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David, by Absalom's rebellion driven from Jerusalem
to the country beyond Jordan, is there supposed to have indited this Psalm; which, as it is applicable to the case of our Lord, in his state of sojourning and suffering on earth, for our sins; as also, that of the church, under persecution, or that of any member thereof, when deprived of the opportunities of public worship; so doth it, in the most beautiful and pathetic strains, describe the vicissitudes of joy and sorrow, of hope and despondency, which succeed each other in the mind of the Christian pilgrim, while, exiled from the Jerusalem above, he suffers affiction and tribulation in this valley of tears. The last is the application chiefly made in the comment, as it is the most general and useful one; the others naturally offer themselves, being coincident with, or subordinate to it.
1. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, 80 panteth my soul after thee, O GOD.
The thirst, which the hart experienced, when chased, in sultry weather, over the dusty plains, is here set before us, as a representation of that ardent desire after the waters of eternal comfort, which the temptations, the cares, and the troubles of the world, produce in the believing soul. Happy they who feel this desire, and fly to the well of life, that it may be satisfied. « Blessed are they that thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
2. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? · Whoever considers what it is to appear before God; to behold the glorious face of Jesus; to contemplate a beauty which never fades; to be enriched by a beneficence which can never be exhausted, and blessed in a love unmerited and infinite; will find abundant reason to say, again and again, “My soul thirsteth after God;" why is the time of my banishment prolonged; when shall the days of my pilgrimage have an end; when shall I come and appear before God? ' .
3. My tears have been my meat day and night; while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? .
So long as the soul finds herself absent from him whom she loves, sorrow is still her portion, as well in the day of worldly prosperity, as in the night of adversity. And this sorrow is greatly aggravated by the taunts of the enemy; whọ, because the promise is delayed, and she suffers affliction in the mean season, ridicules and insults her faith and hope, as vain and groundless; intimating, that God has forsaken her, and tempting her to renounce her principles.
4. When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me : for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day.
As the royal prophet, when driven from Jerusalem by Absalom, was melted into tears at the comparison of his destitute and forlorn situation with his former glory and happiness, when, upon some joyous festival, with all his subjects about him, he had attended the service of the tabernacle, in the city of God; so the Christian pilgrim cannot but bewail his exile from the heavenly Jerusalem, out of which sin has driven him, and doomed him to wander, for a while, in the vale of misery. Led, by repentance and faith, to look back to the place from whence he is fallen, he sighs after the unspeakable joys of the celestial Zion; longing to keep a festival, and celebrate a jubilee in heaven; to join in the songs of angels, and bear a part in the music of hallelujahs.
5. Why art thou cast, or, bowed, down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help, or, salvation, of his countenance.
The holy mourner now expostulates with his soul, for suffering herself to sink into a kind of despondency, on account of her afflictions, and the insolent triumph of the adversary; and, as a sovereign cordial for melancholy, prescribes faith in God, which will show the morning of salvation dawning, after the night of calamity shall have run its course, a night which cannot be long, and may be very short. When the sun arises, we cannot be without light; when God turns his countenance towards us, we cannot be without salvation.
6. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: there. fore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar, or, the little
The soul, although exhorted, in the last verse, to put her trust in God, yet, considering her own infirmity, still continues to be dejected: the prophet, therefore, confesses as much; and makes his complaint to God, from whom alone he expects comfort: and whom he did not forget, while, far from the sanctuary, he wandered up and down in the country be- . yond Jordan, whither he had fled from the face of Absalom. This world is,' to us, that country beyond Jordan. Lord, make us to remember thee, under all the affliction and tribulations we meet with therein, until, restored to thy Jerusalem, we shall praise thee in heaven, for the mercies experienced upon earth.
7. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts : all thy waves and thy billows are gone over ine.
The prophet describes the troubles which successively came upon him, by the judgment of heaven, from above, raising up evil against him, out of his own house and kingdom, from beneath, according to the prediction of Nathan. The ideas seem to be borrowed from the general deluge, or from a storm at sea, when, at the sound of descending waterspouts, or torrents of rain, the depths are stirred up, and put into horrible commotion; the clouds above calling, as it were, to the waters below, and one wave encouraging and exciting another to join their forces, and overwhelm the despairing sufferer. The whole compass of creation affords not, perhaps, a more just and striking image
of the nature and number of those calamities which sin has brought upon the children of Adam.
8. Yet the LORD will command his loving kindness in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
The gloomy prospect begins again to brighten, by a ray of hope shooting through it ; and the prophet returns to his rest and confidence in the mercy of God, determining not only to give him thanks in the day of prosperity, but, as Paul and Silas afterwards did, to sing his praises at midnight, in adversity and affliction.
9. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10. As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me : while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
He ventures, notwithstanding, meekly and humbly, upon the strength of the promises, to expostulate with him, who was the rock of his salvation, as to his seeming destitution, while continually oppressed and insulted by the cutting reproaches of the adversary. These might be thought to render it in some sort necessary, for God to arise, and vindicate his own honour, by the protection and deliverance of his servant. The Psalmist concludes with that exhortation to his soul, to trust in God, and to wait for his salvation, which makes the mournful chorus to this beautiful Psalm :
11. Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God : for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.