Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. This song of praise bears no title or indication of
authorship; to teach us, says Dickson, "to look upon Holy Scripture as
altogether inspired of God, and not put price upon it for the writers thereof."
SUBJECT AND DIVISION. The praise of Jehovah is the subject
of this sacred song. The righteous are exhorted to praise him, Ps 33:1-3;
because of the excellency of his character, Ps 33:4-5; and his majesty in
creation, Ps 33:6-7. Men are bidden to fear before Jehovah because his purposes
are accomplished in providence, Ps 33:8-11. His people are proclaimed blessed,
Ps 33:12. The omniscience and omnipotence of God, and his care for his people
are celebrated, in opposition to the weakness of an arm of flesh, Ps 33:13-19;
and the Psalm concludes with a fervent expression of confidence, Ps 33:20-21,
and an earnest prayer, Ps 33:22.
Verse 1. Rejoice in the Lord. Joy is the soul of praise. To
delight ourselves in God is most truly to extol him, even if we let no notes of
song proceed from our lips. That God is, and that he is such a God, and our God,
ours for ever and ever, should wake within us an unceasing and overflowing joy.
To rejoice in temporal comforts is dangerous, to rejoice in self is foolish, to
rejoice in sin is fatal, but to rejoice in God is heavenly. He who would have a
double heaven must begin below to rejoice like those above. O ye
righteous. This is peculiarly your duty, your obligations are greater, and
your spiritual nature more adapted to the work, be ye then first in the glad
service. Even the righteous are not always glad, and have need to be stirred up
to enjoy their privileges. For praise is comely for the upright.
God has an eye to things which are becoming. When saints wear their choral
robes, they look fair in the Lord's sight. A harp suits a blood washed hand. No
jewel more ornamental to a holy face than sacred praise. Praise is not comely
from unpardoned professional singers; it is like a jewel of gold in a swine's
snout. Crooked hearts make crooked music, but the upright are the Lord's
delight. Praise is the dress of saints in heaven, it is meet that they should
fit it on below.
Verse 2. Praise the Lord with harp. Men need all the help
they can get to stir them up to praise. This is the lesson to be gathered from
the use of musical instruments under the old dispensation. Israel was at school,
and used childish things to help her to learn; but in these days, when Jesus
gives us spiritual manhood, we can make melody without strings and pipes. We who
do not believe these things to be expedient in worship, lest they should mar its
simplicity, do not affirm them to be unlawful, and if any George Herbert or
Martin Luther can worship God better by the aid of well tunes instruments, who
shall gainsay their right? We do not need them, they would hinder than
help our praise, but if others are otherwise minded, are they not living in
gospel liberty? Sing unto him. This is the sweetest and best of music. No
instrument like the human voice. As a help to singing the instrument is alone to
be tolerated, for keys and strings do not praise the Lord. With the psaltery
and an instrument of ten strings. The Lord must have a full octave,
for all notes are his, and all music belongs to him. Where several pieces of
music are mentioned, we are taught to praise God with all the powers which we
Verse 3. Sing unto him a new song. All songs of praise
should be unto him. Singing for singing's sake is nothing worth; we must
carry our tribute to the King, and not cast it to the winds. Do most worshippers
mind this? Our faculties should be exercised when we are magnifying the Lord, so
as not to run in an old groove without thought; we ought to make every hymn of
praise a new song. To keep up the freshness of worship is a great thing, and in
private it is indispensable. Let us not present old worn out praise, but put
life, and soul, and heart, into every song, since we have new mercies every day,
and see new beauties in the work and word of our Lord. Play skilfully. It
is wretched to hear God praised in a slovenly manner. He deserves the best that
we have. Every Christian should endeavour to sing according to the rules of the
art, so that he may keep time and tune with the congregation. The sweetest tunes
and the sweetest voices, with the sweetest words, are all too little for the
Lord our God; let us not offer him limping rhymes, set to harsh tunes, and
growled out by discordant voices. With a loud noise. Heartiness should be
conspicuous in divine worship. Well bred whispers are disreputable here. It is
not that the Lord cannot hear us, but that it is natural for great exultation to
express itself in the loudest manner. Men shout at the sight of their kings:
shall we offer no loud hosannahs to the Son of David?
Verse 4. For the word of the Lord is right. His ordinances
both natural, moral, and spiritual, are right, and especially his incarnate
Word, who is the Lord our righteousness. Whatever God has ordained must be good,
and just, and excellent. There are no anomalies in God's universe, except what
sin has made; his word of command made all things good. When we look at his word
of promise, and remember its faithfulness, what reasons have we for joy and
thankfulness! And all his works are done in truth. His work is the
outflow of his word, and it is true to it. He neither doth nor saith anything
ill; in deed and speech he agrees with himself and the purest truth. There is no
lie in God's word, and no sham in his works; in creation, providence, and
revelation, unalloyed truth abounds. To act truth as well as to utter it is
divine. Let not children of God ever yield their principles in practice any more
than in heart. What a God we serve! The more we know of him, the more our better
natures approve his surpassing excellence; even his afflicting works are
according to his truthful word.
"Why should I complain of want of distress,
Afflictions or pain? he told me no less;
The heirs of salvation, I know from his word,
Through much tribulation must follow their Lord."
God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue
that never slips, acts with a hand which never fails. Bless his name.
Verse 5. He loveth righteousness and judgment. The theory
and practice of right he intensely loves. He doth not only approve the true and
the just, but his inmost soul delights therein. The character of God is a sea,
every drop of which should become a wellhead of praise for his people. The
righteousness of Jesus is peculiarly dear to the Father, and for its sake he
takes pleasure in those to whom it is imputed. Sin, on the other hand, is
infinitely abhorrent to the Lord, and woe unto those who die in it; if he sees
no righteousness in them, he will deal righteously with them, and judgment stern
and final will be the result. The earth is full of the goodness of the
Lord. Come hither, astronomers, geologists, naturalists, botanists,
chemists, miners, yea, all of you who study the works of God, for all your
truthful stories confirm this declaration. From the midge in the sunbeam to
leviathan in the ocean all creatures own the bounty of the Creator. Even the
pathless desert blazes with some undiscovered mercy, and the caverns of ocean
conceal the treasures of love. Earth might have been as full of terror as of
grace, but instead thereof it teems and overflows with kindness. He who cannot
see it, and yet lives in it as the fish lives in the water, deserves to die. If
earth be full of mercy, what must heaven be where goodness concentrates its
Verse 6. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made. The
angelic heavens, the sidereal heavens, and the firmament or terrestrial heavens,
were all made to start into existence by a word; what if we say by the
Word, "For without him was not anything made that is made." It is interesting to
note the mention of the Spirit in the next clause, and all the host of them
by the breath of his mouth; the breath is the same as is
elsewhere rendered Spirit. Thus the three persons of the Godhead unite in
creating all things. How easy for the Lord to make the most ponderous orbs, and
the most glorious angels! A word, a breath could do it. It is as easy for God to
create the universe as for a man to breathe, nay, far easier, for man breathes
not independently, but borrows the breath in his nostrils from his Maker. It may
be gathered from this verse that the constitution of all things is from the
infinite wisdom, for his word may mean his appointment and determination. A wise
and merciful Word has arranged, and a living Spirit sustains all the creation of
Verse 7. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an
heap. The waters were once scattered like corn strewn upon a threshing
floor: they are now collected in one spot as an heap. Who else could have
gathered them into one channel but their great Lord, at whose bidding the waters
fled away? The miracle of the Red Sea is repeated in nature day by day, for the
sea which now invades the shore under the impulse of sun and moon, would soon
devour the land if bounds were not maintained by the divine decree. He layeth
up the depth in storehouses. The depths of the main are God's great
cellars and storerooms for the tempestuous element. Vast reservoirs of water are
secreted in the bowels of the earth, from which issue our springs and wells of
water. What a merciful provision for a pressing need? May not the text also
refer to the clouds, and the magazines of hail, and snow, and rain, those
treasures of merciful wealth for the fields of earth? These aqueous masses are
not piled away as in lumber rooms, but in storehouses for future beneficial use.
Abundant tenderness is seen in the foresight of our heavenly Joseph, whose
granaries are already filled against earth's time of need. These stores might
have been, as once they were, the ammunition of vengeance, they are now a part
of the commissariat of mercy.
Verse 8. Let all the earth fear the Lord. Not only Jews, but
Gentiles. The psalmist was not a man blinded by national prejudice, he did not
desire to restrict the worship of Jehovah to the seed of Abraham. He looks for
homage even to far off nations. If they are not well enough instructed to be
able to praise, at least let them fear. There is an inferior kind of worship in
the trembling which involuntarily admits the boundless power of the thundering
God. A defiant blasphemer is out of place in a world covered with tokens of the
divine power and Godhead: the whole earth cannot afford a spot congenial for the
erection of a synagogue of Atheism, nor a man in whom it is becoming to profane
the name of God. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of
him. Let them forsake their idols, and reverently regard the only living
God. What is here placed as a wish may also be read as a prophecy: the adoration
of God will yet be universal.
Verse 9. For he spake, and it was done. Creation was the
fruit of a word. Jehovah said, "Light be, "and light was. The Lord's acts are
sublime in their ease and instantaneousness. "What a word is this?" This was the
wondering enquiry of old, and it may be ours to this day. He commanded, and
it stood fast. Out of nothing creation stood forth, and was confirmed in
existence. The same power which first uplifted, now makes the universe to abide;
although we may not observe it, there is as great a display of sublime power in
confirming as in creating. Happy is the man who has learned to lean his all upon
the sure word of him who built the skies!
Verse 10. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to
nought. While his own will is done, he takes care to anticipate the
wilfulness of his enemies. Before they come to action he vanquishes them in the
council chamber; and when, well armed with craft, they march to the assault, he
frustrates their knaveries, and makes their promising plots to end in nothing.
Not only the folly of the heathen, but their wisdom too, shall yield to the
power of the cross of Jesus: what a comfort is this to those who have to labour
where sophistry, and philosophy, falsely so called, are set in opposition to the
truth as it is in Jesus. He maketh the devices of the people of none
effect. Their persecutions, slanders, falsehoods, are like puff balls
flung against a granite wall--they produce no result at all; for the Lord
overrules the evil, and brings good out of it. The cause of God is never in
danger: infernal craft is outwitted by infinite wisdom, and Satanic malice held
in check by boundless power.
Verse 11. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever. He
changes not his purpose, his decree is not frustrated, his designs are
accomplished. God has a predestination according to the counsel of his will, and
none of the devices of his foes can thwart his decree for a moment. Men's
purposes are blown to and from like the thread of the gossamer or the down of
the thistle, but the eternal purposes are firmer than the earth. The thoughts
of his heart to all generations. Men come and go, sons follow their
sires to the grave, but the undisturbed mind of God moves on in unbroken
serenity, producing ordained results with unerring certainty. No man can expect
his will or plan to be carried out from age to age; the wisdom of one period is
the folly of another, but the Lord's wisdom is always wise, and his designs run
on from century to century. His power to fulfil his purposes is by no means
diminished by the lapse of years. He who was absolute over Pharaoh in Egypt is
not one whit the less today the King of kings and Lord of lords; still do his
chariot wheels roll onward in imperial grandeur, none being for a moment able to
resist his eternal will.
Verse 12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.
Israel was happy in the worship of the only true God. It was the blessedness of
the chosen nation to have received a revelation from Jehovah. While others
grovelled before their idols, the chosen people were elevated by a spiritual
religion which introduced them to the invisible God, and led them to trust in
him. All who confide in the Lord are blessed in the largest and deepest sense,
and none can reverse the blessing. And the people whom he hath chosen for his
own inheritance. Election is at the bottom of it all. The divine choice
rules the day; none take Jehovah to be their God till he takes them to be his
people. What an ennobling choice this is! We are selected to no mean estate, and
for no ignoble purpose: we are made the peculiar domain and delight of the Lord
our God. Being so blessed, let us rejoice in our portion, and show the world by
our lives that we serve a glorious Master.
Verse 13. The Lord looketh from heaven. The Lord is
represented as dwelling above and looking down below; seeing all things, but
peculiarly observing and caring for those who trust in him. It is one of our
choicest privileges to be always under our Father's eye, to be never out of
sight of our best Friend. He beholdeth all the sons of men. All
Adam's sons are as well watched as was Adam himself, their lone progenitor in
the garden. Ranging from the frozen pole to the scorching equator, dwelling in
hills and valleys, in huts and palaces, alike doth the divine eye regard all the
members of the family of man.
Verse 14. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all
the inhabitants of the earth. Here the sentiment is repeated: it is
worth repeating, and it needs repeating, for man is most prone to forget it. As
great men sit at their windows and watch the crowd below, so doth the Lord; he
gazes intently upon his responsible creatures, and forgets nothing of what he
Verse 15. He fashioneth their hearts alike. By which is
meant that all hearts are equally fashioned by the Lord, kings' hearts as well
as the hearts of beggars. The text does not mean that all hearts are created
originally alike by God, such a statement would scarcely be true, since there is
the utmost variety in the constitutions and dispositions of men. All men equally
owe the possession of life to the Creator, and have therefore no reason to boast
themselves. What reason has the vessel to glorify itself in presence of the
potter? He considereth all their words. Not in vain doth God see men's
acts: he ponders and judges them. He reads the secret design in the outward
behaviour, and resolves the apparent good into its real elements. This
consideration foretokens a judgment when the results of the divine thoughts will
be meted out in measures of happiness or woe. Consider thy ways, O man, for God
Verse 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an
host. Mortal power is a fiction, and those who trust in it are dupes.
Serried ranks of armed men have failed to maintain an empire, or even to save
their monarch's life when a decree from the court of heaven has gone forth for
the empire's overthrow. The all seeing God preserves the poorest of his people
when they are alone and friendless, but ten thousand armed men cannot ensure
safety to him whom God leaves to destruction. A mighty man is not delivered
by much strength. So far from guarding others, the valiant veteran is
not able to deliver himself. When his time comes to die, neither the force of
his arms nor the speed of his legs can save him. The weakest believer dwells
safely under the shadow of Jehovah's throne, while the most mighty sinner is in
peril every hour. Why do we talk so much of our armies and our heroes? the Lord
alone has strength, and let him alone have praise.
Verse 17. An horse is a vain thing for safety. Military
strength among the Orientals lay much in horses and scythed chariots, but the
psalmist calls them a lie, a deceitful confidence. Surely the knight upon his
gallant steed may be safe, either by valour or by flight? Not so, his horse
shall bear him into danger or crush him with its fall. Neither shall he
deliver any by his great strength. Thus the strongest defences are less than
nothing when most needed. God only is to be trusted and adored. Sennacherib with
all his calvary is not a match for one angel of the Lord, Pharaoh's horses and
chariots found it vain to pursue the Lord's anointed, and so shall all the
leaguered might of earth and hell find themselves utterly defeated when they
rise against the Lord and his chosen.
Verse 18. Behold. For this is a greater wonder than hosts
and horses, a surer confidence than chariots or shields. The eye of
the Lord is upon them that fear him. That eye of peculiar care is their
glory and defence. None can take them at unawares, for the celestial watcher
foresees the designs of their enemies, and provides against them. They who fear
God need not fear anything else; let them fix their eye of faith on him, and his
eye of love will always rest upon them. Upon them that hope in his mercy.
This one would think to be a small evidence of grace, and yet it is a valid one.
Humble hope shall have its share as well as courageous faith. Say, my soul, is
not this an encouragement to thee? Dost thou not hope in the mercy of God in
Christ Jesus? Then the Father's eye is as much upon thee as upon the elder born
of the family. These gentle words, like soft bread, are meant for babes in
grace, who need infant's food.
Verse 19. To deliver their soul from death. The Lord's hand
goes with his eye; he sovereignly preserves those whom he graciously observes.
Rescues and restorations hedge about the lives of the saints; death cannot touch
them till the King signs his warrant and gives him leave, and even then his
touch is not so much mortal as immortal; he doth not so much kill us as kill our
mortality. And to keep them alive in famine. Gaunt famine knows
its master. God has meal and oil for his Elijahs somewhere. "Verily thou shalt
be fed" is a divine provision for the man of faith. The Preserver of men will
not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish. Power in human hands is
outmatched by famine, but God is good at a pinch, and proves his bounty under
the most straitened circumstances. Believer, wait upon thy God in temporals. His
eye is upon thee, and his hand will not long delay.
Verse 20. Our soul waits for the Lord. Here the godly avow
their reliance upon him whom the Psalm extols. To wait is a great lesson. To be
quiet in expectation, patient in hope, single in confidence, is one of the
bright attainments of a Christian. Our soul, our life, must hang upon God; we
are not to trust him with a few gewgaws, but with all we have and are. He is
our help and our shield. Our help in labour, our shield in danger.
The Lord answereth all things to his people. He is their all in all. Note the
three "ours" in the text. These holdfast words are precious. Personal
possession makes the Christian man; all else is mere talk.
Verse 21. For our hearts shall rejoice in him. The duty
commended and commanded in the first verse is here presented to the Lord. We,
who trust, cannot but be of a glad heart, our inmost nature must triumph in our
faithful God. Because we have trusted in his holy name. The root
of faith in due time bears the flower of rejoicing. Doubts breed sorrow,
confidence creates joy.
Verse 22. Here is a large and comprehensive prayer to close
with. It is an appeal for mercy, which even joyful believers need; and it
is sought for in a proportion which the Lord has sanctioned. "According to your
faith be it unto you, "is the Master's word, and he will not fall short of the
scale which he has himself selected. Yet, Master, do more than this when hope is
faint, and bless us far above what we ask or even think.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. A thanksgiving of the church triumphant in the
latter ages, for her final deliverance, by the overthrow of Antichrist and his
armies. Samuel Horsley.
Whole Psalm. Let us follow the holy man a moment in his
meditation. His Psalm is not composed in scholastic form, in which the author
confines himself to fixed rules; and, scrupulously following a philosophic
method, lays down principals, and infers consequences. However, he establishes
principles, the most proper to give us sublime ideas of the Creator; and he
speaks with more precision of the works and attributes of God than the greatest
philosophers have spoken of them.
How absurdly have the philosophers treated of the origin of
the world! How few of them have reasoned conclusively on this
important subject! Our prophet solves the important question by one single
principle; and, what is more remarkable, this principle, which is nobly
expressed, carries the clearest evidence with it. The principle is this: "By the
word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath
of his mouth, "Ps 33:6. This is the most rational account that was ever given of
the creation of the world. The world is the work of a self efficient will, and
it is this principle alone that can account for its creation. The most simple
appearances in nature are sufficient to lead us to this principle. Either my
will is self efficient, or there is some other being whose will is self
efficient. What I say of myself, I say of my parents; and what I affirm of my
parents, I affirm of my more remote ancestors, and of all the finite creatures
from whom they derive their existence. Most certainly either finite beings have
a self efficient will, which it is impossible to suppose, for a finite creature
with a self efficient will is a contradiction: either, I say, a finite creature
has a self efficient will, or there is a First Cause who has a self efficient
will; and that there is such a Being is the principle of the psalmist; "By the
word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath
of his mouth."
If philosophers have reasoned inconclusively on the origin of
the world, they have spoken of its government with equal uncertainty. The
psalmist determines this question with a great facility, by a single principle,
which results from the former, and which, like the former, carries its evidence
with it. "The Lord looketh from heaven; he considereth all the works of all the
inhabitants of the earth, " Ps 33:13-14. This is the doctrine of providence. And
on what is the doctrine of providence founded? On this principle: God
"fashioneth their hearts alike, "Ps 33:15. Attend a moment to the evidence of
this reasoning, my brethren. The doctrine of providence expressed in these
words, "God considereth the works of the inhabitants of the earth, "is a
necessary consequence of his principle, "God fashioneth their hearts alike; "and
this principle is a necessary consequence of that which the psalmist had before
laid down to account for the origin of the world. Yes, from that doctrine of God
the Creator of men, follows that of God the inspector, the director, rewarder,
and the punisher of their actions. One of the most specious objections that has
ever been opposed to the doctrine of providence, is a contrast between the
grandeur of God and the meanness of men. How can such an insignificant creature
as man be the object of the care and attention of such a magnificent being as
God? No objection can be more specious, or, in appearance, more invincible. The
distance between the meanest insect and the mightiest monarch, who treads and
crushes reptiles to death without the least regard to them, is a very imperfect
image of the distance between God and man. That which proves that it would be
beneath the dignity of a monarch to observe the motions of ants, or worms, to
interest himself in their actions, to punish, or to reward them, seems to
demonstrate that God would degrade himself were he to observe, to direct, to
punish, to reward mankind, who are infinitely inferior to him. But one fact is
sufficient to answer this specious objection: that is, God has created mankind.
Does God degrade himself more by governing than by creating mankind? Who can
persuade himself that a wise Being has given to intelligent creatures faculties
capable of obtaining knowledge and virtue, without willing that they should
endeavour to acquire knowledge and virtue? Or who can imagine, that a wise
Being, who wills that his intelligent creatures should acquire knowledge and
virtue, will not punish them if they neglect those acquisitions; and will not
show by the distribution of his benefits that he approves their endeavours to
Unenlightened philosophers have treated of the attributes
of God with as much abstruseness as they have written of his works.
The moral attributes of God, as they are called in the schools, were mysteries
which they could not unfold. These may be reduced to two classes; attributes of
goodness, and attributes of justice. Philosophers, who had
admitted these, have usually taken that for granted which they ought to have
proved. They collected together in their minds all perfections; they reduced
them all to one object which they denominated a perfect being: and
supposing, without proving, that a perfect being existed, they attributed to
him, without proof, everything that they considered as a perfection. The
psalmist shows by a surer way that there is a God supremely just and supremely
good. It is necessary, in order to convince a rational being of the justice and
goodness of God, to follow such a method as that which we follow to prove his
existence. When we would prove the existence of God, we say, there are
creatures, therefore there is a Creator. In like manner, when we would prove
that a creature is a just and a good being, we say, there are qualities of
goodness and justice in creatures, therefore he, from whom these creatures
derive their existence, is a being just and good. Now, this is the reasoning of
the psalmist in this Psalm: "The Lord loveth righteousness and judgment: the
earth is full of the goodness of the Lord" Ps 33:5; that is to say, it is
impossible to consider the work of the Creator, without receiving evidence of
his goodness. And the works of nature which demonstrate the goodness of God,
prove his justice also; for God has created us with such dispositions, that we
cannot enjoy the gifts of his goodness without obeying the laws of his
righteousness. The happiness of an individual who procures a pleasure by
disobeying the laws of equity, is a violent happiness, which cannot be of long
duration; and the prosperity of public bodies, when it is founded in iniquity,
is an edifice which, with its basis, will be presently sunk and gone.
But what we would particularly remark is, that the
excellent principle of the psalmist concerning God are not mere
speculations; but truths from which he derives practical inferences; and
he aims to extend their influence beyond private persons, even to legislators
and conquerors. One would think, considering the conduct of mankind, that the
consequences, which are drawn from the doctrines of which we have been speaking,
belong to none but to the dregs of the people; that lawgivers and conquerors
have a plan of morality peculiar to themselves, and are above the rules to which
other men must submit. Our prophet had other notions. What are his maxims of
policy? They are all included in these words: "Blessed is the nation whose God
is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance, "Ps
33:12. What are his military maxims? They are all included in these words:
"There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not
delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall
he deliver any by his great strength, "Ps 33:16-17. Who proposes these maxims? A
hermit, who never appeared on the theatre of the world? or a man destitute of
the talents necessary to shine there? No: one of the wisest of kings; one of the
most bold and able generals: a man whom God has self elected to govern his
chosen people, and to command those armies which fought the most obstinate
battles, and gained the most complete victories. Were I to proceed in explaining
the system of the psalmist, I might prove, that as he had a right to infer the
doctrine of providence from the works of nature, and that of the moral
attributes of God from the works of creation; so from the doctrines of the moral
attributes of God, of providence, and of the works of creation, he had a right
to conclude, that no conquerors or lawgivers could be truly happy but those who
acted agreeably to the laws of the just and good Supreme. James Saurin.
Verse 1. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous. Exult,
ye righteous, in Jehovah! The Hebrew verb, according to the
etymologists, originally means to dance for joy, and is therefore a very strong
expression for the liveliest exultation. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 1. Rejoice, O ye righteous: not in yourselves, for
that is not safe, but in the Lord. Augustine.
Verse 1. Praise is comely for the upright. Praise is not
comely for any but the godly. A profane man stuck with God's praise is like a
dunghill stuck with flowers. Praise in the mouth of a sinner is like an oracle
in the mouth of a fool: how uncomely is it for him to praise God, whose whole
life is a dishonouring of God? It is as indecent for a wicked man to praise God,
who goes on in sinful practices, as it is for an usurer to talk of living by
faith, or for the devil to quote Scripture. The godly are only fit to be
choristers in God's praise; it is called, "the garment of praise." Isa 61:3.
This garment sits handsome only on a saint's back. Thomas Watson.
Verse 1. This Psalm is coupled with the foregoing one by the
catchword with which it opens, which is a repetition of the exhortation
with which the preceding ends, Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous;
"Shout for joy, all ye upright." Christopher Wordsworth.
Verse 1. He pleaseth God whom God pleaseth.
Verse 2. Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the
psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Here we have the first
mention of musical instruments in the Psalms. It is to be observed that the
early fathers almost with one accord protest against their use in churches; as
they are forbidden in the Eastern church to this day, where yet, by the consent
of all, the singing is infinitely superior to anything that can be heard in the
West. J. M. Neale.
Verse 2. Harp; Psaltery, etc. Our church does not use
musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may
not seem to Judaise. Thomas Aquinas. It was only permitted to the Jews,
as sacrifice was, for the heaviness and grossness of their souls. God
condescended to their weakness, because they were lately drawn off from idols;
but now instead of organs, we may use our own bodies to praise him withal.
Chrysostom. The use of singing with instrumental music was not received
in the Christian churches as it was among the Jews in their infant state, but
only the use of plain song. Justin Martyr.
Verse 2. (last clause). It is said that David praised
God upon an instrument of ten strings; and he would never have told how
many strings there were, but that without doubt he made use of them all. God
hath given all of us bodies, as it were, instruments of many strings; and can we
think it music good enough to strike but one string, to call upon him with our
tongues only? No, no; when the still sound of the heart by holy thoughts, and
the shrill sound of the tongue by holy words, and the loud sound of the hands by
pious works, do all join together, that is God's concert, and the only music
wherewith he is affected. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 3. Sing unto him. I. Singing is the music of
nature. The Scriptures tell us the mountains sing Isa 55:12; the valleys
sing Ps 65:13; the trees of the wood sing 1Ch 16:33; nay, the air is the birds'
music room, they chant their musical notes. II. Singing is the music of
ordinances. Augustine reports of himself, that when he came to Milan and
heard the people sing, he wept for joy in the church to hear that pleasing
melody. And Beza confesses that at his first entrance into the congregation, and
hearing them sing the ninety-first Psalm, he felt himself exceedingly comforted,
and did retain the sound of it afterwards upon his heart. The Rabbins tell us
that the Jews, after the feast of the Passover was celebrated, sang the hundred
and eleventh and five following Psalms; and our Saviour and his apostles sang a
hymn immediately after the blessed Supper. Mt 26:30. III. Singing is the music
of saints. (1.) They have performed this duty in their greatest
numbers. Ps 149:1-2. (2.) In their greatest straits. Isa 26:19.
(3.) In their greatest flight. Isa 42:10-11. (4.) In their greatest
deliverances. (5.) In their greatest plenties. Isa 65:14. In all
these changes singing hath been their stated duty and delight. And indeed it is
meet that the saints and servants of God should sing forth their joys and
praises to the Lord Almighty: every attribute of him can set both their song and
their tune. IV. Singing is the music of angels. Job tells us "the morning
stars sang together, "Job 38:7. Now these "morning stars, "as Pineda tells us,
are the angels; to which the Chaldee paraphrase accords, naming these morning
stars, aciem angelorum, an host of angels. Nay, when this heavenly host
was sent to proclaim the birth of our dearest Jesus, they deliver their message
in this raised way of duty. Lu 2:13. They were (ainountev), delivering their messages in a laudatory singing, the
whole company of angels making a musical quire. Nay, in heaven there is the
angels' joyous music; they there sing hallelujahs to the Most High, and to the
Lamb who sits upon the throne, Re 5:11. V. Singing is the music of heaven;
the glorious saints and angels accent their praises this way, and make one
harmony in their state of blessedness; and this is the music of the Bride
chamber. The saints who were tuning here their Psalms, are now singing their
hallelujahs in a louder strain, and articulating their joys, which here they
could not express to their perfect satisfaction; here they laboured with drowsy
hearts, and faltering tongues; but in glory these impediments are removed, and
nothing is left to jar their joyful celebration. John Wells, in "Morning
Verse 3. A new song. That is to say, a new and recent
composition on account of recent benefits; or constantly new songs, song
succeeding song as daily new material for divine praise offers itself to the
attentive student of the works of God. Or new, that is, always fresh and
full of life, and renewed as new occasions offer themselves: as Job says, "My
glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand." Or new, i.e.,
not common but rare and exquisite; as the new name in Re 2:17; the new
commandment; Joh 13:34. Or this respects the gospel state, wherein is a new
covenant Heb 8:8, a new Jerusalem Re 21:2, a new man Eph 2:15, and all things
new, 2Co 5:17. New, on account of its matter being unknown of men: as in
Re 14:3, "They sung a new song, "and no man could learn that song but the
hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
New may be used in opposition to old. The song of Moses is old, and of
the Lamb is new. Martin Geir (1614-1681), in "Poli Synopsis
Verse 3. Sing unto him a new song. Put off oldness: ye know
the new song. A new man, a New Testament, a new song. A new song belongeth not
to men that are old; none learn that but new men, renewed through grace from
oldness, and belonging now to the New Testament, which is the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 3. A new song; namely, sung with such fervency of
affections as novelties usually bring with them; or, always new, seeing God's
graces never wax old; or, sung by the motion of this new spirit of grace, which
doth not so much look after the old benefits of the creation as after the new
benefit of the redemption in Christ, which renews all things. Ps 40:3 96:1 Re
5:9 14:3. John Diodati.
Verse 3. Sing unto him a new song. It is a melancholy proof
of the decline of the church, when the exhortation to sing a new song is no
longer attended to: in such a case, there is need of the greatest care to
prevent the old ones falling into oblivion. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 3. Play skilfully. It is not an easy matter to praise
God aright; it must be done corde, ore, spere, with the very best of the
best. John Trapp.
Verse 4. The word of the Lord is right. His word of promise
given to the church. The divine revelation to all setting forth what is to be
believed, hoped for, and done. The decrees of God and his penal judgments. The
whole counsel and determination of God in the creation and government of the
world. Is right, without defect or error. The word right is
opposed to tortuous; it means true or certain. John de Pineda
(1577-1637); D.H. Mollerus (1639), and others, in Synopsis.
Verse 4. All his works are done in truth.
Truth is in each flower
As well as in the most solemn things of God:
Truth is the voice of nature and of time--
Truth is the startling monitor within us--
Nought is without it, it comes from the stars,
The golden sun, and every breeze that blows--
Truth, it is God! and God is everywhere!
--William Thomas Bacon.
Verse 5. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. If
we reflect on the prodigious number of human beings who constantly receive their
food, raiment, and every pleasure they enjoy, from their mother earth, we shall
be convinced of the great liberality with which nature dispenses her gifts; and
not only human beings, but an innumerable quantity of living creatures
besides--inhabitants of the air, the waters, and the earth--are daily indebted
to nature for their support. Those animals which are under our care are still
indebted to the earth for their subsistence; for the grass, which nature
spontaneously produces, is their chief food. The whole race of fishes, except
those which men feed for their amusement, subsist without any of their aid. The
species of birds which is perhaps the most despised and most numerous, is the
sparrow. What they require for their support is incredible, but nature takes
care to feed them; they are however but the smallest part of her children. So
great is the quantity of insects, that ages may pass before even their species
and classes can be known. How many and how diversified the sorts of flies that
play in the air! The blood taken from us by the gnat is very accidental food for
them; and we may suppose that where there is one gnat that lives upon it, there
are millions that have never tasted human blood, or that of any other animal. On
what can all these creatures subsist? Perhaps every handful of earth contains
living insects; they are discovered in every drop of water; their multiplying
and means of support are incomprehensible. While nature is thus prolific in
children, she is also fruitful in means for their subsistence; or, rather, it is
the God of nature who has poured into her bosom this inexhaustible store of
riches. He provides each creature with its food and dwelling. For them he causes
the grass and other herbs to grow, leaving each to select its proper food. And,
however mean many creatures may appear to us, he feeds and assists them all. O
Almighty God, how manifest is thy greatness! Thou dost what the united efforts
of all mankind would fail to accomplish. Thou hast given life, and breath, and
being to all creatures that live in the air, the waters, or the earth. Surely
thou wilt do for thy believing people what thou dost for animals and insects!
When we are filled with doubts and fears, let us consider the ravens whom the
Lord feeds when they cry. Let them and all creatures beside, which man takes no
care of, teach us the art of contentment. The great Author of nature knows all
our wants. Let us cast our every care on him, for he careth for us; and may we
come boldly to the throne of grace in faith and sincerity, that we may obtain
mercy, and find grace to help us in every time of need. Christopher Christian
Verse 5. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. To
hear its worthless inhabitants complain, one would think that God dispensed
evil, not good. To examine the operation of his hand, everything
is marked with mercy, and there is no place where his goodness does not appear.
The overflowing kindness of God fills the earth. Even the iniquities of
men are rarely a bar to his goodness: he causes his sun to rise on the evil and
the good, and sends his rain upon the just and the unjust. Adam
Verse 5. The goodness of the Lord. In discoursing on the
glorious perfections of God, his goodness must by no means be omitted;
for though all his perfections are his glory, yet this is particularly so
called, for when Moses, the man of God, earnestly desired to behold a grand
display of the glory of Jehovah, the Lord said in answer to his petition, "I
will make all my goodness pass before thee; "thus intimating that he
himself accounted his goodness to be his glory Ex 33:19 34:7; and it includes
that mercy, grace, longsuffering, and truth, which are afterwards mentioned.
When it relieves the miserable, it is mercy; when it bestows favours on
the worthless, it is grace; when it bears with provoking rebels, it is
long suffering; when it confers promised blessings, it is truth;
when it supplies indigent beings, it is bounty. The goodness of
God is a very comprehensive term; it includes all the forms of his kindness
shown to men; whether considered as creatures, as sinners, or as believers.
George Burder, 1838
Verse 5. The goodness of the Lord. He might, if he had
pleased, have made everything we tasted bitter, everything we saw loathsome,
everything we touched a sting, every smell a stench, every sound a discord.
William Paley, D.D., 1743-1805.
Verse 6. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all
the host of them by the breath of his mouth. That the (hwd) is not spirit, but breath, is
evident from the words of his mouth (compare Isa 11:4), and from
the parallelism with word. Simple word is simple breath;
both together, they stand in contrast to that exercise of strength, that
labour, that use of means and instruments without which feeble man can bring
nothing to perfection. Then there are the parallel passages, "All the while my
breath is in me, and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils." Job 27:3. "The Spirit
of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." Job
33:4. "Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust, thou
sendest forth thy breath, they are created." Ps 104:29,30. On the other
hand, however, the exposition which would interpret (wyp xwr), without reference to the Spirit of God, cannot be
a correct one. In the history of the creation, to which the verse before us, as
well as verses seven and nine, generally refer, the creation is described as the
work of the SPIRIT of God, and his WORD. First, the Spirit of God
moved upon the face of the waters, then God said. We may also suppose
that the Spirit and the power of God are here represented by the figure
of breath, because that in man is the first sign of life. E. W.
Verse 6. By the word of the Lord. May be understood of the
hypostatic Word, as John teaches us. Joh 1:1. (John Cocceius), 1603-1669.
This is an illustration of the old saying, that while Grotius finds Christ
nowhere, Cocceius finds Christ everywhere. C. H. S.
Verse 6. Let any make a world, and he shall be a God, saith
Augustine; hence is it that the church maketh it the very first article of her
Creed to believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. John
Verses 6, 9. It is all one with God to do as to say, to
perform as to promise; it is as easy, he is as willing, as able, to do the one
as the other. There is no such distance betwixt God's saying and doing, as
amongst men. His saying is doing: He spake, and it was done; he
commanded, and it stood fast. By the word of the Lord were the heavens
made. "The worlds were framed by the word of God." Heb 11:3. There is
omnipotence in his word, both of command and promise; therefore called, "The
word of his power." Heb 1:3. One word of his can do more in an instant than the
united powers of heaven and earth can do in eternity. This consideration removes
at once the chief discouragements that hinder the lively actings of faith; for
what is it that weakens our confidence of the promises' performance, but because
we look upon the accomplishment as uncertain or difficult, or future and afar
off! Now from hence faith may conclude the performance is certain, easy, and
present. David Clarkson.
Verse 7. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an
heap, etc. "God called the gathering together of the waters, seas." Ge 1:10.
This unstable element must, like all other elements, be put under law, and
confined within bounds, that there might be a habitable earth for man and all
the creatures around him. Thus the psalmist sings, He gathereth the waters of
the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
The boundary was such as to cause his servants to wonder. They looked from the
shore, as we do, and under the influence of a well known law, the billows in
their heaving swells, seemed as if they would, as if they did, touch the sky
itself; and as if they were so much higher than the shore, that they were in
danger of leaving their basin and stretching over the land. Just such an
impression, we with all our science, popularly hold. The prophets thus looked as
we do, and under the same kind of feeling. How wonderful, they thought, is all
this! A low barrier of sand is made Jehovah's agent for bounding the deep. "The
Lord hath placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that
it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet they not
prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it." Jer 5:22. John
Duns, D.D., in "Science and Christian Thought, "1868.
Verse 7. The waters of the sea. Of all objects that I have
ever seen, there is none which affect my imagination so much as the sea or
ocean. I cannot see the heavings of this prodigious bulk of waters, even in a
calm, without a very pleasing astonishment; but when it is worked up in a
tempest, so that the horizon on every side is nothing but foaming billows and
floating mountains, it is impossible to describe the agreeable horror that rises
from such a prospect. A troubled ocean, to a man who sails upon it, is, I think,
the biggest object that he can see in motion, and consequently gives his
imagination one of the highest kinds of pleasure that can arise from greatness.
I must confess it is impossible for me to survey this world of fluid matter
without thinking on the hand that first poured it out, and made a proper channel
for its reception. Such an object naturally raises in my thoughts the idea of an
Almighty Being, and convinces me of his existence as much as a metaphysical
demonstration. The imagination prompts the understanding, and by the greatness
of the sensible object, produces in it the idea of a Being who is neither
circumscribed by time nor space. Spectator.
Verse 7. As a heap. Dealing with fluids as if they were
solids, with an obvious allusion to Ex 15:8. Depths, masses of water. The
main point of the description is God's handling these vast liquid masses, as men
handle solid substances of moderate dimensions, heaping the waves up, and
storing them away, as men might do with stones or wheat. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 7. The vast masses of waters which had hitherto
covered the entire surface of the globe, was on the third day of creation
brought within narrower compass, and large tracts of the submerged earth
reclaimed and rendered habitable ground...The waters were, for the
most part, congregated together in one vast body, instead of being
universally diffused over the face of the earth. This is the state of things
which we now contemplate; the various great seas and oceans constituting in fact
but one body of water called in different regions by different names, as the
Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, etc., oceans. George Bush, on Ge
Verse 8. Let all the earth. For who can doubt that God can
do as he wills upon earth, since he so tamed the unconquerable nature of the
sea? Hugo Grotius, 1583-1645.
Verse 8. Let all the earth fear the Lord, etc. Let them not
fear another instead of him. Doth a wild beast rage? Fear God. Doth a serpent
lie in wait? Fear God. Doth man hate thee? Fear God. Doth the devil fight
against thee? Fear God. For the whole creation is under him whom thou art
commanded to fear. Augustine.
Verse 9. He spake, and it was done. As we say in Latin,
Dictum factum, SAID DONE, no delay having interposed. Hugo
Verse 9. He spake, and it was done; so that the creatures
were not emanations from the divine nature, but effects of the divine will, the
fruits of intelligence, and design, and counsel. William Binnie, D.D.
Verse 10. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to
nought, etc. The more the Pharisees of old, and their successors the
prelates of late, opposed the truth, the more it prevailed. The Reformation in
Germany was much furthered by the Papists' opposition; yea, when two kings
(amongst many others), wrote against Luther, namely, Henry 8th of England, and
Ludovicus of Hungary, this kingly title being entered into the controversy
(making men more curious to examine the matter), stirred up a general
inclination towards Luther's opinions. Richard Younge's Christian Library,
Verse 11. The counsel of the Lord. Note the contrast between
the counsel of the heathen in the last verse, and the counsel of the Lord in
this. C. H. S.
Verse 11. The thoughts. The same word as devices in
the preceding verse. William de Burgh, D.D., in loc.
Verse 11. The wheels in a watch or a clock move contrary one
to another, some one way, some another, yet all serve the intent of the workman,
to show the time, or to make the clock strike. So in the world, the providence
of God may seem to run cross to his promises; one man takes this way, another
runs that way; good men go one way, wicked men another, yet all in conclusion
accomplish the will, and centre in the purpose of God the great Creator of all
things. Richard Sibbes.
Verse 11. (last clause). Think not, brethren, because
he said, The thoughts of his heart, that God as it were sitteth down and
thinketh what he should do, and taketh counsel to do anything, or not to do
anything. To thee, O man, belongs such tardiness. Augustine.
Verse 12. Blessed--whom he hath chosen. A man may have his
name set down in the chronicles, yet lost; wrought in durable marble, yet
perish; set upon a monument equal to a Colossus, yet be ignominious; inscribed
on the hospital gates, yet go to hell; written in the front of his own house,
yet another come to possess it; all these are but writings in the dust, or upon
the waters, where the characters perish so soon as they are made; they no more
prove a man happy than the fool could prove Pontius Pilate because his name was
written in the Creed. But the true comfort is this, when a man by assurance can
conclude with his own soul that his name is written in those eternal leaves of
heaven, in the book of God's election, which shall never be wrapped up in the
cloudy sheets of darkness but remain legible to all eternity. Thomas
Verse 12. The people whom he hath chosen. Some read it, The
people which hath chosen him for their inheritance. It cometh all to one. See De
26:17-19. John Trapp.
Verse 12. It's an happiness to have an interest in one
greater than ourselves; an interest in a beggar is of no worth, because he is of
no power; but interest in a prince all men seek, therefore it is said,
Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. Joseph Symonds.
Verse 12. Lest it should be thought that men obtain so great
a good by their own efforts and industry, David teaches us expressly that it
proceeds from the fountain of God's gracious electing love that we are accounted
the people of God. John Calvin.
Verse 12. I have sometimes compared the great men of
the world, and the good men of the world to the consonants and
vowels in the alphabet. The consonants are the most and the
biggest letters; they take up most room, and carry the greatest bulk; but,
believe it, the vowels though they are the fewest and least of all the
letters, yet they are most useful; they give the greatest sound of all; there is
no pronunciation without vowels. O beloved, though the great men of the
world take up room, and make a show above others, yet they are but
consonants, a company of mute and dumb consonants for the most
part; the good men they are the vowels that are of the greatest
use and most concernment at every turn: a good man to help with his
prayers; a good man to advise with his counsels; a good man to
interpose with his authority; this is the loss we lament, we have lost a good
man; death has blotted out a vowel; and I fear me there will be much
silence where he is lacking; silence in the bed, and silence in the house, and
silence in the shop, and silence in the church, and silence in the parish, for
he was everywhere a vowel, a good man in every respect. John Kitchin,
M.A., in a Funeral Sermon, 1660.
Verse 15. He fashioneth their hearts alike. As an
illustration of the passage as it stands in our version, we append the
following: -- "Every circumstance concurs in proving that mankind are not
composed of species essentially different from each other; that, on the
contrary, there was originally but one species, which, after multiplying and
spreading over the whole surface of the earth, has undergone various changes,
from the influence of climate, food, mode of living, diseases, and mixture of
dissimilar individuals; that at first these changes were not so conspicuous, and
produced only individual varieties; that these varieties became afterward more
specific, because they were rendered more general, more strongly marked, and
more permanent, by the continual action of the same causes; and that they are
transmitted from generation to generation." G. L. Leclerc, Comte de Buffon,
Verse 15. The Creator of all things fashioneth their
hearts alike; the word (dxy),
which signifies together at once, intimating that the hearts of all men though
separated from one another by never so vast a gulf of time or place, are as
exactly alike in respect of their original inclinations, as if they had been all
moulded at the same time. The worship of a God and then some kind of religion,
is necessary to us, we cannot shift it off. William Pinke, 1631.
Verse 15. (last clause). Two men give to the poor,
one seeketh his reward in heaven, the other the praise of men. Thou in two seest
one thing, God understandeth two. For he understandeth what is within, and
knoweth what is within; their ends he seeth, their base intentions he seeth.
He understandeth all their works. Augustine.
Verse 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an
host. At the battle of Arbela, the Persian hosts numbered between five
hundred thousand and a million men, but they were utterly put to the rout by
Alexander's band of fifty thousand; and the once mighty Darius was soon
vanquished. Napoleon led more than half a million of men into Russia:
"Not such the numbers, nor the host so dread,
By northern Bren, or Scythian Timour led."
But the terrible winter left the army a mere wreck, and their
leader was soon a prisoner on the lone rock of St. Helena. All along the line of
history this verse has been verified. The strongest battalions melt like
snowflakes when God is against them. C. H. S.
Verse 16. A mighty man; or a giant; Goliath for
instance. As the most skilful swimmers are often drowned, so here. John
Not the chief his serried lances,
Not his strength secures the brave;
All in vain the warhorse prances,
Weak his force his lord to save.
Verses 16-17. The weakness and insufficiency of all human
power, however great, as before of all human intellect. J. J.
Verses 16-17. As a passenger in a storm, that for shelter
against the weather, steps out of the way, betakes him to a fair spread oak,
stands under the boughs, with his back close to the body of it, and finds good
relief thereby for the space of some time; till at length comes a sudden gust of
wind, that tears down a main arm of it, which falling upon the poor passenger,
either maims or mischieves him that resorted to it for succour. Thus falleth it
out with not a few, meeting in the world with many troubles, and with manifold
vexations, they step aside out of their own way, and too, too often out of
God's, to get under the wing of some great one, and gain, it may be, some aid
and shelter thereby for a season; but after awhile, that great one himself
coming down headlong, and falling from his former height of favour, or honour,
they are also called in question and to fall together with him, that might
otherwise have stood long enough on their own legs, if they had not trusted to
such an arm of flesh, such a broken staff that deceived them. Thomas
Verse 17. An horse. If the strength of horses be of God, or
be his gift Job 39:19, then trust not in the strength of horses: use the
strength of horses, but do not trust the strength of horses. If you trust the
strength which God hath given to horses, you make them your god. How often doth
God forbid trusting in the strength of horses, as knowing that we are apt to
trust in anything that is strong, though but a beast. An horse is a vain
thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
As if God had said, you think a horse can save you, but know he is a vain thing.
And when the psalmist saith, "A horse is a vain thing, "he doth not mean it of a
weak horse, but of a horse of the greatest strength imaginable; such a horse is
a vain thing to save a man, neither can he deliver any by his strength; and
therefore the Lord, when he promised great deliverances to his people, lest they
should expect it by the strength of horses, saith Ho 1:7, "I will save them by
the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle,
by horses, nor by horsemen; "as if he had told them, do not look after creature
strength to be saved by; a horse will be a vain thing to save you, and I can
save you effectually without horses, and I will. Joseph Caryl.
Verses 17-20. Man is sensible of his want of earthly
blessings, and will never cease, with excessive care, diligence, and vexation,
to hunt after them, till he come to know that God will provide for him. When one
hath great friends which they are known to lean upon, we say of them, such need
take no care, they know such and such will see to them. On the contrary, come to
one who knows no end of toiling and caring, ask him, Why will you thus tire
yourself out? He will answer, I must needs do it, I have none but myself to
trust to. So Christ followeth his disciples' carefulness to this door, their
unbelief, which did not let them consider our heavenly Father cared for them. No
present estate, though never so great, can free the heart from distraction,
because it is subject to decay and vanishing; we shall never cast the burden of
care off our own shoulders, till we learn by faith to cast it upon the Lord,
whose eye is over us for good. He will never renounce carnal supports who make
not God the stay of his soul for outward things. He will trust in the abundance
of his riches, wisdom, friends, or strength, that makes not God his strength.
The heart of man, being aware of his inability to sustain himself if he be not
underset, will seek out some prop, true or false, sound or rotten, to lean unto.
They will go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots,
because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, who look
not to the Holy One of Israel, and seek not the Lord. John Ball.
Verse 18. Behold, etc. Hitherto he had given a proof of
God's providence towards all men, but now he descends to a particular
proof of it, by his care over his church, which he wonderfully guides,
defends, and protects in all dangers and assaults; and that notice may be taken
of it, he begins with, "Behold!" Adam Clarke.
Verse 18. The eye of the Lord is upon. Look upon the sun,
how it casts light and heat upon the whole world in its general course, how it
shineth upon the good and the bad with an equal influence; but let its beams be
but concentrated in a burning glass, then it sets fire on the object only, and
passeth by all others: and thus God in the creation looketh upon all his works
with a general love, erant omnia valde bona, they pleased him very
well. Oh! but when he is pleased to cast the beams of his love, and cause them
to shine upon his elect through Christ, then it is that their hearts burn within
them, then it is that their affections are inflamed; whereas others are but as
it were a little warmed, have a little shine of common graces cast upon them.
Richard Holdsworth, 1651.
Verse 18. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear
him, upon them that hope in his mercy. This is a very encouraging
character. They who cannot claim the higher distinctions of religion, may surely
know that they "fear God, and hope in his mercy." Some may wonder at the
combination; and suppose that the qualities are incompatible with each other.
But the first Christians "walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of
the Holy Ghost." They may think that the fear will injure the hope, or the hope
the fear. But these are even mutually helpful; and they are, not only never so
beautiful, but never so influential as when they are blended. The fear promotes
hope by the evidence it affords; and by keeping us from loose and careless
walking, which must always affect our peace and pleasure. And hope no less
befriends this fear. For never is God seen so glorious, so worthy of all our
devotedness to him as when we hope in his mercy; and even the more assured we
are of his regard, the more we shall enquire, Lord, what wilt thou have ne to
do? The more we shall tremble at the thought of offending and grieving him, the
more we shall continue upon our knees praying, "Let the words of my mouth, and
the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my
Strength and my Redeemer." It is called "a lively hope:" and Christians
know, by experience, that upon all their principles and duties it has the same
influence as Spring has upon the fields and the gardens. William Jay.
Verse 18. Who hope in his mercy. When thou canst not get
assurance, make as much improvement of the grounds upon which thou mayest build
hopes of salvation. The probable grounds thou hast, thou wouldst not part
with for all the world. If thy heart is not full of joy through sense of God's
love, yet thine eyes are full of tears, and thy soul full of sorrow, through the
sense of thy sin: wouldst thou change thy condition with any hypocrite
whatsoever, with the richest man that hath no grace? I would not have thee rest
satisfied with a probability, but yet bless God for a probability of salvation.
Is it nothing that one that hath deserved hell most certainly, should have a
probability that he should escape it? Would not this be a little ease to the
torments of the damned, if they had but a strong probability that they should be
saved? but no hope makes it heavy. When thou art sick, thou enquirest of
the physician, Sir, what do you think of me? Shall I live, or shall I die? If he
reply it is not certain, but there is good hopes, it is probable you will
live and do well; this is some support unto thee in thy sickness. Thomas
Doolittle, M.A. (1630-1707), in "Morning Exercises."
Verse 18. The weakest believer, the least of saints, hath
ground to hope. The gospel is so ordered, the covenant so methodised, God hath
made such ample provision, that every one may "have good hope through grace" 1Th
2:16; and all that bear this character are allowed, encouraged, nay, commanded
to hope: their hoping is as mighty a pleasure to God, as it is a comfort to
themselves. Samuel Doolittle's "Righteous Man's Hope in Death, "1693.
Verses 18-19. During the siege of Rochelle, which was endured
with unexampled bravery for nearly fifteenth months, the inhabitants were
reduced by famine to the misery of being obliged to have recourse to the flesh
of horses, asses, mules, dogs, cats, rats, and mice; and a single peck of corn
is said to have been sold for a sum equivalent to about twenty-five pounds
sterling of our money in the present day. There were numerous examples of great
and liberal generosity among the inhabitants. Some dispensed their charity so
secretly that their names were never discovered. Among the rest, the following
example is narrated: --"The Sieur de la Goute, an honorary king's advocate, had
a sister, the widow of a merchant named Prosni, who, being a very religious and
benevolent woman, at the time when the famine became more severe than it had
been, freely assisted the poor with her present surplus. Her sister-in-law, the
wife of her brother, De la Goute, being differently inclined, reproved her for
her conduct, asking her in anger, `What she would do when all should be
expended?' Her reply was, `My sister, the Lord will provide for me.' The
siege was continued, and the famine increased its fearful ravages; and poor
widow Prosni, who had four children, found herself in a great strait--all her
store of provisions being exhausted. She applied to her sister for relief, who,
in the stead of comforting, reproached her for her improvidence; tauntingly
adding that, as she had done mighty well to be so reduced under all her great
faith and fine words, that `the Lord will provide for her.'so in good
time he might provide for her. Wounded to the heart by these words, poor widow
Prosni returned to her house in sad distress; resolving nevertheless to meet
death patiently. On reaching her home, her children met her with gladdened
hearts and joyous faces, and told her that a man, to them an entire stranger,
had knocked at the door, it being late; and, on its being opened, he threw in a
sack of about two bushels of wheat; and then, without saying a word, suddenly
departed. The widow Prosni, scarcely able to believe her own eyes, with an
overflowing, grateful heart towards her gracious benefactor, immediately ran to
her sister-in-law as quickly as her famished condition would allow; and upon
seeing her, exclaimed aloud, `My sister, the Lord HATH provided for
me; 'and, saying no more, returned home again. By means of this unexpected
relief, conveyed to her so opportunely, she was enabled to support herself and
family until the end of the siege, and she never knew to whom she was
instrumentally indebted for this timely and merciful assistance." The
Biblical Treasury, Vol. 4
Verse 20. Our soul waiteth for the Lord. There is an
emphasis on the word soul which should be attended to; for although this
is a common mode of speech among the Hebrews, yet it expresses earnest
affection; as if believers should say, We sincerely rely upon God with our whole
heart, accounting him our shield and help. John Calvin.
Verse 20. Our soul. Not our souls, but our soul, as
if they all had only one. And what is the language of God by the prophet? "I
will give them one heart and one way." And thus the two disciples going to
Emmaus exclaimed, upon their discovery and surprise, "Did not our heart burn
within us?" And thus in the beginning of the gospel it was said, "The multitude
of them that believed were of one heart, and of one soul." We have seen several
drops of water on the table, by being brought to touch, running into one. If
Christians were better acquainted with each other, they would easily unite.
Verse 20. He is our help. Antigonus, king of Syria, being
ready to give battle near the Isle of Andreos, sent out a squadron to watch the
motions of his enemies, and to descry their strength: return was made that they
had more ships, and better manned than he was. "How?" says Antigonus, "that
cannot be; quam multis meipsum opponis (for how many dost thou reckon
me?)" intimating that the dignity of a general weighed down many others,
especially when poised with valour and experience. And where is valour, where is
experience to be found, if not in God? He is the Lord of hosts; with him alone
is strength and power to deliver Israel our of all her troubles. He may do it,
he can do it, he will do it; he is wise in heart and mighty in strength; besides
him there is no Saviour, no deliverer; he is a shield to the righteous, strength
to the weak, a refuge to the oppressed. He is instar omnium (all in all),
and who is like unto him in all the world? John Spencer.
Verse 20. There is an excellent story of a young man, that
was at sea in a mighty raging tempest; and when all the passengers were at their
wits' end for fear, he only was merry; and when he was asked the reason of his
mirth, he answered, "That the pilot of the ship was his father, and he knew his
father would have a care of him." The great and wise God, who is our Father,
hath from all eternity decreed what shall be the issue of all wars, what the
event of all troubles; he is our pilot, he sits at the stern; and though the
ship of the church or state be in a sinking condition, yet be of good comfort,
our Pilot will have a care of us. There is nothing done in the lower house of
Parliament on earth, but what is first decreed in the higher house in heaven.
All the lesser wheels are ordered and overruled by the upper. Are not five
sparrows, saith Christ, sold for a farthing? One sparrow is not worth half a
farthing. And there's no man shall have half a farthing's worth of harm more
than God hath decreed from all eternity. Edmund Calamy.
Verse 22. According as we hope in thee; not according to any
merits of theirs, but according to the measure of grace, of the grace of hope
which God had bestowed on them, and encouraged them to exercise on him, in
expectation of finding grace and mercy with him. John Gill.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is eucharistic: the contents
1. An exhortation to praise God Ps 33:1-3.
2. The arguments to enforce the duty Ps 33:4-19.
3. The confidence of God's people in his name, their
happiness, and petition Ps 33:20-22.
Verse 1. Rejoicing--the soul of praise; the Lord--a
wellspring of joy. Character--indispensable to true enjoyment.
Verse 1. (last clause). Praise comely. What?
Vocal, meditative, habitual praise. Why? It is comely as wings to an
angel, we mount with it; as flowers to a tree, it is our fruit; as a robe to a
priest, it is our office; as long hair to a woman, it is our beauty; as a crown
to a king, it is our highest honour. When? Evermore, but chiefly amid
blasphemy, persecution, sickness, poverty, death. Whom? Not from the
ungodly, hypocritical, or thoughtless. To be without praise is to miss our
Verse 2. Instrumental music. Is it lawful? Is it expedient?
If so, its uses, limits, and laws. A sermon to improve congregational music.
Verse 3. (first clause). The duty of maintaining the
freshness of our devotions. Freshness, skill, and heartiness, to be combined in our
Verse 4. God's word and works, their rightness, and
agreement, and our view of both.
Verse 4. (first clause). The word doctrinal,
preceptive, historical, prophetic, promissory, and experimental, always right,
i.e., free from error or evil.
Verse 4. (second clause). God's work of creation,
providence, and grace, always in conformity with truth. His hatred of everything
like a sham.
Verses 4-5. A fourfold argument for praise, from the
truth, the faithfulness the justice, and goodness of
1. For the word of the Lord is right.
2. All his works are done in truth.
3. He loveth righteousness and judgment.
4. The earth is full of his goodness.
Verse 5. Justice and goodness equally conspicuous in the
Verse 5. (last clause). A matchless theme for an
observant eye and an eloquent tongue.
Verse 6. The power of the Word and the Spirit in the old and
Verse 7. God's control of destructive and reconstructive
Verse 7. The storehouses of the Great Husbandman.
Verse 8. Reasons for universal worship, obstacles to it,
future prospects of it, our duty in relation to it.
Verse 8. (last clause). Awe--the soul of worship.
Verse 9. The irresistible word of Jehovah in
creation, in calling his people, in their comfort and deliverance, in their
entrance to glory.
Verse 10. Educated and philosophical heathen within the
reach of missions.
Verses 10-11. The opposing counsels.
Verse 11. The eternity, immutability, efficiency, and wisdom
of the divine decrees. God's purposes, "the thoughts of his heart, " hence their
wisdom, and yet more their love.
Verse 12. Two elections made by a blessed people and a
gracious God, and their happy result. The happiness of the church of God. God's delight in his people, and their delight in him.
Verse 13. Omniscience and its lessons.
Verses 13-15. The doctrine of providence.
Verse 15. God's acquaintance with men hearts, and his
estimate of their actions. The similarity of human nature.
Verses 16-18. The fallacy of human trust, and the security of
faith in God.
Verse 18. Hoping in the mercy of God--false and true forms
1. The eyes of God's knowledge are upon them.
2. The eyes of his affection are upon them.
3. The eyes of his providence are upon them.
Verse 19. Life in famine, natural and spiritual, especially
a famine of inward hope and legal satisfaction.
Verse 20. Waiting for the Lord, includes:
1. Conviction --a persuasion that the Lord is the
2. Desire --it is expressed by hungering and thirsting
4. Patience --God is never slack concerning his promise.
Verse 20. (first clause). The believer's hourly
Verse 21. Joy, the outflow of faith.
Verse 22. A prayer for believers only.
Verse 22. Measure for measure, or mercy proportioned to