Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
SUBJECT. The title gives us but little information; it is simply,
To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David. Probably written by David, sung by
David, relating to David, and intended by David to refer in its fullest reach of
meaning to David's Lord. It is evidently the fit companion of Psalm Twenty, and
is in its proper position next to it. Psalm Twenty anticipates what this regards
as realized. If we pray to-day for a benefit and receive it, we must, ere the
sun goes down, praise God for that mercy, or we deserve to be denied the next
time. It has been called David's triumphant song, and we may remember it as The
Royal Triumphal Ode. "The king" is most prominent throughout, and we
shall read it to true profit if our meditation of him shall be sweet while
perusing it. We must crown him with the glory of our salvation; singing of his
love, and praising his power, The next psalm will take us to the foot of the
cross, this introduces us to the steps of the throne.
DIVISION. The division of the translators will answer every purpose. A
thanksgiving for victory, verses 1 to 6. Confidence of further success, verses 7
Verse 1. "The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord."
Jesus is a Royal Personage. The question, "Art thou a King then?"
received a full answer from the Saviour's lips: "Thou sayest that I am a
King. To this end was I born, and for this purpose came I into the world, that I
might bear witness unto the truth." He is not merely a King, but the
King; King over minds and hearts, reigning with a dominion of love, before
which all other rule is but mere brute force. He was proclaimed King even on the
cross, for there, indeed, to the eye of faith, he reigned as on a throne,
blessing with more than imperial munificence the needy sons of earth. Jesus has
wrought out the salvation of his people, but as a man he found his strength in
Jehovah his God, to whom he addressed himself in prayer upon the lonely
mountain's side, and in the garden's solitary gloom. That strength so abundantly
given is here gratefully acknowledged, and made the subject of joy. The Man of
Sorrows is now anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Returned in
triumph from the overthrow of all his foes, he offers his own rapturous Te
Deum in the temple above, and joys in the power of the Lord. Herein let
every subject of King Jesus imitate the King; let us lean upon Jehovah's
strength, let us joy in it by unstaggering faith, let us exult in it in our
thankful songs. Jesus not only has thus rejoiced, but he shall do so as
he sees the power of divine grace bringing out from their sinful hiding-places
the purchase of his soul's travail; we also shall rejoice more and more as we
learn by experience more and more fully the strength of the arm of our covenant
God. Our weakness unstrings our harps, but his strength tunes them anew. If we
cannot sing a note in honour of our own strength, we can at any rate rejoice in
our omnipotent God.
"And in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!"
Everything is ascribed to God; the source is thy strength and the stream
is thy salvation.
Jehovah planned and ordained it, works it and crowns it, and therefore it is
his salvation. The joy here spoken of is described by a note of exclamation and
a word of wonder: "how greatly!" The rejoicing of our risen
Lord must, like his agony, be unutterable. If the mountains of his joy rise in
proportion to the depth of the valleys of his grief, then his sacred bliss is
high as the seventh heaven. For the joy which was set before him as he endured
the cross, despising the shame, and now that joy daily grows, for he rests in
his love and rejoices over his redeemed with singing, as in due order they are
brought to find their salvation in his blood. Let us with our Lord rejoice in
salvation, as coming from God, as coming to us, as extending itself to others,
and as soon to encompass all lands. We need not be afraid of too much rejoicing
in this respect; this solid foundation will well sustain the loftiest edifice of
joy. The shoutings of the early methodists in the excitement of the joy were far
more pardonable than our own lukewarmness. Our joy should have some sort of
inexpressibleness in it.
Verse 2. "Thou hast given him his heart's desire." That
desire he ardently pursued when he was on earth, both by his prayer, his
actions, and his suffering; he manifested that his heart longed to redeem his
people, and now in heaven he has his desire granted him, for he sees his beloved
coming to be with him where he is. The desires of the Lord Jesus were from his
heart, and the Lord heard them; if our hearts are right with God, he will in our
case also "fulfil the desires of them that fear him."
"And hast not withholden the request of his lips." What is in
the well of the heart is sure to come up in the bucket of the lips, and those
are the only true prayers where the heart's desire is first, and the lip's
request follows after. Jesus prayed vocally as well as mentally; speech is a
great assistance to thought. Some of us feel that even when alone we find it
easier to collect our thoughts when we can pray aloud. The requests of the
Saviour were not withheld. He was and still is a prevailing Pleader. Our
Advocate on high returns not empty from the throne of grace. He asked for his
elect in the eternal council-chamber, he asked for blessings for them here, he
asked for glory for them hereafter, and his requests have speeded. He is ready
to ask for us at the mercy-seat. Have we not at this hour some desire to send up
to his Father by him? Let us not be slack to use our willing, loving,
all-prevailing Intercessor. "Selah." Here a pause is very properly inserted that we may admire the blessed success of the king's prayers, and that we may prepare our own requests which may be presented through him. If we had a few more quiet rests, a few more Selahs in
our public worship, it might be profitable.
Verse 3. "For thou preventest him with the blessings of
goodness." The word prevent formerly signified to precede or
go before, and assuredly Jehovah preceded his Son with blessings. Before he died
saints were saved by the anticipated merit of his death, before he came
believers saw his day and were glad, and he himself had his delights with the
sons of men. The Father is so willing to give blessings through his Son, that
instead of his being constrained to bestow his grace, he outstrips the
Mediatorial march of mercy. "I say not that I will pray the Father for you,
for the Father himself loveth you." Before Jesus calls the Father answers,
and while he is yet speaking he hears. Mercies may be bought with blood, but
they are also freely given. The love of Jehovah is not caused by the Redeemer's
sacrifice, but that love, with its blessings of goodness, preceded the great
atonement, and provided it for our salvation. Reader, it will be a happy thing
for thee if, like thy Lord, thou canst see both providence and grace preceding
thee, forestalling thy needs, and preparing thy path. Mercy, in the case of many
of us, ran before our desires and prayers, and it ever outruns our endeavours
and expectancies, and even our hopes are left to lag behind. Prevenient grace
deserves a song; we may make one out of this sentence; let us try. All our
mercies are to be viewed as "blessings;" gifts of a blessed
God, meant to make us blessed; they are "blessings of goodness,"
not of merit, but of free favour; and they come to us in a preventing way,
a way of prudent foresight, such as only preventing love could have arranged.
In this light the verse is itself a sonnet!
"Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head." Jesus wore
the thorn-crown, but now wears the glory-crown. It is a "crown,"
indicating royal nature, imperial power, deserved honour, glorious conquest, and
divine government. The crown is of the richest, rarest, most resplendent, and
most lasting order--"gold," and that gold of the most refined
and valuable sort, "pure gold," to indicate the excellence of
his dominion. This crown is set upon his head most firmly, and whereas other
monarchs find their diadems fitting loosely, his is fixed so that no power can
move it, for Jehovah himself has set it upon his brow. Napoleon crowned himself,
but Jehovah crowned the Lord Jesus; the empire of the one melted in an hour, but
the other has an abiding dominion. Some versions read, "a crown of precious
stones;" this may remind us of those beloved ones who shall be as jewels in
his crown, of whom he has said, "They shall be mine in the day when I make
up my jewels." May we be set in the golden circlet of the Redeemer's glory,
and adorn his head for ever!
Verse 4. "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length
of days for ever and ever." The first words may suit King David, but
the length of days for ever and ever can only refer to the King Messiah. Jesus,
as man, prayed for resurrection and he received it, and now possesses it in
immortality. He died once, but being raised from the dead he dieth no more.
"Because I live, ye shall live also," is the delightful intimation
which the Saviour gives us, that we are partakers of his eternal life. We had
never found this jewel, if he had not rolled away the stone which covered it.
Verse 5. "His glory is great in thy salvation."
Immanuel bears the palm; he once bore the cross. The Father has glorified the
Son, so that there is no glory like unto that which surroundeth him. See his
person as it is described by John in the Revelation; see his dominion as it
stretches from sea to sea; see his splendour as he is revealed in flaming fire.
Lord, who is like unto thee? Solomon in all his glory could not be compared with
thee, thou once despised Man of Nazareth! Mark, reader: salvation is ascribed to
God; and thus the Son, as our Saviour, magnifies his Father; but the Son's glory
is also greatly seen, for the Father glorifies his Son.
"Honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him." Parkhurst reads,
"splendour and beauty." These are put upon Jesus as chains of gold,
and stars and tokens of honour are placed upon princes and great men. As the
wood of the tabernacle was overlaid with pure gold, so is Jesus covered with
glory and honour. If there be a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory
for his humble followers, what must there be for our Lord himself? The whole
weight of sin was laid upon him; it is but meet that the full measure of the
glory of bearing it away should be laid upon the same beloved person. A glory
commensurate with his shame he must and will receive, for well has he earned it.
It is not possible for us to honour Jesus too much; what our God delights to do,
we may certainly do to our utmost. Oh for new crowns for the lofty brow which
once was marred with thorns!
"Let him be crowned with majesty
Who bowed his head to death,
And be his honours sounded high
By all things that have breath."
Verse 6. "For thou hast made him most blessed for ever."
He is most blessed in himself, for he is God over all, blessed for ever; but
this relates to him as our Mediator, in which capacity blessedness is given to
him as a reward. The margin has it, thou hast set him to be blessings;
he is an overflowing wellspring of blessings to others, a sun filling the
universe with light. According as the Lord sware unto Abraham, the promised seed
is an everlasting source of blessings to all the nations of the earth. He is set
for this, ordained, appointed, made incarnate with this very design, that he may
bless the sons of men. Oh that sinners had sense enough to use the Saviour for
that end to which he is ordained, viz., to be a Saviour to lost and guilty
"Thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance." He
who is a blessing to others cannot but be glad himself; the unbounded good-doing
of Jesus ensures him unlimited joy. The loving favour of his Father, the
countenance of God, gives Jesus exceeding joy. This is the purest stream to
drink of, and Jesus chooses no other. His joy is full. Its source is divine. Its
continuance is eternal. Its degree exceeding all bounds. The countenance of God
makes the Prince of Heaven glad; how ought we to seek it, and how careful should
we be lest we should provoke him by our sins to hide his face from us! Our
anticipations may cheerfully fly forward to the hour when the joy of our Lord
shall be shed abroad on all the saints, and the countenance of Jehovah shall
shine upon all the blood-bought. So shall we "enter into the joy of our
Lord." So far all has been "the shout of them that triumph, the song of them that
feast." Let us shout and sing with them, for Jesus is our King, and in his
triumphs we share a part.
Verse 7. "For the king trusteth in the Lord." Our Lord, like
a true King and leader, was a master in the use of the weapons, and could handle
well the shield of faith, for he has set us a brilliant example of unwavering
confidence in God. He felt himself safe in his Father's care until his hour was
come, he knew that he was always heard in heaven; he committed his cause to him
that judgeth right, and in his last moments he committed his spirit into the
same hands. The joy expressed in the former verses was the joy of faith, and the
victory achieved was due to the same precious grace. A holy confidence in
Jehovah is the true mother of victories. This psalm of triumph was composed long
before our Lord's conflict began, but faith overleaps the boundaries of time,
and chants her "Io triumphe," while yet she sings her battle song. "Through
the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved." Eternal mercy
secures the mediatorial throne of Jesus. He who is Most High in every sense,
engages all his infinite perfections to maintain the throne of grace upon which
our King in Zion reigns. He was not moved from his purpose, nor in
his sufferings, nor by his enemies, nor shall he be moved from the
completion of his designs. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Other
empires are dissolved by the lapse of years, but eternal mercy maintains his
growing dominion evermore; other kings fail because they rest upon an arm of
flesh, but our monarch reigns on in splendour because he trusteth in Jehovah. It
is a great display of divine mercy to men that the throne of King Jesus is still
among them: nothing but divine mercy could sustain it, for human malice would
overturn it to-morrow if it could. We ought to trust in God for the promotion of
the Redeemer's kingdom, for in Jehovah the King himself trusts: all unbelieving
methods of action, and especially all reliance upon mere human ability, should
be for ever discarded from a kingdom where the monarch sets the examples of
walking by faith in God.
Verse 8. "Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand
shall find out those that hate thee." The destruction of the wicked is
a fitting subject for joy to the friends of righteousness; hence here, and in
most scriptural songs, it is noted with calm thanksgiving. "Thou hast put
down the mighty from their seats," is a note of the same song which sings,
"and hast exalted them of low degree." We pity the lost for they are
men, but we cannot pity them as enemies of Christ. None can escape from the
wrath of the victorious King, nor is it desirable that they should. Without
looking for his flying foes he will find them with his hand, for his presence is
about and around them. In vain shall any hope for escape, he will find out all,
and be able to punish all, and that too with the ease and rapidity which belong
to the warrior's right hand. The finding out relates, we think, not only to the
discovery of the hiding places of the haters of God, but to the touching of them
in their tenderest parts, so as to cause the severest suffering. When he appears
to judge the world hard hearts will be subdued into terror, and proud spirits
humbled into shame. He who has the key of human nature can touch all its springs
at his will, and find out the means of bringing the utmost confusion and terror
upon those who aforetime boastfully expressed their hatred of him.
Verse 9. "Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine
anger." They themselves shall be an oven to themselves, and so their
own tormentors. Those who burned with anger against thee shall be burned by
thine anger. The fire of sin will be followed by the fire of wrath. Even as the
smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah went up to heaven, so shall the enemies of the Lord
Jesus be utterly and terribly consumed. Some read it, "thou shalt put them
as it were into a furnace of fire." Like faggots cast into an oven they
shall burn furiously beneath the anger of the Lord; "they shall be cast
into a furnace of fire, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
These are terrible words, and those teachers do not well who endeavour by their
sophistical reasonings to weaken their force. Reader, never tolerate slight
thoughts of hell, or you will soon have low thoughts of sin. The hell of sinners
must be fearful beyond all conception, or such language as the present would not
be used. Who would have the Son of God to be his enemy when such an overthrow
awaits his foes? The expression, "the time of thine anger," reminds us
that as now is the time of his grace, so there will be a set time for his wrath.
The judge goes upon assize at an appointed time. There is a day of vengeance of
our God; let those who despise the day of grace remember this day of wrath.
"The Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour
Jehovah will himself visit with his anger the enemies of his Son. The Lord
Jesus will, as it were, judge by commission from God, whose solemn assent and
co-operation shall be with him in his sentences upon impenitent sinners. An
utter destruction of soul and body, so that both shall be swallowed up with
misery, and be devoured with anguish, is here intended. Oh, the wrath to come!
The wrath to come! Who can endure it? Lord, save us from it, for Jesu's sake.
Verse 10. "Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth."
Their life's work shall be a failure, and the result of their toil shall be
disappointment. That in which they prided themselves shall be forgotten; their
very names shall be wiped out as abominable, "and their seed from among
the children of men." Their posterity following in their footsteps
shall meet with a similar overthrow, till at last the race shall come to an end.
Doubtless the blessing of God is often handed down by the righteous to their
sons, as almost a heirloom in the family, while the dying sinner bequeaths a
curse to his descendants. If men will hate the Son of God, they must not wonder
if their own sons meet with no favour.
Verse 11. "For they intended evil against thee." God
takes notice of intentions. He who would but could not is as guilty as he who
did. Christ's church and cause are not only attacked by those who do not
understand it, but there are many who have the light and yet hate it.
Intentional evil has a virus in it which is not found in sins of ignorance; now
as ungodly men with malice aforethought attack the gospel of Christ, their crime
is great, and their punishment will be proportionate. The words "against thee"
show us that he who intends evil against the poorest believer means ill to the
King himself: let persecutors beware.
"They imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to
Want of power is the clog on the foot of the haters of the Lord Jesus. They
have the wickedness to imagine, and the cunning to devise, and
the malice to plot mischief, but blessed be God, they fail in ability;
yet they shall be judged as to their hearts, and the will shall be taken for the
deed in the great day of account. When we read the boastful threatenings of the
enemies of the gospel at the present day, we may close our reading by cheerfully
repeating, "which they are not able to perform." The serpent
may hiss, but his head is broken; the lion may worry, but he cannot devour: the
tempest may thunder, but cannot strike. Old Giant Pope bites his nails at the
pilgrims, but he cannot pick their bones as aforetime. Growling forth a hideous
"non possumus," the devil and all his allies retire in dismay from the
walls of Zion, for the Lord is there.
Verse 12. "Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou
shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them."
For a time the foes of God may make bold advances, and threaten to overthrow
everything, but a few ticks of the clock will alter the face of their affairs.
At first they advance impudently enough, but Jehovah meets them to their teeth,
and a taste of the sharp judgment of God speedily makes them flee in dismay. The
original has in it the thought of the wicked being set as a butt for God to
shoot at, a target for his wrath to aim at. What a dreadful situation! As an
illustration upon a large scale, remember Jerusalem during the siege; and for a
specimen in an individual, read the story of the death-bed of Francis Spira. God
takes sure aim; who would be his target? His arrows are sharp and transfix the
heart; who would wish to be wounded by them? Ah, ye enemies of God, your
boastings will soon be over when once the shafts begin to fly!
Verse 13. "Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength."
A sweet concluding verse. Our hearts shall join in it. It is always right to
praise the Lord when we call to remembrance his goodness to his Son, and the
overthrow of his foes. The exaltation of the name of God should be the business
of every Christian; but since such poor things as we fail to honour him as he
deserves, we may invoke his own power to aid us. Be high, O God, but do thou
maintain thy loftiness by thine own almightiness, for no other power can
worthily do it.
"So will we sing and praise thy power." For a time the saints
may mourn, but the glorious appearance of their divine Helper awakens their joy.
Joy should always flow in the channel of praise. All the attributes of God are
fitting subjects to be celebrated by the music of our hearts and voices, and
when we observe a display of his power, we must extol it. He wrought our
deliverance alone, and he alone shall have the praise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The last Psalm was a litany before the king went forth to
battle. This is apparently a Te Deum on his return.--J. J. Stewart
Perowne, B.D., in the "Book of Psalms: a New Translation, with Introduction
and Notes," 1864.
Whole Psalm. The prayer which the church offers up at the conclusion
of the preceding Psalm now issues in a hymn of praise, the result of a believing
view of the glory which is to follow, when Messiah's sufferings are ended. This
is one of the beautiful songs of which we find many in Scripture, prepared by
the Holy Spirit to awaken and enliven the hopes and expectations of the church
while she waits for the Lord, and to give utterance to her joy at the time of
his arrival. The theme is Messiah's exaltation and glory, and the time chosen
for its delivery is just the moment when darkness covered the earth, and all
nature seemed about to die with its expiring Lord. Scripture deals largely in
contrasts. It seems to be suitable to the human mind to turn from one extreme to
another. Man can endure any change, however violent and contradictory, but a
long continuance, a sameness either of joy or sorrow, has a debilitating and
depressing effect.--R. H. Ryland.
Whole Psalm. "After this I looked. . . . and behold a throne was
set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." Revelation 4:1, 2. Such may be
considered as the description of this Psalm, after the foregoing prayer.
"He who in the preceding Psalm," says St. Jerome, "was prayed for
as having taken the form of a servant, in this is King of kings, and Lord of
Whole Psalm. I am persuaded that there is not one who consents to the
application of the preceding Psalm to Christ in his trouble, who will fail to
recognise in this, Christ in his triumph. There he was in the dark valley--the
valley of Achor; now he is on the mount of Zion; there he was enduring sorrow
and travail; now he remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a spiritual seed
is born into the world; there he was beset with deadly enemies, who encompassed
him on every side; but here he has entered upon that which is written in Psalm
78:65, 66, "Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man
that shouteth by reason of wine. And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts:
he put them to a perpetual reproach."--Hamilton Verschoyle.
Whole Psalm. As you have already observed in the heading of this
Psalm, it is said to have been composed by David. He wrote of himself in the
third person, and as "the king." He penned the Psalm, not so
much for his own use, as for his people's. It is, in fact, a national anthem,
celebrating the majesty and glory of David, but ascribing both to
God--expressing confidence in David's future, but building that confidence upon
God alone.--Samuel Martin, in "Westminster Chapel Pulpit,"
Verse 1. "Thy strength. . . . thy salvation." So you
have two words, "virtus and salus," strength and
salvation. Note them well; for not virtus without salus, not salus
without virtus, neither without the other is full, nor both without Tua
Domine. In virtute is well, so it have in salute after it. For
not in strength alone is there matter of joy, every way considered. No, not in God's
strength, if it have not salvation behind it. Strength, not to smite
us down, but strength to deliver; this is the joyful side. Now turn it the other
way. As strength, if it end in salvation, is just cause for joy, so salvation,
if it go with strength, makes joy yet more joyful; for it becomes a strong
salvation, a mighty deliverance.--Launcelot Andrews (Bishop), 1555-1626,
in "Conspiracie of the Goweries."
Verse 1. "In thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice."
Oh, it is good rejoicing in the strength of that arm which shall never wither,
and in the shadow of those wings which shall never cast their feathers! In him
that is not there yesterday and here to-day, but the same yesterday, to-day, and
for ever! For as he is, so shall the joy be.--Launcelot Andrews.
Verse 2. "Thou hast given him the desire of his soul."
He desired to eat the passover, and to lay down his life when he would, and
again when he would to take it; and thou hast given it to him. "And hast
not deprived him of the good pleasure of his lips." "My
peace," saith he, "I leave with you;" and it was done.--Augustine,
Verse 2 (first clause). Good men are sure to have out their
prayers either in money, or in money's worth, as they say--in that very thing,
or a better.--John Trapp.
Verse 3. "For thou preventest him with the blessings of
goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head." The Son of
God could not be more ready to ask for the blessings of the divine goodness,
than the Father was to give them; and his disposition is the same towards all
his adopted sons. Christ, as King and Priest, weareth a crown of glory,
represented by the purest and most resplendent of metals--gold. He is pleased
to esteem his saints, excelling in different virtues, as the rubies, the
sapphires, and the emeralds, which grace and adorn that crown. Who would not be
ambitious of obtaining a place therein?--George Horne.
Verse 3. "Thou hast prevented him with the blessings of
goodness." As if he should say, "Lord, I never asked for a
kingdom, I never thought of a kingdom, but thou hast prevented me with the
blessings of thy goodness." . . . . . From whence I take up this note or
doctrine, that it is a sweet thing and worthy of all our thankful
acknowledgments, to be prevented with the blessings of God's goodness, or God's
good blessings. . . . It is no new thing for God to walk in a way of preventing
love and mercy with the children of men. Thus he hath always dealt, doth deal,
and will deal; thus he hath always dealt with the world, with the nations of the
world, with great towns and places, with families, and with particular souls. .
. . As for particular souls, you know how it was with Matthew the publican,
sitting at the receipt of custom. "Come and follow me," says Christ;
preventing of him. And you know how it was with Paul: "I was a blasphemer,
and I was a persecutor, but I obtained mercy." How so? Did he seek it
first? "No," says he, "I went breathing out threatenings against
the people of God, and God met me, and unhorsed me; God prevented me with his
grace and mercy." Thus Paul. And pray tell me what do you think of that
whole chapter of Luke--the fifteenth? There are three parables: the parable of
the lost groat, of the lost sheep, and of the lost son. The woman lost her
groat, and swept to find it; but did the groat make first toward the woman, or
the woman make after the groat first? The shepherd lost his sheep, but did the
sheep make first after the shepherd, or the shepherd after the sheep? Indeed, it
is said concerning the lost son, that he first takes up a resolution, "I
will return home to my father," but when his father saw him afar off, he
ran and met him, and embraced him, and welcomed him home. Why? But to show that
the work of grace and mercy shall be all along carried on in a way of preventing
love.--Condensed from William Bridge, 1600-1670.
Verse 3. "For thou hast prevented him with the blessings of
sweetness." Because he had first quaffed the blessings of thy
sweetness, the gall of our sins did not hurt him.--Augustine.
Verse 3. "Thou preventest him." The word "prevent"
is now generally used to represent the idea of hindrance. "Thou
preventest him," would mean commonly, "Thou hinderest him."
But here the word "prevent" means to go before. Thou goest
before him with the blessings of thy goodness as a pioneer, to make crooked ways
straight, and rough places smooth; or, as one who strews flowers in the path of
another, to render the way beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the tread.--Samuel
Verse 3 (first clause). The text is an acknowledgment of God's
goodness. God has anticipated David's wants; and he writes, "Thou
preventest--thou goest before him--with goodness." The words "blessings
of goodness" suggest that God's gifts are God's love embodied and
expressed. And this greatly enhances the value of our blessings-- that they are
cups as full of God and of God's kindness as of happiness and blessedness.--Samuel
Verse 3 (first clause). A large portion of our blessing is given
us before our asking or seeking. Existence, reason, intellect, a birth in a
Christian land, the calling of our nation to the knowledge of Christ, and Christ
himself, with many other things, are unsought bestowed on men, as was David's
right to the throne on him. No one ever asked for a Saviour till God of his own
motion promised "the seed of the woman."--William S.
Verse 3. "Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head."
Christ may be said to have a fourfold glory, or crown. 1. As God co-essential
with the Father; "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express
image of his person." Hebrews 1:1, 2, 3. 2. He hath a crown and glory as
Mediator, in respect of the power, authority, and glory wherewith he is invested
as God's great deputy, and anointed upon the hill of Zion, having power, and a
rod of iron, even in reference to enemies. 3. He hath a crown and glory in
respect of the manifestation of his glory in the executing of his offices, when
he makes his mediatory power and glory apparent in particular steps: thus
sometimes he is said to take his power to him (Revelation 11:17); and is
said to be crowned when the white horse of the gospel rides in triumph.
Revelation 6:2. The last step of this glory will be in the day of judgment; in
short, this consists in his exercising his former power committed to him as
Mediator. 4. There is a crown and glory which is in a manner put on him by
particular believers, when he is glorified by them, not by adding anything to
his infinite glory, but by their acknowledging of him to be so.--James
Verse 3. "The crown of pure gold" has respect to his
exaltation at the right hand of God, where he is crowned with glory and honour,
and this "crown" being of "pure gold," denotes
the purity, glory, solidity, and perpetuity of his kingdom.--John Gill.
Verse 4. "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even
length of days for ever and ever." The glory of God is concerned in
Christ's living for ever--1. The glory of his faithfulness: for eternal
life and blessedness were pledged to Immanuel in covenant as the reward of his
work (Psalm 110:1-4; Isaiah 9:6, 7, etc.); and it was in the anticipation and
confident hope of this, that he "endured the cross, despising the
shame." Hebrews 12:2; Psalm 16:8-11. 2. The glory of his justice.
The justice of God was honoured and fully satisfied in all its righteous demands
by the death of Christ. His subsequent life is the expression on the part of God
of that satisfaction. His perpetual life is a permanent declaration that in him
and his finished work the everlasting righteousness of Jehovah rests for ever
satisfied. Death can "never more have dominion over him:" for to
inflict the penalty again would be a violation of justice. 3. The glory of his grace.
The glory of this grace he now lives actively to promote. John 17:2. By living "ever"
at God's right hand, he appears as an eternal memorial of God's love in making
him our Mediator and Substitute--our Saviour from sin and wrath; and his
permanent appearance there will keep all heaven perpetually in mind that
"by the grace of God they are what they are," owing all to the
sovereign mercy of God through Jesus Christ. He shall appear as the blessed
medium through which all the gifts and joys of salvation shall flow to the
guilty for evermore. Thus the power of God and all his moral attributes secure
the perpetuity of the life of the risen and exalted Saviour.--Ralph Wardlaw,
Verse 4. "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him."
He asked a resurrection, saying, "Father, glorify thy Son;" and thou
gavest it him. "Length of days for ever and ever." The
prolonged ages of this world which the church was to have, and after them an
eternity, world without end.--Augustine.
Verse 4. "He asked life of thee," etc. Thus God is
better to his people than their prayers; and when they ask but one blessing, he
answereth them as Naaman did Gehazi, with, Nay, take two. Hezekiah asked but one
life, and God gave him fifteen years, which we reckon at two lives and more. He
giveth liberally and like himself; as great Alexander did when he gave the poor
beggar a city; and when he sent his schoolmaster a ship full of frankincense,
and bade him sacrifice freely.--John Trapp.
Verses 4-8. If David had before been without the symbol of his royal
dignity, namely, the diadem, he was the more justified in praising the goodness
of God, which had now transferred it from the head of an enemy to his own.--Augustus
Verse 5. "His glory is great in thy salvation." I
remember one dying, and hearing some discourse of Jesus Christ; "Oh,"
said she, "speak more of this--let me hear more of this--be not weary of
telling his praise; I long to see him, how should I but long to hear of
him?" Surely I cannot say too much of Jesus Christ. On this blessed subject
no man can possibly hyperbolise. Had I the tongues of men and angels, I could
never fully set forth Christ. It involves an eternal contradiction, that the
creature can see to the bottom of the Creator. Suppose all the sands on the
sea-shore, all the flowers, herbs, leaves, twigs of trees in woods and forests,
all the stars of heaven, were all rational creatures; and had they that wisdom
and tongues of angels to speak of the loveliness, beauty, glory, and excellency
of Christ, as gone to heaven, and sitting at the right hand of his Father, they
would, in all their expressions, stay millions of miles on this side Jesus
Christ. Oh, the loveliness, beauty, and glory of his countenance! Can I speak,
or you hear of such a Christ? And are we not all in a burning love, in a
seraphical love, or at least in a conjugal love? O my heart, how is it thou art
not love sick? How is it thou dost not charge the daughters of Jerusalem as the
spouse did: "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved,
that ye shall tell him, that I am sick of love." Canticles 5:8.--Isaac
Verse 5. "Honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him."
If it be demanded whether Christ were exalted unto his glory and dignity,
according to both his natures, both his Godhead and his manhood, I answer,
according to both. According to his Godhead, not as it is considered in itself,
but inasmuch as his Godhead, which from his birth unto his death did little show
itself, after his resurrection was made manifest in his manhood; for, as the
apostle saith (Romans 1:4), "He was declared mightily to be the Son of God
by the resurrection from the dead," even by the resurrection and after his
resurrection from the dead, he which was thought only to be man, was most
plainly manifested likewise to be God. Now, as touching his manhood, he was
therein exalted unto highest majesty in the heavenly places, not only shaking
off all infirmities of man's nature, but also being beautified and adorned with
all qualities of glory, both in his soul and in his body, yet so that he still
retaineth the properties of a true body, for even as he was man, he was set at
the right hand of the Father, to rule and reign over all, till all his enemies
be destroyed, and put under his feet. To knit up all in a word, Christ, God and
man, after his resurrection, was crowned with glory and honour, even such as
plainly showed him to be God, and was set on the throne of God, there to rule
and reign as sovereign Lord and King, till he come in the clouds to judge both
quick and dead. Here, then, is both matter of comfort and consolation unto the
godly, and likewise for fear and astonishment unto the wicked and ungodly.--Henry
Verse 5 (last clause). Christ was "a man of sorrows"
on earth, but he is full of joy in heaven. He that "wipes away all tears
from the eyes of his people," surely has none in his own. There was a joy
set before him before he suffered, and doubtless it was given him, when he
sat down at God's right hand. We may take the latter to be an actual donation of
the former; the joy he had in prospect when he suffered he had in possession
when he came to his throne. This is the time of his receiving the Father's
public approbation, and the tokens of his love, before the whole heavenly
assembly, which must be matter of great joy to him who so much valued and
delighted in his Father's love.--John Hurrion, 1675-1731.
Verse 5. Happy he who hath a bone, or an arm, to put the crown upon
the head of our highest King, whose chariot is paved with love. Were there ten
thousand millions of heavens created above these highest heavens, and again as
many above them, and as many above them, till angels were wearied with counting,
it were but too low a seat to fix the princely throne of that Lord Jesus (whose
ye are) above them all.--Samuel Rutherford.
Verse 6. "Thou hast made him exceeding glad:"
literally, "brightened him," possibly in allusion to the brightness of
Moses' face. Dalman Hapstone, M.A., in "The Ancient Psalms. . . . A
Literal--Translation and Notes," etc., 1867.
Verse 6. "Thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy
countenance." Though this be metamorphically used for favour,
yet is the speech not all metaphor, and that well-experienced Christians will
tell you.--Zachary Bogan, in "The Mirth of a Christian Life,"
Verse 6 (first clause). Literally, as in the Bible marginal
translation, "Thou hast set him to be blessings for ever."
Most truly said of the King in whom all the nations of the earth were to be
Verse 8. "Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy
right hand shall find out those that hate thee." By a kind of climax in
the form of expression, "hand," is followed by "right
hand," a still more emphatic sign of active strength. To "find,"
in this connection, includes the ideas of detecting and reaching. Compare 1
Samuel 23:17; Isaiah 10:10; in the latter of which places the verb is construed
with a preposition (Heb.), as it is in the first clause of the verse before us,
whereas in the other clause it governs the noun directly. If any difference of
meaning was intended, it is probably not greater than that between find
and find out in English.--Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 8. "Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy
right hand shall find out those that hate thee." Saul killed himself,
for fear of falling into the hands of his enemies, and thought death less
terrible than the shame that he would have endured in seeing himself in their
power. What will it be then "to fall into the hands of the living God"
(Hebrews 10:31), of an offended God? of God unchangeably determined to be
avenged? "Who can stand before his indignation?" says the prophet
Nahum (chap. 1:6). Who will dare look on him? Who will dare show himself? "Who
may abide the day of his coming" (Malachi 3:2) without shuddering and
fainting for fear? If Joseph's brethren were so terrified that they "could
not answer him," when he said, "I am Joseph your brother," how
will it be with sinners, when they shall hear the voice of the Son of God, when
he shall triumph over them in his wrath, and say unto them, "I am he"
whom ye despised; "I am he" whom ye have offended; "I am he"
whom ye have crucified? If these words, "I am he," overthrew the
soldiers in the garden of Olives (John 18:6), though spoken with extreme
gentleness, how will it be when his indignation bursts forth, when it falls upon
his enemies like a thunderbolt, and reduces them into dust? Then will they cry
out in terror, and say to the mountains, "Fall on us, and hide us from
the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the
Lamb." Revelation 6:16.--James Nouet.
Verse 8. "Thine hand shall find out," etc. It is not
meant only of a discovery of a person (though it be a truth, that the Lord will
discover all that are his enemies), but thine hand shall find them out,
is, it shall take hold of them, grasp them, and arrest them. "Thine hand
shall find out" all "thine enemies," though close, though
covert enemies; not only thy above-ground enemies, but thy under-ground enemies;
as well those that undermine thee, as those that assault thee.--Joseph
Verse 9. "Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of
thine anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall
devour them." How then shall it fare with sinners, when, after all,
shall come that general fire so often foretold, which shall either fall from
heaven, or ascend out of hell, or (according to Albertus Magnus), proceed from
both, and shall devour and consume all it meets with? Whither shall the
miserable fly, when that river of flames, or (to say better), that inundation
and deluge of fire shall so encompass them, as no place of surety shall be left;
where nothing can avail but a holy life; when all besides shall perish, in that
universal ruin of the whole world? What lamentations were in Rome, when it burnt
for seven days together! What shrieks were heard in Troy, when it was wholly
consumed with flames! What howling and astonishment in Pentapolis, when those
cities were destroyed with fire from heaven! What weeping there was in
Jerusalem, when they beheld the house of God, the glory of their kingdom, the
wonder of the world, involved in fire and smoke! Imagine what these people felt;
they saw their houses and goods on fire, and no possibility of saving them; when
the husband heard the shrieks and cries of his dying wife; the father, of his
little children; and, unawares, perceived himself so encompassed with flames,
that he could neither relieve them, nor free himself. What shall it then profit
the worldlings, to have rich vessels of gold and silver, curious embroideries,
precious tapestries, pleasant gardens, sumptuous palaces, and all what the world
now esteems, when they shall with their own eyes, behold their costly palaces
burnt, their rich and curious pieces of gold melted, and their flourishing and
pleasant orchards consumed, without power to preserve them or themselves? All
shall burn, and with it the world, and all the memory and fame of it shall die;
and that which mortals thought to be immortal, shall then end and perish.--Jeremy
Verse 9. "Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of
thine anger." They shall not only be cast into a furnace of fire
(Matthew 13:42), but he shall make them themselves as a fiery oven or furnace,
they shall be their own tormentors, the reflections and terrors of their own
consciences will be their hell. Those that might have had Christ to rule and
save them, but rejected him, and fought against him, even the remembrance of
that will be enough to make them to eternity a fiery oven to themselves.--Matthew
Verse 9. "Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven:" thou
shalt make them on fire within, by the consciousness of their ungodliness: "In
the time of thy countenance;" in the time of thy manifestation.--Augustine.
Verse 9. "As a fiery oven," where the burning is
extremely hot, the heat striking upon what is in it from all sides, above,
below, and about, on all hands, and the door closed from going out, or from
suffering any cool refreshment to come in.--David Dickson.
Verse 9. "As a fiery oven." Shall make them like a
vault of fire, literally, "an oven," as in our translation, or
"furnace of fire." Bishop Horsley remarks, "It describes the
smoke of the Messiah's enemies perishing by fire, ascending like the smoke of a
furnace. 'The smoke of their torments shall ascend for ever and ever.'" How
awfully grand is that description of the ruins of the cities of the plain, as
the prospect struck on Abraham's eye on the fatal morning of their destruction!
"And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the
plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a
furnace." Milton puts it--
"Overhead the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire."
Verse 9. The Chaldee reads:--"The fire of Gehenna, or
Verse 9. "The time of thine anger." If God be willing
to pour out his heavy displeasure upon those that displease him, what can hinder
his mighty arm from performing? Creatures indeed may be angry, but oftentimes,
like drones without stings, cannot hurt; as cannons charged with powder without
shot only make a roaring; like the Pope's Bulls, threaten many, hurt none but
those whose conscience is enslaved. Saul may be angry at David, but cannot find
him out; but from God's all-piercing eye none can hide himself. Satan may desire
to kill Job, Jonah may be angry till death for Nineveh's preservation; yet God
puts a bit in both their mouths, who, if he be angry, nothing can be holden out
of his reach. Princes, if they take captives, may have them rescued from them
again, as Lot was from the King of Sodom; bought with a price, as Joseph of the
Ishmaelites. But no power can rescue us from God's anger, no ransom but Christ's
blood redeem us. God's will being set afoot, all his attributes follow; if his
will say, Be angry, his eye seek out the object of his anger, and finds it; his
wisdom tempers the cup, his hand whets the sword, his arm strikes the blow. Thus
you see there is a time of God's anger for sin, because he will have it so.--John
Verse 9. "The fire shall devour them." Being troubled
by the vengeance of the Lord, after the accusation of their conscience, they
shall be given up to eternal fire to be devoured.--Augustine.
Verse 9. I have read that a frown of Queen Elizabeth killed Sir
Christopher Hatton, the Lord Chancellor of England. What then shall the frowns
of the King of nations do? If the rocks rend, the mountains melt, and the
foundations of the earth tremble under his wrath; how will the ungodly sinner
appear when he comes in all his royal glory to take vengeance on all that knew
him not, and that obeyed not his glorious gospel?--Charles Bradbury.
Verse 10. "Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and
their seed from among the children of men." A day is coming when all
the "fruits" of sin, brought forth by sinners in their words,
their writings, and their actions shall be "destroyed;" yea,
the tree itself, which had produced them, shall be rooted up, and cast into the
fire. The "seed" and posterity of the wicked, if they continue
in the way of their forefathers, will be punished like them. Let parents
consider, that upon their principles and practices may depend the salvation or
destruction of multitudes after them. The case of the Jews, daily before their
eyes, should make them tremble.--George Horne.
Verse 11. "They intended," or warped. Hebrew, have
bent or stretched. A similitude taken from weavers, who warp their yarn
before they weave: or from archers, who, when they have bent their bow and put
in their arrow, do take their aim.--John Diodati.
Verse 12. "Therefore shalt thou make them turn their
back," or thou shalt set them as a butt, "when thou shalt make
ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them." The
judgments of God are called his "arrows," being sharp, swift,
sure and deadly. What a dreadful situation, to be set as a mark and "butt"
at which these arrows are directed! View Jerusalem encompassed by the Roman
armies without, and torn to pieces by the animosity of desperate and bloody
factions within! No farther commentary is requisite upon this verse.--George
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. The joy of Jesus and of his people in the strength and
salvation of God.
Verses 1, 2. The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ contained
in the text, may be considered under three heads:
an answer to prayer.
joy therein--even in the resurrection.
3. As a necessary appendage to this--our own individual concern in his glory
and in his joy. Hamilton Verschoyle.
Verse 2. The successful Advocate.
Verse 3 (first clause). Preventing mercies.
Verse 3 (first clause). GOD GOING BEFORE US, or God's anticipation
of our necessities by his merciful dispensations. God prevents us with the
blessings of his goodness:
1. When we come into the world.
2. When we become personal transgressors.
3. When we enter upon the duties and upon the cares of mature life.
4. When, in the general course of life, we enter upon new paths.
the dark "valley of the shadow of death."
giving us many mercies without our asking for them; and thus creating occasion,
not for prayer, but for praise only.
7. By opening to us the gate of heaven, and by storing heaven with every provision
for our blessedness.--Samuel Martin.
Verse 3 (second clause). Jesus crowned.
2. The dominion bestowed.
3. The character of the crown.
4. The divine coronant.
Verse 4. Jesus ever living.
Verse 5. The glory of the Mediator.
Verse 6. The blessedness of Jesus.
Verse 7. Jesus, and example of faith and of its results.
Verse 8. The secret sinner unearthed, and deprived of all hope of
Verses 8, 9. The certainty and terror of the punishment of the wicked.
Verses 11, 12. The guilt and punishment of evil intentions.
Verse 12. The retreat of the grand army of hell.
Verse 13. A devout Doxology.
2. God alone exalted.
3. God exalted by his own strength.
4. His people singing his praise.