Meditations In the Psalms

Taken from The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon

Part IV: Psalms 46-60

The Psalms

"God shall help her, and that right early."
(Ps. 46:5)

"Right early." Rather, with the margin, when the morning appears. The restoration of the Jews will be one of the first things at the season of the second advent. It will be accomplished in the very dawning of that day, "when the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing on his wings." (Samuel Horsley)

"Come, behold the works of Yahweh,
Who has made desolations in the earth . . . .
Be still, and know that I am God."
(Ps. 46:8,10)

"Come, behold the works of the LORD." What works? Ruining works. "What desolations he has made in the earth." God made strange work in the world at that time. Those countries which before were as the garden of God became like a desolate wilderness. Who was able to bear this with patience? Yet the Spirit of God says in the next words, it must be patiently borne. When God lets men strive and war with one another to a common confusion, yet no man may strive with God about it. And the reason given why no man may is only this (which is indeed all the reason in the world)--He is God. So it follows in the Psalm: "Be still, and know that I am God." It is as if the Lord had said, "Not a word, do not strive nor reply. Whatever you see, hold your peace. Know that I, being God, give no account of any of my matters." (Joseph Caryl)

"Be still, and know that I am God." The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For, says he, "I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Jonathan Edwards)

"He will choose our inheritance for us."
(Ps. 47:4)

It may be you are godly and poor. 'Tis well. But can you tell whether if you were not poor, that you would be godly? Surely God knows us better than we ourselves do, and therefore can best fit the estate to the person. (Giles Fletcher)

"God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne."
(Ps. 47:8)

Now at this moment, over the most debased idolaters, God holds a secret rule. Here is work for faith. How we ought to long for the day when this truth shall be changed in its aspect and the rule now unrecognized shall be delighted in! The great truth that God reigns in providence is the guarantee that in a gracious gospel sense his promise shall be fulfilled and his kingdom shall come. "He sits upon the throne of his holiness." Unmoved he occupies an undisputed throne, whose decrees, acts, and commands are holiness itself. What other throne is like that? Never was it stained with injustice or defiled with sin. Neither is he who sits upon it dismayed or in a dilemma. He sits in serenity, for he knows his own power and sees that his purposes will not miscarry. Here is reason enough for holy song. (Charles Spurgeon)

"This God is our God forever and ever."
(Ps. 48:14)

What a portion then is that of the believer! The landlord cannot say of his fields, these are mine forever and ever. The king cannot say of his crown, this is mine forever and ever. These possessions shall soon change masters. These possessors shall soon mingle with the dust, and even the grave they shall occupy may not long be theirs. But it is the singular, the supreme happiness of every Christian to say, or to have a right to say, "This glorious God with all his divine perfections is my God forever and ever, and even death itself shall not separate me from his love." (George Burder)

"For the redemption of their soul is precious,
And it ceases forever."
(Ps. 49:8)

In this judgment tears will not prevail, prayers will not be heard, promises will not be admitted, repentance will be too late; and as for riches, honorable titles, scepters, and diadems, these will profit much less. The inquisition shall be so curious [done with painstaking accuracy] and diligent that not one light thought, not one idle word (not repented of in your life past) shall be forgotten; for truth itself has said, not in jest but in earnest, of every idle word which men have spoken they shall give an account in the day of judgment. Oh, how many who now sin with great delight, yea, even with greediness (as if we served a god of wood or stone which sees nothing nor can do nothing) will be then astonished, ashamed, and silent. Then shall the days of your mirth be ended, and you shall be overwhelmed with everlasting darkness. Instead of your pleasures, you shall have everlasting torments. (Thomas Tymme)

"This is the way of those who are foolish."
(Ps. 49:13)

The folly of man seldom appears more than in being very busy about nothing, in making a great cry where there is little wool. His folly is like that of the empty fellow who showed himself to Alexander. Having spent much time and taken much pains at it beforehand, and expecting a great reward, he boasted that he could throw a pea through a little hole. But for recompense the king gave him only a bushel of peas, suitable to his diligent negligence or busy idleness. Things that are vain and empty are unworthy of our care and industry. The man who by hard labor and hazard of his life did climb up to the top of the steeple to set an egg on end was deservedly the object of pity and laughter. We shall think him little better than mad who should make as great a fire for the roasting of an egg as for the roasting of an ox. (George Swinnock)

"Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around him."
(Ps. 50:3)

He kept silence that he might be judged; he will not keep silence when he begins to judge. It would not have been said, "He shall come manifestly," unless at first he had come concealed; nor, "He shall not keep silence," had he not at first kept silence. How did he keep silence? Ask Isaiah: "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth" (Isa. 53:7). But he shall come manifestly and shall not keep silence. How manifestly? "A fire shall go before him, and round about him a mighty tempest." That tempest is to carry wholly away the chaff from the floor which is now in threshing; that fire, to consume what the tempest carries off. Now, however, he is silent--silent in judgment but not in precept. For if Christ is silent, what mean these gospels? What the voices of the apostles, the canticles of the Psalms, the lofty utterances of the prophets? Truly in all these Christ is not silent. Howbeit he is silent for the present in not taking vengeance, not in not warning. But he will come in surpassing brightness to take vengeance and will be seen of all, even of those who believe not on him. (Augustine)

"I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness."
(Ps. 50:11,12)

We show our scorn of God's sufficiency by secret thoughts of meriting from him by any religious act, as though God could be indebted to us and obliged by us; as though our devotions could bring a blessedness to God more than he essentially has, when indeed "our goodness extends not to him" (Ps. 16:2). Our services to God are rather services to ourselves and bring a happiness to us, not to God. This secret opinion of merit (though disputed among the Papists) is natural to man. So too is this secret self-pleasing when we have performed any duty, and upon that account expect some fair compensation from God as having been profitable to him. God intimates this: "The wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is mine and the fullness thereof." He implies that they wronged his infinite fullness by thinking that he stood in need of their sacrifices and services, and that he was beholden to them for their adoration of him. All merit implies a moral or natural insufficiency in the person of whom we merit, and our doing something for him which he could not, or at last not do so well, for himself. It is implied in our murmuring at God's dealing with us as a course of cross providences, wherein men think they have deserved better at the hands of God by their service than to be cast aside and degraded by him. In our prosperity we are apt to have secret thoughts that our enjoyments were the debts God owed us rather than gifts freely bestowed upon us. Hence it is that men are more unwilling to part with their righteousness than with their sins, and are apt to challenge salvation as a due rather than beg it as an act of grace. (Stephen Charnock)

Psalm 51

"When Nathan the prophet came unto him as he had come unto Bathsheba." The significant repetition of the phrase came unto is lost in the English and most other versions. "As" is not a mere particle of time, simply equivalent to when, but suggests the ideas of analogy, proportion, and retaliation. (J.A. Alexander)

Whole Psalm. I cannot doubt the prophetic bearing of this Psalm upon the nation of Israel. In the latter day they shall consider their ways: repentance and self-loathing will be the result. Blood-guiltiness heavier than that of David has to be removed from that nation. They will become the teachers of the Gentiles, when first the iniquity of their own transgression has been purged away. (Arthur Pridham)

This is the most deeply affecting of all the Psalms, and I am sure the one most applicable to me. It seems to have been the effusion of a soul smarting under the sense of a recent and great transgression. My God, whether recent or not, give me to feel the enormity of my manifold offenses, and remember not against me the sins of my youth. What a mine of rich matter and expression for prayer! Wash, cleanse me, O Lord, and let my sin and my sinfulness be ever before me. Let me feel it chiefly as sin against thee, that my sorrow may be of the godly sort. Give me to feel the virulence of my native corruption, purge me from it thoroughly, and put truth into my inward parts that mine may be a real turning from sin unto the Savior. Create me anew, O God. Withdraw not thy Spirit. Cause me to rejoice in a present salvation. Deliver me, O God, from the blood-guiltiness of having offended any of thy little ones; and so open my lips that I may speak of the wondrous things thou hast done for my soul! May I offer up spiritual sacrifices. And oh! let not any delinquencies of mine bring a scandal upon thy church, but do thou so purify and build her up that even her external services, freed from all taint of corruption or hypocrisy, may be well-pleasing to thy sight. (Thomas Chalmers)

"Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight."
(Ps. 51:4)

This verse is differently expounded by different persons, and it has ever been considered that this one little point is the greatest difficulty that is met with in the whole Psalm. Although, therefore, I leave it to others to go according to their own interpretations, yet I have a good hope that I shall be enabled to give the true and genuine meaning of the text. This, then, I would first of all advise the reader to do: to bear in mind that which I observed at the beginning of the Psalm, that David is here speaking in the person of all the saints and not in his own person only nor in his own person as an adulterer. Although I do not say it might not be that it was this fall which, as a medium, brought him under the knowledge of himself and of his whole human nature and made him think thus, "Behold! I, so holy a king, who have with so much pious devotedness observed the law and the worship of God, have been so tempted and overcome by the inbred evil and sin of my flesh that I have murdered an innocent man and have for adulterous purposes taken away his wife! And is not this an evident proof that my nature is more deeply infected and corrupted by sin than ever I thought it was? I who was yesterday chaste am today an adulterer! I who yesterday had hands innocent of blood am today a man of blood-guiltiness!" And it might be that in this way he derived the feeling sense of his entire sinfulness, from his fall into adultery and murder, and from thence drew this conclusion--that neither the tree nor the fruits of human nature were good, but that the whole was so deformed and lost by sin that there was nothing sound left in the whole of nature. This I would have the reader bear in mind first of all if he desire to have the pure meaning of this passage. In the next place, the grammatical construction is to be explained, which seems to be somewhat obscure. For what the translator has rendered by the preterperfect ought to be the present: "Against thee only do I sin." That is, I know that before thee I am nothing but a sinner; or, before thee I do nothing but evil continually. That is, my whole life is evil and depraved on account of sin. I cannot boast before thee of merit or of righteousness but am evil altogether, and in thy sight this is my character--I do evil. I have sinned, I do sin, and shall sin to the end of the chapter. (Martin Luther)

To say "Against thee have I sinned" is most just and fit. But to say "Against THEE ONLY I have sinned" seems something hard. It had perhaps been a fit speech in the mouth of our first parent Adam. He might justly have said to God, "Against thee only have I sinned," who never sinned against any other. But for us to say it, who commit sins daily against our neighbors, and especially for David to say it, who had committed two notorious sins against his neighbor and faithful friend Uriah, what more unfit speech could possibly be devised? But is it not [true] that these actions of David were great wrongs indeed, and enormous iniquities against Uriah? But can we properly say they were sins against Uriah? For what is sin but a transgression of God's law? And how then can sin be committed against any but against him only whose law we transgress? Or is it, that it may justly be said, "Against thee only have I sinned," because against others perhaps in a base tenure, yet only against God in capite? Or is it that David might justly say to God, "Against thee only have I sinned," because from others he might appeal as being a king and having no superior; but no appealing from God as being King of kings and supreme Lord over all? Or is it that we may justly say, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned," seeing that Christ has taken and still takes all our sins upon him, and every sin we commit is as a new burden laid upon his back and upon his back only? Or is it, lastly, that I may justly say, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned," becausein thy sight only I have done it? For from others I could hide it and did conceal it. But what can be hidden from thy All-seeing eye? And yet if this had been the worst, that I had sinned only against thee, though this had been bad enough and infinitely too much, yet it might perhaps have admitted reconcilement. But to do this evil "in thy sight"--as if I should say, I would do it though thou stand thyself and look on, and as if in defiance--what sin so formidable? What sin can be thought of so unpardonable? A sin of infirmity may admit apology. A sin of ignorance may find out excuse. But a sin of defiance can find no defense. (Sir Richard Baker)

"In thy sight." David was so bent upon his sin that the majesty and presence of God did not awe him at all. This is a great aggravation of sin, and which makes it to be so much the more heinous. For a thief to steal in the very sight of the judge is the highest piece of impudence that may be. And so it is for any man to offend in the sight of God and not to be moved with it. (Thomas Horton)

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me."
(Ps. 51:5)

Infants are no innocents, being born with original sin. The first sheet wherein they are wrapped is woven of sin, shame, blood, and filth (Ezek. 16:4, etc.) They are said to sin as they were in the loins of Adam, just as Levi is said to pay tithes to Melchisedek even in the loins of his forefather Abraham (Heb. 7:9, 10). Otherwise infants would not die, for death is the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23). The reign of death is procured by the reign of sin, which has reigned over all mankind except Christ. All are sinners infected with the guilt and filth of sin. . . .Thus man's malady begins betimes, even in our conception. This subtle serpent sowed his tares very early, so that we are all "born in sin" (John 9:34). (Christopher Ness)

"God shall likewise destroy you forever;
He shall take you away,
And pluck you out of your dwelling place,
And uproot you from the land of the living."
(Ps. 52:5)

There are four words the Psalmist makes use of to denote the utter vengeance that awaited this deceitful and bloody wretch [Doeg], all of them having a very strong meaning. The first . . . signifies to pull down and break utterly into pieces, as when an altar is demolished (Judges 6:30; 8:9). The second . . . signifies to twist anything, or pluck it up by twisting it round, as trees are sometimes twisted up. The third . . . properly signifies utterly to sweep away anything like dust or chaff; and the expression . . . means not sweep thee away from thy tent, but, sweep thee away, that thou mayest be no longer a tent. Thyself, thy family, thy fortune shall be wholly and entirely swept away and dissipated forever; to which the fourth word . . . answers . . . he shall root thee out from the land of the living. 'Tis impossible that words can express a more entire and absolute destruction. (Samuel Chandler)

Psalm 53

Whole Psalm. Probably the two Psalms [14 and 53] refer to different periods; the fourteenth to the earlier portion of the world, or of Jewish history, and the fifty-third to a later, perhaps a still future time. Jehovah, through Christ, is frequently said to turn to the world to see what its condition is, and always with the same result. "All flesh had corrupted its way" in the days of Noah, and, "when the Son of Man comes" again, it is intimated that he will scarcely "find faith on the earth." The two Psalms also apply to different persons. The former refers to the enemies of God, who tremble when his presence is made known--"they are in great fear" because vengeance is about to be inflicted on them for their sins. Here [in the 14th] the Supreme Being is called Jehovah. In the fifty-third Psalm the interests of God's people are principally kept in view. The ungodly are regarded as plotting against the righteous, and it is in this relation their case is considered. The fear that was just and reasonable in the fourteenth Psalm, because it concerned the unrighteous under a sense of impending judgment, is said to be unfounded in the fifty-third, because God was in the midst of his people, "scattering the bones of their enemies," and showing himself, not as Jehovah, but as the Elohim of his redeemed children. The fourteenth Psalm contemplates judgment, the fifty-third deliverance. And thus, though seemingly alike, a different lesson is conveyed in each.

The Psalm, then, descriptive of the universal and continuous corruption of man's nature, very properly occupies an introductory place in a series intended to represent the enemies of Messiah, who oppose his church during his absence and who are to attempt to resist his power when he comes again. Before entering upon an examination of the character of these opponents, this Psalm teaches that, until changed by grace, all are gone astray. "There is none righteous, no, not one," and that for all there is but one remedy--"the Deliverer coming out of Zion, who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." (R. H. Ryland)

"The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God.
They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;
There is none who does good."
(Ps. 53:1)

"The fool has said in his heart, There is no God." And this he does because he is a fool. Being a fool, he speaks according to his nature. Being a great fool, he meddles with a great subject and comes to a wild conclusion. The atheist is, morally as well as mentally, a fool; a fool in the heart as well as in the head, a fool in morals as well as in philosophy. With the denial of God as a starting point, we may well conclude that the fool's progress is a rapid, riotous, raving, ruinous one. He who begins at impiety is ready for anything. "No God," being interpreted, means no law, no order, no restraint to lust, no limit to passion. Who but a fool would be of this mind? What a Bedlam, or rather what an Aceldama [field of blood], would the world become if such lawless principles came to be universal! He who heartily entertains an irreligious spirit and follows it out to its legitimate issues is a son of Belial--dangerous to the commonwealth, irrational and despicable. Every natural man is more or less a denier of God. Practical atheism is the religion of the race. "Corrupt are they." They are rotten. It is idle to compliment them as sincere doubters and amiable thinkers; they are putrid. There is too much dainty dealing nowadays with atheism. It is not a harmless error. It is an offensive, putrid sin, and righteous men should look upon it in that light. All men being more or less atheistic in spirit are also in that degree corrupt. Their heart is foul, their moral nature is decayed. "And have done abominable iniquity." Bad principles soon lead to bad lives. One does not find virtue promoted by the example of your Voltaires and Tom Paines. Those who talk so abominably as to deny their Maker will act abominably when it serves their turn. It is the abounding denial and forgetfulness of God among men which is the source of the unrighteousness and crime which we see around us. If all men are not outwardly vicious, it is to be accounted for by the power of other and better principles. But left to itself, the "No God" spirit so universal in mankind would produce nothing but the most loathsome actions. "There is none that does good." The one typical fool is reproduced in the whole race. Without a single exception men have forgotten the right way. This accusation twice made in the Psalms, and repeated a third time by the inspired apostle Paul, is an indictment most solemn and sweeping; but he who makes it cannot err. He knows what is in man. Neither will he lay more to man's charge than he can prove. (Charles Spurgeon)

"For strangers have risen up against me."
(Ps. 54:3)

There is a great mistake made by rendering the word zarim "strangers." The Ziphites surely were Israelites and not strangers. The fact is this: that the word is taken from zarah, the primary meaning of which is "to scatter," "to disperse," also "to sift," as grain. Hence it signifies, likewise figuratively, to sift a matter, to investigate, to search out, to trace out. So here David complains of the new and dangerous enemies he had got in the Ziphites, who became Saul's spies. When he pleads, therefore, for deliverance, saying, "Save me, O God," etc., he describes the danger he was in: "For spies have risen against me." (Benjamin Weiss)

"The terrors of death have fallen upon me."
(Ps. 55:4)

"My heart," said the afflicted Psalmist, "is sore pained within me." And though I am repeatedly assured of my interest in the divine love and favor, yet now "the terrors of death are fallen upon me." The case of David is so far from being peculiar to himself that it portrays in the most striking colors a state of mind to which many of the most exemplary Christians are frequently, if not constantly, subject. Many whose hopes are placed on the right foundation, even Christ Jesus, and whose conduct is uniform and consistent, are yet harassed almost continually by the tormenting fears of death. . . . It will be an interesting and useful inquiry to examine into the real causes of a fear that cultivates melancholy and despondency on the one hand and destroys our happiness on the other. To effect this design I shall consider, (I) the various causes of the fear of death, and (II) the arguments calculated to remove it. There are few, indeed, so hardened in the slavery of vice or so utterly regardless of every admonition as to consider the awful period of dissolution without some emotions of terror and dismay. There is something so peculiarly awful in the idea of a change hitherto unknown, and of a state hitherto untried, that the most hardy veterans have owned its tremendous aspects. . . . One of the first causes of the fear of death is conscious guilt. The most hardened are conscious of many things which they may not readily confess, and the most self-righteous is conscious of many crimes which he artfully studies to conceal. While the Christian is looking only to his own habits and temper, he may and will be always wretched. But if he looks to the great Surety, Christ Jesus, his gloomy prospect will soon be turned to joy. An attachment to this world is also a (second) cause of the fear of death. A principle of self-preservation is also a (third) cause of the fear of death. That our bodies, which are pampered by pride and nourished by indulgence, should be consigned to the silent grave and become even the food of worms is a humbling reflection to the boasted dignity of man. Besides, nature revolts at the idea of its own dissolution, and hence, evidently implanted in us, is a desire of preserving life. The devil is also (fourthly) often permitted to terrify the consciences of men and thereby increase at least the fear of death. Unbelief is also a (fifth) cause of the fear of death. Were our faith more frequently in exercise, we should be enabled to look beyond the dreary mansions of the grave with a hope full of immortality. Our fears of death may be often caused by looking for that perfection in ourselves, which we shall never easily discover.

Consider the arguments calculated to remove the fear of death. It may be necessary to premise that the consolations of religion belong only to real Christians, for the wicked have just reason to dread the approach of death. But to such as are humbled under a sense of their own unworthiness, and who have fled to Christ for pardon and salvation, they have no cause to apprehend either the pain or the consequences of death. First, because the sting of death is taken away. Secondly, because death is no longer an enemy but a friend. Instead of threatening us with misery, it invites us to happiness. Thirdly, the safety of our state is founded on the oath, the purpose, and the promise of God. A fourth argument calculated to remove the fear of death is the consideration of the benefits resulting from it. The benefits which believers receive from Christ at the resurrection also is a fifth argument calculated to remove the fear of death. (Condensed by Charles Spurgeon from a sermon by John Grove)

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."
(Ps. 56:3)

It is a good maxim with which to go into a world of danger; a good maxim to go to sea with; a good maxim in a storm; a good maxim when in danger on the land; a good maxim when we are sick; a good maxim when we think of death and the judgment--"What time I am afraid, I WILL TRUST IN THEE." (Albert Barnes)

"Be merciful unto me, O God."
(Ps. 57:1)

This excellent Psalm was composed by David when there was enough to discompose the best man in the world. The repetition notes both the extremity of the danger and the ardency of the supplicant. "Mercy! Mercy! Nothing but mercy--and that exerting itself in an extraordinary way--can now save him from ruin. The arguments he pleads for obtaining mercy in this distress are very considerable. 1. He pleads his reliance upon God as an argument to move mercy. "My soul trusts in thee," etc. This his trust and dependence upon God, though it be not argumentative in respect of the dignity of the act, yet it is so in respect both of the nature of the object, a compassionate God who will not expose any who take shelter under his wings, and in respect of the promise whereby protection is assured to them who fly to him for sanctuary (Isa. 26:3). 2. He pleads former experiences of his help in past distresses as an argument encouraging hope under the present strait (vs. 2). (John Flavel)

"Before your pots can feel the burning thorns,
He shall take them away as with a whirlwind,
As in His living and burning wrath."
(Ps. 58:9)

"Before your pots feel the bramble." By this proverbial expression the Psalmist describes the sudden eruption of the divine wrath--sudden and violent as the ascension of the dry bramble underneath the housewife's pot. The brightness of the flame which this furnishes, the height to which it mounts in an instant, and the fury with which it seems to rage on all sides of the vessel give force and even sublimity to the image, though taken from one of the commonest occurrences of the lowest life--a cottager's wife boiling her pot! The sense, then, will be: "Before your pots feel the bramble, he shall sweep them away in whirlwind and hurricane." (Samuel Horsley)

In all the book of God I do not remember any sentence so variously and differently translated as this verse. . . . This variety of translations arises chiefly from the original Hebrew word, siroth, which in the Hebrew tongue signifies, first, pots or caldrons, wherein flesh is sod [boiled], as Ex. 16:3, 28:3; Ezek. 11:11. Secondly, thorns, and pricks of thorns and briers, as Isa. 24:13; Hosea 2:8. Thirdly, because the pricks of the great bramble are very sharp and hooked, this word is used to signify fishhooks, Amos 4:2. In all our English Bibles of the old, new and Geneva translation, and some Latin Bibles, this word is taken to signify pots or caldrons. But the Septuagint, Hierome, vulgar Latin, Austine, Pagnine, Tremellius, and all others that I have seen take this word in the second sense, for the sharp pricks of thorns and brambles. Here, certainly, this word signifies the sharp pricks of the great dog-bramble, where here in the Hebrew text is atad, and is used (Jud. 9:14,15) in Jotham's parable to signify the bramble, which being made king of the trees, kindled a fire which devoured the cedars of Lebanon. Now this bramble in the body, and every branch of it, is beset with sharp hooked pricks, some of which are green and have life and moisture in them, and though they be sharp, yet they are not so stiff and strong as to make any deep wound in a man's flesh. Others are greater, more hooked, and hardened by drying and parching with the vehement heat of the sun; and they strike to the quick and hold fast, or tear where they catch hold of man's skin or flesh. The first are here called living or green. The others are called dried, or parched and hardened. And the prophetical Psalmist affirms that "God who judges in the earth will take away and destroy as with a tempestuous whirlwind every one of them, as well the green as thedry," as Tremellius out of the original does most truly translate the word. . . . The whole text runs thus: "Before they feel your thorns or pricks, O ye bramble, he will take away every one as with a whirlwind, as well the green as the dry." "Before they," that is, the righteous whom ye hate and persecute; "do feel," that is, have a full sense and understanding of your thorns or pricks, that is, of the sharpness, fury, and mischief which is in the heart and hand of all and every one among you; for every one in your band and congregation is a grievous thorn and sharp prick of the cursed bramble, sharply set and bent to do mischief in malice and fury to the people and church of God. "He that is God who judges in the earth" (as it is expressed in the eleventh verse, in the last words) "will take away as with a whirlwind" (that is, scatter and destroy tempestuously), "every one, as well the living and green as the dry and hardened." That is, of every sort banded together, as well the green-headed and young persecutors, sharp set but not so strong to hurt, as the old and dry who are hardened in malice by long custom, and in power and policy are strong to do mischief. (George Walker)

"The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance.
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked."
(Ps. 58:10)

He will have no hand in meting it out, neither will he rejoice in the spirit of revenge; but his righteous soul shall acquiesce in the judgments of God, and he shall rejoice to see justice triumphant. There is nothing in Scripture of that sympathy with God's enemies which modern traitors are so fond of parading as the finest species of benevolence. We shall at the last say "Amen" to the condemnation of the wicked and feel no disposition to question the ways of God with the impenitent. Remember how John, the loving disciple, puts it: "And after these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, 'Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are his judgments, because he has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants shed by her.' And again they said, 'Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!" "He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." He shall triumph over them. They shall be so utterly vanquished that their overthrow shall be final and fatal, and his deliverance complete and crowning. The damnation of sinners shall not mar the happiness of saints. (Charles Spurgeon)

"They run and prepare."
(Ps. 59:4)

The zeal and diligence of the wicked in the cause of unrighteousness might well reprove the languor and tardiness of saints in the work of faith and labor of love. In the church of God nothing is the source of more mischief than the lack of true zeal and liveliness. It is only when "many run to and fro" that "knowledge shall be increased." (William S. Plumer)

"Through God we shall do valiantly."
(Ps. 60:12)

From God all power proceeds, and all we do well is done by divine operation. But still we, as soldiers of the great king, are to fight, and to fight valiantly too. Divine working is not an argument for human inaction, but rather is it the best excitement for courageous effort. Helped in the past, we shall also be helped in the future; and being assured of this, we resolve to play the man. (Charles Spurgeon)

Return to Spurgeon on the Psalms

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