Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. To the Chief Musician, He who had the leadership of
the Temple service was charged with the use of this song in public worship. What
is everybody's business is never done. It was well to have one person specially
to attend to the service of song in the house of the Lord. Of David the servant
of the Lord. This would seem to indicate that the Psalm peculiarly befits one
who esteems it an honour to be called Jehovah's servant. It is THE SONG OF HAPPY
SERVICE; such a one as all may join in who bear the easy yoke of Jesus. The
wicked are contrasted with the righteous, and the great Lord of devout men is
heartily extolled; thus obedience to so good a Master is indirectly insisted on,
and rebellion against him is plainly condemned.
DIVISION. From Ps 36:1-4 David describes the rebellious:
in Ps 36:5-9 he extols the various attributes of the Lord; in Ps 36:10-11 he
addresses the Lord in prayer, and in the last verse his faith sees in vision the
overthrow of all the workers of iniquity.
Verse 1. The transgression of the wicked. His daring and
wanton sin; his breaking the bounds of law and justice. Saith within my
heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. Men's sins have a
voice to godly ears. They are the outer index of an inner evil. It is clear that
men who dare to sin constantly and presumptuously cannot respect the great Judge
of all. Despite the professions of unrighteous men, when we see their unhallowed
actions our heart is driven to the conclusion that they have no religion
whatever. Unholiness is clear evidence of ungodliness. Wickedness is the fruit
of an atheistic root. This may be made clear to the candid head by cogent
reasoning, but it is clear already and intuitively to the pious heart. If God be
everywhere, and I fear him, how can I dare to break his laws in his very
presence? He must be a desperate traitor who will rebel in the monarch's own
halls. Whatever theoretical opinions bad men may avow, they can only be classed
with atheists, since they are such practically. Those eyes which have no fear of
God before them now, shall have the terrors of hell before them for ever.
Verse 2. For. Here is the argument to prove the proposition
laid down in the former verse. David here runs over the process of reasoning by
which he had become convinced that wicked men have no proper idea of God or
respect for him. God fearing men see their sins and bewail them, where the
reverse is the case we may be sure there is no fear of God. He flattereth
himself in his own eyes. He counts himself a fine fellow, worthy of great
respect. He quiets his conscience, and so deceives his own judgment as to reckon
himself a pattern of excellence; if not for morality, yet for having sense
enough not to be enslaved by rules which are bonds to others. He is the free
thinker, the man of strong mind, the hater of cant, the philosopher; and the
servants of God are, in his esteem, mean spirited and narrow minded. Of all
flatteries this is the most absurd and dangerous. Even the silliest bird will
not set traps for itself; the most pettifogging attorney will not cheat himself.
To smooth over one's own conduct to one's conscience (which is the meaning of
the Hebrew) is to smooth one's own path to hell. The descent to eternal ruin is
easy enough, without making a glissade of it, as self flatters do. Until his
iniquity be found to be hateful. At length he is found out and detested,
despite his self conceit. Rottenness smells sooner or later too strong to be
concealed. There is a time when the leprosy cannot be hidden. At last the old
house can no longer be propped up, and falls about the tenant's ears: so there
is a limit to a man's self gratulation; he is found out amid general scorn, and
can no longer keep up the farce which he played so well. If this happens not in
this life, the hand of death will let light in upon the coveted character, and
expose the sinner to shame and contempt. The self flattering process plainly
proves the atheism of sinners, since the bare reflection that God sees them
would render such self flatteries extremely difficult, if not impossible. Belief
in God, like light reveals, and then our sin and evil are perceived; but wicked
men are in the dark, for they cannot see what is so clearly within them and
around them that it stares them in the face.
Verse 3. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit.
This pair of hell dogs generally hunt together, and what one does not catch the
other will; if iniquity cannot win by oppression, deceit will gain by chicanery.
When the heart is so corrupt as to flatter itself, the tongue follows suit. The
open sepulchre of the throat reveals the foulness of the inner nature. God
fearing men make a conscience of their words, and if they sin through infirmity
they do not invent excuses, or go about to boast of their wickedness: but
because wicked men think little of evil and artful speeches, we may be clear
that God rules not in their souls. The original by declaring that the words of
the wicked are falsehood and deceit is peculiarly strong; as if they were not
only false in quality, but actual falseness itself. He hath left off
to be wise, and to do good. From the good way he has altogether gone aside.
Men who fear God proceed from strength to strength in the right path, but
godless men soon forsake what little good they once knew. How could men
apostatise if they had respect unto the supreme Judge? Is it not because they
grow more and more forgetful of God, that in due season they relinquish even
that hypocritical reverence of him which in former days they maintained in order
to flatter their souls?
Verse 4. He deviseth mischief upon his bed. His place of
rest becomes the place for plotting. His bed is a hot bed for poisonous weeds.
God fearing men meditate upon God and his service; but when men turn all their
thoughts and inventive faculties towards evil, their godlessness is proved to a
demonstration. He hath the devil for his bed fellow who lies abed and schemes
how to sin. God is far from him. He setteth himself in a way that is not
good. When he gets up he resolutely and persistently pursues the mischief
which he planned. The worst of ways he prefers for his walking, for he has
taught his heart to love filthiness, having accustomed himself to revel in it in
imagination. He abhorreth not evil. So far from having a contempt and
abhorrence for evil, he even rejoices in it, and patronises it. He never hates a
wrong thing because it is wrong, but he meditates on it, defends it, and
practises it. What a portrait of a graceless man these few verses afford us! His
jauntiness of conscience, his licentiousness of speech, his intentness upon
wrong doing, his deliberate and continued preference of iniquity, and withal his
atheistic heart, are all photographed to the life. Lord, save us from being
Verses 5-9. From the baseness of the wicked the psalmist
turns his contemplation to the glory of God. Contrasts are impressive.
Verse 5. Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens. Like the
ethereal blue, it encompasses the whole earth, smiling upon universal nature,
acting as a canopy for all the creatures of earth, surmounting the loftiest
peaks of human provocations, and rising high above the mists of mortal
transgression. Clear sky is evermore above, and mercy calmly smiles above the
din and smoke of this poor world. Darkness and clouds are but of earth's lower
atmospheres: the heavens are evermore serene, and bright with innumerable stars.
Divine mercy abides in its vastness of expanse, and matchless patience, all
unaltered by the rebellions of man. When we can measure the heavens, then shall
we bound the mercy of the Lord. Towards his own servants especially, in the
salvation of the Lord Jesus, he has displayed grace higher than the heaven of
heavens, and wider than the universe. O that there atheist could but see this,
how earnestly would he long to become a servant of Jehovah! Thy faithfulness
reacheth unto the clouds. Far, far above all comprehension is the
truth and faithfulness of God. He never fails, nor forgets, nor falters, nor
forfeits his word. Afflictions are like clouds, but the divine truthfulness is
all around them. While we are under the cloud we are in the region of God's
faithfulness; when we mount above it we shall not need such an assurance. To
every word of threat, or promise, prophecy or covenant, the Lord has exactly
adhered, for he is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he
Verse 6. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains. Firm
and unmoved, lofty and sublime. As winds and hurricanes shake not an Alp, so the
righteousness of God is never in any degree affected by circumstances; he is
always just. Who can bribe the Judge of all the earth, or who can, by
threatening, compel him to pervert judgment? Not even to save his elect would
the Lord suffer his righteousness to be set aside. No awe inspired by mountain
scenery can equal that which fills the soul when it beholds the Son of God slain
as a victim to vindicate the justice of the Inflexible Lawgiver. Right across
the path of every unholy man who dreams of heaven stand the towering Andes of
divine righteousness, which no unregenerate sinner can ever climb. Among great
mountains lie slumbering avalanches, and there the young lightnings try their
callow wings until the storm rushes down amain from the awful peaks; so against
the great day of the Lord's wrath the Lord has laid up in the mountains of his
righteousness dreadful ammunition of war with which to overwhelm his
adversaries. Thy judgments are a great deep. God's dealings with
men are not to be fathomed by every boaster who demands to see a why for every
wherefore. The Lord is not to be questioned by us as to why this and why that.
He has reasons, but he does not choose to submit them to our foolish
consideration. Far and wide, terrible and irresistible like the ocean are the
providential dispensations of God: at one time they appear as peaceful as the
unrippled sea of glass; at another tossed with tempest and whirlwind, but
evermore most glorious and full of mystery. Who shall discover the springs of
the sea? He who shall do this may hope to comprehend the providence of the
Into thy dark, unknown, mysterious caves,
And secret haunts unfathomably deep,
Beneath all visible retired, none went
And came again to tell the wonders there."
Yet as the deep mirrors the sky, so the mercy of the Lord is to
be seen reflected in all the arrangements of his government on earth, and over
the profound depth the covenant rainbow casts its arch of comfort, for the Lord
is faithful in all that he doeth. O Lord, thou preservest man and
beast. All the myriads of creatures, rational and irrational, are fed by
Jehovah's hand. The countless beasts, the innumerable birds, the inconceivable
abundance of fishes, the all but infinite armies of insects, all owe their
continuance of life to the unceasing outgoings of the divine power. What a view
of God this presents to us! What a debased creature must he be who sees no trace
of such a God, and feels no awe of him!
Verse 7. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God. Here we
enter into the Holy of Holies. Benevolence, and mercy, and justice, are
everywhere, but the excellence of that mercy only those have known whose faith
has lifted the veil and passed into the brighter presence of the Lord; these
behold the excellency of the Lord's mercy. The word translated excellent
may be rendered "precious; "no gem or pearl can ever equal in value a sense of
the Lord's love. This is such a brilliant as angels wear. King's regalia are a
beggardly collection of worthless pebbles when compared with the tender mercies
of Jehovah. David could not estimate it, and therefore, after putting a note of
admiration, he left our hearts and imagination, and, better still, our
experience, to fill up the rest. He writes how excellent! because
he cannot tell us the half of it. Therefore the children of men put
their trust under the shadow of thy wings. The best of reasons for the best
of courses. The figure is very beautiful. The Lord overshadows his people as a
hen protects her brood, or as an eagle covers its young; and we as the little
ones run under the blessed shelter and feel at rest. To cower down under the
wings of God is so sweet. Although the enemy be far too strong for us, we have
no fear, for we nestle under the Lord's wing. O that more of Adam's race knew
the excellency of the heavenly shelter! It made Jesus weep to see how they
refused it: our tears may well lament the same evil.
Verse 8. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of
thy house. Those who learn to put their trust in God shall be
received into his house, and shall share in the provision laid up therein. The
dwelling place of the Lord is not confined to any place, and hence reside where
we may, we may regard our dwelling, if we be believers, as one room in the
Lord's great house; and we shall, both in providence and grace, find a soul
contenting store supplied to us as the result of living by faith in nearness to
the Lord. If we regard the assembly of the saints as being peculiarly the house
of God, believers shall, indeed, find in sacred worship the richest spiritual
food. Happy is the soul that can drink in the sumptuous dainties of the
gospel--nothing can so completely fill the soul. And thou shalt make
them drink of the river of thy pleasures. As they have the fruits of Eden to
feed on, so shall they have the river of Paradise to drink from. God's
everlasting love bears to us a constant and ample comfort, of which grace makes
us to drink by faith, and then our pleasure is of the richest kind. The Lord not
only brings us to this river, but makes us drink: herein we see the
condescension of divine love. Heaven will, in the fullest sense, fulfil these
words; but they who trust in the Lord enjoy the antepast even here. The
happiness given to the faithful is that of God himself; purified spirits joy
with the same joy as the Lord himself. "That my joy may be in you, that your joy
may be full."
Verse 9. For with thee is the fountain of life. This verse
is made of simple words, but like the first chapter of John's Gospel, it is very
deep. From the Lord, as from an independent self sufficient spring, all creature
life proceeds, by him is sustained, through him alone can it be perfected. Life
is in the creature, but the fountain of it is only in the Creator. Of spiritual
life, this is true in the most emphatic sense; "it is the Spirit that
quickeneth, ""and we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God." In
thy light shall we see light. Light is the glory of life. Life in the
dark is misery, and rather death than life. The Lord alone can give natural,
intellectual, and spiritual life; he alone can make life bright and lustrous. In
spiritual things the knowledge of God sheds a light on all other subjects. We
need no candle to see the sun, we see it by its own radiance, and then see
everything else by the same lustre. We never see Jesus by the light of self, but
self in the light of Jesus. No inward intelligence of ours leads us to receive
the Spirit's light, but the rather, it often helps to quench the sacred beam;
purely and only by his own illumination, the Holy Ghost lights up the dark
recesses of our heart's ungodliness. Vain are they who look to learning and
human wit, one ray from the throne of God is better than the noonday splendour
of created wisdom. Lord, give me the sun, and let those who will delight in the
wax candles of superstition and the phosphorescence of corrupt philosophy. Faith
derives both light and life from God, and hence she neither dies nor darkens.
Verse 10. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know
thee. We ask no more than a continuance of the past mercy. Lord, extend this
grace of thine to all the days of all who have been taught to know thy faithful
love, thy tenderness, thine immutability and omnipotence. As they have been
taught of the Lord to know the Lord, so go on to instruct them and perfect them.
This prayer is the heart of the believer asking precisely that which the heart
of his God is prepared to grant. It is well when the petition is but the
reflection of the promise. And thy righteousness to the upright in heart.
As thou hast never failed the righteous, so abide thou in the same manner their
defender and avenger. The worst thing to be feared by the man of God is to be
forsaken of heaven, hence this prayer; but the fear is groundless, hence the
peace which faith brings to us. Learn from this verse, that although a
continuance of mercy is guaranteed in the covenant, we are yet to make it a
matter of prayer. For this good thing will the Lord be enquired of.
Verse 11. Let not the foot of pride come against me. The
general prayer is here turned into a particular and personal one for himself.
Pride is the devil's sin. Good men may well be afraid of proud men, for the
serpent's seed will never cease to bite the heel of the godly. Fain would proud
scoffers spurn the saints or trample them under foot: against their malice
prayer lifts up her voice. No foot shall come upon us, no hand shall prevail
against us, while Jehovah is on our side. Let not the hand of the wicked
remove me. Suffer me not to be driven about as a fugitive, nor torn from my
place like an uprooted tree. Violence with both hand and foot, with means fair
and means foul, strove to overthrow the psalmist, but he resorts to his great
Patron, and sings a song of triumph in anticipation of the defeat of his foes.
Verse 12. There are the workers of iniquity fallen. Faith
sees them scattered on the plain. There! before our very eyes sin, death, and
hell, lie prostrate. Behold the vanquished foes! They are cast
down. Providence and grace have dashed them from their vantage ground. Jesus
has already thrown all the foes of his people upon their faces, and in due time
all sinners shall find it so. And shall not be able to rise. The defeat
of the ungodly and of the powers of evil is final, total, irretrievable. Glory
be to God, however high the powers of darkness may carry it at this present, the
time hastens on when God shall defend the right, and give to evil such a fall as
shall for ever crush the hopes of hell; while those who trust in the Lord shall
eternally praise him and rejoice in his holy name.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. To the Chief Musician, has given rise to many
conjectures. In the Septuagint the Hebrew word is translated, eiz to telos, to
the end; a meaning so utterly vague as to defy all reasonable conjecture. ...The
meaning of the term appears to be this: the Psalms in which it occurs were given
in charge by their inspired authors to the Chief Musician overseeing some
specific band of music, whether harps, psalteries, or wind instruments. John
Jebb, A.M., in "A Literal Translation of the Book of Psalms," 1846.
Title. The servant of the Lord. David only uses this title
here and in Psalm eighteen. In both he describes the dealings of God both with
the righteous and the wicked, and it is most fit that at the very outset he
should take his place with the servants of the Lord. C. H. S.
Whole Psalm. First Part. A character of a wicked man
Ps 36:1. 1. He calls evil good Ps 36:2. 2. He continues in it. 3. He is an
hypocrite Ps 36:3. 4. He is obstinate. 5. He is studious in wickedness Ps 36:4.
Second part. God's patience and mercy Ps 36:5-6. 1. To all, even all
creatures. 2. But particularly to his people, which he admires. Upon which
the faithful (1) trust, (2) are satisfied Ps 36:7-8. The Third part. He
prays that this effect may light, 1. On God's people Ps 36:10. 2. On himself Ps
36:11. 3. His acclimation upon it Ps 36:12. William Nicholson (Bishop),
Verse 1. In this Psalm we have a description of sin,
especially as it appears in those who have openly broken God's bands. The
introduction is very striking; The transgression of the wicked saith
within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. How could
the transgression of the wicked speak within the heart of him who
in the inscription of the Psalm declares himself to be the servant of
JEHOVAH? These words are generally understood as signifying that the outward
conduct of the sinner, as often as he thought of it, naturally suggested this
conclusion to his mind, that he was destitute of all fear of God. But they may
perhaps admit of another meaning, equally agreeable to the literal reading;
wickedness, saith of the wicked, within my heart, etc. According to this
view, the psalmist meant that notwithstanding the external pretences of the
wicked, and all their attempts to cover their iniquity, he was certain that they
had no real sense of the presence of God, that they secretly renounced his
authority. How was he assured of this? By a comparison of their conduct with the
dictates of the heart. He could not indeed look into their hearts, but he could
look into his own, and there he found corruption so strong, that were it
not for the fear of God that was implanted within him, he would be as bad as
they. John Jamieson.
Verse 1. It is not the imperfection or shortcoming in the
fear of God, but the being destitute of it altogether, that proveth a wicked
man: There is no fear of God before his eyes. David Dickson.
Verse 1. (last clause). Not having the fear of God
before his eyes, has become inwoven into proceedings in criminal
courts. When a man has no fear of God, he is prepared for any crime. Total depravity is not too strong a term to describe human
wickedness. The sinner has no fear of God. Where that is wanting, how can
there be any piety? And if there is no piety, there must be total want of right
affections, and that is the very essence of depravity. William S. Plumer.
Verse 1. Durst any mock God with flourishes and formalities
in religion, if they feared him? Durst any provoke God to his face by real and
open wickedness, if they feared him? Durst any sin with the judgments of God
fresh bleeding before their eyes, if they feared the Lord and his wrath? Durst
they sin with heaps of precious mercy before their eyes, if they feared the Lord
and his goodness? Durst any flatter either others or themselves with hopes of
impunity in their sin, if they feared the Lord and his truth? Durst any slight
their own promises, professions, protestations, oaths, or design the entangling
of others by them, rather than the binding of themselves, did they fear the Lord
and his faithfulness, even the Lord who keepeth covenant and promise for ever?
All these and many more transgressions of the wicked (all these ways of
transgression are found among the wicked, it were well if none of them were
found among those who have a name of godliness; I say, all these transgressions
of the wicked) say, There is no fear of God before their eyes. Joseph
Verse 1. The wicked man has no regard to the oracles
of God: he had one in his own heart, which dictates nothing but rebellion.
Verse 2. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes. The
matter which this self flattery especially concerns is sin, as appears from the
following clause. He deceives himself as to its nature and consequences, its
evil and aggravations, and he continues to do so until his iniquity be found
to be hateful; till it be fully discovered, and appear in its magnitude and
atrocious circumstances both to himself and others, by some awful divine
judgment, such as that mentioned in the last verse of the Psalm: "There are
the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be
able to rise." He adduces this self deceit and continuance in it, as
illustrating the truth of that judgment he had formed of the state of such a
person: There is no fear of God before his eyes: for he flattereth
himself in his own eyes. And surely the proof is incontrovertible. For a man
under the bondage of sin would never flatter himself in his own eyes,
were it not that God is not before them. The reason why he thinks so well of
himself is, that God is not in all his thoughts. He hath cast off all
fear about himself because he hath no fear of God. John Jamieson.
Verse 2. He flattereth himself. 1. Some flatter themselves
with a secret hope, that there is no such thing as another world. 2. Some
flatter themselves that death is a great way off, and that they shall
hereafter have much opportunity to seek salvation. 3. Some flatter themselves
that they lead moral and orderly lives, and therefore think that they
shall not be damned. 4. Some make the advantages under which they live an
occasion of self flattery. They flatter themselves that they live in a place
where the gospel is powerfully preached, and among a religious people, where
many have been converted; and they think it will be much easier for them to be
saved on that account. 5. Some flatter themselves with their own
intentions. They intend to give themselves liberty for a while longer,
and then to reform. 6. There are some who flatter themselves that they
do, and have done, a great deal for their salvation, and therefore
hope they shall obtain it; when indeed they neither do what they ought to do,
nor what they might do even in their present state of unregeneracy; nor are they
in any likely way to be converted. 7. Some hope by their strivings to obtain
salvation of themselves. They have a secret imagination that they shall,
by degrees, work in themselves sorrow and repentance of sin, and love towards
God and Jesus Christ. Their striving is not so much an earnest seeking to God,
as a striving to do themselves that which is the work of God. 8. Some sinners
flatter themselves that they are already converted. They sit down and
rest in a false hope, persuading themselves that all their sins are pardoned;
that God loves them; that they shall go to heaven when they die; and that they
need trouble themselves no more. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased
with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched,
and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Re 3:17. Condensed from
Verse 2. In his own eyes. He had not God before his eyes in
holy awe, therefore he puts himself there in unholy admiration. He who makes
little of God makes much of himself. They who forget adoration fall into
adulation. The eyes must see something, and if they admire not God, they will
flatter self. C. H. S.
Verse 2. Until his iniquity be found to be hateful; that is,
until he finds by experience that it is a more dreadful thing to sin against
God, and break his holy commands, than he imagined. Jonathan Edwards.
Verse 2. Hateful. Odious to himself, others, and to God.
Gilbert Genebrard, 1537-1597.
Verse 3. He hath left off. That little light he once had, he
hath lost, and cast off such good practices as once in hypocrisy he performed;
neither will he learn to do better. John Trapp.
Verse 3. (last clause). Apostasy from God is really
an undoing of all the good which we have done. It is a wicked repentance quite
contrary to the grace of repentance; as that is a repentance from dead works, so
this is a repentance from works of a better sort: He hath left off to
be wise, and to do good. It is a perversion to evil after a seeming
conversion from it. Timothy Cruso.
Yet did he spare his sleep, and hear the clock
Number the midnight watches, on his bed
Devising mischief more; and early rose,
And made most hellish meals of good men's names.
From door to door you might have seen him speed,
Or placed amid a group of gaping fools.
Peace fled the neighbourhood in which he made
His haunts; and, like a moral pestilence,
Before his breath the healthy shoots and blooms
Of social joy and happiness decayed.
Fools only in his company were seen,
And those forsaken of God, and to themselves
Given up. The prudent shunned him and his house
As one who had a deadly moral plague.
--Robert Pollock, 1799-1827.
Verse 4. He deviseth mischief upon his bed. As the man that
fears God communes with his heart upon his bed, that he may not sin, no, not in
his heart; so the man that fears not God, devises how he may plot and perform
sin willingly. David Dickson.
Verse 4. Upon his bed. Most diligently does Ayguan follow up
the scriptural expressions concerning a bed, and tell us that there are six
different beds of wickedness--that of luxury, that of avarice, of ambition, of
greediness, of torpor, and of cruelty, and he illustrates them all by examples
from Scripture. J. M. Neale.
Verse 4. He setteth himself in a way that is not good. To
wait to sin is to sin deliberately, yea, to wait to sin resolvedly. That sin is
exceedingly sinfully committed which we set and prepare ourselves to commit.
David, describing a wicked man, saith, He setteth himself in a way
that is not good; that is, in an evil way: he doth not only fall into sin
(that may be the case of a good man), but he takes or chooseth an evil way, and
then sets or settles himself in it, resolving not to leave it, no, nor to be
beaten out of it. Sin may be said to wait for a godly man, that is, Satan waits
and watches his season to tempt him unto sin; but a godly man doth not wait nor
watch to sin. It is bad enough to be overtaken with sin, or with a fault (as the
apostle speaks, Ga 6:1); but to be taken with sin, and so to wait for a season
to take our fill of it, is as bad as bad can be. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 4. He setteth himself in a way that is not good. Proud
sinners have strongest conceit that they go right, at least in the way of their
choice. Satan blindeth them so, that they mistake both the end and the way: in
their count they are running to heaven, when they are posting to hell: he
serveth them kindly with fresh post horses. Sometimes he mounts them on
drunkenness, and when they have run a stage on that beastliness, he can mount
them on lechery. Again, he can refresh them with avarice; and if they be weary
of that slow jade, he setteth them on lofty ambition, and to make them more
spirited he can horse them on restless contention. Every one seeth not Satan's
enquiry: there is no complexion or disposition, but he hath a fit horse for it,
and that of itself. Every man's predominant is a beast of Satan's saddling and
providing to carry men to hell. The way is one, the post master is one, he is to
be found at every stage, mounting his gallants, their horses are all of one kind
though not of one colour. Happy is the man whom God dismounts in that evil way,
and more happy is he who taketh with that stay, and turneth his course to
heaven. William Struther.
Verse 4. He abhorreth not. i.e., is far enough from
rejecting any instrument, however sinful, for attaining his purposes. J. J.
Verse 5. Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens. David
considering the thoughts and deeds of impious men, and the mercy of God towards
them, utters this exclamation. When men are so impudently, who does not admire
the divine longsuffering! Sebastian Munster, 1489-1552.
Verses 5-7. This Psalm doth fitly set forth unto us the
estate and condition of these times, wherein wickedness increaseth: and so in
the former part of the Psalm is a discovery of wickedness, verse 3. And what
should we do when there is such wickedness in the earth? In the fifth verse,
Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth
unto the clouds. God is gathering up all goodness, mercy, and peace from man
to himself; and though there is cruelty, mischief, and wickedness in the world,
in the earth, yet there is mercy, truth, and faithfulness in the clouds; and
it's good that wisdom, goodness, truth, and righteousness leave the world, and
cleave to God, that so we may follow it; and that what goodness, mercy, truth,
and faithfulness we formerly enjoyed in man, we may enjoy it in God. And when
wickedness increaseth, righteousness increaseth likewise: Thy righteousness
is like the great mountains: when the world tears and breaks itself
in pieces, then is the righteousness of God a great mountain. Thy judgments
are a great deep; when the whole world is become one sea of
confusion, then are the judgments of the Lord a great deep, where not only man,
but beasts may rest safely. Thou preservest man and beast. And though
this time is a time of growing and spreading wickedness in man, yet it is a time
of sweetest admiration and love in God; and when men that sin do cry out, O
woeful man! they that enjoy God, cry out, O happy man! And though men that live
in the earth cry out, O miserable! what times are here? men that live in heaven
cry out, How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! The Lord makes all
things naked and bare, that we only may have him to be our safety. William
Sedgwick (1600-1668). In "The Excellency of the love of God, "a
sermon in a volume, entitled "Some Flashes of Lightnings of the Son of
Thy mercie Lord doth to the HEAUENS extend,
Thy faithfulness doth to the CLOUDES assend;
Thy justice stedfast as a MOUNTAINE is,
Thy JUDGEMENTS deepe as is the great Abisse;
Thy noble mercies saue all liueinge thinges,
The sonnes of men creepe underneath thy winges:
With thy great plenty they are fedd at will,
And of thy pleasure's streame they drinke their fill;
For euen the well of life remaines with thee,
And in thy glorious light wee light shall see.
--Sir John Davies.
Verse 6. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains.
Literally mountains of God, which men have not planted, and which men
cannot move. Christopher Wordsworth.
Verse 6. Thy judgments are a great deep. Men's sins are a
great deep, and Satan's ways are called a depth; but God's judgments, his ways
in the wheels, are the greatest deep of all, they are unsearchable. William
Verse 7. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! etc.
The expressions here which denote the abundance of divine blessings upon the
righteous man, seems to be taken from the temple, from whence they were to
issue. Under the covert of the temple, the wings of the cherubim, they were to
be sheltered. The richness of the sacrifices, the streams of oil, wine, odours,
etc., and the light of the golden candlestick, are all plainly referred to.
Verse 7. Therefore the children of men put their trust under
the shadow of thy wings. The word signifies to fly, to betake one's
self to a place of safety: as the chickens in danger to be seized on, fly under
the wings of the hen. "Under whose wings thou art come to trust." Ru 2:12. The
helpless bird pursued by the kite, in danger to be devoured, runs under the
shadow of the dam. Thus it is with a sinner at the first working of faith, he
apprehends himself pursued by wrath and judgment; he knows if they seize on him
he must perish without remedy. Oh, the sad condition of such a soul! Oh, but he
sees Christ spreading his wings ready to secure perishing sinners; he hears him
inviting in the gospel to come under his shadow! Oh, how sweet is that voice to
him (however, while senseless he rejected it)! He hears, obeys, and runs to
Christ for shelter, and so he is safe. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O
God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of
thy wings. David Clarkson.
Verse 7. Thy wings. A common figure in the Psalms, taken
more immediately, in my opinion, from the wings of the cherubim overshadowing
the mercyseat which covered the ark; but more remotely from the birds, which
defend their young from the solar rays by overshadowing them with their wings.
Francis Hare (Bishop), 1740.
In lonesome cell, guarded and strong I lie,
Bound by Christ's love, his truth to testify,
Though walls be thick the door no hand unclose,
God is my strength, my solace, and repose.
In a letter of Jeronius Segerson, written in the prison at
Antwerp to his wife, named Lysken, who likewise lay a prisoner there, 1551.
Verse 9. For with thee is the fountain of life. These are
some of the most wonderful words in the Old Testament. Their fulness of meaning
no commentary can ever exhaust. They are, in fact, the kernel and the
anticipation of much of the profoundest teaching of S. John. J. J. Stewart
Verse 9. In thy light shall we see light. The object and
matter of our eternal happiness is called light. It will not be a
dazzling and confounding light as was the brightness of Moses' face at his
coming down from the mount; the people could not behold him: it will not be an
astonishing light, as that in the mount at our Lord's transfiguration; the
disciples fell to the ground, their weak eyes could not behold those glimpses of
glory that shined through the vail of flesh. But the light in our heaven of
happiness will be a strengthening and comforting light; it will
strengthen and confirm the eyes of our understanding to behold it. Then shall we
be enabled as the young eagles, to behold the Sun of Righteousness in his
brightness and glory. It was said by the Lord to Moses, "None can see my face
and live." Ex 33:20. That glorious sight which Daniel saw took strength from
him. Da 10:8. The object being without him, drew out all his spirits to behold
and admire it and so weakened him; but in heaven our God, whom we shall see and
know, will be within us to strengthen us; then shall we live because we see his
face. It will be also a comforting light, like the light of the morning
to the wearied watchman, who longed after it in the nighttime. William
Verse 9. In thy light shall we see light. It is but a kind
of dim twilight comparatively, which we enjoy here in this world. While we are
hid in this prison house we can see but little; but our Father's house above is
full of light; "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun,
"etc. Mt 13:43. If the Day star be risen in your hearts, live in the
pleasant and cheerful expectation of perfect day. For we can ascend but a little
way into the mysteries of the kingdom, as long as we are upon the footstool; and
we shall know vastly and inconceivably more in the first moment after we come to
heaven, than we are capable of attaining here throughout all our days.
Verse 9. In thy light shall we see light. The light of
nature is like a spark, the light of the gospel a lamp, the light of grace a
star, but the light of glory the sun itself. The higher our ascent the greater
our light; God dwelleth "in the light which no man can approach unto." 1Ti 6:16
--no man, while he carries mortality and sin about him; but when those two
corrupt and incapable qualities shall be put off, then shall we be brought to
that light. We are now glad of the sun and stars over our heads, to give us
light: what light and delight shall that be when these are under our feet! That
light must needs go as far beyond their light as they now go beyond us. But
alas! they are only able to discourse of that light, that do enjoy it, to whom
that eternal day is risen; not we that live in the humble shade of mortality and
natural dimness. I leave it therefore to your meditations: it is a glorious
light which we do well often to consider, considering to admire, admiring to
love, loving to desire, desiring to seek, and finding to enjoy for ever.
Verse 9. In thy light shall we see light. There is a great
boast of light in the world, and there is some ground for it in natural things;
but, as of old the world by wisdom knew not God, so of late. If ever we know
God, it must be through he medium of his word. This I take to be the meaning of
the passage. The term light in the last clause means the true knowledge
of God; and, in the first, the true medium of attaining it, namely, divine
revelation. The sum seems to amount to this: the word of God is the grand medium
by which we can attain a true and saving knowledge of God. What the sun and
stars are to the regions of matter, that revelation is to the mental region. Ge
1:13,17. ...There are many things of which you may entertain no doubt,
concerning which there may be no manner of dispute; yet, make a point of seeing
them in God's light. Many content themselves with seeing them in the light in
which great and good men have placed them; but, though angels, they are not the
true light: they all view things partially. If what they say be true, yet, if we
receive it merely on their representation, our faith will stand in the wisdom of
men, and not in the power of God. 1Co 2:5. That knowledge or faith which has not
God's word for its ground will not stand in the day of trial. Andrew
Verse 9. In this communion of God what can we want? Why, God
shall be all and in all unto us; he shall be beauty for the eye, music for the
ear, honey for the taste, the full content and satisfaction of our desires, and
that immediately from himself. True it is God is all in all in this world, "In
him we live, and move, and have our being; " but here he works by means of
secondary causes; here he gives wine to make the heart glad, and oil, etc.; but
there all intervening means between God and us is removed: with thee is the
fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light; not in the light
of the sun, or the light of a candle; there is no need of them Re 22:5; but "in
thy light, "the light of God himself; yea, the whole life of glory,
together with all the concomitants of it, flows from him as the sole and
original fountain of it. Oh, how sweet must that happiness be that is so
derived! Edmund Pinchbeck, B.D., in "The Fountain of Life:" a Funeral
Verse 9. Whatsoever can be found in the creature, even when
God blesseth the use thereof to his own children, is but a drop from the ocean,
is but a little water out of the well, in comparison of what a believer will see
and feel to be in God reconciled through Christ, for with thee is the
fountain of life. David Dickson.
Verse 10. Continue thy lovingkindness. When God begins once
to let out mercy to his servants, he stints not presently, but proceeds. ...When
Rachel had her first son, she called his name Joseph, which signifieth adding,
or increase; for she said, "The Lord shall add to me another son." Ge 30:24. Now
God hath begun to show kindness, he shall not only give me this, but he shall
give me another son also. When the Lord hath bestowed one mercy on you, you may
name it Joseph, increase, addition, for God will bestow another upon you.
Abraham had many mercies from God, one after another; and Moses, a multitude of
mercies; he converses with God face to face; he hears God speak; he has God's
presence to go along with him; yea, he sees all God's goodness and glory to pass
before him. When mercies come forth, God will not presently shut the door of
mercy again. Continue thy lovingkindness. The Hebrew is, draw
forth, or draw out thy lovingkindness: a metaphor either taken from vessels of
wine, which being set abroach once, yield not only one cup, but many cups; so
when God setteth abroach the wine of his mercy, he will not fill your cup once,
but twice and seven times: or, taken from a mother, who hath her breasts full of
milk, draws them out for her child, not once, but often; the child shall have
the breast many times in the day, and many times in the night, so when God
begins to show mercy to you, he will draw out his breasts of consolation, and
will bestow mercy after mercy upon you; or, from a line which is extended, for
so God being in a way of mercy, will extend the line of mercy, and measure out
mercy after mercy for you. William Greenhill.
Verse 10. The true mark of a godly man standeth in the
conjunction of faith in God, with sincere study of obedience to him, for, He
is the man that knoweth God, and is upright in heart. David
Verse 11. Foot...Hand. Both foot and hand are named because
both used in waging war. Simeon de Muis.
Verse 12. There are the workers of iniquity fallen. This is
said as if the psalmist pointed, when he said it, to a particular place with his
finger; and the same mode of expression occurs in Ps 14:5; or, it may be
rendered, then (i.e., when the just are satisfied with the plenteousness
of thy house, being rewarded for sincerely worshipping thee in it), shall
they fall, all that work wickedness; they shall be cast down, and shall
not be able to rise, as is the case with persons who have been thrown with
violence upon the hard ground. Daniel Cresswell.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. What is the fear of God? How does it operate? What
is the effect of its absence? What should we learn from seeing such evil
results? Or the atheism underlying transgression.
Verse 2. The arts, motives, assistances, results, and
punishments of self flattery, and the discovery which concludes it.
Verse 2. Self flatteries. Jonathan Edwards' Sermon.
Verse 2. On the deceitfulness of the heart, with regard to
the commission of sin. Two Sermons, in Jamieson's "Sermons on the Heart."
Verse 3. Bad words. Two out of many kinds.
Verse 3. (second clause). The relation between true
wisdom and practical goodness.
Verse 4. Diligence in doing evil, a mark of deep depravity.
Verse 4. The abuse of retirement to wicked purposes, a sure
characteristic of an habitual sinner. N. Marshall.
Verse 4. The sinner on his bed, in his conduct, in his
heart; and to this, in his death, and in his doom.
Verse 4. (second clause). Ways which are not good.
Verse 4. (last clause). Neutrality condemned.
Verses 5-6. Four glorious similes of the mercy, faithfulness,
and providence of God. The preacher has here a wealth of poetic imagery never
Verse 6. God's word and works mysterious. C. Simeon.
Verse 6. (second clause). God's judgments are--
1. Often unfathomable--we cannot discover the foundation or
cause, and spring of them.
2. They are safe sailing. Ships never strike on rocks out in
the great deeps.
3. They conceal great treasure.
4. They work much good--the great deep, though ignorance thinks
it to be all waste, a salt and barren wilderness, is one of the greatest
blessings to this round world.
5. They become a highway of communion with God. The sea is
today the great highway of the world.
Verse 6. (last clause). Kindness of God to the lower
animals, as well as man.
Verse 7. The object, reasons, nature, and experience of
Verses 7-8. Admiration! Confidence! Expectation! Realisation!
Verse 8. (first clause). The provisions of the
Lord's house. What they are, their excellence and abundance, and for
Verse 8. (second clause). The heavenly
Hiddekel --Its source, its flood, the happy drinkers, how they came to drink.
Verse 9. (first clause). LIFE, natural, mental,
spiritual, proceeds from God, is sustained, restored, purified, and perfected by
him. In him it dwells with permanency, from him it flows freely, with freshness,
abundance, and purity; to him it should be consecrated.
Verse 9. (second clause). LIGHT, what it is to see
it. Divine light, what it is; how it is the medium by which we see other
light. The experience here described, and the duty here hinted at.
1. The character of the righteous --he knows God, and is
upright in heart.
2. His privilege --lovingkindness and righteousness.
3. His prayer, continue, etc.
Verse 10. The need of daily supplies of grace.
Verse 12. A view of the overthrow of evil powers,
principles, and men.