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This Psalm, which describes the glory of the Israelites, is still better suited to the Christian church. The Holy Ghost foretells therein, that the Pagans, and the most distant nations, should be one day admitted into the divine covenant, and numbered among the worshippers of the true God. This is our happiness, through the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; and for this we ought to return continual thanks to God.
The prophet, who composed this Psalm, seems to be in the deepest affliction, and almost deprived of all consolation. He represents therein the violence and the continuance of his sufferings, and the terrors which discomposed his mind; and complains, that God did not hear him, though he called upon him with great fervency.
The reading and meditating on this Psalm is very proper for the comfort and instruction of those that are overwhelmed with deep sorrow. The condition of the prophet, who speaks here, may convince them that the saints have undergone the like trials; that they have been, as it were, forsaken and deprived of all comfort, so that for a considerable time, God seemed to pursue them in his wrath, and scourge them severely. Wherefore, those that fear God should not lose courage when they are exposed to outward afflictions, and even inwardly troubled for want of comfort, and by the terrors they feel in their soul. But they ought to represent to God their sad condition, wait with patience for his consolation, and remember likewise, that anguish of spirit does not hinder God from beholding them in his mercy. This we are more certainly assured of, by the terrors which our Lord felt in his soul at the time of his passion, than by the example of the prophet, who speaks in this Psalm.
This Psalm was composed at a time when the people of God were in affliction and calamity. The prophet here describes the majesty, power, and goodness of the Lord; which appeared in delivering the children of Israel, when he brought them out of Egypt; and in the covenant he made with David, promising to establish his throne to himself and his posterity. He next represents, that, notwithstanding these promises, the kingdom of Judah was at that time in great desolation, being despoiled of its glory, and delivered into the hands of its enemies; and implores the compassion of the Lord.
I. The reading of this Psalm should animate us with an holy zeal to declare the loving kindness of the Lord, his power and faithfulness, which appear in the creation and government of the world, and in the wonders he has done, not only for the children of Israel, but also in behalf of the Christian Church. II. We are to observe in this Psalm, that nations are perfectly happy when God favours them with his wholesome presence, and is himself their buckler, their strength, and their glory. III. What is here said of the promises made to David and his posterity, and the deplorable condition which the descendants of that prince were reduced to, shows, that God protects kings and nations whilst they continue faithful to him; but when they break his covenant, he" withdraws his protection from them; that, nevertheless he does not forsake them entirely, and chastises them only for their conversion, and to bring them to himself. IV. We must remember, that the covenant, which God had made with David, and the promises, with which he had engaged to establish his throne and his posterity for ever, related to the Messiah; and that it was verified in the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which will subsist to all eternity. Lastly, Under all our afflictions, whether general or particular, we ought, with the prophet, numbly to entreat the Lord to assist us, to remember his covenant, and to consider our unworthiness, since we are only weak and mortal creatures before him, and have nothing to expect but from his power and goodness.
Here ends the Third Book of Psalms.
Fok the right understanding of this Psalm, it is necessary to observe, that when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God provoked with their murmuring and infidelity, declared, that all those who came out of Egypt above the age of twenty years, should die in the wilderness within the space of forty years, and should not enter into the land of Canaan, as appears in the fourteenth chapter of Numbers. It was upon that occasion, and at the time when abundance of the people died, that Moses made his prayer to God. In it he describes the vanity and miseries of human life; acknowledges that the sins of the Israelites had kindled the wrath of God against them, and made their days be so much shortened, and was the reason why those who came out of Egypt in their full strength, waxed not old. He beseeches God to give his people grace to make a good use of his corrections, and seriously consider the vanities of this life. Lastly, he begs God to return with his favour, and prays him to be reconciled with his people.
This Psalm presents us with several very whole
is the creator of the world, and has given men life, makes them, when he pleases, return to dust; that life is short, and is soon passed away, and is moreover attended with many troubles and afflictions.
II. We are to consider, that as the rebellion of the Israelites exposed them to the wrath of God, and to death in the wilderness, so the miseries of this life, and death itself, are the consequences of sin; but, to the children of God, death is an effect of his love, and a means which he makes use of to procure their happiness. III. Moses teaches us, that the use we ought to make of our knowledge of the shortness of this life, is to learn from thence to become wise, and fear God, and by prayer to apply to him, that whilst we remain in this world, he would be pleased always to grant us his grace, and make us at all times feel the effects of his bounty, that we may pass this life in peace and happiness. Lastly, The consideration of the vanities of the present life, should raise our thoughts to the expectation of a better, and make us aspire after that immortality which is prepared for us in the heavens, and has been purchased for us by Jesus Christ our Lord.
This Psalm is an excellent description of the protection with which God favours those who fear him, and trust in him, and of the blessings which he bestows upon them.
We may see in this Psalm how happy those are that trust in God, and draw near to him. The prophet assures us, that God covers them with his protection: that being near God, they are in safety, and in time of trouble fear no evil. God commands his angels to keep them from all dangers; he loves them tenderly; he preserves them from every thing that might hurt them, delivers them when they call upon him in their distress, and heaps upon them all kinds of blessings. These glorious privileges and excellent promises are very proper to comfort and encourage all such as fear God, and to fill them with unspeakable joy, and unshaken confidence. They likewise teach us, that if we desire to enjoy real and solid happiness, we must wean ourselves from the world, seek all our happiness in God alone, and study only, and above all things, to please him.
This Psalm was to be recited upon the sabbathday. The prophet herein celebrates, with great zeal and holy joy, the marvellous works of God; above all, he admires the wise conduct of Providence towards the wicked, and towards good men. He shows, that if the wicked prosper for a while, they are rooted out at the last; whereas God crowns the righteous with all manner of blessings.
Reflections. Since we learn, from the first words of this Psalm, that it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to declare his goodness and faithfulness day and night; we ought all of us to be animated with a holy zeal, to the diligent, cheerful, and earnest discharge of a duty so just and so agreeable. This we shall have a powerful motive to, if we apply ourselves to the consideration of the works of God, which are great and marvellous; and, above all, if we attend to the ways of Providence, and the conduct of the Almighty towards good and bad men. It sometimes happens that wicked and worldly men flourish, and are happy, but their posterity passeth away like the grass; God destroys them, and roots them out utterly. On the contrary, he blesses the righteous, secures their happiness, and makes them prosper and flourish and bear fruit, even unto their old age, and to be in this world examples of his mercy and faithfulness. This doctrine, which is of the greatest importance, affords us extraordinary motives to praise the wise providence of God, and to celebrate his justice, and addict ourselves continually to purity and innocence; that we may partake of those excellent blessings, with which God promises to reward the piety of those who fear him, and trust in him.