Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. To the Chief Musician upon Shoshannim. Thus
for the second time we have a Psalm entitled "upon the lilies." In the
forty-first they were golden lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh, and blooming
in the fair gardens which skirt the ivory palaces: in this we have the lily
among thorns, the lily of the valley, fair and beautiful, blooming in the garden
of Gethsemane. A Psalm of David. If any enquire, "of whom speaketh the
psalmist this? of himself, or of some other man?" we would reply, "of himself,
and of some other man." Who that other is, we need not be long in discovering;
it is the Crucified alone who can say, "in my thirst they gave me vinegar to
drink." His footprints all through this sorrowful song have been pointed out by
the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, and therefore we believe, and are sure,
that the Son of Man is here. Yet is seems to be the intention of the Spirit,
while he gives us personal types, and so shows the likeness to the firstborn
which exists in the heirs of salvation, to set forth the disparities between the
best of the sons of men, and the Son of God, for there are verses here which we
dare not apply to our Lord; we almost shudder when we see our brethren
attempting to do so, as for instance Ps 69:5. Especially do we note the
difference between David and the Son of David in the imprecations of the one
against his enemies, and the prayers of the other for them. We commence our
exposition of this Psalm with much trembling, for we feel that we are entering
with our Great High Priest into the most holy place.
DIVISION. This Psalm consists of two portions of 18 verses
each. These again may each be sub divided into three parts. Under the first
head, from Ps 69:1-4, the sufferer spreads his complaint before God; then he
pleads that his zeal for God is the cause of his sufferings, in Ps 69:5-12: and
this encourages him to plead for help and deliverance, from Ps 69:13-18. In the
second half of the Psalm he details the injurious conduct of his adversaries,
from Ps 69:19-21; calls for their punishment, Ps 69:22-28, and then returns to
prayer, and to a joyful anticipation of divine interposition and its results, Ps
Verse 1. Save me, O God. "He saved others, himself he cannot
save." With strong cries and tears he offered up prayers and supplications unto
him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared (Heb
5:7). Thus David had prayed, and here his Son and Lord utters the same cry. This
is the second Psalm which begins with a "Save me, O God, "and the former (Psalm
54) is but a short summary of this more lengthened complaint. It is remarkable
that such a scene of woe should be presented to us immediately after the
jubilant ascension hymn of the last Psalm, but this only shows how interwoven
are the glories and the sorrows of our ever blessed Redeemer. The head which now
is crowned with glory is the same which wore the thorns; he to whom we pray,
"Save us, O God, "is the selfsame person who cried, "Save me, O God."
For the waters are come in unto my soul. Sorrows, deep,
abounding, deadly, had penetrated his inner nature. Bodily anguish is not his
first complaint; he begins not with the gall which embittered his lips, but with
the mighty griefs which broke into his heart. All the sea outside a vessel is
less to be feared than that which finds its way into the hold. A wounded spirit
who can bear. Our Lord in this verse is seen before us as a Jonah, crying, "The
waters compassed me about, even to the soul." He was doing business for us on
the great waters, at his Father's command; the stormy wind was lifting up the
waves thereof, and he went down to the depths till his soul was melted because
of trouble. In all this he has sympathy with us, and is able to succour us when
we, like Peter, beginning to sink, cry to him, "Lord, save, or we perish."
Verse 2. I sink in deep mire. In water one might swim, but
in mud and mire all struggling is hopeless; the mire sucks down its victim. Where there is no standing. Everything gave way under the
Sufferer; he could not get foothold for support--this is a worse fate than
drowning. Here our Lord pictures the close, clinging nature of his heart's woes.
"He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy." Sin is as mire for its filthiness,
and the holy soul of the Saviour must have loathed even that connection with it
which was necessary for its expiation. His pure and sensitive nature seemed to
sink in it, for it was not his element, he was not like us born and acclimatised
to this great dismal swamp. Here our Redeemer became another Jeremiah, of whom
it is recorded (Jer 38:6) that his enemies cast him into a dungeon wherein "was
no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire." Let our hearts feel the
emotions, both of contrition and gratitude, as we see in this simile the deep
humiliation of our Lord. I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
The sorrow gathers even greater force; he is as one cast into the sea, the
waters go over his head. His sorrows were first within, then around, and now
above him. Our Lord was no fainthearted sentimentalist; his were real woes, and
though he bore them heroically, yet were they terrible even to him. His
sufferings were unlike all others in degree, the waters were such as soaked into
the soul; the mire was the mire of the abyss itself, and the floods were deep
and overflowing. To us the promise is, "the rivers shall not overflow thee, "but
no such word of consolation was vouchsafed to him. My soul, thy Well beloved
endured all this for thee. Many waters could not quench his love, neither could
the floods drown it; and, because of this, thou hast the rich benefit of that
covenant assurance, "as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go
over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke
thee." He stemmed the torrent of almighty wrath, that we might for ever rest in
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying. Not of it, but by it, with
it. He had prayed till he sweat great drops of blood, and well might physical
weariness intervene. My throat is dried, parched, and inflamed. Long pleading
with awful fervour had scorched his throat as with flames of fire. Few, very
few, of his saints follow their Lord in prayer so far as this. We are, it is to
be feared, more likely to be hoarse with talking frivolities to men than by
pleading with God; yet our sinful nature demands more prayer than his perfect
humanity might seem to need. His prayers should shame us into fervour. Our
Lord's supplications were salted with fire, they were hot with agony; and hence
they weakened his system, and made him "a weary man and full of woes."
Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. He wanted in his
direst distress nothing more than his God; that would be all in all to him. Many
of us know what watching and waiting mean; and we know something of the failing
eye when hope is long deferred: but in all this Jesus bears the palm; no eyes
ever failed as his did or for so deep a cause. No painter can ever depict those
eyes; their pencils fail in every feature of his all but fair but all marred
countenance, but most of all do they come short when they venture to pourtray
those eyes which were fountains of tears. He knew both how to pray and to watch,
and he would have us learn the like. There are times when we should pray till
the throat is dry, and watch till the eyes grow dim. Only thus can we have
fellowship with him in his sufferings. What! can we not watch with him one hour?
Does the flesh shrink back? O cruel flesh to be so tender of thyself, and so
ungenerous to thy Lord!
Verse 4. They that hate me. Surprising sin that men should
hate the altogether lovely one, truly is it added, without a cause, for reason there was none for this
senseless enmity. He neither blasphemed God, nor injured man. As Samuel said:
"Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded?
Whom have I oppressed?" Even so might Jesus enquire. Besides, he had not only
done us no evil, but he had bestowed countless and priceless benefits. Well
might he demand, "For which of these works do ye stone me?" Yet from his cradle
to his cross, beginning with Herod and not ending with Judas, he had foes
without number; and he justly said, they are more than the hairs of mine head. Both the civilians
and the military, laics and clerics, doctors and drunkards, princes and people,
set themselves against the Lord's anointed. "This is the heir, let us kill him
that the inheritance may be ours, "was the unanimous resolve of all the keepers
of the Jewish vineyard; while the Gentiles outside the walls of the garden
furnished the instruments for his murder, and actually did the deed. The hosts
of earth and hell, banded together, made up vast legions of antagonists, none of
whom had any just ground for hating him.
They that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully,
are mighty. It was bad that they were many, but worse that they were
mighty. All the ecclesiastical and military powers of his country were arrayed
against him. The might of the Sanhedrin, the mob, and the Roman legions were
combined in one for his utter destruction: "Away with such a fellow from this
earth; it is not fit that he should live, "was the shout of his ferocious foes.
David's adversaries were on the throne when he was hiding in caverns, and our
Lord's enemies were the great ones of the earth; while he, of whom the world was
not worthy, was reproached of men and despised of the people. Then I restored that which I took not away. Though
innocent, he was treated as guilty. Though David had no share in plots against
Saul, yet he was held accountable for them. In reference to our Lord, it may be
truly said that he restores what he took not away; for he gives back to the
injured honour of God a recompense, and to man his lost happiness, though the
insult of the one and the fall of the other were neither of them, in any sense,
his doings. Usually, when the ruler sins the people suffer, but here the proverb
is reversed--the sheep go astray, and their wanderings are laid at the
Verse 5. O God, thou knowest my foolishness. David might
well say this, but not David's Lord; unless it be understood as an appeal to God
as to his freedom from the folly which men imputed to him when they said he was
mad. That which was foolishness to men was superlative wisdom before God. How
often might we use these words in their natural sense, and if we were not such
fools as to be blind to our own folly, this confession would be frequently on
our lips. When we feel that we have been foolish we are not, therefore, to cease
from prayer, but rather to be more eager and fervent in it. Fools had good need
consult with the infinitely wise. And my sins are not hid from thee. They cannot be hid with
any fig leaves of mine; only the covering which thou wilt bring me can conceal
their nakedness and mine. It ought to render confession easy, when we are
assured that all is known already. That prayer which has no confession in it may
please a Pharisee's pride, but will never bring down justification. They who
have never seen their sins in the light of God's omniscience are quite unable to
appeal to that omniscience in proof of their piety. He who can say, Thou knowest my foolishness,
is the only man who can add,
"But thou knowest that I love thee."
Verse 6. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts,
be ashamed for my sake. If he were deserted, others who were walking
in the same path of faith would be discouraged and disappointed. Unbelievers are
ready enough to catch at anything which may turn humble faith into ridicule,
therefore, O God of all the armies of Israel, let not my case cause the enemy to
blaspheme--such is the spirit of this verse. Our blessed Lord ever had a tender
concern for his people, and would not have his own oppression of spirit become a
source of discouragement to them. Let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God
of Israel. He appealed to the Lord of hosts by his power to help him,
and now to the God of Israel by his covenant faithfulness to come to the rescue.
If the captain of the host fail, how will it fare with the rank and file? If
David flee, what will his followers do? If the king of believers shall find his
faith unrewarded, how will the feeble ones hold on their way? Our Lord's
behaviour during his sharpest agonies is no cause of shame to us; he wept, for
he was man, but he murmured not, for he was sinless man; he cried, "My Father,
if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; "for he was human, but he added,
"Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt, "for his humanity was without
taint of rebellion. In the depths of tribulation no repining word escaped him,
for there was no repining in his heart. The Lord of martyrs witnessed a good
confession. He was strengthened in the hour of peril, and came off more than a
conqueror, as we also shall do, if we hold fast our confidence even to the end.
Verse 7. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach. Because
he undertook to do the Father's will, and teach his truth, the people were
angry; because he declared himself to be the Son of God, the priesthood raved.
They could find no real fault in him, but were forced to hatch up a lying
accusation before they could commence their sham trial of him. The bottom of the
quarrel was, that God was with him, and he with God, while the Scribes and
Pharisees sought only their own honour. Reproach is at all times very cutting to
a man of integrity, and it must have come with acute force upon one of so
unsullied a character as our Lord; yet see, how he turns to his God, and finds
his consolation in the fact that he is enduring all for his Father's sake. The
like comfort belongs to all misrepresented and persecuted saints. Shame hath covered my face. Men condemned to die frequently
had their faces covered as they were dragged away from the judge's seat, as was
the case with the wicked Haman in Es 7:8: after this fashion they first covered
our Lord with a veil of opprobrious accusation, and then hurried him away to be
crucified. Moreover, they passed him through the trial of cruel mockings,
besmeared his face with spittle, and covered it with bruises, so that Pilate's
"Ecce Homo" called the world's attention to an unexampled spectacle of woe and
shame. The stripping on the cross must also have suffused the Redeemer's face
with a modest blush, as he hung there exposed to the cruel gaze of a ribald
multitude. Ah, blessed Lord, it was our shame which thou wast made to bear!
Nothing more deserves to be reproached and despised than sin, and lo, when thou
wast made sin for us thou wast called to endure abuse and scorn. Blessed be thy
name it is over now, but we owe thee more than heart can conceive for thine
amazing stoop of love.
Verse 8. I am become a stranger unto my brethren. The Jews
his brethren in race rejected him, his family his brethren by blood were
offended at him, his disciples his brethren in spirit forsook him and fled; one
of them sold him, and another denied him with oaths and cursings. Alas, my Lord,
what pangs must have smitten thy loving heart to be thus forsaken by those who
should have loved thee, defended thee, and, if need be, died for thee. And an alien unto my mother's children. These were the
nearest of relatives, the children of a father with many wives felt the tie of
consanguinity but loosely, but children of the same mother owned the band of
love; yet our Lord found his nearest and dearest ones ashamed to own him. As
David's brethren envied him, and spake evil of him, so our Lord's relatives by
birth were jealous of him, and his best beloved followers in the hour of his
agony were afraid to be known as having any connection with him. These were
sharp arrows of the mighty in the soul of Jesus, the most tender of friends. May
none of us ever act as if we were strangers to him; never may we treat him as if
he were an alien to us: rather let us resolve to be crucified with him, and may
grace turn the resolve into fact.
Verse 9. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. His
burning ardour, like the flame of a candle, fed on his strength and consumed it.
His heart, like a sharp sword, cut through the scabbard. Some men are eaten up
with lechery, others with covetousness, and a third class with pride, but the
master passion with our great leader was the glory of God, jealousy for his
name, and love to the divine family. Zeal for God is so little understood by men
of the world, that it always draws down opposition upon those who are inspired
with it; they are sure to be accused of sinister motives, or of hypocrisy, or of
being out of their senses. When zeal eats us up, ungodly men seek to eat us up
too, and this was preeminently the case with our Lord, because his holy jealousy
was preeminent. With more than a seraph's fire he glowed, and consumed himself
with his fervour. And the reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen
upon me. Those who habitually blaspheme God now curse me instead. I
have become the butt for arrows intended for the Lord himself. Thus the Great
Mediator was, in this respect, a substitute for God as well as for man, he bore
the reproaches aimed at the one, as well as the sins committed by the other.
Verse 10. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that
was to my reproach. Having resolved to hate him, everything he did
was made a fresh reason for reviling. If he ate and drank as others, he was a
man gluttonous and a winebibber; if he wept himself away and wore himself out
with fasting, then he had a devil and was mad. Nothing is more cruel than
prejudice, its eye colours all with the medium through which it looks, and its
tongue rails at all indiscriminately. Our Saviour wept much in secret for our
sins, and no doubt his private soul chastening on our behalf were very frequent.
Lone mountains and desert places saw repeated agonies, which, if they could
disclose them, would astonish us indeed. The emaciation which these exercises
wrought in our Lord made him appear nearly fifty years old when he was but
little over thirty; this which was to his honour was used as a matter of
reproach against him.
Verse 11. I made sackcloth also my garment. This David did
literally, but we have no reason to believe that Jesus did. In a spiritual sense
he, as one filled with grief, was always a sackcloth wearer. And I became a proverb to them. He was ridiculed as "the
man of sorrows, "quoted as "the acquaintance of grief." He might have said,
"here I and sorrow sit." This which should have won him pity only earned him new
and more general scorn. To interweave one's name into a mocking proverb is the
highest stretch of malice, and to insult one's acts of devotion is to add
profanity to cruelty.
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate speak against me. The
ordinary gossips who meet at the city gates for idle talk make me their theme,
the business men who there resort for trade forget their merchandise to slander
me, and even the beggars who wait at men's doors for alms contribute their share
of insult to the heap of infamy. And I was the song of the drunkard. The ungodly know no
merrier jest than that in which the name of the holy is traduced. The flavour of
slander is piquant, and gives a relish to the revellers' wine. The character of
the man of Nazareth was so far above the appreciation of the men of strength to
mingle strong drink, it was so much out of their way and above their thoughts,
that it is no wonder it seemed to them ridiculous, and therefore well adapted to
create laughter over their cups. The saints are ever choice subjects for satire.
Butler's Hudibras owed more of its popularity to its irreligious banter than to
any intrinsic cleverness. To this day the tavern makes rare fun of the
tabernacle, and the ale bench is the seat of the scorner. What a wonder of
condescension is here that he who is the adoration of angels should stoop to be
the song of drunkards! What amazing sin that he whom seraphs worship with veiled
faces should be a scornful proverb among the most abandoned of men.
"The byword of the passing throng,
The ruler's scoff, the drunkard's song."
Verse 13. But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord. He
turned to Jehovah in prayer as being the most natural thing for the godly to do
in their distress. To whom should a child turn but to his father. He did not
answer them; like a sheep before her shearers he was dumb to them, but he opened
his mouth unto the Lord his God, for he would hear and deliver. In an acceptable time. It was a time of rejection with man,
but of acceptance with God. Sin ruled on earth, but grace reigned in heaven.
There is to each of us an accepted time, and woe to us if we suffer it to glide
away unimproved. God's time must be our time, or it will come to pass that, when
time closes, we shall look in vain for space for repentance. Our Lord's prayers
were well timed, and always met with acceptance.
O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me. Even the
perfect one makes his appeal to the rich mercy of God, much more should we. To
misery no attribute is more sweet than mercy, and when sorrows multiply, the
multitude of mercy is much prized. When enemies are more than the hairs of our
head, they are yet to be numbered, but God's mercies are altogether innumerable,
and let it never be forgotten that every one of them is an available and
powerful argument in the hand of faith. In the truth of thy salvation. "Jehovah's faithfulness is a
further mighty plea." His salvation is no fiction, no mockery, no changeable
thing, therefore he is asked to manifest it, and make all men see his fidelity
to his promise. Our Lord teaches us here the sacred art of wrestling in prayer,
and ordering our cause with arguments; and he also indicates to us that the
nature of God is the great treasury of strong reasons, which shall be to us most
prevalent in supplication.
Verse 14. Deliver me out of the mire and let me not sink. He
turns into prayer the very words of his complaint; and it is well, if, when we
complain, we neither feel nor say anything which we should fear to utter before
the Lord as a prayer. We are allowed to ask for deliverance from trouble as well
as for support under it; both petitions are here combined. How strange it seems
to hear such language from the Lord of glory. Let me be delivered from
them that hate, me, and out of the deep waters. Both from his foes,
and the griefs which they caused him, he seeks a rescue. God can help us in all
ways, and we may, therefore, put up a variety of requests without fear of
exceeding our liberty to ask, or his ability to answer.
Verse 15. Let not the waterflood overflow me. He continues
to recapitulate the terms of his lament. He is willing to bear suffering, but
entreats grace that it may not get the victory over him. He was heard in that he
feared. Neither let the deep swallow me up. As Jonah came forth
again, so let me also arise from the abyss of woe; here also our Lord was heard,
and so shall we be. Death itself must disgorge us. Let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. When a great stone
was rolled over the well, or pit, used as a dungeon, the prisoner was altogether
enclosed, and forgotten like one on the oubliettes of the Bastille; this is an
apt picture of the state of a man buried alive in grief and left without remedy;
against this the great sufferer pleaded and was heard. He was baptised in agony
but not drowned in it; the grave enclosed him, but before she could close her
mouth he had burst his prison. It is said that truth lies in a well, but it is
assuredly an open well, for it walks abroad in power; and so our great
Substitute in the pit of woe and death was yet the Conqueror of death and hell.
How appropriately may many of us use this prayer. We deserve to be swept away as
with a flood, to be drowned in our sins, to be shut up in hell; let us, then,
plead the merits of our Saviour, lest these things happen unto us.
Verse 16. Hear me, O Lord. Do not refuse thy suppliant Son.
It is to the covenant God, the ever living Jehovah, that he appeals with strong
crying. For thy lovingkindness is good. By the greatness of thy
love have pity upon thine afflicted. It is always a stay to the soul to dwell
upon the preeminence and excellence of the Lord's mercy. It has furnished sad
souls much good cheer to take to pieces that grand old Saxon word, which is here
used in our version, lovingkindness. Its composition is of two most sweet
and fragrant things, fitted to inspire strength into the fainting, and make
desolate hearts sing for joy. Turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender
mercies. If the Lord do but turn the eye of pity, and the hand of power, the
mourner's spirit revives. It is the gall of bitterness to be without the
comfortable smile of God; in our Lord's case his grief culminated in "Lama
Sabachthani, "and his bitterest cry was that in which he mourned an absent God.
Observe how he dwells anew upon divine tenderness, and touches again that note
of abundance, "The multitude of thy compassions."
Verse 17. And hide not thy face from thy servant. A good
servant desires the light of his master's countenance; that servus
servorum, who was also rex regium, could not bear to lose the
presence of his God. The more he loved his Father, the more severely he felt the
hiding of his face. For I am in trouble. Stay thy rough wind in the day of
thine east wind; do not add sorrow upon sorrow. If ever a man needs the
comforting presence of God it is when he is in distress; and, being in distress,
it is a reason to be pleaded with a merciful God why he should not desert us. We
may pray that our flight be not in the winter, and that God will not add
spiritual desertion to all our other tribulations. Hear me speedily. The case was urgent, delay was dangerous,
nay deadly. Our Lord was the perfection of patience, yet he cried urgently for
speedy mercy; and therein he gives us liberty to do the same, so long as we add,
"nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."
Verse 18. Draw nigh unto my soul. The near approach of God
is all the sufferer needs; one smile of heaven will still the rage of hell. And redeem it. It shall be redemption to me if thou wilt
appear to comfort me. This is a deeply spiritual prayer, and one very suitable
for a deserted soul. It is in renewed communion that we shall find redemption
realized. Deliver me because of mine enemies, lest they should, in
their vaunting, blaspheme thy name, and boast that thou art not able to rescue
those who put their trust in thee. Jesus, in condescending to use such
supplications, fulfils the request of his disciples: "Lord, teach us to pray."
Here we have a sad recapitulation of sorrows, with more
especial reference to the persons concerned in their infliction.
Verse 19. Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my
dishonour. It is no novelty or secret, it has been long continued; thou,
O God, hast seen it; and for thee to see the innocent suffer is an assurance of
help. Here are three words piled up to express the Redeemer's keen sense of the
contempt poured upon him; and his assurance that every form of malicious despite
was observed of the Lord. Mine adversaries are all before thee. The whole lewd and
loud company is now present to thine eye: Judas and his treachery; Herod and his
cunning; Caiaphas and his counsel; Pilate and his vacillation; Jews, priests,
people, rulers, all, thou seest and wilt judge.
Verse 20. Reproach hath broken my heart. There is no hammer
like it. Our Lord died of a broken heart, and reproach had done the deed.
Intense mental suffering arises from slander; and in the case of the sensitive
nature of the immaculate Son of Man, it sufficed to lacerate the heart till it
broke. "Then burst his mighty heart." And I am full of heaviness. Calumny and insult bowed him to
the dust; he was sick at heart. The heaviness of our Lord in the garden is
expressed by many and forcible words in the four gospels, and each term goes to
show that the agony was beyond measure great; he was filled with misery, like a
vessel which is full to the brim. And I looked for some to take pity, but there was none.
"Deserted in his utmost need by those his former bounty fed." Not one to say him
a kindly word, or drop a sympathetic tear. Amongst ten thousand foes there was
not one who was touched by the spectacle of his misery; not one with a heart
capable of humane feeling towards him. And for comforters, but I found none. His dearest ones had
sought their own safety, and left their Lord alone. A sick man needs comforters,
and a persecuted man needs sympathy; but our blessed Surety found neither on
that dark and doleful night when the powers of darkness had their hour. A spirit
like that of our Lord feels acutely desertion by beloved and trusted friends,
and yearns for real sympathy. This may be seen in the story of Gethsemane: --
"Backwards and forwards thrice he ran.
As if he sought some help from man;
Or wished, at least, they would condole--
It was all they could--his tortured soul."
"What ever he sought for, there was none;
Our Captain fought the field alone.
Soon as the chief to battle led,
That moment every soldier fled."
Verse 21. They gave me also gall for my meat. This was the
sole refreshment cruelty had prepared for him. Others find pleasure in their
food, but his taste was made to be an additional path of pain to him. And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. A
criminal's draught was offered to our innocent Lord, a bitter portion to our
dying Master. Sorry entertainment had earth for her King and Saviour. How often
have our sins filled the gall cup for our Redeemer? While we blame the Jews, let
us not excuse ourselves. From this point David and our Lord for awhile part company, if
we accept the rendering of our version. The severe spirit of the law breathes
out imprecations, while the tender heart of Jesus offers prayers for his
murderers. The whole of these verses, however, may be viewed as predictions, and
then they certainly refer to our Lord, for we find portions of them quoted in
that manner by the apostle in Ro 11:9-10, and by Christ himself in Mt 23:38.
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare before them. There
they laid snares, and there they shall find them. From their feasts they would
afford nothing but wormwood for their innocent victim, and now their banquets
shall be their ruin. It is very easy for the daily provisions of mercy to become
temptations to sin. As birds and beasts are taken in a trap by means of baits
for the appetite, so are men snared full often by their meats and drinks. Those
who despise the upper springs of grace, shall find the nether springs of worldly
comfort prove their poison. The table is used, however, not alone for feeding,
but for conversations, transacting business, counsel, amusement, and religious
observance: to those who are the enemies of the Lord Jesus that table may, in
all these respects, become a snare. This first plague is terrible, and the
second is like unto it. And that which should have been for their welfare, let it
become a trap. This, if we follow the original closely, and the
version of Paul in the Romans, is a repetition of the former phrase; but we
shall not err if we say that, to the rejecters of Christ, even those things
which are calculated to work their spiritual and eternal good, become occasions
for yet greater sin. They reject Christ, and are condemned for not believing on
him; they stumble on this stone, and are broken by it. Wretched are those men,
who not only have a curse upon their common blessings, but also on the spiritual
opportunities of salvation.
"Whom oils and balsams kill, what salve can cure?"
This second plague even exceeds the first.
Verse 23. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not.
They shall wander in a darkness that may be felt. They have loved darkness
rather than light, and in darkness they shall abide. Judicial blindness fell
upon Israel after our Lord's death and their persecution of his apostles; they
were blinded by the light which they would not accept. Eyes which see no beauty
in the Lord Jesus, but flash wrath upon him, may well grow yet more dim, till
death spiritual leads to death eternal. And make their loins continually to shake. Their conscience
shall be so ill at ease that they shall continually quiver with fear; their
backs shall bend to the earth (so some read it) with grovelling avarice, and
their strength shall be utterly paralysed, so that they cannot walk firmly, but
shall totter at every step. See the terrifying, degrading, and enfeebling
influence of unbelief. See also the retaliation of justice: those who will not
see shall not see; those who would not walk in uprightness shall be unable to do
Verse 24. Pour out thine indignation upon them. What can be
too severe a penalty for those who reject the incarnate God, and refuse to obey
the commands of his mercy? They deserve to be flooded with wrath, and they shall
be; for upon all who rebel against the Saviour, Christ the Lord, "the wrath is
come to the uttermost." 1Th 2:16. God's indignation is no trifle; the anger of a
holy, just, omnipotent, and infinite Being, is above all things to be dreaded;
even a drop of it consumes, but to have it poured upon us is inconceivably
dreadful. O God, who knoweth the power of thine anger? And let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Grasping
them, arresting them, abiding on them. If they flee, let it overtake and seize
them; let it lay them by the heels in the condemned cell, so that they cannot
escape from execution. It shall indeed be so with all the finally impenitent,
and it ought to be so. God is not to be insulted with impunity, and his Son, our
ever gracious Saviour, the best gift of infinite love, is not to be scorned and
scoffed at for nothing. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy, but what
shall be the "sorer punishment" reserved for those who have trodden under foot
the Son of God?
Verse 25. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell
in their tents. This may signify that their posterity shall be cut
off, and the abode which they occupy shall be left a ruin; or, as our Lord
quoted it, it refers to the temple, which was left by its divine occupant and
became a desolation. What occurs on a large scale to families and nations is
often fulfilled in individuals, as was conspicuously the case with Judas, to
whom Peter referred this prophecy, Ac 1:20, "For it is written in the book of
Psalms, let this habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein." The
fierce proclamation of Nebuchadnezzar, "that every people, nation, and language,
that speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill, "is but an
anticipation of that dread hour when the enemies of the Lord shall be broken in
pieces, and perish out of the land.
Verse 26. For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten.
They are cruel where they should be pitiful. When a stroke comes to any in the
providence of God, their friends gather around them and condole, but these
wretches hunt the wounded and vex the sick. Their merciless hearts invent fresh
blows for him who is "smitten of God and afflicted." And they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.
They lay bare his wounds with their rough tongues. They lampoon the mourner,
satirise his sorrows, and deride his woes. They pointed to the Saviour's wounds,
they looked and stared upon him, and then they uttered shameful accusations
against him. After this fashion the world still treats the members of Christ.
"Report, "say they, "and we will report it." If a godly man be a little down in
estate, how glad they are to push him over altogether, and, meanwhile, to talk
everywhere against him. God takes note of this, and will visit it upon the
enemies of his children; he may allow them to act as a rod to his saints, but he
will yet avenge his own elect. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for
Jerusalem, and for Zion, with a great jealousy; and I am very sore displeased
with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they
helped forward the affliction."
Verse 27. Add iniquity unto their iniquity. Unbelievers will
add sin to sin, and so, punishment to punishment. This is the severest
imprecation, or prophecy, of all. For men to be let alone to fill up the measure
of their iniquity, is most equitable, but yet most awful. And let them not come into thy righteousness. If they
refuse it, and resist thy gospel, let them shut themselves out of it.
"He that will not when he may,
When he would he shall have nay."
Those who choose evil shall have their choice. Men who hate
divine mercy shall not have it forced upon them, but (unless sovereign grace
interpose) shall be left to themselves to aggravate their guilt, and ensure
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living.
Though in their conceit they wrote themselves among the people of God, and
induced others to regard them under that character, they shall be unmasked and
their names removed from the register. Enrolled with honour, they shall be
erased with shame. Death shall obliterate all recollection of them; they shall
be held no longer in esteem, even by those who paid them homage. Judas first,
and Pilate, and Herod, and Caiaphas, all in due time, were speedily wiped out of
existence; their names only remain as bywords, but among the honoured men who
live after their departure they are not recorded. And not be written with the righteous. This clause is
parallel with the former, and shows that the inner meaning of being blotted out
from the book of life is to have it made evident that the name was never written
there at all. Man in his imperfect copy of God's book of life will have to make
many emendations, both of insertion and erasure; but, as before the Lord, the
record is for ever fixed and unalterable. Beware, O man, of despising Christ and
his people, lest thy soul should never partake in the righteousness of God,
without which men are condemned already. Imprecations, prophecies, and complaints are ended, and prayer
of a milder sort begins, intermingled with bursts of thankful song, and
encouraging foresight of coming good.
Verse 29. But I am poor and sorrowful. The psalmist was
afflicted very much, but his faith was in God. The poor in spirit and mourners
are both blessed under the gospel, so that here is a double reason for the Lord
to smile on his suppliant. No man was ever poorer or more sorrowful than Jesus
of Nazareth, yet his cry out of the depths was heard, and he was uplifted to the
highest glory. Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. How fully has
this been answered in our great Master's case, for he not only escaped his foes
personally, but he has become the author of eternal salvation to all who obey
him, and this continues to glorify him more and more. O ye poor and sorrowful
ones, lift up your heads, for as with your Lord so shall it be with you. You are
trodden down today as the mire of the streets, but you shall ride upon the high
places of the earth ere long; and even now ye are raised up together, and made
to sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.
Verse 30. I will praise the name of God with a song. He who
sang after the passover, sings yet more joyously after the resurrection and
ascension. He is, in very truth, "the sweet singer of Israel." He leads the
eternal melodies, and all his saints join in chorus. And will magnify him with thanksgiving. How sure was our
Redeemer of ultimate victory, since he vows a song even while yet in the
furnace. In us, also, faith foresees the happy issue of all affliction, and
makes us even now begin the music of gratitude which shall go on for ever
increasing in volume, world without end. What clear shining after the rain we
have in this and succeeding verses. The darkness is past, and the glory light
shines forth as the sun. All the honour is rendered unto him to whom all the
prayer was presented; he alone could deliver and did deliver, and, therefore, to
him only be the praise.
Verse 31. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox
or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. No sacrifice is so acceptable
to God, who is a Spirit, as that which is spiritual. He accepted bullocks under
a dim and symbolical dispensation; but in such offerings, in themselves
considered, he had no pleasure. "Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the
blood of goats?" Here he puts dishonour upon mere outward offerings by speaking
of the horns and hoofs, the offal of the victim. The opus operatum, which
our ritualists think so much of, the Lord puffs at. The horning and hoofing are
nothing to him, though to Jewish ritualists these were great points, and matters
for critical examination; our modern rabbis are just as precise as to the
mingling of water with their wine, the baking of their wafers, the cut of their
vestments, and the performance of genuflections towards the right quarter of the
compass. O fools, and slow of heart to perceive all that the Lord has declared.
"Offer unto God thanksgiving" is the everlasting rubric of the true directory of
worship. The depths of grief into which the suppliant had been plunged gave him
all the richer an experience of divine power and grace in his salvation, and so
qualified him to sing more sweetly "the song of loves." Such music is ever most
acceptable to the infinite Jehovah.
Verse 32. The humble shall see this and be glad. Grateful
hearts are ever on the look out for recruits, and the rejoicing psalmist
discerns with joy the fact, that other oppressed and lowly men observing the
Lord's dealings with his servants are encouraged to look for a like issue to
their own tribulations. The standing consolation of the godly is the experience
of their Lord, for as he is so are we also in this world; yea, moreover, his
triumph has secured ours, and therefore, we may on the most solid grounds
rejoice in him. This gave our great leader satisfaction as he foresaw the
comforts which would flow to us from his conflict and conquest. And your heart shall live that seek God. A similar
assurance is given in Psalm 22, which is near akin to this. It would have been
useless to seek if Jesus' victories had not cleared the way, and opened a door
of hope; but, since the Breaker has gone up before us, and the King at the head
of us, our hope is a living one, our faith is living, our love is living, and
our renewed nature is full of a vitality which challenges the cold hand of death
to damp it.
Verse 33. For the Lord heareth the poor. The examples of
David and David's Lord, and tens of thousands of the saints, all go to prove
this. Monarchs of the nations are deaf to the poor, but the Sovereign of the
Universe has a quick ear for the needy. None can be brought lower than was the
Nazarene, but see how highly he is exalted: descend into what depths we may, the
prayer hearing God can bring us up again. And despiseth not his prisoners. Poor men have their
liberty, but these are bound; however, they are God's prisoners, and, therefore,
prisoners of hope. The captive in the dungeon is the lowest and least esteemed
of men, but the Lord seeth not as man seeth; he visited those who are bound with
chains, and proclaims a jail delivery for his afflicted. God despises no man,
and no prayer that is honest and sincere. Distinctions of rank are nothing with
him; the poor have the gospel preached to them, and the prisoners are loosed by
his grace. Let all poor and needy ones hasten to seek his face, and to yield him
Verse 34. Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and
every thing that moveth therein. The doxology of a glowing heart. The
writer had fathomed the deeps, and had ascended to the heights; and, therefore,
calls on the whole range of creation to bless the Lord. Our Well Beloved here
excites us all to grateful adoration: who among us will hold back? God's love to
Christ argues good to all forms of life; the exaltation of the Head brings good
to the members, and to all in the least connected with him. Inasmuch as the
creation itself also is by Christ's work to be delivered from bondage, let all
that have life and motion magnify the Lord. Glory be unto thee, O Lord, for the
sure and all including pledge of our Surety's triumph; we see in this the
exaltation of all thy poor and sorrowful ones, and our heart is glad.
Verse 35. For God will save Zion, and will build the cities
of Judah. Poor, fallen Israel shall have a portion in the mercy of
the Lord; but, above all, the church, so dear to the heart of her glorious
bridegroom, shall be revived and strengthened. Ancient saints so dearly loved
Zion, that even in their distresses they did not forget her; with the first
gleam of light which visited them, they fell to pleading for the faithful: see
notable instances of this which have passed under our eye already. Ps 5:11 14:7
22:23 51:18. To us, in these modern times, it is the subject of cheering hope
that better days are coming for the chosen people of God, and for this we would
ever pray. O Zion, whatever other memories fade away, we cannot forget thee. That they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
Whatever captivities may occur, or desolations be caused, the land of Canaan
belongs to Israel by a covenant of salt, and they will surely repossess it; and
this shall be a sign unto us, that through the atonement of the Christ of God,
all the poor in spirit shall enjoy the mercies promised in the covenant of
grace. The sure mercies of David shall be the heritage of all the seed.
Verse 36. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it.
Under this image, which, however, we dare not regard as a mere simile, but as
having in itself a literal significance, we have set forth to us the enrichment
of the saints, consequent upon the sorrow of their Lord. The termination of this
Psalm strongly recalls in us that of the twenty-second. The seed lie near
the Saviour's heart, and their enjoyment of all promised good is the great
concern of his disinterested soul. Because they are his Father's servants,
therefore he rejoices in their welfare. And they that love his name shall dwell therein. He has an
eye to the Father's glory, for it is to his praise that those who love him
should attain, and for ever enjoy, the utmost happiness. Thus a Psalm, which
began in the deep waters, ends in the city which hath foundations. How gracious
is the change. Hallelujah.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. To the Chief Musician, on the lilies, of
David. On the lilies, points to the beauty of the subject
treated of. D. W. Hengstenberg.
Whole Psalm. The subject of the Psalm is an ideal person,
representing the whole class of religious sufferers. The only individual in whom
the various traits meet is Christ. That he is not, however, the exclusive, or
even the immediate subject, is clear from the confession in Ps 69:5. There is no
Psalm, except for the twenty-second, more distinctly applied to him in the New
Testament. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Whole Psalm. This has usually been regarded as a Messianic
Psalm. No portion of the Old Testament Scriptures is more frequently quoted in
the New, with the exception of Psalm 22. When Jesus drives the buyers and
sellers from the temple (Joh 2:17), his disciples are reminded of the words of
Ps 69:9 (first clause). When it is said (Joh 15:25) that the enemies of Jesus
hated him without a cause, and this is looked upon as the fulfilment of
Scripture, the reference is probably to verse 4, though it may be also to Ps
35:18. To him, and the reproach which he endured for the sake of God, St. Paul
refers the words of this Psalm, Ps 69:9 (second clause): The
reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. In Ps 69:12
we have a foreshadowing of the mockery of our Lord by the soldiers in the
praetorium (Mt 27:27-30); in Ps 69:21, the giving of the vinegar and the gall
found their counterpart in the scenes of the crucifixion, Mt 27:34. In Joh
19:28, there is an allusion, probably to verse 21 of this Psalm, and to Ps
32:15. The imprecation in Ps 69:25 is said, in Ac 1:20, to have been fulfilled
in the case of Judas Iscariot, though, as the words of the Psalm are plural, the
citation is evidently made with some freedom. According to Ro 11:9-10, the
rejection of Israel may best be described in the words of Ps 69:22-23. J. J.
Whole Psalm. This Psalm follows in striking connection with
the preceding, and in contrast with the glory of his kingdom. The two have been
compared to the transfiguration on the mount, where, after the manifestation of
Christ in glory, there appeared, also, Moses and Elias, and spake of his decease
which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. The clearest anticipation of future
glory must not shut out the conviction, that it is through much tribulation we
must enter the kingdom. W. Wilson.
Whole Psalm. Remember this is the fourth Psalm which
declares at length the passion and resurrection of our Lord. Through the whole
Psalm Christ speaks in person. He prays for deliverance by the Father, because
he has suffered by the Jews, without cause, many afflictions and persecutions.
He supplicates on behalf of his members, that the hope of the faithful, resting
on his resurrection, may not be disappointed. By the power of his prescience he
declares the future events which should occur to his enemies. Magnus Aurelius
Cassiodorus, circa 468-560.
Whole Psalm. In this Psalm the whole Christ speaks; now in
his own person, now crying with the voice of his members to God his Father.
Verse 1. Save me, O God. Let his distances be never so
great, he is resolved to cry after the Lord; and if he get but his head never so
little above water, the Lord shall hear of him. One would think his
discouragements such as he were past crying any more; the waters
entered into his soul, in deep waters, the streams running over him:
he sticketh fast in the mire where is no standing (he is at the very
bottom, and there fast in the mire), he is weary of crying; yet, Ps
69:6,13: But, Lord, I make my prayers to thee: and as he recovers breath,
so breathes out fresh supplications to the Lord. If men or devils would be
forbidding to pray, as the multitude sometimes did the poor blind man to cry
after Jesus; yet, as he, so an importunate suppliant "will cry so much the
more, Jesus thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Mr 10:47-48. Thomas
Verse 1. The waters are come in unto my soul. What means he
by coming in unto his soul? Surely no other than this: --that they
oppressed his spirit, and, as it were, penetrated into his conscience, raising
fears and perplexities there, by reason of his sins, which at present put his
faith and hope to some disorder; so that he could not for a while see to the
comfortable end of his affliction, but was as one under water, covered with his
fears, as appears by what follows (Ps 69:2): I sink in deep mire, where there
is no standing. He compares himself to one in a quagmire that can feel no
ground to bear him up; and, observe whence his trouble rose, and where the
waters made their entrance (Ps 69:5): O God, thou knowest my
foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. This holy man lay under
some fresh guilt, and this made him so uncomfortable under his affliction,
because he saw his sin in the face of that, and tasted some displeasure from God
for it in his outward trouble, which made it so bitter in the going down; and,
therefore, when once he had humbled himself by confessing his sin, and was able
to see the coast clear between heaven and him, so as to believe the pardon of
his sin, and hope for good news from God again, he then returns to his sweet
temper, and sings in the same affliction, where before he sunk. William
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying. The word egy means properly, to gape, to gasp,
then, to become weary.... but to gasp in his crying, is
not so much to grow weary because of the great vehemence thereof, but while the
crying lasts, and while he is in the act, to succumb under the burden of his
dangerous and shameful calamity. Hermann Venema.
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying. He had cried to God for
the ways of man; he had cried to man of the ways of God; he had not ceased, from
his first beginning to teach, till he said upon the cross, "I thirst." His eyes
had grown dim, and his flesh was faint and weary with his sufferings, through
the long passion of his life on earth. He had been waiting in poverty, and
insult, and treachery, and scourging, and pain, until he cried, "My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?" From "A Plain Commentary."
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying, etc. David is like the
post, who layeth by three horses as breathless; his heart, his throat, his
eyes... Objection. But I have neither weeping one way or other, ordinary
nor marred. Answer. Looking up to heaven, lifting up of the eyes, goeth
for prayer also in God's books. "My prayer unto thee, and will look up, "(Ps
5:3). Mine eyes fail with looking upward (Ps 69:3). Because,
first, prayer is a pouring out of the soul to God, and faith will come out at
the eye, in lieu of another door: often affections break out at the window, when
the door is closed; as smoke vents at the window, when the chimney refuses
passage. Stephen looked up to heaven (Ac 7:55.). He sent a post; a greedy,
pitiful, and hungry look up to Christ, out at the window, at the nearest
passage, to tell that a poor friend was coming up to him. Second, I would wish
no more, if I were in hell, but to send up a look to heaven. There be many love
looks of the saints, lying up before the throne, in the bosom of Christ. The
twinkling of thy eyes in prayer are not lost to Christ; else Stephen's look,
David's look, should not be registered so many hundred years in Christ's written
Testament. Samuel Rutherford, in "The Trial and Triumph of Faith."
Verse 3. Crying. Meanwhile, we see how the saints, in the
vicissitudes of affairs, even when they are innocent, are not insensible and
stony; they do not despise the threatening perils; they become anxious, they cry
and sigh during their temptations. Musculus.
Verse 3. Mine eyes fail. O pitiable sight! that sight should
fail, by which Jesus saw the multitudes and, therefore, ascended the mount to
give the precepts of the New Testament; by which, beholding Peter and Andrew, he
called them; by which, looking upon the man sitting at the receipt of custom, he
called and made him an evangelist; by which, gazing upon the city, he wept over
it... With these eyes thou didst look upon Simon, when thou didst say,
"Thou art the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas." With
these eyes thou didst gaze upon the woman who was a sinner, to whom thou didst
say, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." Turn these eyes upon us,
and never turn them away from our continual prayers. Gerhohus.
Verse 3. I wait for my God. The hour is coming when our eyes
must fail, and be closed; but, even then, "Let us wait for our God; "in
this respect, let us die the death of the righteous person, who died for us;
"and let our last end be like this." George Horne.
Verse 4. Without a cause. In suffering, let not the mind be
disturbed; for the injustice which is done to the innocent in his sufferings, is
not laid to the charge of the sufferer, but to his who inflicts suffering... It
is well known what Tertullian relates of Socrates, when his wife met him after
his condemnation, and addresses him with a woman's tears: "Thou art unjustly
condemned, Socrates." His reply was, "Wouldst thou have me justly?"
Verse 4. Then I restored that which I took not away. It was
the great and blessed work of our Lord Jesus here upon the earth, to restore
what he took not away. In handling this: (1) Show what it is which was taken away, and from whom?
(2) Wherein it appears that Christ took it not away. (3) How he restored it? (4)
Why he did so? (5) Use.
1. What it was which was taken away, and from whom?
(a) There was glory taken from God. Not his essential glory, nor
any perfection of his being, for that cannot be taken away; but that glory which
shines forth in the moral government of his creatures, and that glory which we
are bound to give him.
(b) There was righteousness, holiness, and happiness taken from
man also. (1.) There was a loss of righteousness to the guilty sinner; (2.) of
holiness to the polluted sinner: (3.) of happiness to the miserable sinner.
2. Wherein it appears that Christ did not take away those things from either.
(a) It is plain, as to God, he never took away any glory from
him; for he never did anything dishonourable, or offensive to God. Joh 8:29; Isa
50:5 Lu 1:35.
(b) It is also clear, as to man, that he took not away any
righteousness, holiness, or happiness from him. He was not such a fountain of
guilt, pollution, and misery, as the first Adam had been, but the contrary.
(c) The Scripture, therefore, speaks of Christ's being cut off,
but not for himself, Da 9:26; 1Pe 3:18 Isa 53:4-5.
(d) The innocency of Christ was conspicuous in his very
sufferings. Though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate
that he should be slain. Ac 13:28.
3. How did Christ restore those things which he took not away? In general, by his active and passive
(a) Christ's doing the will of God in such a manner as he did
it, was a greater honour to God than ever had been, or could be done before.
(b) Christ's suffering of the will of God, made a considerable
addition to the glory of God, which had been impaired by the sin of man, Heb
5:8; Joh 17:4 13:31.
(c) Christ hath provided for the justification of the sinner by
the obedience which he fulfilled, Ro 5:8.
(d) Christ communicates that grace which is necessary for our
(e) Christ hath merited for us a present blessedness in this
(f) Jesus Christ hath procured for us a more full and absolute
blessedness in the world to come.
4. Why did Jesus Christ make it his work to restore what he took not away?
(a) It was a necessary work, a work which must be done, in order
to his being a Saviour.
(b) It was a work impossible for any mere creature to do; so
that if Christ did not, it could not be done by any person besides him.
Timothy Cruso's Sermon.
Verse 4. Then I restored that which I took not away.
Rosenmueller observes, that this seems to be a proverbial sentence, to denote an
innocent man unjustly treated. According to the law, if a man stole and killed,
or sold an ox, he was to restore five oxen; or a sheep, he was to restore four;
and if the ox or sheep was found alive, he was to restore two. Hence, to oblige
a man to restore when he had taken nothing, was the greatest injustice. Ex
22:1-5. Ainsworth observes, that though it may be taken for all unjust
criminations, whereof David and Christ were innocent, yet in special, it was
verified in Christ, who, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be
equal with God, "Php 2:6; notwithstanding, for witnessing himself to be the Son
of God, he was put to death by the Jews. Joh 19:7. Benjamin Boothroyd.
Verse 4. I restored that which I took not away. The devil
took away by arrogating in heaven what was not his, when he boasted that he was
like the Most High, and for this he pays a righteous penalty... Adam also took
away what was not his own, when, by the enticement of the devil, "You will be as
gods, "he sought after a likeness to God, by yielding to the deception of the
woman. But the Lord Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal with God... And yet
his enemies said, "Let him be crucified, for he hath made himself the Son of
Verse 4. I restored that which I took not away. What a
blessed verse is here! Amidst all the opposition and contradiction of sinners
against himself, Jesus manifested that character, by which Jehovah had pointed
him out to the church by the prophet; "Thou shalt raise up the foundations of
many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the
restorer of paths to dwell in." Isa 58:12. But what was it Christ restored? Nay,
all that was lost. Adam by sin had done all that he could to take away God's
glory, and with it his own glory and happiness. He had robbed God of his glory,
God's law of its due, himself of God's image, and of God's favour. Sin had
brought in death, spiritual and eternal; and he and all his descendants stood
tremblingly exposed to everlasting misery. All these and more Jesus restored. As
man's Surety and man's Representative, and called to it by the authority of
Jehovah, the Lord Christ restored to God his glory, and to man God's image of
favour; and having destroyed sin, death, hell, and the grave, he restored to his
redeemed a better paradise than our nature had lost! Hail, oh, thou blessed
Restorer of all our long lost privileges. Robert Hawker.
Verse 5. Thou knowest. The knowledge of God is of a double
use to pious men. The first is, as we observe in this place, to console the
innocent: the second is, to make them circumspect, since all their thoughts, and
words, and deeds are under the very eye of God. Musculus.
Verse 5. Thou knowest my offences, etc., that is to say,
that I am not an offender. This verse is not a confession of sin, but a
protestation of innocence, The writer maintains that he is a sufferer, not for
his sins, but for his piety. See Ps 69:7, etc. George R. Noyes, in "A New
Translation of the Book of Psalms, with Notes," etc. 1846.
Verse 5. My sins are not hid from thee. The sins of those
for whom Christ died, by being imputed to him, no doubt became his in the eyes
of the law, in such a sense as to make him answerable for them. But the
Scriptures, be it observed, while they speak of him as "wounded for our
transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, "and as "bearing
our sins in his own body on the tree, "as if afraid to use any forms of
expression which would even seem to derogate from his immaculate purity, never
speak of the sins of those for whom he died as his own sins. James
Anderson's Note to Calvin in loc.
Verse 5. My sins are not hid. Not as the first Adam, do I,
the second Adam, hide myself or my sins, especially in thy sight, O God;
but lifted up upon the cross I suffered without the gate for sins in such
a way, that I desire that my sins should be conspicuous to every creature
in heaven, earth, and hell--my sins which, as they refer to my
person, are marked with no taint, and, as they pertain to my people believing in
me, are blotted out by my blood. Gerhohus.
Verse 6. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts,
be ashamed for my sake, etc. This says, that unless the carriage and
deportment of the godly man redounds to the comfort of all the rest of the
godly, it in some way tends to the discredit of the godly. Since this is the
case, when they slip aside, or carry not aright; since they are all in hazard of
doing so, it should be matter of affecting and afflicting exercise, lest they do
so. Fellow professors are ashamed of the person that walketh not aright; they
are ashamed that ever they should have been in company or fellowship with him;
they are ashamed that ever such a person should have owned such a cause, and
that ever such a thing should have befallen a professor of such a cause; and,
besides, they are weakened by him in their hopes of persevering for themselves.
Again, they are in hazard of being a discredit to all the godly, because, say
they, it seems the Lord has granted no peremptory promise, as to the manner of
their final perseverance; and corruption enough remains in them still, to
overturn all their stock of grace, if they get not present renewed influences.
William Guthrie. 1620-1655.
Verse 6. Ashamed for my sake. I pray that they may not
be confounded by external enemies with their boundless insults and
reproaches, because they seem to be the worshippers of a God crucified and dead,
and are themselves like dead men, and lie rotting before his sepulchre, as if
their good name were gone. Rather let my enemies who do not wish me to live be
terror stricken at my angelic countenance, and fall like the dead.
Verse 6. For my sake. yb: more exactly, in me. In these words the voice of the
Sponsor of his people's peace is clearly audible. The prayer of the Sufferer has
its answer in the declarative testimony which now forms the basis of the gospel:
"He that believeth on him shall not be confounded." 1Pe 2:6. Arthur
Verse 6. Because I, for their sakes, do at thy command bear
that shame which they should else have done, Lord, take it off from them,
because thou hast laid it upon me; so it expressly follows, Ps 69:7: Because
for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.
Verse 7. Shame hath covered my face. It is a great question
whether shame or death be the greater evil. There have been those who have
rather chosen death, and have wiped off a dishonour with their blood. So Saul
slew himself rather than he would fall into the hands of the Philistines, who
would have insulted over him, and mocked him as they did Samson. So that king
(Jer 38:19) rather chose to lose his country, life and all, than to be given to
the Jews, his subjects, to be mocked of them... Confusion of face is one of the
greatest miseries that hell itself is set forth unto us by. There is nothing
that a noble nature more abhors than shame, for honour is a spark of God's
image; and the more of God's image there is in any one, the more is shame
abhorred by him, which is the debasing of it, and so the greater and more noble
any one's spirit, the more he avoids it. To a base, low spirit, indeed, shame is
nothing; but to a great spirit (as to David), than to have his "glory turned
into shame, "as Ps 4:2, is nothing more grievous. And the greater glory any
loseth, the greater is his shame. What must it be then to Christ, who because he
was to satisfy God in point of honour debased by man's sin, therefore of all
punishments besides, he suffered most of shame; it being also (as was said) one
of the greatest punishments in hell. And Christ, as he assumed other infirmities
of our nature, that made him passible in other things--as to be sensible of
hunger, want of sleep, bodily torments, of unkindness, contempt, so likewise of
disgrace and shame. He took that infirmity as well as fear; and though he had a
strength to bear and despise it (as the author of the Hebrews speaks), yet none
was ever more sensible of it. As the delicacy of the temper of his body made him
more sensible of pains than ever any man was, so the greatness of his spirit
made him more apprehensive of the evil of shame than ever any was. So likewise
the infinite love and candour of his spirit towards mankind made him take in
with answerable grief the unkindness and injuries which they heaped upon him.
Verse 8. A stranger unto my brethren. Unless this aversion
of his brethren had pained him, he would not have complained of it. It would not
have pained him unless he had felt a special affection for them.
Verse 8. In the east where polygamy prevails, the husband is
a stern and unfeeling despot; his harem a group of trembling slaves; and the
children, while they regard their common father with indifference or terror,
cling to their own mother with the fondest affection, as the only part, as the
only parent, in whom they feel an interest. Hence it greatly aggravated the
affliction of David that he had become an alien unto his mother's
children: the enmity of the other children of his father, the children of
his father's other wives, gave him less concern. W. Greenfield, in
Verse 9. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. He
who recollects that the Scriptures speak of a "peace which passeth
understanding, "and a "joy unspeakable and full of glory, "will be more disposed
to lament the low state of his own feeling, than to suspect the propriety of
sentiments the most rational and scriptural, merely because they rise to a pitch
that he has never reached. The Sacred Oracles afford no countenance to the
supposition that devotional feelings are to the condemned as visionary and
enthusiastic merely on account of their intenseness and elevation; provided they
be of the right kind, and spring from legitimate sources, they never teach us to
suspect they can be carried too far. David danced before the Lord with all his
might, and when he was reproached for degrading himself in the eyes of his
people by indulging in such transports, he replied, "If this be vile, I will yet
make myself more vile." That the objects which interest the heart in religion
are infinitely more durable and important than all others will not be disputed;
and why should it be deemed irrational to be affected by them in a degree
somewhat suitable to their value? Robert Hall. 1764-1831.
Verse 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Consider
the examples of the saints of old, who have taken heaven by force. David broke
his sleep for meditation. Ps 119:148. His violence for heaven was boiled up to
zeal, Ps 119:139: "My zeal hath consumed me." And Paul did "reach forth
(epekteinomenoz) unto those things which
were before." The Greek word signifies to stretch out the neck, a metaphor taken
from racers that strain every limb, and reach forward to lay hold upon the
prize. We read of Anna, a prophetess (Lu 2:37); "she departed not from the
temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." How industrious
was Calvin in the Lord's vineyard. When his friends persuaded him for his
health's sake to remit a little of his labour, saith he, "Would you have the
Lord find me idle when he comes?" Luther spent three hours a day in prayer. It
is said of holy Bradford, preaching, reading, and prayer, was his whole life. I
rejoice, said bishop Jewel, that my body is exhausted in the labours of my holy
calling. How violent were the blessed martyrs! They wore their fetters as
ornaments, they snatched up torments as crowns, and embraced the flames as
cheerfully as Elijah did the fiery chariot that came to fetch him to heaven. Let
racks, fires, pullies, and all manner of torments come, so I may win Christ,
said Ignatius. These pious souls "resisted unto blood." How should this provoke
our zeal! Write after these fair copies. Thomas Watson.
Verse 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Zeal in
and for true religion is a praise worthy thing. Was David zealous? it may
then become a royal spirit. Was Christ our Saviour zealous? it may become
an heroical spirit. Albeit, zeal is out of grace with most men who sit still,
and love to be at quiet rest; yet it is no disgrace to any generous spirit that
is regenerate, to have the zeal of God's house to eat him up. It is a slander to
call it folly. Was not zealous David wiser than his teachers, than his enemies,
than the aged? Lukewarm men call it fury; God's Spirit names it a "live coal, "
that hath a most vehement flame. Why bears zeal the imputation of indiscretion,
rashness, puritanism, or headiness? Was it David's rashness? It was fervency in
religion. Was Christ indiscreet? The wisdom of his Father. Festus called Paul
mad, with a loud voice (Ac 26:24), when he spake but words of truth and
soberness (Ac 26:25). Christ's kinsmen thought that he was beside himself. Mr
3:21. Was the judgment of such stolid men any disparagement to our Saviour's
zeal? Nay, it is a commendation. To root out evil from, and to establish good
in, the house of God is a good thing. Ga 4:18. Thomas Wilson, in "A Sermon
preached before sundry of the Honourable House of Commons, "entitled,
"David's Zeal for Zion." 1641.
Verse 9. Zeal, reproaches. Grace never rises to so great a
height as it does in times of persecution. Suffering times are a Christian's
harvest times. Let me instance in that grace of zeal: I remember Moulin speaking
of the French Protestants, saith, "When Papists hurt us for reading the
Scriptures, we burn with zeal to be reading of them; but now persecution is
over, our Bibles are like old almanacs, " etc. All the reproaches, frowns,
threatenings, oppositions, and persecutions that a Christian meets with in a way
of holiness, do but raise his zeal and courage to a greater height. Michal's
scoffing at David did but inflame and raise his zeal: "If this be to be vile, I
will be more vile, "2Sa 6:20-22. Look, as fire in the winter burns the hotter,
by an antiperistasiv because of the
coldness of the air; so in the winter of affliction and persecution, that divine
fire, the zeal of a Christian, burns so much the hotter, and flames forth so
much the more vehemently and strongly. In times of greatest affliction and
persecution for holiness' sake, a Christian hath, first, a good captain to lead
and encourage him; secondly, a righteous cause to prompt and embolden him;
thirdly, a gracious God to relieve and succour him; fourthly, a glorious heaven
to receive and reward him; and, certainly, these things cannot but mightily
raise him and inflame him under the greatest opposition and persecution. These
things will keep him from fearing, fawning, fainting, sinking, or flying in a
stormy day; yea, these things will make his face like the face of an adamant, as
God's promised to make Ezekiel's. Eze 3:7-9, and Job 41:24. Now an adamant is
the hardest of stones, it is harder than a flint, yea, it is harder than the
nether millstone. The naturalists (Pliny) observe, that the hardness of this
stone is unspeakable: the fire cannot burn it, nor so much as heat it through,
nor the hammer cannot break it, nor the water cannot dissolve it, and,
therefore, the Greeks call it an adamant from its untameableness; and in all
storms the adamant shrinks not, it shrinks not, it fears not, it changeth not
its hue; let the times be what they will, the adamant is still the same. In
times of persecution, a good cause, a good God, and a good conscience will make
a Christian like an adamant, it will make him invincible and unchangeable. When
one desired to know what kind of man Basil was, there was presented to him in a
dream, saith the history, a pillar of fire with this motto, Talis est
Basilius, Basil is such a one, he is all on a light fire for God.
Persecutions will but set a Christian all on a light fire for God. Thomas
Verse 9. Eaten me up. The verb means, not only "to eat up,
to devour, "but "to corrode, or consume, "by separating the parts from each
another, as fire. And the radical import of the Hebrew word for zeal
seems to be "to eat into, corrode, as fire." The word, says Parkhurst, is in the
Hebrew Bible generally applied to the fervent or ardent affections of the human
frame; the effects of which are well known to be ever like those of fire,
corroding and consuming. And, accordingly, the poets, both ancient and modern,
abound with descriptions of these ardent and consuming affections, taken from
fire and its effects. Richard Mant.
Verse 9. Eaten me up. He who is zealous in his religion, or
ardent in his attachments, is said to be eaten up. "Old Muttoo has determined to
leave his home for ever; he is to walk barefoot to the Ganges for the salvation
of his soul: his zeal has eaten him up." J. Roberts' Oriental
Verse 9. The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen
upon me. We should, if it were possible, labour to wipe off all the
reproach of Christ, and take it upon ourselves that we might rather be spit upon
and contemned than Christ. It was a brave speech of Ambrose, "he wished it would
please God to turn all the adversaries from the church upon himself, and let
them satisfy their thirst with his blood:" this is a true Christian heart. And,
therefore, if it be for our sakes, and we have anything in the business by which
Christ is reproached, we should be willing rather to sacrifice ourselves, than
that Christ should be reproached; and as Jonah, when he knew that the tempest
rose for his sake, says he, "Cast me into the sea; "and so Nazianzen, when
contention rose about him, says he, "Cast me into the sea, let me lose my place,
rather than the name of Christ should suffer for me." Jeremiah Burroughs.
Verse 10. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that
was to my reproach. Behold here, virtue is accounted vice; truth,
blasphemy; wisdom, folly. Behold, the peace maker of the world is judged a
seditious person; the fulfiller of the law, a breaker of the law; our Saviour, a
sinner; our God, a devil. O poor troubled heart! wherefore dost thou weakly wail
for any injury or abuse that is offered to thee? God handleth thee no otherwise
in this world than he handled his only Son, who hath pledged thee in this bitter
potion; not only taking essay thereof, but drinking to thee a full draught. It
is not only a comfort, but a glory, to be a partner and fellow sufferer with
Christ, who delighteth also to see in us some representation of himself. Dogs
bark not at those whom they know, and with whom they are familiar; but against
strangers they usually bark; not always for any hurt which they feel or fear,
but commonly by nature or depraved custom. How then canst thou be a stranger to
the world, if it dost not molest thee; if it detracts not from thee? Sir John
Hayward (1560-1627), in "The Sanctuary of a Troubled Soul."
Verse 10. There is nothing so well meant, but it may be ill
interpreted. Simon Patrick.
Verses 10-11. That Christ was derided and scoffed at is
plain, from Mark 5; for, when he said, "The girl is not dead, but sleepeth, they
laughed him to scorn; "and when he spoke of the necessity of giving alms, "Now,
the Pharisees, who were covetous heard all these things, and they derided him."
And, in his passion, he was derided by the soldiers, by Herod, by the high
priests, and many others. Robert Bellarmine.
Verse 11. I made sackcloth also my garment, etc. Though we
nowhere read that Jesus put on sackcloth on any occasion, yet it is not
improbable that he did; besides, the phrase may only intend that he mourned and
sorrowed at certain times, as persons do when they put on sackcloth; moreover,
as the common garb of his forerunner was raiment of camel's hair, with a
leathern girdle; it is very likely his own was very mean, suitable to his
condition, who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor. And I became a
proverb to them; a byword; so that, when they saw any person in sackcloth or
in vile raiment, behold, such an one looks like Jesus of Nazareth. John
Verse 11. I became a proverb. Two things are usually implied
when a man is said to be a byword. First, that he is in a very low condition:
some men are so high that the tongues of the common people dare not climb over
them, but where the hedge is low every man goes over. Secondly, that he is in a
despised condition; to be a byword, carries a reflection of disgrace. He that is
much spoken of, in this sense, is ill spoken of; and he is quite lost in the
opinion of men, who is thus found in their discourse... Hence, observe, great
sufferers in many things of this world, are the common subject of discourses,
and often the subject of disgrace. Such evils as few men have felt or seen, all
men will be speaking of. Great sorrows, especially if they be the sorrows of
great men, are turned into songs, and poetry plays its part with the saddest
disasters... Holy David met with this measure from men in the day of his
sorrows: When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to
my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb (or
a byword) to them. In the next verse he tells us in detail who did
this: They that sit in the gate (that is, great ones) speak against me,
and I was the song of the drunkard, that is, of the common sort.
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate: i.e., as it is
generally interpreted, the judges or chief persons of the state; for the gates
of cities were the places of judicature. But Hillary interprets this of those
who sat to beg at the gates of the city; which seems a more probable
interpretation, better to agree with the design of the psalmist, and to suit
with the drunkards, mentioned in the next clause. Samuel Burder.
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate. The magistrates at the
gate. Literally, "assessors at the gate; ""judges sitting to determine causes."
John Mason Good.
Verse 12. I was the song of the drunkards. Holy walking is
the drunkard's song, as David was; and so preciseness and strictness of
walking is ordinarily: the world cannot bear the burning and shining
conversations of some of the saints; they are so cuttingly reproved by them,
that with those heathens, they curse the sun, that by its shining doth scorch
them. It is no new thing; the seed of the serpent did always persecute the seed
of the woman; and he that was born after the flesh, persecutes him that was born
after the spirit; even so it is now, saith the apostle; and so it is now, may we
say. Ishmael mocked Isaac, and is it not so still? Or, if it be not so bold a
sin as formerly, it is because the times, not sinner's hearts, are changed; they
malign them still, watch for their halting: "report, say they, and we will
report it." John Murcot.
Verse 12. I was the song of the drunkards. When magistrates
discountenance true religion, then it becometh a matter of derision to rascals,
and to every base villain without control, and a table talk to every tippler.
The shame of the cross is more grievous than the rest of the trouble of it: this
is the fourth time that the shame of the cross is presented unto God, in these
last four verses: I was the song of the drunkards; after complaining of
his being reproached and being made a proverb. David Dickson.
Verse 12. There is a tavern, or profane mirth, in drinking,
and roaring, and revelling, and instead of another minstrel, David must be
the song of the drunkards; nor can the Philistines be merry unless Samson
be made the fool in the play (Jud 16:25): "Unless they scoff and jeer the ways
and servants of God" (as Mr. Greenham saith), "the fools cannot tell how to be
merry; "and then the Devil is merry with them for company. But what? Not merry
without abusing their host? This some must dearly pay for, when a reckoning is
called for; or, they rather called to make it. Then they will be off from their
merry pins, and will find that this was very far from being the "Comfort of the
Holy Ghost, "wherein and whereby that good Spirit and our Comforter was grieved,
and holiness scoffed and laughed at. Anthony Tuckney (1599-1670), in "A Good
Day Well Improved."
Verse 13. But as for me, my prayer, etc. The phrase is full
of emphasis; And I, my prayer to thee: that is, such am I altogether,
this is my main occupation; as it is in Ps 109:4: And I, a prayer;
this was my employment, this ever my only refuge, this my present help and
Verse 13. An acceptable time. All times are not alike. We
will not always find admittance at the same rate, with the same ease. As we will
not always be chiding, so he will not always be so pleasing neither. We may
knock, and knock again, and yet stand without a while; sometimes, so long, till
our knees are ready to sink under us, our eyes ready to drop out, as well as
drop with expectation, and our hearts ready to break in pieces, while none
heareth, or none regardeth. We should have come before, or pitched our coming at
a better time... The prophet David expressly speaks of an acceptable
time to make our prayers in. And, "Today if you will hear his voice, "in
the psalmist, paraphrased by the apostle, "Today, while it is called today,
"shows there is a set day, or days, of audience with God, wherein he sets
himself, as it were, with all readiness to hear and help us-- an accepted
time. And will ye, next, know what it is that makes it so? There are but two
things that do. Either God's being in a good or pleasing disposition towards us,
or our being in a good and pleasing disposition towards him. Come we but to him
in either of these, and we have nicked the time; we are sure to be accepted.
Mark Frank. 1613-1664.
Heavier the cross, the heartier prayer;
The bruised herbs most fragrant are.
If sky and wind were always fair,
The sailor would not watch the star;
And David's Psalms had never been sung
If grief his heart had never wrung.
--From the German.
Verse 15. Faith in God giveth hope to be helped, and is half
a deliverance before the full deliverance come; for the psalmist is now with his
head above water, and not so afraid as when he began the Psalm. David
Verse 15. The pit. According to Dean Stanley, the word
Beer here used is always rendered "well, "except in this and three other
cases. When such wells no longer yielded a full supply of water they were used
as prisons, no care being taken to cleanse out the mire remaining at the bottom.
The Dean also tells us in the Appendix to his "Sinai and Palestine, "that "they
have a broad margin of masonry round this mouth, and often a stone filling up
the orifice." The rolling of this stone over the mouth of the well was the
well's "shutting her mouth; "and the poor prisoner was, to all intents and
purposes, buried alive. C. H. S.
Verse 17. Hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in
trouble. An upright servant, albeit he be troubled for God's cause, and do
miss comfort from God; yet will he not change his Master, nor despair of his
favour. David Dickson.
Verse 17. Hide not thy face. The proper sense of the word
rtm, gives the meaning to the phrase,
veil not thy face from thy servant. In this there is a reference
to a king, who, to prevent promiscuous approach to his chamber, spreads a veil
before it, and admits to his presence only his minister of high confidence. So
in Ps 31:21. The face of God is his majesty, and his gracious and favourable
presence; the servant of God is his minister enjoying intimate access,
and to veil the face from him is to prevent him coming into the presence
of God; and, therefore, it belongs to the servant of God to be treated in a
widely different manner. Hermann Venema.
Verse 17. Thy servant. Hide not, he says, from thy servant;
as if he should say, such as I am, I am thy servant. It belongs to the Master to
take care of his servant, if in peril for his sake. In this same verse he says
he is in a strait. In Ps 69:18 he declares that he is in jeopardy of his life.
Verse 19. Thou hast known my reproach, etc. It is a great
deal of comfort that God does take notice of our reproaches; this was the
comfort of the psalmist. If a man suffer reproach, and disgrace, and trouble for
his friends, while he is abroad from them; O, says he, did my friends know what
I suffer, and suffer for them, it would comfort me: if it be comfort to be
known, much more when they shall be accounted their own. Christ is acquainted
with all the sufferings of every member; and, therefore, do not say, I am a poor
creature; who takes notice of my sufferings? Heaven takes notice of your
sufferings; Christ takes notice of them better than yourselves. Jeremiah
Verse 20. Reproach hath broken my heart. Mental emotions and
passions are well known by all to affect the actions of the heart, in the way of
palpitation, fainting, etc. That these emotions and passions, when in
overwhelming excess, occasionally, though rarely, produce laceration or rupture
of the walls of the heart, is stated by most medical authorities who have
written on the affections of this organ; and our poets even allude to this
effect as an established fact.
"The grief that does not speak,
Whispers the over fraught heart, and bids it break."
But, if ever human heart was riven and ruptured by the mere
amount of mental agony that was endured, it would surely, we might even argue,
a priori, be that of our Redeemer, when, during those dark and dreadful
hours on the cross, he, "being made a curse for us, ""bore our griefs, and
carried our sorrows, "and suffered for sin the malediction of God and man, "full
of anguish, "and now "exceeding sorrowful even unto death." There are
theological as well as medical arguments in favour of the opinion that Christ,
in reality, died from a ruptured or broken heart. If the various wondrous
prophecies and minute predictions in Psalms 22 and 69, regarding the
circumstances connected with Christ's death, be justly held as literally true,
such as, "They pierced my hands and my feet, ""They part my garments among them,
and cast lots upon my vesture, "etc., why should we regard as merely
metaphorical, and not as literally true, also, the declarations in the same
Psalms, Reproach hath broken my heart, "My heart is like wax,
it is melted in the midst of my bowels, " Sir James Young Simpson
(1811-1870), in W. Stroud's "Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death
Verse 20. I looked for some to take pity, but there was
none. Even under ordinary circumstances we yearn for sympathy. Without it,
the heart will contract and droop, and shut like a flower in an unkindly
atmosphere, but it will open again amidst the sounds of frankness and the scenes
of love. When we are in trouble, this want is in proportion still more pressing;
and, for the sorrowful heart to feel alone, is a grief greater than nature can
sustain. A glance of sympathy seems to help it more than the gift of untold
riches; and a loving look, even from a little child who is sorry for us, or a
simple word from some homely friend, will sometimes brace the spirit to new
exertions, and seem almost to waken life within the grasp of death. Charles
Stanford, in "Central Truths." 1859.
Verse 21. They gave me also gall, etc. Such are the comforts
often administered by the world, to an afflicted and deserted soul. George
Verse 21. Gall and vinegar are here put together to denote
the most unpalatable forms of food and drink. The passion of our Lord was
providentially so ordered as to furnish a remarkable coincidence with this
verse. The Romans were accustomed to give sour wine, with an infusion of myrrh,
to convicts on the cross, for the purpose of deadening the pain. This practice
was adhered to in our Saviour's case (Mr 15:23). Though in itself not cruel, but
the contrary, it formed part of the great process of murderous persecution. On
the part of the Roman soldiery it may have been an act of kindness; but,
considered as an act of the unbelieving Jews, it was giving gall and
vinegar to one already overwhelmed with anguish. And so Matthew, in
accordance with his general method, represents it as a verification of this
passage (Mt 27:34). He does not contradict Mark's account, before referred to,
but merely intimates that the wine and myrrh thus offered were to be regarded as
identical with the gall and vinegar of this prediction. And, in order to prevent
the coincidence from being overlooked, our Lord, before he died, complained of
thirst, and vinegar was administered. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 21. Gall for my meat. Since the life of sin first
began in tasting, contrary to the obedience due to God, the Redeemer of sinners
willed to be obedient even unto death, upon the cross, and to end his life, in
fulfilment of the prophecy with the bitter taste of gall and vinegar, that, in
this manner, we, seeing the beginning of our perdition and the end of our
redemption, might feel ourselves to be most sufficiently redeemed and most
perfectly cured. Thome de Jesu (1582), in "The Sufferings of Jesus."
Verse 21. Vinegar. Commentators have frequently remarked the
refreshing quality of the Eastern vinegar. I shall not repeat their
observations, but rather would ask, why the psalmist prophetically complains of
the giving him vinegar to drink, in that deadly thirst,
which, in another Psalm, he describes by the tongue's cleaving to the jaws,
if it be so refreshing? Its refreshing quality cannot be doubted; but may it not
be replied, that, besides the gall which he mentions, and which ought not to be
forgotten, vinegar itself, refreshing as it is, was only made use of by the
meanest people? When a royal personage has vinegar given him in his
thirst, the refreshment of a slave, of a wretched prisoner,
instead of that of a prince, he is greatly dishonoured, and may well
complain of it as a bitter insult, or represent such insults by this image.
Sweet wines, as appears from the ancient Eastern translators of
the Septuagint, were chiefly esteemed formerly, for that which our version
renders "royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the King,
"(Es 1:7.) they translate, "much and sweet wine, such as the King
himself drank." Perhaps, it was with a view to this, that the soldiers
offered our Lord vinegar (wine that was become very sour), in opposition
to that sweet wine princes were wont to drink: for Luke tells us that
they did this in mockery (Lu 23:36.) "And the soldiers also mocked him, coming
to him and offering him vinegar." Medicated wine, to deaden their sense of pain,
was wont, we are told, to be given to Jewish criminals, when about to be put to
death; but, they gave our Lord vinegar, and that in mockery--in mockery (as they
did other things) of his claim to royalty. But the force of this
does not appear, if we do not recollect the quality of the wines drank anciently
by princes, which, it seems, were of the sweet kind. Thomas
Verse 22. The imprecations in this verse and those following
it are revolting only when considered as the expression of malignant
selfishness. If uttered by God, they shock no reader's sensibilities, nor should
they, when considered as the language of an ideal person, representing the whole
class of righteous sufferers, and particularly him, who though he prayed for his
murderers while dying (Lu 23:34), had before applied the words of this very
passage to the unbelieving Jews (Mt 23:38), as Paul did afterwards (Ro 11:9-10).
The general doctrine of providential retribution, far from being confined to the
Old Testament, is distinctly taught in many of our Saviour's parables. See Mt
21:41 22:7 24:51. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare. Their table
figuratively sets forth their prosperity, the abundance of all things. It
represents peace and security, as in Ps 33:5 Job 26:16. It likewise describes
mutual friendship, a blending of minds and plans; the emblem and sign whereof
convivia are accustomed to be. Ps 41:10 Da 11:27. Hermann Venema.
Verse 22. Let their table, etc. One said well, Licitis
perimus omnes, etc., "Ruin usually ariseth from the use of lawful
things; " there being most danger where it is least suspected. In all our
comforts, there is a forbidden fruit, which seemeth fair and tasteth sweet, but
which must not be touched. Henry Wilkinson (1675), in "Morning
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare. Many would have
excused themselves from following Christ, in the parable of the feast: some had
bought land, some had married wives, and others had bought yokes of oxen, and
could not come (Lu 14:18-20), that is, an immoderate love of the world hindered
them: their lawful enjoyments, from servants, became their idols; they
worshipped them more than God, and would not quit them to come to God. But this
is recorded to their reproach; and we may herein see the power of self upon the
worldly man, and the danger that comes to him by the abuse of lawful things.
What, thy wife dearer to thee than thy Saviour! and thy land and oxen preferred
to thy soul's salvation. O beware, that thy comforts prove not snares first, and
then curses: to overrate them, is to provoke him that gave them to take them
away again. Come, and follow him that giveth life eternal to the soul.
William Penn (1644-1718), in "No Cross, No Crown."
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare. That is, for a
recompense for their inhumanity and cruelty towards me. Michaelis shows how
exactly these comminations were fulfilled in the history of the final siege of
Jerusalem by the Romans. Many thousands of the Jews had assembled in the city to
eat the paschal lamb, when Titus unexpectedly made an assault upon them. In this
siege, the greater part of the inhabitants of Jerusalem miserably perished.
Verse 22-23. Observe the Divine retribution of the Jews.
They gave gall and vinegar as food and drink to Christ; and their own spiritual
food and drink has become a snare to them. His eyes were blindfolded; their eyes
were darkened. His loins were scourged; their loins were made to shake.
Verse 23-28. He denounces ten plagues, or effects of God's
wrath, to come upon them for their wickedness. David Dickson.
Verse 24. Pour out. Observe what is denoted by pouring
out. First, the facility with which God is able, without any labour, to
destroy his enemies, as easy is it as to incline a vial full of liquid and pour
it out. Secondly, the pouring out denotes the abundance of his anger. Thirdly,
that his wrath is sudden, overwhelming, and inevitable. When it drops, one must
take care; when it is poured forth, it crushes the thoughtless. Thomas Le
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living.
All the Israelites who came up out of Egypt were put down in a muster roll of
the living, called "the writing of the house of Israel" (Eze 13:9), and "the
book of life." Those who had died were excluded when the names were written out
afresh each year. They were, thereby, consigned to oblivion (Pr 10:7). Hence,
the book of life was used as an image for God's book of predestination
to eternal life (Ps 139:16 Ex 32:32 Ps 87:6 Da 12:1 Php 4:3 Re 17:8 13:8 Re
21:27; Lu 10:20). The book of life, in the human point of view, has names
written in it who have a name to live, but are dead, being in it only by
external call, or in their own estimation, and in that of others. But, in the
divine point of view, it contains only those who are elected finally to
life. The former may be blotted out, as was Judas (Re 3:5 Mt 13:12 25:29 7:23 Ex
32:33); but the latter never (Re 20:12,15 Joh 10:28-29 Ac 13:48). A. R.
Verse 28. Let them be wiped out, etc. This verse alludes to
the ancient Jewish practice of recording the names of the inhabitants of every
division, or tribe, of the people, in a volume somewhat similar to the
Dom-boc of the Saxons. See Lu 2:1. The names of those who died were
blotted out or wiped out, and appeared no longer on the list of the
living. Such a book is attributed to God in Ps 139:16: and the blotting out
of Moses from God's book, in Ex 32:32, is a figurative expression, for
depriving him of life. Richard Warner.
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
etc. We come to the question, Whether to be written in heaven be an
infallible assurance of salvation; or, whether any there registered may come to
be blotted out? The truth is, that none written in heaven can ever be lost; yet
they object against it this verse. Hence, they infer, that some names once there
recorded are afterwards put out; but this opinion casteth a double aspersion on
God himself. Either it makes him ignorant of future things, as if he foresaw not
the end of elect and reprobate, and so were deceived in decreeing some to be
saved that shall not be saved; or, that his decree is mutable, in excluding
those upon their sins whom he hath formerly chosen. From both these weaknesses
St. Paul vindicates him (2Ti 2:19): "The foundation of God standeth sure, having
this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." First, "The Lord knows them that
are his; "this were not true if God's prescience could be deluded. Then, his
"foundation stands sure; "but that were no sure foundation, if those he hath
decreed to be his should afterwards fall out not to be his. The very conclusion
of truth is this impossibilis est deletio; they which are "written in
heaven" can never come into hell. To clear this from the opposed doubt, among
many, I will cull out three proper distinctions:
1. One may be said to be written in heaven simpliciter,
and secundum quid. He that is simply written there, in quantum
praedestinatus ad vitam, because elected to life, can never be
blotted out. He that is written after a sort may, for he is written non
secundum Dei praescientiam, sed secundum praesentem justitiam --not
according to God's former decree, but according to his present righteousness. So
they are said to be blotted out, not in respect of God's knowledge, for he knows
they never were written there; but according to their present condition,
apostatising from grace to sin. (Lyra.)
2. Some are blotted out non secundum rei veritatem, sed
hominum opinionem --not according to the truth of the thing but according
to men's opinion. It is usual in the Scriptures to say a thing is done
quando innotescat fieri, when it is declared to be done.
Hypocrites have a simulation of outward sanctity, so that men in charity judge
them to be written in heaven. But when those glistening stars appear to be only
ignes fatui, foolish meteors, and fall from the firmament of the church,
then we say they are blotted out. The written ex existentia, by a perfect
being, are never lost; but ex apparentia, by a dissembled appearance,
may. Some God so writes, in se ut simpliciter habituri vitam
--that they have life simply in themselves, though not of themselves. Others he
so writes, ut habeant non in se, sed in sua causa; from which
falling they are said to be obliterated. (Aquinas.)
3. Augustine says, we must not so take it, that God first
writes and then dasheth out. For if a Pilate could say, Quod scripsi,
scripsi --"What I have written, I have written, "and it shall stand; shall
God say, Quod scripsi expungam --What I have written, I will wipe out,
and it shall not stand? They are written, then, secundum spem ipsorum, qui
ibi se scriptos putabant --according to their own hope that presumed
their names there; and are blotted out quando ipsis constet illos non ibi
fuisse --when it is manifest to themselves that their names never had any
such honour of inscription. This even that Psalm strengthens whence they fetch
their opposition: Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
and not be written with the righteous. So that to be blotted out of
that book, it is, indeed, never to be written there. To be wiped out in the end,
is but a declaration that such were not written in the beginning. Thomas
Verse 32. Your heart shall live that seek God. As such who
are poor in spirit, and truly humbled, do live upon God's alms, and are daily at
his doors for relief of their necessities, and for communion with his gracious
goodness; so shall they thrive well in this trade. David Dickson.
Verse 32. Your heart shall live. The heart, or the
soul, is said to live, to be converted, or to return, when it is
refreshed and cured of its pains and griefs. In this way it could be said of
Jacob, when the good tidings were brought, that his spirit
revived... On the contrary, when Nabal heard the bad news, it is recorded
that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. Lorinus.
Verse 33. The Lord heareth the poor. The consolation is much
greater when it is said, "The Lord heareth the poor, "than if it were written,
He hath heard poor David. Musculus.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Our trials like waters.
1. They should be kept out of the heart.
2. There are, however, leaks which admit them.
3. Take note when the hold is filling.
4. Use the pumps, and cry for help.
Verses 2-3. The sinner aware of his position, unable to hope,
overwhelmed with fear, finding no comfort in prayer, unvisited with divine
consolation. Direct and console him.
1. Here is faith in the midst of trouble: My God.
2. Hope in the midst of disappointment: Mine eyes fail, etc.
3. Prayer in the midst of discouragement: I am weary, etc.; My throat, etc. Or,
(a) There is praying beyond prayer: I am weary, etc.; (b) Hoping beyond hope: Mine eyes, etc. G. R.
Verse 4. Jesus as the Restorer, the Christian imitating him
in the same office; Christianity a power which will do this for the whole race
in due season.
Verse 5. Our foolishness. Wherein it appears
generally, how it may display itself in individuals, what it occasions, and what
are the divine provisions to meet it.
1. God's knowledge of sin is an inducement to repent.
(a) Because it is foolish to endeavour to hide any sin from him.
(b) Because it is impossible to confess all our sin to him.
It is an encouragement to hope for pardon.
(a) Because, in the full knowledge of sin, he has declared
himself to be merciful and ready to forgive.
(b) Because he has made provision for pardon, not according to
our knowledge of sin, but his own.
1. A grievous trial.
2. An honourable reason for it: for Christ's sake.
3. Consoling supports under it.
1. The object of zeal: thy house; thy Zion; thy Church.
2. The degree of zeal: hath eaten me up. Our Lord was consumed by his own zeal. So Paul: And I if I be
offered up, etc.
3. The manifestation of zeal: The reproaches, etc.; of thy justice; of thy law; of thy moral government; of
thy lovingkindness. "Who himself bare our sins," etc. G. R.
Verses 10-12. A prophecy.
1. Of the Saviour's tears: When I wept.
2. Of his fasting.
3. Of reproach.
4. Of his humiliation: I made sackcloth, etc.
5. Of the perversion of his words: as, "I will destroy this temple, "etc.
6. Of the opposition of the Pharisees, and rulers: They that sit in the gate,
7. Of the contempt of the lowest of the people: I was the song, etc. G. R.
Verse 11. Proverbial sayings of a scoffing character.
Verse 13. An acceptable time. While life lasts usually, and
especially when we are repentant, feel our need, are importunate, give all glory
to God, have faith in his promise, and expect a gracious reply.
Verse 13. Multitude of thy mercy. Seen in many forbearances
before conversion, countless pardons, innumerable gifts, many promises, frequent
visits, and abundant deliverances. Of all these who can count the thousandth
Verse 13. The truth of thy salvation. An instructive topic.
Its reality, certainty, completeness, eternity, etc., all illustrate its
truth under various aspects.
1. The depth from which prayer may rise.
2. The height to which it may ascend. Thus Jonah, when at the bottom of the sea, says, "My prayer came up,"
etc. G. R.
1. Prayer: Hide not thy face.
2. Person: Thy servant.
3. Plea: For I am in trouble.
4. Pressure: Hear me speedily.
1. God knows what his people suffer; how much, how long, from whom, for what.
2. His people should find consolation in this knowledge.
(a) That trial is permitted by him.
(b) That it is apportioned by him.
(c) That it has its design from him.
(d) That when the design is accomplished, it will be removed by
him. G. R.
Verse 20. The Saviour's broken heart. Broken hearts, such as are sentimental, caused by disappointed
pride, penitence, persecution, sympathy, etc.
Verse 21. The conduct of men to Jesus throughout his entire
life, rendering to him evil for all his good, and where good would have seemed
to be the inevitable return.
Verse 22. The table a snare. Excess in feasting; looseness
in conversation; want of principal in confederate councils; superstition in
Verse 23. The judicial curse which falls on some despisers
of Christ; their understandings fail to perceive the truth; and they tremble
because they are unable to receive strengthening comforts.
1. The humiliation that precedes exaltation.
(a) Deep: I am poor and sorrowful.
(b) Confessed: I am poor, etc.
2. The exaltation that
(a) Divine: Thy salvation, O Lord. Though the
Lord be high, etc.
(b) Complete: God does nothing by halves.
(c) Preeminent: Set me up on high. G. R.
1. The effect of deliverance upon the people of God. It fills them with praise and thanksgiving.
2. The effect in relation to God. He is more pleased with it than with any other offerings: "Whoso offereth
praise, "etc. G. R.
1. The joy of a good man's heart is in the experience of others.
2. The life of his heart is in God.
1. What the people of God are in their own esteem: "poor" and "prisoners."
2. What they are in the divine esteem: not unnoticed; not unheard; not despised.
Verse 34. The sea, etc. How God is, should be, and shall be
praised by the sea.
Verse 35. Salvation, edification, preservation, peace, full
Verses 35-36. Observe the sequence: --"Save, ""build, ""dwell
and have, ""inherit, ""love and dwell."
1. The sure evidence of grace: "love his name."
2. The blessing given.
3. The enduring character of it: "shall dwell."
1. The inheritance: "Inherit it; "we reign with Christ on earth, then in heaven.
2. The title.
(a) Legal: "Seed of his servants" --Abraham, Jacob,
David--David's Lord and Son.
(b) Moral: "They that love his name." G. R.