Hallelujah! Praise God in His sanctuary. Praise Him in His mighty heavens.
I. THE SANCTUARY. Not "his holiness," as in the Prayer-book Version, nor merely "his temple;" but the whole earth, as the sphere in which he has displayed his power and his grace. It is quite true that praise is to be offered in those buildings which are set apart for God's worship; but we must always regard them as representative of God's great temple of nature and of human history. The old tabernacle represented wandering Israel as the dwelling-place of God. The temple, later on, represented the organized nation as the dwelling-place of God. But such localization and limitations only represented and taught the truth that the whole earth is the sanctuary of God. In tabernacle, temple, church, whole earth, where God is, God's praise must be sounded forth. He says, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me."
II. THE FIRMAMENT OF HAS POWER. This is usually taken to mean "heaven," but it is more in accordance with Hebrew repetition to see in it another figure for what is called the "sanctuary." "Firmament" simply means sphere. Every place becomes a holy place if God's power is put forth in it; then the whole earth, and the entire range of history, become a sanctuary in which God's praise is properly called forth. If we are to praise God in the spheres in which he has put forth his power and grace, we shall have to be praising him everywhere. - R.T.
I. DEFINE WHAT USURY IS. It is that gain which is gotten by lending, covenanting before with the borrower to receive more than was borrowed. Someone, defining usury, calls it the contrary to charity; for "love seeketh not her own," but usury seeks another's that is not her own. Then it is far from love; but God is love; so usury is far from God. Usury has her name of biting (nesher), and she may well signify it; therefore St. Paul saith (Galatians 5:15), "If you bite one another, take heed," etc.
He that putteth not out his money to usury.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
II. ITS UNLAWFULNESS.
1. It is against the law of charity.
2. Against the law of nations. For all nations have laws against usury, and some restraints against it.
3. Against the law of nature, that is, against the natural compassion which should be among men.
4. Against the law of God (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19). It is a miserable occupation to live by sin, and a great comfort when a man can feel, of his gold and silver, that it is all well gotten, and that he leaves of his own to his children. The usurer loveth the borrower as the ivy loveth the oak, to grow up by it; the usurer would grow rich by the borrower. The ivy claspeth the oak like a lover, but it claspeth out all the juice and sap, that the oak cannot thrive after it. So the usurer claspeth the borrower with such bonds that he ever after grows poor as others grow rich. Christ bids us lend freely. God bade Adam live by the sweat of his brow (face), his own, not that of another, which usurers live by. David says, "A good man is merciful and lendeth," and then he adds, "he shall never be moved." In Exodus 23, it is said, "Lend unto him which wanteth without usury, that the Lord may bless thee."
III. THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF USURY. There be more sorts of it than there are tricks at cards.
1. Some will not take usury, but will have the use of your land or your cattle, and so get even more than by usury.
2. Others will take plates, bedding, and other household stuff, to use or wear, (Amos 2) "They lie down upon the clothes which are laid to pledge."
3. Others will take a pawn, which is better than the money they lend, and if the money be not returned by a certain day, they keep the pawn.
4. Others will buy goods at a small price, and then covenant that the borrowers buy them back at the same price on such a day, or else the goods will be theirs (1 Thessalonians 4:6).
IV. THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH USURY IS DEFENDED. There be three opinions. Some say, like God, "Thou shalt die." They think that usury is utterly unlawful, because God hath forbidden it. Some say, like the woman, "Peradventure thou shalt die"; they doubt whether usury be utterly unlawful or no, because it is so much tolerated. Some say like the serpent, "Thou shalt not die"; they think usury lawful, because it is gainful, as Saul thought that the idolaters beasts should not be killed, because they were fat (1 Samuel 15:9). The arguments for usury which are pleaded are —
1. God doth allow some kind of usury (see Deuteronomy 23). "Of a stranger thou mayest take usury." But a stranger signifies an enemy such as they were commanded destroy; only to such might they be usurers. But men take usury of their brother.
2. They say they lend for compassion. But how so when you partake not of your brother's losses but his gains?
3. They say If he gain, and I gain too, is not this well? Should he not be thankful? Yes, if he hath received a good turn from you. But you bind him to requite it.
4. It is necessary for orphans, widows, and such like, which have no other way of getting their living. But how did the Jews do without it? If it was good for them not to have, is it good for us that we should have usurers?
6. It is only the biting usury which is forbidden. But all usury is that.
7. They, allege the law of the land, which allows it. But if God's law forbid thee, can man's law excuse thee? It did not serve Adam to say, "The woman gave me." And furthermore, the law only restrains. No man is to take more than ten in the hundred; if he do he shall be punished. The law doth not sanction any usury, but only holds back the usurer.
V. THE USURER'S PUNISHMENT.
1. Not only God's law, but the canon law doth condemn the usurer. It doth excommunicate him, as having no communion with saints.
2. It doth detain him from the sacraments, as having no communion with Christ.
3. Will not suffer him to be buried, as if he were only worthy to lie in hell.
4. It treats his will as he will. But hear the judgment of God's law. The usurer doth receive two incomes, one of the borrower, and another of the revenger. The first is gem, the other punishment. All the Scripture prophesieth evil unto him. Solomon saith (Proverbs 28:8), "He which increaseth his riches by usury, gathereth for them which will be merciful to the poor." God saith that He will smite the usurer with His fist (Ezekiel 22:13). As his hands were shut against the poor, so shall God's hands be against him. And here David saith, "they shall not dwell in God's temple, nor rest in His holy mountain." But this punishment is all punishments. Yes, usury signifieth biting, for when it has bitten others it shall bite the usurer too, and never cease. If, therefore, Christ be come to your hearts, as He came to Zacchaeus' house, restore now, as he did, and escape this judgment.
VI. THE GIVING OF USURY. Is this lawful? Jeremiah says he never gave nor took (Jeremiah 15:10). But he meant he was no meddler with the world, whereby they should envy him as usurers were most of all envied. But many will borrow who will never lend; and it is said, if there were no borrowers there would be no lenders, if no bribe givers there would be no bribe takers. And there is as much difference between the two men as between covetousness and necessity, for he which borroweth upon, usury borroweth for necessity. But for this God has allowed many things — Adam's sons to marry with Adam's daughters; and David to eat the shewbread (Luke 6:4). And so when immediate help is needed to prevent a great mischief, many think that it is lawful to resort to the usurer. But if some may borrow upon usury it does not follow that all may. Yet many borrow who have no need. They borrow because they reckon that they can get more by the money than the money they pay for it. Hence it is that goods are so dear. And there are some who borrow because they want to make their creditors think they are bare of money. These are like foxes, and I doubt not there be more sorts than I know.
VII. WHAT SHOULD THEY DO WHO HAVE GOT THEIR MONEY BY USURY? Restore it again. If you cannot say as Samuel said, "Whose goods have I taken?" then you must say as Zacchaeus said, Whose goods have I kept? The best thing is to do no man wrong, the next best is to make amends. For as humility is the repentance of pride, and abstinence of surfeit, and alms of covetousness, and forgiveness of malice, so restitution is the repentance of usury. As a camel when he comes home casteth off his burden at the door, that he may enter into his stable; so they which are laden with other men's goods, when they go to heaven, must leave their burden where they had it, lest they be too gross to enter in at the narrow gate; therefore that you may not die in your sins, make restitution (2 Samuel 2:26), so do you remember whether this course will be sweet or bitter in the end. Now, seeing that you may not be usurers to men, be usurers to God (Matthew 19:29).
The Young Man.The Rev. W.J. Dawson, replying to the question "Is usury right?" says: "John Ruskin replies, No. His contention is that if a man has £15,000 it is his duty to spend his principal pound by pound, but to put it to usury, that is to interest, is a sin against society. I confess I have never been able to accept this doctrine. When we talk of £15,000 it is one thing; but apply it to £1000, which we will say is the entire fortune of a widow. If she spends it pound by pound she will soon came to beggary. If it be wisely invested, someone else has the use of it in the promotion of business, and she has a small annual income, which is the barrier between her and want. I do not understand Christ as denouncing usury. What the whole spirit of the Bible denounces is excessive usury."
(The Young Man.)
He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
1. That we imitate the character of the man who is described in this Psalm; that we study to preserve a clear conscience, and to lead a virtuous and honourable, at least an inoffensive and innocent, life. So great is the power of conscience over every human being that the remembrance of crimes never fails to overthrow tranquillity of mind. Let him therefore, who wishes to enjoy tranquillity, study, above all things, to act an irreproachable part. 2, Join humble trust in the favour of God. As, after the best endeavours we can use, no man's behaviour will be entirely faultless, it is essential to peace of mind that we have some ground of hope in the Divine mercy, that through the merits of Jesus Christ our defects shall be forgiven, and grace be shown us by heaven. But a man may be both pious and virtuous and yet, through some defects in the management of his mind and temper, may not possess that happy serenity and self-enjoyment which ought to be the portion of virtue and piety. There is therefore some discipline to be studied; there are some subsidiary parts of character to be attended to, in order to give piety and virtue their full effect for conferring tranquillity.
3. Attend to the culture and improvement of your minds. A fund of useful knowledge and a stock of ideas afford much advantage for the enjoyment of tranquillity. In a mind absolutely vacant, tranquillity is seldom found. The vacancy will too often be filled up by bad desires and passions.
4. Be always careful to provide proper employment of our time. Regular industry and labour, with intervals of ease, is perhaps the state most conducive of any to tranquillity. But if relaxation degenerate into total idleness it becomes in a high degree adverse to tranquillity.
5. Learn to govern our passions. These are the frequent disturbers of our peace. Such of them as belong to the malignant and unsocial class evidently tend to promote vexation and disquiet. If those which are accounted of an innocent nature obtain the entire mastery of our minds, they are sufficient to overthrow the tranquillity of life. This self-command is particularly necessary in all that relates to habitual temper: those slight emotions which ruffle or sour the temper are sufficient, by their frequent recurrence, to poison all self-enjoyment. He who would possess a tranquil state must cultivate calmness and gentleness of disposition.
6. Never expect too much from the world. High hopes and florid views are great enemies to tranquillity. When rashly indulged they are constantly producing disappointments. One of the first lessons, both of religion and wisdom, is to moderate our expectations and hopes. It is a middle region which is the native station of tranquillity. Do not form too high expectations from the character of those who are in social or domestic relations with you.
7. Mix retreat with the active business of the world, and cultivate habits of serious thought and recollection. Reflection and meditation allay the workings of many unquiet passions, and place us at a distance from the tumults of the world. The three great enemies to tranquillity are vice, superstition, and idleness.
(Hugh Blair, D. D.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
(A Parsons Penn.)
(Adam Littleton, D. D.).
Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust.
1. Because it contains one of the brightest and most unhesitating expressions of faith in the presence of God, as extending through and beyond death, and preserving the life both of soul and body. It therefore stands in marked contrast with the desponding doubts of such passages as Psalm 88 — basing itself on the conviction, which our Lord declared to underlie the whole covenant, that "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
2. Because it is quoted most explicitly in the New Testament as a Messianic prophecy, an inspired utterance, which was no doubt in some degree applied by the Psalmist to himself as having unity with God, and therefore defying death, but which could be in its full meaning spoken of the Messiah alone (Acts 2:25-31; 13:85). For in Him alone was the, unity with God to be perfect — so that He should be at once "the son of David," and yet "God with us" — therefore in Him alone was it impossible that humanity could be "holden of death," either in the "prison" of Hades (1 Peter 3:19) or the "corruption" of the grave.
(Alfred Barry, D. D.)
1. The writer's utterances to God, and God's people of his supreme delight in Jehovah (vers. 1-4).
2. The direct statement of the blessedness of such a lot (vers. 5-8).
3. The assurance that it would prevail over death and the grave (vers. 9-11). Cheyne says, the Psalmist assumes successively the tone of profession, of description, and of prophecy.
I. THE PROFESSION. In view of the fluctuations and uncertainties of the world, the writer invokes God's preserving care, for the reason that this is his habitual resort. He neither has nor wishes any other. But this absolute dependence on the Most High is very far from being servile or constrained. It is spontaneous and joyous. He knows no fountain of true happiness save Jehovah. The love of saints and the abhorrence of idolatrous apostates go together.
II. THE DESCRIPTION (vers. 5-8). Here is an emphatic statement of the fact that nothing earthly, visible, material is what satisfies the Psalmist, but only Jehovah Himself. It is the Giver, not His gifts, that meets his wants. The happiness of such a condition is insisted on. In David's eyes God is no abstraction, but a person real, living, walking by his side. Hence his abiding confidence. The whole utterance is one of strong triumphant faith.
III. THE PROPHECY (vers. 9-11). Here the description of the present passes into a forecast of the future. Some of the terms are peculiar. "Glory" probably means "tongue." "Sheol" is the place of departed spirits. "Corruption" may mean "the pit." The poet is taking a calm outlook upon death and the grave as they lie before every man in the natural course of events. Shall this be the end of his career? Nay, heart and flesh alike are safe. David will not be abandoned to the dismal shades, nor will his bodily frame perish irrecoverably. The Psalm as a whole is a remarkable exhibition of Old Testament piety.
(Talbot W. Chambers, D. D.)Psalm 56-60, Michtam, may mean "Golden Psalm," or "Sculpture Psalm," this latter term indicating a Psalm of strong incisive thought. The Psalm seems, "by its tone of fresh, joyous confidence, to belong to the early part of David's career." It may have been written when David was in the wilderness of Ziph (1 Samuel 26:19). The Psalm may be used to illustrate the following points:
1. Only out of an experience of God's gracious dealings can a full trust in God be gained. David had known God from his early shepherd life.
2. The uncertainty of all things on which men rely; men change or fail; riches take wings; of many possessions we tire, but trust in God never disappoints. He is the one satisfying good.
3. Those who have God at all must have Him for all in all. No idols must draw us away. Self-seeking and world-seeking pleasures may be our idols.
4. Keeping close to God is security for this world, and for the world to come. Really right is right with God, and whoever is really right is right forever. The joy we have in God, neither time, nor change, nor death can end. The following subjects are treated: Soul joy in God. Soul joy in the godly. Soul fear of the ungodly. Soul confidence in the present. Soul purpose to maintain the godly life. Soul assurance that God will maintain loving relations with the godly forever.
(Robert Tuck, B. A.)
I. A GOOD MAN'S CRY FOR DIVINE PROTECTION. Whether his peril arose from the idolatrous heathen or from domestic enemies, we cannot say; but it was sufficiently urgent to drive him to God for shelter. Is not this one of the chief uses of earthly trials?
II. A GOOD MAN'S ARGUMENTS FOR A DIVINE RESPONSE.
1. He pleads his faith in God.
2. He pleads his own moral value (vers. 4-6). A holy exultation now thrills the Psalmist's heart.There are two sources of his joy.
1. The sight of the misery of idolaters.
2. The contemplation of his own blessedness. The figurative language of ver. 6 is derived from the division of the land of Canaan amidst the tribes of Israel. Precious truths underlie it.
(1) (2) (3) (Robert Rollocks.) (Joseph Parker, D. D.) I. HIS EXPERIENCE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRESENT. He has — 1. A profound consciousness of his dependence for safety and for good. "My goodness extendeth not to Thee." That is, my happiness is not independent of Thee. 2. A delight in the fellowship of the good. "The saints, the excellent, in whom is all my delight." 3. An abhorrence of the practices of the wicked. "Their drink offering of blood will I not offer." 4. An exultation in the Lord as his portion. 5. A high satisfaction with providential arrangements. "The lines have fallen to me," etc. II. IN REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE. He is — 1. Thankful. "I will bless the Lord." 2. Thoughtful. "My reins also," etc. 3. Calm. "I shall not be moved." 4. Happy. "My heart is glad." 5. Trustful. "My flesh also shall rest in hope" — (i) (ii) (iii) (D. Thomas, D. D.) (A. Thomson, D. D.)
(2) (3) (Robert Rollocks.) (Joseph Parker, D. D.) I. HIS EXPERIENCE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRESENT. He has — 1. A profound consciousness of his dependence for safety and for good. "My goodness extendeth not to Thee." That is, my happiness is not independent of Thee. 2. A delight in the fellowship of the good. "The saints, the excellent, in whom is all my delight." 3. An abhorrence of the practices of the wicked. "Their drink offering of blood will I not offer." 4. An exultation in the Lord as his portion. 5. A high satisfaction with providential arrangements. "The lines have fallen to me," etc. II. IN REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE. He is — 1. Thankful. "I will bless the Lord." 2. Thoughtful. "My reins also," etc. 3. Calm. "I shall not be moved." 4. Happy. "My heart is glad." 5. Trustful. "My flesh also shall rest in hope" — (i) (ii) (iii) (D. Thomas, D. D.) (A. Thomson, D. D.)
(3) (Robert Rollocks.) (Joseph Parker, D. D.) I. HIS EXPERIENCE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRESENT. He has — 1. A profound consciousness of his dependence for safety and for good. "My goodness extendeth not to Thee." That is, my happiness is not independent of Thee. 2. A delight in the fellowship of the good. "The saints, the excellent, in whom is all my delight." 3. An abhorrence of the practices of the wicked. "Their drink offering of blood will I not offer." 4. An exultation in the Lord as his portion. 5. A high satisfaction with providential arrangements. "The lines have fallen to me," etc. II. IN REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE. He is — 1. Thankful. "I will bless the Lord." 2. Thoughtful. "My reins also," etc. 3. Calm. "I shall not be moved." 4. Happy. "My heart is glad." 5. Trustful. "My flesh also shall rest in hope" — (i) (ii) (iii) (D. Thomas, D. D.) (A. Thomson, D. D.)
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
I. HIS EXPERIENCE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRESENT. He has —
2. A delight in the fellowship of the good. "The saints, the excellent, in whom is all my delight."
3. An abhorrence of the practices of the wicked. "Their drink offering of blood will I not offer."
4. An exultation in the Lord as his portion.
5. A high satisfaction with providential arrangements. "The lines have fallen to me," etc.
II. IN REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE. He is —
1. Thankful. "I will bless the Lord."
2. Thoughtful. "My reins also," etc.
3. Calm. "I shall not be moved."
4. Happy. "My heart is glad."
5. Trustful. "My flesh also shall rest in hope" —
(D. Thomas, D. D.) (A. Thomson, D. D.)
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
(A. Thomson, D. D.)