Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. To the Chief Musician upon Gittith. Very little is
known of the meaning of this title. We have given the best explanation known to
us in connection with Psalm 8 in Vol. 1 of this work. If it be intended to
indicate a vintage song, it speaks well for the piety of the people for whom it
was written; it is to be feared that in few places even in Christian countries
would holy hymns be thought suitable to be sung in connection with the
winepress. When the bells upon the horses shall be holiness unto the Lord, then
shall the juice of the grape gush forth to the accompaniment of sacred song. A
Psalm of Asaph. This poet here again dwells upon the history of his country; his
great forte seems to be rehearsing the past in admonitory psalmody. He is the
poet of the history and politics of Israel. A truly national songster, at once
pious and patriotic.
DIVISION. Praise is called for to celebrate some memorable
day, perhaps the passover; whereupon the deliverance out of Egypt is described,
Ps 81:1-7. Then the Lord gently chides his people for their ingratitude, and
pictures their happy estate had they but been obedient to his commands.
Verse 1. Sing, in tune and measure, so that the public
praise may be in harmony; sing with joyful notes, and sounds melodious. Aloud. For the heartiest praise is due to our good Lord.
His acts of love to us speak more loudly than any of our words of gratitude can
do. No dulness should ever stupefy our psalmody, or half heartedness cause is to
limp along. Sing aloud, ye debtors to sovereign grace, your hearts are
profoundly grateful: let your voices express your thankfulness. Unto God our strength. The Lord was the strength of his
people in delivering them out of Egypt with a high hand, and also in sustaining
them in the wilderness, placing them in Canaan, preserving them from their foes,
and giving them victory. To whom do men give honour but to those upon whom they
rely, therefore let us sing aloud unto our God, who is our strength and our
song. Make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. The God of the
nation, the God of their father Jacob, was extolled in happy music by the
Israelitish people; let no Christian be silent, or slack in praise, for this God
is our God. It is to be regretted that the niceties of modern singing frighten
our congregations from joining lustily in the hymns. For our part we delight in
full bursts of praise, and had rather discover the ruggedness of a want of
musical training than miss the heartiness of universal congregational song. The
gentility which lisps the tune in well bred whispers, or leaves the singing
altogether to the choir, is very like a mockery of worship. The gods of Greece
and Rome may be worshipped well enough with classical music, but Jehovah can
only be adored with the heart, and that music is the best for his service which
gives the heart most play.
Verse 2. Take a psalm. Select a sacred song, and then raise
it with your hearty voices. And bring hither the timbrel. Beat on your tambourines, ye
damsels, let the sound be loud and inspiriting. "Sound the trumpets, beat the
drums." God is not to be served with misery but with mirthful music, sound ye
then the loud timbrel, as of old ye smote it by "Egypt's dark sea." The pleasant harp with the psaltery. The timbrel for sound,
must be joined by the harp for sweetness, and this by other stringed instruments
for variety. Let the full compass of music be holiness unto the Lord.
Verse 3. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon. Announce the
sacred month, the beginning of months, when the Lord brought his people out of
the house of bondage. Clear and shrill let the summons be which calls all Israel
to adore the Redeeming Lord. In the time appointed, on our solemn feast day. Obedience
is to direct our worship, not whim and sentiment: God's appointment gives a
solemnity to rites and times which no ceremonial pomp or hierarchical ordinance
could confer. The Jews not only observed the ordained month, but that part of
the month which had been divinely set apart. The Lord's people in the olden time
welcomed the times appointed for worship; let us feel the same exultation, and
never speak of the Sabbath as though it could be other than "a delight" and
"honourable." Those who plead this passage will keep such feasts as the Lord
appoints, but not those which Rome or Canterbury may ordain.
Verse 4. For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the
God of Jacob. It was a precept binding upon all the tribes that a
sacred season should be set apart to commemorate the Lord's mercy; and truly it
was but the Lord's due, he had a right and a claim to such special homage. When
it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish
festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them,
but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to
observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, "Is
this a law of the God of Jacob?" and if it be not clearly so, it is of no
authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.
Verse 5. This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony. The
nation is called Joseph, because in Egypt it would probably be known and spoken
of as Joseph's family, and indeed Joseph was the foster father of the people.
The passover, which is probably here alluded to, was to be a standing memorial
of the redemption from Egypt; and everything about it was intended to testify to
all ages, and all peoples, the glory of the Lord in the deliverance of his
chosen nation. When he went out through the land of Egypt. Much of Egypt
was traversed by the tribes in their exodus march, and in every place the feast
which they had kept during the night of Egypt's visitation would be a testimony
for the Lord, who had also himself in the midnight slaughter gone forth through
the land of Egypt. The once afflicted Israelites marched over the land of
bondage as victors who trample down the slain.
Where I heard a language that I understood not. Surely the
connection requires that we accept these words as the language of the Lord. It
would be doing great violence to language if the "I" here should be referred to
one person, and the "I" in the next verse to another. But how can it be imagined
that the Lord should speak of a language which he understood not, seeing he
knows all things, and no form of speech is incomprehensible to him? The reply
is, that the Lord here speaks as the God of Israel identifying himself with his
own chosen nation, and calling that an unknown tongue to himself which was
unknown to them. He had never been adored by psalm or prayer in the tongue of
Egypt; the Hebrew was the speech known in his sacred house, and the Egyptian was
outlandish and foreign there. In strictest truth, and not merely in figure,
might the Lord thus speak, since the wicked customs and idolatrous rites of
Egypt were disapproved of by him, and in that sense were unknown. Of the wicked,
Jesus shall say, "I never knew you; "and probably in the same sense this
expression should be understood, for it may be correctly rendered, "a speech I
knew not I am hearing." It was among the griefs of Israel that their taskmasters
spake an unknown tongue, and they were thus continually reminded that they were
strangers in a strange land. The Lord had pity upon them, and emancipated them,
and hence it was their bounden duty to maintain inviolate the memorial of the
divine goodness. It is no small mercy to be brought out from an ungodly world
and separated unto the Lord.
Verse 6. I removed his shoulder from the burden. Israel was
the drudge and slave of Egypt, but God gave him liberty. It was by God alone
that the nation was set free. Other peoples owe their liberties to their own
efforts and courage, but Israel received its Magna Charta as a free gift of
divine power. Truly may the Lord say of everyone of his freed men, I removed his shoulder from the burden. His hands were
delivered from the pots. He was no longer compelled to carry earth,
and mould it, and bake it; the earth basket was no more imposed upon the people,
nor the tale of bricks exacted, for they came out into the open country where
none could exact upon them. How typical all this is of the believer's
deliverance from legal bondage, when, through faith, the burden of sin glides
into the Saviour's sepulchre, and the servile labours of self righteousness come
to an end for ever.
Verse 7. Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee. God
heard his people's cries in Egypt, and at the Red Sea: this ought to have bound
them to him. Since God does not forsake us in our need, we ought never to
forsake him at any time. When our hearts wander from God, our answered prayers
cry "shame" upon us. I answered thee in the secret place of thunder. Out of the
cloud the Lord sent forth tempest upon the foes of his chosen. That cloud was
his secret pavilion, within it he hung up his weapons of war, his javelins of
lightning his trumpet of thunder; forth from that pavilion he came and overthrew
the foe that his own elect might be secure. I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. They had proved him
and found him faithful, he afterwards proved them in return. Precious things are
tested, therefore Israel's loyalty to her King was put to trial, and, alas, it
failed lamentably. The God who was adored one day for his goodness was reviled
the next, when the people for a moment felt the pangs of hunger and thirst. The
story of Israel is only our own history in another shape. God has heard us,
delivered us, liberated us, and too often our unbelief makes the wretched return
of mistrust, murmuring, and rebellion. Great is our sin; great is the mercy of
our God: let us reflect upon both, and pause a while. Selah. Hurried reading is of little benefit; to sit down a
while and meditate is very profitable.
Verse 8. Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee.
What? Are the people so insensible as to be deaf to their God? So it would seem,
for he earnestly asks a hearing. Are we not also at times quite as careless and
immovable? O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me. There is much in
this "if." How low have they fallen who will not hearken unto God himself! The
deaf adder is not more grovelling. We are not fond of being upbraided, we had
rather avoid sharp and cutting truths; and, though the Lord himself rebuke us,
we fly from his gentle reproofs.
Verse 9. There shall no strange god be in thee. No alien god
is to be tolerated in Israel's tents. Neither shalt thou worship any strange god. Where false
gods are, their worship is sure to follow. Man is so desperate an idolater that
the image is always a strong temptation: while the nests are there the birds
will be eager to return. No other god had done anything for the Jews, and
therefore they had no reason for paying homage to any other. To us the same
argument will apply. We owe all to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:
the world, the flesh, the devil, none of these have been of any service to us;
they are aliens, foreigners, enemies, and it is not for us to bow down before
them. "Little children keep yourselves from idols, "is our Lord's voice to us,
and by the power of his Spirit we would cast out every false god from our
Verse 10. I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of
the land of Egypt. Thus did Jehovah usually introduce himself to his
people. The great deliverance out of Egypt was that claim upon his people's
allegiance which he most usually pleaded. If ever people were morally bound to
their God, certainly Israel was a thousand times pledged unto Jehovah, by his
marvellous deeds on their behalf in connection with the Exodus. Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. Because he had
brought them out of Egypt he could do great things for them. He had proved his
power and his good will; it remained only for his people to believe in him and
ask large things of him. If their expectations were enlarged to the utmost
degree, they could not exceed the bounty of the Lord. Little birds in the nest
open their mouths widely enough, and perhaps the parent birds fail to fill them,
but it will never be so with our God. His treasures of grace are inexhaustible,
"Deep as our helpless miseries are,
And boundless as our sins."
The Lord began with his chosen nation upon a great scale, doing
great wonders for them, and offering them vast returns for their faith and love,
if they would but be faithful to him. Sad, indeed, was the result of this grand
Verse 11. But my people would not hearken to my voice. His
warnings were rejected, his promises forgotten, his precepts disregarded. Though
the divine voice proposed nothing but good to them, and that upon an
unparalleled scale of liberality, yet they turned aside. And Israel would none of me. They would not consent to his
proposals, they walked in direct opposition to his commands, they hankered after
the ox god of Egypt, and their hearts were bewitched by the idols of the nations
round about. The same spirit of apostacy is in all our hearts, and if we have
not altogether turned aside from the Lord, it is only grace which has prevented
Verse 12. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust. No
punishment is more just or more severe than this. If men will not be checked,
but madly take the bit between their teeth and refuse obedience, who shall
wonder if the reins are thrown upon their necks, and they are let alone to work
out their own destruction. It were better to be given up to lions than to our
hearts' lusts. And they walked in their own counsels. There was no doubt
as to what course they would take, for man is everywhere wilful and loves his
own way, --that way being at all times in direct opposition to God's way. Men
deserted of restraining grace, sin with deliberation; they consult, and debate,
and consider, and then elect evil rather than good, with malice aforethought and
in cool blood. It is a remarkable obduracy of rebellion when men not only run
into sin through passion, but calmly "walk in their own counsels" of iniquity.
Verse 13. O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel
had walked in my ways! The condescending love of God expresses itself in
painful regrets for Israel's sin and punishment. Such were the laments of Jesus
over Jerusalem. Certain doctrinalists find a stumbling stone in such passages,
and set themselves to explain them away, but to men in sympathy with the divine
nature the words and the emotions are plain enough. A God of mercy cannot see
men heaping up sorrow for themselves through their sins without feeling his
compassion excited toward them.
Verse 14. I should soon have subdued their enemies. As he
did in Egypt overthrow Pharaoh, so would he have baffled every enemy. And turned my hand against their adversaries. He would have
smitten them once, and then have dealt them a return blow with the back of his
hand. See what we lose by sin. Our enemies find the sharpest weapons against us
in the armoury of our transgressions. They could never overthrow us if we did
not first overthrow ourselves. Sin strips a man of his armour, and leaves him
naked to his enemies. Our doubts and fears would long ago have been slain if we
had been more faithful to our God. Ten thousand evils which afflict us now would
have been driven far from us if we had been more jealous of holiness in our walk
and conversation. We ought to consider not only what sin takes from our present
stock, but what it prevents our gaining: reflections will soon show us that sin
always costs us dear. If we depart from God, our inward corruptions are sure to
make a rebellion. Satan will assail us, the world will worry us, doubts will
annoy us, and all through our own fault. Solomon's departure from God raised up
enemies against him, and it will be so with us, but if our ways please the Lord
he will make even our enemies to be at peace with us.
Verse 15. The haters of the Lord should have submitted
themselves unto him. Though the submission would have been false and
flattering, yet the enemies of Israel would have been so humiliated that they
would have hastened to make terms with the favoured tribes. Our enemies become
abashed and cowardly when we, with resolution, walk carefully with the Lord. It
is in God's power to keep the fiercest in check, and he will do so if we have a
filial fear, a pious awe of him. But their time should have endured for ever. The people
would have been firmly established, and their prosperity would have been stable.
Nothing confirms a state or a church like holiness. If we be firm in obedience
we shall be firm in happiness. Righteousness establishes, sin ruins.
Verse 16. He should have fed them also with the finest of
the wheat. Famine would have been an unknown word, they would have
been fed on the best of the best food, and have had abundance of it as their
every day diet. And with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied
thee. Luxuries as well as necessaries would be forthcoming, the very rocks
of the land would yield abundant and sweet supplies; the bees would store the
clefts of the rocks with luscious honey, and so turn the most sterile part of
the land to good account. The Lord can do great things for an obedient people.
When his people walk in the light of his countenance, and maintain unsullied
holiness, the joy and consolation which he yields them are beyond conception. To
them the joys of heaven have begun even upon earth. They can sing in the ways of
the Lord. The spring of the eternal summer has commenced with them; they are
already blest, and they look for brighter things. This shows us by contrast how
sad a thing it is for a child of God to sell himself into captivity to sin, and
bring his soul into a state of famine by following after another god. O Lord,
for ever bind us to thyself alone, and keep us faithful unto the end.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. It is remarkable that as Psalm 80 treats of the
church of God under the figure of a vine, so the present is entitled,
"upon Gittith, "literally upon the winepress. Whether the
expression was meant to refer to a musical instrument, or to some direction as
to the tune, is uncertain. In our Saviour's adoption of the figure of a vineyard
to represent his church, he speaks of a winepress dug in it, Mt 21:33. The idea
refers itself to the final result in some sense, in a way of salvation of souls,
as the same figure of a winepress is used in Revelation 16 of the final
destruction of the ungodly. W. Wilson.
Verse 2. Timbrel. The toph, English version
tabret, timbrel, LXX., tumpanon, once qalthrion.
It was what would now be called a tambourine, being played by the hand; and was
specially used by women. It is thrice mentioned in the Ps 81:2 Ps 149:3 150:4.
Joseph Francis Thrupp.
Verse 2. The Psaltery. It is probably impossible to be sure
as to what is intended by a psaltery. The Genevan version translates it viol,
and the ancient viol was a six stringed guitar. In the Prayer book version,
the Hebrew word is rendered lute, which instrument resembled the guitar,
but was superior in tone. The Greek word "psalterion" denotes a stringed
instrument played with the fingers. Cassidorus says that the psaltery was
triangular in shape, and that it was played with a bow. Aben Ezra evidently
considered it to be a kind of pipe, but the mass of authorities make it a
stringed instrument. It was long in use, for we read of it in David's time as
made of fir wood (2Sa 6:55), and in Solomon's reign, of algum trees (2Ch 9:11),
and it was still in use in the days of Nebuchadnezzar.
Verse 3. Blow up the trumpet, etc. The Jews say this blowing
of trumpets was in commemoration of Isaac's deliverance, a ram being sacrificed
for him, and therefore they sounded with trumpets made of ram's horns: or in
remembrance of the trumpet blown at the giving of the law; though it rather was
an emblem of the gospel and ministry of it, by which sinners are aroused,
awakened and quickened, and souls are charmed and allured, and filled with
spiritual joy and gladness. John Gill.
Verse 3. The trumpet. The sound of the trumpet is very
commonly employed in Scripture as an image of the voice or word of God. The
voice of God, and the voice of the trumpet on Mount Sinai, were heard together
(Ex 19:5,18-19), first the trumpet sound as the symbol, then the reality. So
also John heard the voice of the Lord as that of a trumpet (Re 1:10 4:1), and
the sound of the trumpet is once and again spoken of as the harbinger of the Son
of Man, when coming in power and great glory, to utter the almighty word which
shall quicken the dead to life, and make all things new (Mt 24:31 1Co 15:52; 1Th
4:16). The sound of the trumpet, then, was a symbol of the majestic, omnipotent
voice or word of God; but of course only in those things in which it was
employed in respect to what God had to say to men. It might be used also as from
man to God, or by the people, as from one to another. In this case, it would be
a call to a greater than usual degree of alacrity and excitement in regard to
the work and service of God. And such probably was the more peculiar design of
the blowing of trumpets at the festivals generally, and especially at the
festival of trumpets on the first day of the second month. Joseph Francis
Verse 3. "In the new moon, "etc. The feast of the
new moon was always proclaimed by sound of trumpet. For want of
astronomical knowledge, the poor Jews were put to sad shifts to know the real
time of the new moon. They generally sent persons to the top of some hill or
mountain about the time which, according to their supputations, the new moon
should appear. The first who saw it was to give immediate notice to the
Sanhedrim; they closely examined the reporter as to his credibility, and whether
his information agreed with their calculations. If all was found satisfactory,
the president proclaimed the new moon by shouting out, wdqm mikkodesh! "It is consecrated." This word was repeated
twice aloud by the people; and was then proclaimed everywhere by
blowing of horns, or what is called the sound of trumpets. Among
the Hindus some feasts are announced by the sound of the conch, or
sacred shell. Adam Clarke.
Verse 3. In the time appointed. The word rendered the
time appointed, signifies the hidden or covered period;
that is, the time when the moon is concealed or covered with darkness. This day
was a joyful festival, returning every month; but the first day of the seventh
moon was most solemn of the whole; being not only the first of the moon, but of
the civil year. This was called the feast of trumpets, as it was celebrated by
the blowing of trumpets from sunrising to sun setting; according to the command,
"It shall be a day of the blowing of trumpets to you." This joy was a memorial
of the joy of creation, and the joy of giving the law; it also preindicated the
blowing of the gospel trumpet, after the dark, the covered period of the death
of Christ, when the form of the church changed, and the year of the "redeemed"
began; and finally, it prefigured the last day, when the trumpet of God shall
sound, and the dead shall be raised. Alexander Pirie.
Verse 5. I heard a language that I understood not. The
language that he then heard--the religious worship of idolaters, --vows
offered up "to birds and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things, "Ro 1:23, and
strength and mercy sought from every object in nature, except himself,
--was a language unknown to him--"he knew it not." William Hill Tucker.
Verse 6. Pots, or burden baskets. Compare Ex 6:6-7.
Rosellini gives a drawing of these baskets from a picture discovered in a tomb
at Thebes. "Of the labourers, "says he, "some are employed in transporting the
clay in vessels, some in intermingling it with straw; others are taking the
bricks out of the form, and placing them in rows; still others with a piece of
wood upon their backs, and ropes on each side, carry away the bricks already
burned or dried. Their dissimilarity to the Egyptians appears at the first view:
their complexion, physiognomy and beard permit us not to be mistaken in
supposing them to be Hebrews." Frederic Fysh.
Verse 6. Pots. The bricklayer's baskets; hanging one at each
end of a yoke laid across the shoulders. William Kay.
Verse 7. To answer in the secret place of thunder,
refers us to the pillar of cloud and fire, the habitation of the awful
Majesty of God, whence God glanced with angry eyes upon the Egyptians, filled
them with consternation and overthrew them. Venema.
Verse 10. Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. Surely
this teaches us, that the greater and more valuable the blessings are which we
implore from the divine beneficence, the more sure shall we be to receive them
in answer to prayer...But, though men are to be blamed, that they so seldom
acknowledge God in any thing, yet they are still more to be blamed, that they
seek not from him the chief good. Men may, however, possibly cry to God for
inferior things, and apply in vain. Even good men may ask for temporal
blessings, and not receive them; because the things we suppose good, may
not be good, or not good for us, or not good for us at
present. But none shall seek God for the best of blessings in vain. If we
ask enough, we shall have it. While the worldling drinks in happiness, if
it will bear the name, with the mouth of an insect, the Christian imbibes bliss
with the mouth of an angel. His pleasures are the same in kind, with the
pleasure of the infinitely happy God. John Ryland.
Verse 10. Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. You may
easily over expect the creature, but you cannot over expect God: "Open thy mouth
wide, and I will fill it; "widen and dilate the desires and expectations of your
souls, and God is able to fill every chink to the vastest capacity. This honours
God, when we greaten our expectations upon him, it is a sanctifying of God in
our hearts. Thomas Case (1598-1682), in "Morning Exercises."
Verse 10. Open thy mouth wide. This implies,
1. Warmth and fervency in prayer. To open the mouth is in
effect to open the heart, that it may be both engaged and enlarged... We may be
said to open our mouths wide when our affections are quick and lively, and there
is a correspondence between the feelings of the heart and the request of the
lips; or when we really pray, and not merely seem to do so. This is strongly and
beautifully expressed in Ps 119:131: I opened my mouth, and panted:
for I longed for thy commandments.
2. It implies a holy fluency and copiousness of expression, so
as to order our cause before him, and fill our mouths with arguments. When the
good man gets near to God, he has much business to transact with him, many
complaints to make, and many blessings to implore; and, as such seasons do not
frequently occur, he's the more careful to improve them. He then pours out his
whole soul, and is at no loss for words; for when the heart is full, the tongue
overflows. Sorrow and distress will even make those eloquent who are naturally
slow of speech.
3. Enlarged hope and expectation. We may be too irreverent in
our approaches to God, and too peremptory in our application; but if the matter
and manner of our prayer be right, we cannot be too confident in our
expectations from him... Open thy mouth wide then, O Christian; stretch out thy
desires to the uttermost, grasp heaven and earth in thy boundless wishes, and
believe there is enough in God to afford the full satisfaction. Not only come,
but come with boldness to the throne of grace: it is erected for sinners, even
the chief of sinners. Come to it then, and wait at it, till you obtain mercy and
find grace to help in time of need. Those who expect most from God are likely to
receive the most. The desire of the righteous, let it be ever so extensive,
shall be granted. Benjamin Beddome.
Verse 10. I will fill it. Consider the import of the
promise: Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. "Ask, and ye
shall receive; seek, and ye shall find." Particularly,
1. If we open our mouths to God in prayer, he will fill them
more and more with suitable petitions and arguments. When we attempt to open the
mouth, God will open it still wider. Thus he dealt with Abraham when he
interceded for Sodom; the longer he prayed, the more submissive and yet the more
importunate he became. By praying we increase our ability to pray, and find a
greater facility in the duty. "To him that hath shall be given, and he shall
have more abundantly."
2. God will fill the mouth with abundant thanksgivings. Many of
David's psalms begin with prayer, and end with the most animated praises. No
mercies so dispose to thankfulness as those which are received in answer to
prayer; for according to the degree of desire will be the sweetness of
3. We shall be filled with those blessings we pray for, if they
are calculated to promote our real good and the glory of God. Do we desire fresh
communications of grace, and manifestations of divine love; a renewed sense of
pardoning mercy, and an application of the blood of Christ? Do we want holiness,
peace, and assurance? Do we want to hear from God, to see him, and be like him?
The promise is, My God shall supply all your need according to his
riches in glory by Christ Jesus, Php 4:19. You shall have what you
desire, and be satisfied: it shall be enough, and you shall think it so. "The
Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that
walk uprightly." Benjamin Beddome.
Verse 10. The custom is said still to exist in Persia that
when the king wishes to do a visitor, an ambassador for instance, especial
honour, he desires him to open his mouth wide; and the king then crams it as
full of sweetmeats as it will hold; and sometimes even with jewels. Curious as
this custom is, it is doubtless referred to in Ps 81:10: Open thy mouth wide,
and I will fill it; not with baubles of jewels, but with far richer
treasure. John Gadsby.
Verse 11. My people would not hearken to my voice; and
Israel would none of me. Know, sinner, that if at last thou missest
heaven, which, God forbid! the Lord can wash his hands over your head, and clear
himself of your blood: thy damnation will be laid at thine own door: it will
then appear there was no cheat in the promise, no sophistry in the gospel, but
thou didst voluntarily put eternal life from thee, whatever thy lying lips
uttered to the contrary: My people would have none of me. So that,
when the jury shall sit on thy murdered soul, to inquire how thou camest to thy
miserable end, thou wilt be found guilty of thy own damnation. No one loseth
God, but he that is willing to part with him. William Gurnall.
Verse 11. And Israel would none of me. It is added,
and Israel would none of me, more closely, was not borne to me
by a natural bent. For this is the original force of the word
hka, as it still survives in Job 9, where
it is used of the ships borne outward by a favourable wind and tide.
Verse 11. Israel would none of me. That is, would not be
content alone with me, would not take quiet contentment in me (as the
Hebrew word signifies); the Lord was not good enough for them, but their hearts
went out from him to other things. Thomas Sheppard, 1605-1649.
Verse 12. So I gave them up. The word give up
suggests the idea of a divorce, whereby a husband sends away a capricious
wife, and commands her to live by herself...Transferred to God, it teaches us
nothing else than that God withdraws his protecting and guiding
hand from the people, and leaves them to themselves; so that he ceases to
chasten and defend them, but, on the other hand, suffers them to become
hardened and to perish. Venema.
Verse 12. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts,
etc. A man may be given up to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that
the soul may be saved, but to be given up to sin is a thousand times worse,
because that is the fruit of divine anger, in order to the damnation of the
soul; here God wounds like an enemy and like a cruel one, and we may boldly say,
God never punished any man or woman with this spiritual judgment in kindness and
love. John Shower (1657-1715), in "The Day of Grace."
Verse 12. I gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts. O
dreadful word! The same will the Spirit do upon our rejecting or resisting of
his leading. He may long strive, but he will "not always strive, " Ge 6:3. If
the person led shall once begin to struggle with him that leads him, and shall
refuse to follow his guidance, what is then to be done, but to leave him to
himself? Continued, rooted, allowed resistance to the Spirit, makes him so to
cast off a person as to lead him no more... Let it be your great and constant
care and endeavour to get the Spirit's leading continued to you. You have it;
pray keep it. Can it be well with a Christian, when this is suspended or
withdrawn from him? How does he wander and bewilder himself, when the Spirit
does not guide him! How backward is he to good, when the Spirit does not bend
and incline him thereunto! How unable to go, when the Spirit does not uphold
him! What vile lusts and passions rule him, when the Spirit does not put forth
his holy and gracious government over him! O, it is of infinite concern to all
that belong to God, to preserve and secure to themselves the Spirit's leading!
Take a good man without this, and he is like a ship without a pilot, a blind man
without a guide, a poor child that has none to sustain it, the rude multitude
that have none to keep them in any order. What a sad difference is there in the
same person, as to what he is when the Spirit leads him, and as to what
he is when the Spirit leaves him!
OBJECTION. --"But does the Spirit at any time do this to God's
people? Does he ever suspend and withdraw his guidance from persons who once
lived under it?"
ANSWER. --Yes; too often. It is what he usually does, when his
leadings are not followed. This is a thing that grieves him; and when he is
grieved he departs, withholds, and recalls his former gracious influences,
though not totally and finally; yet for a time and in such a degree. As a guide,
that is to conduct the traveller; if this traveller shall refuse to follow him,
or shall give unkind usage to him, what does the guide then do? Why, he receded,
and leaves him to shift for himself. It is thus in the case in hand: if we
comply with the Spirit, in his motions, and use him tenderly, he will hold on in
his leading of us; but if otherwise, he will concern himself no more about us.
O, take heed how you carry yourself towards him: not only upon ingenuousness, it
is base to be unkind to our Guide, (Hast thou not procured this unto
thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by
the way? Jer 2:17,)but also upon the account of self love: for "as we behave
ourselves to him, so he will behave himself to us:" "Ita nos tractat, ut a
nobis tractatur." Thomas Jacombe (1622-1687), in "Morning
Verse 12. I gave them up...and they walked in their own
counsels. That was to give them up to a spirit of division, to a spirit
of discontent, to a spirit of envy, and jealousy, to a spirit of ambition, of
self seeking and emulation, and so to a spirit of distraction and confusion, and
so to ruin and destruction. Such, and no better, is the issue, when God gives a
people up to their own counsels; then they soon become a very chaos, and run
themselves into a ruinous heap. As good have no counsel from man, as none but
man's. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 12. God calls upon Israel to hear and obey him, they
will not: But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would
none of me. What was the result of their refusal? So I gave them
up unto their own hearts lust: and they walked in their own
counsels. God doth not testify his anger for their contempt of him be
sending plague, or flames, or wild beasts among them. He doth not say, Well,
since they thus slight my authority, I will be avenged on them to purpose; I
will give them up to the sword, or famine, or racking diseases, or greedy
devouring lions, which would have been sad and grievous; but he executes on them
a far more sad and grievous judgment, when he saith, So I gave them up unto
their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. God's
leaving one soul to one lust, (One's soul to one's lust?) is far worse than
leaving him to all the lions in the world. Alas! it will tear the soul worse
than a lion can do the body, and rend it in pieces, when there is none to
deliver it. God's giving them up to their own wills, that they walked in their
own counsels, is in effect a giving them up to eternal wrath and woe. George
Verse 12. God moves everything on his ordinary providence
according to their particular natures, God moves everything ordinarily according
to the nature he finds it in. Had we stood in innocency, we had been moved
according to that originally righteous nature; but since our fall we are moved
according to that nature introduced into us with the expulsion of the other. Our
first corruption was our own act, not God's work; we owe our creation to God,
our corruption to ourselves. Now since God will govern his creature, I do not
see how it can be otherwise, than according to the present nature of the
creature, unless God be pleased to alter that nature. God forces no man against
his nature; he doth not force the will in conversion, but graciously and
powerfully inclines it. He doth never force nor incline the will to sin, but
leaves it to the corrupt habits it hath settled in itself: So I gave them up
unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels;
counsels of their own framing, not of God's. He moves the will, which is
sponte mala, according to its own nature and counsels. As a man flings
several things out of his hand, which are of several figures, some spherical,
tetragons, cylinders, conics, some round and some square, though the motion be
from the agent, yet the variety of their motions is from their own figure and
frame; and if any will hold his hand upon a ball in its motion, regularly it
will move according to its nature and figure; and a man by casting a bowl out of
his hand, is the cause of the motion, but the bad bias is the cause of its
irregular motion. The power of action is from God, but the viciousness of that
action from our own nature. As when a clock or watch hath some fault in any of
the wheels, the man that winds it up, or putting his hand upon the wheels moves
them, he is the cause of the motion, but it is the flaw in it, a deficiency of
something, is the cause of its erroneous motion; that error was not from the
person that made it, or the person that winds it up, and sets it on going, but
from some other cause; yet till it be mended it will not go otherwise, so long
as it is set upon motion. Our motion is from God, --Ac 17:28, In him we move,
--but not the disorder of that motion. It is the fulness of a man's stomach
at sea is the cause of his sickness, and not the pilot's government of the ship.
God doth not infuse the lust, to excite it, though he doth present the object
about which the lust is exercised. God delivered up Christ to the Jews, he
presented him to them, but never commanded them to crucify him, nor infused that
malice into them, nor quickened it; but he, seeing such a frame, withdrew his
restraining grace, and left them to the conduct of their own vitiated wills. All
the corruption in the world ariseth from lust in us, not from the objects which
God in his providence presents to us: 2Pe 1:4, The corruption that is in the
world through lust. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 13. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, etc. God
sometimes doth not mind his children when they cry, that they may hereby take
occasion to remember how oft he hath cried and they have not minded him. Doth
not the Lord cry out to his people of duty and they do not hear him? Doth he not
complain here of this neglect, not only as a dishonour, but as a grief unto him?
No marvel then if God let his people cry out of misery, and doth not hear them.
The Lord shuts his ear that we might consider how we have shut our ears; yea, he
shuts his ears that he may open ours. We are moved to hear and answer the call
and command of God, though we find that he doth not hear nor answer our call and
cry. If the Lord should always be swift to hear us, how slow should we be in
hearing him, and while we have our desires, forget most of our duties.
Verse 13. Oh that my people had hearkened, etc. God speaks
as if he were comforted when he is but heard, or as if we comforted him when we
hear him. God beseecheth us, and speaks entreaties to us, that his counsels and
commands may be heard: Oh that my people had hearkened unto me.
The Lord tells them indeed it would have proved their consolation (Ps 81:14):
I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against
their adversaries. Yet while he speaks so pathetically, he seems to include
his own consolation in it as well as theirs. Oh that my people had hearkened
unto me: it would have been good for them, and it would have given high
content to myself. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 13. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, etc.
There is to us a deep mysteriousness in all this; but the desire of God for our
salvation and right moral state, is here most obviously manifested: and let us
proceed on that which is obvious, not on that which is obscure. Thomas
Verse 13. Walked in my ways. None are found in the
ways of God, but those who have hearkened to his words. W.
Verse 14. Turned my hand. God expresseth the utter overthrow
of the enemies of his people, but by the turning of a hand: if God do but
turn his hand, they are all gone presently, soon subdued. If he do but touch the
might, the pomp, the greatness, the riches and the power of all those in the
world that are opposers of his church, presently they fall to the ground: a
touch from the hand of God will end our wars. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 16. Honey out of the rock. The rock spiritually and
mystically designs Christ, the Rock of salvation, 1Co 10:4; the honey out
of the rock, the fulness of grace in him, and the blessings of it, the sure
mercies of David, and the precious promises of the everlasting covenant; and the
gospel, which is sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb, and with these such
are filled and satisfied who hearken to Christ and walk in his ways; for, as the
whole of what is here said shows what Israel lost by disobedience, it clearly
suggests what such enjoy who hear and obey. John Gill.
Verse 16. Honey out of the rock. God extracts honey out of
the rock--the sweetest springs and pleasures from the hardness of afflictions;
from mount Calvary and the cross, the blessings that give greatest delight;
whereas the world makes from the fountains of pleasure stones and rocks of
torment. Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 16. Honey out of the rock. Most travellers who have
visited Palestine in summer have had their attention directed to the abundance
of honey, which the bees of the land have stored up in the hollows of trees and
in crevices of the rock. In localities where the bare rocks of the desert alone
break the sameness of the scene, and all around is suggestive of desolation and
death, the traveller has God's care of his chosen people vividly brought to
mind, as he sees the honey which the bees had treasured up beyond his reach,
trickling in shining drops down the face of the rock. John Duns.
Verse 16. When once a people or a person are accepted of
God, he spares no cost, nor thinks anything too costly for them. He would
have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of
the rock should I have satisfied thee. I would not have fed thee with
wheat only, that's good; but with the finest wheat, that's the best. We put in
the margin, with the fat of wheat; they should not have had the bran, but
the flour, and the finest of the flour; they should have had not only honey, but
honey out of the rock, which, as naturalists observe, is the best and purest
honey. Surely God cannot think anything of this world too good for his people,
who hath not thought the next world too good for them; certainly God cannot
think any of these outward enjoyments too good for his people, who hath not
thought his Son too good for his people; that's the apostle's argument, Ro 8:32:
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how
shall he not with him also freely give us all things? even the best
of outward good things, when he seeth it good for us. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Congregational singing should be general, hearty,
joyful. The reasons for this, and the benefits of it.
1. Praise should be sincere. It can come from the people of God
2. It should be constant: they should praise God at all times.
3. It should be special. There should be seasons of special
(a) Appointed by God, as Sabbaths and solemn feasts.
(b) Demanded by providence on occasion of special
deliverances and special mercies.
4. It should be public: "sing aloud:" "bring hither, "etc.
Verse 4. The rule of ordinances and worship; pleas for going
beyond it; instances in various churches; the sin and danger of such will
Verse 5. What there is in the language of the world which is
unintelligible to the sons of God.
Verse 6. The emancipation of believers. Law work is
burdensome, servile, never completed, unrewarded, more and more irksome. Only
the Lord can deliver us from this slavish toil, and he does it by grace and by
power. We do well to remember the time of our liberation, exhibit gratitude for
it, and live consistently with it.
1. Answered prayers, --bonds of gratitude.
2. Former testing times, --warning memories.
3. The present a time for new answers as it is also for fresh
Verse 7. Waters of Meribah. The various test points of the
1. A compassionate Father, calling to his child: O my
people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken
2. A jealous sovereign, laying down his law: There shall no
strange god be in thee.
3. An all sufficient Friend, challenging confidence: I am
the Lord thy God: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. Richard
Verses 8, 11, 13. The command, the disobedience, the regret.
Verses 11, 12.
1. The sin of Israel. They would not hearken. The mouth is opened in attentive hearing: open thy mouth wide; but
my people, etc. Their sin was greatly aggravated
1. By what God had done for them.
2. By the gods they had preferred to him.
2. The punishment.
1. Its greatness: I gave them up, etc.
2. Its justice: They would none of me. G. R.
Verses 8, 11, 13. The command, the disobedience, the regret.
Verse 13. The excellent estate of an obedient believer.
1. Enemies subdued.
2. Enjoyments perpetuated.
3. Abundance possessed.
Verses 13-14. The sin and loss of the backslider.
Verse 14. Spiritual enemies best combatted by an obedient
1. Spiritual dainties.
2. By whom provided.
3. To whom given.
4. With what result--"satisfied."