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In this Psalm, which was composed upon occasion of some deliverance that God had granted the city of Jerusalem, the prophet praises God for defeating the counsels and attemps of the kings who had assaulted that city; and he describes the strength of Jerusalem, and God's protection of his people.
Reflections. The reflection we are to make upon this Psalm is, that the Church has often been attacked by the kings and nations of the world, who had conspired together to destroy it; but that God has always watched over it, and rendered all the conspiracies of its enemies vain, and turned them to their own confusion. This Psalm assures us very expressly, that the Church is the dearest thing to God upon earth; that he dwells in the midst of it; that he encompasses it with his protection; and that he will always support it. These promises are still better suited to the Christian than to the Jewish Church, and ought to convince us of our happiness, in being members of Christ's Church, and fill all sincere Christians with stedfast hope and confidence in God.
In this Psalm, which is doctrinal and instructive, the prophet proves, by several considerations, that the happiness of man does not consist in the riches .and honours of the world; that those who place their glory and their happiness in them, are fools and madmen; and therefore, that we ought not to set our hearts upon these things, neither fearing nor envying such as possess them; but that we should put our trust in God alone, who can render happy, even after death, those who fear him, and put their whole trust in him.
made on this Psalm. It teaches us, that such as trust in their goods and riches, or that are puffed up with their honours and credit, are fools and blind. We have here represented the vanity and folly of the projects and schemes laid by worldly men for their own advancement, and the glory of their families. The prophet remarks, that God makes all their schemes abortive; that death robs them of all their glory; that they become a prey to the grave; and that their riches cannot redeem their souls, nor secure them from death and the judgment of God. Lastly, This Psalm teaches us, that it is not so with those that put their trust in God, since they are sure that he will redeem them, even from death, and will take them to himself to all eternity. High and low ought to attend to and meditate on these instructions, as the prophet exhorts them; those who are rich, or in an exalted station, should remember them, lest they forget God, and fall into pride; and people of mean rank, should learn from hence never to envy the glory, riches, and prosperity, which fall to the lot of others; and all in general are here taught to wean their affections from the world, and to seek their happiness wholly in the favour and love of God.
The design of this Psalm is, to reprove the hypocrisy of the Israelites, who placed their confidence in sacrifices and ceremonial observances, whilst they neglected to observe the most essential duties of religion. I. God here speaks to his people, and declares, that he regarded not sacrifices and external worship, but that the service he requires consists in praising and calling upon him with sincerity. II. He severely reproves hypocrites, who profess to live in covenant with him, and to serve him, and yet give themselves up to sin; he denounces his judgments against them, and exhorts them to true repentance.
This Psalm, which is very instructive, teaches us, that the service of God does not consist in outward duties, such as were the ancient sacrifices, and such as now are acts of public worship, ceremonies, and the outward profession of religion. Indeed, these duties are indispensable, and ought not to be neglected, since God has appointed them, and that they are agreeable to him, when discharged as they ought to be. However, the true worship which God requires, is to serve him in spirit and in truth, to praise him, to call upon him, and to do his will. As for those who profess to serve God, to take his covenant in their mouths, and who, nevertheless, abandon themselves to sin, and particularly to injustice, impurity, deceit, and slander; we see here, that God cannot endure their hypocrisy, and that if he does not punish them immediately, they must not imagine they shall escape his judgment. Sinners and false Christians should carefully improve to their advantage what is said in this Psalm; and all of us ought seriously to reflect upon it, that we may not offend God by an hypocritical worship, but calling upon him with sincerity, and studying, above all things, to do what he commandeth, may render to him such service as shall be acceptable in his sight, and procure his favour towards us.
This is king David's penitential Psalm, wherein he implores the mercy of God with great zeal and humility; makes confession of his sin; and prays to God to renew him by his Spirit, and to restore to him peace of conscience; that, having recovered his favour, he may praise him, and become an example to sinners. He hopes God will approve his repentance, and offers up prayers for the welfare of Jerusalem and prosperity of the Israelites.
This Psalm is one of those that are of the most general use, and in which we may best observe the motions and characters of true repentance. Herein we discover, I. The lively sense David had of his sin, his humble and public confession of it before God and man, and his recourse to the mercy of God. II. We here observe, that David does not only pray God to pardon his sins, but likewise to deliver him from them, and grant him his Spirit to purify and renew him. III. We here see the promises he makes to return to the ways of godliness, and by his example and instructions to convert sinners. IV. David expresses his hope and confidence that God will not reject his repentance. Lastly, After he had prayed for himself, he entreats God to continue his blessing upon Jerusalem, and his whole kingdom. It appears from this Psalm that it is the duty of sinners, and particularly those that have fallen into
freat sins, to be sensible of the greatness of them, umbly to acknowledge and confess them, and even publicly before men, when it is necessary; earnestly to implore the mercy of God with true contrition, and to beg of him a sincere conversion, and the assistance of his Spirit, that they may never more fall into sin. Lastly, A penitent sinner, that is truly humbled for his sins, finds himself indispensably obliged to repair the scandal he has given, and contribute his utmost towards the conversion of other sinners, and the edification of all, by his example, by his exhortations, and by his prayers. This is the only way to obtain pardon for the sins we have committed, and to procure peace of conscience, and the renewal of the grace of God.
David denounces the judgments of God against one of Saul's counsellors, named Doeg, who, by his slanders, had exasperated Saul against him, and had occasioned the death of a great number of the priests, who were cruelly slain by Saul. For the right understanding of this Psalm, it is convenient to read the history related in the twenty-second chapter of the First Book of Samuel.
We may gather from this Psalm, I. That the wicked, and particularly cruel men and slanderers, such as Doeg was, receive from God the punishment they deserve; and that God abhors lying and calumny. II. That those who trust in their riches, or in their address, become examples of the just judgment of God; whilst he bestows his favour on those that put their trust in him, and walk in his ways.
PSALM LIII. I. The prophet describes the extreme impiety and general corruption of the time in which he lived. II. He threatens the wicked with divine vengeance, and promises the righteous help and deliverance from the Almighty.
I. What David says at the beginning of this Psalm, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God, does not imply, that all sinners actually believe there is no God; but the meaning of these words, as the prophet himself explains them, is, that their impiety was so great and so general, that wicked men lived as if they denied the being of a God. The complaint which David here makes of the impiety of the men of his age, may be applied to a great number of Christians, who profess to know God, but in works deny him, giving themselves up to all manner of impiety. II. It appears, however, from the evils which David says the righteous are exposed to by means of the ungodly, and from the promises made to the godly in afflictions, and when the corruption is most general, God has always some true worshippers, who lament this corruption, endeavour to keep