Meditations In the Psalms

Taken from The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon

Part VII: Psalms 91-105

The Psalms

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
(Ps. 91:1)

This is an expression which implies great nearness. We must walk very close to a companion if we would have his shadow fall on us. Can we imagine any expression more perfect in describing the constant presence of God with his chosen ones than this--they shall "abide under his shadow"? . . . There is a condition and a promise attached to it. The condition is that we "dwell in the secret place." The promise, that if we do so we "shall abide under the shadow." It is of importance to view it thus. For when we remember the blessing is a promised blessing, we are led to feel it is a gift, a thing therefore to be prayed for in faith as well as sought for by God's appointed means. (Mary B. M. Duncan)


"Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence."
(Ps. 91:3)

Are we therefore beasts? Beasts doubtless. "When man was in honor he understood not, but was like the foolish beasts" (Ps. 49:12). See what a beast you are, for whom the snares of the fowler are being prepared. But who are these fowlers? The fowlers indeed are the worst and most wicked, the cleverest and the cruelest. The fowlers are they who sound no horn, that they may not be heard, but shoot their arrows in secret places at the innocent. . . . But lo! since we know the fowlers and the beasts, our further inquiry must be, what this snare may be. I wish not myself to invent it, nor to deliver to you what is subject to doubt. The Apostle shows us this snare, for he was not ignorant of the devices of these fowlers. Tell us, I pray, blessed Paul, what this snare of the devil is from which the faithful soul rejoices that it is delivered. "They who will be rich", says he, "fall into temptation and the snare" (1 Tim. 6:9). Are not the riches of this world, then, the snare of the devil? Alas! how few we find who can boast of freedom from this snare, how many who grieve that they seem to themselves too little enmeshed in the net, and who still labor and toil with all their strength to involve and entangle themselves more and more. You who have left all and followed the Son of man who has not where to lay his head, rejoice and say, "He has delivered me from the snare of the fowlers." (Bernard)


"The pestilence that walks in darkness,
The destruction that wastes at noonday."
(Ps. 91:6)

The diseases of all hot climates, and especially where vegetation is highly luxuriant and marshes and miry swamps are abundant, as in the wilderness here referred to, proceed from the accumulating vapors of the night or from the violence of the sun's rays at mid-day. The Beriberi of Ceylon, the spasmodic cholera and jungle fever of India, and the greater part of the fevers of inter-tropical climates, especially that called the yellow fever, chiefly originate from the first of these--"the pestilence that stalks in darkness"; while sun-strokes or coups de soleil, apoplexies, inflammations of the brain, and liver complaints of most kinds proceed from the second, "the destruction that wastes at noonday." And it is in allusion to this double source of mischief that the Psalmist exclaims most beautifully on another occasion (121:6), "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night." And hence the Israelites were miraculously defended against both during their passage through the wilderness--by the pillar of a cloud in the daytime to ward off the solar rays, and by the pillar of fire by night to dissipate the collecting vapors and preserve the atmosphere clear, dry, and healthy. (J. M. Good)


"Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked."
(Ps. 91:8)

Let us but watch providence and we shall find ourselves living in a school where examples of the ultimate reward of sin are very plentiful. One case may not be judged alone lest we misjudge, but instances of divine visitation will be plentiful in the memory of any attentive observer of men and things. From all these put together, we may fairly draw conclusions; and unless we shut our eyes to that which is self-evident, we shall soon perceive that there is after all a moral ruler over the sons of men, who sooner or later rewards the ungodly with due punishment. (Charles Spurgeon)


"Because you have made Yahweh, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling."
(Ps. 91:9,10)

Here commences the second half of the Psalm. And it is as though the Psalmist feared lest (as is too often the case with us) we should, in dwelling on the promises and blessings of God and applying them to ourselves, forget the condition to which they are annexed--the character of those who are to receive them. He therefore pauses here to remind us of the opening verses of the Psalm by repeating again their substance. (Mary B. M. Duncan)

What faith is this, what trust is that which God has promised protection and deliverance to in the time of a plague? . . . I answer first, there is a faith of persuasion, called faith, whereby men are persuaded and truly believe that they shall not die nor fall by the hand of the plague. This is well; but I do not find in the 91st Psalm that this protection is entailed upon this persuasion. Neither do I find this faith here mentioned.

There is also a faith of reliance, whereby a man does rely upon God for salvation. This is a justifying faith, true justifying faith. This is true faith indeed; but I do not find in this Psalm that this promise of protection and deliverance in the time of a plague is entailed upon this, nor that this is here mentioned.

But again, there is a faith--I may call it a faith of recourse unto God--whereby a man does betake himself unto God for shelter, for protection as to his habitation, when other men do run one this way, another that way, to their hiding places. In the time of a plague, for a man then to betake himself to God as to his habitation, I think this is the faith here spoken of in this 91st Psalm. . . . This promise of protection and deliverance is not made to a believer as a believer, but as acting and exercising faith. For though a man be a believer, if he does not act and exercise his faith, this promise will not reach him. Therefore if a believer die, not exercising faith and trusting in God, it is no disparagement to the promise. (William Bridge)


"He shall call upon me, and I will answer him."
(Ps. 91:15)

I think we sometimes discourage ourselves by a misconception of the exact meaning of the expression "answer", taking it to mean only grant. Now, an answer is not necessarily an acquiescence. It may be a refusal, an explanation, a promise, a conditional grant. It is, in fact, simply attention to our request expressed. In this sense, before we call he will answer; and while we are yet speaking he will hear (Isaiah 65:24). (Mary B. M. Duncan)


"With long life I will satisfy him."
(Ps. 91:16)

The margin here is "length of days." That is, days lengthened out or multiplied. The meaning is, "I will give him length of days as he desires, or until he is satisfied with life." This implies (1) that it is natural to desire long life; (2) that long life is to be regarded as a blessing (comp. Prov. 3:2,16; Ex. 20:12); (3) that the tendency of religion is to lengthen out life, since virtue, temperance, regular industry, calmness of mind, moderation in all things, freedom from excesses in eating and drinking--to all of which religion prompts--contribute to health and to length of days; and (4) that a time will come, even under this promised blessing of length of days, when a man will be "satisfied" with living; when he will have no strong desire to live longer; when, under the infirmities of advanced years and under his lonely feelings from the fact that his early friends have fallen, and under the influence of a bright hope of heaven, he will feel that he has had enough of life here and that it is better to depart to another world. (Albert Barnes)


"It is good to give thanks to Yahweh,
And to sing praises to your name, O Most High."
(Ps. 92:1)

Giving of thanks is more noble and perfect in itself than petition, because in petition often our own good is eyed and regarded but in giving of thanks only God's honor. The Lord Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Now, a subordinate end of petition is to receive some good from God, but the sole end of thanks is to give glory unto God. (William Ames)


"But you, Yahweh, are on high forevermore."
(Ps. 92:8)

Here is the central pivot of the Psalm. "But thou, LORD, art most high forevermore," lit., are height, &c., the abstract used for the concrete, to imply that the essence of all that is high is concentrated in Jehovah. When God and the cause of holiness seem low, God is really never higher than then; for out of seeming weakness he perfects the greatest strength. When the wicked seem high, they are then on the verge of being cast down forever. The believer who can realize this will not despair at the time of his own depression, and of the seeming exaltation of the wicked. If we can feel "Jehovah most high forever," we can well be unruffled, however low we lie. (A. R. Fausset)


"The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree."
(Ps. 92:12)

On the northern borders of the Great Desert, at the foot of the Atlas mountains, the groves of date palms form the great feature of that parched region, and few trees besides can maintain an existence. The excessive dryness of this arid tract, where rain seldom falls, is such that wheat refuses to grow, and even barley, maize, and Caffre corn afford the husbandman only a scanty and uncertain crop. The hot blasts from the south are scarcely supportable even by the native himself, and yet here forests of date palms flourish and form a screen impervious to the rays of the sun, beneath the shade of which the lemon, the orange, and the pomegranate are cherished, and the vine climbs up by means of its twisted tendrils. And although reared in constant shade, all these fruits acquire a more delicious flavor than in what would seem a more favorable climate. How beautiful a comment do these facts supply to the words of Holy Writ, "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree!" Unmoved by the scorching and withering blasts of temptations or persecutions, the Christian, sustained by the secret springs of Divine grace, lives and grows in likeness to his Divine Master, when all others are overcome and their professions wither. How striking is the contrast in the Psalm. The wicked and worldlings are compared to grass, which is at best but of short duration, and which is easily withered. But the emblem of the Christian is the palm tree, which stands for centuries. Like the grateful shade of the palm groves, the Christian extends around him a genial, sanctified, and heavenly influence. And just as the great value of the date palm lies in its abundant, wholesome, and delicious fruit, so do those who are the true disciples of Christ abound in "fruits of righteousness," for, said our Savior, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." (R. T. Society's Monthly Volume, "The Palm Tribes and their Varieties")


"Yahweh reigns."
(Ps. 93:1)

I would not exchange the assurance which these two words, "Jehovah reigns," convey for all the wisdom combined with all the power of this world. Received into my heart, they are the solution of every difficulty, the end of all perplexity. . . . After all, in every real trial there is but this one final and full comfort. What matters the opinion of men--[those] who may be for [me] and [those] who [may be] against me; who may be with me or who may leave me? . . . Jehovah reigns!" There is light here across my every path provided I follow Christ, walking in the narrow way. Only let me be sure that in any and every respect I am on the Lord's side and in the Lord's way, and I ask no more. My God has all the silver and all the gold in his own hand. He holds the hearts of all men at his disposal. He directs all events from the least to the greatest. If I want power with God or with men, let me pray, for Jehovah reigns. Nor let me think that special interpositions are either impossible or rare. They are constant. The course of God's providence is one of constant interposition, for "all things work together for good to them that love God." Only these interpositions are not violent, and therefore not noticed by the superficial observer. They are the interpositions of [the] all-wise and almighty God, not of poor, weak man. They are the interpositions, not interferences. They are the working of the machinery by the Master-mind which designed and the Master-hand which framed it. They are not the stoppage, but the working of the machinery whereby its real object is wrought out. (Alfred Edersheim)


"O Yahweh God, to whom vengeance belongs."
(Ps. 94:1)

I do not think that we sufficiently attend to the distinction that exists between revenge and vengeance. "Revenge," says Dr. Johnson, "is an act of passion, vengeance of justice; injuries are revenged, crimes avenged." And it is from not attending to this essential distinction that the scorner has been led into such profane remarks, as if there were a vindictive spirit in the Almighty, and as if he found delight in wreaking vengeance on an adversary. The call which the Psalmist here makes on God as a God to whom vengeance belongs is no other than if he had said, "O God, to whom justice belongs!" Vengeance indeed is not for man, because with man's feelings and propensities, it would ever degenerate into revenge. "I will be even with him," says nature; "I will be above him," says grace. (Barton Bouchier)


"How long will the wicked triumph?"
(Ps. 94:3)

What answer shall we give, what date shall we put to this "how long?" The answer is given in verse 23: "He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness," etc. As if he had said, "Except the Lord cut them off in their wickedness, they will never leave off doing wickedly." They are men of such a kind that there is no curing of them, they will never have done doing mischief until they be cut off by death, therefore God threatens death to deter men from sin. A godly man says, "If God kill me, yet will I trust in him." And some wicked men say (in effect, if not in the letter), "Till God kills us, we will sin against him." (Joseph Caryl)


"He who planted the ear, shall he not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall he not see?"
(Ps. 94:9)

That is wise counsel of the Rabbins, that the three best safeguards against falling into sin are to remember, first, that there is an ear which hears everything; secondly, that there is an eye which sees everything; thirdly, that there is a hand which writes everything in the Book of Knowledge, which shall be opened at the Judgment. (J. M. Neale)


"In the multitude of my thoughts within me,
Your comforts delight my soul."
(Ps. 94:19)

Observe the greatness of this man's distress. This is forcibly expressed in the text, though in our translation it is scarcely obvious. The word in it rendered "thoughts," scholars tell us, signifies originally the small branches of trees. The idea in the Psalmist's mind appears to be this: "Look at a tree with its branches shooting in every direction, entangling and entwining themselves one with another. Let the wind take them--see how they feel it, how restless they become and confused, beating against and striving one with another. Now my mind is like that tree. I have a great many thoughts in it, and thoughts which are continually shifting and changing. They are perplexed and agitated thoughts, battling one with another. There is no keeping the mind quiet under them. They bring disorder into it as well as sorrow. And mark the word "multitude" in the text. There is exactly the same idea in that. It signifies more than number; [it also signifies] confusion. Think of a crowd collected and hurrying about. "So," says the Psalmist, "are my thoughts. I have a crowd of them in my mind, and a restless confused crowd. One painful thought is bad enough, but I have many, a multitude of them; an almost countless, a disturbed throng." We now, then, understand the case we have before us. The man's sorrow arose at this time from disquieting thoughts within his own breast. And his sorrow was great because these thoughts were many and at the same time tumultuous. . . .

A text of this kind shows us forcibly the power of Divine grace in the human heart--how much it can do to sustain and cheer the heart. The world may afflict a believer and pain him, but if the grace which God has given him is in active exercise in his soul, the world cannot make him unhappy. It rather adds by its ill treatment to his happiness, for it brings God and his soul nearer together--God the fountain of all happiness, the rest and satisfaction of his soul. (Charles Bradley)


"Oh come, let us sing to Yahweh!"
(Ps. 95:1)

The word "come" contains an exhortation, exciting them to join heart and lips in praising God--just as the word is used in Genesis where the people, exciting and encouraging each other, say, "Come, let us make bricks;" and "Come, let us make a city and a town;" and in the same chapter the Lord says, "Come, let us go do and there confound their tongue." (Bellarmine)


"Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving,
And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms."
(Ps. 95:2)

Here is probably a reference to the peculiar presence of God in the Holy of Holies above the mercy-seat, and also to the glory which shone forth out of the cloud which rested above the tabernacle. Everywhere God is present, but there is a peculiar presence of grace and glory into which men should never come without the profoundest reverence. We may make bold to come before the immediate present of the Lord, for the voice of the Holy Ghost in this Psalm invites us; and when we do draw near to him we should remember his great goodness to us and cheerfully confess it. Our worship should have reference to the past as well as to the future. If we do not bless the Lord for what we have already received, how can we reasonably look for more? We are permitted to bring our petitions, and therefore we are in honor bound to bring our thanksgivings. "And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms." We should shout as exultingly as those do who triumph in war, and as solemnly as those whose utterance is a Psalm. It is not always easy to unite enthusiasm with reverence, and it is a frequent fault to destroy one of these qualities while straining after the other. The perfection of singing is that which unites joy with gravity, exultation with humility, fervency with sobriety. . . . It is to be feared that this is too much overlooked in ordinary services. People are so impressed with the idea that they ought to be serious that they put on the aspect of misery, and quite forget that joy is as much a characteristic of true worship as solemnity itself. (Charles Spurgeon)


"When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work."
(Ps. 95:9)

As far as they could do so, they tempted God to change his usual way and to do their sinful bidding. And though he cannot be tempted of evil and will never yield to wicked requests, yet their intent was the same and their guilt was none the less. God's way is perfect, and when we would have him alter it to please us, we are guilty of tempting him. The fact that we do so in vain, while it magnifies the Lord's holiness, by no means excuses our guilt. We are in most danger of this sin in times of need, for then it is that we are apt to fall into unbelief and to demand a change in those arrangements of providence which are the transcript of perfect holiness and infinite wisdom. Not to acquiesce in the will of God is virtually to tempt him to alter his plans to suit our imperfect views of how the universe should be governed. "Proved me." They put the Lord to needless tests, demanding new miracles, fresh interpositions, and renewed tokens of his presence. Do not we also peevishly require frequent signs of the Lord's love other than those which every hour supplies? Are we not prone to demand specialities, with the alternative secretly offered in our hearts, that if they do not come at our bidding we will disbelieve? True, the Lord is very condescending and frequently grants us marvelous evidences of his power, but we ought not to require them. Steady faith is due to one who is so constantly kind. After so many proofs of his love, we are ungrateful to wish to prove him again, unless it be in those ways of his own appointing in which he has said, "Prove me now." If we were forever testing the love of our wife or husband, and remained unconvinced after years of faithfulness, we should wear out the utmost human patience. Friendship only flourishes in the atmosphere of confidence; suspicion is deadly to it. Shall the Lord God, true and immutable, be day after day suspected by his own people? Will not this provoke him to anger? . . . Fickleness is bound up in the heart of man; unbelief is our besetting sin. We must forever be seeing, or we waver in our believing. This is no small offense and will bring with it no small punishment. (Charles Spurgeon)

We are perhaps not accustomed to think of unbelief or murmuring as nothing less than tempting God; and therefore, we do not attach to what is so common its just degree of heinousness. It is so natural to us to be discontented whenever God's dealings are not just what we like, to forget what has been done for us as soon as our wishes seem thwarted, and to be impatient and fretful under every new cross that we are scarcely conscious of committing a sin, and much less one more than usually aggravated. Yet we cannot be dissatisfied with God's dealings and not be virtually guilty of tempting God. It may seem a harsh definition of a slight and scarcely avoidable fault, but nevertheless it is a true definition. You cannot mistrust God and not accuse him of a lack either of power or of goodness. You cannot repine [fret], no, not even in thought, without virtually telling him that his plans are not the best nor his dispensations the wisest which he might have appointed in respect of yourselves; and thus your fear, your despondency, or your anxiety in circumstances of perplexity or peril are nothing less than the calling upon God to depart from his fixed course--a suspicion, or rather an assertion, that he might proceed in a manner more worthy of himself, and therefore a challenge to him to alter his dealings if he would prove that he possesses the attributes which he claims. You may not intend thus to accuse or to provoke God whenever you murmur; but your murmuring does all this and cannot fail to do it. You cannot be dissatisfied without virtually saying that God might order things better. You cannot say that he might order things better without virtually demanding that he change his course of acting, and give other proofs of his infinite perfections. (Henry Melvill)


"So I swore in my wrath,
' They shall not enter my rest.' "
(Ps. 95:11)

The curse was not causeless, and it did come. We have an account of its actual fulfillment in Numbers 26:64, 65. The "rest" from which they were excluded was the land of Canaan. Their lives were spent in wandering. It is termed "God's rest," as there he was to finish his work of bringing Israel into the land promised to their fathers, and fix the symbol of his presence in the midst of them--dwelling in that land in which his people were to rest from their wanderings, and to dwell in safety under his protection. It is his rest, as of his preparing (Deut. 12:9). It is his rest--rest like his, rest along with him. We are by no means warranted to conclude that all who died in the wilderness came short of everlasting happiness. It is to be feared many of them, most of them, did; but the curse denounced on them went only to their exclusion from the earthly Canaan. (John Brown)


"For Yahweh is great and greatly to be praised."
(Ps. 96:4)

He is no petty deity presiding, as the heathen imagined their gods to do, over some one nation or one department of nature. Jehovah is great in power and dominion, great in mind and act. Nothing mean or narrow can be found in him or his acts; in all things he is infinite. Praise should be proportionate to its object; therefore, let it be infinite when rendered unto the Lord. We cannot praise him too much, too often, too zealously, too carefully, too joyfully. He deserves that nothing in his worship should be little, but all the honor rendered unto him should be given in largeness of heart with the utmost zeal for his glory. (Charles Spurgeon)


"For he is coming to judge the earth."
(Ps. 96:13)

That is, to put earth in order, to be its Gideon and Samson, to be its ruler, to fulfill all that the Book of Judges delineates of a judge's office. It is, as Hengstenberg says, "a gracious judging;" not a time of mere adjudication of causes or pronouncing sentences--it is a day of jubilee. It is the happiest day our world has ever seen. Who would not long for it? Who is there that does not pray for it? It is the day of the Judge's glory, as well as of our world's freedom--the day when "the judgment of this world" (John 12:31 and 16:11), which his cross began and made sure, is completed by the total suppression of Satan's reign, and the removal of the curse. All this is anticipated here; and so we entitle this Psalm, The glory due to him who comes to judge the earth. (Andrew A. Bonar)


Psalm 97

The two preceding Psalms are songs of joy and thanksgiving, in which the gladness of Christ's people is poured forth as they go to meet their triumphant Lord at his second advent and to bring him back in glory to assume his kingdom. The present Psalm, in language sufficiently explicit, describes the completion of this great event--"the Lord reigns." Messiah is on his throne, and now the words of the second Psalm, verse 6, are fulfilled: "I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." Messiah's first act of sovereignty is judgment. Scriptures bearing upon that event are 2 Thess. 1:7; Jude 14; Isa. 66:15. The character of these judgments is given in the Psalm: clouds and darkness encircling his enemies round about; lightnings flashing upon the world, the earth trembling, and the hills melting like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. Peter, in his second Epistle and third chapter, evidently refers to these events as yet future in his day. (R. H. Ryland)


"Clouds and darkness are round about him."
(Ps. 97:2)

Every revelation of God must also be an obvelation; there must be a veiling of his infinite splendor if anything is to be seen by finite beings. It is often thus with the Lord in providence. When working out designs of unmingled love, he conceals the purpose of his grace that it may be the more clearly discovered at the end. "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing." Around the history of his church dark clouds of persecution hover, and an awful gloom at times settles down. Still the Lord is there. And though men for a while see not the bright light in the clouds, it bursts forth in due season to the confusion of the adversaries of the gospel. This passage should teach us the impertinence of attempting to pry into the essence of the Godhead, the vanity of all endeavors to understand the mystery of the Trinity in Unity, the arrogance of arraigning the Most High before the bar of human reason, the folly of dictating to the Eternal One the manner in which he should proceed. (Charles Spurgeon)


Psalm 98

A noble, spirit-stirring Psalm. It may have been written on the occasion of a great national triumph at the time; but may, perhaps, afterwards be taken up at the period of the great millennial restoration of all things. The victory here celebrated may be in prophetic vision, and that at Armageddon. Then will salvation and righteousness be openly manifested in the sight of the hostile nations. Israel will be exalted; and the blessed conjunction of mercy and truth will gladden and assure the hearts of all who at that time are Israelites indeed. Godliness will form the reigning characteristic of the whole earth. (Thomas Chalmers)

The subject of the Psalm is the praise of Jehovah. It consists of three strophes of three verses each. The first strophe shows why, the second how Jehovah is to be praised; and the third who are to praise him. (Frederick Fysh)


"For he is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness he shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity."
(Ps. 98:9)

The Psalter is much occupied in celebrating the benign fruits which Christ's reign is to yield in all the earth. It will be a reign of HOLINESS. This is its proper and distinctive nature. Under it, the ends of the earth will fear God and rejoice in his salvation. It will be a reign of JUSTICE. Under it, the wars and oppressions and cruelties, the unequal laws and iniquitous institutions that have so long vexed and cursed the world, shall find a place no more. This happy reformation is usually foretold in the form of a proclamation that the Lord is coming "to judge the earth." It is important, therefore, to keep in mind the true sense and intention of that oft-repeated proclamation. It does not refer, as an unwary reader might suppose, to the Judgment of the Great Day. There is no terror in it. The Psalms that have it for their principal burden are jubilant in the highest degree. The design of the proclamation is to announce Christ in the character of a Peaceful Prince coming to administer equal laws with an impartial hand, and so to cause wrong and contention to cease in the earth. This is Christ's manner of judging the earth.What he has already done in this direction enables us to form a clear conception of what he will yet set himself to do. When he designs to accomplish great and salutary reforms in the political and social institutions of a people, he begins by dislodging bad principles from men's minds and planting Scriptural principles in their stead; by purging evil passions from men's hearts and baptizing them with the Spirit of truth and justice, godliness and lovingkindness. A sure foundation having been thus laid for a better order of things, he will by some storm of controversy or of revolution sweep away the institutions in which injustice has entrenched itself, and will thus make it possible for righteousness to have free course. Oh what a store of comfort for the down-trodden, the enslaved, the needy is laid up in the announcement that the Lord is coming to be the avenger of all such! Well may all the creatures be invited to clap their hands for joy at the thought that he has taken this work in hand, that he sits upon the floods, and that the storms that agitate the nations are the chariot in which he rides to take possession of the earth and make it an abode of righteousness and peace. (William Binnie)


"You answered them, O Yahweh our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though you took vengeance on their deeds."
(Ps. 99:8)

The construction of the verse seems to be this: "O Lord our God, you did hear or answer them," that is, the aforementioned typical mediators Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. "You became a forbearing God for them," or, at their intercession; and that "even when punishing," or when you had begun to punish "the wicked deeds of them," that is, not of Moses, Aaron, and Samuel, but of the people who had transgressed and for whom they interceded. This was the case when Moses interceded for the idolaters (Exod. 22:32), Aaron for the schismatics (Numb. 16:47), and Samuel for the whole nation (1 Sam. 7:9). (George Horne)

It is remarkable that in the preceding verses mention is made of Moses, and Aaron, and Samuel in a way which seems to imply that they were upon the Psalmist's mind when he uttered the declaration of the text. These three persons, all eminent for their piety, were also conspicuous for having suffered the Divine displeasure on account of their failings. Moses angered the Lord at the waters of strife, and he is not suffered to enter the promised land. Aaron provoked the Divine anger by making the golden calf and would have been destroyed, had not Moses by fervent intercession turned away the anger of the Lord lest he should destroy him. So Samuel placed his sons over Israel, who walked not in his ways, and therefore God gave Israel a king, whose crimes caused the prophet to go down with sorrow to the grave. (Stephen Bridge)


"Serve Yahweh with gladness;
Come before his presence with singing."
(Ps. 100:2)

It is our privilege to serve the Lord in all things. It is ours to please the Lord in loosing the latchet of a shoe and to enjoy the expression of his favor therein. The servant of God is not serving at the same time another master. He has not been hired for occasional service. He abides in the service of his God and cannot be about anything but his Master's business. He eats, he drinks, he sleeps, he walks, he discourses, he finds recreation, all by the way of serving God. Can you bear to be waited upon by a servant who goes moping and dejected to his every task? You would rather have no servant at all than one who evidently finds your service cheerless and irksome. (George Bowen)

He is our gracious Lord, and therefore to be served with joy. The invitation to worship here given is not a melancholy one, as though adoration were a funeral solemnity, but a cheery, gladsome exhortation, as though we were bidden to a marriage feast. (Charles Spurgeon)


"I will walk within my house with a perfect heart."
(Ps. 101:2)

Piety must begin at home. Our first duties are those within our own abode. We must have a perfect heart at home or we cannot keep a perfect way abroad. Notice that these words are a part of a song, and that there is no music like the harmony of a gracious life, no Psalm so sweet as the daily practice of holiness. Reader, how fares it with your family? Do you sing in the choir and sin in the chamber? Are you a saint abroad and a devil at home? For shame! What we are at home, that we are indeed. He cannot be a good king whose palace is the haunt of vice, nor he a true saint whose habitation is a scene of strife, nor he a faithful minister whose household dreads his appearance at the fireside. (Charles Spurgeon)


"For your servants take pleasure in her stones,
And show favor to her dust."
(Ps. 102:14)

That is, they are still attached to her and regard her with extreme affection, although in ruins. Jerusalem itself affords at this day a touching illustration of this passage. There is reason to believe that a considerable portion of the lower part of the walls which enclose the present mosque of Omar (which occupies the site of the ancient Jewish temple) are the same--or at least the southern, western, and eastern sides are the same--as those of Solomon's temple. At one part, where the remains of this old wall are the most considerable and of the most massive character, is what is called the Wailing Place of the Jews. "Here," says Dr. Olin, "at the foot of the wall is an open place paved with flags, where the Jews assemble every Friday, and in small number on other days, for the purpose of praying and bewailing the desolations of their holy places. Neither the Jews nor Christians are allowed to enter the Haram, which is consecrated to Mohammedan worship, and this part of the wall is the nearest approach they can make to what they regard as the precise spot within the forbidden enclosure upon which the ancient temple stood. They keep the pavement swept with great care and take off their shoes, as on holy ground. Standing or kneeling with their faces towards the ancient wall, they gaze in silence upon its venerable stones, or pour forth their complaints in half-suppressed, though audible tones. This, to me, was always a most affecting sight, and I repeated my visit to this interesting spot to enjoy and sympathize with the melancholy yet pleasing spectacle. The poor people sometimes sobbed aloud, and still found tears to pour out for the desolations of their 'beautiful house.' 'If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.' " (Kitto's Pictorial Bible)


"Bless Yahweh, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless his holy name!"
(Ps. 103:1)

Let your conscience "bless the Lord" by unvarying fidelity. Let your judgment bless him by decisions in accordance with his word. Let your imagination bless him by pure and holy musings. Let your affections praise him by loving whatsoever he loves. Let your desires bless him by seeking only his glory. Let your memory bless him by not forgetting any of his benefits. Let your thoughts bless him by meditating on his excellencies. Let your hope praise him by longing and looking for the glory that is to be revealed. Let your every sense bless him by its fealty, your every word by its truth, and your every act by its integrity. (John Stevenson)


"Bless Yahweh, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits."
(Psalm 103:2)

Reader, have we not cause enough at this time to bless him who blesses us? Come, let us read our diaries and see if there be not choice favors recorded there for which we have rendered no grateful return. Remember how the Persian king, when he could not sleep, read the chronicles of the empire and discovered that one who had saved his life had never been rewarded. How quickly did he do him honor! The Lord has saved us with a great salvation. Shall we render no recompense? The name of ingrate is one of the most shameful that a man can wear. Surely we cannot be content to run the risk of such a brand. Let us awake then, and with intense enthusiasm bless Jehovah. (Charles Spurgeon)


"He made known his ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel."
(Ps. 103:7)

When Moses went up to Mount Sinai and tarried there with God the space of forty days, we may well think that God in that time revealed many secrets to him, and particularly "made known his ways" (Ex. 33:19); not only his ways in which he would have us to walk, but his ways in which he walks himself and the course he holds in the government of worldly affairs; why he suffers the wicked to prosper and why the godly to be oppressed. These "ways" of his he made known to Moses; to the children of Israel, only "his acts." He showed them his wonders upon Pharaoh, and that was his judgment. And he showed them his wonderful favors to themselves in the wilderness, and that was his righteousness. But he showed them not his ways and the course he held in them. They saw only the events of things; they saw not the reasons of them as Moses did. (Sir Richard Baker)


"And his kingdom rules over all."
(Ps. 103:19)

When Melancthon was extremely solicitous about the affairs of the church in his days, Luther would have him admonished in these terms, Monendus est Philippus ut desinat esse rector mundi: Let not Philip make himself any longer governor of the world. (David Clarkson)


"Who cover yourself with light as with a garment."
(Ps. 104:2)

In comparing the light with which he represents God as arrayed to "a garment," he intimates that although God is invisible, yet his glory is conspicuous enough. In respect of his essence, God undoubtedly dwells in light that is inaccessible; but as he irradiates the whole world by his splendor, this is the garment in which he, who is hidden in himself, appears in a manner visible to us. The knowledge of this truth is of the greatest importance. If men attempt to reach the infinite height to which God is exalted, although they fly above the clouds they must fail in the midst of their course. Those who seek to see him in his naked majesty are certainly very foolish. That we may enjoy the sight of him, he must come forth to view with his clothing; that is to say, we must cast our eyes upon the very beautiful fabric of the world in which he wishes to be seen by us, and not be too curious and rash in searching into his secret essence. Now, since God presents himself to us clothed with light, those who are seeking pretexts for their living without the knowledge of him cannot allege in excuse of their slothfulness that he is hidden in profound darkness. When it is said that the heavens are a curtain, it is not meant that under them God hides himself, but that by them his majesty and glory are displayed, being, as it were, his royal pavilion. (John Calvin)


"Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth."
(Ps. 104:35)

It fell to my lot some years ago to undertake a walk of some miles on a summer morning along a seashore of surpassing beauty. It was the Lord's day, and the language of the Hundred and fourth Psalm rose spontaneously in my mind as one scene after another unfolded itself before the eye. About halfway to my destination the road lay through a dirty hamlet, and my meditations were rudely interrupted by the brawling of some people who looked as if they had been spending the night in a drunken debauch. Well, I thought, the Psalmist must have had some such unpleasant experience. He must have fallen in with people located in some scene of natural beauty who, instead of being a holy priesthood to give voice to nature in praise of her Creator, instead of being in the pure and holy tenor of their lives the heavenliest note of the general song, filled it with a harsh discord. His prayer is the vehement expression of a desire that the earth may no longer be marred by the presence of wicked men; that they may be utterly consumed and may give place to men animated with the fear of God--just and holy men, men that shall be a crown of beauty on the head of their fair creation. If this be the right explanation of the Psalmist's prayer, it is not only justifiable, but there is something wrong in our meditations on nature if we are not disposed to join in it. (William Binnie)

This imprecation depends on the last clause of the 31st verse, "Let Jehovah rejoice in his works." As the wicked infect the world with their pollutions, the consequence is that God has less delight in his own workmanship, and is even almost displeased with it. It is impossible but that this uncleanness, which, being extended and diffused through every part of the world vitiates and corrupts such a noble product of his hands, must be offensive to him. Since then the wicked, by their perverse abuse of God's gifts, cause the world in a manner to degenerate and fall away from its first original, the prophet justly desires that they may be exterminated until the race of them entirely fails. Let us, then, take care so to weigh the providence of God, as that being wholly devoted to obeying him, we may rightly and purely use the benefits which he sanctifies for our enjoying them. Further, let us be grieved that such precious treasures are wickedly squandered away, and let us regard it as monstrous and detestable that men not only forget their Maker, but also, as it were, purposely turn to a perverse and an unworthy end, whatever good things he has bestowed upon them. (John Calvin)


"Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of Yahweh tested him."
(Ps. 105:19)

This verse forms the key to the whole meaning of Joseph's mysterious trial, and at the same time illustrates a deep mystery in the spiritual life of man. By "the word of the Lord" that "tried him," the Psalmist evidently refers to the dreams of his future destiny which were sent to Joseph from God; and in saying that they tried him "until his word came," he evidently means that his faith in those promises was tested by his long imprisonment, until the day of his deliverance dawned. Consider for a moment his position and you will see the purpose of that trial. A youth educated amidst all the quiet simplicity of the early patriarchal life, he was haunted by dream-visions of a mighty destiny. Those visions were mysteriously foretelling his government in Egypt, and the blessings which his wise and just rule would confer on the land; but while unable to comprehend them, he yet believed that they were voices of the future, and promises of God. But the quietude of that shepherd life was not the preparation for the fulfillment of his promised destiny. The education that would form the man who could withstand, firmly, the temptations of Egyptian life with its cities and civilization, the education that would form the ruler whose clear eye should judge between the good and the evil and discern the course of safety in the hour of a nation's peril--all this was not to be gained under the shadow of his father's tent. It must come through trial, and through trial arising from the very promise of God in which he believed. Hence, a great and startling change crossed his life that seemed to forbid the fulfillment of that dream-promise and tempted him to doubt its truth. Sold into Egypt as a slave, cast into prison through his fidelity to God, the word of the Lord most powerfully tried his soul. In the gloom of that imprisonment it was most hard to believe in God's faithfulness, when his affliction had risen from his obedience, and most hard to keep the promise clearly before him, when his mighty trouble would perpetually tempt him to regard it as an idle dream. But through the temptation he gained the strong trust which the pomp and glory of the Egyptian court would have no power to destroy. And when the word of deliverance came, the man came forth strong through trial to fulfill his glorious destiny of ruling Egypt in the name of God, and securing for it the blessings of heaven. Thus his trial by the word of the Lord--his temptation to doubt its truth--was a divine discipline preparing him for the fulfillment of the promise. (Edward Luscombe Hull, in "Sermons Preached at King's Lynn," 1867)


"He turned their heart to hate his people."
(Ps. 105:25)

Not by putting this wicked hatred into them, which is not consistent either with the holiness of God's nature or with the truth of his word, and which was altogether unnecessary because they had that and all other wickedness in them by nature; but partly, by withdrawing the common gifts and operations of his Spirit, and all the restraints and hindrances to it, and wholly leaving them to their own mistakes, and passions, and corrupt affections, which of their own accord were ready to take that course; and partly, by directing and governing that hatred, which was wholly in and from themselves, so as it should fall upon the Israelites rather than upon other people. (Matthew Poole)


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