It is the will of God that prayers, intercessions, and
thanksgivings, should be made, in special manner, for kings and all in
authority. This psalm is a prayer, and the next a thanksgiving, for the king.
David was a martial prince, much in war. Either this psalm was penned upon
occasion of some particular expedition of his, or, in general, as a form to be
used in the daily service of the church for him. In this psalm we may observe,
I. What it is they beg of God for the king (v. 1-4). II. With what assurance
they beg it. The people triumph (v. 5), the prince (v. 6), both together (v. 7,
8), and so he concludes with a prayer to God for audience (v. 9). In this, David
may well be looked upon as a type of Christ, to whose kingdom and its interests
among men the church was, in every age, a hearty well-wisher.
To the chief musician. A psalm of David.
This prayer for David is entitled a psalm of David; nor
was it any absurdity at all for him who was divinely inspired to draw up a
directory, or form of prayer, to be used in the congregation for himself and
those in authority under him; nay it is very proper for those who desire the
prayers of their friends to tell them particularly what they would have to be
asked of God for them. Note, Even great and good men, and those that know ever
so well how to pray for themselves, must not despise, but earnestly desire, the
prayers of others for them, even those that are their inferiors in all respects.
Paul often begged of his friends to pray for him. Magistrates and those in power
ought to esteem and encourage praying people, to reckon them their strength (Zec.
12:5, 10), and to do what they can for them, that they may have an interest in
their prayers and may do nothing to forfeit it. Now observe here,
I. What it is that they are taught to ask of God for the king.
1. That God would answer his prayers: The Lord hear thee in
the day of trouble (v. 1), and the Lord fulfil all thy petitions, v.
5. Note, (1.) Even the greatest of men may be much in trouble. It was often a
day of trouble with David himself, of disappointment and distress, of treading
down and of perplexity. Neither the crown on his head nor the grace in his heart
would exempt him from the trouble. (2.) Even the greatest of men must be much in
prayer. David, though a man of business, a man of war, was constant to his
devotions; though he had prophets, and priests, and many good people among his
subjects, to pray for him, he did not think that excused him from praying for
himself. Let none expect benefit by the prayers of the church, or of their
ministers or friends for them, who are capable of praying for themselves, and
yet neglect it. The prayers of others for us must be desired, not to supersede,
but to second, our own for ourselves. Happy the people that have praying
princes, to whose prayers they may thus say, Amen.
2. That God would protect his person, and preserve his life, in
the perils of war: "The name of the God of Jacob defend thee, and
set thee out of the reach of thy enemies." (1.) "Let God by his
providence keep thee safe, even the God who preserved Jacob in the days of his
trouble." David had mighty men for his guards, but he commits himself, and
his people commit him, to the care of the almighty God. (2.) "Let God by
his grace keep thee easy from the fear of evil.Prov. 18:10, The name of
the Lord is a strong tower, into which the righteous run by faith, and
are safe; let David be enabled to shelter himself in that strong tower, as
he has done many a time."
3. That God would enable him to go on in his undertakings for
the public goodthat, in the day of battle, he would send him help out of
the sanctuary, and strength out of Zion, not from common providence, but
from the ark of the covenant and the peculiar favour God bears to his chosen
people Israel. That he would help him, in performance of the promises and in
answer to the prayers made in the sanctuary. Mercies out of the sanctuary are
the sweetest mercies, such as are the tokens of God's peculiar love, the
blessing of God, even our own God. Strength out of Zion is spiritual strength,
strength in the soul, in the inward man, and that is what we should most desire
both for ourselves and others in services and sufferings.
4. That God would testify his gracious acceptance of the
sacrifices he offered with his prayers, according to the law of that time,
before he went out on a dangerous expedition: The Lord remember all thy
offerings and accept thy burnt-sacrifices (v. 3), or turn them to ashes;
that is, "The Lord give thee the victory and success which thou didst by
prayer with sacrifices ask of him, and thereby give as full proof of his
acceptance of the sacrifice as ever he did by kindling it with fire from heaven."
By this we may now know that God accepts our spiritual sacrifices, if by his
Spirit he kindles in our souls a holy fire of pious and divine affection and
with that makes our hearts burn within us.
5. That God would crown all his enterprises and noble designs
for the public welfare with the desired success (v. 4): The Lord grant thee
according to thy own heart. This they might in faith pray for, because they
knew David was a man after God's own heart, and would design nothing but what
was pleasing to him. Those who make it their business to glorify God may expect
that God will, in one way or other, gratify them: and those who walk in his
counsel may promise themselves that he will fulfil theirs. Thou shalt devise
a thing and it shall be established unto thee.
II. What confidence they had of an answer of peace to these
petitions for themselves and their good king (v. 5): "We will rejoice in
thy salvation. We that are subjects will rejoice in the preservation and
prosperity of our prince;" or, rather, "In thy salvation, O God! in
thy power and promise to save, will we rejoice; that is it which we depend upon
now, and which, in the issue, we shall have occasion greatly to rejoice in."
Those that have their eye still upon the salvation of the Lord shall have their
hearts filled with the joy of that salvation: In the name of our God will we
set up our banners. 1. "We will wage war in his name; we will see that
our cause be good and make his glory our end in every expedition; we will ask
counsel at his mouth, and take him along with us; we will follow his direction,
implore his aid and depend upon it, and refer the issue to him." David went
against Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts, 1 Sa. 17:45. (2.) "We
will celebrate our victories in his name. When we lift up our banners in
triumph, and set up our trophies, it shall be in the name of our God; he shall
have all the glory of our success, and no instrument shall have any part of the
honour that is due to him."
In singing this we ought to offer up to God our hearty good
wishes to the good government we are under and to the prosperity of it. But we
may look further; these prayers for David are prophecies concerning Christ the
Son of David, and in him they were abundantly answered; he undertook the work of
our redemption, and made war upon the powers of darkness. In the day of trouble,
when his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, the Lord heard him, heard him in that
he feared (Heb. 5:7), sent him help out of the sanctuary, sent an angel
from heaven to strengthen him, took cognizance of his offering when he made his
soul an offering for sin, and accepted his burnt-sacrifice, turned it to ashes,
the fire that should have fastened upon the sinner fastening upon the sacrifice,
with which God was well pleased. And he granted him according to his own heart,
made him to see of the travail of his soul, to his satisfaction, prospered his
good pleasure in his hand, fulfilled all his petitions for himself and us; for
him the Father heareth always and his intercession is ever prevailing.
Here is, I. Holy David himself triumphing in the interest he had
in the prayers of good people (v. 6): "Now know I (I that pen the
psalm know it) that the Lord saveth his anointed, because he hath stirred
up the hearts of the seed of Jacob to pray for him." Note, It bodes well to
any prince and people, and may justly be taken as a happy presage, when God
pours upon them a spirit of prayer. If he see us seeking him, he will be found
of us; if he cause us to hope in his word, he will establish his word to us. Now
that so many who have an interest in heaven are praying for him he doubts not
but that God will hear him, and grant him an answer of peace, which will, 1.
Take its rise from above: He will hear him from his holy heaven, of which
the sanctuary was a type (Heb. 9:23), from the throne he hath prepared in
heaven, of which the mercy-seat was a type. 2. It shall take its effect here
below: He will hear him with the saving strength of his right hand; he
will give a real answer to his prayers, and the prayers of his friends for him,
not by letter, nor by word of mouth, but, which is much better, by his right
hand, by the saving strength of his right hand. He will make it to appear that
he hears him by what he does for him.
II. His people triumphing in God and their relation to him, and
his revelation of himself to them, by which they distinguish themselves from
those that live without God in the world. 1. See the difference between worldly
people and godly people, in their confidences, v. 7. The children of this world
trust in second causes, and think all is well if those do but smile upon them;
they trust in chariots and in horses, and the more of them they can bring
into the field the more sure they are of success in their wars; probably David
has here an eye to the Syrians, whose forces consisted much of chariots and
horsemen, as we find in the history of David's victories over them, 2 Sa. 8:4;
10:18. "But," say the Israelites, "we neither have chariots and
horses to trust to nor do we want them, nor, if we had them, would we build our
hopes of success upon that; but we will remember, and rely upon, the
name of the Lord our God, upon the relation we stand in to him as the Lord
our God and the knowledge we have of him by his name," that is, all that
whereby he makes himself known; this we will remember and upon every remembrance
of it will be encouraged. Note, those who make God and his name their praise may
make God and his name their trust. 2. See the difference in the issue of their
confidences and by that we are to judge of the wisdom of the choice; things are
as they prove; see who will be ashamed of their confidence and who not, v. 8.
"Those that trusted in their chariots and horses are brought down and
fallen, and their chariots and horses were so far from saving them that they
helped to sink them, and made them the easier and the richer prey to the
conqueror, 2 Sa. 8:4. But we that trust in the name of the Lord our God not only
stand upright, and keep our ground, but have risen, and have got ground against
the enemy, and have triumphed over them." Note, A believing obedient trust
in God and his name is the surest way both to preferment and to establishment,
to rise and to stand upright, and this will stand us in stead when
creature-confidences fail those that depend upon them.
III. They conclude their prayer for the king with a Hosanna,
"Save, now, we beseech thee, O Lord!" v. 9. As we read this verse,
it may be taken as a prayer that God would not only bless the king, "Save,
Lord, give him success," but that he would make him a blessing to them, "Let
the king hear us when we call to him for justice and mercy." Those that
would have good of their magistrates must thus pray for them, for they, as all
other creatures, are that to us (and no more) which God makes them to be. Or it
may refer to the Messiah, that King, that King of kings; let him hear us when we
call; let him come to us according to the promise, in the time appointed; let
him, as the great Master of requests, receive all our petitions and present them
to the Father. But many interpreters give another reading of this verse, by
altering the pause, Lord, save the king, and hear us when we call; and so
it is a summary of the whole psalm and is taken into our English Liturgy; O
Lord! save the king, and mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.
In singing these verses we should encourage ourselves to trust in God, and
stir up ourselves to pray earnestly, as we are in duty bound, for those in
authority over us, that under them we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all
godliness and honesty.