully, but his enemies exultingly boasted
of it, and longed to see their words proved by his total destruction. This was the
unkindest cut of all, when they declared that his God had forsaken him. Yet
David knew in his own conscience that he had given them some ground for this
exclamation, for he had committed sin against God in the very light of day.
Then they flung his crime with Bathsheba into his face, and they said, "Go up,
thou bloody man; God hath forsaken thee and left thee." Shimei cursed him,
and swore at him to his very face, for he was bold because of his backers, since
multitudes of the men of Belial thought of David in like fashion. Doubtless,
David felt this infernal suggestion to be staggering to his faith. If all the trials
which come from heaven, all the temptations which ascend from hell, and all
the crosses which arise from earth, could be mixed and pressed together, they
would not make a trial so terrible as that which is contained in this verse. It is
the most bitter of all afflictions to be led to fear that there is no help for us in
God. And yet remember our most blessed Saviour had to endure this in the
deepest degree when he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
He knew full well what is was to walk in darkness and to see no light. This was
the curse of the curse. This was the wormwood mingled with the gall. To be
deserted of his Father was worse than to be the despised of men. Surely we
should love him who suffered this bitterest of temptations and trials for our
sake. It will be a delightful and instructive exercise for the loving heart to mark
the Lord in his agonies as here pourtrayed, for there is here, and in very many
other Psalms, far more of David's Lord than of David himself.
"Selah. " This is a musical pause; the precise meaning of which is not
known. Some think it simply a rest, a pause in the music; others say it means,
"Lift up the strain—sing more loudly—pitch the tune upon a higher key—there
is nobler matter to come, therefore retune your harps." Harp-strings soon get
out of order and need to be screwed up again to their proper tightness, and
certainly our heart-strings are evermore getting out of tune, Let "Selah" teach
us to pray
"O may my heart in tune be found
Like David's harp of solemn sound."
Psalm 3 40
At least we may learn that wherever we see "Selah," we should look upon it as
a note of observation. Let us read the passage which preceeds and succeeds it
with greater earnestness, for surely there is always something excellent where
we are required to rest and pause and meditate, or when we are required to lift
up our hearts in grateful song. "SELAH."
Verse 3. Here David avows his confidence in God. "Thou, O Lord, art a shield
for me. " The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a
buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield
above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh! what a shield is God for his
people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of
trials from above, while, at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest
within the breast. Thou art "my glory." David knew that though he was driven
from his capital in contempt and scorn, he should yet return in triumph, and by
faith he looks upon God as honouring and glorifying him. O for grace to see
our future glory amid present shame! Indeed, there is a present glory in our
afflictions, if we could but discern it; for it is no mean thing to have fellowship
with Christ in his sufferings. David was honoured when he made the ascent of
Olivet, weeping, with his head covered; for he was in all this made like unto his
Lord. May we learn, in this respect, to glory in tribulations also! "And the lifter
up of mine head"—thou shalt yet exalt me. Though I hang my head in sorrow, I
shall very soon lift it up in joy and thanksgiving. What a divine trio of mercies
is contained in this verse!—defence for the defenceless, glory for the despised,
and joy for the comfortless. Verily we may well say, "there is none like the God
Verse 4. "I cried unto the Lord with my voice." Why doth he say, "with my
voice?" Surely, silent prayers are heard. Yes, but good men often find that,
even in secret, they pray better aloud than they do when they utter no vocal
sound. Perhaps, moreover, David would think thus:—"My cruel enemies
clamour against me; they lift up their voices, and, behold, I lift up mine, and my
cry outsoars them all. They clamour, but the cry of my voice in great distress
pierces the very skies, and is louder and stronger than all their tumult; for there
is one in the sanctuary who hearkens to me from the seventh heaven, and he
hath, heard me out of his holy hill." Answers to prayers are sweet cordials for
the soul. We need not fear a frowning world while we rejoice in a prayer-
Here stands another Selah. Rest awhile, O tried believer, and change the
strain to a softer air.
Verse 5. David's faith enabled him to lie down; anxiety would certainly have
kept him on tiptoe, watching for an enemy. Yea, he was able to sleep, to sleep
Psalm 3 41
in the midst of trouble, surrounded by foes. "So he giveth his beloved sleep."
There is a sleep of presumption; God deliver us from it! There is a sleep of holy
confidence; God help us so to close our eyes! But David says he awaked also.
Some sleep the sleep of death; but he, though exposed to many enemies,
reclined his head on the bosom of his God, slept happily beneath the wing of
sustained me. " The sweet influence of the Pleiades of promise shone upon the
sleeper, and he awoke conscious that the Lord had preserved him. An excellent
divine has well remarked—"This quietude of a man's heart by faith in God, is a
higher sort of work than the natural resolution of manly courage, for it is the
gracious operation of God's Holy Spirit upholding a man above nature, and
therefore the Lord must have all the glory of it."
Verse 6. Buckling on his harness for the day's battle, our hero sings, "I will not
be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round
about." Observe that he does not attempt to under- estimate the number or
wisdom of his enemies. He reckons them at tens of thousands, and he views
them as cunning huntsmen chasing him with cruel skill. Yet he trembles not,
but looking his foeman in the face he is ready for the battle. There may be no
way of escape; they may hem me in as the deer are surrounded by a circle of
hunters; they may surround me on every side, but in the name of God I will
dash through them; or, if I remain in the midst of them, yet shall they not hurt
me; I shall be free in my very prison.
But David is too wise to venture to the battle without prayer; he therefore
betakes himself to his knees, and cries aloud to Jehovah.
Verse 7. His only hope is in his God, but that is so strong a confidence, that he
feels the Lord hath but to arise and he is saved. It is enough for the Lord to
stand up, and all is well. He compares his enemies to wild beasts, and he
declares that God hath broken their jaws, so that they could not injure him;
"Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly." Or else he alludes to the peculiar
temptations to which he was then exposed. They had spoken against him; God,
therefore, has smitten them upon the cheek bone. They seemed as if they would
devour him with their mouths; God hath broken their teeth, and let them say
what they will, their toothless jaws shall not be able to devour him. Rejoice, O
believer, thou hast to do with a dragon whose head is broken, and with enemies
whose teeth are dashed from their jaws!
Verse 8. This verse contains the sum and substance of Calvinistic doctrine.
Search Scripture through, and you must, if you read it with a candid mind, be
persuaded that the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is the great doctrine of
the word of God: "Salvation belongeth unto the Lord." This is a point
Psalm 3 42
concerning which we are daily fighting. Our opponents say, "Salvation
belongeth to the free will of man; if not to man's merit, yet at least to man's
will;" but we hold and teach that salvation from first to last, in every iota of it,
belongs to the Most High God. It is God that chooses his people. He calls them
by his grace; he quickens them by his Spirit, and keeps them by his power. It is
not of man, neither by man; "not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,
but of God that showeth mercy." May we all learn this truth experimentally, for
our proud flesh and blood will never permit us to learn it in any other way. In
the last sentence the peculiarity and speciality of salvation are plainly stated:
blessing is upon thy people." Neither upon
upon Ninevah; thy blessing is upon thy chosen, thy blood-bought, thine
everlastingly-beloved people. "Selah: " lift up your hearts, and pause, and
meditate upon this doctrine. "Thy blessing is upon thy people." Divine,
discriminating, distinguishing, eternal, infinite, immutable love, is a subject for
constant adoration. Pause, my soul, at this Selah, and consider thine own
interest in the salvation of God; and if by humble faith thou art enabled to see
Jesus as thine by his own free gift of himself to thee, if this greatest of all
blessings be upon thee, rise up and sing—
"Rise, my soul! adore and wonder!
Ask, 'O why such love to me?'
Grace hath put me in the number
Of the Saviour's family:
Thanks, eternal thanks, to thee!"
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. With regard to the authority of the TITLES, it becomes us to speak with
diffidence, considering the very opposite opinions which have been offered
upon this subject by scholars of equal excellence. In the present day, it is too
much the custom to slight or omit them altogether, as though added, nobody
knows when or by whom, and as, in many instances, inconsistent with the
subject-matter of the Psalm itself: while Augustine, Theodoret, and various
other early writers of the Christian church, regard them as a part of the inspired
text; and the Jews still continue to make them a part of their chant, and their
rabbins to comment upon them.
It is certainly unknown who invented or placed them where they are; but it
is unquestionable that they have been so placed from time immemorial; they
occur in the Septuagint, which contains also in a few instances titles to Psalms
that are without any in the Hebrew; and they have been copied after the
Septuagint by Jerome. So far as the present writer has been able to penetrate the
Psalm 3 43
obscurity that occasionally hangs over them, they are a direct and most
valuable key to the general history or subject of the Psalms to which they are
prefixed; and, excepting where they have been evidently misunderstood or
misinterpreted, he has never met with a single instance in which the drift of the
title and its respective Psalm do not exactly coincide. Many of them were,
doubtless, composed by Ezra at the time of editing his own collection, at which
period some critics suppose the whole to have been written; but the rest appear
rather to be coeval, or nearly so, with the respective Psalms themselves, and to
have been written about the period of their production. John Mason Good,
M.D., F.R.S., 1854.
See title. Here we have the first use of the word Psalm. In Hebrew, Mizmor,
which hath the signification of pruning, or cutting off superfluous twigs, and is
applied to songs made of short sentences, where many superfluous words are
put away. Henry Ainsworth.
Upon this note an old writer remarks, "Let us learn from this, that in times
of sore trouble men will not fetch a compass and use fine words in prayer, but
will offer a prayer which is pruned of all luxuriance of wordy speeches."
Whole Psalm. Thus you may plainly see how God hath wrought in his church
in old time, and therefore should not discourage yourselves for any sudden
change; but with David, acknowledge your sins to God, declare unto him how
many there be that vex you and rise up against you, naming you Huguenots,
Lutherans, Heretics, Puritans, and the children of Belial, as they named David.
Let the wicked idolaters brag that they will prevail against you and overcome
you, and that God hath given you over, and will be no more your God. Let
them put their trust in Absalom, with his large golden locks; and in the wisdom
of Ahithophel, the wise counsellor; yet say you, with David, "Thou, O Lord, art
my defender, and the lifter up of my head." Persuade yourselves, with David,
that the Lord is your defender, who hath compassed you round about, and is, as
it were, a "shield" that doth cover you on every side. It is he only that may and
will compass you about with glory and honour. It is he that will thrust down
those proud hypocrites from their seat, and exalt the lowly and meek. It is he
which will "smite" your "enemies on the cheek bone," and burst all their teeth
in sunder. He will hang up Absalom by his own long hairs; and Ahithophel
through desperation shall hang himself. The bands shall be broken, and you
delivered; for this belongeth unto the Lord, to save his from their enemies, and
to bless his people, that they may safely proceed in their pilgrimage to heaven
fear. Thomas Tymme's "Silver Watch
Verse 1. Absalom's faction, like a snowball, strangely gathered in its motion.
David speaks of it as one amazed; and well he might, that a people he had so
Psalm 3 44
many ways obliged, should almost generally revolt from him, and rebel against
him, and choose for their head such a silly, giddy young fellow as Absalom
was. How slippery and deceitful are the many! And how little fidelity and
constancy is to be found among men! David had had the hearts of his subjects
as much as ever any king had, and yet now of a sudden he had lost them! As
people must not trust too much to princes (Psalm 146:3), so princes must not
build too much upon their interest in the people. Christ the Son of David had
many enemies, when a great multitude came to seize him, when the crowd
cried, "Crucify him, crucify him," how were they then increased that troubled
him! Even good people must not think it strange if the stream be against them,
and the powers that threaten them grow more and more formidable. Matthew
Verse 2. When the believer questions the power of God, or his interest in it, his
joy gusheth out as blood out of a broken vein. This verse is a sore stab indeed.
Verse 2. A child of God startles at the very thought of despairing of help in
God; you cannot vex him with anything so much as if you offer to persuade
him, "There is no help for him in God. " David comes to God, and tells him
what his enemies said of him, as Hezekiah spread Rabshakeh's blasphemous
letter before the Lord; they say, "There is no help for me in thee;" but, Lord, if
it be so, I am undone. They say to my soul, "There is no salvation" (for so the
word is) "for him in God; " but, Lord, do thou say unto my soul, "I am thy
salvation" (Psalm 35:3), and that shall satisfy me, and in due time silence them.
Verses 2, 4, 8. "Selah. " (Heb.) Much has been written on this word, and still its
meaning does not appear to be wholly determined. It is rendered in the Targum
or Chaldee paraphrase, (Hebrew), lealmin, for ever, or to eternity. In the Latin
Vulgate, it is omitted, as if it were no part of the text. In the Septuagint it is
rendered Diaqalma, supposed to refer to some variation or modulation of the
voice in singing. Schleusner, Lex. The word occurs seventy-three times in the
Psalms, and three times in the book of Habakkuk (3:3, 9, 13). It is never
translated in our version, but in all these places the original word Selah is
retained. It occurs only in poetry, and is supposed to have had some reference
to the singing or cantillation of the poetry, and to be probably a musical term.
In general, also, it indicates a pause in the sense, as well as in the musical
performance. Gesenius (Lex.) supposes that the most probable meaning of this
musical term or note is silence or pause, and that its use was, in chanting the
words of the Psalm, to direct the singer to be silent, to pause a little, while the
instruments played an interlude or harmony. Perhaps this is all that can now be
Psalm 3 45
known of the meaning of the word, and this is enough to satisfy every
reasonable enquiry. It is probable, if this was the use of the term, that it would
commonly correspond with the sense of the passage, and be inserted where the
sense made a pause suitable; and this will doubtless be found usually to be the
fact. But anyone acquainted at all with the character of musical notation, will
perceive at once that we are not to suppose that this would be invariably or
necessarily the fact, for the musical pauses by no means always correspond
with pauses in the sense. This word, therefore, can furnish very little assistance
in determining the meaning of the passages where it is found. Ewald supposes,
differing from this view, that it rather indicates that in the places where it
occurs the voice is to be raised, and that it is synonymous with up, higher, loud,
or distinct, from (Hebrew) sal, (Hebrew) salal, to ascend. Those who are
disposed to enquire further respecting its meaning, and the uses of musical
pauses in general, may be referred to Ugolin, "Thesau. Antiq. Sacr.," tom. xxii.
Albert Barnes, 1868.
Verses 2, 4, 8. Selah, (Heb.) is found seventy-three times in the Psalms,
generally at the end of a sentence or paragraph; but in Psalm 55:19 and 57:3, it
stands in the middle of the verse. While most authors have agreed in
considering this word as somehow relating to the music, their conjectures about
its precise meaning have varied greatly. But at present these two opinions
chiefly obtain. Some, including Herder, De Wette, Ewald (Poet. Böcher, i.
179), and Delitzsch, derive it from (Heb.), or (Heb.), to raise, and understand
an elevation of the voice or music; others, after Gesenius, in Thesaurus, derive
it from (Heb.), to be still or silent, and understand a pause in the singing. So
Rosenmüller, Hengstenberg, and Tholuck. Probably selah was used to direct
the singer to be silent, or to pause a little, while the instruments played an
interlude (so Sept., diuqalma or symphony. In Psalm 9:16, it occurs in the
expression higgaion selah, which Gesenius, with much probability, renders
instrumental music, pause; i.e., let the instruments strike up a symphony, and
let the singer pause. By Tholuck and Hengstenberg, however, the two words
are rendered meditation, pause; i.e., let the singer meditate while the music
stops. Benjamin Davies, Ph.D.,L.L.D., article Psalms, in Kitto's Cyclopaedia of
Verse 3. "Lifter up of my head." God will have the body partake with the soul—
as in matters of grief, so in matters of joy; the lanthorn shines in the light of the
candle within. Richard Sibbs, 1639.
There is a lifting up of the head by elevating to office, as with Pharaoh's
butler; this we trace to the divine appointment. There is a lifting up in honour
after shame, in health after sickness, in gladness after sorrow, in restoration
Psalm 3 46
after a fall, in victory after a temporary defeat; in all these respects the Lord is
the lifter up of our head. C. H. S.
Verse 4. When prayer leads the van, in due time deliverance brings up the rear.
Verse 4. "He heard me. " I have often heard persons say in prayer, "Thou art a
prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God," but the expression contains a
superfluity, since for God to hear is, according to Scripture, the same thing as
to answer. C. H. S.
Verse 5. "I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. " The
title of the Psalm tells us when David had this sweet night's rest; not when he
on his bed of down in his stately palace at
his life from his unnatural son Absalom, and possibly was forced to lie in the
open field under the canopy of heaven. Truly it must be a soft pillow indeed
that could make him forget his danger, who then had such a disloyal army at his
back hunting of him; yea, so transcendent is the influence of this peace, that it
can make the creature lie down as cheerfully to sleep in the grave, as on the
softest bed. You will say that child is willing that calls to be put to bed; some of
the saints have desired God to lay them at rest in their beds of dust, and that not
in a pet and discontent with their present trouble, as Job did, but from a sweet
sense of this peace in their bosoms. "Now let thy servant depart in peace, for
mine eyes have seen thy salvation," was the swan-like song of old Simeon. He
speaks like a merchant that had got all his goods on ship-board, and now
desires the master of the ship to hoist sail, and be gone homewards. Indeed,
what should a Christian, that is but a foreigner here, desire to stay any longer
for in the world, but to get his full lading in for heaven? And when hath he that,
if not when he is assured of his peace with God? This peace of the gospel, and
sense of the love of God in the soul, doth so admirably conduce to the enabling
of a person in all difficulties, and temptations, and troubles, that ordinarily,
before he calls his saints to any hard service, or hot work, he gives them a
draught of this cordial wine next their hearts, to cheer them up and embolden
them in the conflict. William Gurnall.
5. Gurnall, who wrote when there were houses on old
has quaintly said, "Do you not think that they sleep as soundly who dwell on
the waves which rush under them cannot hurt them. Even so may the saints rest
quietly over the floods of trouble or death, and fear no ill."
Psalm 3 47
5. Xerxes, the Persian, when he destroyed all the temples in
which hath the beauty of holiness shining in it, shall be preserved for the glory
of the structure; God will not suffer his own temple to be destroyed. Would you
be secured in evil times? Get grace and fortify this garrison; a good conscience
is a Christian's fort-royal. David's enemies lay round about him; yet, saith he, "I
laid me down and slept". A good conscience can sleep in the mouth of a
cannon; grace is a Christian's coat of mail, which fears not the arrow or bullet.
True grace may be shot at, but can never be shot through; grace puts the soul
into Christ, and there it is safe, as the bee in the hive, as the dove in the ark.
"There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," Romans 8:1.
Verse 5. "The Lord sustained me. " It would not be unprofitable to consider the
sustaining power manifested in us while we lie asleep. In the flowing of the
blood, heaving of the lung, etc., in the body, and the continuance of mental
faculties while the image of death is upon us. C. H. S.
Verse 6. "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set
themselves against me round about." The psalmist will trust, despite
appearances. He will not be afraid though ten thousands of people have set
themselves against him round about. Let us here limit our thoughts to this one
idea, "despite appearances." What could look worse to human sight than this
array of ten thousands of people? Ruin seemed to stare him in the face;
wherever he looked an enemy was to be seen. What was one against ten
thousand? It often happens that God's people come into circumstances like this;
they say, "All these things are against me;" they seem scarce able to count their
troubles; they cannot see a loophole through which to escape; things look very
black indeed; it is great faith and trust which says under these circumstances, "I
will not be afraid."
These were the circumstances under which Luther was placed, as he
the Reformation, that the safe conduct of a heretic ought not to be respected,
and became alarmed for the reformer. "At the moment when the latter was
approaching the city, a messenger appeared before him with this advice from
chaplain, 'Do not enter
confidant, from Spalatin himself! But Luther, undismayed, turned his
eyes upon the messenger, and replied, 'Go, and tell your master, that even
there be as many devils in
would enter it.' The messenger returned to Worms, with this astounding
answer: 'I was then undaunted,' said Luther, a few days before his death, 'I
Psalm 3 48
At such seasons as these, the reasonable men of the world, those who walk
by sight and not by faith, will think it reasonable enough that the Christian
should be afraid; they themselves would be very low if they were in such a
predicament. Weak believers are now ready to make excuses for us, and we are
only too ready to make them for ourselves; instead of rising above the
weakness of the flesh, we take refuge under it, and use it as an excuse. But let
us think prayerfully for a little while, and we shall see that it should not be thus
with us. To trust only when appearances are favourable, is to sail only with the
wind and tide, to believe only when we can see. Oh! let us follow the example
of the psalmist, and seek that unreservedness of faith which will enable us to
trust God, come what will, and to say as he said, "I will not be afraid of ten
thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about." Philip
Bennet Power's 'I wills' of the Psalms, 1862.
Verse 6. "I will not be afraid," etc. It makes no matter what our enemies be,
though for number, legions; for power, principalities; for subtlety, serpents; for
cruelty, dragons; for vantage of place, a prince of the air; for maliciousness,
spiritual wickedness; stronger is he that is in us, than they who are against us;
nothing is able to separate us from the love of God. In Christ Jesus our Lord,
we shall be more than conquerors. William Cowper, 1612.
Verse 7. "Arise, O Lord," Jehovah! This is a common scriptural mode of calling
upon God to manifest his presence and his power, either in wrath or favour. By
a natural anthropomorphism, it describes the intervals of such manifestations as
periods of inaction or of slumber, out of which he is besought to rouse himself.
"Save me, " even me, of whom they say there is no help for him in God. "Save
me, O my God, " mine by covenant and mutual engagement, to whom I
therefore have a right to look for deliverance and protection. This confidence is
warranted, moreover, by experience. "For thou hast, " in former exigencies,
"smitten all mine enemies," without exception "(on the) cheek" or jaw, an act at
once violent and insulting. J. A. Alexander, D.D.
Verse 7. "Upon the cheek bone."—The language seems to be taken from a
comparison of his enemies with wild beasts. The cheek bone denotes the bone
in which the teeth are placed, and to break that is to disarm the animal. Albert
Barnes, in loc.
Verse 7. When God takes vengeance upon the ungodly, he will smite in such a
manner as to make them feel his almightiness in every stroke. All his power
shall be exercised in punishing and none in pitying. O that every obstinate
Psalm 3 49
sinner would think of this, and consider his unmeasurable boldness in thinking
himself able to grapple with Omnipotence! Stephen Charnock.
Verse 8. "Salvation belongeth unto the Lord:" parallel passage in Jonah 2:9,
"Salvation is of the Lord." The mariners might have written upon their ship,
instead of Castor and Pollux, or the like device, Salvation is the Lord's; the
Ninevites might have written upon their gates, Salvation is the Lord's; and
whole mankind, whose cause is pitted and pleaded by God against the hardness
of Jonah's heart, in the last, might have written on the palms of their hands,
Salvation is the Lord's. It is the argument of both the Testaments, the staff and
supportation of heaven and earth. They would both sink, and all their joints be
severed, if the salvation of the Lord's were not. The birds in the air sing no
other notes, the beasts in the field give no other voice, than Salus Jehovæ,
Salvation is the Lord's. The walls and fortresses to our country's gates, to our
cities and towns, bars to our houses, a surer cover to our heads than a helmet of
steel, a better receipt to our bodies than the confection of apothecaries, a better
to our souls than the pardons of
the Lord. The salvation of the Lord blesseth, preserveth, upholdeth all that we
have; our basket and our store, the oil in our cruses, our presses, the sheep in
our folds, our stalls, the children in the womb, at our tables, the corn in our
fields, our stores, our garners; it is not the virtue of the stars, nor nature of all
things themselves, that giveth being and continuance to any of these blessings.
And, "What shall I more say?" as the apostle asked (Hebrews 9) when he had
spoken much, and there was much more behind, but time failed him. Rather,
what should I not say? for the world is my theatre at this time, and I neither
think nor can feign to myself anything that hath not dependence upon this
acclamation, Salvation is the Lord's. Plutarch writeth, that the Amphictions in
(large and tiring discourses), short sentences and memoratives, as, Know
thyself, Use moderation, Beware of suretyship, and the like; and doubtless
though every creature in the world, whereof we have use, be a treatise and
narration unto us of the goodness of God, and we might weary our flesh, and
spend our days in writing books of that inexplicable subject, yet this short
apothegm of Jonah comprehendeth all the rest, and standeth at the end of the
song, as the altars and stones that the patriarch set up at the parting of the ways,
to give knowledge to the after-world by what means he was delivered. I would
it were daily preached in our temples, sung in our streets, written upon our
door-posts, painted upon our walls, or rather cut with an adamant claw upon the
tables of our hearts, that we might never forget salvation to be the Lord's. We
have need of such remembrances to keep us in practise of revolving the mercies
Psalm 3 50
of God. For nothing decayeth sooner than love; nihil facilius quam amar
putrescit. And of all the powers of the soul, memory is most delicate, tender
and brittle, and first waxeth old, memoria delicata, tenera, fragilis, in quam
primum senectus incurrit; and of all the apprehensions of memory, first benefit,
primum senescit beneficium. John King's Commentary on Jonah, 1594.
Verse 8. "Thy blessing is upon thy people." The saints are not only blessed
when they are comprehensors, but while they are viators. They are blessed
before they are crowned. This seems a paradox to flesh and blood: what,
reproached and maligned, yet blessed! A man that looks upon the children of
God with a carnal eye, and sees how they are afflicted, and like the ship in the
gospel, which was covered with waves (Matthew 8:24), would think they were
far from blessedness. Paul brings a catalogue of his sufferings (2 Corinthians
11:24-26), "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered
shipwreck," etc. And those Christians of the first magnitude, of whom the
world was not worthy, "Had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, they were
sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword." Hebrews 11:36, 37. What! and
were all these during the time of their sufferings blessed? A carnal man would
think, if this be to be blessed, God deliver him from it. But, however sense
would give their vote, our Saviour Christ pronounceth the godly man blessed;
though a mourner, though a martyr, yet blessed. Job on the dunghill was
blessed Job. The saints are blessed when they are cursed. Shimei did curse
David (2 Samuel 16:5), "He came forth and cursed him;" yet when he was
cursed David he was blessed David. The saints though they are bruised, yet
they are blessed. Not only they shall be blessed, but they are so. Psalm 119:1.
"Blessed are the undefiled." Psalm 3:8. "Thy blessing is upon thy people."
As a curious instance of Luther's dogmatical interpretations we give very
considerable extracts from his rendering of this Psalm without in any degree
endorsing them. C. H. S.
Whole Psalm. That the meaning of this Psalm is not historical, is manifest from
many particulars, which militate against its being so understood. And first of
all, there is this which the blessed Augustine has remarked; that the words, "I
laid me down to sleep and took my rest," seem to be the words of Christ rising
from the dead. And then that there is at the end the blessing of God pronounced
upon the people, which manifestly belongs to the whole church. Hence, the
blessed Augustine interprets the Psalm in a threefold way; first, concerning
Christ the head; secondly, concerning the whole of Christ, that is, Christ and his
church, the head and the body; and thirdly, figuratively, concerning any private
Psalm 3 51
Christian. Let each have his own interpretation. I, in the meantime, will
interpret it concerning Christ; being moved so to do by the same argument that
moved Augustine—that the fifth verse does not seem appropriately to apply to
any other but Christ. First, because, "lying down" and "sleeping," signify in this
place altogether a natural death, not a natural sleep. Which may be collected
from this—because it then follows, "and rose again." Whereas if David had
spoken concerning the sleep of the body, he would have said, "and awoke;"
though this does not make so forcibly for the interpretation of which we are
speaking, if the Hebrew word would be closely examined. But again, what new
thing would he advance by declaring that he laid him down and slept? Why did
he not say also that he walked, ate, drank, laboured, or was in necessity, or
mention particularly some other work of the body? And moreover, it seems an
absurdity under so great a tribulation, to boast of nothing else but the sleep of
the body; for that tribulation would rather force him to a privation from sleep,
and to be in peril and distress; especially since those two expressions, "I laid
me down," and "I slept," signify the quiet repose of one lying down in his
place, which is not the state of one who falls asleep from exhausture through
sorrow. But this consideration makes the more forcibly for us—that he
therefore glories in his rising up again because it was the Lord that sustained
him, who raised him up while sleeping, and did not leave him in sleep. How
can such a glorying agree, and what new kind of religion can make it agree,
with any particular sleep of the body? (for in that case, would it not apply to the
daily sleep also?) and especially, when this sustaining of God indicates at the
same time an utterly forsaken state in the person sleeping, which is not the case
in corporal sleep; for there the person sleeping may be protected even by men
being his guards; but this sustaining being altogether of God, implies, not a
sleep, but a heavy conflict. And lastly, the word HEKIZOTHI itself favours
such an interpretation; which, being here put absolutely and transitively,
signifies, "I caused to arise or awake." As if he had said, "I caused myself to
awake, I roused myself." Which certainly more aptly agrees with the
resurrection of Christ than with the sleep of the body; both because those who
are asleep are accustomed to be roused and awaked, and because it is no
wonderful matter, nor a matter worthy of so important a declaration, for anyone
to awake of himself, seeing that it is what takes place every day. But this matter
being introduced by the Spirit as a something new and singular, is certainly
different from all that which attends common sleeping and waking.
Verse 2. "There is no help for him in his God. " In the Hebrew the expression is
simply, "in God," without the pronoun "his", which seems to me to give
clearness and force to the expression. As if he had said, They say of me that I
am not only deserted and oppressed by all creatures, but that even God, who is
Psalm 3 52
present with all things, and preserves all things, and protects all things, forsakes
me as the only thing out of the whole universe that he does not preserve. Which
kind of temptation Job seems also to have tasted where he says, "Why hast thou
set me as a mark against thee?" Job 7:20. For there is no temptation, no, not of
the whole world together, nor of all hell combined in one, equal unto that
wherein God stands contrary to man, which temptation Jeremiah prays against
(Jeremiah 17:17), "Be not a terror unto me; thou art my hope in the days of
evil;" and concerning which also the sixth Psalm following saith, "O Lord,
rebuke me not in thine anger;" and we find the same petitions throughout the
psaltery. This temptation is wholly unsupportable, and is truly hell itself; as it is
said in the same sixth Psalm, "for in death there is no remembrance of thee,"
etc. In a word, if you have never experienced it, you can never form any idea of
Verse 3. "For thou, O Lord, art my helper, my glory, and the lifter up of my
head." David here contrasts three things with three; helper, with many
troublings; glory, with many rising up; and the lifter up of the head, with the
blaspheming and insulting. Therefore, the person here represented is indeed
alone in the estimation of man, and even according to his own feelings also; but
in the sight of God, and in a spiritual view, he is by no means alone; but
protected with the greatest abundance of help; as Christ saith (John 16:32),
"Behold, the hour cometh when ye shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.". . . . The words contained in this verse are not
the words of nature, but of grace; not of free-will, but of the spirit of strong
faith; which, even though seeing God, as in the darkness of the storm of death
and hell, a deserting God, acknowledges him a sustaining God; when seeing
him as a condemner, acknowledges him a Saviour. Thus this faith does not
judge of things according as they seem to be, or are felt, like a horse or mule
which have no understanding; but it understands things which are not seen, for
"hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?"
Verse 4. "I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy
hill." In the Hebrew, the verb is in the future, and is, as Hieronymus translates
it, "I will cry," and "he shall hear;" and this pleases me better than the perfect
tense; for they are the words of one triumphing in, and praising and glorifying
God, and giving thanks unto him who sustained, preserved, and lifted him up,
according as he had hoped in the preceeding verse. For it is usual with those
that triumph and rejoice, to speak of those things which they have done and
suffered, and to sing a song of praise unto their helper and deliverer; as in
Psalm 66:16, "Come, then, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath
Psalm 3 53
done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with
my tongue." And also Psalm 81:1, "Sing aloud unto God our strength." And so
again, Exodus 15:1, "Let us sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed
gloriously." And so here, being filled with an overflowing sense of gratitude
and joy, he sings of his being dead, of his having slept and rose up again, of his
enemies being smitten, and of the teeth of the ungodly being broken. This it is
which causes the change; for he who hitherto had been addressing God in the
second person, changes on a sudden his address to others concerning God, in
the third person, saying, "and he heard me ", not "and thou heardest me;" and
also, "I cried unto the Lord", not, "I cried unto thee," for he wants to make all
know what benefits God has heaped upon him; which is peculiar to a grateful
Verse 5. "I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. "
Christ, by the words of this verse, signifies his death and burial. . . . For it is not
to be supposed that he would have spoken so importantly concerning mere
natural rest and sleep; especially since that which preceeds, and that which
follows, compel us to understand him as speaking of a deep conflict and a
glorious victory over his enemies. By all which things he stirs us up and
animates us to faith in God, and commends unto us the power and grace of
God; that he is able to raise us up from the dead; an example of which he sets
before us, and proclaims it unto us as wrought in himself And this is
shown also farther in his using gentle words, and such as tend wonderfully to
lessen the terror of death. "I laid me down (saith he), and slept." He does not
say, I died, and was buried; for death and the tomb had lost both their name and
their power. And now death is not death, but a sleep; and the tomb not a tomb,
but a bed and resting place; which was the reason why the words of this
prophecy were put somewhat obscurely and doubtfully, that it might by that
means render death most lovely in our eyes (or rather most contemptible), as
being that state from which, as from the sweet rest of sleep, an undoubted
arising and awaking are promised. For who is not most sure of an awaking and
arising, who lies down to rest in a sweet sleep (where death does not prevent)?
This person, however, does not say that he died, but that he laid him down to
sleep, and that therefore he awaked. And moreover, as sleep is useful and
necessary for a better renewal of the powers of the body (as Ambrosius says in
his hymn), and as sleep relieves the weary limbs, so is death also equally
useful, and ordained for the arriving at a better life. And this is what David says
in the following Psalm, "I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest, for
thou, O Lord, in a singular manner hast formed me in hope." Therefore, in
considering death, we are not so much to consider death itself, as that most
certain life and resurrection which are sure to those who are in Christ; that
Psalm 3 54
those words (John 8:51) might be fulfilled, "If a man keep my sayings, he shall
never see death." But how is it that he shall never see it? Shall he not feel it?
Shall he not die? No! he shall only see sleep, for, having the eyes of his faith
fixed upon the resurrection, he so glides through death, that he does not even
see death; for death, as I have said, is to him no death at all. And hence, there is
that also of John 11:25, "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet
shall he live."
Verse 7. "For thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheekbone; thou hast
broken the teeth of the ungodly." Hieronymus uses this metaphor of "cheek
bones", and "teeth", to represent cutting words, detractions, calumnies, and
other injuries of the same kind, by which the innocent are oppressed: according
to that of Proverbs 30:14, "There is a generation whose teeth are as swords, and
their jaw-teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy
from among men." It was by these that Christ was devoured, when, before
Pilate, he was condemned to the cross by the voices and accusations of his
enemies. And hence it is that the apostle saith (Galatians 5:15), "But if ye bite
and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
Verse 8. "Salvation is of the Lord, and thy blessing is upon thy people." A most
beautiful conclusion this, and, as it were, the sum of all the feelings spoken of.
The sense is, it is the Lord alone that saves and blesses: and even though the
whole mass of all evils should be gathered together in one against a man, still,
it is the Lord who saves: salvation and blessing are in his hands. What then
shall I fear? What shall I not promise myself? When I know that no one can be
destroyed, no one reviled, without the permission of God, even though all
should rise up to curse and to destroy; and that no one of them can be blessed
and saved without the permission of God, how much soever they may bless and
strive to save themselves. And as Gregory Nazianzen says, "Where God gives,
envy can avail nothing; and where God does not give, labour can avail
nothing." And in the same way also Paul saith (Romans 8:31), "If God be for
us, who can be against us?" And so, on the contrary, if God be against them,
who can be for them? And why? Because "salvation is of the Lord," and not of
them, nor of us, for "vain is the help of man." Martin Luther.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. The saint telling his griefs to his God.
(1) His right to do so.
(2) The proper manner of telling them.
(3) The fair results of such holy communications with the Lord.
Psalm 3 55
When may we expect increased troubles? Why are they sent? What is our
wisdom in reference to them?
Verse 2. The lie against the saint and the libel upon his God.
Verse 3. The threefold blessing which God affords to his suffering ones—
Defence, Honour, Joy. Show how all these may be enjoyed by faith, even in our
(1) In dangers we should pray.
(2) God will graciously hear.
(3) We should record his answers of grace.
(4) We may strengthen ourselves for the future by remembering the
deliverances of the past.
(1) Describe sweet sleeping.
(2) Describe happy waking.
(3) Show how both are to be enjoyed, "for the Lord sustained me."
Verse 6. Faith surrounded by enemies and yet triumphant.
(1) Describe the Lord's past dealing with his enemies; "thou hast."
(2) Show that the Lord should be our constant resort, "O Lord," "O my
(3) Enlarge upon the fact that the Lord is to be stirred up: "Arise."
(4) Urge believers to use the Lord's past victories as an argument with
which to prevail with him.
Verse 7. (last clause). Our enemies vanquished foes, toothless lions.
Verse 8. (first clause). Salvation of God from first to last. (See the exposition.)
Verse 8. (last clause). They were blessed in Christ, through Christ, and shall be
blessed with Christ. The blessing rests upon their persons, comforts, trials,
labours, families, etc. It flows from grace, is enjoyed by faith, and is insured by
oath, etc. James Smith's Portions, 1802-1862.
Psalm 4 56
Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. This Psalm is apparently intended to accompany the third, and make a pair with it. If the last may
be entitled THE MORNING PSALM, this from its matter is equally deserving of the title of THE
EVENING HYMN. May the choice words of the 8th verse be our sweet song of rest as we retire to our
"Thus with my thoughts composed to peace,
I'll give mine eyes to sleep;
Thy hand in safety keeps my days,
And will my slumbers keep."
The Inspired title runs thus: "To the chief Musician on Neginoth, a Psalm of David." The chief
musician was the master or director of the sacred music of the sanctuary. Concerning this person carefully
read 1 Chronicles 6:31, 32; 15:16-22; 25: 1, 7. In these passages will be found much that is interesting to
the lover of sacred song, and very much that will throw a light upon the mode of praising God in the
temple. Some of the titles of the Psalms are, we doubt not, derived from the names of certain renowned
singers, who composed the music to which they were set.
On Neginoth, that is, on stringed instruments, or hand instruments, which were played on with the
hand alone, as harps and cymbals. The joy of the Jewish church was so great that they needed music to set
forth the delightful feelings of their souls. Our holy mirth is none the less overflowing because we prefer to
express it in a more spiritual manner, as becometh a more spiritual dispensation. In allusion to these
instruments to be played on with the hand, Nazianzen says, "Lord, I am an instrument for thee to touch."
Let us lay ourselves open to the Spirit's touch, so shall we make melody. May we be full of faith and love,
and we shall be living instruments of music.
Hawker says: "The Septuagint read the word which we have rendered in our translation chief
musician Lamenetz, instead of Lamenetzoth, the meaning of which is unto the end. From whence the Greek
and Latin fathers imagined, that all psalms which bear this inscription refer to the Messiah, the great end.
If so, this Psalm is addressed to Christ; and well it may, for it is all of Christ, and spoken by Christ, and
hath respect only to his people as being one with Christ. The Lord the Spirit give the reader to see this, and
he will find it most blessed.
DIVISION. In the first verse David pleads with God for help. In the second he expostulates with his
enemies, and continues to address them to the end of verse 5. Then from verse 6 to the close he delightfully
contrasts his own satisfaction and safety with the disquietude of the ungodly in their best estate. The Psalm
was most probably written upon the same occasion as the preceeding, and is another choice flower from
the garden of affliction. Happy is it for us that David was tried, or probably we should never have heard
these sweet sonnets of faith.
Verse 1. This is another instance of David's common habit of pleading past
mercies as a ground for present favour. Here he reviews his Ebenezers and
takes comfort from them. It is not to be imagined that he who has helped us in
six troubles will leave us in the seventh. God does nothing by halves, and he
will never cease to help us until we cease to need. The manna shall fall every
until we cross the
Psalm 4 57
Observe, that David speaks first to God and then to men. Surely we should
all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God.
He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.
The name by which the Lord is here addressed, "God of my righteousness,"
deserves notice, since it is not used in any other part of Scripture. It means,
Thou art the author, the witness, the maintainer, the judge, and the rewarder of
my righteousness; to thee I appeal from the calumnies and harsh judgments of
men. Herein is wisdom, let us imitate it and always take our suit, not to the
petty courts of human opinion, but into the superior court, the King's Bench of
"Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." A figure taken from an
army enclosed in a defile, and hardly pressed by the surrounding enemy. God
hath dashed down the rocks and given me room; he hath broken the barriers
and set me in a large place. Or, we may understand it thus:— "God hath
enlarged my heart with joy and comfort, when I was like a man imprisoned by
grief and sorrow." God is a never-failing comforter.]
"Have mercy upon me. " Though thou mayest justly permit my enemies to
destroy me, on account of my many and great sins, yet I flee to thy mercy, and I
beseech thee hear my prayer, and bring thy servant out of his troubles. The best
of men need mercy as truly as the worst of men. All the deliverances of saints,
as well as the pardons of sinners, are the free gifts of heavenly grace.
Verse 2. In this second division of the Psalm, we are led from the closet of
prayer into the field of conflict. Remark the undaunted courage of the man of
God. He allows that his enemies are great men (for such is the import of the
Hebrew words translated—sons of men), but still he believes them to be foolish
men, and therefore chides them, as though they were but children. He tells them
that they love vanity, and seek after leasing, that is, lying, empty fancies, vain
conceits, wicked fabrications. He asks them how long they mean to make his
honour a jest, and his fame a mockery? A little of such mirth is too much, why
need they continue to indulge in it? Had they not been long enough upon the
watch for his halting? Had not repeated disappointments convinced them that
the Lord's anointed was not to be overcome by all their calumnies? Did they
mean to jest their souls into hell, and go on with their laughter until swift
vengeance should turn their merriment into howling? In the contemplation of
their perverse continuance in their vain and lying pursuits, the Psalmist
solemnly pauses and inserts a Selah. Surely we too may stop awhile, and
meditate upon the deep-seated folly of the wicked, their continuance in evil,
and their sure destruction; and we may learn to admire that grace which has
made us to differ, and taught us to love truth, and seek after righteousness.
Psalm 4 58
Verse 3. "But know." Fools will not learn, and therefore they must again and
again be told the same thing, especially when it is such a bitter truth which is to
be taught them, viz.:—the fact that the godly are the chosen of God, and are, by
distinguishing grace, set apart and separated from among men. Election is a
doctrine which unrenewed men cannot endure, but nevertheless, it is a glorious
and well-attested truth, and one which should comfort the tempted believer.
Election is the guarantee of complete salvation, and an argument for success at
the throne of grace. He who chose us for himself will surely hear our prayer.
The Lord's elect shall not be condemned, nor shall their cry be unheard. David
was king by divine decree, and we are the Lord's people in the same manner:
let us tell our enemies to their faces, that they fight against God and destiny,
when they strive to overthrow our souls. O beloved, when you are on your
knees, the fact of your being set apart as God's own peculiar treasure, should
give you courage and inspire you with fervency and faith. "Shall not God
avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him?" Since he chose to
love us he cannot but choose to hear us.
Verse 4. "Tremble and sin not. " How many reverse this counsel and sin but
tremble not. O that men would take the advice of this verse and commune with
their own hearts. Surely a want of thought must be one reason why men are so
mad as to despite Christ and hate their own mercies. O that for once their
passions would be quiet and let them be still, that so in solemn silence they
might review the past, and meditate upon their inevitable doom. Surely a
thinking man might have enough sense to discover the vanity of sin and the
worthlessness of the world. Stay, rash sinner, stay, ere thou take the last leap.
Go to thy bed and think upon thy ways. Ask counsel of thy pillow, and let the
quietude of night instruct thee! Throw not away thy soul for nought! Let reason
speak! Let the clamorous world be still awhile, and let thy poor soul plead with
thee to bethink thyself before thou seal its fate, and ruin it for ever! Selah. O
sinner! pause while I question thee awhile in the words of a sacred poet,—
"Sinner, is thy heart at rest?
Is thy bosom void of fear?
Art thou not by guilt oppress'd?
Speaks not conscience in thine ear?
Can this world afford thee bliss?
Can it chase away thy gloom?
Flattering, false, and vain it is;
Tremble at the worldling's doom!
Psalm 4 59
Think, O sinner, on thy end,
See the judgment-day appear,
Thither must thy spirit wend,
There thy righteous sentence hear.
Wretched, ruin'd, helpless soul,
To a Saviour's blood apply;
He alone can make thee whole,
Fly to Jesus, sinner, fly!"
Verse 5. Provided that the rebels had obeyed the voice of the last verse, they
would now be crying,—"What shall we do to be saved?" And in the present
verse, they are pointed to the sacrifice, and exhorted to trust in the Lord. When
the Jew offered sacrifice righteously, that is, in a spiritual manner, he thereby
set forth the Redeemer, the great sin-atoning Lamb; there is, therefore, the full
gospel in this exhortation of the Psalmist. O sinners, flee ye to the sacrifice of
men is the LORD JEHOVAH.
Verse 6. We have now entered upon the third division of the Psalm, in which
the faith of the afflicted one finds utterance in sweet expressions of
contentment and peace.
There were many, even among David's own followers, who wanted to see
rather than to believe. Alas! this is the tendency of us all! Even the regenerate
sometimes groan after the sense and sight of prosperity, and are sad when
darkness covers all good from view. As for worldlings, this is their unceasing
cry. "Who will shew us any good?" Never satisfied, their gaping mouths are
turned in every direction, their empty hearts are ready to drink in any fine
delusion which impostors may invent; and when these fail, they soon yield to
despair, and declare that there is no good thing in either heaven or earth. The
true believer is a man of a very different mould. His face is not downward like
the beasts', but upward like the angels'. He drinks not from the muddy pools of
Mammon, but from the fountain of life above. The light of God's countenance
is enough for him. This is his riches, his honour, his health, his ambition, his
ease. Give him this, and he will ask no more. This is joy unspeakable, and full
of glory. Oh, for more of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that our fellowship
with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ may be constant and abiding!
Verse 7. "It is better," said one, "to feel God's favour one hour in our repenting
souls, that to sit whole ages under the warmest sunshine that this world
affordeth." Christ in the heart is better than corn in the barn, or wine in the vat.
Corn and wine are but fruits of the world, but the light of God's countenance is
Psalm 4 60
the ripe fruit of heaven. "Thou art with me," is a far more blessed cry than
"Harvest home." Let my granary be empty, I am yet full of blessings if Jesus
Christ smiles upon me; but if I have all the world, I am poor without him.
We should not fail to remark that this verse is the saying of the righteous
man, in opposition to the saying of the many. How quickly doth the tongue
betray the character! "Speak, that I may see thee!" said Socrates to a fair boy.
The metal of a bell is best known by its sound. Birds reveal their nature by their
song. Owls cannot sing the carol of the lark, nor can the nightingale hoot like
the owl. Let us, then, weigh and watch our words, lest our speech should prove
to be foreigners, and aliens from the
Verse 8. Sweet Evening Hymn! I shall not sit up to watch through fear, but I
will lie down; and then I will not lie awake listening to every rustling sound,
but I will lie down in peace and sleep, for I have nought to fear. He that hath
the wings of God above him needs no other curtain. Better than bolts or bars is
the protection of the Lord. Armed men kept the bed of Solomon, but we do not
believe that he slept more soundly than his father, whose bed was the hard
ground, and who was haunted by blood-thirsty foes. Note the word "only",
which means that God alone was his keeper, and that though alone, without
man's help, he was even then in good keeping, for he was "alone with God." A
quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. How many of our sleepless hours might
be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds. They slumber sweetly whom
faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an
assured interest in Christ.
O Lord, give us this calm repose on thee, that like David we may lie down
in peace, and sleep each night while we live; and joyfully may we lie down in
the appointed season, to sleep in death, to rest in God!
Dr. Hawker's reflection upon this Psalm is worthy to be prayed over and
fed upon with sacred delight. We cannot help transcribing it.
"Reader! let us never lose sight of the Lord Jesus while reading this Psalm.
He is the Lord our righteousness; and therefore, in all our approaches to the
mercy seat, let us go there in a language corresponding to this which calls Jesus
the Lord our righteousness. While men of the world, from the world are
seeking their chief good, let us desire his favour which infinitely transcends
corn and wine, and all the good things which perish in the using. Yes, Lord, thy
favour is better than life itself. Thou causest them that love thee to inherit
substance, and fillest all their treasure.
"Oh! thou gracious God and Father, hast thou in such a wonderful manner
set apart one in our nature for thyself? Hast thou indeed chosen one out of the
people? Hast thou beheld him in the purity of his nature,—as one in every point
Godly? Hast thou given him as the covenant of the people? And hast thou
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declared thyself well pleased in him? Oh! then, well may my soul be well
pleased in him also. Now do I know that my God and Father will hear me when
I call upon him in Jesus' name, and when I look up to him for acceptance for
Jesus' sake! Yes, my heart is fixed, O Lord, my heart is fixed; Jesus is my hope
and righteousness; the Lord will hear me when I call. And henceforth will I
both lay me down in peace and sleep securely in Jesus, accepted in the
Beloved; for this is the rest wherewith the Lord causeth the weary to rest, and
this is the refreshing."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 1. "Hear me when I call," etc. Faith is a good orator and a noble disputer
in a strait; it can reason from God's readiness to hear: "Hear me when I call, O
God. " And from the everlasting righteousness given to the man in the
justification of his person: "O God of my righteousness." And from God's
constant justice in defending the righteousness of his servant's cause: "O God of
my righteousness." And from both present distresses and those that are by-past,
wherein he hath been, and from by-gone mercies received: "Thou hast enlarged
me when I was in distress." And from God's grace, which is able to answer all
objections from the man's unworthiness or ill-deserving: "Have mercy upon me,
and hear my prayer." David Dickson, 1653.
Verse 1. "Hear me. " The great Author of nature and of all things does nothing
in vain. He instituted not this law, and, if I may so express it, art of praying, as
a vain and insufficient thing, but endows it with wonderful efficacy for
producing the greatest and happiest consequences. He would have it to be the
key by which all the treasures of heaven should be opened. He has constructed
it as a powerful machine, by which we may, with easy and pleasant labour,
remove from us the most dire and unhappy machinations of our enemy, and
may with equal ease draw to ourselves what is most propitious and
advantageous. Heaven and earth, and all the elements, obey and minister to the
hands which are often lifted up to heaven in earnest prayer. Yea, all works, and,
which is yet more and greater, all the words of God obey it. Well known in the
sacred Scriptures are the examples of Moses and Joshua, and that which James
(5:17) particularly mentions of Elijah, whom he expressly calls æotoäns, a man
subject to like infirmities with ourselves, that he might illustrate the admirable
force of prayer, by the common and human weakness of the person by whom it
was offered. And that Christian legion under Antonius is well known and justly
celebrated, which for the singular ardour and efficacy of its prayers, obtained
the name of keraunoboloz, the thundering legion. Robert Leighton, D.D.,
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Verse 2. "O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how
long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. " Prayer soars above the
violence and impiety of men, and with a swift wing commits itself to heaven,
with happy omen, if I may allude to what the learned tell us of the augury of the
ancients, which I shall not minutely discuss. Fervent prayers stretch forth a
strong, wide-extended wing, and while the birds of night hover beneath, they
mount aloft, and point out, as it were, the proper seats to which we should
aspire. For certainly there is nothing that cuts the air so swiftly, nothing that
takes so sublime, so happy, so auspicious a flight as prayer, which bears the
soul on its pinions, and leaves far behind all the dangers, and even the delights
of this low world of ours. Behold this holy man, who just before was crying to
God in the midst of distress, and with urgent importunity entreating that he
might be heard, now, as if he were already possessed of all he had asked, taking
upon him boldly to rebuke his enemies, how highly soever they were exalted,
and how potent soever they might be even in the royal palace. Robert Leighton,
Verse 2. "O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?" etc.
We might imagine every syllable of this precious Psalm used by our Master
some evening, when about to leave the temple for the day, and retiring to his
wonted rest at Bethany (v. 8), after another fruitless expostulation with the men
of Israel. And we may read it still as the very utterance of his heart, longing
over man, and delighting in God. But, further, not only is this the utterance of
the Head, it is also the language of one of his members in full sympathy with
him in holy feeling. This is a Psalm with which the righteous may make their
dwellings resound, morning and evening, as they cast a sad look over a world
that rejects God's grace. They may sing it while they cling more and more
every day to Jehovah, as their all-sufficient heritage, now and in the age to
come. They may sing it, too, in the happy confidence of faith and hope, when
the evening of the world's day is coming, and may then fall asleep in the
certainty of what shall greet their eyes on the resurrection morning—
"Sleeping embosomed in his grace,
Till morning-shadows flee.
Andrew A. Bonar, 1859
Verse 2. "Love vanity." They that love sin, love vanity; they chase a bubble,
they lean upon a reed, their hope is as a spider's web.
"Leasing." This is an old Saxon word signifying falsehood.
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Verse 2. "How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?" "Vanity of
vanities, and all is vanity." This our first parents found, and therefore named
their second son Abel, or vanity. Solomon, that had tried these things, and
could best tell the vanity of them, he preacheth this sermon over again and
again. "Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity." It is sad to think how many
thousands there be that can say with the preacher, "Vanity of vanities, all is
vanity;" nay, swear it, and yet follow after these things as if there were no other
glory, nor felicity, but what is to be found in these things they call vanity. Such
men will sell Christ, heaven, and their souls, for a trifle, that call these things
vanity, but do not cordially believe them to be vanity, but set their hearts upon
them as if they were their crown, the top of all their royalty and glory. Oh! let
your souls dwell upon the vanity of all things here below, till your hearts so
thoroughly convinced and persuaded of the vanity of them, as to trample upon
them, and make them a footstool for Christ to get up, and ride in a holy triumph
in your hearts.
Gilemex, king of Vandals, led in triumph by Belisarius, cried out, "Vanity
of vanities, all is vanity." The fancy of Lucian, who placeth Charon on the top
of a high hill, viewing all the affairs of men living, and looking on their greatest
cities as little bird's nests, is very pleasant. Oh, the imperfection, the
ingratitude, the levity, the inconstancy, the perfidiousness of those creatures we
most servilely affect! Ah, did we but weigh man's pain with his payment, his
crosses with his mercies, his miseries with his pleasures, we should then see
that there is nothing got by the bargain, and conclude, "Vanity of vanities, all is
vanity." Chrysostom said once, "That if he were the fittest in the world to
preach a sermon to the whole world, gathered together in one congregation, and
had some high mountain for his pulpit, from whence he might have a prospect
of all the world in his view, and were furnished with a voice of brass, a voice as
loud as the trumpets of the archangel, that all the world might hear him, he
would choose to preach upon no other text than that in the Psalms, O mortal
men, 'How long will ye love vanity, and follow after leasing?'" Thomas Brooks,
Verse 2. "Love vanity." Men's affections are according to their principles; and
every one loves that most without him which is most suitable to somewhat
within him: liking is founded in likeness, and has therefore that word put upon
it. It is so in whatsoever we can imagine; whether in temporals or spirituals, as
to the things of this life, or of a better. Men's love is according to some working
and impression upon their own spirits. And so it is here in the point of vanity;
those which are vain persons, they delight in vain things; as children, they love
such matters as are most agreeable to their childish dispositions, and as do suit
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them in that particular. Out of the heart comes all kind of evil. Thomas Horton,
Verse 3. "The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself." When God
chooseth a man, he chooseth him for himself; for himself to converse with, to
communicate himself unto him as a friend, a companion, and his delight. Now,
it is holiness that makes us fit to live with the holy God for ever, since without
it we cannot see him (Hebrews 12:14), which is God's main aim, and more than
our being his children; as one must be supposed a man, one of mankind, having
a soul reasonable, ere we can suppose him capable of adoption, or to be another
man's heir. As therefore it was the main first design in God's eye, before the
consideration of our happiness, let it be so in ours. Thomas Goodwin, 1600-
Verse 3. What rare persons the godly are: "The righteous is more excellent than
his neighbour." Proverbs 12:26. As the flower of the sun, as the wine of
Lebanon, as the sparkling upon Aaron's breastplate, such is the orient splendour
of a person embellished with godliness The godly are precious,
therefore they are set apart for God, "Know that the Lord hath set apart him
that is godly for himself." We set apart things that are precious; the godly are
set apart as God's peculiar treasure (Psalm 135:4); as his garden of delight
(Canticles 4:12); as his royal diadem (Isaiah 43:3); the godly are the excellent
of the earth (Psalm 16:3); comparable to fine gold (Lamentations 4:2); double
refined (Zechariah 13:9). They are the glory of the creation. (Isaiah 46:13).
Origen compares the saints to sapphires and crystals: God calls them jewels
(Malachi 3:17). Thomas Watson.
Verse 3. "The Lord will hear when I call unto him. " Let us remember that the
experience of one of the saints concerning the verity of God's promises, and of
the certainty of the written privileges of the Lord's people, is a sufficient proof
of the right which all his children have to the same mercies, and a ground of
hope that they also shall partake of them in their times of need. David Dickson,
Verse 4. "Stand in awe and sin not. " Jehovah is a name of great power and
efficacy, a name that hath in it five vowels, without which no language can be
expressed; a name that hath in it also three syllables, to signify the Trinity of
persons, the eternity of God, One in Three and Three in One; a name of such
dread and reverence amongst the Jews, that they tremble to name it, and
therefore they use the name Adonai (Lord) in all their devotions. And thus
ought every one to "stand in awe, and sin not, " by taking the name of God in
vain; but to sing praise, and honour, to remember, to declare, to exalt, to praise
Psalm 4 65
and bless it; for holy and reverend, only worthy and excellent is his name.
Verse 4. "Commune with your own heart." The language is similar to that
which we use when we say, "Consult your better judgment," or "Take counsel
of your own good sense." Albert Barnes, in loc.
Verse 4. If thou wouldst exercise thyself to godliness in solitude, accustom
thyself to soliloquies, I mean to conference with thyself. He needs never be idle
that hath so much business to do with his own soul. It was a famous answer
which Antisthenes gave when he was asked what fruit he reaped by all his
studies. By them, saith he, I have learned both to live and talk with myself.
Soliloquies are the best disputes; every good man is best company for himself
of all the creatures. Holy David enjoineth this to others, "Commune with your
own hearts upon your bed, and be still." "Commune with your own hearts;"
when ye have none to speak with, talk to yourselves. Ask yourselves for what
end ye were made, what lives ye have led, what times ye have lost, what love
ye have abused, what wrath ye have deserved. Call yourselves to a reckoning,
how ye have improved your talents, how true or false ye have been to your
trust, what provision ye have laid in for an hour of death, what preparation ye
have made for a great day of account. "Upon your beds." Secrecy is the best
opportunity for this duty. The silent night is a good time for this speech. When
we have no outward objects to disturb us, and to call our eyes, as the fools' eyes
are always, to the ends of the earth; then our eyes, as the eyes of the wise, may
be in our heads; and then our minds, like the windows in Solomon's temple,
may be broad inwards. The most successful searches have been made in the
night season; the soul is then wholly shut up in the earthly house of the body,
and hath no visits from strangers to disquiet its thoughts. Physicians have
judged dreams a probable sign whereby they might find out the distempers of
the body. Surely, then, the bed is no bad place to examine and search into the
state of the soul. "And be still." Self-communion will much help to curb your
headstrong, ungodly passions. Serious consideration, like the casting up of
earth amongst bees, will allay inordinate affections when they are full of fury,
and make such a hideous noise. Though sensual appetites and unruly desires
are, as the people of Ephesus, in an uproar, pleading for their former privilege,
and expecting their wonted provisions, as in the days of their predominancy, if
conscience use its authority, commanding them in God's name, whose officer it
is, to keep the king's peace, and argue it with them, as the town-clerk of
Ephesus, "We are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there
being no cause whereby we may give an account of this day's concourse;" all is
Psalm 4 66
frequently by this means hushed, and the tumult appeased without any further
mischief. George Swinnock, 1627 - 1673.
Verse 4. "Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still." When
we are most retired from the world, then we are most fit to have, and usually
have, most communion with God. If a man would but abridge himself of sleep,
and wake with holy thoughts, when deep sleep falleth upon sorrowful labouring
men, he might be entertained with visions from God, though not such visions as
Eliphaz and others of the saints have had, yet visions he might have. Every time
God communicates himself to the soul, there is a vision of love, or mercy, or
power, somewhat of God in his nature, or in his will, is showed unto us. David
shows us divine work when we go to rest. The bed is not all for sleep:
"Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still." Be still or quiet,
and then commune with your hearts; and if you will commune with your hearts,
God will come and commune with your hearts, too, his Spirit will give you a
loving visit and visions of his love. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 4. "Stand in awe. "
With sacred awe pronounce his name,
Whom words nor thoughts can reach.
John Needham, 1768.
Verse 6. Where Christ reveals himself there is satisfaction in the slenderest
portion, and without Christ there is emptiness in the greatest fullness.
Alexander Grosse, on enjoying Christ, 1632.
Verse 6. "Many," said David. "ask who will shew us any good?" meaning
riches, and honour, and pleasure, which are not good. But when he came to
godliness itself, he leaves out "many," and prayeth in his own person, "Lord,
lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us; " as if none would join with
him. Henry Smith.
Verse 6. "Who will shew us any good?" This is not a fair translation. The word
any is not in the text, nor anything equivalent to it; and not a few have quoted
it, and preached upon the text, placing the principal emphasis upon this
illegitimate. The place is sufficiently emphatic. There are multitudes who say,
Who will shew us good? Man wants good; he hates evil as evil, because he has
pain, suffering, and death through it; and he wishes to find that supreme good
which will content his heart, and save him from evil. But men mistake this
good. They look for a good that is to gratify their passions; they have no notion
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of any happiness that does not come to them through the medium of their
senses. Therefore they reject spiritual good, and they reject the Supreme God,
by whom alone all the powers of the soul of man can be gratified. Adam
Verse 6. "Lift thou up, " etc. This was the blessing of the high priest and is the
heritage of all the saints. It includes reconciliation, assurance, communion,
benediction, in a word, the fulness of God. Oh, to be filled therewith! C. H. S.
Verses 6, 7. Lest riches should be accounted evil in themselves, God sometimes
gives them to the righteous; and lest they should be considered as the chief
good, he frequently bestows them on the wicked. But they are more generally
the portion of his enemies than his friends. Alas! what is it to receive and not be
received? to have none other dews of blessing than such as shall be followed by
showers of brimstone? We may compass ourselves with sparks of security, and
afterwards be secrures in eternal misery. This world is a floating island, and so
sure as we cast anchor upon it, we shall be carried away by it. God, and all that
he has made, is not more than God without anything that he has made. He can
never want treasure who has such a golden mine. He is enough without the
creature, but the creature is not anything without him. It is, therefore, better to
enjoy him without anything else, than to enjoy everything else without him. It
is better to be a wooden vessel filled with wine, than a golden one filled with
water. William Secker's Nonsuch Professor, 1660.
Verse 7. What madness and folly is it that the favourites of heaven should envy
the men of the world, who at best do but feed upon the scraps that come from
God's table! Temporals are the bones; spirituals are the marrow. Is it below a
man to envy the dogs, because of the bones? And is it not much more below a
Christian to envy others for temporals, when himself enjoys spirituals? Thomas
Verse 7. "Thou hast put gladness in my heart." The comforts which God
reserves for his mourners are filling comforts (Romans 15:13); "The God of
hope fill you with joy" (John 16:24); "Ask that your joy may be full." When
God pours in the joys of heaven they fill the heart, and make it run over (2
Corinthians 7:4); "I am exceeding joyful;" the Greek is, I overflow with joy, as
a cup that is filled with wine till it runs over. Outward comforts can no more fill
the heart than a triangle can fill a circle. Spiritual joys are satisfying (Psalm
63:5); "My heart shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth
shall praise thee with joyful lips;" "Thou hast put gladness in my heart."
Worldly joys do put gladness into the face, but the spirit of God puts gladness
into the heart; divine joys are heart joys (Zechariah 10:7; John 16:22); "Your
Psalm 4 68
heart shall rejoice" (Luke 1:47); "My spirit rejoiced in God." And to show how
filling these comforts are, which are of a heavenly extraction, the psalmist says
they create greater joy than when "corn and wine increase." Wine and oil may
delight but not satisfy; they have their vacuity and indigence. We may say, as
Zechariah 10:2, "They comfort in vain;" outward comforts do sooner cloy than
cheer, and sooner weary that fill. Xerxes offered great rewards to him that
could find out a new pleasure; but the comforts of the Spirit are satisfactory,
they recruit the heart (Psalm 94:19), "Thy comforts delight my soul." There is
as much difference between heavenly comforts and earthly, as between a
banquet that is eaten, and one that is painted on the wall. Thomas Watson.
Verse 8. It is said of the husbandman, that having cast his seed into the ground,
he sleeps and riseth day and night, and the seed springs and grows he knoweth
not how. Mark 4:26,27. So a good man having by faith and prayer cast his care
upon God, he resteth night and day, and is very easy, leaving it to his God to
perform all things for him according to his holy will. Matthew Henry.
Verse 8. When you have walked with God from morning until night, it
remaineth that you conclude the day well, when you would give yourself to rest
at night. Wherefore, first, look back and take a strict view of your whole
carriage that day past. Reform what you find amiss; and rejoice, or be grieved,
as you find you have done well or ill, as you have advanced or declined in
grace that day. Secondly, since you cannot sleep in safety if God, who is your
keeper (Psalm 121:4, 5), do not wake and watch for you (Psalm 127:1); and
though you have God to watch when you sleep, you cannot be safe, if he that
watcheth be your enemy. Wherefore it is very convenient that at night you
renew and confirm your peace with God by faith and prayer, commending and
committing yourself to God's tuition by prayer (Psalm 3:4, 5); Psalm 92:2),
with thanksgiving before you go to bed. Then shall you lie down in safety.
Psalm 4:8. All this being done, yet while you are putting off your apparel, when
you are lying down, and when you are in bed, before you sleep, it is good that
you commune with your own heart. Psalm 4:4. If possibly you can fall asleep
with some heavenly meditation, then will your sleep be more sweet (Proverbs
3:21, 24, 25); and more secure (Proverbs 6:21, 22); your dreams fewer, or more
comfortable; your head will be fuller of good thoughts (Proverbs 6:22), and
your heart will be in a better frame when you awake, whether in the night or in
the morning. Condensed from Henry Scudder's Daily Walk, 1633.
Verse 8. "I will both," etc. We have now to retire for a moment from the strife
of tongues and the open hostility of foes, into the stillness and privacy of the
chamber of sleep. Here, also, we find the "I will" of trust. "I will both lay me
down in peace, and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." God
Psalm 4 69
is here revealed to us as exercising personal care in the still chamber. And
there is something here which should be inexpressibly sweet to the believer, for
this shows the minuteness of God's care, the individuality of his love; how it
condescends and stoops, and acts, not only in great, but also in little spheres;
not only where glory might be procured from great results, but where nought is
to be had save the gratitude and love of a poor feeble creature, whose life has
been protected and preserved, in a period of helplessness and sleep. How
blessed would it be if we made larger recognition of God in the still chamber; if
we thought of him as being there in all hours of illness, of weariness, and pain;
if we believed that his interest and care are as much concentrated upon the
feeble believer there as upon his people when in the wider battle field of the
strife of tongues. There is something inexpressibly touching in this "lying
down" of the Psalmist. In thus lying down he voluntarily gave up any
guardianship of himself; he resigned himself into the hands of another; he did
so completely, for in the absence of all care he slept; there was here a perfect
trust. Many a believer lies down, but it is not to sleep. Perhaps he feels safe
enough so far as his body is concerned, but cares and anxieties invade the
privacy of his chamber; they come to try his faith and trust; they threaten, they
frighten, and alas! prove too strong for trust. Many a poor believer might say, "I
will lay me down, but not to sleep." The author met with a touching instance of
this, in the case of an aged minister whom he visited in severe illness. This
worthy man's circumstances were narrow, and his family trials were great; he
said, "The doctor wants me to sleep, but how can I sleep with care sitting on
my pillow?" It is the experience of some of the Lord's people, that although
equal to an emergency or a continued pressure, a re-action sets in afterwards;
and when they come to be alone their spirits sink, and they do not realise that
strength from God, or feel that confidence in him which they felt while the
pressure was exerting its force There is a trial in stillness; and oftentimes
the still chamber makes a larger demand upon loving trust than the battle field.
O that we could trust God more and more with personal things! O that he were
the God of our chamber, as well as of our temples and houses! O that we could
bring him more and more into the minutiae of daily life! If we did thus, we
should experience a measure of rest to which we are, perhaps, strangers now;
we should have less dread of the sick chamber; we should have that unharassed
mind which conduces most to repose, in body and soul; we should be able to
say, "I will lie down and sleep, and leave to-morrow with God!" Ridley's
brother offered to remain with him during the night preceeding his martyrdom,
but the bishop declined, saying, that "he meant to go to bed, and sleep as
quietly as ever he did in his life." Philip Bennett Power's 'I Wills' of the Psalms.
Psalm 4 70
Verse 8. Due observation of Providence will both beget and secure inward
tranquillity in your minds amidst the vicissitudes and revolutions of things in
this unstable vain world. "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for the
Lord only maketh me dwell in safety." He resolves that sinful fears of events
shall not rob him of his inward quiet, nor torture his thoughts with anxious
presages; he will commit all his concerns into that faithful fatherly hand that
had hitherto wrought all things for him; and he means not to lose the comfort of
one night's rest, nor bring the evil of to-morrow upon the day; but knowing in
whose hand he was, wisely enjoys the sweet felicity of a resigned will. Now
this tranquillity of our minds is as much begotten and preserved by a due
consideration of providence as by anything whatsoever. John Flavel, 1627 -
Verse 8. Happy is the Christian, who having nightly with this verse, committed
himself to his bed as to his grave, shall at last, with the same words, resign
himself to his grave as to his bed, from which he expects in due time to arise,
and sing a morning hymn with the children of the resurrection. George Horne,
Verse 8. "Sleep,"
"How blessed was that sleep
The sinless Saviour knew!
In vain the storm-sinds blew,
Till he awoke to others woes,
And hushed the billows to repose.
How beautiful is sleep—
The sleep that Christians know!
Ye mourners! cease your woe,
While soft upon his Saviour's breast,
The righteous sinks to endless rest."
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Is full of matter for a sermon upon, past mercies a plea for present
help. The first sentence shows that believers desire, expect, and believe in a
God that heareth prayer. The title— God of my righteousness, may furnish a
text (see exposition), and the last sentence may suggest a sermon upon, "The
best of saints must still appeal to God's mercy and sovereign grace."
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Verse 2. Depravity of man as evinced
(1) by continuance in despising Christ,
(2) by loving vanity in his heart, and
(3) seeking lies in his daily life.
Verse 2. The length of the sinner's sin. "How long?" May be bounded by
repentance, shall be by death, and yet shall continue in eternity.
Verse 3. Election. Its aspects toward God, our enemies, and ourselves.
Verse 3. "The Lord will hear when I call unto him. " Answers to prayer certain
to special persons. Mark out those who can claim the favour.
Verse 3. The gracious Separatist. Who is he? Who separated him? With what
end? How to make men know it?
Verse 4. The sinner directed to review himself, that he may be convinced of sin.
Andrew Fuller, 1754-1815.
Verse 4. "Be still." Advice—good, practical, but hard to follow. Times when
seasonable. Graces needed to enable one to be still. Results of quietness.
Persons who most need the advice. Instances of its practice. here is much
material for a sermon.
Verse 5. The nature of those sacrifices of righteousness which the Lord's people
are expected to offer. William Ford Vance, 1827.
Verse 6. The cry of the world and the church contrasted. Vox populi not always
Verse 6. The cravings of the soul all satisfied in God.
Verses 6, 7. An assurance of the Saviour's love, the source of unrivalled joy.
Verse 7. The believer's joys.
(1) Their source, "Thou;"
(2) Their season—even now—"Thou hast;"
(3) Their position, "in my heart;"
(4) Their excellence, "more than in the time that their corn and their wine
Another excellent theme suggests itself— "The superiority of the joys of
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grace to the joys of earth;" or, "Two sorts of prosperity—which is to be the
Verse 8. The peace and safety of the good man. Joseph Lathrop, D.D., 1805.
Verse 8. A bedchamber for believers, a vesper song to sing in it, and a guard to
keep the door.
Verse 8. The Christian's good night.
Verses 2 to 8. The means which a believer should use to win the ungodly to
(1) Expostulation, verse 2.
(2) Instruction, verse 3.
(3) Exhortation, verses 4, 5.
(4) Testimony to the blessedness of true religion as in verses 6, 7.
(5) Exemplification of that testimony by the peace of faith, verse 8.
WORKS UPON THE FOURTH PSALM
Choice and Practical Expositions on four select Psalms: namely, the Fourth
Psalm, in eight Sermons, etc. By THOMAS HORTON, D.D. 1675
Meditations, Critical and Practical, on Psalm IV., in Archbishop Leighton's
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Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. "To the Chief Musician upon Nehiloth, a Psalm of David." The Hebrew word Nehiloth is taken
from another word, signifying "to perforate;" "to bore through," whence it comes to mean a pipe or a flute;
so that this song was probably intended to be sung with an accompaniment of wind instruments, such as the
horn, the trumpet, flute, or cornet. However, it is proper to remark that we are not sure of the
interpretation of these ancient titles, for the Septuagint translates it, "For him who shall obtain
inheritance," and Aben Ezra thinks it denotes some old and well known melody to which this Psalm was to
be played. The best scholars confess that great darkness hangs over the precise interpretation of the title;
nor is this much to be regretted, for it furnishes an internal evidence of the great antiquity of the Book.
Throughout the first, second, third, and forth Psalms, you will have noticed that the subject is a contrast
between the position, the character, and the prospects of the righteous and of the wicked. In this Psalm you
will note the same. The Psalmist carries out a contrast between himself made righteous by God's grace,
and the wicked who opposed him. To the devout mind there is here presented a precious view of the Lord
Jesus, of whom it is said that in the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications with strong
crying and tears.
DIVISION. The Psalm should be divided into two parts, from the first to the seventh verse, and then from
the eighth to the twelfth. In the first part of the Psalm David most vehemently beseeches the Lord to
hearken to his prayer, and in the second part he retraces the same ground.
Verse 1. There are two sorts of prayers—those expressed in words, and the
unuttered longings which abide as silent meditations. Words are not the essence
but the garments of prayer. Moses at the Red Sea cried to God, though he said
nothing. Yet the use of language may prevent distraction of mind, may assist
the powers of the soul, and may excite devotion. David, we observe, uses both
modes of prayer, and craves for the one a hearing, and for the other a
consideration. What an expressive word! "Consider my meditation." If I have
asked that which is right, give it to me; if I have omitted to ask that which I
most needed, fill up the vacancy in my prayer. "Consider my meditation." Let
thy holy soul consider it as presented through my all-glorious Mediator: then
regard thou it in thy wisdom, weigh it in the scales, judge thou of my sincerity,
and of the true state of my necessities, and answer me in due time for thy
mercy's sake! There may be prevailing intercession where there are no words;
and alas! there may be words where there is no true supplication. Let us
cultivate the spirit of prayer which is even better than the habit of prayer. There
may be seeming prayer where there is little devotion. We should begin to pray
before we kneel down, and we should not cease when we rise up.
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Verse 2. "The voice of my cry. " In another Psalm we find the expression, "The
voice of my weeping." Weeping has a voice—a melting, plaintive tone, an ear-
piercing shrillness, which reaches the very heart of God; and crying hath a
voice—a soul-moving eloquence; coming from our heart it reaches God's heart.
Ah! my brothers and sisters, sometimes we cannot put our prayers into words:
they are nothing but a cry: but the Lord can comprehend the meaning, for he
hears a voice in our cry. To a loving father his children's cries are music, and
they have a magic influence which his heart cannot resist. "My King, and my
God. " Observe carefully these little pronouns, "my King, and my God." They
are the pith and marrow of the plea. Here is a grand argument why God should
answer prayer—because he is our King and our God. We are not aliens to him:
he is the King of our country. Kings are expected to hear the appeals of their
own people. We are not strangers to him; we are his worshippers, and he is our
God: ours by covenant, by promise, by oath, by blood.
"For unto thee will I pray." Here David expresses his declaration that he
will seek to God, and to God alone. God is to be the only object of worship: the
only resource of our soul in times of need. Leave broken cisterns to the godless,
and let the godly drink from the Divine fountain alone. "Unto thee will I pray."
He makes a resolution, that as long as he lived he would pray. He would never
cease to supplicate, even though the answer should not come.
Verse 3. Observe, this is not so much a prayer as a resolution, "'My voice shalt
thou hear;' I will not be dumb, I will not be silent, I will not withhold my
speech, I will cry to thee for the fire that dwells within compels me to pray."
We can sooner die than live without prayer. None of God's children are
possessed with a dumb devil.
"In the morning." This is the fittest time for intercourse with God. An hour
in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let
grace drop upon the soul. Let us give to God the mornings of our days and the
morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the
night. Devotion should be both the morning star and the evening star.
If we merely read our English version, and want an explanation of these
two sentences, we find it in the figure of an archer, "I will direct my prayer
unto thee," I will put my prayer upon the bow, I will direct it towards heaven,
and then when I have shot up my arrow, I will look up to see where it has gone.
But the Hebrew has a still fuller meaning than this—"I will direct my prayer."
It is the word that is used for the laying in order of the wood and the pieces of
the victim upon the altar, and it is used also for the putting of the shewbread
upon the table. It means just this: "I will arrange my prayer before thee;" I will
lay it out upon the altar in the morning, just as the priest lays out the morning
sacrifice. I will arrange my prayer; or, as old Master Trapp has it, "I will
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marshall up my prayers," I will put them in order, call up all my powers, and
bid them stand in their proper places, that I may pray with all my might, and
"And will look up, " or, as the Hebrew might better be translated, "'I will
look out,' I will look out for the answer; after I have prayed, I will expect that
the blessing shall come." It is a word that is used in another place where we
read of those who watched for the morning. So will I watch for thine answer, O
my Lord! I will spread out my prayer like the victim on the altar, and I will
look up, and expect to receive the answer by fire from heaven to consume the
Two questions are suggested by the last part of this verse. Do we not miss
very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful
meditation before it, and of hopeful expectation after it? We too often rush into
the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are like men who
present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that
we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of
meditation always running; for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. It is
idle to pull up the flood-gates of a dry brook, and then hope to see the wheel
revolve. Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer
without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the
Holy Spirit, but he works by means. God made man, but he used the dust of the
earth as a material: the Holy Ghost is the author of prayer, but he employs the
thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let not
our prayers and praises be the flashes of a hot and hasty brain, but the steady
burning of a well-kindled fire.
But, furthermore, do we not forget to watch the result of our supplications?
We are like the ostrich, which lays her eggs and looks not for her young. We
sow the seed, and are too idle to seek a harvest. How can we expect the Lord to
open the windows of his grace, and pour us out a blessing, if we will not open
the windows of expectation and look up for the promised favour? Let holy
preparation link hands with patient expectation, and we shall have far larger
answers to our prayers.
Verse 4. And now the Psalmist having thus expressed his resolution to pray,
you hear him putting up his prayer. He is pleading against his cruel and wicked
enemies. He uses a most mighty argument. He begs of God to put them away
from him, because they were displeasing to God himself. "For thou art not a
God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee."
"When I pray against my tempters," says David, "I pray against the very things
which thou thyself abhorrest." Thou hatest evil: Lord, I beseech thee, deliver
me from it!
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Let us learn here the solemn truth of the hatred which a righteous God must
bear toward sin. He has no pleasure in wickedness, however wittily, grandly,
and proudly it may array itself. Its glitter has no charm for him. Men may bow
before successful villainy, and forget the wickedness of the battle in the
gaudiness of the triumph, but the Lord of Holiness is not such-an-one as we are.
"Neither shall evil dwell with thee." He will not afford it the meanest shelter.
Neither on earth nor in heaven shall evil share the mansion of God. Oh, how
foolish are we if we attempt to entertain two guests so hostile to one another as
Christ Jesus and the devil! Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlour of
our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts.
Verse 5. "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight." Sinners are fools written
large. A little sin is a great folly, and the greatest of all folly is great sin. Such
sinful fools as these must be banished from the court of heaven. Earthly kings
were wont to have fools in their trains, but the only wise God will have no fools
in his palace above. "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." It is not a little
dislike, but a thorough hatred which God bears to workers of iniquity. To be
hated of God is an awful thing. O let us be very faithful in warning the wicked
around us, for it will be a terrible thing for them to fall into the hands of an
Verse 6. Observe, that evil speakers must be punished as well as evil workers,
for "thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing." All liars shall have their
portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. A man may lie
without danger of the law of man, but he will not escape the law of God. Liars
have short wings, their flight shall soon be over, and they shall fall into the
fiery floods of destruction. "The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man."
Bloody men shall be made drunk with their own blood, and they who began by
deceiving others shall end with being deceived themselves. Our old proverb
saith, "Bloody and deceitful men dig their own graves." The voice of the people
is in this instance the voice of God. How forcible is the word abhor! Does it not
show us how powerful and deep-seated is the hatred of the Lord against the
workers of iniquity?
Verse 7. With this verse the first part of the Psalm ends. The Psalmist has bent
his knee in prayer; he has described before God, as an argument for his
deliverance, the character and the fate of the wicked; and now he contrasts this
with the condition of the righteous. "But as for me, I will come into thy house."
I will not stand at a distance, I will come into thy sanctuary, just as a child
comes into his father's house. But I will not come there by my own merits; no, I
have a multitude of sins, and therefore I will come in the multitude of thy
mercy. I will approach thee with confidence because of thy immeasurable
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grace. God's judgments are all numbered, but his mercies are innumerable; he
gives his wrath by weight, but without weight his mercy. "And in thy fear will I
worship toward thy holy temple,"—towards the temple of thy holiness. The
temple was not built on earth at that time; it was but a tabernacle; but David
was wont to turn his eyes spiritually to that temple of God's holiness where
between the wings of the Cherubim Jehovah dwells in light ineffable. Daniel
opened his window toward Jerusalem, but we open our hearts toward heaven.
Verse 8. Now we come to the second part, in which the Psalmist repeats his
arguments, and goes over the same ground again.
"Lead me, O Lord," as a little child is led by its father, as a blind man is
guided by his friend. It is safe and pleasant walking when God leads the way.
"In thy righteousness," not in my righteousness, for that is imperfect, but in
thine, for thou art righteousness itself. "Make thy way, " not my way, "straight
before my face." Brethren, when we have learned to give up our own way, and
long to walk in God's way, it is a happy sign of grace; and it is no small mercy
to see the way of God with clear vision straight before our face. Errors about
duty may lead us into a sea of sins, before we know where we are.
Verse 9. This description of depraved man has been copied by the Apostle
Paul, and, together with some other quotations, he has placed it in the second
chapter of Romans, as being an accurate description of the whole human race,
not of David's enemies only, but of all men by nature. Note that remarkable
figure, "Their throat is an open sepulchre," a sepulchre full of loathsomeness,
of miasma, of pestilence and death. But, worse than that, it is an open
sepulchre, with all its evil gases issuing forth, to spread death and destruction
all around. So, with the throat of the wicked, it would be a great mercy if it
could always be closed. If we could seal in continual silence the mouth of the
wicked it would be like a sepulchre shut up, and would not produce much
mischief. But, "their throat is an open sepulchre," consequently all the
wickedness of their heart exhales, and comes forth. How dangerous is an open
sepulchre; men in their journeys might easily stumble therein, and find
themselves among the dead. Ah! take heed of the wicked man, for there is
nothing that he will not say to ruin you; he will long to destroy your character,
and bury you in the hideous sepulchre of his own wicked throat. One sweet
thought here, however. At the resurrection there will be a resurrection not only
of bodies, but characters. This should be a great comfort to a man who has been
abused and slandered. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun." The
world may think you vile, and bury your character; but if you have been
upright, in the day when the graves shall give up their dead, this open sepulchre
of the sinner's throat shall be compelled to give up your heavenly character, and
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you shall come forth and be honoured in the sight of men. "They flatter with
their tongue." Or, as we might read it, "They have an oily tongue, a smooth
tongue." A smooth tongue is a great evil; many have been bewitched by it.
There be many human ant-eaters that with their long tongues covered with oily
words entice and entrap the unwary and make their gain thereby. When the
wolf licks the lamb, he is preparing to wet his teeth in its blood.
Verse 10. "Against thee:" not against me. If they were my enemies I would
forgive them, but I cannot forgive thine. We are to forgive our enemies, but
God's enemies it is not in our power to forgive. These expressions have often
been noticed by men of over refinement as being harsh, and grating on the ear.
"Oh!" say they, "they are vindictive and revengeful." Let us remember that they
might be translated as prophecies, not as wishes; but we do not care to avail
ourselves of this method of escape. We have never heard of a reader of the
Bible who, after perusing these passages, was made revengeful by reading
them, and it is but fair to test the nature of a writing by its effects. When we
hear a judge condemning a murderer, however severe his sentence, we do not
feel that we should be justified in condemning others for any private injury
done to us. The Psalmist here speaks as a judge, ex oficio; he speaks as God's
mouth, and in condemning the wicked he gives us no excuse whatever for
uttering anything in the way of malediction upon those who have caused us
personal offence. The most shameful way of cursing another is by pretending to
bless him. We were all somewhat amused by noticing the toothless malice of
that wretched old priest of Rome, when he foolishly cursed the Emperor of
France with his blessing. He was blessing him in form and cursing him in
reality. Now, in direct contrast we put this healthy commination of David,
which is intended to be a blessing by warning the sinner of the impending
curse. O impenitent man, be it known unto thee that all thy godly friends will
give their solemn assent to the awful sentence of the Lord, which he shall
pronounce upon thee in the day of doom! Our verdict shall applaud the
condemning curse which the Judge of all the earth shall thunder against the
In the following verse we once more find the contrast which has marked
the preceeding Psalms.
Verse 11. Joy is the privilege of the believer. When sinners are destroyed our
rejoicing shall be full. They laugh first and weep ever after; we weep now, but
shall rejoice eternally. When they howl we shall shout, and as they must groan
for ever, so shall we ever shout for joy. This holy bliss of ours has a firm
foundation, for, O Lord, we are joyful in thee. The eternal God is the well-
spring of our bliss. We love God, and therefore we delight in him. Our heart is
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at ease in our God. We fare sumptuously every day because we feed on him.
We have music in the house, music in the heart, and music in heaven, for the
Lord Jehovah is our strength and our song; he also is become our salvation.
Verse 12. Jehovah has ordained his people the heirs of blessedness, and nothing
shall rob them of their inheritance. With all the fulness of his power he will
bless them, and all his attributes shall unite to satiate them with divine
contentment. Nor is this merely for the present, but the blessing reaches into the
long and unknown future. "Thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous." This is a
promise of infinite length, of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable
preciousness. As for the defence which the believer needs in this land of
battles, it is here promised to him in the fullest measure. There were vast
shields used by the ancients as extensive as a man's whole person, which would
surround him entirely. So says David, "With favour wilt thou compass him as
with a shield." According to Ainsworth there is here also the idea of being
crowned, so that we wear a royal helmet, which is at once our glory and
defence. O Lord, ever give to us this gracious coronation!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 1. "Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation." It is certain
that the greater part of men, as they babble out vain, languid, and inefficacious
prayers, most unworthy the ear of the blessed God, so they seem in some
degree to set a just estimate upon them, neither hoping for any success from
them, nor indeed seeming to be at all solicitous about it, but committing them
to the wind as vain words, which in truth they are. But far be it from a wise and
pious man, that he should so foolishly and coldly trifle in so serious an affair;
his prayer has a certain tendency and scope, at which he aims with assiduous
and repeated desires, and doth not only pray that he may pray, but that he may
obtain an answer; and as he firmly believes that it may be obtained, so he
firmly, and constantly, and eagerly urges his petitions, that he may not flatter
himself with an empty hope. Robert Leighton, D.D.
Verses 1, 2. Observe the order and force of the words, "my cry, " "the voice of
my prayer;" and also, "give ear, " "consider," "hearken." These expressions all
evince the urgency and energy of David's feelings and petitions. First we have,
"give ear; " that is, hear me. But it is of little service for the words to be heard,
unless the "cry, " or the roaring, or the meditation, be considered. As if he had
said, in a common way of expression, I speak with deep anxiety and concern,
but with a failing utterance; and I cannot express myself, nor make myself
understood as I wish. Do thou, therefore, understand from my feelings more
than I am able to express in words. And, therefore, I add my "cry; " that what I
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cannot express in words for thee to hear, I may by my "cry" signify to thine
understanding. And when thou hast understood me, then, O Lord, "Hearken
unto the voice of my prayer," and despise not what thou hast thus heard and
understood. We are not, however, to understand that hearing, understanding,
and hearkening, are all different acts in God, in the same way as they are in us;
but that our feelings towards God are to be thus varied and increased; that is,
that we are first to desire to be heard, and then, that our prayers which are heard
may be understood; and then, that being understood, they may be hearkened
unto, that is, not disregarded. Martin Luther.
Verse 1. "Meditation" fits the soul for supplication; meditation fills the soul
with good liquor, and then prayer broaches it, and sets it a-running. David first
mused, and then spake with his tongue, "Lord, make me to know mine end."
Psalm 39:3, 4. Nay, to assure us that meditation was the mother which bred and
brought forth prayer, he calls the child by its parent's name, "Give ear to my
words, O Lord, consider my meditation." Meditation is like the charging of a
piece, and prayer the discharging of it. "Isaac went into the field to meditate."
Genesis 24:63. The Septuagint, the Geneva translation, and Tremellius, in his
marginal notes on it, read it to "pray;" and the Hebrew word (Heb.) used there
signifieth both to pray and meditate; whereby we may learn that they are very
near akin; like twins, they be in the same womb, in the same word. Meditation
is the best beginning of prayer, and prayer is the best conclusion of meditation.
When the Christian, like Daniel, hath first opened the windows of his soul by
contemplation, then he may kneel down to prayer. George Swinnock.
Verse 3. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord."
When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave
To do the like; our bodies but forerun
The spirit's duty: true hearts spread and heave
Unto their God, as flowers do to the sun;
Give him thy first thoughts, then, so shalt thou keep
Him company all day, and in him sleep.
Yet never sleep the sun up; prayer should
Dawn with the day, there are set awful hours
'Twixt heaven and us; the manna was not good
After sun-rising, for day sullies flowers.
Rise to prevent the sun; sleep doth sins glut,
And heaven's gate opens when the world's is shut.
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Walk with thy fellow creatures; note the hush
And whisperings amongst them. Not a spring
Or leaf but hath his morning hymn; each bush
And oak doth know I AM—canst thou not sing?
O leave thy cares and follies! Go this way,
And thou art sure to prosper all the day.
Henry Vaughn, 1621-1695.
Verse 3. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning." "In the morning shall my
prayer prevent thee," said Heman. That is the fittest time for devotion, you
being then fresh in your spirits, and freest from distractions. Which opportunity
for holy duties may fitly be called the wings of the morning. Edward Reyner,
Verse 3. "In the morning." "In the days of our fathers," says Bishop Burnet,
"when a person came early to the door of his neighbour, and desired to speak
with the master of the house, it was as common a thing for the servants to tell
him with freedom— 'My master is at prayer,' as it now is to say, 'My master is
Verse 3. "In the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up,"
or, I will marshall my prayer, I will bring up petition after petition, pleading
after pleading, even till I become like Jacob, a prince with God, till I have won
the field and got the day. Thus the word is applied by a metaphor both to
disputations with men and supplications to God. Further, we may take the
meaning plainly without any strain of rhetoric, Set thy words in order before
me. Method is good in everything, either an express or covert method.
Sometimes it is the best of art to cover it: in speaking there is a special use of
method, for though, as one said very well (speaking of those who are more
curious about method than serious about matter), "Method never converted any
man; " yet method and the ordering of words is very useful. Our speeches
should not be heaps of words, but words bound up; not a throng of words, but
words set in array, or, as it were, in rank and file. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 3. "I will direct my prayer unto thee and will look up. " In the words you
may observe two things: first, David's posture in prayer; secondly, his practice
after prayer. First, his posture in prayer, "I will direct my prayer unto thee."
Secondly, his practice after prayer, "And I will look up. " The prophet in these
words, makes use of two military words. First, he would not only pray, but
marshall up his prayers, he would put them in battle array; so much the Hebrew
word (Heb.) imports. Secondly, when he had done this, then he would be as a
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spy upon his watch-tower, to see whether he prevailed, whether he got the day
or no; and so much the Hebrew word (Heb) imports. When David had set his
prayers, his petitions, in rank and file, in good array, then he was resolved he
would look abroad, he would look about him to see at what door God would
send in an answer to prayer. He is either a fool or a madman, he is either very
weak or very wicked, that prays and prays but never looks after his prayers;
that shoots many an arrow toward heaven, but never minds where his arrows
alight. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 3. David would direct his prayer to God and look up; not down to the
world, down to corruption, but up to God what he would speak. Psalm 85:8. "I
will hear what God the Lord will speak," Let the resolution of the prophet be
thine, "I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my
God will hear me." Micah 7:7. William Greenhill, 1650.
Verse 3. "I will direct my prayer to thee, and will look up, " that is, I will trade, I
will send out my spiritual commodities, and expect a gainful return; I will make
my prayers, and not give them for lost, but look up for an answer. God will
bring man home by a way contrary to that by which he wandered from him.
Man fell from God by distrust, by having God in suspicion; God will bring him
back by trust, by having good thoughts of him. Oh, how richly laden might the
vessel which thou sendest out come home, wouldst thou but long and look for
its return! George Swinnock.
Verse 3. Faith hath a supporting act after prayer; it supports the soul to expect a
gracious answer: "I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up, " or I will
look; for what, but for a return? An unbelieving heart shoots at random, and
never minds where his arrow lights, or what comes of his praying; but faith fills
the soul with expectation. As a merchant, when he casts up his estate, he counts
what he hath sent beyond sea, as well as what he hath in hand; so doth faith
reckon upon what he hath sent to heaven in prayer and not received, as well as
those mercies which he hath received, and are in hand at present. Now this
expectation which faith raiseth in the soul after prayer, appears in the power
that it hath to quiet and compose the soul in the interim between the sending
forth, as I may say, the ship of prayer, and its return home with its rich lading it
goes for, and it is more or less, according as faith's strength is. Sometimes faith
comes from prayer in triumph, and cries, Victoria. It gives such a being and
existence to the mercy prayed for in the Christian's soul before any likelihood
of it appears to sense and reason, that the Christian can silence all his troubled
thoughts with the expectation of its coming. Yea, it will make the Christian
disburse his praises for the mercy long before it is received For want of
looking up many a prayer is lost. If you do not believe, why do you pray? And
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if you believe, why do you not expect? By praying you seem to depend on God;
by not expecting, you again renounce your confidence. What is this but to take
his name in vain? O Christian, stand to your prayer in a holy expectation of
what you have begged upon the credit of the promise Mordecai, no doubt,
had put up many prayers for Esther, and therefore he waits at the king's gate,
looking what answer God would in his providence give therunto. Do thou
likewise. William Gurnall.
Verse 4. "Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness." As a man that
cutteth with a dull knife is the cause of cutting, but not of the ill-cutting and
hacking of the knife—the knife is the cause of that; or if a man strike upon an
instrument that is out of tune, he is the cause of the sound, but not of the jarring
sound—that is the fault of the untuned strings; or, as a man riding upon a lame
horse, stirs him—the man is the cause of the motion, but the horse himself of
the halting motion: thus God is the author of every action, but not of the evil of
that action—that is from man. He that makes instruments and tools of iron or
other metal, he maketh not the rust and canker which corrupteth them, that is
from another cause; nor doth that heavenly workman, God Almighty, bring in
sin and iniquity; nor can he be justly blamed if his creatures do soil and
besmear themselves with the foulness of sin, for he made them good. Spencer's
Things New and Old.
Verses 4-6. Here the Lord's alienation from the wicked is set forth gradually,
and seems to rise by six steps. First, he hath no pleasure in them; secondly,
they shall not dwell with him; thirdly, he casteth them forth, they shall not stand
in his sight; fourthly, his heart turns from them, thou hatest all the workers of
iniquity; fifthly, his hand is turned upon them, thou shalt destroy them that
speak leasing; sixthly, his spirit rises against them, and is alienated from them,
the Lord will abhor the bloody man. This estrangement is indeed a strange (yet
a certain) punishment to "the workers of iniquity." These words, "the workers of
iniquity," may be considered two ways. First, as intending (not all degrees of
sinners, or sinners of every degree, but) the highest degree of sinners, great, and
gross sinners, resolved and wilful sinners. Such as sin industriously, and, as it
were, artificially, with skill and care to get themselves a name, as if they had an
ambition to be accounted workmen that need not to be ashamed of doing that
whereof all ought to be ashamed; these, in strictness of Scripture sense, are
"workers of iniquity." Hence note, notorious sinners make sin their business, or
trade. Though every sin be a work of iniquity, yet only some sinners are
"workers of iniquity;" and they who are called so, make their calling to sin. We
read of some who love and make a lie. Revelation 22:15. A lie may be told by
those who neither love nor make it; but there are lie-makers, and they, sure
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enough, are lovers of a lie. Such craftsmen in sinning are also described in
Psalm 58:2—"Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your
hands in the earth." The psalmist doth not say, they had wickedness in their
heart, but they did work it there; the heart is a shop within, an underground
shop; there they did closely contrive, forge, and hammer out their wicked
purposes, and fit them into actions. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 5. What an astonishing thing is sin, which maketh the God of love and
Father of mercies an enemy to his creatures, and which could only be purged
by the blood of the Son of God! Though all must believe this who believe the
Bible, yet the exceeding sinfulness of sin is but weakly apprehended by those
who have the deepest sense of it, and will never be fully known in this world.
Thomas Adam's Private Thoughts, 1701-1784.
Verse 5 (last clause). "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." For what God
thinks of sin, see Deuteronomy 7:22; Proverbs 6:16; Revelation 2:6, 15; where
he expresseth his detestation and hatred of it, from which hatred proceeds all
those direful plagues and judgments thundered from the fiery mouth of his most
holy law against it; nay, not only the work, but worker also of iniquity becomes
the object of his hatred. William Gurnall.
Verse 5 (last clause). "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." If God's hatred be
against the workers of iniquity, how great is it against iniquity itself! If a man
hates a poisonous creature, he hates poison much more. The strength of God's
hatred is against sin, and so should we hate sin, and hate it with strength; it is
an abomination unto God, let it be so unto us. Proverbs 6:16-19, "These six
things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him; a proud
look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth
wicked imaginations, feet that be swift to mischief, a false witness that
speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." William Greenhill.
Verse 5 (last clause). Those whom the Lord hates must perish. But he hates
impenitent sinners, "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." Now, who are so
properly workers of iniquity as those who are so eager at it that they will not
leave this work, though they be in danger to perish for it? Christ puts it out of
doubt. The workers of iniquity must perish. Luke 13:27. Those whom the Lord
will tear in his wrath must perish with a witness; but those whom he hates, he
tears, &c. Job 16:8. What more due to such impenitent sinners than hatred?
What more proper than wrath, since they treasure up wrath? Romans 2:5. Will
he entertain those in the bosom of love whom his soul hates? No; destruction is
their portion. Proverbs 21:15. If all the curses of the law, all the threatenings of
the gospel, all judgments in earth or in hell, will be the ruin of him, he must
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perish. If the Lord's arm be strong enough to wound him dead, he must die.
Psalm 68:21 Avoid all that Christ hates. If you love, approve, entertain
that which is hateful to Christ, how can he love you? What is that which Christ
hates? The psalmist (Psalm 45:7) tells us, making it one of Christ's attributes, to
hate wickedness As Christ hates iniquity, so the "workers of iniquity."
You must not love them, so as to be intimate with them, delight in the company
of evil doers, openly profane, scorners of godliness, obstructors of the power of
it. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. If you love so near relations to wicked men, Christ
will have no relation to you. If you would have communion with Christ in
sweet acts of love, you must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, nor those that act them. David Clarkson, B.D., 1621-1686.
Verse 6. "Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing," whether in jest or
earnest. Those that lie in jest will (without repentance) go to hell in earnest.
Verse 6. "Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing," etc. In the same field
where Absalom raised battle against his father, stood the oak that was his
gibbet. The mule whereon he rode was his hangman, for the mule carried him
to the tree, and the hair wherein he gloried served for a rope to hang. Little
know the wicked how everything which now they have shall be a snare to trap
them when God begins to punish them. William Cowper, 1612.
Verse 7. "In thy fear will I worship." As natural fear makes the spirits retire
from the outward parts of the body to the heart, so a holy fear of miscarrying in
so solemn a duty would be a means to call thy thoughts from all exterior carnal
objects, and fix them upon the duty in hand. As the sculpture is on the seal, so
will the print on the wax be; if the fear of God be deeply engraven on thy heart,
there is no doubt but it will make a suitable impression on the duty thou
performest. William Gurnall.
Verse 7. David saith, "In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." The
temple did shadow forth the body of our Lord Christ, the Mediator, in whom
only our prayers and service are accepted with the Father which Solomon
respected in looking towards the temple. Thomas Manton, D.D., 1620-1677.
Verse 7. "But as for me, " etc. A blessed verse this! a blessed saying! The words
and the sense itself, carry with them a powerful contrast. For there are two
things with which this life is exercised, HOPE and FEAR, which are, as it were,
those two springs of Judges 1:15, the one from above, the other from beneath.
Fear comes from beholding the threats and fearful judgments of God; as being
a God in whose sight no one is clean, every one is a sinner, every one is
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damnable. But hope comes from beholding the promises, and the all-sweet
mercies of God; as it is written (Psalm 25:6), "Remember, O Lord, thy loving
kindnesses, and thy tender mercies which have been ever of old." Between
these two, as between the upper and nether millstone, we must always be
ground and kept, that we may never turn either to the right hand or to the left.
For this turning is the state peculiar to hypocrites, who are exercised with the
two contrary things, security and presumption. Martin Luther.
Verse 9. If the whole soul be infected with such a desperate disease, what a
great and difficult work it is to regenerate, to restore men again to spiritual life
and vigour, when every part of them is seized by such a mortal distemper! How
great a cure doth the Spirit of God effect in restoring a soul by sanctifying it!
To heal but the lungs or the liver, if corrupted, is counted a great cure, though
performed but upon one part of thee; but all thy inward parts are very
rottenness. "For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is
very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their
tongue." How great a cure is it then to heal thee! Such as is only in the skill and
power of God to do. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 9. "Their throat is an open sepulchre." This figure graphically portrays
the filthy conversation of the wicked. Nothing can be more abominable to the
senses than an open sepulchre, when a dead body beginning to putrefy steams
forth its tainted exhalations. What proceeds out of their mouth is infected and
putrid; and, as the exhalation from a sepulchre proves the corruption within, so
it is with the corrupt conversation of sinners. Robert Haldane's "Expositions of
the Epistle to the Romans," 1835.
Verse 9. "Their throat is an open sepulchre." This doth admonish us, (1) that
the speeches of natural unregenerate men are unsavory, rotten, and hurtful to
others; for, as a sepulchre doth send out noisome savours and filthy smells, so
evil men do utter rotten and filthy words. (2) As a sepulchre doth consume and
devour bodies cast into it, so wicked men do with their cruel words destroy
others; they are like a gulf to destroy others. (3) As a sepulchre, having
devoured many corpses, is still ready to consume more, being never satisfied,
so wicked men, having overthrown many with their words, do proceed in their
outrage, seeking whom they may devour. Thomas Wilson, 1653.
Verse 9. "Their inward part," etc. Their hearts are storehouses for the devil.
Verse 10. All those portions where we find apparently prayers that breathe
revenge, are never to be thought of as anything else than the breathed assent of
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righteous souls to the justice of their God, who taketh vengeance on sin. When
taken as the words of Christ himself, they are no other than an echo of the
Intercessor's acquiescence at last in the sentence on the barren fig-tree. It is as if
he cried aloud, "Hew it down now, I will intercede no longer, the doom is
righteous, destroy them, O God; cast them out in (or, for) the multitude of their
transgressions, for they have rebelled against thee." And in the same moment
he may be supposed to invite his saints to sympathise in his decision; just as in
Revelation 18:20, "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and
prophets." In like manner when one of Christ's members, in entire sympathy
with his Head, views the barren fig-tree from the same point of observation,
and sees the glory of God concerned in inflicting the blow, he too can cry, "Let
the axe smite!" Had Abraham stood beside the angel who destroyed Sodom,
and seen how Jehovah's name required the ruin of these impenitent rebels, he
would have cried out, "Let the shower descend; let the fire and brimstone come
down!" not in any spirit of revenge; not from want of tender love to souls, but
from intense earnestness of concern for the glory of his God. We consider this
explanation to be the real key that opens all the difficult passages in this book,
where curses seem to be called for on the head of the ungodly. They are no
more than a carrying out of Deuteronomy 27:15-26, "Let all the people say,
Amen," and an entering into the Lord's holy abhorrence of sin, and delight in
acts of justice expressed in the "Amen, hallelujah," of Revelation 19:3. Andrew
A. Bonar, 1859.
Verse 10. (Or imprecatory passages generally.) Lord, when in my daily service
I read David's Psalms, give me to alter the accent of my soul according to their
several subjects. In such Psalms wherein he confesseth his sins, or requesteth
thy pardon, or praiseth for former, or prayeth for future favours, in all these
give me to raise my soul to as high a pitch as may be. But when I come to such
Psalms wherein he curseth his enemies, O there let me bring my soul down to a
lower note. For those words were made only to fit David's mouth. I have the
like breath, but not the same spirit to pronounce them. Nor let me flatter
myself, that it is lawful for me, with David, to curse thine enemies, lest my
deceitful heart entitle mine enemies to be thine, and so what was religion in
David, prove malice in me, whilst I act revenge under the pretense of piety.
Thomas Fuller, D.D., 1608-1661.
Verse 12. When the strong man armed comes against us, when he darts his fiery
darts, what can hurt us, if God compass us about with his lovingkindness as
with a shield? He can disarm the tempter and restrain his malice, and tread him
under our feet. If God be not with us, if he do not give us sufficient grace, so
subtle, so powerful, so politic an enemy, will be too hard for us. How surely are
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we foiled, and get the worse, when we pretend to grapple with him in our own
strength! How many falls, and how many bruises by those falls have we got, by
relying too much on our own skill? How often have we had the help of God
when we have humbly asked it! And how sure are we to get the victory, if
Christ pray for us that we do not fail! Luke 22:31. Where can we go for shelter
but unto God our Maker! When this lion of the forest does begin to roar, how
will he terrify and vex us, till he that permits him for awhile to trouble us, be
pleased to chain him up again! Timothy Rogers, 1691.
Verse 12. "As with a shield." Luther, when making his way into the presence of
Cardinal Cajetan, who had summoned him to answer for his heretical opinions
at Augsburg, was asked by one of the Cardinal's minions, where he should find
a shelter, if his patron, the Elector of Saxony, should desert him? "Under the
shield of heaven!" was the reply. The silenced minion turned round, and went
Verse 12. "With favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield." The shield is
not for the defence of any particular part of the body, as almost all the other
pieces are: helmet, fitted for the head; plate, designed for the breast; and so
others, they have their several parts, which they are fastened to; but the shield is
a piece that is intended for the defence of the whole body. It was used therefore
to be made very large; for its broadness, called a gate or door, because so long
and large, as in a manner to cover the whole body. And if the shield were not
large enough at once to cover every part, yet being a movable piece of armour,
the skilful soldier might turn it this way or that way, to catch the blow or arrow
from lighting on any part they were directed to. And this indeed doth
excellently well set forth the universal use that faith is of to the Christian. It
defends the whole man: every part of the Christian by it is preserved The
shield doth not only defend the whole body, but it is a defence to the soldier's
armour also; it keeps the arrow from the helmet as well as head, from the breast
and breastplate also. Thus faith, it is armour upon armour, a grace that
preserves all the other graces. William Gurnall.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verses 1, 2. Prayer in its threefold form. "Words, meditation, cry. " Showing
how utterance is of no avail without heart, but that fervent longings and silent
desires are accepted, even when unexpressed.
Verse 3. The excellence of morning devotion.
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Verse 3. (last two clauses)
1. Prayer directed.
2. Answers expected.
Verse 4. God's hatred of sin an example to his people.
Verse 5. "The foolish." Show why sinners are justly called fools.
Verse 7. "Multitude of thy nercy. " Dwell upon the varied grace and goodness of
Verse 7. The devout resolution
I. Observe the singularity of the resolution.
II. Mark the object of the resolution. It regards the service of God in the
sanctuary. "I will come into thine house. . . in thy fear will I worship towards
thy holy temple."
III. The manner in which he would accomplish the resolution.
(1) Impressed with a sense of the divine goodness: "I will come into thy
house in the multitude of thy mercy."
(2) Filled with holy veneration: "And in thy fear will I worship." William
Verse 8. God's guidance needed always and especially when enemies are
Verse 10. Viewed as a threatening. The sentence, "Cast them out in the
multitude of their transgressions," is specially fitted to be the groundwork of a
very solemn discourse.
I. The character of the righteous: faith and love.
II. The privileges of the righteous.
(1) Joy—great, pure, satisfying, triumphant, (shout) constant (ever).
(2) Defence—by power, providence, angels, grace, etc.
Verse 11. Joy in the Lord both a duty and a privilege.
Verse 12. (first clause). The divine blessing upon the righteous. It is ancient,
effectual, constant, extensive, irreversible, surpassing, eternal, infinite.
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Verse 12. (second clause). A sense of divine favour a defence to the soul.
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Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. This Psalm is commonly known as the first of the PENITENTIAL PSALMS, (The other six are 32,
38, 51, 102, 130, 143) and certainly its language well becomes the lip of a penitent, for it expresses at once
the sorrow, (verses 3, 6, 7), the humiliation (verses 2 and 4), and the hatred of sin (verse 8), which are the
unfailing marks of the contrite spirit when it turns to God. O Holy Spirit, beget in us the true repentance
which needeth not to be repented of. The title of this Psalm is "To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon
Sheminith (1 Chronicle 15:21), A Psalm of David," that is, to the chief musician with stringed instruments,
upon the eighth, probably the octave. Some think it refers to the bass or tenor key, which would certainly be well adapted to this mournful ode. But we are not able to understand these old musical terms, and even
the term "Selah, " still remains untranslated. This, however, should be no difficulty in our way. We
probably lose but very little by our ignorance, and it may serve to confirm our faith. It is a proof of the high
antiquity of these Psalms that they contain words, the meaning of which is lost even to the best scholars of
the Hebrew language. Surely these are but incidental (accidental I might almost say, if I did not believe
them to be designed by God), proofs of their being, what they profess to be, the ancient writings of King
David of olden times.
DIVISION. You will observe that the Psalm is readily divided into two parts. First, there is the Psalmist's
plea in his great distress, reaching from the first to the end of the seventh verse. Then you have, from the
eighth to the end, quite a different theme. The Psalmist has changed his note. He leaves the minor key, and
betakes himself to sublimer strains. He tunes his note to the high key of confidence, and declares that God
hath heard his prayer, and hath delivered him out of all his troubles.
Verse 1. Having read through the first division, in order to see it as a whole, we
will now look at it verse by verse. "O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger." The
Psalmist is very conscious that he deserves to be rebuked, and he feels,
moreover, that the rebuke in some form or other must come upon him, if not for
condemnation, yet for conviction and sanctification. "Corn is cleaned with
wind, and the soul with chastenings." It were folly to pray against the golden
hand which enriches us by its blows. He does not ask that the rebuke may be
totally withheld, for he might thus lose a blessing in disguise; but, "Lord,
rebuke me not in thine anger." If thou remindest me of my sin, it is good; but,
oh, remind me not of it as one incensed against me, lest thy servant's heart
should sink in despair. Thus saith Jeremiah, "O Lord, correct me, but with
judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing." I know that I must
be chastened, and though I shrink from the rod yet do I feel that it will be for
my benefit; but, oh, my God, "chasten me not in thy hot displeasure," lest the
rod become a sword, and lest in smiting, thou shouldest also kill. So may we
pray that the chastisements of our gracious God, if they may not be entirely
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removed, may at least be sweetened by the consciousness that they are "not in
anger, but in his dear covenant love."
Verse 2. "Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak." Though I deserve
destruction, yet let thy mercy pity my frailty. This is the right way to plead with
God if we would prevail. Urge not your goodness or your greatness, but plead
your sin and your littleness. Cry, "I am weak," therefore, O Lord, give me
strength and crush me not. Send not forth the fury of thy tempest against so
weak a vessel. Temper the wind to the shorn lamb. Be tender and pitiful to a
poor withering flower, and break it not from its stem. Surely this is the plea that
a sick man would urge to move the pity of his fellow if he were striving with
him, "Deal gently with me, 'for I am weak.'" A sense of sin had so spoiled the
Psalmist's pride, so taken away his vaunted strength, that he found himself
weak to obey the law, weak through the sorrow that was in him, too weak,
perhaps, to lay hold on the promise. "I am weak." The original may be read, "I
am one who droops," or withered like a blighted plant. Ah! beloved, we know
what this means, for we, too, have seen our glory stained, and our beauty like a
Verse 3. "O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed." Here he prays for healing,
not merely the mitigation of the ills he endured, but their entire removal, and
the curing of the wounds which had arisen therefrom. His bones were "shaken,"
as the Hebrew has it. His terror had become so great that his very bones shook;
not only did his flesh quiver, but the bones, the solid pillars of the house of
manhood, were made to tremble. "My bones are shaken." Ah, when the soul
has a sense of sin, it is enough to make the bones shake; it is enough to make a
man's hair stand up on end to see the flames of hell beneath him, an angry God
above him, and danger and doubt surrounding him. Well might he say, "My
bones are shaken." Lest, however, we should imagine that it was merely bodily
sickness— although bodily sickness might be the outward sign—the Psalmist
goes on to say, "My soul is also sore vexed." Soul-trouble is the very soul of
trouble. It matters not that the bones shake if the soul be firm, but when the soul
itself is also sore vexed this is agony indeed. "But thou, O Lord, how long?"
This sentence ends abruptly, for words failed, and grief drowned the little
comfort which dawned upon him. The Psalmist had still, however, some hope;
but that hope was only in his God. He therefore cries, "O Lord, how long?" The
coming of Christ into the soul in his priestly robes of grace is the grand hope of
the penitent soul; and, indeed, in some form or other, Christ's appearance is,
and ever has been, the hope of the saints.
Calvin's favourite exclamation was, "Domine usquequo"— "O Lord, how
long?" Nor could his sharpest pains, during a life of anguish, force from him
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any other word. Surely this is the cry of the saints under the altar, "O Lord, how
long?" And this should be the cry of the saints waiting for the millennial
glories, "Why are his chariots so long in coming; Lord, how long?" Those of us
who have passed through conviction of sin knew what it was to count our
minutes hours, and our hours years, while mercy delayed its coming. We
watched for the dawn of grace, as they that watch for the morning. Earnestly
did our anxious spirits ask, "O Lord, how long?"
Verse 4. "Return, O Lord; deliver my soul." As God's absence was the main
cause of his misery, so his return would be enough to deliver him from his
trouble. "Oh save me for thy mercies' sake." He knows where to look, and what
arm to lay hold upon. He does not lay hold on God's left hand of justice, but on
his right hand of mercy. He knew his iniquity too well to think of merit, or
appeal to anything but the grace of God.
"For thy mercies' sake." What a plea that is! How prevalent it is with God!
If we turn to justice, what plea can we urge? but if we turn to mercy we may
still cry, notwithstanding the greatness of our guilt, "Save me for thy mercies'
Observe how frequently David here pleads the name of Jehovah, which is
always intended where the word LORD is given in capitals. Five times in four
verses we here meet with it. Is not this a proof that the glorious name is full of
consolation to the tempted saint? Eternity, Infinity, Immutability, Self-
existence, are all in the name Jehovah, and all are full of comfort.
Verse 5. And now David was in great fear of death—death temporal, and
perhaps death eternal. Read the passage as you will, the following verse is full
of power. "For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who
shall give thee thanks?" Churchyards are silent places; the vaults of the
sepulchre echo not with songs. Damp earth covers dumb mouths. "O Lord!"
saith he, "if thou wilt spare me I will praise thee. If I die, then must my mortal
praise at least be suspended; and if I perish in hell, then thou wilt never have
any thanksgiving from me. Songs of gratitude cannot rise from the flaming pit
of hell. True, thou wilt doubtless be glorified, even in my eternal
condemnation, but then O Lord, I cannot glorify thee voluntarily; and among
the sons of men, there will be one heart the less to bless thee." Ah! poor
trembling sinners, may the Lord help you to use this forcible argument! It is for
God's glory that a sinner should be saved. When we seek pardon, we are not
asking God to do that which will stain his banner, or put a blot on his
escutcheon. He delighteth in mercy. It is his peculiar, darling attribute. Mercy
honours God. Do not we ourselves say, "Mercy blesseth him that gives, and
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him that takes?" And surely, in some diviner sense, this is true of God, who,
when he gives mercy, glorifies himself.
Verse 6. The Psalmist gives a fearful description of his long agony: "I am
weary with my groaning." He has groaned till his throat was hoarse; he had
cried for mercy till prayer became a labour. God's people may groan, but they
may not grumble. Yea, they must groan, being burdened, or they will never
shout in the day of deliverance. The next sentence, we think, is not accurately
translated. It should be, "I shall make my bed to swim every night" (when nature
needs rest, and when I am most alone with my God). That is to say, my grief is
fearful even now, but if God do not soon save me, it will not stay of itself, but
will increase, until my tears will be so many, that my bed itself shall swim. A
description rather of what he feared would be, than of what had actually taken
place. May not our forebodings of future woe become arguments which faith
may urge when seeking present mercy?
Verse 7. "I water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because of
grief; it waxeth old because of all my enemies." As an old man's eye grows dim
with years, so, says David, my eye is grown red and feeble through weeping.
Conviction sometimes has such an effect upon the body, that even the outward
organs are made to suffer. May not this explain some of the convulsions and
hysterical attacks which have been experienced under convictions in the
revivals in Ireland? Is it surprising that some souls be smitten to the earth, and
begin to cry aloud; when we find that David himself made his bed to swim, and
grew old while he was under the heavy hand of God? Ah! brethren, it is no
light matter to feel one's self a sinner, condemned at the bar of God. The
language of this Psalm is not strained and forced, but perfectly natural to one in
so sad a plight.
Verse 8. Hitherto, all has been mournful and disconsolate, but now—
"Your harps, ye trembling saints,
Down from the willows take."
Ye must have your times of weeping, but let them be short. Get ye up, get ye
up, from your dunghills! Cast aside your sackcloth and ashes! Weeping may
endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
David has found peace, and rising from his knees he begins to sweep his
house of the wicked. "Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity." The best
remedy for us against an evil man is a long space between us both. "Get ye
gone; I can have no fellowship with you." Repentance is a practical thing. It is
not enough to bemoan the desecration of the temple of the heart, we must
scourge out the buyers and sellers, and overturn the tables of the money
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changers. A pardoned sinner will hate the sins which cost the Saviour his
blood. Grace and sin are quarrelsome neighbours, and one or the other must go
to the wall.
"For the Lord hath hear the voice of my weeping." What a fine Hebraism,
and what grand poetry it is in English! "He hath heard the voice of my
weeping." Is there a voice in weeping? Does weeping speak? In what language
doth it utter its meaning? Why, in that universal tongue which is known and
understood in all the earth, and even in heaven above. When a man weeps,
whether he be a Jew or Gentile, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free, it has the
same meaning in it. Weeping is the eloquence of sorrow. It is an unstammering
orator, needing no interpreter, but understood of all. Is it not sweet to believe
that our tears are understood even when words fail? Let us learn to think of
tears as liquid prayers, and of weeping as a constant dropping of importunate
intercession which will wear its way right surely into the very heart of mercy,
despite the stony difficulties which obstruct the way. My God, I will "weep"
when I cannot plead, for thou hearest the voice of my weeping.
Verse 9. "The Lord hath heard my supplication." The Holy Spirit had wrought
into the Psalmist's mind the confidence that his prayer was heard. This is
frequently the privilege of the saints. Praying the prayer of faith, they are often
infallibly assured that they have prevailed with God. We read of Luther that,
having on one occasion wrestled hard with God in prayer, he came leaping out
of his closet crying, "Vicimus, vicimus; " that is, We have conquered, we have
prevailed with God." Assured confidence is no idle dream, for when the Holy
Ghost bestows it upon us, we know its reality, and could not doubt it, even
though all men should deride our boldness. "The Lord will receive my prayer."
Here is past experience used for future encouragement. He hath, he will. Note
this, O believer, and imitate its reasoning.
Verse 10. "Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed." This is rather a
prophecy than an imprecation, it may be read in the future, "All my enemies
shall be ashamed and sore vexed." They shall return and be ashamed
instantaneously,—in a moment;—their doom shall come upon them suddenly.
Death's day is doom's day, and both are sure and may be sudden. The Romans
were wont to say, "The feet of the avenging Deity are shod with wool." With
noiseless footsteps vengeance nears its victim, and sudden and overwhelming
shall be its destroying stroke. If this were an imprecation, we must remember
that the language of the old dispensation is not that of the new. We pray for our
enemies, not against them. God have mercy on them, and bring them into the
Thus the Psalm, like those which preceed it, shews the different estates of
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the godly and the wicked. O Lord, let us be numbered with thy people, both
now and forever!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. David was a man that was often exercised with sickness and
troubles from enemies, and in all the instances almost that we meet with in the
Psalms of these his afflictions, we may observe the outward occasions of
trouble brought him under the suspicion of God's wrath and his own iniquity;
so that he was seldom sick, or persecuted, but this called on the disquiet of
conscience, and brought his sin to remembrance; as in this Psalm, which was
made on the occasion of his sickness, as appears from verse eight, wherein he
expresseth the vexation of his soul under the apprehension of God's anger; all
his other griefs running into this channel, as little brooks, losing themselves in a
great river, change their name and nature. He that at first was only concerned
for his sickness, is now wholly concerned with sorrow and smart under the fear
and hazard of his soul's condition; the like we may see in Psalm 38, and many
places more. Richard Gilpin, 1677.
Verse 1. "Rebuke me not. " God hath two means by which he reduceth his
children to obedience; his word, by which he rebukes them; and his rod, by
which he chastiseth them. The word precedes, admonishing them by his
servants whom he hath sent in all ages to call sinners to repentance: of the
which David himself saith, "Let the righteous rebuke me;" and as a father doth
first rebuke his disordered child, so doth the Lord speak to them. But when men
neglect the warnings of his word, then God as a good Father, takes up the rod
and beats them. Our Saviour wakened the three disciples in the garden three
times, but seeing that served not, he told them that Judas and his band were
coming to awaken them whom his own voice could not waken. A. Symson,
Verse 1. "Jehovah, rebuke me not in thine anger," etc. He does not altogether
refuse punishment, for that would be unreasonable; and to be without it, he
judged would be more hurtful than beneficial to him; but what he is afraid of is
the wrath of God, which threatens sinners with ruin and perdition. To anger and
indignation David tacitly opposes fatherly and gentle chastisement, and this last
he was willing to bear. John Calvin, 1509 - 1564.
Verse 1. "O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger."
The anger of the Lord? Oh, dreadful thought!
How can a creature frail as man endure
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The tempest of his wrath? Ah, whither flee
To 'scape the punishment he well deserves?
Flee to the cross! the great atonement there
Will shield the sinner, if he supplicate
For pardon with repentence true and deep,
And faith that questions not. Then will the frown
Of anger pass from off the face of God,
Like a black tempest cloud that hides the sun.
Verse 1. "Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger," etc.; that is, do not lay upon me
that thou hast threatened in thy law; where anger is not put for the decree nor
the execution, but for the denouncing. So (Matthew 3:11, and so Hosea 11:9),
"I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger," that is, I will not execute my
wrath as I have declared it. Again, it is said, he executes punishment on the
wicked; he declares it not only, but executeth it, so anger is put for the
execution of anger. Richard Stock, 1641.
Verse 1. "Neither chasten me in thine hot displeasure."
O keep up life and peace within,
If I must feel thy chastening rod!
Yet kill not me, but kill my sin,
And let me know thou art my God.
O give my soul some sweet foretaste
Of that which I shall shortly see!
Let faith and love cry to the last,
"Come, Lord, I trust myself with thee!"
Richard Baxter, 1615-1691.
Verse 2. "Have mercy upon me, O Lord." To fly and escape the anger of God,
David sees no means in heaven or in earth, and therefore retires himself to God,
even to him that wounded him that he might heal him. He flies not with Adam
to the bush, nor with Saul to the witch, nor with Jonah to Tarshish; but he
appeals from an angry and just God to a merciful God, and from himself to
himself. The woman who was condemned by King Philip, appealed from Philip
being drunken to Philip being sober. But David appeals from one virtue,
justice, to another, mercy. There may be appellation from the tribunal of man to
the justice-seat of God; but when thou art indicted before God's justice-seat,
whither or to whom wilt thou go but to himself and his mercy-seat, which is the
highest and last place of appellation? "I have none in heaven but thee, nor in
earth besides thee." David, under the name of mercy, includeth all
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things, according to that of Jacob to his brother Esau, "I have gotten mercy, and
therefore I have gotten all things." Desirest thou any thing at God's hands? Cry
for mercy, out of which fountain all good things will spring to thee. Archibald
Verse 2. "For I am weak." Behold what rhetoric he useth to move God to cure
him, "I am weak," an argument taken from his weakness, which indeed were a
weak argument to move any man to show his favour, but is a strong argument
to prevail with God. If a diseased person would come to a physician, and only
lament the heaviness of his sickness, he would say, God help thee; or an
oppressed person come to a lawyer, and show him the estate of his action and
ask his advice, that is a golden question; or to a merchant to crave raiment, he
will either have present money or a surety; or a courtier favour, you must have
your reward ready in your hand. But coming before God, the most forcible
argument that you can use is your necessity, poverty, tears, misery,
unworthiness, and confessing them to him, it shall be an open door to furnish
you with all things that he hath. . . . The tears of our misery are forcible arrows
to pierce the heart of our heavenly Father, to deliver us and pity our hard case.
The beggars lay open their sores to the view of the world, that the more they
may move men to pity them. So let us deplore our miseries to God, that he,
with the pitiful Samaritan, at the sight of our wounds, may help us in due time.
Verse 2. "Heal me, " etc. David comes not to take physic upon wantonness, but
because the disease is violent, because the accidents are vehement; so
vehement, so violent, as that it hath pierced ad ossa, and ad animam, "My
bones are vexed, and my soul is sore troubled," therefore "heal me; " which is
the reason upon which he grounds this second petition, "Heal me, because my
bones are vexed," etc. John Donne.
Verse 2. "My bones are vexed." The Lord can make the strongest and most
insensible part of a man's body sensible of his wrath when he pleaseth to touch
him, for here David's bones are vexed. David Dickson.
Verse 2. The term "bones" frequently occurs in the Psalms, and if we examine
we shall find it used in three different senses. (1.) It is sometimes applied
literally to our blessed Lord's human body, to the body which hung upon the
cross, as, "They pierced my hands and my feet; I may tell all my bones," (2.) It
has sometimes also a further reference to his mystical body the church. And
then it denotes all the members of Christ's body that stand firm in the faith, that
cannot be moved by persecutions, or temptations, however severe, as, "All my
bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee?" (3.) In some passages the term
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bones is applied to the soul, and not to the body, to the inner man of the
individual Christian. Then it implies the strength and fortitude of the soul, the
determined courage which faith in God gives to the righteous. This is the sense
in which it is used in the second verse of Psalm 6,. "O Lord, heal me; for my
bones are vexed." Augustine, Ambrose, and Chrysostom; quoted by F. H.
Dunwell, B.A., in "Parochial Lectures on the Psalms," 1855.
Verse 3. "My soul." Yokefellows in sin are yokefellows in pain; the soul is
punished for informing, the body for performing, and as both the informer and
performer, the cause and the instrument, so shall the stirrer up of sin and the
executor of it be punished. John Donne.
Verse 3. "O Lord, how long?" Out of this we have three things to observe; first,
that there is an appointed time which God hath measured for the crosses of all
his children, before which time they shall not be delivered, and for which they
must patiently attend, not thinking to prescribe time to God for their delivery,
or limit the Holy One of Israel. The Israelites remained in Egypt till the
complete number of four hundred and thirty years were accomplished. Joseph
was three years and more in the prison till the appointed time of his delivery
came. The Jews remained seventy years in Babylon. So that as the physician
appointeth certain times to the patient, both wherein he must fast, and be dieted,
and wherein he must take recreation, so God knoweth the convenient times
both of our humiliation and exaltation. Next, see the impatiency of our nature
in our miseries, our flesh still rebelling against the Spirit, which oftentimes
forgetteth itself so far, that it will enter into reasoning with God, and
quarrelling with him, as we may read in Job, Jonas, etc., and here also of
David. Thirdly, albeit the Lord delay his coming to relieve his saints, yet hath
he great cause if we could ponder it; for when we were in the heat of our sins,
many times he cried by the mouth of his prophets and servants, "O fools, how
long will you continue in your folly?" And we would not hear; and therefore
when we are in the heat of our pains, thinking long, yea, every day a year till
we be delivered, no wonder is it if God will not hear; let us consider with
ourselves the just dealing of God with us; that as he cried and we would not
hear, so now we cry, and he will not hear. A. Symson.
Verse 3. "O Lord, how long?" As the saints in heaven have their usque quo,
how long, Lord, holy and true, before thou begin to execute judgment? So, the
saints on earth have their usque quo. How long, Lord, before thou take off the
execution of this judgment upon us? For, our deprecatory prayers are not
mandatory, they are not directory, they appoint not God his ways, nor times;
but as our postulatory prayers are, they also are submitted to the will of God,
and have all in them that ingredient, that herb of grace, which Christ put into
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his own prayer, that veruntamen, yet not my will, but thy will be fulfilled; and
they have that ingredient which Christ put into our prayer, fiat voluntas, thy will
be done in earth as it is in heaven; in heaven there is no resisting of his will;
yet in heaven there is a soliciting, a hastening, an accelerating of the judgment,
and the glory of the resurrection; so though we resist not his corrections here
upon the earth, we may humbly present to God the sense which we have of his
displeasure, for this sense and apprehension of his corrections is one of the
principal reasons why he sends them; he corrects us therefore that we might be
sensible of his corrections; that when we, being humbled under his hand, have
said with his prophet, "I will bear the wrath of the Lord, because I have sinned
against him" (Micah 7:9), he may be pleased to say to his correcting angel, as
he did to his destroying angel, This is enough, and so burn his rod now, as he
put up his sword then. John Donne.
Verse 4. "Return, O Lord, deliver my soul," etc. In this his besieging of God, he
brings up his works from afar off, closer; he begins in this Psalm, at a
deprecatory prayer; he asks nothing, but that God would do nothing, that he
would forbear him— rebuke me not, correct me not. Now, it costs the king less
to give a pardon than to give a pension, and less to give a reprieve than to give
a pardon, and less to connive, not to call in question, than either reprieve,
pardon, or pension; to forbear is not much. But then as the mathematician said,
that he could make an engine, a screw, that should move the whole frame of the
world, if he could have a place assigned him to fix that engine, that screw upon,
that so it might work upon the world; so prayer, when one petition hath taken
hold upon God, works upon God, moves God, prevails with God, entirely for
all. David then having got this ground, this footing in God, he brings his works
closer; he comes from the deprecatory to a postulatory prayer; not only that
God would do nothing against him, but that he would do something for him.
God hath suffered man to see Arcana imperii, the secrets of his state, how he
governs—he governs by precedent; by precedents of his predecessors, he
cannot, he hath none; by precedents of other gods he cannot, there are none;
and yet he proceeds by precedents, by his own precedents, he does as he did
before, habenti dat, to him that hath received he gives more, and is willing to
be wrought and prevailed upon, and pressed with his own example. And, as
though his doing good were but to learn how to do good better, still he writes
after his own copy, and nulla dies sine linea. He writes something to us, that is,
he doth something for us every day. And then, that which is not often seen in
other masters, his copies are better than the originals; his latter mercies larger
than his former; and in this postulatory prayer, larger than the deprecatory,
enters our text, "Return, O Lord; deliver my soul: O save me, " etc. John Donne.
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Verse 5. "For in death there is no remembrance of thee, in the grave who will
give thee thanks?" Lord, be thou pacified and reconciled to me. . . . for
shouldest thou now proceed to take away my life, as it were a most direful
condition for me to die before I have propitiated thee, so I may well demand
what increase of glory or honour will it bring unto thee? Will it not be infinitely
more glorious for thee to spare me, till by true contrition I may regain thy
favour?—and then I may live to praise and magnify thy mercy and thy grace:
thy mercy in pardoning so great a sinner, and then confess thee by vital actions
of all holy obedience for the future, and so demonstrate the power of thy grace
which hath wrought this change in me; neither of which will be done by
destroying me, but only thy just judgments manifested in thy vengeance on
sinners, Henry Hammond, D.D., 1659.
Verse 6. "I fainted in my mourning." It may seem a marvellous change in
David, being a man of such magnitude of mind, to be thus dejected and cast
down. Prevailed he not against Goliath, against the lion and the bear, through
fortitude and magnanimity? But now he is sobbing, sighing, and weeping as a
child! The answer is easy; the diverse persons with whom he hath to do
occasioneth the same. When men and beasts are his opposites, then he is more
than a conqueror; but when he hath to do with God against whom he sinned,
then he is less than nothing.
Verse 6. "I caused my bed to swim." Showers be better than dews, yet it
is sufficient if God at least hath bedewed our hearts, and hath given us some
sign of a penitent heart. If we have not rivers of waters to pour forth with
David, neither fountains flowing with Mary Magdalen, nor as Jeremy, desire to
have a fountain in our head to weep day and night, nor with Peter weep bitterly;
yet if we lament that we cannot lament, and mourn that we cannot mourn: yea,
if we have the smallest sobs of sorrow and tears of compunction, if they be true
and not counterfeit, they will make us acceptable to God; for as the woman
with the bloody issue that touched the hem of Christ's garment, was no less
welcome to Christ than Thomas, who put his fingers in the print of the nails; so,
God looketh not at the quantity, but the sincerity of our repentance.
Verse 6. "My bed. " The place of his sin is the place of his repentance, and so it
should be; yea, when we behold the place where we have offended, we should
be pricked in the heart, and there again crave him pardon. As Adam sinned in
the garden, and Christ sweat bloody tears in the garden. "Examine your hearts
upon your beds, and convert unto the Lord;" and whereas ye have stretched
forth yourselves upon your bed to devise evil things, repent there and make
them sanctuaries to God. Sanctify by your tears every place which ye have
polluted by sin. And let us seek Christ Jesus on our own bed, with the spouse in
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the Canticles, who saith, "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul
loveth." Archibald Symson.
Verse 6. "I water my couch with tears." Not only I wash, but also I water. The
faithful sheep of the great Shepherd go up from the washing place, every one
bringeth forth twins, and none barren among them. Canticles 4:2. For so Jacob's
sheep, having conceived at the watering troughs, brought forth strong and
party-coloured lambs. David likewise, who before had erred and strayed like a
lost sheep making here his bed a washing-place, by so much the less is barren
in obedience, by how much the more he is fruitful in repentance. In Solomon's
temple stood the caldrons of brass, to wash the flesh of those beasts which were
to be sacrificed on the altar. Solomon's father maketh a water of his tears, a
caldron of his bed, an altar of his heart, a sacrifice, not of the flesh of
unreasonable beasts, but of his own body, a living sacrifice, which is his
reasonable serving of God. Now the Hebrew word here used signifies properly,
to cause to swim, which is more than simply to wash. And thus the Geneva
translation readeth it, I cause my bed every night to swim. So that as the priests
used to swim in the molten sea, that they might be pure and clean, against they
performed the holy rites and services of the temple, in like manner the princely
prophet washeth his bed, yea, he swimmeth in his bed, or rather he causeth his
bed to swim in tears, as in a sea of grief and penitent sorrow for his sin. Thomas
Verse 6. "I water my couch with my tears." Let us water our bed every night
with our tears. Do not only blow upon it with intermissive blasts, for then like
fire, it will resurge and flame the more. Sin is like a stinking candle newly put
out, it is soon lighted again. It may receive a wound, but like a dog it will easily
lick itself whole; a little forbearance multiplies it like Hydra's heads. Therefore,
whatsoever aspersion the sin of the day has brought upon us, let the tears of the
night wash away. Thomas Adams.
Verses 6, 7. Soul-trouble is attended usually with great pain of body too, and so
a man is wounded and distressed in every part. There is no soundness in my
flesh, because of thine anger, says David. "The arrows of the Almighty are
within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit." Job 6:4. Sorrow of heart
contracts the natural spirits, making all their motions slow and feeble; and the
poor afflicted body does usually decline and waste away; and, therefore, saith
Heman, "My soul is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh unto the grave."
In this inward distress we find our strength decay and melt, even as wax before
the fire; for sorrow darkeneth the spirits, obscures the judgment, blinds the
memory, as to all pleasant things, and beclouds the lucid part of the mind,
causing the lamp of life to burn weakly. In this troubled condition the person
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cannot be without a countenance that is pale, and wan, and dejected, like one
that is seized with strong fear and consternation; all his motions are sluggish,
and no sprightliness nor activity remains. A merry heart doth good, like a
medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Hence come those frequent
complaints in Scripture: My moisture is turned into the drought of the summer:
I am like a bottle in the smoke; my soul cleaveth unto the dust: my face is foul
with weeping, and on my eyelid is the shadow of death. Job 16:16, 30:17, 18-
19. "My bones are pierced in me, in the night seasons, and my sinews take no
rest; by the great force of my disease is my garment changed. He hath cast me
into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. Many times indeed the
trouble of the soul does begin from the weakness and indisposition of the body.
Long affliction, without any prospect of remedy, does, in process of time, begin
to distress the soul itself. David was a man often exercised with sickness and
the rage of enemies; and in all the instances almost that we meet with him in
the Psalms, we may observe that the outward occasions of trouble brought him
under an apprehension of the wrath of God for his sin. (Psalm 6:1, 2; and the
reasons given, verses 5 and 6.) All his griefs running into this most terrible
thought, that God was his enemy. As little brooks lose themselves in a great
river, and change their name and nature, it most frequently happens that when
our pain is long and sharp, and helpless and unavoidable, we begin to question
the sincerity of our estate toward God, though at its first assault we had few
doubts or fears about it. Long weakness of body makes the soul more
susceptible of trouble, and uneasy thoughts. Timothy Rogers on Trouble of
Verse 7. "Mine eye is consumed." Many make those eyes which God hath given
them, as it were two lighted candles to let them see to go to hell; and for this
God in justice requiteth them, seeing their minds are blinded by the lust of the
eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, God, I say, sendeth sickness to
debilitate their eyes which were so sharp-sighted in the devil's service, and their
lust now causeth them to want the necessary sight of their body.
Verse 7. "Mine enemies." The pirates seeing an empty bark, pass by it; but if
she be loaded with precious wares, then they will assault her. So, if a man have
no grace within him, Satan passeth by him as not a convenient prey for him; but
being loaded with graces, as the love of God, his fear, and such other spiritual
virtues, let him be persuaded that according as he knows what stuff is in him,
so will he not fail to rob him of them, if in any case he may, Archibald Symson.
Verse 7. That eye of his that had looked and lusted after his neighbour's wife is
now dimmed and darkened with grief and indignation. He has wept himself
almost blind. John Trapp.
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Verse 8. "Depart from me, " etc., i. e., you may now go your way; for that which
you look for, namely, my death, you shall not have at this present; for the Lord
hath heard the voice of my weeping, i.e., has graciously granted me that which
with tears I asked of him. Thomas Wilcocks.
Verse 8. "Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity." May not too much
familiarity with profane wretches be justly charged upon church members? I
know man is a sociable creature, but that will not excuse saints as to their
carelessness of the choice of their company. The very fowls of the air, and
beasts of the field, love not heterogeneous company. "Birds of a feather flock
together." I have been afraid that many who would be thought eminent, of a
high stature in grace and godliness, yet see not the vast difference there is
between nature and regeneration, sin and grace, the old and the new man,
seeing all company is alike unto them. Lewis Stuckley's "Gospel Glass", 1667.
Verse 8. "The voice of my weeping." Weeping hath a voice, and as music upon
the water sounds farther and more harmoniously than upon the land, so prayers,
joined with tears, cry louder in God's ears, and make sweeter music than when
tears are absent. When Antipater had written a large letter against Alexander's
mother unto Alexander, the king answered him, "One tear from my mother will
wash away all her faults." So it is with God. A penitent tear is an undeniable
ambassador, and never returns from the throne of grace unsatisfied. Spencer's
Things New and Old.
Verse 8. The wicked are called, "workers of iniquity," because they are free and
ready to sin, they have a strong tide and bent of spirit to do evil, and they do it
not to halves but thoroughly; they do not only begin or nibble at the bait a little
(as a good man often doth), but greedily swallow it down, hook and all; they
are fully in it, and do it fully; they make a work of it, and so are "workers of
iniquity." Joseph Caryl.
Verse 8. Some may say, "My constitution is such that I cannot weep; I may as
well go to squeeze a rock, as think to get a tear." But if thou canst not weep for
sin, canst thou grieve? Intellectual mourning is best; there may be sorrow
where there are no tears, the vessel may be full though it wants vent; it is not so
much the weeping eye God respects as the broken heart; yet I would be loath to
stop their tears who can weep. God stood looking on Hezekiah's tears (Isaiah
38:5), "I have seen thy tears." David's tears made music in God's ears, "The
Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." It is a sight fit for angels to behold,
tears as pearls dropping from a penitent eye. T. Watson.
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Verse 8. "The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." God hears the voice
of our looks, God hears the voice of our tears sometimes better than the voice
of our words; for it is the Spirit itself that makes intercession for us. Romans
8:26. Gemitibus inenarrabilibus, in those groans, and so in those tears, which
we cannot utter; ineloquacibus, as Tertullian reads that place, devout, and
simple tears, which cannot speak, speak aloud in the ears of God; nay, tears
which we cannot utter; not only utter the force of the tears, but not utter the
very tears themselves. As God sees the water in the spring in the veins of the
earth before it bubble upon the face of the earth, so God sees tears in the heart
of a man before they blubber his face; God hears the tears of that sorrowful
soul, which for sorrow cannot shed tears. From this casting up of the eyes, and
pouring out the sorrow of the heart at the eyes, at least opening God a window
through which he may see a wet heart through a dry eye; from these overtures
of repentance, which are as those imperfect sounds of words, which parents
delight in, in their children, before they speak plain, a penitent sinner comes to
a verbal and a more expressive prayer. To these prayers, these vocal and verbal
prayers from David, God had given ear, and from this hearing of those prayers
was David come to this thankful confidence, "The Lord hath heard, the Lord
will hear." John Donne.
Verse 8. What a strange change is here all of a sudden! Well might Luther say,
"Prayer is the leech of the soul, that sucks out the venom and swelling thereof."
"Prayer," saith another, "is an exorcist with God, and an exorcist against sin and
misery." Bernard saith, "How oft hath prayer found me despairing almost, but
left me triumphing, and well assured of pardon!" The same in effect saith
David here, "Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath
heard the voice of my weeping." What a word is that to his insulting enemies!
Avaunt! come out! vanish! These be words used to devils and dogs, but good
enough for a Doeg or a Shimei. And the Son of David shall say the same to his
enemies when he comes to judgment. John Trapp.
Verse 9. "The Lord hath heard my supplication," etc. The psalmist three times
expresses his confidence of his prayers being heard and received, which may be
either in reference to his having prayed so many times for help, as the apostle
Paul did (2 Corinthians 12:8); and as Christ his antitype did (Matthew 26:39,
42, 44); or to express the certainty of it, the strength of his faith in it, and the
exuberance of his joy on account of it. John Gill, D.D., 1697-1771.
Verse 10. "Let all mine enemies be ashamed," etc. If this were an imprecation, a
malediction, yet it was medicinal, and had rationem boni, a charitable tincture
and nature in it; he wished the men no harm as men. But it is rather
prædictorium, a prophetical vehemence, that if they will take no knowledge of
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God's declaring himself in the protection of his servants, if they would not
consider that God had heard, and would hear, had rescued, and would rescue
his children, but would continue their opposition against him, heavy judgments
would certainly fall upon them; their punishment should be certain, but the
effect should be uncertain; for God only knows whether his correction shall
work upon his enemies to their mollifying, or to their obduration. . . . In the
second word, "Let them be sore vexed," he wishes his enemies no worse than
himself had been, for he had used the same word of himself before, Ossa
turbata, My bones are vexed; and Anima turbata, My soul is vexed; and
considering that David had found this vexation to be his way to God, it was no
malicious imprecation to wish that enemy the same physic that he had taken,
who was more sick of the same disease than he was. For this is like a troubled
sea after a tempest; the danger is past, but yet the billow is great still; the
danger was in the calm, in the security, or in the tempest, by misinterpreting
God's correction to our obduration, and to a remorseless stupefication; but
when a man is come to this holy vexation, to be troubled, to be shaken with the
sense of the indignation of God, the storm is past, and the indignation of God is
blown over. That soul is in a fair and near way of being restored to a calmness,
and to reposed security of conscience that is come to this holy vexation. John
Verse 10. "Let all mine enemies [or all mine enemies shall] be ashamed, and
sore vexed," etc. Many of the mournful Psalms end in this manner, to instruct
the believer that he is continually to look forward, and solace himself with
beholding that day, when his warfare shall be accomplished; when sin and
sorrow shall be no more; when sudden and everlasting confusion shall cover
the enemies of righteousness; when the sackcloth of the penitent shall be
exchanged for a robe of glory, and every tear becomes a sparkling gem in his
crown; when to sighs and groans shall succeed the songs of heaven, set to
angels harps, and faith shall be resolved into the vision of the Almighty.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. A sermon for aflicted souls.
I. God's twofold dealings.
(1) Rebuke, by a telling sermon, a judgment on another, a slight trial in our
own person, or a solemn monition in our conscience by the Spirit.
(2) Chastening. This follows the other when the first is disregarded. Pain,
losses, bereavements, melancholy, and other trials.
II. The evils in them to be most dreaded, anger and hot displeasure.
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III. The means to avert these ills. Humiliation, confession, amendment,
faith in the Lord, etc.
Verse 1. The believer's greatest dread, the anger of God. What this fact reveals
in the heart? Why is it so? What removes the fear?
Verse 2. The argumentum ad misericordiam.
Verse 2. First sentence—Divine healing.
(1) What precedes it, my bones are vexed.
(2) How it is wrought.
(3) What succeeds it.
Verse 3. The impatience of sorrow; its sins, mischief, and cure.
Verse 3. A fruitful topic may be found in considering the question, How long
will God continue afflictions to the righteous?
Verse 4. "Return, O Lord." A prayer suggested by a sense of the Lord's
absence, excited by grace, attended with heart searching and repentance,
backed by pressing danger, guaranteed as to its answer, and containing a
request for all mercies.
Verse 4. The praying of the deserted saint.
1. His state: his soul is evidently in bondage and danger;
2. His hope: it is in the Lord's return.
3. His plea: mercy only.
Verse 5. The final suspension of earthly service considered in various practical
Verse 5. The duty of praising God while we live.
Verse 6. Saint's tears in quality, abundance, influence, assuagement, and final
Verse 7. The voice of weeping. What it is.
Verse 8. The pardoned sinner forsaking his bad companions.
Verse 9. Past answers the ground of present confidence. He hath, he will.
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Verse 10. The shame reserved for the wicked.
WORKS UPON THE SIXTH PSALM
A Godly and Fruitful Exposition on the Sixt Psalme, the First of the
Penitentials; in a sacred Septenarie; or, a Godly and Fruitful Exposition on the
Seven Psalmes of Repentance. by MR. ARCHIBALD SYMSON, late Pastor of
the Church at Dalkeeth in Scotland. 1638.
Sermons on the Penetential Psalms, in "The Works of John Donne, D.D., Dean
of St. Paul's," 1621-1631. Edited by HENRY ALFORD, M.A. In six volumes.
On Verse 6. The Sick Man's Couch; a Sermon preached before the most noble
Prince Henry, as Greenwich, Mar. 12., ann. 1604. by THOMAS PLAYFERE.
&c., in Playfere's Sermons.
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Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. "Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, concerning the word of Cush the Benjamite."—
"Shiggaion of David." As far as we can gather from the observations of learned men, and from a
comparison of this Psalm with the only other Shiggaion in the Word of God, (Habakkuk 3:1), this title
seems to mean "variable songs," with which also the idea of solace and pleasure is associated. Truly our
life-psalm is composed of variable verses; one stanza rolls along with the sublime metre of triumph, but
another limps with the broken rhythm of complaint. There is much bass in the saint's music here below.
Our experience is as variable as the weather in England.
From the title we learn the occasion of the composition of this song. It appears probable that Cush
the Benjamite had accused David to Saul of treasonable conspiracy against his royal authority. This the
king would be ready enough to credit, both from his jealousy of David, and from the relation which most
probably existed between himself, the son of Kish, and this Cush, or Kish, the Benjamite. He who is near
the throne can do more injury to a subject than an ordinary slanderer.
This may be called the SONG OF THE SLANDERED SAINT. Even this sorest of evils may furnish
occasion for a Psalm. What a blessing it would be if we could turn even the most disastrous event into a
theme for song, and so turn the tables upon our great enemy. Let us learn a lesson from Luther, who once
said, "David made Psalms; we also will make Psalms, and sing them as well as we can to the honour of our
Lord, and to spite and mock the devil."
DIVISION. In the first and second verses the danger is stated, and prayer offered. Then the Psalmist most
solemnly avows his innocence. (3, 4, 5). The Lord is pleaded with to arise to judgment (6, 7). The Lord,
sitting upon his throne, hears the renewed appeal of the Slandered Supplicant (8, 9). The Lord clears his
servant, and threatens the wicked (10, 11, 12, 13). The slanderer is seen in vision bringing a curse upon his
own head, (14, 15, 16), while David retires from trial singing a hymn of praise to his righteous God. We
have here a noble sermon upon that text: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every
tongue that riseth against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn."
Verse 1. David appears before God to plead with him against the Accuser, who
had charged him with treason and treachery. The case is here opened with an
avowal of confidence in God. Whatever may be the emergency of our condition
we shall never find it amiss to retain our reliance upon our God. "O Lord my
God, " mine by a special covenant, sealed by Jesus' blood, and ratified in my
own soul by a sense of union to thee; "in thee," and in thee only, "do I put my
trust," even now in my sore distress. I shake, but my rock moves not. It is never
right to distrust God, and never vain to trust him. And now, with both divine
relationship and holy trust to strengthen him, David utters the burden of his
desire—"save me from all them that persecute me. " His pursuers were very
many, and any one of them cruel enough to devour him; he cries, therefore, for
salvation from them all. We should never think our prayers complete until we
ask for preservation from all sin, and all enemies. "And deliver me, " extricate
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me from their snares, acquit me of their accusations, give a true and just
deliverance in this trial of my injured character. See how clearly his case is
stated; let us see to it, that we know what we would have when we are come to
the throne of mercy. Pause a little while before you pray, that you may not offer
the sacrifice of fools. Get a distinct idea of your need, and then you can pray
with the more fluency of fervency.
Verse 2. "Lest he tear my soul." Here is the plea of fear co-working with the
plea of faith. There was one among David's foes mightier that the rest, who had
both dignity, strength, and ferocity, and was, therefore, "like a lion." From this
foe he urgently seeks deliverance. Perhaps this was Saul, his royal enemy; but
in our own case there is one who goes about like a lion, seeking whom he may
devour, concerning whom we should ever cry, "Deliver us from the Evil One."
Notice the vigour of the description—"rending it in pieces, while there is none
to deliver." It is a picture from the shepherd-life of David. When the fierce lion
had pounced upon the defenceless lamb, and had made it his prey, he would
rend the victim in pieces, break all the bones, and devour all, because no
shepherd was near to protect the lamb or rescue it from the ravenous beast. This
is a soul-moving portrait of a saint delivered over to the will of Satan. This will
make the bowels of Jehovah yearn. A father cannot be silent when a child is in
such peril. No, he will not endure the thought of his darling in the jaws of a
lion, he will arise and deliver his persecuted one. Our God is very pitiful, and
he will surely rescue his people from so desperate a destruction. It will be well
for us here to remember that this is a description of the danger to which the
Psalmist was exposed from slanderous tongues. Verily this is not an overdrawn
picture, for the wounds of a sword will heal, but the wounds of the tongue cut
deeper than the flesh, and are not soon cured. Slander leaves a slur, even if it be
wholly disproved. Common fame, although notoriously a common liar, has
very many believers. Once let an ill word get into men's mouths, and it is not
easy to get it fully out again. The Italians say that good repute is like the
cypress, once cut it never puts forth leaf again; this is not true if our character
be cut by a stranger's hand, but even then it will not soon regain its former
verdure. Oh, 'tis a meanness most detestable to stab a good man in his
reputation, but diabolical hatred observes no nobility in its mode of warfare.
We must be ready for this trial, for it will surely come upon us. If God was
slandered in Eden, we shall surely be maligned in this land of sinners. Gird up
your loins, ye children of the resurrection, for this fiery trial awaits you all.
Verses 3-5. The second part of this wandering hymn contains a protestation of
innocence, and an invocation of wrath upon his own head, if he were not clear
from the evil imputed to him. So far from hiding treasonable intentions in his
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hands, or ungratefully requiting the peaceful deeds of a friend, he had even
suffered his enemy to escape when he had him completely in his power. Twice
had he spared Saul's life; once in the cave of Adullam, and again when he
found him sleeping in the midst of his slumbering camp: he could, therefore,
with a clear conscience, make his appeal to heaven. He needs not fear the curse
whose soul is clear of guilt. Yet is the imprecation a most solemn one, and only
justifiable through the extremity of the occasion, and the nature of the
dispensation under which the Psalmist lived. We are commanded by our Lord
Jesus to let our yea be yea, and our nay, nay: "for whatsoever is more than this
cometh of evil." If we cannot be believed on our word, we are surely not to be
trusted on our oath; for to a true Christian his simple word is as binding as
another man's oath. Especially beware, O unconverted men! of trifling with
solemn imprecations. Remember the woman at Devizes, who wished she might
die if she had not paid her share in a joint purchase, and who fell dead there and
then with the money in her hand.
Selah. David enhances the solemnity of this appeal to the dread tribunal of
God by the use of the usual pause.
From these verses we may learn that no innocence can shield a man from
the calumnies of the wicked. David had been scrupulously careful to avoid any
appearance of rebellion against Saul, whom he constantly styled "the Lord's
anointed;" but all this could not protect him from lying tongues. As the shadow
follows the substance, so envy pursues goodness. It is only at the tree laden
with fruit that men throw stones. If we would live without being slandered we
must wait till we get to heaven. Let us be very heedful not to believe the flying
rumors which are always harassing gracious men. If there are no believers in
lies there will be but a dull market in falsehood, and good men's characters will
be safe. Ill-will never spoke well. Sinners have an ill-will to saints, and
therefore, be sure they will not speak well of them.
Verse 6. We now listen to a fresh prayer, based upon the avowal which he has
just made. We cannot pray too often, and when our heart is true, we shall turn
to God in prayer as naturally as the needle to its pole.
"Arise, O Lord, in thine anger." His sorrow makes him view the Lord as a
judge who had left the judgment-seat and retired into his rest. Faith would
move the Lord to avenge the quarrel of his saints. "Lift up thyself because of the
rage of mine enemies "—a still stronger figure to express his anxiety that the
Lord would assume his authority and mount the throne. Stand up, O God, rise
thou above them all, and let thy justice tower above their villainies. "Awake for
me to the judgment that thou hast commanded." This is a bolder utterance still,
for it implies sleep as well as inactivity, and can only be applied to God in a
very limited sense. He never slumbers, yet doth he often seem to do so; for the
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wicked prevail, and the saints are trodden in the dust. God's silence is the
patience of longsuffering, and if wearisome to the saints, they should bear it
cheerfully in the hope that sinners may thereby be led to repentance.
Verse 7. "So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about." Thy
saints shall crowd to thy tribunal with their complaints, or shall surround it with
their solemn homage: "for their sakes therefore return thou on high." As when
a judge travels at the assizes, all men take their cases to his court that they may
be heard, so will the righteous gather to their Lord. Here he fortifies himself in
prayer by pleading that if the Lord will mount the throne of judgment,
multitudes of the saints would be blessed as well as himself. If I be too base to
be remembered, yet, "for their sakes," for the love thou bearest to thy chosen
people, come forth from thy secret pavilion, and sit in the gate dispensing
justice among the people. When my suit includes the desires of all the righteous
it shall surely speed, for, "shall not God avenge his own elect?"
Verse 8. If I am not mistaken, David has now seen in the eye of his mind the
Lord ascending to his judgment-seat, and beholding him seated there in royal
state, he draws near to him to urge his suit anew. In the last two verses he
besought Jehovah to arise, and now that he is arisen, he prepares to mingle with
"the congregation of the people" who compass the Lord about. The royal
heralds proclaim the opening of the court with the solemn words, "The Lord
shall judge the people." Our petitioner rises at once, and cries with earnestness
and humility, "Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and
according to mine integrity that is in me. " His hand is on an honest heart, and
his cry is to a righteous Judge.
Verse 9. He sees a smile of complacency upon the face of the King, and in the
name of all the assembled congregation he cries aloud, "Oh let the wickedness
of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just." Is not this the universal
longing of the whole company of the elect? When shall we be delivered from
the filthy conversation of these men of Sodom? When shall we escape from the
filthiness of Mesech and the blackness of the tents of Kedar?
What a solemn and weighty truth is contained in the last sentence of the
ninth verse! How deep is the divine knowledge!—"He trieth. " How strict, how
accurate, how intimate his search!—"he trieth the hearts," the secret thoughts,
"and reins," the inward affections. "All things are naked and opened to the eyes
of him with whom we have to do."
Verse 10. The judge has heard the cause, has cleared the guiltless, and uttered
his voice against the persecutors. Let us draw near, and learn the results of the
great assize. Yonder is the slandered one with his harp in hand, hymning the
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justice of his Lord, and rejoicing aloud in his own deliverance. "My defense is
of God, which saveth the upright in heart." Oh, how good to have a true and
upright heart. Crooked sinners, with all their craftiness, are foiled by the
upright in heart. God defends the right. Filth will not long abide on the pure
white garments of the saints, but shall be brushed off by divine providence, to
the vexation of the men by whose base hands it was thrown upon the godly.
When God shall try our cause, our sun has risen, and the sun of the wicked is
set for ever. Truth, like oil, is ever above, no power of our enemies can drown
it; we shall refute their slanders in the day when the trumpet wakes the dead,
and we shall shine in honour when lying lips are put to silence. O believer, fear
not all that thy foes can do or say against thee, for the tree which God plants no
winds can hurt.
Verse 11. "God judgeth the righteous," he hath not given thee up to be
condemned by the lips of persecutors. Thine enemies cannot sit on God's
throne, nor blot thy name out of his book. Let them alone, then, for God will
find time for his revenge.
"God is angry with the wicked every day. " He not only detests sin, but is
angry with those who continue to indulge in it. We have no insensible and
stolid God to deal with; he can be angry, nay, he is angry to-day and every day
with you, ye ungodly and impenitent sinners. The best day that ever dawns on a
sinner brings a curse with it. Sinners may have many feast days, but no safe
days. From the beginning of the year even to its ending, there is not an hour in
which God's oven is not hot, and burning in readiness for the wicked, who shall
be as stubble.
Verse 12. "If he turn not, he will whet his sword." What blows are those which
will be dealt by that long uplifted arm! God's sword has been sharpening upon
the revolving stone of our daily wickedness, and if we will not repent, it will
speedily cut us in pieces. Turn or burn is the sinner's only alternative. "He hath
bent his bow and made it ready."
Verse 13. Even now the thirsty arrow longs to wet itself with the blood of the
persecutor. The bow is bent, the aim is taken, the arrow is fitted to the string,
and what, O sinner, if the arrow should be let fly at thee even now! Remember,
God's arrows never miss the mark, and are, every one of them, "instruments of
death." Judgment may tarry, but it will not come too late. The Greek proverb
saith, "The mill of God grinds late, but grinds to powder."
Verse 14. In three graphic pictures we see the slanderer's history. A woman in
travail furnishes the first metaphor. "He travaileth with iniquity." He is full of
it, pained until he can carry it out, he longs to work his will, he is full of pangs
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until his evil intent is executed. "He hath conceived mischief." This is the
original of his base design. The devil has had doings with him, and the virus of
evil is in him. And now behold the progeny of this unhallowed conception. The
child is worthy of its father, his name of old was,"the father of lies," and the
birth doth not belie the parent, for he brought forth falsehood. Thus, one figure
is carried out to perfection; the Psalmist now illustrates his meaning by another,
taken from the stratagems of the hunter.
Verse 15. "He made a pit, and digged it. " He was cunning in his plans, and
industrious in his labours. He stooped to the dirty work of digging. He did not
fear to soil his own hands, he was willing to work in a ditch if others might fall
therein. What mean things men will do to wreak revenge on the godly. They
hunt for good men, as if they were brute beasts; nay, they will not give them the
fair chase afforded to the hare or the fox, but must secretly entrap them,
because they can neither run them down nor shoot them down. Our enemies
will not meet us to the face, for they fear us as much as they pretend to despise
us. But let us look on to the end of the scene. The verse says, he "is fallen into
the ditch which he made." Ah! there he is, let us laugh at his disappointment.
Lo! he is himself the beast, he has hunted his own soul, and the chase has
brought him a goodly victim. Aha, aha, so should it ever be. Come hither and
make merry with this entrapped hunter, this biter who has bitten himself. Give
him no pity, for it will be wasted on such a wretch. He is but rightly and richly
rewarded by being paid in his own coin. He cast forth evil from his mouth, and
it has fallen into his bosom. He has set his own house on fire with the torch
which he lit to burn a neighbour. He sent forth a foul bird, and it has come back
to its nest.
Verse 16. The rod which he lifted on high, has smitten his own back. He shot
an arrow upward, and it has "returned upon his own head." He hurled a stone at
another and it has "come down upon his own pate." Curses are like young
chickens, they always come home to roost. Ashes always fly back in the face of
him that throws them. "As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him." (Psalm
109:17.) How often has this been the case in the histories of both ancient and
modern times. Men have burned their own fingers when they were hoping to
brand their neighbour. And if this does not happen now, it will hereafter. The
Lord has caused dogs to lick the blood of Ahab in the midst of the vineyard of
Naboth. Sooner or later the evil deeds of persecutors have always leaped back
into their arms. So it will be in the last great day, when Satan's fiery darts shall
all be quivered in his own heart, and all his followers shall reap the harvest
which they themselves have sown.
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Verse 17. We conclude with the joyful contrast. In this all these Psalms are
agreed; they all exhibit the blessedness of the righteous, and make its colours
the more glowing by contrast with the miseries of the wicked. The bright jewel
sparkles in a black foil. Praise is the occupation of the godly, their eternal
work, and their present pleasure. Singing is the fitting embodiment for praise,
and therefore do the saints make melody before the Lord Most High. The
slandered one is now a singer: his harp was unstrung for a very little season,
and now we leave him sweeping its harmonious chords, and flying on their
music to the third heaven of adoring praise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. "Shiggaion," though some have attempted to fix on it a reference to the
moral aspect of the world as depicted in this Psalm, is in all probability to be
taken as expressing the nature of the composition. It conveys the idea of
something erratic ((Heb.), to wander) in the style; something not so calm as
other Psalms; and hence Ewald suggests, that it might be rendered, "a confused
ode," a Dithyramb. This characteristic of excitement in the style, and a kind of
disorder in the sense, suits Habakkuk 3:1, the only other place where the word
occurs. Andrew A. Bonar.
Whole Psalm. Whatever might be the occasion of the Psalm, the real subject
seems to be the Messiah's appeal to God against the false accusations of his
enemies; and the predictions which it contains of the final conversion of the
whole world, and of the future judgment, are clear and explicit. Samuel
Horsley, LL.D., 1733-1806.
Verse 1. "O Lord, my God, in thee do I put my trust." This is the first instance
in the Psalms where David addresses the Almighty by the united names
Jehovah and my God. No more suitable words can be placed at the beginning
of any act of prayer or praise. These names show the ground of the confidence
afterward expressed. They "denote at once supreme reverence and the most
endearing confidence. They convey a recognition of God's infinite perfections,
and of his covenanted and gracious relations." William S. Plumer.
Verse 2. "Lest he tear my soul like a lion," etc. It is reported of tigers, that they
enter into a rage upon the scent of fragrant spices; so do ungodly men at the
blessed savour of godliness. I have read of some barbarous nations, who, when
the sun shines hot upon them, they shoot up their arrows against it; so do
wicked men at the light and heat of godliness. There is a natural antipathy
between the spirits of godly men and the wicked. Genesis 3:15. "I will put
enmity between thy seed and her seed." Jeremiah Burroughs, 1660.
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Verse 3. "O Lord, my God, if I have done this, if there be iniquity in my hands."
In the primitive times the people of God were then a people under great
reproach. What strange things does Tertullian tell us they reproached them
withal; as that in their meetings they made Thyestes suppers, who invited his
brother to a supper, and presented him with a dish of his own flesh. They
charged them with uncleanness because they met in the night (for they durst not
meet in the day,) and said, they blew out the candles when they were together,
and committed filthiness. They reproached them for ignorance, saying, they
were all unlearned; and therefore the heathens in Tertullian's time used to paint
the God of the Christians with an ass's head, and a book in his hand to signify
that though they pretended learning, yet they were an unlearned, silly people,
rude and ignorant. Bishop Jewel in his sermon upon Luke 11:5, cites this out of
Tertullian, and applies it to his time:—"Do not our adversaries do the like,"
saith he, "at this day, against all those that profess the gospel of Christ? Oh, say
they, who are they that favour this way? they are none but shoemakers, tailors,
weavers, and such as were never at the university;" they are the bishop's own
words. He cites likewise Tertullian a little after, saying, that the Christians were
accounted the public enemies of the State. And Josephus tells us of Apollinaris,
speaking concerning the Jews and Christians, that they were more foolish than
any barbarian. And Paulus Fagius reports a story of an Egyptian, concerning
the Christians, who said, "They were a gathering together of a most filthy,
lecherous people;" and for the keeping of the Sabbath, he says, "they had a
disease that was upon them, and they were fain to rest the seventh day because
of that disease." And so in Augustine's time, he hath this expression, "Any one
that begins to be godly, presently he must prepare to suffer reproach from the
tongues of adversaries;" and this was their usual manner of reproach, "What
shall we have of you, an Elias? a Jeremy?" And Nazianzen, in one of his
orations says, "It is ordinary to reproach, that I cannot think to go free myself."
And so Athanasius, they called him Sathanasius, because he was a special
instrument against the Arians. And Cyprian, they called him Coprian, one that
gathers up dung, as if all the excellent things that he had gathered in his works
was but dung. Jeremiah Burroughs.
Verse 3. "If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands." I deny not but
you may, and ought to be sensible of the wrong done to your name, for as "a
good name is a precious ointment" (Canticles 1:3), so to have an evil name is a
great judgment; and therefore you ought not to be insensible of the wrong done
to your name by slanders and reproaches, saying, "Let men speak of me what
they please, I care not, so long as I know mine own innocency," for though the
testimony of your own innocency be a ground of comfort unto you, yet your
care must be not only to approve yourselves unto God, but also unto men, to be
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as careful of your good names as possibly ye can; but yet you are not to
manifest any distemper or passion upon the reproachful speeches of others
against you. Thomas Gouge, 1660.
Verse 3. It is a sign that there is some good in thee if a wicked world abuse
thee. "Quid mali feci?" said Socrates, what evil have I done that this bad man
commends me? The applause of the wicked usually denotes some evil, and
their censure imports some good. Thomas Watson.
Verse 3. "If there be iniquity in my hands." Injustice is ascribed to the hand, not
because injustice as always, though usually it be, done by the hand. With the
hand men take away, and with that men detain the right of others. David speaks
thus (1 Chronicles 12:17), "Seeing there is no wrong in mine hands;" that is, I
have done no wrong. Joseph Caryl.
Verses 3, 4. A good conscience is a flowing spring of assurance. "For our
rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly
sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our
conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." 2 Corinthians
1:12. "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards
God." 1 John 3:21. A good conscience has sure confidence. He who has it sits
in the midst of all combustions and distractions, Noah-like, all sincerity and
serenity, uprightness and boldness. What the probationer disciple said to our
Saviour, "Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," that a good
conscience says to the believing soul; I will stand by thee; I will strengthen
thee; I will uphold thee; I will be a comfort to thee in life, and a friend to thee
in death. "Though all should leave thee, yet will I never forsake thee," Thomas
Verse 4. "Yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy."
Meaning Saul, whose life he twice preserved, once in Engedi, and again when
he slept on the plain. John Gill.
Verse 4. "If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me. " To do
evil for good, is human corruption; to do good for good, is civil retribution; but
to good for evil, is Christian perfection. Though this be not the grace of nature,
yet it is the nature of grace. William Secker.
Verse 4. Then is grace victorious, and then hath a man a noble and brave spirit,
not when he is overcome by evil (for that argueth weakness), but when he can
overcome evil. And it is God's way to shame the party that did the wrong, and
to overcome him too; it is the best way to get the victory over him. When
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David had Saul at an advantage in the cave, and cut off the lap of his garment,
and did forbear any act of revenge against him, Saul was melted, and said to
David, "Thou art more righteous than I." 1 Samuel 24:17. Though he had such
a hostile mind against him, and chased and pursued him up and down, yet when
David forbear revenge when it was in his power, it overcame him, and he falls
a-weeping. Thomas Manton.
Verse 5. "Let him tread down my life upon the earth." The allusion here is to
the manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they
were rode over by horses, or trampled by men in the dust. The idea of David is,
that if he was guilty he would be willing that his enemy should triumph over
him, should subdue him, should treat him with the utmost indignity and scorn.
Albert Barnes, in loc.
Verse 5. "Mine honour in the dust." When Achilles dragged the body of Hector
in the dust around the walls of Troy, he did but carry out the usual manners of
those barbarous ages. David dares in his conscious innocence to imprecate such
an ignominious fate upon himself if indeed the accusation of the black
Benjamite be true. He had need have a golden character who dares to challenge
such an ordeal. C. H. S.
Verse 6. "The judgment which thou hast ordained." In the end of the verse he
shows that he asks nothing but what is according to the appointment of God.
And this is the rule which ought to be observed by us in our prayers; we should
in everything conform our requests to the divine will, as John also instructs us.
1 John 4:14. And, indeed, we can never pray in faith unless we attend, in the
first place, to what God commands, that our minds may not rashly and at
random start aside in desiring more than we are permitted to desire and pray
for. David, therefore, in order to pray aright, reposes himself on the word and
promise of God; and the import of his exercise is this: Lord, I am not led by
ambition, or foolish headstrong passion, or depraved desire, inconsiderately to
ask from thee whatever is pleasing to my flesh; but it is the clear light of thy
word which directs me, and upon it I securely depend. John Calvin.
Verse 7. "The congregation of the people:" either, 1. A great number of all sorts
of people, who shall observe thy justice, and holiness, and goodness in pleading
my righteous cause against my cruel and implacable oppressor. Or rather, 2.
The whole body of thy people Israel, by whom both these Hebrew words are
commonly ascribed in Holy Scripture. "Compass thee about;" they will, and I,
as their king and ruler in thy stead, will take care that they shall come from all
parts and meet together to worship thee, which in Saul's time they have grossly
neglected, and been permitted to neglect, and to offer to thee praises and
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sacrifices for thy favour to me, and for the manifold benefits which they shall
enjoy by my means, and under my government. "For their sakes;" or, for its
sake, i.e., for the sake of thy congregation, which now is woefully dissipated
and oppressed, and has in a great measure lost all administration of justice, and
exercise of religion. "Return thou on high," or, return to thy high place, i. e. to
thy tribunal, to sit there and judge my cause. An allusion to earthly tribunals,
which generally are set up on high above the people. 1 Kings 10:19. Matthew
Verse 8. Believers! let not the terror of that day dispirit you when you meditate
upon it; let those who have slighted the Judge, and continue enemies to him and
the way of holiness, droop and hang down their heads when they think of his
coming; but lift ye up your heads with joy, for the last day will be your best
day. The Judge is your Head and Husband, your Redeemer, and your Advocate.
Ye must appear before the judgment-seat; but ye shall not come into
condemnation. His coming will not be against you, but for you. It is otherwise
with unbelievers, a neglected Saviour will be a severe Judge. Thomas Boston,
Verse 9. "The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins." As common
experience shows that the workings of the mind, particularly the passions of
joy, grief, and fear, have a very remarkable effect on the reins or kidneys. (See
Proverbs 23:16; Psalm 73:21), so from their retired situation in the body, and
their being hid in fat, they are often used to denote the most secret workings
and affections of the soul. And to "see or examine the reins," is to see or
examine those most secret thoughts or desires of the soul. John Parkhurst,
Verse 9 (last clause). "The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins."
"I that alone am infinite, can try
How deep within itself thine heart doth lie.
Thy seamen's plummet can but reach the ground,
I find that which thine heart itself ne'er found.
Francis Quarles, 1592-1644.
Verse 9. "The heart," may signify the cogitations, and the "reins" the
affections. Henry Ainsworth.
Verse 10. "My defense is of God. " Literally, "My shield is upon God, " like
Psalm 62:8, "My salvation is upon God." The idea may be taken from the
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armour-bearer, ever ready at hand to give the needed weapon to the warrior.
Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 11. "God judgeth the righteous," etc. Many learned disputes have arisen
as to the meaning of this verse; and it must be confessed that its real import is
by no means easily determined: without the words written in italics, which are
not in the original, it will read thus, "God judgeth the righteous, and God is
angry every day." The question still will be, is this a good rendering? To this
question it may be replied, that there is strong evidence for a contrary one.
AINSWORTH translates it, "God is a just judge; and God angrily threateneth
every day." With this corresponds the reading of COVERDALE'S Bible, "God
is a righteous judge, and God is ever threatening." In King Edward's Bible, of
1549, the reading is the same. But there is another class of critics who adopt
quite a different view of the text, and apparently with much colour of argument.
BISHOP HORSLEY read the verse, "God is a righteous judge, although he is
not angry every day." In this rendering he seems to have followed most of the
ancient versions. The VULGATE read it, "God is a judge, righteous, strong,
and patient; will he be angry every day?" The SEPTUAGINT reads it, "God is
a righteous judge, strong, and longsuffering; not bringing forth his anger every
day." The SYRIAC has it, "God is the judge of righteousness; he is not angry
every day." In this view of the text Dr. A. Clarke agrees, and expresses it as his
opinion that the text was first corrupted by the CHALDEE. This learned divine
proposes to restore the text thus, "(Heb.), el, with the vowel point tseri,
signifies God; (Heb.), al, the same letters, with the point pathach, signifies
not. " There is by this view of the original no repetition of the divine name in
the verse, so that it will simply read, as thus restored, "God is a righteous judge,
and is NOT angry every day." The text at large, as is intimated in the
VULGATE, SEPTUAGINT, and some other ancient versions, conveys a strong
intimation of the longsuffering of God, whose hatred of sin is unchangeable,
but whose anger against transgressors is marked by infinite patience, and does
not burst forth in vengeance every day. John Morrison, in "An Exposition of the
Book of Psalms," 1829.
Verse 11. "God is angry." The original expression here is very forcible. The
true idea of it appears to be, to froth or foam at the mouth with indignation.
Richard Mant, D.D., 1824.
Verses 11, 12. God hath set up his royal standard in defiance of all the sons and
daughters of apostate Adam, who from his own mouth are proclaimed rebels
and traitors to his crown and dignity; and as against such he hath taken the
field, as with fire and sword, to be avenged on them. Yea, he gives the world
sufficient testimony of his incensed wrath, by that of it which is revealed from
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heaven daily in the judgments executed upon sinners, and those many but of a
span long, before they can show what nature they have by actual sin, yet
crushed to death by God's righteous foot, only for the viperous kind of which
they come. At every door where sin sets its foot, there the wrath of God meets
us. Every faculty of soul, and member of body, are used as a weapon of
unrighteousness against God; so every one hath its portion of wrath, even to the
tip of the tongue. As man is sinful all over, so is he cursed all over. Inside and
outside, soul and body, is written all with woes and curses, so close and full,
that there is not room for another to interline, or add to what God hath written.
Verses 11-13. The idea of God's righteousness must have possessed great
vigour to render such a representation possible. There are some excellent
remarks upon the ground of it in Luther, who, however, too much overlooks the
fact, that the psalmist presents before his eyes this form of an angry and
avenging God, primarily with the view of strengthening by its consideration his
own hope, and pays too little regard to the distinction between the psalmist,
who only indirectly teaches what he described as part of his own inward
experience, and the prophet: "The prophet takes a lesson from a coarse human
similitude, in order that he might inspire terror unto the ungodly. For he speaks
against stupid and hardened people, who would not apprehend the reality of a
divine judgment, of which he had just spoken; but they might possibly be
brought to consider this by greater earnestness on the part of man. Now, the
prophet is not satisfied with thinking of the sword, but adds thereto the bow;
even this does not satisfy him, but he describes how it is already stretched, and
aim is taken, and the arrows are applied to it as here follows. So hard, stiff-
necked and unabashed are the ungodly, that however many threatenings may be
urged against them, they will still remain unmoved. But in these words he
forcibly describes how God's anger presses hard upon the ungodly, though they
will never understand this until they actually experience it. It is also to be
remarked here, that we have had so frightful a threatening and indignation
against the ungodly in no Psalm before this; neither has the Spirit of God
attacked them with so many words. Then in the following verses, he also
recounts their plans and purposes, shows how these shall not be in vain, but
shall return again upon their own head. So that it clearly and manifestly appears
that to all those who suffer wrong and reproach, as a matter of consolation, that
God hates such revilers and slanderers above all other characters. E. W.
Hengstenberg, in loc., 1845.
Verse 12. "If he turn not, " etc. How few do believe what a quarrel God hath
with wicked men? And that not only with the loose, but the formal and
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hypocritical also? If we did we would tremble as much to be among them as to
be in a house that is falling; we would endeavour to "save" ourselves "from this
untoward generation." The apostle would not so have adjured them, so charged,
so entreated them, had he not known the danger of wicked company. "God is
angry with the wicked every day; " his bow is bent, the arrows are on the string;
the instruments for their ruin are all prepared. And is it safe to be there where
the arrows of God are ready to fly about our ears? How was the apostle afraid
to be in the bath with Cerinthus! "Depart," saith God by Moses, "from the tents
of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, lest ye be consumed in all their sins." How have
the baskets of good figs suffered with the bad! Is it not prejudicial to the gold to
be with the dross? Lot had been ruined by his neighbourhood to the Sodomites
if God had not wrought wonderfully for his deliverance. Will you put God to
work miracles to save you from your ungodly company? It is dangerous being
in the road with thieves whilst God's hue and cry of vengeance is at their backs.
"A companion of fools shall be destroyed." The very beasts may instruct you to
consult better for your security: the very deer are afraid of a wounded chased
deer, and therefore for their preservation thrust him out of their company. Lewis
Verse 12. "If he turn not, he will whet his sword," etc. The whetting of the
sword is but to give a keener edge that it may cut the deeper. God is silent as
long as the sinner will let him; but when the sword is whet, it is to cut; and
when the bow is bent, it is to kill; and woe be to that man who is the butt.
Verse 13. "He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he
ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors." It is said that God hath ordained
his arrows against the persecutors; the word signifies such as burn in anger and
malice against the godly; and the word translated ordained, signifies God hath
wrought his arrows; he doth not shoot them at random, but he works them
against the wicked. Illiricus hath a story which may well be a commentary upon
this text in both the parts of it. One Felix, Earl of Wartenberg, one of the
captains of the Emperor Charles V., swore in the presence of divers at supper,
that before he died he would ride up to the spurs in the blood of the Lutherans.
Here was one that burned in malice, but behold how God works his arrows
against him; that very night the hand of God so struck him, that he was
strangled and choked in his own blood; so he rode not, but bathed himself, not
up to the spurs, but up to the throat, not in the blood of the Lutherans, but in his
own blood before he died. Jeremiah Burroughs.
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Verse 13. "He ordaineth his arrows," This might more exactly be rendered, "He
maketh his arrows burning." This image would seem to be deduced from the
use of fiery arrows. John Kitto, 1804-1854.
Verse 14. "Behold he travaileth with iniquity," etc. The words express the
conception, birth, carriage and miscarriage, of a plot against David. In which
you may consider:—(1.) What his enemies did. (2.) What God did. (3.) What
we all should do: his enemies' intention, God's prevention, and our duty; his
enemies' intention, he travaileth with iniquity, and conceiveth mischief; God's
prevention, he brought forth a lie; our duty, Behold Observe the
aggravation of the sin, he conceiveth. He was not put upon it, or forced into it:
it was voluntary. The more liberty we have not to sin, makes our sin the greater.
He did not this in passion, but in cold blood. The less will, less sin. Richard
Verse 14. "He travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief." All note
that conceiving is before travailing, but here travailing, as a woman in labour,
goeth first; the reason whereof is, that the wicked are so hotly set upon the evil
which they maliciously intend, that they would be immediately acting of it if
they could tell how, even before they have conceived by what means; but in
fine they bring forth but a lie, that is, they find that their own hearts lied to
them, when they promised good success, but they had evil. For their haste to
perpetrate mischief is intimated in the word rendered "persecutors" (verse 13),
which properly signifieth ardentes, burning; that is, with a desire to do
mischief—and this admits of no delay. A notable common-place, both setting
forth the evil case of the wicked, especially attempting anything against the
righteous, to move them to repentance—for thou hast God for thine enemy
warring against thee, whose force thou canst not resist—and the greedy desire
of the wicked to be evil, but their conception shall all prove abortive. J. Mayer,
Verse 14. "And hath brought forth falsehood." Every sin is a lie. Augustine.
"Earth's entertainments are like those of Jael.
Her left hand brings me milk, her right, a nail."
Verses 14, 15. "They have digged a pit for us"—and that low, unto hell—"and
are fallen into it themselves."
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"No juster law can be devised or made,
Than that sin's agents fall by their own trade."
The order of hell proceeds with the same degrees; though it give a greater
portion, yet still a just proportion, of torment. These wretched guests were too
busy with the waters of sin; behold, now they are in the depth of a pit, "where
no water is." Dives, that wasted so many tuns of wine, cannot now procure
water, not a pot of water, not a handful of water, not a drop of water, to cool his
tongue. Desideravit guttam, qui non dedit micam. (Augustine Hom. 7) A just
recompense! He would not give a crumb; he shall not have a drop. Bread hath
no smaller fragment than a crumb, water no less fraction than a drop. As he
denied the least comfort to Lazarus living, so Lazarus shall not bring him the
least comfort dead. Thus the pain for sin answers the pleasure of sin. . . . Thus
damnable sins shall have semblable punishments; and as Augustine of the
tongue, so we may say of any member. . . . If it will not serve God in action, it
shall serve him in passion. Thomas Adams.
Verse 15. "He made a pit, and digged it. " The practice of making pitfalls was
anciently not only employed for ensnaring wild beasts, but was also a stratagem
used against men by the enemy, in time of war. The idea, therefore, refers to a
man who, having made such a pit, whether for man or beast, and covered it
over so as completely to disguise the danger, did himself inadvertently tread on
his own trap, and fall into the pit he had prepared for another. Pictorial Bible.
Verse 16. That most witty of commentators, Old Master Trapp, tells the
following notable anecdote, in illustration of this verse:—That was a very
remarkable instance of Dr. Story, who, escaping out of prison in Queen
Elizabeth's days, got to Antwerp, and there thinking himself out of the reach of
God's rod, he got commission under the Duke of Alva to search all ships
coming thither for English books. But one Parker, an English merchant, trading
for Antwerp, laid his snare fair (saith our chronicler), to catch this foul bird,
causing secret notice to be given to Story, that in his ship were stores of
heretical books, with other intelligence that might stand him in stead. The
Canonist conceiving that all was quite sure, hasted to the ship, where, with
looks very big upon the poor mariners, each cabin, chest, and corner above-
board were searched, and some things found to draw him further on: so that the
hatches must be opened, which seemed to be unwillingly done, and great signs
of fear were showed by their faces. This drew on the Doctor to descend into the
hold, where now in the trap the mouse might well gnaw, but could not get out,
for the hatches were down, and the sails hoisted up, which, with a merry gale,
were blown into England, where ere long he was arraigned, and condemned of
high treason, and accordingly executed at Tyburn, as he had well deserven.
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Verse 16. The story of Phalaris's bull, invented for the torment of others, and
serving afterwards for himself, is notorious in heathen story It was a
voluntary judgment which Archbishop Cranmer inflicted on himself when he
thrust that very hand into the fire, and burnt it, with which he had signed to the
popish articles, crying out, "Oh, my unworthy right hand!" but who will deny
that the hand of the Almighty was also concerned in it? William Turner in
"Divine Judgments by way of Retaliation", 1697.
Verse 17. To bless God for mercies is the way to increase them; to bless him
for miseries is the way to remove them: no good lives so long as that which is
thankfully improved; no evil dies so soon as that which is patiently endured.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. The necessity of faith when we address ourselves to God. Show the
worthlessness of prayer without trust in the Lord.
Verses 1, 2. Viewed as a prayer for deliverance from all enemies, especially
Satan the lion.
Verse 3. Self-vindication before men. When possible, judicious, or serviceable.
With remarks upon the spirit in which it should be attempted.
Verse 4. "The best revenge." Evil for good is devil-like, evil for evil is beast-
like, good for good is man-like, good for evil is God-like.
Verse 6. How and in what sense divine anger may become the hope of the
Fire fought by fire, or man's anger overcome by God's anger.
Verse 7. The congregation of the people."
1. Who they are.
2. Why they congregate together with one another.
3. Where they congregate.
4. Why they choose such a person to be the centre of their congregation.
Verse 7. The gathering of the saints around the Lord Jesus.
Verse 7 (last clause). The coming of Christ to judgment for the good of his
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Verse 8. The character of the Judge before whom we all must stand.
Verse 9 (first clause).
(1) By changing their hearts; or
(2) by restraining their wills,
(3) or depriving them of power,
(4) or removing them.
Show the times when, the reasons why, such a prayer should be offered, and
how, in the first sense, we may labour for its accomplishment.
Verse 9. This verse contains two grand prayers, and a noble proof that the Lord
can grant them.
Verse 9. The period of sin, and the perpetuity of the righteous. Matthew Henry.
Verse 9. "Establish the just." By what means and in what sense the just are
established, or, the true established church.
Verse 9 (last clause). God's trial of men's hearts.
Verse 10. "Upright in heart." Explain the character.
Verse 10. The believer's trust in God, and God's care over him. Show the action
of faith in procuring defence and protection, and of that defence upon our faith
by strengthening it, etc.
Verse 11. The Judge, and the two persons upon their trial.
Verse 11 (second clause). God's present, daily, constant, and vehement anger,
against the wicked.
Verse 12. See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 106. "Turn or Burn."
Verses 14, 15, 16. Illustrate by three figures the devices and defeat of
Verse 17. The excellent duty of praise.
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Verse 17. View the verse in connection with the subject of the Psalm, and show
how the deliverance of the righteous, and the destruction of the wicked are
themes for song.
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Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher