The Treasury of David

 

                                                 by

                   Charles H. Spurgeon

                        

 

                                         Vol. 1

                                 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:

      Pilgrim Publications, PO Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501 has reprinted in
1983 ($110) the 1886 seven volume edition (Funk & Wagnalls). Hendricksen
Publishers has recently published a 3 volume version ($60; 2005; vid
www.amazon.com).  Various condensations are also available. 

        This digital version was prepared by Ted Hildebrandt, 2007.
                    
Table of Contents

 

Preface                    p.  3
Ch. 1                        p. 5
Ch. 2                        p. 20
Ch. 3                        p. 38
Ch. 4                        p. 56
Ch. 5                        p. 73
Ch. 6                        p. 91
Ch. 7                        p. 109
Ch. 8                        p. 128
Ch. 9                        p. 155
Ch. 10                      p. 177
Ch. 11                      p. 208
Ch. 12                      p. 228
Ch. 13                      p. 244
Ch. 14                      p. 259
Ch. 15                      p. 286
Ch. 16                      p. 313
Ch. 17                      p. 351
Ch. 18                      p. 386
Ch. 19                      p. 438
Ch. 20                      p. 489
Ch. 21                      p. 508

 

Ch. 22                      p. 528
Ch. 23                      p. 574
Ch. 24                      p. 608
Ch. 25                      p. 635
Ch. 26                      p. 675
Ch. 27                      p. 697
Ch. 28                      p. 727
Ch. 29                      p. 741
Ch. 30                      p. 763
Ch. 31                      p. 785
Ch. 32                      p. 823
Ch. 33                      p. 861
Ch. 34                      p. 891
Ch. 35                      p. 919
Ch. 36                      p. 949
Ch. 37                      p. 968
Ch. 38                      p. 1015
Ch. 39                      p. 1040
Ch. 40                      p. 1063
Ch. 41                      p. 1092

 

 

 


                                                         Preface                                                  3

 

                                                        Preface

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

better.

            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

of them.

            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

diligently aided me in investigations at the British Museum, Dr. William's

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.

 


                                                        Preface                                                        4

 

            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

given.

            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

 

                                                     Psalm 1

Exposition

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Hints to the Village Preacher

Other Works

 

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.

 

                                           EXPOSITION

 

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

utterly consumed.

 

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

heaven continually vexed by the men of Sodom. Let us rejoice then, that in "the

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

wicked in Paradise. Heaven would be an intolerable hell to an impenitent man,

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

Christianity. What Jerome saith on St. Paul's epistles, the same may I say of

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,

1660.

            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

Baker, 1640

            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,

1662-1714

 

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

he doth not prophecy good unto him. Every child in Bethel will mock Elisha (2

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

Adams, 1614.

 

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-

1471.

 

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'

Spiritual Delight.

 

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,

1670.

 

Verse 3. "A tree."—There is one tree, only to be found in the valley of the

Jordan, but too beautiful to be entirely passed over; the oleander, with its bright

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

Palestine."

 

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

persons at the pool of Bethesda, step in when the angel stirs the water. Now the

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

church to know that the kingdom of God does not stand in word but in power. 1

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

Luther.

 

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

ancient versions.

 

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

left it; or a deluge of fire, as it did upon Sodom, when Lot left it, and went out

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

the ungodly.

 

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

Baker.

 


                                                   Psalm 1                                                   17

 

Verse 5. The Irish air will sooner brook a toad, or a snake, than heaven a sinner.

John Trapp.

 

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

profession.

 

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

end.

 

                       WORKS UPON THE FIRST PSALM

 

The Way to Blessedness: a Commentary on the First Psalm. By PHINEAS FLETCHER. London. 1632

 

A Discourse about the State of True Happiness, delivered in certain Sermons in Oxford, and at Paul's

Cross. By ROBERT BOLTON. London. 1625

 

David's Blessed Man; or, a Short Exposition on the First Psalm, directing a Man to True Happiness. By

SAMUEL SMITH, preacher of the Word at Prittlewell in Essex. 1635 [Reprinted in Nicol's Series of

Commentaries.]

 

Meditations and Disquisitions upon the First Psalm of David.—Blessed is the Man. By SIR RICHARD

BAKER, Knight. London. 1640 [The same volume contains Meditations upon "Seven Consolatorie Psalms

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

 

                                   Psalm 2

 

Exposition

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Hints to the Village Preacher

Other Works

 

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

colouring which may perhaps seem too bold and glaring for the king of Israel, will no longer appear so

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.

 

                                              EXPOSITION

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

Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever

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

us?

 

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

them.

 

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

Zion'." Is not that a grand exclamation! He has already done that which the

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

earth. Even now he reigns in Zion, and our glad lips sound forth the praises of

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

are yet to come; hasten them, we pray thee, O Lord! It is Zion's glory and joy

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

church. In him is Zion's best safeguard; let her citizens be glad in him.

                        "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

Spain, two monumental pillars were raised, on which were written:—I.

"Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti, for having extended

the Roman Empire in the east and the west, and for having extinguished the

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.

Neither in Spain, nor elsewhere, can be pointed out the burial place of

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.

John Trapp.

 

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

Trapp.

 

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

kingdom of Satan, which in our eyes are formidable, in his are despicable.

Matthew Henry.

 

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

Pitcairn.

 

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.

Martin Luther.

 

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

in the Red sea. Here is the end of one of the greatest plots ever formed against

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

us of the agonies of Charles IX. of France, which drove the blood through the

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

rules; it is over "my holy hill of Zion" — an eminent type of the gospel church.

The temple was built upon Mount Zion and therefore called a holy hill. Christ's

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-

1680.

 

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

he rules for his Father. There is a twofold kingdom of God committed to Jesus

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.

 

Verse 6. "Zion." The name "Zion" signifies a "distant view" (speculam). And

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,

1617-1679.

 

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

David shall come in glory and in majesty as Zion's King, with a rod of iron to

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.

David Pitcairn.


                                                   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,

joy in his anger. From Sermons of John Donne, D.D., Dean of St. Paul's, 1621-

1631.

 

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

Newton.

 

                        HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER

 

Whole Psalm. Shows us the nature of sin, and the terrible results of it if it could

reign.

 

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

 

repented of.

            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

divine attributes.

 

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

 

Zion's King: the Second Psalm expounded in the Light of History and Prophecy. By the Rev. DAVID

PITCAIRN. 1851.


                                                   Psalm 3                                                   38

 

                                   Psalm 3

 

Exposition

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

Gethsemane. He, too, drank of the brook by the way, and therefore doth he lift up the head. By very many

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).

 

                                             EXPOSITION

 

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

of Jeshurun."

 

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-

hearing God.

            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

Providence in sweet security, and then awoke in safety. "For the Lord

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:

"Thy blessing is upon thy people." Neither upon Egypt, nor upon Tyre, nor

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:

                                                            Hallelujah!

                        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

without fear. Thomas Tymme's "Silver Watch Bell", 1634.

 

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

Henry.

 

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.

William Gurnall.

 

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.

Matthew Henry.

 

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

Biblical Literature.

 

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.

Thomas Watson.

 

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

lay on his bed of down in his stately palace at Jerusalem, but when he fled for

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.

 

Verse 5. Gurnall, who wrote when there were houses on old London Bridge,

has quaintly said, "Do you not think that they sleep as soundly who dwell on

London Bridge as they who live at Whitehall or Cheapside? for they know that

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

 

Verse 5. Xerxes, the Persian, when he destroyed all the temples in Greece,

caused the temple of Diana to be preserved for its beautiful structure: that soul

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.

Thomas Watson.

 

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

journeyed toward Worms. His friend Spalatin heard it said, by the enemies of

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

the chaplain, 'Do not enter Worms!' And this from his best friend, the elector's

confidant, from Spalatin himself!    But Luther, undismayed, turned his

eyes upon the messenger, and replied, 'Go, and tell your master, that even

should there be as many devils in Worms as tiles upon the housetops, still I

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

 

feared nothing.'"

            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

receipt to our souls than the pardons of Rome, is Salus Jehovæ, the salvation 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

Greece, a famous council assembled of twelve sundry people, wrote upon the

temple of Apollo Pythius, instead of the Iliads of Homer, or songs of Pindarus

(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."

Thomas Watson.

 

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

it whatever.

 

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?"

Romans 8:24.

 

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

mind.

 

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

worst estate.

 

Verse 4.

            (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.

 

Verse 5.

            (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.

 

Verse 7.

            (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

God."

            (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

 

                                    Psalm 4

 

Exposition

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Hints to the Village Preacher

Other Works

 

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

repose!

                "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.

 

                                          EXPOSITION

 

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

morning until we cross the Jordan.


                                                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

heaven.

 

            "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

Calvary, and there put your whole confidence and trust, for he who died for

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

us to be foreigners, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 4                                                   61

 

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.,

Archbishop of Glasgow, 1611 - 1684.


                                                   Psalm 4                                                   62

 

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,

D.D.

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 4                                                   63

 

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,

1608-1680.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 4                                                   64

 

them in that particular. Out of the heart comes all kind of evil. Thomas Horton,

1675.

 

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-

1679.

 

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,

1653.

 

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.

Rayment, 1630.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 4                                                   67

 

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

Clarke.

 

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

Brooks.

 

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 -

1691.

 

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,

D.D., 1776.

 

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."

                                                                        Mrs. M'Cartree.

 

                      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."


                                                   Psalm 4                                                   71

 

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

Vox Dei.

 

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

increased."

            Another excellent theme suggests itself— "The superiority of the joys of


                                                   Psalm 4                                                   72

 

grace to the joys of earth;" or, "Two sorts of prosperity—which is to be the

more desired?"

 

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

Christ.

            (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

Works.


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   73

 

                                   Psalm 5

 

Exposition

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.

 

                                            EXPOSITION

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   74

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   75

 

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

pray acceptably.

            "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

sacrifice.

            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!


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   76

 

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

angry God!

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   77

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   78

 

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

godless.

            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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   79

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   80

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   81

 

            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,

1658.

 

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

not up.'"

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   82

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   83

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   84

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   85

 

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.

John Trapp.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   86

 

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.

John Trapp.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   87

 

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


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   88

 

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

his way.

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   89

 

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

God.

 

Verse 7. The devout resolution

 

Verse 7.

            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

Jay, 1842.

 

Verse 8. God's guidance needed always and especially when enemies are

watching us.

 

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.

 

Verse 11.

            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.


                                                   Psalm 5                                                   90

 

Verse 12. (second clause). A sense of divine favour a defence to the soul.


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   91

 

                                   Psalm 6

 

Exposition

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Hints to the Village Preacher

Other Works

 

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.

 

 

                                           EXPOSITION

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   92

 

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

faded flower.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   93

 

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'

sake."

            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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   94

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   95

 

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

right way.

            Thus the Psalm, like those which preceed it, shews the different estates of


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   96

 

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,

1638.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   97

 

            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.

                                                                                    Anon.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   98

 

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

Symson.

 

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.

Archibald Symson.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   99

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   100

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   101

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   102

 

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

Playfere, 1604.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   103

 

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

Mind.

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   104

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   105

 

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


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   106

 

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

Donne.

 

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.

George Horne.

 

                       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.


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   107

 

            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

aspects.

 

Verse 5. The duty of praising God while we live.

 

Verse 6. Saint's tears in quality, abundance, influence, assuagement, and final

end.

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 6                                                   108

 

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.

1839.

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   109

 

                                   Psalm 7

 

Exposition

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."

 

                                                    EXPOSITION

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   110

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   111

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   112

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   113

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   114

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   116

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   117

 

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

Brooks.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   118

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   119

 

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

Poole, 1624-1679.

 

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,

1676-1732.

 

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,

1762.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   120

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   121

 

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.

William Gurnall.

 

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


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   122

 

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

Stuckley.

 

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.

William Secker.

 

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

Sibbs.

 

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,

in loc.

 

Verse 14. "And hath brought forth falsehood." Every sin is a lie. Augustine.

 

Verse 14.

            "Earth's entertainments are like those of Jael.

            Her left hand brings me milk, her right, a nail."

                                                                        Thomas Fuller.

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   125

 

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.

William Dyer.

 

                        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

righteous.

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

saints.


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   126

 

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."

None.

 

Verses 14, 15, 16. Illustrate by three figures the devices and defeat of

persecutors.

 

Verse 17. The excellent duty of praise.


                                                   Psalm 7                                                   127

 

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.


                                                   Psalm 8                                                   128

 

                                   Psalm 8

 

Exposition

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Hints to the Village Preacher

 

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