This psalm relates to the church and is calculated for the
public. Here is, I. A prayer for the prosperity of the church of Israel (v. 1).
II. A prayer for the conversion of the Gentiles and the bringing of them into
the church (v. 2-5). III. A prospect of happy and glorious times when God shall
do this (v. 6, 7). Thus was the psalmist carried out by the spirit of prophecy
to foretel the glorious estate of the Christian church, in which Jews and
Gentiles should unite in one flock, the beginning of which blessed work ought to
be the matter of our joy and praise, and the completing of it of our prayer and
hope, in singing this psalm.
To the chief musician on Neginoth. A psalm or song.
The composition of this psalm is such as denotes the penman's
affections to have been very warm and lively, by which spirit of devotion he was
elevated to receive the spirit of prophecy concerning the enlargement of God's
I. He begins with a prayer for the welfare and prosperity of the
church then in being, in the happiness of which he should share, and think
himself happy, v. 1. Our Saviour, in teaching us to say, Our Father, has
intimated that we ought to pray with and for others; so the psalmist here prays
not, God be merciful to me, and bless me, but to us, and bless us;
for we must make supplication for all saints, and be willing and glad to take
our lot with them. We are here taught, 1. That all our happiness comes from God's
mercy and takes rise in that; and therefore the first thing prayed for is, God
be merciful to us, to us sinners, and pardon our sins (Lu. 18:13), to us
miserable sinners, and help us out of our miseries. 2. That it is conveyed by
God's blessing, and secured in that: God bless us; that is, give us an
interest in his promises, and confer upon us all the good contained in them. God's
speaking well to us amounts to his doing well for us. God bless us is a
comprehensive prayer; it is a pity such excellent words should ever be used
slightly and carelessly, and as a byword. 3. That it is completed in the light
of his countenance: God cause his face to shine upon us; that is, God by
his grace qualify us for his favour and then give us the tokens of his favour.
We need desire no more to make us happy than to have God's face shine upon us,
to have God love us, and let us know that he loves us: To shine with us
(so the margin reads it); with us doing our endeavour, and let it crown
that endeavour with success. If we by faith walk with God, we may hope that his
face will shine with us.
II. He passes from this to a prayer for the conversion of the
Gentiles (v. 2): That thy way may be known upon earth. "Lord, I pray
not only that thou wilt be merciful to us and bless us, but that thou wilt be
merciful to all mankind, that thy way may be known upon earth." Thus
public-spirited must we be in our prayers. Father in heaven, hallowed be thy
name, thy kingdom come. We shall have never the less of God's mercy, and
blessing, and favour, for others coming in to share with us. Or it may be taken
thus: "God be merciful to us Jews, and bless us, that thereby thy
way may be known upon earth, that by the peculiar distinguishing tokens of thy
favour to us others may be allured to come and join themselves to us, saying, We
will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you," Zec. 8:23.
1. These verses, which point at the conversion of the Gentiles,
may be taken, (1.) As a prayer; and so it speaks the desire of the Old-Testament
saints; so far were they from wishing to monopolize the privileges of the church
that they desired nothing more than the throwing down of the enclosure and the
laying open of the advantages. See then how the spirit of the Jews, in the days
of Christ and his apostles, differed from the spirit of their fathers. The
Israelites indeed that were of old desired that God's name might be known
among the Gentiles; those counterfeit Jews were enraged at the preaching of the
gospel to the Gentiles; nothing in Christianity exasperated them so much as that
did. (2.) As a prophecy that it shall be as he here prays. Many
scripture-prophecies and promises are wrapped up in prayers, to intimate that
the answer of the church's prayer is as sure as the performance of God's
2. Three things are here prayed for, with reference to the
(1.) That divine revelation might be sent among them, v. 2. Two
things he desires might be know upon earth, even among all nations, and not to
the nation of the Jews only:[1.] God's way, the rule of duty: "Let
them all know, as well as we do, what is good and what the Lord our God
requires of them; let them be blessed and honoured with the same righteous
statutes and judgments which are so much the praise of our nation and the envy
of all its neighbours," Deu. 4:8. [2.] His saving health, or his salvation.
The former is wrapped up in his law, this in his gospel. If God make known his
way to us, and we walk in it, he will show us his saving health, Ps. 50:23.
Those that have themselves experimentally known the pleasantness of God's
ways, and the comforts of his salvation, cannot but desire and pray that they
may be known to others, even among all nations. All upon earth are bound to walk
in God's way, all need his salvation, and there is in it enough for all; and
therefore we should pray that both the one and the other may be made known to
(2.) That divine worship may be set up among them, as it will be
where divine revelation is received and embraced (v. 3): "Let the people
praise thee, O God! let them have matter for praise, let them have hearts
for praise; yea, let not only some, but all the people, praise thee,"
all nations in their national capacity, some of all nations. It is again
repeated (v. 5) as that which the psalmist's heart was very much upon. Those
that delight in praising God themselves cannot but desire that others also may
be brought to praise him, that he may have the honour of it and they may have
the benefit of it. It is a prayer, [1.] That the gospel might be preached to
them, and then they would have cause enough to praise God, as for the day-spring
after a long and dark night. Ortus est solThe sun has risen. Acts 8:8.
[2.] That they might be converted and brought into the church, and then they
would have a disposition to praise God, the living and true God, and not the
dumb and dunghill deities they had worshipped, Dan. 5:4. Then their hard
thoughts of God would be silenced, and they would see him, in the gospel glass,
to be love itself, and the proper object of praise. [3.] That they might be
incorporated into solemn assemblies, and might praise God in a body, that they
might all together praise him with one mind and one mouth. Thus a face of
religion appears upon a land when God is publicly owned and the ordinances of
religious worship are duly celebrated in religious assemblies.
(3.) That the divine government may be acknowledged and
cheerfully submitted to (v. 4): O let the nations be glad, and sing for joy!
Holy joy, joy in God and in his name, is the heart and soul of thankful praise.
That all the people may praise thee, let the nations be glad.
Those that rejoice in the Lord always will in every thing give thanks.
The joy he wishes to the nations is holy joy; for it is joy in God's dominion,
joy that God has taken to himself his great power and has reigned, which
the unconverted nations are angry at, Rev. 11:17, 18. Let them be glad,
[1.] That the kingdom is the Lord's (Ps. 22:28), that he, as an
absolute sovereign, shall govern the nations upon earth, that by the kingdom of
his providence he shall overrule the affairs of kingdoms according to the
counsel of his will, though they neither know him nor own him, and that in due
time he shall disciple all nations by the preaching of his gospel (Mt. 28:19)
and set up the kingdom of his grace among them upon the ruin of the devil's
kingdomthat he shall make them a willing people in the day of his power, and
even the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and of
his Christ. [2.] That every man's judgment proceeds from the Lord.
"Let them be glad that thou shalt judge the people righteously, that
thou shalt give a law and gospel which shall be a righteous rule of judgment,
and shalt pass an unerring sentence, according to that rule, upon all the
children of men, against which there will lie no exception." Let us all be
glad that we are not to be one another's judges, but that he that judges us is
the Lord, whose judgment we are sure is according to truth.
III. He concludes with a joyful prospect of all good when God
shall do this, when the nations shall be converted and brought to praise God.
1. The lower world shall smile upon them, and they shall have
the fruits of that (v. 6): Then shall the earth yield her increase. Not
but that God gave rain from heaven and fruitful seasons to the nations when they
sat in darkness (Acts 14:17); but when they were converted the earth
yielded its increase to God; the meat and the drink then became a meat-offering
and a drink-offering to the Lord our God (Joel 2:14); and then it was
fruitful to some good purpose. Then it yielded its increase more than before to
the comfort of men, who through Christ acquired a covenant-title to the fruits
of it and had a sanctified use of it. Note, The success of the gospel sometimes
brings outward mercies along with it; righteousness exalts a nation. See Isa.
2. The upper world shall smile upon them, and they shall have
the favours of that, which is much better: God, even our own God, shall bless
us, v. 6. And again (v. 7), God shall bless us. Note, (1.) There are
a people in the world that can, upon good grounds, call God their God. (2.)
Believers have reason to glory in their relation to God and the interest they
have in him. It is here spoken with an air of triumph. God, even our own God.
(2.) Those who through grace call God their own may with a humble confidence
expect a blessing from him. If he be our God, he will bless us with special
blessings. (4.) The blessing of God, as ours in covenant, is that which sweetens
all our creature-comforts to us, and makes them comforts indeed; then we receive
the increase of the earth as a mercy indeed when with it God, even our own God,
gives us his blessing.
3. All the world shall hereby be brought to do like them: The
ends of the earth shall fear him, that is, worship him, which is to be done
with a godly fear. The blessings God bestows upon us call upon us not only to
love him, but to fear him, to keep up high thoughts of him and to be afraid of
offending him. When the gospel begins to spread it shall get ground more and
more, till it reach to the ends of the earth. The leaven hidden in the meal
shall diffuse itself, till the whole be leavened. And the many blessings which
those will own themselves to have received that are brought into the church
invite others to join themselves to them. It is good to cast in our lot with
those that are the blessed of the Lord.