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The prophet, after inviting men to contemplate “ the works of God," sets before them, for that purpose, two great miracles wrought for Israel ; namely, the division of the Red Sea, and that of the river Jordan; by the former they escaped Egypt, by the latter they entered Canaan. Under these two figurative transactions, the Christian church beholds, and in the words which describe them, she celebrates, two corresponding works of mercy wrought for her; namely, the deliverance of her children from the dominion of sin, by the waters of baptism ; and their admission into the kingdom of heaven, through the grave and gate of Death. If the Israelites rejoiced in God their Saviour, for the former blessings, much more, surely, ought we so to do for the latter.
“7. He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations : let not the rebellious, or, the rebellious shall not, exalt themselves."
The uncontrollable sovereignty, and superintending providence of our God and King, are topics on which we should ever delight to dwell. Establish, O Lord, thy kingdom within us, and suffer not our “rebellious" passions to s exált themselves" against it.
“8. O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard ; 9. Who holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved."
But chiefly are we bound to "bless” and “praise" God, for that goodness and mercy, by which our feet are turned back from the ways of death, placed in the path of “life,” and enabled to walk therein, without falling into perdition; until, having finished our pilgrimage in the world, we lie down in peace, and our flesh resteth sweetly in hope.
“10. For thou, O God, hast proved us : thou hast tried us, as silver is
Notwithstanding the mercy of God, and the salvation wrought for us, we are here taught to expect affliction and tribulation ; which indeed are oftentimes necessary; for, having in our composition a mixture of the earth from whence we came, with a base alloy of concupiscence, we stand as much in need of adversity, as metals, in like circumstances, do of the fire, to refine and purify our tempers. Try us, O God; but enable us to stand the trial.
" 11. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidest affliction upon our loins. 12. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads: we went through fire and through water; but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place."
Various calamities are here mentioned, which God suffers to fall upon his people. As, first, their being “ brought into the net," or ensnared and taken captive by their enemies, whom they had not power to resist or escape. Secondly, " afflictions upon the loins," or hard servitude under heavy burdens. Thirdly,“ men riding over their heads," or the manifold oppressions of persecuting tyrants, trampling them under their feet, like war-horses in the day of battle. Fourthly, passing “through fire and water," or troubles of different and contrary kinds, though alike deadly and destructive. But he who brought Israel from among the brick-kilns of Egypt, and through the waters of the Red Sea, and the river Jordan, into the promised rest, will bring us safely through every fiery trial, and through the waves of a troublesome world, to the land of everlasting peace and comfort.
“ 13. I will go into thy house with burnt-offerings : I will pay thee my vow3, 14. Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. 15. I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams: I will offer bullocks with goats."
Under the Gospel, the obligation of " going to the house of God," and there “paying vows,” still continues; but the “offerings" are changed. The legal sacrifices have been abolished by the oblation of the body of Christ, once for all. The oblation is commemorated in the eucharist: at the celebration of which, we now offer up our prayers and praises, ourselves, our souls and bodies, a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice, acceptable to God, in the name and through the merits of the Redeemer. These offer
ings, if vowed in the seasons of sickness and sorrow, should be paid in the days of health and gladness.
*16. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul."
Every man should be ready, like David, to celebrate the mercies of God vouchsafed to him. It is a debt of gratitude to his Saviour, who is glorified, and a debt of charity to his brethren, who are edified thereby; provided only, that it be done with sobriety and humility.
“ 17. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.”
The mean by which we obtain salvation is faith; which, as it showeth us both our disease and our Physician, inclineth us to pray to the latter for a cure of the former. Prayer is one gift of God; and every other gift is obtained by it. “ 18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me."
The prayer which is “heard,” is the prayer of the penitent, heartily grieved and wearied with sin, hating, and longing to be delivered from it. For God heareth not hypocrites, who, while they outwardly disavow, yet inwardly “ regard” and cherish “ iniquity;" from which every one, who nameth the name of Christ, ought to depart.
“ 19. But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer."
David was heard, when God delivered him from his enemies, and set him on the throne of Israel: Christ was heard, when God raised him from the dead, and exalted him to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; and every man is heard, when God raises him from ,sin to righteousness, as an earnest of his future resurrection from dust to glory. Let every such man praise the Lord, and say, with David, in the last verse of our Psalm, .6 20. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me."
In this evangelical Psalm, the Israelitish church is introduced, as partly pray
ing for, and partly foretelling, the advent of Christ, and the conversion of the nations, with the joy and gladness that should be consequent there. upon. The Christian church now uses, and will continue to use, the Psalm, with propriety, until the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, the conversion of the Jews effected, and Christ shall appear the second time, finally to accomplish the salvation of his chosen.
“1. God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us.”
The Israelitish church, by the mouth of the prophet, expresseth her ardent desire after Messiah's advent and appearance in the flesh; she prayeth that God would be “ merciful unto her," as he had promised ; that, by so doing, he would “ bless" her with the blessings of pardon and peace, of grace and glory; and in one word, that he would “cause his face to shine upon her," by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, making her to behold ihe glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; reviving her with the glad tidings of the Gospel, and enlightening her with the light of salvation.
"2. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations."
Nor was she studious, as her degenerate children have since been, to confine the favour of heaven within her own pale. If she had a good wish for herself, she had one likewise for others; and therefore prayed, that the “way" to life eternal might be “known," not in Jewry alone, but over all
.the earth;" and that the virtues of that salutary medicine, which was able t o restore health” and vigour to the diseased and languishing spirits of ,-'men, might be published among all nations."
“3. Let the people praise thee, o God; let all the people praise thee."
As if she had said-Hitherto, 'indeed, blessed Lord, thou hast thought fit to make me the guardian and keeper of that great deposit, thy true religion, from which the nations revolted and fell : but the time is coming, when, by the Gospel of thy dear Son, they shall again be called to the knowledge of thee. Thy glory, impatient, as it were, of any longer restraint, and demanding a larger sphere, shall diffuse itself, like the light of heaven, to the ends of the world. Hasten, then, O hasten the dawning of that happy day, when congregations of converted Gentiles shall everywhere lift up their voices, and perhaps in the words of this very Psalm, sing to thy praise and glory!
04. Olet nations be glad, and sing for joy; for thou shalt judge the people righteously; and govern the nations upon earth."
And a very sufficient cause, surely, is here assigned, why the nations" should be glad, and sing for joy," upon the erection of Messiah's kingdom in the midst of them; namely, because he would judge the people righteously;" breaking the yoke of the oppressor, and thy iron rod of the prince of this world; becoming himself an advocate in the cause of his church ; introducing her into the glorious liberty of the children of God, whose service is perfect freedom; and, with a sceptre, around which justice and mercy are wreathed together, “ governing the nations upon earth."
“5. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee." Chorus repeated, as above, ver. 3.
“6. Then shall the earth yield her increase : and God, even our own God, shall bless us.”
Then, when that long-expected time shall arrive, “the earth shall yield her increase ;" the nations of the world shall be converted to the faith, and become fruitful in every good word and work, through the benediction of Heaven upon them.*
607. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him."
The evangelical “ blessings," predicted in this Psalm, have been long since poured out upon “the ends of the earth," by the bountiful hand of God in Christ. Let us beseech him to add yet this to all his other mercies, that in return for such unmerited favours, the redeemed may have grace evermore to pay him the tribute of fear and obedience, of duty and love.
THIRTEENTH DAY.-MORNING PRAYER.
those which the church has appointed to be used on Whitsunday. It seems evidently to have been composed on that festive and joyful occasion, the removal of the ark to mount Sion. See 2 Sam. vi. 1 Chron. xv.t Under
* Universæ gentes ad Deum convertentur, et electi abundabunt bonis operibus, rerumque omnium copia Bossuet.
t The argument seems to be, a prognostication of success to David and the kingdom of Larael, and victory over their enemies, in consequence of the manifestation of the especial presence of God on mount Sion, and by his power exerted in their favour. In the mystical sense which is authorized by St. Paul, Eph. iv.8. it is, according to Vitringa, " Ascension Christi in coelos, et sessio ad dextram Patris; et illius effecta, quæ sunt collectio et conversatio ecclesiæ, ac destructio hostium sibi et ecclesiæ adversorum." Bishop Lorth, in Merrick's Annotations. Dr. Chandler, in his “Critical History of the Life of David," has given an admirable exposition of the literal, or historical sense of this Psalm, and a very ingenious division of it into five parts, founded on the supposition of its being performed at the removal of the ark. The author has been greatly assisted in the ensuing comment by the Doctor's exposition, and the reader will find his division of the Psalm inserted.
this figure, David, foreseeing the exaltation of Messiah, speaks of him, whom he describes, 1, 2. as arising, and vanquishing his enemies; 3—6. as causing the faithful to rejoice, and showing mercy to the afflicted ; 7–15. as bringing his church out of bondage, supporting her in the world by the Word and the Spirit, purging away her corruptions, and subduing her adversaries; the ground-work being laid in the history of the Egyptian deliverance, the Manna and the Law given in the wilderness, and the overthrow of the Canaanitish nations. 16-20, David returns to the scene before him, celebrates the ascension of Christ, with power and great glory, to the heavenly Sion, and the gifts he should from thence pour down upon men; 21-23. foretells the Tengeance he would take on his opposers; 24-28. sets forth the order of the church in her services; 29–31. predicts the conversion of the nations; all of whom, 32–35. he exhorts to unite in chanting forth the praises of their God and Saviour.
“1. Let God arise, let his enemies he scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him."
These words were used by Moses, whenever the ark set forward before the armies of Israel, in their progress toward Canaan, Num. x. 35. David, in like manner, uses them in this triumphal hymn, on the removal of the ark to the city of Zion, 1 Chron. xiii. and xv. Dr. Chandler supposes this part of the Psalm, from ver. 1. to ver. 6. inclusive, to have been sung, when the ark was taken up on the shoulders of the Levites. The church now celebrates, in the same terms, the substance of the foregoing shadows; she sings the praises of her Redeemer, rising from the dead, and preceding the Israel of God, to the true land of promise; when “his enemies," the powers of darkness, sin and death, “ were scattered, and they that hated him fled before him.” And the Christian, in the hour of temptation, will always find this verse a most powerful and profitable ejaculation.
"2. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away : as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God."
The sudden and utter destruction of the enemies of God, and of his people, is resembled, first, to the dissipation of "smoke,” which, though it rises from earth in black and tremendous clouds, is by the wind presently brought to nothing; secondly, to the melting of “ wax," which though to appearance of a firm and solid consistence, yet when held to the fire for a few minutes, dissolves, and makes no more resistance. So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord, within us. Let our vain imaginations be dispersed before thy Spirit, and our corruptions melt and die away, at the presence of thy light and thy truth.
“3. But let the righteous be glad ; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.”
A variety of expressions is used in the Hebrew, to denote 'the festive “joy" and delight” with which the righteous celebrate the triumphs of their God over his and their enemies, under each dispensation respectively. When the heart is full of these sensations, it has no desire to resort to the world for pleasure.
“4. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name : extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name Jah, and rejoice before him."
The prophet exhorts the people of God to magnify, with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, the eternal and incommunicable "name" of him “ who was, and is, and is to come;" who, deriving being from none, gives it to all: and who, as Redeemer of his people, is exalted above the “heavens," and all powers therein; above the gods of the nations : acknowledged and glorified by saints and angels, feared and trembled at by ungodly men, and evil spirits. *
* The idea of “riding on the heavens,” furnished by our translation, is here followed, be. cauge D'Ou2 3277 in the 33d verse, seems to be exactly parallel. But Bishop Lowth, Mr. Merrick, and Dr. Cbandler, render min 2275 170 "Prepare the way for him who rideth
“5. A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in bis holy habitation.”
After a description of God's “majesty," the Psalmist proceeds to make mention of his “mercy" towards the afflicted Israelites, who had suffered so much in Egypt and in the wilderness. The cause of the “fatherless and widow” he takes into his own hands. But never did he do this in so full and extensive a manner, as when, by becoming man, he betrothed the church to himself, in righteousness, and became a Father to her fatherless children.
66. God setteth the solitary in families : he bringeth out those which are bound in chains : but the rebellious dwell in a dry land,"
The “solitary, or destitute,” in this verse, are the same persons with the “ fatherless and widow," in the foregoing; those, as Dr. Chandler observes, whose fathers and families had been destroyed in Egypt, or fallen in the wilderness; who, therefore, were left alone, destitute of help. These, God afterwards “ made to sit down in families," blessed them with a numerous progeny, and the peaceable enjoyment of domestic felicity. Thus hath since been manifested the same tender care of Heaven, in calling home the wretched outcasts among the nations, and admitting them into the holy and happy family of the children of God. Another instance of God's mercy, mentioned in this verse, is, that “ he bringeth out those which are bound with chains," delivering his people from a spiritual, as he once did Israel from a temporal bondage. “But the rebellious," the ungodly and impenitent, “ dwell in a dry land,” in a spiritual desert, where no waters of life, of comfort, and salvation flow. Such is the state of the rebellious Jews at this day, like that of their murmuring predecessors in the wilderness. This allusion, says Bishop Lowth, to the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and the destruction of the murmurers in the desert, brings in with great ease, the full subject of the exodus in the next verse.
“7. O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness: 8. The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel."
This part of the Psalm, from ver. 7. to ver. 14. is the second in Dr. Chandler's division. It is supposed to have been sung when the procession began, and to have lasted till mount Sion was in view. The prophet goes back to commemorate the wonders wrought for Israel, when Jehovah, by his presence in the cloudy pillar, conducted them through the wilderness; when descending to deliver the law, he bowed the heavens, and shook the earth, and caused Sinai to quake from its foundations. The Christian church, singing this Psalm on the day of Pentecost, commemorates, under these terms and figures, her redemption from the spiritual Egypt, by the resurrection of Jesus, with mighty signs and wonders, and the succeeding delivery of the new law from mount Sion, after the descent of the Holy Spirit; by which the old Jewish dispensation was shaken and removed, to make way for one that should last for ever. See Heb. xii. 18—28.
“9. Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful, Heb, a free, liberal, or, gracious, rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance when it was weary."
As the heavens at the command of God, rained down manna, &c. to strengthen and refresh the well-nigh famished people, in the wilderness ; so by the descent of the spirit from above, bringing with him the word of life, the church, in her infant and languid state, was mightily confirmed and invigorated.
“ 10. The congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor."
through the deserts," i. e. who rode upon the cherubim, through the wilderness; alluding to the passing of the Ark. This construction seems most agreeable to the common usage of the words employed in the original. Either way, the idea is truly great and sublime.