Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. This Psalm has no title, and all we know of its authorship is
that Paul quotes it as "in David." (Heb 4:7.) It is true that this may
merely signify that it is to be found in the collection known as David's Psalms;
but if such were the Apostle's meaning it would have been more natural for him
to have written, "saying in the Psalms; "we therefore incline to the belief that
David was the actual author of this poem. It is in its original a truly Hebrew
song, directed both in its exhortation and warning to the Jewish people, but we
have the warrant of the Holy Spirit in the epistle to the Hebrews for using its
appeals and entreaties when pleading with Gentile believers. It is a psalm of
invitation to worship. It has about it a ring like that or church bells, and
like the bells it sounds both merrily and solemnly, at first ringing out a
lively peal, and then dropping into a funeral knell as if tolling at the funeral
of the generation which perished in the wilderness. We will call it THE PSALM OF
DIVISION. It would be correct as to the sense to divide
this psalm into an invitation and a warning so as to commence the second part
with the last clause of Ps 95:7: but upon the whole it may be more convenient to
regard Ps 95:6 as "the beating heart of the psalm, "as Hengstenberg calls it,
and make the division at the end of Ps 95:5. Thus it will form (1) an invitation
with reasons, and (2) an invitation with warnings.
Verse 1. O come, let us sing unto the LORD. Other nations
sing unto their gods, let us sing unto Jehovah. We love him, we admire him, we
reverence him, let us express our feelings with the choicest sounds, using our
noblest faculty for its noblest end. It is well thus to urge others to magnify
the Lord, but we must be careful to set a worthy example ourselves, so that we
may be able not only to cry "Come", but also to add "let us sing",
because we are singing ourselves. It is to be feared that very much even of
religious singing is not unto the Lord but unto the car of the congregation:
above all things we must in our service of song take care that all we offer is
with the heart's sincerest and most fervent intent directed toward the Lord
himself. Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
With holy enthusiasm let us sing, making a sound which shall indicate our
earnestness; with abounding joy let us lift up our voices, actuated by that
happy and peaceful spirit which trustful love is sure to foster. As the children
of Israel sang for joy when the smitten rock poured forth its cooling streams,
so let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. The author of this
song had in his mind's eye the rock, the tabernacle, the Red Sea, and the
mountains of Sinai, and he alludes to them all in this first part of his hymn.
God is our abiding, immutable, and mighty rock, and in him we find deliverance
and safety, therefore it becomes us to praise him with heart and with voice from
day to day; and especially should we delight to do this when we assemble as his
people for public worship.
"Come let us to the Lord sing out
With trumpet voice and choral shout."
it becomes us to praise him with heart and with voice from day
to day; and especially should we delight to do this when we assemble as his
people for public worship.
"Come let us to the Lord sing out
With trumpet voice and choral shout."
it becomes us to praise him with heart and with voice from day
to day; and especially should we delight to do this when we assemble as his
people for public worship.
"Come let us to the Lord sing out
With trumpet voice and choral shout."
Verse 2. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.
Here is probably a reference to the peculiar presence of God in the Holy of
Holies above the mercy seat, and also to the glory which shone forth out of the
cloud which rested above the tabernacle. Everywhere God is present, but there is
a peculiar presence of grace and glory into which men should never come without
the profoundest reverence. We may make bold to come before the immediate
presence of the Lord--for the voice of the Holy Ghost in this psalm invites us,
and when we do draw near to him we should remember his great goodness to us and
cheerfully confess it. Our worship should have reference to the past as well as
to the future; if we do not bless the Lord for what we have already received,
how can we reasonably look for more. We are permitted to bring our petitions,
and therefore we are in honour bound to bring our thanksgivings. And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. We should
shout as exultingly as those do who triumph in war, and as solemnly as those
whose utterance is a psalm. It is not always easy to unite enthusiasm with
reverence, and it is a frequent fault to destroy one of these qualities while
straining after the other. The perfection of singing is that which unites joy
with gravity, exultation with humility, fervency with sobriety. The invitation
given in the first verse (Ps 95:1) is thus repeated in the second (Ps 95:2) with
the addition of directions, which indicate more fully the intent of the writer.
One can imagine David in earnest tones persuading his people to go up with him
to the worship of Jehovah with sound of harp and hymn, and holy delight. The
happiness of his exhortation is noteworthy, the noise is to be joyful;
this quality he insists upon twice. It is to be feared that this is too much
overlooked in ordinary services, people are so impressed with the idea that they
ought to be serious that they put on the aspect of misery, and quite forget that
joy is as much a characteristic of true worship as solemnity itself.
Verse 3. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above
all gods. No doubt the surrounding nations imagined Jehovah to be a
merely local deity, the god of a small nation, and therefore one of the inferior
deities; the psalmist utterly repudiates such an idea. Idolaters tolerated gods
many and lords many, giving to each a certain measure of respect; the monotheism
of the Jews was not content with this concession, it rightly claimed for Jehovah
the chief place, and the supreme power. He is great, for he is all in all; he is
a great King above all other powers and dignitaries, whether angels or princes,
for they owe their existence to him; as for the idol gods, they are not worthy
to be mentioned. This verse and the following supply some of the reasons for
worship, drawn from the being, greatness, and sovereign dominion of the Lord.
Verse 4. In his hand are the deep places of the earth. He is
the God of the valleys and the hills, the caverns, and the peaks. Far down where
the miners sink their shafts, deeper yet where lie the secret oceans by which
springs are fed, and deepest of all in the unknown abyss where rage and flame
the huge central fires of earth, there Jehovah's power is felt, and all things
are under the dominion of his hand. As princes hold the mimic globe in their
hands, so does the Lord in very deed hold the earth. When Israel drank of the
crystal fount which welled up from the great deep, below the smitten rock, the
people knew that in the Lord's hands were the deep places of the earth. The strength of the hills is his also. When Sinai was
altogether on a smoke the tribes learned that Jehovah was God of the hills as
well as of the valleys. Everywhere and at all times is this true; the Lord rules
upon the high places of the earth in lonely majesty. The vast foundations, the
gigantic spurs, the incalculable masses, the untrodden heights of the mountains
are all the Lord's. These are his fastnesses and treasure houses, where he
stores the tempest and the rain; whence also he pours the ice torrents and
looses the avalanches. The granite peaks and adamantine aiguilles are his, and
his the precipices and the beetling crags. Strength is the main thought which
strikes the mind when gazing on those vast ramparts of cliff which front the
raging sea, or peer into the azure sky, piercing the clouds, but it is to the
devout mind the strength of God; hints of Omnipotence are given by those stern
rocks which brave the fury of the elements, and like walls of brass defy the
assaults of nature in her wildest rage.
Verse 5. The sea is his. This was seen to be true at the Red
Sea when the waters saw their God, and obediently stood aside to open a pathway
for his people. It was not Edom's sea though it was red, nor Egypt's sea though
it washed her shores. The Lord on high reigned supreme over the flood, as King
far ever and ever. So is it with the broad ocean, whether known as Atlantic or
Pacific, Mediterranean or Arctic; no man can map it out and say "It is mine";
the illimitable acreage of waters knows no other lord but God alone. Jehovah
rules the waves. Far down in vast abysses, where no eye of man has gazed, or
foot of diver has descended, he is sole proprietor; every rolling billow and
foaming wave owns him for monarch; Neptune is but a phantom, the Lord is God of
ocean. And he made it. Hence his right and sovereignty. He scooped
the unfathomed channel and poured forth the overflowing flood; seas were not
fashioned by chance, nor their shores marked out by the imaginary finger of
fate; God made the main, and every creek, and bay, and current, and far sounding
tide owns the great Maker's hand. All hail, Creator and Controller of the sea,
let those who fly in the swift ships across the wonder realm of waters worship
thee alone! And his hands formed the dry land. Whether fertile field or
sandy waste, he made all that men called terra firma, lifting it from the
floods and fencing it from the overflowing waters. "The earth is the Lord's, and
the fulness thereof." He bade the isles upraise their heads, he levelled the
vast plains, upreared the table lands, cast up the undulating hills, and piled
the massive Alps. As the potter moulds his clay, so did Jehovah with his hands
fashion the habitable parts of the earth. Come ye, then, who dwell on this fair
world, and worship him who is conspicuous wherever ye tread! Count it all as the
floor of a temple where the footprints of the present Deity are visible before
your eyes if ye do but care to see. The argument is overpowering if the heart be
right; the command to adore is alike the inference of reason and the impulse of
Verse 6. Here the exhortation to worship is renewed and
backed with a motive which, to Israel of old and to Christians now, is
especially powerful; for both the Israel after the flesh and the Israel of faith
may be described as the people of his pasture, and by both he is called "our
God." O come, let us worship and bow down. The adoration is to be
humble. The "joyful noise" is to be accompanied with lowliest reverence. We are
to worship in such style that the bowing down shall indicate that we count
ourselves to be as nothing in the presence of the all glorious Lord. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker. As suppliants must
we come; joyful, but not presumptuous; familiar as children before a father, yet
reverential as creatures before their maker. Posture is not everything, yet is
it something; prayer is heard when knees cannot bend, but it is seemly that an
adoring heart should show its awe by prostrating the body, and bending the knee.
Verse 7. For he is our God. Here is the master reason for
worship. Jehovah has entered into covenant with us, and from all the world
beside has chosen us to be his own elect. If others refuse him homage, we at
least will render it cheerfully. He is ours, and our God; ours, therefore will
we love him; our God, therefore will we worship him. Happy is that man who can
sincerely believe that this sentence is true in reference to himself. And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his
hand. As he belongs to us, so do we belong to him. "My Beloved is mine, and
I am his." And we are his as the people whom he daily feeds and protects. Our
pastures are not ours, but his; we draw all our supplies from his stores. We are
his, even as sheep belong to the shepherd, and his hand is our rule, our
guidance, our government, our succour, our source of supply. Israel was led
through the desert, and we are led through this life by "that great Shepherd of
the sheep." The hand which cleft the sea and brought water from the rock is
still with us, working equal wonders. Can we refuse to "worship and bow down"
when we clearly see that "this God is our God for ever and ever, and will be our
guide, even unto death"? But what is this warning which follows? Alas, it was
sorrowfully needed by the Lord's ancient people, and is not one whir the less
required by ourselves. The favoured nation grew deaf to their Lord's command,
and proved not to be truly his sheep, of whom it is written, "My sheep hear my
voice": will this turn out to be our character also? God forbid. To day if ye will hear his voice. Dreadful "if." Many would
not hear, they put off the claims of love, and provoked their God." Today, "in
the hour of grace, in the day of mercy, we are tried as to whether we have an
ear for the voice of our Creator. Nothing is said of tomorrow, "he limiteth a
certain day, "he presses for immediate attention, for our own sakes he asks
instantaneous obedience. Shall we yield it? The Holy Ghost saith "Today, "will
we grieve him by delay?
Verse 8. Harden not your heart. If ye will hear, learn to
fear also. The sea and the land obey him, do not prove more obstinate than they!
"Yield to his love who round you now
The bands of a man would east."
We cannot soften our hearts, but we can harden them, and the
consequences will be fatal. Today is too good a day to be profaned by the
hardening of our hearts against our own mercies. While mercy reigns let not
obduracy rebel. "As in the provocations, and as in the day of temptation in the
wilderness" (or, "like Meribah, like the day of Massah in the wilderness"). Be
not wilfully, wantonly, repeatedly, obstinately rebellious. Let the example of
that unhappy generation serve as a beacon to you; do not repeat the offences
which have already more than enough provoked the Lord. God remembers men's sins,
and the more memorably so when they are committed by a favoured people, against
frequent warnings, in defiance of terrible judgments, and in the midst of
superlative mercies; such sins write their record in marble. Reader, this verse
is for you, for you even if you can say, "He is our God, and we are the people
of his pasture." Do not seek to turn aside the edge of the warning; thou hast
good need of it, give good heed to it.
Verse 9. When your fathers tempted me. As far as they could
do so they tempted God to change his usual way, and to do their sinful bidding,
and though he cannot be tempted of evil, and will never yield to wicked
requests, yet their intent was the same, and their guilt was none the less.
God's way is perfect, and when we would have him alter it to please us, we are
guilty of tempting him; and the fact that we do so in vain, while it magnifies
the Lord's holiness, by no means excuses our guilt. We are in most danger of
tills sin in times of need, for then it is that we are apt to fall into
unbelief, and to demand a change in those arrangements of providence which are
the transcript of perfect holiness and infinite wisdom. Not to acquiesce in the
will of God is virtually to tempt him to alter his plans to suit our imperfect
views of how the universe should be governed. Proved me. They put the Lord to needless tests, demanding
new miracles, fresh interpositions, and renewed tokens of his presence. Do not
we also peevishly require frequent signs of the Lord's love other than those
which every hour supplies? Are we not prone to demand specialities, with the
alternative secretly offered in our hearts, that if they do not come at our
bidding we will disbelieve? True, the Lord is very condescending, and frequently
grants us marvellous evidences of his power, but we ought not to require them.
Steady faith is due to one who is so constantly kind. After so many proofs of
his love, we are ungrateful to wish to prove him again, unless it be in those
ways of his own appointing, in which he has said, "Prove me now." If we were for
ever testing the love of our wife or husband, and remained unconvinced after
years of faithfulness, we should wear out the utmost human patience. Friendship
only flourishes in the atmosphere of confidence, suspicion is deadly to it:
shall the Lord God, true and immutable, be day after day suspected by his own
people? Will not this provoke him to anger? And saw my work. They tested him again and again, through
out forty years, though each time his work was conclusive evidence of his
faithfulness. Nothing could convince them for long.
"They saw his wonders wrought,
And then his praise they sung;
But soon his works of power forgot,
And murmured with their tongue."
"Now they believe his word,
While rocks with rivers flow;
Now with their lusts provoke the Lord,
And he reduced them low."
Fickleness is bound up in the heart of man, unbelief is our
besetting sin; we must for ever be seeing, or we waver in our believing. This is
no mean offence, and will bring with it no small punishment.
Verse 10. Forty years long was I grieved with this
generation. The impression upon the divine mind is most vivid; he sees them
before him now, and calls them "this generation." He does not leave his prophets
to upbraid the sin, but himself utters the complaint and declares that he was
grieved, nauseated, and disgusted. It is no small thing which can grieve our
long suffering God to the extent which the Hebrew word here indicates, and if we
reflect a moment we shall see the abundant provocation given; for no one who
values his veracity can endure to be suspected, mistrusted, and belied, when
there is no ground for it, but on the contrary the most overwhelming reason for
confidence. To such base treatment was the tender Shepherd of Israel exposed,
not for a day or a month, but for forty years at a stretch, and that not by here
and there an unbeliever, but by a whole nation, in which only two men were found
so thoroughly believing as to be exempted from the doom which at last was
pronounced upon all the rest. Which shall we most wonder at, the cruel insolence
of man, or the tender patience of the Lord? Which shall leave the deepest
impression on our minds, the sin or the punishment? unbelief, or the barring of
the gates of Jehovah's rest against the unbelievers? And said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they
have not known my ways. Their heart was obstinately and constantly at
fault; it was not their head which erred, but their very heart was perverse:
love, which appealed to their affections, could not convert them. The heart is
the main spring of the man, and if it be not in order, the entire nature is
thrown out of gear. If sin were only skin deep, it might be a slight matter; but
since it has defiled the soul, the case is bad indeed. Taught as they were by
Jehovah himself in lessons illustrated by miracles, which came to them daily in
the manual from heaven, and the water from the flinty rock, they ought to have
learned something, and it was a foul shame that they remained obstinately
ignorant, and would not know the ways of God. Wanderers in body, they were also
wanderers in heart, and the plain providential goodness of their God remained to
their blinded minds as great a maze as those twisting paths by which he led them
through the wilderness. Are we better than they? Are we not quite as apt to
misinterpret the dealings of the Lord? Have we suffered and enjoyed so many
things in vain? With many it is even so. Forty years of providential wisdom,
yea, and even a longer period of experience, have failed to teach them serenity
of assurance, and firmness of reliance. There is ground for much searching of
heart concerning this. Many treat unbelief as a minor fault, they even regard it
rather as an infirmity than a crime, but the Lord thinketh not so. Faith is
Jehovah's due, especially from those who claim to be the people of his pasture,
and yet more emphatically from those whose long life has been crowded with
evidences of his goodness: unbelief insults one of the dearest attributes of
Deity, it does so needlessly and without the slightest ground and in defiance of
all sufficient arguments, weighty with the eloquence of love. Let us in reading
this psalm examine ourselves, and lay these things to heart.
Verse 11. Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not
enter into my rest. There can be no rest to an unbelieving heart. If
manna and miracles could not satisfy Israel, neither would they have been
content with the land which flowed with milk and honey. Canaan was to be the
typical resting place of God, where his ark should abide, and the ordinances of
religion should be established; the Lord had for forty years borne with the ill
manners of the generation which came out of Egypt, and it was but right that he
should resolve to have no more of them. Was it not enough that they had revolted
all along that marvellous wilderness march? Should they be allowed to make new
Messahs and Meribahs in the Promised Land itself? Jehovah would not have it so.
He not only said but swore that into his rest they should not come, and that
oath excluded every one of them; their carcases fell in the wilderness. Solemn
warning this to all who leave the way of faith for paths of petulant murmuring
and mistrust. The rebels of old could not enter in because of unbelief, "let us
therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of
us should even seem to come short of it." One blessed inference from this psalm
must not be forgotten. It is clear that there is a rest of God, and that some
must enter into it: but "they to whom it was first preached entered not in
because of unbelief, there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." The
unbelievers could not enter, but "we which have believed do enter into rest."
Let us enjoy it, and praise the Lord for it for ever. Ours is the true Sabbatic
rest, it is ours to rest from out own works as God did from his. While we do so,
let us "come into his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto
him with psalms."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. These six psalms, 95 to 100, form, if I
mistake not, one entire prophetic poem, cited by St. Paul in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, under the title of the Introduction of the First Born into the world.
Each Psalm has its proper subject, which is some particular branch of the
general argument, the establishment of the Messiah's Kingdom. The 95th Psalm
asserts Jehovah's Godhead, and his power over all nature, and exhorts his people
to serve him. In Psalm 96th all nations are exhorted to join in his service,
because he cometh to judge all mankind, Jew and Gentile. In the 97th Psalm,
Jehovah reigns over all the world, the idols are deserted, the Just One is
glorified. In the 98th Psalm, Jehovah hath done wonders, and wrought deliverance
for himself: he hath remembered his mercy towards the house of Israel; he comes
to judge the whole world. In the 99th, Jehovah, seated between the cherubim in
Zion, the visible Church, reigns over all the world, to be praised for the
justice of his government. In the 100th Psalm, all the world is called upon to
praise Jehovah the Creator, whose mercy and truth are everlasting. --Samuel
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is twice quoted in the Epistle to
the Hebrews, as a warning to the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, in the writer's
day, that they should not falter in the faith, and despise God's promises, as
their forefathers had done in the wilderness, lest they should fail of entering
into his rest; see He 3:7, where verse 7 of this Psalm is introduced with the
words, "As the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, "and see He
4:7, where it is said, "Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David,
Today." It has by some been inferred from these words that the writer of the
Epistle to the Hebrews ascribes this Psalm to David. It may be so. But it seems
not improbable that the words "in David" mean simply "the Book of Psalms, "the
whole being named from the greater part; and that if he had meant that David
wrote the Psalm, he would have written, "David spake, "or, "the Holy Ghost spake
by David, "and not as it is written, "as it is said in David." --Christopher
Verse 1. O come, let us sing unto the Lord, etc. The first
verse of the Psalm begins the invitation unto praise and exultation. It is a
song of three parts, and every part (like Jacob's part of the sheep) brings
forth twins; each a double string, as it were, in the music of this praise,
finely twisted of two parts into a kind of discordant concord, falling into a
musical close through a differing yet reconciled diapason. The first couple in
this song of praise are multitude and unity, concourse and concord: "O
come", there's multitude and concourse; "let us, "there's unity and concord.
The second twisted pair, are tongue and heart, "let us sing, "there's the voice
and sound; and "heartily rejoice, "there's the heart and soul. The third and
last intertwisted string, or part in the musick, is might and mercy, (rock or)
strength and salvation; God's strength and our salvation: "to the strength (or
rock) of our salvation." --Charles Herle (1598-1659) in a "Sermon
before the House of Lords", entitled, "David's Song of Three Parts".
Verse 1. Come. The word "come" contains an exhortation,
exciting them to join heart and lips in praising God; just as the word is used
in Genesis, where the people, exciting and encouraging each other, say, "Come,
let us make bricks; "and "Come, let us make a city and a town; "and, in the same
chapter, the Lord says, "Come, let us go down, and there confound their tongue."
Verse 1. If it be so that one "come, let us" goes further
than twenty times go and do, how careful should such be whom God hath raised to
eminence of place that their examples be Jacob's ladders to help men to heaven,
not Jeroboam's stumbling blocks to lie in their way, and make Israel to sin.
Verse 1. There is a silent hint here at that human
listlessness and distraction of cares whereby we are more prompt to run after
other things than to devote ourselves seriously to the becoming praises and
service of God. Our foot has a greater proclivity to depart to the field,
the oxen, and the new wife, than to come to the sacred courts, Lu 14:18,
seq. See Isa 2:3, "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the
Lord." --Martin Geier.
Verse 1. Joyful noise. The verb eyrh, signifies to make a loud
sound of any sort, either with the voice or with instruments. In the psalms, it
generally refers to the mingled din of voices and various instruments, in the
Temple service. This wide sense of the word cannot be expressed otherwise in the
English language than by a periphrasis. --Samuel Horsley.
Verse 1. The rock of our salvation. Jesus is the Rock of
ages, in which is opened a fountain for sin and uncleanness; the Rock which
attends the church in the wilderness, pouring forth the water of life, for her
use and comfort; the Rock which is our fortress against every enemy, shadowing
and refreshing a weary land. --George Horne.
Verse 2. Let us come before his presence. Hebrew, prevent
his face, be there with the first. "Let us go speedily ...I
will go also", Zec 8:21. Let praise wait for God in Sion, Ps 65:1. --John
Verse 2. (second clause). Let us chant aloud to
him the measured lay. twrmz, I take to be songs, in
measured verse, adjusted to the bars of a chaunt. --S. Horsley.
Verse 3. He that hath a mind to praise God, shall not want
matter of praise, as they who come before princes do, who for want of true
grounds of praise in them, do give them flattering words; for the Lord
is a great God, for power and preeminence, for strength and continuance.
Verse 3. The Supreme Being has three names here:
Jehovah, Myhla Elohim, and we should apply none of them to
false gods. The first implies his strength; the second,
his being and essence; the third, his covenant
relation to mankind. In public worship these are the views we should
entertain of the Divine Being. --Adam Clarke.
Verse 3. Above all gods. When He is called a great
God and King above all gods, we may justly imagine that the
reference is to the angels who are wont to be introduced absolutely under this
name, and to the supreme Judges in the land, who also wear this title, as
we have it in Ps 82:1-8. --Venema.
Verse 4. In his hand. The dominion of God is founded upon
his preservation of things. "The Lord is a great King above all gods." Why?
In his hand are the deep places of the earth. While his hand holds, his hand hath a dominion over them. He that holds a stone in the air exerciseth a dominion over its natural inclination in hindering it from falling. The creature depends wholly upon God in its preservation; as soon as that divine hand which sustains everything were withdrawn, a languishment and swooning would
be the next turn in the creature. He is called Lord, Adonai, in regard of
his sustentation of all things by his continual influx, the word coming of
which signifies a basis or pillar that supports a building. God is the Lord of
all, as he is the sustainer of all by his power, as well as the Creator of all
by his word. --Stephen Charnock.
"In whose hand are the recesses of the earth
And the treasures of the mountains are his."
--Thomas J. Conant's Translation.
Verse 4. In his hand are the deep places of the earth. This
affords consolation to those; who for the glory of the divine name are cast into
prisons and subterraneous caves; because they know, that even there it is not
possible to be the least separated from the presence of Christ. Wherefore He
preserved Joseph when hurled by his brethren into the old pit, and when thrust
by his shameless mistress into prison; Jeremiah also when sent down into the
dungeon; Daniel among the lions, and his companions in the furnace. So all who
cleave to Him with a firm faith, he wonderfully keeps and delivers to this day.
--Solomon Gesner, 1559-1605.
Verse 4. In his hand are the deep places of the earth. As an
illustration of the working and presence of the Lord in the mines amid the
bowels of the earth we have selected the following: "The natural disposition of
coal in detached portions", says the author of an excellent article in the
Edinburgh Review, "is not simply a phenomenon of geology, but it also bears upon
natural considerations. It is remarkable that this natural disposition is that
which renders the fuel most accessible and most easily mined. Were the coal
situated at its normal geological depth, that is, supposing the strata to be all
horizontal and undisturbed or upheaved, it would be far below human reach. Were
it deposited continuously in one even superficial layer, it would have been too
readily, and therefore too quickly, mined, and therefore all the superior
qualities would be wrought out, and only the inferior left; but as it now lies
it is broken up by geological disturbances into separate portions, each defined
and limited in area, each sufficiently accessible to bring it within man's reach
and labour, each manageable by mechanical arrangements, and each capable of
gradual excavation without being subject to sudden exhaustion. Selfish
plundering is partly prevented by natural barriers, and we are warned against
reckless waste by the comparative thinness of coal seams, as well as by the ever
augmenting difficulty of working them at increased depths. By the separation of
seams one from another, and by varied intervals of waste sandstones and shales,
such a measured rate of winning is necessitated as precludes us from entirely
robbing posterity of the most valuable mineral fuel, while the fuel itself is
preserved from those extended fractures and crumblings and falls, which would
certainly be the consequence of largely mining the best bituminous coal, were it
aggregated into one vast mass. In fact, by an evident exercise of forethought
and benevolence in the Great Author of all our blessings, our invaluable fuel
has been stored up for us in deposits the most compendious, the most accessible,
yet the least exhaustible, and has been locally distributed into the most
convenient situations. Our coal fields are so many Bituminous Banks, in
which there is abundance for an adequate currency, but against any sudden run
upon them nature has interposed numerous checks; whole reserves of the precious
fuel are always locked up in the bank cellar under the invincible protection of
ponderous stone beds. It is a striking fact, that in this nineteenth century,
after so long an inhabitation of the earth by man, if we take the quantities in
the broad view of the whole known coal fields, so little coal has been
excavated, and that there remains an abundance for a very remote posterity, even
though our own best coal fields may be then worked out."
But it is not only in these inexhaustible supplies of mineral
fuel that we find proofs of divine foresight, all the other treasures of the
earth rind equally convince us of the intimate harmony between its structure and
the wants of man. Composed of a wonderful variety of earths and ores, it
contains an inexhaustible abundance of all the substances he requires for the
attainment of a higher grade of civilisation. It is for his use that iron,
copper, lead, silver, tin, marble, gypsum, sulphur, rock salt, and a variety of
other minerals and metals, have been deposited in the veins and crevices, or in
the mines and quarries, of the subterranean world. It is for his benefit that,
from the decomposition of the solid rocks results that mixture of earths and
alkalies, of marl, lime, sand, or chalk, which is most favourable to
agriculture. It is for him, finally, that, filtering through the entrails of
the earth, and dissolving salutary substances on their way, the thermal springs
gush forth laden with treasures more inestimable than those the miner toils for.
Supposing man had never been destined to live, we well may ask wily all those
gifts of nature useless to all living beings but to him why those vast coal
fields, those beds of iron ore, those deposits of sulphur, those hygeian
fountains, should ever have been created? Without him there is no design, no
purpose, in their existence; with him they are wonderful sources of health or
necessary instruments of civilisation and improvement. Thus the geological
revolutions of the earth rind harmoniously point to man as to its future lord;
thus, in the life of our planet and that of its inhabitants, we everywhere find
proofs of a gigantic unity of plan, embracing unnumbered ages in its development
and progress. --G. Hartwig, in "The Harmonies of Nature", 1866.
Verse 4. The deep places of the earth, penetralia terrae,
which are opposed to the heights of the hills, and plainly mean the deepest and
most letired parts of the terraqueous globe, which are explorable by the eye of
God, and by his only. --Richard Mant.
Verse 4. The strength of the hills. The word translated
"strength" is plural in Hebrew, and seems properly to mean fatiguing exertions,
from which some derive the idea of strength, others that of extreme height,
which can only be reached by exhausting effort. --J.A. Alexander.
Verse 4. The strength of the hills is his also. The
reference may be to the wealth of the hills, obtained only by labour
Gesenius, corresponding to the former--"the deep places of the earth",
explained as referring to the mines Mendelssohn. Go where man may, with
all his toil and searching in the heights or in the depths of the earth, he
cannot find a place beyond the range of God's dominion. --A.R. Faussett.
Verse 4. Hills, The Sea, the dry land. The relation of
areas of land to areas of water exercises a great and essential influence on the
distribution of heat, variations of atmospheric pressure, directions of the
winds, and that condition of the air with respect to moisture, which is so
necessary for the health of vegetation. Nearly three fourths of the earth's
surface is covered with water, but neither the exact height of the atmosphere
nor the depth of the ocean are fully determined. Still we know that with every
addition to or subtraction from the present bulk of the waters of the ocean, the
consequent variation in the form and magnitude of the land would be such, that
if the change was considerable, many of the existing harmonies of things would
cease. Hence, the inference is, that the magnitude of the sea is one of the
conditions to which the structure of all organised creatures is adapted, and on
which indeed they depend for wellbeing. The proportions between land and water
are exactly what the world as constituted requires; and the whole mass of earth,
sea, and air, must have been balanced with the greatest nicety before even a
crocus could stand erect. Or a snowdrop or a daffodil bend their heads to the
ground. The proportions of land and sea are adjusted to their reciprocal
functions. Nothing deduced from modern science is more certain than this.
--Edwin Sidney, in "Conversations on the Bible and Science."
Verse 5. The sea is his. When God himself makes an oration
in defence of his sovereignty, Job 38:1 his chief arguments are drawn from
creation: "The Lord is a great King above all gods. The sea is his, and he made
it." And so the apostle in his sermon to the Athenians. As he "made the world,
and all things therein, "he is styled "Lord of heaven and earth, "Ac 17:24. His
dominion also of property stands upon this basis: Ps 84:11, "The heavens are
thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou
hast founded them." Upon this title of forming Israel as a creature, or rather
as a church, he demands their services to him as their Sovereign. "O jacob and
Israel, thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant, O Israel,
"Is 44:21. The sovereignty of God naturally ariseth from the relation of all
things to himself as their entire creator, and their natural and inseparable
dependence upon him in regard of their being and wellbeing. --Stephen
Verse 5. He made it.
The Earth was formed, but in the womb as yet
Of waters, embryon immature involved,
Appeared not: over all the face of Earth
in ocean flowed, not idle; but, with warm
Prolific humour softening all her globe,
Fermented the great mother to conceive,
Satiate with genial moisture; when God said,
Be gathered now, ye waters under Heaven
unto one place and let dry land appear.
Immediately the mountains huge appear
Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave
unto the clouds; their tops ascend the sky:
So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low
own sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,
Capacious bed of waters. --John Milton.
Verse 6. You hold it a good rule in worldly business, not
to say to your servants, "O come", arise ye, go ye; but, Let us come, let us go,
let us arise. Now shall the children of this world be wiser in their generation
than the children of light? Do we commend this course in mundane affairs, and
neglect it in religious offices? Assuredly, if our zeal were as great to
religion, as our love is towards the world, masters would not come to church (as
many do) without their servants, and servants without their masters; parents
without their children, and children without their parents: husbands without
their wives, and wives without their husbands; but all of us would call one to
another, as Esau prophesied (chap. 2:3): "Come ye, and let us go up to the
mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of
his ways, and we will walk in his paths, "and as David here practised. --John
Verse 6. Let us worship and bow down. To fall upon the
ground is a gesture of worship, not only when the worshipper mourns, but when
the worshipper rejoiceth. It is said (Mt 2:10,11) that the wise men when they
found Christ, "rejoiced with exceeding great joy", and presently, "they fell
down, and worshipped him". Neither is this posture peculiar to worship in times
or upon occasions of extraordinary joy and sorrow; for the ordinary invitation
was, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our
maker". --Joseph Caryl.
Verse 6. "Let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before
the Lord our maker." Not before a crucifix, not before a rotten image, not
before a fair picture of a foul saint: these are not our makers; we made them,
they made not us. Our God, unto whom we must sing, in whom we must rejoice,
before whom we must worship, is a great "King above all gods": he is no god of
lead, no god of bread, no brazen god, no wooden god; we must not fall down and
worship our Lady, but our Lord; not any martyr, but our Maker not any saint, but
our Saviour: "O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to
the rock of our salvation." Wherewith: with voice, "Let us sing; "with soul,
"Let us heartily rejoice"; with hands and knees, "Let us worship and bow down:
let us kneel"; with all that is within us, with all that is without us; he that
made all, must be worshipped with all, especially when we "come before his
presence". --John Boys.
Verse 6. Bow down. That is, so as to touch the floor with
the forehead, while the worshipper is prostrate on his hands and knees. See 2Ch
7:3. --John Fry, 1842.
Verse 6. Worship, bow down, kneel. Kimchi distinguishes the
several gestures expressed by the different words here used. The first we
render, worship, signifies, according to him, the prostration of the whole body
on the ground, with the hands and legs stretched out. The second a bowing of the
head, with part of the body; and the third a be drag of the knees on the ground.
Verse 7. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of
his hand. See how elegantly he hath transposed the order of the
words, and as it were not given its own attribute to each word; that we may
understand these very same to be "the sheep", who are also "the
people." He said not, the sheep of his pasture, and the people of his hand;
which might be thought more congruous, since the sheep belong to the pasture;
but he said, "the people of his pasture": the people themselves
are sheep. But again, since we have sheep which we buy, not which we create; and
he had said above, "Let us fall down before our Maker"; it is rightly
said, "the sheep of his hand." No man maketh for himself sheep, he
may buy them, they may be given, he may find them, he may collect them, lastly
he may steal them; make them he cannot. But our Lord made us; therefore "the
people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand", are the very sheep which
he hath deigned by his grace to create unto himself. --Augustine.
Verse 7. The sheep of his hand, is a fit though figurative
expression, the shepherd that feeds, and rules, and leads the sheep, doing it by
his hand, which manages the rod and staff (Ps 23:4), by which they are
administered. The Jewish Arabs read, the people of his feeding or, flock, and
the sheep of his guidance. --H. Hammond.
Verse 7. For we are his people whom he feeds in his pastures,
and his sheep whom he leads as by his hand. (French Version.) Here is
a reason to constrain us to praise God; it is this, --that not only has he
created us, but that he also directs us by special providence, as a shepherd
governs his flock. Jesus Christ, Divine Shepherd of our souls, who not only
feeds us in his pastures, but himself leads us with his hand, as
intelligent sheep. Loving Shepherd, who feeds us not only from the pastures of
Holy Wilt, but even with his own flesh. What subjects of ceaseless adoration for
a soul penetrated by these great verities! What a fountain of tears of joy at
the sight of such prodigious mercy! --Quesnel.
Verse 7. Today if ye will hear his voice. If we put of
repentance another day, we have a day more to repent of, and a day less to
repent in. --W. Mason.
Verse 7. He that hath promised pardon on our repentance hath
not promised to preserve our lives till we repent. --Francis Quarles.
Verse 7. You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know
how soon it may be too late. --Thomas Fuller.
Verse 7. If ye will hear his voice. Oh! what an if is
here! what a reproach is here to those that hear him not! "My sheep hear my
voice, and I know them, and they follow me"; "but ye will not come to me that ye
might have life." And yet there is mercy, there is still salvation, if ye will
hear that voice. Israel heard it among the thunders of Sinai, "which voice they
that heard it entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more"; so
terrible was the sight and sound that even Moses said, "I exceedingly quake and
fear": and yet they heard too the Lord's still voice of love in the noiseless
manna that fell around their tents, and in the gushing waters of the rock that
followed them through every march for forty years. Yet the record of Israel's
ingratitude runs side by side with the record of God's mercies--"My people would
not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me." --Barton Bouchier.
Verse 7. If ye will hear his voice. And yet, as S. Bernard
tells us, there is no difficulty at all in hearing it; on the contrary, the
difficulty is to stop our ears effectually against it, so clear is it in
enunciation, so constant in appeal. Yet there are many who do not hear, from
divers causes; because they are far off; because they are deaf; because they
sleep; because they turn their heads aside; because they stop their ears;
because they hurry away to avoid hearing; because they are dead; all of them
topics of various forms and degrees of unbelief. --Bernard and Hugo
Cardinalis, in Neale and Littledale.
Verse 7. If ye will hear his voice. These words seem to
allude to the preceding words, in which we are represented as the sheep of God's
pasture, and are to be considered as an affectionate call of our heavenly
Shepherd to follow and obey him. --From "Lectures on the Liturgy, from the
Commentary of Peter Waldo", 1821.
Verses 7-8. It will be as difficult, nay, more difficult, to
come to Christ tomorrow, than it is today: therefore today hear his
voice, and harden not your heart. Break the ice now, and by faith venture
upon your present duty, wherever it lies; do what you are now called to. You
will never know how easy the yoke of Christ is, till it is bound about your
necks, nor how light his burden is, till you have taken it up. While you judge
of holiness at a distance, as a thing without you and contrary to you, you will
never like it. Come a little nearer to it; do but take it in, actually engage in
it, and you will find religion carries meat in its mouth; it is of a reviving,
nourishing, strengthening nature. It brings that along with it, that enables the
soul cheerfully to go through with it. --Thomas Cole (1627-1697) in the
Verse 8. Harden not your hearts. An old man, one day taking
a child on his knee, entreated him to seek God now --to pray to him, and
to love him; when the child, looking up at him, asked, "But why do not
you seek God?" The old man, deeply affected, answered, "I would, child;
but my heart is hard --my heart is hard." --Arvine's
Verse 8. Harden not your heart. --Heart is ascribed to
reasonable creatures, to signify sometimes the whole soul, and sometimes the
several faculties appertaining to the soul.
1. It is frequently put for the whole soul, and that for the
most part when it is set alone; as where it is said, "Serve the Lord with all
your heart", 1Sa 7:20.
2. For that principal part of the soul which is called the mind
or understanding. "I gave my heart to know wisdom", Ec 1:17. In this respect
darkness and blindness are attributed to the heart, Eph 6:18, Ro 1:21.
3. For the will: as when heart and soul are joined together,
the two essential faculties of the soul are meant, namely, the mind and will:
soul put for the mind, heart for the will "Serve the Lord with all your
heart and with all your soul", De 6:13.
4. For the memory. "I have hid thy word in my heart", saith the
prophet, Ps 119:11. The memory is that faculty wherein matters are laid up and
5. For the conscience. It is said that "David's heart smote
him", that is, his conscience, 1Sa 24:5 2Sa 24:10. Thus is heart taken, 1Jo
6. For the affections: as where it is said, "Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
mind", Mt 22:37. By the mind is meant the understanding faculty; by the
soul, the will; by the heart, the affections.
Here in this text the heart is put for the whole soul, even for
mind, will, and affections. For blindness of mind, stubbornness of will, and
stupidity of affections go together. --William Gouge.
Verse 8. In Massah--in Meribah. Our translators say, in
the provocation, in the day of temptation. But the places were
denominated by names taken from the transactions that occurred in them; and the
introduction of those names gives more liveliness to the allusion. See to the
same effect Ps 81:7; where the Bible translation retains the proper name.
Verse 8. Let us not fail to notice, that while it is the
flock who speak in Ps 95:1-7, it is the Shepherd who takes up their
expostulating words, and urges them home himself at Ps 95:8, to the end, using
the argument which by the Holy Ghost is addressed to us also in Heb 3:7-19.
There is something very powerful in this expostulation, when connected with the
circumstances that give rise to it. In themselves, the burst of adoring love,
and the full out pouring of affection in Ps 95:1-7 are irresistibly persuasive;
but when (Ps 95:8) the voice of the Lord himself is heard (such a voice, using
terms of vehement entreaty!) we cannot imagine expostulation carried further.
Unbelief alone could resist this voice; blind, malignant unbelief alone could
repel The flock, and then the Shepherd, inviting men now to enter the
fold. --Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 9. Your fathers tempted me. Though God cannot be
tempted with evil he may justly be said to be tempted whenever men, by being
dissatisfied with his dealings, virtually ask that he will alter those dealings,
and proceed in a way more congenial to their feelings. If you reflect a little,
you will hardly fail to perceive, that in a very strict sense, this and the like
may be called tempting God. Suppose a man to be discontented with the
appointments of providence, suppose him to murmur and to repine at what the
Almighty allots him to do or to bear; is he not to be charged with the asking
God to change his purposes? And what is this if it is not tempting God, and
striving to induce him to swerve from his plans, though every one of those plans
has been settled by Infinite Wisdom?
Or again, if any one of us, notwithstanding the multiplied
proofs of Divine lovingkindness, doubt or question whether or not God do indeed
love him, of what is he guilty, if not of tempting the Lord, seeing that he
solicits God to the giving additional evidence, as though there was a
deficiency, and challenges him to a fresh demonstration of what he has already
abundantly displayed? This would be called tempting amongst men. If a child were
to show by his actions that he doubted or disbelieved the affection of his
parents, he would be considered as striving to extract from them new proofs, by
asking them to evince their love more, though they may already have done as much
as in wisdom and in justice they ought to do. And this is clearly tempting them,
and that too in the ordinary sense of the term. In short, unbelief of every kind
and every degree may be said to tempt God. For not to believe upon the evidence
which he has seen fit to give, is to provoke him to give more, offering our
possible assent if proof were increased as an inducement to him to go beyond
what his wisdom has prescribed. And if in this, and the like sense, God may be
tempted, what can be more truly said of the Israelites, than that they tempted
God in Massah? ...We are perhaps not accustomed to think of unbelief or
murmuring as nothing less than a tempting God, and therefore, we do not attach
to what is so common, its just degree of heinousness. It is so natural to us to
be discontented whenever God's dealings are not just what we like, to forget
what has been done for us as soon as our wishes seem thwarted, to be impatient
and fretful under every new cross, that we are scarcely conscious of committing
a sin, and much less one more than usually aggravated. Yet we cannot be
dissatisfied with God's dealings, and not be virtually guilty of tempting God.
It may seem a harsh definition of a slight and scarcely avoidable fault, but
nevertheless it is a true definition. You cannot mistrust God, and not accuse
him of want either of power or of goodness. You cannot repine, no, not even in
thought, without virtually telling him that his plans are not the best, nor his
dispensations the wisest which he might have appointed in respect of yourselves.
So that your fear, or your despondency, or your anxiety, in circumstances of
perplexity, or peril, are nothing less than the calling upon God to depart from
his fixed course--a suspicion, or rather an assertion that he might proceed in a
manner more worthy of himself, and therefore, a challenge to him to alter his
dealings if he would prove that he possesses the attributes which he claims. You
may not intend thus to accuse or to provoke God whenever you murmur, but your
murmuring does all this, and cannot fail to do it. You cannot be dissatisfied
without virtually saying that God might order things better; you cannot say that
he might order things better without virtually demanding that he change his
course of acting, and give other proofs of his Infinite perfections. --Henry
Verse 9. Your fathers tempted me. There are two ways of
interpreting the words which follow. As tempting God is nothing else than
yielding to a diseased and unwarrantable craving after proof of his power, we
may consider the verse as connected throughout, and read, They tempted me and
proved me, although they had already seen my work. God very justly
complains, that they should insist upon new proof, after his power had been
already amply testified by undeniable evidences. There is another meaning,
however, that may be given to the term "proved", --according to which, the
meaning of the passage would run as follows: --Your fathers tempted me in asking
where God was, notwithstanding all the benefits I had done them; and they proved
me, that is, they had actual experience of what I am, inasmuch as I did not
cease to give them open proofs of my presence, and consequently they saw my
work. --John Calvin.
Verse 9. Proved me, put me to the proof of my existence,
presence, and power, by requiring me to work, i.e. to act in an
extraordinary manner. And this desire, unreasonable as it was, I gratified. They
not only demanded, but they war-Mg likewise saw my work, i.e. what I could
do. --J.A. Alexander.
Verse 9. Forty years. To understand this passage we must
bear in mind the event referred to. The same year in which the people of Israel
came forth from Egypt, they were distressed for water at Rephidim, (Ex 17:1);
and the place had two names given to it, Massah and Meribah, because the people
tempted God and chided with Moses. The Lord did not swear then that they
should not enter into the land of Canaan; but this was in the following year,
after the return of the spies. (Nu 14:20-38.) And God said then that they had
tempted him "ten times"; that is, during the short time since their deliverance
from Egypt. It was after ten temptations that God deprived them of the promised
land. Bearing in mind these facts, we shall be able to see the full
force of the passage. The "provocation" or contention, and "temptation" refer
clearly to the latter instance, as recorded in Nu 14:1-45 because it was then
that God swore that the people should not enter into his rest. The people's
conduct was alike in both instances. To connect "forty years" with grieved, was the work of the
Punctuists, and this mistake the Apostle corrected; and it is to be observed
that he did not follow in this instance the Septuagint, in which the
words are arranged as divided by the Masorites. Such a rendering as would
correspond with the Hebrew is as follows, --
"Today when ye hear his voice,
8. Harden not your hearts us in the provocation, In the day of
temptation in the wilderness.
9. When your fathers tempted me, they proved me And saw my
works forty years:
10. I was therefore offended with that generation and said,
Always do they go astray in heart, And they have not known my ways;
11. So that I swore in my wrath, `They shall by no means enter
into my rest.'"
The meaning of the ninth verse is, that when the children of
Israel tempted God, they proved him, i.e., found out by bitter experience
how great his displeasure was, and saw his works or his dealings with them forty
years. He retained them in the wilderness during that period until the death of
all who disbelieved his word at the return of the spies; he gave them this proof
of his displeasure. --John Owen, of Thrussington, 1853.
Verse 10. O the desperate presumption of man, that he should
offend his Maker forty years! O the patience and longsuffering of his
Maker, that he should allow him forty years to offend in! Sin begins in the
heart, by its desires wandering and going astray after forbidden
objects; whence follows inattention to the ways of God, to his
dispensations, and our own duty. Lust in the heart, like vapour in the stomach,
soon affects the head, and clouds the understanding. --George Horne.
Verse 10. Forty Years. It is curious to know that the
ancient Jews believed that "the days of the Messiah were to be forty years."
Thus Tanchuma, F. 79, 4. "Quamdiu durant anni Messiae? R. Akiba dixit, 40 annos,
quemadmodum Israelitae per tot annos in deserto fuerunt." It is remarkable, that
in forty years after the ascension, the whole Jewish nation were cut off equally
as they who fell in the wilderness. --John Brown, in "An Exposition of the
Epistle to the Hebrews." 1862.
Verse 10. Was I grieved. The word is a strong wold,
expressive of loathing and disgust. --J.J.S. Perowne.
Verse 10. This generation. The word rwd, dor, signifies an age,
or the allotted term of human life; and it is here applied to the men of an age,
as if the psalmist had said, that the Israelites whom God had delivered were
incorrigible, during the whole period of their lives. --John Calvin.
Verse 10. It is a people that do err in their heart. We may
observe here, that he does not simply say, This people errs. What mortal is
there that does not err? Or where is there a multitude of mortals, exposed to no
errors? But he adds, "In their heart." Every error therefore is not
blamed here, but the error of their heart is fastened upon. It is to be noted,
therefore, that there is a twofold kind of error:
1. One is of the intellect, by which we go astray through
ignorance. In this kind of erring Paul erred when he persecuted the Church of
Christ; the Sadducees erred, not knowing the Scriptures, Mt 22:29; and to this
day many in the Church go astray, endowed with zeal for God, but destitute of a
true knowledge of Him.
2. The other kind of erring is of the heart and affections, by
which men go astray, not through ignorance, but through corruption and
perversity of heart. This error of heart is a mind averse to God, and alienated
from the will and way of God, which is elsewhere thus described in the case of
this very people: "And their heart was not right with Him." --Musculus.
Verse 10. It is a people that do err in their heart. In err
in heart may mean either to err in judgment, or in disposition, intention: for
the Hebrew bbl, and after it the Greek kardia, means either animus,
judicium, or, mens, cogitatio, desiderium. I understand
here, as used according to the Hebrew idiom (in which it is often pleonastic, at
least it seems so to us,)so that the phrase imports simply, They always err,
i.e. they are continually departing from the right way. --Moses
Verse 10. Err in their heart. He had called them sheep, and
now he notes their wandering propensity, and their incapacity for being led; for
the footsteps of their Shepherd they did not know, much less follow.
Verse 10. They have not known my ways; that is, they have
not regarded my ways, have not allowed of them, or loved them; for otherwise
they were not ignorant of them; they heard his words, and saw his works.
Verse 10. They have not known my ways. This ungrateful
people did not approve of God's ways--they did not enter into his designs-- they
did not conform to his commands--they paid no attention to his miracles--and did
not acknowledge the benefits which they received from his hands. --Adam
Verse 10. A people that do err in their heart, &
c. These words are not to be found in Nu 14:1-45; but the inspired Psalmist
expresses the sense of what Jehovah said on that occasion. "They do
always err in their heart", (Heb 3:10). They are radically and habitually
evil. They have not known my ways. God's "ways" may mean either
his dispensations or his precepts. The Israelites did not rightly understand the
former, and they obstinately refused to acquire a practical knowledge--the only
truly valuable species of knowledge--of the latter. The reference is probably to
God's mode of dealing: Ro 11:33 De 4:32, 8:2, 29:2-4. Such a people deserved
severe punishment, and they received it. So I sware in my wrath, They
shall not enter into my rest. The original words in the Hebrew are, "If
they shall enter into my rest." This elliptical mode of expressing oaths is
common in the Old Testament: De 1:35 1Sa 3:14 Ps 89:35 Isa 62:8. This awful oath
is recorded in Nu 14:21-29: "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be
filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my
glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have
tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; surely they
shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of
them that provoked me see it: but my servant Caleb, because he had another
spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land
whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Now the Amalekites and the
Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) Tomorrow turn you, and get you into the
wilderness by the way of the Red Sea. And the Lord spoke unto Moses and unto
Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur
against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel which they
murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have
spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcases shall fall in this
wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number,
from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me." The words of
the oath seem here borrowed from the account in De 1:35. There are many
threatenings of God which have a tacit condition implied in them; but when God
interposes his oath, the sentence is irreversible. The curse was not causeless, and it did come. We have an
account of its actual fulfilment, Nu 26:64-65. The "rest" from which they were
excluded was the land of Canaan. Their lives were spent in wandering. It is
termed "God's rest", as there he was to finish his work of bringing Israel into
the land promised to their fathers, and fix the symbol of his presence in the
midst of them, --dwelling in that land in which his people were to rest from
their wanderings, and to dwell in safety under his protection. It is His
rest, as of His preparing, De 12:9. It is His rest--rest like His, rest
along with Him. We are by no means warranted to conclude that all who died in
the wilderness came short of everlasting happiness. It is to be feared many of
them, most of them, did; but the curse denounced on them went only to their
exclusion from the earthly Canaan. --John Brown.
Verses 10-11. And said. Mark the gradation, first grief or
disgust with those who erred made him say; then anger felt
more heavily against those who did not believe made him swear. The
people had been called sheep in Ps 95:7, to sheep the highest good is rest, but
into this rest they were never to come, for they had not known or delighted in
the ways in which the good Shepherd desired to lead them. --John Albert
Verse 11. The word swearing is very significant, and
seems to import these two things. First, the certainty of the sentence here
pronounced. Every word of God both is, and must be truth; but ratified by an
oath, it is truth with an advantage. It is signed irrevocable. This fixes it
like the laws of the Medes and Persians, beyond all possibility of alteration
and makes God's word, like his very nature, unchangeable. Secondly, it imports
the terror of the sentence. If the children of Israel could say, "Let not God
speak to us, lest we die, what would they have said had God then sworn against
them?" It is terrible to hear an oath from the mouth but of a poor mortal, but
from the mouth of an omnipotent God, it does not only terrify, but confound. An
oath from God is truth delivered in anger; truth, as I may so speak, with a
vengeance. When God speaks, it is the creature's duty to hear; but when he
swears, to tremble. --Robert South.
Verse 11. That they should not enter into my rest. There is
something unusual and abrupt in the conclusion of this psalm, without any
cheering prospect to relieve the threatening. This may be best explained by
assuming, that it was not meant to stand alone, but to form one of a series.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. An invitation to praise the Lord.
1. A favourite method of worship--"let us sing."
2. A fitting state of mind for singing--joyful gratitude.
3. A fitting subject to excite both gladness and
thankfulness--the rock of our salvation.
Verse 1. The rock of our salvation. Expressive imagery. Rock
of shelter, support, indwelling, and supply--illustrate this last by the water
flowing from the rock in the wilderness.
1. What is meant by coming before his presence? Certainly not
the holiness of places, etc.
2. What offering is most appropriate when we come into his
1. The greatness of God as god. He is to be conceived of as
great in goodness, power, glory, etc.
2. His dominion over all other powers in heaven or earth.
3. The worship which is consequently due to him.
Verses 4-5. The universality of the divine government.
1. In all parts of the globe.
2. In all providences.
3. In every phase of moral condition. Or, Things deep, or high,
dark or perilous are in his hand; circumstances shifting, terrible, overwhelming
as the sea, are under his control as much as the comfortable terra firma of
peace and prosperity.
Verse 6. A true conception of God begets
1. A disposition to worship.
2. Mutual incitement to worship.
3. Profound reverence in worship.
4. Overwhelming sense of God's presence in worship.
Verses 6-7. God is to be worshipped--
1. As our Creator--"our maker."
2. As our Redeemer, "the people," etc.
3. As our Preserver, "the sheep," etc.
Verse 7. The entreaty of the Holy Ghost.
1. The special voice--"the Holy Ghost saith" --
(a) In Scripture.
(b) In the hearts of his people.
(c) In the awakened.
(d) By his deeds of grace.
2. A special duty, "hear his voice", instructing, commanding,
inviting, promising, threatening.
3. A special time--"today." While God speaks, after so long a
time, in the day of grace, now, in your present state.
4. The special danger--"harden not your hearts", by
indifference, unbelief, asking for signs, presumption, worldly pleasures, etc.
Verse 7. Sinners entreated to hear God's voice. "Hear his
1. Life is short aud uncertain;
2. You cannot properly or lawfully promise to give what is not
3. If you defer, though but till tomorrow, you must harden your
4. There is great reason to fear that, if you defer it today,
you will never commence;
5. After a time God ceases to strive with sinners;
6. There is nothing irksome or disagreeable in a religious
life, that you should wish to defer its commencement.
Verse 7. The Difference of Times with respect to Religion.
--Upon a spiritual account there is great difference of time. To make this out, I
will shew you,
1. That sooner and later are not alike, in
respect of eternity.
2. That times of ignorance and of knowledge are
3. That before and after voluntary commission of
known iniquity, are not alike.
4. That before and after contracted naughty habits,
are not alike.
5. That the time of God's gracious and particular
visitation and the time when God withdraws his gracious presence
and assistance, are not alike.
6. The flourishing time of our health and strength, and
the hour of sickness, weakness, and approach of death, are not
7. Now and hereafter, present and future, this world and
the world to come, are not alike.
Verse 7. This supposition, If ye will hear, and the
consequence inferred thereupon, harden not your hearts, doth evidently
demonstrate that a right hearing will prevent hardness of heart; especially
hearing of Christ's voice, that is, the gospel. It is the gospel that maketh and
keepeth a soft heart. --William Gouge.
1. Israel's fearful experiment in tempting God.
2. The awful result.
3. Let it not be tried again.
Verse 10. The error and the ignorance which are fatal.
Verse 11. The fatal moment of the giving up of a soul, how
it may be hastened, what are the signs of it, and what are the terrible results.
Verses 10-11. The kindling, increasing, and full force of
divine anger, and its dreadful results.