Page images

and by Saracens, but no more by the Jewish people. It is remarkable, that this verse is applied Acts i. 20. to Judas, considered as the head and repre. sentative of that apostate nation which rejected and delivered up its Prince and Saviour to be crucified. “He was guide to them that took Jesus," Acts i. 16. The punishment therefore, as well as the sin of Israel, is portrayed in his person, and the same prophecy is applicable to him and to his countrymen.*

* 26. For they persecute him whom thou has smitten, and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.”+

The cause of the foregoing calamities, inflicted on the Jews, is here assigned, namely, that instead of mourning and sympathizing with Messiah, in the day when Jehovah laid on him the iniquities of us all, and afflicted him for our sakes, they, by reproaches and blasphemies, aggravated his sufferings to the uttermost: and afterwards continued to use his disciples in the same manner. It were to be wished that the sorrows of the penitent, when wounded with a sense of sin, never subjected him to the scorn and contempt of those who would be thought Christians.

6627. Thou wilt add iniquity to their iniquity; and they shall not come into thy righteousness."

As they added affliction to the afflictions of Christ, so God permitted | them to go on, blinded and deserted, in their wickedness, " adding sin to sin," filling up the measure of their fathers, still obstinately refusing to come into the church, and partake of the “righteousness” which is by faith. From all thy judgments, good Lord, deliver us: but, above all, from that which publishes one sin with another, and seals up the reprobate to destruction.

“ 28. They shall be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written among the righteous."

By “ the book of the living," in which the names of the righteous are written, is to be understood the register of the true servants and worshippers of God, of those who are “justified," or made “righteous," through faith. In this register, the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the ancient fathers of the Israelitish race, with their true children, stand recorded : but the degenerate and apostate Jews have been long since “blotted out;" they are no longer the peculium of heaven, nor have they any part or portion in the inheritance of the sons of God. Thus Ezekiel, “They shall not be in the assembly of my people, nor shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel,” xiii. 9. And our Lord, in his conversations with the Jews, took every opportunity to tell them, that they, for their unbelief, should be - cast out," and that the Gentiles, obeying the call of the Gospel, should come from all quarters of the world, and “ sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.”

“29. But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy saving health, O God, or, thy salvation shall, or, can, set me up on high.”

Messiah returns to the subject of his own sufferings, which were not a little enhanced by the consideration that so many of his people would not be the better for them. “I am poor and sorrowful :" “poor," for he was divested of his very garments ; 6 sorrowful,” for he was covered over with stripes and wounds. But he knew the hour was coming, when the salvar tion of God would raise him from the dead, and “set him up on high.” Thus should a disciple of Jesus depart out of the world, joyfully relinquishing its goods, patiently bearing its evils, and confidently expecting a resurrection to glory.

* « Fiat habitatio eorum deserta,"_De Juda proditore exponitur, Act. i. 20. Congruit etiam Judzis, eversa Hierosolyma, quod Christus predixerat: “Ecce relinquetur vobis domus vestra deserta, Luc. xiii. 35. Bossuet.

Datur his in verbis ratio longe maxima et gravissima, propter quam Judæi terra suat essent ejuciendi, ac nomine et prerogativis Populi Dei privandi, quia nimirum "eum persequntur, quem a Deo percussum" vident, hoc est, quem vident ira Divina maximopere pressum, et ad summam adnjovcov redactum. Vilringa, Observat. Sacr. Lib. ij. Chap. ix.

Deserendo, et permittendo, non operando; ut Theologi norunt. Bossuet.

“ 30. I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify him with thanksgiving."

Here, as in the xxiid, and many other Psalms, the scene changes from sorrow to joy; from a state of suffering to one of triumph; from the passion to the resurrection. Jesus, risen from the dead, declares his resolution of praising and magnifying the Father, for the salvation of the world, happily accomplished by his labours and sufferings, which were now for ever at an end. The church does the same incessantly, on earth, and in heaven.

“ 31. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox, or bullock, that hath horns and hoofs."

A bullock was in its prime for sacrifice under the law, when it began to put forth its “horns and hoofs." The infinite distance therefore, in point of value, between the best legal sacrifices, and those of obedience, love and praise, as offered by Christ, and, through him, by his church under the Gospel, is pointed out in this verse. See Psalm xl. 6, &c. I. 23.

“32. The humble shall see this, and be glad; and your heart shall live that seek God; or, be seeking God, and your heart shall live."

It is foretold, that the “ humble," or the “ poor in spirit," i. e. the meek and lowly followers of the holy Jesus, should find everlasting joy and comfort in the glad tidings of salvation; all mankind are exhorted to " seek after God," as manifested in the Gospel of his Son; and the reward promised is "life" spiritual and eternal.*

“ 33. For the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners."

An argument for our “ seeking after God," is the experience of patriarchs, prophets, and saints, who in all ages have sought and found him by repentance and faith: and that the Lord “ despiseth not his prisoners," is evident from what he did and suffered, to deliver their souls from the bondage of sin, their bodies from the prison of the grave, and both from the dungeon of hell. Therefore,

"34. Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and everything that moveth therein."

The mercies of God in Christ are such, that they cannot worthily be praised by anything less than a universal chorus of the whole old and new creation ; and what should such a chorus celebrate, but those mercies, by which all things have been made, preserved, and redeemed?

“35. For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah ; that they, i. e, men, may dwell there, and have it in possession."

The salvation and edification of the church followed the passion and resurrection of Christ. “God will save Zion," that is, the church, which at first consisted of the apostles, who were Jews, and others of that nation, by them converted to the faith. ~ And build the cities of Judah," or cause churches to arise in all the world, which shall from thenceforth take the names and inherit the privileges of " Israel and Judah: that men,” even such as God shall call from among the nations, “may dwell there," as cities of the new Jerusalem, “and," instead of rejected Jews, “ have it in their possession."

“36. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it; and they that love his name shall dwell therein."

The continuation of the church in the posterity of the faithful is here predicted. Accordingly, the descendants of the proselyted Gentiles have been in possession of the Gospel privileges for above 1700 years. And thus it will be, while they abide in the faith, and “love the name of Jesus. Should the Gentiles apostatize as the Jews did, and the Jews be converted as the Gentiles were, then the Gospel would go from the Gentiles to the Jews, as before it went from the Jews to the Gentiles; then would there “ come out of Sion the Deliverer, to turn away ungodliness from Jacob," Rom. xi. 26.

* Hæc el sequentia ad redemptionem per Christum, sub figura solutæ captivitatis, videntur pertinere. Bossuet.

PSALM LXX. The words of this Psalm occur, without any material variations, in Psalm xl. verse 13, to the end. The reader is therefore referred thither for the exposition; as before, in the case of the liiid and xivth Psalms.



ARGUMENT. The Psalmist, sorely distressed in his old age (see ver. 9. and 18), by the re. bellion of Absalom, which was his great affliction at that period of life, ver. 1. prayeth for the Divine assistance, pleading, 2. God's righteousness, 3. and promisc ; 4. the iniquity of his persecutors; 5, 6. the mercies vouchsafed him from his birth; 7, 8. his being deserted and given up by man; 9, his oid age; 10, 11. the taunts and insults of his adversaries; 12, he repeateth his request; 13. prophesieth the downfall of bis enemies ; declareth, 14, his hope, 15. his gratitude, 16. his faith ; 17, 18. wisheth to be preserved, that he might show forth the power and glory of God, whose righteousness and marvellous acts, 19. he extolleth, and thence, 20, 21. promiseth himself a final redemption from all his troubles, and a restoration to honour and comfort; when, 22-24. he shall sing and speak the praises of the Lord.

“1. In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion."

The promises of salvation are made to those, who, renouncing all confidence in the world and themselves, trust in God alone for it. For this reason the Psalmist so often begins his prayer with a declaration of his " faith," which is to the soul in affliction what an anchor is to a ship in distress.

“ 2. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape : incline thine ear unto me, and save me.”

A second argument, here used, is the “ righteousness" of God, who cannot but be faithful and just to his own gracious word. By that word, he had engaged to establish the temporal throne of David, and the eternal throne of the Son of David. And, by the same word, he has engaged to bring those who believe in him, through sufferings, to glory.

"3. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me ; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”

The protection of the Almighty, to which the troubled soul “ resorts" by faith and prayer, is compared to that which a well-fortified castle, or town, affords to those within it, in time of war. And the plea, upon which this petition is enforced, is in a manner the same with the former, namely, the declared purpose of God to be the Saviour of his servants; “Thou hast given commandment to save me.”

“4. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.”

The Divine assistance is implored by the Psalmist, thirdly, on the foot of the goodness of his cause, and the iniquity of his enemies. Such were Absalom, Ahitophel, &c. to David ; Judas and the Jews to Christ; and such are the world, the flesh, and the devil to the Christian. Against them he is to pray and fight continually ; ever remembering, that wickedness is at least as dangerous when it tempts, as when it persecutes ; and can smile as well as frown a man dead.

"5. For thou art my hope, O LORD God : thou art my trust from my youth. 6. By thee have I been holden up from the womb : thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee."

Former mercies are urged, as a fifth motive, for the Divine goodness to

continue those mercies. The watchful care of heaven over us, at an age when we are able to take no care of ourselves, deserves consideration. The love of Jesus, shown in passing through a state of childhood for us, deserves a still more deep and devout consideration.

*67. I am as a wonder unto many: but thou art my strong refuge.”

David, banished from his kingdom, was regarded as a “Wonder," or a prodigy of wretchedness; Christ, in his state of humiliation upon earth, was a "sign," everywhere 6 spoken against," as Simeon foretold he would be, Luke i. 34. The Christian, who lives by faith, who quits possession for reversion, and who chooses to suffer with his Saviour here, that he may reign with him hereafter, appears to the men of the world, as a monster of folly and enthusiasm. But God is the “strong refuge" of all such.

"8. Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.”

Whatever men say or think of him, the royal prophet desires still to strengthen, and to delight himself, in doing the will, singing the praises, and setting forth the glory of God. Such likewise was thy desire, o blessed Jesus, in the days of thy flesh. Ever grant that it may be ours.

«9. Cast me not off in the time of old age ; forsake me not when my strength faileth.”

David, mindful of the noble actions which, through God's assistance, he had achieved in his youth, beseeches him not to desert his servant, when persecuted by a rebellious son in his old age. The weaknesses and temptations peculiar to that time of life, render this petition necessary for us all to make, before we are overtaken by it. The church findeth but too much occasion to make the same, now that she is sunk in years; when faith languisheth, charity waxeth cold, and the infirmities of a spiritual old age are coming fast upon her.

“ 10. For mine enemies speak against me ; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together, 11. Saying, God hath forsaken him : persecute and take him ; for there is none to deliver him."

They who saw David ascending mount Olivet in tears, when Absalom had driven him from Jerusalem, and they who beheld Jesus led forth out of the same Jerusalem, to be crucified on mount Calvary, were tempted to regard both the one and the other as finally deserted by God. They who view the church, or any member thereof, under affliction and persecution, are too frequently tempted to think the same, and to act accordingly; though they are 80 plainly taught the contrary, by the restoration of the king of Israel, and the resurrection of the Son of God.

"12. O God, be not far from me: 0 my God, make haste to my help. 13. Let them, or, they shall, be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them, or, they shall, be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt."

As the insolence of his persecutors increaseth, the distressed monarch crieth more earnestly unto God; and is so far from relinquishing his hope, that, in the midst of his sorrows, he foreseeth and foretelleth the final confusion of his enemies. The Christian, who has faith in the promises, may do likewise, in the worst of times, and the worst of circumstances. For the day cometh, when all the workers of wickedness shall be destroyed, " and death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire," Rev. xx. 14.

"14. But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. 15. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof."

As there is no end to the loving-kindness of Jehovah, there should be none to our gratitude. The “hope” of a Christian "giveth songs in the night," and enableth him to be thankful, even in the dark season of affliction. Paul and Silas not only prayed, but also " sang praises" to God, in a prison at midnight, Acts xvi. 25.

**16. I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only."

He who goeth to the battle against his spiritual enemies, should go, confiding, not in his own “ strength," but in that of the Lord God; not in his own righteousness," but in that of his redeemer. Such an one engageth with Omnipotence on his side, and cannot but be victorious.

“ 17. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous work3. 18. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come."

It was the God of Israel, who “ taught” David, as a warrior, to conquer, and as a Psalmist, to “declare the wondrous works” of his great Benefactor. He requests to be preserved in his old age, until, by completing his victories, and his Psalms composed to celebrate them, ne had showed the strength and power of God," not only to the men of the “ generation” in which he lived, but also to “ every one that should come,” or arise in after times, and chant those divine hymns in the assemblies of the faithful, throughout all ages. Doth St. Paul wish to have his life continued upon earth? It is only, that he may edify the church, and glorify God. Otherwise, it is far “better," says he, “ to depart, and to be with Christ.”

“ 19. Thy righteousness, O God, is very high, who hast done great things : 0 God, who is like unto thee!”

What a force is now added to these words, by the actual exaltation of the righteous Saviour “ very high" above all heavens, and by the “ great things" which he hath “done” for our souls! Let us think on these things, and we shall most affectionately say, with David, “0 God, who is like unto thee!" Delightful is thy love, O Lord Jesus, beyond all pleasure, more precious than much fine gold, and honourable above the thrones of the mighty! The world languisheth and fadeth away at thy presence, whose beauty is immortal, whose treasures diminish not, and whose glory endureth through the unnumbered ages of eternity.

“ 20. Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubie, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. 21. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.

In David, delivered out of his troubles, and restored to his throne, we behold our Lord, after his “great and sore trouble, literally quickened, or revived, brought up again from the depths of the earth, increased in greatness, and comforted on every side." In him we were virtually, by his grace we are actually, raised from sin and sorrow, to righteousness and comfort; and through his power we shall be raised, from dust and corruption, to glory and immortality.

“ 22. I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, o thou Holy One of Israel. 23. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. 24. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt."

The truth of God, in accomplishing his promises by the redemption of our souls, and the confusion of our spiritual enemies, is a subject which demands a never-ceasing tribute of gratitude and love, of praise and thanksgiving. To celebrate it aright, with the melody of instruments, voices, and affections, all in perfect concord, is the duty and delight of the church militant; which, when thus employed, affords the best resemblance of the church triumphant.


ARGUMENT. David, praying for Solomon, foretelleth his peaceful and glorious reign, and

under that figure, in most lively and beautiful colours, portrayeth the king

« PreviousContinue »