Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. A Song and Psalm for the Sons of Korah. A song for
joyfulness and a Psalm for reverence. Alas! every song is not a Psalm, for poets
are not all heaven born, and every Psalm is not a song, for in coming before God
we have to utter mournful confessions as well as exulting praises. The Sons of
Korah were happy in having so large a selection of song; the worship where such
a variety of music was used could not become monotonous, but must have given
widest scope for all the sacred passions of gracious souls.
SUBJECT AND DIVISION. It would be idle dogmatically to
attribute this song to any one event of Jewish history. Its author and date are
unknown. It records the withdrawal of certain confederate kings from Jerusalem,
their courage failing them before striking a blow. The mention of the ships of
Tarshish may allow us to conjecture that the Psalm was written in connection
with the overthrow of Ammon, Moab, and Edom in the reign of Jehoshaphat; and if
the reader will turn to 2 Chronicles 20, and note especially 2Ch 20:19,25,36, he
will probably accept the suggestion. Ps 48:1-3, are in honour of the Lord and
the city dedicated to his worship. From Ps 48:4-8 the song records the confusion
of Zion's foes, ascribing all the praise to God; Ps 48:9-11 extolling Zion, and
avowing Jehovah to be her God for evermore.
Verse 1. Great is the Lord. How great Jehovah is essentially
none can conceive; but we can all see that he is great in the deliverance of his
people, great in their esteem who are delivered, and great in the hearts of
those enemies whom he scatters by their own fears. Instead of the mad cry of
Ephesus, "Great is Diana, "we bear the reasonable, demonstrable, self evident
testimony, "Great is Jehovah." There is none great in the church but the Lord.
Jesus is "the great Shepherd, "he is "a Saviour, and a great one, "our
great God and Saviour, our great High Priest; his Father has divided him a
portion with the great, and his name shall be great unto the ends of the earth.
And greatly to be praised. According to his nature should his worship be;
it cannot be too constant, too laudatory, too earnest, too reverential, too
sublime. In the city of our God. He is great there, and should be greatly
praised there. If all the world beside renounced Jehovah's worship, the chosen
people in his favoured city should continue to adore him, for in their midst and
on their behalf his glorious power has been so manifestly revealed. In the
church the Lord is to be extolled though all the nations rage against him.
Jerusalem was the peculiar abode of the God of Israel, the seat of the
theocratic government, and the centre of prescribed worship, and even thus is
the church the place of divine manifestation. In the mountain of his
holiness. Where his holy temple, his holy priests, and his holy sacrifices
might continually be seen. Zion was a mount, and as it was the most renowned
part of the city, it is mentioned as a synonym for the city itself. The church
of God is a mount for elevation and for conspicuousness, and it should be
adorned with holiness, her sons being partakers of the holiness of God. Only by
holy men can the Lord be fittingly praised, and they should be incessantly
occupied with his worship.
Verse 2. Beautiful for situation. Jerusalem was so
naturally, she was styled the Queen of the East; the church is so spiritually,
being placed near God's heart, within the mountain of his power, upon the hills
of his faithfulness, in the centre of providential operations. The elevation of
the church is her beauty. The more she is above the world the fairer she is.
The joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion. Jerusalem was the
world's star; whatever light lingered on earth was borrowed from the oracles
preserved by Israel. An ardent Israelite would esteem the holy city as the eye
of the nations, the most precious pearl of all lands. Certainly the church of
God, though despised of men, is the true joy and hope of the world. On
the sides of the north, the city of the great King. Either meaning
that Jerusalem was in the northern extremity of Judah, or it may denote that
part of the city that lay to the north of Mount Zion. It was the glory of
Jerusalem to be God's city, the place of his regal dwelling, and it is the joy
of the church that God is in her midst. The great God is the great King of the
church, and for her sake he rules all the nations. The people among whom the
Lord deigns to dwell are privileged above all others; the lines have fallen unto
them in pleasant places, and they have a goodly heritage. We who dwell in Great
Britain in the sides of the north, have this for our chief glory, that the Lord
is known in our land, and the abode of his love is among us.
Verse 3. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. We
worship no unknown God. We know him as our refuge in distress, we delight in him
as such, and run to him in every time of need. We know nothing else as our
refuge. Though we are made kings, and our houses are palaces, yet we have no
confidence in ourselves, but trust in the Lord Protector, whose well known power
is our bulwark.
Verse 4. The kings were assembled, they passed by together.
They came and they went. No sooner together than scattered. They came one way
and fled twenty ways. Boastful the gathering hosts with their royal leaders,
despairing the fugitive bands with their astonished captains. They came like
foam on the angry sea, like foam they melted away. This was so remarkable that
the psalmist puts in a note of exclamation, Lo! What! have they so
suddenly fled! Even thus shall the haters of the church vanish from the field.
Papists, Ritualists, Arians, Sceptics, they shall each have their day, and shall
pass on to the limbo of forgetfulness.
Verse 5. They saw it, and so they marvelled. They came, they
saw, but they did not conquer. There was no veni, vidi, vici for them. No
sooner did they perceive that the Lord was in the Holy City, than they took to
their heels. Before the Lord came to blows with them, they were faint hearted,
and beat a retreat. They were troubled and hasted away. The
troublers were troubled. Their haste in coming was nothing to their hurry in
going. Panic seized them, horses were not fleet enough; they would have borrowed
the wings of the wind. They fled ignominiously, like children in a fright. Glory
be to God, it shall be even thus with the foes of his church; when the Lord
cometh to our help, our enemies shall be as nothing. Could they foresee their
ignominious defeat, they would not advance to the attack.
Verse 6. Fear took hold upon them there. They were in Giant
Despair's grip. Where they hoped to triumph, there they quivered with dismay.
They did not take the city, but fear took hold on them. And pain, as of a
woman in travail. They were as much overcome as a woman whose fright causes
premature delivery; or, as full of pain as a poor mother in her pangs--a strong
expression, commonly employed by Orientals to set forth the extremity of
anguish. When the Lord arises for the help of his church, the proudest of his
foes shall be as trembling women, and their dismay shall be but the beginning of
Verse 7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east
wind. As easily as vessels are driven to shipwreck, dost thou overturn the
most powerful adversaries; or it may mean the strength of some nations lies in
their ships, whose wooden walls are soon broken; but our strength is in our God,
and therefore, it fails not; or there may be another meaning, though thou art
our defence, yet thou takest vengeance on our inventions, and while thou dost
preserve us, yet our ships, our comforts, our earthly ambitions, are taken from
us that we may look alone to thee. God is seen at sea, but he is equally present
on land. Speculative heresies, pretending to bring us wealth from afar, are
constantly assailing the church, but the breath of the Lord soon drives them to
destruction. The church too often relies on the wisdom of men, and these human
helps are soon shipwrecked; yet the church itself is safe beneath the care of
her God and King.
Verse 8. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the
Lord of hosts, in the city of our God. Our father's stories are
reproduced before our very eyes. We heard the promise, and we have seen the
fulfilment. The records of Zion, wonderful as they are, are proved to be
truthful, because present facts are in perfect harmony therewith. Note how the
Lord is first spoken of as Lord of hosts, a name of power and
sovereignty, and then as our God, a name of covenant relation and
condescension. No wonder that since the Lord bears both titles, we find him
dealing with us after the precedents of his lovingkindness, and the faithfulness
of his promises. God will establish it for ever. The true church
can never be disestablished. That which kings establish can last for time only,
that which God establishes endures to all eternity. Selah. Here is a fit
place to pause, viewing the past with admiration, and the future with
Verse 9. We have thought. Holy men are thoughtful men; they
do not suffer God's wonders to pass before their eyes and melt into
forgetfulness, but they meditate deeply upon them. Of thy
lovingkindness, O God. What a delightful subject! Devout minds never tire
of so divine a theme. It is well to think of past lovingkindness in times of
trial, and equally profitable to remember it in seasons of prosperity. Grateful
memories sweeten sorrows and sober joys. In the midst of thy temple. Fit
place for so devout a meditation. Where God is most seen he is best loved. The
assembled saints constitute a living temple, and our deepest musings when so
gathered together should have regard to the lovingkindness of the Lord,
exhibited in the varied experiences of each of the living stones. Memories of
mercy should be associated with continuance of praise. Hard by the table of show
bread commemorating his bounty, should stand the altar of incense denoting our
Verse 10. According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto
the ends of the earth. Great fame is due to his great name. The glory
of Jehovah's exploits overleaps the boundaries of earth; angels behold with
wonder, and from every star delighted intelligences proclaim his fame beyond the
ends of the earth. What if men are silent, yet the woods, and seas, and
mountains, with all their countless tribes, and all the unseen spirits that walk
them, are full of the divine praise. As in a shell we listen to the murmurs of
the sea, so in the convolutions of creation we hear the praises of God. Thy
right hand is full of righteousness. Thy sceptre and thy sword, thy
government and thy vengeance, are altogether just. Thy hand is never empty, but
full of energy, of bounty, and of equity. Neither saint nor sinner shall find
the Lord to be an empty handed God; he will in both cases deal out righteousness
to the full: to the one, through Jesus, he will be just to forgive, to the other
just to condemn.
Verse 11. Let mount Zion rejoice. As the first of the cities
of Judah, and the main object of the enemies' attack, let her lead the song.
Let the daughters of Judah be glad, let the smaller towns join the
chorus, for they join in the common victory. Let the women, who fare worst in
the havoc of war, be among the gladdest of the glad, now that the spoilers have
fled. All the church, and each individual member, should rejoice in the Lord,
and magnify his name. Because of thy judgments. The righteous acts
of the Lord are legitimate subjects for joyful praise. However it may appear on
earth, yet in heaven the eternal ruin of the wicked will be the theme of adoring
song. Re 19:1,3: "Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto
the Lord our God. For true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged
the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath
avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia,
and her smoke rose up for ever and ever." Justice which to our poor optics now
seems severe, will then be perceived to be perfectly consistent with God's name
of love, and to be one of the brightest jewels of his crown.
Verse 12. Walk about Zion; often beat her bounds, even as
Israel marched around Jericho. With leisurely and careful inspection survey her.
And go round about her. Encircle her again and again with loving
perambulations. We cannot too frequently or too deeply consider the origin,
privileges, history, security, and glory of the church. Some subjects deserve
but a passing thought; this is worthy of the most patient consideration. Tell
the towers thereof. See if any of them have crumbled, or have been
demolished. Is the church of God what she was in doctrine, in strength and in
beauty? Her foes counted her towers in envy first, and then in terror, let us
count them with sacred exultation. The city of Lucerne, encircled by its ancient
walls, adorned with a succession of towers, is a visible illustration of this
figure; and as we have gone around it, and paused at each picturesque tower, we
have realised the loving lingering inspection which the metaphor implies.
Verse 13. Mark ye well her bulwarks. Consider most
attentively how strong are her ramparts, how safely her inhabitants are
entrenched behind successive lines of defence. The security of the people of God
is not a doctrine to be kept in the background, it may be safely taught, and
frequently pondered; only to base hearts will that glorious truth prove harmful;
the sons of perdition make a stumbling stone even of the Lord Jesus himself, it
is little wonder that they pervert the truth of God concerning the final
perseverance of the saints. We are not to turn away from inspecting Zion's
ramparts, because idlers skulk behind them. Consider her palaces. Examine
with care the fair dwellings of the city. Let the royal promises which afford
quiet resting places for believers be attentively inspected. See how sound are
the defences, and how fair are the pleasaunces of "that ancient citie, "of which
you are citizens. A man should be best acquainted with his own home; and the
church is our dear and blest abode. Would to God professors were more
considerate of the condition of the church; so far from telling the towers, some
of them scarcely know what or where they are; they are too busy counting their
money, and considering their ledgers. Freehold and copyhold, and leasehold, men
measure to an inch, but heaven hold and grace hold are too often taken at
peradventure, and neglected in sheer heedlessness. That ye may tell it to the
generation following. An excellent reason for studious observation. We have
received and we must transmit. We must be students that we may be teachers. The
debt we owe to the past we must endeavour to repay by handing down the truth to
Verse 14. For this God is our God for ever and ever. A good
reason for preserving a record of all that he has wrought. Israel will not
change her God so as to wish to forget, nor will the Lord change so as to make
the past mere history. He will be the covenant God of his people world without
end. There is no other God, we wish for no other, we would have no other even if
there were. There are some who are so ready to comfort the wicked, that for the
sake of ending their punishment they weaken the force of language, and make
for ever and ever mean but a time; nevertheless, despite their
interpretations we exult in the hope of an eternity of bliss, and to us
"everlasting, " and "for ever and ever" mean what they say. He will be our
guide even unto death. Throughout life, and to our dying couch, he
will graciously conduct us, and even after death he will lead us to the living
fountains of waters. We look to him for resurrection and eternal life. This
consolation is clearly derivable from what has gone before; hitherto our foes
have been scattered, and our bulwarks have defied attack, for God has been in
our midst, therefore all possible assaults in the future shall be equally
"The church has all her foes defied
And laughed to scorn their rage;
Even thus for aye she shall abide
Secure from age to age."
Farewell, fear. Come hither, gratitude and faith, and sing
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. A Song and Psalm. Wherein both voice and instrument
were used; the voice began first and the instrument after: and where the
inscription is a Psalm and Song, there likely the instrument began and the voice
followed. John Richardson.
Whole Psalm. According to Dr. Lightfoot, the constant and
ordinary Psalm for the second day of the week was the forty-eighth.
Verse 1. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the
city of our God, etc. The prophet, being about to praise a certain
edifice, commences by praising the architect, and says that in the holy city the
wonderful skill and wisdom of God, who built it, is truly displayed. Great is
the Lord and greatly to be praised; and so he is, whether we look at his
essence, his power, his wisdom, his justice, or his mercy, for all are infinite,
everlasting, and incomprehensible; and thus, so much is God greatly to be
praised, that all the angels, all men, even all his own works would not
suffice thereto; but of all things revealed, there is no one thing can give us a
greater idea of his greatness, or for which were should praise and thank him
more, than the establishment of his church; and therefore, the prophet adds,
in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness; that is
to say, the greatness of God, and for which he deserves so much praise, is
conspicuous in the foundation and construction of his church. Robert
Verse 1. Great is the Lord. Greater, Job 33:12. Greatest of
all, Ps 95:3. Greatness itself, Ps 145:3. A degree he is above the superlative.
Verse 1. Mountain of his holiness. The religion in it holy,
the people in it a holy people. William Nicholson.
Verse 2. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth,
is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
What is there, or was there, about Zion to justify the high eulogium of David?
The situation is indeed eminently adapted to be the platform of a magnificent
citadel. Rising high above the deep valley of Gihon and Hinnom, on the west and
south, and the scarcely less deep one of the Cheesemongers on the east, it could
only be assailed from the northwest; and then on the sides of the north
it was magnificently beautiful, and fortified by walls, towers, and bulwarks,
the wonder and terror of the nations: "For the kings were assembled,
they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they
were troubled, and hasted away." At the thought of it the royal psalmist
again bursts forth in triumph: "Walk about Zion, and go round about
her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her
palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following." Alas! her
towers have long since fallen to the ground, her bulwarks have been overthrown,
her palaces have crumbled to dust, and we who now walk about Zion can tell no
other story than this to the generation following. There is another Zion,
however, whose towers are still more glorious, and shall never be overthrown.
"God is known in her palaces for a refuge." And "this God is
our God for ever and ever." How often is this name synonymous with
the church of the living God! and no other spot but one can divide with it the
affection of his people--no other name but one can awaken such joyful hopes in
the Christian's heart. The temporal Zion is now in the dust, but the true Zion
is rising and shaking herself from it, and putting on her beautiful garments to
welcome her King when he comes to reign over the whole earth. W. M. Thompson,
Verse 2. When I stood that morning on the brow of Olivet,
and looked down on the city, crowning those battlemented heights, encircled by
those deep and dark ravines, I involuntarily exclaimed, Beautiful for
situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the
north, the city of the great King. And as I gazed, the red rays of the
rising sun shed a halo round the top of the castle of David; then they tipped
with gold each tapering minaret, and gilded each dome of mosque and church, and
at length, bathed in one flood of ruddy light the terraced roofs of the city,
and the grass and foliage, the cupolas, pavements, and colossal walls of the
Haram. No human being could be disappointed who first saw Jerusalem from Olivet.
J. L. Porter.
Verse 2. (first clause). Beautiful in climate,
that is, Mount Zion is situated in a fair and lovely climate. This is the
view taken by Montanus and Ainsworth. Bate and Parkhurst read, "Beautiful in
extension, i.e., in the prospect which it extends to the eye." Editorial
Note to Calvin in loc.
Verse 2. Beautiful for situation. This earth is, by sin,
covered with deformity, and therefore justly might that spot of ground, which
was thus beautified with holiness, be called the joy of the whole
earth, i.e., what the whole earth had reason to rejoice in, because God
would thus in very deed dwell with man upon the earth. Matthew Henry.
Verse 2. Beautiful for situation.
The holy city, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious temple reared
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alabaster, topped with golden spires.
--John Milton in "Paradise Regained."
Verse 2. On the sides of the north. Jerusalem, that is the
upper and best part of it, was built on the north side of Mount Zion. Hadrian
Verse 2. Jerusalem lay to the north of Sion, and this
circumstance is mentioned as a proof of Mount Zion's greatest security, for it
was almost inaccessible on any other side except the north, and there is was
defended by Jerusalem, which was very strong. Samuel Burder.
Verse 2. The great King. God is named the great King
in opposition to the kings in Ps 48:4. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 4. They were many and powerful: kings and a plurality
of them. They were confederate kings. The kings were assembled. Forces
united are the more powerful. But all the endeavours of these confederate kings
came to nothing. They passed by together -- together they came, and
together they vanished. William Nicholson.
Verses 5-6. The potentates of the world saw the miracles of
the apostles, the courage and constancy of the martyrs, and the daily increase
of the church, notwithstanding all their persecutions; they beheld with
astonishment the rapid progress of the faith through the Roman empire; they
called upon their gods, but their gods could not help themselves; idolatry
expired at the foot of the victorious cross. George Horne.
Verse 6. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman
in travail. Nothing is more unaccountable than panic. No man, no body
of men can adequately guard against such terror. He who made the ears can easily
make them to tingle. He who holds the winds in his fist, can easily make them
whisper alarm, or roar dismay. This is specially to be expected when men so act
as to have their own conscience against them. Job 15:21. But God can at any time
so forsake men as that they shall be unmanned, and play the fool exceedingly. Le
26:36. Men have fought bravely several battles, and then played the coward.
William S. Plumer.
Verse 7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east
wind. It is only by her Lord that the church gained "the true riches; "when
she enters into traffick with the world, she takes the means of the world for
her resources; and when she trusts in her wealth, in her political power, in
earthly cunning, to make merchandise, the instruments she adopts come to nothing
in her hands, and leave her helpless and poor. From "A Plain Commentary on
the Book of Psalms (The Prayer Book Version), chiefly founded on the
Verse 7. With an east wind, which, in Judea, is a very
violent and destructive wind. Kennicot renders the verse thus, As the east
wind dasheth in pieces the ships of Tarshish; founding his conjecture
upon the similarity in form of two Hebrew letters, signifying the one in,
and the other as. Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 9. We have thought. The Hebrew (Mwd) and (Mmd)
and (hmd) belong all to the same
signification, of quiet, rest, silence, patient expecting, thinking,
considering, and must be determined to any of these senses by the context.
And here that of expecting or patient waiting, with
affiance in him, and without all distrust or repining at
his delays, seems to be most proper for it. For coming to the sanctuary
to pray for mercy, it is most agreeable to say we wait for it there, as
in the place where he hath promised to afford it, in return to prayers.
Verses 12-13. In a spiritual sense the towers and
bulwarks of Sion are those doctrines of the true faith, which are the
strength and glory of the church, which are to be maintained in their soundness
and stability against the assaults of heretical teachers, so that they may be
transmitted unimpaired to following generations. Origen and Theodoret, quoted
Verse 13. Mark ye well her bulwarks. Margin as in the
Hebrew, "Set your heart to her bulwarks." That is, pay close attention to
them; make the investigation with care, not as one does whose heart is not in
the thing, and who does it negligently. The word rendered bulwarks,
(lyx), khail --means properly, a
host or army, and then a fortification or entrenchment, especially the
ditch or trench, with the low wall or breastwork which surrounds
it. 2Sa 20:15 Isa 26:1. (Gesenius, Lex.) --Albert Barnes.
Verse 13. Mark ye well: set your heart, mind
earnestly, set your affections on. Henry Ainsworth.
Verse 13. Her bulwarks.
1. The designation and constitution of Jesus Christ to be King
of the church, King of Zion, is the great bulwark of Zion.
2. The second bulwark of Zion is the promises of God, which are
3. The watchful providence of God over the church.
4. Another bulwark is God's special presence. God is in a
special manner present in his church.
5. The last bulwark unto which all others may be reduced, is
the covenant of God: "For this God is our God." John Owen.
Verse 14. This God is our God for ever and ever. What a
portion then is that of the believer! The landlord cannot say of his fields,
these are mine for ever and ever. The king cannot say of his crown, this is mine
for ever and ever. These possessions shall soon change masters; these possessors
shall soon mingle with the dust, and even the graves they shall occupy may not
long be theirs; but it is the singular, the supreme happiness of every Christian
to say, or have a right to say, "This glorious God with all his divine
perfections is my God, for ever and ever, and even death itself shall not
separate me from his love." George Burder.
Verse 14. This God is our God. The people of God are
sometime represented as so taken with this apprehension of their peculiar
relation to God, that they cannot be content to know, but they proclaim it; nor
was it enough the present age should know, but they must have it told the
following generation: "Let Mount Zion rejoice, " etc. Mark, "That ye may tell
the generation following, "For this is our God. See their
ostentation of him! This God; q.d., Behold what a God have we! view him
well, and take notice how glorious a God he is. And as they glory in the
greatness of the God to whom they were related, so they do in the eternity of
the relation. "This God is our God for ever and ever." John Howe.
Verse 14. God is not only a satisfying portion, filling
every crevice of thy soul with the light of joy and comfort; and a sanctifying
portion, elevating thy soul to its primitive and original perfection; and a
universal portion; not health, or wealth, or friends, or honours, or liberty, or
life, or house, or wife, or child, or pardon, or peace, or grace, or glory, or
earth, or heaven, but all these, and infinitely more, but also he is an eternal
portion. This God would be thy God for ever and ever. Oh, sweet word
ever! thou art the crown of the saints' crown, and the glory of their
glory. Their portion is so full that they desire no more; they enjoy variety and
plenty of delights above what they are able to ask or think, and want nothing
but to have it fixed. May they but possess it in peace without interruption or
cessation, they will trample all kingdoms of the earth as dirt under their feet;
and lo! thou art the welcome dove to bring this olive branch in thy mouth.
This God is our God for ever and ever. All the arithmetical
figures of days, and months, and years, and ages, are nothing to this infinite
cipher ever, which, though it stand for nothing in the vulgar account,
yet contains all our millions; yea, our millions and millions of millions are
less than drops in this ocean ever. George Swinnock.
Verse 14. Some expositors have strangely found a difficulty
in the last verse, deeming such a profession of personal faith as inappropriate
termination for a national song. Even Dr. Delitzch, a wise and devout
interpreter, shares in this notion; going, indeed, so far as to throw out the
surmise, that some word must have been lost from the Hebrew text. To me it seems
that the verse, as it stands, is admirably in harmony with the song, and is its
crowning beauty. When the Lord does great things for church or nation, he means
that all the faithful, however humble their station, should take courage from
it, should repose in him fresh confidence, and cling to him with a firmer hope,
and say, This God shall be our God for ever; he will guide us even
unto death. William Binnie.
Verse 14. Unto death, or as some explain it, at death,
i.e., he will save us from it; others, over death, beyond it. But the
most obvious explanation, and the one most agreeable to usage, is that which
makes the phrase mean even to the end of life, or as long as we live. The idea
of a future state, though not expressed, is not excluded. J. A.
Verse 14. (last clause). The last clause is much
misunderstood. It is not, "Our guide unto death, "for the words are,
(twm-le wnghny), "shall lead us
over death." Surely it means, "It is he who leads over death to
resurrection" --over Jordan to Canaan. The (Heb.) is used in Le 15:25, for
"beyond, "in regard to time, and is not this the sense here?
"Beyond the time of death"? Till death is to us over? Till we have
stood upon the grace of death? Yes; he it is who leads us on to this last
victory; he swallows up death in victory, and leads us to trample on
death. And so viewed, we easily discern the beautiful link of thought that
joins this Psalm to that which follows. Such is the celebration of The Mighty
One become the glory of Jerusalem. Andrew A. Bonar.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
All the suggestions under this Psalm except those otherwise
designated, are by our beloved friend, Rev. George Rogers, Tutor of the Pastor's
1. What the church is to God.
(a) His "city:" not a lawless rabble, but a well
(b) A mountain of holiness, for the display of justifying
righteousness, of sanctifying grace.
2. What God is to the church.
(a) Its inhabitant. It is his city, his mountain. There
he is great. There was no room for the whole of God in Paradise, there is no
room for him in his law, no room for him in the heaven of angels: in the church
only is there room for all his perfections, for a triune Jehovah. Great
everywhere, he is peculiarly great here.
(b) The object of its praises. As he is greatest here, so are
his praises, and through the universe on this account.
1. Was the ancient Zion beautiful for situation? So is
the New Testament church founded upon a rock, upon eternal purpose and grace.
2. Was it the joy of the whole earth? So the New
Testament church will become.
3. Was it the special joy of the tribes of Israel that
were almost entirely to the north of Jerusalem? So the church is to the saints.
4. Was it a royal as well as a holy city? So is the
church. "Yet I have set, "etc.
1. God is a refuge in his church. The church is a city of
refuge, but the refuge is not in its church, but its God.
(a) For sinners from wrath.
(b) For saints from trials and fears.
(c) God is there known as such, known to thousands, not known as
such elsewhere. "They that know thy name, "etc.
1. The opposition of worldly powers to the church. "The kings,
2. The manner in which they are subdued--by their own fears;
conscience has persecuted those who have persecuted the church of God. They who
have seized the ark of God have been glad to return it with an offering.
3. The completeness of their overthrow, As a fleet of ships of
Tarshish, dispersed, broken, and engulfed by the east wind.
1. God has ever been to his people what he now is; the same
heard as seen.
2. He is now what he ever has been: the same seen as
3. He will ever be what he now is. "Will establish it for
1. What are the lovingkindnesses of God? Pity to the wretched,
pardon to the penitent, help to the prayerful, comfort to the afflicted, etc.
2. Where are they to be found? "In the midst of, "etc.
(a) Here they are revealed.
(b) Here they are dispensed.
(c) Here they are sought.
(d) Here they are enjoyed.
Verse 10. As the name of God, so his praises are--
Verse 10. Thy right hand, etc.
1. The justice of omnipotence.
2. Omnipotence controlled by justice.
3. The omnipotence of justice.
1. The subjects of his peoples' joy. Not mercies merely, but
2. Reasons: (a) Because they are holy--needful to the purity of moral
government; (b) Just--needful to vindicate law; (c) Good--needful for the greatest amount of good.
1. What is to be understood by the preservation and protection
of the church?
2. What is meant by searching into, and considering of, these
causes and means of the church's preservation?
3. What are those causes and means of the church's
preservation, those towers and bulwarks which will not fail?
4. What reason is there why we should thus search into and
consider these causes of the church's preservation and protection?
5. What is the testimony which we have to give concerning this
matter to the ensuing generation? John Owen's Sermon.
Verse 14. (first clause). This is the language of a
proprietary in God: 1. Of an assured proprietary--"This God is
our God." 2. Of a permanent proprietary--for ever and
ever. 3. Of an exulting proprietary. W. Jay.
1. The language of discrimination. This God. This
God in Christ, in the church.
2. The language of Faith--our God.
3. Of Hope--For ever and ever.
4. Of Resignation--He will be our guide, etc.