Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. MICHTAM OF DAVID. This is usually
understood to mean THE GOLDEN PSALM, and such a title is most
appropriate, for the matter is as the most fine gold. Ainsworth calls it
"David's jewel, or notable song." Dr. Hawker, who is always alive to
passages full of savour, devoutly cries, "Some have rendered it
precious, others golden, and others, precious jewel; and as the
Holy Ghost, by the apostles Peter and Paul, hath shown us that it is all about
the Lord Jesus Christ, what is here said of him is precious, is golden, is a
jewel indeed!" We have not met with the term Michtam before, but if
spared to write upon Psalms 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60, we shall see it again, and
shall observe that like the present these psalms, although they begin with
prayer, and imply trouble, abound in holy confidence and close with songs of
assurance as to ultimate safety and joy. Dr. Alexander, whose notes are
peculiarly valuable, thinks that the word is most probably a simple derivative
of a word signifying to hide, and signifies a secret or mystery, and
indicates the depth of doctrinal and spiritual import in these sacred
compositions. If this be the true interpretation it well accords with the other,
and when the two are put together, they make up a name which every reader will
remember, and which will bring the precious subject at once to mind. THE
PSALM OF THE PRECIOUS SECRET.
SUBJECT. We are not left to human interpreters for the key to this golden
mystery, for, speaking by the Holy Ghost, Peter tells us, "David speaketh
concerning HIM." (Acts 2:25.) Further on in his memorable sermon he
said, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch
David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this
day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to
him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up
Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection
of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see
corruption." (Acts 2:29-31.) Nor is this our only guide, for the apostle
Paul, led by the same infallible inspiration, quotes from this psalm, and
testifies that David wrote of the man through whom is preached unto us the
forgiveness of sins. (Acts 13:35-38.) It has been the usual plan of commentators
to apply the psalm both to David, to the saints, and to the Lord Jesus, but we
will venture to believe that in it "Christ is all;" since in
the ninth and tenth verses, like the apostles on the mount, we can see "no
man but Jesus only."
DIVISION. The whole is so compact that it is difficult to draw sharp lines
of division. It may suffice to note our Lord's prayer of faith, verse 1, avowal
of faith in Jehovah alone, 2, 3, 4, 5, the contentment of his faith in the
present, 6, 7, and the joyous confidence of his faith for the future (8, 11).
Verse 1. "Preserve
me," keep, or save me, or as Horsley thinks, "guard me,"
even as bodyguards surround their monarch, or as shepherds protect their flocks.
Tempted in all points like as we are, the manhood of Jesus needed to be
preserved from the power of evil; and though in itself pure, the Lord Jesus did
not confide in that purity of nature, but as an example to his followers, looked
to the Lord, his God, for preservation. One of the great names of God is
"the Preserver of men," (Job 7:20,) and this gracious office the
Father exercised towards our Mediator and Representative. It had been promised
to the Lord Jesus in express words, that he should be preserved, Isaiah 49:7, 8.
"Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to him whom
man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, I will preserve thee, and give
thee for a covenant of the people." This promise was to the letter
fulfilled, both by providential deliverance and sustaining power, in the case of
our Lord. Being preserved himself, he is able to restore the preserved of
Israel, for we are "preserved in Christ Jesus and called." As one with
him, the elect were preserved in his preservation, and we may view this
mediatorial supplication as the petition of the Great High Priest for all those
who are in him. The intercession recorded in John 17 is but an amplification of
this cry, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast
given me, that they may be one, as we are." When he says,
"preserve me," he means his members, his mystical body, himself, and
all in him. But while we rejoice in the fact that the Lord Jesus used this
prayer for his members, we must not forget that he employed it most surely for
himself; he had so emptied himself, and so truly taken upon him the form of a
servant, that as man he needed divine keeping even as we do, and often cried
unto the strong for strength. Frequently on the mountain-top he breathed forth
this desire, and on one occasion in almost the same words, he publicly prayed,
"Father, save me from this hour." (John 12:27.) If Jesus looked out of
himself for protection, how much more must we, his erring followers, do so! "O
God." The word for God here used is EL (Heb.), by which name the Lord
Jesus, when under a sense of great weakness, as for instance when upon the
cross, was wont to address the Mighty God, the Omnipotent Helper of his people.
We, too, may turn to El, the Omnipotent One, in all hours of peril, with
the confidence that he who heard the strong crying and tears of our faithful
High Priest, is both able and willing to bless us in him. It is well to study
the name and character of God, so that in our straits we may know how and by
what title to address our Father who is in heaven.
in thee do I put my trust," or, I have taken shelter in thee. As
chickens run beneath the hen, so do I betake myself to thee. Thou art my great
overshadowing Protector, and I have taken refuge beneath thy strength. This is a
potent argument in pleading, and our Lord knew not only how to use it
with God, but how to yield to its power when wielded by others upon himself.
"According to thy faith be it done unto thee," is a great rule of
heaven in dispensing favour, and when we can sincerely declare that we exercise
faith in the Mighty God with regard to the mercy which we seek, we may rest
assured that our plea will prevail. Faith, like the sword of Saul, never returns
empty; it overcomes heaven when held in the hand of prayer. As the Saviour
prayed, so let us pray, and as he became more than a conqueror, so shall we also
through him; let us when buffeted by storms right bravely cry to the Lord as he
did, "in thee do I put my trust."
Verse 2. "O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my
Lord." In his inmost heart the Lord Jesus bowed himself to do service
to his Heavenly Father, and before the throne of Jehovah his soul vowed
allegiance to the Lord for our sakes. We are like him when our soul, truly and
constantly in the presence of the heart-searching God, declares her full consent
to the rule and government of the Infinite Jehovah, saying, "Thou art my
Lord." To avow this with the lip is little, but for the soul to say
it, especially in times of trial, is a gracious evidence of spiritual health; to
profess it before men is a small matter, but to declare it before Jehovah
himself is of far more consequence. This sentence may also be viewed as the
utterance of appropriating faith, laying hold upon the Lord by personal covenant
and enjoyment; in this sense may it be our daily song in the house of our
goodness extendeth not to thee." The work of our Lord Jesus was not
needful on account of any necessity in the Divine Being. Jehovah would have been
inconceivably glorious had the human race perished, and had no atonement been
offered. Although the life-work and death-agony of the Son did reflect
unparalleled lustre upon every attribute of God, yet the Most Blessed and
Infinitely Happy God stood in no need of the obedience and death of his Son; it
was for our sakes that the work of redemption was undertaken, and not because of
any lack or want on the part of the Most High. How modestly does the Saviour
here estimate his own goodness! What overwhelming reasons have we for imitating
his humility! "If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what
receiveth he of thine hand?" (Job 35:7.)
Verse 3. "But to the saints that are in the earth." These
sanctified ones, although still upon the earth, partake of the results of Jesus'
mediatorial work, and by his goodness are made what they are. The peculiar
people, zealous for good works, and hallowed to sacred service, are arrayed in
the Saviour's righteousness and washed in his blood, and so receive of the
goodness treasured up in him; these are the persons who are profited by the work
of the man Christ Jesus; but that work added nothing to the nature, virtue, or
happiness of God, who is blessed for evermore. How much more forcibly is this
true of us, poor unworthy servants not fit to be mentioned in comparison with
the faithful Son of God! Our hope must ever be that haply some poor child of God
may be served by us, for the Great Father can never need our aid. Well may we
sing the verses of Dr. Watts:
"Oft have my heart and tongue confess'd
How empty and how poor I am;
My praise can never make thee blest,
Nor add new glories to thy name.
Yet, Lord, thy saints on earth may reap
Some profit by the good we do;
These are the company I keep,
These are the choicest friends I know."
believers are God's receivers, and have a warrant from the Crown to receive the
revenue of our offerings in the King's name. Saints departed we cannot bless;
even prayer for them is of no service; but while they are here we should
practically prove our love to them, even as our Master did, for they are the
excellent of the earth. Despite their infirmities, their Lord thinks highly
of them, and reckons them to be as nobles among men. The title of "His
Excellency" more properly belongs to the meanest saint than to the greatest
governor. The true aristocracy are believers in Jesus. They are the only Right
Honourables. Stars and garters are poor distinctions compared with the graces of
the Spirit. He who knows them best says of them, "in whom is all my
delight." They are his Hephzibah and his land Beulah, and before all
worlds his delights were with these chosen sons of men. Their own opinion of
themselves is far other than their Beloved's opinion of them; they count
themselves to be less than nothing, yet he makes much of them, and sets his
heart towards them. What wonders the eyes of Divine Love can see where the Hands
of Infinite Power have been graciously at work. It was this quicksighted
affection which led Jesus to see in us a recompense for all his agony, and
sustained him under all his sufferings by the joy of redeeming us from going
down into the pit.
Verse 4. The same loving heart which opens towards the chosen people is fast
closed against those who continue in their rebellion against God. Jesus hates
all wickedness, and especially the high crime of idolatry. The text while it
shows our Lord's abhorrence of sin, shows also the sinner's greediness after it.
Professed believers are often slow towards the true Lord, but sinners "hasten
after another god." They run like madmen where we creep like snails.
Let their zeal rebuke our tardiness. Yet theirs is a case in which the more they
haste the worse they speed, for their sorrows are multiplied by their
diligence in multiplying their sins. Matthew Henry pithily says, "They that
multiply gods multiply griefs to themselves; for whosoever thinks one god too
little, will find two too many, and yet hundreds not enough." The cruelties
and hardships which men endure for their false gods is wonderful to contemplate;
our missionary reports are a noteworthy comment on this passage; but perhaps our
own experience is an equally vivid exposition; for when we have given our heart
to idols, sooner or later we have had to smart for it. Near the roots of our
self-love all our sorrows lie, and when that idol is overthrown, the sting is
gone from grief. Moses broke the golden calf and ground it to powder, and cast
it into the water of which he made Israel to drink, and so shall our cherished
idols become bitter portions for us, unless we at once forsake them. Our Lord
had no selfishness; he served but one Lord, and served him only. As for those
who turn aside from Jehovah, he was separate from them, bearing their reproach
without the camp. Sin and the Saviour had no communion. He came to destroy, not
to patronize or be allied with the works of the devil. Hence he refused the
testimony of unclean spirits as to his divinity, for in nothing would he have
fellowship with darkness. We should be careful above measure not to connect
ourselves in the remotest degree with falsehood in religion; even the most
solemn of Popish rites we must abhor. "Their drink offerings of blood
will I not offer." The old proverb says, "It is not safe to eat at
the devil's mess, though the spoon be never so long." The mere mentioning
of ill names it were well to avoid,--"nor take up their names into my
lips." If we allow poison upon the lip, it may ere long penetrate to
the inwards, and it is well to keep out of the mouth that which we would shut
out from the heart. If the church would enjoy union with Christ, she must break
all the bonds of impiety, and keep herself pure from all the pollutions of
carnal will-worship, which now pollute the service of God. Some professors are
guilty of great sin in remaining in the communion of Popish churches, where God
is as much dishonoured as in Rome herself, only in a more crafty manner.
Verse 5. "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my
cup." With what confidence and bounding joy does Jesus turn to Jehovah,
whom his soul possessed and delighted in! Content beyond measure with his
portion in the Lord his God, he had not a single desire with which to hunt after
other gods; his cup was full, and his heart was full too; even in his sorest
sorrows he still laid hold with both his hands upon his Father, crying, "My
God, my God;" he had not so much as a thought of falling down to worship
the prince of this world, although tempted with an "all these will I give
thee." We, too, can make our boast in the Lord; he is the meat and the
drink of our souls. He is our portion, supplying all our necessities, and our
cup yielding royal luxuries; our cup in this life, and our inheritance in the
life to come. As children of the Father who is in heaven, we inherit, by virtue
of our joint heirship with Jesus, all the riches of the covenant of grace; and
the portion which falls to us sets upon our table the bread of heaven and the
new wine of the kingdom. Who would not be satisfied with such dainty diet? Our
shallow cup of sorrow we may well drain with resignation, since the deep cup of
love stands side by side with it, and will never be empty. "Thou
maintainest my lot." Some tenants have a covenant in their leases that
they themselves shall maintain and uphold, but in our case Jehovah himself
maintains our lot. Our Lord Jesus delighted in this truth, that the Father was
on his side, and would maintain his right against all the wrongs of men. He knew
that his elect would be reserved for him, and that almighty power would preserve
them as his lot and reward for ever. Let us also be glad, because the Judge of
all the earth will vindicate our righteous cause.
Verse 6. Jesus found the way of obedience to lead into "pleasant
places." Notwithstanding all the sorrows which marred his countenance,
he exclaimed, "Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I
delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." It may
seem strange, but while no other man was ever so thoroughly acquainted with
grief, it is our belief that no other man ever experienced so much joy and
delight in service, for no other served so faithfully and with such great
results in view as his recompense of reward. The joy which was set before him
must have sent some of its beams of splendour a-down the rugged places where he
endured the cross, despising the shame, and must have made them in some respects
pleasant places to the generous heart of the Redeemer. At any rate, we know that
Jesus was well content with the blood-bought portion which the lines of electing
love marked off as his spoil with the strong and his portion with the great.
Therein he solaced himself on earth, and delights himself in heaven; and he asks
no more "GOODLY HERITAGE" than that his own beloved may be with him
where he is and behold his glory. All the saints can use the language of this
verse, and the more thoroughly they can enter into its contented, grateful,
joyful spirit the better for themselves, and the more glorious to their God. Our
Lord was poorer than we are, for he had not where to lay his head, and yet when
he mentioned his poverty he never used a word of murmuring; discontented spirits
are as unlike Jesus as the croaking raven is unlike the cooing dove. Martyrs
have been happy in dungeons. "From the delectable orchard of the Leonine
prison the Italian martyr dated his letter, and the presence of God made the
gridiron of Laurence pleasant to him." Mr. Greenham was bold enough to say,
"They never felt God's love, or tasted forgiveness of sin, who are
discontented." Some divines think that discontent was the first sin, the
rock which wrecked our race in paradise; certainly there can be no paradise
where this evil spirit has power, its slime will poison all the flowers of the
Verse 7. "I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel."
Praise as well as prayer was presented to the Father by our Lord Jesus, and we
are not truly his followers unless our resolve be, "I will bless the
Lord." Jesus is called Wonderful, Counsellor, but as man he spake not of
himself, but as his Father had taught him. Read in confirmation of this, John
7:16; 8:28; and 12:49, 50; and the prophecy concerning him in Isaiah 11:2, 3. It
was our Redeemer's wont to repair to his Father for direction, and having
received it, he blessed him for giving him counsel. It would be well for us if
we would follow his example of lowliness, cease from trusting in our own
understanding, and seek to be guided by the Spirit of God. "My reins
also instruct me in the night seasons." By the reins understand the
inner man, the affections and feelings. The communion of the soul with God
brings to it an inner spiritual wisdom which in still seasons is revealed to
itself. Our Redeemer spent many nights alone upon the mountain, and we may
readily conceive that together with his fellowship with heaven, he carried on a
profitable commerce with himself; reviewing his experience, forecasting his
work, and considering his position. Great generals fight their battles in their
own mind long before the trumpet sounds, and so did our Lord win our battle on
his knees before he gained it on the cross. It is a gracious habit after taking
counsel from above to take counsel within. Wise men see more with their eyes
shut by night than fools can see by day with their eyes open. He who learns from
God and so gets the seed, will soon find wisdom within himself growing in the
garden of his soul; "Thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee, saying,
This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn
to the left." The night season which the sinner chooses for his sins is the
hallowed hour of quiet when believers hear the soft still voices of heaven, and
of the heavenly life within themselves.
Verse 8. The fear of death at one time cast its dark shadow over the soul of
the Redeemer, and we read that, "he was heard in that he feared."
There appeared unto him an angel, strengthening him; perhaps the heavenly
messenger reassured him of his glorious resurrection as his people's surety, and
of the eternal joy into which he should admit the flock redeemed by blood. Then
hope shone full upon our Lord's soul, and, as recorded in these verses, he
surveyed the future with holy confidence because he had a continued eye to
Jehovah, and enjoyed his perpetual presence. He felt that, thus sustained, he
could never be driven from his life's grand design; nor was he, for he stayed
not his hand till he could say, "It is finished." What an infinite
mercy was this for us! In this immovableness, caused by simple faith in the
divine help, Jesus is to be viewed as our exemplar; to recognize the presence of
the Lord is the duty of every believer; "I have set the Lord always
before me;" and to trust the Lord as our champion and guard is
the privilege of every saint; "because he is at my right hand, I shall
not be moved." The apostle translates this passage, "I foresaw the
Lord always before my face;" Acts 2:25; the eye of Jesus' faith could
discern beforehand the continuance of divine support to his suffering Son, in
such a degree that he should never be moved from the accomplishment of his
purpose of redeeming his people. By the power of God at his right hand he
foresaw that he should smite through all who rose up against him, and on that
power he placed the firmest reliance.
Verse 9. He clearly foresaw that he must die, for he speaks of his flesh
resting, and of his soul in the abode of separate spirits; death was full before
his face, or he would not have mentioned corruption; but such was his devout
reliance upon his God, that he sang over the tomb, and rejoiced in vision of the
sepulchre. He knew that the visit of his soul to Sheol, or the invisible world
of disembodied spirits, would be a very short one, and that his body in a very
brief space would leave the grave, uninjured by its sojourn there; all this made
him say, "my heart is glad," and moved his tongue, the glory
of his frame, to rejoice in God, the strength of his salvation. Oh, for
such holy faith in the prospect of trial and of death! It is the work of faith,
not merely to create a peace which passeth all understanding, but to fill the
heart full of gladness until the tongue, which, as the organ of an intelligent
creature, is our glory, bursts forth in notes of harmonious praise. Faith gives
us living joy, and bestows dying rest. "My flesh also shall rest in
Verse 10. Our Lord Jesus was not disappointed in his hope. He declared his
Father's faithfulness in the words, "thou wilt not leave my soul in
hell," and that faithfulness was proven on the resurrection morning.
Among the departed and disembodied Jesus was not left; he had believed in the
resurrection, and he received it on the third day, when his body rose in
glorious life, according as he had said in joyous confidence, "neither
wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Into the outer
prison of the grave his body might go, but into the inner prison of corruption
he could not enter. He who in soul and body was pre-eminently God's "Holy
One," was loosed from the pains of death, because it was not possible that
he should be holden of it. This is noble encouragement to all the saints; die
they must, but rise they shall, and though in their case they shall see
corruption, yet they shall rise to everlasting life. Christ's resurrection is
the cause, the earnest, the guarantee, and the emblem of the rising of all his
people. Let them, therefore, go to their graves as to their beds, resting their
flesh among the clods as they now do upon their couches.
"Since Jesus is mine, I'll not fear undressing,
But gladly put off these garments of clay;
To die in the Lord is a covenant blessing,
Since Jesus to glory through death led the way."
will that man be who, when the Philistines of death invade his soul, shall find
that, like Saul, he is forsaken of God; but blessed is he who has the Lord at
his right hand, for he shall fear no ill, but shall look forward to an eternity
Verse 11. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life." To Jesus
first this way was shown, for he is the first begotten from the dead, the
first-born of every creature. He himself opened up the way through his own
flesh, and then trod it as the forerunner of his own redeemed. The thought of
being made the path of life to his people, gladdened the soul of Jesus. "In
thy presence is fulness of joy." Christ being raised from the dead
ascended into glory, to dwell in constant nearness to God, where joy is at its
full for ever: the foresight of this urged him onward in his glorious but
grievous toil. To bring his chosen to eternal happiness was the high ambition
which inspired him, and made him wade through a sea of blood. O God, when a
worldling's mirth has all expired, for ever with Jesus may we dwell "at
thy right hand," where "there are pleasures for evermore;"
and meanwhile, may we have an earnest by tasting thy love below. Trapp's note on
the heavenly verse which closes the Psalm is a sweet morsel, which may serve for
a contemplation, and yield a foretaste of our inheritance. He writes, "Here
is as much said as can be, but words are too weak to utter it. For quality
there is in heaven joy and pleasures; for quantity, a fulness, a torrent
whereat they drink without let or loathing; for constancy, it is at God's
right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of his hand;
it is a constant happiness without intermission: and for perpetuity it is
for evermore. Heaven's joys are without measure, mixture, or end."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
There is a diversity of opinion as to the meaning of the title of this Psalm. It
is called "Michtam of David," but Michtam is the Hebrew
word untranslated--the Hebrew word in English letters--and its signification
is involved in obscurity. According to some, it is derived from a verb which
means to hide, and denotes a mystery or secret. Those who adopt this
view, regard the title as indicating a depth of doctrinal and spiritual import
in the Psalm, which neither the writer nor any of his contemporaries had
fathomed. According to others, it is derived from a verb which means to cut,
to grave, to write, and denotes simply a writing of David. With this view
agree the Chaldee and Septuagint versions, the former translating it, "a
straight sculpture of David:" and the latter, "an inscription upon a
pillar to David." Others again, look upon "Michtam," as
being derived from a noun which means gold, and they understand it as denoting a
golden Psalm--a Psalm of surpassing excellence, and worthy of being written in
letters of gold. This was the opinion of our translators, and hence they have
rendered it on the margin--"A golden Psalm of David." The
works of the most excellent Arabian poets were called golden, because they were
written in letters of gold; and this golden song may have been written and hung
up in some conspicuous part of the Temple. Many other interpretations have been
given of this term, but at this distance of time, we can only regard it as
representing some unassignable peculiarity of the composition.--James Frame,
Title. Such are the riches of this Psalm, that some have been led to
think the obscure title, "Michtam," has been prefixed to it on
account of its golden stores. For (Heb.) is used of the "gold of
Ophir" (e.g., Psalm 45:9), and (Heb.) might be a derivative from that root.
But as there is a group of five other Psalms (namely, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60), that
bear this title, whose subject matter is various, but which all end in a tone
of triumph, it has been suggested that the Septuagint may be nearly right in
their Sphlografia, as if "A Psalm to be hung up or inscribed on a
pillar to commemorate victory." It is, however, more likely still that the
term "Michtam" (like "Maschil"), is a musical
term, whose real meaning and use we have lost, and may recover only when the
ransomed house of Israel return home with songs. Meanwhile, the subject matter
of this Psalm itself is very clearly this--the righteous one's satisfaction
with his lot.--Andrew A. Bonar.
Whole Psalm. Allow that in verse ten it is clear that our Lord is in
this Psalm, yet the application of every verse to Jesus in Gethsemane
appears to be farfetched, and inaccurate. How verse nine could suit the agony
and bloody sweat, it is hard to conceive, and equally so it is with regard to
verse six. The "cup" of verse five is so direct a contrast to that cup
concerning which Jesus prayed in anguish of spirit, that it cannot be a
reference to it. Yet we think it right to add, that Mr. James Frame has written
a very valuable work on this Psalm, entitled "Christ in Gethsemane,"
and he has supported his theory by the opinion of many of the ancients. He says,
"All the distinguished interpreters of ancient days, such as Eusebius,
Jerome, and Augustine, explain the Psalm as referring to the Messiah, in his
passion and his victory over death and the grave, including his subsequent
exaltation to the right hand of God;" and, in a foot note he gives the
following quotations: Jerome.--"The Psalm pertains to Christ, who
speaks in it. . . . . It is the voice of our King, which he utters in the human
nature that he had assumed, but without detracting from his divine nature. . . .
. The Psalm pertains to his passion." Augustine.--"Our King
speaks in this Psalm in the person of the human nature that he assumed, at the
time of his passion, the royal title inscribed will show itself
conspicuous."--C. H. S.
Whole Psalm. The present Psalm is connected in thought and language
with the foregoing, and linked on to the following Psalm by catchwords. It is
entitled in the Syriac and Arabic versions, a Psalm on the Election of the
Church, and on the Resurrection of Christ."--Christopher Wordsworth,
Verse 1. "Preserve me, O God." Here David desireth
not deliverance from any special trouble, but generally prayeth to be fenced and
defended continually by the providence of God, wishing that the Lord would
continue his mercy towards him unto the end; whereby he foresaw it was as
needfull for him to be safeguarded by God, his protection in the end, as at the
time present; as also how he made no less account of it in his prosperity than
in adversity. So that the man of God still feared his infirmity, and therefore
acknowledgeth himself ever to stand in need of God his help. And here is a sure
and undoubted mark of the child of God, when a man shall have as great a care to
continue and grow in well-doing, as to begin; and this praying for the gift of
final perseverance is a special note of the child of God. This holy jealousy of
the man of God made him so desire to be preserved at all times, in all estates,
both in soul and body.--Richard Greenham, 1531-1591.
Verse 1. "For in thee do I put my trust." Here the
prophet setteth down the cause why he prayeth to God; whereby he declareth, that
none can truly call upon God unless they believe. Romans 10:14. "How shall
they call on him in whom they have not believed?" In regard whereof as he
prayeth to God to be his Saviour, so he is fully assured that God will be his
Saviour. If, then, without faith we cannot truly call upon God, the men of this
world rather prate like parrots than pray like Christians, at what time they
utter these words; for that they trust not in God they declare both by
neglecting the lawful means, and also in using unlawful means. Some we see trust
in friends; some shoulder out, as they think, the cross with their goods; some
fence themselves with authority; others bathe and baste themselves in pleasure
to put the evil day far from them; others make flesh their arm; and others make
the wedge of gold their confidence; and these men when they seek for help at the
Lord, mean in their hearts to find it in their friends, good authority and
pleasure, howsoever for fear, they dare not say this outwardly. Again, here we
are to observe under what shelter we may harbour ourselves in the showers of
adversity, even under the protection of the Almighty. And why? "Whoso
dwelleth in the secret of the Most High, shall abide in the shadow of the
Almighty." And here in effect is showed, that whosoever putteth his trust
in God shall be preserved; otherwise the prophet's reason here had not been
good. Besides, we see he pleadeth not by merit, but sueth by faith, teaching us
that if we come with like faith, we may obtain the like deliverance.--Richard
Verse 2. "O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my
Lord." I wish I could have heard what you said to yourself when these
words were first mentioned. I believe I could guess the language of some of you.
When you heard me repeat these words, "O my soul, thou hast said unto
the Lord, Thou art my Lord," you thought, "I have never said
anything to the Lord, unless when I cried out, Depart from me, for I desire not
the knowledge of thy ways." Has not something like this passed in your
minds? I will try again. When I first mentioned the text, "Let me
consider," you secretly said, "I believe that I did once say to the
Lord, Thou art my Lord; but it was so long ago, that I had almost forgotten it;
but I suppose that it must have been at such a time when I was in trouble. I had
met with disappointments in the world; and then, perhaps, I cried, Thou art my
portion, O Lord. Or, perhaps, when I was under serious impressions, in the hurry
of my spirits, I might look up to God and say, Thou art my Lord. But, whatever I
could or did formerly say, I am certain that I cannot say it at present."
Have none of you thought in this manner? I will hazard one conjecture more; and
I doubt not but in this case I shall guess rightly. When I repeated these words,
"O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord;" "So
have I," thought one; "So have I," thought another; I have said
it often, but I said it with peculiar solemnity and pleasure, when, in an act of
humble devotion, I lately threw my ransomed, rescued, grateful soul at his feet
and cried, "O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant; thou hast
loosed my bonds." The very recollection of it is pleasant; and I shall now
have an opportunity of renewing my vows, and hope to recover something of the
divine serenity and joy which I at that time experienced."--Samuel
Lavington's Sermons, 1810.
Verse 2. "Thou art my Lord." He acknowledgeth the
Lord Jehovah; but he seeth him not as it were then afar off, but drawing near
unto him, he sweetly embraceth him; which thing is proper unto faith, and to
that particular applying which we say to be in faith.--Robert Rollock, 1600.
Verse 2. "My goodness extendeth not to thee." I think
the words should be understood of what the Messiah was doing for men. My
goodness, (Heb.) tobhathi, "my bounty" is not to thee. What I
am doing can add nothing to thy divinity; thou art not providing this
astonishing sacrifice because thou canst derive any excellence from it; but this
bounty extends to the saints--to all the spirits of just men made
perfect, whose bodies are still in the earth; and to the excellent, (Heb.) addirey,
"the noble or super-eminent ones," those who through faith and
patience inherit the promises. The saints and illustrious ones not only taste of
my goodness, but enjoy my salvation. Perhaps angels themselves may be
intended; they are not uninterested in the incarnation, passion, death, and
resurrection of our Lord. They desire to look into these things; and the
victories of the cross in the conversion of sinners cause joy among the angels
of God.--Adam Clarke.
Verse 2. "My goodness extendeth not to thee;"
"My well-doing extendeth not to thee." Oh, what shall I render unto
thee, my God, for all thy benefits towards me? what shall I repay? Alas! I can
do thee no good, for mine imperfect goodness cannot pleasure thee who art most
perfect and goodness itself; my well-doing can do thee no good, my wickedness
can do thee no harm. I receive all good from thee, but no good can I return to
thee; wherefore I acknowledge thee to be most rich, and myself to be most
beggardly; so far off is it that thou standest in any need of me. Wherefore I
will join myself to thy people, that whatsoever I have they may profit by it;
and whatsoever they have I may profit by it, seeing the things that I have
received must be put out to loan, to gain some comfort to others. Whatsoever
others have, they have not for their own private use, but that by them, as by
pipes and conduits, they liberally should be conveyed unto me also. Wherefore in
this strain we are taught, that if we be the children of God, we must join
ourselves in a holy league to his people, and by mutual participation of the
gifts of God, we must testify each to other, that we be of the number and
communion of saints; and this is an undoubted badge and cognizance of him that
loveth God, if he also loveth them that are begotten of God. Wherefore, if we so
profess ourselves to be of God and to worship him, then we must join ourselves
to the church of God which with us doth worship God. And this must we do of
necessity, for it is a branch of our belief that there is a communion of saints
in the church; and if we believe that there is a God, we must also believe that
there is a remnant of people, unto whom God revealeth himself, and communicateth
his mercies, in whom we must have all our delight, to whom we must communicate
according to the measure of grace given unto every one of us.--Richard
Verse 2. "My goodness extendeth not to thee." Oh, how
great is God's goodness to you! He calls upon others for the same things, and
conscience stands as Pharaoh's taskmasters, requiring the tale of bricks but not
allowing straw; it impels and presseth, but gives no enlargement of heart, and
buffets and wounds them for neglect: as the hard creditor that, taking the poor
debtor by the throat, saith, "Pay me that thou owest me," but yields
him no power to do it; thus God might deal with you also, for he oweth not
assistance to us; but we owe obedience to him. Remember, we had
power, and it is just to demand what we cannot do, because the weakness that is
in us is of ourselves: we have impoverished ourselves. Therefore, when in much
mercy he puts forth his hand into the work with thee, be very thankful. If the
work be not done, he is no loser; if done, and well done, he is no gainer. Job
22:2; 35:6-8. But the gain is all to thee; all the good that comes by it is to
thyself.--Joseph Symonds, 1639.
Verse 2 (last clause). It is a greater glory to us that we are
allowed to serve God, than it is to him that we offer him that service. He is
not rendered happy by us; but we are made happy by him. He can do without such
earthly servants; but we cannot do without such a heavenly Master.--William
Verse 2 (last clause). There is nothing added to God; he is so
perfect, that no sin can hurt him; and so righteous, that no righteousness can
benefit him. O Lord, my righteousness extendeth not to thee! thou hast no
need of my righteousness. Acts 17:24, 25. God hath no need of anything.--Richard
Verse 2. As Christ is the head of man, so is God the head of Christ (1
Corinthians 11:3); and as man is subject unto Christ, so is Christ subject to
God; not in regard of the divine nature, wherein there is an equality, and
consequently no dominion or jurisdiction; nor only in his human nature, but in
the economy of a Redeemer, considered as one designed, and consenting to be
incarnate, and take our flesh; so that after this agreement, God had a sovereign
right to dispose of him according to the articles consented to. In regard of his
undertaking and the advantage he was to bring to the elect of God upon earth, he
calls God by the solemn title of "his Lord." "O my soul, thou
hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
but to the saints that are in the earth." It seems to be the speech of
Christ in heaven, mentioning the saints on earth as at a distance from him. I
can add nothing to the glory of thy majesty, but the whole fruit of my mediation
and suffering will redound to the saints on earth.--Stephen Charnock.
Verses 2, 3. "My goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the
saints." God's goodness to us should make us merciful to others. It
were strange indeed a soul should come out of his tender bosom with a hard
uncharitable heart. Some children do not indeed take after their earthly
parents, as Cicero's son, who had nothing of his father but his name; but God's
children all partake of their heavenly Father's nature. Philosophy tells us,
that there is no reaction from the earth to the heavens; they indeed shed their
influences upon the lower world, which quicken and fructify it, but the earth
returns none back to make the sun shine the better. David knew that his
goodness extended not unto God, but this made him reach it forth to his
brethren. Indeed, God hath left his poor saints to receive the rents we owe unto
him for his mercies. An ingenuous guest, though his friend will take nothing for
his entertainment, yet, to show his thankfulness, will give something to his
Verse 3. "But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the
excellent, in whom is all my delight." My brethren, look upon saintship
as the greatest excellency to love it. So did Christ. His eye was "upon the
excellent ones in the earth;" that is, upon the saints, who were excellent
to him; yea, also even when not saints, because God loved them. Isaiah 43:4. It
is strange to hear how men by their speeches will undervalue a saint as such, if
without some other outward excellency. For whilst they acknowledge a man a
saint, yet in other respects, they will contemn him; "He is a holy
man," they will say, "but he is weak," etc. But is he a saint?
And can there be any such other imperfection or weakness found as shall lay him
low in thy thoughts in comparison of other carnal men more excellent? Hath not
Christ loved him, bought him, redeemed him?--Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 3. "But to the saints." I understand that a man
then evinces affection towards God, and towards those who love God, when his
soul yearns after them--when he obliges himself to love them by practically
serving and benefiting them--acting towards them as he would act towards God
himself were he to see him in need of his service, as David says he did.--Juan
de Valdes, 1550.
Verse 3. "The saints." The Papists could abide no
saints but those which are in heaven; which argueth that they live in a kingdom
of darkness, and err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God; for if
they were but meanly conversant in the Scriptures, in the holy epistles, they
should find almost in every epistle mention made of the saints who are thereunto
called in Jesus Christ, through whom they are sanctified by the Holy Ghost. And
mark, he calleth them "excellent." Some think rich men to be
excellent, some think learned men to be excellent, some count men in authority
so to be, but here we are taught that those men are excellent who are
sanctified by God's graces.--Richard Greenham.
Verse 3. By David's language, there were many singular saints in his
day: "To the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom
is all my delight." Was it so then, and should it not be so now? We
know the New Testament outshines the Old as much as the sun outshines the moon.
If we then live in a more glorious dispensation, should we not maintain a more
glorious conversation?. . . . "The excellent." Were the sun to
give no more delight than a star, you could not believe he was the regent of the
day; were he to transmit no more heat than a glow-worm, you would question his
being the source of elementary heat. Were God to do no more than a creature,
where would his Godhead be? Were a man to do no more than a brute, where would
his manhood be? Were not a saint to excel a sinner, where would his
sanctity be?--William Secker.
Verse 3. Ingo, an ancient king of the Draves, who making a stately
feast, appointed his nobles, at that time Pagans, to sit in the hall below, and
commanded certain poor Christians to be brought up into his presence-chamber, to
sit with him at his table, to eat and drink of his kingly cheer, at which many
wondering, he said, he accounted Christians, though never so poor, a greater
ornament to his table, and more worthy of his company than the greatest peers
unconverted to the Christian faith; for when these might be thrust down to hell,
those might be his comforts and fellow princes in heaven. Although you see the
stars sometimes by reflections in a puddle, in the bottom of a well, or in a
stinking ditch, yet the stars have their situation in heaven. So, although you
see a godly man in a poor, miserable, low, despised condition, for the things of
this world, yet he is fixed in heaven, in the region of heaven: "Who hath
raised us up," saith the apostle, "and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus."--Charles Bradbury's "Cabinet of
Verse 3. To sum up all, we must know that we neither do nor can love
the godly so well as we should do; but all is well if we would love them better,
and do like ourselves the less because we do love them no more, and that this is
common or usual with me, then I am right: so that we are to love the godly first
because God commands it, because they are good; and in these cases our faith
doth work by our love to good men. Next, when I am at the worst, like a sick
sheep, I care not for the company of other sheep, but do mope in a corner by
myself; but yet I do not delight in the society of goats or dogs, it proves that
I have some good blood left in me; it is because for the present I take little
or no delight in myself or in my God, that I delight no better in the godly: yet
as I love myself for all that, so I may be said to love them for all this. Man
indeed is a sociable creature, a company-keeper by nature when he is himself;
and if we not associate ourselves with the ungodly, though for the present, and
care not much to show ourselves amongst the godly, the matter is not much, it is
a sin of infirmity, not a fruit of iniquity. The disciples went from Christ, but
they turned not to the other side as Judas did, who did forsake his Master, and
joined himself to his Master's enemies, but they got together. Some say that
Demas did repent (which I think to be the truth), and then he did "embrace
this present world," but for the present fit: put case he did forsake Paul;
so did better men than he. Indeed as long as a man hath his delights about him,
he will embrace the delights of this present world, or the delights which belong
to the world to come; join with Paul, or cleave to the world. In this temptation
our stay is, first, that we care not for the company of goats; next, that as we
should, so we would, and desire that we may take delight in the company of
sheep, to count them the only excellent men in the world, in whom is
all our delight. The conclusion is, that to love the saints as saints, is a
sound proof of faith; the reason is, for that we cannot master our affections by
love, but first we must master our understandings by faith,--Richard Capel,
Verse 4. "Drink offerings of blood." The Gentiles
used to offer, and sometimes drink part of the blood of their sacrifices,
whether of beasts or of men, as either of them were sacrificed.--Matthew
Verse 4. "Drink offerings of blood." It is uncertain
whether this expression is to be understood literally to be blood, which the
heathen actually mixed in their libations when they bound themselves to the
commission of some dreadful deed, or whether their libations are figuratively
called offerings of blood to denote the horror with which the writer regarded
them.--George R. Noyes, in loc. 1846.
Verse 4 (last clause). A sin rolled under the tongue becomes
soft and supple, and the throat is so short and slippery a passage, that
insensibly it may slide down from the mouth into the stomach; and contemplative
wantonness quickly turns into practical uncleanness.--Thomas Fuller.
Verse 5. "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance."
If the Lord be thy portion, then thou mayest conclude, omnipotentcy is my
portion, immensity, all-sufficiency, etc. Say not, If so, then I should be
omnipotent, etc. There is a vast difference betwixt identity and interest,
betwixt conveying of a title, and transmutation of nature. A friend gives thee
an invaluable treasure, and all the securities of it that thou canst desire;
wilt thou deny it is thine because thou art not changed into its nature? The
attributes are thine, as thy inheritance, as thy lands are thine; not because
thou art changed into their nature, but because the title is conveyed to thee,
it is given thee, and improved for thy benefit. If another manage it, who can do
it with greater advantage to thee than to thyself, it is no infringement of thy
title. . . . . The Lord is our portion, and this is incomparably more
than if we had heaven and earth; for all the earth is but as a point compared
with the vastness of the heavens, and the heavens themselves are but a point
compared with God. What a large possession have we then! There is no
confiscation of it, no banishment from it. Our portion fills heaven and earth,
and is infinitely above heaven and below earth, and beyond both. Poor men boast
and pride themselves of a kingdom, but we have more than all the kingdoms of the
world and the glory thereof. Christ has given us more than the devil could offer
Verse 5. "Portion of mine inheritance and of my cup,"
may contain an allusion to the daily supply of food, and also to the inheritance
of Levi. Deuteronomy 18:1, 2.--"Critical and Explanatory Pocket
Bible." By A. R. Fausset and B. M. Smith, 1867.
Verses 5, 6. "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance: the
lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly
heritage." "Blessed are the people that are in such a case; yea,
blessed are the people whose God is the Lord." No greater mercy can be
bestowed upon any people, family, or person than this, for God to dwell among
them. If we value this mercy according to the excellence and worth of that which
is bestowed, it is the greatest; if we value it according to the good will of
him that gives it, it will appear likewise to be the greatest favour. The
greatness of the good will of God in giving himself to be our acquaintance, is
evident in the nature of the gift. A man may give his estate to them to whom his
love is not very large, but he never gives himself but upon strong affection.
God gives abundantly to all the works of his hands; he causeth the sun to shine
upon the evil and upon the good, and the rain to descend upon the just and the
unjust; but it cannot be conceived that he should give himself to be a portion,
a friend, father, husband, but in abundance of love. Whosoever therefore shall
refuse acquaintance with God, slighteth the greatest favour that ever God did
bestow upon man. Now, consider what a high charge this is; to abuse such a
kindness from God is an act of the greatest vileness. David was never so
provoked as when the king of Ammon abused his kindness, in his ambassadors,
after his father's death. And God is highly provoked when his greatest mercies,
bestowed in the greatest love, are rejected and cast away. What could God give
more and better than himself?. . . . . Ask David what he thinks of God; he was
well acquainted with him, he dwelt in his house, and by his good will would
never be out of his more immediate presence and company; enquire, I pray, what
he found amiss in him. That you may know his mind the better, he hath left it
upon record in more than one or two places, what a friend he hath had of God. "The
lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly
heritage." Why, what is that you boast of so much, O David? Have not
others had kingdoms as well as you? No, that's not the thing; a crown is one of
the least jewels in my cabinet: "The Lord is the portion of mine
inheritance and of my cup."--James Janeway.
Verses 5, 6. Take notice not only of the mercies of God, but of God in
the mercies. Mercies are never so savoury as when they savour of a Saviour.--Ralph
Verse 6. "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage." Bitter herbs will go down very well,
when a man has such delicious "meats which the world knows not of."
The sense of our Father's love is like honey at the end of every rod; it turns
stones into bread, and water into wine, and the valley of trouble into a door of
hope; it makes the biggest evils seem as if they were none, or better than none;
for it makes our deserts like the garden of the Lord, and when we are upon the
cross for Christ, as if we were in paradise with Christ. Who would quit his duty
for the sake of suffering, that hath such a relief under it? Who would not
rather walk in truth, when he hath such a cordial to support him, than by the
conduct of fleshly wisdom, to take any indirect or irregular method for his own
Verse 6. "The lines." Probably alluding to the
division of the land by lot, and the measuring of it off by ropes and lines.
David believed in an overruling destiny which fixed the bounds of his abode, and
his possessions; he did more, he was satisfied with all the appointment of the
predestinating God.--C. H. S.
Verse 7. "I will bless the Lord, who hath given me
counsel." The Holy Ghost is a spirit of counsel, powerfully instructing
and convincingly teaching how to act and walk, for he directs us to set right
steps, and to walk with a right foot, and thereby prevents us of many a sin, by
seasonable instruction set on upon our hearts with a strong hand; as Isaiah
8:11. For, as the same prophet says (Isaiah 11:2), he is the spirit of counsel
and of might. Of counsel to direct; of might, to strengthen the inner man. Such
he was to Christ the Head, of whom it is there spoken. For instance, in the
agony (on the determination of which our salvation depended), and conflict in
the garden, when he prayed, "Let this cup pass," it was this good
Spirit that counselled him to die; and he blessed God for it: "I bless the
Lord that hath given me counsel." It was that counsel that in that case
caused his heart to say, "Not my will, but thine."--Thomas
Verse 7. "My reins." Common experience shows that the
workings of the mind, particularly the passions of joy, grief, and fear, have a
very remarkable effect of the reins or kidneys, and from their retired situation
in the body, and their being hid in fat, they are often used in Scripture to
denote the most secret working of the soul and affections.--John Parkhurst.
Verse 7. "My reins also instruct me in the night
seasons." This shows that God, who, he says, was always present to him,
had given him some admonition in his dreams, or at least his waking thoughts by
night, from whence he gathered a certain assurance of his recovery; possibly he
might be directed to some remedy. Antonine thanks the gods for directing him in
his sleep to remedies.--Z. Mudge, in loc, 1744.
Verse 7. "My reins also instruct me in the night
seasons." We have a saying among ourselves, that "the pillow is
the best counsellor;" and there is much truth in the saying, especially if
we have first committed ourselves in prayer to God, and taken a prayerful spirit
with us to our bed. In the quiet of its silent hours, undisturbed by the
passions, and unharassed by the conflicts of the world, we can commune with our
own heart, and be instructed and guarded as to our future course even "in
the night season." David especially seems to have made these seasons
sources of great profit as well as delight. Sometimes he loved to meditate upon
God, as he lay upon his bed; and it was no doubt as he meditated on the Lord's
goodness, and on the way by which he had led him, that he was, as it were,
constrained, even at midnight, to arise and pray. While, therefore, we
acknowledge the pillow to be a good counsellor, let us with David here
acknowledge also that it is the Lord who gives the counsel, and sends the
instruction in the night season.--Burton Bouchier.
Verse 8. "I have set the Lord always before me."
David did not by fits and starts set the Lord before him; but he "always"
set the Lord before him in his course; he had his eye upon the Lord, and so much
the Hebrew word imports: I have equally set the Lord before me; that is the
force of the original word, that is, I have set the Lord before me, at one time
as well as another, without any irregular affections or passions, etc. In every
place, in every condition, in every company, in every employment, and in every
enjoyment, I have set the Lord equally before me; and this raised him, and this
will raise any Christian, by degrees, to a very great height of holiness.--Thomas
Verse 8. "I have set the Lord always before me."
Hebrew, I have equally set, or proposed. The apostle translateth it,
"I foresaw the Lord always before my face." Acts 2:25. I set the eye
of my faith full upon him, and suffer it not to take to other things; I look him
in the face, oculo irretorto, as the eagle looketh upon the sun; and oculo
adamantino, with an eye of adamant, which turns only to one point: so here, I
have equally set the Lord before me, without irregular affections and
passions. And this was one of those lessons that his reins had taught him,
that the Holy Spirit had dictated unto him.--John Trapp.
Verse 8. "I have set the Lord ALWAYS before me."
Like as the gnomon doth ever behold the north star, whether it be closed and
shut up in a coffer of gold, silver, or wood, never losing its nature; so a
faithful Christian man, whether he abound in wealth or be pinched with poverty,
whether he be of high or low degree in this world, ought continually to have his
faith and hope surely built and grounded upon Christ, and to have his heart and
mind fast fixed and settled in him, and to follow him through thick and thin,
through fire and water, through wars and peace, through hunger and cold, through
friends and foes, through a thousand perils and dangers, through the surges and
waves of envy, malice, hatred, evil speeches, railing sentences, contempt of the
world, flesh, and devil, and even in death itself, be it never so bitter, cruel,
and tyrannical, yet never to lose sight and view of Christ, never to give over
faith, hope, and trust in him.--Robert Cawdray.
Verse 8. "I have set the Lord always before me." By
often thinking of God, the heart will be enticed into desires after him. Isaiah
26:8. "The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of
thee;" and see what follows, verse 9: "With my soul have I desired
thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early."
Love sets the soul on musing, and from musing to praying. Meditation is prayer
in bullion, prayer in the ore--soon melted and run into holy desires. The laden
cloud soon drops into rain; the piece charged soon goes off when fire is put to
it. A meditating soul is in proxima potentia to prayer.--William
Verse 8. "I have set the Lord always before me," etc.
He that by faith eyes God continually as his protector in trouble "shall
not be moved" with any evil that he suffers, and he that eyes God by
faith as his pattern in holiness, shall not be moved from doing that which is
good. This thought--the Lord is at our right hand--keeps us from
turning either to the right hand or to the left. It is said of Enoch, that
"he walked with God" (Genesis 5:22), and though the history of his
life be very short, yet 'tis said of him a second time (verse 24), that "he
walked with God." He walked so much with God that he walked as God: he did
not "walk" (which kind of walking the apostle reproves, 1
Corinthians 3:3), "as men." He walked so little like the world,
that his stay was little in the world. "He was not," saith the text,
"for God took him." He took him from the world to himself, or, as the
author to the Hebrews reports it, "he was translated that he should not see
death, for he had this testimony, that he pleased God."--Joseph Caryl.
Verse 8. "Because he is at my right hand," etc. Of
ourselves we stand not at any time, by his power we may overcome at all times.
And when we are sorest assaulted he is ever ready at our right hand to
support and stay us that we shall not fall. He hath well begun, and shall
happily go forward in his work, who hath in truth begun. For true grace well
planted in the heart, how weak soever, shall hold out for ever. All total decays
come from this--that the heart was never truly mollified, nor grace deeply and
kindly rooted therein.--John Ball.
Verse 8. "He is at my right hand." This phrase of
speech is borrowed from those who, when they take upon them the patronage,
defence, or tuition of any, will set them on their right hand, as in place of
most safeguard. Experience confirmeth this in children, who in any imminent
danger shroud and shelter themselves under their father's arms or hands, as
under a sufficient buckler. Such was the estate of the man of God, as here
appeareth, who was hemmed and hedged in with the power of God, both against
present evils, and dangers to come.--Richard Greenham.
Verse 8. Even as a column or pillar is sometimes on thy right hand,
and sometimes on thy left hand, because thou dost change thy standing, sitting
or walking, for it is unmovable and keepeth one place; so God is sometimes
favourable and bountiful unto thee, and sometimes seemeth to be wroth and angry
with thee, because thou dost fall from virtue to vice, from obedience and
humility to pride and presumption; for in the Lord there is no change, no, not
so much as any shadow of change. He is immutable, always one and everlasting. If
thou wilt bend thyself to obedience, and to a virtuous and godly life, thou
shalt ever have him a strong rock, whereupon thou mayst boldly build a castle
and tower of defence. He will be unto thee a mighty pillar, bearing up heaven
and earth, whereto thou mayst lean and not be deceived, wherein thou mayst trust
and not be disappointed. He will ever be at thy right hand, that thou shalt not
fall. He will take thy part, and will mightily defend thee against all enemies
of thy body and of thy soul; but if thou wilt shake hands with virtue, and bid
it adieu and farewell, and, forsaking the ways of God, wilt live as thou list,
and follow thy own corruption, and make no conscience of aught thou doest,
defiling and blemishing thyself with all manner of sin and iniquity, then be
sure the Lord will appear unto thee in his fury and indignation. From his
justice and judgments none shall ever be able to deliver thee.--Robert
Verse 9. "My heart is glad." Men may for a time be
hearers of the gospel, men may for order's sake pray, sing, receive the
sacraments; but if it be without joy, will not that hypocrisy in time break out?
Will they not begin to be weary? Nay, will they not be as ready to hear any
other doctrine? Good things cannot long find entertainment in our corruptions,
unless the Holy Ghost hath changed us from our old delights to conceive pleasure
in these things.--Richard Greenham.
Verse 9. "My heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth."
His inward joy was not able to contain itself. We testify our pleasure on lower
occasions, even at the gratification of our senses; when our ear is filled with
harmonious melody, when our eye is fixed upon admirable and beauteous objects,
when our smell is recreated with agreeable odours, and our taste also by the
delicacy and rareness of provisions; and much more will our soul show its
delight, when its faculties, that are of a more exquisite constitution, meet
with things that are in all respects agreeable and pleasant to them; and in God
they meet with all those: with his light our understanding is refreshed, and so
is our will with his goodness and his love.--Timothy Rogers.
Verse 9. "Therefore my heart is glad," etc. That is,
I am all over in very good plight, as well as heart can wish, or require; I do
over-abound exceedingly with joy; "God forgive me mine unthankfulness and
unworthiness of so great glory" (as that martyr said): "In all the
days of my life I was never so merry as now I am in this dark dungeon,"
etc. Wicked men rejoice in appearance, and not in heart (2 Corinthians 5:12);
their joy is but skin deep, their mirth frothy and flashy, such as wetteth the
mouth, but warmeth not the heart. But David is totus totus, quantus quantus
exultabundus; his heart, glory, flesh, (answerable, as some think to
that of the apostle, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; spirit, soul, and body) were
all overjoyed.--John Trapp.
Verse 9. "My flesh shall rest in hope." If a Jew
pawned his bed-clothes, God provided mercifully that it should be restored
before night: "For," saith he, "that is his covering: wherein
shall he sleep?" Exodus 22:27. Truly, hope is the saint's covering, wherein
he wraps himself, when he lays his body down to sleep in the grave: "My
flesh," saith David, "shall rest in hope." O
Christian, bestir thyself to redeem thy hope before this sun of thy temporal
life goes down upon thee, or else thou art sure to lie down in sorrow. A sad
going to the bed of the grave he hath who hath no hope of a resurrection to
Verse 9. "My flesh shall rest in hope." That hope
which is grounded on the word, gives rest to the soul; 'tis an anchor to keep it
steady. Hebrews 6:13. Which shows the unmovableness of that which our anchor is
fastened to. The promise sustains our faith, and our faith is that which
supports us. He that hopes in the Word as David did (Psalm 119:81), lays a
mighty stress upon it; as Samson did when he leaned upon the pillars of the
house, so as to pull it down upon the Philistines. A believer throws the whole
weight of all his affairs and concernments, temporal, spiritual, and eternal,
upon the promises of God, like a man resolved to stand or fall with them. He
ventures himself, and all that belongs to him, entirely upon this bottom, which
is in effect to say, if they will not bear me up, I am content to sink; I know
that there shall be a performance of those things which have been told me from
the Lord, and therefore I will incessantly look for it.--Timothy Cruso.
Verse 10. "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,"
etc. The title of this golden text may be--The embalming of the dead saints:
the force whereof is to free the souls from dereliction in the state of death,
and to secure the bodies of God's saints from corruption in the grave. It is the
art which I desire to learn, and at this time, teach upon this sad occasion [A
Funeral Sermon], even the preparing of this confection against our
burials.--George Hughes, 1642.
Verse 10. Many of the elder Reformers held that our Lord in soul
actually descended into hell, according to some of them to suffer there as our
surety, and according to others to make a public triumph over death and hell.
This idea was almost universally, and as we believe, most properly repudiated by
the Puritans. To prove this fact, it may be well to quote from Corbet's witty
"Foure clerkes of Oxford, doctors two, and two
That would be doctors."
He laments the secularisation of church appurtenances at Banbury, by the
Puritans, whom he described as,
"They which tell
That Christ hath nere descended into Hell,
But to the grave."
--C. H. S. The quotation is from Richard Corbet's Poems, 1632.
Verse 10. "My soul in hell." Christ in soul descended
into hell, when as our surety he submitted himself to bear those hellish sorrows
(or equivalent to them), which we were bound by our sins to suffer for ever. His
descension is his projection of himself into the sea of God's wrath conceived
for our sins, and his ingression into most unspeakable straits and torments in
his soul, which we should else have suffered for ever in hell. This way of
Christ's descending into hell is expressly uttered in the person of David, as
the type of Christ. Psalm 86:13; 116:3; 69:1-3. Thus the prophet Isaiah saith,
"His soul was made an offering." Isaiah 53:10. And this I take it
David means, when he said of Christ, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in
hell." Psalm 16; Acts 2. And thus Christ descended into hell when he
was alive, not when he was dead. Thus his soul was in hell when in the garden he
did sweat blood, and on the cross when he cried so lamentably, "My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matthew 26:38.--Nicholas Byfield's
"Exposition of the Creed," 1676.
Verse 10. "In hell." Sheol here, as hades
in the New Testament, signifies the state of the dead, the separate state of
souls after death, the invisible world of souls, where Christ's soul was, though
it did not remain there, but on the third day returned to its body again. It
seems best of all to interpret this word of the grave as it is rendered; Genesis
42:38; Isaiah 38:18.--John Gill.
Verse 10. "Thine Holy One." Holiness preserves
the soul from dereliction, in the state of death, and the body of the saint from
corruption in the grave. If it be desired by any that doubt of it, to see the
clear issue of this from the text, I shall guide them to read this text with a
great accent upon that term, "Thine Holy One," that they may
take special notice of it, even the quality of that man exempted from these
evils. In this the Spirit of God puts an emphasis on holiness, as
counter-working and prevailing over death and the grave. It is this and nothing
but this, that keeps the man, dead and buried, from desertion in death, and
corruption in the grave.--George Hughes.
Verse 10. The great promise to Christ is, that though he took a
corruptible body upon him, yet he should "not see corruption,"
that is, partake of corruption: corruption should have no communion with,
much less power over him.--Joseph Caryl.
Verse 10. Quoted by the apostle Peter (Acts 2:27); on which Hackett (Com.
in loc.) observes:--"The sense then may be expressed thus: Thou wilt
not give me up as prey to death; he shall not have power over me, to dissolve
the body and cause it to return to dust."
Verse 11. In this verse are four things observable:
Way, THE PATH.
End, LIFE, described after. For that which follows is but the description of
verse is a proper subject for a meditation. For, all three are solitary. The
guide is but one, the traveller, one; the way one; and the life,
the only one. To meditate well on this is to bring all together; and at last
make them all but one. Which that we may do, let us first seek our Guide.
Guide. Him we find named in the first verse--Jehovah. Here we may begin, as
we ought in all holy exercises, with adoration. For "unto him all
knees shall bow;" nay, unto his name. For holy is his name. Glory be
to thee, O God! He is Deus, therefore holy; he is Deus fortis,
therefore able. "For the strength of the hills is his;" and if
there be a way on earth, he can "show" it; for in his
hands are all the corners of the earth. But is he willing to "show?"
Yes, though he be Deus, holy (which is a word terrible to poor flesh and
blood), yet he is Deus meus, my holiness. That takes away servile fear.
He is meus, we have a property in him; and he is willing: "Thou
wilt show," etc. And that you may know he will guide, David
shows a little above, how diligently he will guide. First, he will go before,
he will lead the way himself: if I can but follow, I shall be sure to go right.
And he that hath a guide before him, and will not follow, is worthy to be
left behind. But say, I am willing, I do desire to go, and I do follow: what if,
through faintness in the long way, I fall often? or, for want of care step out
of the way, shall I not then be left behind? Fear not; for "He is at my
right hand, so that I shall not slip." Verse 8. This is some comfort
indeed. But we are so soon weary in this way, and do fall and err so often, that
it would weary the patience of a good guide to lead us but one day. Will
he bear with us, and continue to the end? Yes, always; or this text deceives us;
for all this is found in the eighth verse. We must have him or none; for
he is one, and the only one. So confessed Asaph: "Whom have I on earth but
thee? Seek this good Guide, he is easy to be found: "Seek, and ye
shall find." You shall find that he is first holy; secondly, able;
thirdly, willing; fourthly, diligent; and fifthly, constant.
O my soul! to follow him, and he will make thee both able to follow to
the end; and holy in the end.
traveller. Having found the Guide, we shall not long seek for one
that wants him; for, see, here is a man out of his way. And that will
soon appear if we consider his condition. For, he is a stranger ("Thou
wilt show me"); and what am I? "I am a stranger, and a sojourner,
as all my fathers were," says he, in another place. But this was in the old
time under the law; what, are we, their sons in the gospel, any other? Peter
tells us no: that we are strangers and pilgrims too; that is, travellers. We
travel, as being out of our country; and we are strangers to those we
converse with. For neither the natives be our friends, nor anything we possess
truly our own. It is time we had animum revertendi; and surely so we have
if we could but pray on the way, Converte nos Domine. But it is so
long since we came hither, we have forgot the way home: obliti sunt montis
mei. Yet still we are travelling; and, we think, homewards. For all hope
well: oculi omnium sperant in te. But right, like pilgrims, or
rather wanderers. For we scarce know if we go right; and, what is worse, have
little care to enquire. "Me." David still keeps the singular number. As there is but one guide, so he speaks in the person but of one traveller. There is somewhat,
peradventure, in that. It is to show his confidence. The Lord's prayer is
in the plural, but the creed is in the singular. We may pray that God would
guide all; but we can be confident for none but ourselves. "Thou
wilt show," or thou dost, or hast, as some translate: all is but to
show particular confidence. "Thou wilt show me;" me, not
us, a number indefinite wherein I may be one; but me in
particular that am out of the way; that am myself alone; that must walk
in "the path" alone. Either I must follow, or go before others;
I must work for myself alone; believe for myself alone; and be saved by one
alone. The way in this text that I must walk is but one; nay, it is but a
"path" where but one can go: this is no highway, but a way
of sufferance by favour: it is none of ours. It is no road; you cannot
hurry here, or gallop by troops: it is but semita, a small footpath
for one to go alone in. Nay, as it is a way for one alone, so it
is a lonely way: preparate vias ejus in solitudine, saith John, and he
knew which way God went, who is our Guide in solitudine: there is the
sweetness of solitariness, the comforts of meditation. For God is never more
familiar with man than when man is in solitudine, alone, in his path
by himself. Christ himself came thus, all lonely; without troop, or
noise, and ever avoided the tumultuous multitude, though they would have made
him a king. And he never spake to them but in parables; but to his that
sought him, in solitudine, in private, he spake plain; and so doth he
still love to do to the soul, in private and particular. Therefore well said
David, "Thou wilt show me," in particular, and in the singular
number. But how shall I know that I, in particular, shall be taught and showed
this way? This prophet, that had experience, will tell us: mites
docebit, the humble he will teach. Psalm 25:9. If thou canst humble
thyself, thou mayst be sure to see thy guide; Christ hath crowned this
virtue with a blessing: "Blessed are the meek;" for them he will call
to him and teach. But thou must be humble then. For heaven is built like our
churches, high-roofed within, but with a strait low gate; they then that enter
there must stoop, ere they can see God. Humility is the mark at every cross,
whereby thou shalt know if thou be in the way: if any be otherwise minded, God
also shall reveal it unto you, for, "Thou wilt show."
path." But let us now see what he will show us: "The
path." We must know, that as men have many paths out of their
highway--the world--but they all end in destruction; so God hath many paths
out of his highway, the word, but they all end in salvation. Let us oppose ours
to his (as indeed they are opposite), and see how they agree. Ours are
not worth marking, his marked with an attendite, to begin withal; ours
bloody, his unpolluted; ours crooked, his straight; ours
lead to hell, his to heaven. Have not we strayed then? We had need to
turn and take another path, and that quickly: we may well say, semitas
nostrus,. . . vis tus. Well, here is the Book, and here are
the ways before you; and he will show you. Here is semita
mandatorum, in the one hundred-and-nineteenth Psalm, verse thirty-five: here
is semita pacifica (Proverbs 3:17); here is semita aequitatis
(Proverbs 4:11); here is semita justitiae (Psalm 23:3); here is semita
judicii (Proverbs 17:23); and many others. These are, every one of them, God's
ways; but these are somewhat too many and too far off: we must seek the way
where all these meet, and that will bring us into "the path;"
these are many, but I will show you yet "a more excellent way," saith
Paul. 1 Corinthians 12:31.
must begin to enter at via mandatorum; for till then we are in the dark
and can distinguish no ways, whether they be good or bad. But there we
shall meet with a lantern and a light in it. Thy commandment is a
lantern, and thy law a light. Proverbs 6:23. Carry this with thee (as a good man
should, lex Dei in corde ejus); and it will bring thee into the way.
And see how careful our Guide is; for lest the wind should blow out this
light, he hath put it into a lantern to preserve it. For the fear, or sanction,
of the "commandments," preserves the memory of the law in our hearts,
as a lantern doth a light burning within it. The law is the light, and the
commandment the lantern. So that neither flattering Zephyrus, nor blustering
Boreas shall be able to blow it out, so long as the fear of the sanction keeps
it in. This is lucerna pedibus (Psalm 119:105); and will not only show
thee where thou shalt tread, but what pace thou shalt keep. When thou hast this
light, take Jeremy's counsel; enquire for semita antiqua, before thou
goest any further. "Stand (saith he) in the ways, and behold and ask for
the old way; which is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for
your souls." This will bring you some whither where you may rest
awhile. And whither is that? Trace this path, and you shall find this
"old way" to run quite through all the Old Testament till it end in
the New, the gospel of peace, and there is rest. And that this is so Paul
affirms. For the law, which is the "old way," is but the pedagogue to
the gospel. This then is "a more excellent way" than the law, the
ceremonies whereof in respect of this were called "beggarly
rudiments." When we come there, we shall find the way pleasant and very light,
so that we shall plainly see before us that very path, that only path,
"the path of life" (semita vitae), in which the gospel ends, as
the law ends in the gospel. Now what is semita vitae that we seek for?
"All the ways of God are truth," saith David. Psalm 119:151. He
doth not say they are verae, or veritates, but veritas; all
one truth. So, all the ways of God end in one truth. Semita vitae,
then, is truth. And so sure a way to life is truth, that
John says, he had "no greater joy: than to hear that his sons "walked
in truth." 3 John 1:3. "No greater joy:" for it brings them
certainly to a joy, than which there is none greater. Via veritatis is
"the gospel of truth," but semita vitae is the truth itself. Of
these, Esay prophesied, "et erit ibi semita et via," etc.
"There shall be a path, and a way;" and the way shall be called holy,
the proper epithet of the gospel: "the holy gospel," that is the
way. But the path is the epitome of this way (called in our
text, by way of excellence, "the path," in the singular); than
which there is no other. "The gospel of your salvation," saith Paul,
is "the word of truth;" and "thy word is truth," saith our
Saviour to his Father. Truth, then, is "the path of life,"
for it is the epitome of the gospel, which is the way. This is that truth
which Pilate (unhappy man) asked after, but never stayed to be resolved of. He
himself is the word; the word is the truth; and the truth is "the path
of life," trodden by all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs
and confessors, that ever went to heaven before us. The abstract of the gospel,
the gate of heaven, semita vitae, "the path of life,"
even Jesus Christ the righteous, who hath beaten the way for us, gone himself
before us, and left us the prints of his footsteps for us to follow, where he
himself sits ready to receive us. So, the law is the light, the gospel is the
way, and Christ is "the path of life."--William Austin,
Verse 11. It is Christ's triumphing in the consideration of his
exaltation, and taking pleasure in the fruits of his sufferings: "Thou
wilt show me the paths of life." God hath now opened the way to
paradise, which was stopped up by a flaming sword, and made the path plain by
admitting into heaven the head of the believing world. This is a part of the joy
of the soul of Christ; he hath now a fulness of joy, a satisfying delight
instead of an overwhelming sorrow; a "fulness of joy," not only some
sparks and drops as he had now and then in his debased condition; and that in
the presence of his Father. His soul is fed and nourished with a perpetual
vision of God, in whose face he beholds no more frowns, no more designs of
treating him as a servant but such smiles that shall give a perpetual succession
of joy to him, and fill his soul with fresh and pure flames. Pleasures they are,
pleasantness in comparison whereof the greatest joys in this life are anguish
and horrors. His soul hath joys without mixture, pleasures without number, a
fulness without want, a constancy without interruption, and a perpetuity without
Verse 11. "In thy presence," etc. To the blessed soul
resting in Abraham's bosom, there shall be given an immortal, impassible,
resplendent, perfect, and glorious body. Oh, what a happy meeting will this be,
what a sweet greeting between the soul and the body, the nearest and dearest
acquaintance that ever were! What a welcome will that soul give to her beloved
body! Blessed be thou (will she say), for thou hast aided me to the glory I have
enjoyed since I parted with thee; blessed art thou that sufferedst thyself to be
mortified, giving "thy members as weapons of righteousness unto God."
Romans 6:13. Cheer up thyself, for now the time of labour is past, and the time
of rest is come. Thou wast sown and buried in the dust of earth with ignominy,
but now raised in glory; sown in weakness, but raised in power; sown a natural
body, but raised a spiritual body; sown in corruption, but raised in
incorruption. 1 Corinthians 15:43. O my dear companion and familiar, we took
sweet counsel together, we two have walked together as friends on God's house
(Psalm 55:14). for when I prayed inwardly, thou didst attend my devotions with
bowed knees and lifted-up hands outwardly. We two have been fellow labourers in
the works of the Lord, we two have suffered together, and now we two shall ever
reign together; I will enter again into thee, and so both of us together will
enter into our Master's joy, where we shall have pleasures at his right hand
saints, entered as it were into the chambers of God's presence, shall have joy
to their ears in hearing their own commendating and praise, "Well done,
good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21); and in hearing the divine
language of heavenly Canaan; for our bodies shall be vera et viva,
perfect like Christ's glorious body, who did both hear other and speak himself
after his resurrection, as it is apparent in the gospel's history. Now, then, if
the words of the wise spoken in due places be like "apples of gold with
pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11). if the mellifluous speech of Origen,
the silver trumpet of Hillary, the golden mouth of Chrysostom, bewitched as it
were their auditory with exceeding great delight; if the gracious eloquence of
heathen orators, whose tongues were never touched with a coal from God's altar,
could steal away the hearts of their hearers, and carry them up and down whither
they would, what a "fulness of joy" will it be to hear not only
the sanctified, but also the glorified tongues of saints and angels in the
kingdom of glory? . . . . . Bonaventure fondly reports at all adventure, that
St. Francis hearing an angel a little while playing on a harp, was so moved with
extraordinary delight, that he thought himself in another world. Oh! what a "fulness
of joy" will it be to hear more than twelve legions of angels,
accompanied with a number of happy saints which no man is able to number, all at
once sing together, "Hallelujah, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which
was, and is, and is to come." "And every creature which is in heaven,
and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all them
that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be
unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and
ever." Revelation 4:8; 5:13. If the voices of mortal men, and the sound of
cornet, trumpet, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and other well-tuned
instruments of music, passing through our dull ears in this world be so
powerful, that all our affections are diversely transported according to the
divers kinds of harmony, then how shall we be ravished in God's presence when we
shall hear heavenly airs with heavenly ears!
"fulness of joy" to the rest of the senses, I find a very
little or nothing in holy Scriptures, and therefore seeing God's Spirit will not
have a pen to write, I may not have a tongue to speak. Divines in general
affirm, that the smelling, and taste, and feeling, shall have joy proportionable
to their blessed estate, for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this
mortal immortality; the body which is sown in weakness is to be raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, but it is raised a spiritual body; buried in
dishonour, raised in glory; that is, capable of good, and, as being impassible,
no way subject to suffer evil, insomuch that it cannot be hurt if it should be
cast into hell fire, no more than Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, were hurt in
the burning oven. In one word, God is not only to the souls, but also to the
bodies of the saints, all in all things; a glass to their sight, honey to
their taste, music to their hearing, balm to their smelling.--John Boys.
Verse 11. "In thy presence is fulness of joy." The
saints on earth are all but viatores, wayfaring men, wandering pilgrims
far from home; but the saints in heaven are comprehensores, safely
arrived at the end of their journey. All we here present for the present, are
but mere strangers in the midst of danger, we are losing ourselves and losing
our lives in the land of the dying. But ere long, we may find our lives and
ourselves again in heaven with the Lord of life, being found of him in the land
of the living. If when we die, we be in the Lord of life, our souls are sure to
be bound up in the bundle of life, that so when we live again we may be sure to
find them in the life of the Lord. Now we have but a dram, but a scruple, but a
grain of happiness, to an ounce, to a pound, to a thousand weight of heaviness;
now we have but a drop of joy to an ocean of sorrow; but a moment of ease to an
age of pain; but then (as St. Austin very sweetly in his Soliloquies), we
shall have endless ease, without any pain, true happiness without any heaviness,
the greatest measure of felicity without the least of misery, the fullest
measure of joy that may be, without any mixture of grief. Here therefore (as St.
Gregory the divine adviseth us), let us ease our heaviest loads of sufferings,
and sweeten our bitterest cups of sorrows with the continual meditation and
constant expectation of the fulness of joy in the presence of God, and of the
pleasure at his right hand for evermore. "In
thy presence, IS," etc., there it is, not there it was, nor
there it may be, nor there it will be, but there it is, there it is
without cessation or intercision, there it always hath been, and is, and must
be. It is an assertion aeternae veritatis, that is always true, it may at
any time be said that there it is. "In thy presence is the
fulness of joy;" and herein consists the consummation of felicity; for what
does any man here present wish for more than joy? And what measure of joy can
any man wish for more than fulness of joy? And what kind of fulness would any
man wish for rather than this fulness, the fulness kat exochn? And where
would any man wish to enjoy this fulness of joy rather than in the presence of
God, which is the ever-flowing and the over-flowing fountain of joy? And when
would any man wish for this enjoyment of the fulness of joy in the very fountain
of joy rather than presently, constantly, and incessantly? Now all these
desirables are encircled within the compass of the first remarkable, to make up
the consummation of true felicity. "In thy presence is fulness of
joy."--The Consummation of Felicity," by Edward Willan,
Verse 11. The human nature of Christ in heaven hath a double capacity
of glory, happiness and delight; one on that mere fellowship and communion with
his Father and the other persons, through his personal union with the Godhead.
Which joy of his in this fellowship, Christ himself speaks of as to be enjoyed
by him: "In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are
pleasures for evermore." And this is a constant and settled fulness of
pleasure, such as admits not any addition or diminution, but is always one and
the same, and absolute and entire in itself; and of itself alone sufficient for
the Son of God, and heir of all things to live upon, though he should have had
no other comings in of joy and delight from any creature. And this is his
natural inheritance.--Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 11. "In thy presence is FULNESS of joy."
In heaven they are free from want; they can want nothing there is unless it be
want itself. They may find the want of evil, but never feel the evil of want.
Evil is but the want of good, and the want of evil is but the absence of want.
God is good, and no want of good can be in God. What want then can be endured in
the presence of God, where no evil is, but all good that the fulness of joy may
be enjoyed? Here some men eat their meat without any hunger, whilst others
hunger without any meat to eat, and some men drink extremely without any thirst,
whilst others thirst extremely without any drink. But in the glorious presence
of God, not any one can be pampered with too much, nor any one be pined with too
little. They that gather much of the heavenly manna, "have nothing
over;" and "they that gather little have no lack." They that are
once possessed of that presence of God, are so possessed with it that they can
never feel the misery of thirst or hunger.--Edward Willan.
Verse 11. "Fulness." Every soul shall there enjoy an
infinite happiness, because it shall enjoy an infinite goodness. And it shall be
for ever enjoyed, without disliking of it, or losing of it, or lacking any of
it. Every soul shall enjoy as much good in that presence, by the presence of
that good, as it shall be able to receive, or to desire to receive. As much as
shall make it fully happy. Every one shall be filled so proportionably full; and
every desire in any soul shall be filled so perfectly in that presence of glory,
with the glory of that presence, that no one shall ever wish for any more, or
ever be weary of that it has, or be willing to change it for any other.--Edward
Verse 11. "Fulness of joy." When a man comes to the
sea, he doth not complain that he wants his cistern of water: though thou didst
suck comfort from thy relations; yet when thou comest to the ocean, and art with
Christ, thou shalt never complain that thou hast left thy cistern behind. There
will be nothing to breed sorrow in heaven; there shall be joy, and nothing
but joy: heaven is set out by that phrase, "Enter thou into the joy of
thy Lord." Here joy enters into us, there we enter into joy; the joys we
have here are from heaven; the joys that we shall have with Christ are without
measure and without mixture. "In thy presence is fulness of joy."--Thomas
Verse 11. "In thy presence is fulness of joy." In
this life our joy is mixed with sorrow like a prick under the rose. Jacob had
joy when his sons returned home from Egypt with the sacks full of corn, but much
sorrow when he perceived the silver in the sack's mouth. David had much joy in
bringing up the ark of God, but at the same time great sorrow for the breach
made upon Uzza. This is the Lord's great wisdom to temper and moderate our joy.
As men of a weak constitution must have their wine qualified with water for fear
of distemper, so must we in this life (such is our weakness), have our joy mixed
with sorrow, lest we turn giddy and insolent. Here our joy is mixed with fear
(Psalm 2), "Rejoice with trembling;" the women departed from the
sepulchre of our Lord "with fear and great joy." Matthew 28:8. In our
regenerate estate, though we have joy from Christ that is "formed in
us," yet the impression of the terrors of God before the time of our new
birth remains in us; as in a commotion of the sea by a great tempest after a
stormy wind hath ceased, yet the impression of the storm remains and makes an
agitation. The tender mother recovering her young child from danger of a fall
hath joy from the recovery; but with much fear with the impression of the
danger; so after we are recovered here from our dangerous falls by the rich and
tender mercies of our God, sometime prevening us, sometime restoring us; though
we rejoice in his mercy, and in our own recovery out of the snares of Satan, yet
in the midst of our joy the remembrance of former guiltiness and danger do
humble our hearts with much sorrow, and some trepidation of heart. As our joy
here is mixed with fears, so with sorrow also. Sound believers do look up to
Christ crucified, and do rejoice in his incomparable love, that such a person
should have died such a death for such as were enemies to God by sinful
inclinations and wicked works; they look down also upon their own sins that have
wounded and crucified the Lord of glory, and this breaketh the heart, as a widow
should mourn, who by her froward and lewd behaviour hath burst the heart of a
kind and loving husband.
sound believers look to their small beginnings of grace, and they rejoice in the
work of God's hands; but when they compare it with that original and primitive
righteousness, they mourn bitterly, as the elders of Israel did at the
rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 3:12; "They who had seen the first house
wept." But in heaven our joy will be full, without mixture of sorrow (John
16:20); "Your sorrow," saith our Lord, "shall be turned into
joy." Then will there be no sorrow for a present trouble, nor present fear
of future troubles. Then their eye will deeply affect their heart; the sight and
knowledge of God the supreme and infinite good will ravish, and take up all
their heart with joy and delight. Peter in the Mount (Matthew 17), was so
affected with that glorious sight, that he forgot both the delights and troubles
that were below; "It is good to be here," said he. How much more will
all worldly troubles and delights be forgot at that soul-satisfying sight in
heaven, which is as far above that of Peter in the Mount, as the third heaven is
above that Mount, and as the uncreated is above the created glory!--William
Colvill's "Refreshing Streams," 1655.
Verse 11. "In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right
hand there are pleasures for evermore." Mark, for quality, there are pleasures;
for quantity, fulness; for dignity, at God's right hand; for
eternity, for evermore. And millions of years multiplied by millions,
make not up one minute to this eternity of joy that the saints shall have in
heaven. In heaven there shall be no sin to take away your joy, nor no devil to
take away your joy; nor no man to take away your joy. "Your joy no man
taketh from you." John 16:22. The joy of the saints in heaven is never
ebbing, but always flowing to all contentment. The joys of heaven never fade,
never wither, never die, nor never are lessened nor interrupted. The joy of the
saints in heaven is a constant joy, an everlasting joy, in the root and in the
cause, and in the matter of it and in the objects of it. "Their joy lasts
for ever whose objects remain for ever."--Thomas Brooks.
Verse 11. "Pleasures for evermore." The soul that is
once landed at the heavenly shore is past all storms. The glorified soul shall
be for ever bathing itself in the rivers of pleasure. This is that which
makes heaven to be heaven, "We shall be ever with the Lord." 1
Thessalonians 4:17. Austin saith, "Lord, I am content to suffer any pains
and torments in this world, if I might see thy face one day; but alas! were it
only a day, then to be ejected heaven, it would rather be an aggravation of
misery;" but this word, "ever with the Lord," is very
accumulative, and makes up the garland of glory: a state of eternity is a state
of security.--Thomas Watson.
Verse 11. This then may serve for a ground of comfort to every soul
distressed with the tedious bitterness of this life; for short sorrow here, we
shall have eternal joy; for a little hunger, an eternal banquet; for light
sickness and affliction, everlasting health and salvation; for a little
imprisonment, endless liberty; for disgrace, glory. Instead of the wicked who
oppress and afflict them, they shall have the angels and saints to comfort and
solace them, instead of Satan to torment and tempt them, they shall have Jesus
to ravish and affect them. Joseph's prison shall be turned into a palace;
Daniel's lions' den into the presence of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; the
three children's hot fiery furnace, into the new Jerusalem of pure gold; David's
Gath, into the tabernacle of the living God.--John Cragge's "Cabinet of
Spiritual Jewels," 1657.
Verse 11. This heavenly feast will not have an end, as Ahasuerus's
feast had, though it lasted many days; but "At thy right hand are
pleasures for evermore."--William Colvill.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
of David. Under the title of "The Golden Psalm," Mr. Canon Dale
has published a small volume, which is valuable as a series of good simple
discourses, but ought hardly to have been styled "an exposition." We
have thought it right to give the headings of the chapters into which his volume
is divided, for there is much showiness, and may be some solidity in the
1. The seeking of the gold. The believer conscious of danger, trusting in
God only for deliverance.
2, 3. The possessing of the gol.d The believer looking for justification
to the righteousness of God alone, while maintaining personal holiness by
companionship with the saints.
4, 5. The testing of the gold. The believer finding his present portion,
and expecting his eternal inheritance in the Lord.
6. The prizing or valuing of the gold. The believer congratulating
himself on the pleasantness of his dwelling and the goodness of his heritage.
7, 8. The occupying of the gold. The believer seeking instruction from
the counsels of the Lord by night, and realising his promise by day.
9, 10. The summing or reckoning of the gold. The believer rejoicing and
praising God for the promise of a rest in hope and resurrection into glory.
11. The perfecting of the gold. The believer realising at God's right
hand the fulness of joy and the pleasures for evermore.
Upon this suggestive Psalm we offer the following few hints out of many--
Verse 1. The prayer and the plea. The preserver and the truster. The
dangers of the saints and the place of their confidence.
Verse 2. "Thou art my Lord." The soul's
appropriation, allegiance, assurance, and avowal.
Verses 2, 3. The influence and sphere of goodness. No profit to God,
or departed saints or sinners, but to living men. Need of promptness, etc.
Verse 2, 3. Evidences of true faith.
1. Allegiance to divine authority.
2. Rejection of self-righteousness.
3. Doing good to the saints.
4. Appreciation of saintly excellence.
5. Delight in their society.
Verse 3. Excellent of the earth. May be translated noble,
wonderful, magnificent. They are so in their new birth, nature, clothing,
attendance, heritage, etc., etc.
Verse 3. "In whom is all my delight." Why Christians
should be objects of our delight. Why we do not delight in them more. Why they
do not delight in us. How to make our fellowship more delightful.
Verse 3. Collection sermon for poor believers.
2. Saints on the earth.
3. These are excellent.
4. We must delight in them.
5. We must extend our goodness to them.
Verse 4. Sorrows of idolatry illustrated in
heathens and ourselves.
Verse 4 (Second clause). The duty of complete separation from
sinners in life and lip.
Verse 5. Future inheritance and present cup found in God. (See
1. "Pleasant places." Bethlehem, Calvary, Olivet, Tabor,
Zion, Paradise, etc.
2. Pleasant purposes, which made these lines fall to me.
3. Pleasant praises. By service, sacrifice, and song.
Verse 6 (second clause).
1. A heritage.
2. A goodly heritage.
3. I have it.
4. Yea, or the Spirit's witness.
Verse 6. "A goodly heritage." That which makes our
portion good is--
1. The favour of God with it.
2. That it is from a Father's hand.
3. That it comes through the covenant of grace.
4. That it is the purchase of Christ's blood.
5. That it is an answer to prayer, and a blessing from above upon honest
Verse 6. We may put this acknowledgment into the mouth of--
1. An indulged child of providence.
2. An inhabitant of this favoured country.
3. A Christian with regard to his spiritual condition.
Verse 7. Taking counsel's opinion. Of whom? Upon what? Why? When? How?
Verse 7. Upward and inward, or two schools of instruction.
Verse 8. Set the Lord always before you as--
1. Your protector.
2. Your leader.
3. Your example.
4. Your observer.
Verses 8, 9. A sense of the divine presence our best support. It
1. Good confidence concerning things without. "I shall not be
2. Good cheer within. "My heart is glad."
3. Good music for the living tongue. "My glory rejoiceth."
4. Good hope for the dying body. "My flesh also," etc.
Verse 9. (last clause).
1. The saint's Sabbath (rest).
2. His sarcophagus (in hope).
3. His salvation (for which he hopes).
Verses 9, 10. Jesus cheered in prospect of death by the safety of his
soul and body; our consolation in him as to the same.
Verse 10. Jesus dead, the place of his soul and his body. A difficult
but interesting topic.
Verses 10, 11. Because he lives we shall live also. The believers,
therefore, can also say, "Thou wilt show me the path of life."
This life means the blessedness reserved in heaven for the people of God after
the resurrection. It has three characters. The first regards its source--it
flows from "his presence." The second regards its
plenitude--it is "fulness" of joy." The third regards its
permanency--the pleasures are "for evermore."--William
Verse 11. A sweet picture of heaven. (See EXPOSITION.)
WORKS UPON THE SIXTEENTH PSALM
Exposition upon some select Psalms of David. . . . . . By ROBERT ROLLOCK.
Godly Exposition of the Sixteenth Psalm: in R. Greenham's "Works:"
pp. 316-331. Folio: 1612.
the "Works" of John Boys, 1626, folio, pp. 898-908, there is an
Exposition of Psalm Sixteen,
Augustinianae Flamma; or, Certayne Devout, Godly, and Learned Meditations.
Written by the excellently accomplisht gentleman, WILLIAM AUSTIN, of Lincolnes
Inne, Esquire. . . . 1637," contains "Notes on the Sixteenth Psalme;
more particularly on the last verse." Small folio.
Golden Psalm. Being an Exposition practical, experimental, and prophetical
of Psalm Sixteenth. By the Rev. THOMAS DALE, M.A. Canon Residentiary of St.
Paul's, London, and Vicar of St. Pancras, Middlesex. London: 1847.
in Gethsemane. An Exposition of Psalm Sixteen. By JAMES FRAME, Minister of
Queen Street Chapel, Ratcliff, London: 1858.