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The redemption of man is that work of God, whereby his glory is manifested to all generations, and which all generations do therefore long to behold accomplished. For this purpose the faithful beseech God to let his beauty, his splendour, the light of his countenance, his grace and favour, be upon them; to establish the work of their hands, to bless, prosper, and perfect them in their Christian course and warfare ; until, through him, they shall be enabled to subdue sin, and triumph over death.
The prophet declares the security of the righteous man under the care and protection of heaven, in times of danger, when a guard of angels is set about him. His final victory over the enemies of his salvation is foretold; and God himself is introduced, promising him deliveranct, cxaltation, glory, and immortality. The Psalm is addressed, primarily; to Messiah. That it relates to him, Jews and Christians are agreed; and the devil, Matt. iv. 6. cited two verses from it, as universally known and allowed to have been spoken of him.
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God, in him will I trust. 3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
In all dangers, whether spiritual or corporeal, the members of Christ's mystical body may reflect' with comfort, that they are under the shadow and protection of the Almighty; who is their refuge and fortress against the open attacks of their enemies, their preserver from the snares of the devil, and from the dominion of sin, that spiritual pestilence.
4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust : his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. ; The security afforded by a superintending Provi. dence, to those who trust therein, is here, with the utmost beauty and elegance, compared to that shelter, which the young of birds are always sure to find under the wings of their dam, when fear causes them to fly thither for refuge. The truth of God's word, wherein he promises to be our defence, is, to a believer, his shield and buckler, in the day of battle and war.
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night: nor for the arrow that flieth by day: 6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness: nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day.
How much man stands in need of the above-mentioned protection of heaven, appears from a survey of the dangers, to which he is continually exposed. Various are the terrors of the night; manifold the perils of the day; from diseases whose infection makes its progress unobserved; from assaults, casualties, and accidents, which can neither be foreseen, nor guarded against The soul has likewise her enemies, ready to attack and surprise her at all hours. Avarice and ambition are abroad watching for her in the day; while concupiscence, like a pestilence, walketh in darkness. In adversity she is disturbed by terrors; in prosperity, still more endangered by pleasures. But Jesus Christ has overcome the world, to prevent us from being overcome by it.
-7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee.
This promise has oftentimes, in a wonderful manner, been verified to those faithful servants of God, whom the pestilence itself hath not deterred from doing the duties of their station. The bishop and some of the intendants of Marseilles, who continued to perform their respective offices, during the whole time of the plague there in 1720, are signal and wellknown instances. Sin is a pestilence, the contagion of which no son of Adam ever escaped but the blessed Jesus. He stood alone untouched by its venom ; thousands and ten thousands, all the myriads of mankind, fell around him; but it did not come nigh Him. Heal us of this our distemper, O thou Physician of souls, and let it not prove our everlasting destruction ; stand, like thy representative of old, “between the dead and the living, and let the plague be stayed !”.
8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
The meaning is, that the righteous person all along spoken of, himself secure from the judgments of God, should in safety behold the destruction wrought by them upon impenitent and incorrigible sinners. This will be the case with the church, as well as her glorious Head, at the last day. .
9. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; 10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
The sentiment in these verses is evidently the same with that in verses 5, 6. namely, that God preserves such as trust in him, after the pattern of the holy Jesus, from those evils, and from that perdition, which are reserved for the ungodly. Dr. Durell translates the 9th verse, in the way of apostrophe, literally thus : “Surely, thou, O Lord, art my refuge; O Most High, thou hast fixed thine habitation;" i. e. in Sion, to be the protector of his servant.
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
This passage was cited by the devil, who tempted our Lord to cast himself from a pinnacle of the temple, upon presumption of the promise here made, that angels should guard and support him in all dangers. But Christ, in his answer, at once detects and exposes the sophistry of the grand deceiver, by showing, that the promise belonged only to those who fell unavoidably into danger, in the course of duty: such might hope for the help and protection of heaven; but that he who should wantonly and absurdly throw himself into peril, merely to try whether Providence would bring him out of it, must expect to perish for his pains. « Jesus saith unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not TEMPT the Lord thy God.”
13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under thy feet.
The fury and the venom of our spiritual enemies, are often in Scripture portrayed by the natural qualities of lions and serpents. Messiah's complete victory