Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. A Psalm of Asaph. This is the first of the Psalms of
Asaph, but whether the production of that eminent musician, or merely dedicated
to him, we cannot tell. The titles of twelve Psalms bear his name, but it could
not in all of them be meant to ascribe their authorship to him, for several of
these Psalms are of too late a date to have been composed by the same writer as
the others. There was an Asaph in David's time, who was one of David's chief
musicians, and his family appear to have continued long after in their
hereditary office of temple musicians. An Asaph is mentioned as a recorder or
secretary in the days of Hezekiah 2Ki 18:18, and another was keeper of the royal
forests under Artaxerxes. That Asaph did most certainly write some of the Psalms
is clear from 2Ch 29:30, where it is recorded that the Levites were commanded to
"sing praises unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer, "but
that other Asaphic Psalms were not of his composition, but were only committed
to his care as a musician, is equally certain from 1Ch 16:7, where David is said
to have delivered a Psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. It matters
little to us whether he wrote or sang, for poet and musician are near akin, and
if one composes words and another sets them to music, they rejoice together
before the Lord.
DIVISION. The Lord is represented as summoning the whole
earth to hear his declaration, Ps 50:1-6; he then declares the nature of the
worship which he accepts, Ps 50:7-15, accuses the ungodly of breaches of the
precepts of the second table, Ps 50:16-21, and closes the court with a word of
threatening, Ps 50:22, and a direction of grace, Ps 50:23.
Verse 1. The mighty God, even the Lord. El, Elohim, Jehovah,
three glorious names for the God of Israel. To render the address the more
impressive, these august titles are mentioned, just as in royal decrees the
names and dignities of monarchs are placed in the forefront. Here the true God
is described as Almighty, as the only and perfect object of adoration and as the
self existent One. Hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising
of the sun until the going down thereof. The dominion of Jehovah
extends over the whole earth, and therefore to all mankind is his decree
directed. The east and the west are bidden to hear the God who makes his sun to
rise on every quarter of the globe. Shall the summons of the great King be
despised? Will we dare provoke him to anger by slighting his call?
Verse 2. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath
shined. The Lord is represented not only as speaking to the earth, but as
coming forth to reveal the glory of his presence to an assembled universe. God
of old dwelt in Zion among his chosen people, but here the beams of his
splendour are described as shining forth upon all nations. The sun was spoken of
in the first verse, but here is a far brighter sun. The majesty of God is most
conspicuous among his own elect, but is not confined to them; the church is not
a dark lantern, but a candlestick. God shines not only in Zion, but out of her.
She is made perfect in beauty by his indwelling, and that beauty is seen by all
observers when the Lord shines forth from her. Observe how with trumpet voice and flaming ensign the infinite
Jehovah summons the heavens and the earth to hearken to his word.
Verse 3. Our God shall come. The psalmist speaks of himself
and his brethren as standing in immediate anticipation of the appearing of the
Lord upon the scene. "He comes, "they say, "our covenant God is coming; "they
can hear his voice from afar, and perceive the splendour of his attending train.
Even thus should we await the long promised appearing of the Lord from heaven.
And shall not keep silence. He comes to speak, to plead with his people,
to accuse and judge the ungodly. He has been silent long in patience, but soon
he will speak with power. What a moment of awe when the Omnipotent is expected
to reveal himself! What will be the reverent joy and solemn expectation when the
poetic scene of this Psalm becomes in the last great day an actual reality! A
fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round
about him. Flame and hurricane are frequently described as the attendants of
the divine appearance. "Our God is a consuming fire." "At the brightness that
was before him his thick clouds passed, hailstones and coals of fire." Ps 18:12.
"He rode upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he did fly upon the wings of the
wind." "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in
flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God." 2Th 1:7-8. Fire is the
emblem of justice in action, and the tempest is a token of his overwhelming
power. Who will not listen in solemn silence when such is the tribunal from
which the judge pleads with heaven and earth?
Verse 4. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the
earth. Angels and men, the upper and the lower worlds, are called to
witness the solemn scene. The whole creation shall stand in court to testify to
the solemnity and the truth of the divine pleading. Both earth beneath and
heaven above shall unite in condemning sin; the guilty shall have no appeal,
though all are summoned that they may appeal if they dare. Both angels and men
have seen the guilt of mankind and the goodness of the Lord, they shall
therefore confess the justice of the divine utterance, and say "Amen" to the
sentence of the supreme Judge. Alas, ye despisers! What will ye do and to whom
will ye fly? That he may judge his people. Judgment begins at the house
of God. The trial of the visible people of God will be a most awful ceremonial.
He will thoroughly purge his floor. He will discern between his nominal and his
real people, and that in open court, the whole universe looking on. My soul,
when this actually takes place, how will it fare with thee? Canst thou endure
the day of his coming?
Verse 5. Gather my saints together unto me. Go, ye swift
winged messengers, and separate the precious from the vile. Gather out the wheat
of the heavenly garner. Let the long scattered, but elect people, known by my
separating grace to be my sanctified ones, be now assembled in one place. All
are not saints who seem to be so--a severance must be made; therefore let all who
profess to be saints be gathered before my throne of judgment, and let them hear
the word which will search and try the whole, that the false may be convicted
and the true revealed. Those that have made a covenant with me by
sacrifice; this is the grand test, and yet some have dared to imitate it.
The covenant was ratified by the slaying of victims, the cutting and dividing of
offerings; this the righteous have done by accepting with true faith the great
propitiatory sacrifice, and this the pretenders have done in merely outward
form. Let them be gathered before the throne for trial and testing, and as many
as have really ratified the covenant by faith in the Lord Jesus shall be
attested before all worlds as the objects of distinguishing grace, while
formalists shall learn that outward sacrifices are all in vain. Oh, solemn
assize, how does my soul bow in awe at the prospect thereof!
Verse 6. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness.
Celestial intelligences and the spirits of just men made perfect, shall magnify
the infallible judgment of the divine tribunal. Now they doubtless wonder at the
hypocrisy of men; then they shall equally marvel at the exactness of the
severance between the true and the false. For God is judge
himself. This is the reason for the correctness of the judgment. Priests of
old, and churches of later times, were readily deceived, but not so the all
discerning Lord. No deputy judge sits on the great white throne; the injured
Lord of all himself weighs the evidence and allots the vengeance or reward. The
scene in the Psalm is a grand poetical conception, but it is also an inspired
prophecy of that day which shall burn as an oven, when the Lord shall discern
between him that feareth and him that feareth him not. Selah. Here we may
well pause in reverent prostration, in deep searching of heart, in humble
prayer, and in awe struck expectation.
Verses 7-15. The address which follows is directed to the
professed people of God. It is clearly, in the first place, meant for Israel;
but is equally applicable to the visible church of God in every age. It declares
the futility of external worship when spiritual faith is absent, and the mere
outward ceremonial is rested in.
Verse 7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak. Because
Jehovah speaks and they are avowedly his own people, they are bound to give
earnest heed. "Let me speak, "saith the great I AM. The heavens and earth are
but listeners, the Lord is about both to testify and to judge. O Israel, and
I will testify against thee. Their covenant name is mentioned to give point
to the address; it was a double evil that the chosen nation should become so
carnal, so unspiritual, so false, so heartless to their God. God himself, whose
eyes sleep not, who is not misled by rumour, but sees for himself, enters on the
scene as witness against his favoured nation. Alas! for us when God, even our
fathers' God, testifies to the hypocrisy of the visible church. I am God,
even thy God. He had taken them to be his peculiar people above all other
nations, and they had in the most solemn manner avowed that he was their God.
Hence the special reason for calling them to account. The law began with, "I am
the Lord thy God, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, "and now the
session of their judgment opens with the same reminder of their singular
position, privilege, and responsibility. It is not only that Jehovah is God, but
thy God, O Israel; this is that makes thee so amenable to his searching
Verse 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy
burnt offerings, to have been ever before me. Though they had not
failed in maintaining his outward worship, or even if they had, he was not about
to call them to account for this: a more weighty matter was now under
consideration. They thought the daily sacrifices and the abounding burnt
offerings to be everything: he counted them nothing if the inner sacrifice of
heart devotion had been neglected. What was greatest with them was least with
God. It is even so today. Sacraments (so called) and sacred rites are them main
concern with unconverted but religious men, but with the Most High the spiritual
worship which they forget is the sole matter. Let the external be maintained by
all means, according to the divine command, but if the secret and spiritual be
not in them, they are a vain oblation, a dead ritual, and even an abomination
before the Lord.
Verse 9. I will take no bullock out of thy house. Foolishly
they dreamed that bullocks with horns and hoofs could please the Lord, when
indeed he sought for hearts and souls. Impiously they fancied that Jehovah
needed these supplies, and that if they fed his altar with their fat beasts, he
would be content. What he intended for their instruction, they made their
confidence. They remembered not that "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to
hearken than the fat of rams." Nor he goats out of thy folds. He mentions
these lesser victims as if to rouse their common sense to see that the great
Creator could find not satisfaction in mere animal offerings. If he needed
these, he would not appeal to their scanty stalls and folds; in fact, he here
refuses to take so much as one, if they brought them under the false and
dishonouring view, that they were in themselves pleasing to him. This shows that
the sacrifices of the law were symbolical of higher and spiritual things, and
were not pleasing to God except under their typical aspect. The believing
worshipper looking beyond the outward was accepted, the unspiritual who had no
respect to their meaning was wasting his substance, and blaspheming the God of
Verse 10. For every beast of the forest is mine. How could
they imagine that the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, had need of
beasts, when all the countless hordes that find shelter in a thousand forests
and wildernesses belong to him? And the cattle upon a thousand
hills. Not alone the wild beasts, but also the tamer creatures are all his
own. Even if God cared for these things, he could supply himself. Their cattle
were not, after all, their own, but were still the great Creator's property, why
then should he be beholden to them. From Dan to Beersheba, from Nebaioth to
Lebanon, there fed not a beast which was not marked with the name of the great
Shepherd; why, then, should he crave oblations of Israel? What a slight is here
put even upon sacrifices of divine appointment when wrongly viewed as in
themselves pleasing to God! And all this to be so expressly stated under the
law! How much more is this clear under the gospel, when it is so much more
plainly revealed, that "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship
him in spirit and in truth"? Ye Ritualists, ye Sacramentarians, ye modern
Pharisees, what say ye to this?
Verse 11. I know all the fowls of the mountain. All the
winged creatures are under my inspection and near my hand; what then can be the
value of your pairs of turtledoves, and your two young pigeons? The great Lord
not only feeds all his creatures, but is well acquainted with each one; how
wondrous is this knowledge! And the wild beasts of the fields are
mine. The whole population moving over the plain belongs to me; why then
should I seek you beeves and rams? In me all things live and move; how mad are
you to suppose that I desire your living things! A spiritual God demands other
life than that which is seen in animals; he looks for spiritual sacrifice; for
the love, the trust, the praise, the life of your hearts.
Verse 12. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee. Strange
conception, a hungry God! Yet if such an absurd ideal could be truth, and if the
Lord hungered for meat, he would not ask it of men. He could provide for himself
out of his own possessions; he would not turn suppliant to his own creatures.
Even under the grossest ideal of God, faith in outward ceremonies is ridiculous.
Do men fancy that the Lord needs banners, and music, and incense, and fine
linen? If he did, the stars would emblazon his standard, the winds and the waves
become his orchestra, ten thousand times ten thousand flowers would breathe
forth perfume, the snow should be his alb, the rainbow his girdle, the clouds of
light his mantle. O fools and slow of heart, ye worship ye know not what! For
the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. What can he need who is
owner of all things and able to create as he wills? Thus overwhelmingly does the
Lord pour forth his arguments upon formalists.
Verse 13. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood
of goats? Are you so infatuated as to think this? Is the great I AM
subject to corporeal wants, and are they to be thus grossly satisfied? Heathens
thought thus of their idols, but dare ye think thus of the God who made the
heavens and the earth? Can ye have fallen so low as to think thus of me, O
Israel? What vivid reasoning is here! How the fire flashes dart into the idiot
faces of trusters in outward forms! Ye dupes of Rome, can ye read this and be
unmoved? The expostulation is indignant; the questions utterly confound; the
conclusion is inevitable; heart worship only can be acceptable with the true
God. It is inconceivable that outward things can gratify him, except so far as
through them our faith and love express themselves.
Verse 14. Offer unto God thanksgiving. No longer look at
your sacrifices as in themselves gifts pleasing to me, but present them as the
tributes of your gratitude; it is then that I will accept them, but not while
your poor souls have no love and no thankfulness to offer me. The sacrifices, as
considered in themselves, are contemned, but the internal emotions of love
consequent upon a remembrance of divine goodness, are commended as the
substance, meaning, and soul of sacrifice. Even when the legal ceremonials were
not abolished, this was true, and when they came to an end, this truth was more
than ever made manifest. Not for want of bullocks on the altar was Israel
blamed, but for want of thankful adoration before the Lord. She excelled in the
visible, but in the inward grace, which is the one thing needful, she sadly
failed. Too many in these days are in the same condemnation. And pay thy vows
unto the most High. Let the sacrifice be really presented to the God who
seeth the heart, pay to him the love you promised, the service you covenanted to
render, the loyalty of heart you have vowed to maintain. O for grace to do this!
O that we may be graciously enabled to love God, and live up to our profession!
To be, indeed, the servants of the Lord, the lovers of Jesus, this is our main
concern. What avails our baptism, to what end our gatherings at the Lord's
table, to what purpose our solemn assemblies, if we have not the fear of the
Lord, and vital godliness reigning within our bosoms?
Verse 15. And call upon me in the day of trouble. Oh blessed
verse! Is this then true sacrifice? Is it an offering to ask an alms of heaven?
It is even so. The King himself so regards it. For herein is faith manifested,
herein is love proved, for in the hour of peril we fly to those we love. It
seems a small think to pray to God when we are distressed, yet is it a more
acceptable worship than the mere heartless presentation of bullocks and he
goats. This is a voice from the throne, and how full of mercy it is! It is very
tempestuous round about Jehovah, and yet what soft drops of mercy's rain drop
from the bosom of the storm! Who would not offer such sacrifices? Troubled one,
haste to present it now! Who shall say that Old Testament saints did not know
the gospel? Its very spirit and essence breathes like frankincense all around
this holy Psalm. I will deliver thee. The reality of thy sacrifice
of prayer shall be seen in its answer. Whether the smoke of burning bulls be
sweet to me or no, certainly thy humble prayer shall be, and I will prove it so
by my gracious reply to thy supplication. This promise is very large, and may
refer both to temporal and eternal deliverances; faith can turn it every way,
like the sword of the cherubim. And thou shalt glorify me. Thy
prayer will honour me, and thy grateful perception of my answering mercy will
also glorify me. The goats and bullocks would prove a failure, but the true
sacrifice never could. The calves of the stall might be a vain oblation, but not
the calves of sincere lips. Thus we see what is true ritual. Here we read inspired rubrics.
Spiritual worship is the great, the essential matter; all else without it is
rather provoking than pleasing to God. As helps to the soul, outward offerings
were precious, but when men went not beyond them, even their hallowed things
were profaned in the view of heaven.
Verses 16-21. Here the Lord turns to the manifestly wicked
among his people; and such there were even in the highest places of his
sanctuary. If moral formalists had been rebuked, how much more these immoral
pretenders to fellowship with heaven? If the lack of heart spoiled the worship
of the more decent and virtuous, how much more would violations of the law,
committed with a high hand, corrupt the sacrifices of the wicked?
Verse 16. But unto the wicked God saith. To the breakers of
the second table he now addresses himself; he had previously spoken to the
neglectors of the first. What hast thou to do to declare my
statutes? You violate openly my moral law, and yet are great sticklers
for my ceremonial commands! What have you to do with them? What interest can you
have in them? Do you dare to teach my law to others, and profane it yourselves?
What impudence, what blasphemy is this! Even if you claim to be sons of Levi,
what of that? Your wickedness disqualifies you, disinherits you, puts you out of
the succession. It should silence you, and would if my people were as spiritual
as I would have them, for they would refuse to hear you, and to pay you the
portion of temporal things which is due to my true servants. You count up your
holy days, you contend for rituals, you fight for externals, and yet the
weightier matters of the law ye despise! Ye blind guides, ye strain out gnats
and swallow camels; your hypocrisy is written on your foreheads and manifest to
all. Or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth. Ye talk of
being in covenant with me, and yet trample my holiness beneath you feet as swine
trample upon pearls; think ye that I can brook this? Your mouths are full of
lying and slander, and yet ye mouth my words as if they were fit morsels for
such as you! How horrible and evil it is, that to this day we see men explaining
doctrines who despise precepts! They make grace a coverlet for sin, and even
judge themselves to be sound in the faith, while they are rotten in life. We
need the grace of the doctrines as much as the doctrines of grace, and without
it an apostle is but a Judas, and a fair spoken professor is an arrant enemy of
the cross of Christ.
Verse 17. Seeing thou hatest instruction. Profane professors
are often too wise to learn, too besotted with conceit to be taught of God. What
a monstrosity that men should declare those statutes which with their hearts
they do not know, and which in their lives they openly disavow! Woe unto the men
who hate the instruction which they take upon themselves to give. And castest
my words behind thee. Despising them, throwing them away as worthless,
putting them out of sight as obnoxious. Many boasters of the law did this
practically; and in these last days there are pickers and choosers of God's
words who cannot endure the practical part of Scripture; they are disgusted at
duty, they abhor responsibility, they disembowel texts of their plain meanings,
they wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. It is an ill sign when a man
dares not look a Scripture in the face, and an evidence of brazen impudence when
he tries to make it mean something less condemnatory of his sins, and endeavours
to prove it to be less sweeping in its demands. How powerful is the argument
that such men have no right to take the covenant of God into their mouths,
seeing that its spirit does not regulate their lives!
Verse 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst
with him. Moral honesty cannot be absent where true grace is present.
Those who excuse others in trickery are guilty themselves; those who use others
to do unjust actions for them are doubly so. If a man be ever so religious, if
his own actions do not rebuke dishonesty, he is an accomplice with thieves. If
we can acquiesce in anything which is not upright, we are not upright ourselves,
and our religion is a lie. And hast been partaker with adulterers. One by
one the moral precepts are thus broken by the sinners in Zion. Under the cloak
of piety, unclean livers conceal themselves. We may do this by smiling at
unchaste jests, listening to indelicate expressions, and conniving at licentious
behaviour in our presence; and if we thus act, how dare we preach, or lead
public prayer, or wear the Christian name? See how the Lord lays righteousness
to the plummet. How plainly all this declares that without holiness no man shall
see the Lord! No amount of ceremonial or theological accuracy can cover
dishonesty and fornication: these filthy things must be either purged from us by
the blood of Jesus, or they will kindle a fire in God's anger which will burn
even to the lowest hell.
Verse 19. Thou givest thy mouth to evil. Sins against the
ninth commandment are here mentioned. The man who surrenders himself to the
habit of slander is a vile hypocrite if he associates himself with the people of
God. A man's health is readily judged by his tongue. A foul mouth, a foul heart.
Some slander almost as often as they breathe, and yet are great upholders of the
church, and great sticklers for holiness. To what depths will not they go in
evil, who delight in spreading it with their tongues? And thy tongue
frameth deceit. This is a more deliberate sort of slander, where the
man dexterously elaborates false witness, and concocts methods of defamation.
There is an ingenuity of calumny in some men, and, alas! even in some who are
thought to be followers of the Lord Jesus. They manufacture falsehoods, weave
them in their loom, hammer them on their anvil, and then retail their wares in
every company. Are these accepted with God? Though they bring their wealth to
the altar, and speak eloquently of truth and of salvation, have they any favour
with God? We should blaspheme the holy God if we were to think so. They are
corrupt in his sight, a stench in his nostrils. He will cast all liars into
hell. Let them preach, and pray, and sacrifice as they will; till they become
truthful, the God of truth loathes them utterly.
Verse 20. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother. He
sits down to it, makes it his meat, studies it, resolves upon it, becomes a
master of defamation, occupies the chair of calumny. His nearest friend is not
safe, his dearest relative escapes not. Thou slanderest thine own
mother's son. He ought to love him best, but he has an ill word for him. The
son of one's own mother was to the Oriental a very tender relation; but the
wretched slanderer knows no claims of kindred. He stabs his brother in the dark,
and aims a blow at him who came forth of the same womb; yet he wraps himself in
the robe of hypocrisy, and dreams that he is a favourite of heaven, an accepted
worshipper of the Lord. Are such monsters to be met with nowadays? Alas! they
pollute our churches still, and are roots of bitterness, spots on our solemn
feasts, wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Perhaps some such may read these lines, but they will probably read them in
vain; their eyes are too dim to see their own condition, their hearts are waxen
gross, their ears are dull of hearing; they are given up to a strong delusion to
believe a lie, that they may be damned.
Verse 21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence.
No swift judgment overthrew the sinner--longsuffering reigned; no thunder was
heard in threatening, and no bolt of fire was hurled in execution. Thou
thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. The
inference drawn from the Lord's patience was infamous; the respited culprit
thought his judge to be one of the same order as himself. He offered sacrifice,
and deemed it accepted; he continued in sin, and remained unpunished, and
therefore he rudely said, "Why need believe these crazy prophets? God cares not
how we live so long as we pay our tithes. Little does he consider how we get the
plunder, so long as we bring a bullock to his altar." What will not men imagine
of the Lord? At one time they liken the glory of Israel to a calf, and anon unto
their brutish selves. But I will reprove thee. At last I will
break silence and let them know my mind. And set them in order before thine
eyes. I will marshall thy sins in battle array. I will make thee see them, I
will put them down item by item, classified and arranged. Thou shalt know that
if silent awhile, I was never blind or deaf. I will make thee perceive what thou
hast tried to deny. I will leave the seat of mercy for the throne of judgment,
and there I will let thee see how great the difference between thee and me.
Verse 22. Now or oh! it is a word of entreaty, for
the Lord is loath even to let the most ungodly run on to destruction.
Consider this; take these truths to heart, ye who trust in
ceremonies and ye who live in vice, for both of you sin in that ye forget
God. Bethink you how unaccepted you are, and turn unto the Lord. See how you
have mocked the eternal, and repent of your iniquities. Lest I tear
you in pieces, as the lion rends his prey, and there be none to
deliver, no Saviour, no refuge, no hope. Ye reject the Mediator: beware, for
ye will sorely need one in the day of wrath, and none will be near to plead for
you. How terrible, how complete, how painful, how humiliating, will be the
destruction of the wicked! God uses no soft words, or velvet metaphors, nor may
his servants do so when they speak of the wrath to come. O reader, consider
Verse 23. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me. Praise is the
best sacrifice; true, hearty, gracious thanksgiving from a renewed mind. Not the
lowing of bullocks bound to the altar, but the songs of redeemed men are the
music which the ear of Jehovah delights in. Sacrifice your loving gratitude, and
God is honoured thereby. And to him that ordereth his conversation
aright will I shew the salvation of God. Holy living is a choice
evidence of salvation. He who submits his whole way to divine guidance, and is
careful to honour God in his life, brings an offering which the Lord accepts
through his dear Son; and such a one shall be more and more instructed, and made
experimentally to know the Lord's salvation. He needs salvation, for the best
ordering of the life cannot save us, but that salvation he shall have.
Not to ceremonies, not to unpurified lips, is the blessing promised, but to
grateful hearts and holy lives. O Lord, give us to stand in the judgment with those who have
worshipped thee aright and have seen thy salvation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The exordium or beginning of this Psalm is the
most grand and striking that can possibly be imagined--the speaker GOD, the
audience an assembled world! We cannot compare or assimilate the scene here
presented to us with any human resemblance; nor do I imagine that earth will
ever behold such a day till that hour when the trumpet of the archangel shall
sound and shall gather all the nations of the earth from the four winds, from
one end of heaven to the other; when the dead, small and great, shall stand
before God, and the sea shall give up the dead which are in it, and death and
hell shall deliver up the dead that are in them. Barton Bouchier.
Verse 1. El, Elohim, Jehovah has spoken! So reads the
Hebrew. Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. (first clause). Some have observed that
these three names, El, Elohim, Jehovah, here mentioned, have three very
distinct accents set to them, and which being joined to a verb singular
(dbd), hath spoken, contains the
mystery of the trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine Essence. John
Verse 1. And called the earth, etc., i.e., all the
inhabitants of the earth he has commanded to come as witnesses and
spectators of the judgment. Simon de Muis.
No more shall atheists mock his long delay;
His vengeance sleeps no more; behold the day!
Behold! --the Judge descends; his guards are nigh,
Tempests and fire attend him down the sky.
When God appears, all nature shall adore him.
While sinners tremble, saints rejoice before him.
Heaven, earth and hell, draw near; let all things come,
To hear my justice, and the sinner's doom;
But gather first my saints (the Judge commands),
Bring them, ye angels, from their distant lands.
When Christ returns, wake every cheerful passion,
And shout, ye saints; he comes for your salvation.
Verse 5. Gather, etc. To whom are these words addressed?
Many suppose to the angels, as the ministers of God's will; but it is
unnecessary to make the expression more definite than it is in the Psalm. J.
J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 5. My saints, the objects of my mercy, those whom I
have called and specially distinguished. The term is here descriptive of a
relation, not of an intrinsic quality. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 5. Gather my saints together unto me. There is a
double or twofold gathering to Christ. There is a gathering unto Christ by
faith, a gathering within the bond of the covenant, a gathering into the family
of God, a gathering unto the root of Jesse, standing up for an ensign of the
people. "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an
ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be
glorious." Isa 11:10. This is the main end of the gospel, the great work of
ministers, the gathering of sinners unto Christ. But then there is a gathering
at the general judgment; and this is the fathering that is here spoken of. This
gathering is consequential to the other. Christ will gather none to him at the
last day but those that are gathered to him by faith here; he will give orders
to gather together unto him all these, and none but these, that have taken hold
of his covenant.
I would speak of Christ's owning and acknowledging the saints
at his second coming. His owning and acknowledging them is imported in his
giving these orders: Gather my saints together unto me. ... Now upon this
head I mention the things following: -- 1. Saintship will be the only mark of
distinction in that day. There are many marks of distinction now; but these will
all cease, and this only will remain. 2. Saintship will then be Christ's badge
of honour. Beware of mocking at saintship, or sanctity, holiness and purity; for
it is Christ's badge of honour, the garments with which his followers are
clothed, and will be the only badge of honour at the great day. 3. Christ will
forget and mistake none of the saints. Many of the saints are forgotten here, it
is forgotten that such persons were in the world, but Christ will forget and
mistake none of them at the great day; he will give forth a list of all his
saints, and give orders to gather them all unto him. 4. He will confess, own,
and acknowledge them before his Father, and his holy angels. Mt 10:32 Lu 12:8 Re
3:5. They are to go to my Father's house, and they are to go thither in my name,
in my right, and at my back; and so it is necessary I should own and acknowledge
them before my Father. But what need is there for his owning them before the
angels? Answer. They are to be the angel's companions, and so it is
necessary he should own them before the angels. This will be like a testimonial
for them unto the angels. Lastly. The evidences of his right to and propriety in
them, will then be made to appear. Mal 3:17: "And they shall be mine, saith the
Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." It is too late for persons
to become his then; so the meaning is, they shall evidently appear to be mine.
James Scot, 1773.
Verse 5. Gather my saints together unto me. Our text may be
considered as the commission given by the great Judge to his angels --those
ministering spirits who do his will, hearkening to the voice of his power. The
language of the text is in accordance with that which was uttered by our Lord
when, alluding to the coming of the Son of Man, he says, "And he shall send his
angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect
from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." But previous to this
final, this general gathering together of his saints to judgment, Jehovah
gathers them together in various ways, in various places, and by various means,
both of providence and of grace. Previous to his being seated on a throne of
judgment, we behold him sitting on a throne of mercy, and we hear him saying,
Gather my saints together unto me. These words lead us to
notice--I. The characters described, My saints. II. The command issued,
Gather my saints together unto me.
1. THE CHARACTERS HERE
DESCRIBED-- my saints, we are to understand my holy ones --those who
have been sanctified and set apart by God. None of us possess this character by
nature. We are born sinners, and there is no difference; but by divine
grace we experience a change of nature, and consequently a change of
name. The title of saint is frequently given to the people of God in derision.
"Such an one, "says a man of the world, "is one of your saints." But, my
brethren, no higher honour can be conferred upon us than to be denominated
saints, if we truly deserve that character; but in what way do we become saints?
We become saints--1. By divine choice. The saints are the objects of
everlasting love; their names are written in the Lamb's book of life; and it is
worthy of remark that wherever the people of God are spoken of in sacred
Scripture, as the objects of that everlasting love, it is in connection with
their personal sanctification. Observe, they are not chosen
because they are saints, nor because it is foreseen that they will
be so, but they are chosen to be saints; sanctification is the effect and
the only evidence of election. We become saints--2. By a divine change
which is the necessary consequence of this election. An inward,
spiritual, supernatural, universal change is effected in the saints by the power
of the Holy Ghost. Thus they are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and made
partakers of a divine nature...Remember, then, this important truth, that
Christians are called by the gospel to be saints; that you are Christians, not
so much by your orthodoxy as by your holiness; that you are saints
no further than as you are holy in all manner of conversation. 3. The people
of God furnish an evidence of being saints by their godly conduct.
"By their fruits, "not by their feelings; not by their lips, not by their
general profession, but, "by their fruits shall ye know them." 4. The character
of the saints is evidenced by divine consecration. The people of God are
called holy inasmuch as they are dedicated to God. It is the duty and the
privilege of saints to consecrate themselves to the service of God. Even a
heathen philosopher could say, "I lend myself to the world, but I
give myself to the gods. But we possess more light and knowledge,
and are therefore laid under greater obligation than was Seneca."
2. THE COMMAND ISSUED. Gather my saints together unto
me. Jehovah gathers his saints to himself in various ways. 1. He
gathers them to himself in their conversion. The commission given by
Christ to his ministers is, "Go ye forth into all the world, and preach the
gospel to every creature, "or in other words, Gather my saints
together unto me. The gospel is to be preached to sinners in order
that they may become saints. 2. Saints are gathered together by
God in public worship. 3. He gathers his saints together to
himself in times of danger. When storms appear to be gathering around them,
he is desirous to screen them from the blast. He say to them, in the language of
Isaiah, "Come, my people, and enter into thy chamber--the chamber of my
perfections and my promises--enter into thy chamber and shut the doors about
thee, and hide thyself until the calamity is overpast."
Verse 4. God gathers his saints together in the service of his
church. Thus Christ collected his apostles together to give them their
apostolic commission to go and teach all nations. At the period of the
Reformation, the great Head of the church raised up Luther and Calvin, together
with other eminent reformers, in order that they might light up a flame in
Europe, yea, throughout the world, that the breath of popery should never be
able to blow out. 5. God gathers his saints together in death, and at
the resurrection. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his
saints." This is the commission which death is habitually receiving--"Go, death,
and gather such and such of my saints unto me." As the gardener enters the
garden, and plucks up the full blown flower and the ripened fruit, so Jesus
Christ enters the garden of his church and gathers his saints to himself; for he
says, "Father, I will that all they whom thou hast given me may be with me,
where I am, and behold my glory." Condensed from J. Sibree's "Sermon preached
at the reopening of Surrey Chapel, August 29th, 1830."
Verse 5. (second clause). Made, or
ratifying a covenant; literally, cutting, striking, perhaps
in allusion to the practice of slaying and dividing victims as a religious rite,
accompanying solemn compacts. (See Ge 15:10-18.) The same usage may be referred
to in the following words, over sacrifice, i.e., standing over it: or
on sacrifice, i.e., founding the engagement on a previous appeal to God.
There is probably allusion to the great covenant transaction recorded in Ex
24:4-8. This reference to sacrifice shows clearly that what follows was not
intended to discredit or repudiate that essential symbol of the typical or
ceremonial system. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 5. Made a covenant with me. Formerly soldiers used to
take an oath not to flinch from their colours, but faithfully to cleave to their
leaders; thus they called sacramentum militaire, a military oath; such an
oath lies upon every Christian. It is so essential to the being of a saint, that
they are described by this, Gather together unto me; those that have
made a covenant with me. We are not Christians till we have subscribed this
covenant, and that without any reservation. When we take upon us the profession
of Christ's name, we enlist ourselves in his muster roll, and by it do promise
that we will live and die with him in opposition to all his enemies ...He will
not entertain us till we resign up ourselves freely to his disposal, that there
may be no disputing with is commands afterwards, but, as one under his
authority, go and come at his word. William Gurnall.
Verse 6. The heavens shall declare his righteousness. It is
the manner of Scripture to commit the teaching of that which it desires should
be most noticeable and important to the heavens and the earth: for
the heavens are seen by all, and their light discovers all things. Here
it speaks of the heavens, not the earth, because these are
everlasting, but not the earth. Geier and Muis, in Poole's Synopsis.
Verse 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices; i.e.,
for thy neglect of them, but for thy resting in them, sticking in the bark,
bringing me the bare shell without the kernel, not referring to the right end
and use, but satisfying thyself in the work done. John Trapp.
Verse 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy
burnt offerings continually before me. Those words to have been,
which our translators supply, may be left out, and the sense remain perfect:
or if those words be continued, then the negative particle not, is to be
reassumed out of the first part of the verse, and the whole read thus, I will
not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt offerings not to have
been continually before me. That is, I will not charge thee with a neglect
of outward duty or worship, the inward or spiritual (of which he speaks, Ps
50:14), being that which is most pleasing unto me. Joseph Caryl.
Verses 8-9. It is the very remonstrance which our Lord
himself makes against the Pharisees of his days, for laying so much stress on
the outward observance of their own traditions, the washing of pots and cups and
other such like things; the paying of tithes of anise and mint and cummin; the
ostentatious fulfilment of all ceremonious observances in the eyes of men, the
exalting the shadow to the exclusion of the substance. And have we not seen the
like in our own days, even to the very vestment of the minister, the obeisance
of the knee, and the posture of the body? as if the material church were all in
all, and God were not Spirit, that demanded of those that worshipped him that
they should worship him in spirit and in truth; as if the gold and ornaments of
the temple were far beyond the hidden man of the heart in that which is
incorruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the
sight of God of great price. Barton Bouchier.
Verse 10. "For to me (belongs) every beast of the
forest, the cattle in hills of a thousand." This last idiomatic
phrase may either mean a thousand hills, or hills where the cattle rove by
thousands, with probable allusion to the hilly grounds of Bashan beyond Jordan.
According to etymology, the noun in the first clause means an animal, and
that in the second beasts or brutes in general. But when placed in
antithesis, the first denotes a wild beast, and the second domesticated animals
or cattle. Both words were necessary to express God's sovereign propriety in the
whole animal creation. Thus understood, the verse assigns a reason for the
negative assertion in the one before it. Even if God could stand in need of
animal oblations, for his own sake, or for their sake, he would not be under the
necessity of coming to man for them, since the whole animal creation is his
property and perfectly at his disposal. J. A. Alexander.
Verses 11-12. We show our scorn of God's sufficiency, by
secret thoughts of meriting from him by any religious act, as though God could
be indebted to us, and obliged by us. As though our devotions could bring a
blessedness to God more than he essentially hath; when indeed "our goodness
extends not to him." Ps 16:2. Our services to God are rather services to
ourselves, and bring a happiness to us, not to God. This secret opinion of merit
(though disputed among the Papists, yet) is natural to man; and this secret self
pleasing, when we have performed any duty, and upon that account expect some
fair compensation from God, as having been profitable to him; God intimates
this: "The wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell
thee; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof." He implies, that they
wronged his infinite fulness, by thinking that he stood in need of their
sacrifices and services, and that he was beholden to them for their adoration of
him. All merit implies a moral or natural insufficiency in the person of whom we
merit, and our doing something for him, which he could not, or at least so well
do for himself. It is implied in our murmuring at God's dealing with us as a
course of cross providences, wherein men think they have deserved better at the
hands of God by their service, than to be cast aside and degraded by him. In our
prosperity we are apt to have secret thoughts that our enjoyments were the debts
God owes us, rather than gifts freely bestowed upon us. Hence it is that men are
more unwilling to part with their righteousness than with their sins, and are
apt to challenge salvation as a due, rather than beg it as an act of grace.
Verse 12. If I were hungry, etc. Pagan sacrifices were
considered as feasts of the gods. Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 13. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood
of goats? That is, did I want anything I would not tell thee; but
hast thou indeed such gross notions of me, as to imagine that I have appointed
and required the blood and flesh of animals for their own sake and not with some
design? Dost thou think I am pleased with these, when they are offered without
faith, love, and gratitude? Nay, offer the sacrifice of praise, etc. Render to
me a spiritual and reasonable service, performing thy engagements, and then thou
wilt find me a very present help in trouble. B. Boothroyd.
Verse 15. Call upon me, etc. Prayer is like the ring which
Queen Elizabeth gave to the Earl of Essex, bidding him if he were in any
distress send that ring to her, and she would help him. God commandeth his
people if they be in any perplexity to send this ring to him: Call upon me in
the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Verse 15. Call upon me in the day of trouble, etc. Who will
scrape to a keeper for a piece of venison who may have free access to the master
of the game to ask and have? Hanker not after other helpers, rely on him only,
fully trusting him in the use of such means as he prescribes and affords. God is
jealous, will have no co-rival, nor allow thee (in this case) two strings to thy
bow. He who worketh all in all must be unto thee all in all; of, through, and to
whom are all things, to him be all praise for ever. Ro 11:36. George Gipps,
in "A Sermon preached (before God, and from him) to the Honourable House
of Commons," 1645.
Verse 15. Call upon me in the day of trouble, etc. The Lord
hath promised his children supply of all good things, yet they must use the
means of impetration; by prayer. He feed the young ravens when they call upon
him. Ps 147:9. He feeds the young ravens, but first they call upon him. God
withholds from them that ask not, lest he should give to them that desire not.
(Augustine.) David was confident that by God's power he should spring over a
wall; yet not without putting his own strength and agility to it. Those things
we pray for, we must work for. (Augustine.) The carter in Isidore, when his cart
was overthrown, would needs have his god Hercules come down from heaven, to help
him up with it; but whilst he forbore to set his own shoulder to it, his cart
lay still. Abraham was as rich as any of our aldermen, David as valiant as any
of our gentlemen, Solomon as wise as any of our deepest naturians, Susanna as
fair as any of our painted pieces. Yet none of them thought that their riches,
valour, policy, beauty, or excellent parts could save them; but they stirred the
sparks of grace, and bestirred themselves in pious work. And this is our means,
if our meaning be to be saved. Thomas Adams.
Verse 15. I will deliver thee: properly, I will draw
forth with my own mighty hand, and plant thee in liberty and
prosperity. Hermann Venema.
Verse 16. Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to
declare my statutes? etc. "As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest,
so honour is not seemly for a fool." Is it not? No wonder then that divine
wisdom requires us ourselves to put off the old man (as snakes put off their
skins) before we take on us the most honourable office of reproving sin; a duty
which above any other brings praise to God, and profit to men; insomuch that God
hath not a more honourable work that I know of to set us about. And what think
you? Are greasy scullions fit to stand before kings? Are dirty kennel rakers fit
to be plenipotentiaries or ambassadors? Are unclean beasts fit to be made lord
almoners, and sent to bestow the king's favours? Are swine fit to cast pearl,
and the very richest pearl of God's royal word? No man dreams it; consequently
none can believe himself qualified or commissioned to be a reprover of sin "till
he is washed, till he is sanctified, till he is justified in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God." A lunatick beggar in Athens
would not believe but that all the ships in the harbour were his. His mistake
exceeded not theirs, who persuade themselves that this richer office is theirs,
before they are "alive from the dead, "and "born of the Spirit, "before they are
returned to God or to themselves. The Duke of Alva is said to have complained
that `his king sent him in fetters to fight for him; 'because without his pardon
given him, and while he was a prisoner, he employed him in war. But the Supreme
King is a more merciful one, and orders our charity to begin at home; making it
our first duty to break off our sins; and then when we have put off these our
shackles, go to fight his battles. Daniel Burgess (1645--1712-13) in "The
Verse 16. The wicked. By whom are meant, not openly profane
sinners; but men under a profession of religion, and indeed who were teachers of
others, as appears from the following expostulations with them: the Scribes,
Pharisees, and doctors among the Jews, are designed, and so Kimchi interprets it
of their wise men, who learnt and taught the law, but did not act according to
it. John Gill.
Verse 16. What hast thou to do to declare my statutes? etc.
All the medieval writers teach us, even from the Mosaic law, concerning the
leper, how the writer of this Psalm only put in words what those statutes
expressed in fact. For so it is written: "The leper in whom the plague is, ...he
shall put a covering upon his upper lip." As they all, following Origen, say:
Let them who are themselves of polluted lips, take good heed not to teach
others. Or, to take it in the opposite way, see how Isaiah would not speak to
his people, because he was a man of polluted lips, and he dwelt among a people
of polluted lips, till they had been touched with the living coal from the
altar; and by that, as by a sacrament of the Old Testament, a sentence of
absolution had been pronounced upon them. J. M. Neale.
Verse 16. (second clause). Emphasis is laid on the
phrase, to declare God's statutes, which both denotes such an accurate
knowledge of them as one may obtain by numbering them, and a diligent and
public review of them. Properly speaking the word is derived from the Arabic,
and signifies to reckon in dust, for the ancients were accustomed to
calculate in dust finely sprinkled over tablets of the Abacus. Hermann
Verse 16. But unto the wicked God saith, What has thou to
do...to take my covenant into thy mouth? For whom is the covenant
made but for the wicked? If men were not wicked or sinful what needed there a
covenant of grace? The covenant is for the wicked, and the covenant brings grace
enough to pardon those who are most wicked; why, then, doth the Lord say to the
wicked, What hast thou to do to take my covenant unto thy mouth?
Observe what follows, and his meaning is expounded: Seeing thou hatest to be
reformed. As if God had said, You wicked man, who protects you sin, and
holds it close, refusing to return and hating to reform; what hast thou to do to
meddle with my covenant? Lay off thy defiled hands. He that is resolved to hold
his sin takes hold of the covenant in vain, or rather he lets it go, while he
seems to hold it. Woe unto them who sue for mercy while they neglect duty.
Verse 16. When a minister does not do what he teaches, this
makes him a vile person; nay, this makes him ridiculous, like Lucian's
apothecary, who had medicines in his shop to cure the cough, and told others
that he had them, and yet was troubled with it himself. With what a forehead
canst thou stand in a pulpit and publish the laws of God, and undertake the
charge of souls, that when thine own nakedness appears, when thy tongue is of a
larger size than thy hands, thy ministry is divided against itself, thy courses
give thy doctrine the lie; thou sayest that men must be holy, and thy deeds do
declare thy mouth's hypocrisy; thou doest more mischief than a hundred others.
Verse 17. And castest my words behind thee. Thou castest
away contemptuously, with disgust and detestation, as idols are cast
out of a city; or as Moses indignantly dashed to the earth the tables of the
law. Martin Geier.
Verse 17. My words: apparently the ten commandments,
accustomed to be called the ten words, by which God is often said to have
made his covenant with Israel. Hermann Venema.
Verse 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst
with him; or didst run with him. This was literally true of
the Scribes and Pharisees; they devoured widow's houses, and robbed them of
their substance, under a pretext of long prayers; they consented to the deeds of
Barabbas, a robber, when they preferred him to Jesus Christ; and they joined
with the thieves on the cross in reviling him; and, in a spiritual sense, they
stole away the word of the Lord, every man from his neighbour; took away the key
of knowledge from the people, and put false glosses upon the sacred writings.
Verse 18. Thou consentedst with him; became his
accomplice. Sunetreces. LXX, i.e., you helped him to carry off
his booty and to make his escape. Samuel Horsley.
Verse 18. Thou consentedst with him. Or, thou runnest along
with him. Hast been partaker with; namely, thou art his companion; a term
taken from commerce of merchants, or from banquets made after the ancient
manner, to which divers did contribute, and had their shares therein. John
Verse 18. (last clause). To give entertainment to
them we know to be dissolute, is to communicate with their sins. Thomas
Verse 19. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, etc. Thou
givest. Hebrew, thou sendest forth; to wit, free; for the word is
used of men dismissing their wives or their servants, whom they left to their
freedom. Thou hast an unbridled tongue, and castest off all restraints of God's
law, and of thine own conscience, and givest thy tongue liberty to speak what
you please, though it be offensive and dishonourable to God, and injurious to
thy neighbour, or to thy own soul; which is justly produced as an evidence of
their hypocrisy. To evil, either to sinful or mischievous speeches.
Frameth deceit, i.e., uttereth lies or fair words, wherewith to
circumvent those who deal with them. Matthew Poole.
Verse 19. The ninth commandment is now added to the other
two, as being habitually violated by the person here addressed. J. A.
Verse 20. Thou sittest and speakest, etc. A man may both
speak and do evil while he sits still and doth nothing; an idle posture may
serve the turn for such work as that. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 20. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother,
etc. When you are sitting still, and have nothing else to do, you are ever
injuring your neighbour with your slanderous speech. Your table talk is abuse of
your nearest friends. Samuel Horsley.
Verse 20. Thine own mother's son. To understand the force of
this expression, it is necessary to bear in mind that polygamy was allowed
amongst the Israelites. Those who were born to the same father were all
brethren, but a yet more intimate relationship subsisted between those who had
the same mother, as well as the same father. French and Skinner.
Verse 21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence.
Neither sleep nor slumber, nor connivance, nor neglect of anything can be
incident to God. Because he doth not execute present judgment and visible
destruction upon sinners, therefore blasphemy presumptuously infers--will God
trouble himself about such petty matters? So they imagined of their imaginary
Jupiter. Non vacat exiguis rebus adesse Jovem. What a narrow and
finite apprehension this is of God! He that causes and produces every
action--shall he not be present at every action? What can we do without him, that
cannot move but in him? He that taketh notice of sparrows, and numbers the seeds
which the very ploughman thrusts in the ground, can any action of man escape his
knowledge, or slip from his contemplation? He may seem to wink at things, but
never shuts his eyes. He doth not always manifest a reprehensive knowledge, yet
he always retains an apprehensive knowledge. Though David smote not Shimei
cursing, yet he heard Shimei cursing. As judges often determine to hear, but do
not hear to determine; so though God does not see to like, ye he likes to see.
Verse 21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one
as thyself. Such is the blindness and corruption of our nature, that
we have very deformed and misshapen thoughts of him, till with the eye of faith
we see his face in the glass of the word; and therefore Mr. Perkins affirms,
that all men who ever came of Adam (Christ alone excepted) are by nature
atheists; because at the same time that they acknowledge God, they deny his
power, presence, and justice, and allow him to be only what pleaseth themselves.
Indeed, it is natural for every man to desire to accommodate his lusts with a
conception of God as may be most favourable to and suit best with them. God
charges some for this: Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one
as thyself. Sinners do with God as the Ethiopians do with angels,
whom they picture with black faces that they may be like themselves. William
Verse 21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one
as thyself. This men do when they plead for sins as little, as
venial, as that which is below God to take notice of; because they themselves
think it so, therefore God must think it so too. Man, with a giant like pride,
would climb into the throne of the Almighty, and establish a contradiction to
the will of God by making his own will, and not God's, the square and rule of
his actions. This principle commenced and took date in Paradise, where Adam
would not depend upon the will of God revealed to him, but upon himself and his
own will, and thereby makes himself as God. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 21. I will set them in order before thine eyes. This
is to be understood more militari, when sins shall be set in rank and
file, in bloody array against thy soul; or more forensi, when they shall
be set in order as so many indictments for thy rebellion and treason. Stephen
Verse 21. And set them in order before thine eyes: as if he
should say, Thou thoughtest all thy sins were scattered and dispersed; that
there was not a sin to be found; that they should never be rallied and brought
together; but I assure thee I will make an army of those sins, a complete army
of them, I will set them in rank and file before thine eyes; and see how thou
canst behold, much less contend with, such an host as they. Take heed therefore
you do not levy war against your own souls; that's the worst of all civil or
interstine wars. If an army of divine terrors be so fearful, what will an army
of black, hellish sins be? when God shall bring whole regiments of sins against
you--here a regiment of oaths, there a regiment of lies, there a third of false
dealings, here a troop of filthy actions, and there a legion of unclean or
profane thoughts, all at once fighting against thy life and everlasting peace.
Verse 21. Atheists do mock at those Scriptures which tell us
that we shall give account of all our deeds; but God shall make them find the
truth of it in that day of their reckoning. It is as easy for him to make their
forgetful minds remember as to create the minds in them. When he applies his
register to their forgetful spirits they shall see all their forgotten sins.
When the printer presseth clean paper upon his oiled irons, it receiveth the
print of every letter: so when God shall stamp their minds with his register,
they shall see all their former sins in a view. The hand was ever writing
against Belshazzar, as he was ever sinning, though he saw it not till the cup
was filled: so is it to the wicked; their sins are numbered, and themselves
weighed, and see not till they be divided by a fearful wakening. William
Verse 21. (last clause). God setteth his sins in
order before his eyes. Imprimis, the sin of his conception.
Item, the sins of his childhood. Item, of his youth. Item,
of his man's estate, etc. Or, Imprimis, sins against the first table.
Item, sins against the second; so many of ignorance, so many of
knowledge, so many of presumption, severally sorted by themselves. He committed
sins confusedly, huddling them up in heaps; but God sets them in order,
and methodizes them to his hands. Thomas Fuller.
Verse 22. Now consider this, ye that forget God, etc. What
is less than a grain of sand? Yet when it comes to be multiplied, what is
heavier than the sands of the sea? A little sum multiplied rises high; so a
little sin unrepented of will damn us, as one leak in the ship, if it be not
well looked to, will drown us. "Little sins" as the world calls them, but great
sins against the majesty of God Almighty, whose majesty, against which they are
committed, doth accent and enhance them, if not repented of, will damn. One
would think it no great matter to forget God, yet it has a heavy
doom attending on it. The non improvement of talents, the non exercise of
grace, the world looks upon as a small thing; yet we read of him who hid
his talent in the earth--he had not spent it, only not trading it is sentenced.
Verse 22. Lest I tear you in pieces. This is a metamorphic
expression, taken from the strength and irresistible fury of a lion, from which
the interference of the shepherd can supply no protection, or defence, for his
flock. William Walford.
Verse 23. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me. Thanksgiving
is a God exalting work. Though nothing can add the least cubit to God's
essential glory, yet praise exalts him in the eyes of others. Praise is a
setting forth of God's honour, a lifting up of his name, a displaying the trophy
of his goodness, a proclaiming his excellency, a spreading his renown, a
breaking open the box of ointment, whereby the sweet savour and perfume of God's
name is sent abroad into the world. To him that ordereth his conversation
aright. Though the main work of religion lies within, yet "our light must so
shine, "that others may behold it; the foundation of sincerity is in the heart,
yet its beautiful front piece appears in the conversation. The saints are called
"jewels, "because they cast a sparkling lustre in the eyes of others. An upright
Christian is like Solomon's temple, gold within and without: sincerity is a holy
leaven, which if it be in the heart will work itself into the life, and
make it swell and rise as high as heaven. Php 3:20. Thomas Watson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. It unspeakably concerns all men to
know what God has spoken. W. S. Plumer.
1. Who has spoken? The Mighty, not men or angels, but God
2. To whom has he spoken? To all nations--all ranks-- all
characters. This calls for,
(a) Reverence--it is the voice of God.
(b) Hope--because he condescends to speak to rebels.
3. Where has he spoken?
(a) In creation.
(b) In providence.
(c) In his word. G. R.
1. The court called in the name of the King of kings.
2. The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat; Ps
3. The parties summoned; Ps 50:8.
4. The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Ps 50:6. --Matthew
1. God's call to man.
2. Man's call to God.
1. The internal beauty of Zion.
(a) Positive beauty of wisdom--holiness--love.
(b) Comparative with the beauty of Paradise and the heaven of angels.
(c) Superlative --all the perfections of God combined.
2. Its external glory. Out of it God hath shined.
(a) On this world.
(b) On gracious souls.
(c) On angels who desire to look, etc.
(d) On the universe. "All the creatures heard I, "etc.
1. What God will do for his people. He will judge them. (a)
Deliver. (b) Defend. (c) Uphold.
2. The means at his disposal for this purpose. "He shall
call, "etc. --Heaven and earth are subservient to him for the good of his
church. G. R.
Verse 4. The judgment of the visible church. It will
be by God himself, public, searching--with fire and wind, exact, final.
Verse 5. The great family gathering.
(a) Who are gathered.
(b) How they are gathered.
(c) To whom.
(d) When they are gathered.
Verse 5 (last clause).
1. The covenant.
2. The sacrifice which ratifies it.
3. How we may be said to make it.
Verse 6 (last clause). Then slander will not
pervert the sentence, undue severity will not embitter it, partiality will not
excuse, falsehood will not deceive, justice will surely be done.
Verse 7. Sins of God's people specially against God,
and only known to God. A searching subject.
Verses 13-15. What sacrifices are not, and what are
acceptable with God.
1. The occasion--"trouble."
2. The command--"call upon me."
3. The promise--"I will deliver thee."
4. The design--"Thou shalt, "etc. G. R.
Verse 15. Thou shalt glorify me. This we do by
praying, and by praising when prayer is heard; as also by confidence in his
promises, submission to his chastisements, concern for his honour, attachment to
his cause, affection to his people, and by continual obedience to his commands.
1. A special invitation as to person and time.
2. Special promise to those accepting it.
3. Special duty involved when the promise is fulfilled.
1. The prohibition given.
(a) The prohibited things --"declare my statutes." "Take
my covenant, "etc. (1.) Preaching. (2.) Teaching, as in Sunday schools. (3.)
Praying. (4.) Attending ordinances.
(b) Prohibited persons. Wicked preachers, etc., while
they continue in wickedness.
2. The reason assigned; Ps 50:17.
(a) No self application of the truth.
(b) Inward hatred of it.
(c) Outward rejection. --G. R.
1. The fatal sign. (a) Hating to be taught. (b) Hating what is taught.
2. What it indicates: (a) Pride. (b) Contempt of God. (c) Indifference to truth.
(d) Atheism at heart. (e) Deadness of conscience.
3. What it leads to. See Ps 50:22.
Verses 17-18. Rejection of salutary instruction leads sooner
or later to open transgression. Instances, reasons, inferential warnings.
1. Man speaking and God silent.
2. God speaking and man silent.
1. God leaves men for a time to themselves.
2. They judge of God on this account by themselves.
3. He will in due time reveal their whole selves to themselves.
"I will reprove, "etc. G. R.
Verses 21, 23. Note the alternative; a life rightly ordered
now, or sins set in order hereafter.
1. The accusation--"Ye that forget God, "his omniscience, his
power, his justice, his goodness, his mercy, his word, his great salvation.
2. The admonition--"Consider this, "rouse yourselves from your
forgetfulness into serious reflection.
3. The condemnation--"Lest, "etc. (a) The awfulness. "Tear, "as a lion or eagle its prey --tear
body and soul. (b) Its irresistibleness--"None to deliver." --G. R.
Verses 21, 23. Note the alternative; a life rightly ordered
now, or sins set in order hereafter.
1. Salvation is the work of God.
2. The evidence of salvation is holiness of heart and life.
3. The effect of that evidence is praise.
4. The tendency of that praise is to glorify God. God is not
glorified by the doubts, and fears, and murmurings of his people, but by their
praise. G. R.
Verse 23. (last clause). The true order of life.
1. That first which is first.
2. That most which is most.
3. That ever which is ever.
4. That all which is all.
WORK UPON THE FIFTIETH PSALM
In the old quarto edition (1634) of "Mr. Paul Bayne's
Commentary on Colossians, "among the "divers places of Scripture
briefly explained, "there is an exposition of Ps 50:21-23, of this
Psalm, entitled, "The Terror of God displayed against carnal