Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. A Psalm of David. David is pictured in this Psalm as
in a faithful miniature. His holy trust, his many conflicts, his great
transgression, his bitter repentance, and his deep distresses are all here; so
that we see the very heart of "the man after God's own heart." It is evidently a
composition of David's later days, for he mentions the sins of his youth, and
from its painful references to the craft and cruelty of his many foes, it will
not be too speculative a theory to refer it to the period when Absalom was
heading the great rebellion against him. This has been styled the second of the
seven Penitential Psalms. It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind
him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.
SUBJECT AND DIVISION. The twenty-two verses of this
Psalm begin in the original with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their
proper order. It is the first instance we have of an inspired acrostic or
alphabetical song. This method may have been adopted by the writer to assist the
memory; and the Holy Spirit may have employed it to show us that the graces of
style and the arts of poetry may lawfully be used in his service. Why should not
all the wit and ingenuity of man be sanctified to noblest ends by being laid
upon the altar of God? From the singularity of the structure of the Psalm, it is
not easy to discover any marked divisions; there are great changes of thought,
but there is no variation of subject; the moods of the writer's mind are
twofold--prayer and meditation; and as these appear in turns, we should thus
divide the verses. Prayer from Ps 25:1-7; meditation, Ps 25:8-10; prayer, Ps
25:11; meditation, Ps 25:12-15; prayer, Ps 25:16-22.
Unto thee, O Lord. See how the holy soul flies to
its God like a dove to its cote. When the storm winds are out, the Lord's
vessels put about and make for their well remembered harbour of refuge. What a
mercy that the Lord will condescend to hear our cries in time of trouble,
although we may have almost forgotten him in our hours of fancied prosperity.
Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul. It is but a mockery to
uplift the hands and the eyes unless we also bring our souls into our devotions.
True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship
with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob's ladder, leaving our cares and
fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the
soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth bound; more
like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not
give over prayer, but must, by God's assistance, exert all our powers to lift up
our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will
yet be stirred. But what a lift it has sometimes proved! With all our tugging
and straining we have been utterly defeated, until the heavenly loadstone of our
Saviour's love has displayed its omnipotent attractions, and then our hearts
have gone up to our Beloved like mounting flames of fire.
O my God. This title is more dear than the name
Jehovah, which is used in the first sentence. Already the sweet singer has drawn
nearer to his heavenly helper, for he makes bold to grasp him with the hand of
assured possession, calling him, my God. Oh the more than celestial music of
that word--"My God!" It is to be observed that the psalmist does not deny
expression to those gracious feelings with which God had favoured him; he does
not fall into loathsome mock modesty, but finding in his soul a desire to seek
the Lord he avows it; believing that he had a rightful interest in Jehovah he
declares it, and knowing that he had confidence in his God he professes it; O
my God, I trust in thee. Faith is the cable which binds our boat to
the shore, and by pulling at it we draw ourselves to the land; faith unites us
to God, and then draws us near to him. As long as the anchor of faith holds
there is no fear in the worst tempest; if that should fail us there would be no
hope left. We must see to it that our faith is sound and strong, for otherwise
prayer cannot prevail with God. Woe to the warrior who throws away his shield;
what defence can be found for him who finds no defence in his God? Let me not
be ashamed. Let no my disappointed hopes make me feel ashamed of my
former testimonies of thy faithfulness. Many were on the watch for this. The
best of men have their enemies, and should pray against them that they may not
see their wicked desires accomplished. Let not mine enemies triumph over
me. Suffer no wicked mouth to make blasphemous mirth out of my distresses by
asking, "Where is thy God?" There is a great jealousy in believers for the
honour of God, and they cannot endure that unbelievers should taunt them with
the failure of their expectations from the God of their salvation. All other
trusts will end in disappointment and eternal shame, but our confidence shall
never be confounded.
Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed.
Suffering enlarges the heart by creating the power to sympathize. If we pray
eagerly for ourselves, we shall not long be able to forget our fellow sufferers.
None pity the poor like those who have been or are still poor, none have such
tenderness for the sick as those who have been long in ill health themselves. We
ought to be grateful for occasional griefs if they preserve us from chronic
hardheartedness; for of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst, it is a
plague to its possessor, and a torment to those around him. Prayer when it is of
the Holy Ghost's teaching is never selfish; the believer does not sue for
monopolies for himself, but would have all in like case to partake of divine
mercy with him. The prayer may be viewed as a promise; our Heavenly Father will
never let his trustful children find him untrue or unkind. He will ever be
mindful of his covenant. Let them be ashamed which transgress without
cause. David had given his enemies no provocation; their hatred was wanton.
Sinners have no justifiable reason or valid excuse for transgressing; they
benefit no one, not even themselves by their sins; the law against which they
transgress is not harsh or unjust; God is not a tyrannical ruler, providence is
not a bondage: men sin because they will sin, not because it is either
profitable or reasonable to do so. Hence shame is their fitting reward. May they
blush with penitential shame now, or else they will not be able to escape the
everlasting contempt and the bitter shame which is the portion of fools in the
world to come.
Shew me thy ways, O Lord. Unsanctified natures
clamour for their own way, but gracious spirits cry, "Not my will, but thine be
done." We cannot at all times discern the path of duty, and at such times it is
our wisdom to apply to the Lord himself. Frequently the dealings of God with us
are mysterious, and then also we may appeal to him as his own interpreter, and
in due time he will make all things plain. Moral, providential and mental forms
of guidance are all precious gifts of a gracious God to a teachable people. The
second petition, teach me thy paths, appears to mean more than the first,
and may be illustrated by the case of a little child who should say to his
father, "Father, first tell me which is the way, and then teach my little
trembling feet to walk in it." What weak dependent creatures we are! How
constantly should we cry to the Strong for strength!
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. The same
request as in the last verse. The little child having begun to walk, asks to be
still led onward by its parent's helping hand, and to be further instructed in
the alphabet of truth. Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer. Lead
me according to thy truth, and prove thyself faithful; lead me into truth that I
may know its preciousness, lead me by the way of truth that I may manifest its
spirit. David knew much, but he felt his ignorance and desired to be still in
the Lord's school; four times over in these two verses he applies for a
scholarship in the college of grace. It were well for many professors if instead
of following their own devices, and cutting out new paths of thought for
themselves, they would enquire for the good old ways of God's own truth, and
beseech the Holy Ghost to give them sanctified understandings and teachable
spirits. For thou art the God of my salvation. The Three One Jehovah is
the Author and Perfector of salvation to his people. Reader, is he the God of
your salvation? Do you find in the Father's election, in the Son's
atonement, and in the Spirit's quickening all the grounds of your eternal hopes?
If so, you may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings; if the
Lord has ordained to save you, surely he will not refuse to instruct you in his
ways. It is a happy thing when we can address the Lord with the confidence which
David here manifests, it gives us great power in prayer, and comfort in trial.
On thee do I wait all the day. Patience is the fair handmaid and
daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait
in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in
worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be
tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without
yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long
and how graciously he once waited for us.
Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy
lovingkindnesses. We are usually tempted in seasons of affliction to fear
that our God has forgotten us, or forgotten his usual kindness towards us; hence
the soul doth as it were put the Lord in remembrance, and beseech him to
recollect those deeds of love which once he wrought towards it. There is a holy
boldness which ventures thus to deal with the Most High, let us cultivate it;
but there is also an unholy unbelief which suggests our fears, let us strive
against it with all our might. What gems are those two expressions, "tender
mercies and lovingkindnesses!" They are the virgin honey of language; for
sweetness no words can excel them; but as for the gracious favours which are
intended by them, language fails to describe them.
"When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I am lost
In wonder, love and praise."
If the Lord will only do unto us in the future as in the past,
we shall be well content. We seek no change in the divine action, we only crave
that the river of grace may never cease to flow. For they have been ever of
old. A more correct translation would be "from eternity." David was a sound
believer in the doctrine of God's eternal love. The Lord's lovingkindnesses are
no novelties. When we plead with him to bestow them upon us, we can urge use and
custom of the most ancient kind. In courts of law men make much of precedents,
and we may plead them at the throne of grace. "Faith, "saith Dickson, "must make
use of experiences and read them over unto God, out of the register of a
sanctified memory, as a recorder to him who cannot forget." With a unchangeable
God it is a most effectual argument to remind him of his ancient mercies and his
eternal love. By tracing all that we enjoy to the fountain head of everlasting
love we shall greatly cheer our hearts, and those do us but sorry service who
try to dissuade us from meditating upon election and its kindred topics.
Remember not the sins of my youth. Sin is
the stumbling block. This is the thing to be removed. Lord, pass an act
of oblivion for all my sins, and especially for the hot blooded wanton follies
of my younger years. Those offences which we remember with repentance God
forgets, but if we forget them, justice will bring them forth to punishment. The
world winks at the sins of younger men, and yet they are none so little after
all; the bones of our youthful feastings at Satan's table will stick painfully
in our throats when we are old men. He who presumes upon his youth is poisoning
his old age. How large a tear may wet this page as some of us reflect upon the
past! Nor my transgressions. Another word for the same evils. Sincere
penitents cannot get through their confessions at a gallop; they are constrained
to use many bemoanings, for their swarming sins smite them with so innumerable
griefs. A painful sense of any one sin provokes the believer to repentance for
the whole mass of his iniquities. Nothing but the fullest and clearest pardon
will satisfy a thoroughly awakened conscience. David would have his sins not
only forgiven, but forgotten. According to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness'
sake, O Lord. David and the dying thief breathe the same prayer, and
doubtless they grounded it upon the same plea, viz., the free grace and
unmerited goodness of Jehovah. We dare not ask to have our portion measured from
the balances of justice, but we pray to be dealt with by the hand of mercy.
Verses 8-10. These three verses are a meditation upon the
attributes and acts of the Lord. He who toils in the harvest field of prayer
should occasionally pause awhile and refresh himself with a meal of meditation.
Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he
teach sinners in the way. Here the goodness and rectitude of the
divine character are beheld in friendly union; he who would see them thus united
in bonds of perfect amity must stand at the foot of the cross and view them
blended in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. It is no less true than wonderful
that through the atonement the justice of God pleads as strongly as his grace
for the salvation of the sinners whom Jesus died to save. Moreover, as a good
man naturally endeavours to make others like himself, so will the Lord our God
in his compassion bring sinners into the way of holiness and conform them to his
own image; thus the goodness of our God leads us to expect the reclaiming of
sinful men. We may not conclude from God's goodness that he will save those
sinners who continue to wander in their own ways, but we may be assured that he
will renew transgressors' hearts and guide them into the way of holiness. Let
those who desire to be delivered from sin take comfort from this. God himself
will condescend to be the teacher of sinners. What a ragged school is this for
God to teach in! God's teaching is practical; he teaches sinners not only the
doctrine but the way.
The meek will he guide in judgment. Meek spirits
are in high favour with the Father of the meek and lowly Jesus, for he sees in
them the image of his only begotten Son. They know their need of guidance, and
are willing to submit their own understandings to the divine will, and therefore
the Lord condescends to be their guide. Humble spirits are in this verse endowed
with a rich inheritance; let them be of good cheer. Trouble puts gentle spirits
to their wit's ends, and drives them to act without discretion, but grace comes
to the rescue, enlightens their minds to follow that which is just, and helps
them to discern the way in which the Lord would have them to go. Proud of their
own wisdom fools will not learn, and therefore miss their road to heaven, but
lowly hearts sit at Jesu's feet, and find the gate of glory, for the meek
will he teach his way. Blessed teacher! Favoured scholar! Divine
lesson! My soul, be thou familiar with the whole.
Verse 10. This is a rule without exception. God is good to
those that be good. Mercy and faithfulness shall abound towards those who
through mercy are made faithful. Whatever outward appearances may threaten we
should settle it steadfastly in our minds that while grace enables us to obey
the Lord's will we need not fear that Providence will cause us any real loss.
There shall be mercy in every unsavoury morsel, and faithfulness in every bitter
drop; let not our hearts be troubled, but let us rest by faith in the immutable
covenant of Jehovah, which is ordered in all things and sure. Yet this is not a
general truth to be trampled upon by swine, it is a pearl for a child's neck.
Gracious souls, by faith resting upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus,
keep the covenant of the Lord, and, being sanctified by the Holy
Spirit, they walk in his testimonies; these will find all things working
together for their good, but to the sinner there is no such promise. Keepers of
the covenant shall be kept by the covenant; those who follow the Lord's
commandments shall find the Lord's mercy following them.
Verse 11. This sentence of prayer would seem out of place
were it not that prayer is always in its place, whether in season or out of
season. Meditation having refreshed the Psalmist, he falls to his weighty work
again, and wrestles with God for the remission of his sin. For thy name's
sake, O Lord. Here is a blessed, never failing plea. Not for our sakes or
our merit's sake, but to glorify thy mercy, and to show forth the glory of thy
divine attributes. Pardon mine iniquity. It is confessed, it is abhorred,
it is consuming my heart with grief; Lord forgive it; let thine own lips
pronounce my absolution. For it is great. It weighs so heavily upon me
that I pray thee remove it. Its greatness is no difficulty with thee, for thou
art a great God, but the misery which it causes to me is my argument with thee
for speedy pardon. Lord, the patient is sore sick, therefore heal him. To pardon
a great sinner will bring thee great glory, therefore for thy name's sake pardon
me. Observe how this verse illustrates the logic of faith, which is clean
contrary to that of a legal spirit; faith looks not for merit in the creature,
but hath regard to the goodness of the Creator; and instead of being staggered
by the demerits of sin it looks to the precious blood, and pleads all the more
vigorously because of the urgency of the case.
What man is he that feareth the Lord? Let the
question provoke self examination. Gospel privileges are not for every
pretender. Art thou of the seed royal or no? Him shall he teach in the way
that he shall choose. Those whose hearts are right shall not err for want of
heavenly direction. Where God sanctifies the heart he enlightens the head. We
all wish to choose our way; but what a mercy is it when the Lord directs that
choice, and makes free will to be goodwill! If we make our will God's will, God
will let is have our will. God does not violate our will, but leaves much to our
choice; nevertheless, he instructs our wills, and so we choose that which is
well pleasing in his sight. The will should be subject to law; there is a way
which we should choose, but so ignorant are we that we need to be taught, and so
wilful that none but God himself can teach us effectually.
Verse 13. He who fears God has nothing else to fear. His
soul shall dwell at ease. He shall lodge in the chamber of content. One may
sleep as soundly in the little bed in the corner as in the Great Bed of Ware; it
is not abundance but content that gives true ease. Even here, having learned by
grace both to abound and be empty, the believer dwells at ease; but how profound
will be the ease of his soul for ever! There he will enjoy the otium cum
dignitate; ease and glory shall go together. Like a warrior whose battles
are over, or a husbandman whose barns are full, his soul shall take its ease,
and be merry for ever. His seed shall inherit the earth. God remembers
Isaac for the sake of Abraham, and Jacob for the sake of Isaac. Good men's sons
have a goodly portion to begin the world with, but many of them, alas! turn a
father's blessing into a curse. The promise is not broken because in some
instances men wilfully refuse to receive it; moreover, it is in its spiritual
meaning that it now holds good; our spiritual seed do inherit all that was meant
by "the earth, "or Canaan; they receive the blessing of the new covenant.
May the Lord make us the joyful parents of many spiritual children, and we shall
have no fears about their maintenance, for the Lord will make each one of them
princes in all the earth.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.
Some read it "the friendship:" it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential
intimacy, and select fellowship. This is a great secret. Carnal minds cannot
guess what is intended by it, and even believers cannot explain it in words, for
it must be felt to be known. The higher spiritual life is necessarily a path
which the eagle's eye hath not known, and which the lion's whelp has not
travelled; neither natural wisdom nor strength can force a door into this inner
chamber. Saints have the key of heaven's hieroglyphics; they can unriddle
celestial enigmas. They are initiated into the fellowship of the skies; they
have heard words which it is not possible for them to repeat to their fellows.
And he will shew them his covenant. Its antiquity, security,
righteousness, fulness, graciousness and excellence, shall be revealed to their
hearts and understandings, and above all, their own part in it shall be sealed
to their souls by the witness of the Holy Spirit. The designs of love which the
Lord has to his people in the covenant of grace, he has been pleased to show to
believers in the Book of Inspiration, and by his Spirit he leads us into the
mystery, even the hidden mystery of redemption. He who does not know the meaning
of this verse, will never learn it from a commentary; let him look to the cross,
for the secret lies there.
Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord. The writer
claims to be fixed in his trust, and constant in his expectation; he looks in
confidence, and waits in hope. We may add to this look of faith and hope the
obedient look of service, the humble look of reverence, the admiring look of
wonder, the studious look of meditation, and the tender look of affection. Happy
are those whose eyes are never removed from their God. "The eye, "says Solomon,
"is never satisfied with seeing, "but this sight is the most satisfying in the
world. For he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Observe the conflicting
condition in which a gracious soul may be placed, his eyes are in heaven and yet
his feet are sometimes in a net; his nobler nature ceases not to behold the
glories of God, while his baser parts are enduring the miseries of the world. A
net is the common metaphor for temptation. The Lord often keeps his people from
falling into it, and if they have fallen he rescues them. The word
"pluck" is a rough word, and saints who have fallen into sin find that
the means of their restoration are not always easy to the flesh; the Lord plucks
at us sharply to let us feel that sin is an exceeding bitter thing. But what a
mercy is here: Believer, be very grateful for it. The Lord will deliver us from
the cunning devices of our cruel enemy, and even if through infirmity we have
fallen into sin, he will not leave us to be utterly destroyed but will pluck us
out of our dangerous state; though our feet are in the net, if our eyes are up
unto God, mercy certainly will interpose.
Verse 16. His own eyes were fixed upon God, but he feared
that the Lord had averted his face from him in anger. Oftentimes unbelief
suggests that God has turned his back upon us. If we know that we turn to God we
need not fear that he will turn from us, but may boldly cry, Turn thee unto
me. The ground of quarrel is always in ourselves, and when that is removed
there is nothing to prevent our full enjoyment of communion with God. Have
mercy upon me. Saints still must stand upon the footing of mercy;
notwithstanding all their experience they cannot get beyond the publican's
prayer, "Have mercy upon me." For I am desolate and afflicted. He
was lonely and bowed down. Jesus was in the days of his flesh in just such a
condition; none could enter into the secret depths of his sorrows, he trod the
winepress alone, and hence he is able to succour in the fullest sense those who
tread the solitary path.
"Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than he went through before; He that into God's kingdom comes,
Must enter by this door."
The troubles of my heart are enlarged. When
trouble penetrates the heart it is trouble indeed. In the case before us, the
heart was swollen with grief like a lake surcharged with water by enormous
floods; this is used as an argument for deliverance, and it is a potent one.
When the darkest hour of the night arrives we may expect the dawn; when the sea
is at its lowest ebb the tide must surely turn; and when our troubles are
enlarged to the greatest degree, then we may hopefully pray, O bring thou me
out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain. Note the
many trials of the saints; here we have no less than six words all descriptive
of woe. "Desolate, and afflicted, troubles enlarged, distresses, affliction, and
pain." But note yet more the submissive and believing spirit of a true saint;
all he asks for is, "Lord, look upon my evil plight; "he does not dictate, or
even express a complaint; a look from God will content him, and that being
granted he asks no more. Even more noteworthy is the way in which the believer
under affliction discovers the true source of all the mischief, and lays the axe
at the root of it. Forgive all my sins, is the cry of a soul that
is more sick of sin than of pain, and would sooner be forgiven than healed.
Blessed is the man to whom sin is more unbearable than disease, he shall not be
long before the Lord shall both forgive his iniquity and heal his diseases. Men
are slow to see the intimate connection between sin and sorrow, a grace taught
heart alone feels it.
Consider mine enemies. Watch them, weigh them,
check them, defeat them. For they are many. They need the eyes of Argus
to watch them, and the arms of Hercules to match them, but the Lord is more than
sufficient to defeat them. The devils of hell and the evils of earth are all
vanquished when the Lord makes bare his arm. They hate me with cruel
hatred. It is the breath of the serpent's seed to hate; their progenitor was
a hater, and they themselves must needs imitate him. No hate so cruel as that
which is unreasonable and unjust. A man can forgive one who had injured him, but
one whom he has injured he hates implacably. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep
in the midst of wolves, "is still our Master's word to us.
O keep my soul out of evil, and deliver me
when I fall into it. This is another version of the prayer, "Lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from evil." Let me not be ashamed. This
is the one fear which like a ghost haunted the psalmist's mind. He trembled lest
his faith should become the subject of ridicule through the extremity of his
affliction. Noble hearts can brook anything but shame. David was of such a
chivalrous spirit, that he could endure any torment rather than be put to
dishonour. For I put my trust in thee. And therefore the name of God
would be compromised if his servants were deserted; this the believing heart can
by no means endure.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me. What
better practical safeguards can a man require? If we do not prosper with these
as our guides, it is better for us to suffer adversity. Even the ungodly world
admits that "honesty is the best policy." The heir of heaven makes assurance
doubly sure, for apart from the rectitude of his public life, he enlists the
guardian care of heaven in secret prayer: for I wait on thee. To pretend
to wait on God without holiness of life is religious hypocrisy, and to trust to
out own integrity without calling upon God is presumptuous atheism. Perhaps the
integrity and uprightness referred to are those righteous attributes of God,
which faith rests upon as a guarantee that the Lord will not forfeit his word.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
This is a very comprehensive prayer, including all the faithful and all their
trials. Sorrow had taught the psalmist sympathy, and given him communion with
the tried people of God; he therefore remembers them in his prayers. Israel,
the tried, the wrestling, the conquering hero, fit representative of all the
saints. Israel in Egypt, in the wilderness, in wars with Canaanites, in
captivity, fit type of the church militant on earth. Jesus is the Redeemer from
trouble as well as sin, he is a complete Redeemer, and from every evil he will
rescue every saint. Redemption by blood is finished: O God, send us redemption
by power. Amen and Amen.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This is the first of the seven alphabetical
Psalms, the others being the 34th, 37th, 111th, 112th, 119th, and145th. They are specimens of that acrostic mode of writing
which seems to have been once so fashionable among the Jews, as is testified by
numerous instances of such composition, which are to be met with in their works.
Other poetic artifices were likewise adopted. We find many instances of poems
being so constructed, that a proper name, or some particular sentiment, would
not infrequently be expressed by the initial letters of the verses. See
Bartolocci's "Bibliotheca Rabbinica, "vol. 2 pg 260, where examples of such
artifices are cited. George Phillips, B.D., in "The Psalms in Hebrew, with a
Whole Psalm. This is the first fully alphabetic
Psalm...The only lesson which the use of the alphabetic form may teach is
this: --that the Holy Spirit was willing to throw his words into all the moulds
of human thought and speech; and whatever ingenuity man may exhibit in
intellectual efforts, he should consecrate these to his Lord, making him the
"Alpha and Omega" of his pursuits. Andrew A. Bonar.
Whole Psalm. Saving grace is a secret that no man knows but
the elect, and the elect cannot know it neither without special illumination:
--1. Special showing--Shew me thy ways, O Lord, saith David. 2.
Barely showing will not serve the turn, but there must be a special
teaching--Teach me thy paths, Ps 25:4. 3. Bare teaching will not avail
neither, but there must be a special inculcative teaching--Teach me in thy
ways, to Ps 25:8. 4. Inculcative teaching will not do the deed neither,
but there must be a special directive teaching-- Guide in judgment and teach,
Ps 25:9. 5. Directive teaching will not be sufficient neither, but there
must be a special manuductive teaching--Lead me forth in thy truth, and
teach me, Ps 25:5. 6. Manuductive teaching will not be effectual, but
there must be also a special, choice teaching, a determining of the very will,
an elective teaching--Him shall he teach in the way that he shall
choose, Ps 25:12. And what secret is this? not common grace, for that is not
the secret of the elect, but special and peculiar grace. 1. The special grace of
prayer-- Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul Ps 25:1. 2. A special
grace of faith--My God, I trust in thee, Ps 25:2. 3. A special grace of
repentance--Remember not the sins of my youth, etc., Ps 25:7. 4. A
special grace of hope--My hope is in thee, Ps 25:21. 5. A special grace of
continual living in God's sight, and dependence upon God-- Mine eyes are ever
toward the Lord, Ps 25:15. 6. Which is the root of all God's special and
eternal favour and mercy-- Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy
loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old, Ps 25:6; even
God's special mercy to him in particular, Ps 25:11. William Fenner, in
"Hidden Manna," 1626.
Whole Psalm. In these four Psalms which immediately follow
one another, we may find the soul of David presented in all the several postures
of piety--lying, standing, sitting, kneeling. In the twenty-second Psalm,
he is lying all along, falling flat on his face, low grovelling on the ground,
even almost entering into a degree of despair. Speaking of himself in the
history of Christ in the mystery, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In the
twenty-third Psalm, he is standing, and through God's favour, in despite
of his foes, trampling and triumphing over all opposition; "The Lord is my
shepherd, therefore shall I lack nothing." In the twenty-fourth Psalm he is
sitting, like a doctor in his chair, or a professor in his place, reading
a lecture of divinity, and describing the character of that man--how he must be
accomplished --"who shall ascend into thy holy hill, "and hereafter be partaker
of happiness. In this twenty-fifth Psalm, he is kneeling, with hands and
voice lifted up to God, and on these two hinges the whole Psalm turneth; the one
is a hearty beseeching of God's mercy, the other a humble bemoaning of his own
misery. Thomas Fuller.
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. The
lifting up of the heart presupposes a former dejection of his soul. The soul
of man is pressed down with sin and with the cares of this world, which, as lead
doth the net, draweth is so down, that it cannot mount above till God send
spiritual prayers, as cork to the net, to exalt it; which arise out of faith, as
the flame doth out of the fire, and which must be free of secular cares, and all
things pressing down, which showeth unto us that worldlings can no more pray
than a mole is able to fly. But Christians are as eagles which mount upward.
Seeing then the heart of man by nature is fixed to the earth, and of itself is
no more able to rise therefrom than a stone which is fixed to the ground, till
God raises it by his power, word, and workmen; it should be our principal
petition to the Lord that it would please him to draw us, that we might run
after him; that he would exalt and lift up our hearts to heaven, that they may
not lie still in the puddle of this earth. Archibald Symson.
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. A godly
man prays as a builder builds. Now a builder first layeth a foundation, and
because he cannot finish in one day, he comes the second day, and finds the
frame standing that he made the first day, and then he adds a second day's work;
and then he comes a third day and finds his two former day's work standing; then
he proceeds to a third day's work, and makes walls to it, and so he goes on till
his building be finished. So prayer is the building of the soul till it reach up
to heaven; therefore a godly heart prays, and reacheth higher and higher in
prayer, till at last his prayers reach up to God. William Fenner.
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul: unto thee
in the fulness of thy merits, unto thee in the riches of thy grace;
unto thee in the embraces of thy love and comforts of thy Spirit; unto
thee, that thy thorns may be my crown, thy blood my balsam, thy curse my
blessing, thy death my life, thy cross my triumph. Thus is my "life hid with
Christ in God; "and if so, then where should be my soul, but where is my life?
And, therefore, unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. ...O make good
thy name of Lord unto me; as Lord, rebuke Satan and restrain all earthly and
carnal affections, that they do not once dare to whisper a temptation to my
soul, a distraction to my thoughts, whilst I am in communion with thee, in
prayer at thy holy ordinance. Do thou as Lord, rule me by thy grace, govern me
by thy Spirit, defend me by thy power, and crown me with thy salvation. Thou,
Lord, the preserver of heaven and earth, "thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest
the desire of every living thing." Ps 145:16. O open now thine hand, thy bosom,
thy bounty, thy love, and satisfy the desires of my longing soul, which I here
"lift up unto thee." Robert Mossom, 1657.
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Cyprian
saith, that in the primitive times the minister was wont to prepare the people's
minds to pray, by prefacing, Sursum corda, lift up your hearts. The Jews
at this day write upon the walls of their synagogues these words, Tephillah
belo cavannah ceguph belo neshamah; that is, A prayer without the
intention of the affection is like a body without a soul. And yet their devotion
is a mere outside, saith one--a brainless head and a soulless body: "This people
draw nigh to me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Isa 29:13. A
carnal man can as little lift up his heart in prayer, as a mole
can fly. A David finds it a hard task; since the best heart is lumpish, and
naturally beareth downwards, as the poise of a clock, as the lead of a net. Let
us therefore "lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us;
"and pray to God to draw us up to himself, as the lodestone doth the iron.
Unto thee, I lift up my soul. This follows by a
natural consequence after the sublime appeal in the foregoing Psalm to the gates
of heaven to lift up their heads to receive Christ, the Lord of hosts and
the King of glory, ascending into heaven. As the Collect for Ascension day
expresses it, "Grant O Lord, that like as we do believe thy only begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, to have ascended into the heavens, so we may also, in
heart and mind thither ascend; "and for the Sunday after
Ascension, "O God, who hast exalted thine only Son with great triumph to
thy kingdom in heaven, send thy Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us to
the same place, whither our Saviour Christ is gone before." Christopher
Wordsworth, in loc.
I lift up my soul, alluding to the sacrifices,
which were wont to be lifted up. Hence prayers not answered, not
accepted, are said to be stopped from ascending. La 3:44. When you meet with
such expressions in the Old Testament concerning prayer, you must still
understand them to be allusions to the sacrifices, because the sacrifices were
lifted up and did ascend. Joseph Caryl.
My soul. But how shall I call it mine, seeing it is
thine, thine by purchase, thine, having bought it with thy blood? Yea, is it not
thy spouse, whom thou hast wedded to thyself by the Spirit through faith? And is
not this holy sacrament the marriage feast? If so, sure then, my Jesus, I was
lost in myself, till found in thee; and therefore my soul is now, and not till
now, truly mine, in being wholly thine; so that I can say with confidence, "I
lift up my soul unto thee." Robert Mossom.
Verses 2-3. When David had prayed, O my God, I trust
in thee; let me not be ashamed! In the next verse, as if conscious to
himself that his prayers were too restrictive, narrow, and niggardly, he
enlargeth the bounds thereof, and builds them on a broader bottom, "Yea, let
none that wait on thee be ashamed." Thus it is that charity in the midst of
our religious devotions must have rehoboth (room enough to expatiate in).
Our petitions must not be pent or confined to our own private good, but extended
to the benefit of all God's servants, in what condition soever. Thomas
Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed. To wit,
neither by their own disappointments, nor mine. For this last some add because
if he should fail of his hopes, he knew this would be a great discouragement to
others. Arthur Jackson, M.A., 1593-1666.
Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
All persons who transgress, do it, in some sense, without cause; since they
cannot excuse of justify their conduct. God is so amiable and excellent in every
part of his great name, that he deserves our constant reverence and love. His
law is so holy, just, and good, and all his precepts concerning all things so
righteous and calculated to make us happy, that the mouth of every transgressor
must be stopped. Hence we must all be covered with shame, if dealt with
according to our deserts, for all have sinned. But since God has promised to be
merciful to those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel,
shame will be the portion of those only who wilfully persist in their
wickedness, and refuse to return to God by Jesus Christ. These then are the
persons whom the psalmist speaks of as transgressing without cause, and
doubtless these have no cloak for their sin. William Richardson, 1825.
Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
Let shame be sent to the right owner, even to those that deal disloyally,
unprovoked on my part. And so it was; for Achitophel hanged himself; Absalom was
trussed up by the hand of God, and dispatched by Joab; the people that conspired
with him, partly perished by the sword, and partly fled home, much ashamed of
their enterprise. Oh, the power of prayer! What may not the saints have for
asking? John Trapp.
Shew me thy ways, O Lord, etc. There are the
"ways" of men, and the "ways"of God; the "paths" of sin,
and the "paths" of righteousness: there are "thy ways, "and there
are my ways; thine the ways of truth, mine the ways of
error; thine which are good in thine eyes, and mine which are good
in mine eyes; thine which lead to heaven, mine which lead to hell.
Wherefore, Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths, lest I
mistake mine own ways for thine; yea, lead me in the truth, and teach me, lest I
turn out of thy ways into mine own: shew me thy ways, by the ministry of
thy word; teach me thy paths, in the guidance of thy Spirit, "lead me
in thy truth, "by the assistance of thy grace. Robert Mossom.
Verses 4-5, 9. Do what you know, and God will teach you what
to do. Do what you know to be your present duty, and God will acquaint
you with your future duty as it comes to be present. Make it your
business to avoid known omissions, and God will keep you from feared
commissions. This rule is of great moment, and therefore I will charge it upon
you by express Scripture. Shew me thy ways, O Lord, i.e., those ways
wherein I cannot err. Teach me thy paths, i.e., that narrow path which is
too commonly unknown, those commands that are most strict and difficult, Verse
5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, i.e., teach me evidently, that I may
not be deceived; so teach me, that I may not only know thy will, but do it.
Here's his prayer, but what grounds hath he to expect audience? For thou art
the God of my salvation, q.d., thou Lord, wilt save me, and therefore
do not refuse to teach me. On thee do I wait all the day, i.e., the whole
day, and every day. Other arguments are couched in the following verses, but
what answer? Verse 9. The meek will he guide in judgment: and
the meek will he teach his way, i.e., those that submit their neck to his
yoke, those that are not conceited that they can guide themselves; in necessary,
great and weighty matters they shall not err. Samuel Annesley, D.D.
(1620-1696), in "Morning Exercises at Cripplegate."
Verse 5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. The soul that
is unsatiable in prayer, he proceeds, he gets near to God, he gains something,
he winds up his heart higher. As a child that seeth the mother have an apple in
her hand, and it would fain have it, it will come and pull at the mother's hand
for it; now she lets go one finger, and yet she holds it, and then he pulls
again; and then she lets go another finger, and yet she keeps it, and then the
child pulls again, and will never leave pulling and crying till it hath got it
from its mother. So a child of God, seeing all graces to be in God, he draws
near to the throne of grace begging for it, and by his earnest and faithful
prayers he opens the hands of God to him; God dealing as parents to their
children, holds them off for awhile; not that he is unwilling to give, but to
make them more earnest with God; to draw them the nearer to himself. William
On thee do I wait all the day. We must wait
all the day. 1. Though it be a long day, though we be kept
waiting a great while, quite beyond our own reckoning; though when we have
waited long, we are still put to wait longer, and are bid, with the prophet's
servant, to go yet seven times 1Ki 18:43, before we perceive the least sign of
mercy coming...2. Though it be a dark day, yet let us wait upon God
all the day. Though while we are kept waiting for what God will do, we
are kept in the dark concerning what he is doing, and what is best for us to do,
yet let us be content to wait in the dark. Though we see not our signs, though
there is none to tell us how long, yet let us resolve to wait, how long soever
it may be; for though what God doth we know not now, yet we shall know hereafter
when the mystery of God shall be finished...3. Though it be a stormy day,
yet we must wait upon God all the day. Though we are not only becalmed,
and do not get forward, but though the wind be contrary, and drive us back; nay,
though it be boisterous, and the church be tossed with tempests, and ready to
sink, yet we must hope the best, yet we must wait, and weather the storm by
patience. It is some comfort that Christ is in the ship; the church's cause is
Christ's own cause, he has espoused it, and he will own it; he is embarked in
the same bottom with his people, and therefore why are you fearful? ... To
wait on God, is--1. To live a life of desire towards God; to wait on him as
the beggar waits on his benefactor, with earnest desire to receive supplies from
him, as the sick and sore at Bethesda's pool waited for the stirring of the
water, and attended in the porches with desire to be helped in and healed... 2.
It is to live a life of delight in God, as the lover waits on his beloved.
Desire is love in motion, as a bird upon the wing; delight is love at rest, as a
bird upon the nest; now, though our desire must still be so towards God, as that
we must be wishing for more of God, yet our delight must be so in God, as that
we must never wish for more than God...3. It is to live of dependence on God, as
the child waits on his father, whom he has confidence in, and on whom he casts
all his care. To wait on God is to expect all good to come to us from him, as
the worker of all good for us and in us, the giver of all good to us, and the
protector of us from all evil. Thus David explains himself Ps 62:5, "My soul,
wait thou only upon God, " and continue still to do so, for "my expectation is
from him." ... 4. It is to live a life of devotedness to God, as the servant
waits on his master, ready to observe his will, and to do his work, and in
everything to consult his honour and interest. To wait on God is entirely and
unreservedly to refer ourselves to his wise and holy directions and disposals,
and cheerfully to acquiesce in them, and comply with them. The servant that
waits on his master, chooseth not his own way, but follows his master step by
step. Thus must we wait on God, as those that have no will of our own but what
is wholly resolved into his, and must therefore study to accommodate ourselves
to his. Condensed from Matthew Henry, on "Communion with God."
On thee do I wait all the day. On thee, whose hand
of bounty, whose bosom of love, yea, whose bowels of mercy are not only opened,
but enlarged to all humble penitents. On thee do I wait,
wait to hear the secret voice of thy Spirit, speaking peace unto my
conscience, wait to feel the reviving vigour of thy grace, quickening
mine obedience; wait to see the subduing power of the Holy Spirit
quelling my rebellious sin; wait to feel the cheering virtue of thy
heavenly comforts, refreshing my fainting soul; for all these thy blessings,
O thou God of my salvation, on thee do I wait all the day. "All
the day:" being never so satisfied with thy goodness, as not more eagerly to
long after thy heavenly fulness; wherefore now refresh my faintings, quench not
my desires; but the more freely thou givest, let me the more eagerly covet; the
more sweet is thy mercy, let be the more eager my longings, that so my whole
life on earth may be a continual breathing after that eternal fellowship and
communion with thee in heaven; thus, thus, let me wait, even all my life,
all the day. Robert Mossom.
Thy tender mercies. O how does one deep call upon
another! The depths of my multiplied miseries, calls, loudly calls, upon the
depth of thy manifold mercies; even that mercy whereby thou dost pardon
my sin and help mine infirmities; that mercy whereby thou dost sanctify
me by thy grace, and comfort me by thy Spirit; that mercy whereby thou
dost deliver me from hell, and possess me of heaven. Remember, O Lord,
all those thy mercies, thy tender mercies, which have been of
old unto thy saints. Robert Mossom.
Thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses...have
been ever of old. Let the ancientness of divine love draw up our hearts
to a very dear and honourable esteem of it. Pieces of antiquity, though of base
metal, and otherwise of little use or value, how venerable are they with learned
men! and ancient charters, how careful are men to preserve them; although they
contain but temporary privileges, and sometimes but of trivial moment! How then
should the great charter of heaven, so much older than the world, be had in
everlasting remembrance, and the thoughts thereof be very precious to us; lying
down, rising up, and all the day long accompanying of us! ...That which is from
everlasting shall be to everlasting; if the root be eternal, so are the branches
...Divine love is an eternal fountain that never leaves running while a vessel
is empty or capable of holding more; and it stands open to all comers:
therefore, come; and if ye have not sufficient of your own, go and borrow
vessels, empty vessels, not a few; "pay your debts out of it, and live on the
rest" 2Ki 4:7, to eternity. Elisha Coles on "God's Sovereignty", 1678.
Verse 7. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my
transgressions. In the first place, considering that he had not begun
only of late to commit sin, but that he had for a long time heaped up sin upon
sin, he bows himself, if we may so speak, under the accumulated load; and, in
the second place, he intimates, that if God should deal with him according to
the rigour of the law, not only the sins of yesterday, or of a few days, would
come into judgment against him, but all instances in which he had offended, even
from his infancy, might now with justice be laid to his charge. As often,
therefore, as God terrifies us by his judgments and the tokens of his wrath, let
us call to our remembrance, not only the sins which we have lately committed,
but also all the transgressions of our past life, proving to us the ground of
renewed shame and renewed lamentation. John Calvin.
Remember not the sins of my youth. This may seem
but a superfluous prayer of David; for whereas in charity it may and must be
presumed that David long since had begged pardon for his youthful sins, that
upon his begging God hath granted it, that upon his granting God never revoked
it. What need now had David to prefer this petition for pardon of antiquated
sin, time out of mind committed by him, time out of mind remitted by God? To
this objection I shape a fourfold answer. First, though David no doubt
long since had been truly sorrowful for his youthful sins, yet he was sensible
in himself that if God would be extreme to mark what was done amiss, though he
had repented of those sins, yet he had sinned in that his repentance.
Secondly, though God had forgiven David's sins so far forth as to pardon
him eternal damnation, yet he had not remitted unto him temporal afflictions
which perchance pressing upon him at this present, he prayeth in this Psalm for
the removing or mitigating of them. So then the sense of his words sound thus,
Remember not, Lord, the sins of my youth, that is, Lord, lighten
and lessen the afflictions which lie upon me in this mine old age, justly
inflicted on me for my youthful sins. Thirdly, God's pardon for sins
past, is ever granted with this condition, that the party so pardoned is bound
to his good behaviour for the time to come, which if he breaks, he deserves in
the strictness of justice for forfeit the benefit of his pardon. Now David was
guilty afterward in that grand transgression of Bathsheba and Uriah, which might
in the extremity of justice have made all his youthful sins to be punished
afresh upon him. Lastly, grant David certainly assured of the pardon of
his youthful sins, yet God's servants may pray for those blessings they have in
possession, not for the obtaining of that they have--that is needless--but for the
keeping of what they have obtained, that is necessary. Yea, God is well pleased
with such prayers of his saints, and interprets them to be praises unto him, and
then these words, Remember not the sins of my youth, amount to this
effect: blessed be thy gracious goodness, who hast forgiven me the sins of my
youth. Thomas Fuller.
Remember not the sins of my youth. David, after he
was called by the power of the word, cries out, "Lord, remember not,
"etc., that gravelled and galled his conscience, the sins of his
youth before his call. O beloved, the sins of your youth, though you
should be Jobs converted, yet they will bring great disquietness and great
horror when you come to age. The lusts of youth, and the vanities of youth, and
the sensual pleasures of your youthful days, they will lay a foundation of
sorrow when you come to gray hairs to be near your graves. So Job 20:11.
Christopher Love, 1654.
Remember not the sins of my youth; let them not
move thee to punish or be avenged on me for them; as men, when they remember
injuries, seek to be avenged on those who have done them. William
Remember not the sins of my youth. It is not safe
to be at odds with the "Ancient of days." John Trapp.
The sins of my youth. Before we come to the
principal point we must first clear the text from the incumbrance of a double
objection. The first is this: --It may seem (some may say) very improbable that
David should have any sins of his youth, if we consider the principals whereupon
his youth was past. The first was poverty. We read that his father Jesse
passed for an old man, we read not that he passed for a rich man;
and probably his seven sons were the principal part of his wealth. Secondly,
painfulness. David, though the youngest, was not made a darling, but a
drudge; sent by his father to follow the ewes big with young; where he may seem
to have learned innocence and simplicity from the sheep he kept. Thirdly,
piety Ps 71:5, "For thou art my hope, O Lord God; thou art my trust from
my youth." And again in the seventeenth verse of the same Psalm, "O God, thou
hast taught me from my youth:" David began to be good betimes, a young saint,
and yet crossed that pestilent proverb, was no old devil. And what is
more still, he was constantly in the furnace of affliction. Ps 88:15. "Even from
my youth up, thy terrors have I suffered with a troubled mind." The question
then will be this, How could that water be corrupted which was daily clarified?
How could that steel gather rust which was duly filed? How could David's soul in
his youth be sooty with sin, which was constantly scoured with suffering?
But the answer is easy; for though David for the main were a man after God's own
heart (the best transcript of the best copy), yet he, especially in his youth,
had his faults and infirmities, yea, his sins and transgressions. Though the
Scripture maketh mention of no eminent sin in his youth, the business with
Bathsheba being justly to be referred to David's reduced and elder age. I will
not conclude that David was of a wanton constitution because of a ruddy
complexion. It is as injurious an inference to conclude all bad which are
beautiful, as it is a false and flattering consequence to say all are honest who
are deformed. Rather we may collect David's youth guilty of wantonness from his
having so many wives and concubines. But what go I about to do? Expect not that
I should tell you the particular sins, when he could not tell his own. Psalm 19.
"Who can tell how oft he offends?" Or, how can David's sins be known to me,
which he confesseth were unknown to himself, which made him say, "O Lord,
cleanse me from secret sins"? But to silence our curiosity, that our conscience
may speak: --If David's youth, which was poor, painful, and pious, was guilty of
sins, what shall we say, of such whose education hath been wealthy, wanton, and
wicked? And I report the rest to be acted with shame, sorrow, and silence in
every man's conscience. Thomas Fuller.
The sins of my youth. Two aged disciples, one
eighty-seven years old, one day met. "Well, "enquired the younger, of his fellow
pilgrim, "how long have you been interested in religion?" "Fifty years, "was the
old man's reply. "Well, have you ever regretted that you began when young to
devote yourself to religion?" "Oh no!" said he, and the tears trickled down his
furrowed cheeks; "I weep when I think of the sins of my youth; it is this which
makes me weep now." From K. Arvine's "Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious
According to THY mercy, not mine; for
I have forsaken those mercies thou madest mine own Jon 2:8 Ps
59:10,17, in being cruel to myself by my sin, through distrust of thy promise,
and upon presumption in thy mercy; yea, let it be, for THY goodness'
sake, not mine, for in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no manner
of thing that is good. Let thy goodness, then, be the motive, thy mercy the rule
of all that grace, and of all those blessings you vouchsafe unto my soul.
According to thy mercy. Moses was the first that
brought up this happy expression, According to thy mercy (I know not
where it is used by any other man), that is, according to the infinite mercy
that is in thy heart and nature. David did next use it (Psalm 25), and in the
great case of his sin and adultery Ps 51:1, "that he would be merciful to him,
according to the multitude of his mercies." And as he needed all the mercies in
God, so he confessed the sin of his nature, and hath recourse to the mercies in
God's nature. But it is Ps 25:7, I pitch on; there he doth not content himself
only with this expression, According to thy mercy, but he adds another
phrase, "For thy mercy's sake, "and goodness sake. Muis observes in this
coherence, "Good and upright is the Lord" Ps 25:8, that he centres in his
nature. Thou hast a merciful nature; deal with me according to that, and for the
sake of that, "according to thy mercy, "for thy goodness sake." The mediation
of that attribute was the foundation of his faith and prayer herein. When he has
done, he refers himself to Moses: Ps 25:11, For thy name's sake, O
Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. He refers to that name
proclaimed before Moses. Ex 34:6,7. But you will say, how do these expressions,
"for thy name's sake, "for thy goodness sake, "for thy mercy's sake, "imply
the same as "for himself, "for his own sake"? how do they involve the Godhead?
Look to Isa 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for
mine own sake, "that is, for myself. Isa 48:11. "For mine own sake, even for
mine own sake, will I do it." You have it twice in one verse; and that which is
"for mercy's sake" in one place, is "for mine own sake" in another, "and behold
it is I, I am he, as I am God, who doth it. What is this, but Jehovah, Jehovah,
God merciful"? Thomas Goodwin.
Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he
teach sinners in the way. As election is the effect of God's
sovereignty, our pardon the fruit of his mercy, our knowledge a stream from his
wisdom, our strength an impression of his power; so our purity is a beam from
his holiness. As the rectitude of the creature at the first creation was the
effect of his holiness, so the purity of the creature by a new creation, is a
draught of the same perfection. He is called the Holy One of Israel more in
Isaiah, that evangelical prophet, in erecting Zion, and forming a people for
himself, than in the whole Scripture besides. Stephen Charnock.
Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he
teach sinners in the way. Will not the Lord, who is good, be as
gracious to his enemies as he requires us to be to ours? It is his own law, "If
thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it
back to him again." Ex 23:4. Now God meets us sinners, and all sinners as such
are his enemies; he meets us straying like the beast without understanding; and
what? will he not bring us again unto himself, the sole proprietary, by that
first right of creation, and that more firm right of redemption? Robert
The meek will he guide in judgment; or the
poor (namely, in spirit), will he make to tread in judgment, to foot it
aright, to walk judiciously, to behave themselves wisely, as David did 1Sa
24:1-22, so that Saul feared him. Natural conscience cannot but stoop to the
image of God, shining in the hearts and lives of the really religious. John
The meek will he guide in judgment. They have been
made meek i.e., desirous of being taught, and praying to be so; but, being now
sensible of unworthiness, they are afraid that God will not teach them. This may
be done to other sinners but not to them. Therefore they are told who may expect
teaching, even they who desire and pray for teaching. John Berridge,
He will guide the poor in judgment. Never will this
docility be found in any man, until the heart, which is naturally elated and
filled with pride, has been humbled and subdued. As the Hebrew word denotes the
poor or afflicted, and is employed in a metaphorical sense, to
denote the meek and humble, it is probable that David, under this term,
includes the afflictions which serve to restrain and subdue the frowardness of
the flesh, as well as the grace of humility itself; as if he had said, When God
has first humbled them, then he kindly stretches forth his hand to them, and
leads and guides them throughout the whole course of their life. John
The meek, etc. Pride and anger have no place in the
school of Christ. The Master himself is "meek and lowly of heart; " much more,
surely, ought the scholars to be so. He who hath no sense of his ignorance, can
have no desire, or capability of knowledge, human or divine. George
Verse 9 (last clause). The Lord will teach the
humble his secrets, he will not teach proud scholars. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 9 (last clause). Such as lie at his feet and
say, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth, "such whose hearts are supple
and soluble, tractable, and teachable, so that a little child may
lead them. Isa 11:6. Austin was such an one. Saith he, "I am here an old
man ready to learn of a young man, my coadjutor in the ministry, who hath scarce
been one year in the service." John Trapp.
All the paths of the Lord, (twxra) orchoth signifies the tracks or ruts
made by the wheels of wagons by often passing over the same ground. Mercy and
truth are the paths in which God constantly walks in reference to the children
of men; and so frequently does he show them mercy, and so frequently does he
fulfil his truth, that his paths are easily discerned. How frequent, how deeply
indented, and how multiplied are those tracks to every family and individual!
Wherever we go, we see that God's mercy and truth have been there by the deep
tracks they have left behind them. But he is more abundantly merciful to those
who keep his covenant and his testimonies; i.e., those who are conformed,
not only to the letter, but to the spirit of his pure religion. Adam
All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. As
his nature is love and truth, so all his ways are mercy
and truth. They are "mercy" in respect if aiming at out good, and
"truth" in respect of fulfilling his promises and faithful carriage to
us; therefore, whatsoever befalls thee, though it be clean contrary to thy
expectation, interpret it in love. Many actions of men are such as a good
interpretation cannot be put upon them, nor a good construction made of them;
therefore interpreters restrain those sayings of love, that it believes all,
etc.; that is, credibilia, all things believable, otherwise to put all
upon charity, will eat out charity. But none of God's ways are such, but love
and faith may pick a good meaning out of these. A bono Deo nil nisi bonum, from a good God there comes nothing but
what is good; and therefore says Job, "Though he kill me, I will trust in him."
Endeavour to spy out some end of his for good at the present, and if none
ariseth to thy conjecture, resolve it into faith, and make the best of it.
Verse 10. "Unto such as keep, "etc.: he is never out
of the road of mercy unto them. Thomas Goodwin.
For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for
it is great. I cannot do better than quote one of those beautiful passages
of the great Vieyra, which gave him the character of the first preacher of his
age: --"I confess, my God, that it is so; that we are all sinners in the highest
degree." He is preaching on a fast on occasion of the threatened destruction of
the Portuguese dominion in Brazil by the Dutch. But so far am I from considering
this any reason why I should cease from my petition, that I behold in it a new
and convincing argument which may influence thy goodness. All that I have said
before is based on no other foundation than the glory and honour of thy most
holy Name. Propter nomen tuum. And what motive can I offer more glorious
to that same Name, than that our sins are many and great? For thy
name's sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great. I ask
thee, saith David, to pardon, not everyday sins, but numerous sins, but great
sins: multum est enim. O motive worthy of the breast of God! Oh,
consequence which can have force only when it bears on supreme goodness! So that
in order to obtain remission of his sins, the sinner alleges to God that they
are many and great. Verily so; and that not for love of the sinner nor for the
love of sin, but for the love of the honour and glory of God; which glory, by
how much the sins he forgives are greater and more numerous, by so much the more
ennobles and exalts itself. The same David distinguishes in the mercy of God
greatness and multitude: greatness, secundum magnam misericordiam
tuam;multitude, et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum. And as
the greatness of the divine mercy is immense, and the multitude of his
lovingkindnesses infinite; and forasmuch as the immense cannot be measured, nor
the infinite counted, in order that the one and the other may in a certain
manner have a proportionate material of glory, it is necessary to the very
greatness of mercy that the sins to be pardoned should be great, and necessary
to the very multitude of lovingkindnesses that they should be many. Multum
est enim. Reason have I then, O Lord, not to be dismayed because our sins
are many and great. Reason have I also to demand the reason from thee, why thou
dost not make haste to pardon them? --Vieyra, quoted by J. M. Neale.
For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity.
It is a very usual notion by "name" to understand honour and glory. When
God saith to David, "I have made thee a name like the name of men that are in
the earth; "when the church saith to God, "Thou didst get thee a name as it is
this day; "it is manifest that by name glory is intended. Suitable to this it is
that famous men are called by the Hebrews, (Mvhyvna) Ge 6:4, and by the Latins, viri nominum, men of
name, in which the poet adorneth it with these epithets--Magnum et memorabile
nomen, or, great and memorable. Thus, when God forgiveth sin, he doth it
for his name's sake, that is, for his own honour and glory. Indeed, God's
own glory is the ultimate end of all his actions. As he is the first, so is he
the last, the efficient, and the final cause; nor is there anything done by him
which is not for him. The end of our actions must be in his glory, because both
our being and working are from him; but the end of his work is his own glory,
because his being and acting are of and from himself. Among all divine works,
there is none which more setteth forth his glory than this of remission. Sin, by
committing it, brings God a great deal of dishonour, and yet, by forgiving it,
God raiseth to himself a great deal of honour. "It is the glory of a man, "and
much more of God, "to pass by an offence; "as acts of power, so acts of grace,
are exceeding honourable. The attributes of God's grace, mercy, goodness,
clemency, shine forth in nothing so much as in pardoning sins. Paul speaks of
riches of goodness which attend God's forbearance; how much greater riches must
there needs be in forgiveness? Nay, indeed, God hath so ordered the way of
pardon, that not only the glory of his mercy, but justice, yea, of his wisdom in
the wonderful contemporation of both these, is very illustrious. Nomen quasi
notamen, quia notificat, the name is that which maketh one known; and by
remission of sins, God maketh known his choice and glorious attributes; and for
this end it is that he vouchsafes it. It is a consideration that may be our
consolation. Since God forgiveth sins for his name's sake, he will be
ready to forgive many sins as well as few, great as small; indeed, the more and
greater our sins are, the greater is the forgiveness, and, consequently, the
greater is God's glory; and therefore David, upon this consideration of God's
name and glory, maketh the greatness of his iniquity a motive of
forgiveness. Indeed, to run into gross sins, that God may glorify himself by
forgiving them, is an odious presumption, but to hope that those gross sins we
have run into may, and will, be forgiven by God to us, being truly penitent,
for his name's sake, is a well grounded expectation, and such as may
support our spirits against the strongest temptations to despair. Nathanael
Pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. He pleads
the greatness of his sin, and not the smallness of it: he enforces his prayer
with this consideration, that his sins are very heinous. But how could he make
this a plea for pardon? I answer, Because the greater his iniquity was, the more
need he had of pardon. It is as much as if he had said, Pardon mine
iniquity, for it is so great that I cannot bear the punishment; my sin is so
great that I am in necessity of pardon; my case will be exceedingly miserable,
unless thou be pleased to pardon me. He makes use of the greatness of his sin,
to enforce his plea for pardon, as a man would make use of the greatness of
calamity in begging for relief. When a beggar begs for bread, he will plead the
greatness of his poverty and necessity. When a man in distress cries for pity,
what more suitable plea can be urged than the extremity of his case? And God
allows such a plea as this: for he is moved to mercy towards us by nothing in
us, but the miserableness of our case. He doth not pity sinners because they are
worthy, but because they need his pity...Herein doth the glory of grace
by the redemption of Christ much consist; namely, in its sufficiency for the
pardon of the greatest sinners. The whole contrivance of the way of
salvation is for this end, to glorify the free grace of God. God had it on his
heart from all eternity to glorify this attribute; and therefore it is, that the
device of saving sinners by Christ was conceived. The greatness of divine grace
appears very much in this, that God by Christ saves the greatest
offenders. The greater the guilt of any sinner is, the more glorious and
wonderful is the grace manifested in his pardon. Ro 5:20: "Where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound." The apostle, when telling how great a sinner he had
been, takes notice of the abounding of grace in his pardon, of which his great
guilt was the occasion. 1Ti 1:13-14. "Who was before a blasphemer, and a
persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in
unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love
which is in Christ Jesus." The Redeemer is glorified, in that he proves
sufficient to redeem those who are exceeding sinful, in that his blood proves
sufficient to wash away the greatest guilt, in that he is able to save men to
the uttermost, and in that he redeems even from the greatest misery. It is the
honour of Christ to save the greatest sinners, when they come to him, as it is
the honour of a physician that he cures the most desperate diseases or wounds.
Therefore, no doubt, Christ will be willing to save the greatest sinners, if
they come to him; for he will not be backward to glorify himself, and to commend
the value and virtue of his own blood. Seeing he hath so laid out himself to
redeem sinners, he will not be unwilling to show he is able to redeem to the
uttermost. Jonathan Edwards.
Pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. Is any man
miserable are his miseries great, are they spiritual, are they temporal?
Undoubtedly, if he be humbled in the sense of them, and see himself unworthy of
any mercy, he may still be assured of mercy. Though there be spiritual evils,
yet if a man see himself wretched, and miserable, the more heavy he finds his
iniquity to be, the more hope of mercy there is for him: the Lord's mercy is
over all his works, therefore is he much more merciful to such. If a man hath a
feeling of his miseries and unworthiness, then he may use this argument for
mercy, my miseries are great: even as David did, "O Lord, be merciful
to me, and pardon my iniquity, for it is great." And the more
miserable man are under their own sense, the fitter objects they are for God to
show mercy unto. Thus is was with the publican, and so with the prodigal;
therefore never doubt, though thy iniquities be never so great, there is a sea
of mercy in God. Bernard well observes the difference between justice and mercy;
justice requires that there should be desert, but mercy looks upon them that are
miserable; and, saith the father, true mercy doth affect misery; mercy doth not
stand upon inquisition, but it is glad to find occasion of exercising itself.
Mine iniquity...is great. Such who come to God to
have their sins pardoned, they look upon them as great sins. Pardon mine
iniquity, for it is great. The original word as well signifies many
as great--"My sins are great and many, " many great sins lie upon me, pardon, oh!
pardon them, O Lord, etc... In the opening of this point, I would show
why such as come in a right way for pardon do look upon their sins as
great sins. 1. Sinners that come to God for pardon and find it, do look
upon their sins as great sins, because against a great God, great
in power, great in justice, great in holiness. I am a worm, and yet sin,
and that boldly against a God so great; for a worm to lift up himself
against a great and infinite God; oh! this makes every little sin great,
and calls for great vengeance from so great a God. 2. Because
they have sinned against great patience, despising the goodness,
forbearance, and longsuffering of God, which is called, "treasuring up wrath."
Ro 2:4-5 ...3. Sins do appear great because against great mercies.
Oh! against how many mercies and kindnesses do sinners sin, and turn all the
mercies of God into sin! ... 4. That which increases sin in the eyes of
poor sinners that cry for pardon, is, that they have sinned against great
light --light in the conscience; this heightens sin exceedingly, especially
to such are are under gospel means; and is indeed the sin of all in this nation;
there's nothing more abases a soul than this, nothing makes it more difficult to
believe pardon, when humbled for it...5. Continuance in sin much
increases sin to a poor soul that is after pardon; especially such as are
not very early converted. Ps 68:21. Oh! I added sin unto sin, saith a poor soul,
spending the choice time of my youth in sin, when I might have been getting the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, and honouring of God. This lay close upon David's
spirit as appears from the seventh verse: "Oh! remember not the sins of my
youth." Yet we do not find that David's youth was notoriously sinful; but
inasmuch as he spent not his youth to get knowledge, and to serve the Lord
fully, it was his burden and complaint before the Lord; much more such whose
youth was spent in nothing but vanity, profaneness, lying, swearing, profaning
of the Sabbath, sports, pastimes, excess of riot, and the like, when God lays it
in upon their consciences, must be grievous and abominable to their souls...6.
Multitudes of sins do make sin appear great; this made David cry out for
"multitudes of mercies." Ps 51:1-19 40:12 ...7. Another thing that
increases sin is, that it was against purpose and resolutions
of forsaking such and such sins; and yet all broken, sometimes against
solemn vows, against prayers...8. Sin appears great when seen by a poor
soul, because it was reigning sin. Ro 5:6. "Sin reigned unto death, "etc.
Oh! saith a poor humbled sinner, I did not only commit sin, but I was the
servant and slave of sin...9. Sin in the fountain makes
it great. As it may be said, there is more water in the fountain than in the
pools and streams it makes...So in the nature, in the heart, is there, as in the
fountain, and therefore 'tis more there than in the breakings forth of it in the
outward man...10. A sinner drawing nigh to God for pardon sees his sin as
great, because thereby he was led captive by the devil at his
will...11. Sin appears great because great is the wrath of God
against sin. Ro 2:12. The way of any sinner's deliverance from such wrath
shows sin to be exceeding great in the price and ransom that is paid for the
salvation of him from his sins --the price of the blood of the eternal
Son of God... 13. Lastly, this consideration also increases sin,
inasmuch as a poor creature hath drawn and tempted others to sin with
him, especially such as have lived more vainly and loosely, and it lies hard
upon many a poor soul after thorough conviction. Anthony Palmer (--1678),
in "The Gospel New Creature."
Verse 11. I plead not, Lord, my merits, who am less than the
least of thy mercies; and as I look not upon my merit, so nor do thou look upon
my demerit; as I do not view my worthiness, so nor do thou view my unworthiness;
but thou who art called the God of mercy be unto me what thou art
called; make good the glory of thine own name in being merciful unto my sin, of
which I cannot say as Lot of Zoar, "Is it not a little one?" No, it is great,
for that it is against thee so great a God and so good to me: great,
for that my place, my calling, my office is great. The sun the higher it is,
the less it seems; but my sins, the higher I am the greater they are, even in
thine and other's eyes. Robert Mossom.
Verse 11. Plead we the greatness of our sins not to keep us
from mercy, but to prevail for it: Pardon mine iniquity; why so? for
it is great. "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee, "Ps 41:4. "Do
thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned
against thee." Jer 14:7. This is a strong plea, when sincerely urged by an
humble and contrite spirit. It glorifieth God as one that is abundant in
goodness, rich in mercy, and one with whom are forgivenesses and plenteous
redemption; and it honoureth Christ as infinite in mercy. Hence also the Lord
himself, when he would stir up himself to choice acts of mercy to his poor
people, he first aggravates their sin against him to the highest, and then he
expresses his royal act of grace to them. So Isa 43:22-25. "Thou hast not called
upon me O Jacob, but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel; thou hast not
honoured me with thy sacrifices, but thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and
will not remember thy sins." Thomas Cobbet, 1608-1686.
Verse 11. "Oh, "says Pharaoh, "take away these filthy frogs,
this dreadful thunder!" But what says holy David? "Lord, take away the iniquity
of thy servant!" The one would be freed from punishment, the effect of sin; the
other from sin, the cause of punishment. And it is most true that a true
Christian man is more troubled at sin than at frogs and thunder; he sees more
filthiness in sin than in frogs and toads, more horror than in thunder and
lightning. Jeremiah Dyke's "Worthy Communicant, "1645.
Verse 11. Pharaoh more lamented the hard strokes that were
upon him, than the hard heart which was within him. Esau mourned not because he
sold the birthright, which was his sin, but because he lost the blessing, which
was his punishment. This is like weeping with an onion; the eye sheds tears
because it smarts. A mariner casts overboard that cargo in a tempest, which he
courts the return of when the winds are silenced. Many complain more of the
sorrows to which they are born, than of the sins with which they were born; they
tremble more at the vengeance of sin, than at the venom of sin; one delights
them, the other scares them. William Secker.
What man is he that feareth the Lord? Blessed
shall he be--1. In the sacred knowledge of Christ's will; Him shall he
teach in the way that he shall choose. 2. Blessed shall he be in the
quiet peace of a good conscience; "His soul shall dwell at ease."
3. Blessed he shall be in the present comfort of a hopeful progeny; "His seed
shall inherit the earth." Robert Mossom.
What man is he that feareth the Lord? There is
nothing so effectual to obtain grace, to retain grace, as always to be found
before God not over wise, but to fear: happy art thou, if thy heart be
replenished with three fears; a fear for received grace, a greater fear for lost
grace, a greatest fear to recover grace. Bernard.
He that feareth the Lord. Present fear begetteth
eternal security: fear God, which is above all, and no need to fear man at all.
Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose,
i.e., that the good man shall pitch upon. God will direct him in all
dealings to make a good choice, and will give good success. This is not in a
man's own power to do. Jer 10:23. John Trapp.
His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall
inherit the earth. The holy fear of God shall destroy all sinful fears of
men, even as Moses' serpent devoured all those serpents of the magicians. The
fear of God hath this good effect, that it makes other things not to be feared;
so that the soul of him that feareth the Lord doth dwell, as in rest, so
in goodness; as in peace, so in patience, till this moment of time be
swallowed up in the fulness of eternity, and he change his earthly dwelling for
an heavenly mansion, and his spiritual peace for an everlasting blessedness.
His soul shall dwell at ease. Shall tarry in
good things, as it is in the Vulgate. Unlike the soul of Adam, who,
being put into possession of the delights of paradise, tarried there but a few
days or hours. Gerhohus, quoted by J. M. Neale.
His soul shall dwell at ease. He expresses with
great sweetness spiritual delectation, when he says, "His soul shall
tarry in good things." For whatever is carnally sweet yields without
doubt a delectation for the time to such as enjoy it, but cannot tarry long with
them; because, while by its taste it provokes appetite, by its transit it cheats
desire. But spiritual delights, which neither pass away as they are tasted, nor
decrease while they refresh, nor cloy while they satiate, can tarry for ever
with their possessors. Hugo Victorinus (1130), quoted by J. M.
Verse 13 (first clause). In the reception of the
gifts of God, they do not devour them without feeling a sense of their
sweetness, but really relish them, so that the smallest competency is of more
avail to satisfy them that the greatest abundance is to satisfy the ungodly.
Thus, according as every man is contented with his condition, and cheerfully
cherishes a spirit of patience and tranquillity, his soul is said to dwell in
good. John Calvin.
Verse 13. "The earth, "or the land, to wit Canaan;
which was promised and given, as an earnest of the whole covenant of grace, and
all its promises, and therefore it is synecdochically put for all of them. The
sense is, his seed shall be blessed. Matthew Poole.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him,
etc. It is the righteous that is God's friend, it is to him that God is
joined in a loving familiarity, it is to him that God revealeth his secret,
telling him what misery and torments he hath reserved for them who by wickedness
flourish in this world. And indeed the Lord doth not more hate the wicked than
he loves the godly: if he keeps far from the froward, as being an abomination
unto him, his very secret shall be with the righteous, as with his dearest
friend. It is an honour to him to whom a secret is committed by another, a
greater honour to him to whom the king shall commit his own secret; but how is
he honoured to whom God committed his secret? for where the secret of God is,
there is his heart and there is himself. Thus was his secret with St. John, of
whom St. Bernard saith, by occasion of the beginning of his gospel, "Doth he not
seem unto thee to have dived into the bowels of the divine Word, and from the
secrets of his breast, to have drawn a sacred pith of concealed wisdom?" Thus
was his secret with St. Paul, who saith, "We speak the wisdom of God in a
mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew."
1Co 2:7-8. St. Gregory reads, for the secret of God, as the Vulgar Latin doth,
sermocinatio Dei, the communication of God is with the righteous; but
then addeth, Dei sermocinari est per illustrationem suae praesentiae
humanis mentibus arcana revelare, God's communication is, by the
illustration of his presence, to reveal secrets to the minds of men. But to
consider the words somewhat more generally. There is no less a secret of
godliness, than there is of any other trade or profession. Many profess am art
or a trade, but thrive not by it, because they have not the secret and mystery
of it; and many profess godliness, but are little the better for it, because
they have not the true secret of it: he hath that, with whom God is in secret in
his heart; and he that is righteous in secret, where no man sees him, he is the
righteous man with whom the secret of the Lord is. Michael Jermin, D.D.,
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him,
etc. There is a vital sense in which "the natural man discerneth not the
things of the Spirit of God; "and in which all the realities of Christian
experience are utterly hid from his perceptions. To speak to him of communion
with God, of the sense of pardon, of the lively expectation of heaven, of the
witness of the Holy Ghost, of the struggles of the spiritual life, would be like
reasoning with a blind man about colours, or with one deaf about musical
harmony. John Morison.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him,
etc. Albeit the Lord's covenant with the visible church be open, and plain
in itself to all men in all the articles thereof, yet it is a mystery to know
the inward sweet fellowship which a soul may have with God by virtue of this
covenant; and a man fearing God shall know this mystery, when such as are
covenanters only in the letter do remain ignorant thereof; for to the fearers
of God only is this promise made--that to them the Lord will show
his covenant. David Dickson.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.
The gospel, though published to all the world, yet it is entitled a mystery, and
a mystery hid, for none know it but the saints, who are taught of God, and are
his scholars. Joh 6:45. That place shows that there must be a secret teaching by
God, and a secret learning. "If they have heard, and been taught of God." Now
God teacheth none but saints, for all that are so taught come unto him: "Every
one who hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." Aye, but you
will say, Do not many carnal men know the gospel, and discourse of things in it,
through strength of learning, etc? I answer out of the text Col 1:26-27, that
though they may know the things which the gospel reveals, yet not the riches and
glory of them, that same rich knowledge spoken of in the word, they want, and
therefore know them not; as a child and a jeweller looking upon a pearl, both
look upon it, and call it by the same name; but the child yet knows it not as a
pearl in the worth and riches of it as the jeweller doth, and therefore cannot
be said to know it. Now in Mt 13:45, a Christian only is likened to a
merchantman, that finds a pearl of great price, that is, discovered to be so,
and sells all he hath for it, for he knows the worth of it. But you will say, Do
not carnal men know the worth of the things in the gospel, and can they not
discourse of the rich grace of Christ, and of his worth? I answer, yes, as a man
who hath gotten an inventory by heart, and the prices also, and so may know it;
yet never was he led into the exchequer and treasury, to see all the jewels
themselves, the wardrobe of grace, and Christ's righteousness, to see the glory
of them; for these are all "spiritually discerned, "as the apostle says
expressly, 1Co 2:14. Thomas Goodwin.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.
The truth and sincerity of God to his people appears in the openness and
plainness of his heart to them. A friend that is close and reserved, deservedly
comes under a cloud in the thoughts of his friends; but he who carries, as it
were, a window of crystal in his breast, through which his friend may read what
thoughts are writ in his very heart, delivers himself from the least suspicion
of unfaithfulness. Truly, thus open hearted is God to his saints: "The secret
of the Lord is with them that fear him." He gives us his key, that
will let us into his very heart, and acquaint us what his thoughts are, yea,
were, towards us, before a stone was laid in the world's foundation; and this is
no other than his Spirit 1Co 2:10-11, "One who knows the deep things of God;
"for he was at the council table in heaven, where all was transacted. This, his
Spirit, he employed to put forth and publish in the Scriptures, indited by him,
the substance of those counsels of love which had passed between the Trinity of
Persons for our salvation; and that nothing may be wanting for our satisfaction,
he hath appointed the same Holy Spirit to abide in his saints, that as Christ in
heaven presents our desires to him, so he may interpret his mind out of his word
to us; which word answers the heart of God, as face answers face in the glass.
The secret of the Lord. This "secret" is
called a secret three ways. 1. Secret to the eye of sole nature,
and thus it is not meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret only to
heathens and such as are blind as they, for common Christians know it--the rind
of it. 2. Secret to the eye of taught nature, nor thus is it meant; for
so the grace of Christ is a secret only to the ignorant sort of
Christians; many carnal gospellers that sit under a good ministry know it and
the bark of it. 3. Secret to the eye of enlightened nature, and thus it
is meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret to all unsanctified
professors, whether learned or unlearned, namely, the pith of it; for though
great doctors and profound clerks, and deep studied divines unconverted, know
the doctrine of grace, and the truth of grace; though they can dispute of grace
and talk of the glory of grace, yea, and taste a little the good word of grace,
yea, and understand it generally, it may be as well as St. Paul and St. Peter,
as Judas did, yet the special and the spiritual knowledge thereof, for all their
dogmatical illumination, is a secret unto them. William Fenner.
The secret. Arminius and his company ransack all
God's secrets, divulge and communicate them to the seed of the woman, and
of the serpent all alike; they make God's eternal love of election no secret,
but a vulgar idea; they make the mystery of Christ, and him crucified, no
secret, but like an apothecary's drug, catholical; they make the especial
grace of God no secret, but a common quality; faith no secret, but
a general virtue; repentance and the new creature no secret, but an
universal gift; no secret favour to St. Peter, but make God a party
ante, not to love St. Peter more than Judas; no secret intent to
any one person more than another; but that Christ might have died for all him,
and never a man saved; no secret working of the Lord in any more than
other; but for anything that either God the Father hath done by creating, God
the Son by redeeming, or God the Holy Ghost by sanctifying, all the world were
left to their scrambling--take it if you will, if you will not, refuse. They say
God would have men to be saved, but that he will not work it for his own part,
rather for this man or that man determinatively that he be saved. William
He will shew them his covenant, or and he will
make them to know (for the infinitive is here thought to be put for
the future tense of the indicative, as it is in Ec 3:14-15,18 Ho 9:13 12:3,
his covenant, i.e., )he will make them clearly understand it, both its
duties or conditions, and its blessings or privileges; neither of which ungodly
men rightly understand. Or, he will make them to know it by experience, or by
God's making it good to them; as, on the contrary, God threatens to make ungodly
men to know his breach of promise. Nu 14:34. Or, as it is in the margins
of our Bibles, and his covenant, (is i.e., he hath engaged himself
by his promise or covenant) to make them know it, to wit, his secret,
i.e., that he will manifest either his word or his favour to them.
Verse 14. It is neither learning nor labour than can give
insight into God's secrets, those Arcana imperii, "The mysteries of the
kingdom of heaven." Mt 13:11. "The mind of Christ." 1Co 2:16. These things come
by revelation rather than by discourse of reason, and must therefore be obtained
by prayer. Those that diligently seek him shall be of his Cabinet Council,
shall know his soul secrets, and be admitted into a gracious familiarity and
friendship. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not
what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have
heard of my Father I have made known unto you." Joh 15:15. John Trapp.
Verse 14. Walking with God is the best way to know the mind
of God; friends who walk together impart their secrets one to another: "The
secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." Noah walked with God, and
the Lord revealed a great secret to him, of destroying the old world, and
having him in the ark. Abraham walked with God, and God made him one of his
privy council: "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" Ge 24:40
18:17. God doth sometimes sweetly unbosom himself to the soul in prayer, and in
the holy supper, as Christ made himself known to his disciples in the breaking
of bread. Lu 24:35. Thomas Watson.
Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord. Though we
cannot see him by reason of our present distance and darkness, yet we must look
towards him, towards the place where his honour dwells, as those that desire the
knowledge of him and his will, and direct all to his honour as the mark we aim
at, labouring in this, that "whether present or absent, we may be accepted of
him." Matthew Henry.
Mine eyes. As the sense of sight is very quick,
and exercises an entire influence over the whole frame, it is no uncommon thing
to find all the affections denoted by the term "eyes." John
He shall pluck my feet out of the net. An
unfortunate dove, whose feet are taken in the snare of the fowler, is a fine
emblem of the soul, entangled in the cares or pleasures of the world; from which
she desires, through the power of grace, to fly away, and to be at rest, with
her glorified Redeemer. George Horne.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged. Let no good
man be surprised that his affliction is great, and to him of an unaccountable
character. It has always been so with God's people. The road to heaven is soaked
with the tears and blood of the saints. William S. Plumer.
O bring thou me out of my distresses. We may not
complain of God, but we may complain to God. With submission to his holy will we
may earnestly cry for help and deliverance. William S. Plumer.
Verse 17. Special seasons of trouble and special resort to
prayer for special deliverance.
Verse 18. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive
all my sins. We may observe here, that sickness and weakness of
the body come from sin, and is a fruit of sin. Some are weak, and
some are sick, "for this cause." I shall not need to be long in the proof of
that, which you have whole chapters for, as De 28:27, seq; and many
Psalms, 107, and others. It is for the sickness of the soul that God visits with
the sickness of the body. He aims at the cure of the soul in the touch of the
body. And therefore in this case, when God visits with sickness, we should think
our work is more in heaven with God than with men or physic. Begin first with
the soul. So David Ps 32:5, till he dealt roundly with God, without all kind of
guile, and confessed his sins, he roared; his moisture was turned into the
drought of summer. But when he dealt directly and plainly with God, and
confessed his sins, then God forgave him them, and healed his body too. And
therefore the best method, when God visits us in this kind, is to think that we
are to deal with God. Begin the cure there with the soul. When he visits the
body, it is for the soul's sake: "Many are weak and sickly among you."
Look upon mine affliction and my pain. In sickness
of body trust to Jesus, he is as powerful and as willing to help us now as he
was to help others in the days of his flesh. All things are possible to us if we
believe. It is but a word from him to rebuke all storms and tempests whatsoever.
Let us not do like Asa, trust only in the physician, or in subordinate means,
but know that all physic is but dead means without him. 2Ch 16:12. Therefore,
with the means, run to Christ, that he may work with them, and know that virtue
and strength comes form him to bless or curse all sorts of means. Richard
Consider mine enemies, etc. Or look upon
them; but with another kind of look; so as he looked through the pillar of fire
upon the Egyptians, and troubled them Ex 14:24, with a look of wrath and
vengeance. The arguments he uses are taken both from the quantity and quality of
his enemies, their number and their nature, For they are many; the hearts
of the people of Israel, in general, being after Absalom 2Sa 15:12-13; and so
the spiritual enemies of the Lord's people are many; their sins and corruptions,
Satan, and his principalities and powers, and the men of this world. And they
hate me with cruel hatred; like that of Simeon and Levi Ge 44:7; their
hatred broke out in a cruel manner, in acts of force and cruelty; and it was the
more cruel, inasmuch as it was without cause; and such is the hatred of Satan
and his emissaries against the followers of Christ; who breathe out cruelty,
thirst after their blood, and make themselves drunk with it; even their tender
mercies are cruel, and much more their hatred. John Gill.
Consider mine enemies. God needeth not hound out
many creatures to punish man, he doeth that on himself. There is no kind of
creature so hurtful to itself as he. Some hurt other kinds and spare their own,
but mankind in all sorts of injuries destroyeth itself. Man to man is more
crafty than a fox, more cruel than the tiger, and more fierce than a lion, and
in a word, if he be left to himself man unto man is a devil. William
Struther's "Christian Observations, "1629.
Verses 19-20. --Consider mine enemies...O keep my soul
and deliver me. We may say of original concupiscence, strengthened
and heightened by customary transgressions, its name is legion, for it is many.
Hydra like, it is a body with many heads; and when we cut off one head, one
enormous impiety, there presently sprouts up another of like monstrous nature,
like venomous guilt. From the womb then it is of original sin and sinful custom,
as from the belly of the Trojan horse, there does issue forth a whole army of
unclean lusts, to surround the soul in all its faculties, and the body too in
all its members. Robert Mossom.
Verses 19-20. --Consider mine enemies...O keep my soul
and deliver me. See Psalms on "Ps 25:19" for further
Let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
When David reaches verse 20, we are reminded of Coriolanus betaking himself to
the hall of Attius Tullus, and sitting as a helpless stranger there, claiming
the king's hospitality, though aware of his having deserved to die at his hands.
The psalmist throws himself on the compassion of an injured God with similar
feelings; "I trust in thee!" Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 21. "For I trust in, or wait on thee." As
preservation is a continued creation, so is waiting a continued trusting;
for, what trust believes by faith, it waits for by hope; and thus is
trust a compound of both. Robert Mossom.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. If
thou wilt not pity and help me, yet spare thy people, who suffer for my sake,
and in my sufferings. Matthew Poole.
Redeem Israel, etc. In vita vel post mortem
meam, (Rabbi David), either whiles I live, or after my death. This is every
good man's care and prayer. None is in case to pray for the church, that hath
not first made his own peace with God. John Trapp.
Verse 22. This most beautiful of "Psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs" closes with a sweet petition--such an one, as every one of the
true Israel of God would wish to depart with on his lips. "Redeem Israel, O
God, out of all his troubles." It breathes the same holy aspiration as the
aged Simeon's "Lord! now lettest thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have
seen thy salvation." Barton Bouchier.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Heavenly machinery for uplifting an earthbound
Verse 1. Genuine devotion described and commended.
Verse 2. The soul at anchor, and the two rocks from which it
would be delivered.
Verse 3. Shame out of place and in place.
Verse 4. Practical divinity the best study; God the best
teacher; Prayer the mode of entrance into the school.
Verses 4-5. Shew. Teach. Lead. Three classes in the
school of grace.
Verses 4-5. Shew. Teach. Lead. Three classes in the school of
1. Sanctification desired.
2. Knowledge sought.
3. Assurance enjoyed.
4. Patience exercised.
Thou art the God of my salvation. A rich and
Verse 5 (last clause). How to spend the day with
God. Matthew Henry.
Verse 6. The antiquity of mercy.
Verses 6-7. The Three Remembers.
Verse 7 (first clause). The best Act of Oblivion.
Verse 7. Oblivion desired and remembrance entreated. Note
"my", and "thy."
Verse 8. Opposing attributes working together. God teaching
sinners--a great wonder.
Verse 9. The meek. Who are they? What are their privileges?
How to be like them?
Verse 9 (first clause). Moral purity needful to a
well balanced judgment.
Verse 10. God's mercy and faithfulness in providence, and
the persons who may derive comfort therefrom.
Verse 11. A model prayer. Confession, argument, entreaty,
Verse 11. Great guilt no obstacle to the pardon of the
returning sinner. Jonathan Edwards.
Verse 12. Holiness the best security for a well ordered
life. Free will at school, questioned and instructed.
Verse 13. A man at ease for time and eternity.
1. A secret, and who know it.
2. A wonder, and who see it.
1. What we are like. A silly bird.
2. What is our danger? "Net."
3. Who is our friend? "The Lord."
4. What is our wisdom? "Mine eyes," etc.
Verse 16. A desolate soul seeking heavenly company, and an
afflicted spirit crying for divine mercy. Our God the balm of all our wounds.
Verses 16-18. David is a petitioner as well as a sufferer;
and those sorrows will never injure us that bring us near to God. Three things
he prays for: --
1. Deliverance. This we are called to desire,
consistently with resignation to the divine will.
2. Notice. A kind look from God is desirable at any time
in any circumstances; but in affliction and pain, it is like life from the dead.
3. Pardon. Trials are apt to revive a sense of guilt.
Verse 18. Two things are here taught us: --
1. That a kind look from God is very desirable in affliction: (a) It is a look of special
observation; (b) It is a look of tender compassion; (c) It is a look of support and assistance (with God, power and
compassion go together).
2. The sweetest cordial under trouble would be an assurance of divine
forgiveness: (a) Because trouble is very apt to bring our sins to remembrance;
(b) Because a sense of pardon will in great measure remove all
distressing fears of death and judgment.
1. Let us adore the goodness of God, that one so great and
glorious should bestow a favourable look upon any of our sinful race.
2. Let the benefit we have received from the Lord's looking
upon us in former afflictions, engage us to pray, and encourage us
to hope, that he will now look upon us again.
3. If a kind look from God be so comfortable, what must
heaven be! Samuel Lavington.
1. It is well when our sorrows remind us of our sins.
2. When we are as earnest to be forgiven as to be delivered.
3. When we bring both to the right place in prayer.
4. When we are submissive about our sorrows-- "Look,
"etc. --but very explicit about our sins --"forgive," etc.
Verse 19. The spiritual enemies of the saint. Their number,
malice, craft, power, etc.
Verse 20. Soul preservation.
1. Its twofold character, "Keep, "and "deliver."
2. Its dreadful alternative, "Let me not be ashamed."
3. Its effectual guarantee, "I put my trust in thee."
Verse 20. A superhuman keeping, a natural fear, a spiritual
Verse 21. The open way of safety in action, and the secret
way of safety in devotion.
Verse 22. Jacob's life, as typical of ours, may illustrate
Verse 22. A prayer for the church militant.
WORKS UPON THE TWENTY-FIFTH PSALM
A Godly and Fruitful Exposition on the Twenty-fifth Psalme, the
second of the Penitentials; (in "A Sacred Septenarie.") By ARCHIBALD SYMSON.
1638. (See page 74.)
The Preacher's Tripartie, in Three Books. The First, to
raise Devotion in Divine Meditations upon Psalm XXV. By R. MOSSOM, Preacher of
God's Word, late at St. Peter's, Paul's Wharf, London, 1657. Folio.
Six Sermons in "Expository Discourses," by the late Rev.
WILLIAM RICHARDSON, Subchanter of York Cathedral. 1825.