Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
SUBJECT. We have before us a National
Anthem, fitted to be sung at the outbreak of war, when the monarch was
girding on his sword for the fight. If David had not been vexed with wars, we
might never have been favoured with such psalms as this. There is a needs be for
the trials of one saint, that he may yield consolation to others. A happy people
here plead for a beloved sovereign, and with loving hearts cry to Jehovah,
"God save the King." We gather that this song was intended to be sung
in public, not only from the matter of the song, but also from its dedication
"To the Chief Musician." We know its author to have been Israel's
sweet singer, from the short title, "A Psalm of David." The
particular occasion which suggested it, it would be mere folly to conjecture,
for Israel was almost always at war in David's day. His sword may have been
hacked, but it was never rusted. Kimchi reads the title, concerning David, or,
for David, and it is clear that the king is the subject as well as the
composer of the song. It needs but a moment's reflection to perceive that this
hymn of prayer is prophetical of our Lord Jesus, and is the cry of the ancient
church on behalf of her Lord, as she sees him in vision enduring a great fight
of afflictions on her behalf. The militant people of God, with the great Captain
of salvation at their head, may still in earnest plead that the pleasure of the
Lord may prosper in his hand. We shall endeavour to keep to this view of the
subject in our brief exposition, but we cannot entirely restrict out remarks to
DIVISION. The first four verses are a prayer for the success of the king.
Verses 5, 6, and 7 express unwavering confidence in God and his Anointed; verse
8 declares the defeat of the foe, and verse 9 is a concluding appeal to Jehovah.
Verse 1. "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble." All
loyal subjects pray for their king, and most certainly citizens of Zion have
good cause to pray for the Prince of Peace. In times of conflict loving subjects
redouble their pleas, and surely in the sorrows of our Lord his church could not
but be in earnest. All the Saviour's days were days of trouble, and he also made
them days of prayer; the church joins her intercession with her Lord's, and
pleads that he may be heard in his cries and tears. The agony in the garden was
especially a gloomy hour, but he was heard in that he feared. He knew that his
Father heard him always, yet in that troublous hour no reply came until thrice
he had fallen on his face in the garden; then sufficient strength was given in
answer to prayer, and he rose a victor from the conflict. On the cross also his
prayer was not unheard, for in the twenty-second Psalm he tells us, "thou
hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns." The church in this verse
implies that her Lord would be himself much given to prayer; in this he is our
example, teaching us that if we are to receive any advantage from the prayers of
others, we must first pray for ourselves. What a mercy that we may pray
in the day of trouble, and what a still more blessed privilege that no trouble
can prevent the Lord from hearing us! Troubles roar like thunder, but the
believer's voice will be heard above the storm. O Jesus, when thou pleadest for
us in our hour of trouble, the Lord Jehovah will hear thee. This is a most
refreshing confidence, and it may be indulged in without fear.
name of the God of Jacob defend thee;" or, as some read it, "set
thee in a high place." By "the name" is meant the revealed
character and Word of God; we are not to worship "the unknown God,"
but we should seek to know the covenant God of Jacob, who has been pleased to
reveal his name and attributes to his people. There may be much in a royal name,
or a learned name, or a venerable name, but it will be a theme for heavenly
scholarship to discover all that is contained in the divine name. The glorious
power of God defended and preserved the Lord Jesus through the battle of his
life and death, and exalted him above all his enemies. His warfare is now
accomplished in his own proper person, but in his mystical body, the church, he
is still beset with dangers, and only the eternal arm of our God in covenant can
defend the soldiers of the cross, and set them on high out of the reach of their
foes. The day of trouble is not over, the pleading Saviour is not silent, and
the name of the God of Israel is still the defence of the faithful. The name, "God
of Jacob," is suggestive; Jacob had his day of trouble, he wrestled,
was heard, was defended, and in due time was set on high, and his God is our God
still, the same God to all his wrestling Jacobs. The whole verse is a very
fitting benediction to be pronounced by a gracious heart over a child, a friend,
or a minister, in prospect of trial; it includes both temporal and spiritual
protection, and directs the mind to the great source of all good. How delightful
to believe that our heavenly Father has pronounced it upon our favoured heads!
Verse 2. "Send thee help from the sanctuary." Out of
heaven's sanctuary came the angel to strengthen our Lord, and from the precious
remembrance of God's doings in his sanctuary our Lord refreshed himself when on
the tree. There is no help like that which is of God's sending, and no
deliverance like that which comes out of his sanctuary. The sanctuary to us is
the person of our blessed Lord, who was typified by the temple, and is the true
sanctuary which God has pitched, and not man: let us fly to the cross for
shelter in all times of need and help will be sent to us. Men of the world
despise sanctuary help, but our hearts have learned to prize it beyond all
material aid. They seek help out of the armoury, or the treasury, or the
buttery, but we turn to the sanctuary. "And strengthen thee out of
Zion." Out of the assemblies of the pleading saints who had for ages
prayed for their Lord, help might well result to the despised sufferer, for
praying breath is never spent in vain. To the Lord's mystical body the richest
comes in answer to the pleadings of his saints assembled for holy worship as his
Zion. Certain advertisers recommend a strengthening plaster, but nothing can
give such strength to the loins of a saint as waiting upon God in the assemblies
of his people. This verse is a benediction befitting a Sabbath morning, and may
be the salutation either of a pastor to his people, or of a church to its
minister. God in the sanctuary of his dear Son's person, and in the city of his
chosen church is the proper object of his people's prayers, and under such a
character may they confidently look to him for his promised aid.
Verse 3. "Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice.
Selah." Before war kings offered sacrifice, upon the acceptance of
which the depended for success; our blessed Lord presented himself as a victim,
and was a sweet savour unto the Most High, and then he met and routed the
embattled legions of hell. Still does his burnt sacrifice perfume the courts of
heaven, and through him the offerings of his people are received as his
sacrifices and oblations. We ought in our spiritual conflicts to have an eye to
the sacrifice of Jesus, and never venture to war until first the Lord has given
us a token for good at the altar of the cross, where faith beholds her bleeding
Lord. "Selah." It is well to pause at the cross before we march
onward to battle, and with the psalmist cry "Selah." We are too much
in a hurry to make good haste. A little pausing might greatly help our speed.
Stay, good man, there is a haste which hinders; rest awhile, meditate on the
burnt sacrifice, and put thy heart right for the stern work which lieth before
Verse 4. "Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy
counsel." Christ's desire and counsel were both set upon the salvation
of his people; the church of old desired for him good speed in his design, and
the church in these latter days, with all her heart desires the complete
fulfilment of his purpose. In Christ Jesus sanctified souls may appropriate this
verse as a promise; they shall have their desire, and their plans to glorify
their Master shall succeed. We may have our own will, when our will is God's
will. This was always the case with our Lord, and yet he said, "not as I
will, but as thou wilt." What need for submission in our case; if it was
necessary to him, how much more for us?
Verse 5. "We will rejoice in thy salvation." In Jesus there
is salvation; it is his own, and hence it is called thy salvation; but it
is ours to receive and ours to rejoice in. We should fixedly resolve that come
what may, we will rejoice in the saving arm of the Lord Jesus. The people in
this psalm, before their king went to battle, felt sure of victory, and
therefore began to rejoice beforehand; how much more ought we to do this who
have seen the victory completely won! Unbelief begins weeping for the funeral
before the man is dead; why should not faith commence piping before the dance of
victory begins? Buds are beautiful, and promises not yet fulfilled are worthy to
be admired. If joy were more general among the Lord's people, God would be more
glorified among men; the happiness of the subjects is the honour of the
sovereign. "And in the name of our God we will set up our banners."
We lift the standard of defiance in the face of the foe, and wave the flag of
victory over the fallen adversary. Some proclaim war in the name of one king,
and some of another, but the faithful go to war in Jesu's name, the name of the
incarnate God, Immanuel, God with us. The times are evil at present, but so long
as Jesus lives and reigns in his church we need not furl our banners in fear,
but advance them with sacred courage.
"Jesu's tremendous name
Puts all our foes to flight;
Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb
A lion is in fight."
church cannot forget that Jesus is her advocate before the throne, and therefore
she sums up the desires already expressed in the short sentence, "The
Lord fulfil all thy petitions." Be it never forgotten that among those
petitions is that choice one, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast
given me be with me where I am."
Verse 6. "Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed." We
live and learn, and what we learn we are not ashamed to acknowledge. He who
thinks he knows everything will miss the joy of finding out new truth; he will
never be able to cry, "now know I," for he is so wise in his own
conceit that he knows all that can be revealed and more. Souls conscious of
ignorance shall be taught of the Lord, and rejoice as they learn. Earnest prayer
frequently leads to assured confidence. The church pleaded that the Lord Jesus
might win the victory in his great struggle, and now by faith she sees him saved
by the omnipotent arm. She evidently finds a sweet relish in the fragrant title
of "anointed;" she thinks of him as ordained before all worlds to his
great work, and then endowed with the needful qualifications by being anointed
of the Spirit of the Lord; and this is evermore the choicest solace of the
believer, that Jehovah himself hath anointed Jesus to be a Prince and a Saviour,
and that our shield is thus the Lord's own anointed. "He will hear him
from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand." It is
here asserted confidently that God's holiness and power would both come to the
rescue of the Saviour in his conflict, and surely these two glorious attributes
found congenial work in answering the sufferer's cries. Since Jesus was heard,
we shall be; God is in heaven, but our prayers can scale those glorious heights;
those heavens are holy, but Jesus purifies our prayers, and so they gain
admittance; our need is great, but the divine arm is strong, and all its
strength is "saving strength;" that strength, moreover, is in the hand
which is most used and which is used most readily--the right hand. What
encouragements are these for pleading saints!
Verse 6. Contrasts frequently bring out the truth vividly, and here the
church sets forth the creature confidences of carnal men in contrast with her
reliance upon the Prince Immanuel and the invisible Jehovah. "Some trust
in chariots, and some in horses." Chariots and horses make an imposing
show, and with their rattling, and dust, and fine caparisons, make so great a
figure that vain man is much taken with them; yet the discerning eye of faith
sees more in an invisible God than in all these. The most dreaded war-engine of
David's day was the war-chariot, armed with scythes, which mowed down men like
grass: this was the boast and glory of the neighbouring nations; but the saints
considered the name of Jehovah to be a far better defence. As the Israelites
might not keep horses, it was natural for them to regard the enemy's calvary
with more than usual dread. It is, therefore, all the greater evidence of faith
that the bold songster can here disdain even the horse of Egypt in comparison
with the Lord of hosts. Alas, how many in our day who profess to be the Lord's
are as abjectly dependent upon their fellow-men or upon an arm of flesh in some
shape or other, as if they had never known the name of Jehovah at all. Jesus, be
thou alone our rock and refuge, and never may we mar the simplicity of our
faith. "We will remember the name of the Lord our God."
"Our God" in covenant, who has chosen us and whom we have chosen; this
God is our God. The name of our God is JEHOVAH, and this should never be
forgotten; the self-existent, independent, immutable, ever-present, all-filling
I AM. Let us adore that matchless name, and never dishonour it by distrust or
creature confidence. Reader, you must know it before you can remember
it. May the blessed Spirit reveal it graciously to your soul!
Verse 8. How different the end of those whose trusts are different! The
enemies of God are uppermost at first, but they ere long are brought down by
force, or else fall of their own accord. Their foundation is rotten, and
therefore when the time comes it gives way under them; their chariots are burned
in the fire, and their horses die of pestilence, and where is their boasted
strength? As for those who rest on Jehovah, they are often cast down at the
first onset, but an Almighty arm uplifts them, and they joyfully stand upright.
The victory of Jesus is the inheritance of his people. The world, death, Satan,
and sin, shall all be trampled beneath the feet of the champions of faith; while
those who rely upon an arm of flesh shall be ashamed and confounded for ever.
Verse 9. The Psalm is here recapitulated. That Jesus might himself be
delivered, and might then, as our King, hear us, is the two-fold desire of the
Psalm. The first request is granted, and the second is sure to all the seed; and
therefore we may close the Psalm with the hearty shout, "God save the
King." "God save King Jesus, and may he soon come to reign."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is the prayer which the church might be
supposed offering up, had all the redeemed stood by the cross, or in Gethsemane,
in full consciousness of what was doing there. Messiah, in reading these words,
would know that he had elsewhere the sympathy he longed for, when he said to the
three disciples, "Tarry ye here, and watch with me." Matthew 26:38. It
is thus a pleasant song, of the sacred singer of Israel, to set forth the
feelings of the redeemed in their Head, whether in his sufferings or in the
glory that was to follow.--Andrew A. Bonar.
Whole Psalm. There are traces of liturgical arrangement in many of the
Psalms. There is frequently an adaptation to the circumstances of public
worship. Thus, when the Jewish church wished to celebrate the great act of
Messiah the High Priest making a sacrifice for the people on the day of
atonement, as represented in the twenty-second Psalm, a subject so solemn,
grand, and affecting, was not commenced suddenly and unpreparedly, but first a
suitable occasion was sought, proper characters were introduced, and a scene in
some degree appropriate to the great event was fitted for its reception. The
priests and Levites endeavour to excite in the minds of the worshippers an
exalted tone of reverent faith. The majesty and power of God, all the attributes
which elevate the thoughts, are called in to fill the souls of the worshippers
with the most intense emotion; and when the feelings are strung to the highest
pitch, an awful, astounding impression succeeds, when the words are slowly
chanted, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" We are to
suppose, then, that the series of Psalms, from the twentieth to the
twenty-fourth inclusive, was used as a service or office in the public worship
of the Jewish church.*--R. H. Ryland, M.A., in "The Psalms Restored to
* NOTE: This is a purely gratuitous statement, but is less unlikely
than many other assertions of annotators who have a cause to plead.--C.
Whole Psalm. Really good wishes are good things, and should be
expressed in words and deeds. The whole Psalm thus teaches. Christian sympathy
is a great branch of Christian duty. There may be a great deal of obliging
kindness in that which costs us little.--William S. Plumer.
Verse 1. "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble."
All the days of Christ were days of trouble. He was a brother born for
adversity, a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs. . . . But more
particularly it was a "day of trouble" with him when he was in
the garden, heavy and sore amazed, and his sweat was, as it were, drops of blood
falling on the ground, and his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death;
but more especially this was his case when he hung upon the cross. . . . when he
bore all the sins of his people, endured the wrath of his Father, and was
forsaken by him. Now, in this "day of trouble," both when in
the garden and on the cross, he prayed unto his Father, as he had been used to
do in other cases, and at other times; and the church here prays that God would
hear and answer him, as he did.--Condensed from John Gill.
Verse 1. "The name." Whereas they say, "The
name of the God of Jacob," thereby they mean God himself; but they thus
speak of God because all the knowledge that we have of God ariseth from the
knowledge of his name, and as to that end he hath given himself in the
Scriptures sundry names, that thereby we might know not only what he is in
himself, so far as it is meet for us to know, but especially what he is to us,
so by them, and them principally, we know him to be, as he is, not only in
himself, but unto us. . . . From this knowledge of the name of God ariseth
confidence in prayer! as when they know him, and here call him "the God
of Jacob," that is, he that hath made a covenant of mercy with him and
with his posterity, that he will be their God and they shall be his people, that
they may be bold to flee to him for succour, and confidently call upon him in
the day of their trouble to hear them, and to help them, as they do. And the
more that they know of his name, that is, of his goodness, mercy, truth, power,
wisdom, justice, etc., so may they the more boldly pray unto him, not doubting
but that he will be answerable unto his name. . . . For as among men, according
to the good name that they have for liberality and pity, so will men be ready to
come unto them in their need, and the poor will say, "I will go to such an
house, for they have a good name, and are counted good to the poor, and
merciful, all men speak well of them for their liberality;" and this name
of theirs giveth the encouragement to come boldly and often. So when we know God
thus by his name, it will make us bold to come unto him in prayer. . . . Or, if
a man be never so merciful, and others know it not, and so they are ignorant of
his good name that he hath, and that he is worthy of, they cannot, with any good
hope, come unto him, for they know not what he is; they have heard nothing of
him at all. So when, by unbelief, we hardly conceive of God and of his goodness,
or for want of knowledge are ignorant of his good name, even of all his mercy,
and of his truth, pity, and compassion that is in him, and so know not his great
and glorious name, we can have little or no heart at all to come unto him in
trouble, and seek unto him for help by prayer, as these did here; and this
maketh some so forward unto prayer, they are so well acquainted with the name
of God, that they doubt not of speeding, and others again are so backward
unto it, they are so wholly ignorant of his name.--Nicholas Bownd, 1604.
Verse 1. "The name of the God of Jacob defend thee."
This is a beautiful allusion to the history of the patriarch Jacob. Jehovah had
appeared for him, when he fled from his brother Esau, at Bethel, and Jacob said
to his household, "Let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there
an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was
with me in the way which I went." Genesis 35:3.--John Morison.
Verse 1. "The name of the God of Jacob defend thee."
Hebrew, "set thee in an high place," such as God's name is.
Proverbs 18:10. "The righteous runneth into it and is safe," as in a
tower of brass, or town of war. By the name of God is meant, Deus
nominatissimus, the most renowned God, saith Junias, and "worthy to be
praised," as Psalm 18:3; and he is called the God of Jacob here, saith
another, first, because Jacob was once in the like distress (Genesis 32:6, 7);
secondly, because he prayed to the like purpose (Genesis 35:3); thirdly, because
he prevailed with God as a prince; "and there God spake with us"
(Hosea 12:4); fourthly, because God of Jacob is the same with "God
of Israel," and so the covenant is pleaded.--John Trapp.
Verse 1. "The name of the God of Jacob defend thee."
There is an assurance of thy protection, of thy safety, in the midst of ten
thousand foes, and of thy perseverance to the end. But you will say, how will
the name of the God of Jacob defend me? Try it. I have, over and over again;
therefore I speak what I do know, and testify what I have seen. "The
name of the God of Jacob defend thee." I was once goaded by a poor
silly Irish papist to try it, who told me, in his consummate ignorance and
bigotry, that if a priest would but give him a drop of holy water, and make a
circle with it around a field full of wild beasts, they would not hurt him. I
retired in disgust at the abominable trickery of such villains, reflecting, what
a fool I am that I cannot put such trust in my God as this poor deluded man puts
in his priest and a drop of holy water! And I resolved to try what "the
name of the God of Jacob" would do, having the Father's fixed decrees,
the Son's unalterable responsibility, and the Spirit's invincible grace and
operation around me. I tried it and felt my confidence brighten. O brethren, get
encircled with covenant engagements, and covenant blood, and covenant grace, and
covenant promises, and covenant securities; then will "the Lord hear you
in the time of trouble, and the name of the God of Jacob will defend you."--Joseph
Verse 1. A sweeter wish, or a more consolatory prayer for a child of
sorrow was never uttered by man, "The Lord hear thee in the day of
trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee." And who is there of
the sons of men to whom a "day of trouble" does not come, whose
path is not darkened at times, or with whom is it unclouded sunshine from the
cradle to the grave? "Few plants," says old Jacomb, "have both
the morning and the evening sun;" and one far older than he said, "Man
is born to trouble." A "day of trouble," then, is the
heritage of every child of Adam. How sweet, as I have said, how sweet the wish, "The
Lord hear thee in the day of trouble." It is the prayer of another in
behalf of some troubled one, and yet it implies that the troubled one himself
had also prayed, "The Lord hear thee"--hear and answer thine
own prayer!--Barton Bouchier.
Verses 1, 2. The scene presented in this place to the eye of faith is
deeply affecting. Here is the Messiah pouring out his heart in prayer in the day
of his trouble; his spouse overhears his agonising groans; she is moved with the
tenderest sympathy towards him; she mingles her prayers with his; she entreats
that he may be supported and defended. . . . It may now, perhaps, be said, he is
out of the reach of trouble, he is highly exalted, he does not want our
sympathies or our prayers. True; yet still we may pray for him--see Matthew
25:40--"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me." We can pray for him in his members. And
thus is fulfilled what is written in Psalm 72:15, "And he shall live, and
to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba; prayer also shall be made for
him continually (that is, in his suffering members); and daily shall he be
praised" (that is, in his own admirable person).--Hamilton Verschoyle,
Verses 1-5. These are the words of the people, which they spake unto
God in the behalf of their king; and so they did as David desired them, namely,
pray for him. If they did thus pray for him, being desired thereunto, and it was
their bound duty so to do, and they knew it to be so, and therefore did make
conscience of it, and it had been a great fault for them to have failed in it;
then by consequence it followeth of necessity, that whensoever any of our
brethren or sisters in Christ shall desire this duty at our hands, we must be
careful to perform it; and it were a fault not to be excused in us, both against
God and them, to fail in it. Therefore we must not think that when godly men and
women at their parting or otherwise, desire our prayers, and say, "I pray
you pray for me," or, "remember me in your prayers," that these
are words of course (though I do not deny, but that many do so use them, and so
doing they take the name of God in vain); but we should be persuaded, that out
of the abundance of their feeling of their own wants they speak unto us, and so
be willing by our prayers to help to supply them. And especially we should do it
when they shall make known their estate unto us, as here David did to the
people, giving them to understand that he should or might be in great danger of
his enemies, and so it was "a time of trouble" unto him, as he
called it. . . . Most of all, this duty of prayer ought to be carefully
performed when we have promised it unto any upon such notice of their estate.
For as all promises ought to be kept, yea, though it be to our own hindrance, so
those most of all that so nearly concern them. And as if when any should desire
us to speak to some great man for them, and we promise to do it, and they trust
to it, hoping that we will be as good as our words; it were a great deceit in us
to fail them, and so to frustrate their expectation; so when any have desired us
to speak to God for them, and upon our promise they would comfort themselves
over it, if we should by negligence deceive them, it were a great fault in us,
and that which the Lord would require at our hands, though they should never
know of it. Therefore, as we ought daily to pray one for another unasked, as our
Saviour Christ hath taught us, "O our Father which art in heaven,"
etc., so more especially and by name should we do it for them that have desired
it of us. And so parents especially should not forget their children in their
prayers, which daily ask their blessing, and hope to be blessed of God by their
prayers. Secondarily, if we should neglect to pray for them that have desired it
at our hands, how could we have any hope that others whom we have desired to
pray for us should perform that duty unto us? Nay, might not we justly fear that
they would altogether neglect it, seeing we do neglect them? and should it not
be just with God so to punish us? according to the saying of our Saviour Christ,
"With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
Matthew 7:2. And I remember that this was the saying of a reverend father in the
church, who is now fallen asleep in the Lord, when any desired him to pray for
them (as many did, and more than any that I have known), he would say unto them,
"I pray you, pray for me, and pray that I may remember you, and then I hope
I shall not forget you." Therefore if we would have others pray for us, let
us pray for them.--Nicholas Bownd.
Verses 1, 5. In the first verse the psalmist says, "The Lord
hear thee in the day if trouble;" and in the fifth he says, "The
Lord perform all thy petitions." Does he in both these cases refer to
one and the same time? The prayers mentioned in the first verse are offered in "the
day of trouble," in the days of his flesh; are the petitions to which
he refers in the fourth verse also offered in the days of his flesh? Many think
not. Before our blessed Saviour departed out of this world, he prayed to the
Father for those whom he had given him, that he would keep them from the evil of
the world, that they might be one, even as he was one with the Father. He prayed
too for his murderers. After his ascension into heaven, he sat down at the right
hand of the Father, where he "maketh intercession for us." "If
any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the
righteous." It is to this, as many think, that the prophet refers when he
says, "The Lord perform all thy petitions;" to the intercession
which he is continually making for us.--F. H. Dunwell.
Verse 2. "Send thee help from the sanctuary." Here we
see the nature of true faith, that it causeth us to see help in heaven,
and so to pray for it when there is none to be seen in the earth. And this is
the difference between faith and unbelief; that the very unbelievers can by
reason conceive of help, so long as they have any means to help them; but if
they fail they can see none at all; so they are like unto those that are
purblind, who can see nothing but near at hand. But faith seeth afar off, even
into heaven, so that it is "the evidence of things that are not seen;"
for it looketh unto the power of God, who hath all means in his hand, or can
work without them, who made all of nothing, and "calleth the things that be
not, as though they were." So that as the holy martyr Stephen, when his
enemies were ready to burst for anger, and gnash at him with their teeth, looked
steadfastly into heaven, and saw Christ standing at the right hand of God ready
to defend him; so faith in the promises of the word doth see help in heaven
ready for us, when there are no means in earth,--Nicholas Bownd.
Verse 2. "Send thee help from the sanctuary." Why "from
the sanctuary," but because the Lord presented himself there as upon
the mercy-seat! The sanctuary was in Zion, the mercy-seat was in the sanctuary,
the Lord was in the mercy-seat; he would have himself set forth as residing
there. Herein they pray, and pray in faith, for help and strength.--David
Verse 2. "Strengthen thee out of Zion." That is, out
of the assemblies of the saints, where they are praying hard for thy welfare.--John
Verse 3. "Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt
sacrifice." "All thy offerings;" the humiliation that brought
him from heaven to earth; the patient tabernacling in the womb of the holy
Virgin; the poor nativity; the hard manger; ox and ass for courtiers; the weary
flight into Egypt; the poor cottage at Nazareth; the doing all good, and bearing
all evil; the miracles, the sermons, the teachings; the being called a man
gluttonous and a wine-bibber, the friend of publicans and sinners; the
attribution of his wondrous deeds to Beelzebub. "And accept thy burnt
sacrifice." As every part of the victim was consumed in a burnt
sacrifice, so what limb, what sense of our dear Lord did not agonise in his
passion? The thorny crown on his head; the nails in his hands and feet; the
reproaches that filled his ears; the gloating multitude on whom his dying gaze
rested; the vinegar and the gall; the evil odours of the hill of death and
corruption. The ploughers ploughed upon his back, and made long furrows; his
most sacred face was smitten with the palm of the hand, his head with the reed.
What could have been done more for the vineyard than he did not do in it? Isaiah
5:4. So, what more could have been borne by the vine, that this dear Vine did
not bear? "Remember" them now, O Father, call to mind for us
sinners, for us miserable sinners, and for our salvation, "all"
these "offerings;" "accept," instead of our eternal
punishment, who are guilty, his "burnt sacrifice," who did no
sin, neither was guile found in his mouth!--Dionysius, and Gerhohus
(1093-1169), quoted by J. M. Neale.
Verse 3. "Accept:" Hebrew, "turn to
ashes," by fire form heaven, in token of his acceptance, as was
Verse 3. "That thy burnt offering may be fat." That
is, abundant, fruitful, and full. But here we must understand this burnt
offering, as we did the sacrifice, in a spiritual sense, as we have before
observed. Thus Christ offered up himself wholly upon the cross to be consumed by
the fire of love. And here, instead of "all thy sacrifice," it might
be rendered "the whole of thy sacrifice." Even as burnt sacrifice (holocaustum)
signifies the whole of it being burnt with fire. By which groanings of the
Spirit, he shows and teaches the righteous, that they should pray and hope that
none of their sufferings shall be vain, but that all shall be well-pleasing,
remembered, and fully acceptable.--Martin Luther.
Verse 3. "Selah." * This word, in the judgment of the
learned, is sometime vox optantis, the voice of one that wisheth,
equivalent to amen; of vox admirantis, the voice of one admiring,
showing some special matter; or vox affirmantis, of one affirming,
avouching what is said; or vox meditantis, of one meditating, requiring
consideration of what is said. But withal, it is a rest in music. Jerome saith
it is commutatio metri, or vicissitudo canendi.--Edward Marbury.
* See pages 25, 29, 38. Psalm 3.
Verse 4. "Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil
all thy counsel." Let us here call to mind the zealous and earnest
desire of the Redeemer to accomplish his work, "I have a baptism to be
baptised with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." Luke
12:50. "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I
suffer" (Luke 22:15); that he might leave a memorial of his sufferings and
death, for the strengthening and refreshing of their souls. These earnest
desires and anticipations did the Father satisfy, as of one with whom he was
well pleased.--W. Wilson.
Verse 4. "Fulfil all thy counsel;" whatever was
agreed upon in the counsel and covenant of peace between him and his Father,
relating to his own glory, and the salvation of his people.--John Gill.
Verse 4. "Fulfil all thy counsel." Answer thee, ad
cardinem desiderii, as a father, Augustine, expresseth it; let it be unto
thee even as thou wilt. Sometimes God doth not only grant a man's prayer, but
fulfilleth his counsel; that is, in that very way, by that very means, which his
judgment pitched upon in his thoughts.--John Trapp.
Verse 5 (first clause). Whosoever do partake with Christ's
subjects in trouble, shall share with them also in the joy of their deliverance;
therefore it is said, "We will rejoice in thy salvation."--David
Verse 5. "In the name of our God." As those cried
out, Judges 7:20, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon;" and as we
have it in Joshua 6:20, "And the people shouted, and the walls of Jericho
fell down;" and king Abiah, crying out with his men in the same, killed
five hundred thousand of the children of Israel; and so now also, according to
the military custom in our day, the soldiers boast in the name and glory of
their general, in order to encourage themselves against their enemies. And it is
just this custom that the present verse is now teaching, only in a godly and
religious manner.--Martin Luther.
Verse 5. "In the name of our God we will set up our
banners." The banners formerly so much used were a part of military
equipage, borne in times of war to assemble, direct, distinguish, and encourage
the troops. They might possibly be used for other purposes also. Occasions of
joy, splendid processions, and especially a royal habitation, might severally be
distinguished in this way. The words of the psalmist may perhaps be wholly
figurative: but if they should be literally understood, the allusion of erecting
a banner in the name of the Lord, acknowledging his glory, and imploring his
favour, might be justified from an existing practice. Certain it is that we find
this custom prevalent on this very principle in other places, into which it
might originally have been introduced from Judea. Thus Mr. Turner (Embassy to
Thibet, p. 31), says, "I was told that it was a custom with the Soobah
to ascend the hill every month, when he sets up a white flag, and performs some
religious ceremonies, to conciliate the favour of a dewata, or invisible being,
the genius of the place, who is said to hover about the summit, dispensing at
his will, good and evil to every thing around him.--Samuel Burder's
"Oriental Customs," 1812.
Verse 5. "In the name of our God we will set up our
banners." In all religious as well as warlike processions the people
carry banners. Hence, on the pinnacles of their sacred cars, on the domes or
gateways of their temples, and on the roof of a new house, may be seen the
banner of the caste of sect, floating in the air. Siva the Supreme, also, is
described as having a banner in the celestial world.--Joseph Robert's
Verse 5. "In the name of our God we will set up our
banners." 1. We will wage war in his name, we will see that our cause
be good, and make his glory our end in every expedition; we will ask counsel at
his mouth, and take him along with us; we will follow his conduct, implore his
aid, and depend upon it, and refer the issue to him. David went against Goliath
in the name of the Lord of hosts. 1 Samuel 17:45. 2. We will celebrate our
victories in his name. When "we lift up our banners" in
triumph, and set up our trophies, it shall be "in the name of our
God," he shall have all the glory of our success, and no instrument
shall have any part of the honour that is due to him.--Matthew Henry.
Verse 5. "'We will set up our banners." Confession of
Christ, as the only name whereby we can be saved, is the "banner"
which distinguishes his faithful people. O that this confession were more
distinct, more pure, more zealous, in those who seem to be his followers, then
would they be more united, more bold, in the profession of their religion, more
successful in the cause of Christ, terrible as an army with "banners."
Canticles 5:4.--W. Wilson.
Verse 5. "Our banners." Will you know the staff, the
colours, and the flag or streamer of this ensign? Why, the staff is his cross,
the colours are blood and water, and the streamer the gospel, or preaching of
them to the world. The staff that carried the colours, was of old time fashioned
like a cross, a cross bar near the top there was, from which the flag or
streamer hung; so as it were prefiguring, that all the hosts and armies of the
nations were one day to be gathered under the banner of the cross, to
which soldiers should daily flow out of all the nations and kingdoms of the
earth.--Mark Frank, 1613-1664.
Verse 5. "The Lord fulfil all thy petitions," for
thyself and for others, now that thou sittest on the right hand of the Father,
pleading for us and showing thy side and thy wounds.--Dionysius, quoted by
Verse 6. "Now know I." A sudden change of number,
speaking in the person of one, thereby to note the unity and consent of the
people to this prayer, as though they had been all one, and uttered it all with
one mouth. "The Lord will help his anointed;" that is, his
king, whom he hath established. See Psalm 2:2; 18:50. "And will hear him
(see verse 1), from his sanctuary." One readeth it thus--"from
the heavens of his holiness;" meaning, from heaven where his holiness
Verse 6. "He will hear him." I would be glad of the
prayers of all the churches of Christ; O that there were not a saint on earth
but that I were by name in his morning and evening prayer (whosoever that art
that readest, I beseech thee pray for me); but above all, let me have a property
in those prayers and intercessions that are proper only to Christ; I am
sure then I should never miscarry: Christ's prayers are heavenly, glorious, and
very effectual.--Isaac Ambrose, 1592-1674.
Verse 6. "His anointed." As priests, and sometimes
kings and prophets, were among the Jews anointed to their offices, so our
Saviour was anointed as a Prophet, to preach glad tidings to the meek; as a
Priest, to bind up the broken-hearted; and as a King to deliver the captives. As
the unction means designation and ordination, it is properly applied to the
divine person of the Mediator: he is spoken of as God, who was "anointed
with the oil of gladness above his fellows." Hebrews 1:8, 9. As the
anointing with the Holy Spirit signifies the gifts and aids of the
Holy Spirit, it terminates upon his human nature only, and not his divine
person, which has all the perfections in itself, and cannot properly, in the
sense last mentioned, be said to be anointed with the Holy Spirit. But yet as
the human nature is taken into a subsistence in his divine Person, the anointed
may properly enough be predicated and affirmed of his Person. The unction of our
Redeemer has a great stress laid upon it in Scripture. And therefore we
read, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God."
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?" 1 John
5:1; 2:22. Our Saviour's enemies were sensible of this, when they made an order,
that if "any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out out
of the synagogue." John 9:22. Our Saviour's anointing was superior
to that of any other, and more excellent as to the work to which he was
consecrated. The apostles and others, who are called his followers, had the
Spirit by measure, but Christ without measure. He is "fairer
than the sons of men" (Psalm 45:2); and had a glory as the "only
begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14, 16); and of
his fullness the apostles and all others receive. Christ's anointing answers to
that of Aaron his type; the precious ointment which was "poured upon his
head, ran down to the skirts of his garments." Psalm 133:2. Our Saviour was
so anointed, as to "fill all in all." Ephesians 1:23. He filleth all
his members, and all their faculties, with all those measures of the Spirit,
which they ever receive.--Condensed from John Hurrion, 1675-1731.
Verse 7. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we
will remember the name of the Lord our God." About Michaelmas I was in
the utmost extremity, and having gone out in very fine weather, I contemplated
the azure heavens, and my heart was so strengthened in faith (which I do not
ascribe to my own powers, but solely to the grace of God), that I thought within
myself, "What an excellent thing it is when we have nothing, and can rely
upon nothing, but yet are acquainted with the living God, who made heaven and
earth, and place our confidence alone in him, which enables us to be so tranquil
even in necessity!" Although I was well aware that I required something
that very day, yet my heart was so strong in faith that I was cheerful, and of
good courage. On coming home I was immediately waited upon by the overseer of
the workmen and masons, who, as it was Saturday, required money to pay their
wages. He expected the money to be ready, which he wished to go and pay, but
enquired, however, whether I had received anything. "Has anything
arrived?" asked he. I answered, "No, but I have faith in God."
Scarcely had I uttered the words when a student was announced, who brought me
thirty dollars from some one, whom he would not name. I then went into the room
again, and asked the other "how much he required this time for the
workmen's wages?" He answered, "Thirty dollars." "Here they
are," said I, and enquired at the same time, "if he needed any
more?" He said, "No," which very much strengthened the faith of
both of us, since we so visibly saw the miraculous hand of God, who sent it at
the very moment when it was needed.--Augustus Herman Frank, 1663-1727.
Verse 7. "Some trust in chariots," etc. Vain is the
confidence of all wickedness. In war, chariots, horses, navies, numbers,
discipline, former successes, are relied on; but the battle is not to the
strong. "Providence favours the strong battalions" may sound well in a
worldling's ear, but neither Providence nor the Bible so teaches. In peace,
riches, friends, ships, farms, stocks, are relied upon, yet they can neither
help nor save. Let him that glorieth glory in the Lord.--William S. Plumer.
Verse 7. "We will remember the name of the Lord our God."
By the name of God is generally understood, in Holy Writ, the various
properties and attributes of God: these properties and attributes make up and
constitute the name of God. As when Solomon says, "The name of the
Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe." And, by
remembering, considering, meditating upon this name of God, the psalmist
represents himself as comforted or strengthened, whatever might be the duties to
which he was called, or the dangers to which he was exposed. Others were for
looking to other sources of safety and strength, "some trusting in
chariots, and some in horses;" but the psalmist always set himself to the
"remembering the name of the Lord our God;" and always, it would seem,
with satisfaction and success. And here is the peculiarity of the passage on
which we wish to dwell, and from which we hope to draw important lessons and
truths--the psalmist "remembers the name of the Lord his God;" not
any one property or attribute of God; but the whole combination of divine
perfections. And he "remembers" this "name;" the
expression implying, not a transient thought, but meditation--consideration;
and yet the result of the recollection is gladness and confidence.--Henry
Verse 7. It is easy to persuade papists to lean on priests and saints,
on old rags and painted pictures--on any idol; but it is hard to get a
Protestant to trust in the living God.--William Arnot, 1858.
Verse 7. Weak man cannot choose but have some confidence without
himself in case of apparent difficulties, and natural men do look first to some
earthly thing wherein they confide. "Some trust in chariots, and some in
horses," some in one creature, some in another. The believer must quit
his confidence in these things, whether he have them or want them, and must rely
on what God hath promised in his word to do unto us. "But we will
remember the name of the Lord our God."--David Dickson.
Verse 7. They that "trust in chariots and horses,"
will have no king but Caesar; but the "armies in heaven" which follow
thee have themselves no arms, and no strength but in following thee.--Isaac
Verse 7. Numa being told that his enemies were coming upon him, as he
was offering sacrifices, thought it was sufficient for his safety that he could
say, I am about the service of my God. When Jehoshaphat had once established a
preaching ministry in all the cities of Judah, then, and not till then, the fear
of the Lord fell on the neighbouring nations, and they made no war; albeit, he
had before that placed forces in all the fenced cities.--Charles Bradbury.
"Some their warrior horses boast,
Some their chariots' marshall'd host;
But our trust we will proclaim
In our God Jehovah's name."
Verse 8. "They are brought down," from their horses
and chariots in which they trusted. Hebrew: they bowed down, as being
unable to stand longer because of their mortal wounds. Compare Judges 5:27. "Stand
upright." Standing firmly upon our legs, and keeping the field, as
conquerors use to do.--Matthew Poole.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Psalm has been much used for coronation, thanksgiving, and fast sermons, and no
end of nonsense and sickening flattery has been tacked thereto by the
trencher-chaplains of the world's church. If kings had been devils, some of
these gentry would have praised their horns and hoofs; for although some of
their royal highnesses have been very obedient servants of the prince of
darkness, these false prophets have dubbed them "most gracious
sovereigns," and have been as much dazzled in their presence as if they had
beheld the beatific vision.--C. H. S.
Whole Psalm. A loyal song and prayer for subjects of King Jesus.
Verse 1. Two great mercies in great trouble--hearing at the throne,
and defence from the throne.
Verses 1, 2.
Lord's trouble in its nature and its cause.
2. How the Lord exercised himself in his trouble.
3. We ought not to be unmoved spectators of the trouble of Jesus. --Hamilton
Verses 1-3. A model of good wishes for our friends.
include personal piety. The person who is spoken of prays, goes to the
sanctuary, and offers sacrifice. We must wish our friend grace.
point upward. The blessings are distinctly recognised as divine.
do not exclude trouble.
are eminently spiritual. Acceptance, etc.
Verse 2. Sanctuary help--a suggestive topic.
Verse 3. God's ceaseless respect to the sacrifice of Jesus.
Verses 3, 4. The great privilege of this fourfold acceptance in the
Verse 5. Joy in salvation, to be resolved on and practised.
Verse 5. Setting up the banner. Open avowal of allegiance,
declaration of war, index of perseverance, claim of possession, signal of
Verse 5 (last clause). The prevalence of our Lord's
intercession, and the acceptance of our prayers through him.
Verse 6. "His anointed." Our Lord as the Anointed.
When? With what unction? How? For what offices? etc.
Verse 6. "He will hear him." The ever-prevalent
Verse 6. God's "saving strength;" the strength of his
most used and most skilful hand.
Verse 6 (first clause). "Now know I." The
moment when faith in Jesus fills the soul. The time when assurance is given. The
period when a truth gleams into the soul. etc.
Verse 7. Creature confidence. Apparently mighty, well adapted,
showy, noisy, etc. Faithful trust. Silent, spiritual, divine, etc.
Verse 7. "The name of the Lord our God." Comfortable
reflections from the name and character of the true God.
Verse 8. Tables turned.
Verse 9. "Save, Lord." One of the shortest and most
pithy prayers in the Bible.
Verse 9. (last clause).
whom we come, and what then. "To a king."
2. How we come, and what it means. "We call."
3. What we want, and what it implies. "Hear us."
WORK UPON THE TWENTIETH PSALM
for the plague; that is, Godly and Fruitful Sermons upon part of the
Twentieth Psalme, full of instructions and comfort; very fit generally for all
times of affliction, but more particularly applied to this late visitation of
the Plague. Preached at the same time at Norton in Suffolke, by NICHOLAS BOWND,
Doctor of Divinite. . . . 1604." [Twenty-one Sermons on verses 1-6. 4to.]