Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
SUBJECT. This is a continuation of the Paschal Hallel, and
therefore must in some measure be interpreted in connection with the coming out
of Egypt. It has all the appearance of being a personal song in which the
believing soul, reminded by the Passover of its own bondage and deliverance,
speaks thereof with gratitude, and praises the Lord accordingly. We can conceive
the Israelite with a staff in his hand singing, "Return unto thy rest, O my
soul, "as he remembered the going back of the house of Jacob to the land of
their fathers; and then drinking the cup at the feast using the words of Ps
116:13, "I will take the cup of salvation." The pious man evidently remembers
both his own deliverance and that of his people as he sings in the language of
Ps 116:16, "Thou hast loosed my bonds"; but he rises into sympathy with his
nation as he thinks of the courts of the Lord's house and of the glorious city,
and pledges himself to sing "in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem." Personal love
fostered by a personal experience of redemption is the theme of this Psalm, and
in it we see the redeemed answered when they pray, preserved in time of trouble,
resting in their God, walking at large, sensible of their obligations, conscious
that they are not their own but bought with a price, and joining with all the
ransomed company to sing hallelujahs unto God.
Since our divine Master sang this hymn, we can hardly err in
seeing here words to which he could set his seal, --words in a measure
descriptive of his own experience; but upon this we will not enlarge, as in the
notes we have indicated how the Psalm has been understood by those who love to
find their Lord in every line.
DIVISION. David Dickson has a somewhat singular division of
this Psalm, which strikes us as being exceedingly suggestive. He says, "This
Psalm is a threefold engagement of the Psalmist unto thanksgiving unto God, for
his mercy unto him, and in particular for some notable delivery of him from
death, both bodily and spiritual. The first engagement is, that he shall out of
love have recourse unto God by prayer, Ps 116:1-2; the reasons and motives
whereof are set down, because of his former deliverances, Ps 116:3-8, the second
engagement is to a holy conversation, Ps 116:9, and the motives and reasons are
given in Ps 116:10-13; the third engagement is to continual praise and service,
and specially to pay those vows before the church, which he had made in days of
sorrow, the reasons whereof are given in Ps 116:14-19."
Verse 1. I love the LORD. A blessed declaration: every
believer ought to be able to declare without the slightest hesitation, "I love
the Lord." It was required under the law, but was never produced in the heart of
man except by the grace of God, and upon gospel principles. It is a great thing
to say "I love the Lord"; for the sweetest of all graces and the surest of all
evidences of salvation is love. It is great goodness on the part of God that he
condescends to be loved by such poor creatures as we are, and it is a sure proof
that he has been at work in our heart when we can say, "Thou knowest all things,
thou knowest that I love thee." Because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. The
Psalmist not only knows that he loves God, but he knows why he does so. When
love can justify itself with a reason, it is deep, strong, and abiding. They say
that love is blind; but when we love God our affection has its eyes open and can
sustain itself with the most rigid logic. We have reason, superabundant reason,
for loving the Lord; and so because in this case principle and passion, reason
and emotion go together, they make up an admirable state of mind. David's reason
for his love was the love of God in hearing his prayers. The Psalmist had used
his "voice" in prayer, and the habit of doing so is exceedingly helpful
to devotion. If we can pray aloud without being overheard it is well to do so.
Sometimes, however, when the Psalmist had lifted up his voice, his utterance had
been so broken and painful that he scarcely dared to call it prayer; words
failed him, he could only produce a groaning sound, but the Lord heard his
moaning voice. At other times his prayers were more regular and better formed:
these he calls "supplications." David had praised as best he could, and
when one form of devotion failed him he tried another. He had gone to the Lord
again and again, hence he uses the plural and says "my supplications, "but as
often as he had gone, so often had he been welcome. Jehovah had heard, that is
to say, accepted, and answered both his broken cries and his more composed and
orderly supplications; hence he loved God with all his heart. Answered prayers
are silken bonds which bind our hearts to God. When a man's prayers are
answered, love is the natural result. According to Alexander, both verbs may be
translated in the present, and the text may run thus, "I love because Jehovah
hears my voice, my supplications." This also is true in the case of every
pleading believer. Continual love flows out of daily answers to prayer.
Verse 2. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me: --bowing
down from his grandeur to attend to my prayer; the figure seems to be that of a
tender physician or loving friend leaning over a sick man whose voice is faint
and scarcely audible, so as to catch every accent and whisper. When our prayer
is very feeble, so that we ourselves can scarcely hear it, and question whether
we do pray or not, yet God bows a listening ear, and regards our supplications. Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live,
or "in my
days." Throughout all the days of my life I will address my prayer to God alone,
and to him I will unceasingly pray. It is always wise to go where we are welcome
and are well treated. The word "call" may imply praise as well as prayer:
calling upon the name of the Lord is an expressive name for adoration of all
kinds. When prayer is heard in our feebleness, and answered in the strength and
greatness of God, we are strengthened in the habit of prayer, and confirmed in
the resolve to make ceaseless intercession. We should not thank a beggar who
informed us that because we had granted his request he would never cease to beg
of us, and yet doubtless it is acceptable to God that his petitioners should
form the resolution to continue in prayer: this shows the greatness of his
goodness, and the abundance of his patience. In all days let us pray and praise
the Ancient of days. He promises that as our days our strength shall be; let us
resolve that as our days our devotion shall be.
Verse 3. The Psalmist now goes on to describe his condition
at the time when he prayed unto God. The sorrows of death compassed me.
As hunters surround a stag with dogs and men, so that no way of escape is left,
so was David enclosed in a ring of deadly griefs. The bands of sorrow, weakness,
and terror with which death is accustomed to bind men ere he drags them away to
their long captivity were all around him. Nor were these things around him in a
distant circle, they had come close home, for he adds, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me. Horrors such as
those which torment the lost seized me, grasped me, found me out, searched me
through and through, and held me a prisoner. He means by the pains of hell those
pangs which belong to death, those terrors which are connected with the grave;
these were so closely upon him that they fixed their teeth in him as hounds
seize their prey. I found trouble and sorrow --trouble was around me, and
sorrow within me. His griefs were double, and as he searched into them they
increased. A man rejoices when he finds a hid treasure; but what must be the
anguish of a man who finds, where he least expected it, a vein of trouble and
sorrow? The Psalmist was sought for by trouble and it found him out, and when he
himself became a seeker he found no relief, but double distress.
Verse 4. Then I called upon the name of the LORD. Prayer is
never out of season, he prayed then, when things were at their worst.
When the good man could not run to God, he called to him. In his
extremity his faith came to the front: it was useless to call on man, and it may
have seemed almost as useless to appeal to the Lord; but yet he did with his
whole soul invoke all the attributes which make up the sacred name of Jehovah,
and thus he proved the truth of his confidence. We can some of us remember
certain very special times of trial of which we can now say, "then called
I upon the name of the Lord." The Psalmist appealed to the Lord's mercy, truth,
power, and faithfulness, and this was his prayer, -- O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. This form of
petition is short, comprehensive, to the point, humble, and earnest. It were
well if all our prayers were moulded upon this model; perhaps they would be if
we were in similar circumstances to those of the Psalmist, for real trouble
produces real prayer. Here we have no multiplicity of words, and no fine
arrangement of sentences; everything is simple and natural; there is not a
redundant syllable, and yet there is not one lacking.
Verse 5. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous. In hearing
prayer the grace and righteousness of Jehovah are both conspicuous. It is a
great favour to hear a sinner's prayer, and yet since the Lord has promised to
do so, he is not unrighteous to forget his promise and disregard the cries of
his people. The combination of grace and righteousness in the dealings of God
with his servants can only be explained by remembering the atoning sacrifice of
our Lord Jesus Christ. At the cross we see how gracious is the Lord and
righteous. Yea, our God is merciful, or compassionate, tender,
pitiful, full of mercy. We who have accepted him as ours have no doubt as to his
mercy, for he would never have been our God if he had not been merciful. See how
the attribute of righteousness seems to stand between two guards of love:
--gracious, righteous, merciful. The sword of justice is scabarded in a
jewelled sheath of grace.
Verse 6. The LORD preserveth the simple. Those who have a
great deal of wit may take care of themselves. Those who have no worldly craft
and subtlety and guile, but simply trust in God, and do the right, may depend
upon it that God's care shall be over them. The worldly wise with all their
prudence shall be taken in their own craftiness, but those who walk in their
integrity with single minded truthfulness before God shall be protected against
the wiles of their enemies, and enabled to outlive their foes. Though the saints
are like sheep in the midst of wolves, and comparatively defenceless, yet there
are more sheep in the world than wolves, and it is highly probable that the
sheep will feed in safety when not a single wolf is left upon the face of the
earth: even so the meek shall inherit the earth when the wicked shall be no
more. I was brought low, and he helped me, --simple though I was,
the Lord did not pass me by. Though reduced in circumstances, slandered in
character, depressed in spirit, and sick in body, the Lord helped me. There are
many ways in which the child of God may be brought low, but the help of God is
as various as the need of his people: he supplies our necessities when
impoverished, restores our character when maligned, raises up friends for us
when deserted, comforts us when desponding, and heals our diseases when we are
sick. There are thousands in the church of God at this time who can each one of
them say for himself, "I was brought low, and he helped me."
Whenever this can be said it should be said to the praise of the glory of his
grace, and for the comforting of others who may pass through the like ordeal.
Note how David after stating the general doctrine that the Lord preserveth the
simple, proves and illustrates it from his own personal experience. The habit of
taking home a general truth and testing the power of it in our own case is an
exceedingly blessed one; it is the way in which the testimony of Christ is
confirmed in us, and so we become witnesses unto the Lord our God.
Verse 7. Return, unto thy rest, O my soul. He calls the rest
still his own, and feels full liberty to return to it. What a mercy it is that
even if our soul has left its rest for a while we can tell it-- "it is thy rest
still." The Psalmist had evidently been somewhat disturbed in mind, his troubles
had ruffled his spirit but now with a sense of answered prayer upon him he
quiets his soul. He had rested before, for he knew the blessed repose of faith,
and therefore he returns to the God who had been the refuge of his soul in
former days. Even as a bird flies to its nest, so does his soul fly to his God.
Whenever a child of God even for a moment loses his peace of mind, he should be
concerned to find it again, not by seeking it in the world or in his own
experience, but in the Lord alone. When the believer prays, and the Lord
inclines his ear, the road to the old rest is before him, let him not be slow to
follow it. For the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. Thou hast
served a good God, and built upon a sure foundation; go not about to find any
other rest, but come back to him who in former days hath condescended to enrich
thee by his love. What a text is this! and what an exposition of it is furnished
by the biography of every believing man and woman! The Lord hath dealt
bountifully with us, for he hath given us his Son, and in him he hath given us
all things: he hath sent us his Spirit, and by him he conveys to us all
spiritual blessings. God dealeth with us like a God; he lays his fulness open to
us, and of that fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. We have sat
at no niggard's table, we have been clothed by no penurious hand, we have been
equipped by no grudging provider; let us come back to him who has treated us
with such exceeding kindness. More arguments follow.
Verse 8. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes
from tears, and my feet from falling. The triune God has given us a
trinity of deliverances: our life has been spared from the grave, our heart has
been uplifted from its griefs, and our course in life has been preserved from
dishonour. We ought not to be satisfied unless we are conscious of all three of
these deliverance. If our soul has been saved from death, why do we weep? What
cause for sorrow remains? Whence those tears? And if our tears have been wiped
away, can we endure to fall again into sin? Let us not rest unless with steady
feet we pursue the path of the upright, escaping every snare and shunning every
stumblingblock. Salvation, joy, and holiness must go together, and they are all
provided for us in the covenant of grace. Death is vanquished, tears are dried,
and fears are banished when the Lord is near. Thus has the Psalmist explained the reasons of his resolution
to call upon God as long as he lived, and none can question but that he had come
to a most justifiable resolve. When from so great a depth he had been uplifted
by so special an interposition of God, he was undoubtedly bound to be for ever
the hearty worshipper of Jehovah, to whom he owed so much. Do we not all feel
the force of the reasoning, and will we not carry out the conclusion? May God
the Holy Spirit help us so to pray without ceasing and in everything to give
thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.
Verse 9. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the
living. This is the Psalmist's second resolution, to live as in the sight of
God in the midst of the sons of men. By a man's walk is understood his way of
life: some men live only as in the sight of their fellow men, having regard to
human judgment and opinion; but the truly gracious man considers the presence of
God, and acts under the influence of his all observing eye. "Thou God seest me"
is a far better influence than "My master sees me." The life of faith, hope,
holy fear, and true holiness is produced by a sense of living and walking before
the Lord, and he who has been favoured with divine deliverances in answer to
prayer finds his own experience the best reason for a holy life, and the best
assistance to his endeavours. We know that God in a special manner is nigh unto
his people: what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and
Verse 10. I believed, therefore have I spoken. I could not
have spoken thus if it had not been for my faith: I should never have spoken
unto God in prayer, nor have been able now to speak to my fellow men in
testimony if it had not been that faith kept me alive, and brought me a
deliverance, whereof I have good reason to boast. Concerning the things of God
no man should speak unless he believes; the speech of the waverer is
mischievous, but the tongue of the believer is profitable; the most powerful
speech which has ever been uttered by the lip of man has emanated from a heart
fully persuaded of the truth of God. Not only the Psalmist, but such men as
Luther, and Calvin, and other great witnesses for the faith could each one most
heartily say, "I believed, therefore have I spoken." I was greatly afflicted. There was no mistake about that;
the affliction was as bitter and as terrible as it well could be, and since I
have been delivered from it, I am sure that the deliverance is no fanatical
delusion, but a self evident fact; therefore am I the more resolved to speak to
the honour of God. Though greatly afflicted, the Psalmist had not ceased to
believe: his faith was tried but not destroyed.
Verse 11. I said in my haste, All men are liars. In a
modified sense the expression will bear justification, even though hastily
uttered, for all men will prove to be liars if we unduly trust in them; some
from want of truthfulness, and others from want of power. But from the
expression, "I said in my haste, "it is clear that the Psalmist did not justify
his own language, but considered it as the ebullition of a hasty temper. In the
sense in which he spoke his language was unjustifiable. He had no right to
distrust all men, for many of them are honest, truthful, and conscientious;
there are faithful friends and loyal adherents yet alive; and if sometimes they
disappoint us, we ought not to call them liars for failing when the failure
arises entirely from want of power, and not from lack of will. Under great
affliction our temptation will be to form hasty judgments of our fellow men, and
knowing this to be the case we ought carefully to watch our spirit, and to keep
the door of our lips. The Psalmist had believed, and therefore he spoke; he had
doubted, and therefore he spoke in haste. He believed, and therefore he rightly
prayed to God; he disbelieved, and therefore he wrongfully accused mankind.
Speaking is as ill in some cases as it is good in others. Speaking in haste is
generally followed by bitter repentance. It is much better to be quiet when our
spirit is disturbed and hasty, for it is so much easier to say than to unsay; we
may repent of our words, but we cannot so recall them as to undo the mischief
they have done. If even David had to eat his own words, when he spoke in a
hurry, none of us can trust our tongue without a bridle.
Verse 12. What shall I render unto the LORD for all his
benefits toward me? He wisely leaves off fretting about man's
falsehood and his own ill humour, and directs himself to his God. It is of
little use to be harping on the string of man's imperfection and deceitfulness;
it is infinitely better to praise the perfection and faithfulness of God. The
question of the verse is a very proper one: the Lord has rendered so much mercy
to us that we ought to look about us, and look within us, and see what can be
done by us to manifest our gratitude. We ought not only to do what is plainly
before us, but also with holy ingenuity to search out various ways by which we
may render fresh praises unto our God. His benefits are so many that we cannot
number them, and our ways of acknowledging his bestowments ought to be varied
and numerous in proportion. Each person should have his own peculiar mode of
expressing gratitude. The Lord sends each one a special benefit, let each one
enquire, "What shall I render? What form of service would be most
becoming in me?"
Verse 13. I will take the cup of salvation. "I will take" is
a strange answer to the question, "What shall I render?" and yet it is the
wisest reply that could possibly be given.
"The best return for one like me,
So wretched and so poor,
Is from his gifts to draw a plea
And ask him still for more."
To take the cup of salvation was in itself an act of worship,
and it was accompanied with other forms of adoration, hence the Psalmist says, and call upon the name of the LORD. He means that he will
utter blessings and thanksgivings and prayers, and then drink of the cup which
the Lord had filled with his saving grace. What a cup this is! Upon the table of
infinite love stands the cup full of blessing; it is ours by faith to take it in
our hand, make it our own, and partake of it, and then with joyful hearts to
laud and magnify the gracious One who has filled it for our sakes that we may
drink and be refreshed. We can do this figuratively at the sacramental table, we
can do it spiritually every time we grasp the golden chalice of the covenant,
realizing the fulness of blessing which it contains, and by faith receiving its
divine contents into our inmost soul. Beloved reader, let us pause here and take
a long and deep draught from the cup which Jesus filled, and then with devout
hearts let us worship God.
Verse 14. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence
of all his people. The Psalmist has already stated his third
resolution, to devote himself to the worship of God evermore, and here he
commences the performance of that resolve. The vows which he had made in
anguish, he now determines to fulfil: "I will pay my vows unto the Lord." He does so at once,
"now, "and that publicly, "in the presence of all his people." Good
resolutions cannot be carried out too speedily; vows become debts, and debts
should be paid. It is well to have witnesses to the payment of just debts, and
we need not be ashamed to have witnesses to the fulfilling of holy vows, for
this will show that we are not ashamed of our Lord, and it may be a great
benefit to those who look on and hear us publicly sounding forth the praises of
our prayer hearing God. How can those do this who have never with their mouth
confessed their Saviour? O secret disciples, what say you to this verse! Be
encouraged to come into the light and own your Redeemer. If, indeed, you have
been saved, come forward and declare it in his own appointed way.
Verse 15. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of
his saints, and therefore he did not suffer the Psalmist to die, but
delivered his soul from death. This seems to indicate that the song was meant to
remind Jewish families of the mercies received by any one of the household,
supposing him to have been sore sick and to have been restored to health, for
the Lord values the lives of his saints, and often spares them where others
perish. They shall not die prematurely; they shall be immortal till their work
is done; and when their time shall come to die, then their deaths shall be
precious. The Lord watches over their dying beds, smooths their pillows,
sustains their hearts, and receives their souls. Those who are redeemed with
precious blood are so dear to God that even their deaths are precious to him.
The deathbeds of saints are very precious to the church, she often learns much
from them; they are very precious to all believers, who delight to treasure up
the last words of the departed; but they are most of all precious to the Lord
Jehovah himself, who views the triumphant deaths of his gracious ones with
sacred delight. If we have walked before him in the land of the living, we need
not fear to die before him when the hour of our departure is at hand.
Verse 16. The man of God in paying his vows rededicates
himself unto God; the offering which he brings is himself, as he cries, O
LORD, truly I am thy servant, rightfully, really, heartily, constantly, I
own that I am thine, for thou hast delivered and redeemed me. I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid,
born in thy house, born of a servant and so born a servant, and therefore doubly
thine. My mother was thine handmaid, and I, her son, confess that I am
altogether thine by claims arising out of my birth. O that children of godly
parents would thus judge; but, alas, there are many who are the sons of the
Lord's handmaids, but they are not themselves his servants. They give sad proof
that grace does not run in the blood. David's mother was evidently a gracious
woman, and he is glad to remember that fact, and to see in it a fresh obligation
to devote himself to God. Thou hast loosed my bonds, freedom from bondage binds me to
thy service. He who is loosed from the bonds of sin, death, and hell should
rejoice to wear the easy yoke of the great Deliverer. Note how the sweet singer
delights to dwell upon his belonging to the Lord; it is evidently his glory, a
thing of which he is proud, a matter which causes him intense satisfaction.
Verily, it ought to create rapture in our souls if we are able to call Jesus
Master, and are acknowledged by him as his servants.
Verse 17. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of
thanksgiving. Being thy servant, I am bound to sacrifice to thee, and having
received spiritual blessings at thy hands I will not bring bullock or goat, but
I will bring that which is more suitable, namely, the thanksgiving of my heart.
My inmost soul shall adore thee in gratitude. And will call upon the name of the Lord,
that is to say, I
will bow before thee reverently, lift up my heart in love to thee, think upon
thy character, and adore thee as thou dost reveal thyself. He is fond of this
occupation, and several times in this Psalm declares that "he will call upon the
name of the Lord, "while at the same time he rejoices that he had done so many a
time before. Good feelings and actions bear repeating: the more of hearty
callings upon God the better.
Verse 18. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence
of all his people. He repeats the declaration. A good thing is worth
saying twice. He thus stirs himself up to greater heartiness, earnestness, and
diligence in keeping his vow, --really paying it at the very moment that he is
declaring his resolution to do so. The mercy came in secret, but the praise is
rendered in public; the company was, however, select; he did not cast his pearls
before swine, but delivered his testimony before those who could understand and
Verse 19. In the courts of the LORD'S house: in the proper
place, where God had ordained that he should be worshipped. See how he is
stirred up at the remembrance of the house of the Lord, and must needs speak of
the holy city with a note of joyful exclamation-- In the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. The very thought of the
beloved Zion touched his heart, and he writes as if he were actually addressing
Jerusalem, whose name was dear to him. There would he pay his vows, in the abode
of fellowship, in the very heart of Judea, in the place to which the tribes went
up, the tribes of the Lord. There is nothing like witnessing for Jesus, where
the report thereof will be carried into a thousand homes. God's praise is not to
be confined to a closet, nor his name to be whispered in holes and corners, as
if we were afraid that men should hear us; but in the thick of the throng, and
in the very centre of assemblies, we should lift up heart and voice unto the
Lord, and invite others to join with us in adoring him, saying, Praise ye the LORD,
or Hallelujah. This was a very fit
conclusion of a song to be sung when all the people were gathered together at
Jerusalem to keep the feast. God's Spirit moved the writers of these Psalms to
give them a fitness and suitability which was more evident in their own day than
now; but enough is perceptible to convince us that every line and word had a
peculiar adaptation to the occasions for which the sacred sonnets were composed.
When we worship the Lord we ought with great care to select the words of prayer
and praise, and not to trust to the opening of a hymn book, or to the
unconsidered extemporizing of the moment. Let all things be done decently and in
order, and let all things begin and end with Hallelujah, Praise ye the Lord.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. A Psalm of Thanksgiving in the Person of
Christ. He is imagined by the prophet to have passed through the sorrows and
afflictions of life. The atonement is passed. He has risen from the dead. He is
on the right hand of the Majesty on High; and he proclaims to the whole world
the mercies he experienced from God in the day of his incarnation, and the
glories which he has received in the kingdom of his Heavenly Father. Yet,
although the Psalm possesses this power, and, by its own internal evidence,
proves the soundness of the interpretation, it is yet highly mystic in its mode
of disclosure, and requires careful meditation in bringing out its real results.
Its language, too, is not so exclusively appropriate to the Messiah, that it
shall not be repeated and applied by the believer to his own trials in the
world; so that while there is much that finds a ready parallel in the exaltation
of Christ in heaven, there is much that would seem to be restrained to his
condition upon earth. It therefore depends much on the mind of the
individual, whether he will receive it in the higher sense of the Redeemer's
glory; or restrict it solely to a thanksgiving for blessings amidst those
sufferings in life to which all men have been subject in the same manner, though
not to the same extent as Jesus. The most perfect and the most profitable
reading would combine the two, taking Christ as the exemplar of God's
mercies towards ourselves.
1. (Ps 116:1) Enthroned in eternity, and triumphant over sin
and death--I--Christ--am well pleased that my Heavenly Father listened to the
anxious prayers that I made to him in the day of my sorrows; when I had neither
strength in my own mind, nor assistance from men; therefore "through my
days" --through the endless ages of my eternal existence--will I call upon him
in my gratitude, and praise him with my whole heart.
2. (Ps 116:3) In the troublous times of my incarnation I was
encircled with snares, and urged onwards towards my death. The priest and ruler;
the Pharisee and the scribe; the rich and the poor, clamoured fiercely for my
destruction. The whole nation conspired against me. "The bands of the
grave" laid hold of me, and I was hurried to the cross.
3. (Ps 116:4) Then, truly did Christ find heaviness and
affliction. "His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." He prayed
anxiously to his Heavenly Father, that "the cup might pass from him." The fate
of the whole world was in the balance; and he supplicated with agony, that his
soul might be delivered.
4. (Ps 116:5) The abrupt breaking off in this verse from the
direct narrative of his own sorrows is wonderfully grand and beautiful. Nor less
so, is the expression "our God" as applied by Christ to his own disciples
and believers. "I called, "he states, "on the name of the LORD."
But he does not yet state the answer. He leaves that to be inferred from the
assurance that God is ever gracious to the faithful; yea, "our
God" --the protector of the Christian church, as well as of myself--"our God is
5. (Ps 116:6) Instantly, however, he resumes. Mark the energy
of the language, "I was afflicted; and he delivered me." And how delivered? The
soul of Christ hast returned freely to its tranquillity; for though the body and
the frame perished on the tree, yet the soul burst through the bands of death.
Again in the full stature of a perfect man Christ rose resplendent in glory to
the mansions of eternity. The tears ceased: the sorrows were hushed; and
henceforward, through the boundless day of immortality, doth lie "walk before
Jehovah, in the land of the living." This last is one of those
expressions in the Psalm which might, without reflection, seem adapted to the
rescued believer's state on earth, rather than Christ's in heaven. But applying
the language of earthly things to heavenly-- which is usual, even in the most
mystic writings of Scripture-- nothing can be finer than the appellation of
"the land of the living, "when assigned to the future residence of
the soul. It is the noblest application of the metaphor, and is singularly
appropriate to those eternal mansions where death and sorrow are alike unknown.
6. (Ps 116:10) This stanza will bear an emendation.
I felt confidence, although I said,
"I am sore afflicted."
I said in my sudden terror, --
"All mankind are false." French.
It alludes to the eve of his crucifixion, when worn down with
long watchfulness and fasting, his spirit almost fainted in the agony of
Gethsemane. Still, oppressed and stricken as he was in soul, he yet trusted in
Jehovah, for he felt assured that he would not forsake him. But, sustained by
God, he was deserted by men, the disciples with whom he had lived; the
multitudes whom he had taught; the afflicted whom he had healed, "all
forsook him and fled." Not one--not even the "disciple whom he loved" --remained;
and in the anguish of that desertion he could not refrain from the bitter
thought, that all mankind were alike false and treacherous.
7. (Ps 116:12) But that dread hour has passed. He has risen
from the dead; and stands girt with truth and holiness and glory. What then is
his earliest thought? Hear it, O man, and blush for thine oft ingratitude! I
will lift up "the cup of deliverance" --the drink offering made to God
with sacrifice after any signal mercies received--and bless the Lord who has been
thus gracious to me. In the sight of the whole world will I pay my past vows
unto Jehovah, and bring nations from every portion of the earth, reconciled and
holy through the blood of my atonement. The language in these verses, as in the concluding part of the
Psalm, is wholly drawn from earthly objects and modes of religious service, well
recognized by the Jews. It is in these things that the spiritual sense is
required to be separated from the external emblem. For instance, the sacramental
cup was without a doubt drawn and instituted from the cup used in commemoration
of deliverances by the Jews. It is used figuratively by Christ in heaven; but
the reflective mind can scarcely fail to see the beauty of imagining it in his
hand in thankfulness for his triumph, because "he has burst his bonds in
sunder": the bonds which held him fast in death, and confined him to the tomb:
the assertion that "precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints"
specially includes the sacrifice of Christ within its more general
allusion to the blood shed, in such abundance, by prophets and martyrs to the
truth. In the same manner the worship of Jehovah in the courts of his temple at
Jerusalem is used in figure for the open promulgation of Christianity to the
whole world. The temple services were the most solemn and most public which were
offered by the Jews; and when Christ is said to "offer his sacrifices of
thanksgiving" to God in the sight of all his people, the figure is
easily separated from the grosser element; and the conversion of all
people intimated under the form of Christ seen by all. William Hill
Verse 1. I love. The expression of the prophet's affection
is in this short abrupt phrase, "I love, "which is but one word in the
original, and expressed as a full and entire sentence in itself, thus --I love
because the Lord hath heard, etc. Most translators so turn it, as if, by a
trajection, or passing of a word from one sentence to another, this title Lord
were to be joined with the first clause, thus--(hwhy emvy yk ytbha), "I love the LORD, because he hath
heard, "etc. I deny not but that thus the sense is made somewhat the more
perspicuous, and the words run the more roundly; yet are they not altogether so
emphatic. For when a man's heart is inflamed, and his soul lavished with a deep
apprehension of some great and extraordinary favour, his affection will cause
interruption in the expression thereof, and make stops in his speech; and
therefore this concise and abrupt clause, "I love, "declareth a more
entire and ardent affection than a more full and round phrase would do. Great is
the force of true love, so that it cannot be sufficiently expressed. William
Verse 1. I love the LORD. Oh that there were such hearts in
us that we could every one say, as David, with David's spirit, upon his
evidence, "I love the LORD"; that were more worth than all these, viz.;
First, to know all secrets. Secondly, to prophesy. Thirdly, to move mountains,
etc., 1Co 13:1-2, etc. "I love the LORD"; it is more than I know the
Lord; for even castaways are enlightened, (Heb 6:4); more than I fear the Lord,
for devils fear him unto trembling (Jas 2:19); more than I pray to God (Isa
1:15). What should I say? More than all services, than all virtues separate from
charity: truly say the schools, charity is the form of all virtues, because it
forms them all to acceptability, for nothing is accepted but what issues from
charity, or, in other words, from the love of God. William Slater, 1638.
Verse 1. I love the LORD, because, etc. How vain and foolish
is the talk, "To love God for his benefits towards us is mercenary, and cannot
be pure love!" Whether pure or impure, there is no other love that can flow from
the heart of the creature to its Creator. "We love him, "said the holiest of
Christ's disciples, "because he first loved us; "and the increase of our love
and filial obedience is in proportion to the increased sense we have of our
obligation to him. We love him for the benefits bestowed on us. --Love begets
love. Adam Clarke.
Verse 1. He hath heard my voice. But is this such a benefit
to us, that God hears us? Is his hearing our voice such an argument of his love?
Alas! he may hear us, and we be never the better: he may hear our voice, and yet
his love to us may be but little, for who will not give a man the hearing,
though he love him not at all? With men perhaps it may be so, but not with God;
for his hearing is not only voluntary, but reserved; non omnibus
dormit:his ears are not open to every one's cry; indeed, to hear us, is in
God so great a favour, that he may well be counted his favourite whom he
vouchsafes to hear: and the rather, for that his hearing is always operative,
and with a purpose of helping; so that if he hear my voice, I may be sure he
means to grant my supplication; or rather perhaps in David's manner of
expressing, and in God's manner of proceeding, to hear my voice is no less in
effect than to grant my supplication. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 1. Hath heard. By hearing prayer God giveth evidence
of the notice which he taketh of our estates, of the respect he beareth to our
persons, of the pity he hath of our miseries, of his purpose to supply our
wants, and of his mind to do us good according to our needs. William
Verses 1-2. The first emvy is more of an aorist. The Lord hears always; and then, making
a distinction ygwa hjh. He has done it
hitherto: adqa Therefore will I call upon
Him as long as I live, cleaving to Him in love and faith! It should be noticed,
in addition, that adq here is not simply
the prayer for help, but includes also the praising and thanksgiving, according
to the twofold signification of hwhy Mvk
arq, in Ps 116:4,13,17; therefore, Jarchi very excellently says: In
the time of my distress I will call upon Him, and in the time of my
deliverance l will praise Him. Rudolph Stier.
Verses 1-2. I love. Therefore will I call upon him. It is
love that doth open our mouths, that we may praise God with joyful lips: "I will
love the Lord because he hath heard the voice of my supplications"; and then, Ps
116:2, "I will call upon him as long as I live." The proper intent of mercies is
to draw us to God. When the heart is full of a sense of the goodness of the
Lord, the tongue cannot hold its peace. Self love may lead us to prayers, but
love to God excites us to praises: therefore to seek and not to praise, is to be
lovers of ourselves rather than of God. Thomas Manton.
Verses 1, 12. I love. What shall I render? Love and
thankfulness are like the symbolical qualities of the elements, easily resolved
into each other. David begins with, "I love the Lord, because he hath
heard my voice"; and to enkindle this grace into a greater flame, he records
the mercies of God in some following verses; which done, then he is in the right
mood for praise; and cries, "What shall I render unto the Loud for all
his benefits?" The spouse, when thoroughly awake, pondering with herself
what a friend had been at her door, and how his sweet company was lost through
her unkindness, shakes off her sloth, riseth, and away she goes after him; now,
when by running after her beloved, she hath put her soul into a heat of love,
she breaks out in praising him from top to toe. So 5:10. That is the acceptable
praising which comes from a warm heart; and the saint must use some holy
exercise to stir up his habit of love, which like natural heat in the body, is
preserved and increased by motion. William Gumall.
Verse 2. He hath inclined his ear unto me. How great a
blessing is the inclining of the Divine ear, may be judged from the conduct of
great men, who do not admit a wretched petitioner to audience; but, if they do
anything, receive the main part of the complaint through the officer appointed
for such matters, or through a servant. But God himself hears immediately, and
inclines his ear, hearing readily, graciously, constantly, etc. Who would
not pray? Wolfgang Musculus.
Verse 2. And now because he hath inclined his ear unto me, I
will therefore call upon him as long as I live: that if it be expected I should
call upon any other, it must be when I am dead; for as long as I live, I have
vowed to call upon God. But will this be well done? May I not, in so doing, do
more than I shall have thanks for? Is this the requital that God shall have for
his kindness in hearing me, that now he shall have a customer of me, and never
be quiet because of my continual running to him, and calling upon him? Doth God
get anything by my calling upon him, that I should make it a vow, as though in
calling upon him I did him a pleasure? O my soul, I would that God might indeed
have a customer of me in praying; although I confess I should not be so bold to
call upon him so continually, if his own commanding me did not make it a duty;
for hath not God bid me call upon him when I am in trouble? and is there any
time that I am not in trouble, as long as I live in this vale of misery? and
then can there be any time as long as I live, that I must not call upon him? For
shall God bid me, and shall I not do it? Shall God incline his car, and stand
listening to hear, and shall I hold my peace that he may have nothing to hear?
Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 2. Therefore will I call upon him. If the hypocrite
speed in prayer, and get what he asks, then also he throws up prayer, and will
ask no more. If from a sick bed he be raised to health, he leaves prayer behind
him, as it were, sick abed; he grows weak in calling upon God, when at his call
God hath given him strength. And thus it is in other instances. When he hath got
what he hath a mind to in prayer, he hath no more mind to pray. Whereas a godly
man prays after he hath sped, as he did before, and though he fall not into
those troubles again, and so is not occasioned to urge those petitions again
which he did in trouble, yet he cannot live without prayer, because he cannot
live out of communion with God. The creature is as the white of an egg,
tasteless to him, unless he enjoy God. David saith, "I love the LORD,
because he hath heard my voice and my supplications"; that is, because he
hath granted me that which I supplicated to him for. But did this grant of what
he had asked take him off from asking more? The next words show us what his
resolution was upon that grant. "Because he hath inclined his ear unto me,
therefore will I call upon him as long as I live";as if he had said,
I will never give over praying, forasmuch as I have been heard in prayer.
Verse 2. As long as I live. --Not on some few days, but every
day of my life; for to pray on certain days, and not on all, is the mark of one
who loathes and not of one who loves. Ambrose.
Verse 3. Here begins the exemplification of God's kindness
to his servant; the first branch whereof is a description of the danger wherein
he was and out of which he was delivered. Now, to magnify the kindness of God
the more in delivering him out of the same, he setteth it out with much variety
of words and phrases.
The first word ylbx,
"sorrows, "is diversely translated. Some expound it snares, some cords,
some sorrows. The reason of this difference is because the word itself is
metaphorical. It is taken from cruel creditors, who will be sure to tie their
debtors fast, as with cords, so that they shall not easily get loose and free
again. The pledge which the debtor leaveth with his creditor as a pawn, hath
this name in Hebrew; so also a cord wherewith things are fast tied; and the mast
of a ship fast fixed, and tied on every side with cords; and bands or troops of
men combined together; and the pain of a woman in travail, which is very great;
and destruction with pain and anguish. Thus we see that such a word is used here
as setteth out a most lamentable and inextricable case.
The next word, "of death" twm, sheweth that his case was deadly; death was before his eyes;
death was as it were threatened. He is said to be "compassed" herewith in
two respects: (1) To show that these sorrows were not far off, but even upon
him, as waters that compass a man when he is in the midst of them, or as enemies
that begird a place. (2) To show that they were not few, but many sorrows, as
bees that swarm together.
The word translated "pains, "yrum, in the original is put for sacks fast bound together, and
flint stones, and fierce enemies, and hard straits; so that this word also
aggravates his misery.
The word translated "hell, "lwav, is usually taken in the Old Testament for the grave; it is
derived from lav, a verb that signifieth
to crave, because the grave is ever craving, and never satisfied.
The word translated "gat hold on me, "ygwaum, and "I found, "auma, are both the same verb; they differ only in
circumstances of tense, number, and person. The former sheweth that these
miseries found him, and as a serjeant they seized on him; he did not seek them,
he would wittingly and willingly have escaped them, if he could. The latter
sheweth that indeed he found them; he felt the tartness and bitterness, the
smart and pain of them.
The word translated trouble, hru of dwu, hath a near
affinity with the former word translated pain, dum of dwu, and is used to
set out as great misery as that; and yet further to aggravate the same, another
word is added thereto, "sorrow."
The last word, "sorrow, "Nwgy of hgy, imports such a
kind of calamity as maketh them that lie under it much to grieve, and also
moveth others that behold it much to pity them. It is often used in the
Lamentations of Jeremiah. Either of these two last words, trouble and sorrow, do
declare a very perplexed and distressed estate; what then both of them joined
together? For the Holy Ghost doth not multiply words in vain. William
Verse 3. Gat hold upon me. The original word is, found
me, as we put in the margin. They found him, as an officer or serjeant finds
a person that he is sent to arrest; who no sooner finds him, but he takes hold
of him, or takes him into custody. When warrants are sent out to take a man who
keeps out of the way, the return is, Non est inventus, the man is
not found, he cannot be met with, or taken hold of. David's pains quickly found
him, and having found him they gat hold of him. Such finding is so certainly and
suddenly followed With taking hold, and holding what is taken, that one word in
the Hebrew serves to express both acts. When God sends out troubles and
afflictions as officers to attack any man, they will find him, and finding him,
they will take hold of him. The days of affliction will take hold; there's no
striving, no struggling with them, no getting out of their hands. These divine
pursuivants will neither be persuaded nor bribed to let you go, till God speak
the word, till God say, Deliver him, release him. I found trouble and
sorrow. I found trouble which I looked not for. I was not searching after
sorrow, but I found it. There's an elegancy in the original. The Hebrew is,
"The pains of hell found me." They found me, I did not find them; but no
sooner had the pains of hell found me, than I found trouble and sorrow, enough,
and soon enough. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 3. See how the saints instead of lessening the dangers
and tribulations, with which they are exercised by God, magnify them in
figurative phraseology; neither do they conceal their distress of soul, but
clearly and willingly set it forth. Far otherwise are the minds of those who
regard their own glory and not the glory of God. The saints, that they may make
more illustrious the glory of the help of God, declare things concerning
themselves which make but little for their own glory. Wolfgang Musculus.
Verses 3-7. Those usually have most of heaven upon earth,
that formerly have met with most of hell upon earth. The sorrows of
death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found
trouble and sorrow: (as Jonas crying in the belly of hell). But look upon
him within two or three verses after, and you may see him in an ecstasy, as if
he were in heaven; Ps 116:7: Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the
LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. Matthew Lawrence.
Verse 4. The name of the LORD. God's name, as it is set out
in the word, is both a glorious name, full of majesty; and also a gracious name,
full of mercy. His majesty worketh fear and reverence, his mercy faith and
confidence. By these graces man's heart is kept within such a compass, that he
will neither presume above that which is meet, nor despond more than there is
cause. But where God's name is not rightly known, it cannot be avoided but that
they who come before him must needs rush upon the rock of presumption, or sink
into the gulf of desperation. Necessary, therefore, it is that God be known of
them that pray to him, that in truth they may say, "We have called upon
the name of the LORD." Be persuaded hereby so to offer up your spiritual
sacrifice of supplication to God, that he may have respect to your persons and
prayers, as he had respect to Abel and his offering. Learn to know the name of
God, as in his word it is made known; and then, especially when you draw near to
him, meditate on his name. Assuredly God will take good notice of them that take
due notice of him, and will open his ears to them by name who rightly call upon
his name. William Gouge.
Verse 4. O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. A short
prayer for so great a suit, and yet as short as it was, it prevailed. If we
wondered before at the power of God, we may wonder now at the power of prayer,
that can prevail with God, for obtaining of that which in nature is impossible,
and to reason is incredible. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 4. We learn here that there is nothing better and more
effectual in distressing agonies than assiduous prayer--Then called I
upon the name of the LORD; but in such prayers the first care ought to be
for the salvation of the soul--I beseech thee, deliver my soul;
for, this being done, God also either removes or mitigates the bodily disease.
Verse 5. Gracious is the Lord, etc. He is gracious in
hearing, he is "righteous" in judging, he is "merciful" in
pardoning, and how, then, can I doubt of his will to help me? He is righteous to
reward according to deserts; he is gracious to reward above deserts; yea, he is
merciful to reward without deserts; and how, then, can I doubt of his will to
help me? He is gracious, and this shows his bounty; he is righteous, and this
shows his justice; yea, he is merciful, and this shows his love; and how, then,
can I doubt of his will to help me? If he were not gracious I could not hope he
would hear me; if he were not righteous, I could not depend upon his promise; if
he were not merciful, I could not expect his pardon; but now that he is gracious
and righteous and merciful too, how can I doubt of his will to help me? Sir
Verse 5. The first attribute, "gracious,
"(Nwgx) hath especial respect to that
goodness which is in God himself. The root (Ngx) whence it cometh signifieth to do a thing gratis, freely, of
one's own mind and goodwill. This is that word which is used to set out the free
grace and mere goodwill of God, thus (Nxa ddva
ta ytgxw) "I will be gracious to
whom I will be gracious, "Ex 33:19. There is also an adverb (Mgh) derived thence, which signifieth gratis, freely,
as where Laban thus speaketh to Jacob, "Shouldest thou serve me for nought?"
Thus is the word opposed to merit. And hereby the prophet acknowledged that the
deliverance which God gave was for the Lord's own sake, upon no desert of him
that was delivered.
The second attribute, "righteous" or just, (qydu), hath particular relation to the promise of God.
God's righteousness largely taken is the integrity or equity of all his
counsels, words, and actions... Particularly is God's righteousness manifested
in giving reward and taking vengeance. Thus it is said to be "a righteous thing
with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are
troubled rest, "2Th 1:6-7... But the occasion of mentioning God's righteousness
here in this place being to show the ground of his calling on God, and of God's
delivering him, it must needs have respect to God's word and promise, and to
God's truth in performing what he hath promised. William Gouge.
Verse 5. The Lord; our God. The first title,
"Lord, "sets out the excellency of God. Fit mention is here made thereof,
to shew the blessed concurrence of greatness and goodness in God. Though he be
Jehovah the Lord, yet is he gracious, and righteous, and merciful. The second
title, "our God, "manifests a peculiar relation betwixt him and the
faithful that believe in him, and depend on him, as this prophet did. And to
them in an especial manner the Lord is gracious, which moved him thus to change
the person; for where he had said in the third person "the Lord is gracious,
"here, in the first person, he says, "our God, "yet so that he
appropriates not this privilege to himself, but acknowledgeth it to be common to
all of like character by using the plural number, "our." William
Verse 5. The "Berlenburger Bibelwerk" says, "The
righteousness is very significantly placed between the grace and the mercy: for
it is still necessary, that the evil should be mortified and driven out. Grace
lays, as it were, the foundation for salvation, and mercy perfects the work; but
not till righteousness has finished its intermediary work." Rudolph
Verse 5. Our God is merciful. Mercy is God's darling
attribute; and by his infinite wisdom he has enabled mercy to triumph over
justice without in any degree violating his honour or his truth. The character
of merciful is that by which our God seems to delight in being known. When he
proclaimed himself amid terrific grandeur to the children of Israel, it was as
"the Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, pardoning iniquity,
transgression, and sin." And such was the impression of this his character on
the mind of Jonah that he says to him, "I knew that thou wert a merciful God."
These, however, are not mere assertions--claims made to the character by God on
the one hand, and extorted without evidence from man on the other; for in
whatever way we look upon God, and examine into his conduct towards his
creatures, we perceive it to bear the impression of mercy. Nor can we more exalt
the Lord our God than by speaking of his mercy and confiding in it; for our
"Lord's delight is in them that fear him, and put their trust in his mercy."
John Gwyther, 1833.
Verse 6. The Lord preserveth the simple. God taketh most
care of them that, being otherwise least cared for, wholly depend on him. These
are in a good sense simple ones; simple in the world's account, and simple in
their own eyes. Such as he that said, "I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of
men, and despised of the people." Ps 22:6. And again, "I am poor and needy, yet
the Lord thinketh on me." Ps 40:17. These are those poor ones of a contrite
spirit on whom the Lord looketh. Isa 66:2. Of such fatherless is God a father;
and of such widows a judge. Read Ps 68:5, and Ps 146:7-9. Yea, read observantly
the histories of the Gospel, and well weigh who they were to whom Christ in the
days of his flesh afforded succour, and you shall find them to be such simple
ones as are here intended. By such objects the free grace and merciful mind of the Lord is
best manifested. Their case being most miserable, in reference to human helps,
the greater doth God's mercy appear to be; and since there is nothing in them to
procure favour or succour from God, for in their own and others' eyes they are
nothing, what God doth for them evidently appeareth to be freely done. Behold here how of all others they who seem to have least cause
to trust on God have most cause to trust on him. Simple persons, silly wretches,
despicable fools in the world's account, who have not subtle brains, or crafty
wits to search after indirect means, have, notwithstanding, enough to support
them, in the grand fact that they are such as the Lord preserveth. Now, who
knoweth not that "It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in
man; it is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in princes"? Ps
118:8-9. William Gouge.
Verse 6. The Lord preserveth the simple. How delightful it
is to be able to reflect on the character of God as preserving the soul.
The word properly signifies to defend us at any season of danger. The Hebrew
word which is translated "simple, "signifies one who has no control over
himself, one that cannot resist the power and influence of those around, and
one, therefore, subject to the greatest peril from which he has naturally no
deliverance. "The Lord preserveth": his eye is upon them, his hand is over them,
and they cannot fall. The word "simple" signifies likewise those that are
ignorant of their condition, and not watching over their foes. Delightful
thought, that though we may be thus ignorant, yet we are blessed with the means
of escape! We may be simple to the last extent, and our simplicity may be such
as to involve our mind in the greatest doubt: the Lord preserveth us, and let us
rest in him. It is delightful to reflect, that it is the simple in whom the Lord
delights, whom he loves to bless. We are sometimes especially in the condition
in which we may be inclined to make the inquiry, how we may be saved. We suppose
there are many truths to be apprehended, many principles to be realized before
we can be saved. No; "the Lord preserveth the simple." We may be able to
reconcile scarcely any of the doctrines of Christianity with each other; we may
find ourselves in the greatest perplexity when we examine the evidences on which
they rest; we may be exposed to great difficulty when we seek to apply them to
practical usefulness; but still we may adopt the language before us: The LORD
preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto
thy rest, O my soul. R. S. M'All, 1834.
Verse 6. The LORD preserveth the simple. The term
simple equals the "simplicity" of the New Testament, namely, that pure
mind towards God, which, without looking out for help from any other quarter,
and free from ali dissimulation, expects salvation from him alone. Augustus
Verse 6. The simple. They are such as honestly keep the
plain way of God's commandments, without those slights, or creeks of carnal
policy, for which men are m the world esteemed wise; see Ge 25:27, where Jacob
is called a plain man. Simple or foolish he calls them, because they are
generally so esteemed amongst the wise of the world; not that they are so silly
as they are esteemed; for if the Lord can judge of wisdom or folly, the only
fool is the Atheist and profane person (Ps 14:1); the only wise man in the world
is the plain, downright Christian (De 4:6), who keeps himself precisely in all
states to that plain, honest course the Lord hath prescribed him. To such simple
ones, God's fools, who in their misery and affliction keep them only to the
means of deliverance and comfort which the Lord hath prescribed them, belongs
this blessing of preservation from mischief, or destruction: so Solomon (Pr
16:17), "The highway of the upright is to depart from evil." "He that keepeth
his way preserveth his soul"; see also Pr 19:16,23; for exemplification see in
Asa, 2Ch 14:9-12 16:7-9, read the excellent speech of Hanani the seer.
William Slater, 1638.
Verse 6. I was brought low. By affliction and trial. The
Hebrew literally means to hang down, to be pendulous, to swing, to wave--as a
bucket in a well, or as the slender branches of the palm, the willow, etc. Then
it means to be slack, feeble, weak, as in sickness, etc. It probably refers to
the prostration of strength by disease. And he helped me. He gave me
strength; he restored me. Albert Barnes.
Verse 6. I was brought low, and he helped me. The word
translated "brought low, "ygtld a
tld, properly signifieth to be drawn dry. The metaphor is taken from
ponds, or brooks, or rivers that are clean exhausted and dried up, where water
utterly faileth. Thus doth Isaiah use this word, "The brooks shall be emptied
and dried up, " Isa 19:6, yray wkrhw
wlld. Being applied to man, it setteth out such an one as is spent,
utterly wasted, for, as we use to speak, clean gone, who hath no ability to help
himself, no means of help, no hope of help from others. The other word whereby the succour which God afforded is
expressed, and translated "helped" eyvwhy ab evy,
signifies such help as frees out of danger. It is usually translated "to save."
Verse 6. I was brought low, and he helped me. Then is the
time of help, when men are brought low: and therefore God who does all things in
due time when I was brought low, then helped me. Wherefore, O my soul, let it
never trouble thee how low soever thou be brought, for when thy state is at the
lowest, then is God's assistance at the nearest. We may truly say, God's ways
are not as the ways of the world; for in the world when a man is once brought
low, he is commonly trampled upon, and nothing is heard then but, "down with
him, down to the ground": but with God it is otherwise; for his delight is to
raise up them that fall, and when they are brought low, then to help them. Hence
it is no such hard case for a man to be brought low, may I not rather say his
case is happy? For is it not better to be brought low, and have God to help him,
than to be set aloft and left to help himself? At least, O my body, this may be
a comfort to thee: for thou art sure to be brought low, as low as the grave,
which is low indeed; yet there thou mayest rest in hope; for even there the Lord
will not fail to help thee. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 6. He helped me. Helped me both to bear the worst and
to hope the best; helped me to pray, else desire had failed helped me to wait,
else faith had failed. Matthew Henry.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. The Psalmist had
been at a great deal of unrest, and much off the hooks, as we say; now,
having prayed (for prayer hath vim pacativam, a pacifying property), he
calls his soul to rest; and rocks it asleep in a spiritual security. Oh, learn
this holy art; acquaint thyself with God, acquiesce in him, and be at peace; so
shall good be done unto thee. Job 22:21. Sis Sabbathum Christi. Luther.
Verse 7. Gracious souls rest in God; they and none else.
Whatever others may speak of a rest in God, only holy souls know what it means.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul, to thy rest in calm and cheerful
submission to God's will, delight in his service, satisfaction in his presence,
and joy in communion begun with him here below, which is to be perfected above
in its full fruition. Holy souls rest in God, and in his will; in his will of
precept as their sovereign Lord, whose commands concerning all things are right,
and in the keeping of which there is great reward; in his will of providence as
their absolute owner, and who does all things well; in himself as their God,
their portion, and their chief good, in whom they shall have all that they can
need, or are capable of enjoying to complete their blessedness for ever.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest. Return to that rest which
Christ gives to the weary and heavy laden, Mt 11:28. Return to thy Noah, his
name signifies rest, as the dove when she found no rest returned to the ark. I
know no word more proper to close our eyes with at night when we go to sleep,
nor to close them with at death, that long sleep, than this, "Return unto thy
rest, O my soul." Matthew Henry.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest. Consider the variety of
aspects of that rest which a good man seeks, and the ground upon which he will
endeavour to realize it. It consists in,
1. Rest from the perplexities of ignorance, and the wanderings
2. Rest from the vain efforts of self righteousness, and the
disquietude of a proud and legal spirit.
3. Rest from the alarms of conscience, and the apprehensions of
4. Rest from the fruitless struggles of our degenerate nature,
and unaided conflicts with indwelling sin.
5. Rest from the fear of temporal suffering and solicitude
arising from the prospect of danger and trial.
6. Rest from the distraction of uncertainty and indecision of
mind, and from the fluctuations of undetermined choice. R. S. M'All.
Verse 7. Return, ykwv. This is the very word which the angel used to Hagar when she
fled from her mistress, "Return, "Ge 16:9. As Hagar through her mistress' rough
dealing with her fled from her; so the soul of this prophet by reason of
affliction fell from its former quiet confidence in God. As the angel therefore
biddeth Hagar "return to her mistress, "so the understanding of this prophet
biddeth his soul return to its rest. William Gouge.
Verse 7. Rest. The word "rest" is put in the plural,
as indicating complete and entire rest, at all times, and under all
circumstances. A. Edersheim.
Verses 7-8. For the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. He
hath dealt indeed most bountifully with thee, for where thou didst make suit but
for one thing, he hath granted thee three. Thou didst ask but to have my soul
delivered, and he hath delivered mine eyes and my feet besides; and with a
deliverance in each of them the greatest that could be: for what greater
deliverance to my soul than to be delivered from death? What greater deliverance
to my eyes than to be delivered from tears? What to my feet than to be delivered
from falling? That if now, O my soul, thou return not to thy rest, thou wilt
show thyself to be most insatiable; seeing thou hast not only more than thou
didst ask, but as much indeed as was possible to be asked. But can my soul die? and if not, what bounty is it to deliver
my soul from that to which it is not subject? The soul indeed, though immortal,
hath yet her ways of dying. It is one kind of death to the soul to be parted
from the body, but the truest kind is to be parted from God; and from both these
kinds of death he hath delivered my soul. From the first, by delivering me from
a dangerous sickness that threatened a dissolution of my soul and body; from the
other, by delivering me from the guilt of sin, which threatened a separation
from the favour of God; and are not these bounties so great as to give my soul
just cause of returning to her rest? Sir Richard Baker.
Verses 7, 9. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. . . . I will
walk. How can these two stand together? Motus et quies private
opponuntur, saith the philosopher, motion and rest are opposite; now
walking is a motion, as being an act of the locomotive faculty.
How then could David return to his rest and yet walk? You must
know that walking and rest here mentioned, being of a
divine nature, do not oppose each other; spiritual rest maketh no
man idle, and therefore it is no enemy to walking; spiritual
walking maketh no man weary, and therefore it is no enemy to rest.
Indeed, they are so far from being opposite that they are subservient to each
other, and it is hard to say whether that rest be the cause of
this walking, or this walking a cause of that rest.
Indeed, both are true, since he that rests in God cannot but
walk before him, and by walking before, we come to rest in God.
Returning to rest is an act of confidence, since there is no rest to
be had but in God, nor in God but by believing affiance in, and reliance on him.
Walking before God is an act of obedience;when we disobey
we wander and go astray, only by obedience we walk. Now these two are so far
from being enemies, that they are companions and ever go together; confidence
being a means to quicken obedience, and obedience to strengthen confidence.
Verse 8. Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes
from tears, and my feet from falling. Lo, here a deliverance, not
from one, but many dangers, to wit, "death, ""tears, ""falling." Single
deliverances are as threads; but when multiplied, they become as a cord twisted
of many threads, more potent to draw us to God. Any one mercy is as a link, but
many favours are as a chain consisting of several links, to bind us the closer
to our duty; vis unita fortior. Frequent droppings of the rain
cannot but make an impression even on the stone, and renewed mercies may well
prevail with the stony heart. Parisiensis relates a story of a man whom
(notwithstanding his notorious and vicious courses) God was pleased to
accumulate favours upon, so that at last he cried out, "Vicisti,
benignissime Deus, indefatigabili sua bonitate, Most gracious God,
thy unwearied goodness hath overcome my obstinate wickedness"; and from that
time devoted himself to God's service. No wonder, then, if David upon
deliverance from such numerous and grievous afflictions, maketh this his
resolve, to "walk before the Lord in the land of the living."
Verse 8. As an humble and sensible soul will pack up many
troubles in one, so a thankful soul will divide one mercy into sundry particular
branches, as here the Psalmist distinguishes, the delivery of his soul from
death, of his eyes from tears, and of his feet from falling. David
Verse 8. Some distinguish the three particulars thus: He
hath delivered my soul from death, by giving me a good conscience;
mine eyes from tears, by giving a quiet conscience; my feet
from falling, by giving an enlightened and assured conscience. William
Verse 8. My feet from falling. Whether means he, into penal
misery and mischief, or into sin? There is a lapsus moralis, as 1Co
10:12. Err I? or would David here be understood of sinning? So Ps 73:2: "My feet
were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped." And if I be not deceived, the
text leans to that meaning, rising still from the less to the greater. First. It
is more bounty to be kept from grief than from death, for there is a greater
enlargement from misery. It is not more bounty to be kept from the sense of
affliction than to be kept from death, which is the greatest of temporal evils;
but it is more bounty in a gracious eye to be kept from sin than from death.
Secondly. How his eyes from tears? If not kept from sin? That had surely
cost him many a tear, as Peter (Mt 26:75). But understand it de lapsu
morali, so the gradation still riseth to enlarge God's bounty: yea, which I
count the greatest blessing, in these afflictions he kept me steady in my course
of piety, and suffered not afflictions to sway my heart from him. Still, in a
gracious eye, the benefit seems greater to be delivered from sinning than from
the greatest outward affliction. This is the reason Paul (Ro 8:37) triumphs over
all afflictions. 2Co 11:22-33 and 2Co 12:1-10. He counts them his glory, his
crown; but speaking of the prevailing of corruption in particular, he bemoans
himself as the most miserable man alive. Ro 7:24. William Slater.
Verse 9. I will walk, etc. It is a holy resolution which
this verse records. The previous verse had mentioned among the mercies
vouchsafed, "Thou hast delivered my feet from falling"; and the first use of the
restored limb is, I will walk before the LORD. It reminds me of the
crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, to whom Peter had said, "In
the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk"; and "immediately his ankle bones
received strength, and he leaping up stood and walked, and entered with them
into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." It is a very sure mark
of a grateful heart to employ the gift to the praise of the giver, in such a
manner as he would most wish it to be employed. Barton Bouchier.
Verse 9. When you, my soul, return to this rest, thou shalt
walk in order that thou mayest have some exercise in thy rest, that thy resting
may not make thee restive. I will walk before the Lord in the land of
the living. For now that my feet are delivered from falling, how can I
better employ them than in walking? Were they delivered from falling that they
should stand still and be idle? No, my soul, but to encourage me to walk: and
where is so good walking as in the land of the living Alas! what walking is it
in the winter, when all things are dead, when the very grass lies buried under
ground, and scarce anything that has life in it is to be seen? But then is the
pleasant walking, when nature spreads her green carpet to walk upon, and then it
is the land of the living, when the trees shew they live, by bringing forth, if
not fruits, at least leaves; when the valleys shew they live, by bringing forth
sweet flowers to delight the smell, at least fresh grass to please the eyes. But
is this the walking in the land of the living that David means? O my soul, to
walk in the land of the living is to walk in the paths of righteousness: for
there is no such death to the soul as sin, no such cause of tears to the eyes as
guiltiness of conscience, no such falling of the feet as to fall from God: and
therefore, to say the truth, the soul can never return to its rest if we walk
not within in the paths of righteousness; and we cannot well say whether this
rest be a cause of the walk, or the walking be a cause of the resting: but this
we may say, they are certainly companions the one to the other, which is in
effect but this --that justification can never be without sanctification. Peace
of conscience, and godliness of life, can never be one without the other. Or is
it perhaps that David means that land of the living where Enoch and Elias are
living, with the living God? But if he mean so, how can he speak so confidently,
and say, "I will walk in the land of the living"? as though he
could come to walk there by his own strength, or at his own pleasure? He
therefore gives his reason: "I believed, and therefore I spake, "for the
voice of faith is strong, and speaks with confidence; and because in faith he
believes that he should come to walk in the land of the living, therefore with
confidence lie speaks it, I will walk in the land of the living. Sir
Verse 9. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living,
i.e., I shall pass the whole of my life under his fatherly care and
protection. The prophet has regard to the custom of men, and chiefly of parents:
for those who ardently love their children have them always in their thoughts
and carry them there, never ceasing from care and anxiety about them, but being
always attentive to their safety. Omnis enim in natis chari stat cura
parentis. Children are, therefore, said to walk before and in the sight of
their parents, because they have them as constant guardians of their health and
safety. Thus also the godly in this life walk before God, that is to say, are
defended by his care and protection. Mollerus.
Verse 9. I will walk before the LORD. According to a
different reading of the first word, "I shall, "and, "I will, "the
clause puts on several senses; if read "I shall walk, "they are words of
confident expectation;if "I will, "they are words of obedient
resolution. According to the former, the Psalmist promises somewhat to
himself from God; according to the latter, he promises somewhat of himself to
God. Both these constructions are probable and profitable. "Before God";
that is, in his service; or, "before God, "that is, under his care. Let
us consider both senses.
1. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the
living; that is, by continuing in this world, I shall have opportunity of
doing God service. It was not because those holy men had less assurance of God's
love than we, but because they had greater affections to God's service than we,
that this life was so amiable in their eyes. To this purpose the reasonings of
David and Hezekiah concerning death and the grave are very observable. "Shall
the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth"? so David, Ps 30:9. "The grave
cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee"; so Hezekiah, Isa 38:18. They
saw death would render them useless for God's honour, and therefore they prayed
for life. It lets us see why a religious man may desire life, that he may
walk before the LORD, and minister to him in the place wherein he hath
set him. Indeed, that joy, hope, and desire of life which is founded upon this
consideration is not only lawful, but commendable; and truly herein is a vast
difference between the wicked and the godly. To walk in the land of the living
is the wicked man's desire, yea, were it possible he would walk here for ever;
but for what end? only to enjoy his lusts, have his fill of pleasure, and
increase his wealth: whereas the godly man's aim in desiring to live is that he
may "walk before God, "advance his glory, and perform his service. Upon
this account it is that one hath fitly taken notice how David doth not say, I
shall now satiate myself with delights in my royal city, but, I shall walk
before the LORD in the land of the living.
2. And most suitably to this interpretation, this "before
the LORD, "means under the Lord's careful eye. The words
according to the Hebrew may be read, before the face of the LORD, by
which is meant his presence, and that not general, before which all men walk,
but special, before which only good men walk. Indeed, in this sense God's
face is as much as his favour; and as to be cast out of his sight is to be
under his anger, so to walk before his face is to be in favour with him: so that
the meaning is, as the Psalmist had said, I shall live securely and safely in
this world under the careful protection of the Almighty; and this is the
confidence which he here seemeth to utter with so much joy, that God's gracious
providence should watch over him the remainder of his days. Nathanael Hardy, in
a Sermon entitled "Thankfulness in Grain," 1654.
Verse 9. In the land of the living. These words admit of a
threefold interpretation, being understood by some, especially for the land of
Judea. By others, erroneously for the Jerusalem which is above. By the most, and
most probably, for this habitable earth, the present world.
1. That exposition which Cajetan, Lorinus, with others, give of
the words, would not be rejected, who conceive that by the land of the
living David here meaneth Judea, in which, or rather over which being
constituted king, he resolves to walk before God, and do him service. This is
not improbably that "land of the living" in which the Psalmist when an
exile "believed to see the goodness of the Lord"; this is certainly that "land
of the living" wherein God promises to "set his glory"; nor was this title
without just reason appropriated to that country. (a) Partly, because it
was a "land" which afforded the most plentiful supports and comforts of
natural life, in regard of the wholesomeness of the climate, the goodness of the
soil, the overflowing of milk and honey, with other conveniences both for food
and delight. (b) Chiefly, because it was the "land" in which the
living God was worshipped, and where he vouchsafed to place his name; whereas
the other parts of the world worshipped lifeless things, of which the Psalmist
saith, "They have mouths, and speak not; eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not."
2. The land of the living is construed by the ancients
to be that heavenly country, the place of the blessed. Indeed, this
appellation does most fitly agree with heaven: this world is desertum
mortuorum, a desert of dead, at least, dying men; that only is regio
virorum, a region of living saints. "He who is our life" is in heaven, yea,
"our life is hid with him in God, "and therefore we cannot be said to live till
we come thither. In this sense no doubt that devout bishop and martyr, Babilas,
used the words, who being condemned by Numerianus, the emperor, to an unjust
death, a little before his execution repeated this and the two preceding verses,
with a loud voice. Nor is it unfit for any dying saint to comfort himself with
the like application of these words, and say in a confident hope of that blessed
sight, I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
3. But doubtless the literal and proper meaning of these words
is of David's abode in the world;during which time, wheresoever he should
be, he would "walk before God"; for that seems to be the emphasis of the
plural number, lands, according to the original. The world consists of many
countries, several lands, and it is possible for men either by force, or
unwillingly, to remove from one country to another: but a good man when he
changeth his country, yet altereth not his religion, yea, wherever he is he
resolves to serve his God. Nathaniel Hardy.
Verse 9. Land of the living. How unmeet, how shameful, how
odious a thing is it that dead men should be here on the face of the earth,
which is "the land of the living." That there are such is too true. "She
that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth, "1Ti 5:6; Sardis had a name
that she lived, but was dead, Re 3:1; "The dead bury their dead, "Mt 8:22; all
natural men are "dead in sins, " Eph 2:1 2Co 5:14. William Gouge.
Verses 9, 12, etc. The Hebrew word that is rendered
walk, signifies a continued action, or the reiteration of an action.
David resolves that he will not only take a turn or two with God, or walk a
pretty way with God, as Orpah did with Ruth, and then take his leave of God, as
Orpah did of her mother, Ru 1:10-15; but he resolves, whatever comes on it, that
he will walk constantly, resolutely, and perpetually before God; or before the
face of the Lord. Now, walking before the face of the Lord doth imply a very
exact, circumspect, accurate, and precise walking before God; and indeed, no
other walking is either suitable or pleasing to the eye of God. But is this all
that he will do upon the receipt of such signal mercies? Oh no! for he resolves
to take the cup of salvation, and to call upon the name of the Lord, and to
offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, Ps 116:13, 17. But is this all that he will
do? Oh, no! for he resolves that he will presently pay his vows unto the Lord in
the presence of all his people, Ps 116:14, 18. But is this all that he will do?
Oh, no! for he resolves that he will love the Lord better than ever and more
than ever, Ps 116:1-2. He loved God before with a real love, but having now
received such rare mercies from God, he is resolved to love God with a more
raised love, and with a more inflamed love, and with a more active and stirring
love, and with a more growing and increasing love than ever. Thomas
Verse 10. I believed, therefore have I spoken. It is not
sufficient to believe, unless you also openly confess before unbelievers,
tyrants, and all others. Next to believing follows confession; and therefore,
those who do not make a confession ought to fear; as, on the contrary, those
should hope who speak out what they have believed. Paulus Palanterius.
Verse 10. I believed, therefore have I spoken. That is to
say, I firmly believe what I say, therefore I make no scruple of saying it. This
should be connected with the preceding verse, and the full stop should be placed
at "spoken." Samuel Horsley.
Verse 10. I believed, etc. Some translate the words thus:
"I believed when I said, I am greatly afflicted: I believed when I
said in my haste, all men are liars"; q.d., Though I have had my
offs and my ons, though I have passed through several frames of
heart and tempers of soul in my trials, yet I believed still, I never let go my
hold, my grip of God, in my perturbation. John Trapp.
Verse 10. The heart and tongue should go together. The
tongue should always be the heart's interpreter, and the heart should always be
the tongue's suggester; what is spoken with the tongue should be first stamped
upon the heart and wrought off from it. Thus it should be in all our
communications and exhortations, especially when we speak or exhort about the
things of God, and dispense the mysteries of heaven. David spake froth his heart
when he spake from his faith. I believed, therefore have I spoken.
Believing is an act of the heart, "with the heart man believeth"; so that to
say, "I believed, therefore have I spoken, "is as if he had said,
I would never have spoken these things, if my heart had not been clear and
upright in them. The apostle takes up that very protestation from David (2Co
4:13): "According as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we
also believe, and therefore speak"; that is, we move others to believe nothing
but what we believe, and are fully assured of ourselves. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 10. I was greatly afflicted. After that our minstrel
hath made mention of faith and of speaking the word of God, whereby are to be
understood all good works that proceed and come forth out of faith, he now
singeth of the cross, and sheweth that he was very sore troubled, grievously
threatened, uncharitably blasphemed, evil reported, maliciously persecuted,
cruelly troubled, and made to suffer all kinds of torments for uttering and
declaring the word of God. "I believed, "saith he, "therefore have I
spoken; but I was very sore troubled." Christ's word and the cross
are companions inseparable. As the shadow followeth the body, so doth the cross
follow the word of Christ: and as fire and heat cannot be separated, so cannot
the gospel of Christ and the cross be plucked asunder. Thomas Becon
(1511-1567 or 1570).
Verses 10-11. The meaning seems to be this--I spake as I have
declared (Ps 116:4) because I trusted in God. I was greatly afflicted, I was in
extreme distress, I was in great astonishment and trembling (as the word
rendered "haste" signifies trembling as well as haste, as it is rendered
in De 20:3;)and in these circumstances I did not trust in man; I said, "all
men are liars" --i.e., not fit to be trusted in; those that will fail
and deceive the hopes of those who trust in them, agreeable to Ps 62:8-9.
Verse 11. I said in my haste, All men are liars, Rather, in
an ecstasy of despair, I said, the whole race of man is a delusion. Samuel
Verse 11. All men are liars. That is to say, every man who
speaks in the ordinary manner of men concerning happiness, and sets great value
on the frail and perishable things of this world, is a liar; for true and solid
happiness is not to be found in the country of the living. This explanation
solves the sophism proposed by St. Basil. If every man be a liar, then David was
a liar; therefore he lies when he says, every man is a liar--thus contradicting
himself, and destroying his own position. This is answered easily; for when
David spoke he did so not as man, but from an Inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Verse 11. All men are liars. Juvenal said, "Dare to do
something worthy of transportation and imprisonment, if you mean to be of
consequence. Honesty is praised, but starves." A pamphlet was published some
time ago with the title, "Whom shall we hang?" A very appropriate one
might now be written with a slight change in the title--"Whom shall we
trust?" From "A New Dictionary of Quotations, "1872.
Verses 11-15. It seems that to give the lie was not so
heinous an offence in David's time as it is in these days; for else how durst he
have spoken such words, That all men are liars, which is no less than to
give the lie to the whole world? and yet no man, I think, will challenge him for
saying so; no more than challenge St. John for saying that all men are sinners,
and indeed how should any man avoid being a liar, seeing the very being of man
is itself a lie? not only is it a vanity, and put in the balance less than
vanity; but a very lie, promising great matters, and able to do just nothing, as
Christ saith, "without me ye can do nothing": and so Christ seems to come in, to
be David's second, and to make his word good, that all men are
liars. And now let the world do its worst, and take the lie how it will,
for David having Christ on his side, will always be able to make his part good
against all the world, for Christ hath overcome the world.
But though all men may be said to be liars, yet not all men in
all things; for then David himself should be a liar in this: but all men perhaps
in something or other, at some time or other, in some kind or other. Absolute
truth is not found in any man, but in that man only who was not man only; for if
he had been but so, it had not perhaps been found in him neither, seeing
absolute truth and deity are as relatives, never found to be asunder.
But in what thing is it that all men should be liars? Indeed,
in this for one; to think that God regards not, and loves not them whom he
suffers to be afflicted; for we may rather think he loves them most whom he
suffers to be most afflicted; and we may truly say he would never have suffered
his servant Job to be afflicted so exceeding cruelly, if he had not loved him
exceeding tenderly; for there is nothing lost by suffering afflictions. No, my
soul, they do but serve to make up the greater weight of glory, when it shall be
But let God's afflictions be what they can be, yet I will
always acknowledge they can never be in any degree so great as his benefits: and
oh, that I could think of something that I might render to him for all
his benefits:for shall I receive such great, such infinite benefits from
him, and shall I render nothing to him by way of gratefulness? But, alas, what
have I to render? All my rendering to him will be but taking more from him: for
all I can do is but to take the cup of salvation, and call upon his name,
and what rendering is there in this taking? If I could take the cup of
tribulation, and drink it off for his sake, this might be a rendering of some
value; but this, God knows, is no work for me to do. It was his work, who said,
"Can ye drink of the cup, of which I shall drink?" Indeed, he drank of the cup
of tribulation, to the end that we might take the cup of salvation; but then in
taking it we must call upon his name; upon his name and upon no other; for else
we shall make it a cup of condemnation, seeing there is no name under heaven, in
which we may be saved, but only the name of Jesus.
Yet it may be some rendering to the Lord if I pay my vows, and
do, as it were, my penance openly; I will therefore pay my vows to the
Lord, in the presence of all his people. But might he not pay his vows as
well in his closet, between God and himself, as to do it publicly? No, my soul,
it serves not his turn, but he must pay them in the presence of all his people;
yet not to the end he should be applauded for a just payer; for though he pay
them, yet he can never pay them to the full; but to the end, that men seeing his
good works, may glorify God by his example. And the rather perhaps, for that
David was a king, and the king's example prevails much with the people, to make
them pay their vows to God: but most of all, that by this means David's piety
may not be barren, but may make a breed of piety in the people also: which may
be one mystical reason why it was counted a curse in Israel to be barren; for he
that pays not his vows to God in the presence of his people may well be said to
be barren in Israel, seeing he begets no children to God by his example. And
perhaps, also, the vows which David means here were the doing of some mean
things, unfit in show for the dignity of a king; as when it was thought a base
thing in him to dance before the ark; he then vowed he would be baser yet: and
in this case, to pay his vows before the people becomes a matter of necessity:
for as there is no honour to a man whilst he is by himself alone, so there is no
shame to a man but before the people: and therefore to shew that he is not
ashamed to do any thing how mean soever, so it may tend to the glorifying of
God; "he will pay his vows in the presence of all his people." And
he will do it though it cost him his life, for if he die for it he knows that
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. But
that which is precious is commonly desired: and doth God then desire the death
of his saints? He desires, no doubt, that death of his saints which is to die to
sin: but for any other death of his saints, it is therefore said to be precious
in his sight, because he lays it up with the greater carefulness. And for this
it is there are such several mansions in God's house, that to them whose death
is precious in his sight he may assign the most glorious mansions. This indeed
is the reward of martyrdom, and the encouragement of martyrs, though their
sufferings be most insufferable, their troubles most intolerable; yet this makes
amends for all; that "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death
of his saints." For if it be so great a happiness to be acceptable in his
sight, how great a happiness must it be to be precious in his sight? When God,
at the creation looked upon all his works, it is said he saw them to be all
exceeding good: but it is not said that any of them were precious in his sight.
How then comes death to be precious in his sight, that was none of his works,
but is a destroyer of his works? Is it possible that a thing which destroys his
creatures should have a title of more value in his sight, than his creatures
themselves? O, my soul, this is one of the miracles of his saints, and perhaps
one of those which Christ meant, when he said to his apostles, that greater
miracles than he did they should do themselves: for what greater miracle than
this, that death, which of itself is a thing most vile in the sight of God, yet
once embraced by his saints, as it were by their touch only, becomes precious in
his sight? To alter a thing from being vile to be precious, is it not a greater
miracle than to turn water into wine? Indeed so it is; death doth not damnify
his saints, but his saints do dignify death. Death takes nothing away from his
saints' happiness, but his saints add lustre to death's vileness. It is happy
for death that ever it met with any of God's saints; for there was no way for it
else in the world, to be ever had in any account: but why say I, in the world?
For it is of no account in the world for all this: it is but only in the sight
of God; but indeed this only is all in all; for to be precious in God's sight is
more to be prized than the world itself. For when the world shall pass away, and
all the glory of it be laid in the dust; then shall trophies be erected for the
death of his saints: and when all monuments of the world shall be utterly
defaced, and all records quite rased out; yet the death of his saints shall
stand registered still, in fair red letters in the calendar of heaven. If there
be glory laid up for them that die in the Lord; much more shall they be
glorified that die for the Lord.
I have wondered oftentimes, why God will suffer his saints to
die; I mean not the death natural, for I know statutum est omnibus semel
mori;but the death that is by violence, and with torture: for who could
endure to see them he loves so cruelly handled? But now I see the reason of it;
for, Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
And what marvel then if he suffer his saints to die; when by dying they are
wrought, and made fit jewels to be set in his cabinet; for as God has a bottle
which he fills up with the tears of his saints, so I may say he hath a cabinet
which he decks up with the deaths of his saints: and, O my soul, if thou
couldest but comprehend what a glory it is to serve for a jewel in the decking
up of God's cabinet, thou wouldest never wonder why he suffers his saints to be
put to death, though with never so great torments, for it is but the same which
Saint Paul saith: "The afflictions of this life are not worthy to be compared
with the glory that shall be revealed." Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 12. What shall I render unto the LORD? Rendering to
the true God, in a true and right manner, is the sum of true religion. This
notion is consonant to the scriptures: thus: "Render unto God the things that
are God's." Mt 22:21. As true loyalty is a giving to Caesar the things that are
Caesar's, so true piety is the giving to God the things that are God's. And so,
in that parable of the vineyard let out to husbandmen, all we owe to God is
expressed by the rendering the fruit of the vineyard;Mt 21:41. Particular
acts of religion are so expressed in the Scriptures, Ps 56:12; Ho 14:2 2Ch
34:31. Let this, then, be the import of David's xwhyl kyva xm, "What shall I render unto the LORD?" "In
what things, and by what means, shall I promote religion in the exercise
thereof? How shall I show myself duly religious towards him who hath been
constantly and abundantly munificent in his benefits towards me?" Henry
Verse 12. All his benefits toward me. What reward shall we
give unto the Lord, for all the benefits he hath bestowed? From the cheerless
gloom of nonexistence he waked us into being; he ennobled us with understanding;
he taught us arts to promote the means of life; he commanded the prolific earth
to yield its nurture; he bade the animals to own us as their lords. For us the
rains descend; for us the sun sheddeth abroad its creative beams; the mountains
rise, the valleys bloom, affording us grateful habitation and a sheltering
retreat. For us the rivers flow; for us the fountains murmur; the sea opens its
bosom to admit our commerce; the earth exhausts its stores; each new object
presents a new enjoyment; all nature pouring her treasures at our feet, through
the bounteous grace of him who wills that all be ours. Basil, 326-379.
Verse 12. All his benefits. As partial obedience is not
good, so partial thanks is worthless: not that any saint is able to keep all the
commands, or reckon up all the mercies of God, much less return particular
acknowledgment for every single mercy; but as he "hath respect unto all the
commandments" (Ps 119:6), so he desires to value highly every mercy, and to his
utmost power give God the praise of all. An honest soul would not conceal any
debt he owes to God, but calls upon itself to give an account for all his
benefits. The skipping over one note in a lesson may spoil the grace of the
music; unthankfulness for one mercy disparages our thanks for the rest.
Verse 13. I will take the cup of salvation. --It may probably
allude to the libation offering, Nu 28:7; for the three last verses seem to
intimate that the Psalmist was now at the temple, offering the meat offering,
drink offering, and sacrifices to the Lord. "Cup" is often used by the
Hebrews to denote plenty or abundance. So, "the cup of trembling, "an abundance
of misery; "the cup of salvation, "an abundance of happiness.
Verse 13. Cup of salvation. In holy Scripture there is
mention made of drink offerings, Ge 25:14 Le 23:13 Nu 15:5; which were a certain
quantity of wine that used to be poured out before the Lord; as the very
notation of the word imports, coming from a root dmg, effudit, that signifieth to pour out. As the meat
offerings, so the drink offerings, were brought to the Lord in way of
gratulation and thanksgiving. Some therefore in allusion hereunto so expound the
text, as a promise and vow of the Psalmist, to testify his public gratitude by
such an external and solemn rite as in the law was prescribed. This he terms
a cup, because that drink offering was contained in a cup and poured out
thereof; and he adds this epithet, "salvation, "because that rite was an
acknowledgment of salvation, preservation and deliverance from the Lord. After their solemn gratulatory sacrifices they were wont to
have a feast. When David had brought the ark of God into the tabernacle, they
offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, which being finished, "he dealt to
every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a
good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine." 1Ch 16:8. Hereby is implied that he
made so beautiful a feast, as he had to give thereof to all the people there
assembled. In this feast the master thereof was wont to take a great cup, and in
lifting it up to declare the occasion of that feast, and then in testimony of
thankfulness to drink thereof to the guests, that they in order might pledge
him. This was called a cup of salvation, or deliverance, because they
acknowledged by the use thereof that God had saved and delivered them. Almost in
a like sense the apostle styles the sacramental cup, the cup of blessing. Here
the prophet useth the plural number, thus, "cup of salvations, "whereby,
after the Hebrew elegancy, he meaneth many deliverances, one after another; or
some great and extraordinary deliverance which was instead of many, or which
comprised many under it. The word translated take (ava a avg)
properly signifieth to lift up, and in that respect may the more fitly be
applied to the aforementioned taking of the festival cup and lifting it up
before the guests. Most of our later expositors of this Psalm apply this phrase,
"I will take the cup of salvation, "to the forenamed gratulatory drink offering,
or to the taking and lifting up of the cup of blessing in the feast, after the
solemn sacrifice. Both of these import one and the same thing, which is, that
saints of old were wont to testify their gratefulness for great deliverances
with some outward solemn rite. William Gouge.
Verse 13. Cup of salvation. Yeshuoth:Ps 18:50 28:8
53:6. The cup of salvation, symbolized by the eucharistic cup of the Passover
Supper. --Zion that had drunk of the "cup of trembling" (Isa 51:17, 22) might now
rise and drink of the cup of salvation. To the church these words have had a yet deeper significance
added to them by Mt 26:27. Jesus, on that Passover night, drank of the bitter
wine of God's wrath, that he might refill the cup with joy and health for his
people. William Kay.
Verses 13-14, 17-19. A fit mode of expressing our thanks to
God is by solemn acts of worship, secret, social, and public. "The closet will
be the first place where the heart will delight in pouring forth its lively
joys; thence the feeling will extend to the family altar: and thence again it
will proceed to the sanctuary of the Most High." (J. Morison). To every
man God has sent a large supply of benefits, and nothing but perverseness can
deny to him the praise of our lips. William, S. Plumer.
Verse 14. A man that would have his credit as to the truth
of his word kept up, would choose those to be witnesses of his performing who
were witnesses of his promising. I think David took this heed in his rendering
and paying his vows: "I will do it, "saith he, "now in the
presence of all his people." The people were witnesses to his straits,
prayers, and vows; and he will honour religion by performing in their sight what
he sealed, signed, and delivered as his vow to the Lord. Seek not more witnesses
than providence makes conscious of thy vows, lest this be interpreted
ostentation and vain self glorying: take so many, lest the good example be lost,
or thou suspected of falsifying thy vow. Briefly and plainly: Didst thou on a sick bed make thy vow
before thy family, and before the neighbourhood? Be careful to perform it before
them; let them see thou art what thou vowedst to be. This care in thy vow will
be a means to make it most to the advantage of religion, whilst all that heard
or knew thy vow bear thee testimony that thou art thankful, and thus thou givest
others occasion to glorify thy Father who is in heaven. Henry Hurst
(1690) in "The Morning Exercises."
Verse 14. I will pay my vows, etc. Foxe, in his Acts and
Monuments, relates the following concerning the martyr, John Philpot: --"He went
with the sheriffs to the place of execution; and when he was entering into
Smithfield the way was foul, and two officers took him up to bear him to the
stake. Then he said merrily, What, will ye make me a pope? I am content to go to
my journey's end on foot. But first coming into Smithfield, he kneeled down
there, saying these words, I will pay my vows in thee, O Smithfield."
Verse 15. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of
his saints. It is of value or importance in such respects as the
following: --(1) As it is the removal of another of the redeemed to glory--the
addition of one more to the happy hosts above; (2) as it is a new triumph of the
work of redemption, --allowing the power and the value of that work; (3) as it
often furnishes a more direct proof of the reality of religion than any abstract
argument could do. How much has the cause of religion been promoted by the
patient deaths of Ignatius, Polycarp, and Latimer, and Ridley, and Huss, and
Jerome of Prague, and the hosts of martyrs! What does not the world owe, and the
cause of religion owe, to such scenes as occurred on the deathbeds of Baxter,
and Thomas Scott, and Halyburton, and Payson! What an argument for the truth of
religion, --what an illustration of its sustaining power, --what a source of
comfort to those who are about to die, -- to reflect that religion does not leave
the believer when he most needs its support and consolation; that it can sustain
us in the severest trial of our condition here; that it can illuminate what
seems to us of all places most dark, cheerless, dismal, repulsive --"the
valley of the shadow of death." Albert Barnes.
Verse 15. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of
his saints. The death of the saints is precious in the Lord's sight.
First, because he "seeth not as man seeth." He judgeth not according to
the appearance; he sees all things as they really are, not partially: he traces
the duration of his people, not upon the map of time, but upon the infinite
scale of eternity; he weighs their happiness, not in the little balance of
earthly enjoyment, but in the even and equipoised balance of the sanctuary. In
the next place, I think the death of the saints is precious in the Lord's sight,
because they are taken from the evil to come;they are delivered from the
burden of the flesh; ransomed by the blood of the Redeemer, they are his
purchased possession, and now he receives them to himself. Sin and sorrow for
ever cease; there is no more death, the death of Christ is their redemption; by
death he overcame him that had the power of death; therefore, they in him are
enabled to say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
Again, the death of the saints is precious in the Lord's sight, for in it he
often sees the very finest evidences of the work of his own Spirit upon
the soul;he sees faith in opposition to sense, leaning upon the
promises of God. Reposing upon him who is mighty to save, he sees hope even
against hope, anchoring the soul secure and steadfast on him who is passed
within the veil; he sees patience acquiescing in a Father's will--humility
bending beneath his sovereign hand--love issuing from a grateful heart. Again,
the death of the saints is precious in the Lord's sight, as it draws out the
tenderness of surviving Christian friends, and is abundant in the
thanksgivings of many an anxious heart; it elicits the sympathies of Christian
charity, and realises that communion of saints, of which the Apostle speaks,
when he says, "if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; if one
rejoice they all joy."... The death of saints is precious, because the sympathy
of prayer is poured forth from many a kindly Christian heart... Nor is this
all--the death of saints is precious, for that is their day of seeing Jesus
face to face. Patrick Pounden's Sermon in "The Irish Pulpit," 1831.
Verse 15. Precious. Their death is precious (jakar);
the word of the text is, in pretio fuit, magni estimatum est. See how the
word is translated in other texts.
1. Honourable, Isa 43:4 (jakarta); "thou was precious in
my sight, thou hast been honourable."
2. Much set by, 1Sa 18:80: "His name was much set by."
3. Dear, Jer 31:20. An filius (jakkir) pretiosus mihi
Ephraim:"Is Ephraim my dear son?"
4. Splendid, clear, or glorious, Job 31:10. Si vidi
lunam (jaker) pretiosam et abeuntem: "the moon walking in brightness."
Put all these expressions together, and then we have the
strength of David's word, "The death of the saints is precious"; that is,
(1) honourable; (2) much set by; (3) dear; (4) splendid and glorious in the
sight of the Lord. Samuel Totshell, in "The House of Mourning, "1660.
Verse 15. Precious. It is proper to advert, in the first
place, to the apparent primary import of the phrase, namely, Almighty God
watches over, and sets a high value upon the holy and useful lives of
his people, and will not lightly allow these lives to be abbreviated or
destroyed. In the second place, the words lead us to advert to the control
which he exercises over the circumstances of their death. These are
under his special arrangement. They are too important in his estimation to be
left to accident. In fact, chance has no existence. In the intervention of
second causes, he takes care always to overrule and control them for good. Let
the weakest believer among you be quite sure, be "confident of this very thing,
"that he will never suffer your great enemy to take advantage of anything in the
manner of your death, to do you spiritual harm. No, on the contrary, he takes
all its circumstances under his immediate and especial disposal. This sentiment
will admit, perhaps, of a third illustration; when the saints are dying, the
Lord looks upon them, and is merciful unto them. Who can say how
often he answers prayer, even in the cases of dying believers? Never does he
fail to support, even where he does not see good to spare. By the whispers of
his love, by the witness of his Spirit, by the assurance of his presence, by the
preparatory revelation of heavenly glory, he strengthens his afflicted ones, he
makes all their bed in their sickness. Ah! and when, perhaps, they scarcely
possess a bed to languish upon, when poverty or other calamitous circumstances
leave them, in the sorrow of sickness, no place of repose but the bare ground
for their restless bodies, and his bosom for their spirits, do they ever find
God fail them? No; many a holy man has slept the sleep of death with the
missionary Martyr, in a strange and inhospitable land, or with the missionary
Smith, upon the floor of a dungeon, and yet
"Jesus has made their dying bed
As soft as downy pillows are."
When no other eye saw, when no other heart felt, for these two
never to be forgotten martyrs, murdered men of God, and apostles of Jesus, then
were they precious in God's sight, and he was present with them. And so it is
with all his saints, who are faithful unto death. Fourthly, we are warranted by
the text and the tenor of Scripture, in affirming that the Lord attaches
great importance to the deathbed itself. This is in his
estimate--whatever it may be in ours-- too precious, too important, to be
overlooked; and hence it is often with emphasis, though always with a practical
bearing, recorded in Scripture. It is possible, certainly, to make too much of
it, by substituting, as a criterion of character, that which may be professed
under the excitement of dying sufferings, for the testimony of a uniform,
conspicuous career of holy living. But it is equally indefensible, and even
ungrateful to God, to make too little of it, to make too little account of a
good end, when connected with a good beginning and with a patient continuance in
"The chamber where the good man meets his fate
Is privileged beyond the common walk of virtuous life."
Its transactions are sometimes as fraught with permanent
utility as with present good. The close of a Christian's career on earth, his
defiance, in the strength of his Saviour, of his direst enemy, the good
confession which he acknowledges when he is enabled to witness before those
around his dying bed, all these are precious and important in the sight of the
Lord, and ought to be so in our view, and redound, not only to his own
advantage, but to the benefit of survivors, "to the praise of the glory of his
grace." W. M. Bunting, in a Sermon at the City Road Chapel, 1836.
Verse 15. Why need they beforehand be afraid of death, who
have the Lord to take such care about it as he doth? We may safely, without
presuming, we ought securely without wavering, to rest upon this, that our blood
being precious in God's eyes, either it shall not be split, or it is seasonable,
and shall be profitable to us to have it split. On this ground "the righteous
are bold as a lion, "Pr 28:1. "Neither do they fear what man can do unto them."
Heb 13:6. Martyrs were, without question, well instructed herein, and much
supported hereby. When fear of death hindereth from any duty, or draweth to any
evil, then call to mind this saying, "Precious in the sight of the
Lord is the death of his favourites." For who would not valiantly, without
fainting, take such a death as is precious in God's sight? William Gouge.
Verse 15. His saints imports appropriation. Elsewhere
Jehovah asserts, "All souls are mine." But he has an especial property in-- and
therefore claim upon--all saints. It is he that made them such. Separate from God
there could be no sanctity. And as his right, his original right, in all men, is
connected with the facts of their having been created and endowed by his hand,
and thence subjected to his moral government, so, and much more, do all holy
beings, all holy men, who owe to his grace their very existence as such, who
must cease to be saints, if they could cease to be his saints, whom he has
created anew in Christ Jesus by the communication of his own love, his own
purity, his own nature, whom he continually upholds in this exalted state, so,
and much more, do such persons belong to God. They are "his saints,
"through him and in him, saints of his making, and modelling, and establishing,
and therefore his exclusively. Let this reference to the mighty working
of God by his Spirit in you, your connection, your spiritual connection, with
him, and your experience of his saving power, --let this reference convert the
mystery into the mercy of sanctification in your hearts.
"His saints" denotes, in the second place,
devotedness. They are saints not only through him, but to
him; holy unto the Lord, sanctified or set apart to his service, self
surrendered to the adorable Redeemer.
"His saints" may import resemblance --close
resemblance. Such characters are emphatically God like, holy and pure;
children of their Father which is in heaven; certifying to all around their
filial relationship to him, by their manifest participation of his nature, by
their reflection of his image and likeness.
"His saints" suggests associations of endearment,
of complacency. "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in all them
that hope in his mercy"; "a people near unto him"; "the Lord's portion is his
people"; and "Happy is that people that is in such a case, yea, happy is that
people whose God is the Lord." Condensed from a Scranton by W. M. Bunting,
Verse 15. Saints. The persons among whom implicitly he
reckons himself, styled saints, are in the original set out by a word
(Mydymx) that imports an especial respect
of God towards them. The root whence that word issueth signifieth mercy
(dmx consecravit, benefecit).
Whereupon the Hebrews have given such a name to a stork, which kind among fowls
is the most merciful; and that not only the old to their young ones, as most
are, but also the young ones to the old, which they use to feed and carry when
through age they are not able to help themselves. This title is attributed to men in a double respect;
Passively, in regard of God's mind and affection to them;
2. Actively, in regard
of their mind and affection to others. God's merciful kindness is great towards
them; and their mercy and kindness are great towards their brethren. They are,
therefore, by a kind of excellency and property styled "men of mercy." Isa 57:1.
In regard of this double acceptation of the word, some translate it, "merciful,
tender, or courteous," Ps 18:25. Others with a paraphrase with many words,
because they have not one fit word to express the full sense, thus, "Those whom
God followeth with bounty, or to whom God extendeth his bounty." This latter I
take to be the most proper to this place; for the word being passively taken for
such as are made partakers of God's kindness, it sheweth the reason of that high
account wherein God hath them, even his own grace and favour. We have a word in
English that in this passive signification fitly answereth the Hebrew, which is
this, favourite. William Gouge.
Verse 15. Death now, as he hath done also to mine,
has paid full many a visit to your house; and in very deed, he has made fell
havoc among our comforts. We shall yet be avenged on this enemy-- this King of
Terrors. I cannot help at times clenching my fist in his face, and roaring out
in my agony and anguish, "Thou shalt be swallowed up in victory!" There is even,
too, in the meantime, this consolation; "O Death, where is thy sting?" "Precious
in the sight of the Lord is the death for his saints, "in the first
place; in the second place, and resting on the propitiatory death, "Precious in
the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." The Holy Ghost, Ps
116:15, states the first; our translators, honest men, have very fairly and
truly inferred the second. We are obliged to them. The death of your lovely
child, loveliest in the beauties of holiness, with all that was most afflictive
and full of sore trial in it, is nevertheless, among the things in your little
family, which are right precious in the sight of the Lord; and this in it, is
that which pleases you most; precious, because of the infinite, the abiding, and
the unchanging worth of the death of God's own holy child Jesus. The calm so
wonderful, the consolation so felt, yea, the joy in tribulation so great, have
set before your eves a new testimony, heart touching indeed, that, after
eighteen hundred years have passed, "the death of his saints" is still
precious as ever in the sight of the Lord. Take your book of life, sprinkled
with the blood of the covenant, and in your family record, put the death of
Rosanna down among the precious things in your sight also--I should rather have
said likewise. Present my kindest regards to Miss S--Tell her to wipe that tear
away--Rosanna needs it not. I hope they are all well at L--, and that your young
men take the way of the Lord in good part. My dear Brother, "Go thy way, thy
child liveth, "is still as fresh as ever it was, from the lips of Him that
liveth for ever and ever, and rings with a loftier and sweeter sound, even than
when it was first heard in the ears and heart of the parent who had brought and
laid his sick and dying at the feet of Him who hath the keys of hell and of
death. John Jameson, in "Letters; True Fame," etc., 1838.
Verse 16. O Lord, truly I am thy servant. Thou hast made me
free, and I am impatient to be bound again. Thou hast broken the bonds of sin;
now, Lord, bind me with the cords of love. Thou hast delivered me from the
tyranny of Satan, make me as one of thy hired servants. I owe my liberty, my
life, and all that I have, or hope, to thy generous rescue: and now, O my
gracious, my Divine Friend and Redeemer, I lay myself and my all at thy feet.
Samuel Lavington, 1728-1807.
Verse 16. I am thy servant. The saints have ever had a holy
pride in being God's servants; there cannot be a greater honour than to serve
such a Master as commands heaven, earth, and hell. Do not think thou dost honour
God in serving him; but this is how God honours thee, in vouchsafing then to be
his servant. David could not study to give himself a greater style than--"O
Lord, or, truly I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid, "and
this he spake, not in the phrase of a human compliment, but in the humble
confession of a believer. Yea, so doth the apostle commend this excellency, that
he sets the title of servant before that of an apostle; first servant, then
apostle. Great was his office in being an apostle, greater his blessing in being
a servant of Jesus Christ; the one is an outward calling, the other an inward
grace. There was an apostle condemned, never any servant of God. Thomas
Verse 16. I am thy servant. This expression of the king of
1. A humble sense of his distance from God and his
dependence upon him. This is the first view which a penitent hath of
himself when he returns to God. It is the first view which a good man hath of
himself in his approaches to, or communion with God. And, indeed, it is what
ought to be inseparable from the exercise of every other pious affection. To
have, as it were, high and honourable thoughts of the majesty and greatness of
the living God, and a deep and awful impression of the immediate and continual
presence of the heart searching God, this naturally produces the greatest self
abasement, and the most unfeigned subjection of spirit before our Maker. It
leads to a confession of him as Lord over all, and having the most absolute
right, not only to the obedience, but to the disposal of all his creatures. I
cannot help thinking this is conveyed to us in the language of the Psalmist,
when he says, O LORD, truly I am thy servant. He was a prince
among his subjects, and had many other honourable distinctions, both natural and
acquired, among men; but he was sensible of his being a servant and subject of
the King of kings; and the force of his expression, "Truly, I am thy servant,
" not only signifies the certainty of the thing, but how deeply and strongly
he felt a conviction of its truth.
2. This declaration of the Psalmist implies a confession
of his being bound by particular covenant and consent unto God, and a
repetition of the same by a new adherence. This, as it was certainly true with
regard to him, having often dedicated himself to God, so I take it to be
confirmed by the reiteration of the expression here, O LORD, truly I am thy
servant; I am thy servant. As if he had said, "O Lord, it is undeniable; it
is impossible to recede from it. I am thine by many ties. I am by nature thy
subject and thy creature; and I have many times confessed thy right and promised
my own duty." I need not mention to you, either the example in the Psalmist's
writings, or the occasions in his history, on which he solemnly surrendered
himself to God. It is sufficient to say, that it was very proper that he should
frequently call this to mind, and confess it before God, for though it could not
make his Creator's right any stronger, it would certainly make the guilt of his
own violation of it so much the greater.
3. This declaration of the Psalmist is an expression of
his peculiar and special relation to God. I am thy servant,
and the son of thine handmaid. There is another passage of his
writings where the same expression occurs: Ps 86:16. "O turn unto me, and have
mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine
handmaid." There is some variation among interpreters in the way of illustrating
this phrase. Some take it for a figurative way of affirming, that he was bound
in the strongest manner to God, as those children who were born of a
maidservant, and born in his own house, were in the most absolute manner their
master's property. Others take it to signify his being not only brought up in
the visible church of God, but in a pious family, and educated in his fear; and
others would have it to signify still more especially that the Psalmist's mother
was an eminently pious woman. And indeed I do not think that was a circumstance,
if true, either unworthy of him to remember, or of the Spirit of God to put upon
record. John Witherspoon, 1722-1797.
Verse 16. O Lord, I am thy servant, by a double
right; (and, oh, that I could do thee double service;)as thou art the Lord of my
life, and I am the son of thy handmaid: not of Hagar, but of Sarah; not of the
bondwoman, but of the free; and therefore I serve thee not in fear, but in love;
or therefore in fear, because in love: and then is service best done when it is
done in love. In love indeed I am bound to serve thee, for, Thou hast loosed
my bonds; the bonds of death which compassed me about, by delivering me from
a dangerous sickness, and restoring me to health: or in a higher kind; thou hast
loosed my bonds by freeing me from being a captive to be a servant; and which is
more, from being a servant to be a son: and more than this, from being a son of
thy handmaid, to be a son of thyself. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 16. Bless God for the privilege of being the children
of godly parents. Better be the child of a godly than of a wealthy parent. I
hope none of you are of so vile a spirit as to condemn your parents because of
their piety. Certainly it is a great privilege when you can go to God, and plead
your Father's covenant: LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy
servant, and the son of thy handmaid. So did Solomon, 1Ki 8:25-26,
"Lord, make good thy word to thy servant David, my father." That you are not
born of infidels, nor of papists, nor of upholders of superstition and
formality, but in a strict, serious, godly family, it is a great advantage that
you have. It is better to be the sons of faithful ministers than of nobles.
Thomas Manton, in, a Sermon preached before the Sons of the
Verse 16. Thou hast loosed my bonds. Mercies are given to
encourage us in God's service, and should be remembered to that end. Rain
descends upon the earth, not that it might be more barren, but more fertile. We
are but stewards; the mercies we enjoy are not our own, but to be improved for
our Master's service. Great mercies should engage to great obedience. God begins
the Decalogue with a memorial of his mercy in bringing the Israelites out of
Egypt, --"I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt."
How affectionately doth the Psalmist own his relation to God as his servant,
when he considers how God had loosed his bonds: O LORD, truly I am thy
servant; thou hast loosed my bonds! the remembrance of thy mercy shall make
me know no relation but that of a servant to thee. When we remember what wages
we have from God, we must withal remember that we owe more service, and more
liveliness in service, to him. Duty is but the ingenuous consequent of mercy. It
is irrational to encourage ourselves in our way to hell by a remembrance of
heaven, to foster a liberty in sin by a consideration of God's bounty. When we
remember that all we have or are is the gift of God's liberality, we should
think ourselves obliged to honour him with all that we have, for he is to have
honour from all his gifts. It is a sign we aimed at God's glory in begging
mercy, when we also aim at God's glory in enjoying it. It is a sign that love
breathed the remembrance of mercy into our hearts, when at the same time it
breathes a resolution into us to improve it. It is not our tongues, but our
lives must praise him. Mercies are not given to one member, but to the whole
man. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 17. The sacrifice of thanksgiving.
"When all the heart is pure, each warm desire
Sublimed by holy love's ethereal fire.
On winged words our breathing thoughts may rise,
And soar to heaven, a grateful sacrifice." James Scott.
Verse 18. Vows. Are well composed vows such promoters of
religion? and are they to be made so warily? and do they bind so strictly? Then
be sure to wait until God give you just and fit seasons for vowing. Be not over
hasty to vow: it is an inconsiderate and foolish haste of Christians to make
more occasions of vowing than God doth make for them. Make your vows, and spare
not, so often as God bids you; but do not do it oftener. You would wonder I
should dissuade you from vowing often, when you have such constant mercies; and
wonder well you might, if God did expect your extraordinary bond and security
for every ordinary mercy: but he requires it not; he is content with ordinary
security of gratitude for ordinary mercies; when he calls for extraordinary
security and acknowledgment, by giving extraordinary mercies, then give it and
do it. Henry Hurst.
Verse 18. Now. God gave an order that no part of the thank
offering should be kept till the third day, to teach us to present our praises
when benefits are newly received, which else would soon wax stale and putrefy as
fish doth. "I will pay my vows now, "saith David. Samuel Clarke
(1599-1682) in "A Mirror or Looking glass, both for Saints and
Verse 18. In the presence of all his people. For good
example's sake. This also was prince like, Eze 46:10. The king's seat in the
sanctuary was open, that all might see him there, 2Ki 11:14, and 2Ki 23:3.
Verse 18. In the presence of all his people. Be bold, be
bold, ye servants of the Lord, in sounding forth the praises of your God. Go
into presses of people; and in the midst of them praise the Lord. Wicked men are
over bold in pouring forth their blasphemies to the dishonour of God; they care
not who hear them. They stick not to do it in the midst of cities. Shall they be
more audacious to dishonour God, than ye zealous to honour him? Assuredly Christ
will shew himself as forward to confess you, as you are, or can be to confess
him. Mt 10:32. This holy boldness is the ready way to glory. William
Verse 19 (second clause). He does not simply say in
the midst of Jerusalem: but, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem? He speaks
to the city as one who loved it and delighted in it. We see here, how the saints
were affected towards the city in which was the house of God. Thus we should be
moved in spirit towards that church in which God dwells, the temple he inhabits,
which is built up, not of stones, but of the souls of the faithful. Wolfgang
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
1. Present--"I love."
2. Past--"He hath."
3. Future--"I will."
Verses 1-2. Personal experience in reference to prayer.
1. We have prayed, often, constantly, in different ways, etc.
2. We have been heard. A grateful retrospect of usual answers
and of special answers.
3. Love to God has thus been promoted.
4. Our sense of the value of prayer has become so intense that
we cannot cease praying.
Verses 1, 2, 9. If you cast your eyes on the first verse of
the Psalm, you find a profession of love --I love the Lord; if on
the second, a promise of prayer --I will call on the Lord; if on
the ninth, a resolve of walking --I will walk before the
LORD. There are three things should be the object of a saint's care, the
devotion of the soul, profession of the mouth, and conversation of the life:
that is the sweetest melody in God's ears, when not only the voice sings, but
the heartstrings keep tune, and the hand keepeth time. Nathanael Hardy.
Verse 2. "He hath, "and therefore "I will." Grace moving to
Verses 2, 4, 13, 17. Calling upon God mentioned four times
very suggestively--I will do it (Ps 116:2), I have tried it (Ps 116:4), I will do
it when I take (Ps 116:13), and when I offer (Ps 116:17).
Verses 2, 9, 13-14, 17. The "I wills" of the Psalm. I will
call (Ps 116:2), I will walk (Ps 116:9), I will take (Ps 116:13), I will pay (Ps
116:14), I will offer (Ps 116:17).
Verses 3-4, 8. See Spurgeon's Sermon, "To Souls in Agony, "
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No 1216.
Verses 3-5. The story of a tried soul.
1. Where I was. Ps 116:3.
2. What I did. Ps 116:4.
3. What I learned. Ps 116:5.
1. The occasion. (a) Bodily affliction. (b) Terrors of
conscience. (c) Sorrow of heart. (d) Self accusation: "I found, "etc.
2. The petition. (a) Direct: "I called, "etc. (b)
Immediate: "then, "when the trouble came; prayer was the first remedy sought,
not the last, as with many. (c) Brief--limited to the due thing needed: "deliver
my soul." (d) Importunate: "O Lord, I beseech thee."
3. The restoration. (a) Implied: "gracious, "etc., Ps
116:5. (b) Expressed, Ps 116:6, generally: "The Lord preserveth, "etc.;
particularly; "I was brought low, " etc.: helped me to pray, helped me out of
trouble in answer to prayer, and helped me to praise him for the mercy, the
faithfulness, the grace, shown in my deliverance. God is glorified through the
afflictions of his people: the submissive are preserved in them, and the lowly
are exalted by them. G. R.
1. Eternal grace, or the purpose of love.
2. Infinite justice, or the difficulty of holiness.
3. Boundless mercy, or the outcome of atonement.
1. A singular class--"simple."
2. A singular fact--"the Lord preserveth the simple."
3. A singular proof of the fact--"I was, "etc.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. Rest in God may be
said to belong to the people of God on a fourfold account.
1. By designation. The rest which the people of God have in him
is the result of his own purpose and design, taken up from his mere good
pleasure and love.
2. By purchase. The rest which they wanted as creatures
they had forfeited as sinners. This, therefore, Christ laid down his life
3. By promise. This is God's kind engagement. He has said, "My
presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest, "Ex 33:14.
4. By their own choice gracious souls have a rest in God. D.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. When, or upon what
occasion a child of God should use the Psalmist's language.
1. After converse with the world in the business of his calling
2. When going to the sanctuary on the Lord's day.
3. In and under any trouble he may meet with.
4. When departing from this world at death. D. Wilcox.
1. The rest of the soul: "My rest, "this is in God. (a) The
soul was created to find its rest in God. (b) On that account it cannot find
2. Its departure from that rest. This is implied in the word
3. Its return. (a) By repentance. (b) By faith, in the way
provided for its return. (c) By prayer.
4. Its encouragement to return. (a) Not in itself, but in God.
(b) Not in the justice, but in the goodness of God: "for the Lord, "etc. "The
goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." G.R.
Verse 8. The trinity of experimental godliness.
1. It is a unity--"Thou hast delivered"; all the mercies come
from one source.
2. It is a trinity of deliverance, of soul, eyes, feet;
from punishment, sorrow, and sinning; to life, joy, and stability.
3. It is a trinity in unity: all this was done for me and in
me--"my soul, mine eyes, my feet."
Verse 9. The effect of deliverance upon ourselves: "I will
walk, " etc.
1. Walk by faith in him.
2. Walk in love with him.
3. Walk by obedience to him. G. R.
1. The rule: "I believed, "etc. In general the Psalmist spoke
what he had well considered and tested by his own experience, as when he said,
"I was brought low and he helped me." "The Lord hath dealt bountifully with me."
2. The exception; "I was greatly afflicted, I said, "etc. (a)
He spoke wrongfully: he said "All men are liars, " which had some truth in it,
but was not the whole truth. (b) Hastily: "I said in my haste, "without due
reflection. (c) Angrily, under the influence of affliction, probably from the
unfaithfulness of others. Nature acts before grace--the one by instinct, the
other from consideration. G. R.
Verse 11. A hasty speech.
1. There was much truth in it.
2. It erred on the right side, for it showed faith in God
rather than in the creature.
3. It did err in being too sweeping, too severe, too
4. It was soon cured. The remedy for all such hasty speeches
is--Get to work in the spirit of Ps 116:12.
Verse 12. Overwhelming obligations.
1. A sum in arithmetic--"all his benefits."
2. A calculation of indebtedness--"What shall I render?"
3. A problem for personal solution--"What shall I?" See
Spurgeon's Sermon, No. 910.
Verses 12, 14. Whether well composed religious vows do not
exceedingly promote religion. Sermon by Henry Hurst, A.M., in "The Morning
Verse 13. Sermon on the Lord's supper. We take the cup of
1. In memory of him who is our salvation.
2. In token of our trust in him.
3. In evidence of our obedience to him.
4. In type of communion with him.
5. In hope of drinking it new with him ere long.
Verse 13. The various cups mentioned in Scripture would make
an interesting subject.
Verse 14. Vow. Or the excellence of time present.
1. The declaration. Not the death of the wicked, nor
even the death of the righteous is in itself precious; but, (a) Because their
persons are precious to him. (b) Because their experience in death is precious
to him. (c) Because of their conformity in death to their Covenant Head; and (d)
Because it puts an end to their sorrows, and translates them to their rest.
2. Its manifestation. (a) In preserving them from death.
(b) In supporting them in death. (c) In giving them victory over death. (d) In
glorifying them after death.
Verse 15. See Spurgeon's Sermons "Precious Deaths, "No.
Verse 16. Holy Service.
1. Emphatically avowed.
2. Honestly rendered--"truly."
3. Logically defended--"son of thine handmaid."
4. Consistent with conscious liberty.
Verse 17. This is due to our God, good for ourselves, and
encouraging to others.
Verse 17. The sacrifice of thanksgiving.
1. How it may be rendered. In secret love, in conversation, in
sacred song, in public testimony, in special gifts and works.
2. Why we should render it. For answered prayers (Ps 116:1-2),
memorable deliverances (Ps 116:3), choice preservation (Ps 116:6); remarkable
restoration (Ps 116:7-8), and for the fact of our being his servants (Ps
3. When should we render it. Now, while the mercy is on
the memory, and as often as fresh mercies come to us.
1. How vows may be paid in public. By going to public worship
as the first thing we do when health is restored. By uniting heartily in the
song. By coming to the communion. By special thank offering. By using fit
opportunities for open testimony to the Lord's goodness.
2. The special difficulty in the matter. To pay them to
the Lord, and not in ostentation or as an empty form.
3. The peculiar usefulness of the public act. It interests
others, touches their hearts, reproves, encourages, etc.
Verse 19. The Christian at home.
1. In God's house.
2. Among the saints.
3. At his favourite work, "Praise."
WORKS UPON THE HUNDRED AND SIXTEENTH PSALM
David's Harpe full of most delectable harmony newly stringed
and set in tune by Thomas Becon. This is an exposition of Ps 116:10-19, or
Psalm 115 according to the Latin Version. It was originally published in 12mo,
in 1542, and reprinted in "The Early Works of Thomas Becon. S. T. P. Chaplain to
Archbishop Cranmer, Prebendary of Canterbury, &c., "by "The Parker Society."
AN EXPOSITION upon some select Psalms of David, containing great store of most excellent and comfortable doctrine, and
instruction for all those, that (under the burden of sin) thirst for
comfort in Christ Jesus. Written by that faithful servant of God, M. ROBERT
ROLLOK, sometime Pastor in the Church of Edinburgh: And translated out of Latin
into English, by C. L. CHARLES LUMISDEN Minister of the Gospel of
Christ at Dudingstoun. 12mo. EDINBURGH. 1600. Contains an
Exposition of this Psalm.
The Saints' Sacrifice: or, A Commentary on Psalm 116. Which is
a gratulatory Psalm, for Deliverance from Deadly Distress. By William Gouge,
D.D. London. 1631. Reprinted, with S. Smith, on. Psalm 1, and T. Pierson, on
Psalms 27, 84, 87, in Nichol's Series of Commentaries. 1868.
Sermons Experimental: on Psalms 116 and 117. VERY USEFUL for A
Wounded Spirit. By William Slater, D.D., sometimes Rector of Linsham,
and Vicar of Pitminster, in SOMMERSETSHIRE. Published by his Son WILLIAM
SLATER, Mr. of Arts... London: 1638 4to.
Meditations and Disquisitions upon Seven Consolatory Psalms of David: namely, The 23. The 27, The 30, The 34, The 84, The 103, The
116. --By Sir Richard Baker, Knight. London. 1640.
Divine Drops Distilled from the Fountain of Holy Scriptures:
Delivered in several Exercises before Sermons, upon Twenty-three Texts of
Scripture. By that worthy Gospel Preacher Gualter Cradock, Late
Preacher at All Hallows Great in London. 1650. In this old quarto there is an
Exposition of Psalm 116; but it is almost wholly political, and worthless for
our purpose; we mention it only as a caution, and to prevent disappointment.
In "The Golden Diary of Heart Converse with Jesus in the
Book of Psalms. --By the Rev. Dr. EDERSHEIM, Torquay, 1873,
"there is a brief exposition of Ps 116:1-12.