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alluding to the multitudes of converts under the gospel, the sons of that Jerusalem,“ which is the mother of us all;" Gal
. iv. 26: “and the Highest himself shall establish her;" as he saith, “Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. xvi. 18.
6. The Lord shall count when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.
In the book of life, that register of heaven, kept by God himself, our names are entered, not as born of flesh and blood by the will of man, but as born of water and the Spirit by the will of God; of each person it is written, “that he was born there," in the church and city of God. That is the only birth which we ought to value ourselves upon, because that alone gives us our title to “the inheritance of the saints in light." In Jesus Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, noble nor ignoble, “bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Col. iii. 11.*
7. As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there; all my springs are in thee.
The literal version of the words, as Dr. Chandler observes, seems to be, “Cantantes erunt, sicut choream ducentes : omnes fontes mei in te.”. “ They shall sing like those that lead up the dance,” i. e. most joyfully; singing and dancing frequently accompanying one another. And the burden of the song thus joyfully sung in praise of Sion, was to be this, “ All my springs," or fountains are in thee." And if such be indeed the incomparable excellence of the church, and such the benefits of her communion, as they have been set forth in the foregoing verses, what anthem better deserves to be performed by all her choirs ? In thee, O Sion, is the fountain of salvation, and from thee are derived all those springs of grace which flow, by the divine appointment, while the world lasts, for the purification and refreshment of mankind upon earth.
ARGUMENT.—This Psalm, as Mr. Mudge observes, may well be said to be com
posed, according to its title, 61595 to create dejection, to raise a pensive gloom or melancholy in the mind ; the whole subject of it being quite throughout heavy, and full of the most dismal complaints. The nature and degree of the sufferings related
ing to this interpretation, every one will see who this eminent personage was to be, from whose birth Zion (used by a synecdoche for Judea) was to acquire so much glory. The latter hemistic—" And the Highest himself shall establish her”—seems to me to have reference, not to God the Father, but to his Son; it appearing to be exegetical of the preceding one, and to describe his divine, as the other does his human nature.-Critical Remarks, p. 167.
• Dr. Durell thinks this verse relates to the pedigree of our Lord, recorded among the Jews, and given us by the evangelists, “ The Lord will have this recorded, in registering the people, that he,” the D*** *** mentioned above, “ was born there."
in it; the strength of the expressions used to describe them; the consent of ancient expositors; the appointment of the Psalm by the church to be read on Good Friday; all these circumstances concur in directing an application of the whole to our blessed Lord. His unexampled sorrows, both in body and soul; his desertion in the day of trouble; his bitter passion, and approaching death ; with his frequent and fervent prayers for the accomplishment of the promises, for the salvation of the church through him, and for the manifestation of God's glory; these are the particulars treated of in this instructive and most affecting composition.*
1. O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee. 2. Let my prayer come before thee : incline thine ear unto my cry.
We hear in these words the voice of our suffering Redeemer. As man, he addresseth himself to his Father, “ the Lord God of his salvation,” from whom he expected, according to the promises, a joyful and triumphant resurrection : he pleadeth the fervency and importunity of his prayers, offered up continually, “ day and night," during the time of his humiliation and sufferings ; and he entreateth to be heard in these his supplications for his body mystical, as well as his body natural; for himself, and for us all.
3. For my soul is full of troubles ; and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
Is not this exactly parallel to what he said in the garden, " My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death ?” “Full” indeed of "troubles" was thy “soul,” O blessed Jesus, in that dreadful hour, when, under the united weight of our sins and sorrows, thou wert sinking into the grave,” in order to raise us out of it. Let us judge of thy love by thy sufferings, and of both by the impossibility of our fully comprehending either.
4. I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength.
Next to the troubles of Christ's soul, are mentioned the disgrace and ignominy to which he submitted. He who was the fountain of immortality, he from whom no one could take his life, who could in a moment have commanded twelve legions of angels to his aid, or have caused heaven and earth, at a word speaking, to fly away before him, he was “counted with them that go down into the pit;" he died, to all appearance, like the rest of mankind; nay, he was forcibly put to death as a malefactor ; and seemed, in the hands of his executioners, as a man that had no strength,” no power or might, to help and to save himself. “His strength went from him ; he became weak, and like another man.” The people shook their heads at him, saying, “He saved other, himself he cannot save.”
5. Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grare, whom thou rememberest no more ; and they are cut off from thy hand.
“Free among the dead;" that is, set at liberty, or dismissed from
* Cum Psalmis xxii. et Ixix. ad omnia convenit Psalmus lxxxviii., quod argumento est, eum eodem modo a nobis esse explicandum. Continet igitur pariter orationem Christi ad Patrem e cruce fusam. Auctor hujus Cantici non alium in finem illi titulum dedit 32307, “ erudientis," quam ut Ecclesia posteriorum temporum ex eo disceret ultiina hæc Messiæ fata.–Vitringa, Observat. Sacr. lib. ii. cap. 9.
the world, and separated from all communication with its affairs, as dead bodies are; “like” other“ corpses that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more,” i. e. as living objects of providence upon earth: in this sense, “they are cut off from God's hand," which held and supported them in life. And in no other sense can these expressions be understood ; since to imagine that the Psalmist, who so often speaks in plain terms of the resurrection, should here, when personating Messiah, deny that doctrine, would be a conceit equally absurd and impious.
6. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. 7. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.
The sufferings of Jesus are represented by his being plunged into a dark and horrible abyss, with the indignation of God, due to our sins, resting upon him, and all the waves of affliction rolling over him. The same image is used in Psal. lxix. and many other places.
8. Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me: thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
At the apprehension of Christ, “ All his disciples forsook bim and fled :" Matt. xxvi. 56. Peter denied and abjured his Master, as if his acquaintance had been a disgrace, and an “abomination :” at the crucifixion, it is observed by St. Luke, that “all his acquaintance stood afar off, beholding these things;" xxiii. 49; beholding the innocent victim environed by his enemies, and at length “shut up” in the sepulchre. The day must come, when each person who reads this shall be forsaken by the wbole world; when relations, friends, and acquaintance shall retire, unable to afford him any help and assistance; when he must die, and be confined in the prison of the grave, no more to “come forth,” until that great Easter of the world, the general resurrection. In the solitary and awful hour of our departure hence, let us remember to think on the desertion, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of our Redeemer.
9. Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction : Lord, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
This verse contains a reiteration of the complaint and prayer made at the beginning of the Psalm. These are some of the strong cryings with tears," which, during the course of his intercessions for us upon earth, the Son of God poured forth" in the days of his flesh.” Heb. y. 7.
10. Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the dead rise and praise thee? 11. Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave, or, thy faithfulness in destruction? 12. Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness ?
It hath been sometimes thought, that these verses imply a denial, or at least a doubt, of the resurrection from the dead; whereas they contain, in reality, the most powerful plea that Christ himself, in his prayers to the Father, could urge for it; namely, that, otherwise, man would be deprived of his salvation, and God of the glory thence accruing. "Wilt thou show wonders to the dead," while they continue in that state; or if thou shouldst, will they be sensible of those wonders, and make thee due returns of thankfulness? “Shall the dead rise up' in the congregation, "and praise thee ?" Must they not live again to do that? “Shall thy loving kindness” to the sons of Adam, in me their Redeemer, " be declared ?" shall the gospel be preached" in the grave ?” “or thy faithfulness," in accomplishing the promises concerning this loving kindness, shall it be manifested “in that destruction” wrought by death upon the bodies of men ?
Shall thy wonders," the wonders of light, and life, and salvation, “ be known in the dark” tomb; "and thy righteousness," which characterizes all thy dispensations, shall it be remembered and proclaimed “in the land of” silence and “forgetfulness ?” A Christian, upon the bed of sickness, may undoubtedly plead with God in this manner, for a longer continuance of life, to glorify him here upon earth. But every respite of that kind can be only temporary. men, sooner or later, must die : and then they can never more experience the mercies, or sing the praises of God, unless they rise again. So that if the argument hold in one case, it certainly holdeth still stronger in the other.
13. But unto thee have I cried, O Lord, and in the morning shall my prayer prerent me. 14. Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me ?
Since therefore the wonders, the loving kindness, the faithfulness, and the righteousness of God, cannot be manifested by man's redemption, if Messiah, be left under the dominion of death, he redoubles his prayers for the promised deliverance; and speaks of his redemption in the hour of sorrow, as in Psalm xxii. 1 : “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" &c.
15. I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted; Heb. I am distressed, not knowing which way to turn myself.* 16. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me, thy terrors have cut me off. 17. They came round about me daily like water ; they compassed me about together.
We are not to imagine that the holy Jesus suffered for us only at Gethsemine and on mount Calvary. His whole life was one continued passion; a scene of labour and sorrow, of contradiction and persecution; "he was afflicted,” as never man was," from his youth up,” from the hour of his birth; when, thrust out from the society of men, he made his bed in the stable at Bethlehem; he was "ready to die," a victim destined and prepared for that death which by anticipation, he tasted of through life; he saw the flaming sword of God's “ fierce wrath” waiting to "cut him off” from the land of the living; the "terrors” of the Almighty set themselves in array against him, threatening, like the mountainous waves of a tempestuous sea, to overwhelm his amazed soul. Let not the church be
* Dominus ipse de se, Psal. Ixxxviii. 16. “Fero terrores tuos ; animi linquor." Loquitur de extremis suis angoribus et doloribus.--Vitringa in Jesai. ii. 667.
offended or despond, but rather let her rejoice in her sufferings, by which, through every period of her existence, from youth to age, she “filleth up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," who suffers and will be glorified in his people, as he hath already suffered and been glorified for them. See Col. i. 24.
18. Lorer and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.
It is mentioned again, as a most affecting circumstance of Christ's passion, that he was entirely forsaken, and left all alone, in that dreadful day. The bitter cup was presented filled to the brim, and he drank it off to the dregs. No man could share in those sufferings by which all other men were to be redeemed. His "lovers and friends," his disciples and acquaintance, “were put far from him ;" they all “forsook him, and fled," to hide themselves from the fury of the Jews, “in darkness ;" in dark, i. e. secret places. Thus it is written in the Psalms, and thus in the Gospels it is recorded to have happened. Oftentimes, O blessed Jesu, do we forsake thee; but do not thou forsake us, or take thy holy Spirit from us.
SEVENTEENTH DAY.-EVENING PRAYER.
ARGUMENT.-This Psalm is appointed by the church to be read on Christmas-day.
It celebrates, ver. 1-4. the mercies of God in Christ, promised to David; 5-13. the almighty power of Jehovah, manifested in his works and dispensations ; 14. his justice, mercy, and truth
; 15—18. the happiness and security of his people'; 19–37. bis covenant made with David, as the representative of Messiah, who should come of his seed; 38–45. the church Jamenteth her distressful state, at the time when this Psalm was penned ;* 46–51. she prayeth for the accomplishment of the promise ; and, in the meantime, 52. blesseth Jehovah.
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever : with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
The “mercies of Jehovah” bave ever employed the voices of believers to celebrate them. These mercies were promises to the human race, in their great representative and surety, before the world began; 2 Tim. i. 9; Tit. i. 2; they were prefigured by ancient dispensations; and, in part, fulfilled, at the incarnation of Christ. The “ faithfulness” of God in so fulfilling them, is now "made known," by the holy services of the Christian church, “ to all generations.”
2. For I hare said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
Whatever be at any time the state of the church on earth, she
Sedeciâ capto, domo David e solio deturbata, promissiones Dei irritas videri propheta queritur, necdum adesse Christum. Bossuet. Dr. Kennicott imagines it to have been composed by Isaiah, as a solemn and public address to God, at the time when Rezin and Pekah were advancing against Jerusalem.