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cuted, we should implore the mercy of God in its behalf, and endeavour to turn his wrath by our repentance. III. As the Jews hoped God would take vengeance for his servants' blood, and would deliver them for the glory of his name, lest the idolaters should insult and blaspheme, we ought firmly to believe, that God is engaged by his own glory to set bounds to the malice of his persecutors, and in general to restrain the malice of the ungodly, and those who provoke him.
The Israelites represent the extreme desolation they were reduced to; they intreat the Lord to come to their deliverance, and to remember the covenant he had made with his people; that they promise to turn unto him, and to bless his holy name.
There are these three things to be observed in this Psalm, I. The first is, that if the Israelites, who were the people of God, the sheep of his pasture, and the vineyard which he himself had planted, and cultivated with particular care, was exposed to so terrible a desolation as is here described, the sufferings of the Christian Church should not surprise us, especially since Jesus Christ has foretold it should be persecuted. II. The next reflection is, that in a time of calamity and suffering we must apply to God to be restored to his favour; and that the true way to put a stop to his wrath is, to be converted, and never more to depart from him. Lastly, what is said in this Psalm, may be applied to the havoc which wickedness and impiety usually make in the Church, when it enjoys peace and temporal prosperity; and believers have not less reason to beseech God to sanctify and defend it against its spiritual enemies, than to pray that he would secure it against persecutors, who seek to destroy it.
This Psalm was designed as a Psalm of praise to God in the feasts which the Jews kept, the first day of every month. God speaks to his people and reproaches them, that notwithstanding he had blessed them, and given them his law, they were fallen into rebellion. The Lord testifies his earnest desire that his people should obey him; to the end that he might shower down his blessings upon them.
I. This Psalm should excite us to praise God, and to pay him our homage in a most zealous and solemn manner. This duty does not less concern Christians than the Jews; and if God bestowed considerable favours on the Jews, by bringing them out of Egypt, and giving them his law, he has done incomparably greater things for us, in redeeming us by Jesus Christ his Son, and giving us the knowledge of his Gospel. II. God here declares, in the most clear and express manner, that he is always disposed to load men with his favours; that he offers them his grace; that he desires nothing but their welfare and salvation; and that if men are miserable, it is only because they will not hear his voice, but wilfully harden their hearts. What God says in this Psalm, teaches us likewise, that when men refuse to hearken to him, and choose to follow their own inclinations rather than obey him, he gives them up to their own hardness, and deprives them of the effects of his love.
This is a grave remonstrance, addressed to magistrates and judges. The prophet represents to them, that God was in the midst of them, and exhorts them to exercise justice with uprightness, and tells them, that though they were in authority, they were but mortal men; and that God who was the judge of the world, would judge them, and render to them according to their works.
Judges, magistrates, and all that are in authority, ought to improve by the subject of this Psalm; and remember, that God, having established them for the administration of justice, is present at their judgments; that it is therefore their duty to do right to every one, without respect of persons; and above all, to protect the weak and innocent when oppressed. For which reason, they ought.to remember, that although they are set above others, yet they must die one day like all the rest of mankind, and that then they shall appear before the Supreme Judge, to give an account of their actions.
Several of the neighbouring nations being gathered together to make war against the Israelites, the prophet entreats the Lord to destroy those nations, as he had formerly destroyed the kings that assaulted the children of Israel.
The contents of this Psalm engage us to consider, I. That as God formerly permitted the people bordering upon the Israelites to unite themselves against them, he suffers also, for wise and just reasons, that his Church at some times should be exposed to the assaults of a great number of powerful and formidable enemies; and that the just should be exposed to the contradiction and malice of the world. II. That God, by his infinite power, has always defeated the contrivances of those who seek the ruin of his Church; and that all the united strength of men can prevail nothing against it, nor against those whom he loves, and favours with his protection.
The prophet being removed from the tabernacle, fervently desires to come near it; he celebrates with devout transports the happiness of those that could go into it all times, and declares he would prefer that happiness before all the advantages of the world. It is probable king David offered up this prayer to God when his son Absalom's rebellion obliged him to depart from Jerusalem.
Wh At is chiefly to be considered here is, the tender and sincere regard-which the faithful bear to the service of God. The fervent regard that David here expresses for the tabernacle, and for the altar of God, teaches us, that there is nothing we ought to wish with so much earnestness, as to serve God, and to praise him; that this is the greatest happiness and comfort we can enjoy in this life; that it is an advantage preferable to all the riches and glories of the world, since the Lord will give grace and glory; and will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly. Lastly, we are to make this reflection on this Psalm; that if the children of God thus desire to praise him, and to serve him in this world, they aspire with still greater ardour, to see his face in heaven, and to praise him for ever in the assembly.
The Israelites, having been delivered from some great calamity, return thanks to God for being reconciled to them, pray him to complete their restoration, promise inviolable fidelity, and hope that he will shower down his blessings upon them.
In this Psalm we have two principal instructions, I. That God makes men, and sometimes his own people and his Church, feel the effects of his wrath for the punishment of their sins; and that the end, which he proposes by it is, to recover men from their errors. II. That when he sees men humbled, he is reconciled with them, and is always ready to deliver them that fear him, and to bestow on them his choicest blessings, both temporal and spiritual.
David, in great affliction, with fervent zeal and firm confidence, calls upon the Lord; begs of him, above all things, grace to know and fear him, and to walk in his ways; and beseeches him to deliver him from his enemies, according to his mercy and promises.
This prayer, and the example of king David, should excite and encourage those who are in affliction and distress to call upon God for help, with profound humility, and firm confidence in his mercy and power; beseeching him, not only to deliver them from the evils which press sore upon them, but above all, to give them grace to please and obey him, as- David did in this prayer: Teach me thy way, 0 Lord: I will walk in thy truth: Unite my heart to fear thy name. We ought likewise, in our troubles, to meditate upon God's infinite goodness, and consider, that he is full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth, and always ready to give tokens of his favour to those that serve him. This will support us under all our trials, fill us with joy and consolation, and afford us, even in the midst of trouble, reason to praise and bless him.
The prophet describes the glory of Jerusalem, and of Sion, and foretells, that all the nations should admire the happiness of that city, and of the people of God, and desire to be partakers of it.