<> The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
Verse 1. - The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken. A combination of three names of God - viz. El, Elohim, and Jehovah - only found here and in Joshua 22:22. There it is translated "the Lord God of gods," which is a possible rendering. Separately, the three names seem to mean, "The Mighty One," "The Many in One" (Cheyne) or "The Three in One," and '"The Self-Existent One." He who is all these, the psalmist announces, "has spoken," and called (or, summoned) the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof; i.e. God has summoned all mankind to hear his judgment of his covenant people.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
Verse 2. - Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty (comp. Psalm 48:2; Lamentations 2:15; 1 Macc. 2:12). God hath shined; i.e. has shown himself in his dazzling radiance. The psalmist, however, does not mean to announce a material, but a spiritual, fact.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
Verse 3. - Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; rather, and let him not keep silence. Let him call attention to his "coming," that his judgment may be widely known. A fire (rather, fire) shall devour before him (comp. Psalm 21:9). And it shall be very tempestuous round about him. So in all theophanies (see Exodus 19:16; 1 Kings 19:11; Job 38:1; Psalm 18:13; Psalm 97:2-5; Acts 2:2; Revelation 4:5, etc.).
He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
Verse 4. - He shall call to the heavens from above; rather, to the heavens above; i.e. to the inhabitants of heaven - the holy angels. And to the earth (comp. ver. 1). That he may judge his people. Heaven and earth are called upon to come together, and furnish a fit audience before which the judgment may proceed.
Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
Verse 5. - Gather my saints together unto me. By "my saints" the psalmist means here, not godly Israel, as in Psalm 16:3, but all Israel - the whole nation, whether true servants of Jehovah, or only professed servants. This is rendered clear by the ensuing clause, Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Not even was the first covenant dedicated without blood (Hebrews 9:18; comp. Exodus 24:3-8); nor could any Israelite remain within the covenant without frequent sacrifice (Exodus 12:2-47, etc.).
And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
Verse 6. - And the heavens shall declare his righteousness. The angelic host, which comes to witness the judgment of Israel (ver. 4), shall proclaim it a righteous judgment. For God is Judge himself. And he will certainly "do right" (Genesis 18:25).
Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.
Verses 7-15. - "The continuance of this dramatic scene," as Professor Cheyne remarks, "scarcely answers to the commencement. The judgment seems to be adjourned, or to be left to the conscience of the defendants." The faithful are summoned, and appear, but not to receive unqualified commendation (see Matthew 25:31-40). Rather they receive a warning. The strong and prolonged depreciation of sacrifice (vers. 8-13) necessarily implies that in the religion of the time too much stress was laid upon it. We know that, in the heathen world, men sought to buy God's favour by their sacrifices, some] believing that, physically, the gods were nourished by the steam of the victims, others regarding them as laid under obligations which they could not disregard (Plato, 'Rep.,' it. § 6; Rawlinson, 'Religions of the Ancient World,' pp. 124, 125). We know, too, that, in the later monarchy, sacrifice to so great an extent superseded true spiritual worship among the Israelites themselves, that it became an offence to God, and was spoken of in terms of reprobation (Isaiah 1:11-13; Isaiah 66:3). Already, it would seem, this tendency was manifesting itself, and a warning from Heaven was needed against it. Verse 7. - Hear, O my people, and I will speak. God will not speak to deaf ears. Unless men are ready to attend to him, he keeps silence. O Israel, and I will testify against thee; or, protest unto thee (Kay, Cheyne). I am God, even thy God. And therefore am entitled to be heard.
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
Verse 8. - I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings. It is for no neglect of the outward ritual of religion - of sacrifice and offering - that I have to reprove thee. To have been continually before me; rather, they have been continually before me. I have had enough of them, and to spare. Not only have the daily morning and evening sacrifices been regularly offered, and the national worship thus kept up without a break; but the private offerings of individuals (see vers. 9, 13) have been continuous and ample in number. But they have not been acceptable.
I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.
Verse 9. - I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. The offerings of those who offer amiss will not be accepted. God declines to receive them.
For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Verse 10. - For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. So the Revised Version, Dr. Kay, Canon Cook, the Four Friends, and others; but many critics regard such a rendering as impossible. Of these, some translate, "And the cattle upon the hills, where there are thousands" (Hupfeld, Hengstenberg, etc.); while others read אלהים for אלפ, and render, "And the cattle upon the mountains of God" (Olshausen, Cheyne).
I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
Verse 11. - I know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine; literally, are 'with me. All creation is God's, known to him, and owned by him, to be dealt with at his pleasure. How, then, should he need gifts from men?
If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
Verse 12. - If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; i.e. suppose it possible that I could be hungry, I should not have recourse to man; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof - and I should have recourse to it.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
Verse 13. - Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? But is it to be supposed, can any suppose it possible, that I, the Lord of heaven and earth, the invisible Author of all things, both visible and invisible, can need material sustenance, and can condescend to find any sustenance in bulls' flesh and goats' blood? Scarcely did even the grossest of the heathen take this view. A vapour, an odour (κνίσση), was thought to ascend from the victims sacrificed, and this penetrated to the Olympian abodes, and gratified, or, as some would say, "fed" the gods. But such coarse feeding as that suggested in the text was hardly imagined by any, unless it were by utter savages and barbarians.
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
Verse 14. - Offer unto God thanksgiving. The one offering acceptable to God is praise and thanksgiving out of a pure heart. This was designed to be the accompaniment of all sacrifice, and was the ground of acceptability in every case where sacrifice was acceptable. And pay thy vows unto the Most High; i.e. "and so pay thy vows." So offer thy worship, and it will be accepted.
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Verse 15. - And call upon me in the day of trouble (comp. Psalm 20:1). I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. The meaning is, "Then, when thou shalt offer unto me a true worship (ver. 14), if thou wilt call upon me in the day of trouble, I will assuredly deliver thee, and so give thee occasion for glorifying me."
But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
Verses 16-21. - While even the more godly among the Israelites have been thus, to a certain extent, reproved (vers. 8-14), the psalmist now addresses to the ungodly, the open and wilful transgressors, a far sterner rebuke. They claim the privileges of God's covenanted servants (ver. 16), but perform none of the duties (vers. 17-20), thus bringing down upon themselves a terrible menace. Verse 16. - But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? The wicked assumed that they were true Israelites. They were familiar with the words of God's statutes, and with the terms of the covenant. They claimed the right of enforcing them against others (Romans 2:18-20), while in their own persons they set them at nought (vers. 18-20). God declares that they have no right to assume to be teachers of others until they have taught themselves - they are unfit even to "take his covenant in their mouth."
Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
Verse 17. - Seeing thou hatest instruction (comp. Proverbs 1:25, 29). God, by his Law, teaches men their duties; but many men "hate" to be instructed. And castest my words behind thee (comp. 1 Kings 14:9; Nehemiah 9:26). They proceed from "inward alienation" to "open rejection" of the moral law.
When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
Verse 18. - When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst unto him. God tests his professed, but really disobedient, servants by the second table of the Decalogue, and finds them wanting. If they do not themselves actually rob, they give their consent, they become accessories before the fact, to robbery. They probably participate in the gains. And hast been partaker with adulterers; rather, and with adulterers is thy portion; i.e. thou hast thrown in thy lot with them, hast adopted their principles, hast set at nought the seventh no less than the eighth commandment.
Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
Verse 19. - Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit; rather, thou hast loosed thy mouth to evil; i.e. given it liberty to utter all manner of wicked speech; and especially thou hast used mouth and tongue to cozen and deceive.
Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.
Verse 20. - Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother. Professor Cheyne understands by "brother" any fellow-Israelite; but the parallel in the second hemistich - Thou slanderest thine own mother's son - implies that an actual brother is intended. It is one of the special characteristics of the reprobate to be "without natural affection" (Romans 1:31).
These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
Verse 21. - These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. Because God did not interpose openly to punish the sins committed, the transgressor dared to imagine him to be indifferent to sin, "such an one as himself" - no holier, no purer, no more averse to evil. But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. But now the time is come when I shall no longer keep silence; I shall openly "reprove" thee, and marshal in set order before thee all the wicked deeds which thou hast done. God, as Calvin says, "will lay before them in exact order a full catalogue of their misdeeds, which they must read and own, whether they will or not."
Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
Verse 22. - Now consider this, ye that forget God. Having been "reproved," the wicked are now, in conclusion, exhorted and warned. "Consider this;" i.e. take it to heart, reflect upon it, let it sink deeply into your minds and consciences, and act upon it. Lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. A most awful threat. To "tear in pieces" is the act of a wild beast (Psalm 7:2). Job declares that God "teareth him;" but otherwise the expression is scarcely used of Divine chastisements. Certainly, if God, in his anger, lays hold upon a man to punish him, there is no possible deliverance at the hand of any other man (Psalm 49:7, 8). Deliverance, if it comes at all, must come from the Redeemer within the Godhead.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
Verse 23. - Whose offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God. As the wicked have their parting warning, so the godly have their parting encouragement. God is "glorified" (see ver. 15) by those who offer him praise from a sincere heart; and if a man will lay down for himself a straight path and pursue it, God will "show him his salvation;' i.e. will bring him to peace and blessedness.