Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. To the Chief Musician. He had need be a man
of great skill, worthily to sing such a Psalm as this: the best music in the
world would be honoured by marriage with such expressions. A Song or
Psalm, or a Song and Psalm. It may be either said or sung; it is a
marvellous poem if it be but read; but set to suitable music, it must have been
one of the noblest strains ever heard by the Jewish people. We do not know who
is its author, but we see no reason to doubt that David wrote it. It is in the
Davidic style, and has nothing in it unsuited to his times. It is true the
"house" of God is mentioned, but the tabernacle was entitled to that designation
as well as the temple.
SUBJECT AND DIVISION. Praise is the topic, and the subjects
for song are the Lord's great works, his gracious benefits, his faithful
deliverances, and all his dealings with his people, brought to a close by a
personal testimony to special kindness received by the prophet bard himself. Ps
66:1-4 are a kind of introductory hymn, calling upon all nations to praise God,
and dictating to them the words of a suitable song. Ps 66:5-7 invite the
beholder to "Come and see" the works of the Lord, pointing attention to
the Red Sea, and perhaps the passage of Jordan. This suggests the similar
position of the afflicted people which is described, and its joyful issue
predicted, Ps 66:8-12. The singer then becomes personal, and confesses his own
obligations to the Lord (Ps 66:13-15); and, bursting forth with a vehement
"Come and hear, "declares with thanksgiving the special favour of the
Lord to himself, Ps 66:16-20.
Verse 1. Make a joyful noise unto God. "In Zion, "where the
more instructed saints were accustomed to profound meditation, the song was
silent unto God, and was accepted of him; but in the great popular assemblies a
joyful noise was more appropriate and natural, and it would be equally
acceptable. If praise is to be wide spread, it must be vocal; exulting sounds
stir the soul and cause a sacred contagion of thanksgiving. Composers of tunes
for the congregation should see to it that their airs are cheerful; we need not
so much noise, as joyful noise. God is to be praised with the voice, and
the heart should go therewith in holy exultation. All praise from all nations
should be rendered unto the Lord. Happy the day when no shouts shall be
presented to Juggernaut or Boodh, but all the earth shall adore the Creator
thereof. All ye lands. Ye heathen nations, ye who have not known
Jehovah hitherto, with one consent let the whole earth rejoice before God. The
languages of the lands are many, but their praises should be one, addressed to
one only God.
Verse 2. Sing forth the honour of his name. The noise is to
be modulated with tune and time, and fashioned into singing, for we adore the
God of order and harmony. The honour of God should be our subject, and to honour
him our object when we sing. To give glory to God is but to restore to him his
own. It is our glory to be able to give God glory; and all our true glory should
be ascribed unto God, for it is his glory. "All worship be to God only, "should
be the motto of all true believers. The name, nature, and person of God are
worthy of the highest honour. Make his praise glorious. Let not his praise be mean and
grovelling: let it arise with grandeur and solemnity before him. The pomp of the
ancient festivals is not to be imitated by us, under this dispensation of the
Spirit, but we are to throw so much of heart and holy reverence into all our
worship that it shall be the best we can render. Heart worship and spiritual joy
render praise more glorious than vestments, incense, and music could do.
Verse 3. Say unto God. Turn all your praises to him.
Devotion, unless it be resolutely directed to the Lord, is no better than
whistling to the wind. How terrible art thou in thy works. The mind is usually
first arrested by those attributes which cause fear and trembling; and, even
when the heart has come to love God, and rest in him, there is an increase of
worship when the soul is awed by an extraordinary display of the more dreadful
of the divine characteristics. Looking upon the convulsions which have shaken
continents, the hurricanes which have devastated nations, the plagues which have
desolated cities, and other great and amazing displays of divine working, men
may well say: How terrible art thou in thy works. Till we see God
in Christ, the terrible predominates in all our apprehensions of him. Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies
submit themselves unto thee; but, as the Hebrew clearly intimates, it
will be a forced and false submission. Power brings a man to his knee, but love
alone wins his heart. Pharaoh said he would let Israel go, but he lied unto God;
he submitted in word but not in deed. Tens of thousands, both in earth and hell,
are rendering this constrained homage to the Almighty; they only submit because
they cannot do otherwise; it is not their loyalty, but his power, which keeps
them subjects of his boundless dominion.
Verse 4. All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing
unto thee. All men must even now prostrate themselves before thee,
but a time will come when they shall do this cheerfully; to the worship of fear
shall be added the singing of love. What a change shall have taken place when
singing shall displace sighing, and music shall thrust out misery! They shall sing to thy name. The nature and works of God
will be the theme of earth's universal song, and he himself shall be the object
of the joyful adoration of our emancipated race. Acceptable worship not only
praises God as the mysterious Lord, but it is rendered fragrant by some measure
of knowledge of his name or character. God would not be worshipped as an unknown
God, nor have it said of his people, "Ye worship ye know not what." May the
knowledge of the Lord soon cover the earth, that so the universality of
intelligent worship may be possible: such a consummation was evidently expected
by the writer of this Psalm; and, indeed, throughout all Old Testament writings,
there are intimations of the future general spread of the worship of God. It was
an instance of wilful ignorance and bigotry when the Jews raged against the
preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. Perverted Judaism may be exclusive, but
the religion of Moses, and David, and Isaiah was not so. Selah. A little pause for holy expectation is well inserted
after so great a prophecy, and the uplifting of the heart is also a seasonable
direction. No meditation can be more joyous that excited by the prospect of a
world reconciled to its Creator.
Verse 5. Come and see the works of God. Such glorious
events, as the cleaving of the Red Sea and the overthrow of Pharaoh, are
standing wonders, and throughout all time a voice sounds forth concerning them
--"Come and see." Even till the close of all things, the marvellous works of God
at the Red Sea will be the subject of meditation and praise; for, standing on
the sea of glass mingled with fire, the triumphal armies of heaven sing the song
of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. It has always been the
favourite subject of the inspired bards, and their choice was most natural. He is terrible in his doing toward the children of men. For
the defence of his church and the overthrow of her foes he deals terrific blows,
and strikes the mighty with fear. O thou enemy, wherefore dost thou vaunt
thyself? Speak no more so exceeding proudly, but remember the plagues which
bowed the will of Pharaoh, the drowning of Egypt's chariots in the Red Sea, the
overthrow of Og and Sihon, the scattering of the Canaanites before the tribes.
This same God still liveth, and is to be worshipped with trembling reverence.
Verse 6. He turned the sea into dry land. It was no slight
miracle to divide a pathway through such a sea, and to make it fit for the
traffic of a whole nation. He who did this can do anything, and must be God, the
worthy object of adoration. The Christian's inference is that no obstacle in his
journey heavenward need hinder him, for the sea could not hinder Israel, and
even death itself shall be as life; the sea shall be dry land when God's
presence is felt. They went through the flood on foot. Through the river the
tribes passed dry shod, Jordan was afraid because of them.
"What ailed thee, O thou mighty sea?
Why rolled thy waves in dread?
What bade thy tide, O Jordan, flee
And bare its deepest bed?"
"O earth, before the Lord, the God
Of Jacob, tremble still;
Who makes the waste a watered sod,
The flint a gushing rill."
There did we rejoice in him. We participate this day in
that ancient joy. The scene is so vividly before us that it seems as if we were
there personally, singing unto the Lord because he hath triumphed gloriously.
Faith casts herself bodily into the past joys of the saints, and realises them
for herself in much the same fashion in which she projects herself into the
bliss of the future, and becomes the substance of things hoped for. It is to be
remarked that Israel's joy was in her God, and there let ours be. It is not so
much what he has done, as what he is, that should excite in us a sacred
rejoicing. "He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God,
and I will exalt him."
Verse 7. He ruleth by his power for ever. He has not
deceased, nor abdicated, nor suffered defeat. The prowess displayed at the Red
Sea is undiminished: the divine dominion endures throughout eternity. His eyes behold the nations. Even as he looked out of the
cloud upon the Egyptians and discomfited them, so does he spy out his enemies,
and mark their conspiracies. His hand rules and his eye observes, his hand has
not waxed weak, nor his eye dim. As so many grasshoppers he sees the people and
tribes, at one glance he takes in all their ways. He oversees all and overlooks
none. Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. The proudest have
no cause to be proud. Could they see themselves as God sees them they would
shrivel into nothing. Where rebellion reaches to a great head, and hopes most
confidently for success, it is a sufficient reason for abating our fears, that
the Omnipotent ruler is also an Omniscient observer. O proud rebels, remember
that the Lord aims his arrows at the high soaring eagles and brings them down
from their nest among the stars. "He hath put down the mighty from their seats,
and exalted them of low degree." After a survey of the Red Sea and Jordan,
rebels, if they were in their senses, would have no more stomach for the fight,
but would humble themselves at the Conqueror's feet. Selah. Pause again, and take time to bow low before the
throne of the Eternal.
Verse 8. O bless our God, ye people. Ye chosen seed,
peculiarly beloved, it is yours to bless your covenant God as other nations
cannot. Ye should lead the strain, for he is peculiarly your God. First visited
by his love, ye should be foremost in his praise. And make the voice of his praise to be heard. Whoever else
may sing with bated breath, do you be sure to give full tongue and volume to the
song. Compel unwilling ears to hear the praises of your covenant God. Make
rocks, and hills, and earth, and sea, and heaven itself to echo with your joyful
Verse 9. Which holdeth our soul in life. At any time the
preservation of life, and especially the soul's life, is a great reason for
gratitude but much more when we are called to undergo extreme trials, which of
themselves would crush our being. Blessed be God, who, having put our souls into
possession of life, has been pleased to preserve that heaven given life from the
destroying power of the enemy. And suffereth not our feet to be moved. This is another and
precious boon. If God has enabled us not only to keep our life, but our
position, we are bound to give him double praise. Living and standing is the
saint's condition through divine grace. Immortal and immoveable are those whom
God preserves. Satan is put to shame, for instead of being able to slay the
saints, as he hoped, he is not even able to trip them up. God is able to make
the weakest to stand fast, and he will do so.
Verse 10. For thou, O God, hast proved us. He proved his
Israel with sore trials. David had his temptations. All the saints must go to
the proving house; God had one Son without sin, but he never had a son without
trial. Why ought we to complain if we are subjected to the rule which is common
to all the family, and from which so much benefit has flowed to them? The Lord
himself proves us, who then shall raise a question as to the wisdom and the love
which are displayed in the operation? The day may come when, as in this case, we
shall make hymns out of our griefs, and sing all the more sweetly because our
mouths have been purified with bitter draughts. Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Searching and
repeated, severe and thorough, has been the test; the same result has followed
us as in the case of precious metal, for the dross and tin have been consumed,
and the pure ore has been discovered. Since trial is sanctified to so desirable
an end, ought we not to submit to it with abounding resignation.
Verse 11. Thou broughtest us into the net. The people of God
in the olden time were often enclosed by the power of their enemies, like fishes
or birds entangled in a net; there seemed no way of escape for them. The only
comfort was that God himself had brought them there, but even this was not
readily available, since they knew that he had led them there in anger as a
punishment for their transgressions; Israel in Egypt was much like a bird in the
fowler's net. Thou laidest affliction upon our loins. They were pressed
even to anguish by their burdens and pains. Not on their backs alone was the
load, but their loins were pressed and squeezed with the straits and weights of
adversity. God's people and affliction are intimate companions. As in Egypt
every Israelite was a burden bearer, so is every believer while he is in this
foreign land. As Israel cried to God by reason of their sore bondage, so also do
the saints. We too often forget that God lays our afflictions upon us; if we
remembered this fact, we should more patiently submit to the pressure which now
pains us. The time will come when, for every ounce of present burden, we shall
receive a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Verse 12. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads. They
stormed, and hectored, and treated us like the mire of the street. Riding the
high horse, in their arrogance, they, who were in themselves mean men, treated
the Lord's people as if they were the meanest of mankind. They even turned their
captives into beasts of burden, and rode upon their heads, as some read the
Hebrew. Nothing is too bad for the servants of God when they fall into the hands
of proud persecutors. We went through fire and through water. Trials many and
varied were endured by Israel in Egypt, and are still the portion of the saints.
The fires of the brick kiln and the waters of the Nile did their worst to
destroy the chosen race; hard labour and child murder were both tried by the
tyrant, but Israel went through both ordeals unharmed, and even thus the church
of God has outlived, and will outlive, all the artifices and cruelties of man.
Fire and water are pitiless and devouring, but a divine fiat stays their fury,
and forbids these or any other agents from utterly destroying the chosen seed.
Many an heir of heaven has had a dire experience of tribulation; the fire
through which he has passed has been more terrible than that which chars the
bones, for it has fed upon the marrow of his spirit, and burned into the core of
his heart; while the waterfloods of affliction have been even more to be feared
than the remorseless sea, for they have gone in even unto the soul, and carried
the inner nature down into deeps horrible, and not to be imagined without
trembling. Yet each saint has been more than conqueror hitherto, and, as it has
been, so it shall be. The fire is not kindled which can burn the woman's seed,
neither does the dragon know how to vomit a flood which shall suffice to drown
it. But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. A blessed
issue to a mournful story. Canaan was indeed a broad and royal domain for the
once enslaved tribes: God, who took them into Egypt, also brought them into the
land which flowed with milk and honey, and Egypt was in his purposes en
route to Canaan. The way to heaven is via tribulation.
"The path of sorrow and that path alone,
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown."
How wealthy is the place of every believer, and how doubly does
he feel it to be so in contrast with his former slavery: what songs shall
suffice to set forth our joy and gratitude for such a glorious deliverance and
such a bountiful heritage. More awaits us. The depth of our griefs bears no
proportion to the height of our bliss. For our shame we have double, and more
than double. Like Joseph we shall rise from the prison to the palace, like
Mordecai we shall escape the gallows prepared by malignity, and ride the white
horse and wear the royal robe appointed by benignity. Instead of the net,
liberty; instead of a burden on the loins, a crown on our heads; instead of men
riding over us, we shall rule over the nations: fire shall no more try us, for
we shall stand in glory on the sea of glass mingled with fire; and water shall
not harm us, for there shall be no more sea. O the splendour of this brilliant
conclusion to a gloomy history. Glory be unto him who saw in the apparent evil
the true way to the real good. With patience we will endure the present gloom,
for the morning cometh. Over the hills faith sees the daybreak, in whose light
we shall enter into the wealthy place.
Verse 13. I will. The child of God is so sensible of his own
personal indebtedness to grace, that he feels that he must utter a song of his
own. He joins in the common thanksgiving, but since the best public form must
fail to meet each individual case, he makes sure that the special mercies
received by him shall not be forgotten, for he records them with his own pen,
and sings of theme with his own lips. I will go into thy house with burnt offerings;
sacrifices of godly men. Even the thankful heart dares not come to God without a
victim of grateful praise; of this as well as of every other form of worship, we
may say, "the blood is the life thereof." Reader, never attempt to come before
God without Jesus, the divinely promised, given, and accepted burnt offering. I will pay thee my vows. He would not appear before the
Lord empty, but at the same time he would not boast of what he offered, seeing
it was all due on account of former vows. After all, our largest gifts are but
payments; when we have given all, we must confess, "O Lord, of thine own have we
given unto thee." We should be slow in making vows, but prompt in discharging
them. When we are released from trouble, and can once more go up to the house of
the Lord, we should take immediate occasion to fulfil our promises. How can we
hope for help another time, if we prove faithless to covenants voluntarily
entered upon in hours of need.
Verse 15. I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of
fatlings. The good man will give his best things to God. No starveling goat
upon the hills will he present at the altar, but the well fed bullocks of the
luxuriant pastures shall ascend in smoke from the sacred fire. He who is miserly
with God is a wretch indeed. Few devise liberal things, but those few find a
rich reward in so doing. With the incense of rams. The smoke of burning rams should
also rise from the altar; he would offer the strength and prime of his flocks as
well as his herds. Of all we have we should give the Lord his portion, and that
should be the choicest we can select. It was no waste to burn the fat upon
Jehovah's altar, nor to pour the precious ointment upon Jesus' head; neither are
large gifts and bountiful offerings to the church of God any diminution to a
man's estate: such money is put to good interest and placed where it cannot be
stolen by thieves nor corroded by rust. I will offer bullocks with goats. A perfect sacrifice,
completing the circle of offerings, should show forth the intense love of his
heart. We should magnify the Lord with the great and the little. None of his
ordinances should be disregarded; we must not omit either the bullocks or the
goats. In these three verses we have gratitude in action, not content with
words, but proving its own sincerity by deeds of obedient sacrifice. Selah. It is most fit that we should suspend the song while
the smoke of the victims ascends the heavens; let the burnt offerings stand for
praises while we meditate upon the infinitely greater sacrifice of Calvary.
Verse 16. Come and hear. Before, they were bidden to come
and see. Hearing is faith's seeing. Mercy comes to us by way of ear gate. "Hear,
and your soul shall live." They saw how terrible God was, but they heard how
gracious he was. All ye that fear God. These are a fit audience when a good
man is about to relate his experience; and it is well to select our hearers when
inward soul matters are our theme. It is forbidden us to throw pearls before
swine. We do not want to furnish wanton minds with subjects for their comedies,
and therefore it is wise to speak of personal spiritual matters where they can
be understood, and not where they will be burlesqued. All God fearing men may
hear us, but far hence ye profane. And I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I will
count and recount the mercies of God to me, to my soul, my best part, my most
real self. Testimonies ought to be borne by all experienced Christians, in order
that the younger and feebler sort may be encouraged by the recital to put their
trust in the Lord. To declare man's doings is needless; they are too trivial,
and, besides, there are trumpeters enough of man's trumpery deeds; but to
declare the gracious acts of God is instructive, consoling, inspiriting, and
beneficial in many respects. Let each man speak for himself, for a personal
witness is the surest and most forcible; second hand experience is like "cauld
kale het again; "it lacks the flavour of first hand interest. Let no mock
modesty restrain the grateful believer from speaking of himself, or rather of
God's dealings to himself, for it is justly due to God; neither let him shun the
individual use of the first person, which is most correct in detailing the
Lord's ways of love. We must not be egotists, but we must be egotists when we
bear witness for the Lord.
Verse 17. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled
with my tongue. It is well when prayer and praise go together, like
the horses in Pharaoh's chariot. Some cry who do not sing, and some sing who do
not cry: both together are best. Since the Lord's answers so frequently follow
close at the heels of our petitions, and even overtake them, it becomes us to
let our grateful praises keep pace with our humble prayers. Observe that the
psalmist did both cry and speak; the Lord has cast the dumb devil out of his
children, and those of them who are least fluent with their tongues are often
the most eloquent with their hearts.
Verse 18. If I regard iniquity in my heart. If, having seen
it to be there, I continue to gaze upon it without aversion; if I cherish it,
have a side glance of love toward it, excuse it, and palliate it; The Lord will not hear me. How can he? Can I desire him to
connive at my sin, and accept me while I wilfully cling to any evil way? Nothing
hinders prayer like iniquity harboured in the breast; as with Cain, so with us,
sin lieth at the door, and blocks the passage. If thou listen to the devil, God
will not listen to thee. If you refuse to hear God's commands, he will surely
refuse to hear thy prayers. An imperfect petition God will hear for Christ's
sake, but not one which is wilfully miswritten by a traitor's hand. For God to
accept our devotions, while we are delighting in sin, would be to make himself
the God of hypocrites, which is a fitter name for Satan than for the Holy One of
Verse 19. But verily God hath heard me. Sure sign this that
the petitioner was no secret lover of sin. The answer to his prayer was a fresh
assurance that his heart was sincere before the Lord. See how sure the psalmist
is that he has been heard; it is with him no hope, surmise, or fancy, but he
seals it with a verily. Facts are blessed things when they reveal both
God's heart as loving, and our own heart as sincere. He hath attended to the voice of my prayer. He gave his
mind to consider my cries, interpreted them, accepted them, and replied to them;
and therein proved his grace and also my uprightness of heart. Love of sin is a
plague spot, a condemning mark, a killing sign, but those prayers, which
evidently live and prevail with God, most clearly arise from a heart which is
free from dalliance with evil. Let the reader see to it, that his inmost soul be
rid of all alliance with iniquity, all toleration of secret lust, or hidden
Verse 20. Blessed be God. Be his name honoured and loved.
Which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. He has
neither withdrawn his love nor my liberty to pray. He has neither cast out my
prayer nor me. His mercy and my cries still meet each other. The psalm ends on
its key note. Praise all through is its spirit and design. Lord enable us to
enter into it. Amen.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is said to be recited on Easter
day, by the Greek church: it is described in the Greek Bible as A Psalm
of the Resurrection, and may be understood to refer, in a prophetic
sense, to the regeneration of the world, through the conversion of the Gentiles.
Verse 1. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Hebrew,
all the earth; shout aloud for joy, as the people did at the
return of the ark, so that the earth rang again. God shall show himself to be
the God not of Jews only, but of Gentiles also; these shall as
well cry Christ, as those Jesus; these say, Father, as
those Abba. And, as there was great joy in Samaria when the gospel was
there received (Ac 8:8), so shall there be the like in all other parts of the
earth. John Trapp.
Verse 1. All ye lands. Where, consider, that he does not
sing praises well, who desires to sing alone. Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 2. Make his praise glorious. Another meaning is,
give or place glory, that is, your glory to his praise, be
fully persuaded when you praise him that it will redound to your own glory,
regard this as your own glory; praise him in such a way that all your praises
may be given to glorify God; or, let your glory tend in this direction that he
may be praised. Desire not the glory of eternal blessedness, unless for the
praise of God, as the blessed spirits in that temple do nothing but say glory to
God, and sing the hymn of his glory without end, "Holy, holy, holy."
Verse 3. Say. Dicite, say, says David, delight to
speak of God; Dicite, say something. There was more required than to
think of God. Consideration, meditation, contemplation upon God and divine
objects, have their place and their season; but this is more than that, and more
than admiration too; for all these may come to an end in ecstasies, and in
stupidities, and in useless and frivolous imaginations. John Donne.
Verse 3. Unto God. To God, not concerning God,
as some interpret, but to God himself; to his praises, and with minds
raised to God, as it is in Ps 66:4, sing to himself; Gejerus also
correctly remarks, that the following discourse is addressed to God. Besides, it
is to our God, as in Ps 66:8, O bless our God, ye people:
he is called God absolutely, because he alone is the true God. Hermann
Verse 3. How terrible. Take from the Bible its awful
doctrines, and from providence its terrible acts, and the whole system,
under which God has placed us, would be emasculated. William S. Plumer.
Verse 3. Thine enemies shall submit themselves unto thee. In
this, our first consideration is, that God himself hath enemies; and
then, how should we hope to be, nay, why should we wish to be, without them. God
had good, that is, glory from his enemies; and we may have good, that is,
advantage in the way to glory, by the exercise of our patience, from enemies
too. Those for whom God had done most, the angels, turned enemies first; vex not
thou thyself, if those whom thou hast loved best hate thee deadliest... God
himself hath enemies. Thine enemies shall submit, says the text, to God;
there thou hast one comfort, though thou have enemies too; but the greater
comfort is, that God calls thine enemies his. Nolite tangere Christus
meos (Ps 105:15), says God of all holy people; you were as good touch me, as
touch any of them, for, "they are the apple of mine eye" (Ps 17:8). Our Saviour
Christ never expostulated for himself; never said, Why scourge you me? why spit
you upon me? why crucify you me? As long as their rage determined in his person,
he opened not his mouth; when Saul extended the violence to the church, to his
servants, then Christ came to that, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"
...Here is a holy league, defensive and offensive; God shall not only protect us
from others, but he shall fight for us against them; our enemies are his
enemies. Condensed from John Donne.
Verse 3. Thine enemies submit themselves. Literally, lie
unto thee. This was remarkably the case with Pharaoh and the
Egyptians. They promised again and again to let the people go, when the
hand of the Lord was upon them; and they as frequently falsified their word.
Verse 3. (second clause). In times of affliction
every hypocrite--all tag and rag--will be ready to come in to God in an outward
profession; but usually this submission to God at this time is not out of truth.
Hence it is said, Through the greatness of thy power shall thine
enemies submit themselves unto thee: in the original it is, they shall
lie unto thee, and so it is translated by Arias Montanus, and some others,
noting hereby that a forced submission to God is seldom in truth. Jeremiah
Verse 3. The earthquakes in New England occasioned a kind of
religious panic. A writer, who was then one of the ministers of Boston, informs
us, that immediately after the great earthquake, as it was called, a great
number of his flock came and expressed a wish to unite themselves with the
church. But, on conversing with them, he could find no evidence of improvement
in their religious views or feelings, no convictions of their own sinfulness;
nothing, in short, but a kind of superstitious fear, occasioned by a belief that
the end of the world was at hand. All their replies proved that they had not
found God, though they had seen the greatness of his power in the
earthquake. Edward Payson, D.D.
Verse 5. Come and see the works of God. An indirect censure
is here passed upon that almost universal thoughtlessness which leads men to
neglect the praises of God. John Calvin.
Verse 5. Come and see. The church at all times appeals to
the world, Come and see, as Jesus said to the two disciples of John the
Baptist, and Philip to Nathanael. Joh 1:39,46. God's marvels are to be seen by
all, and seeing them is the first step towards believing in their
divine author. A. R. Faussett.
Verse 6. He turned the sea into dry land. The psalmist
refers to the passage through the Red Sea and the Jordan, not as to transactions
which took place and were concluded at a given period of time, but as happening
really in every age. God's guidance of his people is a constant drying up of the
sea and of the Jordan, and the joy over his mighty deeds is always receiving new
materials. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 6. There did we rejoice in him; where those things
have been done, there have we rejoiced in him, not taking any credit to
ourselves as if they were our acts, but rejoicing and glorying in God, and have
praised him, as may be seen in Exodus 15 and Joshua 3. The prophet uses the
future for the past, unless, perhaps, he meant to insinuate that these miracles
would be succeeded by much greater ones, of which they were only the types and
figures. A much greater miracle is that men should pass over the bitter sea of
this life, and cross the river of mortality, that never ceases to run, and which
swallows up and drowns so many, and still come safe and alive to the land of
eternal promise, and there rejoice in God himself, beholding him face to face;
and yet this greater miracle is so accomplished by God, that many pass through
this sea as if it were dry land, and cross this river with dry feet; that is to
say, having no difficulty in despising all things temporal, be they good or be
they bad; that is to say, being neither attached to the good things, nor fearing
the evil things, of this world, that they may arrive in security at the heavenly
Jerusalem, where we will rejoice in him, not in hope, but in complete possession
for eternity. Robert Bellarmine.
Verse 7. His eyes behold the nations. The radical meaning of
the word hku is augazein, to shine,
and metonymically to examine with a bright eye; to inspect
with a piercing glance, and thence to behold, for either good or evil, as
Pr 15:3: "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil
and the good." Here it is taken in an adverse sense, and means, to watch
from a watch tower, to threaten from a lofty place. Ps 37:32: "The
wicked watcheth the righteous; "and Job 15:22: He is waited for "from
the watch tower for the sword; "that is to say, the sword is drawn
above the head of the wicked, as if it threatened him from the watch
tower of God. But, at the same time, there is also a reference to God's
looking from the pillar of fire, and of cloud, upon the host of Pharaoh in the
Red Sea. Ex 14:24. Hermann Venema.
Verse 7. His eyes behold the nations. This should give check
to much iniquity. Can a man's conscience easily and delightedly swallow that
which he is sensible falls under the cognizance of God, when it is hateful to
the eye of his holiness, and renders the action odious to him? "Doth not he see
my ways, and count all my steps?" saith Job, (Job 31:4)... The consideration of
this attribute should make us humble. How dejected would a person be if he were
sure all the angels in heaven, and men upon earth, did perfectly know his
crimes, with all their aggravations! But what is created knowledge to an
infinite and just censuring understanding? When we consider that he knows our
actions, whereof there are multitudes, and our thoughts, whereof there are
millions; that he views all the blessings bestowed upon us; all the injuries we
have returned to him; that he exactly knows his own bounty, and our ingratitude;
all the idolatry, blasphemy, and secret enmity in every man's heart against him;
all tyrannical oppressions, hidden lusts, omissions of necessary duties,
violations of plain precepts, every foolish imagination, with all the
circumstances of them, and that perfectly in all their full anatomy, every mite
of unworthiness and wickedness in every circumstance... should not the
consideration of this melt our hearts into humiliation before him, and make us
earnest in begging pardon and forgiveness of him. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 9. Which holdeth our soul in life. As the works of
creation at first, and upholding all by his power and providence, are yoked
together as works of a like wonder, vouchsafed the creation in common, Heb
1:2-3; so just in the like manner we find regeneration and perseverance joined,
as the sum of all other works in this life. Thus "begotten again, "and "kept by
the power of God to salvation, "are joined by the Apostle, 1Pe 1:3,5, "Called
and preserved in Christ Jesus; "so in Jude 1:1... "Blessed be God, "says Peter,
"who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again." And, O
bless our God, ye people, which holdeth our souls in life, says the
psalmist. Yea, if we do narrowly eye the words in either, both Peter and the
psalmist do bless God for both at once. Blessed be God for "begetting us,"
are also "kept by the power of God;" so it follows in Peter. In the psalmist
both are comprehended in this one word:
1. Which putteth our souls in life (so the
margin, out of the Hebrew), that is, who puts life into your soul at the first,
as he did into Adam when he made him a living soul;
2. And then which holdeth, that is, continueth our souls
in that life. So the translators render it also, according to the psalmist's
scope, and O bless the Lord, saith the psalmist, for these and
both these. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 9. Which holdest our soul in life. It is truth, that
all we have is in the hand of God; but God keeps our life in his hand last of
all, and he hath that in his hand in a special manner. Though the soul continue,
life may not continue; there is the soul when there is not life: life is
that which is the union of soul and body. Thou holdest our soul in life;
that is, thou holdest soul and body together. So Daniel describes God to
Belshazzar, Da 5:23, "The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy
ways, hast thou not glorified." The breath of princes is in the hand of God, and
the same hand holds the breath of the meanest subject. This may be matter of
comfort to us in times of danger, and times of death: when the hand of man is
lifted up to take thy life, remember thy life is held in the hand of God; and as
God said to Satan (Job 2:6): Afflict the body of Job, but save his life; so God
saith still to bloody wretches, who are as the limbs of Satan: The bodies of
such and such are in your hands, the estates of such and such are in your hands,
but save their lives. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 9. Putteth our soul in life. An elegant and emphatic
expression, only to be understood by observing the exact force of the words. The
soul is the life, as is well known, the word Myv is to place, to place upon, to press in,
the word Myyx signifies properly
joinings, fastenings together, and hence those faculties and powers by
which nature is held together and made firm. Hermann Venema.
Verse 9. Which holdeth our soul in life. He holdeth our soul
in life, that it may not drop away of itself; for being continually in our
hands, it is apt to slip through our fingers. Matthew Henry.
Verse 9. And suffereth not our feet to be moved. It is a
great mercy to be kept from desperate courses in the time of sad calamities, to
be supported under burdens, that we sink not; and to be prevented from denying
God, or his truth, in time of persecution. David Dickson.
Verse 10. Thou, O God, hast proved us. It is not known what
corn will yield, till it come to the flail; nor what grapes, till they come to
the press. Grace is hid in nature, as sweet water in rose leaves; the fire of
affliction fetcheth it out. --Thou hast tried us as silver. The
wicked also are tried (Re 3:10), but they prove reprobate silver (Jer 6:28), or
at best, as alchemy gold, that will not bear the seventh fire, as Job did (Job
23:10). John Trapp.
Verse 10. As silver is tried. Convinced from the frequent
use of this illustration, that there was something more than usually instructive
in the process of assaying and purifying silver, I have collected some few facts
upon the subject. The hackneyed story of the refiner seeing his image in the
molten silver while in the fire, has so charmed most of us, that we have not
looked further; yet, with more careful study, much could be brought out. To
assay silver requires great personal care in the operator. "The
principle of assaying gold and silver is very simple theoretically, but in
practice great experience is necessary to insure accuracy; and there is no
branch of business which demands more personal and undivided attention. The
result is liable to the influence of so many contingencies, that no assayer who
regards his reputation will delegate the principal process to one not equally
skilled with himself. Besides the result ascertainable by weight, there are
allowances and compensations to be made, which are known only to an experienced
assayer, and if these were disregarded, as might be the case with the mere
novice, the report would be wide from the truth." (Encyclopaedia Britannica.)
Pagnini's version reads: "Thou hast melted us by blowing upon us, "and in the
monuments of Egypt, artificers are seen with the blowpipe operating with small
fire places, with cheeks to confine and reflect the heat; the worker evidently
paying personal attention, which is evident also in Mal 3:3, "He shall sit as a
refiner and purifier of silver." To assay silver requires a skilfully
constructed furnace. The description of this furnace would only weary
the reader, but it is evidently a work of art in itself. Even the trial of our
faith is much more precious than that of gold which perisheth. He has refined
us, but not with silver, he would not trust us there, the furnace of affliction
is far more skilfully arranged than that. To assay silver the heat must be
nicely regulated. "During the operation, the assayer's attention should be
directed to the heat of the furnace, which must be neither too hot nor too cold:
if too hot, minute portions of silver will be carried off with the lead, and so
vitiate the assay; moreover, the pores of the cupel being more open, greater
absorption will ensue, and there is liability to loss from that cause. One
indication of an excess of heat in the furnace, is the rapid and perpendicular
rising of the fumes to the ceiling of the muffle, the mode of checking and
controlling which has been pointed out in the description of the improved
furnace. When the fumes are observed to fall to the bottom of the muffle, the
furnace is then too cold; and if left unaltered, it will be found that the
cupellation has been imperfectly performed, and the silver will not have
entirely freed itself from the base metals. (Encyclopaedia Britannica.)
The assayer repeats his trying process. Usually two or more trials
of the same piece are made, so that great accuracy may be secured. Seven times
silver is said to be purified, and the saints through varied trials reach the
promised rest." C. H. S.
Verse 11. Thou broughtest us into the net, etc. Our enemies
have pursued us (like to wild beasts taken by the hunter) into most grievous
straits (1Sa 13:6). They have used us like beasts of burden, and laid sore loads
upon us, which they have fast bound upon our backs. Thou laidest affliction
upon our loins. Coarctationenem in lumbis; we are not only
hampered, as in a net, but fettered, as with chains; as if we had been in the
jailor's or hangman's hands. John Trapp.
Verse 12. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads. The
agents are men. Man is a sociable living creature, and should converse
with man in love and tranquillity. Man should be a supporter of man; is he
become an overthrower? He should help and keep him up; doth he ride over him and
tread him under foot? O apostasy, not only from religion, but even from
humanity! Quid homini inimicissimum? Homo. (Seneca.) The greatest
danger that befalls man comes whence it should least come, from man himself.
Caetera animantia, says Pliny, in suo genere, probe degunt,
&c. Lions fight not with lions; serpents spend not their venom on
serpents; but man is the main suborner of mischief to his own kind...
1. They ride. What need they mount themselves upon
beasts, that have feet malicious enough to trample on us? They have a "foot of
pride, "Ps 36:11, from which David prayed to be delivered; a presumptuous heel,
which they dare lift up against God; and, therefore, a tyrannous toe, to spurn
dejected men. They need not horses and mules, that can kick with the foot of a
revengeful malice, Ps 32:9.
2. Over us. The way is broad enough wherein they travel,
for it is the devil's road. They might well miss the poor, there is room enough
besides; they need not ride over us. It were more brave for them to justle with
champions that will not give them the way. We never contend for their path; they
have it without our envy, not without our pity. Why should they ride over us?
3. Over our heads. Is it not contentment enough to their
pride to ride, to their malice to ride over us, but must
they delight in bloodiness to ride over our heads? Will not the breaking
of our arms and legs, and such inferior limbs, satisfy their indignation? Is it
not enough to rack our strength, to mock our innocence, to prey on our estates,
but must they thirst after our bloods and lives? Quo tendit saeva
libido? Whither will their madness run? But we must not tie ourselves to the
letter. Here is a mystical or metamorphical gradation of their cruelty. Their
riding is proud; their riding over us is malicious; and their riding over our
heads is bloody oppression. Thomas Adams.
Verse 12. (first clause). The time was when the
Bonners and butchers rode over the faces of God's saints, and madefied (Madefy,
to moisten, to make wet) the earth with their bloods, every drop whereof begot a
new believer. Thomas Adams.
Verse 12. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads. This
verse is like that sea (Mt 8:24) so tempestuous at first, that the vessel was
covered with waves; but Christ's rebuke quieted all, and there followed a great
calm. Here are cruel Nimrods riding over innocent heads, as they would over
fallow lands; and dangerous passages through fire and water; but the storm is
soon ended, or rather the passengers are landed. Thou broughtest us out into
a wealthy place. So that this strain of David's music, or psalmody,
consists of two notes--one mournful, the other mirthful; the one a touch of
distress, the other of redress: which directs our course to an observation of
misery and of mercy; of grievous misery, of gracious mercy. There
is desolation and consolation in one verse: a deep dejection, as laid under the
feet of beasts; a happy deliverance, broughtest us out into a wealthy
place. In both these strains God hath his stroke; he is a principal in this
concert. He is brought in for an actor, and for an author; and
actor in the persecution, and author in the deliverance. Thou causest,
etc; Thou broughtest, etc. In the one he is a causing worker; in the
other a sole working cause. In the one he is joined with company: in the other
he works alone. He hath a finger in the former; his whole hand is in the latter.
We must begin with misery before we come to mercy. If there were
no trouble, we should not know the worth of a deliverance. The passion of the
saints is given, by the hearty and ponderous description, for very grievous; yet
it is written in the forehead of the text, "The Lord caused it." Thou causest
men to ride, etc. Hereupon, some wicked libertine may offer to rub
his filthiness upon God's purity, and to plead an authentic derivation of all
his villainy against the saints from the Lord's warrant: He caused
it. We answer, to the justification of truth itself, that God doth ordain
and order every persecution that striketh his children, without any allowance to
the instrument that gives the blow. God works in the same action with others,
not after the same manner. In the affliction of Job were three agents--God,
Satan, and the Sabeans. The devil works on his body, the Sabeans on his goods;
yet Job confessed a third party: "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away." Here
oppressors trample on the godly, and God is said to cause it. He causeth
affliction for trial (so Ps 66:10-11: Thou hast tried us, etc.);
they work it for malice; neither can God be accused nor they excused. Thomas
Verse 12. Thou hast placed men over our heads. Thus Jerome
renders, although the Hebrew noun vwga,
is in the singular, the word itself denotes an obscure, mean man, who is
mentioned with indignity, but ought to be buried in oblivion. The singular noun
is taken collectively, and so also is wgvar, with the affix. Such were the Egyptian and Babylonish
idolaters, whom the Hebrew served. To place any one over the head of
another, or, as the Hebrew word tbkrh
means, to ride, to be superior to, to subdue to oneself and subject, and
to sit upon and insult, just as the horseman rules with the rein, and spur, and
whip the beast which he rides. Lorinus.
Verse 12. To ride over our heads. This is an allusion to
beasts of burden, and particularly to camels, whose heads the rider almost sits
over, and so domineers over them as he pleases. Thomas Fenton, in
"Annotations on the Book of Job, and the Psalms." 1732.
Verse 12. We went through fire and through water. The
children of Israel when they had escaped the Red Sea, and seen their enemies the
Egyptians dead, they thought all was cocksure, and therefore sang Epicinia,
songs of rejoicing for the victory. But what followed within a while? The
Lord stirred up another enemy against them from out their bowels, as it were,
which was hunger, and this pinched them sorer, they thought, than the Egyptian.
But was this the last? No; after the hunger came thirst, and this made them to
murmur as much as the former; and after the thirst came fiery serpents, and fire
and pestilence, and Amalekites, and Midianites, and what not? Thus hath it been
with the church not only under the law, but also under Christ, as it might be
easily declared unto you. Neither hath it been better with the several members
thereof; they likewise have been made conformable to the body and to the Head.
What a sight of temptations did Abraham endure? So Jacob, so Joseph, so the
patriarchs, so the prophets? Yea, and all they that would live godly in Christ
Jesus, though their sorrow in the end were turned to joy, yet they wept and
lamented first. Though they were brought at the length to a wealthy place, yet
they passed through fire and water first. Miles Smith, 1624.
Verse 12. We went through fire and through water. There was
a great variety of such perils; and not only of several, but of contrary sorts:
We went through fire and through water, either of which singly and alone
denotes an extremity of evils. Thus, through water (Ps 69:1-2): "Save me, O God;
for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no
standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me." Or, through
fire (Eze 15:7): "And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from
one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the
Lord, when I set my face against them." But when through both successively, one
after the other, this denotes an accumulation of miseries, or trials, indeed: as
we read Isa 43:2, with God's promise to his people in such conditions: "When
thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the rivers,
they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not
be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Which promise is here, you
see, acknowledged by the psalmist to have been performed: God was with the three
children when they walked through the fire, in the very letter of Isaiah's
speech; and with the children of Israel when they went through the water of the
Red Sea. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 12. We went through fire and through water. In
allusion, probably, to the ordeal by fire and water, which is of great
antiquity. On the question who had interred the body of Polynices:
Offering, in proof of innocence, to grasp
The burning steel, to walk through fire, and take
Their solemn oath they knew not of the deed."
From T. S. Millington's "Testimony of the Heathen to the Truths of Holy
Verse 12. Fire and water. The Jewish law required both these
for purification of spoil in war, where they could be borne. Nu 31:23:
"Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and
it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified through the water of
separation." God's saints are, therefore, subject to both ordeals. C. H.
Verse 12. But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
Every word is sweetly significant, and amplifies God's mercy to us. Four
especially are remarkable: --
1. The deliverer;
2. The deliverance;
3. The delivered; and,
4. Their felicity or blessed advancement.
So there is the deliverer, aliquid celsitudinis, Thou;
in the delivery, certitudinis, broughtest out, in the
delivered, solitudinis, us; in the happiness, plenitudinis,
into a wealthy place. There is highness and lowness,
sureness and fulness. The deliverer is great, the deliverance is certain, the
distress grievous, the exaltation glorious. There is yet a first word, that like
a key unlocks this golden gate of mercy, a veruntamen: --BUT. This is
vox respirationis, a gasp that fetcheth back again the very life of
comfort. But thou broughtest, etc. We were fearfully
endangered into the hands of our enemies; they rode and trod upon us, and drove
us through hard perplexities. But thou, etc. If there had been a
full point or period at our misery, if those gulfs of persecution had quite
swallowed us, and all our light of comfort had been thus smothered and
extinguished we might have cried, Periit spes nostra, yea, periit
salus nostra. --Our hope, our help is quite gone. He had mocked us
that would have spoken, Be of good cheer. This same but is like a happy
oar, that turns our vessel from the rocks of despair, and lands it at the haven
of comfort. Thomas Adams.
Verse 12. (second and third clause).
1. The outlet of the trouble is happy. They are in fire and
water, yet they get through them; we went through fire and water, and did not
perish in the flames or floods. Whatever the troubles of the saints are, blessed
be God there is a way through them.
2. The inlet to a better state is much more happy. Thou
broughtest us out into a wealthy place, into a well watered place; for the
word is, like the gardens of the Lord, and therefore fruitful.
Verse 12. (last clause). Thou, O God, with the
temptation hast given the issue. Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy
1. Thou hast proved, and thou hast brought.
2. Thou laidest the trouble, and thou tookest it off; yea, and
hast made us an ample recompense, for thou hast brought us to a moist, pleasant,
lovely, fertile, rich place, a happy condition, a flourishing condition of
things, so that thou hast made us to forget all our trouble. William
Nicholson, in "David's Harp strung and tuned." 1662.
Verse 12. A wealthy place. The hand of God led them in that
fire and water of affliction through which they went; but who led them out? The
psalmist tells us in the next words: Thou broughtest us out into a
wealthy place; the margin saith, into a moist place. They were in
fire and water before. Fire is the extremity of heat and dryness;
water is the extremity of moistness and coldness. A moist place
notes a due temperament of heat and cold, of dryness and moistness, and
therefore elegantly shadows that comfortable and contented condition into which
the good hand of God had brought them, which is significantly expressed in our
translation by a wealthy place; those places flourishing most in
fruitfulness, and so in wealth, which are neither over hot nor over cold,
neither over dry not over moist. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 13. You see all the parts of this song; the whole
concert or harmony of all is praising God. You see quo loco, in his
house; quo modo, with burnt offering; quo animo, paying our vows.
Verse 13. Burnt offerings. For ourselves, be we sure that
the best sacrifice we can give to God is obedience; not a dead beast, but a
living soul. The Lord takes not delight in the blood of brutish creatures. It is
the mind, the life, the soul, the obedience, that he requires: 1Sa 15:22, "To
obey is better than sacrifice." Let this be our burnt offering, our holocaust, a
sanctified body and mind given up to the Lord, Ro 12:1-2. First, the heart: "My
son, give me thy heart." Is not the heart enough? No, the hand also: Isa 1:16,
Wash the hands from blood and pollution. Is not the hand enough? No, the foot
also: "Remove thy foot from evil." Is not the foot enough? No, the lips also:
"Guard the doors of thy mouth; " Ps 34:13, "Refrain thy tongue from evil." Is
not thy tongue enough? No, the ear also: "Let him that hath ears to hear, hear."
Is not the ear enough? No, the eye also: "Let thine eyes be towards the Lord."
Is not all this sufficient? No, give body and spirit: 1Co 6:20, "Ye are bought
with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are
God's." When the eyes abhor lustful objects, the ear slanders, the foot erring
paths, the hands wrong and violence, the tongue flattery and blasphemy, the
heart pride and hypocrisy; this is thy holocaust, thy whole burnt offering.
Verses 13, 15. In the burnt offerings, we see his
approach to the altar with the common and general sacrifice; and next, in his
paying vows, we see he has brought his peace offerings with him.
Again, therefore, he says at the altar: I will offer unto thee burnt
sacrifices of fatlings (Ps 66:15). This is the general offering, brought
from the best of his flock and herd. Then follow the peace offerings: With
the incense (trjq, fuming
smoke) of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah. Having
brought his offerings, he is in no haste to depart, notwithstanding; for his
heart is full. Ere, therefore, he leaves the sanctuary, he utters the language
of a soul at peace with God: Ps 66:16-20. This, truly, is one whom the very
God of peace has sanctified, and whose whole spirit, and body, and soul he
will preserve blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1Th 5:23.
Andrew A. Bonar.
Verses 13-15. He tells what were the vows he promised in his
troubles, and says he promised the richest sacrifice of cattle that could be
made according to the law. These were three--rams, cows, and goats. Rams
included lambs; cows included heifers; and goats, kids. Robert
Verse 14. Which my lips have uttered. Hebrew, have
opened; that is which I have uttered, diductis labiis, with lips wide
open. Videmus qualiter vota nuncupari soleant, saith Vatablus. Here we
see after what sort vows used to be made, when we are under any pressing
affliction; but when once delivered, how heavily many come off in point of
payment. John Trapp.
Verse 14. Express mention is made of opened lips to
indicate that the vows were made with great vehemence of mind, and in a
state of need and pressure; so that his lips were broken
through and widely opened. For the root, huk contains the idea of opening anything with violence;
to break open, as the Latin expression is, rumpere labia.
Verse 15. I will offer, etc. Thou shalt have the best of the
herd and of the fold. Adam Clarke.
Verse 15. Fatlings. For as I will not come empty into thy
house, so I will not bring thee a niggardly present; but offer sacrifices of all
sorts, and the best and choicest in every kind. Symon Patrick.
Verse 15. Bullocks with goats. That is, I will liberally
provide for every part of the service at the tabernacle. Thomas Scott.
Verse 16. Come and hear, all ye that fear God. One reason
why the saints are so often inviting all that fear God to come unto them is,
because the saints see and know the great good that they shall get by those that
fear God. The children of darkness are so wise in their generation as to desire
most familiarity and acquaintance with those persons whom they conceive may
prove most profitable and advantageous to them, and to pretend much friendship
there where is hope of most benefit. And shall not the saints, the children of
light, upon the same account wish and long for the society of those that fear
God, because they see what great good they shall gain by them? It is no wonder
that the company of those that fear God is so much in request, since it is
altogether gainful and commodious; it's no wonder they have many invitations,
since they are guests by which something is still gotten; and, indeed, among all
persons living, those that fear God are the most useful and enriching. Samuel
Heskins, in "Soul Mercies Precious in the Eyes of Saints... set forth in
a little Treatise on Ps 66:16." 1654.
Verse 16. All ye that fear God. For such only will hear to
good purpose; others either cannot, or care not. And I will declare, etc.
Communicate unto you my soul secrets and experiments. There is no small good to
be gotten by such declarations. Bilney, perceiving Latimer to be zealous without
knowledge, came to him in his study and desired him for God's sake to hear his
confession. "I did so, "saith Latimer, "and, to say the truth, by this
confession I learned more than afore in many years. So from that time forward I
began to smell the word of God, and forsake the school doctors, and such
fooleries." John Trapp.
Verse 16. Ye that fear God. Observe the invitation given to
those only who fear God, because "the fear of the Lord is the beginning
of wisdom; "he loosens the feet to come, opens the ears to hear;
and therefore, he who has no fear of God will be called to no purpose,
either to come or to hear. Robert Bellarmine.
Verse 16. I will declare. Consider the ends which a believer
should purpose in the discharge of this duty ("of communicating Christian
experience"). The principal end he should have in view when he declares his
experience is the glory of that God, who hath dealt so bountifully with him. He
would surely have the Lord exalted for his faithfulness and goodness to him; he
would have it published that the name of the Lord might be great; that sinners
might know that his God is faithful to his word; that he hath not only engaged
to be "a present help in time of need, "but that he hath found him in reality to
be so. As he knows the enemies of God are ready enough to charge him with
neglect of his people, because of the trials and afflictions they are exercised
with; so he would, in contradiction to them, declare what he hath found in his
own experience, that in very faithfulness he afflicts those that are dearest to
him. And with what lustre doth the glory of God shine, when his children are
ready to acknowledge that he never called them out to any duty but his grace was
sufficient for them; that he never laid his hand upon them in any afflictive
exercise, but he, at the same time, supplied them with all those supports which
they stood in need of? I say, for Christians thus to stand up, on proper
occasions, and bear their experimental testimony to the faithfulness and
goodness of God, what a tendency hath it to make the name of the Lord, who hath
been their strong tower, glorious in the midst of the earth... How may we blush
and be ashamed, that we have so much conversation in the world and so little
about what God hath done for our souls? It is a very bad sign upon us, in our
day, that the things of God are generally postponed; while either the affairs of
state, or the circumstances of outward life, or other things, perhaps, of a more
trifling nature, are the general subjects of our conversation. What! are we
ashamed of the noblest, the most interesting subject? It is but a poor sign that
we have felt anything of it, if we think it unnecessary to declare it to our
fellow Christians. What think you? Suppose any two of us were cast upon a
barbarous shore, where we neither understood the language, nor the customs of
the inhabitants, and were treated by them with reproach and cruelty; do you
think we should not esteem it a happiness that we could unburden ourselves to
each other, and communicate our griefs and troubles? And shall we think it less
so, while we are in such a world as this, in a strange land, and at a distance
from our Father's house? Shall we neglect conversing with each other? No; let
our conversation not only be in heaven, but about spiritual and heavenly things.
Samuel Wilson (1703-1750), in "Sermons on Various Subjects."
Verse 16. I will declare. After we are delivered from the
dreadful apprehensions of the wrath of God, it is our duty to be publicly
thankful. It is for the glory of our Healer to speak of the miserable wounds
that once pained us; and of that kind hand that saved us when we were brought
very low. It is for the glory of our Pilot to tell of the rocks and of the
sands; the many dangers and threatening calamities that he, by his wise conduct,
made us to escape: and to see us safe on the shore, may cause others that are
yet afflicted, and tossed with tempests, to look to him for help; for he is able
and ready to save them as well as us. We must, like soldiers, when a tedious war
is over, relate our combats, our fears, our dangers, with delight; and make
known our experiences to doubting, troubled Christians, and to those that have
not yet been under such long and severe trials as we have been. Timothy
Rogers (1660-1729), in "A Discourse on Trouble of Mind."
Verse 17. This verse may be rendered thus: --I cried unto
him with my mouth, and his exaltation was under my tongue; that is, I
was considering and meditating how I might lift up and exalt the name of God,
and make his praise glorious. Holy thoughts are said to be under the tongue when
we are in a preparation to bring them forth. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 17. He was extolled with my tongue. It is a proof that
prayer has proceeded from unworthy motives, when the blessings which succeed it
are not acknowledged with as much fervency as when they were originally
implored. The ten lepers all cried for mercy, and all obtained it, but only one
returned to render thanks. John Morison.
Verse 17. He was extolled with my tongue: literally
an extolling (of Him was) under my tongue, implying
fulness of praise (Ps 10:7). A store of praise being conceived as
under the tongue, whence a portion might be taken on all
occasions. The sense is, scarcely had I cried unto him when, by
delivering me, he gave me abundant reason to extol him. (Ps 34:6.)
A. R. Faussett.
Verse 17. With my tongue. Let the praise of God be in thy
tongue, under thy tongue, and upon thy tongue, that it may shine before all men,
and that they may see that thy heart is good. The fish lucerna has a
shining tongue, (A reviewer condemns us for quoting false natural history, but
no intelligent reader will be misled thereby. --Editor.) from which it takes its
name; and in the depths of the sea the light of its tongue reveals it: if thy
heart has a tongue, shining with the praises of God, it will sufficiently show
itself of what sort it is. Hence the old saying, "Speak, that I may see thee."
Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not
hear me. The very supposition that "if he regarded iniquity in his
heart, the Lord would not hear him, "implies the possibility that such may be
the state even of believers; and there is abundant reason to fear that it is in
this way their prayers are so often hindered, and their supplications so
frequently remain unanswered. Nor is it difficult to conceive how believers may
be chargeable with regarding iniquity in their heart, even amidst all the
solemnity of coming into the immediate presence of God, and directly addressing
him in the language of prayer and supplication. It is possible that they may put
themselves into such a situation, in a state of mind but little fitted for
engaging in that holy exercise; the world, in one form or another, may for the
time have the ascendancy in their hearts; and there may have been so much
formality in their confessions, and so much indifference in their supplications,
that when the exercise is over, they could not honestly declare that they really
meant what they acknowledged, or seriously desired what they prayed for. A
Christian, it is true, could not be contented to remain in a state like this;
and, when he is awakened from it, as he sooner or later will be, he cannot fail
to look back upon it with humiliation and shame. But we fear there are seasons
in which believers themselves may make a very near approach to such a state; and
what then is the true interpretation of prayers offered up at such a moment? It
is in fact saying, that there is something which, for the time, they prefer to
what they are formally asking of God; that, though the blessing which they do
ask may be for a time withheld, yet they would find a compensation in the
enjoyment of the worldly things which do at the moment engross their affections;
and that, in reality, they would not choose to have at that instant such an
abundant communication of spiritual influence imparted to them, as would render
these worldly objects less valuable in their estimation, and would turn the
whole tide of their affections towards spiritual things... The Christian may
sometimes betake himself to prayer, to ask counsel of God in some perplexity
regarding divine truth, or to seek direction in some doubtful point of duty;
but, instead of being prepared fairly to exercise his judgment in the hope that,
while doing so, the considerations that lie of the side of truth will be made to
his mind clear and convincing; he may have allowed his inclinations so to
influence and bias his judgment towards the side of error, or in favour of the
line of conduct which he wishes to pursue, that when he asks counsel it may only
be in the hope that his previous opinion will be confirmed, and when he seeks
direction it is in reality on a point about which he was previously
determined... Another case is, I fear, but too common, and in which the believer
may be still more directly chargeable with regarding iniquity in his heart. It
is possible that there may be in his heart or life something which he is
conscious is not altogether as it should be--some earthly attachment which he
cannot easily justify--or some point of conformity to the maxims and practices
of the world, which he finds it difficult to reconcile with christian principle;
and yet all the struggle which these have from time to time cost him, may only
have been an effort of ingenuity on his part to retain them without doing direct
violence to conscience --a laborious getting up of arguments whereby to show how
they may be defended, or in what way they may lawfully be gone into; while the
true and simple reason of his going into them, namely, the love of the world, is
all the while kept out of view. And, as an experimental proof of how weak and
inconclusive all these arguments are, and at the same time how unwilling he
still is to relinquish his favourite objects, he may be conscious that in
confessing his sins he leaves them out of the enumeration, rather because he
would willingly pass them over, than because he is convinced that they need not
be there; he may feel that he cannot and dare not make them the immediate
subject of solemn and deliberate communing with God; and, after all his
multiplied and ingenuous defences, he may be reconciled to them at last, only by
ceasing to agitate the question whether they are lawful or not. Robert
Gordon, D.D., 1825.
Verse 18. Whence is it that a man's regarding or loving sin
in his heart hinders his prayers from acceptance with God?
1. The first reason is, because in this case he cannot pray by the Spirit. All prayers that are acceptable
with God are the breathings of his own Spirit with us. Ro 8:26. As without the intercession of Christ we
cannot have our prayers accepted, so without the intercession of the Spirit we cannot pray...
2. The second reason is, because as long as a man regards iniquity in his heart he cannot pray in faith;
that is, he cannot build a rational confidence upon any promise that God will accept him. Now, faith always
respects the promise, and promise of acceptance is made only to the upright: so long, therefore, as men cherish
a love of sin in their heart, they either understand not the promises, and so they pray without
understanding, or they understand them, and yet misapply them to themselves, and so they pray in
presumption: in neither case, they have little cause to hope for acceptance...
3. The third reason is, because while we regard iniquity in our hearts we cannot pray with fervency; which, next
to sincerity, is the great qualification of prayer, to which God has annexed a promise of acceptance
(Mt 11:12): "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Mt 7:7:
those only that seek are like to find, and those that knock to have admittance; all which expressions
denote vehemence and importunity. Now, the cause of vehemence, in our prosecution of any good, is our
love of it; for proportionable to the affection we bear to anything is the earnestness of our desires
and the diligence of our pursuit after it. So long, therefore, as the love of sin possesses our hearts,
our love to spiritual things is dull, heavy, inactive, and our prayers for them must needs be
answerable. O the wretched fallacy that the soul will here put upon itself! At the same time it will
love its sin and pray against it; at the same time it will entreat for grace, with a desire not to prevail:
as a father confesses of himself, that before his conversion he would pray for chastity, with a secret
reserve in his wishes that God would not grant his prayer. Such are the mysterious, intricate
treacheries by which the love of sin will make a soul deceive and circumvent itself. How languidly and
faintly will it pray for spiritual mercies; conscience, in the meanwhile, giving the lie to every
such petition! The soul, in this case, cannot pray against sin in earnest; it fights against it, but
neither with hope nor intent to conquer; as lovers, usually, in a game one against another, with a desire
to lose. So, then, while we regard iniquity, how is it possible for us to regard spiritual things, the
only lawful object of our prayers? and, if we regard them not, how can we be urgent with God for the
giving of them? And where there is no fervency on our part, no wonder if there is no answer on God's. Robert
Verse 18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not
hear me. Though the subject matter of a saint's prayer be founded on
the word, yet if the end he aims at be not levelled right, this is a door at
which his prayer will be stopped: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask
amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." Jas 4:3. Take, I confess, a
Christian in his right temper, and he aims at the glory of God; yet, as a needle
that is touched with a loadstone may be removed from its point to which nature
hath espoused it, though trembling till it again recovers it; so a gracious soul
may in a particular act and request vary from this end, being jogged by Satan,
yea, disturbed by an enemy nearer home--his own unmortified corruption. Do you
not think it possible for a saint, in distress of body and spirit, to pray for
health in the one, and comfort in the other, with too selfish a respect to his
own ease and quiet? Yes, surely; and to pray for gifts and assistance in some
eminent service, with an eye to his own credit and applause; to pray for a child
with too inordinate a desire that the honour of his house may be built up in
him. And this may be understood as the sense, in part, of that expression, If
I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. For though
to desire our own health, peace, and reputation, be not an iniquity, when
contained within the limits that God hath set; yet, when they overflow at such a
height, as to overtop the glory of God, yea, to stand but in a level with it,
they are a great abomination. That which in the first or second degree is
wholesome food, would be rank poison in the fourth or fifth: therefore,
Christian, catechize thyself, before thou prayest: O, my soul, what sends thee
on this errand? Know but thy own mind what thou prayest for, and thou mayest
soon know God's mind how thou shalt speed. Secure God his glory, and thou mayest
soon know God's mind how thou shalt speed. William Gurnall.
Verse 18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will
not hear me.
1. They regard iniquity in their heart, who practise it
secretly, who are under restraint from the world, but are not possessed of an
habitual fear of the omniscient God, the searcher of all hearts, and from whose
eyes there is no covering of thick darkness where the workers of iniquity may
hide themselves. Jer 23:24.
2. They regard iniquity in the heart, who entertain and indulge
the desire of sin, although in the course of providence they may be restrained
from the actual commission of it. I am persuaded the instances are not rare, of
men feeding upon sinful desires, even when through want of opportunity, through
the fear of man, or through some partial restraint of conscience, they dare not
carry them into execution.
3. They regard iniquity in their heart, who reflect upon past
sins with delight, or without sincere humiliation of mind. Perhaps our real
disposition, both towards sin and duty, may be as certainly discovered by the
state of our minds after, as in the time of action. The strength and suddenness
of temptation may betray even a good man into the commission of sin; the
backwardness of heart and power of inward corruption may make duty burdensome
and occasion many defects in the performance; but every real Christian remembers
his past sins with unfeigned contrition of spirit, and a deep sense of
unworthiness before God; and the discharge of his duty, however difficult it may
have been at the time, affords him the utmost pleasure on reflection. It is
otherwise with many; they can remember their sins without sorrow, they can speak
of them without shame, and sometimes even with a mixture of boasting and vain
glory. Did you never hear them recall their past follies, and speak of them with
such relish, that it seems to be more to renew the pleasure than to regret the
sin? Even supposing such persons to have forsaken the practice of some sin, if
they can thus look upon them with inward complacency, their seeming reformation
must be owing to a very different cause from renovation of heart.
4. They regard iniquity in their heart, who look upon the sins
of others with approbation; or, indeed, who can behold them without grief. Sin
is so abominable a thing, so dishonouring to God, and so destructive to the
souls of men, that no real Christian can witness it without concern. Hence it is
so frequently taken notice of in Scripture, as the character of a servant of
God, that he mourns for the sins of others. Ps 119:136,158.
5. In the last place, I suspect that they regard sin in the
heart, who are backward to bring themselves to the trial, and who are not truly
willing that God himself would search and try them. If any, therefore, are
unwilling to be tried, if they are backward to self examination, it is an
evidence of a strong and powerful attachment to sin. It can proceed from nothing
but from a secret dread of some disagreeable discovery, or the detection of some
lust which they cannot consent to forsake... There are but too many who though
they live in the practice of sin, and regard iniquity in their hearts, do yet
continue their outward attendance on the ordinances of divine institution, and
at stated times lay hold of the seals of God's covenant. Shall they find any
acceptance with him? No. He counts it a profane mockery; he counts it a
sacrilegious usurpation. Ps 50:16-17. Shall they have any comfort in it? No:
unless in so far as in righteous judgment he suffers them to be deceived; and
they are deceived, and they are most unhappy, who lie longest under the
delusion. Ps 50:21. Shall they have any benefit by it? No: instead of appeasing
his wrath, it provokes his vengeance; instead of enlightening their minds, it
blinds their eyes; instead of sanctifying their nature, it hardens their hearts.
See a description of those who had been long favoured with outward privileges
and gloried in them. Joh 12:39-40. So that nothing is more essential to an
acceptable approach to God in the duties of his worship in general, and
particularly to receiving the seals of his covenant, than a thorough and
universal separation from all known sin. Job 11:13-14. John Witherspoon
(1722-1749), in a Sermon entitled "The Petitions of the Insincere
Verses 18-20. Lord, I find David making a syllogism, in mood
and figure, two propositions he perfected. If I regard iniquity in my
heart, the Lord will not hear me; but verily God hath heard me; he
hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Now I expected that David should
have concluded thus: "Therefore I regard not wickedness in my heart; but far
otherwise he concludes": Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my
prayer, nor his mercy from me. Thus David had deceived, but not wronged me.
I looked that he should have clapped the crown on his own, and he puts it on
God's head. I will learn this excellent logic; for I like David's better than
Aristotle's syllogisms, that whatsoever the premise be, I make God's glory the
conclusion. Thomas Fuller.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 3. The terrible in God's works of nature and
1. Who? All the earth.
(a) All, collectively, all classes and tribes.
(b) All numerically.
(c) All harmoniously.
2. What? Shall worship and sing.
(a) Humiliation; then,
3. When? Shall, &c. Denotes
(b) Certainty. God has spoken it. All things are tending towards
it. G. R.
Verse 5. Here is--
1. A subject for general study: the Works of God.
2. For particular study: his doings towards, etc.
(a) These are the most wonderful.
(b) In these we are most concerned.
Verse 7. Sovereignty, immutability ("for ever"), and
omniscience, --the enemies of proud rebels.
Verse 8. (last clause). To get a hearing for the
gospel-- difficult, necessary, and possible. Ways and means for so doing.
1. Praise to.
(a) As God.
(b) As our God.
2. Praise for. Preservation.
(a) Of natural life.
(b) Of spiritual life.
3. Praise by, ye people.
(a) On your own account.
(b) On account of others.
(b) Unitedly. G. R.
Verse 9. Perseverance the subject of gratitude.
1. The maintenance of the inner life.
2. The integrity of the outward character.
Verse 10. The assaying of the saints.
1. The design of the afflictions.
(a) To prove them.
(b) To reprove them.
2. The illustration of that design. As
3. The issue of the trial.
Verses 11-12. The hand of God should be acknowledged.
1. In our temptations: Thou broughtest us.
2. In our bodily afflictions: Thou laidest, etc.
3. In our persecutions: Thou hast caused, etc.
4. In our deliverances: Thou broughtest us out, etc.
Verse 12. Fire and water. Varied trials.
1. Discover different evils.
2. Test all parts of manhood.
3. Educate varied graces.
4. Endear many promises.
5. Illustrate divine attributes.
6. Afford extensive knowledge.
7. Create capacity for the varied joys of heaven.
Verse 12. (first clause). The rage of oppression.
Thomas Adam's Sermon.
Verse 12. (last clause). A plentiful place, free from
penury; a pleasant place, void of sorrow; a safe place, free from dangers and
distresses. Daniel Wilcocks.
Verse 12. (last clause). The victory of patience,
with the expiration of malice. Thomas Adams' Sermon.
Verse 12. (last clause). The wealth of a soul whom
God has tried and delivered. Among other riches he has the wealth of experience,
of strengthened graces, of confirmed faith, and of sympathy for others.
Verse 13. God's house; or, the place of praises. Thomas
1. Resolutions made (Ps 66:13).
(a) What? To offer praise.
(b) Why? For deliverance.
(c) Where? In thy house.
2. Resolutions uttered (Ps 66:14).
(a) To God.
(b) Before men.
3. Resolutions fulfilled.
(a) In public acknowledgment.
(b) In heartfelt gratitude.
(c) In more frequent attendance at the house of God.
(d) The renewed self dedication.
(e) In increased liberality. G. R.
1. What has God done for the soul of every Christian?
2. Why does the Christian wish to declare what God has done for his soul?
3. Why does he wish to make this declaration to those who only fear God?
(a) Because they alone can understand such a declaration.
(b) They alone will really believe him.
(c) They only will listen with interest, or join with him in
praising his Benefactor. E. Payson.
1. Religious teaching should be simple: I will declare.
2. Earnest: Come and hear.
3. Seasonable: All ye that.
4. Discriminating: Fear God.
5. Experimental: What he hath, etc.
1. The two principal parts of devotion. Prayer and praise.
2. Their degree. In prayer, crying. In praise, extolling.
3. Their order.
(b) Then praise. What is won by prayer is worn in praise.
1. The test admitted.
2. The test applied.
3. The test approved.
Verse 19. The fact that God has heard prayer.
Verse 20. The mercy of God.
1. In permitting prayer.
2. In inclining to prayer.
3. In hearing prayer.
WORK UPON THE SIXTY-SIXTH PSALM
"A fourth Proceeding in the Harmony of King David's Harp. That
is to say; A Godly and learned Exposition of six Psalms more of the
princely Prophet David, beginning with the 62, and ending with the 67,
Psalm." Done in Latin by the reverend Doctor VICTORINUS STRIGELIUS,
Professor of Diunitie in the university of Lypsia in Germany, Anno 1562.
Translated into English by Richard Robinson, Citizen of London. 1596...
(The above is the "fourth, "and, as far as we have been
able to discover, the last part of R. Robinson's Translation of
Strigelius. The four parts, separately titled and paged, contain Expositions of
Psalms 1-67. Dates: 1591-3-5-6.)