Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. To the Chief Musician upon Neginah, a Psalm of
David. The original indicates that both the hymn and the musical instrument
were David's. He wrote the verses and himself sang them to the stringed
instrument whose sound he loved so well. We have left the Psalms entitled
Michtam, but we shall still find much precious meaning though the golden
name be wanting. We have met with the title of this Psalm before, in Psalms 4,
6, 54, and 55, but with this difference, that in the present case the word is in
the singular number: the Psalm itself is very personal, and well adapted for the
private devotion of a single individual.
SUBJECT AND DIVISION. This Psalm is a pearl. It is little,
but precious. To many a mourner it has furnished utterance when the mind could
not have devised a speech for itself. It was evidently composed by David after
he had come to the throne, --see Ps 61:6. The second verse leads us to believe
that it was written during the psalmist's enforced exile from the tabernacle,
which was the visible abode of God: if so, the period of Absalom's rebellion has
been most suitably suggested as the date of its authorship, and Delitzsch is
correct in entitling it, "Prayer and thanksgiving of an expelled King on his way
back to his throne." We might divide the verses according to the sense, but it
is preferable to follow the author's own arrangement, and make a break at each
Verse 1. Hear my cry, O God. He was in terrible earnest; he
shouted, he lifted up his voice on high. He is not however content with the
expression of his need: to give his sorrows vent is not enough for him, he wants
actual audience of heaven, and manifold succour as the result. Pharisees may
rest in their prayers; true believers are eager for an answer to them:
ritualists may be satisfied when they have, "said or sung" their litanies and
collects, but living children of God will never rest till their supplications
have entered the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth. Attend unto my prayer. Give it thy consideration, and such
an answer as thy wisdom sees fit. When it comes to crying with us, we need not
doubt but that it will come to attending with God. Our heavenly Father is not
hardened against the cries of his own children. What a consoling thought it is
that the Lord at all times hears his people's cries, and is never forgetful of
their prayers; whatever else fails to move him, praying breath is never spent in
Verse 2. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee. He
was banished from the spot which was the centre of his delight, and at the same
time his mind was in a depressed and melancholy condition; both actually and
figuratively he was an outcast, yet he does not therefore restrain prayer, but
rather finds therein a reason for the louder and more importunate cries. To be
absent from the place of divine worship was a sore sorrow to saints in the olden
times; they looked upon the tabernacle as the centre of the world, and they
counted themselves to be at the fag end of the universe when they could no
longer resort to the sacred shrine; their heart was heavy as in a strange land
when they were banished from its solemnities. Yet even they knew right well that
no place is unsuitable for prayer. There may be an end of the earth, but there
must not be an end to devotion. On creation's verge we may call upon God, for
even there he is within call. No spot is too dreary, no condition too
deplorable; whether it be the world's end or life's end, prayer is equally
available. To pray in some circumstances needs resolve, and the psalmist here
I will cry. It was a wise resolution, for had he ceased to
pray he would have become the victim of despair; there is an end to a man when
he makes an end to prayer. Observe that David never dreamed of seeking any other
God; he did not imagine the dominion of Jehovah to be local: he was at the end
of the promised land, but he knew himself to be still in the territory of the
Great King; to him only does he address his petitions. When my heart is overwhelmed: --when the huge waves of
trouble wash over me, and I am completely submerged, not only as to my head, but
also my heart. It is hard to pray when the very heart is drowning, yet gracious
men plead best at such times. Tribulation brings us to God, and brings God to
us. Faith's greatest triumphs are achieved in her heaviest trials. It is all
over with me, affliction is all over me; it encompasses me as a cloud, it
swallows me up like a sea, it shuts me in with thick darkness, yet God is near,
near enough to hear my voice, and I will call him. Is not this brave talk? Mark
how our psalmist tells the Lord, as if he knew he were hearing him, that he
intended to call upon him: our prayer by reason of our distress may be like to a
call upon a far off friend, but our inmost faith has its quiet heart whispers to
the Lord as to one who is assuredly our very present help. Lead me to the
rock that is higher than I. I see thee to be my refuge, sure and
strong; but alas! I am confused, and cannot find thee; I am weak, and cannot
climb thee. Thou art so steadfast, guide me; thou art so high, uplift me. There
is a mint of meaning in this brief prayer. Along the iron bound coast of our
northern shores, lives are lost because the rocks are inaccessible to the
shipwrecked mariner. A clergyman of one of the coast villages has with immense
labour cut steps up from the beach to a large chamber, which he has excavated in
the chalk cliffs; here many mariners have been saved; they have climbed the
rock, which had else been too high for them, and they have escaped. We have
heard of late, however, that the steps have been worn away by the storms, and
that poor sailors have perished miserably within sight of the refuge which they
could not reach, for it was too high for them: it is therefore proposed to drive
in iron stanchions, and to hang up chain ladders that shipwrecked mariners may
reach the chambers in the rock. The illustration is self interpreting. Our
experience leads us to understand this verse right well, for the time was with
us when we were in such amazement of soul be reason of sin, that although we
knew the Lord Jesus to be a sure salvation for sinners, yet we could not come at
him, by reason of our many doubts and forebodings. A Saviour would have been of
no use to us if the Holy Spirit had not gently led us to him, and enabled us to
rest upon him. To this day we often feel that we not only want a rock, but to be
led to it. With this in view we treat very leniently the half unbelieving
prayers of awakened souls; for in their bewildered state we cannot expect from
them all at once a fully believing cry. A seeking soul should at once believe in
Jesus, but it is legitimate for a man to ask to be led to Jesus; the Holy Spirit
is able to effect such a leading, and he can do it even though the heart be on
the borders of despair. How infinitely higher that we are is the salvation of
God. We are low and grovelling, but it towers like some tall cliff far above us.
This is its glory, and is our delight when we have once climbed into the rock,
and claimed an interest in it; but while we are as yet trembling seekers, the
glory and sublimity of salvation appal us, and we feel that we are too unworthy
ever to be partakers of it; hence we are led to cry for grace upon grace, and to
see how dependent we are for everything, not only for the Saviour, but for the
power to believe on him.
Verse 3. For thou hast been a shelter for me. Observe how
the psalmist rings the changes on, Thou hast, and I will, -- Ps
61:3-6. Experience is the nurse of faith. From the past we gather arguments for
present confidence. Many and many a time had the persecutions of Saul and the
perils of battle imperilled David's life, and only by miracle had he escaped,
yet was he still alive and unhurt; this he remembers, and he is full of hope. And a strong tower from the enemy. As in a fort
impregnable, David had dwelt, because surrounded by omnipotence. Sweet is it
beyond expression to remember the lovingkindnesses of the Lord in our former
days, for he is unchangeable, and therefore will continue to guard us from all
Verse 4. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever. Let me
once get back to thy courts, and nothing shall again expel me from them: even
now in my banishment my heart is there; and ever will I continue to worship thee
in spirit wherever my lot may be cast. Perhaps by the word tabernacle is
here meant the dwelling place of God; and if so, the sense is, I will dwell with
the Lord, enjoying his sacred hospitality, and sure protection.
"There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home."
He who communes with God is always at home. The divine
omnipresence surrounds such a one consciously; his faith sees all around him the
palace of the King, in which he walks with exulting security and overflowing
delight. Happy are the indoor servants who go not out from his presence. Hewers
of wood and drawers of water in the tents of Jehovah are more to be envied than
the princes who riot in the pavilions of kings. The best of all is that our
residence with God is not for a limited period of time, but for ages; yea, for
ages of ages, for time and for eternity: this is our highest and most heavenly
privilege, I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever. I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Often does our
sweet singer use this figure; and far better is it to repeat one apt and
instructive image, than for the sake of novelty to ransack creation for poor,
strained metaphors. The chicks beneath the hen how safe, how comfortable, how
happy! How warm the parent's bosom! How soft the cherishing feathers! Divine
condescension allows us to appropriate the picture to ourselves, and how
blessedly instructive and consoling it is! O for more trust; it cannot be too
implicit: such a covert invites us to the most unbroken repose. SELAH. Rest we well may when we reach this point. Even the
harp may be eloquently silent when deep, profound calm completely fills the
bosom, and sorrow has sobbed itself into a peaceful slumber.
Verse 5. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows. Proofs of
divine faithfulness are to be had in remembrance, and to be mentioned to the
Lord's honour. The prayer of Ps 61:1 is certain of an answer because of the
experience of Ps 61:5, since we deal with an immutable God. Vows may rightly be joined with prayers when they are
lawful, well considered, and truly for God's glory. It is great mercy on God's
part to take any notice of the vows and promises of such faithless and deceitful
creatures as we are. What we promise him is his due already, and yet he deigns
to accept our vows as if we were not so much his servants as his free suitors
who could give or withhold at pleasure. Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy
name. We are made heirs, joint heirs with all the saints, partakers of the
same portion. With this we ought to be delighted. If we suffer, it is the
heritage of the saints; if we are persecuted, are in poverty, or in temptation,
all this is contained in the title deeds of the heritage of the chosen. Those we
are to sup with we may well be content to dine with. We have the same
inheritance as the Firstborn himself; what better is conceivable? Saints are
described as fearing the name of God; they are reverent worshippers; they stand
in awe of the Lord's authority; they are afraid of offending him, they feel
their own nothingness in the sight of the Infinite One. To share with such men,
to be treated by God with the same favour as he metes out to them, is matter for
endless thanksgiving. All the privileges of all the saints are also the
privileges of each one.
Verse 6. Thou wilt prolong the king's life; or, better,
"days to the days of the King thou wilt add." Death threatened, but God
preserved his beloved. David, considering his many perils, enjoyed a long and
prosperous reign. And his years as many generations. He lived to see
generation after generation personally; in his descendants he lived as king
through a very long period; his dynasty continued for many generations; and in
Christ Jesus, his seed and son, spiritually David reigns on evermore. Thus he
who began at the foot of the rock, half drowned, and almost dead, is here led to
the summit, and sings as a priest abiding in the tabernacle, a king ruling with
God for ever, and a prophet foretelling good things to come. (Ps 61:7.) See the
uplifting power of faith and prayer. None so low but they may yet be set on
Verse 7. He shall abide before God for ever. Though this is
true of David in a modified sense, we prefer to view the Lord Jesus as here
intended as the lineal descendant of David, and the representative of his royal
race. Jesus is enthroned before God to eternity; here is our safety, dignity,
and delight. We reign in him; in him we are made to sit together in the heavens.
David's personal claim to sit enthroned for ever is but a foreshadowing of the
revealed privilege of all true believers. O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. As men
cry, "Long live the king, "so we hail with acclamation our enthroned Immanuel,
and cry, "Let mercy and truth preserve him." Eternal love and immutable
faithfulness are the bodyguards of Jesus' throne, and they are both the
providers and the preservers of all those who in him are made kings and priests
unto God. We cannot keep ourselves, and nothing short of divine mercy and truth
can do it; but these both can and will, nor shall the least of the people of God
be suffered to perish.
Verse 8. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever.
Because my prayer is answered, my song shall be perpetual; because Jesus for
ever sits at thy right hand, it shall be acceptable; because I am preserved in
him, it shall be grateful. David had given vocal utterance to his prayer by a
cry; he will now give expression to his praise by a song: there should be a
parallel between our supplications and our thanksgivings. We ought not to leap
in prayer, and limp in praise. The vow to celebrate the divine name for
ever is no hyperbolical piece of extravagance, but such as grace and glory
shall enable us to carry out to the letter. That I may daily perform my vows. To God who adds days to
our days we will devote all our days. We vowed perpetual praise, and we desire
to render it without intermission. We would worship God de die in
diem, going right on as the days roll on. We ask no vacation from this
heavenly vocation; we would make no pause in this sacred service. God daily
performs his promises, let us daily perform our vows: he keeps his covenant, let
us not forget ours. Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth, even
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. The word Neginah (the singular of
Neginoth) may be understood to be synonymous with the kinnor or
harp: that is to say, the instrument of eight strings, probably played with a
bow or plectrum. John Jess.
Verse 1. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. Aquinas
saith that some read the words thus, Intende ad cantica mea, attend unto
my songs--and so the words may be safely read, from the Hebrew word hgr ranah, which signifies to shout or shrill
out for joy-- to note that the prayers of the saints are like pleasant songs and
delightful ditties in the ears of God. No mirth, no music, can be so pleasing to
us as the prayers of the saints are pleasing to God. So 2:14 Ps 141:2. Thomas
Verse 1. My cry. There is a text in Job where the
"hypocrites in heart" are spoken of condemningly, because "they cry not when he
bindeth them." I like to feel that no hard fortitude is required of the
chastened child of God, but that it ought to feel, and may cry, under the rod,
without a single rebellious thought. Mary B. M. Duncan.
Verses 1-2. One ejaculation begetteth another. Hear my
cry; attend unto my prayer (yet no words thereof mentioned); and Ps
61:2. From the end of the earth will I cry: he had thus cried, and he
will therefore cry again and again. As billows of temptation ever and anon stop
his mouth and interrupt him, so as he now and then doth but peep above water,
and get breathing space, he will thus cry, Lead me, or "guide me,
"or carry me to yonder rock which is higher than I. Thomas
Cobbet (1608-1686), on Prayer.
Verse 2. From the end of the earth. This may be taken two
ways: either naturally, and then it is an allusion to men that are far
distant and remote from help, relief and comfort: or, as I may say,
ecclesiastically, with reference to the temple of God, which was "in
medio terrae, ""in the midst and heart of the land, "where God manifested
and gave tokens of his gracious presence and favour: as if he had said, "I am at
the end of the earth; far from any tokens, pledges, or manifestations of the
love and favour of God, as well as from outward help and assistance." John
Verse 2. The end of the earth. What place was this, the
end of the earth, referring the expression to the writer of the
Psalm? We know that the centre of the affections and devotions of the pious
Israelite was the "holy city, Jerusalem; whither the tribes went up, even the
tribes of the Lord, to testify unto Israel, and to give thanks unto the name of
the Lord." The country of which this city was the capital, was to the Jew the
world; it was the world within the world; the earth within the earth; the whole
globe besides was to him a waste, a place out of the world; an extraterrestrial
territory, beyond the limits set up by the Lord Almighty. Thus in Holy Writ what
is called the world, or the earth, frequently signifieth only that part thereof
which was the heritage of the chosen people... The end of the earth,
then, as referred to the psalmist, would signify any place of bodily absence
from the temple where the Deity had taken up his special abode, or any place
whence his spiritual affections were unable to reach that temple. As referred to
us, the expression signifies any sensible distance from God: for as God is the
centre of life, hope, love, and joy, distance from him, of whatsoever degree, is
the antipodes of the soul, a region of sterility and darkness; the Iceland of
man's spirit. Alfred Bowen Evans, 1852.
Verse 2. I will cry unto thee. There is in this expression
an endeavour to approach unto God; as you do when you cry after one whom
you see at a distance, and are afraid he will go farther from you. It is the
great work of faith to cry out after God, at a distance, when you are afraid
lest at the next turn he should be quite out of sight. Crying to the Lord
supposes him to be withdrawing or departing. John Owen.
Verse 2. Cry. No matter how abrupt the prayer be, so it be
the representation of our hearts. Thus did David. Where doth he pray? In
banishment. When? When his spirit is overwhelmed. How does he pray? He
cried. Thus Hannah prayed herself into a composed state of mind.
Remember, resignation is the work of the Spirit of God; and therefore you must
plead for it before you have it. John Singleton (1706), in "The Morning
Verse 2. Cry. Crying is a substitute for speech; and also
the expression of earnestness. William Jay.
Verse 2. When my heart is overwhelmed. Troubles are of
various kinds; some are provoking, some are gnawing, some are
perplexing, and some are overwhelming; but whatever form they
assume, they are troubles, and are part of the wear and tear of life.
...Overwhelming troubles are such as sweep over a man, just as the mighty
billows of the ocean sweep over and submerge the sands. These are troubles which
struggle with us, as it were, for life and death; troubles which would leave us
helpless wrecks; troubles which enter into conflict with us in our prime, which
grapple with us in our health and strength, and threaten to conquer us by sheer
force, no matter how bravely we may contend. Such trouble the psalmist knew.
Philip Bennett Power, in "The I wills of the Psalms, "1861.
Verse 2. Heart. The heart is here represented to us as being
overwhelmed, or, as it is otherwise translated, "covered over; "it is smothered
in, unable to perform its functions with proper action, unable to throw out the
blood to the extremities, to give them needed vitality and power for necessary
effort. When the action of the heart is paralysed, even temporarily, it will
tell upon all the members, a chill there send its cold vibration through every
limb; Satan knows this well, and so all his dealings are heart dealings, efforts
to paralyse the very spring of life itself. This is precisely what we ourselves
have experienced; we have partially felt death within us, we have felt a gradual
numbing of our heart; a gradual diminution in the quickness of its beat; a
gradual closing in, and pressure of a weight upon it, and this was the
overwhelming process. Philip Bennett Power.
Verse 2. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. The
tower, in Ps 18:2, is "an high tower, "and the rock is here
an high rock, the rock higher than I; and yet there is a way to
get into the highest towers; by scaling ladders a man may get over the high
walls of towers. This tower and rock were too high for David himself to get
into, and therefore he sets to the scaling ladder. "Lead me to the rock,
and into the tower that is higher than I. Hear my cry, attend unto
my prayer." So he makes prayer the scaling ladder to get upon that rock and
into that tower that otherwise had been too high for him; he gets that safety
and deliverance which otherwise but by prayer unto God had been impossible to
have been obtained. Jeremiah Dyke.
Verse 2. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. The
language is very remarkable. It gives us the idea of a man suffering shipwreck.
The vessel in which he has been sailing has sunk. He has been plunged into the
mighty ocean; and there he is buffeting the waves, struggling for life, panting
for breath, and just about to give up all for lost. Suddenly he discovers a
rock towering above him. If he can but climb up to the top of it, and get
sure footing upon it, the billows will not be able to reach him, and he will be
safe. Now, the prayer in our text is the cry of that poor wretch for help. He is
so spent and exhausted, that he cannot reach the rock himself. He shouts
aloud for the friendly hand of some one stronger than himself, or for a rope
that may be flung to him by those who are already safe on the rock, if by these
helps he may gain it. Lead me to the rock, cries the poor
perishing wretch. "O, lead me, guide me, direct me to it; for I am so worn and
spent, that I cannot reach it otherwise. I am at the point to die; and I must
sink, and be no more seen for ever, if there is none to help me." Thus he calls
for some one to rescue him from the deep, and to place him on the rock.
But what rock? He knows that unless the rock be a high one, he will not be in
safety, though he should be on it. The rock, he says, "must be higher
than I, or the waves will reach me, and wash me off again." It is not a
rock, the top of which just shows itself above the sea, no higher than a man's
own body, that will save the life of a shipwrecked mariner. Such a rock may
occasion the wreck, but it will not afford any help to the sufferers afterwards;
it is a rock to split upon for destruction, not to stand upon for safety.
Lead me to the rock, or as it is in the Prayer book version, "Set
me upon the rock that is higher than I!" ...The text having shown us the
danger of sin, does not leave us comfortless; it shows us the
security of the refuge. We have before remarked, that the prayer
of David, as a shipwrecked man, is, to be "led to, "and set upon a rock,
that is higher than himself. The expression seems to imply much. The
rock that is higher than he, must be higher than any man; for
David was a mighty monarch. He implies, therefore, that the refuge he seeks must
be more than any "arm of flesh" can afford him; it must be therefore
divine. Condensed from a Sermon by Fountain Elwin, 1842.
Verse 2. It is more the image of one overtaken by the tide,
as he is hastening onwards to get beyond its reach, and yet with every step he
sees it rolling nearer and nearer to him; he hears its angry roar, the loosening
sand sinks beneath his tread--a few minutes more, and the waves will be around
him; despair hath "overwhelmed his heart; "when in the very depths
of his agony he sees a point of rock high above the waves. "O that I could reach
it and be safe!" And then comes the cry, the agonizing cry, to him that is
mighty to save, Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. It is the
sinner's cry to the sinner's Saviour! Barton Bouchier, A.M., in "Manna in the
Heart; or, Daily Comments on the Book of Psalms," 1855.
Verse 2. Lead me to the rock. If we would find ourselves
upon the rock, and enjoy the realisation of being so, we must be dependent upon
another's hand. And that hand can do everything for us, even in our worst of
times. When we are so blinded by the salt waves that dash in our eyes, so
reeling in brain that we perhaps cannot think, much less make continuous
efforts, there is a hand which can lead us, which can draw us out of the waters,
which can set our feet upon the rock. Surely we have already experienced the
power and tenderness of that hand? and it may be that in the reader's case, the
waves, as they made sure of their prey, found it supernaturally drawn forth from
them, that it might be set upon a rock, immoveable amid all the waters, and
sufficient amid all storms! Philip Bennett Power.
Verse 2. The rock that is higher than I. The rock of our
salvation, then, is "higher than we." Here we have the Deity of Christ, the
Rock, set forth; in this he is "higher than we." And except as he is thus
higher, as he is God, he could not be a Saviour; for "He is a just God, as well
as a Saviour." A being no higher than we, or but a little higher, as the angels
(for we are but "a little lower than they"), though he might teach us, or warn
us, or console us, could never save us. The prey is in the hands of the mighty,
and the Almighty alone is mightier. But a rock is not only high, but deep; it
not only erects its front above the waves, but its base is fixed in the ocean's
bed. "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find our the Almighty
unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell;
what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader
than the sea." Job 11:7. Here we have the humanity of him who is the rock; that
humanity by which he was able to go down to the deeps, as well as ride
triumphantly on the bosom of the waters--those deeps, whereof David speaking
experimentally of himself, spake prophetically of him; the depths of our fall
and degradation--that humanity in which he went down into the grave, into the
recesses of the intermediate state, and "preached to the spirits in prison."
This is our rock, both deep and high; the rock of our salvation; to which those
whose sons have set them at "the end of the earth, "desire to be brought, that
they may find a place of safe standing. Let not those fear who feel the
bitterness of distance from God, for they shall be brought nigh; desolate may be
the coast to which they are driven, but over against it is the Paradise of God;
clouds and darkness may gather at the base of this rock of safety, but "eternal
sunshine settles in its head." Alfred Bowen Evans.
Verse 2. Higher. A hiding place must be locus
exelsissimus. Your low houses are soon scaled. Jesus Christ is a high place;
he is as high as heaven. He is the Jacob's ladder that reacheth from earth to
heaven. Ge 28:12. He is too high for men, too high for devils; no creature can
scale these high walls. Ralph Robinson (1614-1655), in "Christ All and in
Verse 4. I will abide in thy tabernacle. Some render it,
I shall dwell in thy tent or pavilion royal, making it a
metaphor from warfare, where those that are in the king's own tent must needs be
in greatest safety. And this sense suits well with the following words: I
will trust in the covert of thy wings. John Trapp.
Verse 4. Covert of thy wings. To a person who should
penetrate the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, the most conspicuous object
would be the outspread wings above the mercyseat: under their shelter and upon
the mercyseat David would abide in quiet confidence. C. H. S.
Verse 5. (first clause). About this time I began to
know that there is a God who hears and answers prayer. John Newton, in his
Verse 5. Thou, O God, hast heard my vows: that is, his
prayers, which are always to be put up with vows. Indeed, that prayer is a blank
which hath not a vow in it. Is it a mercy thou prayest him to give? If sincere,
thou wilt vow to praise him for it, and serve him with it. Is it a sin thou
prayest against? Except you juggle with God, thou wilt vow as well as pray
against it. William Gurnall.
Verse 5. The heritage. Eternal life is called an
inheritance. Theodoret remarks: "The true inheritance is eternal life,
concerning which Christ saith to the sheep on his right hand, Come, ye blessed
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the
world. This inheritance the Lord giveth to them that fear him." In Eph 1:14, the
Spirit is called "the earnest of our inheritance." In Col 1:12, the apostle
exhorts them "to give thanks unto the Father, who hath made them meet to be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." On this verse we have the
golden comment of Chrysostom, reiterated by Theophylact. He calls it an
inheritance, to show that no man obtaineth the kingdom by his own good works;
for no man hath so lived as to render himself worthy of the kingdom, but all is
of the grace of God. Wherefore he saith, "When ye have done all, say that we are
unprofitable servants, for we have only done that which we ought to have done."
John Caspar Suicer's "Thesaurus," 1728.
Verse 6. Thou wilt prolong the king's life, etc. David
cannot be considered as using these words of gratulation with an exclusive
reference to himself. It is true that he lived to an extreme old age, and died
full of days, leaving the kingdom in a settled condition, and in the hands of
his son, who succeeded him; but he did not exceed the period of one man's life,
and the greater part of it was spent in continued dangers and anxieties. There
can be no doubt, therefore, that the series of years, and even ages, of which he
speaks, extends prospectively to the coming of Christ, it being the very
condition of the kingdom, as I have often remarked, that God maintained them as
one people under on head, or when scattered, united them again. The same
succession still subsists in reference to ourselves. Christ must be viewed as
living in his members to the end of the world. To this Isaiah alludes when he
says, "Who shall declare his generation or age?" --words in which he predicts
that the church would survive through all ages, notwithstanding the incessant
danger of destruction to which it is exposed through the attacks of its enemies,
and the many storms assailing it. So here David foretells the uninterrupted
succession of the kingdom down to the time of Christ. John Calvin.
Verse 6. The king's life: and his years. David speaks
designedly of the days of the king instead of his own days, as
might have been expected from what had been said, for the purpose of showing
that he considered the promise of eternal dominion as relating not to himself
personally, but to his family--the royal family of David. E. W.
Verse 7. O prepare mercy. David having declared in his own
behalf the purpose of God towards him for everlasting salvation, he,
speaking of himself, shall abide before God for ever: he withal
considering what he was to run through in this life, and what it might require
to keep him unto the end, and so for ever, doth presently thereupon, in
way of prayer, subjoin prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve
me. As if he had said, I have yet a long journey to go, and through many
hazards, and thy promise is, I shall abide before thee for ever.
Lord, thou hast need lay up and aforehand prepare an abundance of mercy and
truth to preserve me for time to come. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 8. They that are godly are oppressed and vexed in the
church or congregation for this purpose: that when they are pressed, they should
cry; and when they cry, that they should be heard; and when they are heard, that
they should laud and praise God. Augustine.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Whole Psalm. The progressive I wills.
1. I will cry.
2. I will abide in thy tabernacle.
3. I will trust.
4. I will sing praise.
Verse 1. Answers to prayer to be earnestly sought.
1. What hinders the answer of prayer?
2. What is our duty when answers are denied?
3. What encouragements we have to believe that the delay is only temporary.
Verse 2. Lead me.
1. Show me the way: reveal Jesus.
2. Enable me to tread it: work faith in me.
3. Uplift me when I cannot tread: do for me what is beyond me.
Verse 2. Higher than I. Jesus greater than our highest
efforts, attainments, desires, expectations, conceptions.
Verse 2. God, the saint's rock. John Owen's Two
Sermons. Works. Vol. 9, pp. 237-256.
Verse 2. The heart's cry and desire.
1. A recognition of a place of safety; then,
2. We have this place brought before us, as abundantly sufficient, when personal weakness has been
3. This place cannot be attained without the help of another's hand.
4. The character of this refuge, and the position of a believer when availing himself of it: the place of
refuge is "a rock, "and the position of the believer is "upon a rock." P. B. Power.
1. How would he pray? I will cry unto thee.
2. Where would he pray? From the ends of the earth.
3. When would he pray? When my heart is overwhelmed.
4. For what would he pray? Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
5. Whence does he derive his encouragement to pray? For thou hast been,
etc. (Ps 61:3). William Jay.
Verse 3. A shelter from the rain of trouble, the storm of
persecution, the floods of Satanic temptation, the heat of divine wrath, the
blast of death. The ark, Lot's mountain, the blood stained door in Egypt, the
city of refuge, the cave Adullam. A strong tower: lasting in
itself, impregnable against foes, secure for the occupant.
Verse 5. (second clause). Enquire whether or no it
fares with us as with the saints.
Verses 5, 8.
1. Vows heard in heaven.
2. Vows to be carefully fulfilled on earth.
Verse 5. (second clause).
1. They that fear God have a "heritage."
2. This heritage is "given."
3. We may know that we possess it. William Jay.
Verse 6. Our King, his eternal existence, our personal joy
in this, and our joy for our descendants.
Verses 4, 7.
1. My privilege, I will abide (Ps 61:4).
2. The ground of it, He shall abide, etc. (Ps 61:7).
Verses 5, 8.
1. Vows heard in heaven.
2. Vows to be carefully fulfilled on earth.