Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before
Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed. Of this transaction, which
reflects no credit upon David's memory, we have a brief account in 1Sa 21:1-15.
Although the gratitude of the psalmist prompted him thankfully to record the
goodness of the Lord in vouchsafing an undeserved deliverance, yet he weaves
none of the incidents of the escape into the narrative, but dwells only on the
grand fact of his being heard in the hour of peril. We may learn from his
example not to parade our sins before others, as certain vainglorious professors
are wont to do who seem as proud of their sins as old Greenwich pensioners of
their battles and their wounds. David played the fool with singular dexterity,
but he was not so real a fool as to sing of his own exploits of folly. In the
original, the title does not teach us that the psalmist composed this poem at
the time of his escape from Achish, the king or Abimelech of Gath, but that it
is intended to commemorate that event, and was suggested by it. It is well to
mark our mercies with well carved memorials. God deserves our best handiwork.
David in view of the special peril from which he was rescued, was at great pains
with this Psalm, and wrote it with considerable regularity, in almost exact
accordance with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This is the second
alphabetical Psalm, the twenty-fifth being the first.
DIVISION. The Psalm is split into two great divisions at
the close of Ps 34:10, when the Psalmist having expressed his praise to God
turns in direct address to men. The first ten verses are A HYMN, and the last
twelve A SERMON. For further assistance to the reader we may subdivide thus: In
Ps 34:1-3, David vows to bless the Lord, and invites the praise of others; from
Ps 34:4-7 he relates his experience, and in Ps 34:8-10 exhorts the godly to
constancy of faith. In Ps 34:1-14, he gives direct exhortation, and follows it
up by didactic teaching from Ps 34:15-22 to the close.
Verse 1. I will bless the Lord at all times. He is resolved
and fixed, I will; he is personally and for himself determined, let
others so as they may; he is intelligent in head and inflamed in heart --he
knows to whom the praise is due, and what is due, and for what and when. To
Jehovah, and not to second causes our gratitude is to be rendered. The Lord hath
by right a monopoly in his creatures praise. Even when a mercy may remind us of
our sin with regard to it, as in this case David's deliverance from the
Philistine monarch was sure to do, we are not to rob God of his meed of honour
because our conscience justly awards a censure to our share in the transaction.
Though the hook was rusty, yet God sent the fish, and we thank him for it.
At all times, in every situation, under every circumstance,
before, in and after trials, in bright days of glee, and dark nights of fear. He
would never have done praising, because never satisfied that he had done enough;
always feeling that he fell short of the Lord's deservings. Happy is he whose
fingers are wedded to his harp. He who praises God for mercies shall never want
a mercy for which to praise. To bless the Lord is never unseasonable. His
praise shall continually be in my mouth, not in my heart merely, but
in my mouth too. Our thankfulness is not to be a dumb thing; it should be one of
the daughters of music. Our tongue is our glory, and it ought to reveal the
glory of God. What a blessed mouthful is God's praise! How sweet, how purifying,
how perfuming! If men's mouths were always thus filled, there would be no
repining against God, or slander of neighbours. If we continually rolled this
dainty morsel under our tongue, the bitterness of daily affliction would be
swallowed up in joy. God deserves blessing with the heart, and extolling with
the mouth--good thoughts in the closet, and good words in the world.
Verse 2. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord. Boasting
is a very natural propensity, and if it were used as in this case, the more it
were indulged the better. The exultation of this verse is no mere tongue
bragging, "the soul" is in it, the boasting is meant and felt before it
is expressed. What scope there is for holy boasting in Jehovah! His person,
attributes, covenant, promises, works, and a thousand things besides, are all
incomparable, unparalleled, matchless; we may cry them up as we please, but we
shall never be convicted of vain and empty speech in so doing. Truly he who
writes these words of comment has nothing of his own to boast of, but much to
lament over, and yet none shall stop him of his boast in God so long as he
lives. The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. They are usually
grieved to hear boastings; they turn aside from vauntings and lofty speeches,
but boasting in the Lord is quite another matter; by this the most lowly are
consoled and encouraged. The confident expressions of tried believers are a rich
solace to their brethren of less experience. We ought to talk of the Lord's
goodness on purpose that others may be confirmed in their trust in a faithful
Verse 3. O magnify the Lord with me. Is this request
addressed to the humble? If so it is most fitting. Who can make God great but
those who feel themselves to be little? He bids them help him to make the Lord's
fame greater among the sons of men. Jehovah is infinite, and therefore cannot
really be made greater, but his name grows in manifested glory as he is made
known to his creatures, and thus he is said to be magnified. It is well when the
soul feels its own inability adequately to glorify the Lord, and therefore stirs
up others to the gracious work; this is good both for the man himself and for
his companions. No praise can excel that which lays us prostrate under a sense
of our own nothingness, while divine grace like some topless Alp rises before
our eyes and sinks us lower and lower in holy awe. Let us exalt his name
together. Social, congregated worship is the outgrowth of one of the natural
instincts of the new life. In heaven it is enjoyed to the full, and earth is
like heaven where it abounds.
Verse 4. I sought the Lord, and he heard me. It must have
been in a very confused manner that David prayed, and there must have been much
of self sufficiency in his prayer, or he would not have resorted to methods of
such dubious morality as pretending to be mad and behaving as a lunatic; yet his
poor limping prayer had an acceptance and brought him succour: the more reason
for then celebrating the abounding mercy of the Lord. We may seek God even when
we have sinned. If sin could blockade the mercyseat it would be all over with
us, but the mercy is that there are gifts even for the rebellious, and an
advocate for men who sin. And delivered me from all my fears. God
makes a perfect work of it. He clears away both our fears and their causes, all
of them without exception. Glory be to his name, prayer sweeps the field, slays
all the enemies and even buries their bones. Note the egoism of this verse and
of those preceding it; we need not blush to speak of ourselves when in so doing
we honestly aim at glorifying God, and not at exalting ourselves. Some are
foolishly squeamish upon this point, but they should remember that when modesty
robs God it is most immodest.
Verse 5. They looked unto him, and were lightened. The
psalmist avows that his case was not at all peculiar, it was matched in the
lives of all the faithful; they too, each one of them on looking to their Lord
were brightened up, their faces began to shine, their spirits were uplifted.
What a means of blessing one look at the Lord may be! There is life, light,
liberty, love, everything in fact, in a look at the crucified One. Never did a
sore heart look in vain to the good Physician; never a dying soul turned its
darkening eye to the brazen serpent to find its virtue gone. And their faces
were not ashamed. Their faces were covered with joy but not with
blushes. He who trusts in God has no need to be ashamed of his confidence, time
and eternity will both justify his reliance.
Verse 6. This poor man cried. Here he returns to his own
case. He was poor indeed, and so utterly friendless that his life was in great
jeopardy; but he cried in his heart to the protector of his people and found
relief. His prayer was a cry, for brevity and bitterness, for earnestness and
simplicity, for artlessness and grief; it was a poor man's cry, but it was none
the less powerful with heaven, for the Lord heard him, and to be
heard of God is to be delivered; and so it is added that the Lord saved him
out of all his troubles. At once and altogether David was clean rid of all
his woes. The Lord sweeps our griefs away as men destroy a hive of hornets, or
as the winds clear away the mists. Prayer can clear us of troubles as easily as
the Lord made riddance of the frogs and flies of Egypt when Moses entreated him.
This verse is the psalmist's own personal testimony: he being dead yet speaketh.
Let the afflicted reader take heart and be of good courage.
Verse 7. The angel of the Lord. The covenant angel, the Lord
Jesus, at the head of all the bands of heaven, surrounds with his army the
dwellings of the saints. Like hosts entrenched so are the ministering spirits
encamped around the Lord's chosen, to serve and succour, to defend and console
them. Encampeth round about them that fear him. On every side the
watch is kept by warriors of sleepless eyes, and the Captain of the host is one
whose prowess none can resist. And delivereth them. We little know how
many providential deliverances we owe to those unseen hands which are charged to
bear us up lest we dash our foot against a stone.
Verse 8. O taste and see. Make a trial, an inward,
experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for
yourself; but if you taste you shall see, for this, like Jonathan's honey,
enlightens the eyes. That the Lord is good. You can only know this really
and personally by experience. There is the banquet with its oxen and fatlings;
its fat things full of marrow, and wine on the lees well refined; but their
sweetness will be all unknown to you except you make the blessings of grace your
own, by a living, inward, vital participation in them. Blessed is the man
that trusteth in him. Faith is the soul's taste; they who test the
Lord by their confidence always find him good, and they become themselves
blessed. The second clause of the verse, is the argument in support of the
exhortation contained in the first sentence.
Verse 9. O fear the Lord, ye his saints. Pay to him humble
childlike reverence, walk in his laws, have respect to his will, tremble to
offend him, hasten to serve him. Fear not the wrath of men, neither be tempted
to sin through the virulence of their threats; fear God and fear nothing else.
For there is no want to them that fear him. Jehovah will not allow
his faithful servants to starve. He may not give luxuries, but the promise binds
him to supply necessaries, and he will not run back from his word. Many whims
and wishes may remain unfulfilled, but real wants the Lord will supply. The fear
of the Lord or true piety is not only the duty of those who avow themselves to
be saints, that is, persons set apart and consecrated for holy duties, but it is
also their path of safety and comfort. Godliness hath the promise of the life
which now is. If we were to die like dogs, and there were no hereafter, yet were
it well for our own happiness' sake to fear the Lord. Men seek a patron and hope
to prosper; he prospers surely who hath the Lord of Hosts to be his friend and
Verse 10. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger. They
are fierce, cunning, strong, in all the vigour of youth, and yet they sometimes
howl in their ravenous hunger, and even so crafty, designing, and oppressing
men, with all their sagacity and unscrupulousness, often come to want; yet
simple minded believers, who dare not act as the greedy lions of earth, are fed
with food convenient for them. To trust God is better policy than the craftiest
politicians can teach or practice. But they that seek the Lord shall
not want any good thing. No really good thing shall be denied to those
whose first and main end in life is to seek the Lord. Men may call them fools,
but the Lord will prove them wise. They shall win where the world's wiseacres
lose their all, and God shall have the glory of it.
Verse 11. Come, ye children. Though a warrior and a king,
the psalmist was not ashamed to teach children. Teachers of youth belong to the
true peerage; their work is honourable, and their reward shall be glorious.
Perhaps the boys and girls of Gath had made sport of David in his seeming
madness, and if so, he here aims by teaching the rising race to undo the
mischief which he had done aforetime. Children are the most hopeful persons to
teach--wise men who wish to propagate their principles take care to win the ear
of the young. Hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. So
far as they can be taught by word of mouth, or learned by the hearing of the
ear, we are to communicate the faith and fear of God, inculcating upon the
rising generation the principles and practices of piety. This verse may be the
address of every Sabbath school teacher to his class, of every parent to his
children. It is not without instruction in the art of teaching. We should be
winning and attractive to the youngsters, bidding them "come, "and not repelling
them with harsh terms. We must get them away, apart from toys and sports, and
try to occupy their minds with better pursuits; for we cannot well teach them
while their minds are full of other things. We must drive at the main point
always, and keep the fear of the Lord ever uppermost in our teachings, and in so
doing we may discreetly cast our own personality into the scale by narrating our
own experiences and convictions.
Verse 12. Life spent in happiness is the desire of all, and
he who can give the young a receipt for leading a happy life deserves to be
popular among them. Mere existence is not life; the art of living, truly,
really, and joyfully living, it is not given to all men to know. To teach men
how to live and how to die, is the aim of all useful religious instruction. The
rewards of virtue are the baits with which the young are to be drawn to
morality. While we teach piety to God we should also dwell much upon morality
Verse 13. Keep thy tongue from evil. Guard with careful
diligence that dangerous member, the tongue, lest it utter evil, for that evil
will recoil upon thee, and mar the enjoyment of thy life. Men cannot spit forth
poison without feeling some of the venom burning their own flesh. And thy
lips from speaking guile. Deceit must be very earnestly avoided by the man
who desires happiness. A crafty schemer lives like a spy in the enemy's camp, in
constant fear of exposure and execution. Clean and honest conversation, by
keeping the conscience at ease, promotes happiness, but lying and wicked talk
stuffs our pillow with thorns, and makes life a constant whirl of fear and
shame. David had tried the tortuous policy, but he here denounces it, and begs
others as they would live long and well to avoid with care the doubtful devices
Verse 14. Depart from evil. Go away from it. Not merely take
your hands off, but yourself off. Live not near the pest house. Avoid the lion's
lair, leave the viper's nest. Set a distance between yourself and temptation.
And do good. Be practical, active, energetic, persevering in good.
Positive virtue promotes negative virtue; he who does good is sure to avoid
evil. Seek peace. Not merely prefer it, but with zeal and care endeavour
to promote it. Peace with God, with thine own heart, with thy fellow man, search
after this as the merchantman after a precious pearl. Nothing can more
effectually promote our own happiness than peace; strife awakens passions which
eat into the heart with corroding power. Anger is murder to one's own self, as
well as to its objects. And pursue it. Hunt after it, chase it with eager
desire. It may soon be lost, indeed, nothing is harder to retain, but do your
best, and if enmity should arise let it be no fault of yours. Follow after peace
when it shuns you; be resolved not to be of a contentious spirit. The peace
which you thus promote will be returned into your own bosom, and be a perennial
spring of comfort to you.
Verse 15. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous. He
observes them with approval and tender consideration; they are so dear to him
that he cannot take his eyes off them; he watches each one of them as carefully
and intently as if there were only that one creature in the universe. His
ears are open unto their cry. His eyes and ears are thus both turned by the
Lord towards his saints; his whole mind is occupied about them: if slighted by
all others they are not neglected by him. Their cry he hears at once, even as a
mother is sure to hear her sick babe; the cry may be broken, plaintive, unhappy,
feeble, unbelieving, yet the Father's quick ear catches each note of lament or
appeal, and he is not slow to answer his children's voice.
Verse 16. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
God is not indifferent to the deeds of sinners, but he sets his face against
them, as we say, being determined that they shall have no countenance and
support, but shall be thwarted and defeated. He is determinately resolved that
the ungodly shall not prosper; he sets himself with all his might to overthrow
them. To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. He will
stamp out their fires, their honour shall be turned into shame, their names
forgotten or accursed. Utter destruction shall be the lot of all the ungodly.
Verse 17. The righteous cry. Like Israel in Egypt, they cry
out under the heavy yoke of oppression, both of sin, temptation, care, and
grief. And the Lord heareth; he is like the night watchman, who no sooner
hears the alarm bell than he flies to relieve those who need him. And
delivereth them out of all their troubles. No net of trouble can so hold us
that the Lord cannot free us. Our afflictions may be numerous and complicated,
but prayer can set us free from them all, for the Lord will show himself strong
on our behalf.
Verse 18. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken
heart. Near in friendship to accept and console. Broken hearts think God far
away, when he is really most near them; their eyes are holden so that they see
not their best friend. Indeed, he is with them, and in them, but they know it
not. They run hither and thither, seeking peace in their own works, or in
experiences, or in proposals and resolutions, whereas the Lord is nigh them, and
the simple act of faith will reveal him. And saveth such as be of a contrite
spirit. What a blessed token for good is a repentant, mourning heart! Just
when the sinner condemns himself, the Lord graciously absolves him. If we
chasten our own spirits the Lord will spare us. He never breaks with the rod of
judgment those who are already sore with the rod of conviction. Salvation is
linked with contrition.
Verse 19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous. Thus
are they made like Jesus their covenant Head. Scripture does not flatter us like
the story books with the idea that goodness will secure us from trouble; on the
contrary, we are again and again warned to expect tribulation while we are in
this body. Our afflictions come from all points of the compass, and are as many
and as tormenting as the mosquitoes of the tropics. It is the earthly portion of
the elect to find thorns and briars growing in their pathway, yea, to lie down
among them, finding their rest broken and disturbed by sorrow. BUT, blessed
but, how it takes the sting out of the previous sentence! But the Lord
delivereth him out of them all. Through troops of ills Jehovah shall lead
his redeemed scatheless and triumphant. There is an end to the believer's
affliction, and a joyful end too. None of his trials can hurt so much as a hair
of his head, neither can the furnace hold him for a moment after the Lord bids
him come forth of it. Hard would be the lot of the righteous if this promise,
like a bundle of camphire, were not bound up in it, but this sweetens all. The
same Lord who sends the afflictions will also recall them when his design is
accomplished, but he will never allow the fiercest of them to rend and devour
Verse 20. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is
broken. David had come off with kicks and cuffs, but no broken bones. No
substantial injury occurs to the saints. Eternity will heal all their wounds.
Their real self is safe; they may have flesh wounds, but no part of the
essential fabric of their being shall be broken. This verse may refer to
frequent providential protections vouchsafed to the saints; but as good men have
had broken limbs as well as others, it cannot absolutely be applied to bodily
preservations; but must, it seems to me, be spiritually applied to great
injuries of soul, which are for ever prevented by divine love. Not a bone of the
mystical body of Christ shall be broken, even as his corporeal frame was
preserved intact. Divine love watches over every believer as it did over Jesus;
no fatal injury shall happen to us, we shall neither be halt or maimed in the
kingdom, but shall be presented after life's trials are over without spot or
wrinkle or any such thing, being preserved in Christ Jesus, and kept by the
power of God through faith unto salvation.
Verse 21. Evil shall slay the wicked. Their adversaries
shall be killing; they are not medicine, but poison. Ungodly men only need rope
enough and they will hang themselves; their own iniquities shall be their
punishment. Hell itself is but evil fully developed, torturing those in whom it
dwells. Oh! happy they who have fled to Jesus to find refuge from their former
sins, such, and such only will escape. And they that hate the righteous shall
be desolate. They hated the best of company, and they shall have none; they
shall be forsaken, despoiled, wretched, despairing. God makes the viper poison
itself. What desolation of heart do the damned feel, and how richly have they
Verse 22. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants --with
price and with power, with blood and with water. All providential helps are a
part of the redemption by power, hence the Lord is said still to redeem. All
thus ransomed belong to him who bought them-- this is the law of justice and the
verdict of gratitude. Joyfully will we serve him who so graciously purchases us
with his blood, and delivers us by his power. And none of them that trust in
him shall be desolate. Faith is the mark of the ransomed, and
wherever it is seen, though in the least and meanest of the saints, it ensures
eternal salvation. Believer, thou shalt never be deserted, forsaken, given up to
ruin. God, even thy God, is thy guardian and friend, and bliss is thine.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. Abimelech was king of Gath, the same with
Achish, 1Sa 21:20: who either had two names, or this of Abimelech, as it should
seem, was a common name to all the kings of the Philistines (see Ge 20:2 26:8);
as Pharaoh was to the Egyptian kings and Caesar to the Roman emperors: the name
signifies a father king, or my father king, or a royal father;
as kings should be the fathers of their country: before him David changed
his behaviour, his taste, sense, or reason; he imitated a madman. John
Whole Psalm. (This Psalm is alphabetical.) The Alphabetical
Psalms, the psalmi abcedarii, as the Latin fathers called them, are nine
in number; and I cannot help thinking it is a pity that, except in the single
instance of the hundred and nineteenth, no hint of their existence should have
been suffered to appear in our authorised version. I will not take it upon me to
affirm, with Ewald, that no version is faithful in which the acrostic is
suppressed; but I do think that the existence of such a remarkable style of
composition ought to be indicated in one way or another, and that some useful
purposes are served by its being actually reproduced in the translation. No
doubt there are difficulties in the way. The Hebrew alphabet differs widely from
any of those now employed in Europe. Besides differences of a more fundamental
kind, the Hebrew has only twenty-two letters, for our twenty-six; and of the
twenty-two, a considerable number have no fellows in ours. An exact reproduction
of a Hebrew acrostic in English version is therefore impossible. William
Whole Psalm. Mr. Hapstone has endeavoured to imitate the
alphabetical character of this Psalm in his metrical version. The letter
answering to F is wanting, and the last stanza begins with the letter answering
to R. One verse of his translation may suffice--
"At all times bless Jehovah's name will I;
His praise shall in my mouth be constantly:
Boast in Jehovah shall my soul henceforth;
Hear it, ye meek ones, and exult with mirth."
Verse 1. I will bless the Lord at all times. Mr. Bradford,
martyr, speaking of Queen Mary, at whose cruel mercy he then lay, said, If the
queen be pleased to release me, I will thank her; if she will imprison me, I
will thank her; if she will burn me, I will thank her, etc. So saith a believing
soul: Let God do with me what he will, I will be thankful. Samuel Clarks's
Verse 1. Should the whole frame of nature be unhinged, and
all outward friends and supporters prove false and deceitful, our worldly hopes
and schemes be disappointed, and possessions torn from us, and the floods of
sickness, poverty, and disgrace overwhelm our soul with an impetuous tide of
trouble; the sincere lover of God, finding that none of these affects his
portion and the object of his panting desires, retires from them all to God his
refuge and hiding place, and there feels his Saviour incomparably better, and
more than equivalent to what the whole of the universe can ever offer, or rob
him of; and his tender mercies, unexhausted fulness, and great faithfulness,
yield him consolation and rest; and enable him, what time he is afraid, to put
his trust in him. Thus we find the holy psalmist expressing himself: I will
bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my
mouth. William Dunlop.
Verse 1. S. Basil tells us that the praise of God, once
rightly impressed as a seal on the mind, though it may not always be carried out
into action, yet in real truth causes us perpetually to praise God. J. M.
Verse 2. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord. Not like
the boasting of the Pharisee, so hateful in the eyes of God, so offensive in the
ears of the humble; for the humble can hear this boasting and be glad,
which they would never do if it were not conformable to the rules of
humility. Can any boasting be greater than to say, "I can do all things"? Yet in
this boasting there is humility when I add, "In him that strengtheneth me." For
though God likes not of boasting, yet he likes of this boasting, which arrogates
nothing to ourselves, but ascribes all to him. Sir Richard Baker.
Verses 2-6. There is somewhat very striking and pleasing in
the sudden transitions, and the change of persons, that is observable in these
few verses. "My soul shall boast; ""The humble shall hear; " "I sought
the Lord; ""They looked to him; ""This poor man cried." There is a force and
elegance in the very unconnectedness of the expressions, which, had they been
more closely tied by the proper particles, would have been in a great measure
lost. Things thus separated from each other, and yet accelerated, discover, as
Longinus observes, the earnestness and the vehemency of the inward working of
the mind; and though it may seem to interrupt, or disturb the sentence, yet
quickens and enforces it. Samuel Chandler, D.D.
Verse 3. Venema remarks that after the affair with Achish,
we are told in 1Sa 22:1, "His brethren, and all his father's house went down to
the cave Adullam unto him, "and these, together with those who were in debt, and
discontented with Saul's government, formed a band of four hundred men. To these
his friends and comrades, he relates the story of his escape, and bids them with
united hearts and voices extol the Lord. C. H. S.
Verse 4. I sought the Lord, and he heard me. God expects to
hear from you before you can expect to hear from him. If you restrain prayer, it
is no wonder the mercy promised is retained. Meditation is like the lawyer's
studying the case in order to his pleading at the bar; when, therefore, thou
hast viewed the promise, and affected thy heart with the riches of it, then fly
thee to the throne of grace, and spread it before the Lord. William
Verse 4. He delivered me from all my fears. To have
delivered me from all my troubles had been a great favour, but a far greater to
deliver me from all my fears; for where that would but have freed me from
present evil, this secures me from evil to come; that now I enjoy not only
tranquillity, but security, a privilege only of the godly. The wicked may be
free from trouble, but can they be free from fear? No; God knows, though they be
not in trouble like other men, yet they live in more fear than other men.
Guiltiness of mind, or mind of the world, never suffers them to be secure:
though they be free sometimes from the fit of an ague, yet they are never
without a grudging; and (if I may use the expression of poets) though they feel
not always the whip of Tysiphone, yet they feel always her terrors; and, seeing
the Lord hath done this for me, hath delivered me from all my fears, have I not
cause, just cause, to magnify him, and exalt his name? Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 5. They looked unto him. The more we can think upon
our Lord, and the less upon ourselves, the better. Looking to him, as he is
seated upon the right hand of the throne of God, will keep our heads, and
especially our hearts, steady when going through the deep waters of affliction.
Often have I thought of this when crossing the water opposite the old place of
Langholm. I found, when I looked down on the water, I got dizzy; I therefore
fixed my eyes upon a steady object on the other side, and got comfortably
through. David Smith, 1792-1867.
Verse 6. This poor man cried. The reasons of crying
are 1. Want cannot blush. The pinching necessity of the saints is not tied to
the law of modesty. Hunger cannot be ashamed. "I mourn in my complaint, and make
a noise, "saith David Ps 55:2; and Hezekiah, "Like a crane or a swallow, so did
I chatter: I did mourn as a dove" Isa 38:14. "I went mourning without the sun: I
stood up, and I cried in the congregation" Job 30:28. 2. Though God hear prayer
only as prayer offered in Christ, not because very fervent; yet fervour is a
heavenly ingredient in prayer. An arrow drawn with full strength hath a speedier
issue; therefore, the prayers of the saints are expressed by crying in
Scripture. "O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not" Ps 22:2. "At
noon, will I pray, and cry aloud" Ps 55:17. "In my distress I cried to the Lord"
Ps 18:6. "Unto thee have I cried, O Lord" Ps 88:13. "Out of the depths have I
cried" Ps 130:1. "Out of the belly of hell cried I" Jon 2:2. "Unto thee will I
cry, O Lord my rock" Ps 28:1. Yea, it goeth to somewhat more than crying:
"I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard" Job 19:7. "Also when I cry and shout,
he shutteth out my prayer" La 3:8. He who may teach us all to pray, sweet Jesus,
"In the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with
strong crying and tears" Heb 5:7; he prayed with war shouts. 3. And these
prayers are so prevalent, that God answereth them: This poor man cried, and
the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his fears Ps 34:6. "My
cry came before him, even into his ears" Ps 18:6. The cry addeth wings to
the prayer, as a speedy post sent to court upon life and death: "Our fathers
cried unto thee, and were delivered" Ps 22:5. "The righteous cry, and the
Lord heareth" Ps 34:17. Samuel Rutherford.
Verse 7. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that
fear him, and delivereth them. I will not rub the questions, whether
these angels can contract themselves, and whether they can subsist in a point,
and so stand together the better in so great a number, neither will I trouble
myself to examine whether they are in such and such a place in their
substance, or only in their virtue and operation. But this
the godly man may assure himself of, that whensoever he shall want their help,
in spite of doors, and locks, and bars, he may have it in a moment's warning.
For there is no impediment, either for want of power because they are spirits,
or from want of good will, both because it is their duty, and because they bear
an affection to him; not only rejoicing at his first conversion Lu 15:10, but, I
dare confidently affirm, always disposed with abundance of cheerfulness to do
anything for him. I cannot let pass some words I remember of Origen's to this
purpose, as I have them from his interpreter. He brings in the angels speaking
after this manner: --"If he (meaning the Son of God) went down, and went down
into a body, and was clothed with flesh, and endured its infirmities and died
for men, what do we stand still for? Come, let's all down from heaven together."
Verse 7. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that
fear him. This is the first time that, in the psalter, we read of the
ministrations of angels. But many fathers rather take this passage of the "Angel
of the Great Counsel, "and gloriously to him it applies. J. M. Neale.
Verse 7. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that
fear him, etc. By whom may be meant, either the uncreated Angel, the
Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of God's presence, and of the covenant, the Captain
of salvation, the Leader and Commander of the people; and whose salvation is as
walls and bulwarks about them, or as an army surrounding them; or a created
angel may be intended, even a single one, which is sufficient to guard a
multitude of saints, since one could destroy at once such a vast number of
enemies, as in 2Ki 19:35; or one may be put for more, since they are an
innumerable company that are on the side of the Lord's people, and to whom they
are joined; and these may be said to encamp about them, because they are an host
or army (see Ge 32:1-2 Lu 2:13); and are the guardians of the saints, that stand
up for them and protect them, as well as minister to them. John Gill.
Verse 7. The angel of the Lord is represented in his twofold
character in this pair of Psalms, as an angel of mercy, and also as an angel of
judgment, Ps 35:6. This pair of Psalms (the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth), may
in this respect be compared with the twelfth chapter of the Acts of the
Apostles, where the angel of the Lord is displayed as encamping about St. Peter,
and delivering him, and also as smiting the persecutor, Herod Agrippa.
Christopher Wordsworth, D.D.
Verse 7. Round about. In illustration of this it may be
observed, that according to D'Arvieux, it is the practice of the Arabs to pitch
their tents in a circular form; the prince being in the middle, and the Arabs
about him, but so as to leave a respectful distance between them. And Thevenot,
describing a Turkish encampment near Cairo, having particularly; noticed the
spaciousness, decorations, and conveniences of the Bashaw's tent, or pavilion,
adds, "Round the pale of his tent, within a pistol shot, were above two hundred
tents, pitched in such a manner that the doors of them all looked towards the
Bashaw's tent; and it ever is so, that they may have their eye always upon their
master's lodging, and be in readiness to assist him if he be attacked."
Verse 8. O taste and see that the Lord is good. Our senses
help our understandings; we cannot by the most rational discourse perceive what
the sweetness of honey is; taste it and you shall perceive it. "His fruit
was sweet to my taste." Dwell in the light of the Lord, and let thy soul
be always ravished with his love. Get out the marrow and the fatness that thy
portion yields thee. Let fools learn by beholding thy face how dim their blazes
are to the brightness of thy day. Richard Alleine, in "Heaven Opened,
Verse 8. O taste and see, etc. It is not enough for thee to
see it afar off, and not have it, as Dives did; or to have it in thee, and not
to taste it, as Samson's lion had great store of honey in him, but tasted no
sweetness of it; but thou must as well have it as see it, and as well taste it
as have it. O taste and see, says he, "how sweet the Lord is; "for
so indeed Christ giveth his church not only a sight but also "a
taste" of his sweetness. A sight is where he saith thus: "We
will rise up early, and go into the vineyard, and see whether the vine have
budded forth the small grapes, and whether the pomegranates flourish; "there is
a sight of the vine. A taste is where he says thus, "I will bring
thee into the wine cellar, and cause thee to drink spice wine, and new wine of
the pomegranates; "there is a taste of the wine. The church not only goes
into the vineyard and sees the wine, but also goes into the wine cellar,
and tastes the wine. Thomas Playfere.
Verse 8. Taste and see. There are some things, especially in
the depths of the religious life, which can only be understood by being
experienced, and which even then are incapable of being adequately embodied in
words. O taste and see that the Lord is good. The enjoyment must come
before the illumination; or rather the enjoyment is the illumination. There are
things that must be loved before we can know them to be worthy of our love;
things to be believed before we can understand them to be worthy of belief. And
even after this --after we are conscious of a distinct apprehension of some
spiritual truth, we can only, perhaps, answer, if required to explain it, in the
words of the philosopher to who the question was put, "What is God?" "I know,
if I am not asked." Thomas Binney's "Sermons," 1869.
Verse 8. Taste and see. Be unwilling that all the good gifts
of God should be swallowed without taste, or maliciously forgotten, but use your
palate, know them, and consider them. D. H. Mollerus.
Verse 8. Heaven and earth are replete with the goodness of
God. We omit to open our mouths and eyes, on which account the psalmist desires
us to taste and see. Agustus F. Tholuck.
Verse 8. The taste and see invite, as it were, to a
sumptuous feast, which has long been ready; to a rich sight openly exposed to
view. The imperatives are in reality not oratory but persuasive. E. W.
Verse 8. All that the believer can attain of spiritual
consolation in this life is but a taste. David Dickson.
O taste the Lord, and see how sweet He is,
The man that trusts in him lives still in bliss.
Verses 8-10. All these verses are beautiful representations
of the fulness, suitableness, completeness, and all sufficiency of God in Christ
to answer all the wants of his people. And is there not a vast elegance in the
comparison taken from the hunger and rapacity of the lion, even the
impetuousness of the young lion, to that of the patience and silent waiting of
the faithful believer? A life of faith will find food in everything, because it
is all founded in Christ. The young lions may, and will lack, because nothing
will supply their voracious appetites but that which is carnal. Robert
Verse 10. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger, The
old lions will have it for them, if it be to be had. But they that
seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. As they would feel no evil
thing within, so they shall want no good thing without. He that freely opens the
upper, will never wholly close the nether springs. There shall be no silver
lacking in Benjamin's sack, while Joseph has it to throw in. Grace is not such a
beggarly visitant, as will not pay its own way. When the best of beings is
adored, the best of blessings are enjoyed. William Secker.
Verse 10. People are apt to fancy that a wild beast's life
must be happy--in a brute's sense--and that the carnivorous and graminivorous
creatures which have never come under the dominion of mankind are better off
than the domesticated quadrupeds which buy their quieter and safer lives at the
price of ministering to the luxuries or necessities of their human lords. But
the contrary is the case: the career of a flesh eating animal must be wretched,
even from the tiger's or leopard's point of view. They must often suffer pangs
of long continued hunger, and when they find and kill food they frequently have
to wage desperate war for the enjoyment of their victim. The cry of almost every
wild beast is so melancholy and forlorn, that it impresses the traveller with
sadness more even than with fear. If the opportunity occurs for watching them in
the chase, they are seen to sneak and sniff about, far less like "kings of the
forest, "than poor, dejected, starving wretches, desperate upon the subject of
their next meal. They suffer horribly from diseases induced by foul diet and
long abstinence; and very few are found without scars in their hide--the tokens
of terrible combats. If they live to old age their lot is piteous: their teeth
are worn down, their claws are blunt, and in this state numbers of them perish
by starvation. Not one half of the wild animals die a natural death; and their
life, so far as can be observed, is a series of stern privations, with desperate
and bloody fights among themselves. Clipping from "Daily Telegraph."
Verse 10. They that seek the Lord shall not want any good
thing. There shall be no want to such, and such shall want no good thing: so
that he must be such an one to whom the promise is made; and he must also be
sure that it is good for him which is promised. But oftentimes it is not
good for a man to abound with earthly blessings; as strong drink is not good for
weak brains. Yea, if anything be wanting to a good man, he may be sure it is not
good for him; and then better that he doth want it, than that he did enjoy it;
and what wise man will complain of the want of that, which if he had, would
prove more gainful than hurtful to him? As a sword to a madman, a knife to a
child, drink to them that have a fever or the dropsy. "No good thing will God
withhold, "etc., and therefore, not wants themselves, which to many are also
good, yea, very good things, as I could reckon up many. Want sanctified is a
notable means to bring to repentance, to work in us amendment of life, it stirs
up prayer, it weans from the love of the world, it keeps us always prepared for
the spiritual combat, discovers whether we be true believers or hypocrites,
prevents greater evils of sin and punishment to come; it makes us humble,
conformable to Christ our Head, increaseth our faith, our joy, and thankfulness,
our spiritual wisdom, and likewise our patience, as I have largely shown in
another treatise. Richard Young, in the "Poor's Advocate," 1653.
Verse 10. I remember as I came through the country, that
there was a poor widow woman, whose husband fell at Bothwell: the bloody
soldiers came to plunder her house, telling her they would take all she had. "We
will leave thee nothing, "said they, "either to put in thee, or on thee." "I
care not," said she, "I will not want as long as God is in the heavens." That
was a believer indeed. Alexander Peden's Sermon, 1682.
Verse 10. Take a survey of heaven and earth and all things
therein, and whatsoever upon sure ground appears good, ask it confidently of
Christ; his love will not deny it. If it were good for you that there were no
sin, no devil, no affliction, no destruction, the love of Christ would instantly
abolish these. Nay, if the possession of all the kingdoms of the world were
absolutely good for any saint, the love of Christ would instantly crown him
monarch of them. David Clarkson.
Verse 10. (last clause). Part of his last afternoon
was spent by Columba, in transcribing the Psalms of David. Having come to that
passage in the thirty-fourth Psalm, where it is said, They that seek
the Lord shall not want any good thing, he said, "I have come to the end of
a page, and I will stop here, for the following Ps 34:11, "Come, ye children,
hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord, "will better
suit my successor to transcribe than me. I will leave it, therefore, to
Baithen." As usual the bell was rung at midnight for prayers. Columba was the
first to hasten to church. On entering it soon after, Dermid found him on his
knees in prayer, but evidently dying. Raising him up in his arms, he supported
his head on his bosom. The brethren now entered. When they saw Columba in this
dying condition they wept aloud. Columba heard them. He opened his eyes and
attempted to speak, but his voice failed. He lifted up his hands as if to bless
them, immediately after which he breathed out his spirit. His countenance
retained in death the expression it wore in life, so that it seemed as if he had
only fallen asleep. "Story of Columba and his successors, "in the Christian
Treasury for 1848.
Verse 11. Come, ye children. Venema in substance remarks
that David in addressing his friends in the cave, called them his sons or
children, because he was about to be their teacher, and they his disciples; and
again, because they were young men in the flower of their age, and as sons,
would be the builders up of his house; and still more, because as their leader
to whose discipline and command they were subject, he had a right to address
them as his children. C. H. S.
Verse 11. Come, ye children, etc. You know your earthly
parents, aye, but labour to know your heavenly. You know the fathers of your
flesh, aye, but strive to know the Father of your spirits. You are expert it may
be in Horace's Odes, Virgil's Eclogues, Cicero's Orations; oh! but strive to get
understanding in David's Psalms, Solomon's Proverbs, and the other plain books
of Holy Writ. Manna was to be gathered in the morning. The orient pearl is
generated of the morning dew; aurora musis amica, the morning is a friend
to the muses. O "remember thy Creator, "know him in the morning of thy
childhood. When God had created the heavens and the earth, the first thing he
did was to adorn the world with light, and separate it from the darkness. Happy
is that child on whom the light of saving knowledge begins to dawn early. God,
in the law, required the firstborn, and the first fruits, so he doth still our
first days, to be offered to him. They are wisdom's words, "They that seek me
early shall find me." Pr 8:17. Where a rabbin observeth a (n is added to the verb more than usual, which in
numbering goeth for fifty. With this note, that early seeking hath not only
twenty, or thirty, but fifty, nay, indeed, an hundred fold recompense attending
on it. Nathaneal Hardy.
Verse 11. Come, ye children. David in this latter part of
the Psalm undertakes to teach children; though a man of war and anointed to be
king, he did not think it below him: though now he had his head so full of
cares, and his hands of business, yet he could find heart and time to give good
counsel to young people from his own experience. Matthew Henry.
Verse 11. Observe. I. What he expects from them, Hearken
unto me, leave your play, lay by your toys, and hear what I have to
say to you; not only give me the hearing, but observe and obey me. II. What he
undertakes to teach them, The fear of the Lord, inclusive of all the
duties of religion. David was a famous musician, a statesman, a soldier, but he
doth not say to his children, I will teach you to play upon the harp, or to
handle the sword or spear, or draw the bow, or I will teach you the maxims of
state policy, but I will teach you the fear of the Lord, which is better
than all arts and sciences, better than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. That
is it which we should be solicitous both to learn ourselves, and to teach our
children. Matthew Henry.
Verse 11. I will teach you the fear of the Lord. I shall
introduce the translation and paraphrase from my old Psalter; and
the rather because I believe there is a reference to that very improper and
unholy method of teaching youth the system of heathen mythology before they are
taught one sound lesson of true divinity, till at last their minds are
imbued with heathenism and the vicious conduct of gods, goddesses,
and heroes (here very properly called tyrants), becomes the model of their own;
and they are as heathenish without as they are heathenish within.
Translation. Cummes sones lere me: dred of Lard I sal you lere. Paraphrase.
"Cummes, with trauth and luf: sones, qwam I gette in haly lere: beres me. With
eres of hert. I sal lere you, noght the fabyls of poets; na the storys of
tryauntz; bot the dred of oure Larde, that wyl bring you til the felaghschippe
of aungels; and thar in is lyfe." I need not paraphrase this paraphrase, as it
is plain enough. Adam Clarke.
Verse 11. The fear of the Lord. The Master of Sentences
dwells, from this verse, on the four kinds of fear: mundane, servile, initial,
filial. Mundane, when we fear to commit sin, simply lest we should lose
some worldly advantage or incur some worldly inconvenience. Servile, when
we fear to commit sin simply because of hell torments due to it. Initial,
when we fear to commit it, lest we should lose the happiness of heaven.
Filial, when we fear, only, and entirely because we dread to offend that
God whom we love with all our hearts. I will teach. Whence notice, that
this fear is not a thing to be learnt all at once; it needs careful study and a
good master. S. Chrysostom compares the Psalmist's school here with the resort
of heathen students to the academy; and S. Ephraem, referring to this passage,
calls the fear of God itself the school of the mind. As if he proclaimed, "says
S. Lawrence Justiniani, "I will teach you, not the courses of the stars, not the
nature of things, not the secrets of the heavens, but the fear of the
Lord." The knowledge of such matters, without fear, puffs up; but the
fear of the Lord, without any such knowledge, can save." "Here, "says
Cassiodorus, "is not fear to be feared, but to be loved. Human fear is full of
bitterness; divine fear of sweetness: the one drives to slavery, the other
allures to liberty; the one dreads the prison of Gehenna, the other opens the
kingdom of heaven." J. M. Neale.
Verse 11. The fear of the Lord. Let this, therefore, good
children, be your principal care and study: for what shall it avail you to be
cunning in Tully, Virgil, Homer, and other profane writers, if you be unskilful
in God's book? to have learned Greek and Latin, if you learn not withal the
language of Canaan? to have your speech agreeable to the rules of Priscian, of
Lily, if your lives and courses be not consonant to the rules and laws of
Christianity? to have knowledge of the creatures when you are ignorant of the
Creator? to have learned that whereby you may live a while here, and neglect
that whereby you may live eternally hereafter? Learn to fear God, to serve God,
and then God will bless you; for "He will bless them that fear him, both small
and great." Ps 115:13. Thomas Gataker's "David's Instructor, "1637.
Verse 12. It is no great matter to live long, or always, but
to live happily. That loyal prayer, "Let the king live" (in every language)
imports a prosperous state. When the psalmist saith, "Who is the man that would
see life?" he explains himself presently after by "good days." Vivere
among the Latins is sometimes as much as valere, to live is as much as to
be well; and upon this account it is that, on the one hand, the Scripture calls
the state of the damned an eternal death, because their life is only a
continuance in misery; so on the other hand the state of the blessed is an
eternal life, because it is a perpetual abode in felicity. Nathanael
Verse 12. The benefit of life is not in the length, but in
the use of it. He sometimes lives the least that lives the longest.
Verse 13. Keep thy tongue from evil, etc. Ficinus, after his
tracts, De sanitate tuenda, of keeping good health; and another, of
recovering health; and a third, of prolonging life; because all will
not do, wisely addeth a fourth, of laying hold on eternal life;
which cannot be done but by mortifying this earthly member, a loose and lewd
tongue. "For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt
be condemned, "saith the Judge himself. Mt 12:37. Compare Ge 49:21, with De
33:23, and it will appear that good words ingratiate with God and man. John
Verse 13. And thy lips from speaking guile. Perhaps David is
warning us that we speak no guile, reflects upon his own sin in changing his
behaviour. They that truly repent of what they have done amiss, will warn others
to take heed in doing likewise. Matthew Henry.
Verse 14. Depart from evil, etc. This denotes that evil is
near to men; it keeps close to them, and should be declined and shunned: and it
regards all sorts of evil; evil men and their evil company; evil things, evil
words and works, and all appearance of evil; and the fear of the Lord shows
itself in a hatred of it, and a departure from it. Pr 8:13 16:6. John
Verse 14. Depart from evil. The other precepts are the duty
of works, and they are four, where the precepts of words were but two; because
we must be more in works than in words; and they are all affirmative, for it is
against the nature of a work to be in the negative; for so working should be no
better than idleness: the two former are general, as general as good and evil;
that if we meet with anything that is evil, our part is to depart, for
there is no demurring upon evil. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 14. Do good. Negative goodness is not sufficient to
entitle us to heaven. There are some in the world whose religion runs all upon
negatives; they are not drunkards, they are not swearers, and for this they do
bless themselves. See how the Pharisee vapours Lu 18:11, "God, I thank thee that
I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, "etc. Alas! the not
being scandalous will no more make a Christian than a cypher will make a sum. We
are bid, not only to cease from evil, but to do good. It will be a
poor plea at last--Lord, I kept myself from being spotted with gross sin: I did
no hurt. But what good is there in thee? It is not enough for the servant of the
vineyard that he doth no hurt there, he doth not break the trees, or destroy the
hedges; if he doth not work in the vineyard he loseth his pay. It is not enough
for us to say at the last day, we have done no hurt, we have lived in no gross
sin; but what good have we done in the vineyard? Where is the grace we have
gotten? If we cannot show this, we shall lose our pay, and miss of salvation.
Verse 14. Seek peace, and pursue it. Yea, do well, and thou
shalt not need to pursue it; peace will find thee without seeking. Augustine
says, Fiat justitia, et habebis pacem --Live righteously, and live
peaceably. Quietness shall find out righteousness wheresoever he lodgeth. But
she abhorreth the house of evil. Peace will not dine where grace hath not first
broken her fast. Let us embrace godliness, and "the peace of God, that passeth
all understanding, shall preserve our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ." Php
4:7. Thomas Adams.
Verse 14. See peace and pursue it. The most desirable things
are not the easiest to be obtained. What is more lovely to the imagination than
the tranquillity of peace? But this great blessing does not voluntarily present
itself: it must be sought. Even when sought it often eludes the grasp: it
flies away, and must be pursued.
1. The man of a peaceable carriage must
be cautious not to give offence when needless, or, when it may innocently be
2. Another part of the peaceable man's character is, not to
take offence; especially in small matters, which are hardly worth a wise man's
notice. 3. If any needless offence has been either given or taken, we must
endeavour to put a stop to it as soon as may be. If a difference is already
begun, stifle it in the birth, and suffer it not to proceed farther.
Condensed from Dr. Waterland's Sermon, in J. R. Pitman's Course of
Sermons on the Psalms, 1846.
Verse 15. His ears are open unto their cry. The word "open"
is not in the original, but the meaning is that the ear of God is propense, and
in a leaning kind of posture, towards the cries of the righteous; the word may
here be taken emphatically, as many times in Scripture it is, for some worthy,
choice, and excellent strain of righteousness. Those who are worthy and
righteous indeed, the ear of God, I say, is propense, and leans and hangs
towards them and their prayers, according to that of So 2:14, "Let me hear thy
voice, for sweet is thy voice." There is a kind of naturalness and pleasantness
between the ear of God and the prayers, and petitions, and cries of such a
righteous man. Joh 15:7. John Goodwin.
Verse 15. His ears are open unto their cry. Hebrew, Are
to their cry, or as St. Peter hath it, His ears are into their
prayers 1Pe 3:12; to show that though their prayers are so faint and
feeble that they cannot enter into the ears of the Lord of Hosts, yet that he
will bow down and incline his ears unto, nay, into their prayers,
their breathings. La 3:56. John Trapp.
Verses 15-17. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and
his ears are open unto their cry. Strangers may howl, and we take
little notice what they ail--it is a venture whether we relieve them or no; but
if our children cry, being in great distress, we hasten to their help. Our
relation to God may well strengthen our hope that our desires shall be heard. He
that can cry, Abba, Father, may be confident of the success of his
suit, and that God will deal with him as a son. George Swinnock.
Verse 18. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken
heart. God is nigh unto them (with reverence be it spoken), God takes
so much complacency in the company of such, that he cannot endure to have them
far from him; he must have them always under his eyes; as for these
broken ones, he will be sure not to leave them long, nor go far from
them, but will be ready at hand to set their bones, to bind up their wounds to
keep them from festering. It may be he may put them to much pain before he
brings the cure to perfection, but it is to prevent future aches. He is a
foolish cruel chirurgeon, who, for fear of putting his patient to some pain,
never searcheth the wound, but skins it over presently; and a wise man will not
think him unmerciful that puts him to exquisite pain, so he may make a thorough
cure of it. Thus God doth by his patients sometimes, when the nature of their
distemper calls for it. But, however, he will be sure not to be out of the way
when they want him most. It is possible that they may look upon themselves as
forgotten by God, they may not know their Physician when he is by them, and they
may take their Friend for an enemy; they may think God far off when he is near;
but when their eyes are opened and their distemper is pretty well worn off, they
will, with shame and thankfulness, acknowledge their error; nay, they do from
their souls confess, that they do not deserve the least look of kindness from
God, but to be counted strangers and enemies; but God will let them know that he
loves to act like himself, that is, like a God of love, mercy, and goodness; and
that they are the persons that he hath set his heart upon; he will have them in
his bosom, never leave them nor forsake them; and though these contrite ones
many times look upon themselves as lost, yet God will save them, and they shall
sing a song of thankfulness amongst his delivered ones. James Janeway.
Verse 18. The Lord is nigh unto them, etc. Consider the
ADVANTAGES of this broken heart; as I. A broken heart is acceptable and
wellpleasing to God, "A broken and a contrite heart, O God thou wilt not
despise." Ps 51:17. II. It makes up many defects in your service and duties,
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit." Ps 51:17. III. It makes the soul a
fit receptacle for God to dwell in, "For thus saith the high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place,
with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of
the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isa 57:15. IV. It
brings God near to men, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a
broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Ps 34:18.
And V. It lays you open to Christ's sweet healing, "I will bind up that which
was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick." Eze 34:16. And, oh, who
would not be broken that they might find Christ's soft hand healing them, and
find the proof of that sweet word, "For I will restore health unto thee, and I
will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord." Jer 30:17. Yea, VI. It puts you
in the right road to heaven, where all your wounds and bruises will be cured;
for there is a tree Re 22:2 the leaves whereof are for the healing of the
nations; there is no complaining there of wounds or bruises, but all are
perfectly healed. John Spalding, in "Synaxis Sacra, or a Collection of
Sermons, " etc., 1703.
Verse 18. "The Lord is nigh unto them, "etc. We are
apt to overlook men, in proportion as they are humbled beneath us; God regards
them in that proportion. Vessels of honour are made of that clay which is
"broken" into the smallest parts. George Horne.
Verse 18. Broken heart...contrite spirit. Oh, this is the
misery of all miseries which ministers have most cause to complain of, that men
are not fitted enough for Jesus Christ, they are not lost enough in themselves
for a Saviour. "In thee the fatherless findeth mercy." Ho 14:3. Were we more
hopeless, helpless, and fatherless, we should find more mercy from the hand of
Jesus Christ. O that God would awaken and shake some sin sleeping soul this day!
O that this doctrine thus opened might be as a thunderbolt to let some of you
see the inside of yourselves! O poor sinner, thou hast an unsupportable burden
of sin and guilt lying on thy soul, ready to press thee down to hell, and yet
you feel it not; thou hast the wrath of God hanging over thy head by the twined
thread of a short life, which it may be thou mayest not be free from one year,
nay, perhaps not one month, but thou seest it not; if thou didst but see it,
then thou wouldest cry out as he did in Bosworth field, "A horse! a horse! a
kingdom for a horse!" So thou wouldest cry out, None but Christ! nothing but
Christ! ten thousand worlds for Christ! James Nalton, 1664.
Verse 18. A contrite spirit. (xwr-yakd), dakkeey ruach, "the beaten out spirit." In both
words the hammer is necessarily implied; in breaking to pieces the ore
first, and then plating out the metal when it has been separated from the ore.
This will call to the reader's remembrance Jer 23:29, "Is not my word like as a
fire?" saith the Lord: and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in
pieces? The breaking to shivers, and the beating out are
metaphorical expressions: so are the hammer and the rock. What the
large hammer struck on a rock by a powerful hand would do, so does the
word of the Lord when struck on the sinner's heart by the power of the Holy
Spirit. The broken heart, and the contrite spirit, are two
essential characteristics of true repentance. Adam Clarke.
Verse 19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, etc. Be
our troubles many in number, strange in nature, heavy in measure; yet God's
mercies are more numerous, his wisdom more wondrous, his power more miraculous;
he will deliver us out of all. Thomas Adams.
Verse 19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, etc.
When David did behold his trouble, like the host of the Aramites 2Ki 6:16, he
looked back unto God like Elisha, and spied one with him stronger than all
against him. Therefore, respecting his afflictions he crieth, Many are the
troubles of the righteous; respecting the promise he says, The Lord
delivereth him out of all. Thus, by his own foot, David measures the
condition of the righteous, and saith, Many are the troubles of the
righteous; and then, by his own cure, he showeth how they should be healed,
saying, The Lord will deliver him out of them all. ...The lawyer can
deliver his client but from strife, the physician can deliver his patient but
from sickness, the master can deliver his servant but from bondage, but the Lord
delivereth us from all. As when Moses came to deliver the Israelites, he
would not leave a hoof behind him, so when the Lord cometh to deliver the
righteous he will not leave a trouble behind him. He who saith, "I put away all
thine iniquities," will also say, "I put away all thine infirmities." Henry
Verse 20. He keepeth all his bones, which were very many.
Perhaps (saith Abenezra here), David had been scourged by the Philistines, but
his bones were not broken, nor were our Saviour's. Joh 19:36. John Trapp.
Verse 20. All his bones. Muis observes, "It says not his
body, for this he permits to be afflicted; but it signifies that the
evils of the godly are light, and scarcely penetrate to the bone; "but Geier
observes, "This is too subtle, rather the bone reminds us of the essential parts
of the body, by whose injury the whole frame is endangered. It is a proverbial
form of speech like that in Mt 10:30, `The very hairs of your head are all
numbered, ' expressing the remarkable defence afforded to the righteous."
Genebrard says, "The bones are put by synecdoche for all the members." From
Verse 20. The passover lamb, of which not a bone was broken,
prefigured Jesus as one, "not a bone of whose body should be broken; " and yet,
at the same time, it prefigured the complete keeping and safety of Christ's
body, the church; as it is written, He keepeth all his bones; not one
of them is broken. Andrew A. Bonar's Commentary on Leviticus.
Verse 20. Christ's bones were in themselves breakable, but
could not actually be broken by all the violence in the world, because God had
fore decreed, a bone of him shall not be broken. So we confess God's
children mortal; but all the power of devil or man may not, must not, cannot,
kill them before their conversion, according to God's election of them to life,
which must be fully accomplished. Thomas Fuller.
Verse 20. Observe as a point of resemblance between this and
the following Psalm, the mention of the bones here and in Ps 35:10. C.
Verse 21. Evil. Afflictions though in the plural, prove not
ruinous to the righteous, for the Lord delivers him out of them all, whereas
evil in the singular slays the wicked, to signify the difference
of God's economy towards righteous and wicked men. The former is permitted to
fall into many pressures, the latter is not so frequently exercised with them,
yet the many that befall the one do no hurt, but work good for him, whereas the
few that befall the wicked, or perhaps the one singular affliction of his
life is the utter ruin of him. Henry Hammond.
Verse 21. Conscience self the culprit tortures, gnawing him with pangs
unknown; For that now amendment's season is for ever past and gone, And that
late repentance findeth pardon none for all her moan. S. Peter Damiano, 988-1072.
Verse 21. Shall be desolate. In the margin it is, shall
be guilty. And this is the proper meaning of the original word,
(wmvay). They are guilty, and liable to
punishment. Thus the word is frequently rendered in our version (see Le
4:13,22); and generally includes it in the idea of guilt, and the punishment
incurred by it. Samuel Chandler, D.D.
Verse 22. The promises of God to his church, and his
threatenings of sin recorded in the living book of his word, are not antiquate;
no age shall ever superannuate them, or put them out of full force and virtue.
What if good persons and good causes do suffer oppression? The poet is a divine
in that case--
Informes hiemes reducit
Summovet. Non si male nunc, et olim
After foul weather comes fair; though it be ill with us now, it
will not be always. What if enemies of religion and moths of commonwealth do
flourish and prosper, and have all things at will, let it not trouble David and
Job; both of them saw as fair a sunshine shut up in a dark cloud, and a world of
foul weather following. Edward Marbury.
Verse 22. Satan cannot tempt longer than God shall give him
leave; and he will never suffer thee to be tempted above measure, but will give
a good issue unto the temptation. Thou art called to fight under the banner of
Christ Jesus, and in the name of the Lord thou shalt be enabled to do valiantly
and overcome. If Satan continue his assaults, "God's grace is sufficient for
thee." 2Co 12:9. If thy strength be clean gone, God's power shall be magnified
the more in thee, and he hath brought thee low that thou mayest not trust in
thyself, but in the living Lord, and that the whole praise of the victory might
be ascribed unto him. If thy strength did remain, it was not to be leaned unto;
and now it is decayed and gone, there is no cause of fear, for the Lord will be
thy stay. In the most difficult assaults and tedious encounters, we are exhorted
to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Be of good courage,
and God will grant thee an easy, a joyful victory. Satan's drift in tempting is
to turmoil, dishearten, and perplex with fears, and drive into despair; and if
thou take heart to rest quietly upon God's grace, and fly unto his name, thou
shalt put him to flight, thou hast already got the day. Wait but awhile, and
these dark mists and terrible storms shall be dispersed. By these temptations
the Lord hath taught thee to see by weakness, and the malice of Satan; to deny
thine own wisdom and prize his favour, lightly to esteem all things here below,
and highly to value mercy reaching to the pardon of sin, and heavenly communion
and fellowship with God. And if this bitter potion hath wrought so kindly for
thy spiritual good, why shouldest thou be dismayed? Trust in the Lord, be of
good courage, and he shall strengthen thee. The Lord redeemeth the
soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be
desolate, John Ball.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Firm resolution, serious difficulties in carrying
it out, helps for its performance, excellent consequences of so doing. Six questions. --Who? "I." What? "Will bless."
Whom? "The Lord." When? "At all times." How? Why?
Verse 1. Direction for making a heaven below.
Verse 2. The commendable boaster and his gratified audience. We may boast of the Lord, in himself, his manifestations of
himself, his relationship to us, our interest in him, our expectations from him,
etc. The duty of believers to relate their experience for the
benefit of others.
Verse 3. Invitation to united praise.
Verse 3. Magnifying --or making great the work of
God, a noble exercise.
Verse 4. Confessions of a ransomed soul. Simple,
honouring to God, exclude merit, and encourage others to seek also.
Verse 4. Four stages, "fears, ""sought, ""heard,
Verse 5. The power of a faith look.
1. The poor man's heritage, "troubles."
2. The poor man's friend.
3. The poor man's cry.
4. The poor man's salvation.
Verse 6. The poor man's wealth.
The position of prayer in the economy of grace, or the natural
history of mercy in the soul.
Verse 7. Castra angelorum, salvatio bonorum.
Verse 7. The ministry of angels. In what sense Jesus is "The angel of the Lord."
Verse 8. Experience the only true test of religious truth.
Verse 8. Taste. The sanctified palate, the
recherche provision, the gratified verdict, the celestial host.
Verse 9. The blest estate of a God fearing man.
Verse 9. Fear expelling fear. Similia similibus
Verse 10. Lions lacking, but the children satisfied. See
"Spurgeon's Sermons, "No. 65.
1. Description of a true Christian, "seek the Lord."
2. The promise set forth by a contract.
3. The promise fulfilled.
Verse 10. What is a good thing?
Verse 11. A royal teacher, his youthful disciples, his mode
of instruction, "Come; "his choice subject.
Verse 11. Sunday school work.
Verses 12-14. How to make the best of both worlds.
Verse 13. Sins of the tongue--their mischief, their cause,
and their cure.
Verse 14. (first clause). The relation between the
negative and positive virtues.
Verse 14. (second clause). The royal hunt. The
game, the difficulties of the chase, the hunters, their methods, and their
Verse 15. Our observant God. Eyes and ears both set on us.
Verse 16. The evil man checkmated in life, and forgotten in
Verse 17. Afflictions and their threefold blessing.
1. They make us pray.
2. They bring us the Lord's hearing ear.
3. They afford room for joyful experience of deliverance.
Verse 18. The nearness of God to broken hearts, and the
certainty of their salvation.
Verse 19. Black and white, or bane and antidote. Special people, special trials, special deliverances, special
faith as a duty.
Verse 20. The real safety of a believer when in great
perils. His soul, his spiritual life, his faith, hope, love, etc.; his interest
in Jesus, his adoption, justification, these all kept.
Verse 21. Wickedness, its own executioner, illustrated by
scriptural cases, by history, by the lost in hell. Lessons from the solemn fact.
The forlorn condition of a man of malicious spirit.
Verses 21-22. Who shall and who shall not be desolate.
Verse 22. Redemption in its various meanings;
faith in its universal preservation; the Lord in his unrivalled
glory in the work of grace.
WORK UPON THE THIRTY-FOURTH PSALM
Meditations upon the XXXIV. Psalme, in Sir RICHARD BAKER'S