Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. A Psalm of David, Maschil. That David wrote this
gloriously evangelic Psalm is proved not only by this heading, but by the words
of the apostle Paul, in Ro 4:6-8. "Even as David also describeth the blessedness
of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, "&c. Probably
his deep repentance over his great sin was followed by such blissful peace, that
he was led to pour out his spirit in the soft music of this choice song. In the
order of history it seems to follow the fifty-first. Maschil is a new
title to us, and indicates that this is an instructive or didactic Psalm. The
experience of one believer affords rich instruction to others, it reveals the
footsteps of the flock, and so comforts and directs the weak. Perhaps it was
important in this case to prefix the word, that doubting saints might not
imagine the Psalm to be the peculiar utterance of a singular individual, but
might appropriate it to themselves as a lesson from the Spirit of God. David
promised in the fifty-first Psalm to teach transgressors the Lord's ways, and
here he does it most effectually. Grotius thinks that this Psalm was meant to be
sung on the annual day of the Jewish expiation, when a general confession of
their sins was made.
DIVISION. In our reading we have found it convenient to
note the benediction of the pardoned, Ps 32:1-2; David's personal confession, Ps
32:3-5; and the application of the case to others, Ps 32:6-7. The voice of God
is heard by the forgiven one in Ps 32:8-9; and the Psalm then concludes with a
portion for each of the two great classes of men, Ps 32:10-11.
Verse 1. Blessed. Like the sermon on the mount on the mount,
this Psalm begins with beatitudes. This is the second Psalm of benediction. The
first Psalm describes the result of holy blessedness, the thirty-second details
the cause of it. The first pictures the tree in full growth, this depicts it in
its first planting and watering. He who in the first Psalm is a reader of God's
book, is here a suppliant at God's throne accepted and heard. Blessed is he
whose transgression is forgiven. He is now blessed and ever shall be. Be he
ever so poor, or sick, or sorrowful, he is blessed in very deed. Pardoning mercy
is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way
to happiness. To hear from God's own Spirit the words, "absolvo te" is
joy unspeakable. Blessedness is not in this case ascribed to the man who has
been a diligent law keeper, for then it would never come to us, but rather to a
lawbreaker, who by grace most rich and free has been forgiven. Self righteous
Pharisees have no portion in this blessedness. Over the returning prodigal, the
word of welcome is here pronounced, and the music and dancing begin. A full,
instantaneous, irreversible pardon of transgression turns the poor sinner's hell
into heaven, and makes the heir of wrath a partaker in blessing. The word
rendered forgiven is in the original taken off or taken away, as a
burden is lifted or a barrier removed. What a lift is here! It cost our Saviour
a sweat of blood to bear our load, yea, it cost him his life to bear it quite
away. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but what was that to the weight which
Jesus bore on our behalf? Whose sin is covered. Covered by God, as the
ark was covered by the mercyseat, as Noah was covered from the flood, as the
Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover must that be which
hides away for ever from the sight of the all seeing God all the filthiness of
the flesh and of the spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity,
will appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever. Christ's atonement
is the propitiation, the covering, the making an end of sin; where this is seen
and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now accepted in the Beloved, and
therefore enjoys a conscious blessedness which is the antepast of heaven. It is
clear from the text that a man may know that he is pardoned: where would
be the blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly it is a matter of
knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort.
Verse 2. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not
iniquity. The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the
blessednesses! the double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains
of delight! Note the three words so often used to denote our disobedience:
transgression, sin, and iniquity, are the three headed dog at the gates of hell,
but our glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own
believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven. Non
imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer sins, but his sin is
not reckoned, not accounted to him. Certain divines froth at the mouth with rage
against imputed righteousness, be it ours to see our sin not imputed, and to us
may there be as Paul words it, "Righteousness imputed without works." He is
blessed indeed who has a substitute to stand for him to whose account all his
debts may be set down. And in whose spirit there is no guile. He who is
pardoned, has in every case been taught to deal honestly with himself, his sin,
and his God. Forgiveness is no sham, and the peace which it brings is not caused
by playing tricks with conscience. Self deception and hypocrisy bring no
blessedness, they may drug the soul into hell with pleasant dreams, but into the
heaven of true peace they cannot conduct their victim. Free from guilt, free
from guile. Those who are justified from fault are sanctified from falsehood. A
liar is not a forgiven soul. Treachery, double dealing, chicanery,
dissimulation, are lineaments of the devil's children, but he who is washed from
sin is truthful, honest, simple, and childlike. There can be no blessedness to
tricksters with their plans, and tricks, and shuffling, and pretending: they are
too much afraid of discovery to be at ease; their house is built on the
volcano's brink, and eternal destruction must be their portion. Observe the
three words to describe sin, and the three words to represent pardon, weigh them
well, and note their meaning. (See note at the end.)
Verses 3-5. David now gives us his own experience: no
instructor is so efficient as one who testifies to what he has personally known
and felt. He writes well who like the spider spins his matter out of his own
Verse 3. When I kept silence. When through neglect I failed
to confess, or through despair dared not do so, my bones, those solid
pillars of my frame, the stronger portions of my bodily constitution, waxed
old, began to decay with weakness, for my grief was so intense as to sap my
health and destroy my vital energy. What a killing thing is sin! It is a
pestilent disease! A fire in the bones! While we smother our sin it rages
within, and like a gathering wound swells horribly and torments terribly.
Through my roaring all the day long. He was silent as to
confession, but not as to sorrow. Horror at his great guilt, drove David to
incessant laments, until his voice was no longer like the articulate speech of
man, but so full of sighing and groaning, that it resembled to hoarse roaring of
a wounded beast. None knows the pangs of conviction but those who have endured
them. The rack, the wheel, the flaming fagot are ease compared with the Tophet
which a guilty conscience kindles within the breast: better suffer all the
diseases which flesh is heir to, than lie under the crushing sense of the wrath
of almighty God. The Spanish inquisition with all its tortures was nothing to
the inquest which conscience holds within the heart.
Verse 4. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me. God's
finger can crush us--what must his hand be, and that pressing heavily and
continuously! Under terrors of conscience, men have little rest by night, for
the grim thoughts of the day dog them to their chambers and haunt their dreams,
or else they lie awake in a cold sweat of dread. God's hand is very helpful when
it uplifts, but it is awful when it presses down: better a world on the
shoulder, like Atlas, than God's hand on the heart, like David. My moisture
is turned into the drought of summer. The sap of his soul was dried,
and the body through sympathy appeared to be bereft of its needful fluids. The
oil was almost gone from the lamp of life, and the flame flickered as though it
would soon expire. Unconfessed transgression, like a fierce poison, dried up the
fountain of the man's strength and made him like a tree blasted by the
lightning, or a plant withered by the scorching heat of a tropical sun. Alas!
for a poor soul when it has learned its sin but forgets its Saviour, it goes
hard with it indeed. Selah. It was time to change the tune, for the notes
are very low in the scale, and with such hard usage, the strings of the harp are
out of order: the next verse will surely be set to another key, or will rehearse
a more joyful subject.
Verse 5. I acknowledged my sin unto thee. After long
lingering, the broken heart bethought itself of what it ought to have done at
the first, and laid bare its bosom before the Lord. The lancet must be let into
the gathering ulcer before relief can be afforded. The least thing we can do, if
we would be pardoned, is to acknowledge our fault; if we are too proud for this
we double deserve punishment. And mine iniquity have I not hid. We
must confess the guilt as well as the fact of sin. It is useless to conceal it,
for it is well known to God; it is beneficial to us to own it, for a full
confession softens and humbles the heart. We must as far as possible unveil the
secrets of the soul, dig up the hidden treasure of Achan, and by weight and
measure bring out our sins. I said. This was his fixed resolution. I
will confess my transgressions unto the Lord. Not to my fellow men or to the
high priest, but unto Jehovah; even in those days of symbol the faithful looked
to God alone for deliverance from sin's intolerable load, much more now, when
types and shadows have vanished at the appearance of the dawn. When the soul
determines to lay low and plead guilty, absolution is near at hand; hence we
read, And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Not only was the sin
itself pardoned, but the iniquity of it; the virus of its guilt was put away,
and that at once, so soon as the acknowledgment was made. God's pardons are deep
and thorough: the knife of mercy cuts at the roots of the ill weed of sin.
Selah. Another pause is needed, for the matter is not such as may be
"Pause, my soul, adore and wonder,
Ask, O why such love to me?
Grace has put me in the number
Of the Saviour's family.
Thanks, eternal thanks, to thee."
Verse 6. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee
in a time when thou mayest be found. If the psalmist means that on
account of God's mercy others would become hopeful, his witness is true.
Remarkable answers to prayer very much quicken the prayerfulness of other godly
persons. Where one man finds a golden nugget others feel inclined to dig. The
benefit of our experience to others should reconcile us to it. No doubt the case
of David has led thousands to seek the Lord with hopeful courage who, without
such an instance to cheer them, might have died in despair. Perhaps the psalmist
meant for this favour or the like all godly souls would seek, and here,
again, we can confirm his testimony, for all will draw near to God in the same
manner as he did when godliness rules their heart. The mercy seat is the way to
heaven for all who shall ever come there. There is, however, a set time for
prayer, beyond which it will be unavailing; between the time of sin and the day
of punishment mercy rules the hour, and God may be found, but when once the
sentence has gone forth pleading will be useless, for the Lord will not be found
by the condemned soul. O dear reader, slight not the accepted time, waste not
the day of salvation. The godly pray while the Lord has promised to answer, the
ungodly postpone their petitions till the Master of the house has risen up and
shut to the door, and then their knocking is too late. What a blessing to be led
to seek the Lord before the great devouring floods leap forth from their lairs,
for then when they do appear we shall be safe. Surely in the floods of
great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. The floods shall come,
and the waves shall rage, and toss themselves like Atlantic billows; whirlpools
and waterspouts shall be on every hand, but the praying man shall be at a safe
distance, most surely secured from every ill. David was probably most familiar
with those great land floods which fill up, with rushing torrents, the beds of
rivers which at other times are almost dry: these overflowing waters often did
great damage, and, as in the case of the Kishon, were sufficient to sweep away
whole armies. From sudden and overwhelming disasters thus set forth in metaphor
the true suppliant will certainly be held secure. He who is saved from sin has
no need to fear anything else.
Verse 7. Thou art my hiding place. Terse, short sentences
make up this verse, but they contain a world of meaning. Personal claims upon
our God are the joy of spiritual life. To lay our hand upon the Lord with the
clasp of a personal "my" is delight at its full. Observe that the same man who
in the fourth verse was oppressed by the presence of God, here finds a shelter
in him. See what honest confession and full forgiveness will do! The gospel of
substitution makes him to be our refuge who otherwise would have been our judge.
Thou shalt preserve me from trouble. Trouble shall do me no real harm
when the Lord is with me, rather it shall bring me much benefit, like the file
which clears away the rust, but does not destroy the metal. Observe the three
tenses, we have noticed the sorrowful past, the last sentence was a joyful
present, this is a cheerful future. Thou shalt compass me about with songs
of deliverance. What a golden sentence! The man is encircled in song,
surrounded by dancing mercies, all of them proclaiming the triumphs of grace.
There is no breach in the circle, it completely rings him round; on all sides he
hears music. Before him hope sounds the cymbals, and behind him gratitude beats
the timbrel. Right and left, above and beneath, the air resounds with joy, and
all this for the very man who, a few weeks ago, was roaring all the day long.
How great a change! What wonders grace has done and still can do! Selah.
There was a need of a pause, for love so amazing needs to be pondered, and joy
so great demands quiet contemplation, since language fails to express it.
Verse 8. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which
thou shalt go. Here the Lord is the speaker, and gives the psalmist
an answer to his prayer. Our Saviour is our instructor. The Lord himself deigns
to teach his children to walk in the way of integrity, his holy word and the
monitions of the Holy Spirit are the directors of the believer's daily
conversation. We are not pardoned that we may henceforth live after our own
lusts, but that we may be educated in holiness and trained for perfection. A
heavenly training is one of the covenant blessings which adoption seals to us:
"All thy children shall be taught by the Lord." Practical teaching is the very
best of instruction, and they are thrice happy who, although they never sat at
the feet of Gamaliel, and are ignorant of Aristotle, and the ethics of the
schools, have nevertheless learned to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
I will guide thee with mine eye. As servants take their cue from the
master's eye, and a nod or a wink is all that they require, so should we obey
the slightest hints of our Master, not needing thunderbolts to startle our
incorrigible sluggishness, but being controlled by whispers and love touches.
The Lord is the great overseer, whose eye in providence overlooks everything. It
is well for us to be the sheep of his pasture, following the guidance of his
Verse 9. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have
no understanding. Understanding separates man from a brute--let us not
act as if we were devoid of it. Men should take counsel and advice, and be ready
to run where wisdom points them the way. Alas! we need to be cautioned against
stupidity of heart, for we are very apt to fall into it. We who ought to be as
the angels, readily become as the beasts. Whose mouth must be held in with
bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. It is much to be
deplored that we so often need to be severely chastened before we will obey. We
ought to be as a feather in the wind, wafted readily in the breath of the Holy
Spirit, but alas! we lie like motionless logs, and stir not with heaven itself
in view. Those cutting bits of affliction show how hard mouthed we are, those
bridles of infirmity manifest our headstrong and wilful manners. We should not
be treated like mules if there was not so much of the ass about us. If we will
be fractious, we must expect to be kept in with a tight rein. Oh, for grace to
obey the Lord willingly, lest like the wilful servant, we are beaten with many
stripes. Calvin renders the last words, "Lest they kick against thee, "a version
more probable and more natural, but the passage is confessedly obscure--not
however, in its general sense.
Verse 10. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked. Like
refractory horses and mules, they have many cuts and bruises. Here and hereafter
the portion of the wicked is undesirable. Their joys are evanescent, their
sorrows are multiplying and ripening. He who sows sin will reap sorrow in heavy
sheaves. Sorrows of conscience, of disappointment, of terror, are the sinner's
sure heritage in time, and then for ever sorrows of remorse and despair. Let
those who boast of present sinful joys, remember the shall be of the
future and take warning. But he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall
compass him about. Faith is here placed as the opposite of wickedness, since
it is the source of virtue. Faith in God is the great charmer of life's cares,
and he who possesses it, dwells in an atmosphere of grace, surrounded with the
bodyguard of mercies. May it be given to us of the Lord at all times to believe
in the mercy of God, even when we cannot see traces of its working, for to the
believer, mercy is as all surrounding as omniscience, and every thought and act
of God is perfumed with it. The wicked have a hive of wasps around them,
many sorrows; but we have a swarm of bees storing honey for us.
Verse 11. Be glad. Happiness is not only our privilege, but
our duty. Truly we serve a generous God, since he makes it a part of our
obedience to be joyful. How sinful are our rebellious murmurings! How natural
does it seem that a man blest with forgiveness should be glad! We read of one
who died at the foot of the scaffold of overjoy at the receipt of his monarch's
pardon; and shall we receive the free pardon of the King of kings, and yet pine
in inexcusable sorrow? "In the Lord." Here is the directory by which
gladness is preserved from levity. We are not to be glad in sin, or to find
comfort in corn, and wine, and oil, but in our God is to be the garden of our
soul's delight. That there is a God and such a God, and that he is ours, ours
for ever, our Father and our reconciled Lord, is matter enough for a never
ending psalm of rapturous joy. And rejoice, ye righteous, redouble
your rejoicing, peal upon peal. Since God has clothed his choristers in the
white garments of holiness, let them not restrain their joyful voices, but sing
aloud and shout as those who find great spoil. And shout for joy, all ye
that are upright in heart. Our happiness should be demonstrative; chill
penury of love often represses the noble flame of joy, and men whisper their
praises decorously where a hearty outburst of song would be far more natural. It
is to be feared that the church of the present day, through a craving for
excessive propriety, is growing too artificial; so that enquirers' cries and
believers' shouts would be silenced if they were heard in our assemblies. This
may be better than boisterous fanaticism, but there is as much danger in the one
direction as the other. For our part, we are touched to the heart by a little
sacred excess, and when godly men in their joy over leap the narrow bounds of
decorum, we do not, like Michal, Saul's daughter, eye them with a sneering
heart. Note how the pardoned are represented as upright, righteous, and without
guile; a man may have many faults and yet be saved, but a false heart is
everywhere the damning mark. A man of twisting, shifty ways, of a crooked,
crafty nature, is not saved, and in all probability never will be; for the
ground which brings forth a harvest when grace is sown in it, may be weedy and
waste, but our Lord tells us it is honest and good ground. Our
observation has been that men of double tongues and tricky ways are the least
likely of all men to be saved: certainly where grace comes it restores man's
mind to its perpendicular, and delivers him from being doubled up with vice,
twisted with craft, or bent with dishonesty. Reader, what a delightful Psalm!
Have you, in perusing it, been able to claim a lot in the goodly land? If so,
publish to others the way of salvation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. The term Maschil is prefixed to thirteen
Psalms. Our translators have not ventured to do more, in the text, than
simply print the word in English characters; in the margin however they
render it, as the Geneva version had done before them, "to give instruction." It
would be going too far to affirm that this interpretation is subject to no
doubt. Some good Hebraists take exception to it; so that, perhaps, our venerable
translators did well to leave it untranslated. Still the interpretation they
have set down in the margin, as it is in the most ancient, so it is sustained by
the great preponderance of authority. It agrees remarkably with the contents of
the thirty-second Psalm, which affords the earliest instance of its use, for
that Psalm is preeminently didactic. Its scope is to instruct the convicted soul
how to obtain peace with God, and be compassed about with songs of deliverance.
William Binnie, D.D., in "The Psalms: Their History, Teachings, and
Whole Psalm. This is a Didactic Psalm, wherein David
teacheth sinners to repent by his doctrine, who taught them to sin by his
example. This science is universal and pertaineth to all men, and which
necessarily we must all learn; princes, priests, people, men, women, children,
tradesmen; all, I say, must be put to this school, without which lesson all
others are unprofitable. But to the point. This is a mark of a true penitent,
when he hath been a stumbling block to others, to be as careful to raise them up
by his repentance as he was hurtful to them by his sin; and I never think that
man truly penitent who is ashamed to teach sinners repentance by his own
particular proof. The Samaritan woman, when she was converted, left her bucket
at the well, entered the city, and said, "Come forth, yonder is a man who hath
told me all that I have done." And our Saviour saith to St. Peter, "When thou
art converted, strength thy brethren." Joh 4:29 Lu 22:32. St. Paul also after
his conversion is not ashamed to call himself chiefest of all sinners, and to
teach others to repent of their sins by repenting for his own. Happy, and thrice
happy, is the man who can build so much as he hath cast down. Archibald
Whole Psalm. It is told of Luther that one day being asked
which of all the Psalms were the best, he made answer, "Psalmi Paulini, "
and when his friends pressed to know which these might be, he said, "The 32nd,
the 51st, the 130th, and the 143rd. For they all teach that the forgiveness of
our sins comes, without the law and without works, to the man who believes, and
therefore I call them Pauline Psalms; and David sings, `There is forgiveness
with thee, that thou mayest be feared, 'this is just what Paul says, `God hath
concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.' Ro 11:32.
Thus no man may boast of his own righteousness. That word, `That thou mayest be
feared, 'dusts away all merit, and teaches us to uncover our heads before God,
and confess gratia est, non meritum: remissio, non satisfactio; it
is mere forgiveness, not merit at all." Luther's Table Talk.
Whole Psalm. Some assert that this Psalm used to be sung on
the day of expiation. Robert Leighton.
The Penitential Psalms. When Galileo was imprisoned by the
Inquisition at Rome, for asserting the Copernican System, he was enjoined, as a
penance, to repeat the Seven Penitential Psalms every week for three years. This
must have been intended as extorting a sort of confession from him of his guilt,
and acknowledgment of the justice of his sentence; and in which there certainly
was some cleverness and, indeed, humour, however adding to the iniquity (or
foolishness) of the proceeding. Otherwise it is not easy to understand what idea
of painfulness or punishment the good fathers could attach to a devotional
exercise such as this, which, in whatever way, could only have been agreeable
and consoling to their prisoner. M. Montague, in "The Seven Penitential
Psalms in Verse...with an Appendix and Notes," 1844.
Verse 1. Blessed. Or, O blessed man; or, Oh, the felicities
of that man! to denote the most supreme and perfect blessedness. As the
elephant, to denote its vast bulk, is spoken of in the plural number,
Behemoth. Robert Leighton.
Verse 1. Notice, this is the first Psalm, except the first
of all, which begins with Blessedness. In the first Psalm we have the blessing
of innocence, or rather, of him who only was innocent: here we have the blessing
of repentance, as the next happiest state to that of sinlessness. Lorinus, in
Verse 1. Blessed is the man, saith David, whose sins
are pardoned, where he maketh remission of sins to be true felicity.
Now there is no true felicity but that which is enjoyed, and felicity cannot be
enjoyed unless it be felt; and it cannot be felt unless a man know himself to be
in possession of it; and a man cannot know himself to be in possession of it, if
he doubt whether he hath it or not; and therefore this doubting of the remission
of sins is contrary to true felicity, and is nothing else but a torment of the
conscience. For a man cannot doubt whether his sins be pardoned or not, but
straightway, if his conscience be not seared with a hot iron, the very thought
of his sin will strike a great fear into him; for the fear of eternal death, and
the horror of God's judgment will come to his remembrance, the consideration of
which is most terrible. William Perkins.
Verse 1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose
sin is covered. Get your sins hid. There is a covering of sin which
proves a curse. Pr 28:13. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper;
"there is a covering it, by not confessing it, or which is worse, by
denying it--Gehazi's covering--a covering of sin by a lie; and there is also a
covering of sin by justifying ourselves in it. I have not done this thing; or, I
did no evil in it. All these are evil coverings: he that thus covereth his sin
shall not prosper. But there is a blessed covering of sin: forgiveness of
sin is the hiding it out of sight, and that's the blessedness. Richard
Verse 1. Whose transgression is forgiven. We may lull the
soul asleep with carnal delights, but the virtue of that opium will be soon
spent. All those joys are but stolen waters, and bread eaten in secret--a poor
sorry peace that dares not come to the light and endure the trial; a sorry peace
that is soon disturbed by a few serious and sober thoughts of God and the world
to come; but when once sin is pardoned, then you have true joy indeed. "Be of
good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." Mt 9:2. Thomas Manton.
Verse 1. Forgiven. Holy David, in the front of this Psalm
shows us wherein true happiness consists: not in beauty, honour, riches (the
world's trinity), but in the forgiveness of sin. The Hebrew word to forgive,
signifies to carry out of sight; which well agrees with that Jer 50:20. "In
those days, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and
there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found." This
is an incomprehensible blessing, and such as lays a foundation for all other
mercies. I shall but glance at it, and lay down these five assertions about it.
1. Forgiveness is an act of God's free grace. The Greek word
to forgive, deciphers the original of pardon; it ariseth not from
anything inherent in us, but is the pure result of free grace. Isa 43:25. "I,
even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake." When a
creditor forgives a debtor, he doeth it freely. Paul cries out, "I obtained
mercy." 1Ti 1:13. The Greek signifies, "I was be-mercied; "he who is pardoned,
is all bestrewed with mercy. When the Lord pardons a sinner, he doth not pay a
debt, but gives a legacy.
2. God in forgiving sin, remits the guilt and penalty.
Guilt cries for justice: no sooner had Adam eaten the apple, but he saw the
flaming sword, and heard the curse; but in remission God doth indulge the
sinner; he seems to say thus to him: Though thou art fallen into the hands of my
justice, and deserve to die, yet I will absolve thee, and whatever is charged
upon thee shall be discharged.
3. Forgiveness of sin is through the blood of
Christ. Free grace is the impulsive cause; Christ's blood is the meritorious.
"Without shedding of blood is no remission." Heb 9:22. Justice would be revenged
either on the sinner or the surety. Every pardon is the price of blood.
4. Before sin is forgiven, it must be repented of. Therefore repentance and
remission are linked together. "That repentance and remission of sins should be
preached in his name." Lu 24:47. Not that repentance doth in a Popish sense
merit forgiveness; Christ's blood must wash our tears; but repentance is a
qualification, though not a cause. He who is humbled for sin will the more value
5. God having forgiven sin, he will call it no more into
remembrance. Jer 31:34. The Lord will make an act of indemnity, he will not
upbraid us with former unkindnesses, or sue us with a cancelled bond. "He will
cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." Mic 7:19. Sin shall not be cast
in as a cork which riseth up again, but as lead which sinks to the bottom. How
should we all labour for this covenant blessing! Thomas Watson.
Verse 1. Sin is covered. Every man that must be happy, must
have something to hide and cover his sins from God's eyes; and nothing in the
world can do it, but Christ and his righteousness, typified in the ark of the
covenant, whose cover was of gold, and called a propitiatory, that as it covered
the tables that were within the ark, so God covers our sins against those
tables. So the cloud covering the Israelites in the wilderness, signified God's
covering us from the danger of our sins. Thomas Taylor's "David's Learning:
or the Way to True Happiness." 1617.
Verse 1. Sin covered. This covering hath relation to
some nakedness and filthiness which should be covered, even sin, which defileth
us and maketh us naked. Why, saith Moses to Aaron, hast thou made the people
naked? Ex 32:25. The garments of our merits are too short and cannot cover us,
we have need therefore to borrow of Christ Jesus his merits and the mantle of
his righteousness, that it may be unto us as a garment, and as those breeches of
leather which God made unto Adam and Eve after their fall. Garments are ordained
to cover our nakedness, defend us from the injury of the weather, and to adorn
us. So the mediation of our Saviour serveth to cover our nakedness, that the
wrath of God seize not upon us--he is that "white raiment" wherewith we should be
clothed, that our filthy nakedness may not appear--to defend us against Satan--he
is "mighty to save, "etc. --and to be an ornament to decorate us, for he is that
"wedding garment:" "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ." Re 3:18 Isa 63:1 Mt
22:11 Ro 13:14. Archibald Symson.
Verse 1. The object of pardon--about which it is conversant,
is set forth under diverse expressions--iniquity, transgression, and
sin. As in law many words of like import and signification are heaped up
and put together, to make the deed and legal instrument more comprehensive and
effectual. I observe it the rather, because when God proclaims his name the same
words are used, Ex 34:7, "Taking away iniquity, transgressions, and sin." Well,
we have seen the meaning of the expression. Why doth the holy man of God use
such vigour and vehemency of inculcation. "Blessed is the man!" and
again, "Blessed is the man!" Partly with respect to his own case. David
knew how sweet it was to have sin pardoned; he had felt the bitterness of sin in
his own soul, to the drying up of his blood, and therefore he doth express his
sense of pardon in the most lively terms. And then, partly, too, with respect to
those for whose use this instruction was written, that they might not look upon
it as a light and trivial thing, but be thoroughly apprehensive of the worth of
so great a privilege. Blessed, happy, thrice happy they who have obtained pardon
of their sins, and justification by Jesus Christ. Thomas Manton.
Verses 1-2. In these verses four evils are mentioned;
1. -- Transgression, (evp)
pesha. 2. Sin, (hajx)
chataah. 3. --Iniquity, (Nwe) avon. 4. -- Guile, (hymd) remiyah. The first signifies the passing
over a boundary, doing what is prohibited. The second signifies the
missing of a mark, not doing what was commanded; but it is often taken to
express sinfulness, or sin in the nature, producing transgression in the
life. The third signifies what is turned out of its proper course or
situation; anything morally distorted or perverted. Iniquity,
what is contrary to equity or justice. The fourth
signifies fraud, deceit, guile, etc. To remove these evils,
three acts are mentioned: forgiving, covering, and not
1. TRANSGRESSION, (evp)
pesha, must be forgiven, (ywsn)
nesui, borne away, i.e., by a vicarious sacrifice; for bearing
sin, or bearing away sin, always implies this.
2. SIN, (hajx) chataah, must be covered,
(ywob) kesui, hidden from the
sight. It is odious and abominable, and must be put out of sight.
3. INIQUITY, (Nwe)
avon, what is perverse or distorted, must not be imputed,
(bsxyal) lo yachshobh, must not
be reckoned to his account.
4. GUILE, (hymd) remiyah, must be annihilated from the soul. In
whose spirit there is no GUILE. The man whose transgression is
forgiven; whose sin is hidden, God having cast it as a millstone into the
depths of the sea; whose iniquity and perversion is not reckoned to his account;
and whose guile, the deceitful and desperately wicked heart, is
annihilated, being emptied of sin, and filled with righteousness, is necessarily
a happy man. Adam Clarke.
Verses 1-2. Transgression. Prevarication. Some
understand by it sins of omission and commission.
Sin. Some understand those inward inclinations, lusts, and
motions, whereby the soul swerves from the law of God, and which are the
immediate cause of external sins.
Iniquity. Notes original sin, the root of all.
Levatus, forgiven, eased, signifies to take away, to bear,
to carry away. Two words in Scripture are chiefly used to denote remission, to
expiate, to bear or carry away: the one signifies the manner whereby it is done,
namely, atonement, the other the effect of this expiation, carrying away; one
notes the meritorious cause, the other the consequent.
Covered. Alluding to the covering of the Egyptians in the
Red Sea. Menochius thinks it alludes to the manner of writing among the Hebrews,
which he thinks to be the same with that of the Romans; as writing with a pencil
upon wax spread upon tables, which when they would blot out they made the wax
plain, and drawing it over the writing, covered the former letters. And so it is
equivalent with that expression of "blotting out sin, "as in the other allusion
it is with "casting sin into the depths of the sea."
Impute. Not charging upon account. As sin is a defection
from the law, so it is forgiven; as it is offensive to God's holiness, so it is
covered; as it is a debt involving man in a debt of punishment, so it is not
imputed; they all note the certainty, and extent, and perfection of pardon: the
three words expressing sin here, being the same that are used by God in the
declaration of his name. Stephen Charnock.
Verses 1-2, 6-7. Who is blessed? Not he who cloaks, conceals,
confesses not his sin. As long as David was in this state he was miserable.
There was guile in his spirit Ps 32:2 misery in his heart, his very bones waxed
old, his moisture was dried up as the drought in summer Ps 32:3-4. Who is
blessed? He that is without sin, he who sins not, he who grieves no more by his
sin the bosom on which he reclines. This is superlative blessedness, its highest
element the happiness of heaven. To be like God, to yield implicit, ready, full,
perfect obedience, the obedience of the heart, of our entire being; this is to
be blessed above all blessedness. But among those who live in a world of sin,
who are surrounded by sin, who are themselves sinners, who is blessed? He
whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, to whom the Lord
imputeth not iniquity; and especially does he feel it to be so, who
can, in some degree, enter into the previous state of David's soul Ps 32:3-4.
Ah, in what a wretched state was the psalmist previously to this blessedness!
How must sin have darkened and deadened his spiritual faculties, to have guile
in the spirit of one who could elsewhere exclaim, "Search me, O God, and know my
heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, "
any way of pain or grief, any way of sin which most surely leads to these. Ps
139:23-34. What a mournful condition of soul was his, who while he roared all
the day long, yet kept silence before God, had no heart to open his heart unto
God, was dumb before him, not in submission to his will, not in accepting the
punishment of his iniquity Le 26:46, not in real confession, and honest,
upright, and sincere acknowledgment of his iniquity to him against whom he had
committed it. "I kept silence, "not merely I was silent, "I kept
silence, "resolutely, perseveringly; I kept it notwithstanding all the
remembrance of my past mercies, notwithstanding my reproaches of conscience, and
my anguish of heart. I kept it notwithstanding "thy hand was heavy upon me
day and night, "notwithstanding "my moisture, "all that was
spiritual in me, my vital spirit, all that was indicative of spiritual life in
my soul, seemed dried up and gone. Yes, Lord, notwithstanding all this, I
kept it. But Nathan came, thou didst send him. He was to me a messenger
full of reproof, full of faithfulness, but full of love. He came with thy word,
and with the word of a King there was power. I acknowledged my sin unto him, and
my iniquity did I not hide, but this was little. Against thee, thee only, did I
sin, and to thee was my confession made. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, O
Lord. I solemnly said that I would do so, and I did it. I confessed my
transgression unto the Lord, "and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. Behold the
man who is blessed; blessed in the state of his mind, his guileless spirit, his
contrite heart, the fruit of the spirit of grace; blessed in the forgiveness of
a forgiving God; a forgiveness, perfect, entire, lacking nothing, signified by
sin "covered, ""iniquity not imputed" of the Lord; blessed in the blessings
which followed it. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me
from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.
Beneath the hollow of that hand which was once so heavy upon me, I can now
repose. Thou art my hiding place, I dread thee no more; nay, I dwell in thee as
my habitation, and my high tower, my covert, my safety, my house. Safe in thy
love, whatever trouble may be my portion, and by the mouth of Nathan thy servant
thou hast declared that trouble shall be my portion, I shall yet be preserved;
yea, more, so fully wilt thou deliver me that I believe thou wilt encompass me
so with the arms of thy mercy, as to call forth songs of grateful praise for thy
Behold, the blessedness of him whom God forgives! No wonder,
then, that the psalmist adds, for this shall every one that is godly
pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the
floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. As much as if
he had said, Surely after this thy gracious conduct towards me, all that
truly love and fear thee, every one that is godly, when he hears
of thy dealings with me, "will pray unto thee." Encouraged by my
example, he will not keep silence as I foolishly and sinfully did, but will
confess and supplicate before thee, since thou art to be "found, "and
hast so wondrously shown that thou art, of all that truly seek thee, since there
is the place of finding, as I lay my hand upon the victim, and look
through that victim to him the promised Seed; since there is the time of
finding, declared in thy word, and manifested by the secret drawing of my heart
to thee by thy grace; since the unwillingness is not in thee, but in thy sinning
creature to come to thee; for this shall every one that is godly pray
unto thee, then, however deep the water floods may be, however fierce the
torrent, and headlong the stream, they shall not even come nigh unto him, much
less shall they overwhelm him. James Harrington Evans, M.A., 1785-1849.
Verse 2. Unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. Aben Ezra
paraphrases it, of whose sins God does not think, does not regard them,
so as to bring them into judgment, reckoning them as if they were not; ou me
logizetai does not count or calculate them; does not require for them
the debt of punishment. To us the remission is entirely free, our Sponsor having
taken upon him the whole business of paying the ransom. His suffering is our
impunity, his bond our freedom, and his chastisement our peace; and therefore
the prophet says, "The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his
stripes we are healed." Robert Leighton.
Verse 2. In whose spirit there is no guile. In the saint's
trouble, conscience is full of Scripture sometimes, on which it grounds its
verdict, but very ill interpreted. Oh, saith the poor soul, this place is
against me! Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not
iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. Here, saith he, is a
description of a sincere soul, to be one in whose spirit there is no guile; but
I find much guile in me, therefore I am not the sincere one. Now this is a very
weak, yea, false inference. By a spirit without guile, is not meant a person
that hath not the least deceitfulness and hypocrisy remaining in his heart. To
be without sin, and to be without guile, in this strict sense are the same--a
prerogative here on earth peculiar to the Lord Christ 1Pe 2:22, "Who did no sin,
neither was guile found in his mouth." And therefore when we meet with the same
phrase attributed to the saints, as to Levi, Mal 2:6; "Iniquity was not found in
his lips; "and to Nathanael, Joh 1:47: "Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no
guile!" we must sense it in an inferior way, that may suit with their imperfect
state here below, and not put that which was only Christ's crown on earth, and
is the glorified saint's robe in heaven, on the weak Christian while militant
here on earth, not only with a devil without, but with a body of sin within him.
Wipe thine eyes again, poor soul, and then if thou readest such places, wherein
the Spirit of God speaks so highly and hyperbolically of his saint's grace, thou
shalt find he doth not assert the perfection of their grace, free from all
mixture of sin, but rather to comfort poor drooping souls, and cross their
misgiving hearts, which, from the presence of hypocrisy, are ready to overlook
their sincerity as none at all, he expresses his high esteem of their little
grace, by speaking of it as if it were perfect, and their hypocrisy none at all.
Verse 2. In whose spirit there is no guile. When once pardon
is realized, the believer has courage to be truthful before God: he can afford
to have done with guile in the spirit. Who would not declare all his
debts when they are certain to be discharged by another? Who would not declare
his malady when he was sure of a cure? True faith knows not only that
guile before God is impossible, but also that it is no longer necessary.
The believer has nothing to conceal: he sees himself as before God, stripped,
and laid open, and bare; and if he has learned to see himself as he is, so also
has he learned to see God as he reveals himself. There is no guile in the spirit
of one who is justified by faith; because in the act of justification truth has
been established in his inward parts. There is no guile in the spirit of him who
sees the truth of himself in the light of the truth of God. For the truth of God
shows him at once that in Christ he is perfectly righteous before God, and in
himself he is the chief of sinners. Such a one knows he is not his own, for he
is bought with a price, and therefore he is to glorify God. There is no guile in
the spirit of him whose real object is to glorify Christ and not himself. But
when a man is not quite true to Christ, and has not quite ceased to magnify
self, there may be guile, for he will be more occupied with thoughts about
himself than with the honour of Christ. But if the truth, and honour, and glory
of Christ be his supreme care, he may leave himself out of the question, and,
like Christ, "O commit himself to him that judgeth righteously." J. W. Reeve,
M.A., in "Lectures on the Thirty-second Psalm," 1860.
Verse 2. No guile. Sincerity is that property to which
pardoning mercy is annexed. True, indeed, it is that Christ covers all our sins
and failings; but it is only the sincere soul over which he will cast his skirt.
Blessed is he whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the
Lord imputeth not iniquity. None will doubt this; but which is the man? The
next words tell us his name; And in whose spirit there is no
guile. Christ's righteousness is the garment which covers the nakedness and
shame of our unrighteousness; faith the grace that puts this garment on; but
what faith? None but the faith unfeigned, as Paul calls it. 2Ti 1:5. "Here is
water, "said the eunuch, "what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Ac 8:36. Now mark
Philip's answer, Ac 8:37, "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest;
"as if he had said, Nothing but an hypocritical heart can hinder thee. It is the
false heart only that finds the door of mercy shut. William Gurnall.
Verse 2. Guile. The guile of the spirit is an inward
corruption in the soul of man, whereby he dealeth deceitfully with himself
before God in the matter of salvation. Thomas Taylor.
Verse 3. My bones waxed old. God sports not at the sins of
his elect, but outwardly doth deal with them more hardly, and chastise them more
rigorously than he doth the reprobate. David's troubles and pains were partly
external, partly internal: external I call those that were cast on his body;
internal upon his conscience. And in the body were torments and vexations,
seizing sometimes on his flesh-- which was less painful--sometimes on his bones,
which was more grievous, yea, almost intolerable, as experience teacheth. And
this is God's just recompense; when we bestow our strength on sin, God abates
it, and so weakens us. Samson spent his strength on Delilah, but to what
weakness was he brought! Let us, therefore, learn, that God hath given us bones
and the strength thereof for another use, that is, to serve him, and not waste
or be prodigal of them in the devil's service. Archibald Symson.
Verse 3. My bones waxed old. By bones, the strength of the
body, the inward strength and vigour of the soul is meant. The conscience of
sin, and the terror of judgment doth break the heart of a true penitent, so long
as he beholdeth his sin deserving death, his judge ready to pronounce the
sentence of it, hell open to receive him for it, and the evil angels, God's
executioners, at hand to hurry him to it. Samuel Page, in "David's Broken
Verse 3. My bones waxed old through my roaring all the day
long. David here not only mourns for sin as a man, but he roars, as it were,
like a pained beast. He seems fitter for a wilderness to cry out, than for a
secret chamber to weep in; at other times he can "water his couch" in the night,
now he "roars" all the day long; at other times, "his moisture is
dried, "now his "bones, "the pillars of his house shake and wax old.
Alexander Carmichael, 1677.
Verse 4. Thy hand. A correcting hand, whereby God
scourges and buffets his own children. Now the sense of God's power punishing or
correcting, is called God's hand, as 1Sa 5:11. The hand of God was sore at
Ekron, because of the ark; and a heavy hand in resemblance, because when
men smite they lay their hand heavier than ordinary. Hence, we may note three
points of doctrine: first, that all afflictions are God's hand; secondly, that
God lays his hand heavily often upon his dear children; thirdly, that God often
continues his heavy hand night and day on them. Thomas Taylor.
Verse 4. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer.
Another meaning may be attributed to these words. We may suppose the psalmist to
be referring to spiritual drought. Charles H. Bingham, B.A., in
"Lectures on the Thirty-second Psalm," 1836.
Verse 4. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer.
The summer is from the middle of August to the middle of November. The intensity
of the heat is great, and almost intolerable...Up to the beginning or middle of
September there are no showers, rain being as scarce in summer as snow...The dry
grass of the fields sometimes takes fire, and produces desolating
conflagrations, and the parched earth is cleft and broken into chasms. John
Eadie, D.D., LL.D., in Biblical Cyclopaedia, 1868.
Verse 4. The drought of summer. Dr. Russell, in his account
of the weather at Aleppo, which very much resembles that of Judea, says that the
verdure of the spring fades before the middle of May, and before the end of that
month the whole country puts on so parched and barren an aspect that one would
scarce think it capable of producing anything, there being but very few plants
that have vigour enough to resist the extreme heat. Thomas Harmer's
Verse 4. The drought of summer. During the twelve years from
1846 to 1859 only two slight showers fell in Jerusalem between the months of May
and October. One fell in July, 1858, another in June 1859. Dr. Whitty's
"Water Supply of Jerusalem," quoted in Kitto's Cyclopaedia.
Verse 4. If God striketh those so sore whom he favoureth,
how sharply and sore will he strike them whom he favoureth not. Gregory.
Verses 4-5. If our offences have been not gnats, but camels,
our sorrow must be not a drop, but an ocean. Scarlet sins call for bloody tears;
and if Peter sin heinously he must weep bitterly. If, then, thy former life hath
been a cord of iniquity, twisted with many threads, a writing full of great
blots, a course spotted with various and grievous sins, multiply thy confessions
and enlarge thy humiliation; double thy fastings and treble thy prayers; pour
out thy tears, and fetch deep sighs; in a word, iterate and aggravate thy
acknowledgments, though yet, as the apostle saith in another case, I say in
this, "Grieve not as without hope, "that upon thy sincere and suitable
repentance divine goodness will forgive thee thy sins. Nathanael Hardy.
Verse 5. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have
I not hid. The godly man is ingenuous in laying open his sins. The
hypocrite doth vail and smother his sin; he doth not abscindere
peccatum, but abscondere; like a patient that hath some loathsome
disease in his body, he will rather die than confess his disease; but a godly
man's sincerity is seen in this--he will confess and shame himself for sin. "Lo,
I have sinned, and I have done wickedly." 2Sa 24:17. Nay, a child of God will
confess sin in particular; an unsound Christian will confess sin by wholesale;
he will acknowledge he is a sinner in general, whereas David doth, as it were,
point with his finger to the sore: "I have done this evil" Ps 51:4; he doth not
say I have done evil, but this evil. He points at his blood guiltiness.
Verse 5. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord;
and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Be thine own accuser in
the free confession of thy sins. Peccavi pater (as the prodigal child),
"Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight." For it fares not in
the court of heaven as it doth in our earthly tribunals. With men a free
confession makes way for a condemnation; but with God, the more a sinner bemoans
his offence, the more he extenuates the anger of his Judge. Sin cannot but call
for justice, as it is an offence against God; yet, when once it is a wound to
the soul it moveth him to mercy and clemency. Wherefore as David having but
resolved to confess his sins, was accosted eftsoon with an absolution: so, Tu
agnosce, et Dominus ignoscet (Augustine.) Be thou unfeigned in confessing,
and God will be faithful in forgiving. 1Jo 1:9. Only let confessio
peccati be professo desinendi (Hilary.) --the acknowledgment of
thy sin an obligation to leave it; and then thou mayest build upon it. "He that
confesseth and forsaketh shall have mercy." Pr 28:13. Isaac Craven's Sermon
at Paul's Cross, 1630
Verse 5. I said, I will confess, etc. Justified persons, who
have their sins forgiven, are yet bound to confess sin to God...There are many
queries to be dispatched in the handling of this point. The first query is, what
are the reasons why persons justified and pardoned are yet bound to make
confession of sin unto God in private? The reasons are six. First, they are to
confess sin unto God because holy confession gives a great deal of ease and holy
quiet unto the mind of a sinner: concealed and indulged guilt contracts horror
and dread on the conscience. Secondly, because God loves to hear the complaints
and the confessions of his own people. Lying on the face is the best gesture,
and the mourning weed the best garment that God is well pleased with. A third
reason is, because confession of sin doth help to quicken the heart to strong
and earnest supplication to God (see Ps 32:6). Confession is to the soul as the
whetstone is to the knife, that sharpens it and puts an edge on it; so doth
confession of sin. Confessing thy evils to God doth sharpen and put an edge on
thy supplication; that man will pray but faintly that doth confess sin but
slightly. A fourth reason is, because confession of sin will work a holy
contrition and a godly sorrow in the heart. Ps 38:18. Declaration doth work
compunction. Confession of sin is but the causing of sin to recoil on the
conscience, which causeth blushing and shame of face, and grief of heart. A
fifth reason is, because secret confession of sin doth give a great deal of
glory to God. It gives glory to God's justice. I do confess sin, and do confess
God in justice may damn me for my sin. It gives glory to God's mercy. I confess
sin, yet mercy may save me. It gives glory to God's omniscience. In confessing
sin I do acknowledge that God knoweth my sin. A sixth reason why justified
persons must confess sin unto God is, because holy confession of sin will
embitter sin, and endear Christ to them, when a man shall let sin recoil on his
conscience, by a confession. Condensed from Christopher Love's "Soul's
Verse 5. I said, I will confess...and thou forgavest. It
remaineth as a truth, remission is undoubtedly annexed to confession. Tantum
valent tres syllabae PEC-CA-VI, saith St. Austin, of so great force are
those three syllables in the Latin, three words in the English, when uttered
with a contrite heart, "I have sinned." Nathanael Hardy.
Verse 5. Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. This sin
seems very probably to have been his adultery with Bathsheba, and murder of
Uriah. Now David, to make the pardoning mercy of God more illustrious, saith he
did not only forgive his sin, but the iniquity of his sin; and
what was that? Surely the worst that can be said of that, his complicated sin,
is that there was so much hypocrisy in it, he woefully juggled with God and man
in it; this, I do not doubt to say, was the iniquity of his sin, and put
a colour deeper on it than the blood which he shed. And the rather--I lay the
accent there--because God himself, when he would set out the heinousness of this
sin, seems to do it rather from the hypocrisy in the fact than the fact itself,
as appears by the testimony given this holy man 1Ki 15:5: "David did that which
was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he
commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the
Hittite." Were there not other false steps which David took beside this? Doth
the Spirit of God, by excepting this, declare his approbation of all that else
he ever did? No, sure the Spirit of God records other sins that escaped this
eminent servant of the Lord; but all those are drowned here, and this mentioned
is the only stain of his life. But why? Surely because there appeared less
sincerity, yea, more hypocrisy in this one sin than in all his others put
together; though David in them was wrong as to the matter of his actions, yet
his heart was more right in the manner of committing them. But here his
sincerity was sadly wounded, though not to the total destruction of the habit,
yet to lay it in a long swoon, as to any actings thereof. And truly the wound
went very deep when that grace was stabbed in which did run the life blood of
all the rest. We see, then, God hath reason, though his mercy prompted him, yea,
his covenant obliged him, not to let his child die of this wound, yet so to heal
it that a scar might remain upon the place, a mark upon the sin, whereby others
might know how odious hypocrisy is to God. William Gurnall.
Verse 5. Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. We must
observe the matter forgiven, and the manner of forgiving. The
matter forgiven is the iniquity of his sin. It is disputed what is here
meant by iniquity, whether culpa or paena. Some understand
paenam, and think that an allusion is made in this word unto the message
of Nathan, wherein God doth remit the heaviest stroke of his wrath, but yet
retains some part in punishing the child, and permitting Absalom to rebel and
abuse king David's concubines: so Theodoret, Deus non condigna paena Davidem
punivit. Some understand culpam, and will have this phrase to be an
amplification of that, as if superbia defendens, or taciturnitas
celans, or impietas contra Deum assurgens, or some such great guilt
were meant by this phrase. But as I do not censure these opinions, which may
well stand, so I think the phrase looks back into that word which was in the
confession. The sin confessed was (evp) and this is but an analysis of this word; for (ytajx Nwe), what is it, word for word, but the
perverseness of my aberration? (hajx) is an aberration from the scope or mark whereat we aim; all
men aim at felicity, but most men stray from it, because they are not led by the
law that guides unto it, the violating whereof is called (hajx) But some do stray out of mere ignorance, and
they only break the law; some out of stubbornness, which will not submit
themselves to the Lawgiver; these men's sin is called perverseness, which
God is said here to forgive. So that David did not confess more against himself
than God includes in his pardon. Well may God exceed our desire; he never doth
come short thereof if it do concern our spiritual, our eternal good. As he doth
exclude no sinner that doth confess, so doth he except against no sin that is
confessed. Arthur Lake.
Verse 6. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto
thee in a time when thou mayest be found, etc. Seeing he is such a
God, who should refuse or delay his return! Surely every rational and pious mind
will, without delay, invoke so gentle and mild a Lord; will pray to him while
he is exorable, or, as the Hebrew expresses it, in a time of finding.
For he who promises pardon, does not promise tomorrow. There are tempora
fandi --certain times in which he may be spoken with, and a certain appointed
day of pardon and of grace, which if a man by stupid perverseness despise, or by
sloth neglect, surely he is justly overwhelmed with eternal might and misery,
and must necessarily perish by the deluge of divine wrath; since he has
contemned and derided that Ark of salvation which was prepared, and in which
whoever enters into it shall be safe, while the world is perishing. Robert
Verse 6. For this shall every one that is godly pray to thee,
saith David. For this! What? Because of his sins. And who? Not the
most wicked, but the godly, in this respect, have cause to pray. And for
what should he pray? Surely, for renewed pardon, for increase of grace, and for
the perfection of glory. We cannot say we have no sin. Oh, then let us pray with
David, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord!" Where there is a
double emphasis observable, it is not ab hoste, but a servo.
Though God's servant, yet he would not have God to enter into judgment with him.
And again, ne intres, it is the very entrance into judgment that he
dreads, and prayeth against; not only do not proceed, but do not so much
as enter. Nathanael Hardy.
Verse 6. For this shall every one that is godly. We are here
furnished with a fact which does not appear in the history of David. It is
commonly supposed that after his grievous fall, till Nathan reproved him, he had
been careless and stupefied; and this has often been adduced as a proof of the
hardening nature of sin. But the thing was far otherwise. He was all the while
tortured in his mind, yet unwilling to humble himself before God, and condemn
himself before men, as he ought to have done. He kept silence and endeavoured to
pass off the distress by time, palliation, and excuse. But the repression and
concealment of his anguish preyed not only upon his peace, but his health, and
endangered life itself. At length he was reduced to the deepest penitence, and
threw himself, by an unqualified confession, on the compassion of God. For
this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee. Here we see not
only that all the godly pray, but every one of them prays for pardon. This is
the very thing which our Saviour teaches his disciples: "When ye pray, say,
Forgive us our trespasses." And this praying does not only regard the
manifestation of forgiving mercy, as some would have it, but the exercise of it.
Verse 6. Godly. A godly man is like God, he hath the same
judgment with God! he thinks of things as God doth; he hath a God like
disposition; he partakes of the divine nature. 2Pe 1:4. A godly man doth bear
God's name and image: godliness is God likeness. Thomas Watson.
Verse 6. A time. There be seasons, which, if taken, sweeten
actions, and open the door for their better entertainment: Pr 25:11, "A word
fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver; "the Hebrew is, A
word spoken upon its wheels: fit times and seasons are wheels to carry words
with great advantage. And so for actions; when things are done in due time they
are beautiful, acceptable. When God gives rain to a land in season, how
acceptable is it! when a tree bears fruit in its season, it is grateful: so when
angels or men do things seasonably, it is pleasing to the Lord Christ: there are
fit times, which, if we miss, actions are unlovely, and miss of their aims.
For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when
thou mayest be found. There are times, if we have the wisdom to discern
them, when prayer will be seasonable, acceptable, effectual. William
Verse 6. Surely in the floods of great waters they shall not
come nigh unto him. The effects of prayer heretofore have been
wonderful. Prayer hath sent down hailstones from heaven to overcome five kings
with their armies. Prayer hath shut up the windows of heaven that it should not
rain, and again hath opened them that the earth might give her increase. Prayer
hath stayed the swift course of the sun and caused it to go backward fifteen
degrees. Prayer hath held God's hands that he could not strike when he was ready
to plague his people. Prayer without any other help or means hath thrown down
the strong walls of Jericho. Prayer hath divided the sea that the floods thereof
could not come near the Israelites. In this place it delivereth the faithful man
from all the dangers of this world. Surely in the floods of many waters they
shall not come nigh unto him. The sum is this, That no calamity of
this world, no troubles of this life, no terrors of death, no guiltiness of sin,
can be so great, but that a godly man by means of his faith and felicity
in Christ shall wade out of them well enough. For howsoever other things go,
still he shall have such a solace in his soul, such a comfort in his conscience,
such a heaven in his heart, knowing himself reconciled to God and justified by
faith, that, Surely in the floods of many waters they shall not come
nigh unto him. Which, that it may better appear, I shall desire you to
observe two things, the danger, the deliverance. The danger is in these words,
In the floods of many waters; where the tribulations that the
godly man is subject to in this life are likened, first, to waters; then
to many waters; thirdly, to a flood of many waters. The
deliverance is in these words, Surely they shall not come near him;
where the deliverance of the godly man hath three degrees also. First, "they
shall not come near; "secondly, him, "they shall not come near
him; "then, surely--"surely they shall not come near him."
Verse 6. The floods of great waters. The afflictions of the
faithful are likened to waters. Fire and water have no mercy, we say. But
of the two water is the worst. For any fire may be quenched with water; but the
force of water, if it begins to be violent, cannot by any power of man, be
resisted. But these our tribulations which are waters are "many
waters." Our common proverb is, "Seldom comes sorrow alone:" but as waters come
rolling and waving many together, so the miseries of this life. Thomas
Verse 6. Floods of great waters. Unfamiliar with the sudden
flooding of thirsty water courses, we seldom comprehend the full force of the
most striking images in the Old and New Testaments. W.J. Conybeare, and J.S.
Howson, in "Life and Epistles of St. Paul."
Verse 6. In the floods, etc. Washed he may be, as Paul was
in the shipwreck, but not drowned with those floods of great waters: be they
never so great they are bounded. Joseph Trapp.
Verse 6. Him. This word must in no case be omitted; it
helpeth us to answer a very strong objection. For it may be said, Many holy men
have lost their goods, have suffered great torments in their body, have been
troubled also in mind; how then did not the "floods of many waters" come near
them? The word him helps us to answer. The very philosophers themselves
reckoned their goods pertained no more to them, than, be it spoken with
reverence and regard, the parings of their nails. Zenon hearing news he had lost
all he had by sea, said only thus, Thou hast done very well, Fortune, to leave
me nothing but my cloak. Another, called Anaxarchus, when as Nicocreon the
tyrant commanded he should be beaten to death in a mortar, spake thus to the
executioner, Beat and bray as long as thou wilt Anaxarchus his bag or satchel
(so he called his own body), but Anaxarchus thou canst not touch. Yet these,
making so small reckoning of their goods and body, set their minds
notwithstanding at a high rate. The mind of a man is himself, say they. Hence it
is that Julius Caesar, when Amyclas the pilot was greatly afraid of the tempest,
spake to him thus: What meanest thou to fear, base fellow? dost thou not know
thou carriest Caesar with thee? As if he should say, Caesar's body may well be
drowned, as any other man's may; but his mind, his magnanimity, his valour, his
fortitude, can never be drowned. Thus far went philosophy; but divinity goeth a
degree further. For philosophy defines him, that is, a man, by his
reason, and the moral virtues of the mind; but divinity defines a Christian man
by his faith, and his conjunction thereby with Christ. Excellently saith Saint
Austin: Whence comes it that the soul dieth? Because faith is not in it. Whence
that the body dieth? Because a soul is not in it. Therefore the soul of thy soul
is faith. So that if we would know what is a faithful man, we must define him,
not by his natural soul, as he is reasonable, but by the soul of his soul, which
is his faith. And then we easily answer the objection, that a flood may come
near a faithful man's goods, near his body, near his reasonable soul; but to his
faith, that is, to HIM, it can never come near. Thomas Playfere.
Verse 6. Few verses in the Psalms are harder to be
understood than this: and none has given rise to more varied expositions among
the commentators. For this. Some will have it: encouraged by this
example, that after so foul a fall God so readily forgave. Others again: for
this, namely, warned by this example, they who are holy shall make their
prayers that they may not be permitted to fall as David did. Whichever be the
sense, they well argue from this passage, that the state of absolute and
enduring perfection is impossible to a Christian in this life. Lorinus, and
Cajetan (1469-1534), quoted by Neale.
Verse 7. Thou art my hiding place. David does not say, "Thou
art a hiding place" merely, as one among many; or the "hiding place, "as
the only one; but, "Thou art my hiding place." There lies all the
excellency of the text. "He is mine; I have embraced the offer of his
salvation, "says David; "I have applied to him in my own person: I have, as a
sinner, taken shelter in his love and compassion; I have placed myself under his
wings; I have covered myself with the robe of his righteousness; and now,
therefore, I am safe." "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered." This is having a part and a lot in the matter, having the
personal and individual benefit of the Saviour's work of atonement. How
different is an appropriating from a speculative faith! Men tell
us that they believe the doctrine, that they acknowledge the truth, that they
assent to our creed; and they say, that to declare to them the character of
Christ as the sinner's only help and safety, is merely putting before them what
they already know. Now, follow up the idea suggested by the figure in our text,
and see the folly and danger of acting thus. Suppose a traveller upon a bleak
and exposed heath to be alarmed by the approach of a storm. He looks out for
shelter. But if his eye discern a place to hide him from the storm, does he
stand still and say, "I see there is a shelter, and therefore I may
remain where I am"? Does he not betake himself to it? Does he not run, in order
to escape the stormy wind and tempest? It was a "hiding place" before; but it
was his hiding place only when he ran into it, and was safe. Had he not
gone into it, though it might have been a protection to a thousand other
travellers who resorted there, to him it would have been as if no such place
existed. Who does not see at once, from this simple illustration, that the
blessings of the gospel are such only in their being appropriated
to the soul? The physician can cure only by being applied to; the
medicine can heal only by being taken; money can enrich only by being
possessed; and the merchantman in the parable would have been none the
wealthier for discovering that there was a "pearl of great price, "had he not
made it his. So with the salvation of the gospel: if Christ is the "Balm
in Gilead, "apply the remedy; if he is the "physician there, "go to him;
if he is the "pearl of great price, "sell all that you have and buy it;
and if he is the "hiding place, "run into it and be safe; there will be
no solid joy and peace in the mind until he is your "hiding place."
Fountain Elwin, 1842.
Verse 7. Thou art my hiding place. An allusion, probably, to
the city of refuge. Adam Clarke.
Verse 7. Hiding place. Kirke White has a beautiful hymn upon
this word, beginning, "Awake, sweet harp of Judah, wake." We have no room to
quote it, but it will be found in "Our Own Hymn Book, "No. 381.
Verse 7. Thou shalt preserve me from trouble. If we content
ourselves with that word which our translators have chosen here, trouble,
we must rest in one of these two senses; either that God shall arm, and
indue those that are his with such a constancy, as those things that trouble
others shall not trouble them; but, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in them,
so their consolation also aboundeth by Christ:" "As unknown, and yet well known;
as dying, and behold we live; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet
making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" 2Co 1:5 6:9;
for God uses both these ways in the behalf of his servants--sometimes to suspend
the working of that that should work their torment, as he suspended the rage of
the lions for Daniel, and the heat of the fire in the furnace for the others;
sometimes by imprinting a holy stupefaction and insensibleness in the person
that suffers; so St. Lawrence was not only patient, but merry and facetious when
he lay broiling upon the fire, and so we read of many other martyrs that have
been less moved, less affected with their torments than their executioners or
their persecutors have been. That which troubled others never troubled them; or
else the phrase must have this sense, that though they be troubled with their
troubles, though God submit them so far to the common condition of men, that
they be sensible of them, yet he shall preserve them from that trouble so as
that it shall never overthrow them, never sink them into a dejection of spirit,
or diffidence in his mercy! they shall find storms, but a stout and strong ship
under foot; they shall feel thunder and lightning, but garlands of triumphant
bays shall preserve them; they shall be trodden into earth with scorns and
contempt, but yet as seed is buried, to multiply to more. So far this word of
our translators assists our devotion, Thou shalt preserve me from trouble,
thou shalt make me insensible of it, or thou shalt make me victorious in it.
Verse 7. Thou shalt compass me about with songs of
deliverance. In these words the prophet David riseth up by a gradation, and
goeth beyond that which he had formerly said concerning his confidence in God.
First, he had said that God was his hiding place; secondly, that he would
preserve him in trouble; and now, thirdly, that the Lord would make him
joyful, and to triumph over his troubles and enemies, by compassing him,
instead of troubles, with mercies... Learn to acknowledge God's goodness to
thyself with particular application, as David saith here, "Thou shalt compass
me about with songs of deliverance." Not only confess his goodness to
others, as to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; nor only his deliverance of Noah, Daniel,
Lot; but also his mercies to and deliverance of thyself, as Paul did: "Christ
gave himself for me, and died for me." Ga 2:20. This will
exceedingly whet up thankfulness; whereas only to acknowledge God good in
himself, or to others, and not to thyself, will make thee murmur and repine.
Verse 7. Thou shalt compass me about. This word imports,
that as we are besieged on every side with troubles, so we are compassed with as
many comforts and deliverances; as our crosses grow daily, so our consolations
are augmented day by day. We are on every side offended and on every side
defended; therefore we ought on every side to sound God's praise, as David
saith, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me." Ps 103:1.
Verse 7. Songs of deliverance. In that he will not be
content only with thanks, but also will have them conjoined with songs,
he letteth us see how high all the strings of his heart are bent that he
cannot contain himself for the mercies of God to his church, and for his
manifold deliverances for the same. Many sing praises to God with an half open
mouth; and, albeit, they can sing aloud any filthy ballad in their house, they
make the mean, I warrant you, in the church, that scarce can they hear the sound
of their own voice. I think they be ashamed to proclaim and show forth God's
praises, or they fear to deafen God by their loud singing; but David bent all
his forces within and without to praise his God. Archibald Symson.
Verse 8. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which
thou shalt go. No other than God himself can undertake so much as is
promised in the text. For here is faith, a rectifying of the understanding, I
will instruct thee, and in the original there is somewhat more than our
translation reaches to; it is there, Intelligere faciam te, I will make thee
understand. Man can instruct, God only can make us understand. And then it
is Faciam te, I will make thee, thee understand; the work
is the Lord's, the understanding is the man's: for God does not work in man as
the devil did in idols and in pythonissis, and in ventriloquis, in
possessed persons, who had no voluntary concurrence with the action of the
devil, but were merely passive; God works so in man as that he makes man work
too, faciam te, I will make thee understand; that that shall be done by
me, but in thee; the power that rectifies the act is God's, the act is man's;
Faciam te, says God, I will make thee, thee, every particular person (for
that arises out of this singular and distributive word, thee, which
threatens no exception, no exclusion), I will make every person to whom I
present instruction, capable of that instruction; and if he receive it not, it
is only his, and not my fault. And so this first part is an instruction de
credendis, of such things, as by God's rectifying of our understanding we
are bound to believe. And then, in a second part, there follows a more
particular instructing, Docebo, "I will teach thee, "and that
in via, "in the way; "it is not only de via, to teach thee which
is the way, that thou mayest find it, but in via, how to keep the way
when thou art in it; he will teach thee, not only ut gradiaris, that you
may walk in it and not sleep, but quomodo gradieris, that you may walk in
it and not stray; and so this second part is an institution de agendis,
of those things which, thine understanding being formerly rectified, and
deduced into a belief, thou art bound to do. And then in the last words of the
text, I will guide thee with mine eye, there is a third part, and
establishment, a confirmation by an incessant watchfulness in God; he will
consider, consult upon us (for so much the original word imports), he will not
leave us to contingencies, to fortune; no, nor to his own general providence, by
which all creatures are universally in his protection and administration, but he
will ponder us, consider us, study us; and that with his eye, which is the
sharpest and most sensible organ and instrument, soonest feels if anything be
amiss, and so inclines him quickly to rectify us; and so this third part is an
instruction de sperandis, it hath evermore a relation to the future, to
the constancy and perseverance of God's goodness towards us; to the end, and in
the end he will guide us with his eye: except the eye of God can be put out we
cannot be put out of his sight and his care. So that, both our freight which we
are to take in, that is, what we are to believe concerning God; and the voyage
which we are to make, how we are to steer and govern our course, that is, our
behaviour and conversation in the household of the faithful; and then the haven
to which we must go, that is, our assurance of arriving at the heavenly
Jerusalem, are expressed in this chart, in this map, in this instruction, in
this text. John Donne.
Verse 8. This threefold repetition, I will instruct thee,
I will teach thee, I will guide thee, teaches us three properties of
a good teacher. First, to make the people understand the way of salvation;
secondly, to go before them; thirdly, to watch over them and their ways.
Verse 8. The way. If we compare this way with all other
ways, it will whet our care to enter into and continue in it; for, first, this
is the King's highway, in which we have promise of protection. Ps 91:11.
Secondly, God's ways are the cleanest of all. 2Sa 22:31. Thirdly, God's
ways are the rightest ways; and, being rightest, they be also the
shortest ways. Ho 14:9. Fourthly, God's ways are most lightsome and
cheerful. Pr 3:17. Therefore, God's ways being the safest, cleanest,
rightest, shortest, and lightsomest ways, we must be careful to walk in them.
Condensed from Thomas Taylor.
Verse 8. I will guide thee with mine eye. We read in natural
story (A reviewer remarks upon the bad natural history which we quote. We reply
that to alter it would be to spoil the allusions, and we are making a book for
men, not for babes. No person in his senses is likely at this day to believe the
fables which in former ages passed current for facts.), of some creatures,
Qui solo oculorum aspectu fovent ova (Pliny), which hatch their
eggs only by looking upon them. What cannot the eye of God produce and hatch in
us? Plus est quod probatur aspectu, quam quod sermone (Ambrose.) A
man may seem to commend in words, and yet his countenance shall dispraise. His
word infuses good purposes into us; but if God continue his eye upon us it is a
further approbation, for he is a God of pure eyes, and will not look upon the
wicked. "This land doth the Lord thy God care for, and the eyes of the Lord are
always upon it from beginning of the year, even to the end thereof." De 11:12.
What a cheerful spring, what a fruitful autumn hath that soul, that hath the eye
of the Lord always upon her! The eye of the Lord upon me makes midnight noon; it
makes Capricorn Cancer, and the winter's the summer's solstice; the eye of the
Lord sanctifies, nay, more than sanctifies, glorifies all the eclipses of
dishonour, makes melancholy cheerfulness, diffidence assurance, and turns the
jealousy of the sad soul into infallibility...This guiding us with his eye
manifests itself in these two great effects; conversion to him, and union with
him. First, his eye works upon ours; his eye turns ours to look upon him. Still
it is so expressed with an Ecce; "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon all
them that fear him; "his eye calls ours to behold that; and then our eye calls
upon his, to observe our cheerful readiness...When, as a well made picture doth
always look upon him that looks upon it, this image of God in our soul is turned
to him, by his turning to it, it is impossible we should do any foul, any
uncomely thing in his presence...The other great effect of his guiding us with
his eye, is, that it unites us to himself; when he fixes his eye upon us, and
accepts the return of ours to him, then he "keeps" us as the "apple" of his
"eye." Zec 2:8 ...These are the two great effects of his guiding us by his eye,
that first, his eye turns us to himself, and then turns us into himself; first,
his eye turns ours to him, and then, that makes us all one with himself, so as
that our afflictions shall be put upon his patience, and our dishonours shall be
injurious to him; we cannot be safer than by being his; but thus we are not only
his, but he; to every persecutor, in every one of our behalf, he shall say,
Cur me? Why persecutest thou me? And as he is all power, and can defend
us, so here he makes himself all eye, which is the most tender part, and most
sensible of our pressures. Condensed from John Donne.
Verse 8. I will guide thee with mine eye. Margin, I
will counsel thee, mine eye shall be upon thee. The
margin expresses the sense of the Hebrew. The literal meaning is, "I will
counsel thee; mine eyes shall be upon thee." De Wette: "my eye shall be directed
towards thee." The idea is that of one who is telling another what way he
is to take in order that he may reach a certain place; and he says he will watch
him, or will keep an eye upon him; he will not let him go wrong. Albert
Verse 8. Mine eye. We may consider mercies as the beamings
of the Almighty's eye, when the light of his countenance is lifted up upon us;
and that man as guided by the eye, whom mercies attract and attach to his Maker.
But oh! let us refuse to be guided by the eye, and it will become needful that
we be curbed with the hand. If we abuse our mercies, if we forget their Author,
and yield him not gratefully the homage of our affections, we do but oblige him,
by his love for our souls, to apportion us disaster and trouble. Complain not,
then, that there is so much of sorrow in your lot; but consider rather how much
of it you may have wilfully brought upon yourselves. Listen to the voice of God.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go;
I will guide thee with mine eye --mine eye, whose glance gilds all that is
beautiful, whose light disperses all darkness, prevents all danger, diffuses all
happiness. And why, then, is it that ye are sorely disquieted? why is it that
"fear and the pit" are so often upon you; that one blessing after another
disappears from your circle; and that God seems to deal with you as with the
wayward and unruly, on whom any thing of gentleness would be altogether lost?
Ah! if you would account for many mercies that have departed, if you would
insure permanence to those that are yet left, examine how deficient you may
hitherto have been, and strive to be more diligent for the future, in obeying an
admonition which implies that we should be guided by the soft lusters of the
eye, if our obduracy did not render indispensable the harsh constraints of the
rein. Henry Melvill.
Verse 9. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, etc. How
many run mad of this cause, inordinate and furious lusts! The prophet Jeremiah,
Jer 2:24, compares Israel to "a swift dromedary, traversing her ways, "and to "a
wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure."
Be ye not, said the psalmographer, "as the horse, or as the mule, which
have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle." Men
have understanding, not beasts; yet when the frenzy of lust overwhelms their
senses, we may take up the word of the prophet and pour it on them: "Every man
is a beast by his own knowledge." And therefore "man that is in honour and
understandeth not, is like unto beasts that perish" Ps 49:20. Did not the bridle
of God's overruling providence restrain their madness, they would cast off the
saddle of reason, and kick nature itself in the face. Thomas Adams.
Verse 9. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, etc.
According to the several natures of these two beasts, the fathers and other
expositors have made several interpretations; at least, several allusions. They
consider the horse and the mule to admit any rider, any burden, without
discretion or difference, without debate or consideration; they never ask
whether their rider be noble or base, nor whether their load be gold for the
treasure, or roots for the market. And those expositors find the same
indifference in an habitual sinner to any kind of sin; whether he sin for
pleasure, or sin for profit, or sin but for company, still he sins. They
consider in the mule, that one of his parents being more ignoble than the other,
he is like the worst, he hath more of the ass than of the horse in him; and they
find in us, that all our actions and thoughts taste more of the more ignoble
part of the earth than of heaven. St. Hierome thinks fierceness and rashness to
be presented in the horse, and sloth in the mule. And St. Augustine carries
these two qualities far; he thinks that in this fierceness of the horse the
Gentiles are represented, which ran far from the knowledge of Christianity; and
by the laziness of the mule the Jews, who came nothing so fast, as they were
invited by their former helps to the embracing thereof. They have gone far in
these allusions and applications; and they might have gone as far further as it
had pleased them; they have sea room enough, that will compare a beast and a
sinner together; and they shall find many times, in the way, the beast the
better man. John Donne.
Verse 9. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, etc.
Consider the causes why a broken leg is incurable in a horse, and easily curable
in a man. The horse is incapable of counsel to submit himself to the farrier;
and therefore in case his leg be set he flings, flounces, and flies out,
unjointing it again by his misemployed mettle, counting all binding to be
shackles and fetters unto him: whereas a man willingly resigns himself to be
ordered by the surgeon, preferring rather to be a prisoner for some days,
than a cripple all his life. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which
have no understanding; but "let patience have its perfect work in
thee." Jas 1:4. Thomas Fuller.
Verse 9. Bit and bridle (Norw-ntk) The LXX render the first of these two words by
calinw, the second by kemw. The word calinos signifies the iron of the common bridle, which is put into
the horse's mouth, the bit, or curb. But kemoz was something like a muzzle, which was put upon mischievous
horses or mules to keep them from biting. Xenephon says, that it allowed them to
breathe, but kept the mouth shut, so that they could not bite. Not knowing the
term of art for this contrivance, I call it a muzzle. The verb (brq) is a military term, and signifies to advance, as
an enemy, to attack. The "coming near, "therefore, intended here, is a coming
near to do mischief. The admonition given by the psalmist to his companions, is
to submit to the instruction and guidance graciously promised from heaven, and
not to resemble, in a refractory disposition, those ill conditioned colts which
are not to be governed by a simple bridle; but, unless their jaws are confined
by a muzzle, will attack the rider as he attempts to mount, or the groom as he
leads them to the pasture and the stable. Samuel Horsley.
Verse 9. Lest they come near unto thee. The common version
of this clause would be suitable enough in speaking of a wild beast, but in
reference to a mule or a horse the words can only mean, because they will not
follow or obey thee of their own accord; they must be constantly coerced, in the
way both of compulsion and restraint. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 9. "Be ye not like a horse or mule, which have no
understanding, and whose ornament is a bridle and bit, to hold them: they do not
come unto thee of themselves." Charles Carter, in "The Book of
Psalms." 1869. A new Translation.
Verse 10. He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass
him about. Even as in the midst of the sphere is the centre, from
which all lines being drawn do tend towards their circumference: so a good
Christian man hath God for his circumference; for whatever he thinketh,
speaketh, or doth, it tendeth to Christ, of whom he is compassed round about.
Verse 10. Mercy shall compass him about. He shall be
surrounded with mercy--as one is surrounded by the air, or by the
sunlight. He shall find mercy and favour everywhere--at home, abroad; by day, by
night; in society, in solitude; in sickness, in health; in life, in death; in
time, in eternity. He shall walk amidst mercies; he shall die amidst mercies; he
shall live in a better world in the midst of eternal mercies. Albert
Verse 10. "Mark that text, "said Richard Adkins to his
grandson Abel, who was reading to him the thirty-second Psalm. "Mark that text,
`He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.' I read it in my
youth and believed it; and now I read it in my old age, thank God, I know it to
be true. Oh! it is a blessed thing in the midst of the joys and sorrows of the
world, Abel, to trust in the Lord." The Christian Treasury, 1848.
Verse 11. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and
shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. This exhortation
containeth three parts. First, what he doth exhort unto, to
rejoice. Secondly, whom, the righteous, and upright men.
Thirdly, the limitation, in the Lord. He exhorteth them three times--be
glad, rejoice, and be joyful; and as he made mention of a threefold blessing, so
doth he of a threefold joy. Wherein we have two things necessary to be observed.
First the dulness of our natures, who as slow horses need many spurs and
provocations to spiritual things, whereas we are naturally overmuch bent to
carnal things, that we need no incitations thereunto. But by the contrary in
spiritual things, we are cast into a deep sleep, who cannot be awakened at the
first cry; but as men after drink have need to be roused often, that they may
behold the light; so men drunken with the pleasures of sin, as Nazianzen saith,
must be wakened by divers exhortations; as this same prophet in the subsequent
Psalm redoubles his exhortations for the same effect. And the apostle to the
Philippians saith: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice, "Php
4:4. Next, perceive that this exhortation grows: for the word be glad,
properly in the original signifieth an inward and hearty joy, by the
presence or hope at least of a thing desirable or good. The word rejoice,
to express our joy by some outward gesture, sometimes used for dancing, as,
"The hills skip for gladness." Ps 65:12. The word be joyful, to cry for
gladness, as the dumb man's tongue shall sing. This gradation teacheth us, that
this is the nature of spiritual joy--that it still increaseth in us by certain
degrees, until it come to the perfection of all joy, which is signified by the
last word, importing, as it were, a triumph and shouting after victory. So that
they are truly penitent who have overcome sin and Satan in their spiritual
combat, and have triumphed over them as vanquished enemies. Archibald
Verse 11. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous.
There's never a joyful man alive but a believer. Will you say that men take
pleasure in their sins? Why, that is the Devil's joy; or that they
rejoice in full barns and bags? That is the fool's joy; or that they
rejoice in wine, that is, all dainties that gratify the palate? That is a
Bedlam joy. Read and believe Ec 2:3; indeed, from the first verse to the
eleventh, the whole book, but especially that chapter, is the most divine
philosophy that ever was or will be. Christopher Fowler (1610-1678),
in "Morning Exercises."
Verse 11. Shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
When the poet Carpani enquired of his friend Haydn, how it happened that his
church music was so cheerful, the great composer made a most beautiful reply. "I
cannot, "he said, "make it otherwise, I write according to the thoughts I feel:
when I think upon God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance, and
leap, as it were, from my pen: and, since God has given me a cheerful heart, it
will be pardoned me that I serve him with a cheerful spirit." John
Verse 11. Here the sensual man, that haply would catch hold
when it is said, Rejoice, by and by, when it is added, in the
Lord, will let his hold go. But they that, by reason of the billows and
waves of the troublesome sea of this world, cannot brook the speech when it is
said, Rejoice, are to lay sure hold fast upon it when it is added,
Rejoice in the Lord. Henry Airay.
O sing unto this glittering glorious King.
O praise his name let every living thing;
Let heart and voice, like bells of silver, ring
The comfort that this day doth bring.
--Kinwellmersh, quoted by A. Moody Stuart.
Verse 11. It is storied by the famous Tully concerning
Syracuse, that there is no day throughout the whole year so stormy and
tempestuous in which the inhabitants have not some glimpse and sight of the sun.
The like observation may be truly made on all those Psalms of David in which his
complaints are most multiplied, his fears and pressures most insisted on; that
there is not any of them so totally overcast with the black darkness of despair,
but that we may easily discern them to be here and there intervened and streaked
with some comfortable expressions of his faith and hope in God. If in the
beginning of a Psalm we find him restless in his motions, like Noah's dove upon
the overspreading waters; yet in the close we shall see him like the same dove
returning with an olive branch in its mouth, and fixing upon the ark. If we find
him in another Psalm staggering in the midst of his distresses, through the
prevalence of carnal fears, we may also in it behold him recovering himself
again, by fetching arguments from faith, whose topics are of a higher elevation
than to be shaken by the timorous suggestions that arise from the flesh. If at
another time we behold him like to a boat on drift, that is, tossed and beaten
by the inconstant winds and fierce waves; yet we shall still find all his
rollings and agitations to be such as carry him towards the standing shore,
where he rides at last both in peace and safety. William Spurstowe.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Gospel benedictions. Take the first Psalm with
thirty-second, show the doctrinal and practical harmoniously blended. Or, take
the first, the thirty-second, and the forty-first, and show how we go from
reading the word, to feeling its power, and thence to living charitably towards
Verse 1. Evangelical Blessedness.
1. The original condition of its possessor.
2. The nature of the benefit received.
3. The channel by which it came.
4. The means by which it may be obtained by us.
Verses 1-2. The nature of sin and the modes of pardon.
Verse 2. Non imputation, a remarkable doctrine. --Prove,
explain, and improve it.
Verse 2. No guile. The honesty of heart of the pardoned man.
Verse 3. Retention of our griefs to ourselves.
Natural tendency of timidity and despair; danger of it; means of divulging
grief; encouragements to do so; the blessed person who is ready to hear
confession. The silent mourner the greatest sufferer.
Verses 3-4. "Terrible Conviction and Gentle Drawings." See
"Spurgeon's Sermons, "No. 313.
Verse 4. The sorrows of a convinced soul. Daily, nightly,
from God, heavy, weakening, destroying.
Verse 4. (last clause) Spiritual drought.
Verse 5. The gracious results of a full confession; or,
confession and absolution scripturally explained.
Verse 6. The godly man's picture, drawn with a
Scripture pencil. Thomas Watson.
Verse 6. The experience of one, the encouragement of all.
Verse 6. (first clause). --The day of grace, how to
Verse 6. (whole verse). --Pardon of sin the guarantee
that other mercies shall be given.
Verse 6. (last clause). --Imminent troubles, eminent
Verse 6. (last clause). --The felicity of the
faithful. Thomas Playfere.
Verse 7. Danger felt, refuge known, possession claimed, joy
Verse 7. (first sentence). --Christ, a hiding place
from sin, Satan, and sorrow, in death and at judgment.
Verse 7. (second sentence). --Troubles from which
saints shall be preserved.
Verse 7. (last sentence). --The circle of song--who
draws the circle, what is the circumference, who is in the centre.
Verse 7. Songs of deliverance. From guilt, hell, death,
enemies, doubts, temptations, accidents, plots, etc. The divine schoolmaster, his pupils, their lessons, their
chastisements and their rewards.
Verse 8. The power of the eye. Henry Melvill. In
which he vainly tries to prove infant baptism and episcopacy, which he admits
are not expressly taught in Scripture, but declares them to be hinted at as with
the divine eye.
Verse 9. God's bits and bridles, the mules who need them,
and reasons why we ought not to be of the number.
Verse 9. How far in our actions we are better, and how far
worse than horses and mules.
Verse 10. The many sorrows which result from sin. The
encompassing mercy of the believer's life even in his most troublesome times. The portion of the wicked, and the lot of the faithful.
Verse 11. A believer's gladness. Its spring, "in the
Lord; " its vivacity, "shout; "its propriety, it is commanded;
its beautiful results and its abundant reasons.
Verse 11. Upright in heart, an instructive description. Not
horizontal or grovelling, nor bent, nor inclined, but vertical in heart.
WORKS UPON THE THIRTY-SECOND PSALM
This treatyse concernynge the fruytful sonnges of David the
Kynge & prophete in the seuen penytencyall psalmes. Deuyded in seuen sermons
was made and compyled by the ryght reuerent fader In god Juhau fyssher doctore
of dyuynyte & bysshop of Rochester at the exortacyo and sterynge of the most
excellet princesse Margarete contesse of Rychemont and Derby & moder to our
souerayne lorde Kynge henry the VII.
(No date, but marked in the B.M. Cat. 1509. An 8 volume edition
has on Title Page, An. M.D.J.A.)
David's Learning, or Way to True Happiness: in a Commentarie
upon the 32 Psalme. Preached and now published by THOMAS TAYLOR, late
fellow of Christ's College in Cambridge. London: 1617.
David's Teares. By SIR JOHN HAYWARD, Knight, Doctor of
Lawe. London. Printed by John Bell. 1623. On Psalms VI, XXXII, and CXXX.
Meditations on Psalm XXXII. in Archbishop Leighton's Works.
In the Works of JOHN DONNE: Sermons on Psalm XXXII.
Vols. II., III. Alford's Edition.
A Godly and Fruitful Exposition on the Thirty-second Psalme,
the Third of the Penitentials; in A Sacred Septenarie; or, a Godly
and Fruitful Exposition on the Seven Psalmes of Repentance. By Mr.
ARCHIBALD SYMSON, late Pastor of the Church at Dalkeeth in Scotland. 1638.
Meditations and Disquisitions upon the 32 Psalme, in
Meditations and Disquisitions upon the Seven Psalmes of David, commonly
called the Penitential Psalmes. By SIR RICHARD BAKER, Knight. 1639.
Lectures on the Thirty-second Psalm. By CHARLES H. BINGHAM,
B.A., Curate of Hale Magna. 1836.
Lectures on the Thirty-second Psalm, preached in Portman
Chapel, Baker Street, during Lent, 1859. By the Rev. J. W. REEVE, M.A., Minister
of the Chapel. 1859.