Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
Albeit that this Psalm is in some measure very similar to Ps
18:1-50, yet it is a new song, and in its latter portion it is strikingly so.
Let the reader accept it as a new psalm, and not as a mere variation of an old
one, or as two compositions roughly joined together. It is true that it would be
a complete composition if the passage from Ps 144:12-15 were dropped; but there
are other parts, of David's poems which might be equally self contained if
certain verses were omitted; and the same might be said of many uninspired
sonnets. It does not, therefore, follow that the latter part was added by
another hand, nor even that the latter part was a fragment by the same author,
appended to the first song merely with the view of preserving it. It seems to us
to be highly probable that the Psalmist, remembering that he had trodden some of
the same ground before, felt his mind moved to fresh thought, and that the Holy
Spirit used this mood for his own high purposes. Assuredly the addendum is
worthy of the greatest Hebrew poet, and it is so admirable in language, and so
full of beautiful imagery, that persons of taste who were by no means overloaded
with reverence have quoted it times without number, thus confessing its singular
poetical excellence. To us the whole psalm appears to be perfect as it stands,
and to exhibit such unity throughout that it would be a literary Vandalism, as
well as a spiritual crime, to rend away one part from the other.
TITLE. Its title is "Of David", and its language is
of David, if ever language can belong to any man. As surely as we could say of
any poem, this is of Tennyson, or of Longfellow, we may say, This is of David.
Nothing but the disease which closes the eye to manifest fact and opens it to
fancy, could have led learned critics to ascribe this song to anybody but David.
Alexander well says, "The Davidic origin of this psalm is as marked as that of
any in the Psalter."
It is to God the devout warrior sings when he extols him as his
strength and stay (Ps 144:1-2). Man he holds in small account, and wonders at
the Lord's regard for him (Ps 144:3-4); but he turns in his hour of conflict to
the Lord, who is declared to be "a man of war", whose triumphant interposition
he implores (Ps 144:5-8). He again extols and entreats in Ps 144:9-11 and then
closes with a delightful picture of the Lord's work for his chosen people, who
are congratulated upon having such a God to be their God.
Verse 1. Blessed be the LORD my strength. He cannot delay
the utterance of his gratitude, he bursts at once into a loud note of praise.
His best word is given to his best friend--"Blessed be Jehovah." When the heart
is in a right state it must praise God, it cannot be restrained; its utterances
leap forth as waters forcing their way from a living spring. With all his
strength David blesses the God of his strength. We ought not to receive so great
a boon as strength to resist evil, to defend truth, and to conquer error,
without knowing who gave it to us, and rendering to him the glory of it. Not
only does Jehovah give strength to his saints, but he is their strength. The
strength is made theirs because God is theirs. God is full of power, and he
becomes the power of those who trust him. In him our great strength lieth, and
to him be blessings more than we are able to utter. It may be read, "My
Rock"; but this hardly so well consorts with the following words:
Which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.
The word rock is the Hebrew way of expressing strength: the grand old
language is full of such suggestive symbols. The Psalmist in the second part of
the verse sets forth the Lord as teacher in the arts of war. If we have strength
we are not much the better unless we have skill also. Untrained force is often
an injury to the man who possesses it, and it even becomes a danger to those who
are round about him; and therefore the Psalmist blesses the Lord as much for
teaching as for strength. Let us also bless Jehovah if he has in anything made
us efficient. The tuition mentioned was very practical, it was not so much of
the brain as of the hands and fingers; for these were the members most needful
for conflict. Men with little scholastic education should be grateful for
deftness and skill in their handicrafts. To a fighting man the education of the
hands is of far more value than mere book learning could ever be; he who has to
use a sling or a bow needs suitable training, quite as much as a scientific man
or a classical professor. Men are too apt to fancy that an artisan's efficiency
is to be ascribed to himself; but this is a popular fallacy. A clergyman may be
supposed to be taught of God, but people do not allow this to be true of weavers
or workers in brass; yet these callings are specially mentioned in the Bible as
having been taught to holy women and earnest men when the tabernacle was set up
at the first. All wisdom and skill are from the Lord, and for them he deserves
to be gratefully extolled. This teaching extends to the smallest members of our
frame; the Lord teaches fingers as well as hands; indeed, it sometimes happens
that if the finger is not well trained the whole hand is incapable.
David was called to be a man of war, and he was eminently
successful in his battles; he does not trace this to his good generalship or
valour, but to his being taught and strengthened for the war and the fight. If
the Lord deigns to have a hand in such unspiritual work as fighting, surely he
will help us to proclaim the gospel and win souls; and then we will bless his
name with even greater intensity of heart. We will be pupils, and he shall be
our Master, and if we ever accomplish anything we will give our Instructor
hearty blessing. This verse is full of personality; it is mercy shown to David
himself which is the subject of grateful song. It has also a presence about it;
for Jehovah is now his strength, and is still teaching him; we ought to make a
point of presenting praise while yet the blessing is on the wing. The verse is
also preeminently practical, and full of the actual life of every day; for
David's days were spent in camps and conflicts. Some of us who are grievously
tormented with rheumatism might cry, "Blessed be the Lord, my Comforter, who
teacheth my knees to bear in patience, and my feet to endure in resignation";
others who are on the look out to help young converts might say, "Blessed be God
who teaches my eyes to see wounded souls, and my lips to cheer them"; but David
has his own peculiar help from God, and praises him accordingly. This tends to
make the harmony of heaven perfect when all the singers take their parts; if, we
all followed the same score, the music would not be so full and rich.
Verse 2. Now our royal poet multiplies metaphors to extol
his God. My goodness, and my fortress. The word for goodness
signifies mercy. Whoever we may be, and wherever we may be, we need mercy
such as can only be found in the infinite God. It is all of mercy that he is any
of the other good things to us, so that this is a highly comprehensive title. O
how truly has the Lord been mercy to many of us in a thousand ways! He is
goodness itself, and he has been unbounded goodness to us. We have no goodness
of our own, but the Lord has become goodness to us. So is he himself also our
fortress and safe abode: in him we dwell as behind impregnable ramparts
and immovable bastions. We cannot be driven out, or starved out; for our
fortress is prepared for a siege; it is stored with abundance of food, and a
well of living water is within it. Kings usually think much of their fenced
cities, but King David relies upon his God, who is more to him than fortresses
could have been.
My high tower, and my deliverer. As from a lofty watchtower
the believer, trusting in the Lord, looks down upon his enemies. They cannot
reach him in his elevated position; he is out of bow shot; he is beyond their
scaling ladders; he dwells on high. Nor is this all; for Jehovah is our
Deliverer as well as our Defender. These different figures set forth the varied
benefits which come to us from our Lord. He is every good thing which we can
need for this world or the next. He not only places us out of harm's way full
often, but when we must be exposed, he comes to our rescue, he raises the siege,
routs the foe, and sets us in joyous liberty. My shield, and he in whom I trust. When the warrior rushes
on his adversary, he bears his target upon his arm, and thrusts death aside;
thus doth the believer oppose the Lord to the blows of the enemy, and finds
himself secure from harm. For this and a thousand other reasons our trust rests
in our God for everything; he never fails us, and we feel boundless confidence
Who subdueth my people under me. He keeps my natural
subjects subject, and my conquered subjects peaceful under my sway. Men who rule
others should thank God if they succeed in the task. Such strange creatures are
human beings, that if a number of them are kept in peaceful association under
the leadership of any one of the Lord's servants, he is bound to bless God every
day for the wonderful fact. The victories of peace are as much worthy of joyful
gratitude as the victories of war. Leaders in the Christian church cannot
maintain their position except as the Lord preserves to them the mighty
influence which ensures obedience and evokes enthusiastic loyalty. For every
particle of influence for good which we may possess let us magnify the name of
the Lord. Thus has David blessed Jehovah for blessing him. How many times
he has appropriated the Lord by that little word My! Each time he grasps
the Lord, he adores and blesses him; for the one word Blessed runs
through all the passage like a golden thread. He began by acknowledging that his
strength for fighting foreign enemies was of the Lord, and he concluded by
ascribing his domestic peace to the same source. All round as a king he saw
himself to be surrounded by the King of kings, to whom he bowed in lowly homage,
doing suit and service on bent knee, with grateful heart admitting that he owed
everything to the Rock of his salvation.
Verse 3. LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of
him? What a contrast between Jehovah and man! The Psalmist turns from the
glorious all sufficiency of God to the insignificance and nothingness of man. He
sees Jehovah to be everything, and then cries, "Lord, what is man!" What is man
in the presence of the Infinite God? What can he be compared to? He is too
little to be described at all; only God, who knows the most minute object, can
tell what man is. Certainly he is not fit to be the rock of our confidence: he
is at once too feeble and too fickle to be relied upon. The Psalmist's wonder is
that God should stoop to know him, and indeed it is more remarkable than if the
greatest archangel should make a study of emmets, or become the friend of mites.
God knows his people with a tender intimacy, a constant, careful observation: he
foreknew them in love, he knows them by care, he will know them in acceptance at
last. Why and wherefore is this? What has man done? What has he been? What is he
now that God should know him, and make himself known to him as his goodness,
fortress, and high tower? This is an unanswerable question. Infinite
condescension can alone account for the Lord stooping to be the friend of man.
That he should make man the subject of election, the object of redemption, the
child of eternal love, the darling of infallible providence, the next of kin to
Deity, is indeed a matter requiring more than the two notes of exclamation found
in this verse. Or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! The son
of man is a weaker being still, --so the original word implies. He is not so much
man as God made him, but man as his mother bore him; and how can the Lord
think of him, and write down such a cipher in his accounts? The Lord thinks much
of man, and in connection with redeeming love makes a great figure of him: this
can be believed, but it cannot be explained. Adoring wonder makes us each one
cry out, Why dost thou take knowledge of me? We know by experience how little
man is to be reckoned upon, and we know by observation how greatly he can vaunt
himself, it is therefore meet for us to be humble and to distrust ourselves; but
all this should make us the more grateful to the Lord, who knows man better than
we do, and yet communes with him, and even dwells in him. Every trace of the
misanthrope should be hateful to the believer; for if God makes account of man
it is not for us to despise our own kind.
Verse 4. Man is like to vanity. Adam is like to Abel. He is
like that which is nothing at all. He is actually vain, and he resembles that
unsubstantial empty thing which is nothing but a blown up nothing, --a puff, a
bubble. Yet he is not vanity, but only like it. He is not so substantial as that
unreal thing; he is only the likeness of it. Lord, what is a man? It is
wonderful that God should think of such a pretentious insignificance. His days are as a shadow that passeth away. He is so short
lived that he scarcely attains to years, but exists by the day, like the
ephemera, whose birth and death are both seen by the self same sun. His life is
only like to a shadow, which is in itself a vague resemblance, an absence of
something rather than in itself an existence. Observe that human life is not
only as a shade, but as a shade which is about to depart. It is a mere mirage,
the image of a thing which is not, a phantasm which melts back into nothing. How
is it that the Eternal should make so much of mortal man, who begins to die as
soon as he begins to live? The connection of the two verses before us with the rest of the
psalm is not far to seek: David trusts in God and finds him everything; he looks
to man and sees him to be nothing; and then he wonders how it is that the great
Lord can condescend to take notice of such a piece of folly and deceit as man.
Verse 5. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down. The heavens
are the Lord's own, and he who exalted them can bow them. His servant is
struggling against bitter foes, and he finds no help in men, therefore he
entreats Jehovah to come down to his rescue. It is, indeed, a coming down for
Jehovah to interfere in the conflicts of his tried people. Earth cries to heaven
to stoop; nay, the cry is to the Lord of heaven to bow the heaven, and appear
among the sons of earth. The Lord has often done this, and never more fully than
when in Bethlehem the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us: now doth he know
the way, and he never refuses to come down to defend his beloved ones. David
would have the real presence of God to counterbalance the mocking appearance of
boastful man: eternal verity could alone relieve him of human vanity. Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. It was so when
the Lord appeared on Sinai; the strongest pillars of earth cannot bear the
weight of the finger of God. He is a consuming fire, and his touch kindles the
peaks of the Alps, and makes them smoke. If Jehovah would appear, nothing could
stand before him; if the mighty mountains smoke at his touch, then all mortal
power which is opposed to the Lord must end in smoke. How long suffering he is
to his adversaries, whom he could so readily consume. A touch would do it; God's
finger of flame would set the hills on fire, and consume opposition of every
Verse 6. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them. The Eternal
can hurl his lightnings wheresoever he pleases, and effect his purpose
instantaneously. The artillery of heaven soon puts the enemy to flight: a single
bolt sets the armies running hither and thither in utter rout. Shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them. Jehovah never
misses the mark; his arrows are fatal to his foes when he goes forth to war. It
was no common faith which led the poet king to expect the Lord to use his
thunderbolts on behalf of a single member of that race which he had just now
described as "like to vanity." A believer in God may without presumption expect
the Almighty Lord to use on his behalf all the stores of his wisdom and power:
even the terrible forces of tempest shall be marshalled to the fight, for the
defence of the Lord's chosen. When we have once mastered the greater difficulty
of the Lord's taking any interest in us, it is but a small thing that we should
expect him to exert his great power on our behalf. This is far from being the
only time in which this believing warrior had thus prayed: Ps 18:1-50 is
specially like the present; the good man was not abashed at his former boldness,
but here repeats himself without fear.
Verse 7. Send thine hand from above. Let thy long and strong
arm be stretched out till thine hand seizes my foes, and delivers me from them. Rid me, and deliver me out of great waters. Make a Moses of
me, -- one drawn out of the waters. My foes pour in upon me like torrents, they
threaten to overwhelm me; save me from their force and fury; take them from me,
and me from them. From the hand of strange children. From foreigners of every
race; men strange to me and thee, who therefore must work evil to me, and
rebellion against thyself. Those against whom he pleaded were out of covenant
with God; they were Philistines and Edomites; or else they were men of his own
nation of black heart and traitorous spirit, who were real strangers, though
they bore the name of Israel. Oh to be rid of those infidel, blaspheming beings
who pollute society with their false teachings and hard speeches! Oh to be
delivered from slanderous tongues, deceptive lips, and false hearts! No wonder
these words are repeated, for they are the frequent cry of many a tried child of
God; --"Rid me, and deliver me." The devil's children are strange to us:
we can never agree with them, and they will never understand us: they are aliens
to us, and we are despised by them. O Lord, deliver us from the evil one, and
from all who are of his race.
Verse 8. Whose mouth speaketh vanity. No wonder that men who
are vanity speak vanity. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own. "They
cannot be depended upon, let them promise as fairly as they may: their solemn
declarations are light as the foam of the sea, in no wise to be depended upon.
Good men desire to be rid of such characters: of all men deceivers and liars are
among the most disgusting to true hearts. And their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. So far
their hands and their tongues agree, for they are vanity and falsehood. These
men act as falsely as they speak, and prove themselves to be all of a piece.
Their falsehood is right handed, they lie with dexterity, they deceive with all
their might. It is a dreadful thing when a man's expertness lies more in lies
than in truth; when he can neither speak nor act without proving himself to be
false. God save us from lying mouths, and hands of falsehood.
Verse 9. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God. Weary of
the false, I will adore the true. Fired with fresh enthusiasm, my gratitude
shall make a new channel for itself. I will sing as others have done; but it
shall be a new song, such as no others have sung. That song shall be all and
altogether for my God: I will extol none but the Lord, from whom my deliverance
has come. Upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I
sing praises unto thee. His hand should aid his tongue, not as in the
case of the wicked, cooperating in deceit; but his hand should unite with his
mouth in truthful praise. David intended to tune his best instruments as well as
to use his best vocal music: the best is all too poor for so great a God, and
therefore we must not fall short of our utmost. He meant to use many instruments
of music, that by all means he might express his great joy in God. The Old
Testament dispensation abounded in types, and figures, and outward ritual, and
therefore music dropped naturally into its place in the "worldly sanctuary";
but, after all, it can do no more than represent praise, and assist our
expression of it; the real praise is in the heart, the true music is that of the
soul. When music drowns the voice, and artistic skill takes a higher place than
hearty singing, it is time that instruments were banished from public worship;
but when they are subordinate to the song, as here, it is not for us to prohibit
them, or condemn those who use them, though we ourselves greatly prefer to do
without them, since it seems to us that the utmost simplicity of praise is far
more congruous with the spirit of the gospel than pomp of organs. The private
worshipper, singing his solo unto the Lord, has often found it helpful to
accompany himself on some familiar instrument, and of this David in the present
psalm is an instance, for he says, "I will sing praise unto thee", --that is, not
so much in the company of others as by himself alone. He saith not "we", but
Verse 10. It is he that giveth salvation unto kings. Those
whom the Lord sets up he will keep up. Kings, from their conspicuous position,
are exposed to special danger, and when their lives and their thrones are
preserved to them they should give the Lord the glory of it. In his many battles
David would have perished had not almighty care preserved him. He had by his
valour wrought salvation for Israel, but he lays his laurels at the feet of his
Lord and Preserver. If any men need salvation kings do, and if they get it the
fact is so astonishing that it deserves a verse to itself in the psalm of
praise. Who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword. He
traces his escape from death to the delivering hand of God. Note, he speaks in
the present tense--delivereth, for this was an act which covered his whole
life. He puts his name to the confession of his indebtedness: it is David who
owns without demur to mercy given to himself. He styles himself the Lord's
servant, accepting this as the highest title he had attained or desired.
Verse 11. Because of what the Lord had done, David returns
to his pleading. He begs deliverance from him who is ever delivering him. Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children.
This is in measure the refrain of the song, and the burden of the prayer. He
desired to be delivered from his open and foreign adversaries, who had broken
compacts, and treated treaties as vain things. Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right
hand of falsehood. He would not strike hands with those who carried a
lie in their right hand: he would be quit of such at once, if possible. Those
who are surrounded by such serpents know not how to deal with them, and the only
available method seems to be prayer to God for a riddance and deliverance. David
in Ps 144:7, according to the original, had sought the help of both the Lord's
hands, and well he might, for his deceitful enemies, with remarkable unanimity,
were with one mouth and one hand seeking his destruction. Riddance from the wicked and the gracious presence of the Lord
are sought with a special eye to the peace and prosperity which will follow
thereupon. The sparing of David's life would mean the peace and happiness of a
whole nation. We can scarcely judge how much of happiness may hang upon the
Lord's favour to one man.
Verse 12. God's blessing works wonders for a people. That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth. Our
sons are of first importance to the state, since men take a leading part in its
affairs; and that the young men are the older men will be. He desires that they
may be like strong, well rooted, young trees, which promise great things. If
they do not grow in their youth, when will they grow? If in their opening
manhood they are dwarfed, they will never get over it. O the joys which we may
have through our sons! And, on the other hand, what misery they may cause us!
Plants may grow crooked, or in some other way disappoint the planter, and so may
our sons. But when we see them developed in holiness, what joy we have of them! That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after
the similitude of a palace. We desire a blessing for our whole
family, daughters as well as sons. For the girls to be left out of the circle of
blessing would be unhappy indeed. Daughters unite families as corner stones join
walls together, and at the same time they adorn them as polished stones garnish
the structure into which they are builded. Home becomes a palace when the
daughters are maids of honour, and the sons are nobles in spirit; then the
father is a king, and the mother a queen, and royal residences are more than
outdone. A city built up of such dwellings is a city of palaces, and a state
composed of such cities is a republic of princes.
Verse 13. That our garners may be full, affording all manner
of store. A household must exercise thrift and forethought: it must
have its granary as well as its nursery. Husbands should husband their
resources; and should not only furnish their tables but fill their garners.
Where there are happy households, there must needs be plentiful provision for
them, for famine brings misery even where love abounds. It is well when there is
plenty, and that plenty consists of "all manner of store." We have occasionally
heard murmurs concerning the abundance of grain, and the cheapness of the poor
man's loaf. A novel calamity! We dare not pray against it. David would have
prayed for it, and blessed the Lord when he saw his heart's desire. When all the
fruits of the earth are plentiful, the fruits of our lips should be joyful
worship and thanksgiving. Plenteous and varied may cur products be, that every
form of want may be readily supplied. That our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in
our streets, or rather in the open places, the fields, and sheep
walks where lambs should be born. A teeming increase is here described. Adam
tilled the ground to fill the garner, but Abel kept sheep, and watched the
lambs. Each occupation needs the divine blessing. The second man who was born
into this world was a shepherd, and that trade has ever held an important part
in the economy of nations. Food and clothing come from the flock, and both are
of first consideration.
Verse 14. That our oxen may be strong to labour; so that the
ploughing and cartage of the farm may be duly performed, and the husbandman's
work may be accomplished without unduly taxing the cattle, or working them
cruelly. That there be no breaking in, nor going out; no irruption
of marauders, and no forced emigration; no burglaries and no evictions. That there be no complaining in our streets; no secret
dissatisfaction, no public riot; no fainting of poverty, no clamour for rights
denied, nor concerning wrongs unredressed. The state of things here pictured is
very delightful: all is peaceful and prosperous; the throne is occupied
efficiently, and even the beasts in their stalls are the better for it. This has
been the condition of our own country, and if it should now be changed, who can
wonder? For our ingratitude well deserves to be deprived of blessings which it
has despised. These verses may with a little accommodation be applied to a
prosperous church, where the converts are growing and beautiful, the gospel
stores abundant, and the spiritual increase most cheering. There ministers and
workers are in full vigour, and the people are happy and united. The Lord make
it so in all our churches evermore.
Verse 15. Happy is that people that is in such a case. Such
things are not to be overlooked. Temporal blessings are not trifles, for the
miss of them would be a dire calamity. It is a great happiness to belong to a
people so highly favoured. Yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD. This
comes in as an explanation of their prosperity. Under the Old Testament Israel
had present earthly rewards for obedience: when Jehovah was their God they were
a nation enriched and flourishing. This sentence is also a sort of correction of
all that had gone before; as if the poet would say-- all these temporal gifts are
a part of happiness, but still the heart and soul of happiness lies in the
people being right with God, and having a full possession of him. Those who
worship the happy God become a happy people. Then if we have not temporal
mercies literally we have something better: if we have not the silver of earth
we have the gold of heaven, which is better still. In this psalm David ascribes his own power over the people, and
the prosperity which attended his reign, to the Lord himself. Happy was the
nation which he ruled; happy in its king, in its families, in its prosperity,
and in the possession of peace; but yet more in enjoying true religion and
worshipping Jehovah, the only living and true God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The psalm, in its mingled tones of prayer and
praise, is a fit connecting link between the supplicatory psalms which go
before, and the strains of thanksgiving which follow it. --Speaker's
Whole Psalm. After six psalms of sorrowful prayer in
distress, we have now a psalm of praise and thanksgiving for God's gracious
answer to supplications; and also a psalm of intercession. The present psalm
bears a strong resemblance to David's last song in 2Sa 22:51 and to Ps 18:1-50.
Here we have a vision of Christ rejoicing; -- after his passion--risen in glory,
and having ascended in triumph, and pleading for us at the right hand of God.
Whole Psalm. This psalm is ruled by the numbers ten and
seven. Ten verses complete the first part of the psalm, which falls into two
divisions. The first portion contains, in Ps 144:1-2, ten attributes of God,
--three and seven, the seven divided into four and three. In like manner it
contains ten requests to God in Ps 144:5-7, divided precisely as the attributes.
To this significance of the number ten for the first part, allusion is pointedly
made in Ps 144:9. Seven blessings are prayed for in the second part, four in Ps
144:12-13, (valiant sons, beautiful daughters, full storehouses, numerous
flocks), and three in Ps 144:14 (labouring oxen, no breach and diminution, no
cry). The whole contains, apart from the closing epiphonem, which, as usual,
stands outside the formal arrangement, seven strophes, each of two verses.
An objection has been brought against the Davidic authorship
from the "traces of reading" it contains. But one would require to consider more
exactly, what sort of reading is here to be thought of. It is only the psalms of
David which form the ground work of this new psalm. But that it is one of
David's peculiarities to derive from his earlier productions a foundation for
new ones, is evident from a variety of facts, which, if any doubt must still be
entertained on the subject, would obtain a firm ground to stand upon in this
psalm, which can only have been composed by David. The way and manner of
the use made of such materials is to be kept in view. This is always of a
spirited and feeling nature, and no trace anywhere exists of a dead borrowing.
That we cannot think here of such a borrowing; that the appropriation of the
earlier language did not proceed from spiritual impotence, but rested upon
deeper grounds, is manifest from the consideration of the second part, where the
dependence entirely ceases, and where even the opponents of the Davidic
authorship have not been able to overlook the strong poetical spirit of the time
of David. They betake themselves to the miserable shift of affirming, that the
Psalmist borrowed this part of the psalm from a much older poem now lost.
Verse 1. Blessed be the LORD. A prayer for further mercy is
fitly begun with a thanksgiving for former mercy; and when we are waiting upon
God to bless us, we should stir up ourselves to bless him. --Matthew
Verse 1. The LORD my strength, etc. Agamemnon says to
If thou hast strength, 'twas heaven that strength bestowed;
For know, vain man! thy valour is from God. --Homer.
Verse 1. My strength (Heb. "my rock"). The climax
should be noted; the rock, or cliff, comes first as the place of refuge, then
the fortress or fastness, as a place carefully fortified, then the
personal deliverer, without whose intervention escape would have been
impossible. --Speaker's Commentary.
Verse 1. The LORD...teacheth: and not as man teacheth. Thus
he taught Gideon to fight with the innumerable host of Midian by sending to
their homes twenty-two thousand, and retaining but ten thousand of his soldiers:
and then again by reducing that remnant to the little band of three hundred who
lapped when brought down to the water. Thus he taught Samson by abstaining from
strong drink, and by suffering no razor to pass over his head. Thus he taught
the three kings in the wilderness to war against their enemies, not by any
strength of their armies, but by making ditches in the desert. Thus he taught
David himself by waiting for the sound of the going in the tops of the mulberry
trees. And so he taught the arms of the True David to fight when stretched on
the cross: nailed, to human sight, to the tree of suffering, but, in reality,
winning for themselves the crown of glory: helpless in the eyes of scribes and
Pharisees; in those of archangels, laying hold of the two pillars, sin and
death, whereon the house of Satan rested, and heaving them up from, their
foundation. --Ayguan, in Neale and Littledale.
Verse 1. The LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to
war. There were three qualities of a valiant soldier found in Christ, the
Captain of our salvation, in his war against Satan, which his followers are
bound to emulate: boldness in attack, skill in defence, steadiness in conflict,
all which he teaches by his example (Mt 4:1,4,7,10-11). He was bold in
attack, for he began the combat by going up into the wilderness to defy the
enemy. So we, too, should be always beforehand with Satan, ought to fast, even
if not tempted to gluttony, and be humble, though not assailed by pride, and so
forth. He was skilful in defence, parrying every attack with Holy Writ;
where we, too, in the examples of the saints, may find lessons for the combat.
He was steadfast in conflict, for he persevered to the end, till the
devil left him, and angels came and ministered unto him; and we, too, should not
be content with repelling the first attack, but persevere in our resistance
until evil thoughts are put to flight, and heavenly resolutions take their
place. --Neale and Littledale.
Verse 1. Teacheth my hands. Used to the hook and harp, and
not to the sword and spear; but God hath apted and abled them to feats of arms
and warlike exploits. It is God that giveth skill and success, saith Solomon (Pr
8:1-36); wisdom and ability, saith Daniel (Da 2:1-49). And as in the spiritual
warfare, so here; our weapons are "mighty through God" (2Co 10:4), who promises
that no weapon formed against his people shall prosper (Isa 54:17). --John
Verse 1. To war, ...to fight. I want to speak of a great
defect among us, which often prevents the realization of going "from strength to
strength"; viz., the not using, not trading with, the strength given. We
should not think of going to God for money only to keep it in the bank. But are
we not doing this with regard to strength? We are constantly asking for strength
for service; but if we are not putting this out in hearty effort, it is of no
use to us. Nothing comes of hoarded strength. "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands
to war, and my finger to fight." David, you see, was looking for
strength for a purpose. Some people seem to expect strength, but never attempt
to put forth their hands to war, and their fingers to fight-- there is so little
venturing upon God, so little use of grace given, partly from fear of man,
partly from indolence and worldly mindedness. It is not for us to be merely
luxuriating in the power which God supplies. Action strengthens, and before we
have a right to ask for an increase, we must use that already given.
--Catherine Pennefather, in "Service," 1881.
Verse 1. Is not the spiritual victory of every believer
achieved by God? Truly it is he who teaches his hands to war and his
fingers to fight; and when the final triumph shall be sung in heaven,
the victor's song will be, "Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but unto thy name
give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake." --John Morison.
Verse 1. My hands for fight, my fingers for war.
Fight and war are both verbs and nouns in English, but the Hebrew
words are nouns with the article prefixed. --Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 1. My fingers to fight. Probably the immediate
reference here is to the use of the bow, --placing the arrow, and drawing the
string. --Albert Barnes.
Verse 2. My goodness, etc. This way of using the word in a
passive sense, as in the Hebrew, sounds harshly; just as elsewhere (Ps 18:50) he
calls himself "God's king", not in the sense of his having dominion over God,
but being made and appointed king by him. Having experienced God's kindness in
so many ways, he calls him "his goodness", meaning that whatever
good he possessed flowed from him. The accumulation of terms, one upon another,
which follows, may appear unnecessary, yet it tends greatly to strengthen faith.
We know how unstable men's minds are, and especially how soon faith wavers, when
they are assailed by some trial of more than usual severity. --John
Verse 2. My fortress. David calls God by names connected
with the chief deliverances of his life. The psalms abound in local references
and descriptive expressions, e.g. Ps 18:2 (and in this place). The word
translated "fortress" is metzuriah or masada. From 1Sa 23:29, I
have no doubt that he is speaking of Masada, an isolated peak 1,500 feet high,
on which was a stronghold. --James Wareing Bardsley, in "Glimpses through the
Verse 2. My high tower. Such towers were erected on
mountains, on rocks, or on the walls of a city, and were regarded as safe places
mainly because they were inaccessible. So the old castles in Europe, --as that at
Heidelberg, and generally those along the Rhine, --were built on lofty places,
and in such positions as not to be easily accessible. --Albert Barnes.
Verse 2. My shield. The Hebrew word signifies, not the huge
shield which was carried by an armourbearer, but the handy target with which
heroes entered into hand to hand conflicts. A warrior took it with him when he
used his bow or his sword. It was often made of metal, but still was portable,
and useful, and was made to serve as an ornament, being brightened or anointed
with oil. David had made abundant use of the Lord, his God, from day to day, in
battles many and murderous. --C.H.S.
Verse 2. Who subdueth my people under me. David,
accordingly, having ascribed the victories he had gained over foreign enemies to
God, thanks him at the same time for the settled state of the kingdom. Raised
indeed as he was from an obscure station, and exposed to hatred from calumnious
charges, it was scarcely to have been believed that he would ever obtain a
peaceable reign. The people had suddenly, and beyond expectation, submitted to
him; and so surprising a change was eminently God's work. --John Calvin.
Verse 3. LORD, what is man, etc.
Now what is man when grace reveals
The virtues of a Saviour's blood?
Again a life divine he feels,
Despises earth, and walks with God.
And what in yonder realms above,
Is ransomed man ordained to be?
With honour, holiness, and love,
No seraph more adorned than he.
Nearest the throne, and first in song.
Man shall his hallelujahs raise,
While wondering angels round him strong,
And swell the chorus of his praise.
--John Newton, in Olney
Verse 3. LORD, what is man? Take him in his four elements,
of earth, air, fire, and water. In the earth, he is as fleeting dust; in
the air, he is as a disappearing vapour; in the water, he is as a
breaking bubble; and in the fire, he is as consuming smoke. --William
Seeker, in "The Nonsuch Professor."
Verses 3-4. LORD, what is man, etc. There is no book so well
worthy reading as this living one. Even now David spake as a king of men, of
people subdued under him: now he speaks as a humble vassal to God:
LORD, what is man that thou takest knowledge of him? In one breath is
both sovereignty and subjugation: an absolute sovereignty over his people: My
people are subdued under me; an humble subjection to the God of kings;
"LORD, what is man?" Yea, in the very same word wherein, is the
profession of that sovereignty, there is an acknowledgment of subjection:
"Thou hast subdued my people." In that he had a people, he was a king:
that they might be his people, a subjection was requisite; and that subjugation
was God's, and not his own: "Thou hast subdued." Lo, David had not
subdued his people, if God had not subdued them for him. He was a great king,
but they were a stiff people: the God that made them swayed them to a due
subjection. The great conquerors of worlds could not conquer hearts, if he, that
moulded hearts, did not temper them. "By me kings reign", saith the Eternal
Wisdom; and he that had courage enough to encounter a bear, a lion, Goliath, yet
can say, "Thou hast subdued my people."
Contrarily, in the lowliest subjection of himself, there is an
acknowledgment of greatness. Though he abused himself with, "What is man?" yet,
withal he adds, "Thou takest knowledge of him, thou makest account of
him": and this knowledge, this account of God, doth more exalt man than his
own vanity can depress him. My text, then, ye see, is David's rapture, expressed
in an ecstatical question of sudden wonder; a wonder at God, and at man:
man's vileness; "What is man?" God's mercy and favour, in his
knowledge, in his estimation of man. Lo, there are but two lessons that we need
to take out here, in the world, God and man; man, in the notion of his
wretchedness; God, in the notion of his bounty. Let us, if you please, take a short view of both; and, in the
one, see cause of our humiliation; of our joy and thankfulness in the other: and
if, in the former, there be a sad Lent of mortification; there is, in the
latter, a cheerful Easter of our raising and exaltation.
Many a one besides David wonders at himself: one wonders at his
own honour; and, though he will not say so, yet thinks, "What a great man am I!
Is not this great Babel, which I have built?" This is Nebuchadnezzar's wonder.
Another wonders at his person, and finds, either a good face, or a fair eye, or
an exquisite hand, or a well shaped leg, or some gay fleece, to admire in
himself: this was Absalom's wonder. Another wonders at his wit and learning:
"How came I by all this? Turba haec! This vulgar, that knows not the law,
is accursed": this was the Pharisee's wonder. Another wonders at his wealth;
"Soul, take thine ease"; as the epicure in the gospel. David's wonder is as much
above, as against all these: he wonders at his vileness: like as the Chosen
Vessel would boast of nothing but his infirmities: "LORD, what is man?"
How well this hangs together! No sooner had he said,
"Thou hast subdued my people under me", than he adds, "LORD,
what is man?" Some vain heart would have been lifted up with a
conceit of his own eminence; "Who am I? I am not as other men. I have people
under me; and people of my own, and people subdued to me"; this is to be more
than a man. I know who hath said, "I said ye are gods." --Joseph Hall.
Verse 3. Dr. Hammond refers this psalm to the slaying of
Goliath, and thus understands the appellation "son of man", --"David was but a
young stripling, the youngest and most inconsiderable of all the sons of Jesse,
who also was himself an ordinary man."
Verse 3. Thou takest knowledge of him. It is a great word.
Alas! what knowledge do we take of the gnats that play in the sun; or the ants,
or worms, that are crawling in our grounds? Yet the disproportion betwixt us and
them is but finite; infinite betwixt God and us. Thou, the Great God of Heaven,
to take knowledge of such a thing as man. If a mighty prince shall vouchsafe to
spy and single out a plain homely swain in a throng, as the Great Sultan did
lately a tankard bearer; and take special notice of him, and call him but to a
kiss of his hand and nearness to his person; he boasts of it as a great favour:
for thee, then, O God, who abasest thyself to behold the things in heaven
itself, to cast thine eye upon so poor a worm as man, it must needs be a
wonderful mercy. --Exigua pauperibus magna; as Nazianzen to his
Amphilochius. --Joseph Hall.
Verse 4. Man is like to vanity As he that goeth to a fair,
with a purse full of money, is devising and debating with himself how to lay it
out--possibly thinking that such and such commodities will be most profitable,
and bring him in the greatest gain--when on a sudden a cut purse comes and eases
him both of his money and care how to dispose of it. Surely you might have taken
notice how some of thy neighbours or countrymen, when they have been busy in
their contrivances, and big with many plots and projects how to raise their
estate and names and families, were arrested by death in a moment, returned to
their earth, and in that day all their gay, their great thoughts perished, and
came to nothing. The heathen historian could not but observe how Alexander the
Great, when he had to carry on his great designs, summoned a parliament before
him of the whole world, he was himself summoned by death to appear in the other
world. The Dutch, therefore, very wittily to express the world's vanity, picture
at Amsterdam a man with a full blown bladder on his shoulders, and another
standing by pricking the bladder with a pin, with this motto, quam subito,
How soon is all blown down! --George Swinnock.
Verse 4. Man is like to vanity. When Cain was born, there
was much ado about his birth; "I have gotten a man child from God", saith his
mother: she looked upon him as a great possession, and therefore called his name
Cain, which signifies "a possession." But the second man that was born
unto the world bare the title of the world, "vanity"; his name was
Abel, that is, "vanity." A premonition was given in the name of
the second man what would or should be the condition of all men. In Ps 144:4
there is an allusion unto those two names. We translate it, "Man is like
to vanity"; the Hebrew is, "Adam is as Abel"; Adam, you know,
was the name of the first man, the name of Abel's father; but as Adam was the
proper name of the first, so it is an appellative, or common to all men: now
Adam, that is, man of all men, are Abel, vain, and walking in a vain
show. --Joseph Caryl.
Verse 4. Man is like to vanity, etc. The occasion of the
introduction of these sentiments here is not quite clear. It may be the humility
of the warrior who ascribes all success to God instead of to human prowess, or
it may be a reflection uttered over the corpses of comrades, or, perhaps a
blending of the two. --A.S. Aglen.
Verse 4. Man is like to vanity, etc. With what idle dreams,
what foolish plans, what vain pursuits, are men for the most part occupied! They
undertake dangerous expeditions and difficult enterprises in foreign countries,
and they acquire fame; but what is it? -- Vanity! They pursue deep and
abstruse speculations, and give themselves to that "much study which is a
weariness to the flesh", and they attain to literary renown, and survive in
their writings; but what is it? --Vanity! They rise up early, and sit up
late, and eat the bread of anxiety and care, and thus they amass wealth; but
what is it? --Vanity! They frame and execute plans and schemes of
ambition--they are loaded with honours and adorned with titles-- they afford
employment for the herald, and form a subject for the historian; but what is it?
--Vanity! In fact, all occupations and pursuits are worthy of no other
epithet, if they are not preceded by, and connected with, a deep and paramount
regard to the salvation of the soul, the honour of God, and the interests of
eternity...Oh, then, what phantoms, what airy nothings are those things that
wholly absorb the powers and occupy the days of the great mass of mankind around
us! Their most substantial good perishes in the using, and their most enduring
realities are but "the fashion of this world that passeth away." --Thomas
Verse 4. A shadow that passeth away. The shadows of the
mountains are constantly shifting their position during the day, and ultimately
disappear altogether on the approach of night: so is it with man who is every
day advancing to the moment of his final departure from this world.
Verse 5. Bow thy heavens. This expression is derived from
the appearance of the clouds during a tempest: they hang low, so as to obscure
the hills and mountains, and seem to mingle earth and heaven together. Such an
appearance is figuratively used to depict the coming of God, to execute
vengeance upon the enemies of his people. See Ps 18:10, and other instances.
Verse 5. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down, etc. This
was never so remarkably fulfilled as in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, when
heaven and earth were, as it were, brought together. Heaven itself was, as it
were, made to bow that it might be united to the earth. God did, as it were,
come down and bring heaven with him. He not only came down to the earth, but he
brought heaven down with him to men and for men. It was a most strange and
wonderful thing. But this will be more remarkably fulfilled still by Christ's
second coming, when he will indeed bring all heaven down with him--viz., all the
inhabitants of heaven. Heaven shall be left empty of its inhabitants to come
down to the earth; and then the mountains shall smoke, and shall indeed flow
down at his presence, as in Isa 64:1. --Jonathan Edwards.
Verse 5. Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. The
meaning is, when God doth but lay his hand upon great men, upon the mightiest of
the world, he makes them smoke or fume, which some understand of their anger;
they are presently in a passion, if God do but touch them. Or we may understand
it of their consumption. A smoking mountain will soon be a burnt
mountain. In our language, to make a man smoke is a proverbial expression for
destroying or subduing. --Joseph Caryl.
Bow thy heavens, Jehovah,
Come down in thy might;
Let the rays of thy glory
The mountaintops light.
With the bolts of thy thunder
Discomfit my foe,
With the flash of thine arrows
Their force overthrow.
--William Digby Seymour.
Verse 6. Cast forth lightning. The Hebrew here is, "Lighten
lightning"; that is, Send forth lightning. The word is used as a verb nowhere
else. --Albert Barnes.
Verse 7. Send thine hand from above. Hebrew, hands,
both hands, all thy whole power, for I need it. --John Trapp.
Verse 7. Rid me, and deliver me. Away, you who theorize
about suffering, and can do no more than descant upon it, away! for in the time
of weeping we cannot endure your reasonings. If you have no means of delivering
us, if you have nothing but sententious phrases to offer, put your hands on your
mouths; enwrap yourselves in silence! It is enough to suffer; but to suffer and
listen to you is more than we can bear. If Job's mouth was nigh unto blasphemy,
the blame is yours, ye miserable comforters, who talked instead of weeping. If I
must suffer, then I pray for suffering without fine talk! --E. De
Verse 7. Rid me, and deliver me...from the hand of strange
children. We must remember that as the Grecians (conceiting themselves
the best bred people in the world) called all other nations "barbarians"; so the
people of Israel, the stock of Abraham (being God's peculiar covenant people),
called all other nations "aliens" or "strangers"; and because they were
hated and maligned by all other nations, therefore they called all professed
strangers enemies; so the word is used (Isa 1:7), "Your land strangers
shall devour"; that is, enemies shall invade and prevail over you. "Deliver
me out of the hand of strange children", or out of the hand of
strangers; that is, out of the hand of mine enemies. The Latin word
alienus is often put for hostis, and the Roman orator (Cicero)
telleth us that "he who is now called a stranger was called an enemy by our
ancestors." The reason was because strangers proved unkind to, yea, turned
enemies against those that entertained them. --Joseph Caryl.
Verse 7. Strange children. He calls them strangers,
not in respect of generic origin, but character and disposition. --John
Verse 7. The strange children, now the enemies of
David, shall be either won to willing subjection, or else shall be crushed under
the triumphant Messiah (Ps 2:1-12). The Spirit by David spake things the deep
significance of which reached further than even he understood (1Pe 1:11-12).
--Andrew Robert Fausset.
Verse 8. Whose mouth speaketh vanity, etc. Two things go
naturally together in the verse--the lying tongue and deceitful hand. The meaning
is that upon the matter in hand nothing was to be looked for from any of their
promises, since it was only to deceive that they flattered with their mouth and
gave the hand. --John Calvin.
Verse 8. Their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. The
pledge of the right hand, which used to be a witness of good faith, was violated
by treachery and wickedness. --Cicero. Philip. xi. c. 2.
Verse 9. Psaltery--an instrument of ten strings.
Nebelazor. We are led to the conclusion that the nebel was the
veritable harp of the Hebrews. It could not have been large, because it
is so frequently mentioned in the Bible as being carried in processions ...The
English translators render nebel (apparently without any special reason)
by no less than four words; (1) psaltery, (2) psalm, (3) lute, (4) viol. The
first of these is by far the most common in the Authorized Version, and is no
doubt the most correct translation if the word be understood in its true sense
as a portable harp. Nebels were made of fir wood, and afterwards
of almug, or algum, which was, perhaps, the red sandalwood of India...With
nebel is often associated the word azor, which is traced to a root
signifying ten, and which has therefore been rendered in the Septuagint
by by en dekacordw or as qalthrion dekacordon, (psalterium decem
chordarum) or in dechachordo psalterio in the Vulgate. In the
Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic versions also are found words implying the existence
of ten strings in the nebelazor. The word azor may therefore be
considered as qualifying or describing the special kind of nebel to be
used, much in the same way as we now speak of a trichord pianoforte. It
is in our English version always rendered by the words "ten stringed."
--John Stainer, in "The Music of the Bible," 1882.
Verse 10. It is he that giveth salvation unto kings.
Ferdinand, king of Aragon, sending his son against the Florentines, thus bespake
him: Believe me, son, victories are not gotten by art or subtlety, but given of
God. --John Trapp.
Verse 10. It is he that giveth salvation unto kings. What a
doctrine this for the kings and great men of the earth to remember! Could they
be brought to feel and acknowledge it, they would not trust to the sagacity of
their own councils, nor to the strength of their own arm; but would ever
remember that the Most High is the ruler among the nations, and that he putteth
down one and raiseth up another according to the dictates of his own all perfect
will. Such remembrances as this would stain the pride of all human glory, and
would lead men to feel that the Lord alone is to be exalted. --John
Verse 11. This psalm is the language of a prince who wished
his people's prosperity: that their "garners might be full of all manner of
stores"; that their "sheep might bring forth thousands and ten thousands in
their streets"; that their "oxen" might be fat for slaughter, or "strong for
labour"; that there might be neither robbery nor beggary in their streets: no
oppressive magistrates, nor complaining people: and as if all these blessings
were to be derived from the character of the people, and the character of the
people from the education they had received, our text is a prayer for the youth
of Judea. --Robert Robinson (1735-1790), in "The Nature and Necessity
of Early Piety."
Verse 12. The reminiscences or imitations of Ps 18:1-50,
suddenly cease here, and are followed by a series of original, peculiar, and for
the most part or no doubt antique expressions. Oil the supposition that the
title is correct in making David the author, this is natural enough. On any
other supposition it is unaccountable, unless by the gratuitous assumption, that
this is a fragment of an older composition, a mode of reasoning by which
anything may be either proved or disproved. --Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 12. That our sons may be as plants, etc. They who have
ever been employed in the cultivation of plants of any kind, are continually
tempted to wish that the human objects of their care and culture would grow up
as rapidly, as straight, as flourishing, would as uniformly fulfil their
specific idea and purpose, as abundantly reward the labour bestowed on them...If
our sons are indeed to grow up as young plants, like our English oaks, which
according to the analogies of Nature, furnish no inappropriate type of our
national character, they must not be stunted or dwarfed or pollarded, for the
sake of being kept under the shade of a stranger. They should grow up straight
toward heaven, as God had ordained them to grow...There is something so palpable
and striking in this type, that twenty-five years ago, in speaking of the
gentlemanly character, I was led to say, "If a gentleman is to grow up he must
grow like a tree: there must be nothing between him and heaven." --Julius
Charles Hare, in a Sermon entitled "Education the Necessity of Mankind,"
Verse 12. That our sons may be as plants grown up in their
youth, etc. Thus David prays for the rising generation. Metaphors seem
generally unsuitable to prayer, but they do not wear this aspect in the prayers
recorded in the Scriptures. The language of the text is tropical, but the
metaphors are suitable and seasonable. Roots of vegetables are
necessarily invisible. Tender plants are insignificant. A plant grown
up, having height in its stem, width in its branches, abundance in its
foliage, and fulness in its bloom, is conspicuous. David prays that the sons of
that generation might be in their youth "as plants grown up", that is,
that their piety might not only live, but that their godliness might be fully
expressed. The stones of a foundation are concealed. The stones in the
mid wall of a building are also necessarily hid. The stones on the
surface of a wall are visible, but they are not distinguished. The
cornerstone of buildings in that day was prominent and eminent. Placed at
the angle of the structure, where two walls met, on the top of the walls, and
being richly ornamented and polished, it attracted attention. David prays that
the daughters of that day might make an open and lovely profession of
religion--that both sons and daughters might not only have piety but
show it. --Samuel Martin, in "Cares of Youth."
Verse 12. "Plants grown up" "Corner stones polished." These
processes of growth and polish can be carried on in one place only, the church
of Christ. --Neale and Littledale.
Verse 12. That our daughters may be as corner stones, etc.
"The polished corners of the temple", rather "the
sculptured angles, the ornament, of a palace." Great care and much
ornament were bestowed by the ancients upon the angles of their splendid
palaces. It is remarkable that the Greeks made use of pilasters, called
Caryatides (carved after the figure of a woman dressed in long robes), to
support the entablatures of their buildings. --Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 12. That our daughters may be as corner stones,
polished after the similitude of a palace or temple. By
daughters families are united and connected to their mutual strength, as the
parts of a building are by the cornerstones; and when they are graceful and
beautiful both in body and mind, they are then polished after the similitude of
a nice and curious structure. When we see our daughters well established, and
stayed with wisdom and discretion, as cornerstones are fastened in the building;
when we see them by faith united to Christ, as the chief cornerstone, adorned
with the graces of God's Spirit, which are the polishing of that which is
naturally rough, and "become women professing godliness"; when we see them
purified and consecrated to God as living temples, we think ourselves happy in
them. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 12. That our daughters may be as corner stones, etc.
One might perhaps at the first glance have expected that the daughters of
a household would be as the graceful ornament of the clustering foliage or the
fruit bearing tree, and the sons as the cornerstones upholding the weight
and burden of the building, and yet it is the reverse here. And I think one may
read the love and tenderness of the Lord in this apparently casual but intended
expression, and that he meant the nations of the earth to know and understand
how much of their happiness, their strength, and their security was dependent on
the female children of a family. It has not been so considered in many a nation
that knew not God: in polished Greece in times of old, and in some heathen
nations even to this day, the female children of a family have been cruelly
destroyed, as adding to the burdens and diminishing the resources of a
household; and alas! too, even in Christian countries, if not destroyed, they
are with equal pitiless and remorseless cruelty cut off from all the solace and
ties and endearments of life, and immured in that living mockery of a grave, the
cloister, that they may not prove incumbrances and hindrances to others! How
contrary all this to the loving purpose of our loving God! whose Holy Spirit has
written for our learning that sons and daughters are alike intended to be the
ornament and grace, the happiness and blessing of every household. --Barton
Verse 12. After the similitude of a palace. Most
interpreters give the last word the vague sense of "a palace." There is
something, however, far more striking in the translation temple, found in
the Prayer Book and the ancient versions. The omission of the article is a
poetic license of perpetual occurrence. The temple was the great architectural
model and standard of comparison, and particularly remarkable for the great size
and skilful elaboration of its foundation stones, some of which, there is reason
to believe, have remained undisturbed since the time of Solomon. --Joseph
Verses 12-15. In the former part of the psalm he speaks of
such things as concern his own happiness: "Blessed be the Lord my
strength" (Ps 144:1); "Send thine hand from above; and deliver me out of great
waters" (Ps 144:7); "Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children"
(Ps 144:11). And he might as easily have continued the same strain in the
clauses following: "That my sons may grow up as plants, my
daughters may be as the polished corners of the temple, my sheep
fruitful, my oxen strong, my garners full and plenteous"; and
accordingly he might have concluded it also--"Happy shall I be, if
I be in such a case." This, I say, he might have done; nay, this he would
have done, if his desires had reflected only upon himself. But being of a
diffusive heart, and knowing what belonged to the neighbourhoods of piety, as
loath to enjoy this happiness alone, he alters his style, and (being in the
height of well wishes to himself) he turns the singular into a plural--our
sheep, our oxen, our garners, our sons and daughters, that he might
compendiate all in this, --Happy are the people. Here is a true
testimony both of a religious and generous mind, who knew in his most retired
thoughts to look out of himself, and to be mindful of the public welfare in his
most private meditations. S. Ambrose observes it as a clear character of a noble
spirit, to do what tends to the public good, though to his own disadvantage.
--Richard Holdsworth (1590-1649), in "The Valley of Vision."
Verses 12-15. These words contain a striking picture of a
prosperous and happy nation. We are presented with a view of the
masculine youth of the nation by the oaks of the forest, become
great in the early period of the vigour and excellency of the soil. They are
represented in the distinguishing character of their sex, standing abroad the
strength of the nation, whence its resources for action must be derived. On the
other hand, the young females of a nation are exhibited under an equally
just and proper representation of their position and distinguishing character.
They are not exhibited by a metaphor derived from the hardier tenants of the
forest, but they are shown to us by a representation taken from the perpetual
accompaniments of the dwelling; they are the supports and the ornaments of
domestic life. Plenty of every kind is represented to us in possession
and in reasonable expectation. No breaking in, no invasion by a furious
foe, oppresses the inhabitants of this happy country with terror; neither is
there any going out. The barbarous practice employed by Sennacherib, and
other ancient conquerors, of transporting the inhabitants of a vanquished
country to some distant, unfriendly, and hated land, --the practice at this
moment employed, to the scandal of the name and the sorrow of Europe--they dread
not: they fear no "going out." Under circumstances of such a nature
causes of distress or complaint exist not; or, if they do, they are capable of
being so modified, and alleviated, and remedied, that there is no complaining
in the streets. "Happy, then, is that people, that is in such a case."
--John Pye Smith, 1775-1851.
Verse 13. That our sheep may bring forth thousands, etc. The
surprising fecundity of the sheep has been celebrated by writers of every class.
It has not escaped the notice of the royal Psalmist, who, in a beautiful
ascription of praise to the living and the true God, entreats that the sheep of
his chosen people might "bring forth thousands and ten thousands in
our streets." In another song of Zion, he represents, by a very elegant
metaphor, the numerous flocks covering like a garment the face of the field:
--"The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with
corn; they shout for joy, they also sing": Ps 65:13. The bold figure is fully
warranted by the prodigious numbers of sheep which whitened the extensive
pastures of Syria and Canaan. In that part of Arabia which borders on Judea, the
patriarch Job possessed at first seven thousand, and after the return of his
prosperity, fourteen thousand sheep; and Mesha, the king of Moab, paid the king
of Israel "a yearly tribute of a hundred thousand lambs, and an equal number of
rams with the wool": 2Ki 3:4. In the war which the tribe of Reuben waged with
the Hagarites, the former drove away "two hundred and fifty thousand sheep": 1Ch
5:21. At the dedication of the temple, Solomon offered in sacrifice "an hundred
and twenty thousand sheep." At the feast of the passover, Josiah, the king of
Judah, "gave to the people, of the flock, lambs and kids, all for the passover
offerings, for all that were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and
three thousand bullocks: these were of the king's substance": 2Ch 35:7. The ewe
brings forth her young commonly once a year, and in more ungenial climes, seldom
more than one lamb at a time. But twin lambs are as frequent in the oriental
regions, as they are rare in other places; which accounts in a satisfactory
manner for the prodigious numbers which the Syrian shepherd led to the
mountains. This uncommon fruitfulness seems to be intimated by Solomon in his
address to the spouse: --"Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even
shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is
barren among them": So 4:2. --George Paxton (1762-1837), in
"Illustrations of Scripture."
Verses 13-14. Streets, though not incorrect, is an inadequate
translation of the Hebrew word, which means external spaces, streets as opposed
to the inside of houses, fields or country as opposed to a whole town. Here it
includes not only roads but fields. --Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 14. That our oxen may be strong to labour. (Margin:
"able to bear burdens", or, loaded with flesh.) As in the
verse before he had ascribed the fruitfulness of the herds and flocks to God's
goodness, so now the fattening of their oxen, to show that there is nothing
relating to us here which he overlooks. --John Calvin.
Verse 14. That our oxen may be strong to labour. Oxen were
not only used for ploughing, thrashing, and drawing, but also for bearing
burdens; compare 1Ch 12:40, which passage is peculiarly fitted to throw light on
the verse before us. Laden oxen presuppose a rich abundance of produce. --E.W.
Verse 14. That there be no complaining in our streets, etc.
Rather, "and no cry of sorrow" (comp. Isa 24:11 Jer 14:2 46:12) "in our open
places", i.e., the places where the people commonly assembled near the
gate of the city (comp. 2Ch 32:6 Ne 8:1). The word rendered "complaining"
does not occur elsewhere in the psalter. --Speaker's Commentary.
Verse 14. No complaining. No outcries but "Harvest homes."
Verse 15. Happy is that people, etc. We have in the text
happiness with an echo, or ingemination; "happy" and "happy." From
this ingemination arise the parts of the text; the same which are the parts both
of the greater world and the less. As the heaven and earth in the one, and the
body and soul in the other; so are the passages of this Scripture in the two
veins of happiness. We may range them as Isaac does the two parts of his
blessing (Ge 27:28); the vein of civil happiness, in "the fatness of the earth";
and the vein of Divine happiness, in "the fatness of heaven." Or (if you will
have it out of the gospel), here's Martha's portion in the "many things" of the
body; and Mary's better part in the unum necessarium of the soul. To give
it yet more concisely, here's the path of prosperity in outward comforts,
"Happy is that people that is in such a case"; and the path of
piety in comforts spiritual: Yea, happy is that people, whose
God is the LORD. In the handling of the first, without any further subdivision,
I will only show what it is the Psalmist treats of; and that shall be by way of
gradation, in these three particulars. It is De Felicitate; De
Felicitate Populi; De Hac Felicitate Populi: of happiness; of the
people's happiness; of the people's happiness, as in
such a case.
Happiness is the general, and the first: a noble argument,
and worthy of an inspired pen, especially the Psalmist's. Of all other there can
be none better to speak of popular happiness than such a king; nor
of celestial, than such a prophet. Yet I mean not to discourse of
it in the full latitude, but only as it hath a peculiar posture in this psalm,
very various and different from the order of other psalms. In this psalm it is
reserved to the end, as the close of the foregoing meditations. In other
psalms it is set in the front, or first place of all; as in Ps 32:1-11,
in Ps 112:1-10, in Ps 119:1-176, and in the Ps 128:1-6. Again, in this the
Psalmist ends with our happiness and begins with God's. "Blessed be the
LORD my strength." In Ps 41:1-13, contrary, he makes his exordium from
man's; "Blessed is he that considereth the poor"; his conclusion
with God's; "Blessed be the Lend God of Israel." I therefore observe
these variations, because they are helpful to the understanding both of the
essence and splendour of true happiness. To the knowledge of the
essence they help, because they demonstrate how our own happiness is
enfolded in the glory of God, and subordinate unto it. As we cannot begin with
beatus unless we end with benedictus: so we must begin with
benedictus that we may end with beatus. The reason is this,
--because the glory of God is as well the consummation as the
introduction to a Christian's happiness. Therefore as in the other psalm
he begins below and ends upwards; so in this, having begun from above with that
which is principal, "Blessed be the LORD"; he fixes his second thoughts upon the
subordinate, "Blessed, or happy, are the people." He could not proceed in a
better order: he first looks up to God's kingdom, then reflects upon his
own, as not meaning to take blessedness before he had given it.
Verse 15. Happy is that people, that is in such a case, etc.
The first part of this text hath relation to temporal blessings, "Blessed is
the people that be so": the second to spiritual, "Yea, blessed is the
people while God is the LORD." "His left hand is under my head", saith the
spouse (So 2:6); that sustains me from falling into murmuring, or diffidence of
his providence, because out of his left hand he hath given me a competency of
his temporal blessings; "But his right hand doth embrace me", saith the spouse
there; his spiritual blessings fill me, possess me so that no rebellious fire
breaks out within me, no outward temptation breaks in upon me. So also Solomon
says again, "In her left hand is riches and glory" (temporal blessings) "and in
her right hand length of days" (Pr 3:16), all that accomplishes and fulfils the
eternal joys of the saints of heaven. The person to whom Solomon attributes this
right and left hand is Wisdom; and a wise man may reach out his right and left
hand, to receive the blessings of both sorts. And the person whom Solomon
represents by Wisdom there, is Christ himself. So that not only a worldly wise
man, but a Christian wise man may reach out both hands, to both kinds of
blessings, right and left, spiritual and temporal.
Now, for this first blessedness, as no philosophers could ever
tell us amongst the Gentiles what true blessedness was, so no grammarian amongst
the Jews, amongst the Hebrews, could ever tell us what the right signification
of this word is, in which David expresses blessedness here; whether asherei,
which is the word, be a plural noun, and signify beatitudines,
blessednesses in the plural, and intimate thus much, that blessedness
consists not in any one thing, but in a harmony and consent of many; or whether
this asherei be an adverb, and signify beate, and so be an
acclamation, O how happily, how blessedly are such men provided for that are so;
they cannot tell. Whatsoever it be, it is the very first word with which David
begins his Book of Psalms; beatus vir; as the last word of that book is,
laudate Dominum; to show that all that passes between God and man, from
first to last, is blessings from God to man, and praises from man to God; and
that the first degree of blessedness is to find the print of the hand of God
even in his temporal blessednesses, and to praise and glorify him for them in
the right use of them. A man that hath no land to hold by it, nor title to
recover by it, is never the better for finding, or buying, or having a fair
piece of evidence, a fair instrument, fairly written, duly sealed, authentically
testified; a man that hath not the grace of God, and spiritual blessings too, is
never the nearer happiness, for all his abundances of temporal blessedness.
Evidences are evidences to them who have title. Temporal blessings are evidences
to them who have a testimony of God's spiritual blessings in the temporal.
Otherwise, as in his hands who hath no title, it is a suspicious thing to find
evidences, and he will be thought to have embezzled and purloined them, he will
be thought to have forged and counterfeited them, and he will be called to an
account for them, how he came by them, and what he meant to do with them: so to
them who have temporal blessings without spiritual, they are but useless
blessings, they are but counterfeit blessings, they shall not purchase a
minute's peace here, nor a minute's refreshing to the soul hereafter; and there
must be a heavy account made for them, both how they were got, and how they were
employed. --John Donne.
Verse 15. Happy is that people, etc. It is only a narrow and
one sided religion that can see anything out of place in this beatitude of
plenty and peace. If we could rejoice with the psalms fully and without
misgiving, in the temporal blessings bestowed by heaven, we should the more
readily and sincerely enter into the depths of their spiritual experience. And
the secret of this lies in the full comprehension and contemplation of the
beautiful and pleasant as the gift of God. --A.S. Aglen.
Verse 15. Yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
"Yea, happy." This is the best wine, kept to the last, though all
men be not of this opinion. You shall hardly bring a worldly man to think so.
The world is willing enough to misconstrue the order of the words, and to give
the priority to civil happiness, as if it were first in dignity, because 'tis
first named: they like better to hear of the cui sic than the cui
Dominus. To prevent this folly, the Psalmist interposes a caution in this
corrective particle, "yea, happy." It hath the force of a
revocation, whereby he seems to retract what went before, not simply and
absolutely, but in a certain degree, lest worldly men should wrest it to a
misinterpretation. It is not an absolute revocation, but a
comparative; it doth not simply deny that there is some part of popular
happiness in these outward things, but it prefers the spirituals before them:
"Yea", that is, Yea more, or, Yea rather; like that of
Christ in the Gospel, when one in the company blessed the womb that bare him, he
presently replies, "Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and
keep it": Lu 11:28. In like manner, the prophet David, having first premised the
inferior part and outside of a happy condition; fearing lest any should of
purpose mistake his meaning, and, hearing the first proposition, should either
there set up their rest, and not at all take up the second; or if they take it
in, do it preposterously, and give it the precedence before the second,
according to the world's order, Virtus post nummos. In this respect he
puts in the clause of revocation, whereby he shows that these outward things,
though named first, yet they are not to be reputed first. The
particle "Yea" removes them to the second place; it tacitly transposes
the order; and the path of piety, which was locally after, it places
virtually before. 'Tis as if he had said, Did I call them happy
who are in such a case? Nay, miserable are they if they be only in such a case:
the temporal part cannot make them so without the spiritual. Admit the windows
of the visible heaven were opened, and all outward blessings poured down upon
us; admit we did perfectly enjoy whatsoever the vastness of the earth contains
in it; tell me, What will it profit to gain all and lose God? If the earth be
bestowed upon us, and not heaven; or the material heaven be opened, and not the
beatifical; or the whole world made ours, and God not ours; we do not arrive at
happiness. All that is in the first proposition is nothing unless this be added,
"Yea, happy are the people which have the Lord for their God."
Thrice happy nations, where with look benign
Thine aspect bends; beneath thy smile divine
The fields are with increasing harvests crown'd,
The flocks grow fast, and plenty reigns around,
Nor sire, nor infant son, black death shall crave,
Till ripe with age they drop into the grave;
Nor fell suspicion, nor relentless care,
Nor peace destroying discord enter there,
But friends and brothers, wives and sisters, join
The feast in concord and in love divine. --Callimachus.
Verse 15. David having prayed for many temporal blessings in
the behalf of the people from Ps 144:12-15, at last concludes, Blessed are
the people that are in such a case; but presently he checks and corrects
himself, and eats, as it were, his own words, but rather, happy is that
people whose God is the Lord. The Syriac rendereth it question wise, "Is not
the people (happy) that is in such a case?" The answer is, "No", except
they have God to boot: Ps 146:5. Nothing can make that man truly miserable that
hath God for his portion, and nothing can make that man truly happy that wants
God for his portion. God is the author of all true happiness; he is the donor of
all true happiness; he is the maintainer of all true happiness, and he is the
centre of all true happiness; and, therefore, he that hath him for his God, and
for his portion, is the only happy man in the world. --Thomas Brooks.
Verse 15. Whose God is JEHOVAH. A word or name well known to
us English, by our translators now often retaining that name in the mention of
God in our English Bible, and therefore we shall do well to retain it.
Lord was a lower word, in common acceptation, than God. But
JEHOVAH is a higher name than either, and more peculiar, incommunicable, and
comprehensive. Ex 6:3: "I appeared" (saith the Lord) "unto Abraham, unto Isaac,
and unto Jacob, by the name God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH
was I not known to them."
To have God to be our Jehovah is the insurance of
happiness to us. For of many, observe but these two things in the name
Jehovah: First, God's absolute independency --that he is of himself
omnipotent, Ex 3:14: "And God said, I AM THAT I AM." Secondly, God's
faithfulness, that he cannot but be as good as his word, Ex 6:2-4, 6:
"And I have also established my covenant with them; wherefore say unto the
children of Israel, I am JEHOVAH (so in the Hebrew), and I will bring you out
from under the burdens of the Egyptians." So that this name is our
security of God's performance. Examine we therefore our bonds, and bills,
that is, his promises to us; behold, they are all the promises of Jehovah; they
must stand good, for they bear his name; they must reflect his name, and promote
both our good and God's grand design. --Nathanael Homes, 1678.
With this prayer of Jehovah's anointed One end the prayers of
the Book of Psalms. The remaining six psalms consist exclusively of praise and
high Hallelujahs. --Lord Congleton, in "The Psalms: a new Version, with
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
1. Two things needful in our holy war--strength and skill; for
the hands and the fingers, for the difficult and the delicate.
2. In what way God supplies us with both. He is the one, and
teaches the other. Impartation and Instruction. The teaching comes by
illumination, experience, distinct guidance.
Verse 1. Things not to be forgotten by the Christian
1. The true source of his strength: "The Lord my strength." If
a) He will not be found trusting in self.
b) He will never be wanting in courage.
c) He will always anticipate victory.
d) He will never be worsted in the conflict.
2. His constant need of instruction, and the Teacher who never
forgets him: "Which teacheth my hands", etc. If remembered,
a) He will gird on the armour provided and commended by God.
b) He will select for his weapon the sword of the Spirit.
c) He will study the divinely given text book of military
tactics and discipline, that he may learn (1) the devices of the enemy; (2)
methods of attack and defence; (3) how to bear himself in the thick of the
d) He will wait upon God for understanding.
3. The praise due to God, both for victories won and skill
displayed: "Blessed be", etc. If remembered,
a) He will wear his honours humbly.
b) Glorify the honour of his King.
c) Twice taste the sweets of victory in the happiness of
Verse 2. Double flowers.
1. Good preserved from evil: "goodness" and "fortress."
2. Safety enlarged into liberty: "tower", "deliverer."
3. Security attended with rest: "shield, in whom I trust."
4. Sufficiency to maintain superiority: "subdueth my people
under me." View God as working all.
Verse 2. A Group of Titles. Notice,
1. Which comes first. "Goodness." Heb. "Mercy."
a) It is right and natural that a saved sinner should make the
most of "mercy", and place it in the foreground.
b) Mercy is the ground and reason of the other titles named.
For whatever God is to us, it is a special manifestation of his mercy.
c) It is a good thing to see a believer ripe in experience
making mercy the leading note in his song of praise.
2. Which comes last: "He in whom I trust." It suggests,
a) That what God is makes him worthy of trust.
b) That meditation upon what he is strengthens our trust.
3. What peculiar force the word "my" gives to each. It makes
a) A record of experience.
b) An ascription of praise.
c) A blessed boasting.
d) An incentive, enough to set others longing. --J.F.
Verse 3. A note of interrogation, exclamation, and
Verse 3. The question,
1. Denies any right in man to claim the regard of God.
2. Asserts the great honour God has nevertheless put upon him.
3. Suggests that the true reason of God's generous dealings is
the graciousness of his own heart.
4. Implies the becomingness of gratitude and humility.
5. Encourages the most unworthy to put their confidence in God.
1. What was man as he came from the hands of his Creator?
d) Holy and happy.
2. What is man in his present condition?
d) Miserable, and helpless in his misery.
3. What is man when he has believed in Christ?
a) Restored to a right relation to God.
b) Restored to a right disposition toward God.
c) He enjoys the influences of the Holy Spirit.
d) He is in process of preparation for the heavenly world.
4. What shall man be when he is admitted into heaven?
a) Free from sin and sorrow.
b) Advanced to the perfection of his nature.
c) Associated with angels.
d) Near to his Saviour and his God.
--George Brooks, in "The Homiletic Commentary," 1879.
Verse 3. Worthless man much regarded by the mighty God.
Sermon by Ebenezer Erskine. Works 3, pp. 141-162.
Verse 3. It is a wonder above all wonders, that ever the
great God should make such account of such a thing as man.
1. It will appear if you consider what a great God the Lord is.
2. What a poor thing man is.
3. What a great account the great God hath of this poor thing,
Verse 4. He is nothing, he pretends to be something, he is
soon gone, he ends in nothing as to this life; yet there is a light somewhere.
Verse 4. The Shadow World.
1. Our lives are like shadows.
2. But God's light casts these shadows. Our being is of God.
The brevity and mystery of life are a part of providence.
3. The destiny of the shadows; eternal night; or eternal light.
Verse 4. The brevity of our earthly life.
1. A profitable subject for meditation.
2. A rebuke to those who provide for this life alone.
3. A trumpet call to prepare for eternity.
4. An incentive to the Christian to make the best of this life
for the glory of God. --J.F.
Verse 5. Condescension, visitation, contact, and
Verses 7-8, 11. Repetitions, not vain. Repetitions in prayer
are vain when they result from form, thoughtlessness, or superstition; but not,
1. When they are the utterance of genuine fervour.
2. When the danger prayed against is imminent.
3. When the fear which prompts the prayer is urgent.
4. When the repetition is prompted by a new motive, Ps 144:7-8;
by God's condescension, Ps 144:3,11; by God's former deliverance, Ps 144:10; and
by the results which will flow from the answer, Ps 144:12-14. --C.A.D.
Verse 8. What is "a right hand of falsehood"? Ask the
hypocrite, the schemer, the man of false doctrine, the boaster, the slanderer,
the man who forgets his promise, the apostate.
Verse 9. For God's Ear.
1. The Singer. A grateful heart.
2. The Song. Full of Praise. New.
3. The Accompaniment: "Psaltery." Helps to devotion. Give God
4. The Auditor and Object of the eulogium: "Thee, O God."
Verse 11. Persons from whom it is a mercy to escape: those
alien to God, vain in conversation, false in deed.
Verses 11-12. The Nature and Necessity of early Piety. A
Sermon preached to a Society of Young People, at Willingham, Cambridgeshire, on
the First Day of the Year 1772. --Robert Robinson.
Verse 12. Youth attended with development, stability,
usefulness, and spiritual health.
Verse 12. (first clause). To Young Men. Consider,
1. What is desired on your behalf: "Sons may be as plants",
(a) That you may be respected and valued.
(b) That you may have settled principles and virtues. Plants are
not blown hither and thither.
(c) That you may be vigorous and strong in moral power.
2. What is requisite on your part to the accomplishment of this
(a) A good rooting in Christ.
(b) Constant nourishment from the word of God.
(c) The dews of divine grace obtained by prayer.
(d) A resolute tendency within to answer the God appointed
purpose of your existence. --J.F.
Verse 12. (second clause). To Young Women. Consider,
1. The important position you may occupy in the social fabric:
(a) The moral and religious tone of society is determined more
by your character and influence than by those of men.
(b) The complexion of home life will be a reflex of your conduct
and character, either as daughters, sisters, or wives.
(c) The moulding of the character of the next generation,
remember, begins with the mother's influence.
(d) Let these facts weigh with you as a motive in seeking the
grace of God, without which you can never fulfil your mission worthily.
2. The beauty which ought to belong to you in your position.
"Polished after", etc. The beauty of,
(a) Heart purity: "The King's daughter is all glorious within."
(b) A noble and modest conduct: "wrought gold", no imitation;
(c) Gracious and gentle demeanour.
3. How both the right position and right beauty are obtained.
(a) By yielding yourselves to God.
(b) By Christ dwelling in your heart.
(c) By becoming living stones and polished stones under the
workmanship of the Holy Spirit. --J.F.
Verse 14. A prayer for our ministers, and for the security,
unity, and happiness of the church.
Verse 14. The prosperous Church. There--
1. Labour is cheerfully performed.
2. The enemy is kept without the gate.
3. There are few or no departures.
4. Faith and content silence complaint.
5. Pray that such may be our case as a church. --W.B.H.
Verse 15. The peculiar happiness of those whose God is the