Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
We have now reached the majestic Covenant Psalm, which,
according to the Jewish arrangement closes the third book of the Psalms. It is
the utterance of a believer, in presence of great national disaster, pleading
with his God, urging the grand argument of covenant engagements, and expecting
deliverance and help, because of the faithfulness of Jehovah.
TITLE. Maschil. This is most fitly called a
Maschil, for it is most instructive. No subject is more important or is so fully
the key to all theology as that of the covenant. He who is taught by the Holy
Spirit to be clear upon the covenant of grace will be a scribe well instructed
in the things of the kingdom; he whose doctrinal theory is a mingle mangle of
works and grace is scarcely fit to be teacher of babes. Of Ethan the
Ezrahite: perhaps the same person as Jeduthun, who was a musician in David's
reign; was noted for his wisdom in Solomon's days, and probably survived till
the troubles of Rehoboam's period. If this be the man, he must have written this
Psalm in his old age, when troubles were coming thick and heavy upon the dynasty
of David and the land of Judah; this is not at all improbable, and there is much
in the Psalm which looks that way.
DIVISION. The sacred poet commences by affirming his
belief in the faithfulness of the Lord to his covenant with the house of David,
and makes his first pause at Ps 89:4. He then praises and magnifies the name of
the Lord for his power, justice, and mercy, Ps 89:5-14. This leads him to sing
of the happiness of the people who have such a God to be their glory and
defence, Ps 89:15-18. He rehearses the terms if the covenant at full length with
evident delight, Ps 89:19-37, and then mournfully pours out his complaint and
petition, Ps 89:38-51, closing the whole with a hearty benediction and a double
Amen. May the Holy Spirit greatly bless to us the reading of this most precious
Psalm of instruction.
Verse 1. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever. A
devout resolve, and very commendable when a man is exercised with great trouble
on account of an apparent departure of the Lord from his covenant and promise.
Whatever we may observe abroad or experience in our own persons, we ought still
to praise God for his mercies, since they most certainly remain the same,
whether we can perceive them or not. Sense sings but now and then, but faith is
an eternal songster. Whether others sing or not, believers must never give over;
in them should be constancy of praise, since God's love to them cannot by any
possibility have changed, however providence may seem to frown. We are not only
to believe the Lord's goodness, but to rejoice in it evermore; it is the source
of all our joy, and as it cannot be dried up, so the stream ought never to fail
to flow, or cease to flash in sparkling crystal of song. We have not one, but
many mercies to rejoice in, and should therefore multiply the expressions
of our thankfulness. It is Jehovah who deigns to deal out to us our daily
benefits, and he is the all sufficient and immutable God; therefore our
rejoicing in him must never suffer diminution. By no means let his exchequer of
glory be deprived of the continual revenue which we owe to it. Even time itself
must not bound our praises--they must leap into eternity; he blesses us with
eternal mercies--let us sing unto him forever.
With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all
generations. The utterances of the present will instruct future
generations. What Ethan sung is now a text book for Christians, and will be so
as long as this dispensation shall last. We ought to have an eye to posterity in
all that we write, for we are the schoolmasters of succeeding ages. Ethan first
spoke with his mouth that which he recorded with his pen--a worthy example of
using both means of communication; the mouth has a warmer manner than the pen,
but the pen's speech lives longest, and is heard farther and wider. While
reading this Psalm, such in the freshness of the style, that one seems to hear
it gushing from the poet's mouth; he makes the letters live and talk, or,
rather, sing to us. Note, that in this second sentence he speaks of
faithfulness, which is the mercy of God's mercies-- the brightest jewel in
the crown of goodness. The grace of an unfaithful God would be a poor subject
for music, but unchangeable love and immutable promises demand everlasting
songs. In times of trouble it is the divine faithfulness which the soul hangs
upon; this is the bower anchor of the soul, its hold fast, and its stay. Because
God is, and ever will be, faithful, we have a theme for song which will not be
out of date for future generations; it will never be worn out, never be
disproved, never be unnecessary, never be an idle subject, valueless to mankind.
It will also be always desirable to make it known, for men are too apt to forget
it, or to doubt it, when hard times press upon them. We cannot too much multiply
testimonies to the Lord's faithful mercy--if our own generation should not need
them others will: sceptics are so ready to repeat old doubts and invent new ones
that believers should be equally prompt to bring forth evidences both old and
new. Whoever may neglect this duty, those who are highly favoured, as Ethan was,
should not be backward.
Verse 2. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever.
His heart was persuaded of it, and he had affirmed it as an indisputable truth.
He was certain that upon a sure foundation the Lord intended to pile up a
glorious palace of goodness--a house of refuge for all people, wherein the Son of
David should for ever be glorified as the dispenser of heavenly grace. Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
This divine edifice, he felt assured, would tower into the skies, and would be
turreted with divine faithfulness even as its foundations were laid in eternal
love. God's faithfulness is no thing of earth, for here nothing is firm, and all
things savour of the changes of the moon and the fickleness of the sea: heaven
is the birthplace of truth, and there it dwells in eternal vigour. As the blue
arch above us remains unimpaired by age, so does the Lord's truth; as in the
firmament he hangs his covenant bow, so in the upper heavens the faithfulness of
God is enthroned in immutable glory. This Ethan said, and this we may say; come
what will, mercy and faithfulness are built up by "the Eternal Builder", and his
own nature is the guarantee for their perpetuity. This is to be called to mind
whenever the church is in trouble, or our own spirits bowed down with grief.
Verse 3. I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn
unto David my servant. This was the ground of the Psalmist's
confidence in God's mercy and truth, for he knew that the Lord had made a
covenant of grace with David and his seed, and confirmed it by an oath. Here he
quotes the very words of God, which were revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, and
are a condensation of the original covenant in 2Sa 7:1-29. Well might he write
in the former verse, "I have said", when he knew that Jehovah had said, "I have
sworn." David was the Lord's elect, and with him a covenant was made, which ran
along in the line of his seed until it received a final and never ending
fulfilment in "the Son of David." David's house must be royal: as long as there
was a sceptre in Judah, David's seed must be the only rightful dynasty; the
great "King of the Jews" died with that title above his head in the three
current languages of the then known world, and at this day he is owned as king
by men of every tongue. The oath sworn to David has not been broken, though the
temporal crown is no longer worn, for in the covenant itself his kingdom was
spoken of as enduring for ever. In Christ Jesus there is a covenant established
with all the Lord's chosen, and they are by grace led to be the Lord's
servants, and then are ordained kings and priests by Christ Jesus. How
sweet it is to see the Lord, not only making a covenant, but owning to it in
after days, and bearing witness to his own oath; this ought to be solid ground
for faith, and Ethan, the Ezrahite, evidently thought it so. Let the reader and
writer both pause over such glorious lines, and sing of the mercies of the Lord,
who thus avows the bonds of the covenant, and, in so doing, gives a renewed
pledge of his faithfulness to it. "I have", says the Lord, and yet again
"I have", as though he himself was nothing loath to dwell upon the theme.
We also would lovingly linger over the ipsissima verba of the
covenant made with David, reading them carefully and with joy. There are thus
recorded in 2Sa 7:12-16: "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shall sleep
with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of
thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my
name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his
father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with
the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall
not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy
throne shall be established for ever." After reading this, let us remember that
the Lord has said to us by his servant Isaiah, "I will make an everlasting
covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
Verse 4. Thy seed will I establish for ever. David must
always have a seed, and truly in Jesus this is fulfilled beyond his hopes. What
a seed David has in the multitude which have sprung from him who was both his
Son and his Lord. The Son of David is the Great Progenitor, the second Adam, the
Everlasting Father, he sees his seed, and in them beholds of the travail of his
soul. And build up thy throne to all generations. David's dynasty
never decays, but on the contrary, is evermore consolidated by the great
Architect of heaven and earth. Jesus is a king as well as a progenitor and his
throne is ever being built up--his kingdom comes --his power extends. Thus runs the covenant; and when the church declines, it is
ours to plead it before the ever faithful God, as the Psalmist does in the
latter verses of this sacred song. Christ must reign, but why is his name
blasphemed and his gospel so despised? The more gracious Christians are, the
more will they be moved to jealousy by the sad estate of the Redeemer's cause,
and the more will they argue the case with the great Covenant maker, crying day
and night before him, "Thy kingdom come." Selah. It would not be meet to hurry on. Rest, O reader, at
the bidding of this Selah, and let each syllable of the covenant ring in thine
cars; and then lift up the heart and proceed with the sacred poet to tell forth
the praises of the Lord.
Verse 5. And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord.
Looking down upon what God had done, and was about to do, in connection with his
covenant of grace, all heaven would be filled with adoring wonder. The sun and
moon, which had been made tokens of the covenant, would praise God for such an
extraordinary display of mercy, and the angels and redeemed spirits would sing,
"as it were, a new song." Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. By
which is probably intended the holy ones on earth. So that the "whole family in
heaven and earth" would join in the praise. Earth and heaven are one in admiring
and adoring the covenant God. Saints above see most clearly into the heights and
depths of divine love, therefore they praise its wonders; and saints below,
being conscious of their many sins and multiplied provocations of the Lord,
admire his faithfulness. The heavens broke forth with music at the wonders of
mercy contained in the glad tidings concerning Bethlehem, and the saints who
came together in the temple magnified the faithfulness of God at the birth of
the Son of David. Since that auspicious day, the general assembly on high and
the sacred congregation below have not ceased to sing unto Jehovah, the Lord
that keepeth covenant with his elect.
Verse 6. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord
-- therefore all heaven worships him, seeing none can equal him. Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the
Lord? -- therefore the assemblies of the saints on earth adore him, seeing
none can rival him. Until we can find one equally worthy to be praised, we will
give unto the Lord alone all the homage of our praise. Neither among the sons of
the morning nor the sons of the mighty can any peer be found for Jehovah, yea
none that can be mentioned in the same day; therefore he is rightly praised.
Since the Lord Jesus, both as God and as man, is far above all creatures, he
also is to be devoutly worshipped. How full of poetic fire is this verse! How
bold is the challenge! How triumphant the holy boasting! The sweet singer dwells
upon the name of Jehovah with evident exultation; to him the God of Israel is
God indeed and God alone. He closely follows the language long before rehearsed
by Miriam, when she sang, "Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah, among the gods? Who
is like thee?" His thoughts are evidently flying back to the days of Moses and
the marvels of the Red Sea, when God was gloriously known by his incommunicable
name; there is a ring of timbrels in the double question, and a sound as of the
twinkling feet of rejoicing maidens. Have we no poets now? Is there not a man
among us who can compose hymns flaming with this spirit? O, Spirit of the living
God, be thou the inspirer of some master minds among us!
Verse 7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the
saints. The holiest tremble in the presence of the thrice Holy One: their
familiarity is seasoned with the profoundest awe. Perfect love casts out the
fear which hath torment, and works in lieu thereof that other fear which is akin
to joy unutterable. How reverent should our worship be! Where angels veil their
faces, men should surely bow in lowliest fashion. Sin is akin to presumptuous
boldness, but holiness is sister to holy fear. "And to be had in reverence of
all them that are about him." The nearer they are the more they adore. If mere
creatures are struck with awe, the courtiers and favourites of heaven must be
yet more reverent in the presence of the Great King. God's children are those
who most earnestly pray "hallowed be thy name." Irreverence is rebellion.
Thoughts of the covenant of grace tend to create a deeper awe of God, they draw
us closer to him, and the more his glories are seen by us in that nearer access,
the more humbly we prostrate ourselves before his Majesty.
Verse 8. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto
thee? Or Jehovah, God of Hosts, who is like thee, Mighty Jah.
Alexander remarks, that the infinite superiority of God to men and angels is
here expressed, or rather indicated, by an accumulation of descriptive titles.
Here we have the name which displays his self existence, the title which denotes
his dominion over all his creatures, and an adjective which sets forth the power
with which he exercises his sovereignty. Yet this great and terrible God has
entered into covenant with men! Who would not reverence him with deepest love? Or to thy faithfulness round about thee. He dwells in
faithfulness; it is said to be the girdle of the loins of his only begotten Son,
who is the express image of his person. None in all creation is faithful as he
is; even his angels might prove faithless if he left them to themselves, but he
cannot "lie unto David", or forget to keep his oath. Men often fail in truth
because their power is limited, and then they find it easier to break their word
than to keep it; but the strong Jehovah is equal to all his engagements, and
will assuredly keep them. Unrivalled might and unparalleled truth are wedded in
the character of Jehovah. Blessed be his name that it is so.
Verse 9. Thou rulest the raging of the sea. Always, even in
the hour of ocean's maddest fury, the Lord controls it. At the Red Sea the
foaming billows saw their God and stood upright in awe. When the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. None else
can do this; to attempt it would be madness, but the Lord's "hush" silences the
boisterous storm. So did the Lord's Anointed calm the storms of Galilee, for he
is Lord of all; so also does the great Ruler of Providence evermore govern the
fickle wills of men, and quiet the tumults of the people. As a mother stills her
babe to sleep, so the Lord calms the fury of the sea, the anger of men, the
tempest of adversity, the despair of the soul, and the rage of hell. "The Lord
sitteth upon the floods; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever", and in all his
ruling and over ruling he has respect unto his covenant; therefore, although our
house be not so with God as our hearts would wish, yet we will rejoice in his
covenant ordered in all things and sure, and delight in him as all our salvation
and all our desire.
Verse 10. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces as one that is
slain. Egypt was crushed like a corpse beneath the chariot wheels of the
destroyer: its pomp and glory were broken like the limbs of the dead in battle.
Egypt was Israel's ancient foe, and its overthrow wits a theme to which devout
minds constantly reverted, as to a subject fit for their most exulting songs.
We, too, have seen our Rahab broken, our sins overthrown, and we cannot but
unite in the ascription of praise unto the Lord. Thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm. Thy
strength has strewn thy foes dead upon the plain, or compelled them to flee
hither and thither in dismay. Jehovah has overthrown his enemies with his own
right arm, unaided and alone. Proud Rahab, swelling in her fury like the sea,
was utterly broken and scattered before the Lord of Hosts.
Verse 11. The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine.
All things are alike God's--rebellious earth as well as adoring heaven. Let us
not despair of the kingdom of truth; the Lord has not abdicated the throne of
earth or handed it over to the sway of Satan. As for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded
them. The habitable and cultivated earth, with all its produce, owns the
Lord to be both its Creator and Sustainer, builder and upholder.
Verse 12. The north and the south thou hast created them.
North and south, opposite poles, agree in this--that Jehovah fashioned them. Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name, that is to say,
east and west are equally formed by thee, and therefore give thee praise. Turn
to all points of the compass, and behold the Lord is there. The regions of snow
and the gardens of the sun are his dominions: both the land of the dawning and
the home of the setting sun rejoice to own his sway. Tabor was on the west of
Jordan and Hermon on the east, and it seems natural to consider these two
mountains as representatives of the east and west. Keble paraphrases the passage
"Both Heman moist, and Tabor lone,
They wait on thee with glad acclaim."
Verse 13. Thou hast a mighty arm, omnipotence is thine in
smiting or uplifting; strong is thy hand, thy power to create and grasp is beyond
conception great; and high is thy right hand --thy skill is incomparable, thy
favour ennobling, thy working glorious. The power of God so impressed the
Psalmist that in many ways he repeated the same thought: and indeed the truth of
God's omnipotence is so full of refreshment to gracious hearts that it cannot be
too much dwelt upon, especially when viewed in connection with his mercy and
truth, as in the following verse.
Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy
throne. They are the basis of the divine government, the sphere within which
his sovereignty moves. God as a sovereign is never unjust or unwise. He is too
holy to be unrighteous, too wise to be mistaken; this is constant matter for joy
to the upright in heart. Mercy and truth shall go before thy face. They are the
harbingers and heralds of the Lord; he calls these to the front to deal with
guilty and changeful man; he makes them, in the person of the Lord Jesus, to be
his ambassadors, and so poor, guilty man is enabled to endure the presence of
his righteous Lord. If mercy had not paved the way, the coming of God to any man
must have been swift destruction. Thus has the poet sung the glories of the covenant God. It was
meet that before he poured forth his lament he should record his praise, lest
his sorrow should seem to have withered his faith. Before we argue our case
before the Lord it is most becoming to acknowledge that we know him to be
supremely great and good, whatever may be the appearance of his providence; this
is such a course as every wise man will take who desires to have an answer of
peace in the day of trouble.
Verse 15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.
It is a blessed God of whom the Psalmist has been singing, and therefore they
are a blessed people who partake of his bounty, and know how to exult in his
favour. Praise is a peculiarly joyful sound, and blessed are those who are
familiar with its strains. The covenant promises have also a sound beyond
measure precious, and they are highly favoured who understand their meaning and
recognise their own personal interest in them. There may also be a reference
here to the blowing of trumpets and other glad noises which attended the worship
of Jehovah, who, unlike the gods of the heathen was not adored by the shrieks of
wretched victims, or the yells and outcries of terror stricken crowds, but by
the joyful shouts of his happy people. They shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.
For them it is joy enough that Jehovah is favourable to them; all day long this
contents them and enables them with rigour to pursue their pilgrimage. Only a
covenant God could look with favour upon men, and those who have known him in
that relationship learn to rejoice in him, yea, to walk with him in fellowship,
and to continue in communion with him. If we give God our ear and hear the
joyful sound, he will shew us his face and make us glad. While the sun shines,
men walk without stumbling as to their feet, and when the Lord smiles on us we
live without grief as to our souls.
Verse 16. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day. And
good cause they have for so doing, for to the soul which, in Christ Jesus, has
entered into covenant with God, every attribute is a fountain of delight. There
is no hour in the day, and no day in our life, in which we may not rejoice in
the name, person, and character of the Lord. We need no other reason for
rejoicing. As philosophers could make merry without music, so can we rejoice
without carnal comforts; the Lord All sufficient is an all sufficient source of
joy. And in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. By the
Lord's righteous dealings the saints are uplifted in due time, however great may
have been the oppression and the depression from which they may have suffered.
In the righteousness which the covenant supplies, which is entirely of the Lord,
believers are set on high in a secure and blessed position, so that they are
full of sacred happiness. If God were unjust, or if he regarded us as being
without righteousness, we must be filled with misery, but as neither of these
things are so, we are exalted indeed, and would extol the name of the Lord.
Verse 17. For thou art the glory of their strength. Surely
in the Lord Jehovah have we both righteousness and strength. He is our beauty
and glory when we are strong in him, as well as our comfort and sustenance when
we tremble because of conscious weakness in ourselves. No man whom the Lord
makes strong may dare to glory in himself, he must ascribe all honour to the
Lord alone; we have neither strength nor beauty apart from him. And in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. By the use of
the word our the Psalmist identifies himself with the blessed people, and this
indicates how much sweeter it is to sing in the first person than concerning
others. May we have grace to claim a place among those in covenant with God, in
Christ Jesus, for then a sense of divine favour will make us also bold and
joyous. A creature full of strength and courage lifts up its horn, and so also
does a believer become potent, valiant, and daring. The horn was an eastern
ornament, worn by men and women, or at least is so at this day, and by the
uplifting of this the wearer showed himself to be in good spirits, and in a
confident frame of mind: we wear no such outward vanities, but our inward soul
is adorned and made bravely triumphant when the favour of God is felt by us.
Worldly men need outward prosperity to make them lift up their heads, but the
saints find more than enough encouragement in the secret love of God.
Verse 18. For the Lord is our defence. Whoever else may
defend us, he is our ultimate Defender and Shield. And the Holy one of Israel is our king. He who protects
should govern, our defender should be acknowledged as our king. Kings are called
the shields of nations, and the God of Israel is both our Ruler and our Defence.
Another sense may be that Israel's defender and king was of the Lord, belonging
to him and sent by him; even the protectors of the land being themselves
protected by the Lord. The title "the Holy One of Israel" is peculiarly
delightful to the renewed heart. God is one, we worship none beside. He is
holiness itself, the only being who can be called "the Holy One", and in his
perfection of character we see the most excellent reason for our faith. He who
is holy cannot break his promises, or act unjustly concerning his oath and
covenant. Moreover, he is the Holy One of Israel, being specially the God
of his own elect, ours by peculiar ties, ours for ever and ever. Who among the
saints will not rejoice in the God of election? Are they not indeed a people
greatly blessed who can call this God their God for ever and ever?
Verse 19. Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one. The
Psalmist returns to a consideration of the covenant made with David. The holy
one here meant may be either David or Nathan the prophet, but most probably the
latter, for it was to him that the word of the Lord came by night. 2Sa 7:4-5.
God condescends to employ his gracious ministers to be the means of
communication between himself and his favoured ones, --even to King David the
covenant was revealed by Nathan the prophet; thus the Lord puts honour upon his
ministers. I have laid help upon one that is mighty. The Lord had made
David a mighty man of valour, and now he covenants to make him the helper and
defender of the Jewish state. In a far fuller sense the Lord Jesus is
essentially and immeasurably mighty, and on him the salvation of his people
rests by divine appointment, while his success is secured by divine strength
being engaged to be with him. Let us lay our faith where God has laid our help. I have exalted one chosen out of the people. David was
God's elect, elect out of the people, as one of themselves, and elect to the
highest position in the state. In his extraction, election, and exaltation, he
was an eminent type of the Lord Jesus, who is the man of the people, the chosen
of God, and the king of his church. Whom God exalts let us exalt. Woe unto those
who despise him, they are guilty of contempt of court before the Lord of Hosts,
as well as of rejecting the Son of God.
Verse 20. I have found David my servant. David was
discovered by the Lord among the sheepfolds and recognised as a man of gracious
spirit, full of faith and courage, and therefore fit to be leader in Israel. With my holy oil have I anointed him. By the hand of
Samuel, David was anointed to be king long before he ascended the throne. The
verse must also be expounded of the Prince Emmanuel; he became the servant of
the Lord for our sakes, the Father having found for us in his person a mighty
deliverer, therefore upon him rested the Spirit without measure, to qualify him
for all the offices of love to which he was set apart. We have not a Saviour
self appointed and unqualified, but one sent of God and divinely endowed for his
work. Our Saviour Jesus is also the Lord's Christ, or anointed. The oil with
which he is anointed is God's own oil, and holy oil; he is divinely endowed with
the Spirit of holiness.
Verse 21. With whom my hand shall be established, or, "with
whom my hand shall ever be present." The almightiness of God abides permanently
with Jesus in his work as Redeemer and Ruler of his people. Mine arm also shall strengthen him. The fulness of divine
power shall attend him. This covenant promise ought to be urged in prayer before
the Lord, for the great lack of the church at this time is power. We have
everything except the divine energy, and we must never rest content until we see
it in full operation among us. Jesus must be among us, and then there will be no
lack of force in any of our church agencies.
Verse 22. The enemy shall not exact upon him; he shall not
be vexed and persecuted as a helpless debtor by an extortionate creditor. Nor the son of wickedness afflict him. Graceless men shall
no longer make his life a burden. David had in his earlier history been hunted
by Saul like a partridge on the mountains, and though he had striven in all
things to act justly towards Saul, because he was the Lord's anointed, yet Saul
was never content with his displays of loyalty, but persecuted him relentlessly.
The covenant, therefore, engaged that his life of hardship and oppression should
come to an end for ever; it did so in David's own person, and more remarkably
still in the life of Solomon his son. Who does not in all this see a type of the
Lord Jesus, who though he was once seized for our debts, and also evil entreated
by the ungodly, is now so exalted that he can never be exacted upon any more,
neither can the fiercest of his enemies vex him again. No Judas can now betray
him to death, no Pilate can deliver him to be crucified. Satan cannot tempt him,
and our sins cannot burden him.
Verse 23. And I will beat down his foes before his face
--crushing them and their plans. God himself thus fights the battles of his Son,
and effectually overturns his foes. And plague them that hate him, or smite his haters.
May none of us learn the terror of this threatening, which is surely being
fulfilled upon all those unbelievers who have rejected the Son of God, and died
in the hardness of their hearts. The prophecy is also having another fulfilment
in the overthrow of systems of error, and the vexation caused to their
promoters. There is no such plague to bad men as the prosperity of the cause of
Verse 24. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with
him. These were the two attributes of which the Psalmist began to sing in Ps
89:1, doubtless because he saw them to be most prominent in the covenant which
he was about to plead with God. To David and his seed, God was gracious and
faithful, and though through their sin the literal kingdom lost all its glory
and the dynasty became obscure, yet the line remained unbroken and more than all
its former glory was restored by the enthronisation of Him who is Prince of the
kings of the earth, with whom the Lord's mercy and faithfulness remain for ever.
All who are in Jesus should rejoice, for they shall prove in their own
experience the faithful mercy of the Lord. And in my name shall his horn be exalted. Gloriously does
the Lord Jesus lift up his head, raised to the highest place of honour by the
mandate of the Father. David and Solomon in their dignity were but faint types
of the Lord Jesus, who is far above all principalities and powers. The fullest
exaltation of the horn of Jesus is yet to come in that millennial period which
is hastening on.
Verse 25. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right
hand in the rivers. He shall reach far beyond the little rivers which
stand for boundaries in Palestine; he shall by his power embrace all lands from
sea to sea. He shall have his hand in the ocean and his right hand in earth's
mightiest streams. As monarchs hold in their hands a globe to set forth their
dominion over the earth, he shall grasp the far more unconquerable sea, and be
Lord of all. This power is to be given him of the Lord, and is to be abiding; so
we understand the words "I will set." The verse has in it a voice of good
cheer concerning sailors, and all dwellers on the waters; the hand of Jesus is
over them, and as he found his first apostles by the sea, so we trust he still
finds earnest disciples there.
Verse 27. Also I will make him my firstborn. Among the kings
the seed of David were to be most favoured and indulged with most love and
paternal regard from God: but in Jesus we see this in the highest degree
verified, for he has preeminence in all things, inasmuch as by inheritance he
has a more glorious name than any other, and is higher than the kings of the earth. Who can rival heaven's
Firstborn? The double portion and the government belong to him. Kings are
honoured when they honour him, and those who honour him are kings! In the
millennial glory it shall be seen what the covenant stores up for the once
despised Son of David, but even now faith sees him exalted as King of kings and
Lord of lords. Lo, we bow before thee, thou Heir of all things! Our sheaves do
obeisance to thy sheaf. All thy mother's children call thee blessed. Thou art he
whom thy brethren shall praise. Jesus is no servant of princes, nor would he
have his bride, the church, degrade herself by bowing before kings and eating
the bread of a pensioner at their hands. He and his kingdom are higher than the
kings of the earth. Let the great ones of the earth be wise and submit to him,
for he is Lord, and he is the governor among the nations.
Verse 28. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore. The
kings of David's line needed mercy, and mercy prevented their house from utterly
perishing until the Son of Mary came. He needs no mercy for himself, but he is a
representative man, and the mercy of God is required for those who are in him:
for such mercy is kept for ever. And my covenant shall stand fast with him. With Jesus the
covenant is ratified both by blood of sacrifice and by oath of God, it cannot be
cancelled or altered, but is an eternal verity, resting upon the veracity of one
who cannot lie. What exultation fills our hearts as we see that the covenant of
grace is sure to all the seed, because it stands fast with him with whom
we are indissolubly united.
Verse 29. His seed also will I make to endure for ever.
David's seed lives on in the person of the Lord Jesus, and the seed of Jesus in
the persons of believers. Saints are a race that neither death nor life can
kill. Rome and its priests, with their inquisition and other infernal cruelties,
have laboured to exterminate the covenant seed, but "vain is their rage, their
efforts vain." As long as God lives, his people must live. And his throne, as the days of heaven. Jesus reigns on, and
will reign till the skies shall fall, yea, and when the heavens shall pass away
with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, his throne
shall stand. What a blessed covenant is this! Some commentators talk of
conditions, but we fail to see any; the promises are as absolute as they can
possibly be, and if any conditions as to the conduct of the favoured individuals
can be conceived, they are disposed of in the succeeding verses.
Verse 30. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my
judgments. It was possible, terribly possible, that David's posterity
might wander from the Lord; indeed they did so, but what then? Was the mercy of
God to pass away from David's seed? --far from it. So, too, the seed of the Son
of David are apt to start aside, but are they therefore cast away? Not a single
word gives liberty for such an idea, but the very reverse. Expositors in their
fear of Calvinistic doctrine shake off the fear of adding to the word of God, or
else they would not have spent their time in talking about "the conditions" of
this absolutely unconditional covenant.
Verse 31. If they break my statutes, and keep not my
commandments. The dreadful "if" is suggested again, and the sad case is
stated in other forms. But if it should be so, what then? Death and rejection?
Ah, no; Blessed be God, No! If their sin be negative or positive, if it be
forsaking or profanation; if either judgments or commandments or both be
violated, yet there is not a word as to final destruction, but the very reverse.
Legalism will import its ifs, but the Lord slays the ifs as fast as they rise.
Eternal shalls and wills make glorious havoc among the ifs and buts.
Verse 32. Then will I visit their transgressions with the
rod. Not with the sword, not with death and destruction; but still with a
smarting, tingling, painful rod. Saints must smart if they sin: God will see to
that. He hates sin too much not to visit it, and he loves his saints too well
not to chasten them. God never plays with his rod, he lays it well home to his
children, he visits them with it in their houses, bodies, and hearts, and
makes them know that he is grieved with their ways. He smites home and chastens their iniquity with stripes, which are either many or few
in proportion as the heart is properly affected by them. The rod is a covenant
blessing, and is meant to be used. As sin is so frequent, the rod never rests
long together; in God's family the rod is not spared, or the children would be
Verse 33. Nevertheless. And a glorious nevertheless too!
Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him. O
glorious fear killing sentence! This crowns the covenant with exceeding glory.
Mercy may seem to depart from the Lord's chosen, but it shall never altogether
do so. Jesus still enjoys the divine favour, and we are in him, and therefore
under the most trying circumstances the Lord's lovingkindness to each one of his
chosen will endure the strain. If the covenant could be made void by our sins it
would have been void long ere this; and if renewed its tenure would not be worth
an hour's purchase if it had remained dependent upon us. God may leave his
people, and they may thereby suffer much and fall very low, but utterly and
altogether he never can remove his love from them; for that would be to cast a
reflection upon his own truth, and this he will never allow, for he adds, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Man fails in all
points, but God in none. To be faithful is one of the eternal characteristics of
God, in which he always places a great part of his glory: his truth is one of
his peculiar treasures and crown jewels, and he will never endure that it should
be tarnished in any degree. This passage sweetly assures us that the heirs of
glory shall not be utterly cast off. Let those deny the safety of the saints who
choose to do so, we have not so learned Christ. We believe in the gospel rod,
but not in the penal sword for the adopted sons.
Verse 34. My covenant will I not break. It is his own
covenant. He devised it, drew up the draft of it, and voluntarily entered into
it: he therefore thinks much of it. It is not a man's covenant, but the Lord
claims it as his own. It is an evil thing among men for one to be a "covenant
breaker", and such an opprobrious epithet shall never be applicable to the Most
High. Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
Alterations and afterthoughts belong to short sighted beings who meet with
unexpected events which operate upon them to change their minds, but the Lord
who sees everything from the beginning has no such reason for shifting his
ground. He is besides immutable in his nature and designs, and cannot change in
heart, and therefore not in promise. A word once given is sacred; once let a
promise pass our lips and honesty forbids that we should recall it, --unless
indeed the thing promised be impossible, or wicked, neither of which can happen
with the promises of God. How consoling it is to see the Lord thus resolute. He,
in the words before us, virtually reasserts his covenant and rehearses his
engagements. This he does at such length, and with such reiteration, that it is
evident he takes pleasure in that most ancient and solemn contract. If it were
conceivable that he had repented of it, he would not be found dwelling upon it,
and repeating it with renewed emphasis.
Verse 35. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie
unto David. Because he could swear by no greater he swore by himself,
and by that peculiar attribute which is his highest glory, being the subject of
threefold adoration by all the hosts of heaven. God here pledges the crown of
his kingdom, the excellent beauty of his person, the essence of his nature. He
does as good as say that if he ceases to be true to his covenant he will have
forfeited his holy character. What more can he say? In what stronger language
can he express his unalterable adherence to the truth of his promise? An oath is
the end of all strife; it ought to be the end of all doubt on our part. We
cannot imagine that God could lie, yet he puts it so--that if the covenant were
not kept by him, he would regard it as a lie. Here is ground for strong
confidence; may our faith be of such a nature as these assurances will warrant.
Verse 36. His seed shall endure for ever. David's line in
the person of Jesus is an endless one, and the race of Jesus, as represented in
successive generations of believers, shows no sign of failure. No power, human
or Satanic, can break the Christian succession; as saints die others shall rise
up to fill their places, so that till the last day, the day of doom, Jesus shall
have a seed to serve him. And his throne as the sun before me. In our Lord Jesus the
dynasty of David remains upon the throne. Jesus has never abdicated, nor gone
into banishment. He reigns, and must reign so long as the sun continues to shine
upon the earth. A seed and a throne are the two great promises of the covenant,
and they are as important to us as to our Lord Jesus himself; for we are the
seed who must endure for ever, and we are protected and ennobled by that King
whose royalties are to last for ever.
Verse 37. It shall be established for ever as the moon. The
kingdom may wax and wane to mortal eyes, but it shall still abide as long as the
moon walks in her silver beauty. And as a faithful witness in heavens. The most stable part
of the universe is selected as a type of Messiah's kingdom, and both sun and
moon are made to be symbols of its long endurance. Whatever else there is in the
sky which faithfully witnesses to the unbending course of nature is also called
upon to be a sign of the Lord's truth. When heaven and earth witness, and the
Lord himself swears, there remains no excuse for doubting, and faith joyfully
reposes in confident expectation.
Verse 38. But thou hast cast off and abhorred. The Lord had
promised not to cast off the seed of David, and yet it looked as if he had done
so, and that too in the most angry manner, as if he loathed the person of the
king. God's actions may appear to us to be the reverse of his promises, and then
our best course is to come before him in prayer and put the matter before him
just as it strikes our apprehension. We are allowed to do this, for this holy
and inspired man did so unrebuked, but we must do it humbly and in faith. Thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. He deserved the
wrath, doubtless, but the Psalmist's point is, that this appeared to him to
conflict with the gracious covenant. He puts the matter plainly, and makes bold
with the Lord, and the Lord loves to have his servants so do; it shows that they
believe his engagements to be matters of fact.
Verse 39. Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant.
The dispensations of providence looked as if there had been a disannulling of
the sacred compact, though indeed it was not so. Thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.
The king had been subject to such sorrow and shame that his diadem had been as
it were taken from his head, dashed on the earth, and rolled in the mire. He was
a theocratic monarch, and the Lord, who gave him his crown, took it from him and
treated it with contempt, --at least so it seemed. In these sad days also we may
utter the same complaint, for Jesus is not acknowledged in many of the churches,
and usurpers have profaned his crown. When we hear of kings and queens set up as
"heads of the church", and a priest styled "The Vicar of Christ", while
parliaments and courts take upon themselves to legislate for the church of God,
we may bitterly lament that things should come to so wretched a pass. Few are
there who will acknowledge the crown rights of King Jesus, the very subject is
considered to be out of date. O Lord how long!
Verse 40. Thou hast broken down all his hedges. He was no
longer sheltered from the slanderous assaults of contemptuous tongues; the awe
which should guard the royal name had ceased to separate him from his fellows.
The "divinity which doth hedge a king" had departed. Hitherto, the royal family
had been like a vine within an enclosure, but the wall was now laid low, and the
vine was unprotected. It is sorrowfully true that in many places the enclosures
of the church have been destroyed, the line of demarcation between the church
and the world has almost vanished, and godless men fill the sacred offices.
Alas, O Lord God, shall it be always so? Shall thy true vine be deserted by
thee, thou great Husbandman? Set up the boundaries again, and keep thy church as
a vineyard reserved for thyself. Thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin. The forts of
the land were in the possession of the enemy and were dismantled, the defences
of the kingdom were overthrown. Thus has it happened that precious truths, which
were the bulwarks of the church, have been assailed by heresy, and the citadels
of sound doctrine have been abandoned to the foe. O God, how canst thou suffer
this? As the God of truth, wilt thou not arise and tread down falsehood?
Verse 41. All that pass by the way spoil him. Idle passers
by, who have nothing else to do, must needs have a pluck at this vine, and they
do it without difficulty, since the hedges are gone. Woe is the day when every
petty reasoner has an argument against religion, and men in their cups are
fluent with objections against the gospel of Jesus. Although Jesus on the cross
is nothing to them, and they pass him by without inquiring into what he has done
for them, yet they can loiter as long as you will, if there be but the hope of
driving another nail into his hands and helping to crucify the Lord afresh. They
will not touch him with the finger of faith, but they pluck at him with the hand
of malice. He is a reproach to his neighbours. David's successors had
unneighbourly neighbours, who were a reproach to good fellowship, because they
were so ready to reproach their neighbour. The Jews were much taunted by the
surrounding Gentiles when at any time they fell into trouble. At this time the
people of God, who follow the Lord fully, are subject to a thousand reproaches,
and some of them of the most bitter kind. These reproaches are really the
reproach of Christ, and, at bottom, are meant for him. Shall it always be so?
Shall he, who deserves to be universally adored, be subject to general scorn?
Where, then, O God, is thy faithfulness to thy covenant?
Verse 42. Thou hast set up the right hand of thy
adversaries. Thou hast done it, thou, who hast sworn to give him help
and victory, thou hast, instead thereof, sided with his enemies, and lent them
thy strength, so that they have gained the supremacy. Thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. They are
boasting over him, and are glorying in his defeat, and this is done by thyself.
O God, --how is this? Where is the covenant? Hast thou forgotten thine own
pledges and promises?
Verse 43. Also turned the edge of his sword. When he goes to
war he is as unsuccessful as though his sword refused to cut, and gave way like
a sword of lead. His weapons fail him. And hast not made him to stand in the battle. His heart
fails him as well as his sword--he wavers, he falls. This has happened even to
naturally brave men--a terrible dread has unmanned them. At this present the
church has few swords of true Jerusalem metal; her sons are pliable, her
ministers yield to pressure. We need men whose edge cannot be turned, firm for
truth, keen against error, sharp towards sin, cutting their way into men's
hearts. Courage and decision are more needed now than ever, for charity towards
heresy is the fashionable vice, and indifference to all truth, under the name of
liberal mindedness, is the crowning virtue of the age. The Lord send us men of
the school of Elias, or, at least, of Luther and Knox.
Verse 44. Thou hast made his glory to cease. The brightness
of his reign and the prosperity of his house are gone, his fame is tarnished,
his honour disgraced. And cast his throne down to the ground. He has lost his
power to govern at home or to conquer abroad. This happened to kings of David's
line, and, more grievous to tell, it is happening in these days to the visible
kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Where are the glories of Pentecost? Where is the
majesty of the Reformation? Where does his kingdom come among the sons of men?
Woe is unto us, for the glory has departed, and the gospel throne of Jesus is
hidden from our eyes!
Verse 45. The days of his youth hast thou shortened. The
time of the king's energy was brief, he grew feeble before his time. Thou hast covered him with shame. Shame was heaped upon him
because of his premature decay and his failure in arms. This was very grievous
to the writer of this Psalm, who was evidently a most loyal adherent of the
house of David. In this our day we have to bemoan the lack of vigour in
religion--the heroic days of Christianity are over, her raven locks are sprinkled
with untimely grey. Is this according to the covenant? Can this be as the Lord
has promised? Let us plead with the righteous Judge of all the earth, and
beseech him to fulfil his word wherein he has promised that those who wait upon
him shall renew their strength. Selah. The interceding poet takes breath amid his lament,
and then turns from describing the sorrows of the kingdom to pleading with the
Verse 46. How long, Lord? The appeal is to Jehovah, and the
argument is the length of the affliction endured. Chastisement with a rod is not
a lengthened matter, therefore he appeals to God to cut short the time of
tribulation. Wilt thou hide thyself for ever? Hast thou not promised to
appear for thor servant--wilt thou then for ever forsake him? Shall thy wrath burn like fire? Shall it go on and on
evermore till it utterly consume its object? Be pleased to set a bound! How far
wilt thou go? Wilt thou burn up the throne which thou hast sworn to perpetuate?
Even thus we would entreat the Lord to remember the cause of Christ in these
days. Can he be so angry with his church as to leave her much longer? How far
will he suffer things to go? Shall truth die out, and saints exist no more? How
long will he leave matters to take their course? Surely he must interpose soon,
for, if he do not, true religion will be utterly consumed, as it were, with
Verse 47. Remember how short my time is. If so brief, do not
make it altogether bitter. If thine anger burn on it will outlast this mortal
life, and then there will be no time for thy mercy to restore me. Some
expositors ascribe these words, and all the preceding verses, to the state of
the Lord Jesus in the days of his humiliation, and this gives an instructive
meaning; but we prefer to continue our reference all through to the church,
which is the seed of the Lord Jesus, even as the succeeding kings were the seed
of David. We, having transgressed, are made to feel the rod, but we pray the
Lord not to continue his stripes lest our whole life be passed in misery. Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? If the Lord do
not shine upon his work we live for nothing--we count it no longer life if his
cause does not prosper. We live if the King lives, but not else. Everything is
vanity if religion be vanity. If the kingdom of heaven should fail, everything
is a failure. Creation is a blot, providence an error, and our own existence a
bell, if the faithfulness of God can fail and his covenant of grace can be
dissolved. If the gospel system can be disproved, nothing remains for us or any
other of the sons of men, which can render existence worth the having.
Verse 48. What man is he that liveth, and shall not see
death? All must die. None of our race can answer to the question here
propounded except in the negative; there is none that can claim to elude the
arrows of death. Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?
Neither by strength, wisdom, nor virtue can any man escape the common doom, for
to the dust return we must. Since then we must all die, do not make this life
all wretchedness, by smiting us so long, O Lord. Thy Son our covenant Head died,
and so also shall we; let us not be so deserted of thee in this brief span that
we shall be quite unable to testify to thy faithfulness: make us not feel that
we have lived in vain. Thus the brevity of life and the certainty of death are
turned into pleas with the Most High. Selah. Here we rest again, and proceed to further
Verse 49. Lord, where are thy former loving kindnesses, which
thou swarest unto David in thy truth? Here he comes to grand
pleading, hand to hand work with the covenant angel. We may remind the Lord of
his first deeds of love, his former love to his church, his former favour to
ourselves. Then may we plead his oath, and beg him to remember that he has sworn
to bless his chosen: and we may wrestle hard also, by urging upon him his own
character, and laying hold upon his inviolable truth. When things look black we
may bring forth our strong reasons, and debate the case with our condescending
God, who has himself said, "Come now, and let us reason together."
Verse 50. Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants. By
reason of their great troubles they were made a mock of by ungodly men, and
hence the Lord's pity is entreated. Will a father stand by and see his children
insulted? The Psalmist entreats the Lord to compassionate the wretchedness
brought upon his servants by the taunts of their adversaries, who jested at them
on account of their sufferings. How I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty
people. The Psalmist himself laid the scorn of the great and the proud to
heart. He felt as if all the reproaches which vexed his nation were centred in
himself, and therefore in sacred sympathy with the people he poured out his
heart. We ought to weep with those that weep; reproach brought upon the saints
and their cause ought to burden us: if we can hear Christ blasphemed, and see
his servants insulted, and remain unmoved, we have not the true Israelite's
spirit. Our grief at the griefs of the Lord's people may be pleaded in prayer,
and it will be acceptable argument. There is one interpretation of this verse which must not be
passed over; the original is, Remember my bearing in my bosom all the many nations;
this may be understood as a pleading of the church that the Lord would remember
her because she was yet to be the mother of many nations, according to the
prophecy of Ps 77:1-20. She was as it were ready to give birth to nations, but
how could they be born if she herself died in the meanwhile? The church is the
hope of the world; should she expire, the nations would never come to the birth
of regeneration, but must abide in death.
Verse 51. Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord.
Here is another forcible point; the scoffers are the Lord's enemies as well as
ours, and their reproach falls upon him as well as upon us; therefore we cry for
the Lord's interposition. When Jehovah's own name is in the quarrel, surely he
will arise. Wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine
anointed. Tracking him and finding occasion to blaspheme at every turn; not
only watching his words and actions, but even his harmless steps. Neither Christ
nor his church can please the world, whichever way we turn scoffers will rail.
Does this verse refer to the oft repeated sarcasm --"Where is the promise of his
coming?" Is the reproach aimed at the delays of the Messiah, those long expected
footfalls which as yet are unheard? O Lord, how long shall this threadbare taunt
continue? How long? How long?
"Come, for creation groans
Impatient of thy stay,
Worn out with these long years of ill,
These ages of delay."
"Come, in thy glorious might,
Come with the iron rod,
Scattering thy foes before thy face,
Most Mighty Son of God."
Verse 52. Blessed be the Lord for evermore. He ends where he
began; he has sailed round the world and reached port again. Let us bless God
before we pray, and while we pray, and when we have done praying, for he always
deserves it of us. If we cannot understand him, we will not distrust him. When
his ways are beyond our judgment we will not be so foolish as to judge; yet we
shall do so if we consider his dealings to be unkind or unfaithful. He is, he
must be, he shall be, for ever, our blessed God. Amen, and Amen. All our hearts say so. So be it, Lord, we
wish it over and over again. Be thou blessed evermore.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The present Psalm makes a pair with the
preceding one. It is a spiritual Allegro to that Penseroso...That Psalm was a
dirge of Passion Tide, this Psalm is a carol of Christmas. --Christopher
Whole Psalm. There are many passages in this Psalm which
do clearly evidence that it is to be interpreted of Christ; yea, there are many
things in this Psalm that can never be clearly, pertinently, and appositely
applied to any but Jesus Christ. For a taste, see Ps 89:19 "I have laid help
upon one that is mighty", mighty to pardon, reconcile, to justify, to save,
to bring to glory; suitable to that of the Apostle, Heb 7:25, "He is able to
save to the uttermost" --that is, to all ends and purposes, perfectly,
completely, fully, continually, perpetually. Christ is a thorough Saviour, a
mighty Saviour: Isa 63:1, "Mighty to save." There needs none to come after him
to finish the work which he hath begun: Ps 89:19, I have exalted one chosen
out of the people, which is the very title given to our Lord Jesus: Isa
62:1, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect", or chosen one, "in whom my
soul delighteth": Ps 89:20, I have fouled David my servant. Christ is
very frequently called by that name, as being most dearly beloved of God, and
most highly esteemed and valued by God, and as being typified by him both as
king and prophet of his church: Ps 89:20, With my holy oil have I anointed
him; suitable to that of Christ; Lu 4:18, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon
me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor"; and therefore
we need not doubt of the excellency, authority, certainty, and sufficiency of
the gospel: Ps 89:27, I will make him my firstborn, higher than the
kings of the earth. Christ is the firstborn of every creature, and in all
things hath the preeminence: Ps 89:29, His seed also will I make to endure
for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. This is chiefly
spoken of Christ and his kingdom. The aspectable heaven is corruptible, but the
kingdom of heaven is eternal; and such shall be Christ's seed, throne and
kingdom: Ps 89:36, His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as
the sun before me. "Christ shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand", Isa 53:10. And his
throne as the sun before me; that is, perpetual and glorious, as the Chaldee
explains it, shall shine as the sun. Other kingdoms and thrones
have their times and their turns, their rise and their ruins, but so hath not
the kingdom and throne of Jesus Christ. Christ's dominion is "an everlasting
dominion", which shall not pass away; "and his kingdom that which shall not be
destroyed", Da 7:13-14. I might give further instances out of this Psalm, but
enough is as good as a feast. New saith God, "I have made a covenant with him;
"so then there is a covenant that God the Father hath made with Christ the
Mediator; which covenant, the Father engages to the Son, shall stand fast, there
shall be no cancelling or disannulling of it. God the Father hath not only made
a covenant of grace with the saints in Christ, but he has also made a covenant
of redemption, as we call it for distinction sake, with Jesus Christ himself:
"My covenant shall stand fast with him; " that is, with Christ, as we have fully
demonstrated. --Thomas Brooks.
Verse 1. This one short verse contains the summary, pith,
and argument of the whole long Psalm; wherein observe The Song's
Ditty, the lovingkindness and truth of the Lord, manifested unto the
whole world generally, to David's house (that is, the church) especially. The
Singer's Duty, magnifying the mercies of God always, even from one
generation to another. And by all means; with his mouth, for that is
expressed in this verse; with his mind, for that is implied in the
next--I have said, etc., that is, believed in my heart, and therefore
spake it with my tongue, Ps 116:10. "For out of the heart's abundance the mouth
speaketh", Mt 12:34. --John Boys.
Verse 1. I will sing. It is to be observed that he does not
say, I will speak of the goodness of the Lord; but, I will sing. The
celebration of the divine goodness has joined with itself the joy and exultation
of a pious mind, which cannot be poured forth better than in song. That
pleasantness and exuberance of a happy spirit, which by singing is instilled
into the ears of the listeners, has a certain wonderful power of moving the
affections; so that not in vain were pious minds taught by the Holy Spirit to
inculcate the wonderful work of God in songs composed for this purpose, to
commit them to memory and to appoint them to be sung. --Musculus.
Verse 1. I will sing. The Psalmist has a very sad complaint
to make of the deplorable condition of the family of David at this time, and yet
he begins the Psalm with songs of praise; for we must in every thing, in every
state, give thanks. We think when we are in trouble we get ease by complaining:
but we do more, we get joy, by praising. Let our complaints therefore be turned
into thanksgiving; and in these verses we find that which will be in matter of
praise and thanksgiving for us in the worst of times, whether upon a personal or
public account. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 1. Sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever. S.
Gregory the Great raises the question here as to how a perpetual singing of the
mercies of God is compatible with unalloyed bliss in heaven, inasmuch as the
thought of mercy connotes the memory of sin and sorrow, which needed mercy,
whereas Isaiah saith that "the former troubles are forgotten", and "the former
things shall not be remembered, nor come upon the heart" (Isa 65:16-17). And he
replies that it will be like the memory of past sickness in time of health,
without stain, without grief, and serving only to heighten the felicity of the
redeemed, by the contrast with the past, and to increase their love and
gratitude towards God. And so sings the Cluniac: (Bernard of Clairvaux.)
"Their breasts are filled with gladness,
Their mouths are tuned to praise,
What time, now safe for ever,
On former sins they gaze:
The fouler was the error,
The sadder was the fall,
The ampler are the praises
Of him who pardoned all."
Note, too, that he says, "with my mouth", not with that
of any deputy; I will make known, not secretly or timidly, not in a
whisper, but boldly preach, Thy faithfulness, or truth, not my own
opinion, far less my own falsehood, but Thy Truth, which is, Thine Only begotten
Son. --Gregory, Bernard, Hugo, and Augustine: quoted by Neale and
Verse 1. Mercies. The word may be rendered graces,
kindnesses, goodnesses, and designs the abundance of grace. --John
Verse 1. The mercies. His manifold and sundry mercies: as if
he should say, we have tasted of more than one, yea, we have felt all his
mercies; I will therefore praise the same for ever. I will sing his mercy for
creating this universe, which is macrocosmos, a great world; and for
making man, which is microcosmos, a little world.
1. My song shall set forth his kindness, for that he gave me
2. For adding to my being, life, which he denieth unto stones.
3. To life, sense, which he denieth unto plants.
4. To sense, speech and understanding, which he denieth unto
I am exceeding much bound unto God for creating me when I was
not; and for preserving me under his wings ever since I was: yet I am more bound
to his mercy for redeeming me, for blessing me with all spiritual blessings in
heavenly things in Christ his Son (Eph 1:1-23 3:1-21), for his electing of me,
for his calling of me, for his justifying of me, for his sanctifying of me.
These graces are the riches of his goodness and glory, misericordioe in
oeternum, everlasting mercies, as reaching from everlasting
predestination to everlasting glorification. O Lord, I will always sing thy
mercies in promising, and ever shew thy truth in performing thy
promise made to David, thy chosen servant, concerning thy Son, my Saviour,
saying, "Thy seed will I establish for ever." So the fathers expound our text: I
will ever sing thy mercies, in vouchsafing to send thy Son to visit thy
servants, sick to death in sin. First, I will ever sing of thy mercifulness, and
then will ever be shewing thy faithfulness. Neque enim exhiberetur veritas
in impletione promissorum nisi proecederet misericordia in remissione
peccatorum. (For truth, in the fulfilment of the promises, would not
be shown forth; unless mercy, in the forgiveness of sins, should precede
it.) And what is God's mercy set up for ever, and his truth
established in the heavens, but that which Isaiah terms, "the sure mercies
of David": that is, as Paul construes Isaiah, the holy promise made to David and
the promise made to David, is briefly this, "Thy seed will I establish for ever,
and set up thy throne from generation to generation." --John Boys.
Verse 1. For ever. I know some join in oeternum to
the noun misercordias, and not to the verb cantabo, making the
sense to be this: I will always sing thy mercies which endure for ever. But
always is referred as well, if not better, unto the verb, I
will sing: as who would say, Lord, thy mercies are so manifest, and so
manifold, so great in their number, and so good in their nature, that I will
alway, so long as I have any being, sing praises unto thee Haply some will
object, "All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the
field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth", (Isa 40:6-7). David being
persecuted by Saul, said, "There is but a step between me and death", (1Sa
20:3). Nay, David, thy life is shorter than a stride, but "a span long", as
thyself witnesseth, Ps 39:5. How can he then that begs his bread but for a day
promise to spend his breath in magnifying the Lord for ever? Answer is made,
that the prophet will not only commend the mercies of the Lord in word, but also
commit them unto writing. Ut sciat hoec oetas, posteritasque legat
(Eobanus Hessus.) (that this age may know, and that posterity may read.)
As the tongue of the prophet is termed elsewhere "the pen of a writer"; so the
writing of the Prophet is here termed his mouth, as Euthymeus upon the
place (Ac 4:25), Liber Psalmorum os David (The Book of Psalms is the
mouth of David). He doth intend to note the mercies of God, and to set forth
his truth in a book, the which he will leave behind him (as an instrument) to
convey the same from generation to generations, from the
generation of Jews to the generation of Christians. Or from the Old Testament to
the New: for the blessed Apostles in their sermons usually cite sentences out of
the Psalms. S. Peter telleth us that the gospel was preached unto the dead (1Pe
4:6); so may we say, that the gospel is preached by the dead. For the most
ancient fathers, and other judicious authors, who have spent their days in
writing learned expositions and godly meditations upon the Holy Scriptures,
although they be dead, yet they "sing all the mercies of the Lord, and shew the
truth of his word from one generation to another." It is reported in our
chronicles of Athelstan, parum oetati vixit, multum glorioe (he lived but
little of time, but much of glory). So many zealous and industrious
doctors have lived (in respect of their age) but a little, yet in respect of
their acts, a great while, shining still in their works and writings, as lights
of the world. Or the prophet may be said to sing ever intentionally,
though not actually. For as the wicked, if he could live alway, would sin alway,
so the good man (if God should suffer him alway to breathe on earth) would sing
alway the mercies of the Lord. --John Boys.
Verse 1. With my mouth. The author has heard continual
praises from a tongue half eaten away with cancer. What use, beloved reader, are
you making of your tongue? --Philip Bennett Power.
Verse 2. I have said. The word ytrma, "I have said", is
used, in the Book of Psalms, to express two things; either a fixed purpose, or a
settled opinion of the person speaking. The Psalmist, therefore, delivers the
whole of this second verse in his own person, and introduces not God speaking
till the next verse. --Samuel Horsley.
Verse 2. I have said, etc. The perpetuity of mercy is one
eminent piece of this Psalm, for with that he begins: Mercy shall be
built up for ever, etc. And they are the sure mercies of our
spiritual David (Christ), he means. Now, to set forth the perpetuity hereof, he
first useth words that express firmitude, as established, built
up for ever, Ps 89:2,4. Then he uses such similitudes as are taken from
things which are held most firm and inviolable amongst men, as Ps 89:4,
foedus incidi, I have cut or engraven my covenant (so in the Hebrew),
alluding to what was then in use, when covenants were mutually to be made, such
as they intended to be inviolate, and never to be broken; to signify so much,
they did engrave and cut them into the most durable lasting matter, as marble,
or brass, or the like. You may see this to have been the way of writing in use,
as what was to last for ever: as Job 19:23-24. "Oh, that my words were now
written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron
pen and lead in the rock for ever!" And what is that rock or marble here? No
other than the heart itself of our gracious and most merciful Jehovah, and his
most unalterable and immovable purposes, truth and faithfulness. This is that
foundation in the heavens, whereon mercy is built up for ever, as Ps
89:2, which (as the Apostle says) "remains for ever"; and so they become "the
sure mercies of David", Isa 60:3. Again, solemn oaths amongst men serve to
ratify and make things sworn to perpetual. This also is there specified as
having been taken by God: "Once have I sworn by my holiness", etc., and sworn by
him that cannot lie, and sworn to that end, "to show the immutability of his
counsel", Heb 6:17. And not only is the immutability of his mercy illustrated by
these things taken from what is firm on earth, but he ascends up to the heavens,
and first into the very highest heavens: Ps 89:2, For I have said, Mercy
shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the
very heavens: comparing them to an house built not on earth, or upon a
foundation of earth, which thieves break through, and violence destroys, but in
heaven, whither they cannot reach. --Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 2. Mercy shall be built up for ever. What is this
"mercy" that is "built up for ever"? but the glorious and the
gracious scheme, the glorious and the gracious fabric, of our salvation, founded
in the eternal purpose of God--carried into execution by the labours and the
death of Jesus Christ-- and then applied and brought home to the heart by the
illuminating and converting power of the Holy Ghost? This is that "mercy" which
is "built up for ever." It was planned from everlasting, and will know no ruin
or decay, through the illimitable line of eternity itself. Who is the builder of
this fabric? Not man's free will. Not man's own righteousness or wisdom. Not
human power nor human skill. Every true believer will here join issue with
David, that it is God, and God alone, who builds up the temple of his Church;
and who, as the builder of it, is alone entitled to all the glory. The elect constitute and form one grand house of mercy: an
house, erected to display and to perpetuate the riches of the Father's free
grace, of the Son's atoning merit, and of the Holy Ghost's efficacious agency.
This house, contrary to the fate of all sublunary buildings, will never fall
down, nor ever be taken down. As nothing can be added to it, so nothing can be
diminished from it. Fire cannot injure it; storms cannot overthrow it; age
cannot impair it. It stands on a rock, and is immovable as the rock on which it
stands--the threefold rock of God's inviolable decree, of Christ's finished
redemption, and of the Spirit's never failing faithfulness. --Augustus
Montague Toplady, 1740-1778.
Verse 2. Built up. Mention of a building of mercy,
presupposes miserable ruins, and denotes that this building is intended for the
benefit of an elect world ruined by Adam's fall. Free grace and love set on foot
this building for them, every stone in which, from the lowest to the highest, is
mercy to them; from top to bottom, from the foundation stone to the top stone,
all is free and rich mercy to thrum. And the ground of this glorious building is
God's covenant with his chosen: I have made a covenant with my chosen.
Verse 2. Built up. Former mercies are fundamental to later
ones. The mercies that we enjoy this day are founded upon the mercies of former
days, such as we ought joyfully and thankfully to recount with delight and
praise; remembering the years of the right hand of the Most High. --John
Verse 2. (last clause). The meaning of this passage
appears to be, that the constancy of the celestial motions, the regular
vicissitudes of day and night, and alternations of the seasons, were emblems of
God's own immutability. --R. Warner, 1828.
For I have said, Thy mercies rise,
A deathless structure, to the skies:
The heavens were planted by thy hand,
And, as the heavens, Thy truth shall stand. --Richard
Verse 3. I have made a covenant with my chosen. We must
ponder here with pious wonder how God has deigned to enter into a covenant with
man, the immortal with the mortal, the most powerful with the weakest, the most
just with the most unjust, the richest with the poorest, the most blessed with
the most wretched. The prophet wonders that God is mindful of man, and visits
the son of man. Of how much greater admiration, I say is it worthy, that they
are also joined together, and that not after a simple fashion, but by the ties
of a covenant? If man had affirmed this of himself, that God was united and
bound to him by a covenant, who is there that would not have condemned him of
temerity? Now God himself is introduced affirming this very thing of himself,
that he had made a covenant with man. What saint does not see in this thing, how
great the filanyrwpia of God is! --Musculus.
Verse 3. I have made a covenant with my chosen. On heaven's
side is God himself, the party proposer. Though he was the party offended, yet
the motion for a covenant comes from him...The Father of mercies saith, "The
lost creatures cannot contract for themselves; and if another undertake not for
them, they must perish; they cannot choose an undertaker for themselves. I will
choose one for them, and I will make a covenant with my chosen." On man's side
is God's chosen, or chosen One, for the word of God is singular; the Son, the
last Adam. Who else as fit to be undertaker on man's side? Who else
could have been the Father's choice for this vast undertaking? No angel nor man
was capable of it, but the Mighty One (Ps 89:19) whom the Father points
out to us as his chosen, Isa 13:1. --Thomas Boston.
Verses 3-4. I made a covenant with my chosen, etc. Do you
suppose that this was spoken to David, in his own person only? No, indeed; but
to David as the antitype, figure, and forerunner of Jesus Christ. Hence, the
Septuagint version renders it, I have covenanted tois eklektois mou with my
elect people, or with my chosen ones: i.e. with them in Christ, and
with Christ in their name. I have sworn unto David my servant, unto the
Messiah, who was typified by David; unto my coeternal Son, who stipulated to
take on himself "the form of a servant"; thy seed, i.e. all those whom I
have given to thee in the decree of election, all those whom thou shalt live and
die to redeem, these will I establish for ever, so as to render their
salvation irreversible and inadmissible: and build up thy throne,
thy mediatorial throne, as King of saints and covenant Head of the elect, to
all generations: there shall always be a succession of favoured sinners to
be called and sanctified, in consequence of thy federal obedience unto death;
and every period of time shall recompense thy covenant sufferings with an
increasing revenue of converted souls, until as many as are ordained to eternal
life are gathered in. Observe, here, that when Christ received the promise from the
Father concerning the establishment of his (i.e. of Christ's) throne to
all generations, the plain meaning is, that his people shall be thus
established; for, consider Christ in his divine capacity as the Son of God, and
his throne was already established, and had been from everlasting, and would
have continued to be established without end, even if he had never been
incarnate at all. Therefore, the promise imports that Christ shall reign, not
simply as a person in the Godhead (which he ever did, ever will, and ever must);
but relatively, mediatorially, and in his office character, as the deliverer and
king of Zion. Hence it follows, that his people cannot be lost: for he would be
a poor sort of a king who had or might have no subjects to reign over.
Consequently, that "throne" of glory on which Christ sits is already encircled
in part, and will at last be completely surrounded and made still more glorious,
by that innumerable company, that general assembly and church of the firstborn
who are written in heaven. --Augustus Montague Toplady.
Verse 5. The Heavens, etc. Now, for this kingdom of his, the
heavens are said to praise his wonders, which is spoken of the angels,
who are often called the heavens, from their place; as in Job it is said,
"The heavens are not clean in his sight." And these knowing the wonders of that
covenant of grace, they, even they are said to praise; "The heavens shall praise
thy wonders, O Lord" In the Hebrew it is "thy wonder", or "thy miracle", in the
singular number, which, in Eph 3:10, the angels are said to adore: and in Lu 2:14, to "sing glory to the Highest"; for his grace to man
is that miracle. Now the material heavens do not praise the mercy of God, or the
grace of God, or the covenant of grace, or the throne of grace that is
established in the heavens. They understand nothing of Christ; no, they do not
so much as materially give occasion to man to praise God for these: and
therefore this is meant of the angels; and most interpreters understand the next
words of them: Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the
saints, angels, and the holy ones made perfect, for there the great
congregation is. For even in the heavens, who can be compared to the Lord, where
all his angels thus do praise him? Who among the sons of the mighty, of
all the powers of the earth, can be likened unto the Lord? for he is the
"King of kings, and he is the Lord of lords; "a God above all gods, even angels
themselves, as elsewhere the Psalmist hath it. And he says not only, There is
none like thee; but, Who is like unto thee? his excellency so
exceeds. And in Ps 89:7, he is there presented with all his saints and angels
round about him, as one that is greatly to be feared, or that is terrible in
himself, by reason of his greatness, in this his council and assembly of his
saints, and to be had in reverence of all that are about him. For saints and
angels, they are of his council in heaven (as might be shewn), and encompass the
manifestation of his glory there round about. --Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 5. Thy wonders, etc. As the heavens are a proof of
God's power, in respect of his first framing them out of nothing; so are they a
pattern of God's faithfulness, in their constant and orderly motion according to
his word since their framing: The heavens shall praise thy
faithfulness also. However the power and faithfulness of God may be seen and
heard in the work and speech of the heavens by all men, yet are they not
observed and hearkened unto except in the Church by God's children: therefore
saith he, They shall praise thy faithfulness also in the congregation
of the saints. --David Dickson.
Verse 5. Thy wonders. Thy wondrousness (literally,
wonder), not "Thy wondrous works", but "Thy wonderful mysterious nature and
being", as separate and distinct from all created beings. --J.J.S.
Verse 5. Thy wonders, etc. It is a wonderful salvation, it
is such a salvation as the angels desire to pry into it; and it is such a
salvation, that all the prophets desire to pry into it; it is almost six
thousand years since all the angels in heaven fell into a sea of wonder at this
great salvation; it is almost six thousand years since Abel fell into a sea of
wonder at this great salvation; and what think ye is his exercise this day? He
is even wondering at this great salvation. --Andrew Gray, 1616.
Verse 6. Who in the heaven? Who in the sky? Ainsworth reads
it. In the clouds, in nubibus, oequabitur, is to be equalled, saith
Calvin, to Jehovah, Quis enim in superiore nube par oestimetur
Jehova. Who in the higher clouds is equal to Jehovah, so Tremellius reads
it. Who in the heavens? i.e., say some, in the starry heavens,
among the celestial bodies, sun, moon, or stars; which were adored as gods, not
only by the Persians, but also by some idolatrous Jews, because of their
brightness and beauty, their lustre and glory. Which of all those famous lamps,
and heavenly luminaries, is to be compared to the Father of lights, and Sun of
righteousness? They may glisten like glowworms in the night of Paganism, among
them who are covered with the mantle of darkness, but when this Sun ariseth, and
day appeareth, they all vanish and disappear. "Who in the heavens?" i.e.,
say others, in the heaven of
heavens, the highest, the third heavens, among the celestial spirits, cherubims
and seraphims, angels and archangels, principalities and powers, thrones and
dominions? Who among the innumerable company of angels? Who among those pure,
those perfect spirits, who are the most ancient, the most honourable house of
the creation, is to be compared to the Father of Spirits. --George
Verse 6. Who can be compared? The Dutch have translated
these words, Who can be shadowed with him? that is, they are not worthy
to be accounted shadows unto such a comparison with him. --Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 6. Who among the sons of the mighty. Literally,
"Who is he among the sons of" Alim (or of Gods, as in Ps 29:1,)
i.e., according to Suicer, the powerful, the princes of the earth.
Verse 7. God is greatly to be feared. Ainsworth reads, "God
is daunting terrible." The original word is Uren, from Ure arats, he was
broken, bruised, terrified. "An epithet of God", says Bythner, "as though
breaking all things." --Editorial Note to Calvin in loc.
Verse 7. God is greatly to be feared. The worship of God is
to be performed with great fear and reverence: "God is greatly to be
feared." Piscator translates it, Vehementer formidandus, to be
vehemently feared; and opposes it to that formal, careless, trifling, vain
spirit, which too often is found in those that approach the Lord in the duties
of his worship. --John Flavel.
Verse 7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the
saints. Those saints of his who walk close with him, have a daunting power
in their appearance. I appeal to guilty consciences, to apostates, to professors
who have secret haunts of wickedness: sometime when you come but into the
presence of one who is a truly gracious godly man or woman whom your conscience
tells you walks close with God, doth not even the very sight of such an one
terrify you? The very lustre of that holiness you see in such an one strikes
upon your conscience. Then you think, such an one walks close with God indeed,
but I have basely forsaken the Lord, and have had such a haunt of wickedness, I
have brought dreadful guilt upon my soul since I saw him last. Ecclesiastical
stories tell us of Basil, when the officers came to apprehend him, he being then
exercised in holy duties, that there was such a majesty and lustre came from his
countenance, that the officers fell down backward (as they did who came to
apprehend Christ), they were not able to lay hold of him. Surely, when the
saints shall be raised in their holiness, when every one of them shall have
their hearts filled with holiness, it will cause abundance of fear even in all
hearts of those that converse with them. --Jeremiah Burrows.
Verse 8. Thy faithfulness round about thee. For just as the
tyrants of this world move abroad surrounded by impiety, avarice, contempt of
God, and, pride, as with a bodyguard, so God sits on his exalted throne,
surrounded with majesty, faithfulness, mercy and equal love to all his people,
as with a vesture of gold. --J. Baptista Folengius.
Verse 8. Thy faithfulness round about thee. Whatever he
doth, he is mindful of his faithfulness and covenant, before and behind, and on
each side; he can look no way, but that is in his eye. And though he employ
angels, and send them down into the world, and they stand round about him; yet
he hath better harbingers than these--mercy, and truth, and faithfulness, that
wait round about him. --Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 9. Thou rulest the raging of the sea. Surely the
Spirit of God would have us to take notice, that though the sea be indeed such a
giant, such a monster, as will make a heart of oak shake, or a heart of brass
melt, yet what is it to God, but an infant? He can bind it and lay it to sleep,
even as a little child. And if the great sea be in the hand of God as a little
child, what is great to God! and how great is God! What is strong to God! and
how strong is God! What or who is too great, or too strong for God to deal with?
Verse 9. Thou rulest. Here under a figure taken from God's
providential government, we have an exhibition of the power of God in defeating
the efforts of the enemies of his Church. An instance of this, in the literal
sense, we have in the appeasing of the storm by our Lord. "And he arose, and
rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased,
and there was a great calm." Here we see that God reigns over the sea
immediately, and alters or modifies the arrangements of nature according to his
sovereign pleasure. That which Jesus did on one occasion is constantly done by
the God of providence. He has not left the ocean to be disturbed at random by
the winds, nor to be kept in peace by the laws of nature. He rules the raging of
the sea. He raises the waves, and he stilleth them. This exhibits a continually
working providence. And what he does in providence he does also in his kingdom
of grace. He suffers the fury of the enemy to swell against his cause, but he
stills it at his pleasure. --Alexander Carson.
Verse 10. Broken; scattered. God has more ways than
one to deal with his and his church's enemies. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 10. Rahab. The reason why Egypt is expressed in
Scripture under this word, ariseth from the two significations of it; first, it
signifies strength, for Egypt was a very strong nation, and therefore the
Israelites were reproved for going to them for help, and relying upon their
strength, which though great in itself, yet should be to them but a broken reed;
secondly, it signifieth pride, or the proud; men are usually proud of strength,
and Egypt being a strong nation, was also a very proud nation. --Joseph
Verse 11. The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine.
Therefore we praise thee, therefore we trust in thee, therefore we will not fear
what man can do against us. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 12. The north and the south thou hast created them.
etc. The heights of Huttin, commonly fixed on by tradition as the Mount of
Beatitudes, appear a little to the west of Tiberias. Over these the graceful top
of Mount Tabor is seen, and beyond it the little Hermon, famous for its dews;
and still farther, and apparently higher, the bleak mountains of Gilboa, on
which David prayed that there might fall no dew nor rain. A view of the position
of Tabor and Hermon from such a situation as that which we now occupied, shewed
us how accurately they might be reckoned the "umbilicus terroe" --the
central point of the land, and led us to infer that this is the true explanation
of the manner in which they are referred to in the Ps 89:12. It is as if the
Psalmist had said North, South, and all that is between --or in other
words, the whole land from North to South, to its very centre and throughout its
very marrow--shall rejoice in thy name. --R.M. Macheyne.
Verse 12. Tabor and Hermon. These hills, the one to the east
and the other to the west, in Canaan, were much frequented by the saints of God.
David speaks of the sacred hill of Hermon, and compares brotherly love to
the dew of it. Ps 42:6 133:3. And Tabor, yet more eminent for the
memorable spot of Christ's transfiguration, and from whence God the Father
proclaimed his perfect love and approbation of Jesus as his dear Son. Well might
this hymn, therefore, in allusion to those glorious events, call even the holy
hills to rejoice in Jehovah's name, Mt 17:1-5. --Robert Hawker.
Verse 13. Strong is thy hand; even thy left hand; as much as
to say, tu polles utraque manu, thou hast both hands alike powerful.
Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy
throne. As if the Psalmist had said, "The ornaments with which God is
invested, instead of being a robe of purple, a diadem, or a sceptre, are, that
he is the righteous and impartial judge of the world, a merciful father, and a
faithful protector of his people." Earthly kings, from their having nothing in
themselves to procure for them authority, and to give them dignity, are under
the necessity of borrowing elsewhere what will invest them therewith; but God,
having in himself all sufficiency, and standing in no need of any other helps,
exhibits to us the splendour of his own image in his righteousness, mercy, and
truth. --John Calvin.
Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy
throne. The Holy Ghost alludes to the thrones of earthly princes, which were
underpropped with pillars, as Solomon's throne with lions, 1Ki 19:20, that were
both a support and an ornament to it. Now, saith the Psalmist, justice and
judgment are the pillars upon which God's throne standeth, as Calvin expounds
it, the robe and diadem, the purple and sceptre, the regalia with which God's
throne is adorned. --George Swinnock.
Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy
throne. Jehovah is here exhibited, by the sacred poet, under the character
of a Sovereign, and of a Judge, he being presented to our adoring regard as on
his throne; the throne of universal empire, and absolute dominion; as
exercising his authority, and executing his laws, with an omnipotent but
impartial hand. For "Justice and judgment are the habitation", the
preparation, the establishment, or the basis, of this
throne. Our textual translation is, habitation; the marginal,
establishment; the Septuagint, preparation; and, if I mistake not,
our best modern interpreters render the original term, basis or
foundation; which, on the whole, seems most agreeable. The basis,
then, of Jehovah's government, or that on which it rests, is "justice and
judgment." By "justice", I conceive we are to understand the
attribute so called; and, by "judgment", the impartial exercise of that
attribute in the Divine administration. So that were not the Most High to
administer impartial justice in his moral government, he might be considered, if
it be lawful to use the expression, as abdicating his throne. --Abraham Booth,
Verse 14. Justice, which defends his subjects, and does
every one right. Judgment, which restrains rebels, and keeps off
injuries. Mercy, which shows compassion, pardons, supports the weak.
Truth, that performs whatsoever he promises. --William Nicholson.
Verse 14. Mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Note--
1. Mercy is said to go before the face of God, because God
sends mercy before judgment, that he might find less to punish: so Bellarmine.
2. That God permits not his face to be seen before He has
forgiven our sins through mercy: so Rickelius.
3. That no one comes to the knowledge of God, but he who has
obtained mercy beforehand.
4. That God comes to no one unless His grace go before Him.
...Truth goes before the face of God, because God keeps it ever before his eyes,
to mould his actions thereby. Pindar calls truth yugatera Dios the daughter of God.
Epaminoudas the Theban general, cultivated truth so studiously, that he is
reported never to have spoken a falsehood even in jest. In the courts of kings
this is a rare virtue. --Le Blanc.
Verse 14. Mercy and truth. Mercy in promising;
truth in performing. Truth, in being as good as thy word;
mercy, in being better. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 14. Shall go. In his active going forth, tender
mercy and goodness announce him, and faithful truth will tell his people he is
there when he comes forth. His activities are mercy and faithfulness, because
his will is at work and his nature is love. Yet his throne still maintains
justice and judgment. --J.N. Darby.
Verse 15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.
Not that hear, for then the blessing were cheap indeed. Thousands hear
the Gospel sound, but sometimes not ten of a thousand know it. --Thomas James
Verse 15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound
--viz., of the trumpets sounded in token of joy at the great festivals, and
chiefly on the first day of the seventh month, the feast of trumpets (Le 23:24),
and on extraordinary occasions, especially after the yearly atonement, on the
day of jubilee, the tenth day of the seventh month of the fiftieth year,
proclaiming liberty to bondmen, and restoration of their inheritance to them
that had forfeited it (Le 25:8-10). As the jubilee joy did not come till after
the atonement, so no Gospel joy and liberty are ours till first we know Christ
as our atonement. "In the day of the people's gladness" they blew the trumpets
over their sacrifices, "that they might be to them for a memorial before God"
(Nu 10:10). David and Israel brought up the ark of the Lord to Zion "with
shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet" (2Sa 6:15). In Nu 23:21, Balaam
makes it the distinguishing glory of Israel, "The Lord his God is with him, and
the shout of a king is among them", (Compare Ps 98:6 27:6 margin)
Verse 15. People that know the joyful sound. Here it is
supposed that we have intelligence in respect of "the joyful sound." For
there is knowledge not merely of the utterances and intonations, but of the
sense and substance, of the thought aud feeling, which they convey. And I
suppose this to be the meaning of Christ when he says, "My sheep hear my voice,
and they follow me; and a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the
voice of strangers." And I have often been surprised, to note the accuracy with
which persons otherwise not very intelligent, not largely informed, not of
critical acumen, will yet, when they hear a discourse, judge, discriminate,
determine; will be able to say at once--"Truth, clear, unmixed, without a cloud
upon it; "or--"Doctrine clouded, statements confused, not the lucid Gospel:" or
be able to say, if it be so--"No Gospel at all; contradiction to the truth of
Christ." They "Know the joyful sound", as it rolls from the
plenitude of God's own voice and bosom in his august and blessed revelations; as
it is confirmed, authenticated and sealed by the precious blood of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ; as it is witnessed to by the eternal Spirit: "the joyful
sound", that there is salvation for lost and ruined men by faith in the blood
and in the obedience of him who died upon the tree, and is now enthroned in the
highest place in heaven. --James Stratten, 1845.
Verse 15. They shall walk in the light of thy countenance.
Surely, next to the love of God's heart, believers value the smiles of his face;
from which, as from the agency of the sun, arise the budding of conscious joy,
the leaves of unsullied profession, the variegated blossom of holy tempers, and
the beneficent fruits of moral righteousness. They are totally mistaken who
suppose that the light of God's countenance, and the privileges of
the gospel, and the comforts of the Spirit, conduce to make us indolent and
inactive in the way of duty. The text cuts up this surmise by the roots. For, it
does not say, they shall sit down in the light of thy countenance; or,
they shall lie down in the light of thy countenance; but "they
shall WALK in the light of thy countenance." What is walking? It is a
progressive motion from one point of space to another. And what is that holy
walking which God's Spirit enables all his people to observe? It is a continued,
progressive motion from sin to holiness; from all that is evil, to every good
word and work. And the self same "light of God's countenance" in which you, O
believer, are enabled to walk, and which at first gave you spiritual feet
wherewith to walk, will keep you in a walking and in a working state, to the end
of your warfare. --Augustus Montague Toplady.
Verse 15. --There is the dreadful and there is the joyful
sound. The dreadful sound was at Mount Sinai. The joyful sound is from Mount
Sion. When the people heard the former they were far from beholding the glory of
God's face. Moses only was admitted to see His "back parts"; the people were
kept at a distance, and the light of God's glory that they saw was so terrible
to them, that they could not abide it. But they that know the "joyful sound."
they shall be admitted near, nearer than Moses, so as to see the glory of God's
face or brightness of his countenance, and that not only transiently, as Moses
saw God's back parts, but continually. The light of God's glory shall not be
terrible to them, but easy and sweet, so that they may dwell in it and walk in
it; and it shall be to them instead of the light of the sun; for the sun shall
no more be their light by day, nor the moon by night, but God shall be their
everlasting light, Compare this with Isa 2:5 Re 21:23-24 Re 22:4-5 --Jonathan
Verse 16. And in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. In
these words briefly we may notice,
1. The believer's promotion; he is exalted. In the first
Adam we were debased unto the lowest hell, the crown having fallen from our
heads; but in Christ, the second Adam, we are again exalted; yea, exalted as
high as heaven, for we "sit together with him in heavenly places", says the
apostle. This is an incredible paradox to a blind world, that the believer who
is sitting at this moment upon the dunghill of this earth, should at the same
time be sitting in heaven in Christ, his glorious Head and representative, Eph
2. We have the ground of the believer's preferment and
exaltation; it is in thy righteousness. It is not in any righteousness of
his own; no, this he utterly disclaims, reckoning it but "dung and loss",
"filthy rags", dogs' meat: but it is in thy righteousness; that is, the
righteousness of God, as the apostle calls it: Ro 1:17 Php 3:9. The
righteousness of God is variously taken in Scripture. Sometimes for the infinite
rectitude and equity of his nature: Ps 11:7, "The righteous Lord loveth
righteousness." Sometimes for his rectorial equity, or distributive justice
which he exerciseth in the government of the world, rewarding the good and
punishing evil doers: Ps 97:2, "Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of
his throne." Sometimes it is put for his veracity and faithfulness in
accomplishing his word of promise, or in executing his word of threatening: Ps
36:5-6, "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds: thy righteousness is like
the great mountains." Sometimes it is put for the perfect righteousness which
Christ the Son of God, as our Surety and Mediator, brought in, by his obedience
to the law, and death on the cross, for the justification of guilty sinners: and
this as I said, is frequently called the righteousness of God; and in this sense
I understand it here in the text: "In thy righteousness shall they be
exalted." --Ebenezer Erskine.
Verse 17. In thy favour our horn shall be exalted. A man of
lofty bearing is said to carry his horn very high. To him who is proudly
interfering with the affairs of another it will be said, "Why show your
kombu", "horn", "here?" "See that fellow, what a fine horn he has; he
will make the people run." "Truly, my lord, you have a great horn." "Chinnan has
lost his money; aye, and his hornship too." "Alas, alas! I am like the deer,
whose horns have fallen off." --Joseph Roberts "Oriental Illustrations."
Verse 19 (second clause). --(New Translation) A
mighty chief have I supplied with help. Literally, "I have equalized
help", that is, I have laid or given sufficient help, "upon a mighty one". The
verb denotes "to equalize", or "make one thing equal or equiponderant to
another", as a means to the end, or vice versa. --Richard Mant.
Verse 19. Chosen has here its strict sense, but not without
allusion to its specific use as signifying a young warrior. --J. A.
Verse 20. With my holy oil have I appointed him. As the
literal David was thrice anointed king, once by Samuel in Jesse's house at
Bethlehem: once at Hebron after the death of Saul, as king over Judah; and again
at seven years' end, as ruler over all Israel: so also "God anointed Jesus of
Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power" in his nativity at Bethlehem; a
second time over his Church at his resurrection, when the tyrant who sought his
life was overcome, and then only over the small "confederation" (which
Hebron means) of his Jewish disciples; but a third time in his ascension
to the heavenly Jerusalem, the Vision of Peace, where he, now crowned as King of
Glory, was anointed over all heaven and earth, supreme over all the princes of
God. He was thrice anointed in another sense also, once as Prophet, once as
Priest, and once as King. --Neale and Littledale.
Verse 20-24. I have FOUND David, God exclaims. When sin
brought death into the world, and annihilated the hopes of mankind from the
first covenant, I --the Almighty--in my care for them, sought out a
Redeemer. I sought for him in the Divine Nature; and I "found" him in My
Only Son. I endowed him with ample powers, and I covenanted that, in the
weakness of his Incarnation, my hand and arm should
strengthen him. I declared that Satan the enemy should not
exact upon him; nor should Judas--the son of wickedness --be
enabled to afflict him. The Jews, his foes, shall fall
before him; they shall be smitten down in their rejection of hint; they
shall perish from off their land, and be dispersed abroad among the nations. My
truth shall be ever with him; and acting in my name and power, he
shall be exalted and glorified amongst men. --William Hill Tucker.
Verse 22. The enemy shall not exact upon him. The allusion
appears to us to be made to a cruel and unjust creditor, who exacts not only his
just debts, but some exaggerated demand, with usurious interest, which was not
permitted. --Williams, quoted by Ed. of Calvin.
Verse 25. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right
hand in the rivers. That is, he should reign from the Mediterranean
to the Euphrates; figuratively expressed by his left hand being extended to the
sea, and his right hand to the rivers. A similar expression is used, according
to Curtius, by the Scythian ambassadors to Alexander. "If", said they, "the gods
had given thee a body as great as thy mind, the whole world would not be able to
contain thee. Thou wouldst reach with one hand to the east, and with the other
to the west." --Kitto's Pictorial Bible.
Verse 25. I will set his hand also in the sea and his right hard
in the rivers. A certain artist was in the habit of saying that he
should represent Alexander in such a manner, that in one hand he should hold a
city and from the other pour a river. Christ is represented here as of immense
stature, higher than all mountains, with one hand holding the earth, and the
other the sea, while from Eastern sea to Western he extends his arms. --Le
Verse 26. He shall cry unto me, thou art my father. When did
David call God his Father? It is striking that we do not find anywhere in the
Old Testament that the patriarchs or prophets called God their Father. You do
not find them addressing Him as Father: they did not know him as such. This
verse is unintelligible in reference to David; but in regard to the True David
it is exactly what he did say, --"My Father, and your Father; my God, and your
God." Never until Christ uttered these words, never until he appeared on earth
in humanity as the Son of God, did any man or any child of humanity address God
in this endearing character. It was after Christ said, "I ascend unto my Father,
and your Father", that believers were enabled to look up to God and to say,
"Abba, Father". Here you see distinctly that this applies to Christ. He was the
first to say this: David did not say it. If there were no other proof in the
whole Psalm, that one clause would be a demonstration to me that no other man
than the Lord Jesus Christ can be here spoken of. --Capel Molyneux, 1855.
Verse 26. My Father. Christ commenced his labours by
referring to his Father, for in Lu 2:49 he says, "Wist ye not that I must be
about my Father's business?" and his last words were, "Father, into thy hands I
commend my spirit"; and through his whole life he most constantly addressed God
as his Father. He shall cry unto me: Thou art my Father, as far as
my divinity is concerned. My God, as far as my humanity is concerned;
the support of my salvation, as regards my mortality. --Bellarmine.
Verse 26-28. Christ had a command to be a sufferer, and a
body prepared him for that purpose; so he had likewise a command to be an
advocate, and a life given him, and a throne prepared for him at the right hand
of God to that end. This commission is contained in the words before us; and
this after his exaltation, Ps 89:24-25. Yet for the full completing of it, Ps
89:27 the matter of the plea is here mentioned, Thou art the rock of my
salvation, the foundation, the first cause, of all thy salvation I have
wrought in the world, being the first mover of it, and promising the acceptance
of me in the performance of what was necessary for it. As he hath authority to
cry to God, so he hath an assurance of the prevalence of his cry, in regard of
the stability of the covenant of mediation, which shall stand fast with him, or
be faithful to him: my mercy will I keep for him for evermore, Ps
89:28. The treasures of my mercy are reserved only to be opened and dispensed by
him: and the enjoying of his spiritual seed for ever, and the establishing of
his own throne thereby, is the promised fruit of this cry, Ps 89:28. --Stephen
Verse 27. I will make him my firstborn. First, because he is
first in the order of predestination; for it is through him, as through the
head, that we are predestinated, as we read in Eph 1:1-23. Secondly, because he
is first in the second generation to life everlasting, whence he is called (Col
1:18.) the firstborn from the dead, and in Re 1:5, the first
begotten of the dead; and, thirdly, because he had the rights of the
firstborn; for he was appointed heir of all things; and he was made not
only firstborn, but also, high above the kings of the earth; that is,
Prince of the kings of the earth, and King of kings. --Bellarmine.
Verse 27. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the
kings of the, earth. This promise plainly implies superiority of a
nature similar to what was enjoyed of old by the eldest son of a family--the
birthright privileges and blessings, which consisted principally in three
important particulars: First, A double portion of the parent's earthly
possessions, De 21:17. Secondly. Rule or authority over the younger branches of
the family, 2Ch 21:3; and Thirdly, The exercise of the priesthood, because God
claimed all the firstborn as his, and in their stead he appointed the Levites to
do the priest's office, Nu 8:14-17. But, whilst it is literally true that Jesus
was the firstborn son of his virgin mother, and on that account entitled to the
customary privileges, the promise in the 89th Psalm (Ps 89:1-52) gives
intimation of something specific and unusual. David was the youngest son of
Jesse, the lowest on the list of a numerous family, --the very last individual
among them who could have expected exaltation over all others. But,
notwithstanding these natural disadvantages, he was God's choice; and by
referring to the Scripture history it would be easy to show in a variety of
particulars, how the promise made to David, I will make him my
firstborn, was literally and remarkably fulfilled in the son of Jesse. In
like manner Jesse, to all human appearance, entering the world as heir apparent
only to the poverty of Mary and her espoused husband, was far removed from every
prospect of realizing that combination of royal and sacerdotal prerogative,
which nevertheless was made stare to him by the promise of his heavenly Father:
"I will make him my firstborn." The pronoun "my" gives great
emphasis to the promise, but this word is interpolated; and however truly it
conveys an idea of the unspeakable superiority which belongs to Jesus Christ as
the result of his relationship with God, still we shall find that, even without
this important pronoun, the promise simply of being "firstborn" has a sublimity
and grandeur about it which needs neither ornament nor addition. The great
Jehovah, the Maker and the Owner and the Ruler of the universe, hath said
respecting his Christ, "I will make him my firstborn"; that is, I will
constitute him the chief of all creatures, and the depository of all power, and
the possessor of all privileges, and the heir of all creation. By way of
excellence, he is the firstborn, "higher than all the kings of the earth", --
enjoying priority in point of time, and precedence in point of place. --David
Pitcairn, in "The Anointed Saviour", 1846.
Verse 27. My firstborn. In the Hebrew idiom all kings were
the sons of God: but David is the chief of these, God's
firstborn. The Greeks had a similar mode of expressing themselves. Kings
were the nurslings of Jupiter. --Alexander Geddes.
Verse 28. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore. How
will he keep his mercy for Christ for evermore? Very simply, I think. Is not
Christ the Fountain of all mercy to us? Is it not the mercy of God the Father
flowing to us through Christ that we enjoy? Is he not the Depository of it all?
God says, then, I will keep it for him; for ever and ever shall it be lodged in
Christ, and Isis people shall enjoy it throughout eternity. --Capel Molyneux,
Verse 28-30. Here is comfort to those who are true branches,
and continue to bring forth fruit in the midst of all the trials that befall
them, that God will not suffer them to be cut off by their corruption. If
anything in them should provoke God to do it, it must be sin. Now for that, you
see how Christ promises that God will take order therewith, and will purge it
out of them. This is the covenant made with David, (as he was a type of Christ,
with whom the same covenant is made sure and firm,)that if his seed forsake
my law, and walk not in my judgments, --What! presently turn them out
of doors, and cut them off, as those he meant to have no more to do with? What!
nothing but utter rejection? Is there no means of reclaiming them? Never a rod
in the house? Yes--then will I visit their transgression with the rod,
and their iniquity with stripes, whip out their stubbornness and sinfulness;
but my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him as I did
from Saul, as it is in 1Ch 17:13. Let the saints consider this, that they may return when they
are fallen, and submit to him and his nature, and suffer him to do what he will
with them, and endure cutting, and lancing, and burning, so long as he cuts them
not off; endure chastening, and all his dealings else, knowing that all the
fruit is but to take away the sin, to make them "partakers of his holiness"; and
"if by any means", as Paul speaks of himself, (Php 3:11), be the means what it
will, it is no matter. And God, if at any time he seems to cut thee off, yet it
is but as the incestuous Corinthian was cut off, `that the flesh might be
destroyed, and the spirit saved.' --Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 29. "His seed" and "throne" are coupled together, as
if his throne could not stand if his seed did fail. If his subjects should
perish, what would he be king of? If his members should consume, what would he
be head of? --Stephen Charnock.
Verse 30. If his children forsake my law. An objection is
supposed: `Suppose this seed who are included in the covenant fall into
transgression, how shall the covenant stand fast then?' The covenant, with the
seed, shall stand for ever, but the seed must be a holy seed. Then the objector
supposes--`Suppose the seed become unholy?' Well, God explains--"If his children
forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments" --that is, if the seed practically
fall away--"If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I
visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not take from him, nor suffer my
faithfulness to fail." Mark the case. What is it that God will do? The case
supposed is that the seed of Christ forsakes the law and breaks his statutes. I
need not say to you that that is realized every day. These are not the ungodly
or the unconverted that are spoken of, but God's own children. Do you say, `Can
they be guilty of breaking God's statutes, and forsaking God's law?' We do it
every day. There is no single day of our lives that we do not do it. . . .
How astonished many would be, if they knew what the real case
was of those perhaps whom they admire, and think highly advanced and exalted in
the Divine life, if they were to know the falls, the wretched falls, falls in
heart, in word and in practice; if they were to know the deep distress that the
children of God, who are far advanced as they suppose in the Divine life, are
continually suffering from the effect of such transgression! That is exactly
what God says; he comes and contemplates such a case, and he says, "If they
break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then" --what? What will God do?
Some people say, "Then God will leave them." Those who object to the doctrine of
final perseverance say this: "It is true he will preserve the believer from the
toils of the Devil and the temptations of the world, but not from the breaking
forth of his own natural evil." He may be betrayed by that, and finally lost.
God exactly meets that case; he contemplates the worst case--actual
transgression. He says, "If a child of mine breaks my law". He does not say
anything about the Devil, or the outward temptations of the world; but he says,
"If they forsake my law and break my statutes." Let us be instructed by God. He
does not say he will leave them and forsake them. Mark what he will do! He
say--"I will visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with
stripes." That is the provision which God has made in his covenant: and it is
delightful to see how God has contemplated our case to the uttermost. There is
nothing in our history that God has not met in the covenant with Christ. If you
are in union with Christ, and a partaker of the covenant, your case is met in
every conceivable emergency. Nothing can befall you which is not
contemplated--nothing which God has not provided for. Even if you fall, God has
provided for it; but take heed; the provision involves much that will be
terrible and desperately painful to your mind. There is nothing to encourage sin
about it; there is nothing to give us license, nothing to lead a man to boast,
"I am safe at last." Be it so: but safe how? How will God secure their safety?
"I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with
stripes." --Capel Molyneux.
Verse 30. If his children forsake my law. If they fall into
sins of commission; if they shoot beyond the mark. And walk not in my
judgements. If they fall into sins of omission, and shoot short. Where
note that every transgression and disobedience (that is, every commission
and omission) receiveth a just recompense of reward, Heb 2:2.
Verse 30. His children. wynb, his sons, i.e. Christians,
born through the griefs of Christ on the cross, like the pangs of one in
Verse 30. A man may forsake the doctrines of the Gospel. He
may fall into great errors, great aberrations from Truth; he may forsake the
ordinances of the Lord's house, though he sees God's word is clear upon the
point. He esteems those things as nothing worth, which the Lord esteems so well,
that he has given them to his church as a sacred deposit, which she is to convey
down to the last posterity till time shall be no more. And what is still more--a
man may forsake for a time the principles of the precious Gospel of the living
God. But I can imagine a state still more solemnly affecting than even this. It
is a part of God's wisdom, (and it is for our good that it is so-- all God's
wisdom is for his people's good) --it is a part of the wisdom of God, that sin
should lead to sin; that one neglect shall pave the way to another; that that
which is bad shall lead to that which is worse, and that which is worse shall
prepare the way for that which is worst...The longer I live, the more I am
brought to this-- to know that there is not a sin that ever was committed, but I
need the grace of God to keep me from it. --James Harrington Evans.
Verses 30-34. God here says two things: first, that he will
chastise them, next, that he will not, on that account, cast them out of his
covenant. O wonderful tempering of the kindness and severity of God! In which he
finds his own glory, and believers their safety! The heavenly Father loves the
blood and marks of his Christ which he sees upon them, and the remains of faith
and godliness which are preserved hidden in the depth of their heart, this is
why he will not cast them off. On the other hand, he considers that it accords
neither with his wisdom nor his holiness to bestow his grace and salvation upon
those who do not relent for having cast off his law and given themselves up to
iniquity. In order to harmonize these opposite desires, he takes the rod, and
chastises them, to arouse their conscience, and to excite their faith; to
restore them, by the repentance which his discipline produces, to such a state,
as that he may be able to bestow upon them, without shame, the blessings he has
promised to the children of his Son; just as a wise parent, by moderate and
judicious correction gradually draws back his son from those irregularities of
life into which he has plunged; and thereby preserves his honour, and himself
the pleasure of being able to love and please him without misgiving. Or, as a
skilful surgeon, by the pain which his knife, or cautery, or bitter potions,
cause his patient, saves his life, and wards off death. --Jean Daille.
Verses 30-34. When our heavenly Father is, as it were, forced
to put forth his anger, he then makes use of a father's rod, not an
executioner's axe. He will neither break his children's bones, nor his own
covenant. He lashes in love, in measure, in pity, and compassion. --Thomas
Verse 32. Then will I visit their transgression with the
rod, etc. He does not simply say, I will smite them; but, I will visit with
the rod. It is one thing merely to smite, it is another thing to smite by
visiting. For visitation implies oversight and paternal care. The metaphor is
taken from those who undertake to watch over the sick, or train up children, or
tend sheep. He does not say, I will visit them with the rod; but, I will visit
their transgression with the rod. We ought to think perpetually, what it is the
rod of God visits in us, that we may confess our transgressions, and amend our
Verse 33. Nevertheless my lovingkindness, etc. Except the
covenant of grace had this article in it for remission of sin and for fatherly
correction, to drive unto repentance, that the penitent person coming to God by
faith might have sin forgiven him and lovingkindness shown to him; this covenant
should fail us no less than the covenant of works. --David Dickson.
Verse 33. I will not utterly take from him. Why "from
him?" Because all God's lovingkindness to his people is centred in
Christ. Does God love you? it is because he loves Christ; you are one with
Christ. Your transgressions are your own; they are separate from Christ; but
God's love is not your own; it is Christ's: you receive it because you are one
with him. How beautifully that is distinguished here--"If they transgress, I will
punish them; but my lovingkindness will I not take from him" --in
whom alone they find it; and in union with whom alone they enjoy it. --Capel
Verse 33. From him. The words, "Nevertheless my
lovingkindness will not utterly take from him", are worthy of
consideration; for the question being about those who are chastised, it would
appear that he should have written, from them, and not from him. But the prophet
has thus worded it, because, being the children and members of his Christ, the
favours which God bestows upon us belong to him in some manner; and it seems
that the Psalmist wishes to show us hereby, that it is in Jesus Christ, and for
love of him alone, that God bestows favours on us. And that which follows, in Ps
89:34 verse, agrees herewith, --My covenant will I not break --for it is
properly to Jesus Christ, on account of his admirable obedience, that God the
Father has promised to be merciful to our iniquities, and never to leave one of
those to perish who are in covenant with him. --Jean Daille.
Verse 33. Nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Man's faith
may fail him sometimes, but God's faithfulness never fails him: God will not
suffer his faithfulness to fail. God's operations may have an aspect that way;
the devil's temptations, and our unbelieving hearts, may not only make us think
so, but persuade us it is so, whereas it cannot be so, for the Lord will not
suffer it, he will not make a lie in his truth or faithfulness; so the Hebrew
is: he is a God that cannot lie, he is Truth, speaks truth, and not one of his
promises can or shall fail; which may afford strong consolation unto all that
are under any promise of God. --William Greenhill.
Verse 34. My covenant will I not break. He had said above,
If the children of David break my statutes; and now, alluding to
that breach, he declares that he will not requite them as they requite him,
My covenant will I not break, implying, that although his people may not
altogether act in a manner corresponding to their vocation, as they ought to do,
he will not suffer his covenant to be broken and disannulled on account of their
fault, because he will promptly and effectually prevent this in the way of
blotting out their sins by a gratuitous pardon. --John Calvin.
Verse 35. Once have I sworn by my holiness. He lays here his
holiness to pledge for the assurance of his promise, as the attribute most dear
to him, most valued by him, as though no other could give an assurance parallel
to it, in this concern of an everlasting redemption, which is there spoken of.
He that swears, swears by a greater than himself. God having no greater than
himself, swears by himself; and swearing here by his holiness seems to equal
that single to all his other attributes, as if he were more concerned in the
honour of it than of all the rest. It is as if he should have said, Since I have
not a more excellent perfection to swear by than that of my holiness, I lay this
to pawn for your security, and bind myself by that which I will never part with,
were it possible for me to be stripped of all the rest. It is a tacit
imprecation of himself, If I lie unto David, let me never be counted holy, or
thought righteous enough to be trusted by angels or men. This attribute he makes
most of. --Stephen Charnock.
Verse 36. His seed shall endure for ever. They shall
continue for ever in three senses. First. In the succession of their race
to the end of the world. It will never be cut off. --"The Church is in danger!"
What Church? "Upon this rock", says he, "I will build my Church;
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Yea, his people shall
continue to increase in number and excellency. We shall leave the world better
than we entered it: and so will our children; till Jerusalem shall be
established, and be made a praise in the whole earth. Secondly. In their
religious character to the end of their own life. If left to themselves, we
could not be sure of their persevering to the end of a day or an hour. But they
are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation. He upholdeth them
with his hand. They shall hold on their way. In all their dangers they shall be
more than conquerors. Thirdly. In their glorified state, through eternal
ages. The world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will
of God abideth for ever. All other greatness is only for life: it is frequently
less durable--at death it ends. But then, the Christian's
greatness--I will not say, begins; for it began the moment he prayed--but then it
continues, increases, and is perfected. --William Jay.
Verse 37. It shall be established for ever as the moon. This
clause Kimchi expounds not only of the perpetuity, but of the quality and
condition of David's Kingdom, after this fashion: If his children be good, they
shall be like the moon, when full and shining; if bad, like the moon waning and
obscure. Nevertheless the kingdom itself shall not cease, just as the moon does
not go out of existence, whilst it is obscure, but lasts perpetually.
Verse 37. And as a faithful witness in heaven. (New
Translation) And as the rainbow's faithful sign. The rainbow is not
expressly mentioned in the original, which speaks only of "the faithful witness
in heaven." Some commentators understand the "witness" thus mentioned to be no
other than the moon itself. I prefer, however, the interpretation that fixes it
on the rainbow, which God after the deluge appointed as a "sign" or "witness" of
his mercy in Christ. Ge 9:12-17. Conformably to this appointment, the Jews, when
they behold the rainbow, are said to bless God, who remembers his covenant and
is faithful to his promise. And the tradition of this its designation to
proclaim comfort to mankind was strong among the heathens: for, according to the
mythology of the Greeks, the "rainbow" was the daughter of "wonder", "a sign to
mortal men", and regarded, upon its appearance, as a messenger of the celestial
deities. Thus Homer with remarkable conformity to the Scripture account speaks
of the "rainbow", which "Jove hath set in the cloud, a sign to men." --Richard
Verse 38. But thou hast cast off, etc. The complaining of
the saints meanwhile is so exaggerated, that carnal feeling makes itself more
apparent in them, than faith...Yet such is the goodness of God, He is not
offended with these complaints, provided faith is not altogether extinguished,
or succumbs. --Mollerus.
Verse 39. Thou hast profaned his crown, etc. The crown of a
king, (like that of the high priest, on which was inscribed "holiness to the
Lord") (Ex 28:36) was a sacred thing, and therefore to cast it in the dust was
to profane it. --A.R. Fausset.
Verse 40. Hedges and strong holds. Both of these may
refer to the appointments of a vineyard in which the king was the vine. It was
usually fenced around with a stone wall, and in it was a small house or tower,
wherein a keeper was set to keep away intruders. When the wall, or hedge, was
thrown down, every passer by plucked at the fruit, and when the tower was gone
the vineyard was left open to the neighbours who could do as they would with the
vines. When the church is no longer separated from the world, and her divine
Keeper has no more a dwelling place within her, her plight is wretched indeed.
Verse 43. Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, etc.
The arms and military prowess of thy people are no longer of any use to them;
Thou art against them, and therefore they are fallen. In what a perilous
and hopeless situation must that soldier be who, defending his life against his
mortal foe, has his sword broken, or its edge turned; or, in
modern warfare, whose gun misses fire! The Gauls, when
invaded by the Romans, had no method of hardening iron; at every blow
their swords bent, so that they were obliged, before they could strike
again, to put them under their foot or over their knee, to straighten them; and
in most cases, before this could be done, their better armed foe had taken away
their life! The edge of their sword was turned, so that they could not stand in
battle; and hence the Gauls were conquered by the Romans. --Adam
Verse 43. Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, that
it cannot do execution as it has done; and what is worse, thou hast "turned the
edge" of his spirit, and taken off his courage, and hast not made him to
stand, as he used to do, in the day of battle. The spirit of men is
what the Father and Former of spirits makes them; nor can we stand with any
strength or resolution, farther than God is pleased to uphold us. If men's
hearts fail them, it is God that dispirits them; but it is sad with the church
when those cannot stand that should stand up for it. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 45. The days of his youth hast thou shortened. Our
kings have not reigned half their days, nor lived out half their lives. The
four last kings of Judea reigned but a short time, and either died by the
sword or in captivity. Jehoahaz reigned only three months,
and was led captive to Egypt, where he died. Jehoiakim reigned only
eleven years, and was tributary to the Chaldeans, who put him to
death, and cast his body into the common sewer. Jehoiachim, reigned
three months and ten days, and was led captive to Babylon, where
he continued in prison to the time of Evil merodach, who, though he loosed him
from prison, never invested him with any power. Zedekiah, the last of
all, had reigned only eleven years when he was taken, his eyes put
out, was loaded with chains, and thus carried to Babylon. Most
of these kings died a violent and premature death. Thus the "days of
their youth" -- of their power, dignity, and life, "were shortened",
and they themselves covered with shame. Selah; so it most
incontestably is. --Adam Clarke.
Verse 45. Thou hast covered them with shame. Selah. Thou
hast wrapped him up in the winding sheet of shame. Lord, this is true. --John
Verses 46-47. This undoubtedly sounds like the voice of one
who knows no hereafter. The Psalmist speaks as if all his hopes were bound by
the grave; as if the overthrow of the united kingdom of Judah and Ephraim had
bereft him of all his joy; and as if he knew no future kingdom to compensate him
with its hopes. But it would be doing cruel injustice to take him thus at his
word. What we hear is the language of passion, not of sedate conviction. This is
well expressed by John Howe in a famous sermon. "The expostulation (he observes)
was somewhat passionate, and did proceed upon the sudden view of this
disconsolate case, very abstractly considered, and by itself only; and the
Psalmist did not, at that instant, look beyond it to a better and more
comfortable scene of things. An eye bleared with present sorrow sees not far,
nor comprehends so much at one view, as it would at another time, or as it doth
presently when the tear is wiped out and its own beams have cleared it up."
It would be unwarrantable, therefore, to infer from Ethan's
expostulation, that the saints who lived under the early kings were strangers to
the hope of everlasting life. I am inclined to go further, and to point to this
very complaint as affording a presumption that there was in their hearts an
irrepressible sentiment of immortality. The bird that frets and wounds itself on
the bars of its cage shows thereby that its proper home is the free air. When
inveterate sensuality has succeeded in quenching in a man's heart the hope of a
life beyond the grave, the dreary void which succeeds utters itself, not in
solemn complaints like Ethan's, but in songs of forced mirth--dismal Anacreontic
songs: "Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die."
"It is time to live if I grow old,
It is time short pleasures now to take,
Of little life the best to make,
And manage wisely the last stake."
(Anacreon's Age, as translated by Cowley.) --William
Verse 46. Shall thy wrath burn like fire? An element that
hath no mercy. --William Nicholson.
Verse 47. Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? If I
should demand of any, for what cause especially man came into the world; he
would answer with the Psalmist, God did not create man in vain. Did He create
man to heap up wealth together? no, for the apostle saith. "We brought nothing
into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And, having
food and raiment, let us be therewith content." 1Ti 6:6-8. Did he create him to
hawk after power and principality? no, for Nebuchadnezzar lusting after these,
lost no less than a kingdom. Did He create him to eat, drink and play? no, for
Seneca, though an heathen saith, major sum, etc., I am greater, and born
to greater things, than that I should be a vile slave of my senses. What then is
the proper end of man? That we should live to the praise of the glory of his
grace wherewith he hath made us freely accepted in his Beloved. Eph 1:6.
Verse 47. Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? If we
think that God hath made man "in vain", because so many have short lives,
and long afflictions in this world, it is true that God "hath made" them so; but
it is not true, that therefore they are "made in vain". For those whose days are
few and full of trouble, yet may glorify God, and do some good, may keep their
communion with God, and go to heaven, and then they are not made in vain. If we
think that God has made men in vain, because the most of men neither serve him
nor enjoy him, it is true, that as to themselves, they were made in vain, better
for them they had not been born, than not be "born again"; but it was not owing
to God, that they were made in vain, it was owing to themselves; nor are they
made in vain as to him; for he has "made all things for himself, even the wicked
for the day of evil", and those whom he is not glorified by he will be glorified
upon. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 47. Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? When I
add to the consideration of my short time, that of dying mankind, and behold a
dark and deadly shade universally overspreading the world, the whole species of
human creatures vanishing, quitting the stage round about me, and disappearing
almost as soon as they show themselves; have I not a fair and plausible ground
for that (seemingly rude) challenge? Why is there so unaccountable a phenomenon?
Such a creature made to no purpose; the noblest part of this inferior creation
brought forth into being without any imaginable design? I know not how to untie
the knot, upon this only view of the case, or avoid the absurdity. It is hard
sure to design the supposal, (or what it may yet seem hard to suppose), "that
all men were made in vain." --John Howe.
Verse 47. Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? Two
thoughts crush us--Man was made to mourn, and man was made in vain. Yes,
this thought is painfully pressed upon us, --man is "made in vain!"
In how many particulars, especially when we survey that large range of
characters to which we may give the denomination of wasted lives; there to
behold peerless genius frittering itself away upon unworthy attainments,
upon worthless performances; imagination that might adorn truth, if that
were possible; wit, that might select and discriminate the true
from the false; and eloquence that might enforce the true; --where do we
find these? Unsatisfactory and miserable world, may we well exclaim, where
nothing is real, and nothing is realised: when I consider how our lives are
passed in the struggle for existence; when I consider the worry of life, where
it is not a woe--the woe, where it is not a worry; when I consider how the
millions pass their time in a mere toil for sensual objects, and that those to
whom the sad contradiction of life never comes, are the most wretched of all,
did they but know it; when I consider the millions of distorted existences; and
the many millions! --the greater number of the world by far--who wander
Christless, loveless, hopeless, over the broad highway of it; when I consider
life in many of the awakened as a restless dream, as children beating the
curtain and crying in the night; when I consider how many questions recur for
ever to us; and will not be silenced, and cannot be answered; when I consider
the vanity of the philosopher's inquisitiveness, and the end of Royalty in the
tomb; when I look round on the region of my own joys, and know how short their
lease is, and that their very ineffableness is a blight upon them; when I
consider how little the best can do, and that none can do anything well; and,
finally, when I consider the immeasurable immensity of thought within,
unfulfilled, and the goading restlessness, I can almost exclaim with our unhappy
poet Byron --
"Count all the joys thine hours have seen,
Count all thy days from anguish free,
And know, whatever thou last been,
It were something better not to be."
--E. Paxton Hood, in
"Dark Sayings on a Harp", 1865.
Verses 47-48. In these verses, the fundamental condition of
Israel's blessedness is found to be an acknowledgment of the total
unprofitableness of the flesh. Resurrection is the basis upon which the sure
mercies of David rest availably for faith (Ac 13:34). This is rather implied
than directly stated in the present Psalm. --Arthur Pridham.
Verse 48. What man. Mi gheber, says the original; it
is not Is he, which is the first name of man, in the Scriptures, and
signifies nothing but a sound, a voice, a word, a musical air which dies,
and evaporates; what wonder if man, that is but Ishe, a sound,
should die too? It is not Adam, which is another name of man, and signifies
nothing but red earth; let it be earth red with blood, (with that murder
which we have done upon ourselves,)let it be earth red with blushing, (so the
word is used in the original), with a conscience of our own infirmity, what
wonder if man, that is but Adam, guilty of this self murder in himself, guilty
of this inborn frailty in himself, die too? It is not Enos, which is also
a third name of man, and signifies nothing but a wretched and miserable
creature; what wonder that man, that is but earth, that is a burden to his
neighbours, to his friends, to his kindred, to himself, to whom all others, and
to whom myself desires death, what wonder if he die? But this question is framed
upon more of these names; not Ishe, not Adam, not Enos; but it is Mi
gheber, Quis vir; which is the word always signifying a man accomplished in
all excellencies, a man accompanied with all advantages; fame, and a good
opinion justly conceived, keeps him from being Ishe, a mere sound,
standing only upon popular acclamation; innocency and integrity keeps him from
being Adam, red earth, from bleeding, or blushing at anything he hath done; that
holy and religious art of arts, which St. Paul professed. That he knew how to
want, and hvw to abound, keeps him from being Enos, miserable or wretched in
any fortune; he is gheber, a great man, and a good man, a happy man, and
a holy man, and yet Mi gheber, Quis homo, this man must see death.
Verse 48. This Psalm is one of those twelve that are marked
in the forehead with Maschil; that is, a Psalm giving instruction.
It consisteth of as many verses as the year doth of weeks, and hath like the
year, its summer and winter. The summer part is the former; wherein, the church
having reaped a most rich crop (the best blessings of Heaven and earth) the
Psalmist breaketh forth into the praises of their gracious Benefactor, I will
sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: so it begins, and so he
goeth on a great way. Who now would expect anything but mercies, and singing,
and summer all the way? But summer ceaseth, and winter commences, at Ps 89:38:
But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth, with thine
anointed. Mercies and singing are now turned into troubles and mourning. But
nothing shall you hear but bitter querimonies and expostulations till you come
to the last verse. There the good man's come to himself again. Though God were
angry with his people, he cannot part with God in discontent. Though God had
laden them with crosses, he lifts up his head, and presents God with blessing;
Blessed be the Lord forevermore. Amen, and Amen. He blesseth him as well
for winter as for summer, for troubles as for mercies. And thus the last verse
of Psalm having as much affinity with the first in matter, as the last day of
the year hath with the first in season; if we circle the Psalm, and bring both
ends together, we find a fit resemblance between the year and it. The text is one of the Psalmist's winter drops; a black line
from that pen, which erstwhile was so filled with joy, and wrote nothing but
rubrics. He complains in the next precedent verse, of the brevity of his own
life (it was like a winter's day, very short); in this, of the instability of
man's life; as though he had said, I am not the only mortal. Other men's lives,
though haply clothed with more comforts than mine, are altogether as mortal as
mine; for his interrogations are equivalent to strong negations. As to see
sleep is to sleep; so to see or taste death, is to die. There
is no surviving such a sight Death says, as God once to Moses, "There shall no
man see me and live." Ex 33:20. --Thomas Du-gard, in a Funeral
Verse 48. Death spares no rank, no condition
of men. Kings as well as subjects, princes as well as the meanest rustics are
liable to this fatal stroke. The lofty cedars and low shrubs; palaces and
cottages are alike here. Indeed, we read that Julius Caesar bid the master of
the ship wherein he was sailing, take courage notwithstanding the boisterous
tempest, because he had Caesar and his fortunes embarked in his vessel, as much
as to say, the element on which they then were could not prove fatal to an
emperor, to so great a one as he was. Our William surnamed Rufus said, he never
heard of a king that was drowned. And Charles the Fifth, at the Battle of Tunis,
being advised to retire when the great ordnance began to play, told them that it
was never known that an emperor was slain with great shot, and so rushed into
the battle. But this we are sure of, it was never known or heard that any king
or crowned head escaped the blow of death at last. The sceptre cannot keep off
`the arrows that fly by day, and the sickness which wastes at noonday; 'it is no
screen, no guard against the shafts of death. We have heard of great tyrants and
usurpers who vaunted that they had the power of life and death, and as
absolutely disposed of men as Domitian did of flies; but we have heard likewise
that in a short time (and generally the shorter the more furious they have been)
their sceptres are fallen out of their hands; their crowns are toppled off their
heads, and they are themselves snatched away by the King of Terrors. Or, if we
speak of those royal personages that are mild and gentle, and like Vespasian are
the darlings and delight of the people, yet these no less than others have their
fatal hour, and their regal honour and majesty are laid in the dust. The King
doth not die, may be a Common law maxim, but it is a falsehood according to
the laws of God and Nature, and the established constitution of heaven. For God
himself who hath said, Ye are gods, hath also added, Ye shall die like
men. In the Escurial the palace of the Kings of Spain, is their
cemetery too; there their royal ashes lie. So in the place where the
kings and queens of England are crowned, their predecessors are entombed: to
tell them, as it were, that their crowns exempt them not from the grave, and
that there is no greatness and splendour that can guard them from the arrest of
death. He regards the rich and wealthy no more than the poor and necessitous: he
snatches persons out of their mansion houses and hereditary seats, as well as
out of almshouses and hospitals. His dominion is over masters as well as
servants, parents as well as children, superiors as well as inferiors. --John
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth ever gave, Await alike the
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansions call the fleeting breath? Can Honour's
voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death? --Thomas Gray,
Verse 50. How I do bear in my bosom the reproach, etc. I
take the reproaches of thy servants and thine anointed, (1) as if they
reproached me in mine own particular; or, (2) in that they lie so heavy upon my
heart; or, (3) in that I am resolved quietly to endure them, and to swallow them
down in silence, as not being indeed able to shake them off; because in the eye
of reason our condition is at present so contrary to what we waited for; or, (4)
in that their reproaches came not to his ears by hear say only, but were openly
to his face cast as it were into his bosom. --Arthur Jackson.
Verse 50. I do bear in, my bosom the reproach, etc. The
reproach of religion and of the godly doth lie near, and should lie near, the
heart of every lively member of the church. --David Dickson.
Verse 51. They have reproached the footsteps of thine
anointed. This phrase is obscure in diction, and therefore variously
1. Some by the footsteps of Christ, judge that his
advent in the flesh is meant: others refer the words to David, and take the
meaning to be, imitation of him. The first exposition yields this sense: Be
mindful, O Lord, of the reproach of thy enemies wherewith they insult our
expectation of thy Anointed, and scoff at his advent as if it would never come.
2. The second interpretation is this: Recollect, O Lord, what contempt thy enemies
heap upon us on account of thy servant David, because we fondly cherish his
memory and his example, and nourish the hope of thy covenant with him, clinging
tenaciously thereto...Thirdly, this clause may be so interpreted that by twbqe,
that is, the heel, we may understand the extremities of the Kingdom of Christ,
of David. Thus we may imagine the enemies of God threw this in the teeth of the
people of Israel, that they had already come to the end and extremity of the
Kingdom of David. --Musculus.
Verse 51 (second clause). The Chaldee has:
"They have scoffed at the tardiness of Thy Messiah's footsteps." So
Kimchi: "He delays so long, they say He will never come." Compare 2Pe
3:4,9. The Arabic aqaba is used in the sense of "delaying." --William
Verse 51. The footsteps, or foot soles, that is, the ways,
life, actions, and sufferings, Ps 56:6 Ps 49:5. This referred to Christ,
respecteth the oracle, Ge 3:15, that the Serpent should bruise the foot sole of
the woman's seed; referred to Christians which follow his footsteps, in
suffering and dying with him, that we may be glorified with him (1Pe 2:21 Ro
8:17); it notes the scandal of the Cross of Christ, "to the Jews a stumbling
block, and to the Greeks foolishness." (1Co 1:23 1Pe 4:13-14.) The Chaldee
understands it of the slackness of the footsteps. --Henry Ainsworth.
Verse 52. Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen, and Amen.
Victory begins to shine in the phrase, Blessed be Jehovah for evermore.
Amen, and Amen. Some think that these words are not the words of the
Psalmist, because they are of opinion that they do not agree with the preceding,
but were written by another, or added by the Collector of the Psalms as a
concluding doxology; or if the Psalmist wrote them, he did so merely in
finishing his prayer. But it is a matter of the greatest moment; for it
indicates the victory of faith, since he observes that after that grief, the
reproach of the heel is gloriously removed that the Messiah may remain a victor
for ever, having bruised the serpent's head, and taken away from him in
perpetuity all his power of hurting. That this should certainly take place, he
adds the seal of faith again and again: "Amen, and Amen." --James
Verse 52. This doxology belongs alike to all the Psalms of
the Third Book, and ought not to be treated as if it were merely the last verse
of the Psalm to which it adjoins. It ought to be set forth in such a shape as
would enable and invite God's people to sing it as a separate formula of praise,
or in connection with any other Psalm. --William Binnie.
Verse 52. As to the words Amen and Amen, I readily
grant that they are here employed to mark the end of the third book of the
Psalms. --John Calvin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
1. Mercies celebrated. When? --"for ever."
2. By whom? --by those who are the subjects of them.
3. Therefore they must live for ever to celebrate them.
4. Faithfulness declared. (a) To our own generation. (b) To
succeeding generations by its influence upon others.
Verse 2. --
1. The Testimony.
(a) To the constancy of Mercy: (1.) builds up its trophies every moment. (2.) It preserves them for ever.
(b) To the constancy of Faithfulness. It remains as the ordinances of heaven.
2. Its Confirmation. "I have said", etc., said it,
(a) Upon the ground of Scripture.
(b) of experience.
(c) of reason.
(d) of observation of others.
1. The Covenant made. With whom? --with David and in him with David's Lord and Son. The true David--the chosen one--the
servant of the Father in redemption.
2. For what? --
(a) for his seed. He should have a seed and that seed should be established.
(b) for himself, "his throne", etc.
3. The Covenant confirmed.
(a) By decree. "I have made", etc.
(b) By promise. "I will establish."
(c) By oath. "I have sworn."
Verse 6. --We have a comparison between God and the most
excellent in heaven and earth--challenge both worlds.
1. The true God, sovereign of heaven and earth is incomparably great in his BEING and EXISTENCE;
(a) because his being is of himself eternal;
(b) because he is a perfect being;
(c) because he is independent;
(d) because he is unchangeable.
2. God is incomparably great in his ATTRIBUTES and PERFECTIONS.
(a) In his holiness;
(b) in his wisdom and knowledge;
(c) in his power;
(d) in his justice;
(e) in his patience;
(f) in his love and goodness.
3. God is incomparably great in his WORKS--creation; providence;
redemption, and human salvation. --Theophilus Jones, 1830.
Verse 6. --The incomparableness of God, in his Being,
Attributes, Works, and Word. --Swinnock. (Nichol's Edition of Swinnock's
Works, Vol. 4, pp. 373-508.)
1. In creation God is far above other beings. Ps 89:6.
2. In Redemption he is far above himself in creation. Ps 89:7.
Verses 9-10. God's present rule in the midst of confusion,
and rebellion; and his ultimate overthrow of all adverse forces.
1. God's possession of heaven, the model of his possession of
2. God's possession of earth most certain, and its
manifestation in the future most sure.
3. The course of action suggested to his people by the two
Verse 12. The joy of creation in its Creator.
1. The Equity of the divine government--"justice", etc. No
creature can eventually be unjustly dealt with under his dominion, and his
kingdom ruleth over all.
2. The Sovereignty of the divine government. Truth before
mercy. Mercy founded upon truth. "Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob and the
mercy to Abraham." The covenant made in mercy to Abraham is fulfilled in truth
1. The gospel is a joyful sound. Good tidings, etc.
2. It is a joyful sound to those who know it, hear it, believe
it, love it, obey it.
3. They to whom it is a joyful sound are blessed. "They shall
1. There is a theoretical knowledge of the gospel.
2. An experimental knowledge, and,
3. A practical knowledge
--W. Drasfield, 1859.
Verse 16. --
(a) "In thy name", etc., as rich in mercy as the God of salvation--of all grace--of all consolation.
(b) At what season--"all the day", morning, noon, and night.
2. Exaltation. "In thy righteousness", etc.
(a) How not
exalted. Not in their own righteousness.
(b) How exalted. "In thy", etc.
Procured for them-- by a divine person (thy) --imputed to them. Ours,
though thine. The righteousness of God as God could not exalt us, but his
righteousness as God man can. Exalted above hell, above earth, above Paradise,
above angels. Exalted to friends of God-- children of God--one with God, to
Verse 16. (second clause). --Consider,
1. What the believer is exalted above or from, by
(a) It exalts him above the law.
(b) Above the world.
(c) Above the power and malice of Satan.
(d) Above death.
(e) Above all accusations (Ro 8:33-34.)
2. To what happiness or dignity the believer is exalted
by virtue of that righteousness.
a) To a state of peace and reconciliation with
(b) To sonship.
(c) To fellowship and familiarity with God, and access to
(d) And finally, to a state of endless glory.
1. The blessedness of the righteous.
(a) Their internal glory. Reliance upon divine strength.
(b) Their internal honour. "In thy favour", etc.
2. The participation in that blessedness. The their of
the people of God becomes our. Their strength our horn. Happy they, who,
with respect to all the privileges of the saints, can thus turn their
1. Consider our natural weakness.
2. Consider our strength in God.
3. Give God the glory of it.
1. Jehovah--his power, self existence, and majesty--our defence.
2. The Holy One of Israel--his character, covenant character,
and unity--our government.
1. The work required. "Help."
(a) By whom? By God himself.
For what? To reconcile God to man, and man to God.
2. The persons selected for this work.
(a) Human. "Chosen out
of the people."
(b) Divine. "Thy Holy One."
3. His qualifications for the work.
(a) His own ability for the
office. "One that is mighty."
(b) His appointment to it by God. "I have laid."
etc. "I have chosen", etc.
Verse 19. (last clause). Election, extraction,
1. The Messiah would be of the seed of David. The true David.
2. He would be a servant of the Father. "My servant."
3. He would be consecrated to his office by God. "With my holy
4. He would perfectly fulfil it. "With whom my hand", etc.
5. He would be sustained in it by the Father. "Mine arm", etc.
1. A prophecy of the conflict of the Messiah with Satan. Satan
could not exact any debt or homage for him.
2. Of his refutation of his enemies. "I will beat down", etc.
The Scribes and Pharisees were beaten down before his face.
3. Of the destruction of their city and nation. "And plague
Verse 26. Our Lord's filial spirit, and how it was
1. The subjects of Messiah's reign. "His seed."
(b) For resemblance.
(c) For multitude.
2. The duration of his reign.
(a) They for ever one with him.
(b) He for ever on the throne.
1. The persons referred to. "His children." "Ye are all the
2. The supposition concerning them. "If his children forsake",
(a) They may possibly--may fall, though not fall away.
(b) They will
probably, because they are far from being perfect.
(c) They have actually: as
David himself and others.
3. The threatening founded upon that supposition.
Specified--"the rod--stripes." They shall smart for it sooner or later.
Certified. "Then will I."
4. The qualification of the threatening. "Nevertheless", etc.
(a) The nevertheless characterized. Lovingkindness not removed, etc.
(b) Emphasised. The rod may seem to be in anger, nevertheless, etc.
1. An if.
2. A then.
3. A nevertheless.
1. Providence may often seem to be at variance with promises.
2. Promises are never at variance with providence. It is the
covenant of thy servant and his crown still.
Verse 39. How the throne of King Jesus may be profaned.
1. What God had done. "Broken down", etc.
2. What he had not done. Not taken away sorrow for his
departure and desire for his return.
Verse 43. Cases in which the sword of the gospel appears to
have its edge turned.
1. A prophecy that the Messiah would be meek and lowly. "Made
his glory to cease."
2. Would become a servant to the Father. "Cast his throne
3. Would be cut off in the midst of his days. "The days of his
4. That he would die an ignominious death. "Hast covered him",
Verse 45. The excellence of the first days of Christianity,
and in what respect their glory has departed from us.
Verse 46. The hand of God is to be acknowledged.
1. In the nature of affliction. "Wilt thou hide thyself", etc.
2. In the duration of affliction. "How long, Lord?"
3. In the severity of affliction. Wrath burning like fire.
4. In the issue of affliction. How long? for ever? In all these
respects the words are applicable both to Christ and to his people.
Verse 46. Remember. The prayer of the dying thief, the
troubled believer, the persecuted Christian.
1. An appeal to divine goodness. "Remember", etc. Let not my
life be all trouble and sorrow.
2. To divine wisdom. "Wherefore", etc. Was man made only to be
miserable? Will not man have been made in vain if his life be but short, and
that short life be nothing but sorrow?
1. The voice. "Blessed", etc. In himself in all his works and
ways--in his judgments as well as in his mercies-- as the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ--"for evermore."
2. The echo, "Amen and amen." Amen, says the church on
earth--says the church in heaven--say the angels of God--says the whole holy and
happy universe--says eternity past and eternity to come.
WORK UPON THE EIGHTY-NINTH PSALM
In the Works of John Boys, folio, pp. 805-9, there is an
Exposition of a portion of this Psalm.
HERE ENDETH THE THIRD BOOK OF THE PSALMS.