Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. There is no title to this Psalm, and hence some conjecture that
Psalm 70 is intended to be a prelude to it, and has been broken off from it.
Such imaginings have no value with us. We have already met with five Psalms
without title, which are, nevertheless, as complete as those which bear them. We have here THE PRAYER OF THE AGED BELIEVER, who, in
holy confidence of faith, strengthened by a long and remarkable experience,
pleads against his enemies, and asks further blessings for himself. Anticipating
a gracious reply, he promises to magnify the Lord exceedingly.
DIVISION. The first four verses are faith's cry for help;
the next four are a testimony of experience. From Ps 71:9-13, the aged saint
pleads against his foes, and then rejoices in hope, Ps 71:14-16. He returns to
prayer again in Ps 71:17-18, repeats the confident hopes which cheered his soul,
Ps 71:19-21; and then he closes with the promise of abounding in thanksgiving.
Throughout, this Psalm may be regarded as the utterance of struggling, but
Verse 2. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to
escape. Be true, O God, to thy word. It is a righteous thing in thee to keep
the promises which thou hast made unto thy servants. I have trusted thee, and
thou wilt not be unrighteous to forget my faith. I am taken as in a net, but do
thou liberate me from the malice of my persecutors. Incline thine ear unto me, and save me. Stoop to my
feebleness, and hear my faint whispers; be gracious to my infirmities, and smile
upon me: I ask salvation; listen thou to my petitions, and save me. Like one
wounded and left for dead by mine enemies, I need that thou bend over me and
bind up my wounds. These mercies are asked on the plea of faith, and they
cannot, therefore, be denied.
Verse 3. Be thou my strong habitation. Permit me to enter
into thee, and be as much at home as a man in his own house, and then suffer me
to remain in thee as my settled abode. Whereas foes molest me, I need a dwelling
framed and bulwarked, to sustain a siege and resist the attacks of armies; let,
then, thine omnipotence secure me, and be as a fortress unto me. Here we see a
weak man, but he is in a strong habitation; his security rests upon the tower in
which he hides, and is not placed in jeopardy through his personal feebleness. Whereunto I may continually resort. Fast shut is this
castle against all adversaries, its gates they cannot burst open; the drawbridge
is up, the portcullis is down, the bars are fast in their places; but, there is
a secret door, by which friends of the great Lord can enter at all hours of the
day or night, as often as ever they please. There is never an hour when it is
unlawful to pray. Mercy's gates stand wide open, and shall do so, till, at the
last, the Master of the house has risen up and shut to the door. Believers find
their God to be their habitation, strong and accessible, and this is for them a
sufficient remedy for all the ills of their mortal life.
Thou hast given commandment to save me. Nature is charged
to be tender with God's servants; Providence is ordered to work their good, and
the forces of the invisible world are ordained as their guardians. David charged
all his troops to spare the young man Absalom, but yet he fell. God's
commandment is of far higher virtue, for it compels obedience, and secures its
end. Destruction cannot destroy us, famine cannot starve us; but we laugh at
both, while God's mandate shields us. No stones of the field can throw us down,
while angels bear us up in their hands; neither can the beasts of the field
devour us, while David's God delivers us from their ferocity, or Daniel's God
puts them in awe of us. For thou art my rock and my fortress. In God we
have all the security which nature which furnishes the rock, and art which
builds the fortress, could supply; he is the complete preserver of his people.
Immutability may be set forth by the rock, and omnipotence by the fortress.
Happy is he who can use the personal pronoun "my" --not only once, but as many
times as the many aspects of the Lord may render desirable. Is he a strong
habitation? I will call him "my strong habitation, "and he shall be
my rock, my fortress, my God (Ps 71:4), my hope,
my trust (Ps 71:5), my praise (Ps 71:6). All mine shall be his,
all his shall be mine. This was the reason why the psalmist was persuaded that
God had commanded his salvation, namely, because he had enabled his to exercise
a calm and appropriating faith.
Verse 4. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the
wicked. God is on the same side with us, and those who are our enemies are
also his, for they are wicked; therefore will the Lord surely rescue his own
confederates, and he will not suffer the evil to triumph over the just. He who
addresses such a prayer as this to heaven, does more injury to his enemies than
if he had turned a battery of Armstrongs upon them. Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. Being
wicked to God, they become unrighteous towards men, and cruel in their
persecutions of the godly. Two hands are here mentioned: they grasp and they
crush; they strike and they would slay if God did not prevent; had they as many
hands as Briarcus, the finger of God would more than match them.
Verse 5. For thou art my hope, O Lord God. God who gives us
grace to hope in him, will assuredly fulfil our hope, and, therefore, we may
plead it in prayer. His name is "Jehovah, the hope of Israel" (Jer 17:13); and,
as he cannot be a false or failing hope, we may expect to see our confidence
justified. Thou art my trust from my youth. David had proved his faith
by notable exploits when he was a youth and ruddy; it was to him a cheering
recollection, and he felt persuaded that the God of his youth would not forsake
him in his age. They are highly favoured who can like David, Samuel, Josiah,
Timothy, and others say, "Thou art my trust from my youth."
Verse 6. By thee have I been holden up from the womb. Before
he was able to understand the power which preserved him, he was sustained by it.
God knows us before we know anything. The elect of old lay in the bosom of God
before they were laid on their mothers' bosoms; and when their infantile
weakness had no feet strong enough to carry it, the Lord upheld it. We do well
to reflect upon divine goodness to us in childhood, for it is full of food for
gratitude. Thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels. Even
before conscious life, the care of God is over his chosen. Birth is a mystery of
mercy, and God is with both mother and babe. If marriages are registered in
heaven, we may be sure that births are also. Holy women do well to bless God for
his mercy to them in nature's perilous hour; but every one who is born of woman
has equal cause for thankfulness. She, whose life is preserved, should render
thanks, and so should he whose life is given. My praise shall be continually of thee. Where goodness has
been unceasingly received, praise should unceasingly be offered. God is the
circle where praise should begin, continue, and endlessly revolve, since in him
we live, and move, and have our being.
Verse 7. I am as a wonder unto many. "To thousand eyes a
mark and gaze am I." The saints are men wondered at; often their dark side is
gloomy even to amazement, while their bright side is glorious even to
astonishment. The believer is a riddle, an enigma puzzling the unspiritual; he
is a monster warring with those delights of the flesh, which are the all in all
of other men; he is a prodigy, unaccountable to the judgments of ungodly men; a
wonder gazed at, feared, and, by and by, contemptuously derided. Few understand
us, many are surprised at us. But thou art my strong refuge. Here is the answer to our
riddle. If we are strong, it is in God; if we are safe, our refuge shelters us;
if we are calm, our soul hath found her stay in God. When faith is understood,
and the grounds of her confidence seen, the believer is no longer a wonder; but
the marvel is that so much unbelief remains among the sons of men.
Verse 8. Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy
honour all the day. What a blessed mouthful! A man never grows
nauseated though the flavour of it be all day in his mouth. God's bread is
always in our mouths, so should his praise be. He fills us with good; let us be
also filled with gratitude. This would leave no room for murmuring or
backbiting; therefore, may we well join with holy David in this sacred wish.
Verse 9. Cast me not off in the time of old age. David was
not tired of his Master, and his only fear was lest his Master should be tired
of him. The Amalekite in the Bible history left his Egyptian servant to famish
when he grew old and sick, but not so the Lord of saints; even to hoar hairs he
bears and carries us. Alas for us, if we were abandoned by our God, as many a
courtier has been by his prince! Old age robs us of personal beauty, and
deprives us of strength for active service; but it does not lower us in the love
and favour of God. An ungrateful country leaves its worn out defenders to starve
upon a scanty pittance, but the pensioners of heaven are satisfied with good
things. Forsake me not when my strength faileth. Bear with me, and
endure my infirmities. To be forsaken of God is the worst of all conceivable
ills, and if the believer can be but clear of that grievous fear, he is happy:
no saintly heart need be under any apprehension upon this point.
Verse 10. For mine enemies speak against me. Dogs howl over
a dying lion. When David's arm was able to chastise his foes, they were yet
impudent enough to slander him, and he fears that now they will take fresh
license in the hour of his weakness. The text most properly means that his
enemies had said that God would forsake him; and, therefore, he is the more
earnest that the Lord's faithful dealings may give them the lie. And they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together.
The psalmist had enemies, and these were most malicious; seeking his utter
destruction, they were very persevering, and staid long upon the watch; to this
they added cunning, for they lay in ambush to surprise him, and take him at a
disadvantage; and all this they did with the utmost unanimity and deliberation,
neither spoiling their design by want of prudence, nor marring its
accomplishment by a lack of unity. The Lord our God is our only and all
sufficient resort from every form of persecution.
Verse 11. Saying, God hath forsaken him. O bitter taunt!
There is no worse arrow in all the quivers of hell. Our Lord felt this barbed
shaft, and it is no marvel if his disciples feel the same. Were this exclamation
the truth, it were indeed an ill day for us; but, glory be to God, it is a
barefaced lie. Persecute and take him. Let loose the dogs of persecution
upon him, seize him, worry him, for there is none to deliver him. Down with him, for he has
no friends. It is safe to insult him, for none will come to his rescue. O
cowardly boasts of a braggart foe, how do ye wound the soul of the believer: and
only when his faith cries to his Lord is he able to endure your cruelty.
Verse 12. O God, be not far from me. Nearness to God is our
conscious security. A child in the dark is comforted by grasping its father's
hand. O my God, make haste for my help. To call God ours, as
having entered into covenant with us, is a mighty plea in prayer, and a great
stay to our faith. The cry of "make haste" has occurred many times in this
portion of the Psalms, and it was evoked by the sore pressure of affliction.
Sharp sorrows soon put an end to procrastinating prayers.
Verse 13. Let them be confounded and consumed that are
adversaries to my soul. It will be all this to them to see thy
servant preserved; their envy and malice, when disappointed, will fill them with
life consuming bitterness. The defeat of their plans shall nonplus them, they
shall be confounded as they enquire the reason for their overthrow; the men they
seek to destroy seem so weak, and their cause so contemptible, that they will be
filled with amazement as they see them not only survive all opposition, but even
surmount it. How confounded must Pharaoh have been when Israel multiplied,
despite his endeavours to exterminate the race; and how consumed with rage must
the Scribes and Pharisees have become when they saw the gospel spreading from
land to land by the very means which they used for its destruction. Let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my
hurt. He would have their shame made visible to all eyes, by their wearing
it in their blushes as a mantle. They would have made a laughing stock of the
believer, if his God had forsaken him; therefore, let unbelief and atheism be
made a public scoffing in their persons.
Verse 14. The holy faith of the persecuted saint comes to
the front in these three verses. But I will hope continually. When I cannot rejoice in what
I have, I will look forward to what shall be mine, and will still rejoice. Hope
will live on a bare common, and sing on a branch laden down with snow. No date
and no place are unsuitable for hope. Hell alone excepted, hope is a dweller in
all regions. We may always hope, for we always have grounds for it: we will
always hope, for it is a never failing consolation. And will yet praise thee more and more. He was not slack in
thanksgiving; in fact, no man was ever more diligent in it; yet he was not
content with all his former praises, but vowed to become more and more a
grateful worshipper. When good things are both continual and progressive with
us, we are on the right tack. We ought to be misers in going good, and our motto
should be "more and more." While we do not disdain to "rest and be thankful, "we
cannot settle down into resting in our thankfulness. "Superior" cries the
eagle, as he mounts towards the sun: higher and yet higher is also our aim, as
we soar aloft in duty and devotion. It is our continual hope that we shall be
able more and more to magnify the Lord.
Verse 15. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and
thy salvation all the day. We are to bear testimony as experience
enables us, and not withhold from others that which we have tasted and handled.
The faithfulness of God in saving us, in delivering us out of the hand of our
enemies, and in fulfilling his promises, is to be everywhere proclaimed by those
who have proved it in their own history. How gloriously conspicuous is
righteousness in the divine plan of redemption! It should be the theme of
constant discourse. The devil rages against the substitutionary sacrifice, and
errorists of every form make this the main point of their attack; be it ours,
therefore, to love the doctrine, and to spread its glad tidings on every side,
and at all times. Mouths are never so usefully employed as in recounting the
righteousness of God revealed in the salvation of believers in Jesus. The
preacher who should be confined to this one theme would never need seek another:
it is the medulla theologae, the very pith and marrow of revealed truth.
Has our reader been silent upon this choice subject? Let us, then, press him to
tell abroad what he enjoys within: he does not well who keeps such glad tidings
to himself. For I know not the numbers thereof. He knew the sweetness
of it, the sureness, the glory, and the truth of it; but as to the full
reckoning of its plenitude, variety, and sufficiency, he felt he could not reach
to the height of the great argument. Lord, where I cannot count I will believe,
and when a truth surpasses numeration I will take to admiration. When David
spoke of his enemies, he said they were more in number than the hairs of his
head; he had, therefore, some idea of their number, and found a figure suitable
to set it out; but, in the case of the Lord's covenant mercies, he declares, "I
know not the number, "and does not venture upon any sort of comparison. To
creatures belong number and limit, to God and his grace there is neither. We
may, therefore, continue to tell out his great salvation all day long, for the
theme is utterly inexhaustible.
Verse 16. I will go in the strength of the Lord God. Our
translators give us a good sense, but not the sense in this place, which is on
this wise, "I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord Jehovah." He would
enter into those deeds by admiring study, and then, wherever he went, he would
continue to rehearse them. He should ever be a welcome guest who can tell us of
the mighty acts of the Lord, and help us to put our trust in him. The authorised
version may be used by us as a resolve in all our exertions and endeavours. In
our own strength we must fail; but, when we hear the voice which saith, "Go in
this thy might, "we may advance without fear. Though hell itself were in the
way, the believer would pursue the path of duty, crying: I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention
of thy righteousness, even of thine only. Man's righteousness is not
fit to be mentioned--filthy rags are best hidden; neither is there any
righteousness under heaven, or in heaven, comparable to the divine. As God
himself fills all space, and is, therefore, the only God, leaving no room for
another, so God's righteousness, in Christ Jesus, fills the believer's soul, and
he counts all other things but dross and dung "that he may win Christ, and be
found in him, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but the
righteousness which is of God by faith." What would be the use of speaking upon
any other righteousness to a dying man? and all are dying men. Let those who
will cry up man's natural innocence, the dignity of the race, the purity of
philosophers, the loveliness of untutored savages, the power of sacraments, and
the infallibility of pontiffs; this is the true believer's immovable resolve: "I
will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only." For ever dedicated
to thee, my Lord, be this poor, unworthy tongue, whose glory it shall be to
Verse 17. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth. It was
comfortable to the psalmist to remember that from his earliest days he had been
the Lord's disciple. None are too young to be taught of God, and they make the
most proficient scholars who begin betimes. And hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. He had
learned to tell what he knew, he was a pupil teacher; he continued still
learning and declaring, and did not renounce his first master; this, also, was
his comfort, but it is one which those who have been seduced from the school of
the gospel, into the various colleges of philosophy and scepticism, will not be
able to enjoy. A sacred conservatism is much needed in these days, when men are
giving up old lights for new. We mean both to learn and to teach the wonders of
redeeming love, till we can discover something nobler or more soul satisfying;
for this reason we hope that our gray heads will be found in the same road as we
have trodden, even from our beardless youth.
Verse 18. Now also when I am old and grey headed, O God, forsake
me not. There is something touching in the sight of hair whitened
with the snows of many a winter: the old and faithful soldier receives
consideration from his king, the venerable servant is beloved by his master.
When our infirmities multiply, we may, with confidence, expect enlarged
privileges in the world of grace, to make up for our narrowing range in the
field of nature. Nothing shall make God forsake those who have not forsaken him.
Our fear is lest he should do so; but his promise kisses that fear into silence.
Until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation. He
desired to continue his testimony and complete it; he had respect to the young
men and little children about him, and knowing the vast importance of training
them in the fear of God, he longed to make them all acquainted with the power of
God to support his people, that they also might be led to walk by faith. He had
leaned on the almighty arm, and could speak experimentally of its all
sufficiency, and longed to do so ere life came to a close. And thy power to every one that is to come. He would leave
a record for unborn ages to read. He thought the Lord's power to be so worthy of
praise, that he would make the ages ring with it till time should be no more.
For this cause believers live, and they should take care to labour zealously for
the accomplishment of this their most proper and necessary work. Blessed are
they who begin in youth to proclaim the name of the Lord, and cease not until
their last hour brings their last word for their divine Master.
Verse 19. Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high. Very
sublime, unsearchable, exalted, and glorious is the holy character of God, and
his way of making men righteous. His plan of righteousness uplifts men from the
gates of hell to the mansions of heaven. It is a high doctrine gospel, gives a
high experience, leads to high practice, and ends in high felicity. Who hast done great things. The exploits of others are mere
child's play compared with thine, and are not worthy to be mentioned in the same
age. Creation, providence, redemption, are all unique, and nothing can compare
with them. O God, who is like unto thee. As thy works are so
transcendent, so art thou. Thou art without compeer, or even second, and such
are thy works, and such, especially, thy plan of justifying sinners by the
righteousness which thou hast provided. Adoration is a fit frame of mind for the
believer. When he draws near to God, he enters into a region where everything is
surpassingly sublime; miracles of love abound on every hand, and marvels of
mingled justice and grace. A traveller among the high Alps often feels
overwhelmed with awe, amid their amazing sublimities; much more is this the case
when we survey the heights and depths of the mercy and holiness of the Lord. O God, who is like unto thee.
Verse 20. Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles,
shalt quicken me again. Here is faith's inference from the infinite
greatness of the Lord. He has been strong to smite; he will be also strong to
save. He has shown me many heavy and severe trials, and he will also show me
many and precious mercies. He has almost killed me, he will speedily revive me;
and though I have been almost dead and buried, he will give me a resurrection,
and bring me up again from the depths of the earth. However low
the Lord may permit us to sink, he will fix a limit to the descent, and in due
time will bring us up again. Even when we are laid low in the tomb, the mercy is
that we can go no lower, but shall retrace our steps and mount to better lands;
and all this, because the Lord is ever mighty to save. A little God would fail
us, but not Jehovah the Omnipotent. It is safe to lean on him, since he bears up
the pillars both of heaven and earth.
Verse 21. Thou shalt increase my greatness. As a king, David
grew in influence and power. God did great things for him, and by him, and this
is all the greatness believers want. May we have faith in God, such as these
words evince. And comfort me on every side. As we were surrounded with
afflictions, so shall we be environed with consolations. From above, and from
all around, light shall come to dispel our former gloom; the change shall be
great, indeed, when the Lord returns to comfort us. Here is the final vow of praise.
Verse 22. I will also praise thee with the psaltery. Love so
amazing calls for sweetest praise. David would give his best music, both vocal
and instrumental, to the Best of Masters. His harp should not be silent, nor his
voice. Even thy truth, O my God. This is ever a most enchanting
attribute--viz., the truth or faithfulness of our covenant God. On this we rest,
and from it we draw streams of richest consolation. His promises are sure, his
love unalterable, his veracity indisputable. What saint will not praise him as
he remembers this? Unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of
Israel. Here is a new name, and, as it were, a new song. The Holy One of
Israel is at once a lofty and an endearing name, full of teaching. Let us
resolve, by all means within our power, to honour him. Here is the final vow of praise.
Verse 23. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto
thee. It shall be no weariness to me to praise thee. It shall be a
delightful recreation, a solace, a joy. The essence of song lies in the holy joy
of the singer. And my soul, which thou hast redeemed. Soul singing is the
soul of singing. Till men are redeemed, they are like instruments out of tune;
but when once the precious blood has set them at liberty, then are they fitted
to magnify the Lord who bought them. Our being bought with a price is a more
than sufficient reason for our dedicating ourselves to the earnest worship of
God our Saviour. Here is the final vow of praise.
Verse 24. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the
day long. I will talk to myself, and to thee, my God, and to my
fellow men: my theme shall be thy way of justifying sinners, the glorious
display of thy righteousness and grace in thy dear Son; and this most fresh and
never to be exhausted subject shall be ever with me, from the rising of the sun
to the going down of the same. Others talk of their beloveds, and they shall be
made to hear of mine. I will become an incessant talker, while this matter lies
on my heart, for in all company this subject will be in season. For they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that
seek my hurt. As in many other Psalms, the concluding stanzas speak
of that as an accomplished fact, which was only requested in former verses.
Faith believes that she has her request, and she has it. She is the substance of
things hoped for--a substance so real and tangible, that it sets the glad soul
singing. Already sin, Satan, and the world are vanquished, and the victory is
"Sin, Satan, Death appear
To harass and appal:
Yet since the gracious Lord is near,
Backward they go, and fall."
"We meet them face to face,
Through Jesus' conquest blest;
March in the triumph of his grace,
Right onward to our rest."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This Psalm, which has no title in the Hebrew,
in the LXX has the title, By David, of the sons of Jonadab, and of those
who were first made prisoners. If any authority be allowed to this title,
we must suppose that this was a Psalm written by David, which was used, as
particularly adapted to the circumstances of their condition, by the Rechabites,
who were descended from Jonadab (Jeremiah 35), and the Jews, who were taken by
the Chaldeans as captives to Babylon. However this may be, it seems probable
that David was the author of this Psalm, and that he wrote it in his extreme
age, and but a little while before he died. The line which follows the next
Psalm, and closes the second book, perhaps has a reference to this fact. Some of
the Fathers interpret the Psalm mystically of the church in her old age, and her
trials at the end of the world. "Plain Commentary."
Whole Psalm. The Psalm, I am aware, is anonymous, and is,
therefore, by many recent critics referred to some later writer; but I am
satisfied that Venema and Hengstenberg have adduced sufficient reasons for
retaining the opinion of Calvin and the older expositors, that it is from
David's pen, and is the plaintive song of his old age. It shows us the soul of
the aged saint, darkened by the remembrance of his great transgression, and by
the swarms of sorrows with which that sin filled all his later years. But he
finds comfort in reverting to the happy days of his childhood, and especially to
the irrevocable trust which he was then enabled to repose in God. The thoughts
and feelings expressed remind one of those which invest with such a solemn,
tender interest the Second Epistle to Timothy, which embalms the dying thoughts
of the great apostle. Like Paul, David takes a retrospect of the Lord's dealings
with him from the beginning; and, in effect, declares, with the dying apostle:
"I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is
able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 2Ti 1:12.
Only, there is this notable difference between the two, that while Paul gathered
confirmation of his faith from the experience of a thirty years' walk with his
Lord, David's experience stretched over more than twice so many years; for it
began with his childhood. William Binnie.
Whole Psalm. It will be asked how Christ could use such
verses as Ps 71:9,18, since these look forward apparently to the frailty of age.
The reply to this felt difficulty is, these expressions are used by him in
sympathy with his members, and in his own case denote the state equivalent to
age. His old age was, ere he reached three and thirty years, as Joh 8:57
is supposed to imply: for "Worn out men live fast." Barclay seems to give the
right sense in the following lines: --
"Grown old and weak, with pain and grief,
Before his years were half complete."
Besides, the words signify, "Forsake me not from this time
onward, even were I to live to grey hairs." This is a view that conveys precious
consolation to aged ones, who might be ready to say that Christ could not
altogether enter into their feelings, having never experienced the failing
weakness of age, the debility, the decay, the bodily infirmities so trying to
the spirit. But this Psalm shows us, that in effect he did pass through that
stage of our sojourning, worn out and wasted in bodily frame and feeling, by
living so much in so short a time. The aged members of his church may find his
sweet sympathy breathed out in Isa 46:3-4; and, here they may almost see him
learning the lesson in a human way, as he bends under the weight of our
frailties. For this reason, among others, this Psalm was specially prized by
Robert Blair, one of our godly forefathers. He used to call it "His
Psalm." Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust. As if he should
say: O Lord, permit not those who put their trust in thee to be confounded, and
to be held up as a laughing stock. I have placed all my hope in thee, and thou
art that God who, for the sake of thy goodness and truth, hast never deserted
those who hope in thee. If thou shalt suffer me to be confounded, the enemies to
triumph, and my hope to be placed in thee in vain, certainly this shame shall
fall upon thine own name... Let us, therefore, learn from this place to be more
anxious about what may happen to the name of God through us, than to our own;
whether it be through us in doing, or in us in suffering. The prophet is fearful
lest he should be confounded on account of his hope placed in God, although it
was not in his own power, nor could he prevent it... It is necessary, first,
that we should be of those who place their hope in God, then it is necessary
that this piety of our hearts should not be confined to ourselves only, but
should be known to all those who come in contact with us, even our opponents and
enemies; else it is not possible for us to dread this kind of confusion feared
by the prophet, when nobody knows that our hope is placed in God. No artist
suffers confusion, if he has never shared the good opinion of his fellow men. To
no sick man can it be said, Physician, heal thyself, if his reputation for
medical skill has never stood high. So of those, it cannot be said, They hoped
in God, let him save them if he will have them, of whom it was never remarked
that they placed any hope in God. His solicitude, therefore, belongs only to
those whose hope is in the Lord; upon others it cannot fall. Musculus.
Verse 1. In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust. It is a good
beginning, and a recommendation to our prayers, when we can declare our faith
and trust to be in God alone. Edward Walter, in "A Help to the profitable
reading of the Psalms." 1854.
Verse 2. Deliver me in thy righteousness. Incline thine ear.
Let my deliverance be the fruit of thy promise, and of my prayer; and so it will
be much the sweeter. John Trapp.
Verse 2. In thy righteousness. The righteousness of
God is in this place that virtue by which he makes good his promises-- revenges
injuries and rewards piety--which is elsewhere called his veracity. Upon
this perfection David here calls, not because he was innocent before God, but
because God had bound himself to him by promises, as if he were, in the presence
of the men who were persecuting him, both innocent and righteous; and,
therefore, worthy of being delivered from this last terrible calamity into which
he has fallen through Absalom, since God had thus acted towards him. Hermann
Verse 2. Thy righteousness. Not mine. He knew that he
was being chastened for his sin against Uriah. He pleads no merit of his own.
Simon de Muis.
Verse 2. Incline thine ear. And since I am so wounded that I
am not able to send up my cry to thee, the Most High, do thou incline
thine ear to me as I lie half dead, left by the robbers who have wounded
and spoiled me. Gerhohus.
Verse 3. Whereunto I may continually resort. Would he then
want to repair to him always? Our necessities, our work, our danger require it
constantly. We are commanded to pray without ceasing. And if, while we
acknowledge and feel the obligation, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind,
we shall not lament it. Loving him, as well as depending upon him, we shall find
it good to draw near to God, and delight ourselves in the Almighty; and we shall
never find him, when we want him, inaccessible. There is a way to our strong
habitation, and we know the way. There is a door, and we have the key. No
sentinel keeps us back; the dwelling is our own: and who dares to forbid
us all its accommodations and contents? Kings, however disposed, cannot be
always approachable. Owing to the multitude of their claims, and the limitation
of their powers, and the importance of keeping up a sense of their dignity, they
are only accessible at certain times, and with stately formalities. But the King
of kings allows us to come boldly to the throne of grace; and enjoins us in
every thing, by prayer and supplication, to make our requests unto him. We
cannot be too importunate, or by our continual coming weary him. William
Verse 3. Thou hast given commandment to save me. Let us
observe his words; he ascribes to the word and command of God a saving virtue,
which no power on earth, none in hell, nor death itself can resist. Only, he
says, give the command that I may be saved, and, in a moment, I shall be wholly
Verse 4. The cruel man is literally the leavened man,
leavened with hatred of truth and enmity to God; and, therefore, a violent
opposer of his people. So, in 1Co 5:8 we are cautioned against the "leaven of
malice and wickedness, "which, in accordance with the figure, may pervade the
whole natural character of an ungodly man, his faculties and affections. W.
Verse 5. Thou art my hope. Not only is our hope in
him but he himself is our hope. "God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, "saith
St. Paul, "our hope." 1Ti 1:1. Yea, there is a deeper, nearer depth: "The glory
of the mystery of the gospel, "says St. Paul, "is Christ in you, the hope of
glory." Christ himself is our hope, as the only Author of it; Christ is our
hope, as the End of it; and Christ, who is the Beginning and the End, is our
hope also by the way; for he saith, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Col 1:27. Each yearning of our hearts, each ray of hope which gleams upon us,
each touch which thrills us, each voice which whispers in our inmost hearts of
the good things laid up in store for us, if we will love God, are the light of
Christ enlightening us, the touch of Christ raising us to new life, the voice of
Christ, "Whoso cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out; "it is "Christ in us,
the hope of glory, "drawing us up by his spirit who dwelleth in us, unto himself
our hope. For our hope is not the glory of heaven, not joy, not peace, not rest
from labour, not fulness of our wishes, nor sweet contentment of the whole soul,
nor understanding of all mysteries and all knowledge, not only a torrent of
delight; it is "Christ our God, ""the hope of glory." Nothing which God
could create is what we hope for; nothing which God could give us out of
himself, no created glory, or bliss, or beauty, or majesty, or riches. What we
hope for is our Redeeming God himself, his love, his bliss, the joy of our Lord
himself who hath so loved us, to be our joy and our portion for ever. E. B.
Verse 5. From my youth. The remembering and acknowledging of
God in youth will be great satisfaction in old age. O what joy will reflection
upon youthful piety yield! Even Seneca, a heathen, could say: "Youth well spent
is the greatest comfort of old age." David could confidently plead with God for
deliverance out of the hand of the wicked: For, saith he, thou art my
hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth. "Cast me not off
in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth" (Ps
71:9,17-18). An ingenuous master will not turn off a superannuated servant. When
the proconsul bade Polycarp deny Christ and swear by the emperor, he answered:
"I have served Christ these eighty-six years, and he hath not once injured me,
and shall I now deny him?" Jacob could say: "God hath fed me all my life long
unto this day; he hath been kind to me all my days, and I trust he will look to
me even in the end; and shall I now turn my back on him?" Whither can I go to
mend myself for a master? "Thou only hast the words of eternal life." He that
hath been the stay of my youth, will be the staff of my age. I dare venture my
soul upon his promise who hath hitherto maintained me by his providence. "In the
days of my youth, the secret of God was upon my tabernacle, his candle did shine
upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness; "and, though now "the
sun, and the light, and moon and stars be darkened, "in this my natural horizon,
yet "the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" "Yea, though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou
art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." I have abundant experience
of his grace and presence. O the days of mercy I have had many years ago! A good
man said: "I got that in my youth, which I would not for all the world have to
get now." Oliver Heywood. 1629-1702.
Verse 6. He did not, like most men, recognise the hand of
God only when, in an extraordinary manner, it became manifest in life; but his
eye of faith regards the ordinary works of God as miracles. The translation from
his mother's womb to the light of day is to him an object of praise. (Ps
22:9-10.) And, really, is not the preservation of the embryo, in its narrow
confines, a miracle? Is it not a pledge, simultaneously with man's growing into
being, of our after experience in life, that we have a God "who bringeth us out
of death to light?" (Ps 68:20.) Is not the reason of our finding so little of
praise, to be sought in our having no eyes for his daily miracles? The psalmist
has eyes for the daily miracles of the Lord; and, therefore, his mouth is
daily full of the praise of the Lord. Augustus F. Tholuck.
Verse 6. Blessed be God that ever I was born.
Verse 6. This verse corresponds with the preceding, except
that David proceeds farther. He not only celebrates the goodness of God, which
he had experienced from his childhood, but, also, those proofs of it which he
had received previous to his birth. An almost similar confession is contained in
Ps 22:9-10, by which is magnified the wonderful power and inestimable goodness
of God in the generation of men, the way and manner of which would be altogether
incredible, were it not a fact with which we are quite familiar. If we are
astonished at that part of the history of the flood, in which Moses declares (Ge
8:13), that Noah and his household lived ten months amidst the offensive
nuisance produced by so many living creatures, when he could not draw the breath
of life, have we not equal reason to marvel that the infant, shut up within its
mother's womb, can live in such a condition as would suffocate the strongest man
in half an hour? But we thus see how little account we make of the miracles
which God works, in consequence of our familiarity with them. The Spirit,
therefore, justly rebukes this ingratitude, by commending to our consideration
this memorable instance of the grace of God which is exhibited in our birth and
generation. When we are born into the world, although the mother do her office,
and the midwife may be present with her, and many others may lend their help,
yet did not God, putting, so to speak, his hand under us, receive us into his
bosom, what would become of us? and what hope would there be in the continuance
of our life? Yea, rather, were it not for this, our very birth would be an
entrance into a thousand deaths. God, therefore, is with the highest propriety
said to take us out of our mother's bowels. To this corresponds
the concluding part of the verse, My praise shall be continually of
thee by which the psalmist means that he has been furnished with matter for
praising God without intermission. John Calvin.
Verse 8. Let my mouth be filled with thy praise. Let my
mouth, I say, be so filled with thy praise, that from the bottom of
my heart, even to the lips of my mouth, the plenitude of thy grace, O God,
infused into my heart, and diffused over my lips, may loyally magnify thee; so
shall I not be found like that people, of whom thou dost say: "This people
honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Isa 29:13.
Verse 9. Cast me not off in the time of old age, etc.; for
now I have most need of thee. The white rose is soonest cankered; so is the
white head soonest corrupted. Saepe nigrum cor est, caput album. Satan
maketh a prey of old Solomon, Asa, Lot, others; whom when young he could never
so deceive. The heathens, therefore, well warn us to look well to our old age,
as that which cometh not alone, but is infested with many diseases, both of body
and mind. This David knew, and, therefore, prayed as here: Cast me not off in
the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. He is a
rare old man that can say with Caleb (Jos 14:10,14), "Behold, the Lord hath kept
me alive, "etc. John Trapp.
Verse 9. Cast me not off in the time of old age, etc. It is
not unnatural or improper for a man who sees old age coming upon him to pray for
special grace, and special strength, to enable him to meet what he cannot ward
off, and what he cannot but dread; for who can look upon the infirmities of old
age, as coming upon himself, but with sad and pensive feelings? Who would wish
to be an old man? Who can look upon a man tottering with years, and
broken down with infirmities; a man whose sight and hearing are gone; a man who
is alone amidst the graves of all the friends that he had in early life; a man
who is a burden to himself, and to the world; a man who has reached the "Last
scene of all that ends the strange, eventful history" --that scene of
"Second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything; "
that scene when one can say--
"I have lived long enough; my way of life
Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; "
Who can think of all this and not pray for special grace for
himself, should he live to see those days of infirmity and weakness? And who, in
view of such infirmities, can fail to see the propriety of seeking the favour of
God in early years? Albert Barnes.
Verse 9. Cast me not off in the time of old age, etc. David,
mindful of the noble actions which, through God's assistance, he had achieved in
his youth, beseeches him not to desert his servant, when persecuted by a
rebellious son, in his old age. The weakness and temptations peculiar to that
time of life, render this a petition necessary for all to make, before we are
overtaken by it. The church findeth but too much occasion to make the same, now
that she is sunk in years; when faith languisheth, charity waxeth cold, and the
infirmities of a spiritual old age are coming fast upon her. George
Verse 9. Cast me not off. God had cast of his predecessor,
Saul, and things looked as if he now meant to cast him off. His people
also seemed disposed, by their joining with Absalom, to cast him off: hence the
force of the petition. Andrew Fuller.
Verse 9. Forsake me not when my strength faileth. Neither
will Christ forsake his church in the latter days of its age, when the weakness
of faith becomes more prevalent. W. Wilson.
Verse 9. Forsake me not when my strength faileth. June 28.
This day I enter on my eighty-sixth year. I now find I grow old:
1. My sight is decayed, so that I cannot read a small print, unless in a strong light.
2. My strength is decayed, so that I walk much slower than I did some years since.
3. My memory of names, whether of persons, or places, is decayed, till I stop a little to recollect them.
What I should be afraid of, is, if I took thought for the
morrow, that my body should weigh down my mind, and create either stubbornness,
by the decrease of my understanding, or peevishness, by the increase of bodily
infirmities; But thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God. John Wesley.
Verse 11. All kinds of distresses are obnoxious to the worst
of misjudgings from malevolent minds. The sufferings of Christ produced this
censorious scoff, "Let God deliver him, if he will have him." (Mt 27:43.)
David's trouble easily induced his adversaries to conclude that God had
forsaken him, and that there was none to deliver him. But in troubles
of this nature, where especially there are frightful complainings against
themselves, men are more easily drawn out to be peremptory in their uncharitable
judgments concerning them, because the trouble itself is somewhat rare, and apt
to beget hideous impressions, and, withal, the vent which the afflicted parties
give by their bemoaning of their estate, in hope to ease themselves thereby, is
but taken as a testimony against themselves and the undoubted echoes of their
real feelings. Richard Gilpin (1625-1700), in "Daemonologia Sacra; or,
a Treatise of Satan's Temptations." (In Nichols Series of Puritan
Verse 13. Let them be confounded, etc. Let them, who were so
wicked that they never hoped anything good of me, be confounded by the
evidence of the blessings which manifestly fall upon me; and, let them fail,
the grounds of their abuse being taken away, as a fire fails when the fagots
are removed. Gerhohus.
Verse 13. Let them be confounded, etc. By the law of
retaliation (talio), he might have said: "Be thou an adversary to their
souls, and seek their hurt." Nothing of this is hinted at: his only desire is
that they may be confounded and fail, that they may be covered with disgrace and
shame. He seeks nothing beyond the frustration of their attempts, that they may
begin to be ashamed, and have no cause for boasting that they came off
Verse 13. Shame ariseth from utter disappointments. If hope
deferred causeth shame, then much more hope destroyed. When a man sees his hopes
quite cut off, so that he can no way reach the thing he looked for, shame takes
hold of him strongly. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 13. That are adversaries to my soul. That hated him
with a diabolical hatred, as the devil hates the souls of men, and who has his
name Satan from the word here used. All wicked men are Satans, full of
enmity against God and all good men; and such were David's enemies, spiteful and
malicious, and nothing would satisfy them but his life. John Gill.
Verse 14. But I will hope continually. Behold, O Lord, I
have prayed to thee, and I am comforted. Hope has thus taught me. I am glad;
because in thee have I trusted, I shall never be confounded. Sorrow returned,
equipped with vast array, fortified at all points with swords and spears, and
with great clamour beleaguered my city. The din of his horsemen terrified me;
and, standing at the gates, he commanded silence, and thus loudly spake: "Behold
the man who trusted in God; who said, I shall not be confounded for ever; who
took hope for a consoler." And, when he observed me blushing at these words, he
drew nearer, and said: "Where are the promises which were thy trust? Where the
consolation? Where the deliverance? What have thy tears availed thee? What help
have thy prayers brought thee from heaven? Thou hast cried, and no one has
answered; thou hast wept, and who have been moved with pity for thee? Thou hast
called upon thy God, and he has been silent. Thou hast prayed to him, and he has
hidden himself from thee: there has come no voice nor sound... Arise, therefore,
and flee for help to man, that he may free thee from thy prison." With these
words, there arose such a din of arms in the camp--such a clamour of men and
sounding of trumpets--that I could hardly keep up heart; and, unless my beloved
Hope had brought me help, Sorrow would have seized and carried me off in chains
to his own place. Comes Hope to me, gleaming in divine brightness, and, smiling,
said: "O soldier of Christ, how is thy heart? What is this struggle in thy
mind?" At these words, I began to blush. "Fear not, "she said, "Evil shall not
capture thee; thou shalt never perish. Behold, I am with thee, to deliver thee.
Dost thou not know what is written (Psalm 12), `The fool hath said in his heart,
there is no God.' As one of the foolish women hath this Sorrow spoken; never
shall he be able to persuade thee that there is no God, or that God does not
exercise a providence over all." Girolamo Savonarola. 1452-1498.
Verse 14. And I will always hope, and add to (literally,
add upon, accumulate, increase) all thy praise. To all thy
praise which I have uttered hitherto, I will continue still to add. Joseph
Verse 14. I will expect continually. But what did he
expect? That for which he prayed in the ninth verse--the preservation of
his prosperity, the presence and the help of God to the very end of life.
Wherefore, he adds, continually, in perpetuity, in the time of old age,
--usque ad mortem. Hermann Venema.
Verse 14. As there is no end to the lovingkindness of
Jehovah, there should be none to our gratitude. The hope of a Christian enableth
him to be thankful, even in the dark season of affliction. Mrs. Thomson.
Verse 15. The righteousness of God, here mentioned,
includes not only the rectitude of his nature, and the equity of his
proceedings, but likewise that everlasting righteousness which his Son hath
brought in for our justification. God's righteousness and
salvation are here joined together; and, therefore, let no man think to
put them asunder, or expect salvation without righteousness. Mrs.
Verse 15. I know not the numbers. David began his
arithmetic, in Ps 71:14, with addition: "I will yet praise thee more and
more; "but he is fairly beaten in this first rule of sacred mathematics. His
calculation fails him, the mere enumeration of the Lord's mercies overwhelms his
mind; he owns his inadequacy. Reckon either by time, by place, or by value, and
the salvation of God baffles all powers of estimation. C. H. S.
Verse 16. I will go. The word to go must be here
taken in the sense of going to battle against enemies. This, he says, he will
do, trusting not to his own, but to the power of the Lord, his heart fired with
the memory of the righteousness of God. So is it in another place: "Some trust
in chariots, some in horses, but we in the name of our God." Musculus.
Verse 16. I will go in the strength of the Lord. The
minister goes thus by realising this strength and depending on it. In this
strength he goes into the path of communion with God, into the fields of
conflict, in the privacy of domestic life, and in all the walks of active life.
His boast is in the righteousness of Christ; and he mentions this
to God as the ground of his confidence, to himself as the spring of his
comforts, to others as the hope of salvation. Substance of Sermon by James
Sherman. The first preached by him after his settlement at Surrey Chapel.
September 4th, 1836.
Verse 16. The strength of the Lord God. The power of God is
expressed in the plural number, to show the greatness of it, which is as a
garrison to the believer. John Gill.
Verse 16. I will go in the strength of the Lord. The phrase,
to go in, or, with the strengths of God, does not teach us
that he would go by means of them, by their help and assistance, as many
have thought, first, because the word is used to signify the illustrious
and mighty deeds of God; secondly, because it denotes the subject
of praise; but to go with the strength of Jehovah, as the rendering ought
to be... is to go as if girt with his former deeds of power--girt with
them as if with the material of praise. Hermann Venema.
Verse 17. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth. Whence
was it that David understood "more than the ancients"? (Ps 119:100.) He had a
Father to teach him; God was his instructor. Many a child of God complains of
ignorance and dulness; remember this, thy Father will be thy tutor; he hath
promised to give "his Spirit to lead thee into all truth" (Joh 6:13); and God
doth not only inform the understanding, but inclines the will; he doth not only
teach us what we should do, but enables us to do it. (Eze 36:27); "I will cause
you to walk in my statutes." What a glorious privilege is this, to have the star
of the word pointing us to Christ, and the loadstone of the Spirit drawing!
Verse 17. Thou hast taught me from my youth. If you ask me
what were the ways by which David was taught, I might ask you what they were
not... God taught him by his shepherd's crook; and by the rod and sceptre of a
king he taught him. He taught him by the shouts of the multitude--"Saul hath
slain his thousands and David his ten thousands; "and he taught him just as
much, if not more, by the contempt he met in the court of the Philistines. He
taught him by the arrows of Jonathan, levelled in friendship; and he taught him
by the javelin of Saul levelled at his life. He taught him by the faithlessness
of Abiathar, and the faithlessness of even his faithful Joab; and he taught him
by the faithfulness of Abishai, and the faithfulness of Mephibosheth; and, let
me add too, by the rebellion of Absalom, and the selfishness of Adonijah; they
were all means, by which the Lord taught this his servant. And be assured, you
that are under his teaching, there is nothing in your lives, but he can teach
you by it: by comforts and crosses, by your wounds and your healings, by that
which he gives and by what he takes away. He unteaches his child, that he may
teach him; shows him his folly, that he may make him wise; strips him of his
vain confidence, that he may give him strength; makes him know that he is
nothing, that he may show him that he has all in the Lord--in Jesus his Beloved
one. James Harrington Evans.
Verse 17. Thou hast taught me from my youth. Youth needs a
teacher that it may embrace virtue. Seneca says, Virtue is a hard
thing to youth, it needs a ruler and guide; vices are acquired without
a master. How prone he was in his boyhood and youth to vices, we may see
in Psalm 25. "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions." Jerome,
in his Epistle to Nepotianus, says: "As fire in green wood is stifled, so wisdom
in youth, impeded by temptations and concupiscence, does not unfold its
brightness, unless by hard work, and steady application and prayer, the
incentives of youth are inwardly repelled." Hence it is that almost all nations
have provided good and wise teachers of the young. Among the Spartans, one was
chosen from the Magistrates and Senators to be paidonomos, rector of the
boys... At Athens there were twelve men named Sophronistae, elected by
the suffrages of all the tribes, to moderate the manners of youth... God is the
teacher of his servants. Plato says, oiden einai yeioteron, that
there is nothing more divine than the education of children. Of God the Father,
or of the whole Trinity, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, says, 1Sa 2:3: "The Lord
is a God of knowledge; "(Scientiarum, Vulg.) that is, as the Chaldee has
it, he knows all things... Socrates says, that he is the mind of the
universe. Without him, therefore, all are demented; but with him, and
through him, in a single moment they become wise. Philo, in his treatise of the
sacrifice of Cain and Abel, says, Masters cannot fill the mind of their pupils
as if they were pouring water into a vessel; but when God, the fountain of
wisdom, communicates knowledge to the human race, he does it without delay, in
the twinkling of an eye... His anointing shall teach you of all things.
1Jo 2:27. Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 17. From my youth. Is it such "a crown of glory" to be
found old in the ways of righteousness? Do you then begin to be godly betimes;
that, if you live in this world you may have this crown set upon your heads when
you are ancient; for is it not better for you to be plants of God's house, than
weeds upon the dunghill? Those that are wicked are but as weeds upon a dunghill,
but you that are godly are as plants in God's own orchard. In Ro 16:7, we find
that Andronicus and Junia are commended because they were in Christ
before Paul: "They were in Christ before me." It is an honourable thing to be in
Christ before others; this is honourable when you are young; and then going on
in the ways of godliness all your young time, and so in your middle age, and
till you come to be old. Jeremiah Burroughs.
Verse 17. Wondrous works. Observe that he calls the blessing
of divine aid so often received in affliction, wondrous works. By this
expression, he shows us, with what grievous perils he was tossed; then how he
had been snatched from them by the hand of God, contrary to the expectation of
all men. Therefore, God is wonderful among his saints. To this end the
adversities of the saints tend, that they may show forth in them the wonderful
works of God. Musculus.
Verses 17-18. The integrity of our hearts and ways, in former
walkings after God, and service for God, may by faith in Christ, as in all our
justification, be pleaded. See also Isa 38:3 and Ps 119:10. The Lord himself
maketh it to himself a motive to show mercy to his people (Isa 63:8 Jer 2:2);
only we must use this plea more rarely and sparingly, in a self denying way, in
faith in Christ's righteousness, as made ours. Thomas Cobbet.
Verse 18. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake
me not. God exalts pardoning grace to some more, and sanctifying
grace to others; he is the God of grace. Those ships that have been in long
voyages at sea, three or four years out, have gone through hot climates and
cold, passed the equinoctial line again and again, and have run through many a
difficulty, and great storms, and yet have been kept alive at sea, as they
speak, when these shall meet one another at sea near the haven, how will they
congratulate? And old disciples should do so, that God hath kept grace alive in
their souls. And I would ask you how many thousand ships have you seen cast away
before your eyes? How many that have made "shipwreck of faith and a good
conscience, "as the apostle speaks? This and that profession, that has run into
this and that error damnable, or false opinions and teaching, though all of
smaller moment; others that have struck upon quicksands of worldly preferments,
and many split upon rocks, and yet you have been kept. This should move you to
bless this your God, the God of grace, the more. Come, let me knock at your
hearts; are none of you old professors, like old hollow oaks, who stand in the
woods among professors still, and keep their stand of profession still, and go
to ordinances, etc.; but the "rain they drink in, "as the apostle's word is,
serves to no other end but to rot them. "These are nigh unto cursing." Or, have
you green fruits still growing on you, as quickly and lively affections to God
and Christ, and faith and love, as at the first, and more abounding? O bless God
you are so near the haven, and lift up your hearts, your redemption draws near;
and, withal, raise your confidence, that that God of grace, who hath called you
into his eternal glory, will keep you for it, and possess you of it shortly.
Verse 18. Forsake me not; until, etc. Apostasy in old age is
fearful. He that climbs almost to the top of a tower, then slipping back, hath
the greater fall. The patient almost recovered, is more deadly sick by a
relapse. There were stars struck from heaven by the dragon's tail (Re 12:4);
they had better never have perched so high. The place where the Israelites fell
into that great folly with the daughters of Moab, was in the plain, within the
prospect of the Holy Land; they saw their inheritance, and yet fell short of it.
So wretched is it for old men to fall near to their very entry of heaven, as old
Eli in his indulgence (1 Samuel 2); old Judah in his incest (Genesis 38); old
David with Bathsheba; old Asa trusting in the physicians more than in God (2Ch
16:12); and old Solomon built the high places. Some have walked like cherubs in
the midst of the stones of fire, yet have been cast as profane out of God's
mountain. Eze 28:14,16. Thus the seaman passeth all the main, and suffers wreck
in the haven. The corn often promises a plenteous harvest in the blade, and
shrinks in the ear. You have seen trees loaden with blossoms, yet, in the season
of expectation, no fruit. A comedy that holds well many scenes, and goes lamely
off in the last act, finds no applause. Remember Lot's wife (Lu 17:32): think on
that pillar of salt, that it may season thee. Thomas Adams.
Verse 18. Until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation,
etc. Are there better preachers of the works of God to be found than hoary
parents in the circle of their children; or grandparents in that of their
grandchildren? Augustus F. Tholuck.
With years oppressed, with sorrows worn,
Dejected, harassed, sick, forlorn,
To thee, O God, I pray;
To thee my withered hands arise,
To thee I lift these failing eyes:
Oh, cast me not away!
Thy mercy heard my infant prayer;
Thy love, with all a mother's care,
Sustained my childish days:
Thy goodness watched my ripening youth,
And formed my heart to love thy truth,
And filled my lips with praise.
O Saviour! has thy grace declined?
Can years affect the Eternal Mind,
Or time its love destroy?
A thousand ages pass thy sight,
And all their long and weary flight
Is gone like yesterday.
Then, even in age and grief, thy name
Shall still my languid heart inflame,
And bow my faltering knee:
Oh, yet this bosom feels the fire,
This trembling hand and drooping lyre,
Have yet a strain for thee!
Yes, broken, tuneless still, O Lord,
This voice, transported, shall record
Thy goodness tried so long;
Till, sinking slow, with calm decay,
Its feeble murmurs melt away,
Into a seraph's song.
--Sir Robert Grant.
Verse 19. O God, who is like unto thee? Either for greatness
or goodness, for power or for mercy, for justice, truth, and faithfulness; for
the perfections of his nature, or the works of his hands; and to be praised,
reverenced, and adored, as he is. John Gill.
Verse 19. Who is like unto thee! Krmk ym, Mi camocha. God is alone: who can resemble him? He
is eternal; he can have none before, and there can be none after;
for, in the infinite unity of trinity, he is that eternal,
unlimited, impartible, incomprehensible, and uncompounded, ineffable Being,
whose essence is hidden from all created intelligences, and whose
counsels cannot be fathomed by any creature that even his own hand can
form. "WHO IS LIKE UNTO THEE!" will excite the wonder, amazement, praise, and
adoration of angels and men to all eternity. Adam Clarke.
Verse 20. Thou shalt quicken me again, etc. Here Jerome
triumphs over the Jews, challenging them when this was ever verified in David,
for he was never dead and quickened again; and, therefore, this must needs be
expounded of him as that in Psalm 16: "Thou wilt not leave my soul in
the grave; "and to "the depths of the earth, "here, answer
those words, Eph 4:9, "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also
descended first into the lower parts of the earth?" Yet, this may also be
applied to David, being figuratively understood, as a like speech of Hannah, 1
Samuel 2. John Mayer.
Verse 20. And thou shalt bring me up, etc. This is an
allusion to men who are unhappily fallen into a deep pit of water. The meaning
is, Thou shalt draw me out of the extreme danger into which I am plunged, and
wherein I shall perish without thy help. Thomas Fenton.
Verse 21. Greatness increasing with comfort, and comfort
increasing with greatness; very rarely united. George Rogers.
Verse 22. With the psaltery... with the harp. There was a
typical signification in them; and upon this account they are not only rejected
and condemned by the whole army of Protestant divines, as for instance, by
Zuinglius, Calvin, Peter Martyr, Zepperus, Paraeus, Willet, Ainsworth, Ames,
Calderwood, and Cotton; who do, with one mouth, testify against them, most of
them expressly affirming that they are a part of the abrogated legal pedagogy;
so that we might as well recall the incense, tapers, sacrifices, new moons,
circumcision, and all the other shadows of the law into use again. But Aquinas
himself also, though a Popish schoolman, pleads against them upon the same
account, quia aliquid figurabant, and saith, the Church in his time did
not use them, ne videatur judaizare, lest they should seem to judaize.
Samuel Mather, on The Types.
Verse 22. Psaltery... harp. Suppose singing with instruments
were not typical, but only an external solemnity of worship, fitted to the
solace of the outward senses of children under age, such as the Israelites were
in the Old Testament (Ga 4:1-3); yet now, in the grown age of the heirs of the
New Testament, such external pompous solemnities are ceased, and no external
worship reserved, but such as holdeth forth simplicity and gravity; nor is any
voice now to be heard in the church of Christ, but such as is significant and
edifying by signification (1Co 14:10-11,26), which the voice of instruments is
not. John Cotton, 1585-1652.
Verse 22. Holy One of Israel. This name of God occurs in the
Psalms only in two other places, Ps 71:78,41 89:18 these last two being,
according to Delitzsch, older Psalms than this. In Isaiah, this name of God
occurs thirty times; in Habakkuk once; in Jeremiah (who may have adopted it from
Isaiah) twice (Jer 50:29 51:5). J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 23. My lips; my soul. Hypocrites praise God with the
lips only; but David joins the soul to the lips. William
Verse 23. Greatly. See how the word great is repeated. Great
things done, Ps 71:19; great troubles shown, Ps 71:20; greatness increased, Ps
71:21; and great rejoicing consequent thereon, in Ps 71:23. In a great God,
doing great things, it is meet greatly to rejoice. C. H. S.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Arguments used to induce to Lord to hear, drawn,
1. From his justice and equity: Deliver me
in thy righteousness.
2. From his word and promise: Thou hast
given commandment, etc.
3. From his power: Thou art my rock. etc.
4. From his relation to him: My God, my hope.
5. From the qualities of his adversaries:
They were wicked, unrighteous, and cruel.
6. From his confidence: Thou art my hope.
7. From his gracious providence: By thee have I been holden up, etc.
8. From his thankful heart: My praise shall be continually, etc.
9. He had none to trust to but God: Thou art my refuge. Adam Clarke.
Verse 1. Faith is a present act; faith is a personal act,
faith deals only with God, faith knows what she is about, faith kills her fears
Verse 2. An appeal.
1. To the power of God: Deliver me.
2. To the faithfulness of God: In thy righteousness.
3. To the providence of God: Cause me to escape.
4. To the condescension of God: Incline thine ear.
5. To the mercy of God: Save me.
Verse 2. Cause me to escape. From whom? From what?
How? By what power? For what end?
Verse 3. (first two clauses). The believer abiding in
God and continually resorting to him.
Verse 3. (Third clause). A command based on the
divine promise, clothed with divine power, addressed to all necessary agencies,
and embracing all exigencies.
1. When God is for us, the wicked are against us.
2. When the wicked are against us, God is for us.
Verse 5. God the essence of hope and faith.
Verse 7. (first clause). may be accommodated to,
1. The Saviour.
2. The Saint. He is a wonder in reference to
(a) What he once was;
(b) What he now is;
(c) What he will hereafter be.
3. The sinner is "a wonder unto many;" a wonder to three worlds: to
(c) devils and lost souls.
--Warwell Fenn. 1830.
Verse 7. Consider the text, with reference to David,
to Christ, and to the Christian.
1. With reference to David.
(a) David was a wonder as a man.
(b) As a king.
(c) As a servant of God.
2. With respect to Christ.
(a) Christ was a wonder in his person.
(b) In his life.
(c) In his miracles.
(d) In his teaching.
(e) In his sufferings.
(f) In his ascension and mediatorial glory.
3. With regard to
(a) The Christian is a wonder to himself.
(b) To the world.
(c) To wicked spirits.
(d) To the angels in heaven.
--John Cawood. 1830.
1. What? filled with what? --murmurings? doubts? fears? No! Praise. My own? --of men? No. Thy
praise. Thy honour.
2. When? All the day.
(a) The whole day.
(b) Every day; a good preparation for heaven.
Verse 9. There are some peculiar circumstances of old age
which render this blessing--the favour and presence of God--necessary.
1. Old age is a time of but little natural enjoyment, as Barzillai acknowledged, 2Sa 19:35.
2. It is a time of life in which the troubles of life are often known to increase.
3. Old age is a time in which the troubles of life not only increase, but become less tolerable.
4. Old age is a time which ought to command respect, and does so among dutiful children and all serious
Christians: but it is often known to be attended with neglect. This is the case especially where they are
poor and dependent. It has been the case where public characters have lost their youthful vivacity,
and the brilliancy of their talents. A. Fuller.
Verse 9. There is,
1. Fear, mixed with faith.
(a) Natural to old age.
(b) Suggested by the usage of the world.
2. Faith mixed with
fear: "Cast me not, "etc.
(a) Old age is not a sin.
(b) It is a crown of glory if found, etc.
Verses 11-12. Two great lies and two sweet prayers.
1. What the wicked gain by opposing the righteous: Let them, etc. Ps 71:13.
2. What the righteous gain from being opposed by them, Ps 71:14: But I, etc.
Verse 14. See "Spurgeon's Sermons, "No. 998; "More and
1. The determination avowed.
(a) To recount the instances of the divine faithfulness in his
(b) To recount them publicly: My mouth, etc.
(c) Constantly: All the day.
2. The reason assigned:
For I know not, etc. "Eternity's too short to utter all thy praise."
Therefore I begin it now, and will continue it.
1. The resolution: I will go.
2. The reservation: Thy strength only--thy righteousness only.
Verse 17. O God, thou hast taught me. None but God can teach
us experimentally; and the lessons he teaches are always useful and important.
He teaches all his scholars to know themselves--their depravity, poverty, and
slavery. He teaches them his law--its purity, claims, and penalty. He teaches
them his gospel--its fulness, freeness, and sensibility. He teaches them to know
himself; as a reconciled God, as their Father and faithful friend. His teaching
is accompanied with power and authority. We may know divine teaching by its
effects: it always produces humility--they sit as his feet; dependence upon him;
abhorrence of sin; love to God as a teacher; obedience to the lessons taught;
thirst for further attainments; and it brings us daily to Jesus. James
Verse 18. The peculiar testimony of pious old age, what it
is based upon, to whom it should be directed, and what we may hope from it.
Verse 19. A sermon might be instructively worked out upon
"the high things of God."
1. The future benefit of present trials: "Hereafter," said Aneas to his shipwrecked companions. "It will
delight us to think of these things."
2. The present benefit of future mercies: "Glory to thee for all the grace we have not tasted yet."
Verse 22. A choice subject for song--"thy truth, "which may
mean either doctrinal truth, or the attribute of faithfulness, its manifestation
in history, and in our own experience.
1. The soul of music: Not in the instrument or the voice, but in the soul. "I will sing with the understanding
also." "Making melody in the heart, "etc.
2. The music of the soul. The soul which thou hast redeemed. Redemption is the music of souls once lost.
Their only song in heaven.
Verse 24. How to make familiar talk edifying and useful.
WORK UPON THE SEVENTY-FIRST PSALM
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