Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,
says Yahweh of Hosts. Zechariah 4:6
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of Glory may come in! Who is this King of Glory?
Yahweh of Hosts: He is the King of Glory. Psalm 24:9-10
Troubles are of various kinds. Some are provoking, some are gnawing, some are perplexing, and some are overwhelming. But whatever form they assume, they are troubles, and are part of the wear and tear of life. . . . Overwhelming troubles are such as sweep over a man, just as the mighty billows of the ocean sweep over and submerge the sands. These are troubles which struggle with us, as it were, for life and death; troubles which would leave us helpless wrecks; troubles which enter into conflict with us in our prime, which grapple with us in our health and strength, and threaten to conquer us by sheer force no matter how bravely we may contend. Such trouble the Psalmist knew. (Philip Bennett Power)
Eternal life is called an inheritance. Theodoret remarks: "The true inheritance is eternal life, concerning which Christ says to the sheep on his right hand, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world.' This inheritance the Lord gives to them who fear him." In Ephesians 1:14 the Spirit is called "the earnest of our inheritance." In Colossians 1:12 the apostle exhorts them "to give thanks unto the Father, who has made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." On this verse we have the golden comment of Chrysostom, reiterated by Theophylact. "He calls it an inheritance to show that no man obtains the kingdom by his own good works; for no man has so lived as to render himself worthy of the kingdom, but all is of the grace of God. Wherefore, he says, 'When ye have done all, say that we are unprofitable servants, for we have only done what we ought to have done.' " (John Casper Suicer)
We naturally love riches, and therefore as naturally spend many thoughts on both how to get them and how to keep them. If a man has riches, or an increase of riches, it is not unlawful for him to think of them. That which the Psalmist forbids is the settling of our hearts [on them]. It is as if he said, "Let not your thoughts stay or dwell here. Riches are themselves transient things, therefore they should have but our transient thoughts." (Joseph Caryl)
O! who can convince a rich man that he sets his heart upon riches? For considerably above half a century I have spoken on this head, with all the plainness that was in my power. But with how little effect! I doubt whether I have in all that time convinced fifty misers of covetousness. When the lover of money was described ever so clearly, and painted in the strongest colors, who applied it to himself? To whom did God and all that knew him say, "Thou art the man?" If he speaks to any of you that are present, O do not stop your ears! Rather say, with Zaccheus, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have done any wrong to any man, I restore him fourfold." He did not mean that he had done this in time past, but that he determined to do so for the time to come. I charge thee before God, thou lover of money, to "go and do likewise!" (John Wesley)
Believe the mighty power of God. Consider: (1) It is difficult to believe his power. "But how can that be? Is not this a piece of natural divinity, that God is almighty? What need is there, then, to press people to believe it?" Great need, because this is the great thing we are apt to question in cases of difficulty. Why else do we pray with cheerfulness when we see great probability of a thing but faint in prayer when it is otherwise? And why in sad times do we cry out, "Oh, we shall never see good days again?" (2) The firm belief of God's power is of great concern and moment in religion. Faith is never quite laid by till the soul questions the power of God. "Oh, he cannot pardon, he cannot save!" When it comes to this, the soul is no longer able to hold out. The life and vigor of faith is very much concerned in the belief of God's power. It is, indeed, one of the first steps to all religion. Therefore it is put in the front of our creed: "I believe in God, the Father ALMIGHTY." He who believes that first article will the more easily believe all the rest. (3) God is much displeased, even with his own children, when his power is questioned by them. For this God rebukes Moses: "Has the LORD'S hand been shortened?" (Num. 11:23), as if he had said, "What, Moses, do you think that my power is exhausted or weakened? What an unworthy conceit is this!" For this Christ rebuked Martha very sharply: "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40). Yes, God is that tender of the glory of his power. And he has sharply chastened his dear children when their faith staggered in this matter, as we see in Zacharias who, for questioning the power of God, was immediately stricken dumb. Well, then, let it be your great care to have your faith confirmed in the belief of God's almighty power. To this end ponder the verbal declarations made of it in the Holy Scriptures. Consider and improve the manifestations he has given of it both in your own and former times. And pray much that God would strengthen and increase your faith. (William Wisheart)
Learn to admire the grace of God in rewarding your works. It is much that he accepts them; and what is it, then, that he rewards them? It is much that he does not damn you for them seeing they are all defiled and have something of sin cleaving to them; and what is it, then, that he crowns them? You would admire the bounty and munificence of a man who should give you a kingdom for taking up a straw at his foot, or give you a hundred thousand pounds for paying him a penny rent you owed him. How, then, should you adore the rich grace and transcendent bounty of God in so largely recompensing such mean services, in setting a crown of glory upon your heads as the reward of those works which you can scarcely find in your hearts to call good ones! You will even blush one day to see yourselves so much honored for what you are ashamed of and are conscious to yourselves that you have deserved nothing by. You will wonder then to see God recompensing you for doing what was your duty to do and what was his work in you; giving you grace and crowning that grace; enabling you to do things acceptable to him and then rewarding you as having done them. (Edward Veal)
The soul's following, and following hard after God, what means this? Surely it intends much more than a languid, inert inclination--"the desire of the slothful which kills him because his hands refuse to labor." It evinces an intenseness of concern that quickens and rouses the man into life and earnestness; that draws his very soul along with it; that reconciles him to every needful exertion and sacrifice however trying; and urges him to persevere whatever difficulties or discouragements he meets with in his course. (William Jay)
It is a sign that malice boils up to a great height in men's hearts when they are so active to find matter against their neighbors. Love would rather not see or hear of others' failings; or if it does and must, busies itself in healing and reforming them to the utmost of its power. (John Milward)
After cleansing [vs. 3] comes benediction, and truly this is a very rich one. It comprehends both election, effectual calling, access, acceptance, and sonship. First, we are chosen of God according to the good pleasure of his will, and this alone is blessedness. Then, since we cannot and will not come to God of ourselves, he works graciously in us and attracts us powerfully. He subdues our unwillingness and removes our inability by the almighty workings of his transforming grace. This also is no slight blessedness. Furthermore, we, by his divine drawings, are made nigh by the blood of his Son and brought near by his Spirit into intimate fellowship, so that we have access with boldness and are no longer as those who are afar off by wicked works. Here also is unrivaled blessedness. To crown all, we do not come nigh in peril of dire destruction, as Nadab and Abihu did, but we approach as chosen and accepted ones, to become dwellers in the divine household. This is heaped-up blessedness, vast beyond conception. (Charles Spurgeon)
How beautiful are the words of the inspired poet, read in this month of harvest nearly three thousand years after they were written! For nearly three thousand years since the royal poet looked over the plains of Judea covered with the bounty of God, and broke forth into his magnificent hymn of praise, has the earth rolled on in her course and the hand of God has blessed her and all her children with seed-time and harvest, with joy and abundance. The very steadfastness of the Almighty's liberality, flowing like a mighty ocean through the infinite vast of the universe, makes his creatures forget to marvel at its wonderfulness, to feel true thankfulness at its immeasurable goodness. The sun rises and sets so surely, the seasons run on amid all their changes with such inimitable truth, that we take as a matter of course that which is amazing beyond all stretch of imagination and good beyond the widest expansion of the noblest human heart. (William Howitt)
Verses 9-13. I do not know any picture of rural life that in any measure comes up to the exquisite description here brought before us, and which everyone's heart at once recognizes as so true to nature in all its branches. In the brief compass of five verses we have the whole scene vividly sketched--the first preparation of the earth or soil; the provision of the corn seed for the sower; the rain in its season (the former and the latter rains) watering the ridges, settling the furrows, and causing the seed to swell and to spring forth and bud and blossom; then the crowning of the whole year in the appointed weeks of harvest and men's hearts rejoicing before God. . . . I would [wish] that our tillers and reapers of the soil would as piously refer all to God as the Psalmist did. "You water the earth, You greatly enrich it, You prepare the corn, You water the ridges, You settle the furrows, You makes it soft with showers, You bless the springing thereof, You crown the year with your goodness." Not one word of man, of man's skill, or of man's labor; not one thought of self. How different from him whose grounds brought forth abundantly and whose only thought was, "I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' " (Barton Bouchier)
It is a great mercy to be kept from desperate courses in the time of sad calamities, to be supported under burdens that we sink not, and to be prevented from denying God or his truth in time of persecution. (David Dickson)
The principal end a Christian should have in view, when he declares his experience, is the glory of that God who has dealt so bountifully with him. He would surely have the Lord exalted for his faithfulness and goodness to him. He would have it published so that the name of the Lord might be great, that sinners might know that his God is faithful to his word, and that he has not only engaged to be "a present help in time of need," but that he has found him in reality to be so. . . . How may we blush and be ashamed that we have so much conversation in the world and so little about what God has done for our souls. It is a very bad sign upon us in our day that the things of God are generally postponed while either the affairs of state, or the circumstances of outward life, or other things of a more trifling nature are the general subjects of our conversation. What! are we ashamed of the noblest, the most interesting subject? It is but a poor sign that we have felt anything of it, if we think it unnecessary to declare it to our fellow Christians. What think you? Suppose any two of us were cast upon a barbarous shore where we neither understood the language nor the customs of the inhabitants and were treated by them with reproach and cruelty. Do you think we should not esteem it a happiness that we could unburden ourselves to each other and communicate our griefs and troubles? And shall we think it less so while we are in such a world as this, in a strange land and at a distance from our Father's house? Shall we neglect conversing with each other? No; let our conversation not only be in heaven, but about spiritual and heavenly things. (Samuel Wilson)
They regard iniquity in their heart, (1) Who practice it secretly. Who are under restraint from the world but are not possessed of a habitual fear of the omniscient God, the searcher of all hearts. (2) Who entertain and indulge the desire of sin, although in the course of providence they may be restrained from the actual commission of it. (3) Who reflect upon past sins with delight, or without sincere humiliation of mind. Every real Christian remembers his past sins with unfeigned contrition of spirit and a deep sense of unworthiness before God. (4) Who look upon the sins of others with approbation, or can behold them without grief. Sin is so abominable a thing, so dishonoring to God, and so destructive to the souls of men that no real Christian can witness it without concern. (5) Who are not willing for God himself to search and try them. It can proceed from nothing more than a secret dread of some disagreeable discovery or the detection of some lust which they cannot consent to forsake. (Condensed from John Witherspoon's sermon entitled The Petitions of the Insincere Unavailing)
An increase of wealth is but the natural result of increased piety and intelligence. There are certain qualities essential to temporal prosperity. These are industry, economy, moderation; and such are the qualities begotten of godliness. . . . Nor is it an unreasonable expectation that our globe should, under the reign of righteousness, yield all those temporal advantages of which it is capable. Science, favored by piety, may greatly add to the earth's fruitfulness; and mechanical genius may still further abbreviate human toil and increase human comforts. The great inventions and discoveries of science, by which toil is lessened and comfort enhanced, are all the products of Christian minds. . . . Can we, then, doubt that in the era to which we look forward, labor shall cease to be a burden? Can we believe that the life of the laboring classes is to continue to be all but a ceaseless round of toil and vexation--every hand stretched out to procure something that is needed or to ward off something that is feared? Scripture predicts the mitigation of the curse; and, in the discoveries of science and the inventions of mechanics we see the means by which the prediction is to be accomplished. This consummation may still be in the distant future; but if we do not grudge the oak years for its growth, the glory to be revealed is surely worthy of a process as gradual. (William Reid)
Whole Psalm. In this Psalm we have especial reason to condemn or to admire the timidity, or the caution and delicacy of our translators, whichever it may be considered, for the manner in which they have rendered the names of the Almighty. They almost universally translate them "God" or "Lord;" whereas, it has been observed that almost all the remarkable titles of the Deity are employed in describing and praising the person addressed here. He is called "Elohim" in verse 2 ; "Adonai," verse 12 ; "Shaddai," verse 15 ; "Jehovah," verse 17 ; "Jah," verse 19 ; and "Al," verse 20 . The Hebrew names of God have, each of them, a distinct and peculiar meaning. No one word will suffice for them all. The vague use of the terms "God" and "Lord" in our translation can never convey to the reader's mind the important ideas which the original expressions, if properly translated, would bear, and we have lost a strong additional confirmation of the deity of Messiah by abandoning the testimony which the ascription to him of God's peculiar titles would give to this great truth. (R. H. Ryland)
It must be confessed that in this Psalm there are as many precipices, and as many labyrinths, as there are verses, or even words. It has not inappropriately been designated the cross of critics, the reproach of interpreters. (Simon de Muis)
The moving ark is a type of Jesus going forth to cast down rebel foes. It is high joy to trace the Antitype's victorious march. How mightily the Lord advanced! The strength of God was in his arm. His sword was Deity. His darts were barbed with all Jehovah's might. "He had on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of Lords" (Rev. 19:16). His foes, indeed, strove mightily. It was no easy work to rescue souls from Satan's grasp, or to lay low the prison-house of darkness. The enemy rushed on, clad in his fiercest armor, wild in his keenest rage, wily in his deadliest crafts. He plied his every temptation, as a terrific battery. But the true Ark never quailed. The adversary licked the dust. Malignant passions maddened in opposing breasts. The kings stood up; rulers took counsel; all plots were laid; the ignominious death was planned and executed. But still the Ark moved on. The cross gave aid, not injury. The grave could not detain. Death could not vanquish. The gates of hell fly open. The mighty conqueror appears. And as in Canaan the ark ascended Zion's hill amid triumphant shouts, so Jesus mounts on high. The heaven of heavens receives him. The Father welcomes the all-conquering Savior. Angelic hosts adore the glorious God-man. The Rising Prayer has full accomplishment--"Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee."
And now from glory's throne he cheers his humble followers in their desert march. Their toils, their conflicts, and their fears are many. They ofttimes seem as a poor worm beneath the crushing feet. But they survive, they prosper, they lift up the head. As of old the ark was victory, so Jesus is victory now. Yes, every child of faith shall surely set a conquering foot upon the host of foes. Hear this, ye mad opposers, and desist. Where are the nations who resisted Israel? Where are the Pharaohs, the beleaguered kings, the Herods, the chief priests, the Pilates? Share not their malice lest you share their end. Read in this word your near destruction: "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee."
And, as the Rising Prayer has never failed, so, too, the Resting Prayer now teems with life. "Return, O Lord." Jesus is ready to fly back. Israel's many thousands wait, but wait not in vain. "Yet a little while, and he who shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Heb. 10:37). O joyful day, triumphant sight! What ecstasy, what shouts, what glory! Salvation's Lord returns. Welcome, welcome to him! (Henry Law)
Verses 1-3. Whether the Jewish Church fully comprehended the meaning of the predictions or not, it is absolutely certain that her members were taught, in more places than one, earnestly to pray for Christ's second advent. . . . The Psalmist, moved by the Spirit of God, adopts the words used by Moses in the wilderness when the ark, in which God dwelt between the cherubim, set forward; for we read in the 10th of Numbers, "It came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel." But the wanderings of Israel were now over, and the ark of the Lord had found a place of rest. The people of God were in the land promised to their fathers; their enemies were subdued; and the ark went forth no more with the armies of Israel. It is not, therefore, the removal of the ark to which the prophet alludes in his prayer. The context of the Psalm, and the expressions used, carry us on far beyond the days of David and refer us to times still future. David prays for the return of him of whom the ark was a type, whose glorious advent he beheld by the spirit of prophecy. The words of the text contain a prayer for the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Never has this prayer been yet answered in its full extent. The Lord has oft interfered in behalf of his people, or to rouse the wicked to repentance; but these interpositions were temporary, and the world was left again to the government of his providence. God has often given tokens sufficient to show the world what he will do when the day of his wrath is come. . . . But yet the world and the church abound with wickedness, and mourn because of sin. They who hate the Lord flee not before him, but are still suffered to open their mouths in blasphemy. Nor have the wicked perished in the presence of God. . . . This rising up, for which the Psalmist prays, is connected with the restoration of Israel, the establishment of universal peace, and the conversion of all nations (ver. 22, 29, 30, 31).
As members of the Christian Church, we continually profess our faith in the second coming of Christ; and, it may be, that we sometimes meditate upon his glorious appearance. But have we, like David, adopted it as one of the subjects of our addresses at the throne of grace? . . . . Has our faith ever enabled us to take up the language of the text and say, "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him"? This leads me to point out our duty to join in the Psalmist's petitions. If it were a prayer suited only to the individual case of David, no obligation could rest upon us to unite in it. But it is a prayer for the universal church, for everyone who loves the Savior and desires to see "the King in his beauty," for everyone who mourns over the state of the world and the church. It is a prayer frequently repeated in Holy Scripture of the Old Testament taught by our Lord, now offered up by saints in the presence of God, and with which the Scriptures of the New Testament conclude. . . .
It is remarkable that only one prayer of the departed saints has been made known to us, and that this one should be a prayer to the same effect. In the 6th chapter of the Revelation, the Lord is pleased to give us a view of the state of those who have died as martyrs. St. John says, "I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Though removed from this scene of woe and misery, safe from all the attempts of the wicked, and in the enjoyment of God's presence, their happiness is not yet complete, and they still find subject matter for prayer and supplication. They still long for that day when the Lord shall arise to judgment and put an end to the triumph of the wicked. With this prayer also the New Testament concludes. . . . We cannot, therefore, doubt but that it is our duty to join in a prayer which the Holy Ghost has dictated, which our Lord has appointed, which the saints in heaven use, and which the beloved disciple offered up. The nature of the prayer presents another argument to enforce this duty. We are bound to pray for those things which promote the honor of Christ and the eternal happiness of his people. But never shall the honor of Christ be complete, nor his people happy, nor the righteous be glad and rejoice exceedingly, until God arise and his enemies be scattered. (Alexander M'Caul)
It would neither be profitable nor possible to give the reader all the conjectures with which learned men have illustrated or darkened this passage. (Charles Spurgeon)
Miss Whately, in her work, "Ragged Life in Egypt," describing some of the sights witnessed from the flat roofs of the houses in Cairo, among other interesting objects, states: The roofs are usually in a great state of litter, and were it not that Hasna, the seller of geeleh, gets a palm-branch, and makes a clearance once in a while, her roof would assuredly give way under the accumulation of rubbish. One thing never seemed cleared away, and that was the heaps of old broken pitchers, sherds, and pots, that in these and similar houses are piled up in some corner; and there is a curious observation in connection with this. A little before sunset, numbers of pigeons suddenly emerge from behind the pitchers and other rubbish, where they have been sleeping in the heat of the day, or pecking about to find food. They dart upwards and careen through the air in large circles, their outspread wings catching the bright glow of the sun's slanting rays, so that they really resemble bright "yellow gold;" then, as they wheel round, and are seen against the light, they appear as if turned into molten silver, most of them being pure white, or else very light colored. This may seem fanciful, but the effect of light in these regions is difficult to describe to those who have not seen it; and, evening after evening, we watched the circling flight of the doves, and always observed the same appearance. It was beautiful to see these birds, rising clean and unsoiled, as doves always do, from the dust and dirt in which they had been hidden, and soaring aloft in the sky till nearly out of sight among the bright sunset clouds. Thus a believer, who leaves behind him the corruptions of the world, and is rendered bright by the Sun of Righteousness shining upon his soul, rises higher and higher, nearer and nearer to the light, till, lost to the view of those who stay behind, he has passed into the unknown brightness above! (Miss Whately)
The expression is emphatical. He has conquered and triumphed over all the powers which held us in captivity, so that captivity itself is taken captive. The spirit and force of it is destroyed; and his people, when released by him, and walking in his ways, have no more to apprehend from those whose captives they were, than a conqueror has to fear from a prisoner in chains. The energy of the phrase is not unlike that of the apostle: "Death is swallowed up in victory." (John Newton)
The apostle (Eph. 4:8) does not quote the words of the Psalm literally, but according to the sense. The phrase, "Thou hast received gifts," as applied to Christ at his glorification, could only be for the purpose of distribution, and hence the apostle quotes them in this sense, "He gave gifts to men." This Hebrew phrase may be rendered either, "Thou hast received gifts in the human nature," or, "Thou hast received gifts for the sake of man" (see Gen. 18:28; 2 Kings 14:6). The apostle uses the words in the sense of the purpose for which the gifts were received, and there is no contradiction between the Psalmist and the apostle. Thus, the difficulties of this quotation vanish when we examine them closely, and the Old and New Testaments are in complete harmony. (William Graham)
In the east where polygamy prevails, the husband is a stern and unfeeling despot; his harem a group of trembling slaves; and the children, while they regard their common father with indifference or terror, cling to their own mother with the fondest affection, as the only part, as the only parent, in whom they feel an interest. Hence it greatly aggravated the affliction of David that he had become "an alien unto his mother's children: the enmity of the other children of his father, the children of his father's other wives, gave him less concern. (W. Greenfield)
What a wonder of condescension is here, that he who is the adoration of angels should stoop to be the song of drunkards! What amazing sin, that he whom seraphs worship with veiled faces should be a scornful proverb among the most abandoned of men. (Charles Spurgeon)
The imprecations in this verse and those following it are revolting only when considered as the expression of malignant selfishness. If uttered by God, they shock no reader's sensibilities; nor should they, when considered as the language of an ideal person representing the whole class of righteous sufferers, and particularly him who, though he prayed for his murderers while dying (Luke 23:34), had before applied the words of this very passage to the unbelieving Jews (Matt. 23:38), as Paul did afterwards (Rom. 11:9,10). The general doctrine of providential retribution, far from being confined to the Old Testament, is distinctly taught in many of our Savior's parables. See Matt. 21:41; 22:7; 24:51. (Joseph Addison Alexander)
They love it for its own sake. They love it for the sake of him who procured it by his obedience unto death. They love it for the sake of that Holy Spirit who moved them to seek it and accept it. And they love it for the sake of their own souls, which they cannot but love, and which, without it, would be the most miserable outcasts in the universe. No wonder that in the light of its intrinsic importance, and of its intrinsic relations, they should be "such as love God's salvation." All men are lovers as well as seekers, for all men love. Some love money more than God's salvation. Others love pleasure, even the pleasures of sin, more than God's salvation. And others love bustle and business more than God's salvation. But, as the stamp of the material, the temporal and the evanescent, is on all these earthly objects of men's love, the friends of Jesus elevate above them all, as the worthier object of their regard and embrace, the salvation of God. (James Frame)
The Messiah did not attract the admiring gaze of mankind. He did arrest attention; he did excite "wonder." But it was not the wonder of admiration. A few whose eyes God had opened saw, indeed, in some measure, the real grandeur there was amid all this apparent meanness [lowliness]. They "beheld his glory--the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;" a glory that bedimmed all created luster. But the great body of those who beheld him were "astonished" at him. His external appearance, especially when contrasted with his claim to Messiahship, shocked them. The Galilean peasant, the Nazarene carpenter, the son of Joseph claiming God for his own Father, declaring himself the "bread of life" and "the light of the world" and asserting that the destinies of eternity hung on the reception or rejection of him and his message--all this excited a mingled emotion of amazement and indignation, scorn and horror in the bosom of the great majority of his countrymen. He was "a wonder," a prodigy unto many. A mixture of pity and contempt, disgust and wonder, seems to have stirred the stern bosom of the Roman governor when he brought him out wearing the robe of mock royalty and the torturing crown and exclaimed, "Behold the man." Even his friends were confounded, though their astonishment bore a different character. The closing scene, notwithstanding what appear to us very plain forewarnings, appears to have come on them like a thunderbolt. They were overwhelmed with amazement as well as with sorrow. What blank astonishment sat on their countenances when he made the announcement, "Verily I say unto you, one of you shall betray me!" How must their amazement have risen at the successive scenes of Gethsemane, and the hall of the high priest, and the court of Pilate, till at last they saw him, in whom they trusted that he should redeem Israel, nailed to a cross like a felonious slave--execrated of man and deserted of God! Then their amazement reached its consummation: they were "astonished at him." (John Brown)
It is not unnatural or improper for a man who sees old age coming upon him to pray for special grace, and special strength, to enable him to meet what he cannot ward off and what he cannot but dread; for who can look upon the infirmities of old age, as coming upon himself, but with sad and pensive feelings? Who would wish to be an old man? Who can look upon a man tottering with years and broken down with infirmities, a man whose sight and hearing are gone, a man who is alone amidst the graves of all the friends that he had in early life, a man who is a burden to himself and to the world, a man who has reached the "Last scene of all that ends the strange, eventful history"--the scene of "Second childishness, and mere oblivion, without teeth, without eyes, without taste, without everything." Who can think of all this and not pray for special grace for himself, should he live to see those days of infirmity and weakness? And who, in view of such infirmities, can fail to see the propriety of seeking the favor of God in early years? (Albert Barnes)
June 28. This day I enter on my eighty-sixth year. I now find I grow old: (1) My sight is decayed, so that I cannot read a small print unless in a strong light. (2) My strength is decayed, so that I walk much slower than I did some years since. (3) My memory of names, whether of persons or places, is decayed, till I stop a little to recollect them. What I should be afraid of is, if I took thought for the morrow, that my body should weigh down my mind and create either stubbornness, by the decrease of my understanding, or peevishness, by the increase of bodily infirmities. But thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God. (John Wesley)
As there is no end to the lovingkindness of Jehovah, there should be none to our gratitude. The hope of a Christian enables him to be thankful even in the dark season of affliction. (Mrs. Thomson)
"He shall come down." There is a fourfold descending of Christ which the Scripture mentions. 1. His incarnation, the manifestation of himself in the flesh. 2. The abasing himself in condition; he did not only assume human flesh, but all the natural infirmities of our flesh. 3. The subjecting of himself to death. 4. The distillations of his grace and spiritual blessings upon his church. (Ralph Robinson)
"Righteous." "Peace." Do you ask what he is individually? The answer is, "King of Righteousness:" a being loving righteousness, working righteousness, promoting righteousness, procuring righteousness, imparting righteousness to those whom he saves, perfectly sinless, and the enemy and abolisher of all sin. Do you ask what he is practically, and in relation to the effect of his reign? The answer is, "King of Peace:" a sovereign whose kingdom is a shelter for all who are miserable, a covert for all who are persecuted, a resting place for all who are weary, a home for the destitute and a refuge for the lost. (Charles Stanford)
"Abundance of peace." Literally, "multitude of peace," that is, the things which produce peace or which indicate peace will not be few but numerous; they will abound everywhere. They will be found in towns and villages, and private dwellings; in the calm and just administration of the affairs of the State; in abundant harvests; in intelligence, in education, and in undisturbable industry; in the protection extended to the rights of all. (Albert Barnes)
To understand the images taken from Mount Lebanon, it is necessary to remark that four enclosures of mountains are described, rising one upon another. The first and lowest of these is described as rich in grain and fruits. The second is barren, being covered only with thorns, rocks, and flints. The third, though higher still, is blessed with a perpetual spring; the trees are always green. There are innumerable orchards laden with fruit, and it forms, altogether, a terrestrial paradise "where fruits and and blossoms blush in social sweetness on the self-same bough." The fourth, or highest ridge of all, is the region of perpetual snow. Now, the imagery in the 72nd Psalm is evidently taken from the first of these ridges of Lebanon, where (most probably following the ancient mode of cultivating) the monks of Lebanon, for they were the chief cultivators of the terraced soil, industriously husband every particle of productive earth. In the expressive words of Burchkardt, "Every inch of ground is cultivated," so that no image could have been more singularly expressive of the universal cultivation under Messiah's reign than to say that "His fruit shall shake like Lebanon." Or, understanding the Psalmist to speak figuratively, what moral landscape could be painted more richly than he does when he intimates that those barren mountains of our world, which at present yield no fruit unto God, shall be cultivated in that day so industriously and so fully that the fruit shall wave like the terraced cornfields, or shake like the hanging mulberry trees on the terraced heights of Lebanon. (Robert Murray McCheyne)
"Are ended." The sense is, that David, the son of Jesse, had nothing to pray for, or to wish, beyond the great things described in this Psalm. Nothing can be more animated than this conclusion. Having described the blessings of Messiah's reign, he closes the whole with his magnificent doxology:
Blessed be Jehovah God,
God of Israel, alone performing wonders;
And blessed be his name of glory,
And let his glory fill the whole of the earth.
Amen, and Amen.
Finished are the prayers of David, the son of Jesse.
He does not say that the Lord is continually with "his people," and holds, and guides, and receives them. He says, "He is continually with me; He holds me; He will guide me; He will receive me." The man saw, and felt, and rejoiced in his own personal interest in God's care and love. And he did this, please note, in the very midst of affliction--with "flesh and heart failing;" in spite too of many wrong and opposite, and sinful feelings, that had just passed away; under a conviction of his own sinfulness and folly, and, as he calls it, even "brutishness." Oh! it is a blessed thing, brethren, to have a faith like this. (Charles Bradley)
The greater our nearness to God, the less we are affected by the attractions and distractions of earth. Access into the most holy place is a great privilege, and a cure for a multitude of ills. It is good for all saints; it is good for me in particular. It is always good, and always will be good for me to approach the great good, the source of all good, even God himself. (Charles Spurgeon)
What a mighty plea is redemption. O God, can you see the bloodmark on your own sheep and yet allow grievous wolves to devour them? The church is no new purchase of the Lord. From before the world's foundation the chosen were regarded as redeemed by the Lamb slain. Shall ancient love die out and the eternal purpose become frustrate? The Lord would have his people remember the Paschal Lamb, the bloodstained lintel, and the overthrow of Egypt. And will he forget all this himself? Let us put him in remembrance; let us plead together. Can he desert his blood-bought and forsake his redeemed? Can election fail and eternal love cease to flow? Impossible. The woes of Calvary, and the covenant of which they are the seal, are the security of the saints. (Charles Spurgeon)
It is the opinion of Spencer, Vitringa, and of the learned in general, that the institution of synagogues for worship originated in the reading of the law publicly after the collection of its volumes by Ezra, and that, consequently, there were no such places of solemn assembly previous to the Babylonish captivity. Some of the Jews themselves have expressed a conviction that this is the fact, and the Scriptures give no intimation of their existence antecedently to that time. We are aware, however, that one of the first Hebraists of the present day, the Rev. Dr. M'Caul, inclines to the opinion of an earlier origin than that generally adopted. We quote his words: "The existence of such places before the Babylonish captivity has been much disputed; and most writers, arguing from the silence of the Old Testament, incline to the opinion that they originated in Babylon, and that after the restoration similar oratories were opened in the land of Israel; and hence some infer that the Seventy-fourth Psalm, which says in the eighth verse, 'They have burned up all the synagogues in the land,' was written in the post-Babylonian times. The argument from silence is, however, far from conclusive. The translation of מוֹעֲדֵי as synagogues, in the verse just cited, might fairly lead to a similar translation in some other passages which were confessedly written before the captivity; and the circumstances, character, and necessities of the Israelites, the great body of whom were far removed from the temple, prove indisputably that in their towns and villages they must have had some locality where they assembled on their sabbaths, new moons, and other solemn days, for the purpose of receiving instruction in the law, and for public prayer. That locality, however different from subsequent arrangements, was the origin of the synagogue. How such assemblies were conducted before the captivity it is now impossible to say." (F. A. Cox)
Dr. Prideaux affirms that they had no synagogue before the Babylonish captivity; for the main service of the synagogue, says he, being the reading of the law unto the people, where there was no book of the law to be read, there certainly could be no synagogue. But how rare the book of the law was through all Judea, before the Babylonish captivity, many texts of Scripture tell us. When Jehoshaphat sent teachers through all Judea to instruct the people in the law of God, they carried a book of the law with them (2 Chr. 17:9), which they needed not have done if there had been any copies of the law in those cities to which they went, which certainly there would have been had there been any synagogues in them. And when Hilkiah found the law in the temple (2 Kings 22:8), neither he nor king Josiah needed to have been so surprised at it had books of the law been common in those times. Their behavior on that occasion sufficiently proves they had never seen it before, which could not be the case had there then been any other copies of it to be found among the people. And if there were no copies of the law at that time among them, there could then be most certainly no synagogues for them to resort to for the hearing of it read unto them. From whence he concludes there could be no synagogues among the Jews till after the Babylonish captivity. (Cruden's Concordance)
I was considerably affected in my younger days by the long-standing objection that Moses made light to exist before the creation of the sun; as books then usually taught, what some still fancy, that there could not have been light without this luminary. But not choosing on such [an] important point to attach my faith to any general assertion, I sought to find out if any investigator of the nature of light had perceived any distinction in its qualities or operation, which made it a fluid or matter independent of the sun. It was not easy, before the year 1791, to meet with the works of any student of nature on such a subject, as it had been little attended to. But I at length saw the fact asserted by Henckel, a German of the old school, of some value in his day, and soon afterwards some experiments were announced in England which confirmed the supposition. It has been a favorite point of attention with me ever since; and no truth in philosophy seems to be now more clearly ascertained than that light has a distinct existence separate and independent of the sun. This is a striking confirmation of the Mosaic record; for that expressly distinguishes the existence and operation of light from the solar action upon it, and from that radiation of it which is connected with his beams and presence. By Moses, an interval of three days is placed between the luminous creation and the appearance and position of the sun and moon. Light was, therefore, operating by its own laws and agencies without the sun, and independently of his peculiar agency, from the first day to the fourth of our terrestrial fabrication. But from the time that the sun was placed in his central position and his rays were appointed to act on our earth, they have been always performing most beneficial operations, essential to the general course of things. (Sharon Turner)
The rise and fall of nations and empires are in this Psalm ascribed to God. He exalts one and puts down another at his pleasure. In this he generally uses instrumentality, but that instrumentality is always rendered effectual by his own agency. When nations or individuals are prosperous, and glorious, and powerful, they usually ascribe all to themselves or to fortune. But it is God who has raised them to eminence. When they boast, he can humble them. In these verses [6-10] God is considered as the governor of the world, punishing the wicked and pouring out judgments on his enemies. The calamities of war, pestilence, and famine are all ministers of providence to execute wrath. (Alexander Carson)
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