Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
2 Samuel 22:1-51 (Psalm 18). - (JERUSALEM.)
1. The anointed (messiah) of the Lord, his king (ver. 51), his servant (Psalm 18., inscription). Like Moses and Joshua, David held a peculiar and exalted position in the kingdom of God under the Old Testament. He was "a man [unlike Saul] of God's own choosing" (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 16:28), to fill the office of theocratic king, and to fulfil his purposes concerning Israel and the world; he was also specially fitted for his vocation, faithfully devoted to it, and greatly blessed in it. And in the consciousness of this he here speaks.
2. Praise to the Lord, on the ground of his perfections, his relations, his benefits; prompted by the desire to render to him the honour which is his due (1 Samuel 2:1-10). "To praise God means nothing else than to ascribe to him the glorious perfections which he possesses; for we can only give to him what is his own" (Hengstenberg). And, more especially, of:
3. Thanksgiving for past deliverance, from imminent perils, to which, as the servant of God, he was exposed through the hatred and opposition of his enemies. Of these Saul was the most formidable; and, after becoming King of Israel, David was attacked by numerous heathen nations, both separately and in combination (2 Samuel 5:17; 2 Samuel 8.; 10.). It was probably when "the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies" (2 Samuel 7:1), and after the promise of an everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-16), that the song was uttered; though by some it is regarded as "a great hallelujah, with which he retired from the theatre of life." "Having obtained many and signal victories, he does not, as irreligious men are accustomed to do, sing a song of triumph in honour of himself, but exalts and magnifies God, the Author of these victories, by a train of striking and appropriate epithets, and in a style of surpassing grandeur and sublimity" (Calvin).
4. Confidence in future triumph over all the enemies of the kingdom of God; of which the success already attained is an assurance. God is praised, not only for what he is and has been to him, but also for what he will be to "David and his seed forever" (ver. 51). Of this song, consider -
I. ITS SUBSTANCE; or, the reasons for praise.
1. The personal and intimate relationship of Jehovah to his servant (vers. 2-4).
"Jehovah is my Rock, and my Fortress. and my, yea, my Deliverer,
(1) He stands in a peculiar relation (beyond that which he bears to all men) to those to whom he reveals his Name, whom he takes into his fellowship, and to whom he promises to be "their God." These things make it possible to say, "my God," and (along with his gracious acts) incite the personal and ardent affection expressed at the commencement of Psalm 18. (a liturgical variation of the song), "Fervently do I love thee, O Jehovah my Strength," etc.
(2) Nature, history, and experience furnish manifold emblems of his excellences, and of the blessings which he bestows on those who trust in him (1 Samuel 2:2; Deuteronomy 32:4; Genesis 15:1). These images were suggested by the physical aspect of Palestine, and by the perilous condition and special deliverances of David in his early life, as a fugitive and a soldier, beset by many foes.
(3) He is all-sufficient for the needs of his people, however numerous and great, for their rescue, defence, permanent security, and complete salvation.
"As worthy to be praised, do I call on Jehovah, 2. His marvellous deliverance. (Vers. 5-20.) In a single comprehensive picture David describes the many dangers that encompassed him during his persecution by Saul, and the many providential interpositions (1 Samuel 23:24-28) that were made on his behalf. (1) Even those whom God loves (ver. 20) are sometimes "greatly afflicted." and reduced to the utmost extremity (1 Samuel 30:1-10). - "For breakers of death surrounded me, (2) Their extreme need impels them to rely upon God all the more entirely, and to call upon him all the more fervently; nor do they call in vain. "In my distress I called" etc. (ver. 7), "and he heard my voice (instantly) out of his (heavenly) temple." (3) Very wonderful is the answer of God to their cry, in the discomfiture of their adversaries and their complete deliverance. "The means by which this deliverance was achieved were, as far as we know, those which we see in the Books of Samuel - the turns and chances of providence, his own extraordinary activity, the faithfulness of his followers, the unexpected increase of his friends. But the act of deliverance itself is described in the language which belongs to the descent upon Mount Sinai or the passage of the Red Sea" (Stanley). The unseen and eternal King was moved wish wrath, at which the whole creation trembled (vers. 8, 9); he approached in the gathering thunderclouds, and upon the wings of the wind, armed as "a man of war" (Exodus 15:3), and preceded by his arrows of lightning (vers. 10-13); then, in the full outburst of the tempest, with the thunder of his power, "hailstones and coals of fire," he scattered the enemy, and disclosed the depths from which the cry for help arose (vers. 14-16); finally, with distinguishing, condescending, and tender care (ver. 36) - "He reached from above, he laid hold of me, 3. His righteous procedure. (Vers. 21-28.) "He delivered me because he delighted in me" (ver. 20). He acted toward David in accordance with his gracious choice of him to be his servant, and delivered him because he was "well pleased" with his faithful service; the ground of this deliverance being now stated more fully - "Jehovah rendered me according to my righteousness, (1) An expression and justification of the ways of God in a particular instance. (2) An illustration of the law of his dealings with men (vers. 26, 27). "The truth which is here enunciated is not that the conception which man forms of God is the reflected image of his own mind and heart, but that God's conduct to man is the reflection of the relation in which man has placed himself to God (1 Samuel 2:30; 1 Samuel 15:23)" (Delitzsch). "Jehovah is righteous; he loveth righteousness" (Psalm 11:7). This is a most worthy reason for praise. (3) An admonition and encouragement; "with the design of inspiring others with zeal for the fulfilment of the Law." "And oppressed people thou savest; 4. His continued and effectual help. (Vers. 29-46.) The righteousness and faithfulness of God are further confirmed by the experience of David (after his deliverance from the hand of Saul) in his wars with the external enemies of the kingdom. (1) Having rescued his servant from destruction, he calls him to active conflict with surrounding enemies (vers. 29-32). In the former part of the song, David is represented as a passive object of his aid; in the latter, as an active instrument for effecting his purposes. (2) He prepares him for the conflict, and strengthens him in it (vers. 33-37). (3) He enables him to overcome his enemies and utterly destroy their power (vers. 38-43). (4) He extends and establishes his royal dominion, making him to be "head of the heathen" (vers. 44-46). Herein the Messianic element of the song specially appears. Not, indeed, that "it is a hymn of victory, spoken not in the person of the prophet himself, David, but in the Person of his illustrious Son and Lord" (J. Brown, 'The Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah'); nor that there is here a direct and conscious prediction of the future Christ; but that the assured triumph of "David and his seed" aver the nations, the extension of the theocratic kingdom, prefigured the more glorious victories of "the King Messiah." "David's history, from first to last, was a kind of acted parable of the sufferings and glory of Christ" (Binnie). "Prophecy reveals to us the foreknowledge of God; but typical institutions reveal, not only his foreknowledge, but his providential arrangements. The facts of history become the language of prophecy, and teach us that he with whom a thousand years are but as yesterday guides the operations of distant ages with reference to each other; and thus in a typical economy we trace not only the all-beholding eye, but the all-directing hand of the Deity; not only the Divine omniscience, but the Divine omnipotence. The foretold and minute resemblance between characters and transactions, separated from each other by an interval of a thousand years, is too striking an argument of the hand of God to be controverted or explained away" (Thompson, 'Davidica'). The kingdom of Christ, nevertheless, is of a higher nature, and established by other means, than the theocratic kingdom of David. "This was the foundation of that resplendent image of the Messiah which it required the greatest of all religions changes to move from the mind of the Jewish nation, in order to raise up instead of it the still more exalted idea which was to take its place - an anointed Sovereign conquering by other arts than those of war, and in other dominions than those of earthly empire" (Stanley). "Thus all David's hopes and all his joy terminate, as ours always should, in the great Redeemer" (Matthew Henry). II. ITS SPIRIT; as it appears throughout the song, and particularly in its conclusion - "Living is Jehovah, and blessed is my Rock; 1. Personal, appropriating faith. "Faith it is which gives its peculiar grandeur to David's song of triumph; his masterpiece, and it may be the masterpiece of human poetry, inspired or uninspired, What is the element in that ode, which even now makes it stir the heart like a trumpet? What protects such words (vers. 7-17) from the imputation of mere Eastern exaggeration? The firm conviction that God is the Deliverer, not only of David, but of all who trust in him; that the whole majesty of God, and all the powers of nature, are arrayed on the side of the good and the opprest" (C. Kingsley, 'David: Four Sermons'). 2. Heartfelt delight in God. 3. Fervent gratitude. 4. Unreserved consecration to his service, his honour, his glory. "Therefore will I give thanks unto thee,
2. His marvellous deliverance. (Vers. 5-20.) In a single comprehensive picture David describes the many dangers that encompassed him during his persecution by Saul, and the many providential interpositions (1 Samuel 23:24-28) that were made on his behalf.
(1) Even those whom God loves (ver. 20) are sometimes "greatly afflicted." and reduced to the utmost extremity (1 Samuel 30:1-10). -
"For breakers of death surrounded me,
(2) Their extreme need impels them to rely upon God all the more entirely, and to call upon him all the more fervently; nor do they call in vain. "In my distress I called" etc. (ver. 7), "and he heard my voice (instantly) out of his (heavenly) temple."
(3) Very wonderful is the answer of God to their cry, in the discomfiture of their adversaries and their complete deliverance. "The means by which this deliverance was achieved were, as far as we know, those which we see in the Books of Samuel - the turns and chances of providence, his own extraordinary activity, the faithfulness of his followers, the unexpected increase of his friends. But the act of deliverance itself is described in the language which belongs to the descent upon Mount Sinai or the passage of the Red Sea" (Stanley). The unseen and eternal King was moved wish wrath, at which the whole creation trembled (vers. 8, 9); he approached in the gathering thunderclouds, and upon the wings of the wind, armed as "a man of war" (Exodus 15:3), and preceded by his arrows of lightning (vers. 10-13); then, in the full outburst of the tempest, with the thunder of his power, "hailstones and coals of fire," he scattered the enemy, and disclosed the depths from which the cry for help arose (vers. 14-16); finally, with distinguishing, condescending, and tender care (ver. 36) -
"He reached from above, he laid hold of me,
3. His righteous procedure. (Vers. 21-28.) "He delivered me because he delighted in me" (ver. 20). He acted toward David in accordance with his gracious choice of him to be his servant, and delivered him because he was "well pleased" with his faithful service; the ground of this deliverance being now stated more fully -
"Jehovah rendered me according to my righteousness,
(1) An expression and justification of the ways of God in a particular instance.
(2) An illustration of the law of his dealings with men (vers. 26, 27). "The truth which is here enunciated is not that the conception which man forms of God is the reflected image of his own mind and heart, but that God's conduct to man is the reflection of the relation in which man has placed himself to God (1 Samuel 2:30; 1 Samuel 15:23)" (Delitzsch). "Jehovah is righteous; he loveth righteousness" (Psalm 11:7). This is a most worthy reason for praise.
(3) An admonition and encouragement; "with the design of inspiring others with zeal for the fulfilment of the Law."
"And oppressed people thou savest; 4. His continued and effectual help. (Vers. 29-46.) The righteousness and faithfulness of God are further confirmed by the experience of David (after his deliverance from the hand of Saul) in his wars with the external enemies of the kingdom. (1) Having rescued his servant from destruction, he calls him to active conflict with surrounding enemies (vers. 29-32). In the former part of the song, David is represented as a passive object of his aid; in the latter, as an active instrument for effecting his purposes. (2) He prepares him for the conflict, and strengthens him in it (vers. 33-37). (3) He enables him to overcome his enemies and utterly destroy their power (vers. 38-43). (4) He extends and establishes his royal dominion, making him to be "head of the heathen" (vers. 44-46). Herein the Messianic element of the song specially appears. Not, indeed, that "it is a hymn of victory, spoken not in the person of the prophet himself, David, but in the Person of his illustrious Son and Lord" (J. Brown, 'The Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah'); nor that there is here a direct and conscious prediction of the future Christ; but that the assured triumph of "David and his seed" aver the nations, the extension of the theocratic kingdom, prefigured the more glorious victories of "the King Messiah." "David's history, from first to last, was a kind of acted parable of the sufferings and glory of Christ" (Binnie). "Prophecy reveals to us the foreknowledge of God; but typical institutions reveal, not only his foreknowledge, but his providential arrangements. The facts of history become the language of prophecy, and teach us that he with whom a thousand years are but as yesterday guides the operations of distant ages with reference to each other; and thus in a typical economy we trace not only the all-beholding eye, but the all-directing hand of the Deity; not only the Divine omniscience, but the Divine omnipotence. The foretold and minute resemblance between characters and transactions, separated from each other by an interval of a thousand years, is too striking an argument of the hand of God to be controverted or explained away" (Thompson, 'Davidica'). The kingdom of Christ, nevertheless, is of a higher nature, and established by other means, than the theocratic kingdom of David. "This was the foundation of that resplendent image of the Messiah which it required the greatest of all religions changes to move from the mind of the Jewish nation, in order to raise up instead of it the still more exalted idea which was to take its place - an anointed Sovereign conquering by other arts than those of war, and in other dominions than those of earthly empire" (Stanley). "Thus all David's hopes and all his joy terminate, as ours always should, in the great Redeemer" (Matthew Henry). II. ITS SPIRIT; as it appears throughout the song, and particularly in its conclusion - "Living is Jehovah, and blessed is my Rock; 1. Personal, appropriating faith. "Faith it is which gives its peculiar grandeur to David's song of triumph; his masterpiece, and it may be the masterpiece of human poetry, inspired or uninspired, What is the element in that ode, which even now makes it stir the heart like a trumpet? What protects such words (vers. 7-17) from the imputation of mere Eastern exaggeration? The firm conviction that God is the Deliverer, not only of David, but of all who trust in him; that the whole majesty of God, and all the powers of nature, are arrayed on the side of the good and the opprest" (C. Kingsley, 'David: Four Sermons'). 2. Heartfelt delight in God. 3. Fervent gratitude. 4. Unreserved consecration to his service, his honour, his glory. "Therefore will I give thanks unto thee,
4. His continued and effectual help. (Vers. 29-46.) The righteousness and faithfulness of God are further confirmed by the experience of David (after his deliverance from the hand of Saul) in his wars with the external enemies of the kingdom.
(1) Having rescued his servant from destruction, he calls him to active conflict with surrounding enemies (vers. 29-32). In the former part of the song, David is represented as a passive object of his aid; in the latter, as an active instrument for effecting his purposes.
(2) He prepares him for the conflict, and strengthens him in it (vers. 33-37).
(3) He enables him to overcome his enemies and utterly destroy their power (vers. 38-43).
(4) He extends and establishes his royal dominion, making him to be "head of the heathen" (vers. 44-46). Herein the Messianic element of the song specially appears. Not, indeed, that "it is a hymn of victory, spoken not in the person of the prophet himself, David, but in the Person of his illustrious Son and Lord" (J. Brown, 'The Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah'); nor that there is here a direct and conscious prediction of the future Christ; but that the assured triumph of "David and his seed" aver the nations, the extension of the theocratic kingdom, prefigured the more glorious victories of "the King Messiah." "David's history, from first to last, was a kind of acted parable of the sufferings and glory of Christ" (Binnie). "Prophecy reveals to us the foreknowledge of God; but typical institutions reveal, not only his foreknowledge, but his providential arrangements. The facts of history become the language of prophecy, and teach us that he with whom a thousand years are but as yesterday guides the operations of distant ages with reference to each other; and thus in a typical economy we trace not only the all-beholding eye, but the all-directing hand of the Deity; not only the Divine omniscience, but the Divine omnipotence. The foretold and minute resemblance between characters and transactions, separated from each other by an interval of a thousand years, is too striking an argument of the hand of God to be controverted or explained away" (Thompson, 'Davidica'). The kingdom of Christ, nevertheless, is of a higher nature, and established by other means, than the theocratic kingdom of David. "This was the foundation of that resplendent image of the Messiah which it required the greatest of all religions changes to move from the mind of the Jewish nation, in order to raise up instead of it the still more exalted idea which was to take its place - an anointed Sovereign conquering by other arts than those of war, and in other dominions than those of earthly empire" (Stanley). "Thus all David's hopes and all his joy terminate, as ours always should, in the great Redeemer" (Matthew Henry).
II. ITS SPIRIT; as it appears throughout the song, and particularly in its conclusion -
"Living is Jehovah, and blessed is my Rock;
1. Personal, appropriating faith. "Faith it is which gives its peculiar grandeur to David's song of triumph; his masterpiece, and it may be the masterpiece of human poetry, inspired or uninspired, What is the element in that ode, which even now makes it stir the heart like a trumpet? What protects such words (vers. 7-17) from the imputation of mere Eastern exaggeration? The firm conviction that God is the Deliverer, not only of David, but of all who trust in him; that the whole majesty of God, and all the powers of nature, are arrayed on the side of the good and the opprest" (C. Kingsley, 'David: Four Sermons').
2. Heartfelt delight in God.
3. Fervent gratitude.
4. Unreserved consecration to his service, his honour, his glory.
"Therefore will I give thanks unto thee,
I. THE DANGERS TO WHICH WE ARE EXPOSED. Bodily, mental, spiritual. To reputation. From our own constitutional tendencies. From diseases and accidents. From the malice of men, and their favour. From prosperity and adversity. From solitude and society. From labours, rest, and pleasures. From Satan and his angels. From the broken Law and injured justice of God. Always and everywhere, under all circumstances and conditions, we are all exposed to perils.
II. THE SAFETY AND DELIVERANCE TO BE FOUND IN GOD. The psalmist labours to express his sense of the protection, safety, and deliverance which God had vouchssfed to him, yea, which God himself had been to him. The imagery he uses is taken chiefly from natural features of Palestine, with which he had become especially familiar as affording refuge and safety during the time that he was hunted by Saul. He calls him "my Rock," in the heights and recesses of which he had been safe from his foes; "my Fortress," his fortified castle, too high to be reached, too strong to be broken into; "my Deliverer," by whose aid he had escaped from many a peril; "the God of my Rock," equivalent to "my mighty God;" "my Shield and the Horn of my salvation," at once protecting him in battle and pushing his enemies to their destruction; "my high Tower," or lofty Retreat; "my Refuge and my Saviour." What the Almighty was to David he is to all his people. We may use similar language. Our dangers may not be so fearful in appearance, or so numerous, or so obvious; but they are as real and serious. And our safety and deliverance must come from "the Lord." The words of the text show that it is not only what he employs for our good, nor what he himself does, but what he is, that assures of safety. Not only does he afford protection and secure deliverance; he is our Protector and Deliverer. In his almightiness, love, knowledge, wisdom, universal presence, observation, and operation, we realize salvation. In Jesus Christ, his very righteousness has become our friend, and assures us of victory. The safety thus assured is not absolute immunity from trouble, but protection from the evil it might produce, and change of its character. The righteous are visited with calamities similar to those which befall the wicked, and in some conditions of society with calamities peculiar to themselves. But in their ease they lose their unfriendly character, and become visitations of a Father's love, means of deliverance from worse evils, and of obtaining greater good. The evil which they might do God will defend us from, if we trust and obey him. Nor are the righteous sure of absolute preservation from sin, though they would enjoy perfect immunity if they fulfilled the necessary conditions on their part. But they have a right to feel sure of preservation of' body and soul in this world, until their appointed work is done; and of final deliverance from all evils (2 Timothy 4:18). They should not desire more.
III. THE CONDITIONS OF SAFETY AND DELIVERANCE.
1. Faith. "In him will I trust" (ver. 3). Confidence in God as our Friend, Protector, and Saviour. Especially as he is revealed to us in the gospel. Faith assures us of the Divine love, lays hold of the Divine strength, enables us to flee to God as our Refuge, to rise to the lofty Rock and Tower where we are above all adverse powers, and safe from their assaults, and gives the calmness needful for employing such means as tend to safety and victory. "All things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23).
2. Prayer. "I will call on the Lord...so shall I be saved from mine enemies" (ver. 4). Faith prompts obedience, as in other respects, so in respect to prayer. Divine help and protection are promised to those who pray. "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Psalm 50:15). The sense of peril, the knowledge that there is safety in God, and that his delivering power is exercised on behalf of those who seek him, cannot but lead the Christian to that earnest and believing prayer which prevails. The Apostle Paul, after pointing out other methods of ensuring victory over our enemies, adds, "Praying always," etc. (Ephesians 6:18).
IV. THE RETURN TO BE MADE FOR SAFETY AND DELIVERANCE REALIZED, AND ANTICIPATED. Praise. This psalm is one of the returns of praise which David made to his Deliverer, of whom he speaks in ver. 4 as "the Lord who is worthy to be praised." Many are ready to pray to God in danger, who forget or refuse to praise him when they have experienced deliverance. The Christian will not fail to give thanks, not only for what he has experienced of Divine protection, but for what he feels sure he shall experience, up to and including victory over death itself, "the last enemy," in view of whose approach he sings, "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:26, 57). - G.W.
praised.'" It may originate in the feeling that it is fitting that, when we seek new blessings from God, we should not be unmindful of those which he has already bestowed. Praise should accompany prayer (see Philippians 4:6, "prayer... with thanksgiving"). Add that the subjects of praise are encouragements to prayer. In the act of praising him we are reminding ourselves of the strong reasons we have for hopefully seeking further mercies from him.
I. GOD IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED. Not merely to be feared, entreated, strictly obeyed, and submitted to. He is worthy of thankful and rejoicing obedience and submission. It is not fitting that he should be served sullenly or silently; or that prayer to him should be as a cry of a slave to his master, or of one oppressed to his oppressor, or as a request for help addressed to a stranger. We should speak to him with the confidence and love which his relation to us and past goodness are fitted to inspire. One way of ensuring this is to blend praise with prayer.
II. WHAT IT IS THAT RENDERS HIM WORTHY TO BE PRAISED. Some obtain praise who are not worthy of it in any measure; others, much more than they deserve. But God is worthy of and "exalted above all blessing and praise" (Nehemiah 9:5). Whether we consider his nature, his regard for his creatures, his works or his gifts, we must feel that it is impossible to render him praise worthy of him. But to the utmost of our power we should praise him for:
1. His glorious perfections. Especially his infinite moral excellences - his truth, holiness, righteousness, and love.
2. His wonderful works. In creation, providence, and grace.
3. Specially, his redeeming mercy. His kindness to us in Christ. The display of his perfections in the gift, the Person, and the work of our Lord and Saviour. The mercy he exercises in the forgiveness of sin, the admission of sinners into his family, and all the operations by which he brings his "many sons [and daughters] unto glory," (Hebrews 2:10). The gift of the Holy Spirit for this purpose. The final bliss and glory.
4. The goodness of God to ourselves. Not forgetting that he is "worthy to be praised" for the commonest blessings we enjoy, as well as those distinguishing blessings which we receive as his children through faith in Christ. And not only for the blessings which give us pleasure, but for those which give us pain, but are bestowed that we may become in a greater measure "partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10).
III. BY WHOM HE OUGHT TO BE PRAISED.
1. By all his creatures according to their capacity. All his inanimate and irrational creatures do praise him. Their existence, qualities, order, and (as to the living creatures) their happiness "show forth the excellences" of their Creator. "All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord" (Psalm 145:10; comp. Psalm 148; Psalm 19:1-4). All intelligent beings ought to praise him; all the right minded of them do. Those who enjoy least of his bounty have much to thank him for, and often praise him more than those who enjoy most. We do not say that those who are suffering in hell the penalty due to their sins can be expected to praise him whose wrath abides so terribly upon them; although, if a somewhat fashionable doctrine be true, they have strong reasons for giving him thanks, since he is taking the wisest and best means to make them meet for the glory and joy in heaven which will at length be their portion!
2. Especially by his redeemed people. Who are the objects of his special regard and gracious operation, and to whom the work of praise on earth is peculiarly committed (Isaiah 43:21; 1 Peter 2:9). On some accounts the redeemed and regenerate have more reason to give thanks to God than those who have never sinned.
IV. THE KIND AND DURATION OF THE PRAISE OF WHICH HE IS WORTHY.
1. The kind. Clearly the best possible; which is not necessarily that which is most poetical or most musical, though in these respects man should do his best. But that is best of all which comes from the heart, and from a heart fullest of admiration, adoration, love, and gratitude. Much which professes to be praise of God is heartless mockery.
2. The duration. Forever and ever (Ephesians 3:21). While we have any being, in this world and the next (Psalm 145:1, 2; Psalm 146:2). For, as God is everlasting, the reasons for praising him can never end. - G.W.
I. DISTRESS. This may arise from various causes; such as:
1. Enemies. As in David's case, with the dangers of the battles fought against them. There are many forms less extreme in which the enmity of men may show itself and occasion pain or peril.
2. Circumstances. Worldly losses and anxieties.
3. Personal affliction. Of body or mind. Special distress from afflictions which implicate the nerves, and so the mind itself.
4. Death of dear friends.
5. Conviction of sin. (See Psalm 32:3, 4.) It would be well if this form of distress were more common.
6. Pressure of powerful temptation. The mighty and threatening uprising of inward corruptions, or the pressing solicitations of evil from without.
7. Fear of calamities or of death.
II. PRAYER. Natural for men to call upon God when they are in great trouble or danger. Yet all do not; and of many the prayers are unacceptable, because they lack the moral and spiritual elements of successful prayer (see Hosea 7:14). Prayer, to be acceptable, must be:
1. That of a righteous man. (Vers. 21-25; James 5:16; Psalm 66:18.) Yet the prayers of one who is stirred by his affliction to sincere repentance will be heard; for repentance is the beginning of righteousness.
2. Offered in faith. (Matthew 21:22.)
3. Importunate and persevering. (Luke 11:8, seq.; Luke 18:1-8.)
4. Accompanied, where practicable, with the use of appropriate means. David fought vigorously as well as prayed earnestly.
III. DELIVERANCE. The Almighty heard the psalmist's voice "out of his temple" (equivalent to "the heavens"), and, interposing in majesty and power, delivered him, discomfiting and scattering his foes. True prayer is always heard and answered; but the deliverance granted is often not according to our conceptions and desires, yet ever according to the perfect wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father. Sometimes the causes of our distress are removed; sometimes they are allowed to continue, but the distress is allayed, and the causes turned into blessings. So it was with St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh," although he prayed earnestly and repeatedly (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) Spiritual deliverance, however, is always granted to those who truly seek it; and ultimately complete rescue from all that afflicts the Christian.
IV. GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE AND THANKSGIVING. Although David's victories were wrought through the skill and valour of himself and his troops, he gives to God all the glory of them; for he knew that all was due to him. His example will be followed by the Christian, as he reviews life and calls to mind his distresses and deliverances. He will recognize the hand of God in all, and render praise to him who both furnishes the means of deliverance and exercises the power which renders them successful. Finally, let none wait for trouble before they begin to pray. Live in the habit of prayer, and you will be able, when trouble comes, to pray truly and successfully. Otherwise you may find yourself in the miserable condition of those described in ver. 42, who "looked even unto the Lord, but he answered them not." - G.W.
Joshua 10:11; 1 Samuel 7:10). In the text he narrates the deliverance itself.
I. THE ENEMIES. Who were:
1. Malignant. "Hated me." There was not only opposition and contest, but personal hatred. Many of the Christian's foes have this quality in a high degree (John 17:14), notably their great leader and chief, Satan (equivalent to "adversary," 1 Peter 5:8).
2. Powerful. "My strong enemy... too strong for me." In physical strength, or military, or in numbers. David may have had in view such instances as those recorded in 2 Samuel 8:3-5 and 2 Samuel 21:15-17. The Christian's foes also are "powers" (Ephesians 6:12). Wherein consists the power of the enemies of the righteous?
(1) Their inherent vigour;
(2) their adaptation to our lower nature;
(3) their number.
3. Subtle. "They prevented me in the day of my calamity." They rushed upon him unexpectedly, when he was enfeebled by calamity, and poorly prepared for them. David may be thinking of the attack of the Syrians of Damascus, while he and his army were engaged with Hadadezer or exhausted by the contest with him (2 Samuel 8:5); or of the assault of the giant Ishbi-benob, while he was faint from fighting against the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15, 16). Thus, also, the Christian's foes often surprise him when he is preoccupied or distressed by troubles. The day of calamity is a day of spiritual danger.
4. In a measure successful. So that he became as a man struggling for life in "great waters" (comp. vers. 5, 6). It seemed as if he must be swallowed up. Thus, also, the enemies of the Christian may do him much mischief, temporal and even spiritual; but there is a limit to their power. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
II. THE DELIVERER. Jehovah, the Almighty, whose glorious interposition on behalf of his servant, in answer to his cry of distress, is described in the previous verses. They set forth:
1. His awful majesty.
2. His power over all the forces of nature.
3. The intensity of his interest in his troubled servants. How he rouses himself, as it were, for the rescue of those in whom he delights (ver. 20).
4. His anger against their enemies. (Vers. 8, 9.) With such a Friend, who can neither be surprised, evaded, or resisted, the righteous need not dread the might of any adversary, nor despair of deliverance from the direst troubles.
III. THE DELIVERANCE, God:
1. Supported him in his perils. "The Lord was my Stay."
2. He saved him from them. "He stretched forth his hand from on high; he laid hold of me; he drew me out of great waters; he delivered me," etc. God's hand can reach his servants in the lowest depths of trouble, and is strong to rescue them from the strongest of their foes.
3. He brought him into a condition of freedom and safety. "Into a large place," a broad, open space, where no "cords of Sheol," or "snares of death" (Ver. 6, Revised Version), would embarrass or endanger him; where he could move about with perfect freedom, and yet perfect security. Such help from on high is realized by God's people in this world; perfectly when the hand of their God lays hold of them and raises them from earth to heaven.
IV. THE PRAISE. (See homilies on vers. 2 4, 4, and 7.) The perfections and acts of Jehovah are of such a nature that to merely recite them is to praise him. We should acquaint ourselves as fully as possible with his excellences and works, that we may better praise him by declaring them; but our own experience of his power and goodness will give us the liveliest apprehension of them, and stimulate us to the most ardent praise. - G.W.
1 Corinthians 15:9, 10). His consciousness of sin in general, and of his special guilt on account of his persecution of Christians, prevented everything that savoured of boasting, at least before God. But even he, in appealing to men, did not shrink from reciting his excellences and devoted labours (see 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 11:5-31), though ready to call himself a "fool" for recounting them. And, after all, the truth that God does reward the righteous according to their righteousness is as much a doctrine of the New Testament as of the Old; and there are occasions when Christians may fittingly recognize and declare that the favour God is showing them is according to their righteousness; although the deeper consciousness of sin, and of entire dependence on the mercy of God, which is awakened by the revelations of the gospel, makes the Christian more reluctant to mention his virtues as a reason for the kindness of God to him. As the meritorious ground of such kindness, David would have been as far as St. Paul from regarding them. Notice -
I. THE PSALMIST'S CHARACTER. This he describes by various words and phrases, which only in part differ from each other.
1. Righteousness. Uprightness, rectitude, moral and spiritual goodness in general.
2. Cleanness of hands. Hands free from the stain of innocent blood, of "filthy lucre," etc.
3. Observance of God's ways. The ways he prescribes of thought, feeling, speech, and action. These are inquired after and followed by the good man.
4. Adherence to God. "Have not wickedly departed from my God" - from his presence, worship, the ways he prescribes, and in which he is to be found. Some degree of turning from God at times, every one who knows himself will be conscious of; but "wickedly" to depart from him, to do so consciously, deliberately, persistently, this is apostasy, the very opposite of godliness and righteousness. The Christian will esteem the slightest deviation from God as wicked; but he justly recalls his perseverance in the habits of piety and holiness, in spite of all temptations, with thankfulness.
5. Mindfulness of his Word, and persevering obedience to it. God's Word is "his statutes," what he has determined and appointed, and "his judgments," what he declares and prescribes as just and right. These the psalmist "kept before" him, and from them he "did not depart." And his attention and obedience to them were universal - they extended to "all" of them. One necessary quality of a true obedience. "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments" (Psalm 119:6).
6. Uprightness before God. With regard both to him and to men.
7. Avoidance of the besetting sin. "I have kept myself from mine iniquity." There is a particular sin to which each is specially prone. To keep one's self from that, by watchfulness, prayer, and resolute resistance, is special evidence of genuine piety.
8. Purity of life in general. "My cleanness," and that "in his eyesight," a very different thing from being pure in the eyes of men. Includes purity of heart as well as conduct, such as is so true and genuine as to bear the Divine inspection.
II. THE PSALMIST'S RECOMPENSE. In his preservation and deliverance from so many perils and enemies, he recognized the Divine reward of his righteousness, the Divine reply to the calumnies of his enemies, the Divine attestation of his innocence.
1. There is a real righteousness in the character of godly men. By this they are essentially distinguished from others. It is not a mere difference of taste.
2. The Divine recompense of such righteousness is certain. On account of:
(1) The character of God. "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness" (Psalm 11:7).
(2) His relation to the righteous. As their Father, etc.
(3) His promises.
(4) His almighty power. He is able to do all that is suitable to his nature, and that he has bound himself to do by his Word.
3. Those who receive such recompense should recognize and acknowledge it. The righteous do continually receive recompense for their righteousness; rewards, both spiritual, material, and social. But sometimes the happy results of their piety are very manifest, and then they should be specially noticed.
(1) To the glory of God. Praising him and inciting others to praise him.
(2) For encouragement of themselves and their brethren. Increasing their faith, and strengthening their determination to continue in their chosen course, and their assurance of ultimate, complete recognition and reward. For the whole reward is not yet. "Great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12); but on earth the "guerdon" may be
"Many a sorrow, many a labour,
2 Samuel 10:12). "A man will never persevere in the practice of uprightness and godliness, unless he carefully keep himself from his inquiry" (Calvin). His self-preservation -
I. IMPLIES EXPOSURE TO A DANGEROUS ENEMY.
1. There is none greater than sin. Every other evil is slight compared with it.
2. Each man has "his besetting sin." "I kept myself," not merely against iniquity becoming my own, but against the iniquity which lies near to me, and to which I am specially liable from my constitution or condition (1 Samuel 24:5). A traitor within the fortress is a more dangerous foe than any other.
3. It besets him at all times, in all places, and by manifold "devices."
4. To be overcome by it is inexpressibly disastrous.
II. REQUIRES THE ADOPTION OF PROPER METHODS.
1. Due consideration of the danger. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
2. Constant and resolute vigilance against the first approaches of the enemy (Hebrews 3:13).
3. The habitual practice of self-restraint and self-denial.
4. The daily exercise of the virtues and graces that are most opposite to the sins to which he is disposed (Galatians 5:16).
5. Familiar acquaintance with the Word or God (Ephesians 6:13-17).
6. Continual looking unto God for his effectual aid. "Kept [guarded] by the power of God through faith," etc. (1 Peter 1:5).
7. Unceasing prayer. "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 1:21); "Keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).
III. DESERVES TO BE SOUGHT WITH THE UTMOST EARNESTNESS, because of the advantages by which it is attended.
1. An assurance of personal sincerity (1 John 5:18; Hebrews 3:14). "The careful abstaining from our own iniquity is one of the best evidences of our own integrity; and the testimony of our conscience that we have done so will be such a rejoicing as will not only lessen the grief of an afflicted, state, but increase the comfort of an advanced state" (Matthew Henry).
2. An experience of Divine help, of which it is an indispensable condition.
3. An increase of moral strength.
4. A preparation for future victories. "To mortify and conquer our own appetites is more praiseworthy than to storm strong cities, to defeat mighty armies, work miracles, or raise the dead" (Scupoli). - D.
1. The supreme importance which he attaches to moral distinctions amongst men. Such distinctions are often made light of in comparison with wisdom, might, and riches (Jeremiah 9:23); and those who possess the latter despise and trample upon the ignorant, the weak, and the poor (ver. 27). But God has chiefly respect to men in their moral attitude toward himself, their relation to the law of right, their personal character (1 Samuel 2:30). With him the great distinction is that between the righteous and the wicked (Psalm 34:15, 16). Whilst his infinite greatness dwarfs earthly power and honour into insignificance, his perfect righteousness exalts moral worth beyond measure.
2. The different treatment which he adopts toward men of different character. In himself he is always the same (1 Samuel 15:29); but the aspect which his character and dealings assume toward them is determined by their own character and conduct, and is the necessary manifestation of his unchangeable rectitude - on the one hand, toward the "loving," etc., full of love (all that is kind, desirable, and excellent); on the other, toward the "perverse," perverse (contrary, antagonistic, "as an enemy," Lamentations 2:5; Leviticus 26:23, 24; Hosea 2:6), inflicting severe chastisement. "There is a higher law of grace, whereby the sinfulness of man but draws forth the tenderness of a father's pardoning pity; and the brightest revelation of his love is made to froward prodigals. But this is not the psalmist's view here, nor does it interfere with the law of retribution in its own sphere" (Maclaren).
3. The signal change which he makes in their relative positions; saving and exalting the oppressed and afflicted, and humbling the proud oppressor; his purpose therein being to vindicate, honour, and promote righteousness, and to restrain, correct, and put an end to iniquity (1 Samuel 2:8, 10). "What is God doing now?" it was asked of Rabbi Jose, and the reply was, "He makes ladders on which he causes the poor to ascend and the rich to descend" (The Midrash). - D.
I. THE MERCIFUL EXPERIENCE HIS MERCY. Our Lord declares the same truth, when he says, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7); and when he declares, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Matthew 6:14); and teaches us to pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12, Revised Version). But how does this consist with the doctrine of justification by faith? It must be in harmony with it, since both are Divine. If it do not accord with some human statements of the doctrine, it must be because these are erroneous or defective. Faith is not a mere assent to the truth, or reliance on the atonement of Christ and the mercy of God in him; but it involves acceptance of Christ as Teacher and Lord as well as Redeemer, and therefore a willing obedience to his instructions, of which part is that we should be forgiving, and that only those who are shall be forgiven - only the merciful shall find mercy. Moreover, faith in the love of God in Christ works love in the heart; a faith which does not is of no avail. From another point of view, "repentance toward God" is as essential to salvation as "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21), and will be produced by it. It is vain, therefore, for the unmerciful to trust in the mercy of God, or to cry to him for mercy; his mercy is shown only to the merciful. But to them it is shown; and that not only in the forgiveness of their sins, but in the bestowment of all needful blessings. They also should bear in mind that their enjoyment of the love of God will be in proportion to the love which they cherish and display; and that every degree of selfishness will deprive them of some blessing.
II. THE UPRIGHT EXPERIENCE GOD'S UPRIGHTNESS. He is essentially upright, just, faithful; but the happy experience of his uprightness is for those who "walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11) - those who are sincere and true hearted towards God and men. To these he will show himself upright by manifesting to them his favour, and fulfilling to them all his promises (comp. Psalm 92:12-15); while to others he will show the same quality by the execution of his threatenings.
III. THE PURE EXPERIENCE HIS PURITY. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
1. Genuine Christians are holy. Truly so, though not perfectly. They have been cleansed by the Word and Spirit of God, and "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son" (1 John 1:7). They have turned from sin, and it is their abhorrence. They watch and pray against it; and, when they fall into it, mourn with sincere grief. They cherish purity of heart, lip, and life. They desire and strive after perfect holiness.
2. To such God shows himself holy.
(1) He reveals to them his holiness. They are capable of such a revelation, because of their purity of heart. Sin blinds the soul, incapacitating it from discerning and appreciating the holy.
(2) He acts towards them holily. He requires holiness of them, and works it in them. All his dealings with them are in accordance with holiness, and have for their end to promote their sanctification. Hence he does not indulge his children, but, when necessary, afflicts them, that they may become more and more "partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). He will not be satisfied until they perfectly reflect his image, and he can "present them holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight" (Colossians 1:22).
IV. THE FROWARD FIND HIM FROWARD.
1. Sinners are froward. They are perverse, unreasonable, ungovernable, impracticable. They show this in their feeling and conduct towards God, his Word and ways. They will not submit to his instructions or obey his commands. They "walk contrary unto" him (Leviticus 26:21), do the opposite to that which he enjoins.
2. To them God shows himself froward. It is a bold expression, and therefore, perhaps, the translators of this book softened it into "unsavonry," or distasteful. But the same word is rightly translated in Psalm 18:26, "froward." The meaning is clear. God acts as if perverse towards the perverse. As they will not pay regard to his will, he will not to their desires and prayers. As they oppose him, he opposes them, thwarts their purposes, disappoints their hopes. As they "walk contrary unto" him, he "will also walk contrary unto" them (Leviticus 26:24). It is a universal truth, discernible:
(1) In nature. If we would have nature work good to us, we must learn and obey its laws. If we will not, they will work us harm.
(2) In the affairs of life - in business and association with men. If we will not ascertain and live according to the laws which should regulate our conduct, they will avenge themselves, inflicting pain, loss, perhaps utter ruin.
(3) In respect to religion and salvation. These originate in the benevolent will of God; and if we would experience their benefits, we must have humble and obedient regard to that will. We must ask of him, "What must I do to be saved?" and "What wilt thou have me to do?" If we choose to reject the Divine revelations and requirements, and in pride and perversity take a course opposed to them, the Almighty will not alter his plans to please us, but will bring upon us the just consequences of our frowardness. He will appear froward to the froward, in that, when they call upon him, he will not answer; when they seek him early, they shall not find him (see Proverbs 1:24-29). It is vain and foolish for man to assert his own proud, capricious will; he will find that there is another and stronger will, that will assert itself to his discomfiture and destruction, unless he repent. - G.W.
I. GOD'S OBSERVATION OF THE PROUD. "His eyes are upon the haughty."
1. He sees them; knows who they are, distinguishes them from others, overlooks none of them.
2. He sees through them, with those piercing eyes of his, that search the hearts of men However they may conceal or disguise their pride before men, they cannot before him.
3. He notices all the exercises and manifestations of their pride. Their self-complacency and self-laudation; their contempt of others, their insolence, their injustice, their oppression of the meek and humble, their self-assertion as towards him, their resistance and unsubmissiveness, etc.; all is open to his view; and he notes all for remembrance exposure, and punishment. If the proud did but realize that the eyes of the Infinite One were upon them, how ridiculous would their pride soon appear to themselves! how unbecoming and contemptible as well as impious! How would the things on which they pride themselves - their strength, intellect, knowledge, wealth, honours, mastery of men, virtues, etc., shrivel into insignificance as they looked upon them with the consciousness that God was looking on!
4. He keeps them ever in sight. So that nothing can escape his view, and they cannot elude him or do anything to the real injury of his servants.
II. HIS HUMILIATION OF THEM. At the fight time and in the most effectual way. "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased" (Luke 18:14).
1. Jehovah sometimes brings down the haughty from the position which fosters or displays their pride. He may deprive them of that on which they pride themselves - their property, mental vigour, physical strength, reputation (by permitting them to fall into some disgraceful sin, or otherwise), power over others. He may bring reverses upon them in the full career of their prosperity or enterprises; snatch from them the coveted prize just as they are about to grasp it; rescue the humble victims of their oppressions. While reducing them to a lower level, he may exalt above them some whom they have despised. In the height of their glory he may strike them suddenly down. Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Herod, are illustrations of the humbling which God may administer to the haughty. In every case of impenitent pride terrible humiliation comes at death and judgment.
2. He sometimes brings the proud down in their own esteem - humbles their spirit. This may be by such methods as have just been referred to; and the spirit may be humbled without being really changed. But the happiest humiliation is that which is wrought in the heart by the Word and Spirit of God, aided by such methods or apart from them. The man thus affected comes to see his true position as a creature and a sinner. He discerns and recognizes his entire dependence on God; that whatever he has he has received (1 Corinthians 4:7). He perceives and acknowledges the sin and folly of his pride, humbles himself before God on account of it, casts himself on his mercy, gladly accepts pardon and salvation as a free gift of God's grace in Christ Jesus; and thus receives a better exaltation than ever he had known or imagined before. Happy those haughty ones whom God thus brings down! Then, eschew pride; and "be clothed with humility" (1 Peter 5:5, 6). This grace may best be learned at the cross of Christ. There we see our condition of evil and peril as sinners, our entire dependence for salvation on the mercy of God and the merits of his Son, our equality in respect to sin and salvation with the meanest of those we are tempted to despise. There also we have presented to our contemplation the noblest model of humility and self-humiliation (Philippians 2:5-8). - G.W.
Psalm 84:11) appears more suitable for One so great, who is the Light of the universe. Still, the humbler and homelier image is expressive. A lamp is of service where the sun is of none - in mines, dark cellars and dungeons, etc. Its light is more readily commanded and appropriated. We can say, "My lamp," we cannot so well say, "My sun." And so this image may convey to us more readily how God is a Light in the darkest places and obscurest recesses; available to each for his own particular needs and for the humblest uses of daily life. But the distinction need not and should not be pressed. The word is an image of light.
I. A FACT STATED. "Thou art my Lamp, O Lord."
1. He shines as a bright lamp.
(1) He is Light without darkness (1 John 1:5); essential, independent, unchangeable, and eternal Light. Not needing to be or capable of being replenished, as all other lamps, literal or figurative.
(2) He shines pre-eminently in his Son Jesus Christ.
(3) In and by his Word - its declarations, precepts, promises, threatenings. "The commandment is a lamp, and the Law is light" (Proverbs 6:23).
(4) By his Spirit, in the reason, conscience, and heart of man. Thus "the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" (Proverbs 20:27, Revised Version).
(5) In and by his people. He so shines on them as to make them lights.
2. He thus fulfils the various purposes of a lamp.
(1) Revealing. Himself, and in his light all other persons and things in their true nature and relations to him and each other (comp. Ephesians 5:13). Bringing into view what had been hidden in the heart, etc., by the darkness.
(2) Guiding. In the way that is right and safe, and leads to salvation (Psalm 119:105). He thus gives "the light of life" (John 8:12).
(3) Cheering (Psalm 4:6, 7; Psalm 97:11; comp. Esther 8:16).
3. He is a lamp to each believer. "My Lamp." Similarly," The Lord is my Light" (Psalm 27:1). The godly man accepts the Divine light, uses it in practical life, enjoys the comfort of it. Others reject it, and wander and stumble on in darkness.
II. AN ASSURANCE CHERISHED. "The Lord will lighten my darkness." From his knowledge of God and his promises, and his past experience, the psalmist felt assured that whatever darkness might come upon him. God would be his light in and through it, yea, would turn the darkness into light. Such an assurance may be cherished t)y all the people of God. He will lighten the darkness which may arise from:
1. Perplexity. As to Divine truth and as to the path of duty.
2. Sin. The memory of sins long past or recent; the consciousness of proneness to evil.
3. Spiritual gloom. When the lights of heaven seem blotted out, and God seems himself to have deserted the soul (Psalm 22:1, 2; Psalm 42.).
4. Troubles. Afflictions of body; bereavements, making dark the home; unkindness or unfaithfulness of friends; worldly losses. When all other lights go out, and leave in gloom, God remains, the Light of his friends, and will in due time lighten their darkness. Let all, then, accept this glorious Lamp for their guidance and comfort. How blessed the world of which it is said, "There shall be no night there... for the Lord God giveth them light;" and again, "The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof" (Revelation 22:5; Revelation 21:23)! - G.W.
1. His way is perfect. His providential dealings, especially in leading his servant forward in the conflict. Although ofttimes mysterious and different from what might have been expected, it is marked by perfect rectitude, perfect wisdom, perfect love; and is exactly adapted to effect his holy and beneficent purposes (Job 23:8-10; Psalm 77:19; Psalm 97:2).
2. His Word is tried (purified as silver and gold, without dross, and very precious). It is the chief means of preparation, instruction and help; "the sword of the Spirit." Its declarations are true, its directions good, its promises faithful (Proverbs 30:5; Psalm 12:6, 7). The more it is tested, whether by friends or foes, by examination or experience, the more it proves itself to be indeed the Word of God, and of unspeakable worth. "There is none like that; give it me" (1 Samuel 21:9).
3. His defence is sure; himself effectuating his Word, and being "a Shield to all that trust in him," affording certain, constant, and complete protection. Faith is the bond of union between men and God, the "taking hold of his strength," a necessary means of defence, and hence often called a shield (Ephesians 6:16; Hebrews 10:35); but it is God himself who is such in the highest sense (Jeremiah 51:20; Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 5:12). He is God alone (ver. 32); the absolute, incomparable, perfect One; worthy to be trusted and praised (ver. 4). - D.
I. THE PERFECTION OF GOD'S WAY. "His way is perfect." This is true of all his proceedings, in every department of his operations. His ways in nature are to a large extent inscrutable; but we are sure they are infinitely wise and good. His method of redeeming and saving sinners is perfect. But here the reference is rather to the course of his providence - the way in which he leads, governs, protects, and delivers his servants.
1. The meaning of the assertion. That God's way is perfectly wise and good and holy, perfectly adapted to fulfil the purposes of his love towards his children, and leads to an end that is perfectly good. That, in comparison with the way we might have preferred, it is infinitely superior.
2. The grounds of the assertion. It expresses a conviction which springs from:
(1) Reason. Because God is perfect, his way must be. Perfect Wisdom and Goodness cannot err; unbounded power carries into effect the determinations of perfect Wisdom and Goodness.
(2) Revelation. Holy Writ is in most cases our first source of knowledge as to God and his ways; and it abounds in declarations adapted to assure us, in the midst of all our perplexities respecting the mysteries of Divine providence, that the ways of God are right and good, and will issue in good to those who love and obey him.
(3) Experience. Looking back on his own life, with its many difficulties, struggles, and perils, David could see enough of the way of God in it all to awaken in him a profound conviction that it was a perfect way. And no one who serves God can fail to recognize this truth in his own life, however much may remain at present dark and difficult,
(4) Observation. By which the experience of others becomes available for ourselves. In this we may include the recorded experience of others in biography and history, in the sacred or other books. The history of the Church and of individuals abounds in instances adapted to increase our confidence in the perfection of the Divine way, while leaving vast spaces of unsolved mystery.
3. The influence which this truth should have upon us.
(1) Thankfulness and praise.
(2) Unwavering confidence, however dark some of the Divine proceedings may be, whether towards ourselves or others.
(3) Cheerful submission to the guidance and government of God.
II. THE PURITY OF GOD'S WORD. It is "tried;" literally, "smelted," and so purified and refined, as metals by fire (comp. Psalm 12:6, "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times"). The meaning is that God's Word is thoroughly genuine, true, sincere, free from every particle of opposite qualities. The statement applies to every word of God - his declarations, revelations, precepts, promises, and threatenings. It is most probably made here as to his promises. These are all thoroughly true and reliable, free from error, free from deceit. For God:
(1) Cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
(2) Cannot mistake. Knows perfectly all the future, all possible hindrances to the accomplishment of his purposes, and his own power to conquer them.
(3) Cannot change. Not in purpose; not in power. Thus whatever tends to throw more or less of uncertainty upon human promises is absent from the Divine (see further on 2 Samuel 7:28). The Word of God is "tried" in another sense of the Hebrew word. It has been "tested," put to the proof, in ten thousands of instances, and has ever been found true. The experience of every believer testifies to its perfect truth; and the experience of the Church, and of the world in its connection with the Church, throughout all ages, gives the same assurance. Then:
1. Let us trust the Word of God with a confidence suited to its entire trustworthiness.
2. Let us be glad and thankful that, amidst so much that is unreliable, we have here a firm foundation on which to rest our life and hopes.
3. Let our Word correspond with that of God in its freedom from all insincerity and untruthfulness, if it cannot be free from the uncertainty which springs from ignorance, inability, or mutability.
III. THE PROTECTION WHICH GOD AFFORDS TO HIS PEOPLE.
1. The protection itself. "He is a Buckler [Shield] to all them that trust in him." Not only he secures protection, he is himself the Shield that protects. As a hen protects her chickens under her own wings (Psalm 91:4), so the Lord covers and defends his people with his own Being and perfections. Their enemies have to conquer him before they can injure them. They are under the guardianship of his knowledge, power, goodness, faithfulness; and these must fail before they can perish.
2. The persons who enjoy such protection. "All them that trust in him" - all, as the word is, who flee to him for refuge.
(1) It is one of the characteristics of the godly, that in their perils they flee for refuge to God. It is to God they flee; not to some merely imaginary being whom they call God - a God, for instance, who, however despised in the time of prosperity, is always at the call of men in trouble; too merciful to punish his foes severely; too tender hearted to disregard the cry of distress, although it come from impenitent hearts. Such confidence is vain. God's Word contains not a promise to the ungodly and unholy, however troubled they may be, unless the trouble subdue their hearts to a true repentance. But those who live by faith in God naturally turn to him in danger and distress.
(2) To them he is a Shield. Their faith itself, God-produced and God-sustained, is a shield (Ephesians 6:16); it inspires their prayers and struggles after safety; and in response to their confidence and their prayers the Almighty becomes their Defence, and they are safe.
(3) Their safety is according to their faith. Faith which is mixed with doubt is an occasion of peril. Intermittent faith brings intermittent safety. If for a time we flee from our Refuge, we are exposed defenceless to the assaults of our enemies, and shall be wounded and distressed. Then, "trust in him at all times" (Psalm 62:8); and let your prayer be, "Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17:5), and, "Pray for us that our faith fail not" (see Luke 22:32). - G.W.
I. JEHOVAH ALONE IS GOD. David was thinking of the idols worshipped by the nations around, which had proved themselves unable to protect their worshippers from his victorious arms. The question may be asked as to all other idols, and all persons and things that men serve as if they were gods - self, wealth, the world, etc.:
1. Which of them has perfections like those of Jehovah? He is the living God, the everlasting, infinite in power, wisdom, and love; perfect in holiness and righteousness. To whom besides can such attributes be ascribed? "There is none else" (Deuteronomy 4:39).
2. Which of them has done or can do works like his? "All the gods of the peoples are idols: but the Lord made the heavens" (Psalm 96:5, Revised Version; comp. Isaiah 45:18).
3. Which of them can help their worshippers as he can? They are "vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain" (1 Samuel 12:21).
4. Which of them, then, is worthy to receive homage such as is due to him? Fear, trust, love, worship, obedience. Yet the unregenerate do honour one or other of these vanities more than God. They, as truly as the heathen, "worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever" (Romans 1:25, Revised Version).
II. JEHOVAH ALONE IS A ROCK.
1. God is a Rock. A term applied to him by Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4), and afterwards very frequently, especially in the Book of Psalms. God is to those who trust in him what a rock, lofty and difficult of ascent and access to strangers, is to a people invaded by powerful foes. In him they find safety and protection. And as a rock is marked by strength, stability, and permanence, so God is mighty to protect, unchangeable, a Rock of ages, "an everlasting Rock" (Isaiah 26:4, Revised Version), a Refuge available through each life and for all generations.
2. He alone is worthy of the name. There are other persons and things which minister strength and safety to men. "Wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence" (Ecclesiastes 7:12), friendship also, and civil government and military force, etc. But none besides God deserves the name of a Rock.
(1) They are limited in their worth; he, unbounded One or another of them may be a refuge against some dangers; he, against all. They may not be at hand in the time of most pressing need; he is always near.
(2) They are feeble and unstable; he, strong and firm.
(3) They are transient; he, everlasting.
(4) They are dependent; he, their independent Source. All their fitness and ability to aid us is from him; so that, when they are of service to us, it is he that is showing himself to be our Rock. Then:
1. Accept thankfully the good they can do; but trust in the Lord alone with absolute and unwavering confidence.
2. Beware of resorting to God's gifts as a refuge from himself. From the thought of him; from the reproaches of a guilty conscience; from the penalties of his Law
3. If you reject or neglect God for others, bethink you what help they can give you when he executes his judgments upon you. (Judges 10:14; Jeremiah 2:28.) - G.W.
Psalm 18:32). Physical strength is derived from God. Much more is spiritual. It is obtained through faith. And every believer may say, "His strength is mine." Thereby:
1. I live - live unto God, "soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Titus 2:12; Hebrews 2:4; Galatians 2:20).
2. I stand - stand fast in temptation, attack, danger (Romans 14:4; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 4:1).
3. I walk - walk forward, in the way of the Lord, surely, swiftly (ver. 34), perseveringly (2 Corinthians 5:7; Isaiah 40:31).
4. I labour - labour with and for God, zealously, patiently, and not in vain (Isaiah 26:12; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
5. I endure - endure "hardness," afflictions, reproaches, yea, all things, supported and "strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man" (2 Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 11:27; Psalm 138:3).
6. I fight - fight "the good fight of faith," against his enemies, courageously and effectually (ver. 35).
7. I overcome - overcome in life and death (1 Corinthians 15:57). - D.
I. GOD IS OUR STRONG FORTRESS. A fortress is a protection against enemies.
1. We have powerful foes. The world and the flesh, the devil and his angels, assault us continually, and would destroy, not only our peace, but our souls. They are too strong and numerous for our power and skill; and no creature power is sufficient for our defence.
2. God is our Almighty Protector. The Fortress into which we can flee, and where we are safe; which no enemy can scale or breach. His presence surrounds us; his power defends us. Yea, he is in our hearts to strengthen and protect us. Everywhere, and under all circumstances, we can resort to this Refuge, and defy our foes. We should therefore be ready to go anywhere and do anything at God's command. He may lead us where temptations are numerous and powerful; but obeying and trusting him, we are secure.
II. GOD IS OUR ALL WISE GUIDE. The reading and translation preferred by the Revisers gives a good sense, harmonizing with many statements of Holy Writ. "He guideth the perfect in his way," or, perhaps, "his [God's] way." The man who is "perfect" in the sense of "upright," sincere, true, righteous, wholehearted, may be assured of Divine guidance; while the insincere, hypocritical, double minded, shall be left to go astray. In the margin of the Revised Version, however, another reading and rendering are given, viz. "guideth my way in perfectness," which appears to be substantially in agreement with the Authorized Version, "maketh my way perfect."
1. God leads his people in their way. By his providence, Word, Spirit. In respect to the affairs of this life, and those of the soul and eternity. He guides them into the position he has chosen for them, and to and in the work he appoints for them. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" (Psalm 37:23).
2. His lead is perfect. Such was the conclusion of the psalmist in reference to his own way. He could see that all had been ordered aright for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes respecting him. Such will be the conclusion of all God's servants at the last; and their faith in God will enable them to cherish this conviction now, notwithstanding all the perplexities in which they may be involved. The way in which they may be led may not be always pleasant; but it is:
(1) The best way. The way of holiness; the way in which they can gain most real good, serve and honour God most, be most useful, attain ultimately the greatest glory and felicity.
(2) The safe way. Sometimes a way which avoids enemies and perils; in other cases, a way through the midst of them, which God makes safe by his protection.
(3) The way that ends in eternal glory and blessedness. It is "the way of life which goeth upward" (Proverbs 15:24, Revised Version). "The end" is "everlasting life" (Romans 6:22). It may be asked how it comes to pass that those who have God for their Guide nevertheless make such grievous mistakes, and fall into so much trouble.
(1) The troubles which spring from want of worldly wisdom, as well as those which arise from circumstances, are under Divine guidance. It is the will of God that his people should suffer, and his benevolent purpose is often made manifest in the spiritual profit and greater usefulness of the sufferers.
(2) Even good men do not fully seek and follow the guidance of God. They too frequently choose their own way, and thus fall into mischief. But God, in his goodness, does not therefore forsake them. He leads those who are true at heart out of the evils into which they have brought themselves, turns their very sins and follies to account in training them for further service, and brings them safe home at last. The lessons are:
1. Be thankful for such a Guide.
2. See to it that you ever honestly seek and submit to his guidance. By the study of his Word and providence, and by earnest prayer, inquire what is the way in which he would have you go; and, when you see it, walk in it. - G.W.
Isaiah 18:35, "Thy gentleness" (humility, meekness, condescending grace). True greatness consists not in external prosperity, nor in splendid achievements, but in moral and spiritual excellence. "The good alone are great." Notice -
I. ITS CONDITIONS, on the part of man.
1. Conscious weakness, the sense of utter helplessness in himself (1 Samuel 30:1-10; John 15:5; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 11:34).
2. Believing prayer (ver. 7). "By showing us our own nothingness, humility forces us to depend upon God; and the expression of that dependence is prayerfulness."
3. Ardent aspiration. "When sea water rises into the clouds it loses its saltness and becomes fresh; so the soul when lifted up to God" (Tamil proverb).
II. ITS BESTOWMENT; by "that practical hearkening on the part of God when called upon for help, which was manifested in the fact that God made his steps broad" (Keil).
1. In wonderful condescension (Psalm 138:6).
2. By manifold methods; preserving, instructing, strengthening, exalting those who trust in him.
3. With considerate adaptation to their nature and capacities. "The great God and Father, intent on making his children great, follows them and plies them with the gracious indirections of a faithful and patient love" (Bushnell, 'Christ and his Salvation'). "Like as father" etc. (Psalm 103:13).
III. ITS MANIFESTATION. As the effect of sunshine and rain, received and appropriated by a plant, appears in its abounding strength, beauty, and fruitfulness, so the effect of Divine grace appears in enlargement and elevation of mind, sincere and fervent love to God, a set purpose to do his will, eminence in "love, joy, peace, gentleness," etc. (Galatians 5:22), maturity of character (Hosea 14:5-7), holy and beneficent activity, growing conformity to the perfect Pattern of true greatness (Matthew 20:25-27). "Have the mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). - D.
Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 18:12; Proverbs 22:4). But in speaking of God, we use the word "condescension" rather than "humility." Yet it is said of him (Psalm 113:6) that "he humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth;" i.e. he stoops to regard them; it is condescension in him to notice them. The words of the text may be used by all Christians; especially by some of them.
I. THE GREATNESS TO WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE EXALTED.
1. All of them are made great. For they are made:
(1) Sons and daughters of the great God, brothers and sisters of Jesus the Son of God, having a nature corresponding with the names. They are "partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), and therefore God like, in holiness, righteousness, and love.
(2) Wise with heavenly wisdom. A nobler wisdom than that of philosophers. "Taught of God" (John 6:45), who reveals to them what he hides from the worldly wise (Matthew 11:25).
(3) Powerful with the noblest power, that which is moral and spiritual, by which they "overcome the world" (1 John 5:4), rule their own spirits (Proverbs 16:32), and subdue others to the obedience of faith.
(4) Friends and associates of the best of God's creatures - holy angels and redeemed men; with whom they form one family (Ephesians 3:15).
(5) Heirs, and at length possessors, of a grand and enduring estate (1 Peter 1:4). These things are not mere names or fancies; they are solid and enduring realities, to have the lowest place and the humblest share in which is, in the nature of things, to be greater than the greatest of earthly dignitaries who have no part in them.
2. Some of them are made specially great. They realize, in a larger measure than others, the various elements of greatness mentioned above. They have more of God in them; and hence are richer in spiritual wisdom and goodness, exercise a wider and stronger influence, do a greater work, attain to greater honour and renown in this world and the next. Apostles, martyrs; eminent teachers, evangelists, missionaries, and reformers; monarchs, too, and statesmen, poets, etc., who are also devoted Christians. Such special greatness arises sometimes and in part from:
(1) Greater natural endowments. More of physical energy, or intellectual power, or emotional force, to begin with.
(2) Or greater opportunities, which may be such as rank and fortune give, or the state of things around them, or such as poverty, affliction, and persecution afford.
(3) Special earnestness, faithfulness, and diligence in the cultivation and employment of powers and opportunities (Luke 19:16-26).
(4) Special prayerfulness. Hence abundant impartation of the Holy Spirit, the Source and Sustainer of all spiritual excellence.
(5) Deeper humility. Without this all seeming greatness is not greatness at all "in the kingdom of heaven," and will shrivel into nothingness (Matthew 18:1-4; Luke 9:48; Luke 14:11).
II. TO WHAT SUCH GREATNESS IS TO BE ASCRIBED, AND IS ASCRIBED BY THOSE WHO ATTAIN TO IT. To the condescension of God. David recognized that all his greatness was owing to the goodness and power of God, and in their exercise on his behalf he discerned unspeakable condescension. Similar should and will be the feeling of all who are raised to spiritual greatness.
1. The work of God in their exaltation is a work of condescension. This appears as we consider:
(1) His greatness and holiness, and their littleness and sinfulness (Psalm 8.; Isaiah 57:15). God must stoop to reach and raise such creatures.
(2) His various operations upon and for them. When we consider what is involved in the Divine processes by which they are exalted, they resolve themselves into attention (so to speak) to, and animating or controlling influence over, a countless multitude of small matters. Yet we shall not be astonished at this when we remember that not a sparrow is forgotten by God, and that his children "are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6, 7). Also that great results depend on small things; and that, in fact, to the Infinite Mind there is nothing great, nothing small.
(3) And pre-eminently, the incarnation and work of the Son of God. The self-humiliation of the eternal Word in becoming man (John 1:1-3, 14), and of the God Man in lowly service to lowly people, patiently enduring the greatest indignities and most painful and ignominious sufferings, "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:27; John 13:2-5; Philippians 2:6-8).
(4) The work of the Holy Spirit. Stooping to dwell in the hearts of the mean and sinful, bearing with neglect, waywardness, resistance, and disobedience.
2. The condescension thus displayed promotes spiritual greatness. Not only as it is exercised in the ways before mentioned, but:
(1) As it is apprehended and realized. The majesty, holiness, and justice of God tend to humiliate and repress the human spirit, and discourage aspiration and effort. At best it produces only a "spirit of bondage" (Romans 8:15). But under the influence of condescending love, love is enkindled, confidence is awakened, the heart expands and enlarges, is inspired with the freedom and courage which prepare for noble service of God and man, rises heavenward and yet looks on earth with kindlier eye, and more resolute purpose to labour and suffer for its good.
(2) As it incites to imitation. Contemplating the grandeur and beauty of the Divine condescension, we become transformed into its image. We learn to stoop to the lowly and even the degraded. We are content to serve in lowly offices, if thereby we can benefit our fellow men. It no longer seems strange that we should be required "to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). And this is the way to become great (Mark 10:43, 44). Yet we must not indulge the thought or assume the air of condescension, or we shall fail both to benefit others and to secure honour for ourselves. Rather let us accustom ourselves to think in how many and important respects we are on a level with those whose good we seek. This will produce in us genuine humility, and enable us to feel towards our brethren a brotherly sympathy which will banish the sense of superiority. - G.W.
2 Samuel 23:2), may have had in view the ultimate purpose of God respecting him and his posterity, viz. the exaltation of his great Son to be, in a wider sense than was applicable to David himself, "the Head of the nations." We may at least take the words as applicable to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. THE OPPOSITION HE ENCOUNTERS. Like David, he has to withstand many "strivings of the people."
1. In his life on earth he was much opposed. He endured the "contradiction of sinners against himself" (Hebrews 12:3). "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11) - his own people, his own family (John 7:5). All classes, with a few exceptions, rejected him - Pharisees and Sadducees, elders and scribes, ecclesiastics and politicians, rulers and people. The multitude sought once to make him king (John 6:15), and, when he entered Jerusalem for the last time, welcomed him, in the hope that he was about to ascend the throne; but he would not be such a king as they desired, and they cared not to have such a King as he was to be. Hence they united with their superiors in saying, "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14); and, to put an end to his pretensions, put him to death. They did not know that they were thus very effectually promoting his victories and reign.
2. He has met with various and constant opposition ever since. His cause has advanced in spite of perpetual strivings against it. Jews and Gentiles, kings and subjects, rich and poor, the intellectual and the ignorant, the refined and the coarse, have "set themselves.., against the Lord, and against his Anointed" (Psalm 2:2). He, too, can speak still of the "strivings of my people." As at first amongst the Jews, so since amongst Christians (so called), and amongst those in high positions in his Church, have been found his worst foes. Men are willing to bear his Name, to receive some of his doctrines, and even contend for them, to appropriate the comfort he gives; but to obey him, to let him rule in their minds and hearts and lives, in their homes, in their business, in their pleasures, in their social life, in their national affairs, - that is quite another matter. And those who strive earnestly to obey him themselves, and to induce others to do so, must be prepared for opposite "strivings," and even persecution. Nor do they wonder, seeing they find, more or less, in their own nature, elements of opposition to the rule of the Christ which explain the hostility of others.
IX. THE EXALTED POSITION HE NEVERTHELESS OCCUPIES. "Head of the nations." The answer of the Almighty to all the rebellious counsels and works of men is, "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion" (Psalm 2:6). The kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of Jehovah; vain, therefore, must be all strivings against it. Its opponents can only dash themselves to pieces, but "he must reign" (1 Corinthians 15:25).
1. The extent of his dominion. "The nations," in a wider sense than was true of David. "All nations shall serve him" (Psalm 72:11). And not only all nations in existence at any one time, but all that may come into existence while the world endures.
2. The nature of his dominion.
(1) He is "Head of the nations" by right. By the appointment and gift of the Father (Psalm 2:7, 8; Matthew 28:18). As the result and reward of his own righteousness and self-sacrificing love (Philippians 2:8, 9). He redeemed men by his blood, to make them "a kingdom" (Revelation 1:5, 6; Revelation 5:9, 10, Revised Version). As truth, righteousness, and love are rightful rulers, however far they may be from actually ruling, so is it with our Lord.
(2) He actually rules over all nations. "He is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). All authority on earth, as well as in heaven, has been given to him (Matthew 28:18). Whether men know him or not, acknowledge him or not, he is their King; he so orders, controls, and directs the affairs of the nations as to make them subserve the advancement and ultimate universal establishment of his spiritual reign.
(3) He has already a vast multitude of willing and obedient subjects in many nations. "A people which he knew not," gathered from the Gentiles, serves him; as well as many from the people whom he knew.
(4) Many render him feigned obedience (ver. 45, margin). It is an evidence of his great power among the nations that many find it to their interest, or credit, or convenience, to profess his Name, who are still opposed to him in heart. They call him Lord, though they do not the things which he says (Luke 6:46).
(5) All nations will at length own him as their Head, and heartily and lovingly submit to his sway. The prophecy will yet be fulfilled: "There followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15, Revised Version). In the assurance of this, let his people labour and give and pray with joyful hope for the extension of his reign in the earth. - G.W.
I. THE TITLES HERE GIVEN TO GOD.
1. Rock. (See on ver. 32.) "My Rock." The Rock to which I have fled, and where I have found safety and repose. The Rock in which I still trust and will trust with full assurance of its stability and security, whatever be the confidences of others. It is a blessed thing, in speaking of God, to be able to use this word "my," as expressive of personal experience, choice, and confidence.
2. The God of the Rock of my salvation; equivalent to "the God who is the Rock of my salvation," "my mighty Saviour." David had experienced salvation from enemies and dangers many times and in many ways; and he ascribes all to God. By whatever means and instruments, it was God who had delivered him. He had been manifested in his history as the God of salvation; and in saving him had shown himself a Rock, the Rock in which alone safety was to be found. The higher and better salvation which is presented to us in the gospel is from God. With him it originated; by him in Christ it is wrought. Christians joyfully recognize God as the God of salvation, the Rock of salvation. It is for men one of the most glorious and encouraging names of God. God the Creator, God the Preserver, God the Ruler, are glorious names; but unless to them could be added God the Saviour, they would afford no hope or comfort. It is this which renders all other names of God attractive and inspiring. Specially gladdening is it to be able to say, "The God of my salvation," the Rock of ages in which I find refuge, the God who has saved me and is saving me, and in whom I trust that he will fully save me, from the guilt, power, and consequences of my sins, and all the assaults of the deadly enemies of my soul.
II. THE DECLARATION MADE RESPECTING HIM. "The Lord liveth." Which expresses:
1. His real existence. In contrast with idols, which are dead, helpless, and unable to help.
2. His continued existence. In contrast with men, who die and pass away.
3. His manifested existence. He lives and works in the world, in the Church, in each believer. By his operations for the good of his people, he shows himself the living God.
4. The satisfaction which his servants feel in him as ever living.
(1) Joy that such a Being is their God. That they know and worship the true and living God.
(2) Confidence that his life renders all their interests secure for this world and the next. And not only their interests as individuals, but those of the whole Church of God. Because he lives, his Church cannot perish.
(3) Comfort under the death of Christian friends. He lives; and therefore their death was his act. It did not befall them because he had ceased to be or to be able to deliver. He lives, to support and comfort those who survive. He lives, to supply the place of the departed in the family, the Church, the world. He lives, and therefore they live and will live forever. For through Christ their life was and is rooted in his. He is their abiding Dwelling place.
III. THE PRAISE RENDERED TO HIM. "Blessed" (equivalent to "praised"), "exalted"
1. Praise is the utterance of exalted thoughts and feelings respecting him. Without these the language of praise is of no value.
2. To publish his praise by speech or writing is to exalt him in view of others.
3. Praise in such words as are here employed expresses the desire that all should exalt him by accepting, loving, obeying, and extolling him.
4. The publication of his praise is adapted to produce this result.
5. The exaltation of God should ever be sought in our services of praise. Some such services tend rather to the exaltation of musical composers, organists, and choirs. - G.W.
Romans 15:9). The purpose of God to below the blessings of salvation upon all nations was made known in the earliest ages (Genesis 12:3; Numbers 14:21; Deuteronomy 32:43). "From the beginning there existed a power to rise above the exclusiveness of Old Testament religion, namely, the vital germ of knowledge, that the kingdom of God would one day find its completion in a universal monarchy embracing all people" (Riehm, 'Messianic Prophecy'). In sympathy and cooperation with the Divine purpose David here speaks. That purpose is, in its highest sense, fulfilled in the extension of the kingdom of Christ (1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 5:3). This language is such as might be adopted by Christ himself (Psalm 2:8; Hebrews 2:9-13). It should be that of all his followers; to whom he said, "Go ye, therefore" (Matthew 28:18-20), "proclaim the good news to every creature" (Mark 16:15); "Ye are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8). As such it indicates -
I. A JOYFUL PROCLAMATION of the Word of truth, by which God is glorified in his Son (2 Samuel 7:14, 26); pertaining to:
1. His marvellous doings, in conflict with the powers of evil and in victory over them, through humiliation, suffering, and sacrifice (Psalm 22.). "Make known his deeds among the people" (Psalm 105:1, 2; John 12:31, 32).
2. His glorious exaltation and reign (ver. 47). "Say among the heathen, The Lord is King" (Psalm 96:10; Philippians 2:9-11). His reign is righteous, beneficent, and universal.
3. His saving benefits - the remission of sins, deliverance from oppression, "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." "Praise him, all ye people: for his merciful kindness is great," etc. (Psalm 117:1, 2). "The means of bringing them to the knowledge of God is not the sword, but the proclamation of God's great deeds for his people. As David in his character of missionary to the heathen world praises his God's grace, so at bottom all missionary work among the heathen is, in the announcement of the Word of the God who is revealed in Christ, a continuous praise of the Name of the living God" (Erdmann).
II. A SACRED RESOLVE. "I will praise thee." This determination, or "vow of thanksgiving," ought to be made by every one who has himself received the knowledge of salvation, from:
1. A feeling of compassion for the urgent need of the heathen (Acts 16:9). He may not keep the "good tidings" to himself (1 Kings 7:9).
2. A conviction of duty, arising from acquaintance with the merciful purpose and express commands of the Lord.
3. An impulse of grateful love, on account of the condescending grace shown toward himself, constraining him to obey the Lord's will, promote his purpose, and glorify his Name. It will also lead him to employ every means in his power that "Christ may be magnified" (Philippians 1:20).
III. A CONFIDENT PERSUASION that the heathen will listen to "the joyful sound," freely submit themselves (vers. 44-46), and join in the praise of God; founded on:
1. His power to effect his purposes.
2. His faithfulness in fulfilling his promises.
3. His past achievements (vers. 48, 49). They shall come and declare his righteousness (Psalm 22:27-31). "Above eighteen centuries have verified the prediction of the permanency of his kingdom, founded as it was by no human means, endowed with inextinguishable life, ever conquering and to conquer in the four quarters of the world; a kingdom one and alone since the world has been, embracing all climes and times, and still expanding, unworn by the destroyer of all things, time; strong amid the decay of empires; the freshness and elasticity of youth written on the brow which has outlived eighteen centuries" (Pusey, 'Daniel,' p. 62). - D.
I. THE GROUNDS OF THE PSALMIST'S PRAISE.
1. His position. God's "king," "his anointed," the messiah (Christ) of God. David was literally anointed by Samuel as the future king of Israel, and had been prepared for and brought to the throne in marvellous ways. He recognized, as Saul had failed to do, that he was God's king and representative, ruling God's people in subjection to him. The position was far more honourable than that of any heathen monarch, however much wider his dominion.
2. His experience of the goodness and power of God. Protecting, delivering, giving victory, exalting to the throne, and preserving in it. "Therefore," because of all that I have hem recorded of the Divine favour to me, "I will give thanks," etc. Note the value of experience as a help and incentive to praise. It gives reality to our thoughts of God, and personal knowledge of his power and goodness. It stirs the heart to gratitude, and to a desire that all should know and praise him. It furnishes interesting subjects for praise.
3. The assurance be had of the future kindness of God to himself and his family. This assurance sprang from the promise of God by Nathan (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and which finds its ultimate and complete fulfilment in the exaltation of the Christ, the Son of David, to be King of all men, of all beings and things in heaven as well as earth. It was a great honour conferred on David and his family to be made rulers for many generations of the people in and through whom true religion was preserved, to be at length diffused through all the earth; it was a far greater for HIM to spring from them who should be the Saviour of all men, and the eternal King. For consider:
(1) His personal glory. Not only Son of David, but Son of God, filled "with all the fulness of the Godhead" (Colossians 2:9); the incarnate Word.
(2) The nature of his rule. Especially his spiritual reign - the reign of Divine truth, holiness, and love in the hearts and lives of men; the reign of peace and joy.
(3) Its extent. Far wider than that of David or Solomon. To include at length all nations (Psalm 72:8, 11).
(4) Its duration. "Forevermore." David discerned, in the Divine promise to him and his, enough to fill his heart with gladness and thankfulness; if he could have seen even as much as we are permitted to behold, his wonder and gratitude would have known no bounds.
II. THE SPHERE OF HIS PRAISE. "Among the nations."
1. The fulness of his gratitude moved him to make known God's goodness as widely as possible.
2. He desired to instruct other nations, and bring them to worship a God so able and willing to bless his worshippers. He may have felt a special obligation to instruct and benefit the peoples who had been brought into subjection to himself.
3. The interest which the nations at large had in what God had done and promised to him. See Romans 15:9, where ver. 50 is quoted by St. Paul in proof that it was the purpose of God that the Gentiles should "glorify God for his mercy." - G.W.
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