Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. To the Chief Musician on Neginoth. The
Precentor is here instructed to perform this song to the music of stringed
instruments. The master of the harpers was called for his most skilful
minstrelsy, and truly the song is worthy of the sweetest sounds that strings can
yield. A Psalm or Song of Asaph. The style and matter indicate the same
hand as that which wrote the preceding; and it is an admirable arrangement which
placed the two in juxtaposition. Faith in the 75th Psalm sung of victories to
come, and here it sings of triumphs achieved. The present Psalm is a most
jubilant war song, a paean to the King of kings, the hymn of a theocratic nation
to its divine ruler. We have no need to mark divisions in a song where the unity
is so well preserved.
Verse 1. In Judah is God known. If unknown in all the world
beside, he has so revealed himself to his people by his deeds of grace, that he
is no unknown God to them. His name is great in Israel. To be known, in the Lord's
case, is to be honoured: those who know his name admire the greatness of it.
Although Judah and Israel were unhappily divided politically, yet the godly of
both nations were agreed concerning Jehovah their God; and truly whatever
schisms may mar the visible church, the saints always "appear as one" in
magnifying the Lord their God. Dark is the outer world, but within the favoured
circle Jehovah is revealed, and is the adoration of all who behold him. The
world knows him not, and therefore blasphemes him, but his church is full of
ardour to proclaim his fame unto the ends of the earth.
Verse 2. In Salem also is his tabernacle. In the peaceful
city he dwells, and the peace is perpetuated, because there his sacred tent is
pitched. The church of God is the place where the Lord abides and he is to her
the Lord and giver of peace. And his dwelling place in Zion. Upon the chosen hill was
the palace of Israel's Lord. It is the glory of the church that the Redeemer
inhabits her by his Holy Spirit. Vain are the assaults of the enemy, for they
attack not us alone, but the Lord himself. Immanuel, God with us, finds a home
among his people, who then shall work us ill?
Verse 3. There brake he the arrows of the bow. Without
leaving his tranquil abode, he sent forth his word and snapped the arrows of his
enemies before they could shoot them. The idea is sublime, and marks the ease,
completeness, and rapidity of the divine action. The shield, and the sword, and the battle. Every weapon,
offensive and defensive, the Lord dashed in pieces; death bearing bolts and life
preserving armour were alike of no avail when the Breaker sent forth his word of
power. In the spiritual conflicts of this and every age, the like will be seen;
no weapon that is formed against the church shall prosper, and every tongue that
rises against her in judgment, she shall condemn. Selah. It is meet that we should dwell on so soul stirring
a theme, and give the Lord our grateful adoration, --hence a pause is inserted.
Verse 4. Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains
of prey. Far more is Jehovah to be extolled than all the invading
powers which sought to oppress his people, though they were for power and
greatness comparable to mountains. Assyria had pillaged the nations till it had
become rich with mountains of spoil, this was talked of among men as glory, but
the psalmist despised such renown, and declares that the Lord was far more
illustrious. What are the honours of war but brags of murder? What the fame of
conquerors but the reek of manslaughter? But the Lord is glorious in holiness,
and his terrible deeds are done in justice for the defence of the weak and the
deliverance of the enslaved. Mere power may be glorious, but it is not
excellent: when we behold the mighty acts of the Lord, we see a perfect blending
of the two qualities.
Verse 5. The stouthearted are spoiled. They came to spoil,
and lo! they are spoiled themselves. Their stout hearts are cold in death, the
angel of the pestilence has dried up their life blood, their very heart is taken
from them. They have slept their sleep. Their last sleep--the sleep of
death. And none of the men of might have found their hands. Their
arms are palsied, they cannot lift a finger, for the rigour of death has
stiffened them. What a scene was that when Sennacherib's host was utterly
destroyed in one night. The hands which were furious to pull down Jerusalem,
could not even be raised from the sod, the most valiant warriors were as weak as
the palsied cripples at the temple gate, yea, their eyes they could not open, a
deep sleep sealed their vision in everlasting darkness. O God, how terrible art
thou! Thus shalt thou fight for us, and in the hour of peril overthrow the
enemies of thy gospel. Therefore in thee will we trust and not be afraid.
Verse 6. At thy rebuke. A word accomplished all, there was
no need of a single blow. O God of Jacob. God of thy wrestling people, who again like
their father supplant their enemy; God of the covenant and the promise, thou
hast in this gracious character fought for thine elect nation. Both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. They
will neither neigh nor rattle again; still are the trampings of the horses and
the crash of the cars; the calvary no more creates its din. The Israelites
always had a special fear of horses and scythed chariots; and, therefore, the
sudden stillness of the entire force of the enemy in this department is made the
theme of special rejoicing. The horses were stretched on the ground, and the
chariots stood still, as if the whole camp had fallen asleep. Thus can the Lord
send a judicial sleep over the enemies of the church, a premonition of the
second death, and this he can do when they are in the zenith of power; and, as
they imagine, in the very act of blotting out the remembrance of his people. The
world's Rabshakahs can write terrible letters, but the Lord answers not with pen
and ink, but with rebukes, which bear death in every syllable.
Verse 7. Thou, even thou, art to be feared. Not Sennacherib,
nor Nisroch his god, but Jehovah alone, who with a silent rebuke had withered
all the monarch's host.
"Fear him, ye saints, and then ye shall
Have nothing else to fear."
The fear of man is a snare, but the fear of God is a great
virtue, and has great power for good over the human mind. God is to be feared
profoundly, continually, and alone. Let all worship be to him only. And who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?
Who indeed? The angels fell when their rebellion provoked his justice; Adam lost
his place in Paradise in the same manner; Pharaoh and other proud monarchs
passed away at his frown; neither is there in earth or hell any who can abide
the terror of his wrath. How blest are they who are sheltered in the atonement
of Jesus, and hence have no cause to fear the righteous anger of the Judge of
all the earth.
Verse 8. Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven.
So complete an overthrow was evidently a judgment from heaven; those who saw it
not, yet heard the report of it, and said, "This is the finger of God." Man will
not hear God's voice if he can help it, but God takes care to cause it to be
heard. The echoes of that judgment executed on the haughty Assyrian are heard
still, and will ring on down all the ages, to the praise of divine justice. The earth feared and was still. All nations trembled at the
tidings, and sat in humbled awe. Repose followed the former turmoils of war,
when the oppressor's power was broken, and God was reverenced for having given
quiet to the peoples. How readily can Jehovah command an audience! It may be
that in the latter days he will, by some such miracles of power in the realms of
grace, constrain all earth's inhabitants to attend to the gospel, and submit to
the reign of his all glorious Son. So be it, good Lord.
Verse 9. When God arose to judgment. Men were hushed when he
ascended the judgment seat and actively carried out the decrees of justice. When
God is still the people are in tumult; when he arises they are still as a stone.
To save all the meek of the earth. The Ruler of men has a
special eye towards the poor and despised; he makes it his first point to right
all their wrongs. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." They
have little enough of it now, but their avenger is strong and he will surely
save them. He who saves his people is the same God who overthrows their enemies;
he is as omnipotent to save as to destroy. Glory be unto his name. Selah. Here pause, and let devout contemplation adore the
God of Jacob.
Verse 10. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee. It
shall not only be overcome but rendered subservient to thy glory. Man with his
breath of threatening is but blowing the trumpet of the Lord's eternal fame.
Furious winds often drive vessels the more swiftly into port. The devil blows
the fire and melts the iron, and then the Lord fashions it for his own purposes.
Let men and devils rage as they may, they cannot do otherwise than subserve the
divine purposes. The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. Malice is
tethered and cannot break its bounds. The fire which cannot be utilised shall be
damped. Some read it "thou shalt gird, "as if the Lord girded on the wrath of
man as a sword to be used for his own designs, and certainly men of the world
are often a sword in the hand of God, to scourge others. The verse clearly
teaches that even the most rampant evil is under the control of the Lord, and
will in the end be overruled for his praise.
Verse 11. Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God. Well may we
do so in memory of such mercies and judgments. To vow or not is a matter of
choice, but to discharge our vows is our bounden duty. He who would defraud God,
his own God, is a wretch indeed. He keeps his promises, let not his people fail
in theirs. He is their faithful God and deserves to have a faithful people. Let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that
ought to be feared. Let surrounding nations submit to the only living
God, let his own people with alacrity present their offerings, and let his
priests and Levites be leaders in the sacred sacrifice. He who deserves to be
praised as our God does, should not have mere verbal homage, but substantial
tribute. Dread Sovereign, behold I give myself to thee.
Verse 12. He shall cut off the spirit of princes. Their
courage, skill, and life are in his hands, and he can remove them as a gardener
cuts off a slip from a plant. None are great in his hand. Caesars and Napoleons
fall under his power as the boughs of the tree beneath the woodman's axe. He is terrible to the kings of the earth. While they are
terrible to others, he is terrible to them. If they oppose themselves to his
people, he will make short work of them; they shall perish before the terror of
his arm, "for the Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name." Rejoice before
him all ye who adore the God of Jacob.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. No Psalm has a greater right to follow Psalm
75 than this, which is inscribed To the Precentor, with accompaniment of
stringed instruments (vid.) iv. 1, a Psalm by Asaph, a song.
Similar expressions (God of Jacob, Ps 75:10 77:7; saints,
wicked of the earth, Ps 75:9 76:10), and the same impress throughout
speak in favour of unity of authorship. In other respects too, they form a pair:
Psalm 75 prepares the way for the divine deed of judgments as imminent, which
Psalm 76 celebrates as having taken place. Franz Delitzsch.
Verse 1. In Judah is God known. God is truly and savingly
known only in and through his Son; God indeed is obscurely and darkly known in
his works, as a God of power; in his providence, as a God of authority,
wisdom, and order; in his common mercies, as a God of bounty; and in his
punishments and judgments, as a God of justice; but in Christ opened and
preached in the gospel, God is known with a clear, a comfortable, and saving
knowledge, as a father of grace and singular mercy and lovingkindness. In
Judah (saith the psalmist) is God known: his name is great in Israel. In
Judah, in his church, where his word and ordinances are, where Christ is
preached and the mystery of man's salvation is opened, there God is known
truly without error, perspicuously without obscurities, and
savingly without uncertainties; there he is known as a King in his
courts, for the glory and beauty which he there manifests; as a teacher
in his school, for the wisdom and knowledge which he there dispenses; as a
dweller in his house, for the holy orders he there prescribes, and
gracious rule and dominion he there erects and beareth in the souls of his
servants; as a bridegroom in the banqueting house, for the spiritual
dainties he there maketh, for the clear and open manifestation of himself, and
love and comforts he there ministereth to his spiritual friends and guests;
and his name is great in Israel; his power, wisdom, truth, love,
and goodness is much magnified and very glorious in their apprehensions who know
him in Christ Jesus. Alexander Grosse.
Verse 1. His name. By the name of God here, God
himself is understood; for in so many good effects as God uttereth himself
towards his kirk, so many names he giveth to himself whereby he may be
praised of her. As for example, when he promises unto his kirk freely grace and
mercy, his kirk giveth him a name, and calleth him merciful. When he
keepeth his promise, and uttereth himself a faithful God to his kirk, his kirk
giveth him a name, and calleth him a true God. When he delivereth his
kirk out of danger, and sheweth him a mighty God, and terrible against his
enemies, the kirk giveth him a name, and calleth him a potent God, and so
forth in the rest of his effects: so that by the name of God is
understood here God himself, as God maketh himself to be known in his wonderful
works. Robert Bruce.
Verse 1. His name is great in Israel. Properly the great
name in Israel, that is, the church, is the name of Jesus, which is great,
first, by its efficacy: for it signifies Saviour. There is no other name under
heaven by which we must be saved. Secondly, it is great in dignity: for it is
the name that is above every name... Thirdly, it is great in the breadth if its
range, Ps 8:1: How excellent is thy name in all the earth.
Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 2. In Salem also is his tabernacle. It is not without
meaning that Jerusalem has the appellation of Salem; for it is thereby
insinuated that the tabernacle of God, notwithstanding the assault of
foes, in the very heart of the tumults of war remained in peace.
How much more now that the invaders had been overthrown, would prosperity
be enjoyed? Hermann Venema.
Verse 2. In Salem also is his tabernacle. God the Holy Ghost
is a spirit of peace, he is the comforter; he seals up peace (2Co 1:22). This
blessed dove brings the olive branch of peace in his mouth: now a peaceable
disposition evidences something of God in a man, therefore God loves to dwell
there. "In Salem is God's tabernacle:" Salem signifies peace; God dwells in a
peaceable spirit. Thomas Watson.
Verse 2. In Salem also is his tabernacle, etc. All the old
versions, as well as the two English ones, have missed one especial force of
this passage. There is no direct reference in words to any human habitation, but
to the lair of the Lion of Judah. The word wkm does not only mean his tabernacle, but his covert,
and is so translated in another place (Jer 25:38): "He hath forsaken his
covert, as the lion; "and the vaguer word wtgwem which succeeds may well be translated by "den, "or some
equivalent phrase. Ps 10:9. Simon De Muis.
Verses 2-3. The care of Salem, or Zion, lies at the bottom of
all God's powerful acting and workings among the sons of men. Every mighty work
of God throughout the world may be prefaced with these two verses. The whole
course of affairs in the world in steered by Providence in reference to the good
of Salem. John Owen.
Verse 3. There. Observe how it is said, There he brake,
namely, in his temple, his habitation there. For unto that his temple doth
the coherence in the verse afore carry it, for that was last in mention, and
with the greatest emphasis. In the story we read how that Sennacherib's
overthrow was from Hezekiah's prayer in the temple; for upon Sennacherib's
letter, and Hezekiah's hearsay of the blasphemy, he took himself thither, went
instantly into the temple, and began his prayer thus: "O thou God of Israel,
that dwellest between the cherubims." He invocates him under that style of his
dwelling in the holiest, and so hearing prayers there. Thus you have it recorded
both in Isaiah and in 2Ki 19:15. And how suitably, in answer hereunto, it is
said here in the Psalm, that God gave forth sentence presently out of his
tabernacle, yea, and that so suddenly too, as that the very execution is said to
be done there, that is, from thence. And yet again, in the eighth verse of the
Psalm, it is said to be a sentence from heaven too; Thou didst cause
judgment (so called because it was the sentence of God as a judge) to
be heard from heaven. Thus Hezekiah prayed, and thus God heard; and
both as in the temple. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 3. There. These men, to wit the King of Asshur and his
accomplices, came to cast out God out of his dwelling place; but he stood to the
defence of his own house, and showed them that he would not remove for their
pleasure. Robert Bruce.
Verse 4. God was not known in Babylon, in Egypt, in other
nations, his tabernacle and dwelling place was not amongst them, therefore they
were not glorious. But see what is in the fourth verse, Thou art more
glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey; thou Judah, thou
Israel, thou Salem, thou Zion, that hast spiritual mercies and blessings, art
more glorious than they, whatever their glory be. Have the nations abroad goodly
towers? thou hast the temple; have they stately cities? thou hast Jerusalem, the
city of God; have they wise men? thou hast the prophets; have they gods of gold,
silver, and stones; thou hast the true living God, Jehovah, to be thy God; have
they human laws that are good? thou hast divine laws that excel; have they
temporal excellencies? thou hast spiritual; have they the glory of the world?
thou hast the glory of heaven. William Greenhill.
Verse 4. The mountains of prey. Why are they called the
mountains of prey? There is a reference to the lairs of the lions
in the mountains, whence they rush forth upon those who come that way, and tear
them in pieces. In the same way the dwelling place of God was represented above
under the title of a tabernacle or lair. Moreover, this is a mystic epithet of
the mountains of Judah, by which it is hinted that the enemies who
venture to approach that lair are wont to be torn in sunder: a terrible example
of which had just been shown in the case of the Assyrian, there overthrown,
torn, and spoiled. Compare Isa 31:4. Hermann Venema.
Verse 5. The stouthearted are spoiled. There is indicated in
these words that consternation of mind which deprives of judgment and power.
The valiant are spoiled of their heart: that is, they who at other times
were wise and courageous have now lost their heart, and
have been reduced to foolishness and stupidity. Hermann Venema.
Verse 5. The stouthearted are spoiled. After the breaking of
their weapons their spoliation is recorded, for that follows the slaughter of
foes. Nor is mention made of that without reason. They had come to spoil,
therefore are they deservedly spoiled. Musculus.
Verse 5. The stouthearted are spoiled. Some translate it,
They are spoiled of their stout heart. The stouthearted, the
strong, are spoiled. The strong man may be spoiled by a stronger; that's a good
sense, but it is more elegantly rendered, they are spoiled of their
stout heart; that is, the Lord takes their heart out of their bosom. Daring
men, who fear nothing, are turned into Magor-missabibs--fear round about;
their stout hearts are taken from them, and they are so far from being a
terror to other men, that they run from the shadow of a man; their courage is
down; they cannot give a child a confident look, much less look dangers or
enemies in the face. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 5. (last clause). The strength and power of a
man is in his hands; if they be gone, all his hope is gone. If a man's sword be
taken from him, he will do what he can with his hands; but if his hands be gone,
he may go to sleep for any disturbance he will work. For men not to find their
hands, is not to have that power for the execution of their designs which
formerly they had. John Owen.
Verse 5. (last clause). As we say of a man that goes
lamely or lazily, "he cannot find his feet; "so of a man that acts lamely or
lazily, or of a soldier that fights faintly and cowardly, he cannot
find his hands. Joseph Caryl.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever were still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock breaking surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
--George Gordon, Lord Byron.
Verse 6. Cast into a deep sleep. It is observable that the
verb here used is the same as is used in the narrative of the act of Jael, and
of the death of the proud enemy of Israel, Sisera, cast into a deep
sleep, by God's power, working by the hand of a woman. Christopher
Verse 7. Thou, even thou, art to be feared. The emphasis in
the word thou, redoubled, implies as much as if he had said, Not
principalities, not powers, not hell, not death, nor anything for themselves,
but thou, O Lord, alone art to be feared. Arguments and reasons to confirm it
are two, here laid down in the text: the first is drawn from God's anger, who
hath decreed, and accordingly executes vengeance upon all the proud. The second
is drawn from his power; not princes, not armies, not men, not angels, are able
to endure the breath of his fury; for, Who may stand in thy sight when once
thou art angry?... The anger of God is a terrible, unspeakable,
unsupportable, intolerable, burden. Every word in the text hath a special
emphasis to prove this. Who may stand? Who? Shall angels? They are
but like refracted beams or rays, if God should hide his face, they would cease
to shine. Shall man? His glory and pomp, like the colours in the rainbow, vanish
away, when God puts forth in anger the brightness of his face. Shall devils? If
he speak the word, they are tumbled down from heaven like lightning. Stand
in thy sight. Stand. What! a reed against a cedar, a thistle in
Lebanon against a cedar in Lebanon; a feather against a flame; a grasshopper
against an Almighty, a head of glass against a rod of brass? When once thou
art angry. Angry. By sending out his wrath, that it wounds like arrows;
angry, in pouring it out, that it drowns like water; angry, in kindling of it,
that it burns like fire; a consuming fire, but you tell me such a fire may be
quenched; an unquenchable fire, but since that may cease to burn, when it lacks
matter, it is in one word an everlasting fire, that never goes out. That, that's
it; such anger as is never fully shown, but in punishment of reprobates; in no
punishment, but that in hell; in none in hell, but that eternal. John
Cragge's "Cabinet of Spiritual Jewells." 1657.
Verse 9. God arose to judgment. This great judgment was
wrought upon the enemies when God rose: it was not done when God sat; for
the whole time when he sat his enemies were aloft, stirring their time, raging
in murder, oppression, and blood... He bringeth in God here after the manner of
earthly judges, after the custom of our judges; for first they sit down, they
try, seek out, and advise, and after consideration they resolve, and after
resolution they rise up, give forth judgment, and pronounce the sentence; even
so the prophet bringeth in God after the same manner; sitting, and after
sitting, rising and pronouncing the sentence. Robert Bruce.
Verse 9. To save all the meek. We see from this passage what
care God takes of the afflicted. When he is angry with the ungodly, he is angry
with them chiefly because they have oppressed the poor and the innocent.
Although he detests all iniquity, yet he is most indignant with that which is
committed against the needy and guiltless. So in Psalm 12, "For the oppression
of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord." So
in this verse, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.
Verse 9. Is not this the day when the Saviour comes to
reign? the day when the results of things shall best be seen; the day when every
saint with anointed eye shall see that events all tended to the glory of God;
the day when they shall sing better far than now.
"Surely the wrath of man praiseth thee.
Thou girdest thyself with the remnant of wrath."
Verse 10. Surly the wrath of man shall praise thee.
Persecutions tend to correct the failings of good men, and to exercise and
illustrate their several graces and virtues. By these, good men are usually made
much better and more approved, while they tend to exercise our patience, to
quicken our devotion, to evidence out zeal and Christian fortitude, and to show
to the whole world what love we bear to the truth, and how much we are willing
to undergo for the honour of God. Till they have suffered something for it,
truth is too apt to grow cheap and be less prized many times, even by those that
are good men in the main; whereas we are apt on the contrary, never to value it
at a higher rate, or to be more zealous for it, or to make better use of it,
than when it is opposed and persecuted. What more truly beneficial therefore, or
tending to the divine glory, than for God, who useth to bring good out of evil,
to make use also of the opposers of his truth, to rouse up his servants whom he
sees growing more remiss and negligent than they should be, and to suffer such
temptations to assault them, by which their drowsy minds may be spurred on into
a greater love and zeal for the truth, and a deeper sense of the divine benefit
in it, and in general, excited to the more diligent performance of their duty.
Richard Pearson. 1684.
Verse 10. The wrath of man shall praise thee. In the
Septuagint it is, The wrath of man shall keep holy day to thee, shall
increase a festival for thee. God many times gets up in the world on Satan's
shoulders. When matters are ravelled and disordered, he can find out the right
end of the thread, and how to disentangle us again; and when we have spoiled a
business, he can dispose it for good, and make an advantage of those things
which seem to obscure the glory of his name. Thomas Manton.
Verse 10. The wrath of man shall praise thee. The wrath of
wicked men against the people of God is very tributary to his praise.
1. It puts them upon many subtle devices and cunning
stratagems, in frustrating of which the wisdom of God and his care of his Church
is very much illustrated.
2. The wrath of wicked men impels them to many violent and
forcible attempts upon the people of God to destroy them, and so gives him
occasion to manifest his power in their defence.
3. It makes them sometimes fit to be his instruments in
correcting his people, and so he vindicates himself from the suspicion of being
a patron to sin in them that are nearest to him, and makes them that hate
holiness promote it in his people, and them that intend them the greatest hurt,
to do them the greatest good.
4. It administers occasion to him for the manifestation of the
power of his grace in upholding the spirits of his people and the being of his
church in despite of all that enemies can do against them.
5. It serves very much to adorn God's most signal undertakings
for his people in the world.
6. It serves to manifest the glory of God's justice upon his
people's enemies in the day when he rises up to avenge himself upon them, when
he shall stand over them, lashing them with scorpions, and at every blow mind
their former cruelties. Here, take that for your inhuman rage against my people
at such a place, and that for your barbarous usage of them at such a time. Now
see how good it is to be imprisoned, beaten, tortured, burnt, and sawn asunder.
Thus the enemies themselves are often constrained to acknowledge with Adoni
Bezek the righteous hand of God upon them in the day of inquisition.
Condensed from John Warren's Sermon before Parliament. 1656.
Verse 10. The wrath of man. Wrath is anger accented unto the
highest pitch, or blown up into a flame. The wrath of man, (in the
original it is The wrath of Adam, or the wrath of clay, weak,
impotent man) shall praise thee, i.e., it shall turn to the praise
and glory of God through his overruling providence, though quite otherwise
intended. God will bring honour to himself, and serve his own holy and wise
designs out of it... This expression, the wrath of man, imports
the weakness and impotence of it; it is but the wrath of Adam, or of
red clay. How contemptibly doth the Spirit of God speak of man, and of
the power of man, in Scripture? "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his
nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?" The wrath of man, when it is
lengthened out to its utmost boundaries, can only go to the length of killing
the body, or in the breaking the sheath of clay in which the soul lodges, and
then it can do no more. Ebenezer Erskine.
Verse 10. Shall praise thee. God turns the wrath of man to
the praise of his adorable sovereignty. Never have the Lord's people had such
awful impressions of the sovereignty of God, as when they have been in the
furnace of man's wrath, then they become dumb with silence. When the Chaldean
and Sabean robbers are let loose to plunder and spoil the substance of Job, he
is made to view adorable sovereignty in it, saying, "The Lord gave, the Lord
hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord." It is in such a case as this
that God says to his own people, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be
exalted among the heathen." What work of God about the church is advanced by the
wrath of men?
1. His discovering work; for by the wind of man's wrath
he separates between the precious and the vile, betwixt the chaff and the wheat.
In the day of the church's prosperity and quiet, hypocrites and true believers
are mingled together, like the chaff and the wheat in the barn floor: but the
Lord, like the husbandman, opens the door of his barn, and puts the wind of
man's wrath through it, that the world may know which is which. O, sirs, much
chaff is cast up already, both among ministers and professors; but it is like
the wind and sieve may cast up much more yet ere all be done.
2. God's purging work is advanced among his own children
by the wrath of men: there is much of the dross of corruption cleaves to the
Lord's people while in the wilderness. Now, the Lord heats the furnace of man's
wrath, and casts his people into it, that when he has tried them, he may bring
them forth as gold.
3. God's uniting work is hereby advanced. In a time of
peace and external tranquillity the sheep of Christ scatter and divide among
themselves; but God lets loose the dogs upon them, and then the flock runs
together; or like pieces of metal cast into the fire, they run together in a
4. God's enlarging work, or his work of spreading the
gospel, is sometimes advanced by the wrath of man. Ac 8:1-5. The gospel, like
the chamomile, the more it is trodden upon, the more it spreads. Ebenezer
Verse 10. The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
The remainder of wrath, i.e. what is left behind of the
wrath of men, when God has glorified himself thereby. Even after God has
defeated the purposes of wicked men, and made them contribute to his glory, yet
there is abundance of wrath remaining. But what becomes of that wrath that is
left? God shall restrain it. The word signifies to gird up.
However God may see fit to slacken the bridle of his providence, and suffer
wicked men to vent their wrath and enmity, as far as it shall contribute to his
glory; yet the super abounding and the remainder of his wrath that is not for
his glory and his people's profit, God will gird it up, that they shall not get
it vented... If any wrath of man remain beyond what shall bring in a revenue of
praise unto God, he will restrain it, and bind it up like the waters of a
mill: he will suffer as much of the current of water to run upon the wheel, as
serves to carry it about and grind his corn, but the remainder of the water he
sets it off another way: so God will let out as much of the current of man's
wrath as shall serve the ends of his glory and our good, but the remainder of
the stream and current he will restrain, and turn another way. In Isaiah
28 we are told that God will not be aye "threshing his corn, nor break it with
the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen. This cometh forth from
the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." All
this comfort is sure and certain, there is not the least peradventure about it,
that the flame of man's wrath shall praise the Lord, and the superfluous fire
shall be quenched, or hemmed in; for here we have God's parole of honour for it:
Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of
wrath shalt thou restrain. Ebenezer Erskine.
Verse 10. The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
twmh Chemoth, "wrath, "in the
plural number, seems to be put in opposition to chamoth, the single
wrath of man in the former part of the verse; to shew there is more wrath
which God is to restrain, than merely that of man. There is also more pride
which needs a like restraint; namely, that of the first Lucifer, who
sinned, and, as is thought, fell by aspiring to ascend, and to be like the Most
High. There are finally, other counsels also, as well as other
wrath and pride, besides human, which God confounds. There is a
wisdom that descendeth not from above (no, nor grows on earth) but is devilish,
Jas 3:15. And both wrath, pride, and wisdom, of devils as
well as men, shall God restrain, when he pleases not to turn them
to his praise. Let there be hellish plots, yet our God shall confound them. From "A Sermon preached"... before the Queen... By Edward
(Wetenhall) Lord Bishop of Corke and Rosse. 1691.
Verse 10. Thou shalt restrain. This, in the Hebrew, is
expressed in one word, rygxt, which
imports the girding or binding of it on every side, that it shall by no means
break out, but shall be kept in, as a dog in a chain, as a lion in his den, how
violent soever. Cornelius Burges, in "Another Sermon preached to the
Honourable House of Commons... November the fifth, 1641."
Verse 11. Round about him. A description of his people, as
the twelve tribes pitched round about the tabernacle, Nu 2:2; and the
twenty-four elders were round about God's throne, Re 4:4. So the Chaldee
expounds it; --Ye that dwell about his sanctuary. Henry Ainsworth.
Verse 12. Cut off. He deals with princes as men deal with a
vine. An axe is too strong for a cluster of grapes, or a sprig of a vine; it
easily cuts them off: so God by a judgment easily cuts off the spirit of
princes; they are not able to stand against the least judgments of God: when he
puts strength into worms, or any other creature they fall. William Greenhill,
in a Sermon, entitled, "The Axe at the Root."
Verse 12. The Lord cuts off the spirit of princes;
the word is, he slips off, as one should slip off a flower between
one's fingers, or as one should slip off a bunch of grapes from a vine, so soon
is it done. How great uncertainty have many great ones, by their miserable
experience, found in their outward glory and worldly felicity! What a change
hath a little time made in all their honours, riches, and delights! That
victorious emperor Henry the Fourth, who had fought fifty-two pitched battles,
fell to that poverty before he died, that he was forced to petition to be a
prebend in the church of Spier, to maintain him in his old age. And Procopius
reports of King Gillimer, who was a potent king of the Vandals, who was so low
brought, as to intreat his friends to send him a sponge, a loaf of bread, and a
harp; a sponge to dry up his tears, a loaf of bread to maintain his life, and a
harp to solace himself in his misery. Philip de Comines reports of a Duke of
Exeter, who though he had married Edward the Fourth's sister, yet he saw him in
the Low Countries begging barefoot. Bellisarius, the chief man living in his
time, having his eyes put out, was led at last in a string, crying, "give a
halfpenny to Bellisarius." Jeremiah Burroughs.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Reverence for God's name proportionate to true
knowledge of it.
Verse 2. The peculiar relation of God to his church.
Verse 2. (first clause). A peaceful church the
tabernacle of God. The benefits peace confers, the evils of strife, the causes
of dissension, and the means of promoting unity.
Verse 3. Christian glories, or the victories vouchsafed to
the church over heathenism, heresy, persecution, etc.
1. Where enemies are conquered; "There; "not on the battlefield so much as in the house of God; as Amalek
by Moses on the Mount; Sennacherib by Hezekiah in the Sanctuary.
2. How there?
(a) By faith.
(b) By prayer. "The weapons of our warfare, "etc.
Verse 4. The Lord, our portion, compared with the treasures
1. What the world is, compared with the church: Mountains of prey.
(a) Cruelty instead of love.
(b) Violence instead of peace.
2. What the church is compared
with the world.
(a) More glorious, because more excellent.
(b) More excellent, because more glorious. Both
are more real and abiding. G. R.
Verse 5. They have slept their sleep. Divers kinds of deaths
or sleeps for the various classes of men.
Verse 7. The anger of God. A very suggestive subject.
1. The characters described: the meek of the earth.
2. The need implied.
(a) To be vindicated.
(b) To be saved.
3. The divine interposition on their behalf:
Thou didst cause, etc. When God arose, etc.
4. The effect
of their deliverance: The earth feared, etc. G. R.
1. Evil permitted for good: the wrath, etc.
2. Restrained for good: The remainder, etc.
2. Overruled. G. R.
1. To whom vows may be made. Not to man, but God.
2. What vows should be thus made.
(a) Of self dedication.
(b) Of self service.
(c) Of self sacrifice.
3. How kept: Vow and pay.
(a) From duty.
(b) From fear of his displeasure. G. R.
Verse 11. The propriety, obligation, pleasure, and profit of
presenting gifts unto the Lord.