Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. Of David. There is but this word to denote the
authorship; whether it was a song or a meditation we are not told. It was
written by David in his old age Ps 37:25, and is the more valuable as the record
of so varied an experience.
SUBJECT. The great riddle of the prosperity of the wicked
and the affliction of the righteous, which has perplexed so many, is here dealt
with in the light of the future; and fretfulness and repining are most
impressively forbidden. It is a Psalm in which the Lord hushes most sweetly the
too common repinings of his people, and calms their minds as to his present
dealings with his own chosen flock, and the wolves by whom they are surrounded.
It contains eight great precepts, is twice illustrated by autobiographical
statements, and abounds in remarkable contrasts.
DIVISION. The Psalm can scarcely be divided into
considerable sections. It resembles a chapter of the book of Proverbs, most of
the verses being complete in themselves. It is an alphabetical Psalm: in
somewhat broken order, the first letters of the verses follow the Hebrew
alphabet. This may have been not only a poetical invention, but a help to
memory. The reader is requested to read the Psalm through without comment before
he turns to our exposition.
Verse 1. The Psalm opens with the first precept. It is alas!
too common for believers in their hours of adversity to think themselves harshly
dealt with when they see persons utterly destitute of religion and honesty,
rejoicing in abundant prosperity. Much needed is the command, Fret not
thyself because of evildoers. To fret is to worry, to have the heartburn, to
fume, to become vexed. Nature is very apt to kindle a fire of jealousy when it
sees lawbreakers riding on horses, and obedient subjects walking in the mire: it
is a lesson learned only in the school of grace, when one comes to view the most
paradoxical providences with the devout complacency of one who is sure that the
Lord is righteous in all his acts. It seems hard to carnal judgments that the
best meat should go to the dogs, while loving children pine for want of it.
Neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. The same
advice under another shape. When one is poor, despised, and in deep trial, our
old Adam naturally becomes envious of the rich and great; and when we are
conscious that we have been more righteous than they, the devil is sure to be at
hand with blasphemous reasonings. Stormy weather may curdle even the cream of
humanity. Evil men instead of being envied, are to be viewed with horror and
aversion; yet their loaded tables, and gilded trappings, are too apt to
fascinate our poor half opened eyes. Who envies the fat bullock the ribbons and
garlands which decorate him as he is led to the shambles? Yet the case is a
parallel one; for ungodly rich men are but as beasts fattened for the slaughter.
Verse 2. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass. The
scythe of death is sharpening. Green grows the grass, but quick comes the
scythe. The destruction of the ungodly will be speedy, sudden, sure,
overwhelming, irretrievable. The grass cannot resist or escape the mower. And
wither as the green herb. The beauty of the herb dries up at once in the
heat of the sun, and so all the glory of the wicked shall disappear at the hour
of death. Death kills the ungodly man like grass, and wrath withers him like
hay; he dies, and his name rots. How complete an end is made of the man whose
boasts had no end! Is it worth while to waste ourselves in fretting about the
insect of an hour, an ephemeral which in the same day is born and dies? Within
believers there is a living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for
ever; why should they envy mere flesh, and the glory of it, which are but as
grass, and the flower thereof?
Verse 3. Trust in the Lord. Here is the second precept, and
one appropriate to the occasion. Faith cures fretting. Sight is cross-eyed, and
views things only as they seem, hence her envy: faith has clearer optics to
behold things as they really are, hence her peace. And do good. True
faith is actively obedient. Doing good is a fine remedy for fretting. There is a
joy in holy activity which drives away the rust of discontent. So shalt thou
dwell in the land. In "the land" which floweth with milk and honey;
the Canaan of the covenant. Thou shalt not wander in the wilderness of
murmuring, but abide in the promised land of content and rest. "We which have
believed do enter into rest." Very much of our outward depends upon the inward:
where there is heaven in the heart there will be heaven in the house. And
verily thou shalt be fed, or shepherded. To integrity and faith
necessaries are guaranteed. The good shepherd will exercise his pastoral care
over all believers. In truth they shall be fed, and fed on truth. The promise of
God shall be their perpetual banquet; they shall neither lack in spirituals nor
in temporals. Some read this as an exhortation, "Feed on truth; "
certainly this is good cheer, and banishes for ever the hungry heart burnings of
Verse 4. There is an ascent in this third precept. He who
was first bidden not to fret, was then commanded actively to trust, and now is
told with holy desire to delight in God. Delight thyself also in the
Lord. Make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit. Bad men delight in
carnal objects; do not envy them if they are allowed to take their fill in such
vain idols; look thou to thy better delight, and fill thyself to the full with
thy more sublime portion. In a certain sense imitate the wicked; they delight in
their portion--take care to delight in yours, and so far from envying you will
pity them. There is no room for fretting if we remember that God is ours, but
there is every incentive to sacred enjoyment of the most elevated and ecstatic
kind. Every name, attribute, word, or deed of Jehovah, should be delightful to
us, and in meditating thereon our soul should be as glad as is the epicure who
feeds delicately with a profound relish for his dainties. And he shall give
thee the desires of thine heart. A pleasant duty is here rewarded
with another pleasure. Men who delight in God desire or ask for nothing but what
will please God; hence it is safe to give them carte blanche.
Their will is subdued to God's will, and now they may have what they will. Our
innermost desires are here meant, not our casual wishes; there are many things
which nature might desire which grace would never permit us to ask for; these
deep, prayerful, asking desires are those to which the promise is made.
Verse 5. Commit thy way unto the Lord. Roll the whole burden
of life upon the Lord. Leave with Jehovah not thy present fretfulness merely,
but all thy cares; in fact, submit the whole tenor of thy way to him. Cast away
anxiety, resign thy will, submit thy judgment, leave all with the God of all.
What a medicine is this for expelling envy! What a high attainment does this
fourth precept indicate! How blessed must he be who lives every day in obedience
to it! Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Our
destiny shall be joyfully accomplished if we confidently entrust all to our
Lord. We may serenely sing--
"Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
O lead me by thine own right hand,
Choose out the path for me."
"Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it matters not,
It leads me to thy rest."
"I dare not choose my lot,
I would not if I might;
But choose Thou for me, O my God,
So shall I walk aright."
"Take thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill;
As ever best to thee may seem,
Choose thou my good and ill."
The ploughman sows and harrows, and then leaves the harvest to
God. What can he do else? He cannot cover the heavens with clouds, or command
the rain, or bring forth the sun or create the dew. He does well to leave the
whole matter with God; and so to all of us it is truest wisdom, having
obediently trusted in God, to leave results in his hands, and expect a blessed
Verse 6. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the
light. In the matter of personal reputation we may especially be content to
be quiet, and leave our vindication with the Judge of all the earth. The more we
fret in this case the worse for us. Our strength is to sit still. The Lord will
clear the slandered. If we look to his honour, he will see to ours. It is
wonderful how, when faith learns to endure calumny with composure, the filth
does not defile her, but falls off like snowballs from a wall of granite. Even
in the worst cases, where a good name is for awhile darkened, Providence will
send a clearing like the dawning light, which shall increase until the man once
censured shall be universally admired. And thy judgment as the
noonday. No shade of reproach shall remain. The man shall be in his meridian
of splendour. The darkness of his sorrow and his ill repute shall both flee
Verse 7. Rest in the Lord. This fifth is a most divine
precept, and requires much grace to carry it out. To hush the spirit, to be
silent before the Lord, to wait in holy patience the time for clearing up the
difficulties of Providence--that is what every gracious heart should aim at.
"Aaron held his peace:" "I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." A silent
tongue in many cases not only shows a wise head, but a holy heart. And wait
patiently for him. Time is nothing to him; let it be nothing to thee. God is
worth waiting for. "He never is before his time, he never is too late." In a
story we wait for the end to clear up the plot; we ought not to prejudge the
great drama of life, but stay till the closing scene, and see to what a finis
the whole arrives. Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in
his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
There is no good, but much evil, in worrying your heart about the present
success of graceless plotters: be not enticed into premature judgments--they
dishonour God, they weary yourself. Determine, let the wicked succeed as they
may, that you will treat the matter with indifference, and never allow a
question to be raised as to the righteousness and goodness of the Lord. What if
wicked devices succeed and your own plans are defeated! there is more of the
love of God in your defeats than in the successes of the wicked.
Verse 8. Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Especially
anger against the arrangements of Providence, and jealousies of the temporary
pleasures of those who are so soon to be banished from all comfort. Anger
anywhere is madness, here it is aggravate insanity. Yet since anger will try to
keep us company, we must resolvedly forsake it. Fret not thyself in any wise
to do evil. By no reasonings and under no circumstances be led into such a
course. Fretfulness lies upon the verge of great sin. Many who have indulged a
murmuring disposition have at last come to sin, in order to gain their fancied
rights. Beware of carping at others, study to be yourself found in the right
way; and as you would dread outward sin, tremble at inward repining.
Verse 9. For evil doers shall be cut off. Their death shall
be a penal judgment; not a gentle removal to a better state, but an execution in
which the axe of justice will be used. But those that wait upon the
Lord --those who in patient faith expect their portion in another
life--they shall inherit the earth. Even in this life they have the most
of real enjoyment, and in the ages to come theirs shall be the glory and the
triumph. Passion, according to Bunyan's parable, has his good things first, and
they are soon over; Patience has his good things last, and they last for ever.
Verse 10. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not
be. When bad men reach to greatness, the judgments of God frequently sweep
them away; their riches melt, their power decays, their happiness turns to
wretchedness; they themselves cease any longer to be numbered with the living.
The shortness of life makes us see that the glitter of the wicked great is not
true gold. O wherefore, tried believer, dost thou envy one who in a little while
will lie lower than the dust? Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his
place, and it shall not be. His house shall be empty, his chair of office
vacant, his estate without an owner; he shall be utterly blotted out, perhaps
cut off by his own debauchery, or brought to a deathbed of penury by his own
extravagance. Gone like a passing cloud--forgotten as a dream-- where are his
boastings and hectorings, and where the pomp which made poor mortals think the
Verse 11. But the meek shall inherit the earth. Above all
others they shall enjoy life. Even if they suffer, their consolations shall
overtop their tribulations. By inheriting the land is meant obtaining covenant
privileges and the salvation of God. Such as are truly humble shall take their
lot with the rest of the heirs of grace, to whom all good things come by a
sacred birthright. And shall delight themselves in the abundance of
peace. Peace they love and peace they shall have. If they find not abundance
of gold, abundance of peace will serve their turn far better. Others find joy in
strife, and thence arises their misery in due time, but peace leads on to peace,
and the more a man loves it the more shall it come to him. In the halcyon period
of the latter days, when universal peace shall make glad the earth, the full
prophetic meaning of words like these will be made plain.
Verses 12-15. Here is the portrait of a proud oppressor armed
to the teeth.
Verse 12. The wicked plotteth against the just. Why can he
not let the good man alone? Because there is enmity between the serpent's seed
and the seed of the woman. Why not attack him fairly? Why plot and scheme?
Because it is according to the serpent's nature to be very subtle. Plain sailing
does not suit those who are on board of "The Apollyon." And gnashed upon him
with his teeth. The wicked show by their gestures what they would do if they
could; if they cannot gnaw they will gnash; if they may not bite they will at
least bark. This is precisely what the graceless world did with "that just One,
"the Prince of Peace. Yet he took no vengeance upon them, but like a silent lamb
received injuries in patience.
Verse 13. The Lord shall laugh at him. The godly man needs
not trouble himself, but leave well deserved vengeance to be dealt out by the
Lord, who will utterly deride the malice of the good man's enemies. Let the
proud scorner gnash his teeth and foam at the mouth; he has one to deal with who
will look down upon him and his ravings with serene contempt. For he seeth
that his day is coming. The evil man does not see how close his destruction
is upon his heels; he boasts of crushing others when the foot of justice is
already uplifted to trample him as the mire of the streets. Sinners, in the hand
of an angry God, and yet plotting against his children! Poor souls, thus to run
upon the point of Jehovahs's spear.
Verse 14. The wicked have drawn out the sword. They hold
their weapon out of its sheath, and watch for a time to use it. And have
bent their bow. One weapon is not enough, they carry another ready for
action. They carry so strong a bow that they have trodden upon it to bend
it--they will lose nothing for want of force or readiness. To cast down the
poor and needy. These are their game, the objects of their accursed malice.
These cowards attack not their equals, but seek out those excellent ones who,
from the gentleness of their spirits and the poverty of their estates, are not
able to defend themselves. Note how our meek and lowly Lord was beset by cruel
foes, armed with all manner of weapons to slay him. And to slay such
as be of upright conversation. Nothing short of the overthrow and death of
the just will content the wicked. The sincere and straightforward are hated by
the crafty schemers who delight in unrighteousness. See, then, the enemies of
the godly doubly armed, and learn how true were our Lord's words, "If ye were of
the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of this world,
but I have chosen you our of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
Verse 15. Their sword shall enter into their own heart. Like
Haman they shall be hanged upon the gallows built by themselves for Mordecai.
Hundreds of times has this been the case. Saul, who sought to slay David, fell
on his own sword; and the bow, his favourite weapon, the use of which he taught
the children of Israel, was not able to deliver him on Gilboa. And their bows
shall be broken. Their inventions of evil shall be rendered useless. Malice
outwits itself. It drinks the poisoned cup which it mixed for another, and burns
itself in the fire which it kindled for its neighbour. Why need we fret at the
prosperity of the wicked when they are so industriously ruining themselves while
they fancy they are injuring the saints? The next nine verses mainly describe
the character and blessedness of the godly, and the light is brought out with a
few black touches descriptive of the wicked and their doom.
Verse 16. A little that a righteous man hath is better than
the riches of many wicked. This is a fine proverb. The little of one
good man is contrasted with the riches of many wicked, and so the expression is
rendered the more forcible. There is more happiness in the godly dinner of herbs
than in the stalled ox of profane rioters. In the original there is an allusion
to the noise of a multitude, as if to hint at the turmoil and hurly burly of
riotous wealth, and to contrast it with the quiet of the humbler portion of the
godly. We would sooner hunger with John than feast with Herod; better feed on
scant fare with the prophets in Obadiah's cave than riot with the priests of
Baal. A man's happiness consists not in the heaps of gold which he has in store.
Content finds multum in parvo, while for a wicked heart the whole world
is too little.
Verse 17. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken. Their
power to do mischief shall be effectually taken away, for the arms which they
lifted up against God shall be crushed even to the bone. God often makes
implacable men incapable men. What is a more contemptible sight than toothless
malice, armless malevolence! But the Lord upholdeth the righteous.
Their cause and course shall be safe, for they are in good keeping. The sword of
two edges smites the wicked and defends the just.
Verse 18. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright. His
foreknowledge made him laugh at the proud, but in the case of the upright he
sees a brighter future, and treats them as heirs of salvation. Ever is this our
comfort, that all events are known to our God, and that nothing in our future
can take him at unawares. No arrow can pierce us by accident, no danger smite us
by stealth; neither in time nor eternity can any unforeseen ill occur to us.
Futurity shall be but a continual development of the good things which the Lord
has laid up in store for us. And their inheritance shall be for
ever. Their inheritance fades not away. It is entailed, so that none cam
deprive them of it, and preserved, so that none shall destroy it. Eternity is
the peculiar attribute of the believer's portion: what they have on earth is
safe enough, but what they shall have in heaven is theirs without end.
Verse 19. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time.
Calamities will come, but deliverances will come also. As the righteous never
reckoned upon immunity from trouble, they will not be disappointed when they are
called to take their share of it, but the rather they will cast themselves anew
upon their God, and prove again his faithfulness and love. God is not a friend
in the sunshine only, he is a friend indeed and a friend in need. And in the
days of famine they shall be satisfied. Their barrel of meal and
cruse of oil shall last out the day of distress, and if ravens do not bring them
bread and meat, the supply of their needs shall come in some other way, for
their bread shall be given them. Our Lord stayed himself upon this when he
hungered in the wilderness, and by faith he repelled the tempter; we too may be
enabled not to fret ourselves in any wise to do evil by the same consideration.
If God's providence is our inheritance, we need not worry about the price of
wheat. Mildew, and smut, and bent, are all in the Lord's hands. Unbelief cannot
save a single ear from being blasted, but faith, if it do not preserve the crop,
can do what is better, namely, preserve our joy in the Lord.
Verse 20. But the wicked shall perish. Whatever phantom
light may mock their present, their future is black with dark, substantial
night. Judgment has been given against them, they are but reserved for
execution. Let them flaunt their scarlet and fine linen, and fare sumptuously
every day; the sword of Damocles is above their heads, and if their wits were a
little more awake, their mirth would turn to misery. The enemies of the Lord
shall be as the fat of lambs. As the sacrificial fat was all consumed upon
the altar, so shall the ungodly utterly vanish from the place of their honour
and pride. How can it be otherwise? If the stubble dares to contend with the
flame, to what end can it hope to come? They shall consume. As dry wood,
as heaps of leaves, as burning coals, they shall soon be gone, and gone
altogether, for into smoke shall they consume away. Sic transit gloria
mundi. A puff is the end of all their puffing. Their fuming ends in smoke.
They made themselves fat, and perished in their own grease. Consumers of the
good they tried to be, and consumed they shall be.
Verse 21. The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again. Partly
because he will not, but mainly because he cannot. Want follows upon waste, and
debt remains undischarged. Often are the wicked thus impoverished in this life.
Their wanton extravagance brings them down to the usurer's door and to the
bankrupt's suit. But the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth,
Mercy has given to him, and therefore he gives in mercy. He is generous and
prosperous. He is not a borrower, but a giver. So far as the good man can do it,
he lends an ear to the requests of need, and instead of being impoverished by
what he imparts, he grows richer, and is able to do more. He does not give to
encourage idleness, but in real mercy, which supposes real need. The text
suggests to us how much better it generally is to give than to lend. Generally,
lending comes to giving in the end, and it is as well to anticipate the fact,
and by a little liberality forestall the inevitable. If these two sentences
describe the wicked and the righteous, the writer of these lines has reason to
know that in and about the city of London the wicked are very numerous.
Verse 22. For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the
earth. God's benediction is true wealth after all. True happiness, such as
the covenant secures to all the chosen of heaven, lies wrapped up in the divine
favour. And they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. His frown
is death; nay, more, It is hell.
Verse 23. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.
All his course of life is graciously ordained, and in lovingkindness all is
fixed, settled, and maintained. No reckless fate, no fickle chance rules us; our
every step is the subject of divine decree. He delighteth in his
way. As parents are pleased with the tottering footsteps of their babes. All
that concerns a saint is interesting to his heavenly Father. God loves to view
the holy strivings of a soul pressing forward to the skies. In the trials and
the joys of the faithful, Jesus has fellowship with them, and delights to be
their sympathising companion.
Verse 24. Though he fall. Disasters and reverses may lay him
low; he may, like Job, be stripped of everything; like Joseph, be put in prison;
like Jonah, be cast into the deep. He shall not be utterly cast
down. He shall not be altogether prostrate. He shall be brought on his
knees, but not on his face; or, if laid prone for a moment, he shall be up again
ere long. No saint shall fall finally or fatally. Sorrow may bring us to the
earth, and death may bring us to the grave, but lower we cannot sink, and out of
the lowest of all we shall arise to the highest of all. For the Lord
upholdeth him with his hand. Condescendingly, with his own hand, God
upholds his saints; he does not leave them to mere delegated agency, he affords
personal assistance. Even in our falls the Lord gives a measure of sustaining.
Where grace does not keep from going down, it shall save from keeping down. Job
had double wealth at last, Joseph reigned over Egypt, Jonah was safely landed.
It is not that the saints are strong, or wise, or meritorious, that therefore
they rise after every fall, but because God is their helper, and therefore none
can prevail against them.
Verse 25. This was David's observation, I have been
young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor
his seed begging bread. It is not my observation just as it
stands, for I have relieved the children of undoubtedly good men, who have
appealed to me as common mendicants. But this does not cast a doubt upon the
observation of David. He lived under a dispensation more outward, and more of
this world than the present rule of personal faith. Never are the righteous
forsaken; that is a rule without exception. Seldom indeed do their seed beg
bread; and although it does occasionally occur, through dissipation, idleness,
or some other causes on the part of their sons, yet doubtless it is so rare a
thing that there are many alive who never saw it. Go into the union house and
see how few are the children of godly parents; enter the gaol and see how much
rarer still is the case. Poor minster's sons often become rich. I am not old,
but I have seen families of the poor godly become rich, and have seen the Lord
reward the faithfulness of the father in the success of the son, so that I have
often thought that the best way to endow one's seed with wealth is to become
poor for Christ's sake. In the Indian mission of the "Baptist Missionary
Society, "this is abundantly illustrated.
Verse 26. He is ever merciful, and lendeth. The righteous
are constantly under generous impulses; they do not prosper through parsimony,
but through bounty. Like the bounteous giver of all good, of whom they are the
beloved sons, they delight in doing good. How stingy covetous professors can
hope for salvation is a marvel to those who read such verses as this in the
Bible. And his seed is blessed. God pays back with interest in the
next generation. Where the children of the righteous are not godly, there must
be some reason for it in parental neglect, or some other guilty cause.
The friend of the father is the friend of the family. The God of Abraham is the
God of Isaac and of Jacob.
Verses 27-29. Here we have the seventh precept, which takes a
negative and positive form, and is the quintessence of the entire Psalm
Verse 27. Depart from evil, and do good. We must not envy
the doers of evil, but depart altogether from their spirit and example. As Lot
left Sodom without casting a look behind, so must we leave sin. No truce or
parley is to be held with sin, we must turn away from it without hesitation, and
set ourselves practically to work in the opposite direction. He who neglects to
do good will soon fall into evil. And dwell for evermore. Obtain an
abiding and quiet inheritance. Short lived are the gains and pleasures of evil,
but eternal are the rewards of grace.
Verse 28. For the Lord loveth judgment. The awarding of
honour to whom honour is due is God's delight, especially when the upright man
has been traduced by his fellow men. It must be a divine pleasure to right
wrongs, and to defeat the machinations of the unjust. The great Arbiter of human
destinies is sure to deal out righteous measure both to rich and poor, to good
and evil, for such judgment is his delight. And forsaketh not his saints.
This would not be right, and, therefore, shall never be done. God is as faithful
to the objects of his love as he is just towards all mankind. They are
preserved for ever. By covenant engagements their security is fixed,
and by suretyship fulfilments that safety is accomplished; come what may, the
saints are preserved in Christ Jesus, and because he lives, they shall live
also. A king will not lose his jewels, nor will Jehovah lose his people. As the
manna in the golden pot, which else had melted, was preserved in the ark of the
covenant beneath the mercyseat, so shall the faithful be preserved in the
covenant by the power of Jesus their propitiation. But the seed of the wicked
shall be cut off. Like the house of Jeroboam and Ahab, of which not a dog
was left. Honour and wealth ill gotten seldom reach the third generation; the
curse grows ripe before many years have passed, and falls upon the evil house.
Among the legacies of wicked men the surest entail is a judgment on their
Verse 29. The righteous shall inherit the land. As heirs
with Jesus Christ, the Canaan above, which is the antitype of "the land, " shall
be theirs with all covenant blessing. And dwell therein for ever.
Tenures differ, but none can match the holding which believers have of heaven.
Paradise is theirs for ever by inheritance, and they shall live for ever to
enjoy it. Who would not be a saint on such terms? Who would fret concerning the
fleeting treasures of the godless?
Verse 30. The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom. Where
the whole Psalm is dedicated to a description of the different fates of the just
and the wicked, it was meet to give a test by which they could be known. A man's
tongue is no ill index of his character. The mouth betrays the heart. Good men,
as a rule, speak that which is to edifying, sound speech, religious
conversation, consistent with the divine illumination which they have received.
Righteousness is wisdom in action, hence all good men are practically wise men,
and well may the speech be wise. His tongue talketh of judgment. He
advocates justice, gives an honest verdict on things and men, and he foretells
that God's judgments will come upon the wicked, as in the former days. His talk
is neither foolish nor ribald, neither vapid nor profane. Our conversation is of
far more consequence than some men imagine.
Verse 31. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps
shall slide. The best thing in the best place, producing the best
results. Well might the man's talk be so admirable when his heart was so well
stored. To love holiness, to have the motives and desires sanctified, to be in
one's inmost nature obedient to the Lord--this is the surest method of making the
whole run of our life efficient for its great ends, and even for securing the
details of it, our steps from any serious mistake. To keep the even tenor
of one's way, in such times as these, is given only to those whose hearts are
sound towards God, who can, as in the text, call God their God. Policy slips and
trips, it twists and tacks, and after all is worsted in the long run, but
sincerity plods on its plain pathway and reaches the goal.
Verse 32. The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to
slay him. If it were not for the laws of the land, we should soon see
a massacre of the righteous. Jesus was watched by his enemies, who were
thirsting for his blood: his disciples must not look for favour where their
Master found hatred and death.
Verse 33. The Lord will not leave him in his hand. God often
appears to deliver his servants, and when he does not do so in this life as to
their bodies, he gives their souls such joy and peace that they triumphantly
rise beyond their tormentors' power. We may be in the enemy's hand for awhile,
as Job was, but we cannot be left there. Nor condemn him when he is
judged. Time shall reverse the verdict of haste, or else eternity shall
clear away the condemnation of time. In due season just men will be justified.
Temporary injustices are tolerated, in the order of Providence, for purposes
most wise; but the bitter shall not always be called sweet, nor light for ever
be traduced as darkness; the right shall appear in due season; the fictitious
and pretentious shall be unmasked, and the real and true shall be revealed. If
we have done faithfully, we may appeal from the petty sessions of society to the
solemn assize of the great day.
Verse 34. Wait on the Lord. We have here the eighth precept,
and it is a lofty eminence to attain to. Tarry the Lord's leisure. Wait in
obedience as a servant, in hope as an heir, in expectation as a believer. This
little word "wait" is easy to say, but hard to carry out, yet faith must do it.
And keep his way. Continue in the narrow path; let no haste for riches or
ease cause unholy action. Let your motto be, "On, on, on." Never flag, or dream
of turning aside. "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." And
he shall exalt thee to inherit the land. Thou shalt have all of
earthly good which is really good, and of heavenly good there shall be no stint.
Exaltation shall be the lot of the excellent. When the wicked are cut
off, thou shalt see it. A sight how terrible and how instructive! What a
rebuke for fretfulness! what an incentive to gratitude! My soul, be still, as
you foresee the end, the awful end of the Lord's enemies.
Verse 35. A second time David turns to his diary, and this
time in poetic imagery tells us of what he had observed. It were well if we too
took notes of divine providences. I have seen the wicked in great
power. The man was terrible to others, ruling with much authority, and
carrying things with a high hand, a Caesar in might, a Croesus in wealth. And
spreading himself like a green bay tree. Adding house to house and field to
field, rising higher and higher in the state. He seemed to be ever verdant like
a laurel, he grew as a tree in its own native soil, from which it had never been
transplanted. No particular tree is here meant, a spreading beech or a wide
expanding oak may serve us to realize the picture; it is a thing of earth, whose
roots are in the clay; its honours are fading leaves; and though its shadow
dwarfs the plants which are condemned to pine beneath it, yet it is itself a
dying things as the feller's axe shall prove. In the noble tree, which claims to
be king of the forest, behold the grandeur of the ungodly today; wait awhile and
wonder at the change, as the timber is carried away, and the very root torn from
Verse 36. Yet he passed away. Tree and man both gone, the
son of man as surely as the child of the forest. What clean sweeps death makes!
And, lo, he was not. To the surprise of all men the great man was gone,
his estates sold, his business bankrupt, his house alienated, his name
forgotten, and all in a few months. Yea, I sought him, but he could
not be found. Moved by curiosity, if we enquire for the ungodly, they have
left no trace; like birds of ill omen none desire to remember them. Some of the
humblest of the godly are immortalized, their names are imperishably fragrant in
the church, while of the ablest of infidels and blasphemers hardly their names
are remembered beyond a few years. Men who were in everybody's mouths but
yesterday are forgotten tomorrow, for only virtue is immortal.
Verse 37. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright.
After having watched with surprise the downfall of the wicked, give your
attention to the sincerely godly man, and observe the blessed contrast. Good men
are men of mark, and are worth our study. Upright men are marvels of grace, and
worth beholding. For the end of that man is peace. The man of
peace has an end of peace. Peace without end comes in the end to the man of God.
His way may be rough, but it leads home. With believers it may rain in the
morning, thunder at midday, and pour in torrents in the afternoon, but it must
clear up ere the sun goes down. War may last till our last hour, but then we
shall hear the last of it.
Verse 38. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together.
A common ruin awaits those who are joined in common rebellion. The end
of the wicked shall be cut off. Their time shall be shortened, their
happiness shall be ended, their hopes for ever blasted, their execution hastened
on. Their present is shortened by their sins; they shall not live out half their
days. They have no future worth having, while the righteous count their future
as their true heritage.
Verse 39. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.
Sound doctrine this. The very marrow of the gospel of free grace. By salvation
is meant deliverance of every kind; not only the salvation which finally
lands us in glory, but all the minor rescues of the way; these are all to be
ascribed unto the Lord, and to him alone. Let him have glory from those to whom
he grants salvation. He is their strength in the time of trouble. While
trouble overthrows the wicked, it only drives the righteous to their strong
Helper, who rejoices to uphold them.
Verse 40. And the Lord shall help them. In all future time
Jehovah will stand up for his chosen. Our Great Ally will bring up his forces in
the heat of the battle. He shall deliver them from the wicked. As
he rescued Daniel from the lions, so will he preserve his beloved from their
enemies; they need not therefore fret, nor be discouraged. And save them,
because they trust in him. Faith shall ensure they safety of the elect. It
is the mark of the sheep by which they shall be separated from the goats. Not
their merit, but their believing, shall distinguish them. Who would not try the
walk of faith? Whoever truly believes in God will be no longer fretful against
the apparent irregularities of this present life, but will rest assured that
what is mysterious is nevertheless just, and what seems hard, is, beyond a
doubt, ordered in mercy. So the Psalm ends with a note which is the death knell
of the unhallowed disquietude with which the Psalm commenced. Happy they who can
thus sing themselves out of ill frames into gracious conditions.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The righteous are preserved in Christ with a
special preservation, and in a peculiar safety. In the thirty-seventh Psalm this
point is excellently and largely handled, both by direct proof, and by answer to
all the usual objections against their safety. That they shall be preserved is
affirmed, Ps 37:3,17,23,25,32. The objections answered are many.
Objection 1. Wicked men flourish. Solution. A
righteous man should never grieve at that, for "they shall soon be cut down like
the grass, and wither as the green herb." Ps 37:2.
Objection 2. Righteous men are in distress. Solution
--Ps 37:6. The night of their adversity will be turned into the light of
prosperity; and as surely as they can believe when it is night that it shall be
day, so surely may they be persuaded when crosses are upon them, that comfort
and deliverance shall come.
Objection 3. But there are great plots laid against the
righteous, and they are pursued with great malice, and their intended ruin is
come almost to the very issue. Solution --Ps 37:12-15. The Lord sees all
the plots of wicked men, and laughs at their spiteful and foolish malice; while
they are busy to destroy the righteous, and hope to have a day against them,
"The Lord seeth that their own day is coming upon them, even a day of
destruction, a day of great judgment and eternal misery; "their bow shall be
broken, and the sword that they have drawn shall enter into their own heart.
Objection 4. But the just have but small means.
Solution --Ps 37:16-17. "A little that a righteous man hath is better than
the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the
Lord upholdeth the righteous."
Objection 5. Heavy times are like to befall them.
Solution --Ps 37:19. "They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in
the days of famine they shall have enough."
Objection 6. But the wicked wax fatter and fatter, and they
prevail in vexing the righteous. Solution --Ps 37:20. Indeed the wicked
are fat, but it is but "the fat of lambs, "their prosperity shall soon melt; and
as they be like smoke in vexing the godly, so shall they be like smoke in
Objection 7. But the righteous do fall. Solution --Ps
37:24. Though he do fall, yet he falls not finally, nor totally, for he "is not
utterly cast down; "and besides, there is an upholding providence of God in all
the falls of the righteous.
Objection 8. We see some wicked men that do not so fall
into adversity, but rather are in prosperity to their dying days.
Solution --Ps 37:28. Though they do, yet, "their seed shall be cut off."
Objection 9. But some wicked men are strong yet, and in
their seed spread also. Solution --Ps 37:35-36. Note also that these
"spreading bay trees" many times "soon pass away; "and they and their houses are
sometimes "utterly cut off."
Objection 10. But upright men are under many and long
crosses. Solution --Ps 37:37. Yet "his end is peace."
Objection 11. But nobody stands for the godly when they
come into question. Solution --Ps 37:39-40. "Their salvation is of the
Lord; "he is their strength, he will help them and deliver them, etc.
But if we would be thus delivered, observe: 1. That we must not
unthankfully fret at God's providence Ps 37:1. 2. We must "trust in the Lord and
do good" Ps 37:3. 3. We must "delight ourselves in the Lord, "and not place our
contentment on earthly things Ps 37:4. 4. We must "commit our ways to God" Ps
37:5. 5. We must get patience and humble affections Ps 37:7-11. 6. We must be of
upright conversation Ps 37:14. 7. We must be merciful Ps 37:25-26. 8. We must
"speak righteous things, "and get "the law into our hearts" Ps 37:30-31. 9. We
must "keep our way, "and "wait on God" and not use ill means. Nicolas
Whole Psalm. This Psalm may well be styled, The good man's
cordial in bad times; a sovereign plaister for the plague of discontent; or, a
choice antidote against the poison of impatience. Nathaniel Hardy, in a
Funeral Sermon, 1649.
Whole Psalm. This Psalm very much reminds one in its
construction of the sententious and pithy conciseness of the Book of Proverbs.
It does not contain any prayer, nor any direct allusion to David's own
circumstances of persecution or distress. It is rather the utterance of sound
practical wisdom and godliness from the lips of experience and age, such as we
might suppose an elder of the church, or a father of a family, to let fall as he
sat with his household gathered around him, and listening to his earnest and
affectionate admonitions. Barton Bouchier.
Whole Psalm. The present Psalm is one of the alphabetical
Psalms, it is called "Providentiae speculum, "by Tertullian;
"Potio contra murmur, "by Isidore; "Vestis piorum, "by
Luther. Christopher Wordsworth.
Verse 1. Fret, or, inflame not, burn not thyself with anger
or grief. John Diodati.
Verse 1. Neither be thou envious, etc. Queen Elizabeth
envied the milkmaid when she was in prison; but if she had known what a glorious
reign she should have had afterwards for forty-four years, she would not have
envied her. And as little needeth a godly man, though in misery, to envy a
wicked man in the ruff of all his prosperity and jollity, considering what he
hath in hand, much more what he hath in hope. John Trapp.
Verse 1. Would it not be accounted folly in a man that is
heir to many thousands per annum that he should envy a stage player, clothed in
the habit of a king, and yet not heir to one foot of land? who, though he have
the form, respect, and apparel of a king or nobleman, yet he is, at the same
time, a very beggar, and worth nothing? Thus, wicked men, though they are
arrayed gorgeously, and fare deliciously, wanting nothing, and having more that
heart can wish, yet they are but only possessors: the godly Christian is the
heir. What good doth all their prosperity do them? It does but hasten their
ruin, not their reward. The ox that is the labouring ox is the longer lived than
the ox that is in the pasture; the very putting of him there doth but hasten his
slaughter; and when God puts the wicked men into fat pastures, into places of
honour and power, it is but to hasten their ruin. Let no man, therefore, fret
himself because of evil doers, nor be envious at the prosperity of the wicked;
for the candle of the wicked shall be put into everlasting darkness; they shall
soon be cut off, and wither as a green herb. Ludovic de Carbone, quoted by
Verse 2. Cut down like the grass, with a scythe, and even at
one blow. Thomas Wilcocks.
Verse 2. Wither. O bitter word, which will make the ears of
them that hear it to tingle! O sentence intolerable, which deprives sinners of
all good things, and bringeth them to all woe! The Lord sometime accursed the
fig tree, and immediately, not only the leaves, but also the body and root were
wholly withered: even so, that fearful curse of the last day shall be no less
effectual; for on whomsoever it falleth is shall so scorch them, and shall so
make them destitute of God's grace, that they shall never more be able to do, to
speak, think, or to hope for any good thing. Thomas Tymme.
Verse 2. Green herb. We cannot gather riper fruit of
patience from any tree than is found upon the low shrubs of man's short life;
for if that fretting canker of envy at the prosperity of the wicked have
overrun thy mind, a malady from which the saints have no shelter to be freed,
out of this apothecary's shop take antidote; either thy time is short to behold
it, or theirs shorter to enjoy is; "they are set in slippery places, and are
suddenly destroyed, "Ps 73:18; "They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment
go down to the grave, " Job 21:13; They shall soon be cut down like the
grass, and wither as the green herb. Edmund Layfield's Sermon,
entitled "The Mappe of Man's Mortality and Vanity", 1630.
Verse 2. Sometimes the wicked, like the green herb, wither
in their spring, they fall in their rise, they perish in the beginnings of their
mischievous designs; but if they do come to a full growth, they grow but to
harvest, the fit season of their cutting off. Robert Mossom.
Verse 3. Note well the double precept trust and
do. This is the true order, the two must go together, the one produces,
the other proves; the promise is to both. C. H. S.
Verse 3. So shall thou dwell in the land, etc. Thou shalt
have a settlement, a quiet settlement, and a maintenance, a comfortable
maintenance: Verily thou shalt be fed; some read it, Thou shalt be fed by
faith, as the just are said to live by faith, and it is good living, good
feeding upon the promises. Verily thou shalt be fed, as Elijah in
the famine, with what is needful for thee. God himself is a shepherd, a feeder
to all those that trust in him, Ps 23:1. Matthew Henry.
Verse 3. So shalt thou dwell in the land, etc. The land of
Canaan was considered as the sum of earthly, and the type of heavenly felicity:
to be provided for in the Lord's land, and there to dwell under his protection,
near his ordinances, and among his people, was all that the genuine Israelite
could desire. Thomas Scott (1744-1821) in loc.
Verse 3. Thou shalt be fed. A manner of speech taken from
cattle feeding securely, under the conduct and keeping of a good shepherd.
Verse 3. Thou shalt be fed. Fed in plenty. Thomas Secker
Verse 3. Fed in security. John Parkhurst.
Verse 4. Note thy part and God's part. Do thou delight,
and he will give. C. H. S.
Verse 4. How much grace and love breathes in these words,
Delight thyself also in the Lord! Trust in him was recommended
before, and now, this being added also, how plain is it that your ease and rest
is the thing designed! Is it fit to receive so much kindness with neglect?
Again, he delights in you; I speak to such of whom this may be supposed.
And it is indefinitely said, "His delights were with the sons of men, "Pr 8:31.
Think what he is, and what you are; and at once, both wonder and yield. And what
else have you to delight in? what thing will you name that shall supply the
place of GOD, or be to you in the stead of him? Moreover, who should delight in
him but you--his friends, his sons, those of his own house? Think what life and
vigour it will infuse into you, and that "the joy of the Lord will be your
strength, "Ne 8:10. How pleasantly will you hold on your course, and discharge
all the other duties of this your present state? You must serve him. Dare you
think of throwing off his yoke? How desirable is it then to take delight in him
whom I must serve; which only makes that service acceptable to him, and easy to
myself! Further, this is a pleasure none can rob you of; a joy that cannot be
taken from you. Other objects of your delight are vanishing daily. Neither men
nor devils can ever hinder you delighting in God, if your hearts be so inclined.
And were you never brought to take pleasure in any person or thing to which you
had a former aversion? One that had wronged you might yet possibly win you by
after kindness. Give a reason why you should be more difficult towards the
blessed God that never wronged you, and whose way towards you hath constantly
imported so much good will! And consider that your condition on earth is such as
exposes you to many sufferings and hardships, which, by your not delighting in
him, you can never be sure to avoid (for they are things common to men), but
which, by your delighting in him, you may be easily able to endure. Besides all
this, seriously consider that you must die. You can make no shift to avoid that.
How easily tolerable and pleasant will it be to think, then, of going to him
with whom you have lived in a delightful communion before! And how dreadful to
appear before him to whom your own heart shall accuse you to have been (against
all his importunities and allurements) a disaffected stranger! John Howe's
"Treatise of Delight in God."
Verse 4. We have in the former part extended the meaning of
the words Delight thyself in the Lord, beyond what they seem at first
sight literally to signify; so as not to understand them merely as requiring
that very single act of delight to be immediately and directly terminated
on God himself; but to take them as comprehending all the sum of all holy and
religious converse with God, i.e., as it is delightful, or as it is seasoned
(intermingled, and as it were besprinkled) with delight; and upon the same
account, of all out other converse, so far as it is influenced by religion. And
I doubt not, to such as shall attentively have considered what hath been said,
it will be thought very reasonable to take them in that latitude; whereof the
very letter of the text (as may be alleged for further justification hereof) is
most fitly capable. For the particle which we read in the Lord, hath not
that signification alone, but signifies also with, or by, or
besides, or before, or in presence of, as if it had
been said, "Come and sit down with God, retire thyself to him, and solace
thyself in the delights which are to be found in his presence and converse, in
walking with him, and transacting thy course as before him, and in his sight."
As a man may be said to delight himself with a friend that puts himself under
his roof, and, besides personal converse with himself, freely enjoys the
pleasure of all the entertainments, accommodations, and provisions which he is
freely willing to communicate with him, and hath the satisfaction which a sober
person would take in observing the rules and order of a well governed house.
Verse 4. He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. It
shall be unto thee even as thou wilt. It is said of Luther that he could have
what he would of Almighty God. What may not a favourite, who hath the royalty of
his prince's care, obtain of him? John Trapp.
Verse 4. The desires of thine heart. All the desires of this
spiritual seed are of the nature of this seed, namely, substantial, and shall
meet with substance. All the desires of natural man, even after God, after
Christ, after righteousness, shall burn and perish with him (for they are not
the truth, nor do they come from the truth, nor can they reach to the truth;)but
all the desires of this spirit shall live with the Spirit of God, in rest and
satisfaction for ever. John Pennington, 1656.
Verse 4. The desires of God, and the desires
of the righteous, agree in one; they are of one mind in their desires. John
Verse 5. Commit thy way unto the Lord, etc. When we bear the
burden of our own affairs ourselves, and are chastised with anxiety and want of
success, and with envying the ungodly who prosper better than we do, the best
remedy is first to do our duty, as we are enabled in the use of the means, then
cast the care of the success over on God, as the ploughman doth when he hath
harrowed his land; and let the burden of it rest on God, and let us not take it
off him again, but put our mind to rest, resolved to take the harvest in good
part, as he shall send it. David Dickson.
Verse 5. Commit thy way unto the Lord, is rendered by the
Vulgate, Revela viam Domino, reveal thy way; and by St. Ambrose,
understood of revealing our sins to God. Indeed, since it is impossible to
cover, why should we not discover our sins? Conceal not that which God knoweth
already, and would have thee to make known. It is a very ill office to be the
devil's secretary. Oh, break thy league with Satan be revealing his secrets, thy
sins, to God. Nathaniel Hardy.
Verse 5. Commit thy way unto. Margin and Hebrew, Roll thy
way upon --as one who lays upon the shoulder of one stronger than
himself a burden which he is not able to bear. William De Burgh, D.D., in "A
Commentary on the Book of Psalms. Dublin:" 1860.
Verse 5. Note the double again, Commit and
trust. C. H. S.
Verse 5. He shall bring it to pass. When a hard piece of
work is put into the hand of an apprentice for the first assay of his skill, the
beholders are justly afraid of a miscarriage in his young and inexperienced
hand; but when the worker is an old master of craft, none are afraid but his
cunning hand can act again what so oft it hath wrought to the contentment of all
the beholders. Were our God a novice in the great art of governing the world,
and of the church in the bosom thereof; had he to this day never given any proof
of his infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, in turning about the most terrible
accidents to the welfare and joy of his saints; we might indeed be amazed
whenever we feel ourselves sinking in the dangers wherein the practices of our
enemies oft do plunge us over head and ears; but the Lord having given in times
past so many documents of his uncontroverted skill and most certain will to
bring about all human affairs, as to his own glory, so to the real good of all
that love him, it would be in us an impious and unexcusable uncharitableness to
suspect the end of any work which he hath begun. Robert Baylie's Sermon
before the House of Commons, 1643.
Verses 5, 7.
To God thy way commending,
Trust him whose arm of might,
The heavenly circles bending,
Guides every star aright:
The winds, and clouds, and lightning,
By his sure hand are led;
And he will dark shades brightening.
Show thee what path to tread.
Although to make God falter,
The powers of hell combine,
One jot they cannot alter
Of his all wise design:
All projects and volition
Of his eternal mind,
Despite all opposition,
Their due fulfilment find.
No more, then, droop and languish,
Thou sorrow stricken soul;
Even from the depths of anguish,
Whose billows over thee roll,
Thy Father's hand shall draw thee:
In hope and patience stay,
And joy will soon shed over thee
An ever brightening ray.
All faithless murmurs leaving,
Bid them a last good night,
No more thy vexed soul grieving,
Because things seem not right;
Wisely his sceptre wielding,
God sits in regal state,
No power to mortals yielding,
Events to regulate.
Trust with a faith untiring
In thine Omniscient King,
And thou shalt see admiring
What he to light will bring.
Of all thy griefs, the reason
Shall at the last appear:
Why now denied a season,
Will shine in letters clear.
Then raise thine eyes to heaven,
Thou who canst trust his frown;
Thence shall thy meed be given,
The chaplet and the crown:
Thy God the palm victorious
In thy right hand shall plant,
Whilst thou, in accents glorious,
Melodious hymns shall chant.
--Paul Gerhard (1606-1676), translated by Frances
Elizabeth Cox, in "Hymns from the German, "1864.
Verse 6. He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light,
etc. If thou shouldest be accused as a man of evil designs, let not that
trouble thee neither: for though thy fame may be obscured for a time by
calumnies and slanders, as the sun is by mists and clouds, yet as that scatters
them all at last, so shall thy integrity appear, and shine as bright as the sun
at noonday. Symon Patrick.
Verse 7. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. There
are two words in the original, which express the privilege and the duty of
resting on Christ: one implies such a state of acquiescence, as silences the
clamours of conscience, and composes the perturbation of the spirit; the other
signifies the refreshment and repose of a weary pilgrim, when he arrives at the
end of his journey, and is settled for life in a secure, commodious, plentiful
habitation. James Hervey.
Verse 7. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Take
the case of one who, with a load above his strength, has been toiling some steep
and broken path, when suddenly he finds it lifted off and transferred to another
whose strength he knows to be more than equal to the task, and in whose sympathy
he can securely trust. What would his feeling be but one of perfect rest, and
calm reliance, and joyous freedom, as they went on their way together? And such
is the blessedness of rolling our care upon the Lord--in weakness we are resting
on superior strength, in perplexity and doubt we are resting on superior wisdom,
in all times of trial and hard service we can stay ourselves on the assurance of
his perfect sympathy. The literal meaning of the word rest, is be
silent towards the Lord. With the eye fixed on him let all unbelieving
thoughts be stilled, such thoughts as rise and rankle in the querulous spirit
when it sees only its troubles, and not God in them, when the mists of earth
hide from its sight the eternal stars of heaven. Then like Jacob, it may say
morosely, "All these things are against me; "or, like Elijah, despondently, "It
is enough now, O Lord, take away my life; "or, like Jonah, fretfully, "I do well
to be angry." In regard to all such dark and unbelieving suggestions, the heart
is to keep silence, to be still and know that he is God; silent as to murmuring,
but not silent as to prayer, for in that holy meditative stillness the heart
turns to commune with him. What is "resting in God, "but the instinctive
movement and upward glance of the spirit to him; the confiding all one's griefs
and fears to him, and feeling strengthened, patient, hopeful in the act of doing
so! It implies a willingness that he should choose for us, a conviction that the
ordering of all that concerns us is safer in his hands than in our own.
A few practical remarks: 1. Our "resting patiently" in
the Lord applies only to the trials which he sends, not to the troubles which
even Christians often make for themselves. There is a difference in the burdens
that come in the way of duty, and those that come through our wandering into
other ways. We can roll the one upon the Lord, but with the other our punishment
may be to be left to bear them long, and to be bruised in bearing them. 2. The
duty here enjoined is to be carried through all our life. We all admit that
patient waiting is needed for the great trials of life, but may not
acknowledge so readily that it is needed as much for little, daily, commonplace
vexations. But these are as much a test of Christian principle as the other. 3.
This resting in God is a criterion of a man's spiritual state. It needs a
special faculty of discernment, a new sense to be opened in the soul, before our
fallen nature can understand or desire it. James D. Burns, M.A.
Verse 7. (first clause). Hold thee still (so
it may be translated). And this is the hardest precept that is given to man;
insomuch that the most difficult precept of action sinks into nothing when
compared with this command to inaction. Jerome.
Verse 7. (first clause). The Hebrew word rendered
silent is (owr), dom, from
which the English word dumb appears to be derived. The silence here
enjoined is opposed to murmuring or complaining. James Anderson, in Calvin's
Verse 7. Note again the twin duties, rest and
Verse 7. Bringeth wicked devices to pass. Observe the
opposition between this and God's bringing to pass, in verse five. The
ground for grief is that the ungodly appear to achieve their end, the reason for
comfort is that our end shall be achieved also, and that in the best manner by
God himself. C. H. S.
Verse 8. Forsake wrath; which is anger wrought up to a
greater degree; and the rather to be shunned and avoided, as being very
disagreeable to the character of a good man. Fret not thyself in any
wise to do evil; evil may be done by fretting at the prosperity of wicked
men, or by imitating them, doing as they do, in hope of being prosperous as they
are. John Gill.
Verse 9. They shall inherit the earth. He means that they
shall live in such a manner as that the blessing of God shall follow them, even
to the grave. John Calvin.
Verse 10. Thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall
not be. To wit, because he shall be grubbed up by the roots.
Verse 10. His place...shall not be. The very land he
occupied as a home, and the title to which was unimpeachable, is no longer
his place. It has passed into other hands. Nothing of all he had
on earth is his. He is as poor as the most miserable object that subsisted on
alms. William S. Plumer.
Verse 10. The peacock, a glorious fowl, when he beholds that
comely fan and circle which he maketh of the beautiful feathers of his tail, he
rejoiceth, he setteth, and beholdeth every part thereof: but when he looketh on
his feet, which he perceiveth to be black and foul, he by and by, with great
misliking, vails his top gallant, and seemeth to sorrow. In like manner, a great
many know by experience, that when they see themselves to abound in riches and
honours, they glory and are deeply conceited of themselves; they praise their
fortune, and admire themselves; they make plots, and appoint much for themselves
to perform in many years to come. This year, they say, we will bear this office,
and the next year that; afterward we shall have the rule of such a province;
then we will build a palace in such a city, whereunto we will adjoin such
gardens of pleasure, and such vineyards: and thus they make a very large
reckoning aforehand, who if they did but once behold their feet, if they did but
think upon the shortness of their life, so transitory and inconstant; how soon
would they let fall their proud feathers, forsake their arrogancy, and change
their purpose, their minds, their lives, and their manners. Thomas Tymme.
Verse 11. The meek shall inherit the earth. In the meantime,
they, and they only, possess the present earth, as they go toward the kingdom of
heaven, by being humble, and cheerful, and content with what their good God has
allotted them. They have no turbulent, repining, vexatious thoughts that they
deserve better; nor are vexed when they see others possessed of more honour, or
more riches, than their wise God has allotted for their share. But they possess
what they have with a meek and contented quietness; such a quietness as makes
their very dreams pleasing, both to God and themselves. Isaak Walton
(1593-1683), in "The Complete Angler."
Verse 11. The meek. What is thy Beloved more than any other
beloved? It is spoken to the spouse. So what is meekness more than any other
virtues? We may say, here is synecdoche speciei, one particular taken for
the general, one virtue for all the rest. Or the effect is put for the cause;
because meekness is one of the principal and chiefest parts of holiness. But if
you will give me leave to conjecture, the Holy Ghost may seem in this promise at
once to show the condition of the church, and to comfort her; and because being
laid hard at on every side, she stands in need of this virtue more than any
other, to fit and fashion the reward to the virtue, to cherish and exalt it in
us with the promise of something beyond our expectation, even the inheritance
of the earth. And indeed what fitter reward can there be of meekness? What
more fit and just than that they who have been made the anvil for injuries to
beat on, who have been viri perpessitii, as Seneca speaks of Socrates,
men of great sufferance, who have suffered not only their goods to be torn from
them by oppression and wrong, but their reputations to be wounded with the sharp
razor of detraction, and have withstood the shock of all spectantibus
similes, with the patience of a looker on, should be raised and comforted
with a promise of that which their meekness gave up to the spoil; and that by
the providence of God which loves to thwart the practice of the world, they
should be made heirs even of those possessions which the hand of violence hath
snatched from them. Anthony Farindon, B.D., 1596-1658.
Verse 11. Not the hot stirring spirits who bustle for the
world shall have it, but the meek, who are thrust up and down from corner to
corner, and hardly suffered to remain anywhere quietly in it. This earth, which
they seem most deprived of, they only shall have and enjoy. When the Lord hath
made it worth the having, then none shall have it but they. They shall
inherit the earth. The earth is the Lord's; these are the children of the
Lord, and they shall inherit this earth. When the Lord taketh it into his own
possession and enjoyment, they shall succeed him in the possession and enjoyment
of it. It is their right, and shall descend unto them by right, by inheritance.
It is the Lord's right, and by the Lord shall descend to them as their right.
They cannot yet have it, for the Lord hath it not yet; but when the Lord hath
it, it shall fairly descend to them. This accursed earth they shall never have,
but when it is taken into the hands of the Lord, and blessed by the Lord, then
it shall be theirs, then it shall be inherited by the children of blessing.
Verse 11. And shall delight themselves in the abundance of
peace. Surely when the glory of the Lord covers the earth, and all the
kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of the Prince of Peace, and the
wicked one is rooted out, we may well expect peace in rich abundance. W.
Verses 12-13. Note how the gesture of the wicked in
gnashing their teeth is returned to them in the Lord's scornful
laughter at their devices. Their plotting, too, is countermined by that
winding up of all plots, which the Lord knoweth, though they are wilfully
ignorant of it. C. H. S.
Verse 13. The Lord shall laugh at him, etc. He seems to
provide very coldly for our consolation under sorrow, for he represents God as
merely laughing. But if God values highly our salvation, why does he not
set himself to resist the fury of our enemies, and vigorously oppose them? We
know that this, as has been said in Ps 2:4, is a proper trial of our patience
when God does not come forth at once, armed for the discomfiture of the ungodly,
but connives for a time, and withholds his hand. Lest the flesh should still
murmur and complain, demanding why God should only laugh at the wicked, and not
rather take vengeance upon them, the reason is added, that he sees the day of
their destruction at hand. For he seeth that his day is coming.
Verse 13. For he seeth that his day is coming. He laughs at
such poor worms, who make themselves so great upon the earth, and act so loftily
in their impotence, seeing it must so soon be over with them. Berleb. Bible,
quoted by E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 13. For he seeth that his day is coming. His dismal
day, his death's day, which will also be his doom's day. John Trapp.
Verses 14-15. The tongue is a sword and a bow,
which shooteth its arrows, even bitter words, against the humble and upright,
Jesus and his disciples. But these are not the only weapons that have been drawn
against them. How the malice of the Jews returned upon their own heads no one is
ignorant, though few lay it to heart, and consider them as set forth for an
example. George Horne.
Verses 14-15. When the wicked are most near to do a mischief
to the Lord's people, then is a mischief most near unto them. David
Verse 16. A little that a righteous man hath, etc. To wit,
1. Because the wicked do often enrich themselves by unjust means, and so have
much vexation and trouble with them, and likewise thereby do treasure up wrath
against the day of wrath; whereas the righteous with a little, well gotten, have
much peace of conscience, with hope of heaven hereafter. 2. Because the
righteous use theirs well, and are the better for them; whereas the wicked abuse
theirs many ways, and are in many respects the worse for them. 3. Because the
righteous enjoy what they have from hand to mouth as the gifts of God, and the
pledges of his fatherly love and care over them, and so it is to them as manna
from heaven, and hereby they enjoy much sweet comfort, and are fully satisfied
with what they have; whereas the wicked have none of this joy nor satisfaction
by their wealth. 4. Because God by his blessing doth usually make that the
righteous enjoy to be more effectual for their good than is the abundance of the
wicked. A little coarse fare makes them more healthful and strong than the
wicked are with all their plenty. And, 5. Because the wicked enjoys not his
wealth long, as the righteous man doth; and this indeed agrees best with the
following words. Arthur Jackson.
Verse 16. Strangers to Christ have the use of outward
mercies, but cannot be properly said to have the enjoyment; they seem to be
masters of them, but indeed they are servants to them; possessors as to outward
use, but slaves as to their inward affections; they serve them while they seem
to dispose of them; they do not dominari, but servire --have not
the command of, but are enslaved. Nor is their use truly comfortable; they may
fancy comfort, but their comfort is but a fancy; it flows from another fountain
tan can be digged in earth; true, solid comfort is the portion of those only who
have the righteousness of Christ for their portion. These may look upon every
temporal enjoyment as a token of everlasting love, as a pledge and earnest of
eternal glory; and both these, because they may receive them as the purchase of
the blood and righteousness of Christ; aye, here is the well spring of comfort,
the fountain of that comfort which is better than life. Oh, what comfort is it
to taste the sweetness of Christ's love in every enjoyment! When we can say,
"Christ loved me, and gave himself for me, that I might enjoy these blessings,
"oh, how will this raise the value of every common mercy! Christ's righteousness
which was performed, the highest expression of his love, purchased this for me!
Upon this account is that of the psalmist true, A little that a righteous man
hath is better than the riches of many wicked. He that hath but food
and raiment hath in this respect more than he that hath the Turkish empire, or
the gold of the Indies. He hath more ground of comfort in his little than they
in all. David Clarkson.
Verse 16. If thine estate were but little, yet it would be
perfumed with love, and that lump of sugar in thy cup would make the liquor
sweet, be it never so small. As the waters which flow from the hills of some of
the islands of Molucca taste of the cinnamon and cloves which grow there, so
should thy gift, though it were but water, taste of the goodwill and special
grace of the Giver. Thy little, with the fear of the Lord, would be
better than the riches of many wicked men. As a little ring with a
very costly diamond in it is far more worth than many great ones without it, so
thy estate, though it were but a penny, should be joined with the precious jewel
of that love which is better than life, and enjoyed by special promise, and
thereby be infinitely more worth than the thousands and millions of others
bestowed merely from common bounty, and enjoyed only by a general providence.
Verse 16. It is as possible for a wicked man to fill his
body with air and his chest with grace, as his mind with wealth. It is with them
as with a ship; it may be overladen with silver and gold, even unto sinking, and
yet have compass and sides to hold ten times more. So here, a covetous wretch,
though he have enough to sink him, yet he shall never have enough to satisfy
him. So that the conclusion which the psalmist delivers is most worthy to be
observed: A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches
of many wicked; he doth not say of how many, because let us think of never
so many, yea, all of them, the righteous man's little is better in very many
respects than all their greatest treasures heaped together. The King of Spain
although the greatest prince in Christendom by far, having his empire so far
extended, that he may truly say, that the sun ever shines upon his dominions,
yet gives this for his motto, Totus non sufficit orbis, The whole
world is not sufficient. God by Solomon tells us that "In the house of the
righteous is much treasure" Pr 15:6, although many times there is scarce a good
bed to lie, or a seat to sit on. The time will certainly come, when the richest
wicked men that ever lived will see clearly that their account would have been
much narrower, and consequently their condition to all eternity less miserable,
if they had been so poor as to have begged their bread from door to door all
their lives long. It is with the blessings of this life as it is with perfumed
gloves; when they are richly perfumed their perfume is much more valuable than
the leather of which they are made: so, not so much earthly blessings considered
in themselves, as their being perfumed with the sweet love of God in Christ, is
that which maketh them blessings indeed, truly deserving the name they bear. Now
all the blessings of those who have made Mary's choice are all thus perfumed;
all the barley bread they eat, be it never so coarse; all the clothes they wear,
be they never so mean; with all their other temporal blessings, they proceed
from the same sweet love of God, wherewith he was moved to bestow Jesus Christ
upon them for salvation. Ro 8:32. John Glascock's Sermon, entitled "Mary's
Verses 16-17. A little blest is better than a great deal
curst; a little blest is better than a world enjoyed; a pound blest is better
than a thousand curst; a black crust blest is better than a feast curst; the
gleanings blest are better than the whole harvest curst; a drop of mercy blest
is better than a sea of mercy curst; Lazarus crumbs blest was better than Dives'
delicates curst; Jacob's little blest unto him was better than Esau's great
estate that was curst unto him. It is always better to have scraps with a
blessing, than to have manna and quails with a curse; a thin table with a
blessing is better than a full table with a snare; a threadbare coat with a
blessing is better than a purple robe curst; a hole, a cave, a den, a barn, a
chimney corner with a blessing, is better than stately palaces with a curse; a
woollen cap blest is better than a golden crown curst; and it may be that
emperor understood as much, that said of his crown, when he looked on it with
tears: "If you knew the cares that are under this crown you would never stoop to
take it up." And therefore, why should not a Christian be contented with a
little, seeing his little shall be blest unto him? Isaac tills the ground and
sows his seed, and God blesses him with an hundredfold; and Cain tills the
ground and sows his seed, but the earth is cursed to him and commanded not to
yield to him his strength. Oh, therefore never let a Christian murmur because he
hath but little, but rather let him be still blessing of that God that hath
blest his little, and doth bless his little, and that will bless his little to
him. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 17. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but he
upholdeth (or underprops) the righteous. By the arms of the
wicked, you are to understand their strength, their valour, their power,
their wit, their wealth, their abundance, which is all the arms they have to
support and bear up themselves in the world with. Now, these arms shall be
broken, and when they are broken, then, even then, will God uphold the
righteous, that is, God will be a continual overflowing fountain of good to his
righteous ones; so that they shall never want, though all the springs of the
wicked are dried up round about them. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 18. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright. Deposits
their days, lays them up in safety for them: for such is the original idea of
(edy). John Fry.
Verse 18. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright, and they
cannot be cut short by the malice of man. W. Wilson.
Verse 20. As the fat of lambs. As the glory of fat sheep,
which are at length slain. Targum.
Verse 20. Fat of lambs. As the fat of the sacrifices was
consumed on the altar by the fire (which was a type of God's righteous vengeance
upon sinners), till it vanished into smoke; so the wicked will be the sacrifices
to God's justice, and be destroyed by the fire of his indignation. Thomas
Verse 20. Into smoke shall they consume. "What hath pride
profited us? or what hath our boasting of riches given us?" Such are the things,
they shall speak who are in hell and who have sinned. For, the hope of the
ungodly is like a dry thistle down, by the wind carried away, or the thin foam
spread upon the billows, or as a smoke floated hither and thither by the wind,
or as the remembrance of a wayfaring man for a day. Wouter of Stoelwyk,
Verse 21. Payeth not again; i.e., has it not in his power,
from his straitened circumstances, to repay what he has borrowed: compare De
28:12. A Jew thus circumstanced became the bond slave of his creditors: compare
2Ki 4:1. Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 22. God promises that the seed of his people shall
inherit the earth. The child of such a tenant as paid his rent well, shall not
be put out of his farm. John Glascock.
Verse 23. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.
When this Pilot undertakes to steer their course, their vessel shall never split
upon the rock, run upon the sands, or spring a leak, so as to sink in the seas.
To be sure he will see them safe in their harbour. He was no Christian, yet I
suppose none will deny but he spake good divinity, who said, "If a man will
choose God for his Friend, he shall travel securely through a wilderness that
hath many beasts of prey in it; he shall pass safely through this world; for he
only is safe that hath God for his guide." (Ar. Epist. 27) Doth he not speak a
little like David himself Ps 37:23, who never expected to come to glory except
he were guided by his counsel? Now, if a poor heathen could say thus, and see
good reason to trust God, and admire his faithfulness as he doth frequently (and
so doth Seneca, justifying God's faithfulness in all his dealings with the best
men in all their sufferings, and the prosperity of the wicked); what then shall
the heavenly Christian say, who hath experienced so much of God's faithfulness
in answering his prayers, in fulfilling his promises, and supplying all his
exigencies? James Janeway.
Verse 23. He delighteth in his way. Note that in verse four,
we are bidden to delight in the Lord, and here he delights in us, and as here
our way is his delight, so in verse thirty-four we are to "keep his way."
These antitheses are instructive. C. H. S.
Verses 23-24. Strange words to us! the very steps all
ordered, and that by an Almighty One, who "delights" in the goodness of
the good man's way. And yet the inference so distinctly to be drawn is that the
good man may fall, and that his God and Guide may stand by and behold and
permit! Let us add to the suggestion of these verses, one or two references
which may help us to establish the principle in our hearts, that the child of
God may fall and still remain the child of God; and also to explain somewhat of
the reason why this is part of their lot, whether ordered, or only permitted, at
all events, a step of the "right way, "by which God leads them to a "city of
habitation." Ps 107:7. It is observed near the close of Hezekiah's good and
prosperous life that, "in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of
Babylon...God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his
heart, " 2Ch 32:31. And again, in Daniel's prophecy regarding the latter days,
we find Da 11:35, "And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them,
and to purge, and make them white." In the two preceding
verses, we have also some valuable details regarding such falls, such as the
help with which God will uphold them, the flatteries with which the world will
still beset, and hinder them from rising again; the outward troubles into which
their fall shall lead them, as through a furnace; the high position (instructors
of many) which yet shall not save them from their needed ordeal--the time
appointed--and the end in view. So here. The acknowledgment of the possibility of
the good man's fall is accompanied with the precious assurance that he shall
not be utterly cast down. Mary B. M. Duncan, in "Under the Shadow,
Verse 24. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down,
etc. Thus the Spirit comforts and answers the secret thoughts which everyone
might have, saying with himself, I have, however, seen it happen, that the
righteous is oppressed, and his cause is trodden in the dust by the wicked. Nay,
he replies, dear child, let it be so, that he falls; he still cannot remain
lying thus and be cast away; he must be up again, although all the world doubts
of it. For God catches him by the hand, and raises him again. Martin
Verse 24. Though he fall, namely, as one that were faint
hearted, he shall not be cast off, namely, utterly, or for ever from God
2Co 4:9; "for the Lord putteth under his hand, "i.e., his power and
might, namely, to uphold him from utter falling away, which we should quickly do
if God were not with us. Thomas Wilcocks.
Verse 24. A man pardoned, and justified by faith in Christ,
though he may, and sometimes doth, fall into foul sins, yet they never prevail
so far as to reverse pardon, and reduce to a state of non-justification.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord
upholdeth him with his hand! He speaks of a good man pardoned, justified; he
may fall; but how far? from pardon, from justification? No, then he should
utterly fall, be cast down beneath God's hand; but the text saith, he shall not
be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand; or, as Montanus
renders the words, the Lord upholdeth his hands, and he will not let him sink
into such a condition. If it were so, then sin should have dominion over him,
but, Ro 6:14. "Sin shall not have dominion over you; "and Ro 8:2, justified ones
are freed from the law of sin and death; and Ro 8:30, the predestinated, called,
justified, and glorified ones, are so linked together, that there is no breaking
their chain; if they do sin, they have an "Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins." 1Jo 2:1-2.
Verse 25. I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen
the righteous forsaken (he doth not say, In my experience I never saw
the righteous afflicted, but, I never saw him left or forsaken in his
affliction), and I never saw his seed begging their bread: he puts in
that, because begging of bread, especially in the commonwealth of Israel, and in
the state of the Jews, was a note of utter dereliction! for though God had told
them that they should have the poor always with them, yet he had given an
express law that there should be no beggar among them; therefore, saith he, I
have not seen the righteous so forsaken, that they should be forced to live by
begging. If any say, that David himself begged, he asked bread of Abimelech and
of Nabal; I answer, it is a good rule, and it resolves the case; transitory
cases, and sudden accidents, make no beggars: we must not say, David was a
beggar, or begged his bread, because once he was in a strait and asked bread of
Abimelech; and in a second strait sent to Nabal: in such sudden cases, the
richest man in the world may be put to ask a piece of bread. A good man may fall
into such wants, but good men are rarely, if ever or at all, left in them.
Verse 25. Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his
seed begging bread. Perhaps it will be objected that their have been
many righteous men poor: but the place speaketh of a righteous charitable man,
for so the following verse showeth, which saith, "He is ever merciful, and
lendeth; and his seed is blessed." And who hath seen such a one or his seed to
be brought to such poverty as to beg his bread? When our Saviour Christ had fed
four thousand with seven loaves and a few fishes, all being filled, seven
baskets full of fragments were gathered up: and it is Saint Austin's note upon
it, crescit dum impenditur victus, sic eleemosyna si indigentibus
erogetur, the victuals in expending were augmented, and so is the alms
which is given to the poor. Michael Jermin.
Verse 25. Yet have I not seen, etc. I believe this to be
literally true in all cases. I am now grey headed myself; I have travelled in
different countries, and have had many opportunities of seeing and conversing
with religious people in all situations in life; and I have not, to my
knowledge, seen one instance to the contrary. I have seen no righteous man
forsaken, nor any children of the righteous begging their
bread. God puts honour upon all that fear him; and thus careful is he of
them, and of their posterity. Adam Clarke.
Verse 25. Begging bread. This is not meant of an occasional
seeking relief in want (for so David himself desired bread of Abimelech, 1Sa
21:3, and he and his soldiers desired some supply of victuals from Nabal, 1Sa
25:8); but of living in a continual way of begging from door to door, which is
denounced as a curse against the wicked Ps 109:10, "Let his children be
continually vagabonds, and beg." Nor doth it hence follow, that neither the
righteous man, not his seed, are ever brought to this sad degree of misery; but
only that it doth so rarely happen, that David in all his time had never seen
it. Arthur Jackson.
Verse 25. This observation of the psalmist will be found
generally verified. We find indeed exceptions, as in the case of Eli's family.
But this was the result of his defect of character as a righteous man. And we
know that the promises must fail, if they neglect the means necessary to their
accomplishment (see Ge 18:19). But some think that this verse admits of an
explanatory supplement; and render the last clause thus, "Nor his seed
(forsaken, though) begging bread." David Davidson, in "The Pocket Commentary,
Verse 25. These words must be taken as a general
observation, not absolutely verified in every case; yet the strict fact is, I
apprehend, that the immediate descendants of truly pious persons are very
seldom, if ever, reduced to such extremities, unless by their own great
imprudence, or their abandoned practices. William Walford.
Verse 25. Here he records an experiment of his (such as
whereof Psalm 119 is mostly made up), and if other men's experiences agree not
altogether with his, it is no wonder: kings use not to mind beggars. John
Verses 25-26. Many persons are solicitously perplexed how
their children shall do when they are dead; yet they consider not, how God
provided for them when they were children. Is the Lord's arm shortened? Did he
take thee from thy mothers breasts; and when thy parents forsook thee (as the
psalmist saith), became thy Father? And cannot this experienced mercy to thee,
persuade thee that he will not forsake thine? Is not "Jesus Christ the same
yesterday, and today, and for ever?" "I have been young, "saith David, "and now
am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, "that is granted, nay, "not
his seed begging bread."
Many distrustful fathers are so carking for their posterity,
that while they live they starve their bodies, and hazard their souls, to leave
them rich. To such a father it is said justly, Dives es haeredi,
pauper inopsque tibi. Like an over kind hen, he feeds his chickens, and
famishes himself. If usury, circumvention, oppression, extortion, can make them
rich, they shall not be poor. Their folly is ridiculous; they fear lest their
children should be miserable, yet take the only course to make them miserable;
for they leave them not so much heirs to their goods as to their evils. They do
as certainly inherit their fathers' sins as their lands: "God layeth his
iniquity for his children: and his offspring shall want a morsel of bread." Job
On the contrary, the good man is merciful, and lendeth;
and his seed is blessed. What the worldling thinks shall make his
posterity poor, God saith shall make the good man's rich. The precept gives a
promise of mercy to obedience, not confined to the obedient man's self, but
extended to his seed, and that even to a thousand generations, Ex 20:6. Trust,
then, Christ with thy children; when thy friends shall fail, usury bear no date,
oppression be condemned to hell, thyself rotten to the dust, the world itself
turned and burned into cinders, still "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday,
today, and forever." Thomas Adams.
Verse 26. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is
blessed. He, the good man, is merciful to himself, for
mercy, like charity, begins at home; he is not afraid to eat a good meal because
he hath children. And he is merciful to others too; for he will lend and
do good to whom he can, and then his seed fares the better for it. Mark, that
the more he gives and lends in doing works of mercy, the better it is for his
children; for those children are ever best provided for whose parents bear this
mind--they had rather trust God with their children, than their children with
riches; and have made this their hope, that though they die, yet God lives. Did
but one of those rich and wretched parents (who pinched and pined himself to
make his son a gentleman, forsooth), rise from the dead, and see that proverb of
Solomon fulfilled in himself, "He begetteth a son, and in his hand is nothing;
"I persuade myself, the rumination of this would afflict him in his soul as much
as any one pain of sense, even in hell itself. O consider this, you that now
live and see it in others; and remember withal, that if your goods be either ill
gotten, or worse kept, it may be your children's case when you are departed, and
feel it, though you see it not. Matthew Griffith.
Verse 28. For the Lord...forsaketh not his saints; they are
preserved for ever. How? since they die as others do. Mark the
antithesis, and that will explain it. They are preserved for
ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. They are preserved in
their posterity: children are but the parents multiplied, and the parents
continued; it is nodosa aeternitas; when the father's life is run out to
the last, there is a knot tied, and the line is still continued by the child. I
confess temporal blessings, such as long life, and the promise of an happy
posterity, are more visible in the eye of that dispensation of the covenant; but
yet God still taketh care for the children of his people, and many promises run
that way that belong to the gospel administration, and still God's service is
the surest way to establish a family, as sin is the ready way to root it out.
And if it doth not always fall out accordingly, yet for the most part it doth;
and we are no competent judges of God's dispensations in this kind, because we
see providence by pieces, and have not the skill to set them together; but at
the day of judgment, when the whole contexture of God's dealings is laid before
us, we shall clearly understand how the children of his servants continue,
and their seed is established. Ps 102:28. Thomas Manton.
Verse 29. The righteous shall inherit the land, or the
earth. There is clearly an emphasis in the repetition of the same promise in the
same terms which ought to have been uniformly rendered throughout Ps
37:9,11,22,29,34. And it cannot be doubted, that there is a reference to the new
heavens and the new earth of Isa 56:17 2Pe 3:13. W. Wilson.
Verse 29. The righteous shall inherit the land, etc. Compare
Mt 5:5. Consider well this Bible truth, of the future exclusive possession of
the earth by the righteous. The millennial kingdom furnishes a fuller
explanation. T. C. Barth.
Verse 31. The law of his God is in his heart, etc. The flock
of sheep that's indisposed and unwilling to drive, start out of the way into
every lane's end, one this way and another that; and just so is it with an
unwilling heart; one thought starts this way, and another that, and it's a piece
of skill to drive them through. But a willing heart, a heart prepared and ready
to every good work, it flies quite up an end, and delights itself in the Lord.
Verse 31. (first clause). He hath a Bible in his
head, and another in his heart; he hath a good treasure within, and there hence
bringeth good things. John Trapp.
Verses 32-33. The Jews watched that Just One daily and
hourly; they sought to slay him, and did so; but Jehovah left him not
in their hands, but vindicated his innocence by raising him from the
dead. George Horne.
Verse 34. Wait on the Lord, etc. He that truly trusts in God
will stay God's time, and use God's means, and walk in God's way, though it seem
round about; they will not neglect their souls for haste; they know this would
be to make more haste than good speed. Nor would they step out of the way, the
way that is holy and righteous, though they may escape a loss, an affliction by
it, though they might gain some desirable advantage by it. True faith goes
leaning upon God, and therefore will keep his way. He that will not be
liberal for the promoting and honouring of the gospel; he that fears poverty or
affliction more than he fears sin; he that is more careful for the things of the
world than for his soul; he that takes indirect or suspected courses, to get, or
increase, or secure his estate; he that is not jealous or watchful, lest his
cares for the world (when he is much engaged therein) should be immoderate--it is
plain he doth not trust God with his estate; and that he does not trust God for
his estate, whatever he thinks or pretend, he does not trust God for his soul,
for his salvation; his hopes of heaven and salvation are but presumption.
Verse 34. Wait on the Lord. Bind him not to a day, wake not
the Beloved till he please. John Trapp.
Verse 34. Wait...keep. While we are waiting let us take heed
of wavering. Go not a step out of God's way, though a lion be in the way; avoid
not duty to meet with safety; keep God's highway, the good old way Jer 6:16, the
way which is paved with holiness. "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and
it shall be called the way of holiness." Isa 35:8. Avoid crooked paths, take
heed of turning to the left hand, lest you be set on the left hand. Sin doth
cross our hopes, it barricades up our way; a man may as well expect to find
heaven in hell, as in a sinful way. Thomas Watson.
Verse 35. Green bay tree. The LXX translate (Nner xrzak) as if it were (Nnbl xrzak), "Like the cedar of Lebanon; "but (Nner xrza) according to Delitzsch, means a noble
timber tree, one that in the course of centuries of growth has acquired a
gigantic trunk, and an umbrageous, dome like crown.
Verse 35. Green bay tree. The marginal rendering--"a tree
that groweth in his own soil" --is, no doubt, the true one. The idea generally
formed of this passage by the reader of the English Bible is that the tree
referred to was the bay laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), or cherry
laurel of our gardens. But this plant belongs to an entirely different family.
The bay and the Portugal laurels, whose forms of growth and evergreen leaves
make them highly ornamental in shrubberies, belong to a subfamily
(Drupaceae, Lind.) of the rose tribe (Rosaceae), but the bay tree
proper, which flourisheth luxuriantly in Southern Europe, is the type of the
laurel family (Lauraceae). Several circumstances make it unlikely that
the true bay tree represents the Hebrew esrach. There is no evidence that
it was ever so plentiful in Palestine as to be chosen by the psalmist in an
illustration in a poem for popular use. It is indeed to be met with, but that
chiefly in localities on the borders of the eastern shore of the Great Sea. The
chief objection to the supposition that the bay tree was referred to by the
royal poet is to be found in the Psalm itself. Having mentioned it in the lines
quoted above, he adds, "Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought
him, but he could not be found." The idea here is not one which could be
represented and illustrated by an evergreen plant, slow of growth, and yet
reaching in maturity a height of above thirty feet. The words demand a quick
growing tree, in a soil more than usually favourable to its growth. Thus
planted, and shooting up in calm and sunshine, it would attract every eye; but
when the storm broke over it, when the strong wind swept imperiously through its
branches, it would not stand. Torn up by the root, and its timber comparatively
useless, like Abraham's dead, it would be buried out of sight. And thus with the
wicked. He was sought and could not be found. John Duns, D.D., F.R.S.E., in
"Biblical Natural Science."
Verse 35. We see no force in the observation of Dr. Duns; in
fact, if there were not other reasons for preferring the translation given in
the following note by Wilson, we should see all the more reason to keep to the
bay tree. It was a tree of permanence and of long continued verdure, and so the
prosperous wicked seem to be. They look as if their happiness would be eternal;
yet, for all that, those who carefully note the dealings of providence, observe
with holy wonder that divine justice cuts short their glory, and they perish
utterly. C. H. S.
Verse 35. I have seen the wicked in great power (terrible, fierce,
violent), and spreading himself like a green bay tree (a tree in its
native soil, vigorous, and luxuriant, that had never been transplanted). A
striking figure of the ungodly man of the world, firmly rooted in earthly
things--his native soil, grown proud and wanton in his prosperity, without fear
or apprehension of any reverse. William Wilson.
Verse 35. Like a green bay tree, which produces all leaves
and no fruit. Matthew Henry.
Verse 35. I have seen the wicked, saith David, in great
power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. And why like a
green bay tree? Because in the winter, when all other trees--as the vine tree,
fig tree, apple tree, etc., which are more profitable trees --are withered and
naked, yet the bay tree continueth as green in the winter as the summer. So
fares it with wicked men when the children of God, in the storms of
persecutions, and afflictions, and miseries, seem withered, and, as it were,
dead, yet the wicked all that time flourish, and do appear green in the eyes of
the world: they wallow in worldly wealth, but it is for their destruction; they
wax fat, but it is for the day of slaughter. It was the case of Hophni and
Phinehas: the Lord gave them enough and suffered them to go on and prosper in
their wickedness; but what was the reason? Because he would destroy them. J.
Gore's Sermon at St. Paul's, 1633.
--Today he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes, tomorrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours upon him:
Third day comes a frost, a killing frost;
And--when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening--nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do.
--William Shakespeare, in Henry VIII.
Verses 36-37. The hawk flies high, and is as highly prized,
being set upon a perch, vervelled with the jingling bells of encouragement, and
carried on his master's fist; but being once dead and picked over the perch, is
cast upon the dunghill as good for nothing. The hen scrapes in the dust, not
anything rewarded when she is alive, but being dead, is brought as a choice dish
to her master's table. Thus wicked men are commonly set in high places, and
prosper in this life; and good men lie grovelling with their mouths in the dust,
as the very underlings of the world; but being once dead, the one is cast into
the dungeon of hell, the other advanced to the kingdom of heaven: the one is
into Abraham's bosom, whilst the other is tormented with the devil and his
angels. Thomas Westfield, D.D., 1644.
Verse 37. Mark...and behold. Herodotus maketh mention of a
custom among the Ethiopians to set the dead bodies of their friends in glazed
sepulchres, that their proportions might be obvious to the passengers. How
needless soever that custom was, it is doubtless no more than just that the
pious lineaments of their minds who die in the Lord should be presented to the
living in the mirror of art. Indeed, commendation after death is the tribute of
a religious life. Good works are jewels not to be locked up in a cabinet, but to
be set forth to public view. If Christ would have Mary's name remembered in the
gospel until the world's end for one box of ointment poured on his head, we
cannot imagine that he would have the many pious and charitable deeds of his
servants to be buried in oblivion. Consult the Scriptures and you shall scarce
find any godly man laid in his grave without an epitaph of honour. View the
fathers, and you shall observe it their practice to honour the death of the good
by giving them their deserved praises. Nathaniel Hardy.
Verse 37. The perfect man, etc. --Divines well distinguish of
a double perfection, it is absoluta or comparata. That is
absolutely perfect, to which nothing (that it may be accounted truly
good) is wanting; and thus He only is perfectus who is infactus;
God, who made all things, and himself is not made, only enjoying an all
sufficient perfection, in and of himself. That is comparatively perfect,
in which, notwithstanding some wants there is a fulness compared with
others. Thus every saint is perfect in comparison of the wicked among
whom he liveth. In this respect it is said of Noah, That he was a perfect man
in his generations; his grace compared with the wickedness of the old world
well deserving the name of perfection; indeed every upright man is
perfect in comparison of them who are openly bad, or but openly good;
stained with wickedness, or but painted with holiness. Thus one saint may be
perfect if compared with another, the strong Christian in respect of the
weak, whom he outstrips in grace and piety: such saints Paul means when he
saith, "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect; " that is, such as have
attained to greater measures of grace than others. It was said of Benaiah, "He
was more honourable than thirty, but he attained not to the first three; "and
though no saint can ever attain to the perfections of the first three,
the blessed Trinity, yet many saints may be honourable amongst thirty
perfect in comparison of those among whom they live.
We must further distinguish of a double perfection, it is
extrinseca and intrinseca. Extrinsic perfection so called, because
by imputation, is that which every believer is partaker of through the perfect
righteousness of Christ, whereby all his imperfections are covered; in this
respect the author to the Hebrews tells us, "That by one offering he hath
perfected for ever them that are sanctified; "and S. Paul tells the Colossians
that they were "complete in him, "meaning Christ. Indeed omnia Dei mandata
tune facta deptutantua, quando id quod non fit ignoscitur: divine
commands are then in God's account fulfilled when our defects for Christ's sake
are pardoned; and the evangelical perfection of a Christian consists not in
perfectione virtutum, sed remissions vitiorum, in the completion of
our graces, but remission of our sins.
Intrinsical perfection, so called because by inhesion, is no
less rationally than usually thus distinguished, there is perfectio
partium et graduum. He is said to be perfect, cui nihil deest
eorum quae ad statum salutis necessaria, who wants no graces that
accompany salvation; or he is perfect, cui nihil deest in gradibus
gratiarum et virtutum; who is not defective in the measures of those
graces; both these are frequently and fitly illustrated by the resemblance of a
child, and a grown man; the one whereof hath all the essential and integral
parts of a man, the other a complete use and measure of those parts.
Verse 37. The end. All wise men affect the conclusion to be
best: to ride two or three miles of fair way, and to have a hundred deep and
foul ones to pass afterward is uncomfortable; especially when the end is worse
than the way. But let the beginning be troublesome, the progress somewhat more
easy, and the journey's end happy, and there is fair amends. Mark the perfect
man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. Mark
him in the setting out, he hath many oppositions; mark him in the journey, he is
full of tribulations; but mark in the conclusion, and the end of that man is
peace. Thomas Adams.
Verse 37. The end of that man is peace. Give me leave to
determine what it is to end or die in peace. To end in peace with Euthymius,
is to end in pace cogitationis, in peace of mind as it is opposed to
doubting. To end in peace with Cyprian, is to end in pace securitatis,
in peace of security, as it is opposed to final falling. To end in peace
with Origen, is to end in pace conscientiae, in peace of
conscience as it is opposed to despairing. To end in peace with old Irenaeus,
is to end in pace mortis, in the peace of death as it is opposed to
labouring. Again, to end in peace, is to end in pace Dei, in the peace of
God which passeth all understanding, i.e., far beyond men's
apprehensions. To end in peace, is to end in pace proximi, in peace with
our neighbours, i.e., when no outcries or exclamations follow us. And
lastly, to end in peace, is to end in pace sui, in peace with ourselves,
i.e., when no distractions or perturbations of mind molest us. Richard
Verse 37. The text may be divided into these two parts. Here
is 1. The godly man's property; and 2. The godly man's
privilege. His property is perfection; his privilege is peace. Here is
the saint's character and the saint's crown: he is characterised
by uprightness or sincerity, and crowned with peace. Here is the Christian's
way and his end, his motion, and his rest. His way
is holiness, his end happiness; his motion is towards perfection and in
uprightness; his rest is peace at his journey's end. John Whitlock, in a
Funeral Sermon entitled, "The Upright Man and his Happy End, "1658.
Verse 37. Time would fail me to tell how Christians die, nor
can anything save the pen of the recording angel who has stood by their bed of
death and borne them to Abraham's bosom narrate the unnumbered instances of
their delightful departure from the present world, which verify the truth of the
Bible. "I could never have believed, "said a dying saint, "that it was so
delightful a thing to die, or that it was possible to have such views of the
heavenly world as I now enjoy." The memorable Melancthon just before he died,
chanted in his sleep the words, "I will not any more eat thereof until it be
fulfilled in the kingdom of God." He seemed restless, and on being asked by one
near him, "Whether there was anything more that he desired?" replied, Aliud
nihil nisi coelum --nothing more, unless it be heaven. Gardiner
Verse 37. To die well be sure to live well; we must not
think to have Lazarus's death, and Dive's life; like him in Plutarch that would
live with Craesus, as he said, but he would die with Socrates. No, Balaam's
wishes are foolish and fruitless: If you would die well, Christians, you must
have a care to live well: qualis vita, finis ita, if you would die
quietly, you must live strictly; if you would die comfortably, you must live
conformably; if you would die happily, you must live holily. Mark the perfect
man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.
John Kitchin, M.A., 1660.
Verse 38. The end of the wicked shall be cut off. The wicked
in this world do easily run up without rub or interruption, many times with
acclamations and applause, all the golden steps of honours and preferments; but
upon the highest stair they find the most slippery standing, and the top of
their earthly felicity is the most immediate and certain descent unto the
greatest downfall. They are royally mounted here upon earth, and gallop swiftly
over the fair and green plains of plenty and pleasures; but at the end of their
race they are overturned horse and man, and tumbled headlong into the pit of
destruction. They fairly glide over the sea of this world with full sail, with
much calmness and serenity, and richly laden; but in the brightest sunshine, and
when they least suspect it, they suddenly and without recovery, sink into the
gulf of darkness and desolation. Robert Bolton.
Verse 40. And the Lord shall help them. He shall, he
shall, he shall. Oh, the rhetoric of God! the safety of the
saints! the certainty of the promises! John Trapp.
Luther closes his Exposition of the Psalm with the words, Oh,
shame on our faithlessness, mistrust, and vile unbelief, that we do not believe
such rich, powerful, consolatory, declarations of God, and take up so readily
with little grounds of offence, whenever we but hear the wicked speeches of the
ungodly. Help. O God, that we may once attain to right faith. Amen.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. The art of tranquillity. W. Jones.
Verses 1-2. A frequent temptation, and a double corrective--a
sight of sinners in death and hell.
Verses 1,2. A frequent temptation, and a double corrective--a
sight of sinners in death and hell.
Verse 2. How and when the wicked perish.
1. A combination descriptive of holy living.
2. A combination descriptive of happy living.
Verse 3. The believer portrayed.
1. His object of trust.
2. His mode of life.
3. His place of abode.
4. His certainty of provision.
Verse 3. (last clause). Read it in four ways.
1. "Certainly fed, "or the certainty of supply.
2. "Fed in verity, "or the sufficiency of the provision for
soul and body.
3. "Fed on truth, "or the spirituality of the provision.
4. "Feed on truth, "or the duty of choosing such provision.
Verse 4. Explain the delight and the desire of the believer,
and show the connection between them.
Verses 5-6. The higher life.
1. Based on hearty resignation.
2. Sustained by faith.
3. Constantly unfolded by the Lord.
4. Consummated in meridian splendour.
Verses 5-6. The higher life.
1. Based on hearty resignation.
2. Sustained by faith.
3. Constantly unfolded by the Lord.
4. Consummated in meridian splendour.
Verse 6. Sweet comfort for slandered saints. Where their
character now is. Who shall reveal it. The gradual yet sure manner of the
revelation, and the glorious conclusion.
Verse 7. Rest in the Lord. What? Where? When? Why? How?
Verse 7. Peace, patience, self possession.
Verse 7. Stillness in God. Bishop Wilberforce.
Verse 7. Rest in the Lord.
1. Rest in the will of God, for whatever he wills is for
your good, your highest good.
2. Rest in the love of God, and often meditate on the
words of Jesus on this point, "Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me."
3. Rest in the mercy of God.
4. Rest in the word of God.
5. Rest in the relation thy God fills to thee; he is the
6. Rest in the Lord as he is manifested in Jesus, thy God in
Verse 8. A SERMON FOR THE FRETFUL.
1. Cease from present anger. It is madness, it is sin;
it shuts out our prayers; it will grow into malice; it may lead to worse.
2. Forsake it for the future. Repent of it, watch
temper, discipline thy passions, etc.
3. Avoid all kindred feelings of fretfulness,
impatience, envy, etc., for they lead to evil.
Verse 9. How the humble are the true lords of the land.
1. Consider what the departed sinner has left. Possessions,
joys, honours, aims, hopes, etc.
2. Consider where he has gone.
3. Consider whether you will share the same lot.
Verses 10-11. Terror to the wicked: comfort for believers.
Verse 11. The meek man's delight, or "the harvest of a quiet
Verse 14. Upright conversation.
1. What it excludes. The horizontal or earthly, the crooked or
crafty, the slanting or sinister.
2. What it includes. Motive, object, language, action.
3. What it achieves. It stands like a pillar; it supports like
a column; it ascends like a tower; it adorns like a monument; it illuminates
like a Pharos.
Verse 15. The self destructive nature of evil.
Verse 16. How to make much of a little.
1. The owners contrasted.
2. The possessions compared.
3. The preference given.
4. The reasons declared.
Verse 17. (last clause).
1. The favoured persons.
2. Their evident need, "upholding."
3. Their singular blessedness, "upheld, "above trial, under
trial, after trial.
4. Their august Patron.
Verse 18. The comforts derivable from a consideration of the
divine knowledge. The eternity of the righteous man's possessions.
1. The persons, "the upright."
2. The period, "their days." These are known to God. (1)
He knows them kindly and graciously; (2) He knows their number;
(3) He knows the nature of them.
3. The portion, "their inheritance shall be for ever."
Verse 18 (last clause). What it is. How they come by
it. How long they hold it.
Verse 19. Good words for hard times.
Verse 21. Monetary transactions tests of character.
Verse 22. The divine blessing the secret of happiness. The
divine displeasure the essence of misery.
1. The divine predestination.
2. The divine delight.
3. The divine support.
Verse 24. Temporary trials.
1. To be expected.
2. Have their limit.
3. Have their results.
4. Our secret comfort under them.
What may be. What cannot be. What shall be.
Verse 25. Memorandum of an aged observer.
Verse 26. The righteous man's merciful disposition, generous
action, and rich reward.
Verse 26. The benediction of the good man's family: what it
is, and what it is not.
Verse 27. Negative, positive, remunerative.
1. The Lord's love of right.
2. His faithfulness to the righteous.
3. Their sure preservation thus doubly guaranteed.
4. The doom of the wicked thus certified.
Verse 29. Canaan as a type of the righteous man's
Verse 30. Our speech as a test of godliness.
1. The best thing.
2. In the best place.
3. With the best of results.
Verses 32-33. Our enemies; their inveterate malice; our
safeguard and justification.
1. A twofold admonition: (a) Wait on the Lord. (b) And keep his way; wait and work, wait and walk, get
grace and exercise it.
2. A twofold promise: (a) He shall exalt thee to inherit the land; God
is the source of all elevation and honour. (b) When the wicked are cur off, thou shalt see it;
and they will be cut off. William Jay.
Verse 34. Patient faith, persevering holiness, and promised
Verse 34 (last clause). Emotions caused in the godly
by a sight of the sinner's doom.
Verse 34. (last clause). The wicked are often cut off
1. Even in life, from their places, and riches, and prospects. 2. At
death they are cut off from all their possessions and comforts. 3. In the last day they will be cut off from "the
resurrection of life." William Jay.
Verses 35-37. Three memorable scenes.
1. The imposing spectacle.
2. The astounding disappearance.
3. The delightful exit.
Verses 35-37. Three memorable scenes.
1. The imposing spectacle.
2. The astounding disappearance.
3. The delightful exit.
1. The doctrines of grace condensed.
2. The experience of the gracious epitomised.
3. The promises of grace summarised.
4. The grandest evidence of grace declared: because
they trust in him.