COMMENTARY
ON
THE BOOK OF PSALMS

BY JOHN CALVIN


TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL LATIN, AND COLLATED
WITH THE AUTHOR'S FRENCH VERSION,
BY THE REV. JAMES ANDERSON


VOLUME FIRST


CHRISTIAN CLASSICS ETHEREAL LIBRARY
GRAND RAPIDS, MI
http://www.ccel.org
INTRODUCTORY NOTICE
The Book Of Psalms, viewed merely as a poetical composition, has very high claims on our attention. Men of the most refined and cultivated taste have often been attracted to the study of it from the poetical beauties with which it abounds, and have admitted, in this respect, the superiority of its claims. The greatest of our English poets fa1 thus speaks of these sacred songs:"Not in their divine argument alone, but in the very critical art of composition, they may be easily made appear over all the kinds of lyric poesy to be incomparable." Another elegant scholar fa2 speaking on the same subject, says, "In lyric flow and fire, in crushing force and majesty, that seems still to echo the awful sounds once heard beneath the thunder clouds of Sinai, the poetry of the ancient Scriptures is the most superb that ever burned within the breast of man."
But the intrinsic excellence of this Book gives it still higher claims on our attention. written under the influence of the Spirit of inspiration, its subject-matter is worthy of its celestial origin. In general, it contains details of the national history of the Jewish people, records of particular portions of the life and experience of individuals, and predictions of future events. Each of these heads embraces a wide field, and they include illustrations of every religions truth which it is necessary for us to know, exemplifications of every devout feeling which it is our duty to cherish, and examples of every spiritual conflict which it is possible for us to experience. We meet with many disclosures of the greatness, majesty, and perfections of the only true God; his government of the world; and his special care over his chosen people. We meet with the varied exercises of the regenerated soul, and behold it at one time offering up fervent supplications to the Hearer of prayer, at another celebrating his perfections and works; at one time giving utterance to the ardent breathings of love to God, and trust in him, at another struggling with unbelief and corruption; at one time mourning under the divine chastisement on account of sin, at another rejoicing in a sense of forgiving mercy, and enjoying the peace which passeth all understanding. We have presented to us many wonderful predictions concerning the Messiah, his humiliation, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension to his Fatherright hand; his work in heaven as the intercessor of his people, and his authority as universal King; the effusion of the influences of the Holy Spirit, and the conversion of all nations to the faith of the Gospel. In short, we have unfolded to our view the final judgment, the gathering of all the righteous to God, and the eternal exclusion of the wicked from happiness and from hope.
These and similar topics which are set forth in the noblest strains of poetry, and in a diction whose magnificence and sublimity correspond to the importance and grandeur of the sentiments, constitute the materials of this Book; and while they afford an incontestable proof that it Is inspired, that it does not consist of the creations of mere human genius, but is an emanation from heaven, they show that its character and tendency are altogether different from the character and tendency of the most admired poetry, which the genius of heathen nations has ever produced. It ministers to no depraved passion; it fosters no fictitious virtue; it disdains to offer its delicious incense at the shrine of degrading superstition. It teaches the most exalted piety, and the purest morality. It tends only to refine and exalt the nature of man, to elevate the soul to God, and inspire it with the admiration and love of his character, to curb the passions, purify the affections, and excite to the cultivation of whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. It has guided the saint in doubt and difficulty; it has nerved him for self-denial and suffering; it has imparted support and comfort to him in the hour of death. This Book has accordingly been highly appreciated by the best of men in every age, and they have labored to find expressions in which to set forth its excellence. Athanasius styles it, "An epitome of the whole Scriptures;" Basil, "A compendium of all theology;" Luther, "A little Bible, and the summary of the Old Testament;" Melancthon, "The most elegant work extant in the world;" and for Calvin's estimate of its value we refer to the excellent preface with which he introduces this department of his labors to the attention of the reader.
Calvin's Commentary On The Psalms, a new Translation of which is now in course of being presented to the English reader, is distinguished by many of the excellencies which have acquired for his Commentaries on other parts of Scripture so great reputation. In this, as in his other Commentaries, his first and great object is to ascertain the mind of the Holy Spirit. To ascertain this, he proceeds on the principle laid down by Melancthon, "that Scripture cannot be understood theologically, unless it be first understood grammatically." Before his time the mystical and allegorical method of explaining the Scriptures was very prevalent; according to which, the interpreter, dwelling very little or not at all upon the literal sense, sought for hidden and allegorical meanings. But rejecting this mode of interpretation, which contributed little to the right understanding of the word of God, and according to which the meaning was made to depend entirely upon the fancy of the interpreter, Calvin set himself to the investigation of the grammatical and literal sense, by a careful examination of the Hebrew test, and by a diligent attention to the drift and intention of the writer's discourse.
This principle of interpretation cannot be too highly commended. It should first engage the attention of the commentator; and when it is neglected, the fundamental principle of sacred criticism is violated. Calvin was deeply alive to its importance. His only defect lies in his acting upon it too exclusively. Many of the Psalms, in addition to the literal meaning, have a prophetical, evangelical, and spiritual sense. While referring primarily to David and the nation of Israel, they have, at the same time, a reference to Christ and the New Testament Church, founded on the fact that the former were typical of the latter. Calvin, indeed, explains some of the Psalms on this principle. But he applies the principle less frequently than he might have done, without contravening the canons of sound hermeneutics. His great aversion to the mystical method of interpretation, and to the absurd and extravagant lengths to which it was carried by the Fathers, perhaps made him err on the other extreme of confining his attention too much to the literal meanings and directing his attention too little to the prophetical and spiritual character of the Book, and to the reference which it has to Christ and the Church. In consequence of this, his expositions have less unction, and contain less of rich evangelical sentiment, than would otherwise have distinguished them. There are, however, two principles of evangelical truth which he is at pains to inculcates whenever a fit opportunity presents itself —the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ without the works of the Law; and the necessity of personal holiness in order to salvation.
Another excellence of this commentary is its practical character. The author does not confine himself to the dry and lifeless detail of mere grammatical praxis, as if he had been commenting on a Greek or Roman classic. He turns all his explanations to practical account, and thus his work exhibits a happy combination of critical and philological remark with practical exposition.
Here, again, we find displayed the sound and penetrating judgment for which Calvin has been universally admired. This is manifest in the judicious selection which he makes from amongst a variety of interpretations of that which is evidently the true one, or which appears to be the most probable. Sometimes he pronounces a certain interpretation to be meagre and unsatisfactory. At other times, he simply states hit preference of one interpretation to another, when, after careful examinations it appeared to him to have the balance of arguments in its favor; without, however, expressing any decided opposition to the other, when the view which he preferred to it was supported only bit a slight preponderance of evidence. At other times, he does not decide between different interpretations, showing that with respect to certain words and expressions he had not come to a fixed opinion. In all these instances, fa3 he generally shows much penetration and judgment. He is, no doubt, sometimes mistaken in his interpretation of particular passages. But when it is considered that the Scriptures had long been a sealed book, and that his helps were few and imperfect compared with those which we now possess, the wonder is, that he should have succeeded so well in bringing out their true meaning. This was chiefly owing to vigor and acuteness of intellects combined with a sound and discriminating judgment. These, indeed, were the mental qualities by which he was peculiarly distinguished. We meet with no flashes of poetry, no brilliant coruscation of fancy, giving evidence of a powerful imagination. The eloquent passages which occur are the eloquence of reason, not the bursts of imagination. But his strength of thought, the vigor and perspicacity of his intellect, the extraordinary power of his judgment, command our willing admiration.
Since this commentary was first published, a great number of Translations of The Psalms, as well as numerous critical and explanatory works upon them, have made their appearance, while much new light has been thrown upon many passages from more extensive philological research, from an attention to the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, fa4 and from the fuller information which we now possess, by the discoveries of modern travelers, of the natural history, customs, and mannered of the East, to which frequent allusion is made in The Psalms. But such id the acuteness of judgment, and success in discovering the mind of the Spirit which distinguish these prelections, that they are not superseded by any modern Commentary on the same subject:and though it is nearly three centuries since they were written, there are few separate works on The Psalms from which the student of the present day, who wishes critically to examine them, will derive more important assistance.
Nor is Calvin's impartiality and integrity as an interpreter less apparent in this Work than his judgment. It being his first and leading object to ascertain the mind of the Holy Spirit, he came to the Word of God not for the purpose of finding arguments to establish some preconceived opinion or theory, but in the humble character of a learner, and we never find him perverting or twisting a passage to support even those doctrines which he most deeply cherished. So far from doing this, he not infrequently gives up a text which has been explained by other commentators as a proof of some important doctrine, and which he would have viewed in the same light had it not been for his aversion to put on Scripture a forced construction, and his determination rigidly to adhere to the principles of fair and logical interpretation. For example, these words in <190207>Psalm 2:7,
"Jehovah hath said unto me,
Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,"
have been quoted by Augustine and many other eminent divines, in proof of the eternal generation of the Son of God. But as Paul, in <441333>Acts 13:33, explains them as receiving their fulfillment in the resurrection of Christ, Calvin sets them aside from the class of proofs which support the doctrine of an eternal generation, although he held that doctrine, fa5 and considers them as referring merely to the manifestation afforded of Christ's Sonship by his resurrection from the dead. fa6 Again, <190805>Psalm 8:5, etc.,
"Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and hast crowned him with glory and honor," etc.,
has been often explained as prophetic of the temporary humiliation and subsequent exaltation of Christ, an opinion which is supported by reasons far from contemptible; but Calvin, judging from the scope of the passage, considers it as exclusively referring to man, and that when Paul quotes it in <580207>Hebrews 2:7, and applies it to Christ, he applies it to him only by way of accommodation. fa7 Again, these words in <193306>Psalm 33:6,
"By the word of Jehovah were the heavens established, and all the host of them by the spirit of his mouth,"
have been viewed by many judicious divines as a proof of the Trinity, "Jehovah," denoting the Father, "the word of Jehovah," the Son, and "the spirit of Jehovah's mouth," the Holy Spirit; but while Calvin admits that the "word of Jehovah" means the Eternal Word, the only begotten Son of God, yet reasoning from the sense which the phrase, "the spirit of Jehovah's mouth," ordinarily bears in Scripture, he argues that it does not there mean the third person of the adorable Trinity, but simply sermo, speech, although there were no truths which he held more firmly, and regarded as more essential to the Christian system, than the doctrines of the Trinity and of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. fa8 "It is very possible," says Tholuck, "that in following this direction of mind, he may have unnecessarily sacrificed this and the other proof text; still the principle upon which he proceeded is in all cases to be approved." This commentary, again, bears evident marks of the learning of its author. His intimate acquaintance with the Hebrew language, the knowledge of which is of so much importance to the interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures, is everywhere apparent. Father Simon, whom the acrimony of controversy led to indulge too much in depreciating and abusing those who differed from him, asserts, indeed, that Calvin was so ignorant of the Hebrew language, that he knew nothing more than the letters. But we have only to examine his Commentary on The Psalms, not to speak of his Commentaries on other parts of the Old Testament, to be convinced that his knowledge of the Hebrew language was accurate and minute, considering the age in which he lived He frequently enters into a critical examination of the original text, and manifests by his philological remarks, brief though they be, an intimate acquaintance with that language; arriving, in his interpretations, at the same results to which a more profound exegesis and a more minute attention to philology have conducted modern critics. Often, when he does not professedly criticise the Hebrew text, or make his statements in the form of criticisms the Hebrew scholar will perceive that his remarks are founded upon a close attention to the strict meaning of the Hebrew words, and that he frequently states their precise import with much force, felicity, and delicacy of expression. Nor is proof wanting, from this Commentary, that Calvin had traveled over the whole field of knowledge, in so far as it had been explored in his day. From ancient and modern systems of philosophy, from civil and ecclesiastical history, as well as from the Greek and Roman classical he draws materials, and shows how he could employ with ease and power, and yet without the least ostentation or pedantry, his varied acquisitions for the illustration of sacred truth.
In short this Work is pervaded by earnest piety and much Christian experience. Its whole tone evinces it to be the fruit of a soul which felt the deep workings of piety; of a Soul in which the love of God was extreme, which sought its rest and happiness in him alone, which recognised his hand and providence in every event, which confided in him in all circumstances, which looked to him as a Father and a friend for every blessing, and which, in all its powers, was consecrated with entire devotedness to Christ and the Gospel. It everywhere, too, bespeaks the man of large religious experience. Whether the author comments on the plaintive songs in which grief pours forth its bitterness, or on the triumphant and joyful songs in which the perfections and providence of God, individual and national deliverances are celebrated; whether he speaks of David's religious exercises, or of the trials of his life, or of his inward conflicts, we perceive a mind which had itself experienced much of what it illustrates. This experience eminently qualified Calvin to be an interpreter of The Psalms. Placed often in circumstances similar to those of David, as he graphically describes in his Preface, he was thus enabled accurately to conceive of David's train of thinking, to see things as it were with his eyes, to trace the complexion and character of his feelings, and thus to portray them in so just and natural a manner, that we are almost ready to think, in perusing the description of them, that they are described by David himself.
This Work has been translated from the original Latin, and collated with the French version, which was written by the author himself. The French edition which has been used, and which was doubtless the last corrected under the author's eye, was printed in 1563, and is described on the title-page as "So carefully revised, and so faithfully compared with the Latin version, that it may be considered a new translation." While the Translator has made the Latin version his text book, he has throughout carefully collated it with the French version, by which he has been greatly aided in giving a clearer and fuller representation of his author's meaning. The French version having made its appearance after the Latin, and being written in Calvin's native tongue, in which he might be expected to write with greater ease than in a dead language, admired though his Latin works are for the purity of their classic diction, it contains numerous expansions of thought and expression, by which he removes the occasional obscurities of the Latin version, which is written in a style more compressed and concise. Sometimes, though not often, we meet with a complete sentence in the French version which is not to be found in the Latin; but the cases are of frequent occurrence, in which, by inserting into the French version a clause at the beginning, the middle, or the end of a sentence, which does not occur in the Latin, he explains what is obscure in the latter version, or introduces a new thought or expresses his meaning with greater clearness and with greater copiousness of language. These additional clauses the Translator has introduced into the text in their Proper place, and indicated them by adding the original French in the form of notes at the foot of the page. He, however, sometimes translates from the French version where it seems fuller and more perspicuous than the Latin, without indicating this by foot-notes. In a few instances, where the expression in the two versions is different, he has given the expression of both, retaining that of the Latin version in the texts and transferring that of the French to the foot of the page.
With respect to the principle on which he has proceeded in the task of translating, it is sufficient simply to state, that he has endeavored to express the meaning of his author in language as true to the original as possible, avoiding being too literal on the one hand, and too loose on the other; as this, in his apprehension, is the method by which a translator can best succeed in faithfully representing to the reader the sense as well as the style and manner of his author.
Calvin's version of the Sacred Text has been given in preference to that of our English Bible, as this was necessary to the clear understanding of his illustrations. The two versions, however, nearly resemble each other:often our English version is an accurate translation of Calvin's, at other times the marginal readings which are in some of our English Bibles. He, however, not infrequently differs from both; and in some instances, though not in all, where he does differ, his translation appears to be superior in accuracy, and places the sentiment of the original in a clearer light, and with greater effect than is done in our English version. The Scriptural quotations which he makes have been given in the words of our English Bible, except in those cases in which his argument required his own translation of the passage to be retained.
This Work was translated into English some years after its first appearance by Arthur Golding, whose translation was published at London in 1571. Arthur Golding, who was of a gentleman's family and a native of London, was one of the most distinguished translators of the Roman classics in the age of Queen Elizabeth, when the translation of these valuable works of antiquity into the English language employed every pen. He translated Justin's History, Caesar's Commentaries, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Seneca's Benefits, and other classic authors; as well as various modern French and Latin works, among which are a number of Calvin's writings, besides The Psalms. His only original work appears to have been, "A Discourse upon the Earthquake that happened through the Realme of Englande, and other places of Christendom, the sixt of Aprill 1580," published in 16mo. "It is to be regretted," says Warton, "that he gave so much of his time to translation." fa9 Golding was no doubt a good classical scholar, and well acquainted with the style of Calvin; but as his translation was executed nearly three hundred years ago, it every where abounds with words and phrases which are become antiquated and obsolete, from the great change which the English language has undergone since that period. Being on this account frequently very obscure, often unintelligible, it fails in giving a just representation to an English reader of the present day of Calvin's work, and leads him to form a less favorable estimate of its value than is due to its high merits. Besides, Golding does not appear to have seen the French version, which affords to a translator so much assistance in the faithful representation of Calvin's meaning.
With respect to the Notes with which this Translation is accompanied, they are intended to enable the reader clearly to understand the meaning of such of Calvin's philological remarks and criticisms as are obscure, from the brevity with which they are stated; or to exhibit Calvin's merits as a commentator, by showing how frequently his interpretations are adopted and supported by the most eminent Biblical critics, or to illustrate the Sacred Text, by showing the precise meaning of the Hebrew words, or by explaining some portion of natural history, or some eastern custom or manner to which there is an allusion. The ancient versions afford important assistance in the explanation of difficult passages, and their rendering of particular texts has been occasionally given when this contributes to elucidate them, or to throw light on Calvin's observations. Of these versions the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and Jerome's, are the only ones which he appears to have consulted, and to the first he frequently refers.
As the Translations of The Calvin Society are intended for the whole Christian community, it has been deemed out of place to enter upon theological questions on which difference of opinion exists among the various denominations of the Christian community. In making these Notes, the Editor has often compared Calvin's translation of the Sacred Text with the original Hebrew, and with the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Jerome's versions. He has also consulted a considerable number of critical works on The Psalms by some of the most eminent Biblical scholars who have written on this book, either as a separate undertaking, or in common with the other books of Scripture. Of the rich stores of erudition thus supplied he has freely made use; as in the course of the work he has carefully marked his authorities, as this will give greater weight to his statements. Many of the authors who are quoted were men of distinguished learning, judgment, and piety, possessed a profound acquaintance with the Hebrew language, and had devoted years of laborious study to the investigation of the meaning of this sacred book; and it is wonderful to find how closely the results of Calvin's investigations, even on the most difficult passages harmonise with the results to which modern critics guided by the principles of accurate hermeneutics, have arrived. This has often forced itself upon the attention of the Editor, and the more he has compared Calvin's criticisms and interpretations with the labors of these learned men, the higher has been raised his admiration of the ingenuity, penetration, learning, and critical acumen of this great commentator. Not a few, indeed, of the most beautiful interpretations which are to be found in Commentaries and critical works were first given forth by Calvin, although the source in which they originated has been forgotten. It may here be stated that the examination of the philology of the Sacred Text, and of critical works on the subject, has led the Editor to observe how closely Calvin often adheres in his interpretations to the import of the original Hebrew, and enabled him in many cases in the course of the translation to represent the meaning of his author more correctly than he could otherwise have done as well as to avoid mistakes into which Golding has sometimes fallen, evidently from his not being acquainted with the philology of the passage, or the criticism which Calvin briefly states or refers took and which it is difficult for the reader clearly to understand, unless he find it more fully stated in some other critical work.
The Editor has to express his obligations to two of his friends who materially aided in the preparation of the latter part of this volume,—the late Revelation Alexander Duncan, A.M., formerly of Dundee, and the Revelation James M'lean, whose able translation of several of the Psalms left him little more to do than the labor of revision and annotation. The Editor and the Society have also been much indebted to the Revelation Thomas M'crie, Professor of Divinity, Edinburgh, not only in general for the benefit of his experience, but also for the trouble he has taken in examining the sheets of this Volume while passing through the press, and for many important suggestions. The Editor has great satisfaction in thus publicly acknowledging his obligations.
A facsimile of the Title-Page of the French version which we have used, and of the title-page of Arthur Golding's translation, together with his Dedication, are prefixed to this Volume.
It remains only to be added, that the last Volume will contain copious Indices of the principal matters contained in the Commentary and Notes, of the passages of Scripture more or less illustrated, and of the Hebrew words referred to or explained.
J. A.
Edinburgh, June 1845.
[IT has been thought proper to preserve The Dedication which is prefixed to the English Translation by Arthur Golding in the original orthography. Besides affording a vivid idea of the style and phraseology of this Translator, the slightest inspection of this singular composition will demonstrate how very unsuitable the publication of such a version would have been for general use in these times.
The only liberty which has been taken in reprinting this Dedication, is in reference to the supplying of modern punctuation, and the division of it into paragraphs; but in other respects it is given verbatim et literatim. There is only one paragraph in the whole of Golding's Dedication. It is dated 20th October 1571.
Golding's version of Calvin's Commentary On The Psalms is throughout equally obscure and quaint; and it may justly be characterised as being wholly unfit for the perusal of all classes of readers of the present day, who do not happen to be minutely acquainted with the language and idiom of the sixteenth century its most uncouth and repulsive form.]
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY
[PREFIXED TO THE ORIGINAL TRANSLAT10N, 1571.]
To The Right Honorably And Verie Good Lord,
EDWARD DE VERE, ERLE OF OXINFORD,
Lord Great Chamberlain Of England, Vicount Bulbecke, Etc. Fa10
ARTHUR GOLDING
Wisheth Increace Of Godly Knowldge,
With Health, Honour, And Prosperitie.
IT may, peraduenture, be thought in respect of the matter wherof this woork treateth, that it ought rather to haue bin dedicated to som of my very good Lords, the Lords Spirituall, or to some of the Clergie, all to whom such things seeme to perteine more peculiarly, by reason of theyr charge and calling. Which opinions as I purpose not to encounter, but rather most willingly submit my selfe and my doings to the iudgement and reformation of such reuerend Fathers and learned men, as God hath put ill trust with the care of his flock, and the charge of his Church within this Realms euen so forasmuch as the things which the Holy Ghost vttereth in the Sacred Scriptures belong indifferently unto all men, of what estate, degrees sex, age, or calling, so euer they be, without exception:I haue at this time set all other respects and considerations aside, and only had an eye to my dutie towards your Lordship.
And bicause my continuall troubles and sutes in the Lawe (as yit vnended after more than three yeeres trauel) haue bereft mee of the greatest part of my timer, so as I could not dispatch things with such expedition as otherwise I might haue done; my care and indeuer hath bin too recompence mine ouerlong silence with goodnes of matter, that might redound to the furtherance of our Christen common weale, and also be meete for your Lordship too looke vpon. But you, perchaunce, according too the noble courage and disposition of your yeeres, doo looke I should presente vntoo you some Historie of the Conquestes and affaires of mightie Princes, some treatise of the government of common weales, some description of the platte of the whole Earth, or some discourse of chiualrie and feates of Armes. These things are, in deede, meete studies for a noble manne, and in their season right necessary for the common welth; but as nowe I present vntoo your honor muche greater things that is, to wit, true Religyon, true Godlynesse, true Vertue, wythout the whych, neyther force, policie, nor freend ship, are of any value, neyther can any common weale any Cities any householde, or any company, bee wel gouerned, or haue any stable and long continuance. These be the things wherin your Lordship may do God, your Prince, and your Cuntrie, best seruice, and which do giue true nobilitie, or rather are the very nobilitie it self.
The greater that you are of birth and calling, the more doo these things belong vnto you. The greater gifts of Nature, the mo graces of mind, the mo worldly benefites that God hath bestowed vppon you, the more are you bound to be thankful vnto him. But thankful you cannot bee without the true knoweledge of him, neyther can you know him rightly but by his woord. For his sword is the lanterne of your feete, and the light of your steppes. Whosoeuer walked without it, walketh but in darkenesse, though he were otherwise as sharpe sighted as Linceus or Argus, and had all the sciences artes, conning, eloquence, and wisedome of the worlde. No sound and substantiall truthe is too bee founde any where els saue onely there. And, therfore, the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of Moyses, willeth you that the lawe of God (that is to say, his word and doctrine) shoulde not departe from your mouth, but that you should bynde it about your wrists, imbroyder it vpon your garments ingraue it vpon the postes of your house, and write it in the tables of your hart. And Dauid, speaking by the same spirite, exhorteth you by his owne example to set your whole delight in it, too occupy your selfe in it day and night, too lay it vp in your hart, too set more store by it than by riches, to be mindeful of it, to make it your counsayler, to stick too it, too talke of it afore Kings and greate men, to loue it, too make your songs of it, to remember it night and day, too count it sweeter than Hony, too take it as an heritage, and too make it the ioy of your hart. Neyther is it without cause that GOD calleth so ofte vppon Magistrates and noble men by name, that they should be diligent in his worde. For looke how muche the greater burthen and charge lyeth vpon their shoulders and the greater accounte they haue to make afore him; so muche the greater wisedome and knoweledge haue they need of, which are not to be atteyned elsewhere than in his lawe. I beseeche your Lordship consider how God hath placed you vpon a high stage in the eyes of all men, as a guide, patterne, insample, and leader vnto others if your vertues be vncounterfayted, if your religion be sound and pure, if your doings be according to true godliness you shalbe a stay to your cuntrie, a comforte too good men, a bridle too euil men, a ioy too your freends, a corzie too your enemies, and an increace of honor to your owne house. But if you should become eyther a counterfayt Protestant, or a peruerse Papist, or a colde and carelesse newter, (which God forbid,) the harme could not be expressed which you should do to your natiue Cuntrie. For (as Cicero, no lesse truely than wisely affirmeth, and as the sorrowfull dooings of our Present dayes do too certeinly auouch) greate men hurt not the common weale so much by beeing euil in respect of themselues, as by drawing others vnto euil by their euil example. I assure your Lordshippe I write not these things as though I suspected you to be digressed from that soundnes and sinceritie wherein you were continually trayned and traded vnder that vigilant Vlisses of our common welth, sometyme your Lordship's carefull Chyron or Phoenix, and nowe your faithful Patroclus, or as though I mistrusted your Lordship to be degenerated from the excellent towardnes, which by foreward proof hath giuen glad foretokens, and (I trust also) luckye hansels of an honorable age too ensue; but bycause the loue that I owe to God and his religion, the care that I haue of the church and my natiue cuntrie, the dutie wherin Nature hath bound mee to your Lordship, and (which is an occasion too make all good and honest men look about them) the perilousnes of this present time, wherin all meanes possible are practiced to ouerthrowe Christe's kingdom and to abolishe all faithfullnes from among men, make mee to feare and forecast, not so much what is true, as what may bee noysome and hurtful; and, therfore, I seek rather too profite by wholesome admonition, than to delight by pleasant speeches. These be no dayes of daliance; for Sathan, the workmaster of all mischeef, being greued that his own king dome draweth to an end, not onely goeth about like a roring Lyon too deuoure folke by open force, but also like a slie Serpent setteth snares and pitfalles innumerable, to intrap men and bring them to destruction by policie laying wayt for all men, but specially for such as are of high estate, as who alwayes carye greatest nombers with them which waye so euer they incline. Hee turneth himselfe intoo mo shapes than euer did Proteus:and suche as himselfe is, suche are his ministers. First and foremost the obstinate and stubborneharted Papistes, the sworne enemies of God, the pestilent poyson of mankinde, and the very welsprings of all error, hipocrisie, and vngraciousnes, (who, while they beare sway, bee more cruel than Beares, Wolues, and Tigres; and when they bee kept vnder, more deceitfull than Cerastes and Crocodyles; and at all times more mischeuous than the Diuel himselfe,) labor with tooth and nayle too winde their owne trash into credit with all men, and to bring the heauenly doctrine of the Gospel in hatred.
Ageine, the Atheistes, which say in their hartes there is no God; and the Epicures, which depriue God of his prouidence in gouerning the world, as though hee eyther vnderstoode not what is doone vppon Earth, or els cared not for mennes affaires:seeke they not by all meanes possible too weede all Religion, all feare of God, all remorse of conscience out of mennes harts? Out of these rootes spring other impes, no lesse perniciouse than the stockes of whiche they come, men of all Religions, Shippemen that canne sayle with all wethers, Carpenters that can hewe with bothe handes, Laddes that canne holde with the Hare and hunt with the Hounde, and (as the Scripture termeth them) time-seruers and menpleasers. Of which torte be the picthank Preests of Hammon, who, with the venemouse blaste of their filthie flattery, corrupt the wel instructed mindes of our Alexranders, (that is to say, of our noble men,) by bearing them in hand, that they bee the sonnes of Iupiter, add making them beleeue themselues too bee Gods, yea, sometimes before they be scarce men. These, after the maner of Panthers and Mermaides, astonne the senses with a deadly sweetnes, and work destruction by delighting. Moreouer, to the further withdrawing of men's minds from the estimation of the sound Religion, it falleth out that euen in the outward face of the Church there be many Hipocrites, many looce liuers, many Sectaries, and many wranglers, whiche pretending the countenance of Chryste's flock, but beeing in deede the Deuil's hirelings, confessing GOD with their mouth, but denying him in their works, cause his holy, pure, and reuerend doctrine to bee slaundered and ill-spoken of among the Gentiles, (that is, too wit, among the Papist and worldlings,) and so alienate men from Christ.
The ignorant sort also deeming things vntowardly by the outward shew, charge the Gospell with the faultes of men, which it reprooueth and bringeth too lyght, as who would Say, that hee whiche bewrayeth a Murtherer, or rebuketh an Adulterer, were too bee counted an offender in the same caces, bicause hee discouereth their wickednesse, too the intent too haue it punished or redressed. And these are stumbling-blocks common to all sortes of men; but more peculiar to great menne are those that I spake of in the third place, and also these ensuing, namely, noblenesse of birth, renowne of Aunceters, fauor of their Prince, freendship of their peeres, awe of their inferiours, great alyances, greate retinewes depending vpon them, libertie aboue the common rate, welth, honor, riches, ease, sumptuouse fare, costly apparel, gorgeouse buildings, attendaunce of seruants, and suche other like, whiche as they bee the singuler good giftes and benefites of God bestowed vpon them for their comfort, to the end they should the more loue him and imbrace his truthe:so Sathan abusing the infirmitie and corruption of man's nature, dooth in many menne wrest them all too a contrary ende, namely, too the proude contempt and impugning, or at leastwise to the carelesse neglecting of God's true Religion and seruice.
As for the fraylnesse of youth it self, the open manaces and priuie practizes of Antichrist, the common hatred and disdeine of the Worlde ageinst the sincere worshippers of God, the hardnesse and aduersities which they endure in this life, and infinite other by matters whiche are no small hinderances too the proceeding of the Gospel, I wil not stand too intreat of them. For doubtlesse, although Antichrist were abolished although Sathan were a sleepe, although the world were at one with vs. although wicked counsel were vtterly put too silence, although no euil example were giuen vs. although no outwarde stumbling-blocke were cast in our waye; yit haue wee one thing in our selues and of our selues, (euen originall sinne, concupiscence, or lust,) which neuer ceaseth too egge vs and allure vs from God, and too staine vs with all kinde of vnclennes, according as Sainct Iames sayth:Every man is tempted of his owne lust. This is the breth of the venemouse Cockatrice which hath infected the whole offspring of Adam. This is the sting of that olde Serpent whose wounds neither Chyron, Aesculupius, nor Apollo, can heale, no, nor any wight in Heauen or Earth, saue onely God. This is the bitter fountaine Exampeus, which with his brackishnesse marreth the sweete Riuer Hipanis, that is to say, the flowing streame of all God's graces, benefited and gifts in vs.
Good cause haue we therfore to bee forewarned and continually admonished to beware of the mischeef that is armed with so many weapons and policies to anoy:specially considering how the operation therof is to slea both bodie and soule, and to drown them togither in to endles damnation. For this I dare be bolde to say vpon the warrant of assured truthe, that whosoeuer is but lightly blasted with the poyson of Papistrie, is the vnapter to all the duties of true vertue and godlines, like as a Cripple or lame man is the vnmeeter and vnabler for the affaires of this life. But as for him that is throughly saped in it, and hathe digested it into his bowels, and hath setled the roots of it in the bottome of his hart; depending vpon the Antichrist of Rome as vpon the mouth of God, He can neyther be the faithful seruant of God, nor a hartie Subiect too his Prince, nor a good and sound member of the common welth, vntill hee haue done as the Snake dooth when he commeth to engender with the Lamprey.
For the better manifestation of all the which things I besech your good Lordship to peruse this present books, which doubtlesse, for the exceellency therof, not onely deserueth more singular commendation than man's wit is able to yeeld, but also is worthy too be had continually in all mennes hands, or rather too bee printed in their hartes. For if you haue an eye too the Authors, it was written by Prophets, Preestes, and Kinges, inspired with the Holye Ghost, the fountaine of an vnderstanding, wysedom, and truth, and auouched onto vs by Christie the Sonne of the euellasting God. Or if you haue an eye to the matter, it conteineth a treatise of the Doctrine of lyfe and euerlasting Saluation, the particulars wherof are as many as are the points of true Religion and holinesse to Godward, or the points of faithfull meening and honest dealing too manward. And these things are common to it with the residue of holy Scripture.
The thing that is peculiar to it, is the maner of the handling of the matters wherof it treateth. For whereas other partes of holy writ (whither they be historicall, morall, iudiciall, ceremoniall, or propheticall) do commonly set down their treatises in open and plaine declarations; this parte consisting of them all, wrappeth vp things in types and figures, describing them finder borowed personages, and oftentimes winding in matters by preuention, speaking of thinges too come as if they were past or present, and of things past as if they were in dooing, and euery man is made a bewrayer of the secretes of his owne hart. And forasmuche as it consisteth cheefly of prayer and thanksgiving, or (which comprehendeth them bothe) of inuocation, whiche is a communication with God, and requireth rather an earnest and deuout lifting vp of the minde, than a loud or curious vtterance of the voice:there be many vnperfect sentences, many broken speeches, and many displaced words, according as the voice of the partie that prayed was eyther preuented with the swiftnesse of his thoughtes, or interrupted with vehemency of ioy or greef, or forced to surcease through infirmities that hee might recouer newe strength and cheerfulnesse, by interminding God's former promises and benefites. Notwithstanding, the obscuritie of those places is not so great but that it may be easely ouercome, by such as, when they pray, doo vtterly sequester their mindes from all earthly imaginations and fleshly conceits, and after a sort forsaking their bodies for the time, do mount vppe aboue the world by faith, and present themselues before the heauenly throne of grace, to seek the vnspeakable and inestimable comfort of their soules.
Suche are the conteints, and suche is the maner or disposition of the ground-worke of this booke, that is to say, of the Psalmes themselues. Whervnto (for the better vnderstanding of them) heere is added an exposition or Commentarie written in Latin by that learned Clerk and faithful minister of Chryst in the church of Geneua, Master Iohn Caluin, whose worthy praise and commendation, his owne manifolde woorks moste peinfully, sincerely, and soundly set foorth too the greate furtherance and profite of the whole Christen common weale, doo better declare than my pen can vtter or my wit deuice. And among the reste of them, it is thoughte of most learned men, that next vntoo his Institutions, this presente volume beareth the Bel, bothe for varietie of matter, substantialnes of doctrine, depth of iudgement, and perfectnesse of penning. For it is not puffed vp with vaine sound of emptie woords, nor with Rhetorical inlarging of painted sentences, but it is stuffed with piththy and grounded matter, such as plainly sheweth him too haue bin a man indued with the Spirite of God, and also well practized and tryed in the affaires and troubles of this world.
What is to bee thought of the translation of it, that I remitte to your Lordship's fauourable acceptation, vnder whose Antesigne it is my desire that it may fight in the defense and maintenance of the true religion ageinst Antichrist and his wicked members. Onely thus muche I may safely say of it, that in all pointes (to the vttermoste of my power, and according to the abilitie which God hath giuen me to edifie withall) I haue sincerely performed the dutie of a faithfull Interpreter, rather indeuering too lay foorth things plainlye (yea, and sometimes also homely and grossely) too the vnderstanding of many, than too indyte things curyously too the pleasing of a fewe. For in this and suche other workes, the rude and ignorant haue more interest than the learned and skillful. If any thing be amisse, (as I dare not presume too vpholde that nothing hath escaped mee in so great a woorke,) my hartie desire is, that the same may be amended by such as are of sound iudgement and knowledge in God's woorde, so as no inconuenience may ensue of it too the churche of Christ. And look what I request in the behalfe of this present booke, the same do I request for all other books whiche I haue or (by God's grace and permission) shall heerafter put foorth for the edifying of Chrystes flock:for I knowe how suche things are the woork of God and not of man.
What remayneth then, but that your Lordship, framing your selfe according to the rule of God's most holy word, should hie you apace to the atteinment of the true honor and immortall glory, by subduing sinne, the world, and the Deuil, the Hectors that cannot bee vanquished but by a christen Achilles; and by your good guyding bring many vnto Christ, that in the end you may receiue the rewarde of true and perfect blissednesse, euen the everlasting salvation of the soule, whiche is the faire Helen for whose safetie it behooueth all good men too endure, not tenne yeeres warre, but continuall warre all their life long. To the furtherance wherof, God hath by householde alyance lincked vnto your Lordship a long experienced Nestor, whose counsaile and footsteps if you folowe, no doubte but you shalbee bothe happie in your selfe, and singularly profitable to your common welth; and moreouer, God shall blisse you with plentiful and godly issue by your vertuous and deerbeloued Spouse, to continew the honor and renoavne of your noble house after the happy knitting vp of bothe your yeeres, which I pray God may bee many in vnseperable loue, like the loue of Ceix and Alcyonee, to the glory of God, and the contentation of bothe your desires.
Written at London, the 20:of
October 1571.
Your good Lordship's moste humlble to commaund, Arthur Goldling.
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE
JOHN CALVIN
TO THE GODLY AND INGENUOUS READERS, GREETING.
IF the reading of these my Commentaries confer as much benefit on the Church of God as I myself have reaped advantage from the composition of them, I shall have no reason to regret that I have undertaken this work. Having expounded here, in our small school, the Book of Psalms, about three years ago, I thought that I had by this means sufficiently discharged my duty, and had resolved not to publish to the world what I had familiarly taught those of my own household. And, in fact, before I had undertaken to expound this book in my lectures, at the request of my brethren, I said what was true, that I had kept away from this subject, because that most faithful teacher of the Church of God, Martin Bucer, had labored in this field with such singular learning, diligence, fidelity, and success, that at least there was not so great need that I should put my hand to the work. And had the Commentaries of Wolphangus Musculus at that time been published, I would not have omitted to do them justice, by mentioning them in the same way, since he too, in the judgment of good men, has earned no small praise by his diligence and industry in this walk. I had not yet come to the end of the book, when, lo! I am urged by renewed solicitations not to suffer my lectures, which certain persons had carefully, faithfully, and not without great labor, taken down, to be lost to the world. My purpose still remained unaltered; only I promised what for a long time I had been thinking of, to write something on the subject in the French language, that my countrymen might not be without the means of being enabled to understand so useful a book when perusing it. Whilst I am thinking of making this attempt, suddenly, and contrary to my first design, it occurred to me, by what impulse I know not, to compose in Latin, only as it were in the way of trial, an exposition of one Psalm. When I found that my success corresponded to my desire far beyond what I had ventured to anticipate, I was encouraged, and accordingly began to make the same attempt in a few other Psalms. On perceiving this, my intimate friends, as if in this way they held me bound, urged me with the greater confidence not to desist from my course. One reason which made me comply with their solicitations, and which also had from the commencement induced me to make this first attempt, was an apprehension that at some future period that had been taken down from my lectures, might be published to the world contrary to my wishes or at least without my knowledge. I can truly say, that I was drawn to execute this work rather from such an apprehension, than led to it from my own free will. At the same time, as I continued to prosecute the work, I began to perceive more distinctly that this was by no means a superfluous undertaking, and I have also felt from my own individual experience, that to readers who are not so exercised, I would furnish important assistance in understanding The Psalms. The wearied and resplendid riches which are contained it this treasury it is no easy matter to express in words; so much so, that I well know that whatever I shall be able to say will be far from approaching the excellence of the subject. But as it is better to give to my readers some taste, however small, of the wonderful advantages they will derive from the study of this book, than to be entirely silent on the point, I may be permitted briefly to advert to a matter, the greatness of which does not admit of being fully unfolded. I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, "An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;" for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated. The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us. But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particulars in order that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject, and of the many vices with which we abound, may remain concealed. It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy. In short, as calling upon God is one of the principal means of securing our safety, and as a better and more unerring rule for guiding us in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in The Psalms, it follows, that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them, nill be his knowledge of the most important part of celestial doctrine. Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of our need, and next, from faith in the promises of God. It is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book. And not only are the promises of God presented to us in it, but oftentimes there is exhibited to us one standing, as it were, amidst the invitations of God on the one hand, and the impediments of the flesh on the other, girding and preparing himself for prayer:thus teaching us, if at any time we are agitated with a variety of doubts, to resist and fight against them, until the soul, freed and disentangled from all these impediments, rise up to God; and not only so, but even when in the midst of doubts, fears, and apprehensions, let us put forth our efforts in prayer, until we experience some consolation which may calm and bring contentment to our minds. fa11 Although distrust may shut the gate against our prayers, yet we must not allow ourselves to give way, whenever our hearts waver or are agitated with inquietude, but must persevere until faith finally come forth victorious from these conflicts. In many places we may perceive the exercise of the servants of God in prayer so fluctuating, that they are almost overwhelmed by the alternate hope of success and apprehension of failure, and gain the prize only by strenuous exertions. We see on the one hand, the flesh manifesting its infirmity; and on the other, faith putting forth its power; and if it is not so valiant and courageous as might be desired, it is at least prepared to fight until by degrees it acquire perfect strength. But as those things which serve to teach us the true method of praying aright will be found scattered through the whole of this Commentary, I will not now stop to treat of topics which it will be necessary afterwards to repeat, nor detain my readers from proceeding to the work itself. Only it appeared to me to be requisite to show in passing, that this book makes known to us this privilege, which is desirable above all others — that not only is there opened up to us familiar access to God, but also that we have permission and freedom granted us to lay open before him our infirmities which we would be ashamed to confess before men. Besides there is also here prescribed to us an infallible rule for directing us with respect to the right manner of offering to God the sacrifice of praise, which he declares to be most precious in his sight, and of the sweetest odour. There is no other book in which there is to be found more express and magnificent commendations, both of the unparalleled liberality of God towards his Church, and of all his works; there is no other book in which there is recorded so many deliverances nor one in which the evidences and experiences of the fatherly providence and solicitude which God exercises towards us are celebrated with such splendor of diction, and yet with the strictest adherence to truth, in short, there is no other book in which we are more perfectly taught the right manner of praising God, or in which we are more powerfully stirred up to the performance of this religious exercise. Moreover although The Psalms are replete with all the precepts which serve to frame our life to every part of holiness, piety, and righteousness, yet they will principally teach and train us to bear the cross; and the bearing of the cross is a genuine proof of our obedience, since by doing this, we renounce the guidance of our own affections and submit ourselves entirely to God, leaving him to govern us, and to dispose of our life according to his will, so that the afflictions which are the bitterest and most severe to our nature, become sweet to us, because they proceed from him. In one word, not only will we here find general commendations of the goodness of God, which may teach men to repose themselves in him alone, and to seek all their happiness solely in him; and which are intended to teach true believers with their whole hearts confidently to look to him for help in all their necessities; but we will also find that the free remission of sins, which alone reconciles God towards us and procures for us settled peace with him, fa12 is so set forth and magnified, as that here there is nothing wanting which relates to the knowledge of eternal salvation.
Now, if my readers derive any fruit and advantage from the labor which I have bestowed in writing these Commentaries, I would have them to understand that the small measure of experience which I have had by the conflicts with which the Lord has exercised me, has in no ordinary degree assisted me, not only in applying to present use whatever instruction could be gathered from these divine compositions, but also in more easily comprehending the design of each of the writers. And as David holds the principal place among them, it has greatly aided me in understanding more fully the complaints made by him of the internal afflictions which the Church had to sustain through those who gave themselves out to be her members, that I had suffered the same or similar things from the domestic enemies of the Church. For although I follow David at a great distance, and come far short of equaling him; or rather, although in aspiring slowly and with great difficulty to attain to the many virtues in which he excelled, I still feel myself tarnished with the contrary vices; yet if I have any things in common with him, I have no hesitation in comparing myself with him. In reading the instances of his faith, patience, fervor, zeal, and integrity, it has, as it ought, drawn from me unnumbered groans and sighs, that I am so far from approaching them; but it has, notwithstanding, been of very great advantage to me to behold in him as in a mirror, both the commencement of my calling, and the continued course of my function; so that I know the more assuredly, that whatever that most illustrious king and prophet suffered, was exhibited to me by God as an example for imitation. My conditions no doubt, is much inferior to his, and it is unnecessary for me to stay to show this. But as he was taken from the sheepfold, and elevated to the rank of supreme authority; so God having taken me from my originally obscure and humble condition, has reckoned me worthy of being invested with the honorable office of a preacher and minister of the gospel. When I was as yet a very little boy, my father had destined me for the study of theology. But afterwards when he considered that the legal profession commonly raised those who followed it to wealth this prospect induced him suddenly to change his purpose. Thus it came to pass, that I was withdrawn from the study of philosophy, and was put to the study of law. To this pursuit I endeavored faithfully to apply myself in obedience to the will of my father; but God, by the secret guidance of his providence, at length gave a different direction to my course. And first, since I was too obstinately devoted to the superstitions of Popery to be easily extricated from so profound an abyss of mire, God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame, which was more hardened in such matters than might have been expected from one at my early period of life Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although I did not altogether leave off other studies, I yet pursued them with less ardor. I was quite surprised to find that before a year had elapsed, all who had any desire after purer doctrine were continually coming to me to learn, although I myself was as yet but a mere novice and tyro. Being of a disposition somewhat unpolished and bashful, which led me always to love the shade and retirement, I then began to seek some secluded corner where I might be withdrawn from the public view; but so far from being able to accomplish the object of my be desire, all my retreats were like public schools. In short, whilst my one great object was to live in seclusion without being known, God so led me about through different turnings and changes, that he never permitted me to rest in any place, until, in spite of my natural disposition, he brought me forth to public notice. Leaving my native country, France, I in fact retired into Germany, expressly for the purpose of being able there to enjoy in some obscure corner the repose which I had always desired, and which had been so long denied me. But lo! whilst I lay hidden at Basle, and known only to a few people, many faithful and holy persons were burnt alive in France; and the report of these burnings having reached foreign nations, they excited the strongest disapprobation among a great part of the Germans, whose indignation was kindled against the authors of such tyranny. In order to allay this indignation, certain wicked and lying pamphlets were circulated, stating that none were treated with such cruelty but Anabaptists and seditious persons, who by their perverse ravings and false opinions, were overthrowing not only religion but also all civil order. Observing that the object which these instruments of the court aimed at by their disguises, was not only that the disgrace of shedding so much innocent blood might remain buried under the false charges and calumnies which they brought against the holy martyrs after their death, but also, that afterwards they might be able to proceed to the utmost extremity in murdering the poor saints without exciting compassion towards them in the breasts of any, it appeared to me, that unless I opposed them to the utmost of my ability, my silence could not be vindicated from the charge of cowardice and treachery. This was the consideration which induced me to publish my Institute of the Christian Religion. My objects were, first, to prove that these reports were false and calumnious, and thus to vindicate my brethren, whose death was precious in the sight of the Lord; and next, that as the same cruelties might very soon after be exercised against many unhappy individuals, foreign nations might be touched with at least some compassion towards them and solicitude about them. When it was then published, it was not that copious and labored work which it now is, but only a small treatise containing a summary of the principal truths of the Christian religion, and it was published with no other design than that men might know what was the faith held by those whom I saw basely and wickedly defamed by those flagitious and perfidious flatterers. That my object was not to acquire fame, appeared from this, that immediately after I left Basle, and particularly from the fact that nobody there knew that I was the author. Wherever else I have gone, I have taken care to conceal that I was the author of that performance; and I had resolved to continue in the same privacy and obscurity, until at length William Farel detained me at Geneva, not so much by counsel and exhortation, as by a dreadful imprecation, which I felt to be as if God had from heaven laid his mighty hand upon me to arrest me. As the most direct road to Strasburg, to which I then intended to retire, was as shut up by the wars, I had resolved to pass quickly by Geneva, without staying longer than a single night in that city. A little before this, Popery had been driven from it by the exertions of the excellent person whom I have named, and Peter Viret; but matters were not yet brought to a settled state, and the city was divided into unholy and dangerous factions. Then an individual who now basely apostatised and returned to the Papists, discovered me and made me known to others. Upon this, Farel, who burned with an extraordinary zeal to advance the gospel, immediately strained every nerve to detain me. And after having learned that my heart was set upon devoting myself to private studies for which I wished to keep myself free from other pursuits, and finding that he gained nothing by entreaties, he proceeded to utter an imprecation that God would curse my retirement, and the tranquillity of the studies which I sought, if I should withdraw and refuse to give assistance, when the necessity seas so urgent. By this imprecation I was so stricken with terror, that I desisted from the journey which I had undertaken; but sensible of my natural bashfulness and timidity, I would not bring myself under obligation to discharge any particular office. After that, four months had scarcely elapsed, when, on the one hand, the Anabaptists began to assail us, and, on the other, a certain wicked apostate, who being secretly supported by the influence of some of the magistrates of the city, was thus enabled to give us a great deal of trouble. At the same time, a succession of dissensions fell out in the city fa13 which strangely afflicted us. Being, as I acknowledge, naturally of a timid, softer and pusillanimous disposition, I was compelled to encounter these violent tempests as part of my early training; and although I did not sink under themes yet I was not sustained by such greatness of mind, as not to rejoice more than it became me, when, in consequence of certain commotions, I was banished from Geneva. By this means set at liberty and loosed from the tie of my vocational I resolved to live in a private station, free from the burden and cares of any public charge, when that most excellent servant of Christ, Martin Bucer, employing a similar kind of remonstrance and protestation as that to which Farel had recourse before, drew me back to a new station. Alarmed by the example of Jonas which he set before me, I still continued in the work of teaching. And although I always continued like myself, studiously avoiding celebrity; fa14 yet I was carried, I know not how, as it were by force to the Imperial assemblies, where, willing or unwilling, I was under the necessity of appearing before the eyes of many. Afterwards, when the Lord having compassion on this city, had allayed the hurtful agitations and broils which prevailed in it, and by his wonderful power had defeated both the wicked counsels and the sanguinary attempts of the disturbers of the Republic, necessity was imposed upon me of returning to my former charge, contrary to my desire and inclination. The welfare of this church, it is true, lay so near my heart, that for its sake I would not have hesitated to lay down my life; but my timidity nevertheless suggested to me many reasons for excusing myself from again willingly taking upon my shoulders so heavy a burden. At length, however, a solemn and conscientious regard to my duty, prevailed with me to consent to return to the flock from which I had been torn; but with what grief, tears, great anxiety and distress I did this, the Lord is my best witness, and many godly persons who would have wished to see me delivered from this painful state, had it not been that that which I feared, and which made me give my consent, prevented them and shut their mouths. Were I to narrate the various conflicts by which the Lord has exercised me since that time, and by what trials he has proved me, it would make a long history. But that I may not become tedious to my readers by a waste of words, I shall content myself with repeating briefly what I have touched upon a little before, that in considering the whole course of the life of David, fa15 it seemed to me that by his own footsteps he showed me the way, and from this I have experienced no small consolation. As that holy king was harassed by the Philistines and other foreign enemies with continual wars, while he was much more grievously afflicted by the malice and wickedness of some perfidious men amongst his own people, so I can say as to myself, that I have been assailed on all sides, and have scarcely been able to enjoy repose for a single moment, but have always had to sustain some conflict either from enemies without or within the Church. Satan has made many attempts to overthrow the fabric of this Church; and once it came to this, that I, altogether feeble and timorous as I am, was compelled to break and put a stop to his deadly assaults by putting my life in danger, and opposing my person to his blows. Afterwards, for the space of five years, when some wicked libertines were furnished with undue influence, and also some of the common people, corrupted by the allurements and perverse discourse of such persons, desired to obtain the liberty of doing whatever they pleased, without controls I was under the necessity of fighting without ceasing to defend and maintain the discipline of the Church. To these irreligious characters. and despisers of the heavenly doctrine, it was a matter of entire indifference, although the Church should sink into ruin, provided they obtained what they sought, — the power of acting just as they pleased. Many, too, harassed by poverty and hunger, and others impelled by insatiable ambition or avarice and a desire of dishonest gain, were become so frantic, that they chose rather, by throwing all things into confusion, to involve themselves and us in one common ruin, than to remain quiet by living peaceably and honestly. fa16 During the whole of this lengthened period, I think that there is scarcely any of the weapons which are forged in the workshop of Satan, which has not been employed by them in order to obtain their object. And at length matters had come to such a state, that an end could be put to their machinations in no other way than cutting them off by an ignominious death; which was indeed a painful and pitiable spectacle to me. They no doubt deserved the severest punishment, but I always rather desired that they might live in prosperity, and continue safe and untouched; which would have been the case had they not been altogether incorrigible, and obstinately refused to listen to wholesome admonition. The trial of these five years was grievous and hard to bear; but I experienced not less excruciating pain from the malignity of those who ceased not to assail myself and my ministry with their envenomed calumnies. A great proportion of them, it is true, are so blinded by a passion for slander and detraction, that to their great disgracers they betray at once their impudence, while others, however crafty and cunning, cannot so cover or disguise themselves as to escape being shamefully convicted and disgraced; yet when a man has been a hundred times found innocent of a charge brought against him, and when the charge is again repeated without any cause or occasion, it is an indignity hard to bear. Because I affirm and maintain that the world is managed and governed by the secret providence of God, a multitude of presumptuous men rise lip against me, and allege that I represent God as the author of sin. This is so foolish a calumny, that it would of itself quickly come to nothing, did it not meet with persons who have tickled ears, and who take pleasure in feeding upon such discourse. But there are many whose minds are so filled with envy and spleen, or ingratitude, or malignity, that there is no falsehood, however preposterous, yea, even monstrous, which they do not receive, if it is spoken to them. Others endeavor to overthrow God's eternal purpose of predestination, by which he distinguishes between the reprobate and the elect; others take upon them to defend free will; and forthwith many throw themselves into their ranks, not so much through ignorance as by a perversity of zeal which I know not how to characterise. If they were open and avowed enemies who brought these troubles upon me, the thing might in some way be borne. But that those who shroud themselves under the name of brethren, and not only eat Christ's sacred bread, but also administer it to others, that those, in short, who loudly boast of being preachers of the gospel, should wage such nefarious war against me, how detestable is it? In this matter I may very justly complain with David,
"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me," (<194109>Psalm 41:9.)
"For it was not an enemy that reproached me; but it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company,"
(<195512>Psalm 55:12, 13, 14.)
Others circulated ridiculous reports concerning my treasures; others, of the extravagant authority and enormous influence which they say I possess; others speak of my delicacies and magnificence. But when a man is content with scanty food and common clothing and does not require from the humblest more frugality than he shows and practices himself, shall it be said that such an one is too sumptuous, and lives in too high a style? As to the power and influence of which they envy me, I wish I could discharge this burden upon them; for they estimate my power by the multitude of affairs, and the vast weight of labors with which I am overwhelmed. And if there are some whom I cannot persuade whilst I am alive that I am not rich, my death at length will prove it. I confess, indeed, that I am not poor; for I desire nothing more than what I have. All these are invented stories, and there is no color whatever for any one of them; but many nevertheless are very easily persuaded of their truth, and applaud them; and the reason is, because the greatest part judge that the only means of cloaking their enormities is to throw all things into disorder, and to confound black and white; and they think that the best and shortest way by which they can obtain full liberty to live with impunity just as they please, is to destroy the authority of Christ's servants. In addition to these, there are "the hypocritical mockers in feasts," of whom David complains, (<193516>Psalm 35:16;) and I mean by these not only lick-dish characters who seek a meal to fill their belly, fa17 but all those who by false reports seek to obtain the favor of the great. Having been long accustomed to swallow such wrongs as these, I have become almost hardened; yet when the insolence of such characters increased I cannot but sometimes feel my heart wounded with bitter pangs. Nor was it enough that I should be so inhumanly treated by my neighbors. In addition to this, in a distant country towards the frozen ocean, there was raised I know not how, by the frenzy of a few, a storm which afterwards stirred up against me a vast number of persons, who are too much at leisure, and have nothing to do but by their bickering to hinder those who are laboring for the edification of the Church. fa18 I am still speaking of the internal enemies of the Church—of those who, boasting mightily of the gospel of Christ, nevertheless rush against me with greater impetuosity than against the open adversaries of the Church, because I do not embrace their gross and fictitious notion concerning a carnal way of eating Christ in the sacrament; and of whom I may protest, after the example of David, "I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war," (<19C007>Psalm 120:7.) Moreover, the cruel ingratitude of all of them is manifest in this, that they scruple not to assail both in flank and rear a man who strenuously exerts himself to maintain a cause which they have in common with him and whom therefore they ought to aid and succor. Certainly, if such persons were possessed of even a small portion of humanity, the fury of the Papists which is directed against me with such unbridled violence, would appease the most implacable animosity which they may bear towards me. But since the condition of David was such, that though he had deserved well of his own people, he was nevertheless bitterly hated by many without a cause, as he complains in <196904>Psalm 69:4, "I restored that which I took not away," it afforded me no small consolation when I was groundlessly assailed by the hatred of those who ought to have assisted and solaced me, to conform myself to the example of so great and so excellent a person. This knowledge and experience have been of much service in enabling me to understand The Psalms, so that in my meditations upon them, I did not wander, as it were, in an unknown region. My readers, too, if I mistake not, will observe, that in unfolding the internal affections both of David and of others I discourse upon them as matters of which I have familiar experience. Moreover, since I have labored faithfully to open up this treasure for the use of all the people of God, although what I have done has not been equal to my wishes, yet the attempt which I have made deserves to be received with some measure of favor. Still I only ask that each may judge of my labors with justice and candour, according to the advantage and fruit which he shall derive from them. Certainly, as I have said before, in reading these Commentaries, it will be clearly seen that I have not sought to please, unless in so far as I might at the same time be profitable to others. And, therefore, I have not only observed throughout a simple style of teaching, but in order to be removed the farther from all ostentation, I have also generally abstained from refuting the opinions of others, although this presented a more favorable opportunity for plausible display, and of acquiring the applause of those who shall favor my book with a perusal. I have never touched upon opposite opinions, unless where there was reason to fear, that by being silent respecting them, I might leave my readers in doubt and perplexity. At the same time, I am sensible that it would have been much more agreeable to the taste of many, had I heaped together a great mass of materials which has great show, and acquires fame for the writer; but I have felt nothing to be of more importance than to have a regard to the edification of the Church. May God, who has implanted this desire in my heart, grant by his grace that the success may correspond thereto!
Geneva, July 22, 1557.
Commentary
upon the book of Psalms
PSALM 1.
He who collected the Psalms into one volume, whether Ezra or some other person, appears to have placed this Psalm at the beginning, by way of preface, in which he inculcates upon all the godly the duty of meditating upon the law of God. The sum and substance of the whole is, that they are blessed who apply their hearts to the pursuit of heavenly wisdom; whereas the profane despisers of God, although for a time they may reckon themselves happy, shall at length have a most miserable end.
Psalm 1:1-2
1. Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scorner. 2. But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

1. Blessed is the man. fa19 The meaning of the Psalmist, as I have stated above, is, that it shall be always well with God's devout servants, whose constant endeavor it is to make progress in the study of his law. The greater part of mankind being accustomed to deride the conduct of the saints as mere simplicity, and to regard their labor as entirely thrown away, it was of importance that the righteous should be confirmed in the way of holiness, by the consideration of the miserable condition of all men without the blessing of God, and the conviction that God is favorable to none but those who zealously devote themselves to the study of divine truth. Moreover, as corruption has always prevailed in the world, to such a degree, that the general character of men's lives is nothing else but a continual departure from the law of God, the Psalmist, before asserting the blessedness of the students of the divine law, admonishes them to beware of being carried away by the ungodliness of the multitude around them. Commencing with a declaration of his abhorrence of the wicked, he teaches us how impossible it is for any one to apply his mind to meditation upon God's laws who has not first withdrawn and separated himself from the society of the ungodly. A needful admonition surely; for we see how thoughtlessly men will throw themselves into the snares of Satan; at least, how few comparatively there are who guard against the enticements of sin. That we may be fully apprised of our danger, it is necessary to remember that the world is fraught with deadly corruption, and that the first step to living well is to renounce the company of the ungodly, otherwise it is sure to infect us with its own pollution.
As the prophet, in the first place, enjoins the godly to beware of temptations to evil, we shall follow the same order. His affirmation, that they are blessed who have no fellowship with the ungodly, is what the common feeling and opinion of mankind will scarcely admit; for while all men naturally desire and seek after happiness, we see how securely they can indulge themselves in their sins, yea, that those of them who have departed farthest from righteousness, in the gratification of their lusts, are accounted happy, because they obtain the desires of their heart. The prophet, on the contrary, here teaches that no man can be duly animated to the fear and service of God, and to the study of his law, until he is firmly persuaded that all the ungodly are miserable, and that they who do not withdraw from their company shall he involved in the same destruction with them. But as it is no easy matter to shun the ungodly with whom we are mingled in the world, so as to be wholly estranged from them, the Psalmist, in order to give the greater emphasis to his exhortation, employs a multiplicity of expressions.
In the first place, he forbids us to walk in their counsel; in the second place, to stand in their way; and, lastly, to sit in their seat.
The sum of the whole is, that the servants of God must endeavor utterly to abhor the life of ungodly men. But as it is the policy of Satan to insinuate his deceits, in a very crafty way, the prophet, in order that none may be insensibly deceived, shows how by little and little men are ordinarily induced to turn aside from the right path. They do not, at the first step, advance so far as a proud contempt of God but having once begun to give ear to evil counsel, Satan leads them, step by step, farther astray, till they rush headlong into open transgression. The prophet, therefore, begins with counsel, by which term I understand the wickedness which does not as yet show itself openly. Then he speaks of the way, which is to be understood of the customary mode or manner of living. And he places at the top of the climax the seat, by which metaphorical expression he designates the obduracy produced by the habit of a sinful life. In the same way, also, ought the three phrases, to walk, to stand, and to sit, to be understood. When a person willingly walks after the gratification of his corrupt lusts, the practice of sinning so infatuates him, that, forgetful of himself, he grows hardened in wickedness; and this the prophet terms standing in the way of sinners. Then at length follows a desperate obstinacy, which he expresses by the figure of sitting. Whether there is the same gradation in the Hebrew words µy[çr, reshaim, µyafj, chataim, and µyxl, letsim, that is to say, a gradual increase of evil, I leave to the judgment of others. fa20 To me it does not appear that there is, unless perhaps in the last word. For those are called scorners who, having thrown off all fear of God, commit sin without restraint, in the hope of escaping unpunished, and without compunction or fear sport at the judgment of God, as if they would never be called to render up an account to him. The Hebrew word µyafj, chataim, as it signifies the openly wicked, is very properly joined with the term way, which signifies a professed and habitual manner of living. fa21 And if, in the time of the Psalmist, it was necessary for the devout worshippers of God to withdraw themselves from the company of the ungodly, in order to frame their life aright, how much more in the present day, when the world has become so much more corrupt, ought we carefully to avoid all dangerous society that we may be kept unstained by its impurities. The prophet, however, not only commands the faithful to keep at a distance from the ungodly, from the dread of being infected by them, but his admonition farther implies, that every one should be careful not to corrupt himself, nor abandon himself to impiety. fa22 A man may not have contracted defilement from evil examples, and yet come to resemble the wicked by spontaneously imitating their corrupt manners.
In the second verse, the Psalmist does not simply pronounce those happy who fear God, as in other places, but designates godliness by the study of the law, teaching us that God is only rightly served when had law is obeyed. It is not left to every man to frame a system of religion according to his own judgment, but the standard of godliness is to be taken from the Word of God. When David here speaks of the law, it ought not to be understood as if the other parts of Scripture should be excluded, but rather, since the whole of Scripture is nothing else than an exposition of the law, under it as the head is comprehended the whole body. The prophet, therefore, in commending the law, includes all the rest of the inspired writings. He must, therefore, be understood as meaning to exhort the faithful to the reading of the Psalms also. From his characterising the godly as delighting in the law of the Lord, we may learn that forced or servile obedience is not at all acceptable to God, and that those only are worthy students of the law who come to it with a cheerful mind, and are so delighted with its instructions, as to account nothing more desirable or delicious than to make progress therein. From this love of the law proceeds constant meditation upon it, which the prophet mentions on the last clause of the verse; for all who are truly actuated by love to the law must feel pleasure in the diligent study of it.
Psalm 1:3
3. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that bringeth his fruit in his season; whose leaf shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The Psalmist here illustrates, and, at the same time, confirms by a metaphor the statement made in the preceding verse; for he shows in what respect those who fear God are to be accounted happy, namely, not because they enjoy an evanescent and empty gladness, but because they are in a desirable condition. There is in the words an implied contrast between the vigor of a tree planted in a situation well watered, and the decayed appearance of one which, although it may flourish beautifully for a time, yet soon withers on account of the barrenness of the soil in which it is placed. With respect to the ungodly, as we shall afterwards see, (<193735>Psalm 37:35) they are sometimes like "the cedars of Lebanon." They have such an overflowing abundance of wealth and honors, that nothing seems wanting to their present happiness. But however high they may be raised, and however far and wide they may spread their branches, yet having no root in the ground, nor even a sufficiency of moisture from which they may derive nourishment, the whole of their beauty by and by disappears, and withers away. It is, therefore, the blessing of God alone which preserves any in a prosperous condition. Those who explain the figure of the faithful bringing forth their fruit in season, as meaning that they wisely discern when a thing ought to be done so as to be done well, in my opinion, show more acuteness than judgment, by putting a meaning upon the words of the prophet which he never intended. He obviously meant nothing more than that the children of God constantly flourish, and are always watered with the secret influences of divine grace, so that whatever may befall them is conducive to their salvation; while, on the other hand, the ungodly are carried away by the sudden tempest, or consumed by the scorching heat. And when he says, he bringeth forth his fruit in season, fa23 he expresses the full maturity of the fruit produced, whereas, although the ungodly may present the appearance of precocious fruitfulness, yet they produce nothing that comes to perfection.
Psalm 1:4
4. The ungodly are not so; but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

The Psalmist might, with propriety, have compared the ungodly to a tree that speedily withers, as Jeremiah likens them to the heath which grows in the wilderness, (<241706>Jeremiah 17:6) But not reckoning this figure sufficiently strong, he debases them by employing another, which represents them in a light still more contemptible:and the reason is, that he does not keep his eye on the prosperous condition of which they boast for a short time, but his mind is seriously pondering on the destruction which awaits them, and will at length overtake them. The meaning, therefore, is, although the ungodly now live prosperously, yet by and by they shall be like chaff; for when the Lord has brought them low, he shall drive them hither and thither with the blast of his wrath. Besides, by this form of speech, the Holy Spirit teaches us to contemplate with the eye of faith, what might otherwise seem incredible; for although the ungodly man rise high, and appear to great advantage, like a stately tree, we may rest assured that he will be even as chaff or refuse, whenever God chooses to cast him down from his high estate, with the breath of his mouth.
Psalm 1:5-6
5. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6. For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

In the fifth verse, the prophet teaches that a happy life depends on a good conscience, and that, therefore, it is not wonderful, if the ungodly suddenly fall from the happiness of which they fancied themselves in possession. And there is implied in the words a kind of concession; the prophet tacitly acknowledges that the ungodly please and enjoy themselves, and triumph during the reign of moral disorder in the world; just as robbers revel in the woods and caves, when beyond the reach of justice. But he assures us, that things will not always remain in their present state of confusion, and that when they shall have been reduced to proper order, these ungodly persons shall be entirely deprived of their pleasures, and feel that they were infatuated when they thought themselves happy. We now see how the Psalmist pronounces the ungodly to be miserable, because happiness is the inward blessing of a good conscience. He does not deny, that before they are driven to judgment, all things succeed well with them; but he denies that they are happy unless they have substantial and steadfast integrity of character to sustain them:for the true integrity of the righteous manifests itself when it comes at length to be tried. It is indeed true, that the Lord daily executes judgment, by making a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, but because this is done only partially in this life, we must look higher if we desire to behold the assembly of the righteous, of which mention is here made.
Even in this world the prosperity of the ungodly begins to pass away as often as God manifests the tokens of his judgment; (for then, being awakened out of sleep, they are constrained to acknowledge, whether they will or no, that they have no part with the assembly of the righteous;) but because this is not accomplished always, nor with respect to all men, in the present state, we must patiently wait for the day of final revelation, in which Christ will separate the sheep from the goats. At the same time, we must maintain it as a general truth, that the ungodly are devoted to misery; for their own consciences condemn them for their wickedness; and, as often as they are summoned to give an account of their life, their sleep is broken, and they perceive that they were merely dreaming when they imagined themselves to be happy, without looking inward to the true state of their hearts.
Moreover, as things appear to be here driven about at the mercy of chance, and as it is not easy for us, in the midst of the prevailing confusion, to acknowledge the truth of what the Psalmist had said, he therefore presents to our consideration the grand principle, that God is the Judge of the world. Granting this, it follows that it cannot but be well with the upright and the just, while, on the other hand, the most terrible destruction must impend over the ungodly. According to all outward appearance, the servants of God may derive no advantage from their uprightness; but as it is the peculiar office of God to defend them and take care of their safety, they must be happy under his protection. And from this we may also conclude that, as he is the certain avenger of wickedness, although, for a time, he may seem to take no notice of the ungodly, yet at length he will visit them with destruction. Instead, therefore, of allowing ourselves to be deceived with their imaginary felicity, let us, in circumstances of distress, have ever before our eyes the providence of God, to whom it belongs to settle the affairs of the world, and to bring order out of confusion.
PSALM 2
David boasts that his kingdom, though assailed by a vast multitude of powerful enemies, would, notwithstanding, be perpetual, because it was upheld by the hand and power of God. He adds, that in spite of his enemies, it would be extended even to the uttermost ends of the earth. And, therefore, he exhorts kings and other rulers to lay aside their pride, and receive, with submissive minds, the yoke laid upon them by God; as it would be vain for them to attempt to shake it off. All this was typical and contains a prophecy concerning the future kingdom of Christ.
Psalm 2:1-3
1. Why do the nations rise tumultuously, and the peoples murmur in vain? 2. The kings of the earth have confederated, and the princes have assembled together, against Jehovah and against his Christ. 3. Let us break of their bonds, and cast away their yoke from us.

WE know how many conspired against David, and endeavored to prevent his coming to the throne, and from their hostile attempts, had he judged according to the eye of sense and reason, he might have been so full of apprehension, as forthwith to have given up all hope of ever becoming king. And, doubtless, he had often to struggle sorrowfully with very grievous temptations. But, as he had the testimony of an approving conscience, that he had attempted nothing rashly nor acted as ambition and depraved desire impel many to seek changes in the government of kingdoms; as he was, on the contrary, thoroughly persuaded that he had been made king by divine appointment, when he coveted no such thing, nor even thought of it; fa24 he encouraged himself by strong confidence in God against the whole world, just as in these words, he nobly pours contempt both on kings and their armies. He confesses, indeed, that he had a sore battle to fight, inasmuch as it was no small party, but whole nations with their kings, who had conspired against him; but he courageously boasts that their attempts were vain, because they waged war, not against mortal man, but against God himself. It is not certain from the words, whether he speaks only of enemies in his own kingdom, or extends his complaints to foreign invaders. But, since the fact was, that enemies rose up against him in all quarters, and that as soon as he had settled the disturbances among his own people, the neighboring states, in their turn, became hostile to him, I am disposed to think that both classes of enemies are meant, Gentiles as well as Jews. It would be a strange mode of expression to speak of many nations and people when only one nation was meant, and to speak of many kings when he had in eye Saul only. Besides, it agrees better with the completeness of the type to suppose that different kinds of enemies were joined together; for we know that Christ had not only to do with enemies in his own country, but likewise with enemies in other nations; the whole world having entered into a common conspiracy to accomplish his destruction. The Jews, indeed, first began to rage against Christ as they had formerly done against David; but afterwards the same species of madness seized upon other nations. The sum is, that although those who endeavored to overthrow him might be strengthened by powerful armies, yet their tumults and counsels would prove vain and ineffectual.
By attributing to the people commotion and uproar, and to kings and rulers the holding of assemblies, to take counsel, he has used very appropriate language. Yet he intimates that, when kings have long and much consulted together, and the people have poured forth their utmost fury, all of them united would make nothing of it. But we ought carefully to mark the ground of such confidence, which was, that he had not thrust himself forward to be king rashly, or of his own accord, but only followed the call of God. From this he concludes, that in his person God was assailed; and God could not but show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder. By honoring himself with the title of Messias, or the Anointed, he declares that he reigned only by the authority and command of God, inasmuch as the oil brought by the hand of Samuel made him king who before was only a private person. David's enemies did not, indeed, think they were making a violent attack against God, yea, they would resolutely deny their having any such intention; yet it is not without reason that David places God in opposition to them, and speaks as if they directly levelled their attacks against him, for by seeking to undermine the kingdom which he had erected, they blindly and ferociously waged war against Him. If all those are rebels against God who resist the powers ordained by him, much more does this apply to that sacred kingdom which was established by special privilege.
But it is now high time to come to the substance of the type. That David prophesied concerning Christ, is clearly manifest from this, that he knew his own kingdom to be merely a shadow. And in order to learn to apply to Christ whatever David, in times past, sang concerning himself, we must hold this principle, which we meet with everywhere in all the prophets, that he, with his posterity, was made king, not so much for his own sake as to be a type of the Redeemer. We shall often have occasion to return to this afterwards, but at present I would briefly inform my readers that as David's temporal kingdom was a kind of earnest to God's ancient people of the eternal kingdom, which at length was truly established in the person of Christ, those things which David declares concerning himself are not violently, or even allegorically, applied to Christ, but were truly predicted concerning him. If we attentively consider the nature of the kingdom, we will perceive that it would be absurd to overlook the end or scope, and to rest in the mere shadow. That the kingdom of Christ is here described by the spirit of prophecy, is sufficiently attested to us by the apostles, who, seeing the ungodly conspiring against Christ, arm themselves in prayer with this doctrine, (<440424>Acts 4:24.) But to place our faith beyond the reach of all cavils, it is plainly made manifest from all the prophets, that those things which David testified concerning his own kingdom are properly applicable to Christ. Let this, therefore, be held as a settled point, that all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God. Since it seems good to God to rule us by the hand of his own Son, those who refuse to obey Christ himself deny the authority of God, and it is in vain for them to profess otherwise. For it is a true saying,
"He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the
Father which hath sent him," (John 5:22.)
And it is of great importance to hold fast this inseparable connection, that as the majesty of God hath shone forth in his only begotten Son, so the Father will not be feared and worshipped but in his person.
A twofold consolation may be drawn from this passage:— First, as often as the world rages, in order to disturb and put an end to the prosperity of Christ's kingdom, we have only to remember that, in all this there is just a fulfillment of what was long ago predicted, and no changes that can happen will greatly disquiet us. Yea, rather it will be highly profitable to us to compare those things which the apostles experienced with what we witness at the present time. Of itself the kingdom of Christ would be peaceable, and from it true peace issues forth to the world; but through the wickedness and malice of men, never does it rise from obscurity into open view without disturbances being excited. Nor is it at all wonderful, or unusual, if the world begin to rage as soon as a throne is erected for Christ. The other consolation which follows is, that when the ungodly have mustered their forces, and when, depending on their vast numbers, their riches, and their means of defense, they not only pour forth their proud blasphemies, but furiously assault heaven itself, we may safely laugh them to scorn, relying on this one consideration, that he whom they are assailing is the God who is in heaven. When we see Christ well nigh overwhelmed with the number and strength of his enemies, let us remember that they are making war against God over whom they shall not prevail, and therefore their attempts, whatever they may be, and however increasing, will come to naught, and be utterly ineffectual. Let us learn, farther, that this doctrine runs through the whole gospel; for the prayer of the apostles which I have just quoted, manifestly testifies that it ought not to be restricted to the person of Christ.
3. Let us break, etc. This is a prosopopoeia, fa25 in which the prophet introduces his-enemies as speaking; and he employs this figure the better to express their ungodly and traitorous design. Not that they openly avowed themselves rebels against God, (for they rather covered their rebellion under every possible pretext, and presumptuously boasted of having God on their side;) but since they were fully determined, by all means, fair or foul, to drive David from the throne, whatever they professed with the mouth, the whole of their consultation amounted to this, how they might overthrow the kingdom which God himself had set up. When he describes his government under the metaphorical expressions of bonds, and a yoke, on the persons of his adversaries, he indirectly condemns their pride. For he represents them speaking scornfully of his government, as if to submit to it were a slavish and shameful subjection, just as we see it is with all the enemies of Christ who, when compelled to be subject to his authority reckon it not less degrading than if the utmost disgrace were put upon them.
Psalm 2:4-6
4. He who dwelleth in heaven will laugh at them; the Lordfa26 will have them in derision. 5. Then will he speak to them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6. I have anointed my King upon my holy hill of Sion.

After David has told us of the tumult and commotions, the counsels and pride, the preparation and resources the strength and efforts of his enemies, in opposition to all these he places the power of God alone, which he concludes would be brought to bear against them, from their attempting to frustrate his decree. And, as a little before, by terming them kings of the earth, he expressed their feeble and perishable condition; so now, by the lofty title of He that dwelleth in heaven, he extols the power of God, as if he had said, that power remains intact and unimpaired, whatever men may attempt against it. Let them exalt themselves as they may, they shall never be able to reach to heaven; yea, while they think to confound heaven and earth together, they resemble so many grasshoppers, and the Lord, meanwhile, undisturbed beholds from on high their infatuated evolutions. And David ascribes laughter to God on two accounts; first, to teach us that he does not stand in need of great armies to repress the rebellion of wicked men, as if this were an arduous and difficult matter, but, on the contrary, could do this as often as he pleases with the most perfect ease. In the second place, he would have us to understand that when God permits the reign of his Son to be troubled, he does not cease from interfering because he is employed elsewhere, or unable to afford assistance, or because he is neglectful of the honor of his Son; but he purposely delays the inflictions of his wrath to the proper time, namely, until he has exposed their infatuated rage to general derision. Let us, therefore, assure ourselves that if God does not immediately stretch forth his hand against the ungodly, it is now his time of laughter; and although, in the meantime, we ought to weep, yet let us assuage the bitterness of our grief, yea, and wipe away our tears, with this reflection, that God does not connive at the wickedness of his enemies, as if from indolence or feebleness, but because for the time he would confront their insolence with quiet contempt. By the adverb then, he points to the fit time for exercising judgment, as if he had said, after the Lord shall have for a time apparently taken no notice of the malpractices of those who oppose the rule of his Son, he will suddenly change his course, and show that he retards nothing with greater abhorrence than such presumption.
Moreover, he ascribes speech to God, not for the purpose of instructing his enemies, but only to convict them of their madness; indeed, by the term speak, he means nothing else than a manifestation of Godwrath, which the ungodly do not perceive until they feel it. The enemies of David thought it would be the easiest thing in the world for them to destroy one who, coming from a mean shepherd's cot, had, in their view, fa27 presumptuously assumed the sovereign power. The prophecy and anointing of Samuel were, in their estimation, mere ridiculous pretences. But when God had at length overthrown them, and settled David on the throne, he, by this act, spoke not so much with his tongue as with his hand, to manifest himself the founder of David's kingdom. The Psalmist hereon then, refers to speaking by actions, by which the Lord, without uttering a single word, makes manifest his purpose. In like manner, whenever he defends the kingdom of his Son against the ungodly, by the tokens and inflictions of his wrath, although he does not speak a single word, yet in effect he speaks enough to make himself understood. fa28 David afterwards, speaking in the name of God, shows more clearly how his enemies were guilty of wickedly fighting against God himself in the hatred which they bore towards him whom God had made king. The sum is this: Wicked men may now conduct themselves as wickedly as they please, but they shall at length feel what it is to make war against heaven. The pronoun I is also emphatical, by which God signifies that he is so far exalted above the men of this world, that the whole mass of them could not possibly obscure his glory in the least degree. As often, then, as the power of man appears formidable to us, let us remember how much it is transcended by the power of God. In these words there is set before us the unchangeable and eternal purpose of God effectually to defend, even to the end, the kingdom of his Son, of which he is the founder; and this may well support our faith amidst the troublous storms of the world. Whatever plots, therefore, men may form against it, let this one consideration be sufficient to satisfy us, that they cannot render ineffectual the anointing of God. Mention is here made of mount Sion in express terms, not because David was first anointed thereon but because at length, in God's own time, the truth of the prophecy was manifested and actually established by the solemn rite of his consecration. And although David in these words had a regard to the promise of God, and recalled the attention of himself and others to it, yet, at the same time, he meant to signify that his own reign is holy and inseparably connected with the temple of God. But this applies more appropriately to the kingdom of Christ, which we know to be both spiritual and joined to the priesthood, and this is the principal part of the worship of God.
Psalm 2:7-8
7. I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

7. I will declare, etc. David, to take away all pretense of ignorance from his enemies, assumes the office of a preacher in order to publish the decree of God; or at least he protests that he did not come to the throne without a sure and clear proof of his calling; as if he had said, I did not, without consideration, publicly go forward to usurp the kingdom, but I brought with me the command of God, without which, I would have acted presumptuously, in advancing myself to such fin honorable station. But this was more truly fulfilled in Christ, and doubtless, David, under the influence of the spirit of prophecy, had a special reference to him. For in this way all the ungodly are rendered inexcusable, because Christ proved himself to have been endued with lawful power from God, not only by his miracles, but by the preaching of the gospel. In fact, the very same testimony resounds through the whole world. The apostles first, and after them pastors and teachers, bore testimony that Christ was made King by God the Father; but since they acted as ambassadors in Christ's stead, He rightly and properly claims to himself alone whatever was done by them. Accordingly, Paul (<490217>Ephesians 2:17) ascribes to Christ what the ministers of the gospel did in his name. "He came," says he, "and preached peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh." Hereby, also, the authority of the gospel is better established because, although it is published by others, it does not cease to be the gospel of Christ. As often therefore, as we hear the gospel preached by men, we ought to consider that it is not so much they who speak, as Christ who speaks by them. And this is a singular advantage, that Christ lovingly allures us to himself by his own voice, that we may not by any means doubt of the majesty of his kingdom.
On this account, we ought the more carefully to beware of wickedly refusing the edict which he publishes, Thou art my Son. David, indeed could with propriety be called the son of God on account of his royal dignity, just as we know that princes, because they are elevated above others, are called both gods and the sons of God. But here God, by the singularly high title with which he honors David, exalts him not only above all mortal men, but even above the angels. This the apostle (<580105>Hebrews 1:5) wisely and diligently considers when he tells us this language was never used with respect to any of the angels. David, individually considered, was inferior to the angels, but in so far as he represented the person of Christ, he is with very good reason preferred far above them. By the Son of God in this place we are therefore not to understand one son among many, but his only begotten Son, that he alone should have the pre-eminence both in heaven and on earth. When God says, I have begotten thee, it ought to be understood as referring to men's understanding or knowledge of it; for David was begotten by God when the choice of him to be king was clearly manifested. The words this day, therefore, denote the time of this manifestation; for as soon as it became known that he was made king by divine appointment, he came forth as one who had been lately begotten of God, since so great an honor could not belong to a private person. The same explanation is to be given of the words as applied to Christ. He is not said to be begotten in any other sense than as the Father bore testimony to him as being his own Son. This passage, I am aware, has been explained by many as referring to the eternal generation of Christ; and from the words this day, they have reasoned ingeniously as if they denoted an eternal act without any relation to time. But Paul, who is a more faithful and a better qualified interpreter of this prophecy, in <441333>Acts 13:33, calls our attention to the manifestation of the heavenly glory of Christ of which I have spoken. This expression, to be begotten, does not therefore imply that he then began to be the Son of God, but that his being so was then made manifest to the world. Finally, this begetting ought not to be understood of the mutual love which exists between the Father and the Son; it only signifies that He who had been hidden from the beginning in the sacred bosom of the Father, and who afterwards had been obscurely shadowed forth under the law, was known to be the Son of God from the time when he came forth with authentic and evident marks of Sonship, according to what is said in <430114>John 1:14, "we have seen his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father." We must, at the same time, however, bear in mind what Paul teaches, (<450104>Romans 1:4) that he was declared to be the Son of God with power when he rose again from the dead, and therefore what is here said has a principal allusion to the day of his resurrection. But to whatever particular time the allusion may be, the Holy Spirit here points out the solemn and proper time of his manifestation, just as he does afterwards in these words
"This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it." (<19B824>Psalm 118:24)
8. Ask of me. Christ, it is true, besought his Father (<431705>John 17:5) to "glorify him with the glory which he had with him before the world was;" yet the more obvious meaning is, that the Father will deny nothing to his Son which relates to the extension of his kingdom to the uttermost ends of the earth. But, in this wonderful matter, Christ is introduced as presenting himself before the Father with prayers, in order to illustrate the free liberality of God in conferring upon men the honor of constituting his own Son governor over the whole world. As the eternal Word of God, Christ, it is true, has always had in his hands by right sovereign authority and majesty, and as such can receive no accessions thereto; but still he is exalted in human nature, in which he took upon him the form of a servant. This title, therefore, is not applied to him only as God, but is extended to the whole person of the Mediator; for after Christ had emptied himself there was given to him a name which is above every name, that before him every knee should bow, (<502609>Philippians 2:9) David, as we know, after having obtained signal victories reigned over a large extent of territory, so that many nations became tributaries to him; but what is here said was not fulfilled in him. If we compare his kingdom with other monarchies it was confined within very narrow boundaries. Unless, therefore, we suppose this prophecy concerning the vast extent of kingdom to have been uttered in vain and falsely, we must apply it to Christ, who alone has subdued the whole world to himself and embraced all lands and nations under his dominion. Accordingly, here, as in many other places, the calling of the Gentiles is foretold, to prevent all from imagining that the Redeemer who was to be sent of God was king of one nation only. And if we now see his kingdom divided, diminished, and broken down, this proceeds from the wickedness of men, which renders them unworthy of being under a reign so happy and so desirable. But although the ingratitude of men hinders the kingdom of Christ from prospering it does not render this prediction of none effect, inasmuch as Christ collects the dispersed remnants of his people from all quarters, and in the midst of this wretched desolation, keeps them joined together by the sacred bond of faiths so that not one corner only, but the whole world is subjected to his authority. Besides, however insolently the ungodly may act, and however they may reject his sovereignty, they cannot, by their rebellion, destroy his authority and power. To this subject also belongs what immediately follows:
Psalm 2:9
9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

This is expressly stated to teach us that Christ is furnished with power by which to reign even over those who are averse to his authority, and refuse to obey him. The language of David implies that all will not voluntarily receive his yoke, but that many will be stiff-necked and rebellious, whom notwithstanding he shall subdue by force, and compel to submit to him. It is true, the beauty and glory of the kingdom of which David speaks are more illustriously displayed when a willing people run to Christ in the day of his power, to show themselves his obedient subjects; but as the greater part of men rise up against him with a violence which spurns all restraint, it was necessary to add the truth, that this king would prove himself superior to all such opposition. Of this unconquerable power in war God exhibited a specimen, primarily in the person of David, who, as we know, vanquished and overthrew many enemies by force of arms. But the prediction is more fully verified in Christ, who, neither by sword nor spear, but by the breath of his mouth, smites the ungodly even to their utter destruction.
It may, however, seem wonderful that, while the prophets in other parts of Scripture celebrate the meekness, the mercy, and the gentleness of our Lord, he is here described as so rigorous, austere, and full of terror. But this severe and dreadful sovereignty is set before us for no other purpose than to strike alarm into his enemies; and it is not at all inconsistent with the kindness with which Christ tenderly and sweetly cherishes his own people. He who shows himself a loving shepherd to his gentle sheep, must treat the wild beasts with a degree of severity either to convert them from their cruelty, or effectually to restrain it. Accordingly in <19B005>Psalm 110:5, after a commendation is pronounced upon the obedience of the godly Christ is immediately armed with power to destroy, in the day of his wrath, kings and their armies who are hostile to him. And certainly both these characters are with propriety ascribed to him: for he was sent by the Father to cheer the poor and the wretched with the tidings of salvation, to set the prisoners free, to heal the sick, to bring the sorrowful and afflicted out of the darkness of death into the light of life, (<236101>Isaiah 61:1) and as, on the other hand, many by their ingratitude, provoke his wrath against them, he assumes, as it were, a new character, to beat down their obduracy. It may be asked, what is that iron scepter which the Father hath put into the hand of Christ, wherewith to break in pieces his enemies? I answer, The breath of his mouth supplies to him the place of all other weapons, as I have just now shown from Isaiah. Although, therefore, Christ move not a finger, yet by his speaking he thunders awfully enough against his enemies, and destroys them by the rod of his mouth alone. They may fret and kick, and with the rage of a madman resist him never so much, but they shall at length be compelled to feel that he whom they refuse to honor as their king is their judge. In short, they are broken in pieces by various methods, till they become his footstool. In what respect the doctrine of the gospel is an iron rod, may be gathered from Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, (<471004>2 Corinthians 10:4) where he teaches that the ministers of Christ are furnished with spiritual weapons to cast down every high thing which exalteth itself against Christ, etc. I allow that even the faithful themselves may be offered in sacrifice to God, that he may quicken them by his grace, for it is meet we should be humbled in the dust, before Christ stretch forth his hand to save us. But Christ trains his disciples to repentance in such a way as not to appear terrible to them; on the contrary, by showing them his shepherd's rod, he quickly turns their sorrow into joy; and so far is he from using his iron rod to break them in pieces, that he rather protects them under the healing shadow of his hand, and upholds them by his power. When David speaks, therefore, of breaking and bruising, this applies only to the rebellious and unbelieving who submit to Christ, not because they have been subdued by repentance, but because they are overwhelmed with despair. Christ does not, indeed, literally speak to all men; but as he denounces in his word whatever judgments he executes upon them, he may be truly said to slay the ungodly man with the breath of his mouth, (<530208>2 Thessalonians 2:8.) The Psalmist exposes to shame their foolish pride by a beautiful similitude; teaching us, that although their obstinacy is harder than the stones, they are yet more fragile than earthen vessels. Since, however, we do not see the enemies of the Redeemer immediately broken in pieces, but, on the contrary, the Church herself appears rather to be like the frail earthen vessel under their iron hammered the godly need to be admonished to regard the judgments which Christ daily executes as presages of the terrible ruin which remains for all the ungodly, and to wait patiently for the last day, when he will utterly consume them by the flaming fire in which he will come. In the meantime, let us rest satisfied that he "rules in the midst of his enemies.
Psalm 2:10-11
10. And now, O ye kings, be wise; and ye judges of the earth be instructed. 11. Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

David having, as a preacher of the judgments of God, set forth the vengeance which God would take upon his enemies proceeds now, in the character of a prophet and teacher, to exhort the unbelieving to repentance, that they may not, when it is too late, be compelled to acknowledge, from dire experience, that the divine threatenings are neither idle nor ineffectual. And he addresses by name kings and rulers, who are not very easily brought to a submissive state of mind, and who are, besides, prevented from learning what is right by the foolish conceit of their own wisdom with which they are puffed up. And if David spare not even kings themselves, who seem unrestrained by laws, and exempted from ordinary rules, much more does his exhortation apply to the common class of men, in order that all, from the highest to the lowest, may humble themselves before God. By the adverb now, he signifies the necessity of their speedy repentance, since they will not always be favored with the like opportunity. Meanwhile, he tacitly gives them to understand, that it was for their advantage that he warned them, as there was yet room for repentance provided they made haste. When he enjoins them to be wise, he indirectly condemns their false confidence in their own wisdom as if he had said, The beginning of true wisdom is when a man lays aside his pride, and submits himself to the authority of Christ. Accordingly, however good an opinion the princes of the world may have of their own shrewdness, we may be sure they are arrant fools till they become humble scholars at the feet of Christ. Moreover, he declares the manner in which they were to be wise, by commanding them to serve the Lord with fear. By trusting to their elevated station, they flatter themselves that they are loosed from the laws which bind the rest of mankind; and the pride of this so greatly blinds them as to make them think it beneath them to submit even to God. The Psalmist therefore, tells them, that until they have learned to fear him, they are destitute of all right understanding. And certainly, since they are so much hardened by security as to withdraw their obedience from God, strong measures must at the first be employed to bring them to fear him, and thus to recover them from their rebelliousness. To prevent them from supposing that the service to which he calls them is grievous, he teaches them by the word rejoice how pleasant and desirable it is, since it furnishes matter of true gladness. But lest they should, according to their usual way, wax wanton, and, intoxicated with vain pleasures, imagine themselves happy while they are enemies to God, he exhorts them farther by the words with fear to an humble and dutiful submission. There is a great difference between the pleasant and cheerful state of a peaceful conscience, which the faithful enjoy in having the favor of God, whom they fear, and the unbridled insolence to which the wicked are carried, by contempt and forgetfulness of God. The language of the prophet, therefore, implies, that so long as the proud profligately rejoice in the gratification of the lusts of the flesh, they sport with their own destruction, while, on the contrary, the only true and salutary joy is that which arises from resting in the fear and reverence of God.
Psalm 2:12
12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when fa29 his wrath is kindled in a moment. O blessed are all who put their trust in him.

David expresses yet more distinctly what kind of fear and service God requires. Since it is the will of God to reign by the hand of his Son, and since he has engraved on his person the marks and insignia of his own glory, the proper proof of our obedience and piety towards him is reverently to embrace his Son, whom he has appointed king over us, according to the declaration,
"He that honoureth not the Son,
honoureth not the Father who hath sent him," (John 5:23)
The term kiss refers to the solemn token or sign of honor which subjects were wont to yield to their sovereigns. The sum is, that God is defrauded of his honor if he is slot served in Christ. The Hebrew word rb Bar, signifies both a son and an elect person; but in whatever way you take it, the meaning will remain the same. Christ was truly chosen of the Father, who has given him all power, that he alone should stand pre-eminent above both men and angels. On which account also he is said to be "sealed" by God, (<430627>John 6:27) because a peculiar dignity was, conferred upon him, which removes him to a distance from all creatures. Some interpreters expound it, kiss or embrace what is pure, fa30 which is a strange and rather forced interpretation. For my part, I willingly retain the name of son, which answers well to a former sentence, where it was said, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."
What follows immediately after is a warning to those who despise Christ, that their pride shall not go unpunished, as if he had said, As Christ is not despised without indignity being done to the Father, who hath adorned him with his own glory, so the Father himself will not allow such an invasion of his sacred rights to pass unpunished. And to teach them to beware of vainly deceiving themselves with the hope of a lengthened delay, and from their present ease indulging themselves in vain pleasures, they are plainly told that his wrath will be kindled in a moment. For we see, when God for a time connives at the wicked, and bears with them, how they abuse this forbearance, by growing more presumptuous, because they do not think of his judgments otherwise, than according to sight and feeling. Some interpreters, I know, explain the Hebrew word f[mk, Camoat, which we have rendered, in a moment, in a different way, namely, that as soon as God's wrath is kindled in even a small degree, it will be all over with the reprobate. But it is more suitable to apply it to time, and to view it as a warning to the proud not to harden themselves in their stupidity and indifference, nor flatter themselves from the patience of God, with the hope of escaping unpunished. Moreover, although this word appears to be put for the purpose of giving a reason of what goes before, fa31 namely, why those who refuse to kiss the Son shall perish, and although the Hebrew word yk, ki, signifies more frequently for than when, yet I am unwilling to depart from the commonly received translation, and have thought it proper to render the original word by the adverb when, which denotes both the reason and time of what is predicated. Some explain the phrases, to perish from the way, as meaning, a perverse way, or wicked manner of listing. Others resolve it thus, lest your way perish, according to that saying of the first psalm, the way of the ungodly shall perish. But I am rather inclined to attach to the words a different meaning, and to view them as a denunciation against the ungodly, by which they are warned that the wrath of God will cut them off when they think themselves to be only in the middle of their race. We know how the despisers of God are accustomed to flatter themselves in prosperity, and run to great excess in riot. The prophet, therefore, with great propriety, threatens that when they shall say, Peace and safety, reckoning themselves at a great distance from their end, they shall be cut off by a sudden destruction, (<520503>1 Thessalonians 5:3)
The concluding sentence of the psalm qualifies what was formerly said concerning the severity of Christ; for his iron rod and the fiery wrath of God would strike terror into all men without distinction, unless this comfort had been added. Having, therefore discoursed concerning the terrible judgment which hangs over the unbelieving, he now encourages God's faithful and devout servants to entertain good hope, by setting forth the sweetness of his grace. Paul likewise observes the same order, (<471006>2 Corinthians 10:6) for having declared that vengeance was in readiness against the disobedient, he immediately adds addressing himself to believers "When your obedience is fulfilled." Now, we understand the meaning of the Psalmist. As believers might have applied to themselves the severity of which he makes mention, he opens to them a sanctuary of hope, whither they may flee, in order not to be overwhelmed by the terror of God's wrath; fa32 just as Joel (<290232>Joel 2:32) also after having summoned the ungodly to the awful judgment-seat of God, which of itself is terrible to men, fa33 immediately subjoins the comfort, Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For it appears to me that this exclamation, Blessed are all they that put their trust in him, fa34 should be read as a distinct sentence by itself. The pronoun him may be referred as well to God as to Christ, but, in my judgment, it agrees better with the whole scope of the psalm to understand it of Christ, whom the Psalmist before enjoined kings and judges of the earth to kiss.
PSALM 3.
David, although driven from his kingdom, and pressed down with utter despair of relief from every earthly quarter, ceases not to call upon God, and supports himself from his promise against the greatest terrors, against the mockery and cruel assaults of his enemies; and, finally, against death itself, which then forced itself upon his consideration. In the end of the psalm, he congratulates himself and the whole Church on the happy issue of all.
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his Son fa35
How bitter David's sorrow was under the conspiracy of his own household against him, which arose from the treachery of his own son, it is easy for every one of us to conjecture from the feelings of nature. And when, in addition to this, he knew that this disaster was brought upon him by God for his own fault in having defiled another man's wife, and for shedding innocent blood, he might have sunk into despair, and been overwhelmed with anguish, if he had not been encouraged by the promise of God, and thus hoped for life even in death. From his making no allusion here to his sins, we are led to infer, that only one part of his prayers is comprised in this psalm; for as God punished him expressly on account of his adultery, and his wicked treachery towards Uriah, there can be no doubt that he was at first distressed with grievous and dreadful torments of mind. But after he had humbled himself before God, he took courage; and being well assured of having obtained forgiveness, he was fully persuaded that God was on his side, and knew that he would always preside over his kingdom, and show himself its protector. fa37 But he, nevertheless, complained of his son, and of the whole faction involved in the conspiracy, because he knew that they wickedly rose up for the purpose of frustrating the decree of God. In like manner, if at any time God makes use of wicked and mischievous men, as scourges to chastise us, it becomes us first diligently to consider the cause, namely, that we suffer nothing which we have not deserved, in order that this reflection may lead us to repentance. But if our enemies, In persecuting us, rather fa38 fight against God than against us, let the consideration of their doing so be immediately followed by the confident persuasion of our safety under the protection of him, whose grace, which he hath promised to us, they despise and trample under foot.
Psalm 3:1-2
1. O Lord, how are my oppressors multiplied! many rise up against me. 2. Many say to my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.

Sacred history teaches that David was not only dethroned, but forsaken by almost all men; so that he had well nigh as many enemies as he had subjects. It is true there accompanied him in his flight a few faithful friends; but he escaped in safety, not so much by their aid and protection as by the hiding-places of the wilderness. It is therefore not wonderful though he was affrighted by the great numbers who were opposed to him, for nothing could have taken place more unlooked for, on his part, than so sudden a rebellion. It was a mark of uncommon faith, when smitten with so great consternation, to venture freely to make his complaint to God, and, as it were, to pour out his soul into his bosom. fa39 And certainly the only remedy for allaying our fears is this, to cast upon him all the cares which trouble us; as, on the other hand, those who have the conviction that they are not the objects of his regard, must be prostrated and overwhelmed by the calamities which befall them.
In the third verse he expresses more distinctly, and more emphatically, the pride of his enemies in deriding him as a castaway, and as a person whose circumstances were past hope. And he means, that their boldness increased hereupon, because they were confident he had been rejected by God. Perhaps, in these words also, their ungodliness is indirectly referred to, inasmuch as they made no account of the help of God in preserving the king whom he had chosen. And this second view is the more probable, for Absalom did not flatter himself with the hope of the favor of God, but, entirely disregarding him, hoped for victory from his own power. David, therefore, expressly introduces both him and the rest as speaking after this manner, to show that it was by a monstrous and outrageous contempt of God that they were driven to such fury against him, as if they made no account whatever of the fact of his having been often wonderfully delivered from the greatest dangers. The ungodly, when they rise up to destroy us, may not openly break forth into such daring presumption as to maintain it to be impossible for us to derive any advantage from the favor of God; yet, as they either ascribe every thing to fortune, or hold the opinion that a man's success will be in proportion to his strength, and therefore fearlessly rush forward to gain their object, by all means, whether right or wrong, as if it would be equally the same, whether God is angry with or favorable towards them, it is evident that they set no value whatever upon the favor of God, and mock at the faithful as if it would avail them nothing to be under the care and protection of God.
The translation of some, Many say OF my soul, does not give the true meaning of this passage. The letter l lamed is indeed sometimes used as meaning of in Hebrew, but David here intended to express something more, namely, that his heart was in a manner pierced with the mockery of his enemies. The word soul, therefore, in my opinion, here signifies the seat of the affections. And it has a corresponding meaning in a passage which we shall meet with in another Psalm, (<193503>Psalm 35:3,) "Say to my soul, I am thy salvation." David thus teaches us by his own example, that although the whole world, with one voice, should attempt to drive us to despair, instead of listening to it, we ought rather to give ear to God alone, and always cherish within us the hope of the salvation which he hath promised; and as the ungodly use their endeavors to destroy our souls, we ought to defend them by our prayers. With respect to the word Selah, interpreters are not agreed. Some maintain it is a mark of affirmations and has the same signification as truly or amen. Others understand it as meaning for ever. But as lls Selal, from which it is derived, signifies to lift up, we incline to the opinion of those who think it denotes the lifting up of the voice in harmony in the exercise of singing. At the same time, it must be observed, that the music was adapted to the sentiment, and so the harmony was in unison with the character or subject-matter of the song; just as David here, after having complained of his enemies for shamefully laughing to scorn his hope, as if the protection of God would be of no avail to him, fixes the attention on this blasphemy, which severely wounded his heart, by the use of the word Selah; and as a little after, when he has added a new ground of confidence with regard to the safety of his person, he repeats the same word.
Psalm 3:3-4
3. And thou, Jehovah, art a shield for me, my glory, and he that exalteth my head. 4. I have cried to the lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.

The copulative and should be resolved into the disjunctive particle but, because David employs language full of confidence, in opposition to the hardihood and profane scoffings of his enemies, fa40 and testifies that whatever they may say, he would nevertheless rely upon the word of God. It besides appears that he had previously entertained an assured hope of deliverance, from the circumstance of his here making no mention of his present calamity as a chastisement inflicted upon him by the hand of God; but rather depending upon the divine aid, he courageously encounters his enemies, who were carrying on an ungodly and wicked war against him, seeing they intended to depose a true and lawful king from his throne. In short, having acknowledged his sin before, he now takes into consideration only the merits of the present cause. And thus it becomes the servants of God to act when molested by the wicked. Having mourned over their own sins, and humbly betaken themselves to the mercy of God, they ought to keep their eyes fixed on the obvious and immediate cause of their afflictions, that they may entertain no doubt of the help of God when undeservedly subjected to evil treatment. Especially when, by their being evil entreated, the truth of God is opposed, they ought to be greatly encouraged, and glory in the assurance that God without doubt will maintain the truth of his own promises against such perfidious and abandoned characters. Had it been otherwise with David, he might seem to have claimed these things to himself groundlessly, seeing he had deprived himself of the approbation and help of God by offending him. fa41 But being persuaded that he was not utterly cut off from the favor of God, and that God's choice of him to be king remained unchanged, he encourages himself to hope for a favorable issue to his present trials. And, in the first place, by comparing God to a shield, he means that he was defended by his power. Hence also he concludes, that God was his glory, because he would be the maintainer and defender of the royal dignity which he had been pleased to confer upon him. And, on this account, he became so bold that he declares he would walk with unabashed brow. fa42
4. With my voice have I cried unto the Lord. He here informs us that he had never been so broken by adversity, or cast down by impious scornings, fa43 as to be prevented from addressing his prayers to God. And it was an infallible proof of his faith to exercise it by praying even in the midst of his distresses. Nothing is more unbecoming than sullenly to gnaw the bit with which we are bridled, and to withhold our groaning from God, fa44 if, indeed we have any faith in his promise. Nor is there a redundancy of expression in these words, I have cried with my voice. David distinctly mentions his voice, the better to express that how much soever the ungodly might rage against him, he was by no means struck dumb, but pronounced, in a loud and distinct voice, the name of his God; and to do this was a difficult matter under so grievous and severe a temptation. He also particularly mentions his voice, in order to show that he opposes the voice of prayer to the tumultuous outcries of those who either blame fortune or curse God, or give way to excessive complainings; those in short, who with passionate confusion pour forth their immoderate sorrow. But David's meaning appears to me to be principally this, that amidst the blasphemies of his enemies by which they endeavored to overwhelm his faith, he was not put to silence, but rather lifted up his voice to God, whom the ungodly imagined to have become his enemy. He adds that he cried not in vain, to encourage all the godly to the like constancy. As to the expression, from the hill of his holiness or, which signifies the same things from his holy hill, it is improperly explained of heaven, as has been done by some. Heaven, I indeed confess, is often called, in other places, God's holy palace; but here David has doubtless a reference to the ark of the covenant, which at that time stood on Mount Sion. And he expressly affirms that he was heard from thence, though he had been compelled to flee into the wilderness. The Sacred History relates, (<101524>2 Samuel 25:24,) that when Abiathar the priest commanded the ark to be carried by the Levites, David would not suffer it. And in this the wonderful faith of the holy man appears conspicuous. He knew that the Lord had chosen Sion to be the dwelling place of the ark, but he was, notwithstanding, willing rather to be torn from that sacred symbol of the divine presence, (which was painful to him as if his own bowels had been torn from him,) than make any innovation not sanctioned by the will of heaven. Now, he boasts, that although he was deprived of the sight of the ark, and notwithstanding the distance to which he was removed from it, God was near him to listen to his prayers. By these words he intimates that he kept a due medium, inasmuch as he neither despised the visible sign, which the Lord had appointed on account of the rudeness of the times, nor by attaching a superstitious importance to a particular place, entertained carnal conceptions of the glory of God. Thus, he did not idly scatter words which would vanish into air, as unbelievers are wont to do, who pray also but are in doubt to what place they ought to direct their speech. David turned himself directly towards the tabernacle, whence God had promised to be merciful to his servants. Hence the confidence with which he prayed; and this confidence was not without success. In our day, since there is fulfilled in Christ what was formerly shadowed forth by the figures of the law, a much easier way of approach to God is opened up for us, provided we do not knowingly and willingly wander from the way.
Psalm 3:5-6
5. I laid me down and slept, I awaked; for the lord sustained me. 6. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, who have set their camps against me on all sides.

According to the usage of the Hebrews, these words, which are in the past tense, I laid me down and slept, are taken sometimes for the future, I will lie down and sleep. fa45 If we retain the reading of the verb in the past tense, David expresses a wonderful and almost incredible steadfastness of mind in that he slept so soundly in the midst of many deaths, as if he had been beyond the reach of all danger. He had doubtless been tossed amidst the merciless waves of anxiety, but it is certain their violence had been allayed by means of faith, so that however much he was disquieted, he reposed in God. Thus the godly never fail in ultimately proving victorious over all their fears, whereas the ungodly, who do not rely upon God, are overwhelmed with despair, even when they meet with the smallest perils. Some think there is here a change of tenses; and, therefore, translate the verbs into the fixture tense, I will lay me down and will sleep, and will awake, because immediately after a verb of the future is subjoined, The Lord shall uphold me. But as he expresses, by these last words, a continuous act, I thought it unnecessary to change the tenses in the three first verbs. Still we ought to know, that this confidence of safety is not to be referred peculiarly to the time of his affliction, or, at least, is not to be limited to it:for, in my judgment, David rather declares how much good he had obtained by means of faith and prayer; namely the peaceful and undisturbed state of a well regulated mind. This he expresses metaphorically when he says, that he did the ordinary actions of life without being disturbed by fear. "I have not lain," says he, "waking and restless on my bed; but I have slept soundly, whereas such manner of sleeping does not generally happen to those who are full of thought and fear." But let us particularly notice that David came to have this confidence of safety from the protection of God, and not from stupidity of mind. Even the wicked are kept fast asleep through an intoxication of mind, while they dream of having made a covenant with death. It was otherwise with David, who found rest on no other ground but because he was upheld by the power of God, and defended by his help. In the next verse, he enlarges upon the incalculable efficacy of this confidence, of which all the godly have some understanding, from their experience of the divine protection. As the power of God is infinite, so they conclude that it shall be invincible against all the assaults, outrages, preparations, and forces of the whole world. And, indeed, unless we ascribe this honor to God, our courage shall be always failing us. Let us, therefore, learn, when in dangers, not to measure the assistance of God after the manner of man, but to despise whatever terrors may stand in our way, inasmuch as all the attempts which men may make against God, are of little or no account.
Psalm 3:7-8
7. Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God; for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek-bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. 8. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord; thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

7. Arise, O Lord. As in the former verses David boasted of his quiet state, it would now appear he desires of the Lord to be preserved in safety during the whole of his life; as if he had said, Lord, since thou hast overthrown my enemies, grant that this thy goodness may follow me, and be continued even to the end of my course. But because it is no uncommon thing for David, in the Psalms, to mingle together various affections, it seems more probable, that, after having made mention of his confidence in God, he returns again to make the same prayers as at the beginning. fa46 He therefore asks to be preserved, because he was in eminent peril. What follows concerning the smiting of his enemies, may be explained in two ways: either that in praying he calls to his remembrance his former victories, or that having experienced the assistance of God, and obtained the answer of his prayers, he now follows it up by thanksgiving: and this last meanings I am much inclined to adopt. In the first place, then, he declares that he fled to God for help in dangers, and humbly prayed for deliverance, and after salvation had been granted him, he gives thanks, by which he testifies, that he acknowledged God to be the author of the deliverance which he had obtained. fa47
8. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord. Because l is sometimes used by the Hebrews for °m Min, some not improperly translate this clause, Salvation is of the Lord. I, however consider the natural and obvious meaning to be simply this, that salvation or deliverance is only in the hands of God. By these words, David not only claims the office and praise of saving for God alone, tacitly opposing his power to all human succor; but also declares, that although a thousand deaths hang over his people, yet this cannot render God unable to save them, or prevent him from speedily sending forth without any effort, the deliverance which he is always able to impart. In the end of the psalm, David affirms that this was vouchsafed, not so much to him as an individual, as to the whole people, that the universal Church, whose welfare depended on the safety and prosperity of his kingdom, might be preserved from destruction. David, therefore, acknowledges the dispersion of this wicked conspiracy to have been owing to the care which God had about the safety of his Church. From this passage we learn, that the Church shall always be delivered from the calamities which befall her, because God who is able to save her, will never withdraw his grace and blessing from her.
PSALM 4.
After David in the beginning of the psalm has prayed to God to help him, he immediately turns his discourse to his enemies, and depending on the promise of God, triumphs over them as a conqueror. He, therefore, teaches us by his example, that as often as we are weighed down by adversity, or involved in very great distress, we ought to meditate upon the promises of God, in which the hope of salvation is held forth to us, so that defending ourselves by this shield, we may break through all the temptations which assail us.
To the chief musician on Neginoth. A psalm of David.
It is uncertain at what time this psalm was composed. But from the tenor of it, it is conjectured, with probability, that David was then a fugitive and an exile. I therefore refer it to the time when he was persecuted by Saul. If, however, any person is disposed rather to understand it as referring to the time when he was compelled by the conspiracy of Absalom to secure his safety by flight, I will not greatly contend about the matter. But as, a little after, he uses an expression, namely, "How long?" (verse 3) fa48 which indicates that he had a lengthened struggle, the opinion which I have already brought forward is the more probable. For we know with what varied trials he was harassed, before he obtained complete deliverance, from the time when Saul began to be his enemy. Concerning the words which are contained in this verse, I shall only make one or two brief observations. Some translate the word htnm, Lamnetsah, for ever; and they say that it was the commencement of a common song, to the tune of which this psalm was composed:fa49 but this I reject as a forced translation. Others, with more truth, are of opinion, that hxnm, Menetsah, signifies one who excels and surpasses all others. But because expositors are not agreed as to the particular kind of excellence and dignity here spoken of, let it suffice, that by this word is denoted the chief master or president of the band. fa50 I do not approve of rendering the word, conqueror; for although it answers to the subject-matter of the present psalm, yet it does not at all suit other places where we shall find the same Hebrew word used. With respect to the second word, Neginoth, I think it comes from the verb °gn, Nagan, which signifies to strike or sound; and, therefore, I doubt not, but it was an instrument of music. Whence it follows, that this psalm was designed to be sung, not only with the voice, but also with musical instruments, which were presided over, and regulated by the chief musician of whom we have just now spoken.
Psalm 4:1
1. Answer me when I cry, O God of my righteousness; thou hast enlarged me in distress; have pity upon me, and hear my prayer.

In these words there is shown the faith of David, who, although brought to the uttermost distress, and indeed almost consumed by a long series of calamities, did not sink under his sorrow; nor was he so broken in heart as to be prevented from betaking himself to God his deliverer. By his praying, he testified, that when utterly deprived of all earthly succor, there yet remained for him hope in God. Moreover, he calls him the God of his righteousness, which is the same thing as if he had called him the vindicator of his right; fa51 and he appeals to God, because all men everywhere condemned him, and his innocence was borne down by the slanderous reports of his enemies and the perverse judgments of the common people. And this cruel and unjust treatment which David met with, ought to be carefully marked. For while nothing is more painful to us than to be falsely condemned, and to endure, at one and the same time, wrongful violence and slander; yet to be ill spoken of for doing well, is an affliction which daily befalls the saints. And it becomes them to be so exercised under it as to turn away from all the enticements of the world, and to depend wholly upon God alone. Righteousness, therefore, is here to be understood of a good cause, of which David makes God the witness, while he complains of the malicious and wrongful conduct of men towards him; and, by his example, he teaches us, that if at any time our uprightness is not seen and acknowledged by the world, we ought not on that account to despond, inasmuch as we have one in heaven to vindicate our cause. Even the heathen have said there is no better stage for virtue than a man's own conscience. But it is a consolation far surpassing this, to know when men vaunt themselves over us wrongfully, that we are standing in the view of God and of the angels. Paul, we know, was endued with courage arising from this source, (<460405>1 Corinthians 4:5) for when many evil reports were spread abroad concerning him among the Corinthians, he appeals to the judgment-seat of God. Isaiah also, fortified by the same confidence, (<235006>Isaiah 50:6 and following verse) despises all the slanders by which his enemies calumniated him. If, therefore, we cannot find justice anywhere in the world the only support of our patience is to look to God, and to rest contented with the equity of his judgment. It may, however, be asked by way of objection, Since all the purity of men is mere pollution in the sight of God, how can the godly dare to bring forward their own righteousness before him? With respect to David, it is easy to answer this question. He did not boast of his own righteousness except in reference to his enemies, from whose calumnies he vindicated himself. He had the testimony of a good conscience that he had attempted nothing without the call and commandment of God, and therefore he does not speak rashly when he calls God the protector and defender of his right. Hence we learn that David honored God with this title of praise, in order the more readily to set him in contrast with the whole world. And as he asks twice to be heard, in this there is expressed to us both the vehemence of his grief and the earnestness of his prayers. In the last clause of the verse, he also shows whence he expected to obtain what he needed, namely, from the mercy of God. And certainly, as often as we ask anything from God, it becomes us to begin with this, and to beseech him, according to his free goodness, to relieve our miseries.
Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress. Some think that David here promises himself what he had not yet experienced; and in the exercise of hope anticipates the manifestations of God's grace with which he should afterwards be favored. But, in my opinion, he rather mentions the benefits which he formerly received from God, and by these strengthens himself against the time to come. Thus the faithful are accustomed to call to their remembrance those things which tend to strengthen their faith. We shall, hereafter meet with many passages similar to this, where David, in order to give energy to his faith against terrors and dangers, fa52 brings together the many experiences from which he had learned that God is always present with his own people and will never disappoint their desires. The mode of expression which he here employs is metaphorical, and by it he intimates that a way of escape was opened up to him even when he was besieged and enclosed on every side. The distress of which he speaks, in my opinion, refers not less to the state of his mind than to circumstances of outward affliction; for David's heart was not of such an iron mould as to prevent him from being cast into deeper mental anguish by adversity.
Psalm 4:2-3
2. O ye sons of men, how long will ye try to turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seeking after lying? Selah 3. But know that Jehovah hath chosen for himself one who is merciful:Jehovah will hear when I call upon him.

2. O ye sons of men. The happy result of the prayer of David was, that resuming courage, he was able not only to repel the fury of his enemies, but also to challenge them on his part, and fearlessly to despise all their machinations. That our confidence, therefore, may remain unshaken, we ought not, when assailed by the wicked, to enter into conflict without being furnished like David with the same armor. The sum is, that since God was determined to defend David by his own power, it was in vain for all the men in the world to endeavor to destroy him; however great the power which they otherwise might have of doing him injury. By calling those whom he addresses the sons, not of Adam, or of some common persons but of men, he seems by the way to reprove their pride. fa53 I do not agree with certain Jewish expositors who think that nobles or men of rank are meant. It is rather an ironical concession of what they claimed to themselves, by which he ridicules their presumption, in esteeming themselves to be noble and wise, whereas it was only blind rage which impelled them to wicked enterprises. In the words how long, he condemns their perverse obstinacy; for what he means, is not that they were stirred up against him merely by some sudden impulses, but that the stubborn purpose of injuring him was deeply fixed in their hearts. Had not their maliciousness deprived them of their understanding, the many instances in which God had proved himself to be David's defender would have compelled them to desist from their attempts against him. But as they were fully determined to disgrace him whom God had exalted to the royal throne he asks them, How long they will persevere in their endeavors to turn his glory into shame. And it is to be observed that although loaded with every kind of reproach, both among the high and the low he yet courageously keeps fast hold of the glory or the honor of royalty which God had graciously promised him, or had conferred upon him, and is fully persuaded that God will at length vindicate his right to it, however much his enemies might wickedly endeavor to blot and obscure it by treating his pretensions with derision and scorn.
How long will ye love vanity? In these words, he partly reproaches his enemies for the wicked and perverse passions with which he saw them to be impelled, although they falsely pretended to be actuated by a godly zeal; and he partly derides their folly in flattering themselves with the hope of success while fighting against God. And it is a most pointed rebuke. Even when the ungodly rush headlong into all manner of wickedness with the grossest fa54 malice, they soothe themselves with deceitful flatteries in order not to be disturbed with the feelings of remorse. David, therefore, cries out, that wilfully to shut their eyes and varnish their unrighteousness with deceitful colors, would avail them nothing. The ungodly may indeed flatter and delude themselves, but when they are brought in good earnest to the trial, it will be always manifest that the reason why they are deceived is, because from the beginning they were determined to deal deceitfully. Now, from this place, we ought to take a shield of invincible steadfastness as often as we see ourselves overmatched in prudence and subtlety by the wicked. For with whatever engines they assault us, yet if we have the testimony of a good conscience, God will remain on our side, and against him they shall not prevail. They may greatly excel in ingenuity, and possess much power of hurting us, and have their plans and subsidiary aid in the greatest readiness, and be very shrewd in discernment, yet whatever they may invent, it will be but lying and vanity.
3. Know that Jehovah hath set apart, etc. This is a confirmation of the preceding verse, for it shows that the cause of David's boldness consisted in this, that he depended upon God, the founder of his kingdom. And surely we may then safely triumph over our enemies when we are assured of having the call of God to the office which we hold, or the work in which we are engaged. Accordingly, David does not here boast of his own strength, or riches, or armies by which he obtained the kingdom. But as he was chosen by God, he intimates that the many attempts of his enemies against him would be without success, because they would find from experience, that God, whose power they could not successfully resist, was against them. In the first place, he says that he was set apart by God, by which he means that he was advanced to the throne, not by the will of man, or by his own ambition, but by the appointment of God. The Hebrew word hlp, Phalah, signifies to separate, and it here refers to separation to honor and dignity; as if he had said you admit no one as king but he who is chosen by your own suffrages, or who pleases you; but it is the peculiar prerogative of God to make choice of whom he will. By the word merciful or bountiful, he doubtless vindicates his right to be king, from the fact that this was a quality which belonged to himself; it is as if he had produced the mark or badge of his calling. For it was truly said in the old proverb, Mercy is the virtue most suitable for kings. Now, God usually furnishes those whom he reckons worthy of having this honor conferred upon them, with the endowments requisite for the exercise of their office, that they may not be as dead idols. Some understand the word dysj, chasid, in a passive sense, not as denoting a beneficent person, but one who is placed on the throne by the favor of God. As, however, I meet with no examples of this signification of the word in Scripture, I think it safer to follow the common interpretation, which is this:God has chosen a king, who answers to the character which should be possessed by all who are called to fill such an exalted station, in as much as he is merciful and beneficent. Hence, he infers that he would be heard by God as often as he called upon him; for God principally proves his faithfulness in this, that he does not forsake the work of his own hands, but continually defends those whom he has once received into his favor. Hence, we are taught fearlessly to proceed in our path; because whatever we may have undertaken according to his will, shall never be ineffectual. Let this truth then, obtain a fixed place in our minds, that God will never withhold his assistance from those who go on sincerely in their course. Without this comfort, the faithful must inevitably sink into despondency every moment.
Psalm 4:4-5
4. Tremble then, and sin not:commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 5. Sacrifice the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.

4. Tremble then. Now he exhorts his enemies to repentance, if peradventure, their madness was not wholly incorrigible. In the first place, he bids them tremble, or be troubled; a word by which he rebukes their stupidity in running headlong in their wicked course, without any fear of God, or any sense of danger. And certainly the great presumption of all the ungodly in not hesitating to engage in war against God, proceeds from their being hardened through an infatuated security; and by their thoughtlessness, they render themselves stupid, and become more obdurate by forgetting both God and themselves, and following whithersoever lust leads them. He tells them that the best remedy to cure their rage, and prevent them from sinning any longer, would be to awaken from their lethargy and begin to be afraid and tremble; as if he had said, As soon as you shall have shaken off your drowsiness and insensibility, your desire of sinning will abate; for the reason why the ungodly are troublesome to the good and the simple, and cause so much confusion, is because they are too much at peace with themselves.
He afterwards admonishes them to commune with their own heart upon their bed, that is, to take an account of themselves at leisure, and as it were, in some place of deep retirement; fa55 an exercise which is opposed to their indulgence of their unruly passions. In the end of the verse he enjoins them to be still. Now, it is to be observed, that the cause of this stillness is the agitation and trembling, of which he before made mention. For if any have been hurried into sin by their infatuated recklessness, the first step of their return to a sound mind is to awaken themselves from their deep sleep to fearfulness and trembling. After this follows calm and deliberate reflection; then they consider and reconsider to what dangers they have been exposing themselves; and thus at length they, whose audacious spirits shrink at nothing, learn to be orderly and peaceable, or, at least, they restrain their frantic violence.
To commune upon one's bed, is a form of expression taken from the common practice and experience of men. We know that, during our intercourse with men in the day time, our thoughts are distracted, and we often judge rashly, being deceived by the external appearance; whereas in solitude, we can give to any subject a closer attention; and, farther, the sense of shame does not then hinder a man from thinking without disguise of his own faults. David, therefore, exhorts his enemies to withdraw from those who witnessed and judged of their actions on the public stage of life, and to be alone, that they may examine themselves more truthfully and honestly. And this exhortation has a respect to us all; for there is nothing to which men are more prone than to deceive one another with empty applause, until each man enter into himself, and commune alone with his own heart. Paul, when quoting this passage in <490426>Ephesians 4:26, or, at least when alluding to the sentiment of David, follows the Septuagint, "Be ye angry and sin not." And yet he has skilfully and beautifully applied it to his purpose. He there teaches us that men, instead of wickedly pouring forth their anger against their neighbors, have rather just cause to be angry with themselves, in order that, by this means, they may abstain from sin. And, therefore, he commands them rather to fret inwardly, and be angry with themselves; and then to be angry, not so much at the persons, as at the vices of others.
5. Sacrifice ye. Many are of opinion that David exhorts his enemies to give some evidence of their repentance; and I certainly admit, that sacrifices were partly enjoined for the purpose of inducing men to walk in newness of life. But when I consider the character of the men who opposed David, I am satisfied that he here censures their hypocrisy, and beats down their groundless boasting. David, when he wandered as a fugitive in deserts, or in caves, or on mountains, or in the regions beyond his own country, might seem to have been separated from the Church of God; and certainly he was commonly accounted as a corrupt member cut off from the body and the communion of the saints. Meanwhile the ark of the covenant was in the hands of his enemies, they kept possession of the temple, and they were the first in offering sacrifices. They, therefore, vaunted themselves against David with the same boldness and presumption with which we know hypocrites to have been always puffed up. Nor is it to be doubted, but they proudly abused the name of God as if they only had been his true worshippers. fa56 But as Jeremiah (<240704>Jeremiah 7:4) rebukes the ungodly, because of the false confidence which they placed in the temple of the Lord; so David also denies that God is pacified by mere outward ceremonies, since he requires pure sacrifices. There is in the words an implied contrast between the sacrifices of righteousness, and all those vain and spurious rites fa57 with which the counterfeit worshippers of God satisfy themselves. The sum, therefore, is, "You boast of having God on your side, because you have free access to his altar to offer your sacrifices there with great pomp; and because I am banished from the Holy Land, and not suffered to come to the temple, you think that I am not an object of the divine care. But you must worship God in a far different manner, if you would expect any good at his hand; for your unclean sacrifices with which you pollute his altar, so far from rendering him favorable to you, will do nothing else but provoke his wrath." Let us learn from this passage, that, in contending with the corrupters of true religion, who may have the name of God continually in their mouth, and vaunt themselves on account of their observance of his outward worship, we may safely rebuke their boasting, because they do not offer the right sacrifices. But, at the same time, we must beware lest a vain pretense of godliness foster in us a perverse and ill founded confidence, in place of true hope.
Psalm 4:6-7
6. Many say, Who will show us good? fa58 Lift thou up upon us the light of thy countenance, O Jehovah. 7. Thou hast given more joy to my heart than they have in the time when their corn and their wine are increased.

6. Many say. Some are of opinion that David here complains of the cruel malice of his enemies, because they greedily sought for his life. But David, I have no doubt, compares the sole wish with which his own heart was burning, to the many desires with which almost all mankind are distracted. As it is not a principle held and acted upon by ungodly men, that those only can be truly and perfectly happy who are interested in the favor of God, and that they ought to live as strangers and pilgrims in the world, in order through hope and patience to obtain, in due time, a better life, they remain contented with perishing good things; and, therefore, if they enjoy outward prosperity, they are not influenced by any great concern about God. Accordingly, while, after the manner of the lower animals, they grasp at various objects, some at one thing, and some at another, thinking to find in them supreme happiness, David, with very good reason, separates himself from them, and proposes to himself an end of an entirely opposite description. I do not quarrel with the interpretation which supposes that David is here complaining of his own followers, who, finding their strength insufficient for bearing the hardships which befell them, and exhausted by weariness and grief, indulged in complaints, and anxiously desired repose. But I am rather inclined to extend the words farther, and to view them as meaning that David, contented with the favor of God alone, protests that he disregards, and sets no value on objects which others ardently desire. This comparison of the desire of David with the desires of the world, well illustrates this important doctrine, fa59 that the faithful, forming a low estimate of present good things, rest in God alone, and account nothing of more value than to know from experience that they are interested in his favor. David, therefore, intimates in the first place, that all those are fools, who, wishing to enjoy prosperity, do not begin with seeking the favor of God; for, by neglecting to do this, they are carried about by the various false opinions which are abroad. In the second place, he rebukes another vice, namely, that of gross and earthly men in giving themselves wholly to the ease and comforts of the flesh, and in settling down in, or contenting themselves with, the enjoyment of these alone, without thinking of any thing higher. fa60 Whence also it comes to pass, that as long as they are supplied with other things according to their desire, they are altogether indifferent about God, just as if they had no need of him. David, on the contrary, testifies, that although he may be destitute of all other good things, the fatherly love of God is sufficient to compensate for the loss of them all. This, therefore, is the purport of the whole:"The greater number of men greedily seek after present pleasures and advantages; but I maintain that perfect felicity is only to be found in the favor of God."
David uses the expression, The light of God's countenance, to denote his serene and pleasant countenance — the manifestations of his favor and love; just as, on the other hand, the face of God seems to us dark and clouded when he shows the tokens of his anger. This light, by a beautiful metaphor, is said to be lifted up, when, shining in our hearts, it produces trust and hope. It would not be enough for us to be beloved by God, unless the sense of this love came home to our hearts; but, shining upon them by the Holy Spirit, he cheers us with true and solid joy. This passage teaches us that those are miserable who do not, with full resolution, repose themselves wholly in God, and take satisfaction therein, fa61 even although they may have an overflowing abundance of all earthly things; while, on the other hand, the faithful, although they are tossed amidst many troubles, are truly happy, were there no other ground for it but this, that God's fatherly countenance shines upon them, which turns darkness into light, and, as I may say, quickens even death itself.
7. Thou hast given more joy to my heart. By another comparison he better expresses and illustrates the strength of his affection, showing that, having obtained the good which he had longed for, he does not in the least degree envy the wealth and enjoyments of others, but is altogether contented with his own lot. The sum is, that he had more satisfaction in seeing the reconciled countenance of God beaming upon him, than if he had possessed garners full of corn, and cellars full of wine. fa62 Interpreters are not agreed as to the word t[m, me-eth, which we have translated, in the time. Some give this rendering, Thou hast put gladness into my heart, Since The Time that their corn and wine increased; as if David had said, I rejoice when I see mine enemies prospering in the world. fa63 But the former translation appears to me much more suitable; according to which David declares, that he rejoices more in the favor of God alone, than earthly men rejoice when they enjoy all earthly good things, with the desire of which they are generally inflamed. He had represented them as so bent upon, and addicted to, the pursuit of worldly prosperity, as to have no great care about God; and now he adds, that their joy in the abundance and increase of their wine and corn is not so great as is his joy in a sense of the divine goodness alone. This verse contains very profitable instruction. We see how earthly men, after they have despised the grace of God, and plunged themselves over head and ears in transitory pleasures, are so far from being satisfied with them, that the very abundance of them inflames their desires the more; and thus, in the midst of their fullness, a secret uneasiness renders their minds uncomfortable. Never, therefore, shall we obtain undisturbed peace and solid joy until the favor of God shine upon us. And although the faithful also desire and seek after their worldly comforts, yet they do not pursue them with immoderate and irregular ardor; but can patiently bear to be deprived of them, provided they know themselves to be the objects of the divine care.
Psalm 4:8
8. I will lay me down, and will sleep together in peace; for thou, Lord, hast placed me alone fa64 in safety.

He concludes, by stating, that as he is protected by the power of God, he enjoys as much security and quiet as if he had been defended by all the garrisons on earth. Now, we know, that to be free from all fear, and from the torment and vexation of care, is a blessing to be desired above all other things. This verse, therefore, is a confirmation of the former sentence, intimating that David justly prefers the joy produced by the light of God's fatherly love before all other objects for inward peace of mind certainly surpasses all the blessings of which we can form any conception. Many commentators explain this place as expressing David's hope, that his enemies will be reconciled to him, so that he may sleep with them in peace, God having granted him the peculiar privilege of being able to rest without being disturbed or disquieted by any man. But in my judgment the proper meaning is this, that he will live as quietly and securely alone, as in the midst of a great host of men, because God defends him for in the words, I will sleep together, I consider the particle as to be understood, as if the reading were as together, that is to say, as with a multitude. Some refer ddbl, lebadad, alone, to God, translating the words thus, Thou alone, O Lord, hast set me in safety; but this I do not at all approve, because, by taking away the contrast between these two words, together and alone, much of the beauty of the sentence is lost. In short, David boasts that the protection of God alone was sufficient, and that under it he sleeps as securely, although destitute of all human guardianship, as if he had had many to keep watch and ward continually over him, or as if he had been defended on all sides by a great company. Let us therefore, learn from his example, to yield this honor to God — to believe, that although there may appear no help for us from men, yet under his hand alone we are kept in peace and safety, as if we were surrounded by a great host.
PSALM 5.
David being grievously oppressed by the cruelty of his enemies, and apprehending still more mischief, earnestly beseeches God for help. And the more easily to obtain what he asks, after having, by the earnestness of his prayers, manifested the greatness of his grief, he first brings forward the intolerable malice of his enemies, showing how inconsistent it would be with the character of God, were they to be left unpunished. He next speaks of his own faith and patience, and even comfort; having no doubt whatever of a happy issue. Finally, he concludes, that when he shall be delivered, the benefits resulting from his deliverance would not be limited to himself, but would extend to all the godly.
To the chief musician upon Nehiloth. A psalm of David.
Some translate the Hebrew word Nehiloth, heritages, and others, armies. The former assign this reason for their opinion, that David prayed for the welfare of the twelve tribes, whom he calls heritages. fa65 The latter assert in support of their view, that being besieged by a vast multitude of men, he betook himself to God for succor; and, according to this sense, the word upon will signify against. But not approving of the conjectures of many who speak upon these inscriptions of The Psalms as if they were riddles, fa66 I adopt the opinion of those who hold that it was either a musical instrument or a tune; but of what particular kind I consider it of little importance to ascertain.
Psalm 5:1-2
1. Give ear unto my words, O Jehovah; attend to my speech. 2. Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God:for unto thee will I pray.

I presume not positively to determine whether David, in this psalm, bewails the wrongs which he suffered from his enemies at some particular time, or whether he complains generally of the various persecutions with which, for a long time, he was harassed under Saul. Some of the Jewish commentators apply the psalm even to Absalom; because, by the bloody and deceitful man, they think Doeg and Ahithophel are pointed out. To me, however, it appears more probable, that when David, after the death of Saul, had got peaceable possession of the kingdoms he committed to writing the prayers which he had meditated in his afflictions and dangers. But to come to the words:— First, he expresses one thing in three different ways; and this repetition denotes the strength of his affection, and his long perseverance in prayer. For he was not so fond of many words as to employ different forms of expression, which had no meaning; but being deeply engaged in prayer, he represented, by these various expressions, the variety of his complaints. fa67 It therefore signifies, that he prayed neither coldly nor only in few words; but that, according as the vehemence of his grief urged him, he was earnest in bewailing his calamities before God; and that since it did not immediately appear what would be their issue, he persevered in repeating the same complaints. Again, he does not expressly state what he desires to ask from God:fa68 but there is a greater force in this kind of suppression, than if he had spoken distinctly. By not uttering the desires of his heart, he shows more emphatically that his inward feelings, which he brought with him before God, were such that language was insufficient to express them. Again, the word cry, which signifies a loud and sonorous utterance of the voice, serves to mark the earnestness of his desire. David did not cry out as it were into the ears of one who was deaf; but the vehemence of his grief and his inward anguish, burst forth into this cry. The verb hgh hagah, from which the noun gygh, hagig, speech, which the prophet here uses, is derived, means both to speak distinctly, and to whisper or to mutter. But the second sense seems better suited to this passage. fa69 After David has said in general, that God hears his words, he seems, immediately after, for the purpose of being more specific, to divide them into two kinds, calling the one obscure or indistinct moanings, and the other loud crying. fa70 By the first he means a confused muttering, such as is described in the Song of Hezekiah, when sorrow hindered him from speaking distinctly, and making his voice to be heard. "Like a crane, or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove," (<233814>Isaiah 38:14.) fa71 If, then, at any time we are either backward to pray, or our devout affections begin to lose their fervor, we must here seek for arguments to quicken and urge us forward. And as by calling God his King and his God, he intended to stir up himself to entertain more lively and favorable hopes with respect to the issue of his afflictions, let us learn to apply these titles to a similar use, namely, for the purpose of making ourselves more familiar with God. At the close, he testifies that he does not sullenly gnaw the bit, as unbelievers are accustomed to do; but directs his groaning to God:for they who, disregarding God, either fret inwardly or utter their complaints to men, are not worthy of being regarded by him. Some translate the last clause thus, When I pray to thee; but to me it seems rather to be the reason which David assigns for what he had said immediately before, and that his purpose is, to encourage himself to trust in God, by assuming this as a general principle that whoever call upon God in their calamities never meet with a repulse from him.
Psalm 5:3
3. O that thou wouldst hear my voice in the morning; O Jehovah, in the morning will I direct unto thee, and I will keep watch.

The first sentence may also be read in the future tense of the indicative mood, Thou shalt hear my prayer. But, in my opinion, the verb is rather in the optative mood, as I have translated it. Having besought God to grant his requests, he now entreats him to make haste. Some think he alludes to the morning prayers which were wont to be joined with the daily sacrifices in the temple, according to the appointment of the law. Although I do not disapprove of this opinion, yet I have no doubt but that, constrained by the weariness of a somewhat lengthened delay, he wishes his deliverance to be hastened; as if he had said, "As soon as I awaken this will be the first subject of my thoughts. Therefore, O Lord, delay no longer the help of which I stand in need, but grant immediately my desires." The expression, To direct unto God, I take to signify the same thing as directly to approach to God. Many, as if the language were elliptical, supply the words, my prayer. But in my judgment, David rather intends to declare that he was not turned hither and thither, nor drawn different ways by the temptations to which he was exposed, but that to betake himself to God was the settled order of his life. There is, in the words, an implied contrast between the rambling and uncertain movements of those who look around them for worldly helps, or depend on their own counsels and the direct leading of faith, by which all the godly are withdrawn from the vain allurements of the world, and have recourse to God alone. The Hebrew word °r[, arac, signifies to set in order or dispose, and sometimes to dress or make fit. This sense is very suitable to the passage, in which David plainly declares it to be his determination not to be drawn away in any degree from his orderly course into the indirect and circuitous paths of error and sin, but to come directly to God. By the word, watch, he conveys the idea of hope and patience as well as of anxiety. As hpx, tsapah, in Hebrew means, to wait for, as well as to look for, David, I have no doubt, intended to say, that after he had disburdened his cares into the bosom of God, he would, with an anxious mind, look out, as it were, like a sentinel, until it should appear, that in very deed God had heard him. No doubt, in the exercise of longing, there is always implied some degree of uneasiness; but he who is looking out for the grace of God with anxious desire, will patiently wait for it. This passages therefore, teaches us the uselessness of those prayers to which there is not added that hope which may be said to elevate the minds of the petitioners into a watch-tower.
Psalm 5:4-6
4. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; fa72 evil shall not dwell Smith thee. 5. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all that commit iniquity. 6. Thou shalt destroy them that speak falsehood; Jehovah will abhor the blood-thirsty fa73 and deceitful man.

Here David makes the malice and wickedness of his enemies an argument to enforce his prayer for the divine favor towards him. The language is indeed abrupt, as the saints in prayer will often stammer; but this stammering is more acceptable to God than all the figures of rhetoric, be they ever so fine and glittering. Besides, the great object which David has in view, is to show, that since the cruelty and treachery of his enemies had reached their utmost height, it was impossible but that God would soon arrest them in their course. His reasoning is grounded upon the nature of God. Since righteousness and upright dealing are pleasing to him, David, from this, concludes that he will take vengeance on all the unjust and wicked. And how is it possible for them to escape from his hand unpunished, seeing he is the judge of the world? The passage is worthy of our most special attention. For we know how greatly we are discouraged by the unbounded insolence of the wicked. If God does not immediately restrain it, we are either stupified and dismayed, or cast down into despair. But David, from this, rather finds matter of encouragement and confi-dence. The greater the lawlessness with which his enemies proceeded against him, the more earnestly did he supplicate preservation from God, whose office it is to destroy all the wicked, because he hates all wickedness. Let all the godly, therefore, learn, as often as they have to contend against violence, deceit, and injustice, to raise their thoughts to God in order to encourage themselves in the certain hope of deliverance, according as Paul also exhorts them in <530105>2 Thessalonians 1:5, "Which is," says he, "a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us." And assuredly he would not be the judge of the world if there were not laid up in store with him a recompense for all the ungodly. One use, then, which may be made of this doctrine is this, — when we see the wicked indulging themselves in their lusts, and when, in consequence, doubts steal into our minds as to whether God takes any care of us, we should learn to satisfy ourselves with the consideration that God, who hates and abhors all iniquity, will not permit them to pass unpunished, and although he bear with them for a time, he will at length ascend into the judgment-seat, and show himself an avenger, as he is the protector and defender of his people. fa74 Again, we may infer from this passage the common doctrine, that God, although he works by Satan and by the ungodly, and makes use of their malice for executing his judgments, is not, on this account, the author of sin, nor is pleased with it because the end which he purposes is always righteous; and he justly condemns and punishes those who, by his mysterious providence, are driven whithersoever he pleases.
In the 4th verse some take [r, ra, in the masculine gender, for a wicked man; but I understand it rather of wickedness itself David declares simply, that there is no agreement between God and unrighteousness. He immediately after proceeds to speak of the men themselves, saying, the foolish shall not stand in thy sight; and it is a very just inference from this, that iniquity its hateful to God, and that, therefore, he will execute just punishment upon all the wicked. He calls those fools, according to a frequent use of the term in Scripture, who, impelled by blind passion, rush headlong into sin. Nothing is more foolish, than for the ungodly to cast away the fear of God, and suffer the desire of doing mischief to be their ruling principle; yea, there is no madness worse than the contempt of God, under the influence of which men pervert all right. David sets this truth before himself for his own comfort; but we also may draw from it doctrine very useful in training us to the fear of God; for the Holy Spirit, by declaring God to be the avenger of wickedness, puts a bridle upon us, to restrain us from committing sin, in the vain hope of escaping with impunity.
Psalm 5:7
7. And I, in the multitude [or abundance] of thy mercy, will enter into thy house; I will worship in thy holy temple in thy fear.

Some think that the word and, by which this sentence is joined to the preceding, is put for but; as if David, comparing himself with the ungodly, declared and assured himself that God would be merciful to him, while he abhorred and would destroy the wicked. But I leave it to my readers to judge whether it does not suit the passage better to consider this verse as an inference from what goes before, which might be put in this form:"O Lord, thou canst not bear with the wicked; when, therefore, I am saved out of their hands by thy power, I will come to present myself before thee in thy temple, to give thee thanks for the deliverance which thou hast vouchsafed to me." If the former interpretation be preferred, then the prophet, by simply commending his own piety towards God, separates himself from the class of whom he spoke. The scope of the passage leads us to understand him as promising to give thanks to God. He had before spoken of his enemies as hated of God; and now, being persuaded that God will keep him in safety, he calls himself to the exercise of gratitude. I will come into thy temples says he, in the multitude of thy mercy; as if he had said, I may now seem to be in a condition almost desperate, but by the favor of God, I shall be kept in perfect safety. This passage, therefore, teaches us, that when we are afflicted by the most distressing temptations, we ought to set the grace of God before our eyes, in order thereby to be supported with the hope of the divine interposition amidst the greatest dangers. Farther, as our carnal minds either wickedly undervalue the grace of God, or put the low estimate upon it which is commonly put by the world, let us learn to extol its wonderful greatness, which is sufficient to enable us to overcome all fears. The primary object of David was to encourage himself in the assured hope of preservation from the mercy of God; but at the same time he shows, that upon obtaining deliverance, he will be grateful to God for it, and keep it in remembrance. And as hypocrites, in giving thanks to God, do nothing else but profane his name, inasmuch as they themselves are unholy and polluted, he therefore resolves to come in the fear of God, in order to worship him with a sincere and upright heard. Again, we may hence draw the general truth, that it is only through the goodness of God that we have access to him; and that no man prays aright but he who, having experienced his grace, believes and is fully persuaded that he will be merciful to him. The fear of God is at the same time added, in order to distinguish genuine and godly trust from the vain confidence of the flesh.
Psalm 5:8-10
8. O Jehovah, lead me forth in thy righteousness, because of mine adversaries:make thy way straight before my face. 9. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward parts are very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they deal deceitfully 10. Cause them to err, O God; let them fall from their counsels; destroy them in the multitude fa75 of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

8. O Jehovah, lead me forth, etc. Some explain these words thus:Show me what is right, and make me wholly devoted to the practice of that righteousness which adorns thy character; and do this because of my adversaries; for the saints, impelled by the wicked practice and deceitful arts of the ungodly, are in danger of turning aside from the right way. This meaning is unquestionably a pious and a useful one. But the other interpretation is more suitable, which views the words as a prayer that God would lead his servant in safety through the midst of the snares of his enemies, and open up to him a way of escape, even when, to all appearance, he was caught and surrounded on every side. The righteousness of God, therefore, in this passage, as in many others, is to be understood of his faithfulness and mercy which he shows in defending and preserving his people. Consequently, in thy righteousness means the same thing as for or according to thy righteousness. David, desiring to have God as the guide of his path, encourages himself in the hope of obtaining his request, because God is righteous; as if he had said, Lord, as thou art righteous, defend me with thine aid, that I may escape from the wicked plots of my enemies. Of the same import is the last clause of the verse, where he prays that the way of God may be made straight before his face, in other words, that he might be delivered by the power of God from the distresses with which he was so completely surrounded, that, according to the judgment of the flesh, he never expected to find a way of escape. And thus he acknowledges how impossible it was for him to avoid being entangled in the snares of his enemies, fa76 unless God both gave him wisdom, and opened up for him a way where no way is. It becomes us, after his example, to do the same thing; so that distrusting ourselves when counsel fails us, and the malice and wickedness of our enemies prevail, we may betake ourselves speedily to God, in whose hands are the issues of death, as we shall see afterwards, (<196901>Psalm 69:1.)
9. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth. He still repeats the same complaints which he made before, in order thereby to render his enemies the more odious in the sight of God, and to call forth in his own behalf the mercy of God, who has promised to succor those who are unjustly oppressed. And this is to be particularly attended to, that the more our enemies manifest their cruelty against us, or the more wickedly they vex us, we ought, with so much the greater confidence, to send up our groanings to heaven, because God will not suffer their rage to proceed to the uttermost, but will bring forth their malice and wicked devices to the light. In the first place, he accuses them of treachery, because they speak nothing uprightly, or in sincerity; and the cause which he assigns for this is, that inwardly they are full of iniquity. He next compares them to sepulchres, their throat is an open sepulcher; as if he had said, they are devouring gulfs; fa77 meaning by this, their insatiable desire of shedding blood. In the close of the verse, he again speaks of their deceitfulness. From all this we conclude, that the wrongs with which he was tried were of no ordinary kind, but that he had to contend with enemies the most wickedly who had neither humanity nor moderation. Being so miserably oppressed, he not only perseveres in prayer, but finds ground of hope even from the confusion and apparent hopelessness of his outward condition.
When Paul, (<450313>Romans 3:13,) in quoting this passage, extends it to all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, he does not give to it a meaning of greater latitude than the Holy Spirit intended to give. Since he takes it as an undeniable point, that under the person of David, there is here described to us the church, both in the person of Christ, who is the head, and in his members, it follows that all those ought to be reckoned among the number of his enemies, who have not been regenerated by the Spirit of God, whether they are without the pale of the visible church, or within it. For David, in this passage, does not summons either the Assyrians or the Egyptians to the judgment-seat of God, but the degenerate Jews, who, being circumcised in the flesh, gloried in their descent from the holy lineage of Abraham. Paul, therefore, does not wrest these words from their genuine meaning when he applies them to all mankind, but asserts, with truth, that David showed in them what is the character of the whole human family by nature.
10. Cause them to err. As the Hebrew word µça asam, signifies to cut up or to destroy, as well as to sin, and is taken metaphorically for to err, or be deceived, either of these senses is suitable in this passage; but, as David immediately after subjoins, Let them fall from their counsels, I have no doubt but this first prayer is allied and similar to the second. I therefore join these two clauses together, as the cause and the effect. In the first, he prays that God would deprive them of their understanding, and drive them into error; and in the second, he prays that, as the effect of this, their counsels might come to nought, in other words, that their undertakings might prove unsuccessful. fa78 For how is it that the ungodly take counsel in vain, and are carried hither and thither without consideration or judgment, and become so basely obstinate, if it is not because the Lord takes them unawares in their own craftiness, breaks their artful schemes, intoxicates them with the spirit of phrenzy and giddiness, so that they act foolishly even in the smallest matters? If, therefore, we are afraid of the snares and deceits of men, and if we find those who desire to do us mischief to be clear-headed and sharp-witted persons, let us remember, that it is the continual office of God to strike with stupidity and madness those who are wise to commit iniquity. Thus it will come to pass, that although we may be asleep the Lord will dissipate with the breath of his mouth their devices, be they never so subtle, and, in the end, expose them to the mockery of the whole world. In short, David wishes God to lay his hand upon his enemies, and to put a stop to their wicked deliberations. And in fact it is necessary that God bring to nothing the schemes which the wicked cunningly devise, since it is Satan, the contriver of all deceits, who suggests to them all their methods of doing mischief. By praying Let them fall from their counsels he means that they may not obtain or accomplish what they had determined. Again, he prays to God to punish them as they deserved, because, in wrongfully and wickedly making war against an innocent person, they rebelled against God. The proud, indeed, never think of this, that the poor, whom they afflict and despise, are of such estimation in the sight of God, that he feels himself insulted and injured in their persons:for they do not imagine that the blows aimed at them are struck against heaven, any more than if they trampled a little dust or clay under their feet. But God bestows upon his servants the inestimable reward of taking their cause into his own hand. Whoever, therefore, has an approving conscience, and does not turn aside from his uprightness, although troubled wrongfully, has no reason to doubt of his warrant to improve God as a buckler against his enemies.
Psalm 5:11-12
11. And let all rejoice who put their trust in thee, yea, let them rejoice for ever; and cover thou them, and let those that love thy name delight in thee. fa79 12. For thou, O Jehovah, shalt bless the righteous, thou shalt encompass them with thy loving kindness as with a shield.

11. And let all rejoice, etc. It makes little difference as to the sense, whether we read these words in the future tense, All shall rejoice, etc., or in the optative mood, Let all rejoice, etc.; for in both ways the meaning of the prophet will be the same; namely, that if God deliver him, the fruit of this deliverance will be common to all the godly; as if he had said Lord, if thou succourest me, the goodness which thou conferrest upon me will not rest on me alone, but will extend to all thy servants:for this will serve the more to confirm their faith, and make them praise thy name the more. In order, therefore, to induce God to grant him deliverance, he employs as an argument the end or effect which it would produce, inasmuch as it would stir up all the godly to exercise greater trust in God, and encourage them to give praise and thanks to him. This passage teaches us, that we are ungrateful to God if we do not take encouragement and comfort from whatever blessings he confers upon our neighbours, since by these he testifies that he will always be ready to bestow his goodness upon all the godly in common. Accordingly the reason of this joy is added, because the Lord will cover or protect them. As often as God bestows any blessings upon any of the faithful, the rest, as I have said before, ought to conclude that he will show himself beneficent towards them. Again, this passage teaches us, that true joy proceeds from no other source than from the protection of God. We may be exposed to a thousand deaths, but this one consideration ought abundantly to suffice us, that we are covered and defended by the hand of God. And this will be the case, if the vain shadows of this world do not so beguile us as to excite us to take shelter under them. We ought also particularly to notice the statement, that those who trust in the Lord love his name. The remembrance of God must be sweet to us, and fill our hearts with joy, or rather ravish us with love to him, after he has caused us to taste of his goodness; as, on the other hand, all unbelievers wish the name of God to be buried, and shun the remembrance of him with horror.
12. For thou, 0 Jehovah, wilt bless the righteous. The Psalmist here confirms the concluding sentence of the preceding verse, namely, that all the servants of God in common will take support to their faith from what he had experienced, for he would have us from one example to form our judgment of the immutability and perpetuity of God's grace towards all the godly. Again, by this he teaches us that there is no true and right joy but that which is derived from the sense of God's fatherly love. The word, to bless, in Hebrew, (when we speak of this as the act of men,) signifies to wish happiness and prosperity to any one, and to pray for him; fa80 but when it is spoken of as the act of God, it signifies the same thing as to prosper a man, or to enrich him abundantly with all good things; for since the favor of God is efficacious, his blessing of itself produces an abundance of every good thing. The name righteous is not restricted to any one man, but signifies in general all the servants of God. Those, however, who are called righteous in Scripture, are not so called on account of the merit of their works, but because they aspire after righteousness; for after God has received them into his favor, by not imputing their sins to them, he accepts their upright endeavors for perfect righteousness. What follows is of the same import as the preceding clause, Thou wilt crown them with thy free favor, or good will, as with a shield. The Psalmist's meaning is, that the faithful shall be completely defended on all sides, since he will, in no case, withhold from them his grace, which is to them an invincible fortress, and brings along with it certain safety. The word, to crown, which the Psalmist employs, often denotes in Hebrew, ornament or glory; but as there is added the similitude of a shield, I have no doubt but he uses it metaphorically for, to fortify or to compass about. fa81 The meaning, therefore, is, that however great and various may be the dangers which besiege the righteous, they shall, notwithstanding, escape, and be saved, because God is favorable to them.
PSALM 6.
David, being afflicted by the hand of God, acknowledges that he had provoked the Divine wrath by his sins, and, therefore, in order to obtain relief, he prays for forgiveness. At the same time, he regrets, that by being taken out of the world, he would be deprived of an opportunity of praising God. Then, having obtained confidence, he celebrates the grace of God, and directs his discourse to his enemies, who triumphed over his calamities.
To the chief musician on Neginoth, upon the eighth. A song of David.
The name of Song shows that David composed this psalm, in which he describes the passionate workings of his grief in the time of his troubles after he had obtained deliverance from the evils which he deplores. What the kind of chastisement was of which he speaks is uncertain. Those who restrict it to bodily disease do not adduce in support of their opinion any argument of sufficient weight. They insist on the word lma, amal, which occurs in verse third, where he says, "I am weak," which indeed signifies to be sick; but it is more probable that it is here used metaphorically. They allege that Hezekiah, after his recovery from sickness, sung in the same strains as are here recorded, concerning death. But in <19B601>Psalm 116, where no mention is made of bodily disease, the same complaint is uttered by the Psalmist in the name of the whole Church. We can, indeed, gather from these words that the life of David was in the utmost danger, but it may have been some other kind of affliction than bodily sickness under which he labored. We may, therefore, adopt this as the more certain interpretation, that he had been stricken by some severe calamity, or that some punishment had been inflicted upon him, which presented to his view on every side only the shadow of death. It ought also to be considered, that this psalm was not composed at the very time when he presented to God the prayers recorded in it; but that the prayers which he had meditated and uttered in the midst of his dangers and sadness were, after he had obtained respite, committed to writing. This explains why he joins the sorrow with which he certainly had struggled for a time with the joy which he afterwards experienced. With respect to the word eighth, as we have before said that twnygn, Neginoth, signifies a musical instrument, I do not know whether it would be correct to say, that it was a harp of eight strings. I am rather inclined to the opinion that it refers to the tune, and points out the particular kind of music to which the psalm was to be sung. fa82 However, in a matter so obscure and of so little importance I leave every one at liberty to form his own conjecture.
Psalm 6:1
1. Jehovah, rebuke me not in thine anger, and chastise me not in thine indignation.

The calamity which David now experienced had, perhaps, been inflicted by men, but he wisely considers that he has to deal with God. Those persons are very unsuitably exercised under their afflictions who do not immediately take a near and a steady view of their sins, in order thereby to produce the conviction that they have deserved the wrath of God. And yet we see how thoughtless and insensible almost all men are on this subject; for while they cry out that they are afflicted and miserable, scarcely one among a hundred looks to the hand which strikes. From whatever quarter, therefore, our afflictions come, let us learn to turn our thoughts instantly to God, and to acknowledge him as the Judge who summons us as guilty before his tribunal, since we, of our own accord, do not anticipate his judgment. But as men, when they are compelled to feel that God is angry with them, often indulge in complaints full of impiety, rather than find fault with themselves and their own sins, it is to be particularly noticed that David does not simply ascribe to God the afflictions under which he is now suffering, but acknowledges them to be the just recompense of his sins. He does not take God to task as if he had been an enemy, treating him with cruelty without any just cause; but yielding to him the right of rebuking and chastening, he desires and prays only that bounds may be set to the punishment inflicted on him. By this he declares God to be a just Judge in taking vengeance on the sins of men. fa83 But as soon as he has confessed that he is justly chastised, he earnestly beseeches God not to deal with him in strict justice, or according to the utmost rigour of the law. He does not altogether refuse punishment, for that would be unreasonable; and to be without it, he judged would be more hurtful than beneficial to him:but what he is afraid of is the wrath of God, which threatens sinners with ruin and perdition. To anger and indignation David tacitly opposes fatherly and gentle chastisement, and this last he was willing to bear. We have a similar contrast in the words of Jeremiah, (<241024>Jeremiah 10:24,) "O Lord," says he, "correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger." God is, indeed, said to be angry with sinners whenever he inflicts punishment upon them, but not in the proper and strict sense, inasmuch as he not only mingles with it some of the sweetness of his grace to mitigate their sorrow, but also shows himself favorable to them, in moderating their punishment, and in mercifully drawing back his hand. But, as we must necessarily be stricken with terror whenever he shows himself the avenger of wickedness, it is not without cause that David, according to the sense of the flesh, is afraid of his anger and indignation. The meaning therefore is this:I indeed confess, O Lord, that I deserve to be destroyed and brought to nought; but as I would be unable to endure the severity of thy wrath, deal not with me according to my deserts, but rather pardon my sins, by which I have provoked thine anger against me. As often, then, as we are pressed down by adversity, let us learn, from the example of David, to have recourse to this remedy, that we may be brought into a state of peace with God; for it is not to be expected that it can be well or prosperous with us if we are not interested in his favor. Whence it follows, that we shall never be without a load of evils, until he forgive us our sins.
Psalm 6:2-3
2. Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah, for I am weak; heal me, O Jehovah, for my bones are afraid. 3. And my soul is exceedingly troubled; fa84 and thou, O Jehovah, how long? fa85

2. Have mercy upon me. As he earnestly calls upon God to be merciful to him, it is from this the more clearly manifest, that by the terms anger and indignation he did not mean cruelty or undue severity, but only such judgment as God executes upon the reprobate, whom he does not spare in mercy as he does his own children. If he had complained of being unjustly and too severely punished, he would now have only added something to this effect:Restrain thyself, that in punishing me thou mayest not exceed the measure of my offense. In betaking himself, therefore, to the mercy of God alone, he shows that he desires nothing else than not to be dealt with according to strict justice, or as he deserved. In order to induce God to exercise his forgiving mercy towards him, he declares that he is ready to fail:Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah, for I am weak. As I have said before, he calls himself weak, not because he was sick, but because he was cast down and broken by what had now befallen him. And as we know that the design of God in inflicting punishment upon us, is to humble us; so, whenever we are subdued under his rod, the gate is opened for his mercy to come to us. Besides, since it is his peculiar office to heal the diseased to raise up the fallen, to support the weak, and, finally, to give life to the dead; this, of itself, is a sufficient reason why we should seek his favor, that we are sinking under our afflictions.
After David has protested that he placed his hope of salvation in the mercy of God alone, and has sorrowfully set forth how much he is abased, he subjoins the effect which this had in impairing his bodily health, and prays for the restoration of this blessing:Heal me, O Jehovah. And this is the order which we must observe, that we may know that all the blessings which we ask from God flow from the fountain of his free goodness, and that we are then, and then only, delivered from calamities and chastisements, fa86 when he has had mercy upon us. — For my bones are afraid. This confirms what I have just now observed, namely, that, from the very grievousness of his afflictions, he entertained the hope of some relief; for God, the more he sees the wretched oppressed and almost overwhelmed, is just so much the more ready to succor them. He attributes fear to his bones, not because they are endued with feeling, but because the vehemence of his grief was such that it affected his whole body. He does not speak of his flesh, which is the more tender and susceptible part of the corporeal system, but he mentions his bones, thereby intimating that the strongest parts of his frame were made to tremble for fear. He next assigns the cause of this by saying, And my soul is greatly afraid. The connective particle and, in my judgment, has here the meaning of the causal particle for, as if he had said, so severe and violent is the inward anguish of my heart, that it affects and impairs the strength of every part of my body. I do not approve of the opinion which here takes soul for life, nor does it suit the scope of the passage.
3. And thou, O Jehovah, how long? This elliptical form of expression serves to express more strongly the vehemence of grief, which not only holds the minds of men bound up, but likewise their tongues, breaking and cutting short their speech in the middle of the sentence. The meaning, however, in this abrupt expression is doubtful. Some, to complete the sentence, supply the words, Wilt thou afflict me, or continue to chasten me? Others read, How long wilt thou delay thy mercy? But what is stated in the next verse shows that this second sense is the more probable, for he there prays to the Lord to look upon him with an eye of favor and compassion. He, therefore, complains that God has now forsaken him, or has no regard to him, just as God seems to be far of from us whenever his assistance or grace does not actually manifest itself in our behalf. God, in his compassion towards us, permits us to pray to him to make haste to succor us; but when we have freely complained of his long delay, that our prayers or sorrow, on this account, may not pass beyond bounds we must submit our case entirely to his will, and not wish him to make greater haste than shall seem good to him.
Psalm 6:4-5
4. Return, O Lord, deliver my soul; save me for thy mercy's sake. 5. For in death there is no remembrance of thee; and in the grave who shall acknowledge thee? fa87

4. Return, O Lord. In the preceding verses the Psalmist bewailed the absence of God, and now he earnestly requests the tokens of his presence, for our happiness consists in this, that we are the objects of the Divine regard, but we think he is alienated front us, if he does not give us some substantial evidence of his care for us. That David was at this time in the utmost peril, we gather from these words, in which he prays both for the deliverance of his soul, as it were, from the jaws of death, and for his restoration to a state of safety. Yet no mention is made of any bodily disease, and, therefore, I give no judgment with respect to the kind of his affliction. David, again, confirms what he had touched upon in the second verse concerning the mercy of God, namely, that this is the only quarter from which he hopes for deliverance:Save me for thy mercy's sake. Men will never find a remedy for their miseries until, forgetting their own merits, by trusting to which they only deceive themselves, they have learned to betake themselves to the free mercy of God.
5. For in death there is no remembrance of thee. After God has bestowed all things freely upon us, he requires nothing in return but a grateful remembrance of his benefits. To this gratitude reference is made when David says, that there will be no remembrance of God in death, nor any celebration of his praise in the grave. His meaning is, that if, by the grace of God, he shall be delivered from death, he will be grateful for it, and keep it in remembrance. And he laments, that if he should be removed out of the world, he would be deprived of the power and opportunity of manifesting his gratitude, since in that case he would no longer mingle in the society of men, there to commend or celebrate the name of God. From this passage some conclude, that the dead have no feeling, and that it is wholly extinct in them; but this is a rash and unwarranted inference, for nothing is here treated of but the mutual celebration of the grace of God, in which men engage while they continue in the land of the living. We know that we are placed on the earth to praise God with one mind and one mouth, and that this is the end of our life. Death, it is true, puts an end to such praises; but it does not follow from this, that the souls of the faithful, when divested of their bodies, are deprived of understanding, or touched with no affection towards God. It is also to be considered, that, on the present occasion, David dreaded the judgment of God if death should befall him, and this made him dumb as to singing the praises of God. It is only the goodness of God sensibly experienced by us which opens our mouth to celebrate his praise; and whenever, therefore, joy and gladness are taken away, praises also must cease. It is not then wonderful if the wrath of God, which overwhelms us with the fear of eternal destruction, is said to extinguish in us the praises of God.
From this passage, we are furnished with the solution of another question, why David so greatly dreaded death, as if there had been nothing to hope for beyond this world. Learned men reckon up three causes why the fathers under the law were so much kept in bondage by the fear of death. The first is, because the grace of God, not being then made manifest by the coming of Christ, the promises, which were obscure, gave them only a slight acquaintance with the life to come. The second is, because the present life, in which God deals with us as a Father, is of itself desirable. And the third, because they were afraid lest, after their decease, some change to the worse might take place in religion. But to me these reasons do not appear to be sufficiently solid. David's mind was not always occupied by the fear he now felt; and when he came to die, being full of days and weary of this life, he calmly yielded up his soul into the bosom of God. The second reason is equally applicable to us at the present day, as it was to the ancient fathers, inasmuch as God's fatherly love shines forth towards us also even in this life, and with much more illustrious proofs than under the former dispensation. But, as I have just observed, I consider this complaint of David as including something different, namely, that feeling the hand of God to be against him, and knowing his hatred of sin, fa88 he is overwhelmed with fear and involved in the deepest distress. The same may also be said of Hezekiah, inasmuch as he did not simply pray for deliverance from death, but from the wrath of God, which he felt to be very awful, (<233803>Isaiah 38:3.)
Psalm 6:6-7
6. I have become wearied in my groaning; I make my bed to swim fa89 every night; I water my couch with my tears. 7. Mine eye hath waxed dim for vexation; it hath waxed old among my persecutors.

These forms of expression are hyperbolical, but it must not be imagined that David, after the manner of poets, exaggerates his sorrow; fa90 but he declares truly and simply how severe and bitter it had been. It should always be kept in mind, that his affliction did not proceed so much from his having been severely wounded with bodily distress; but regarding God as greatly displeased with him, he saw, as it were, hell open to receive him; and the mental distress which this produces exceeds all other sorrows. Indeed, the more sincerely a man is devoted to God, he is just so much the more severely disquieted by the sense of his wrath; and hence it is that holy persons, who were otherwise endued with uncommon fortitude, have showed in this respect the greatest softness and want of resolution. And nothing prevents us at this day from experiencing in ourselves what David describes concerning himself but the stupidity of our flesh. Those who have experienced, even in a moderate degree, what it is to contend with the fear of eternal death, will be satisfied that there is nothing extravagant in these words. Let us, therefore, know that here David is represented to us as being afflicted with the terrors of his conscience, fa91 and feeling within him torment of no ordinary kind, but such as made him almost faint away, and lie as if dead. With respect to the words, he says, Mine eye hath waxed dim; for grief of mind easily makes its way to the eyes, and from them very distinctly shows itself. As the word qt[ athak, which I have translated it hath waxed old, sometimes signifies to depart from one's place, some expound it, that the goodness of his eyesight was lost, and his sight, as it were, had vanished. Others understand by it that his eyes were hidden by the swelling which proceeds from weeping. The first opinion, however, according to which David complains of his eyes failing him, as it were, through old age, appears to me the more simple. As to what he adds, every night, we learn from it that he was almost wholly wasted away with protracted sorrow, and yet all the while never ceased from praying to God.
Psalm 6:8-10
8. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. 9. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive fa92 my prayer. 10. Let all mine enemies be put to shame and greatly confounded; let them turn back, and be ashamed suddenly. fa93

After David has disburdened his griefs and troubles into the bosom of God, he now, as it were, assumes a new character. And, without doubt, he had been afflicted with long-continued despondency of spirit before he could recover himself, and attain to such a degree of assurance as he here displays; fa94 for we have already seen that he had spent many nights in continual weeping. Now, the more he had been distressed and wearied by the long delay of his deliverance, with so much the more alacrity does he stir up himself to sing of victory. Directing his discourse against his adversaries, he represents it as not the least part of his temptations that ungodly men triumphed over him, and derided him as lost, and in a hopeless condition; for we know with what insolence their pride and cruelty magnify themselves against the children of God, when they see them oppressed under the cross. And to this Satan moves them, in order to drive the faithful to despair, when they see their hope made the subject of mockery. This passage teaches us, that the grace of God is the only light of life to the godly; and that, as soon as He has manifested some token of his anger, they are not only greatly afraid, but also, as it were, plunged into the darkness of death; while, on the other hand, as soon as they discover anew that God is merciful to them, they are immediately restored to life. David, it is to be noticed, repeats three times that his prayers were heard, by which he testifies that he ascribes his deliverance to God, and confirms himself in this confidence, that he had not betaken himself to God in vain. And if we would receive any fruit from our prayers, we must believe that God's ears have not been shut against them. By the word weeping, fa95 he not only indicates vehemence and earnestness, but also intimates that he had been wholly occupied in mourning and sorrowful lamentations. The confidence and security which David takes to himself from the favor of God ought also to be noticed. From this, we are taught that there is nothing in the whole world, whatever it may be, and whatever opposition it may make to us, fa96 which we may not despise, if we are fully persuaded of our being beloved by God; and by this also we understand what his fatherly love can do for us. By the adverb suddenly, he signifies, that when there is apparently no means of delivering the faithful from affliction, and when all seems desperate or hopeless, then they are delivered by the power of God contrary to all expectation. When God suddenly changes men's afflicted condition into one of joy and happiness, he thereby manifests more illustriously his power, and makes it appear the more wonderful.
PSALM 7
David, loaded with unjust calumny, calls upon God to be his advocate and defender, and commits his innocence to the Divine protection. In the first place, he protests that his conscience did notaccuse him of the wickedness laid to his charge. Secondly, he shows how greatly it concerns the glory of God that he should execute judgment against the ungodly. Thirdly, to inspire his mind with confidence, he seriously reflects upon the goodness and righteousness of God, and sets before him the divine promises. Lastly, as if he had obtained the desire of his heart, he derides the folly and the vain attempts of his enemies; or rather, depending upon the aid of God, he assures himself that all their endeavours against him shall turn to their own destruction.
Shiggaion of David, which he sung unto Jehovah,
upon the words of Cush the Benjamite.
With respect to the word Shiggaion, the Jewish interpreters are not agreed. Some understand it to mean a musical instrument. To others it seems to be a tune to which a song is set. Others suppose it to have been the beginning of a common song, to the tune of which David wished this psalm to be sung. Others translate the Hebrew word, delight, or rejoicing. fa97 The second opinion appears to me the most probable, namely, that it was some kind of melody or song, as if one should term it Sapphic or Phaleucian verse. fa98 But I do not contend about a matter of so small importance. Again, the psalm is said to have been composed upon the words of Cush. I cannot subscribe to the interpretation, (although it is the commonly received one,) that words here mean affairs, or business. To put word for a matter, or an affair, is, I allow, a common form of speech among the Jews; but as David a little after declares that he was falsely accused of some crime, I doubt not but he here speaks of the accusation or calumny itself, of which, as I judge, Cush, some one of Saul's kindred, was the author, or, at least, the instrument who preferred and circulated it. The opinion of some who say that Saul is here spoken of under a fictitious name, is not supported by any argument of sufficient weight. According to them, David avoided calling him by his own name, in order to spare the royal dignity. David, I admit, had great reverence for the holy anointing; but as he expressly names Saul in other places where he reprehends him not less severely, and paints him in colours no less black than he does in this psalm, why should he suppress his name here, and not in these passages? In my opinion, therefore, he here expresses by his proper name, and without figure, a wicked accuser, who had excited hatred against him by falsely charging him with some crime, and who had either been bribed by the king to do this, or, currying the royal favour, had calumniated David of his own accord; for David, we know, was very much slandered, as if he had been ungrateful and treacherous towards the king, his father-in-law. Saul, indeed, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. We do not, however, think that he is the person here mentioned, but that it was one of Saul's relations, one who belonged to the same tribe with him, who falsely accused David.
Psalm 7:1-2
1. O Jehovah, my God, in thee do I trust:save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me. 2. Lest he seize upon my soul as a lion, and tear it in pieces, while there is none to deliver it.

At the commencement of the psalm, David speaks of having many enemies, and in the second verse he specifies some one in the singular number. And certainly, since the minds of all men were inflamed against him, he had very good reason for praying to be delivered from all his persecutors. But as the wicked cruelty of the king, like a firebrand, had kindled against him, though an innocent person, the hatred of the whole people, he had good reason also for turning his pen particularly against him. Thus, in the first verse, he describes the true character of his own circumstances—he was a persecuted man; and, in the second verse, the fountain or cause of the calamity he was enduring. There is great emphasis in these words which he uses in the beginning of the Psalms O Jehovah my Godly in thee do I trust. The verb, it is true, is in the past tense in the Hebrew; and, therefore, if literally translated, the reading would be, In thee have I trusted; but as the Hebrews often take one tense for another, fa99 I prefer to translate it in the present, In thee I do trust, especially since it is abundantly evident that a continued act, as it is termed, is denoted. David does not boast of a confidence in God, from which he had now fallen, but of a confidence which he constantly entertained in his afflictions. And this is a genuine and an undoubted proof of our faith, when, being visited with adversity, we, notwithstanding, persevere in cherishing and exercising hope in God. From this passage, we also learn that the gate of mercy is shut against our prayers if the key of faith do not open it for us. Nor does he use superfluous language when he calls Jehovah his own God; for by setting up this as a bulwark before him, he beats back the waves of temptations, that they may not overwhelm his faith. In the second verses by the figure of a lion, he represents in a stronger light the cruelty of Saul, as an argument to induce God to grant him assistance, even as he ascribes it to Him as his peculiar province to rescue his poor sheep from the jaws of wolves.
Psalm 7:3-5
3. O Jehovah, my God, if I have done this thing, if there be iniquity in my hands:4 If I have rewarded evil to him that was at peace with me, and have not delivered him that persecuted me without cause:5. Let the enemy pursue my soul and take it; and let him throw down my life to the ground, fa100 and hold down fa101 my glory in the dust. Selah.

3. O Jehovah my God. Here David, to induce God to show him favour, protests that he is molested unjustly, and without being guilty of any crime. To give his protestation the greater weight, he uses an imprecation. If he has done any wrong, he declares his readiness to bear the blame; yea, he offers to endure the severest punishment, if he is not altogether innocent of the crime of which all men thought him almost convicted. And by entreating God to succour him upon no other condition than this, that his integrity should upon trial be found to be untarnished, he teaches us, by his example, that as often as we have recourse to God, we must make it our first care to be well assured in our own consciences with respect to the righteousness of our cause; for we do him great wrong if we wish to engage him as the advocate and defender of a bad cause. The pronoun this shows that he speaks of a thing which was generally known; whence we may conclude, that the slander which had been raised by Cush was spread far and wide. And as David was condemned, by the false reports and unrighteous judgments which men advanced against him, and saw no remedy on earth, he betakes himself to the judgment-seat of God, and contents himself with maintaining his innocence before the heavenly Judge; an example which all the godly should imitate, in order that, in opposition to the slanderous reports which are spread against them, they may rest satisfied with the judgment of God alone. He next declares more distinctly, that he had committed no crime. And in the fourth verse, he mentions two particulars in self-vindication; first, That he had done no wrong to any one; and, secondly, That he had rather endeavoured to do good to his enemies, by whom notwithstanding he had been injured without any just cause. I, therefore, explain the fourth verse thus: If I have wronged any man that was at peace with me, and have not rather succoured the unworthy, who persecuted me without a cause, etc. Since David was hated of almost all men, as if ambition to reign had impelled him perfidiously to rise up in rebellion against Saul, and to lay snares for the monarch to whom he was bound by the oath of allegiances fa102 in the first part of the verse, he clears himself of such a foul slander. The reason, perhaps, why he calls Saul him that was at peace with him is, that on account of his royal dignity his person ought to be sacred, and secure from danger, fa103 so that it should be unlawful to make any hostile attempt against him. This phrase, however, may be understood generally, as if he had said, No one who has meekly restrained himself from injuring me, and has conducted himself kindly towards me, can with truth complain that I have ever injured him in a single instance. And yet it was the general persuasion, that David, in the midst of peace, had stirred up great confusion, and caused war. From this it is just so much the more manifest, that David, provided he enjoyed the approbation of God, was contented with the consolation arising from this, though he should have comfort from no other source.
In the second clause of the fourth verse, he proceeds farther, and states, that he had been a friend, not only to the good, but also to the bad, and had not only restrained himself from all revenge, but had even succoured his enemies, by whom he had been deeply and cruelly injured. It would certainly not be very illustrious virtue to love the good and peaceable, unless there were joined to this self-government and gentleness in patiently bearing with the bad. But when a man not only keeps himself from revenging the injuries which he has received, but endeavours to overcome evil by doing good, he manifests one of the graces of a renewed and sanctified nature, and in this way proves himself to be one of the children of God; for such meekness proceeds only from the Spirit of adoption. With respect to the words:as the Hebrew word xlj chalats, which I have translated to delivers signifies to divide and to separate, some, to prevent the necessity of supplying any word to make out the sense, fa104 thus explain the passage, If I have withdrawn myself from my persecutors, in order not to succour them. The other interpretation, however, according to which the verb is rendered to deliver or rescue from danger, is more generally received; because the phrase, to separate or set aside, is applied to those things which we wish to place in safety. And thus the negative word not must be supplied, an omission which we will find not unfrequently occurring in The Psalms.
5. Let mine enemy pursue. It is a striking proof of the great confidence which David had in his own integrity, when he is willing to endure any kind of punishment, however dreadful, provided he should be found guilty of any crime. If we could bring a good conscience like this before God, his hand would be more quickly stretched forth to afford us immediate assistance. But as it often happens that those who molest us have been provoked by us, or that we burn with the desire of revenge when offended, we are unworthy of receiving succour from God; yea, our own impatience shuts the gate against our prayers. In the first place, David is prepared to be given over to the will of his enemies, that they may seize his life, and throw it down to the ground; and then to be publicly exhibited as an object of their mockery, so that, even after he is dead, he may lie under eternal disgrace. Some think that the dwbk kebod, which we have translated glory, is here to be taken for life, and thus there will be three words, soul, life, glory, signifying the same thing. But it appears to me, that the meaning of the passage will be fuller if we refer the word glory to his memory, or his good name, as if he had said, Let my enemy not only destroy me, but, after having put me to death, let him speak of me in the most reproachful terms, so that my name may be buried in mire or filth.
Psalm 7:6-8
6. Arise, O Jehovah, in thine anger, lift up thyself against the rage of mine enemies; and awake thou for me to the judgment which thou hast ordained. Fa105 7. And then the assembly of peoples [or nations] shall compass thee about:and on account of this, return thou on high. 8. Jehovah shall judge the peoples, [or nations :] judge me, O Jehovah, according to my righteousness, and according to the integrity that is in me.

6. Arise, O Jehovah. David here sets the anger of God in opposition to the rage of his enemies; and when we are Id in similar circumstances we should act in the same manner. When the ungodly are inflamed against us, and cast forth their rage and fury to destroy us, we ought humbly to beseech God to be inflamed also on his side; in other words, to show in truth that he has, no less zeal and power to preserve us, than they have inclination to destroy us. The word, Arise, is taken in a figurative sense, for to ascend into a judgment-seat, or rather to prepare one's self to make resistance; and it is here applied to God, because, while he delays to succour us, we are very apt to think him asleep. Accordingly, David also, a little after, beseeches him to awake; for it seemed on the part of God something like the forgetfulness of sleep to give no assistance to an individual who was so much afflicted and oppressed on all hands.
In the end of the verse he shows that he asks nothing but what is according to the appointment of God. And this is the rule which ought to be observed by us in our prayers; we should in every thing conform our requests to the divine will, as John also instructs us, (<620514>1 John 5:14.) And, indeed, we can never pray in faith unless we attend, in the first place, to what God commands, that our minds may not rashly and at random start aside in desiring more than we are permitted to desire and pray for. David, therefore, in order to pray aright, reposes himself on the word and prose mise of God; and the import of his exercise is this:Lord, I am not led by ambition, or foolish headstrong passion, or depraved desire, inconsiderately to ask from thee whatever is pleasing to my flesh; but it is the clear light of thy word which directs me, and upon it I securely depend. Since God, of his own good pleasure, had called him to be one day king, it belonged to him to defend and maintain the rights of the man whom he had chosen for his servant. David's language, therefore, is the same as if he had said, "When I was well contented with my humble condition in private life, it was thy pleasure to set me apart to the honourable station of being a king; now, therefore, it belongs to thee to maintain this cause against Saul and his associates who are using their efforts to defeat thy decree in making war upon me." The Hebrew word hrw[, urah, which we have rendered awake thou, fa106 might also be taken transitively for to build up, or to establish the right of David. The sum of the whole, however, comes to this, that David, trusting to the call of God, beseeches him to stretch forth his hand for his relief. The faithful must, therefore, take care not to exceed these bounds, if they desire to have God present with them to maintain and preserve them.
7. And a congregation of peoples. Some limit this sentence exclusively to the people of Israel, as if David promised that, as soon as he should ascend the throne, he would endeavour to reunite together, in the pure worship of God, the people who before had been as it were in a state of dispersion. Under the reign of Saul, religion had been neglected, or such an unrestrained license in wickedness had prevailed, that few paid any regard to God. The meaning, therefore, according to these expositors, is this:Lord, when thou shalt have constituted me king, the whole people, who have so basely gone astray from thee, fa107 shall return from their wanderings and disorderly courses to thee and to thy service, so that all shall know that thou rulest in the midst of them, and shall worship thee as their only King. But I am rather inclined to view this as language which has a respect in common to many nations. David here speaks in high terms of the effects resulting from his deliverance, the report of which would be spread far and wide, and his words are, as if he had said, "Lord, when thou shalt have put me in peaceable possession of the kingdom, this will not only be a benefit conferred on me personally, but it will be a common lesson to many nations, teaching them to acknowledge thy just judgment, so that they shall turn their eyes to thy judgment-seat." fa108 David here alludes to the practice of a people who surround their king, as in a circle, when he holds a solemn assembly. In the same sense, he adds immediately after, that God, who, for a time, lay still and kept silence, would raise himself on high that not only one or two, but whole nations, might behold his glory:And on account of this return thou on high. fa109 There is in these words, a tacit comparison, that although it might not be necessary to have a regard to one man alone, it is requisite that God should keep the world in the fear and reverence of his judgment.
8. Jehovah shall judge the nations. This sentence is closely connected with the preceding verse. David had prayed God to show himself as judge to the nations; and now he takes it for a certain and admitted truth, that it is the peculiar office of God to judge the nations:for the word put in the future tense, and rendered shall judge, denotes here a continued act; and this is the signification of the future tense in general sentences. Besides, he does not here speak of one nation only, but comprehends all nations. As he acknowledges God to be the judge of the whole world, he concludes a little after from this, that he will maintain his cause and right. And as often as we seem to be forsaken and oppressed, we should recall this truth to our remembrance, that as God is the governor of the world, it is as utterly impossible for him to abdicate his office as to deny himself. From this source there will flow a continual stream of comfort, although a long succession of calamities may press upon us:for from this truth we may assuredly conclude, that he will take care to defend our innocence. It would be contrary to every principle of just reasoning to supposes that he who governs many nations neglects even one man. What happens with respect to the judges of this world can never take place with respect to him; he cannot, as may be the case with them, be so occupied about great and public affairs as to neglect, because unable to attend to them, the concerns of individuals. He again brings into new his integrity that he may not seem, after the example of hypocrites to make the name of God a mere pretext for the better furthering of his own purposes. Since God is no respecter of persons, we cannot expect him to be on our side, and to favour us, if our cause is not good. But it is asked, how can David here boast of his own integrity before God, when in other places he deprecates God entering into judgment with him? The answer is easy, and it is this:The subject here treated of is not how he could answer if God should demand from him an account of his whole life; but, comparing himself with his enemies, he maintains and not without cause, that, in respect of them, he was righteous. But when each saint passes under the review of God's judgment, and his own character is tried upon its own merits, the matter is very different, for then the only sanctuary to which he can betake himself for safety, is the mercy of God.
Psalm 7:9-11
9. Let the malice of the wicked come to an end I beseech thee and direct thou the righteous:for God who is righteous, proves [or searches] the hearts and the reins. 10. My defense [or shield] is in God, who saves the upright in heart. 11. God judgeth the righteous, and him who despiseth God, daily.

9. Let the malice of the wicked come to an endow I beseech thee. David, in the first place, prays that God would restrain the malice of his enemies, and bring it to an end; from which it follows, that his affliction had been of long duration. Others suppose that this is rather a dreadful imprecation, and they explain the Hebrew word rmg , gamar, somewhat differently. Instead of rendering it to cease, and to come to an end, as I have done, they understand it to make to cease, which is equivalent to destroy or to consume. fa110 Thus, according to them, David wishes that God would cause the mischief which the wicked devise to fall upon their own heads: Let the wickedness of the wicked consume them. But, in my opinion, the former interpretation is the more simple, namely, that David beseeches God to bring his troubles to a termination. Accordingly there follows immediately after the corresponding prayer Direct thou the righteous, or establish him; for it is of little importance which of these two readings we adopt. The meaning is, that God would re-establish and uphold the righteous, who are wrongfully oppressed, and thus make it evident that they are continued in their estate by the power of God, notwithstanding the persecution to which they are subjected.—For God searcheth the hearts. The Hebrew copulative is here very properly translated by the causal particle for, since David, without doubt, adds this clause as an argument to enforce his prayer. He now declares, for the third time, that, trusting to the testimony of a good conscience, he comes before God with confidence; but here he expresses something more than he had done before, namely, that he not only showed his innocence, by his external conduct, but had also cultivated purity in the secret affection of his heart. He seems to set this confidence in opposition to the insolence and boasting of his enemies, by whom, it is probable, such calumnies had been circulated among the people concerning him, as constrained him in his deep affliction to present his heart and reins to be tried by God. Perhaps, also, he speaks in this manner, in order to divest them of all those plausible but false and deceitful pretenses, which they made use of for the purpose of deceiving men, and if they succeeded in doing this they were satisfied. fa111 He shows that, although they might triumph before the world, and receive the applause of the multitude, they, nevertheless, gained nothing, inasmuch as they would, by and by, have to make their appearance before the judgment-seat of God, where the question would not be, What were their titles? or, What was the splendour of their actions? but how it stood as to the purity of their hearts.
10. My shield. It is not wonderful that David often mingles meditations with his prayers, thereby to inspire himself with true confidence. We may go to God in prayer with great alacrity; but our fervour, if it does not gather new strength, either immediately fails or begins to languish. David, therefore, in order to continue in prayer with the same ardour of devotion and affection with which he commenced, brings to his recollection some of the most common truths of religion, and by this means fosters and invigorates his faith. He declares, that as God saves the upright in heart, he is perfectly safe under his protection. Whence it follows, that he had the testimony of an approving conscience. And, as he does not simply say the righteous, but the upright in heart, he appears to have an eye to that inward searching of the heart and reins mentioned in the preceding verse.
11. God judgeth the righteous etc. Others read, God is a righteous Judge, and God is angry every day. The words will certainly admit of this sense; but as the doctrine is fuller according to the first reading, I have preferred following it, as I see it is more approved of by the most learned divines, and, besides, it is more suitable to the subject which David is now considering. As Saul and his accomplices had, by their calumnious reports, so far succeeded in their wicked design as to have produced a general prejudice against David, so that he was condemned by almost the whole people, the holy man supports himself from this one consideration, that whatever may be the confusion of things in the world, God, notwithstanding, can easily discern between the righteous and the wicked. He, therefore, appeals from the false judgments of men to Him who can never be deceived. It may, however, be asked, How does the Psalmist represent God as judging every day, when we see him delaying punishment frequently for a long time? The sacred writings certainly most justly celebrate his long-suffering; but, although he exercises patience long, and does not immediately execute his judgments, yet, as no time passes, yea, not even a day, in which he does not furnish the clearest evidence that he discerns between the righteous and the wicked, notwithstanding the confusion of things in the world, it is certain that he never ceases to execute the office of a judge. All who will be at the trouble to open their eyes to behold the government of the world, will distinctly see that the patience of God is very different from approbation or connivance. Surely, then, his own people will confidently betake themselves to him every day.
Psalm 7:12-14
12. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow and made it ready. fa0112 13. And he hath prepared for fa0113 the instruments of death; he shall make fit his arrows for them that persecute. fa0114 14. Behold, he shall travail to bring forth iniquity; he hath conceived wickedness, and he shall bring forth falsehood. fa0115

12. If he turn not. These verses are usually explained in two ways. The meaning is, that if David's enemies should persevere in their malicious designs against him, there is denounced against them the vengeance which their obstinate wickedness deserves. Accordingly, in the second clause, they supply the name of God,—If he turn not, GOD will whet his sword; fa0116 as if it had been said, If my enemy do not repent, fa0117 he shall, at length, feel that God is completely armed for the purpose of maintaining and defending the righteous. If it is understood in this sense, the third verse is to be considered as a statement of the cause why God will thus equip himself with armour, namely, because the ungodly, in conceiving all kinds of mischief, in travailing to bring forth wickedness, and in at length bringing forth deceit and falsehood, directly assail God, and openly make war upon him. But, in my judgment, those who read these two verses in one continued sentence, give a more accurate interpretation. I am not, however, satisfied that even they fully bring out the meaning of the Psalmist. David, I have no doubt, by relating the dreadful attempts of his enemies against him, intended thereby to illustrate more highly the grace of God; for when these malicious men, strengthened by powerful military forces, and abundantly provided with armour, furiously rushed upon him in the full expectation of destroying him, who would not have said that it was all over with him? Moreover, there is implied in the words a kind of irony, when he pretends to be afraid of their putting him to death. They mean the same thing as if he had said, "If my enemy do not alter his purpose, or turn his fury and his strength in another direction, who can preserve me from perishing by his hands? He has an abundant supply of arms, and he is endeavouring, by all methods, to accomplish my death." But Saul is the person of whom he particularly speaks, and therefore he says, he hath made fit his arrows for the persecutors. This implies that Saul had many agents in readiness who would willingly put forth their utmost efforts in seeking to destroy David. The design of the prophet, therefore, was to magnify the greatness of the grace of God, by showing the greatness of the danger from which he had been delivered by him. fa0118 Moreover, when it is here said, if he do not return, returning does not signify repentance and amendment in David's enemy, but only a change of will and purpose, as if he had said, "It is in the power of my enemy to do whatever his fancy may suggest." fa0119 Whence it appears the more clearly, how wonderful the change was which suddenly followed contrary all expectation. When he says that Saul had prepared the instruments of death for his bow, he intimates that he was driving after no ordinary thing, but was fully determined to wound to death the man whom he shot at. Some, referring the Hebrew word µyqlwd doulekim, which we have rendered persecutors, to arrows, have rendered it burning, fa0120 because it has also this signification; fa0121 but the translation which I have given is the more appropriate. David complains that he had reason to be afraid, not only of one man, but of a great multitude, inasmuch as Saul had armed a powerful body of men to pursue and persecute a poor fugitive.
14. Behold, he shall travail. David has hitherto shown how great and formidable the danger was which was near him. In this verse, laughing to scorn the presumptuous and foolish attempts of Saul, and his magnificent preparations, he declares that they had failed of accomplishing their object. fa0122 By the demonstrative adverb Behold, he enhances the wonder, inasmuch as such a result fell out, on his part altogether unlooked for. Behold, says he, after he has travailed to bring forth wickedness, like as he had conceived mischief, at length there comes forth only empty wind and vanity, because God frustrated his expectations, and destroyed all these wicked attempts. fa0123 Iniquity and mischief are here put for every kind of violence and outrage fa0124 which Saul intended to inflict upon David. Some interpreters think that the order of the words is inverted, because travailing to bring forth is put before conceiving; but I think that the words have their proper place if you explain them thus:Behold, he shall travail to bring forth wickedness, for he hath conceived mischief; that is to say, as he long ago devised with himself my destruction, so he will do his utmost to put his design into execution. David afterwards adds, he hath brought forth falsehood. This implies that Saul had been disappointed in his expectation; as Isaiah, (<232618>Isaiah 26:18,) in like manner, speaks of unbelievers "bringing forth wind," when their success does not correspond to their wicked and presumptuous attempts. As often, therefore, as we see the ungodly secretly plotting our ruin, let us remember that they speak falsehood to themselves; in other words deceive themselves, and shall fail in accomplishing what they devise in their hearts. fa0125 If, however, we do not perceive that they are disappointed in their designs until they are about to be brought forth, let us not be cast down, but bear it with a spirit of patient submission to the will and providence of God.
Psalm 7:15-16
15. He hath digged a pit, and hollowed it out; fa0126 and he hath fallen into the ditch which he hath made. 16. His wickedness shall return upon his own head, and his violence shall descend upon his own crown.

Here David says not only that their wicked devices were without success, but that, by the wonderful providence of God, the result was the very opposite of what had been contemplated. He sets this forth in the first place metaphorically, by employing the figure of a pit and a ditch; and then he expresses the same thing in simple terms without figure, declaring, that the mischief intended for others returned upon the head of him who had devised it. There is no doubt that it was a common proverb among the Jews, He who hath digged a pit falleth into it; which they quoted when they meant to say, that wicked and crafty men are caught in the snares and traps which they have set for others, or that the contrivers of the ruin of others perish by their own devices. fa0127 There is a twofold use of this doctrine:the first place, however skilled in craft our enemies may be, and whatever means of doing mischief they may have, we must nevertheless look for the issue which God here promises, that they shall fall by their own sword. And this is not a thing which happens by chance; but God, by the secret direction of his own hand, causes the evil which they intend to bring upon the innocent to return upon their own heads. In the second place, If at any time we are instigated by passion to inflict any injury upon our neighbours, or to commit any wickedness, let us remember this principle of retributive justice, which is often acted upon by the divine government, that those who prepare a pit for others are cast into it themselves; and the effect will be, that every one, in proportion as he would consult his own happiness and welfare, will be careful to restrain himself from doing any injury, even the smallest, to another.
17. I will praise Jehovah according to his righteousness; and I will sing to the name of Jehovah, Most High. As the design of God in the deliverances which he vouchsafes to his servants is, that they may render to him in return the sacrifices of praise, David here promises that he will gratefully acknowledge the deliverance which he had received, and at the same time affirms that his preservation from death was the undoubted and manifest work of God. He could not, with truth, and from the heart, have ascribed to God the praise of his deliverance, if he had not been fully persuaded that he had been preserved otherwise than by the power of man. He, therefore, not only promises to exercise the gratitude which was due to his deliverer, but he confirms in one word what he has rehearsed throughout the psalm, that he is indebted for his life to the grace of God, who had not suffered Saul to take it from him. The righteousness of God is here to be understood of his faithfulness which he makes good to his servants in defending and preserving their lives. God does not shut up or conceal his righteousness from our view in the secret recesses of his own mind, but manifests it for our advantage when he defends us against all wrongful violence, delivers us from oppression, and preserves us in safety although wicked men make war upon us and persecute us.
PSALM 8.
David, reflecting upon God's fatherly beneficence towards mankind, is not content with simply giving thanks for it, but is enraptured by the contemplation of it.
To the chief musician upon Hagittith. A song of David.
Psalm 8:1
1. O Jehovah, our Lord! fa112 How wonderful is thy name in all the earth, to set fa113 thy glory above the heavens!

Whether tytg, Gittith, signifies a musical instrument or some particular tune, or the beginning of some famous and well-known song, I do not take upon me to determine. Those who think that the psalm is so called because it was composed in the city of Gath, give a strained and far-fetched explanation of the matter. Of the other three opinions, of which I have spoken, it is not of much importance which is adopted. The principal thing to be attended to is what the psalm itself contains, and what is the design of it. David, it is true, sets before his eyes the wonderful power and glory of God in the creation and government of the material universe; but he only slightly glances at this subject, as it were, in passing, and insists principally on the theme of God's infinite goodness towards us. There is presented to us in the whole order of nature, the most abundant matter for showing forth the glory of God, but, as we are unquestionably more powerfully affected with what we ourselves experience, David here, with great propriety, expressly celebrates the special favor which God manifests towards mankind; for this, of all the subjects which come under our contemplation, is the brightest mirror in which we can behold his glory. It is, however, strange why he begins the psalm with an exclamation, when the usual way is first to give an account of a thing, and then to magnify its greatness and excellence. But if we remember what is said in other passages of Scripture, respecting the impossibility of expressing in words the works of God, we will not be surprised that David, by this exclamation, acknowledges himself unequal to the task of recounting them. David, therefore, when reflecting on the incomprehensible goodness which God has been graciously pleased to bestow on the human race, and feeling all his thoughts and senses swallowed up, and overwhelmed in the contemplation, exclaims that it is a subject worthy of admiration, because it cannot be set forth in words. fa114 Besides, the Holy Spirit, who directed David's tongue, doubtless intended, by his instrumentality, to awaken men from the torpor and indifference which is common to them, so that they may not content themselves with celebrating the infinite love of God and the innumerable benefits which they receive at his hand, in their sparing and frigid manner, but may rather apply their whole hearts to this holy exercise, and put forth in it their highest efforts. This exclamation of David implies, that when all the faculties of the human mind are exerted to the utmost in meditation on this subject, fa115 they yet come far short of it.
The name of God, as I explain it, is here to be understood of the knowledge of the character and perfections of God, in so far as he makes himself known to us. I do not approve of the subtle speculations of those who think the name of God means nothing else but God himself. It ought rather to be referred to the works and properties by which he is known, than to his essence. David, therefore, says that the earth is full of the wonderful glory of God, so that the fame or renown thereof not only reaches to the heavens, but ascends far above them. The verb hnt, tenah, has been rendered by some in the preterite tense, hast set, but in my judgment, those give a more accurate translation who render it in the infinitive mood, to place or to set; because the second clause is just an amplification of the subject of the first; as if he had said, the earth is too small to contain the glory or the wonderful manifestations of the character and perfections of God. According to this view, rça, asher, will not be a relative, but will have the meaning of the expletive or exegetic particle even, which we use to explain what has preceded. fa116
Psalm 8:2
2. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast founded thy strength, because of thy adversaries, that thou mightest put to flight the enemy and avenger.

He now enters upon the proof of the subject which he had undertaken to discourse upon, fa117 declaring, that the providence of God, in order to make itself known to mankind, does not wait till men arrive at the age of maturity, but even from the very dawn of infancy shines forth so brightly as is sufficient to confute all the ungodly, who, through their profane contempt of God, would wish to extinguish his very name. fa118
The opinion of some, who think that ypm, mephi, out of the mouth, signifies ypk, kephi, in the mouth, cannot be admitted, because it improperly weakens the emphasis which David meant to give to his language and discourse. The meaning, therefore, is, that God, in order to commend his providence, has no need of the powerful eloquence of rhetoricians, fa119 nor even of distinct and formed language, because the tongues of infants, although they do not as yet speak, are ready and eloquent enough to celebrate it. But it may be asked, In what sense does he speak of children as the proclaimers of the glory of God? In my judgment, those reason very foolishly who think that this is done when children begin to articulate, because then also the intellectual faculty of the soul shows itself. Granting that they are called babes, or infants, even until they arrive at their seventh year, how can such persons imagine that those who now speak distinctly are still hanging on the breast? Nor is there any more propriety in the opinion of those who say, that the words for babes and sucklings are here put allegorically for the faithful, who, being born again by the Spirit of God, no longer retain the old age of the flesh. What need, then, is there to wrest the words of David, when their true meaning is so clear and suitable? He says that babes and sucklings are advocates sufficiently powerful to vindicate the providence of God. Why does he not entrust this business to men, but to show that the tongues of infants, even before they are able to pronounce a single word, speak loudly and distinctly in commendation of God's liberality towards the human race? Whence is it that nourishment is ready for them as soon as they are born, but because God wonderfully changes blood into milk? Whence, also, have they the skill to suck, but because the same God has, by a mysterious instinct, fitted their tongues for doing this? David, therefore, has the best reason for declaring, that although the tongues of all, who have arrived at the age of manhood, should become silent, the speechless mouth of infants is sufficiently able to celebrate the praise of God. And when he not only introduces babes as witnesses and preachers of God's glory, but also attributes mature strength to their mouth, the expression is very emphatic. It means the same thing as if he had said, These are invincible champions of God who, when it comes to the conflict, can easily scatter and discomfit the whole host of the wicked despisers of God, and those who have abandoned themselves to impiety. fa120 We should observe against whom he imposes upon infants the office of defending the glory of God, namely, against the hardened despisers of God, who dare to rise up against heaven to make war upon God, as the poets have said, in olden time, of the giants. fa121
Since, therefore, these monsters, fa122 with furious violence, pluck up by the roots, and overthrow whatever godliness and the fear of God fa123 there is in the world, and through their hardihood endeavor to do violence to heaven itself, David in mockery of them brings into the field of battle against them the mouths of infants, which he says are furnished with armor of sufficient strength, and endued with sufficient fortitude, to lay their intolerable pride fa124 in the dust. He, therefore, immediately subjoins, On account of the adversaries. God is not under the necessity of making war with great power to overcome the faithful, who willingly hearken to his voice, and manifest a ready obedience, as soon as he gives the smallest intimation of his will. The providence of God, I confess, shines forth principally for the sake of the faithful, because they only have eyes to behold it. But as they show themselves willing to receive instruction, God teaches them with gentleness; while, on the other hand, he arms himself against his enemies, who never submit themselves to him but by constraint. Some take the word founded as meaning, that, in the very birth or generation of man, God lays foundations for manifesting his own glory. But this sense is too restricted. I have no doubt that the word is put for to establish, as if the prophet had said, God needs not strong military forces to destroy the ungodly; instead of these, the mouths of children are sufficient for his purpose. fa125
To put to flight. Interpreters differ with respect to the word tybçh, hashebith. It properly signifies, to cause to cease; for it is in the conjugation Hiphil of the neuter verb tbç, shabath, which signifies to cease. But it is often taken metaphorically for to destroy, or to reduce to nothing, because destruction or death brings to an end. Others translate it, that thou mayest restrain, as if David meant that they were put to silence, so that they desisted from cursing or reviling God. As, however, there is here a beautiful allusion to a hostile combat, as I have a little before explained, I have preferred the military phrase, to put to flight. But it is asked, How does God put to flight his enemies, who, by their impious slanders and detractions, do not cease to strike at, and violently to rush forward to oppose all the proofs of a Divine Providence which daily manifest themselves? fa126 I answer, They are not routed or overthrown in respect of their being compelled to become more humble and unassuming; but because, with all their blasphemies and canine barkings, they continue in the state of abasement and confusion to which they have been brought. To express the whole in a few words:so early as the generation or birth of man the splendor of Divine Providence is so apparent, that even infants, who hang upon their mothers' breasts, can bring down to the ground the fury of the enemies of God. Although his enemies may do their utmost, and may even burst with rage a hundred times, it is in vain for them to endeavor to overthrow the strength which manifests itself in the weakness of infancy. A desire of revenge reigns in all unbelievers, while, on the other hand, God governs his own children by the spirit of meekness and benignity:fa127 but, according to the scope of the present passage, the prophet applies this epithet, the avenger, to the despisers of God, who are not only cruel towards man, but who also burn with frantic rage to make war even against God himself.
I have now discharged the duty of a faithful interpreter in opening up the mind of the prophet. There is only one difficulty remaining, which is this, that Christ (<402116>Matthew 21:16) seems to put upon this passage a different meaning, when he applies it to children ten years old. But this difficulty is easily removed. Christ reasons from the greater to the less in this manner; If God has appointed children even in infancy the vindicators of his glory, there is no absurdity in his making them the instruments of showing forth his praise by their tongues after they have arrived at the age of seven years and upwards.
Psalm 8:3-4
3. When I see thy heavens, the works of thy fingers; the moon and the stars which thou hast arranged:4. What is man fa128 that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? fa129

As the Hebrew particle yk, ki, has often the same meaning as because or for, and simply affirms a thing, both the Greek and the Latin fathers have generally read the fourth verse as if it were a complete sentence by itself. But it is, doubtless, closely connected with the following verse; and, therefore, the two verses ought to be joined together. The Hebrew word yk, ki, might be very properly translated into the disjunctive particle, although, making the meaning to be this:Although the infinite majesty of God shines forth in the heavenly bodies, and justly keeps the eyes of men fixed on the contemplation of it, yet his glory is beheld in a special manner, in the great favor which he bears to men, and in the goodness which he manifests towards them. This interpretation would not be at variance with the scope of the passage; but I choose rather to follow the generally received opinion. My readers, however, must be careful to mark the design of the Psalmist, which is to enhance, by this comparison, the infinite goodness of God; for it is, indeed, a wonderful thing that the Creator of heaven, whose glory is so surpassingly great as to ravish us with the highest admiration, condescends so far as graciously to take upon him the care of the human race. That the Psalmist makes this contrast may be inferred from the Hebrew word, çwna, enosh, which we have rendered man, and which expresses the frailty of man rather than any strength or power which he possesses. fa130 We see that miserable men, in moving upon the earth, are mingled with the vilest creatures; and, therefore, God, with very good reason, might despise them and reckon them of no account if he were to stand upon the consideration of his own greatness or dignity. The prophet, therefore, speaking interrogatively, abases their condition, intimating that God's wonderful goodness is displayed the more brightly in that so glorious a Creator, whose majesty shines resplendently in the heavens, graciously condescends to adorn a creature so miserable and vile as man is with the greatest glory, and to enrich him with numberless blessings. If he had a mind to exercise his liberality towards any, he was under no necessity of choosing men who are but dust and clay, in order to prefer them above all other creatures, seeing he had a sufficient number in heaven towards whom to show himself liberal. fa131 Whoever, therefore, is not astonished and deeply affected at this miracle, is more than ungrateful and stupid. When the Psalmist calls the heavens God's heavens, and the works of his fingers, he has a reference to the same subject, and intends to illustrate it. How is it that God comes forth from so noble and glorious a part of his works, and stoops down to us, poor worms of the earth, if it is not to magnify and to give a more illustrious manifestation of his goodness? From this, also, we learn, that those are chargeable with a very presumptuous abuse of the goodness of God, who take occasion from it to be proud of the excellence which they possess, as if they had either obtained it by their own skill, or as if they possessed it on account of their own merit; whereas their origin should rather remind them that it has been gratuitously conferred upon those who are otherwise vile and contemptible creatures, and utterly unworthy of receiving any good from God. Whatever estimable quality, therefore, we see in ourselves, let it stir us up to celebrate the free and undeserved goodness of God in bestowing it upon us.
The verb, at the close of the third verse, which others translate to prepare, or to found, or to establish, I have thought proper to render to arrange; for the Psalmist seems to have a reference to the very beautiful order by which God has so appropriately distinguished the position of the stars, and daily regulates their course. When it is said, God is mindful of man, it signifies the same thing as that he bears towards him a fatherly love, defends and cherishes him, and extends his providence towards him. Almost all interpreters render dqp, pakad, the last word of this verse, to visit; and I am unwilling to differ from them, since this sense suits the passage very well. But as it sometimes signifies to remember, and as we will often find in the Psalms the repetition of the same thought in different words, it may here be very properly translated to remember; as if David had said, This is a marvellous thing, that God thinks upon men, and remembers them continually.
Psalm 8:5-6
5. For fa132 thou hast made him little lower than God. fa133 and hast crowned him with glory and honor. 6. Thou hast set him over the works of thy hands:Thou hast put all things under his feet.

5. Thou hast made him little lower. The Hebrew copulative yk, ki, I have no doubt, ought to be translated into the causal particle for, seeing the Psalmist confirms what he has just now said concerning the infinite goodness of God towards men, in showing himself near to them, and mindful of them. In the first place, he represents them as adorned with so many honors as to render their condition not far inferior to divine and celestial glory. In the second place, he mentions the external dominion and power which they possess over all creatures, from which it appears how high the degree of dignity is to which God hath exalted them. I have, indeed, no doubt but he intends, by the first, fa134 the distinguished endowments which clearly manifest that men were formed after the image of God, and created to the hope of a blessed and immortal life. The reason with which they are endued, and by which they can distinguish between good and evil; the principle of religion which is planted in them; their intercourse with each other, which is preserved from being broken up by certain sacred bonds; the regard to what is becoming, and the sense of shame which guilt awakens in them, as well as their continuing to be governed by laws; all these things are clear indications of pre-eminent and celestial wisdom. David, therefore, not without good reason, exclaims that mankind are adorned with glory and honor. To be crowned, is here taken metaphorically, as if David had said, he is clothed and adorned with marks of honor, which are not far removed from the splendor of the divine majesty. The Septuagint render µyhla, Elohim, by angels, of which I do not disapprove, since this name, as is well known, is often given to angels, and I explain the words of David as meaning the same thing as if he had said, that the condition of men is nothing less than a divine and celestial state. But as the other translation seems more natural, and as it is almost universally adopted by the Jewish interpreters, I have preferred following it. Nor is it any sufficient objection to this view, that the apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, (<580207>Hebrews 2:7) quoting this passage, says, little less than the angels, and not than God; fa135 for we know what freedoms the apostles took in quoting texts of Scripture; not, indeed, to wrest them to a meaning different from the true one but because they reckoned it sufficient to show, by a reference to Scripture, that what they taught was sanctioned by the word of God, although they did not quote the precise words. Accordingly, they never had any hesitation in changing the words, provided the substance of the text remained unchanged.
There is another question which it is more difficult to solve. While the Psalmist here discourses concerning the excellency of men, and describes them, in respect of this, as coming near to God, the apostle applies the passage to the humiliation of Christ. In the first place, we must consider the propriety of applying to the person of Christ what is here spoken concerning all mankind; and, secondly, how we may explain it as referring to Christ's being humbled in his death, when he lay without form or beauty, and as it were disfigured under the reproach and curse of the cross. What some say, that what is true of the members may be properly and suitably transferred to the head, might be a sufficient answer to the first question; but I go a step farther, for Christ is not only the first begotten of every creature, but also the restorer of mankind. What David here relates belongs properly to the beginning of the creation, when man's nature was perfect. fa136 But we know that, by the fall of Adam, all mankind fell from their primeval state of integrity, for by this the image of God was almost entirely effaced from us, and we were also divested of those distinguishing gifts by which we would have been, as it were, elevated to the condition of demigods; in short, from a state of the highest excellence, we were reduced to a condition of wretched and shameful destitution. In consequence of this corruption, the liberality of God, of which David here speaks, ceased, so far, at least, as that it does not at all appear in the brilliancy and splendor in which it was manifested when man was in his unfallen state. True, it is not altogether extinguished; but, alas! how small a portion of it remains amidst the miserable overthrow and ruins of the fall. But as the heavenly Father hath bestowed upon his Son an immeasurable fullness of all blessings, that all of us may draw from this fountain, it follows that whatever God bestows upon us by him belongs of fight to him in the highest degree; yea, he himself is the living image of God, according to which we must be renewed, upon which depends our participation of the invaluable blessings which are here spoken of. If any person object that David first put the question, What is man? because God has so abundantly poured forth his favor upon a creature, so miserable, contemptible, and worthless; but that there is no cause for such admiration of God's favor for Christ, who is not an ordinary man, but the only begotten Son of God. The answer is easy, and it is this:What was bestowed upon Christ's human nature was a free gift; nay, more, the fact that a mortal man, and the son of Adam, is the only Son of God, and the Lord of glory, and the head of angels, affords a bright illustration of the mercy of God. At the same time, it is to be observed, that whatever gifts he has received ought to be considered as proceeding from the free grace of God, so much the more for this reason, that they are intended principally to be conferred upon us. His excellence and heavenly dignity, therefore, are extended to us also, seeing it is for our sake he is enriched with them.
What the apostle therefore says in that passage concerning the abasement of Christ for a short time, is not intended by him as an explanation of this text; but for the purpose of enriching and illustrating the subject on which he is discoursing, he introduces and accommodates to it what had been spoken in a different sense. The same apostle did not hesitate, in <451006>Romans 10:6, in the same manner to enrich and to employ, in a sense different from their original one, the words of Moses in <053012>Deuteronomy 30:12:
"Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it to us, that we may
hear it and do it?"
etc. The apostle, therefore, in quoting this psalm, had not so much an eye to what David meant; but making an allusion to these words, Thou hast made him a little lower; and again, Thou hast crowned him with honor, he applies this diminution to the death of Christ, and the glory and honor to his resurrection. fa137 A similar account may be given of Paul's declaration in <490408>Ephesians 4:8, in which he does not so much explain the meaning of the text, (<196818>Psalm 68:18) as he devoutly applies it, by way of accommodation, to the person of Christ.
6. Thou hast set him over. David now comes to the second point, which I have just now spoken of, namely, that from the dominion over all things which God has conferred upon men, it is evident how great is the love which he has borne towards them, and how much account he has made of them. As he does not stand in need of any thing himself, he has destined all the riches, both of heaven and earth, for their use. It is certainly a singular honor, and one which cannot be sufficiently estimated, that mortal man, as the representative of God, has dominion over the world, as if it pertained to him by right, and that to whatever quarter he turns his eyes, he sees nothing wanting which may contribute to the convenience and happiness of his life. As this passage is quoted by Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, (<461527>1 Corinthians 15:27) where he discourses concerning the spiritual kingdom of Christ, some may object and say, that the meaning he puts upon it is very different from the sense which I have given. But it is easy to answer this objection, and the answer which I give to it is this, That generally the whole order of this world is arranged and established for the purpose of conducing to the comfort and happiness of men. In what way the passage may properly apply to Christ alone, I have already declared a little before. The only thing which now remains to be considered is, how far this declaration extends — that all things are subjected to men. Now, there is no doubt, that if there is any thing in heaven or on earth which is opposed to men, the beautiful order which God had established in the world at the beginning is now thrown into confusion. The consequence of this is, that mankind, after they were ruined by the fall of Adam, were not only deprived of so distinguished and honorable an estate, and dispossessed of their former dominion, but are also held captive under a degrading and ignominious bondage. Christ, it is true, is the lawful heir of heaven and earth, by whom the faithful recover what they had lost in Adam; but he has not as yet actually entered upon the full possession of his empire and dominion. Whence the apostle concludes, that what is here said by David fa138 will not be perfectly accomplished until death be abolished. Accordingly, the apostle reasons in this manner, "If all things are subdued to Christ, nothing ought to stand in opposition to his people. But we see death still exercising his tyranny against them. It follows then, that there remains the hope of a better state than the present." Now, this flows from the principle of which I have spoken, that the world was originally created for this end, that every part of it should tend to the happiness of man as its great object. In another part of his writings, the apostle argues on the same principle, when, in order to prove that we must all stand at the last day before the judgment-seat of Christ, he brings forward the following passage, , Unto me every knee shall bow," (<451410>Romans 14:10.) In this syllogism, what Logicians call the minor proposition must be supplied, fa139 namely, that there are still too many who proudly and obstinately cast off his yoke, and are averse to bow the knee in token of their submission to him.
Psalm 8:7-9
7. All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the fields; 8. The birds of the air, and ,he fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9. O Jehovah, our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the earth!

The preceding question, with respect to the extent of man's dominion over the works of God, seems not yet to be fully answered. If the prophet here declares, by way of exposition, to what extent God has put all things in subjection to us, this subjection, it seems, must be restricted to what contributes to the temporal comfort and convenience of man while he continues in this world. To this difficulty I answer, That the Psalmist does not intend in these verses to give a complete enumeration of all the things which are subjected to man's dominion, and of which he had spoken generally in the preceding verse, but he brings forward an example of this subjection only in one part or particular; yea, he has especially chosen that part which affords a clear and manifest evidence of the truth he intended to establish, even to those whose minds are uncultivated and slow of apprehension. There is no man of a mind so dull and stupid but may se if he will be at the trouble to open his eyes, that it is by the wonderful providence of God that horses and oxen yield their service to men, — that sheep produce wool to clothe theme — and that all sorts of animals supply them with food for their nourishment and support, even from their own flesh. And the more that this dominion is apparent, the more ought we to be affected with a sense of the goodness and grace of our God as often as we either eat food, or enjoy any of the other comforts of life. We are, therefore, not to understand David as meaning that it is a proof that man is invested with dominion over all the works of God, because he clothes himself with the wool and the skins of beasts, because he lives upon their flesh, and because he employs their labor for his own advantage; for this would be inconclusive reasoning. He only brings forward this as an example, and as a mirror in which we may behold and contemplate the dominion over the works of his hands, with which God has honored man. The sum is this:God, in creating man, gave a demonstration of his infinite grace and more than fatherly love towards him, which ought justly to strike us with amazement; and although, by the fall of man, that happy condition has been almost entirely ruined, yet there is still in him some remains of the liberality which God then displayed towards him, which should suffice to fill us with admiration. In this mournful and wretched overthrow, it is true, the legitimate order which God originally established no longer shines forth, but the faithful whom God gathers to himself, under Christ their head, enjoy so much of the fragments of the good things which they lost in Adam, as may furnish them with abundant matter of wonder at the singularly gracious manner in which God deals with them. David here confines his attention to God's temporal benefits, but it is our duty to rise higher, and to contemplate the invaluable treasures of the kingdom of heaven which he has unfolded in Christ, and all the gifts which belong to the spiritual life, that by reflecting upon these our hearts may be inflamed with love to God, that we may be stirred up to the practice of godliness, and that we may not suffer ourselves to become slothful and remiss in celebrating his praises.
Psalm 9
David, after having recounted the former victories which he had gained, and exalted in lofty strains the grace and power of God in their happy issue, now again, when he sees new enemies and dangers rising up, implores the protection of the same God by whom he had before been delivered, and beseeches him to overthrow the pride of his enemies.
To the chief musician Almuth Laben. A Psalm of David.
This inscription is variously explained. Some translate it, Upon the death of Laben, and are of opinion that he was one of the chief captains of David's enemies. Others are inclined to think it was rather a fictitious name, and that Goliath is the person spoken of in this psalm. According to others, it was a musical instrument. But to me it seems a more correct, or, at least, (as I am accustomed to speak when the matter is obscure, fa140 a more probable opinion, that it was the beginning of some well-known song, to the tune of which the psalm was composed. The disputes of interpreters as to what victory David here celebrates, in my judgment, are unnecessary, and serve no good purpose. In the first place, their opinion that it is a song of victory, in which David simply gives thanks to God, is confuted, and shown to be erroneous from the scope of the psalm. The greater part is indeed occupied in singing the praises of God, but the whole ought to be considered as a prayer; in which, for the purpose of elevating his mind to confidence in God, he calls to his remembrance, according to his usual manner, by what wonderful displays of the power of God he had formerly been delivered from the violence and power of his enemies. It is therefore a mistake to limit to one victory this thanksgiving, in which he intended to comprehend many deliverances.
Psalm 9:1-3
1. I will praise Jehovah with my whole heart; I will tell of thy marvellous works. 2. I will rejoice and exult fa141 in thee; yea, I will celebrate in songs thy name, O thou Most High. 3. When my enemies are turned back, they fall down, and are put to flight fa142 at thy presence.

1. I will praise the Lord. David begins the psalm in this way, to induce God to succor him in the calamities with which he was now afflicted. As God continues his favor towards his own people without intermission, all the good he has hitherto done to us should serve to inspire us with confidence and hope, that he will be gracious and merciful to us in the time to come. fa143 There is, indeed, in these words a profession of gratitude for the favors which he has received from God; fa144 but, in remembering his past mercies, he encourages himself to expect succor and aid in future emergencies; and by this means he opens the gate of prayer. The whole heart is taken for an upright or sincere heart, which is opposed to a double heart. Thus he distinguishes himself not only from gross hypocrites, who praise God only with their lips outwardly, without having their hearts in any way affected, but also acknowledges that whatever he had hitherto done which was commendable, proceeded entirely from the pure grace of God. Even irreligious men, I admit, when they have obtained some memorable victory, are ashamed to defraud God of the praise which is due to him; but we see that as soon as they have uttered a single expression in acknowledgement of the assistance God has afforded them, they immediately begin to boast loudly, and to sing triumphs in honor of their own valor, as if they were under no obligations whatever to God. In short, it is a piece of pure mockery when they profess that their exploits have been done by the help of God; for, after having made oblation to Him, they sacrifice to their own counsels, skill, courage, and resources. Observe how the prophet Habakkuk, under the person of one presumptuous king, wisely reproves the ambition which is common to all, (<350116>Habakkuk 1:16.) Yea, we see that the famous generals of antiquity, who, upon returning victorious from some battle, desired public and solemn thanksgivings fa145 to be decreed in their name to the gods, thought of nothing less than of doing honor to their false deities; but only abused their names under a false pretense, in order thereby to obtain an opportunity of indulging in vain boasting, that their own superior prowess might be acknowledged. fa146 David, therefore, with good reason, affirms that he is unlike the children of this world, whose hypocrisy or fraud is discovered by the wicked and dishonest distribution which they make between God and themselves, fa147 arrogating to themselves the greater part of the praise which they pretended to ascribe to God. He praised God with his whole heart, which they did not; for certainly it is not praising God with the whole heart when a mortal man dares to appropriate the smallest portion of the glory which God claims for himself. God cannot bear with seeing his glory appropriated by the creature in even the smallest degree, so intolerable to him is the sacrilegious arrogance of those who by praising themselves, obscure his glory as far as they can.
I will tell of all thy marvellous works. Here David confirms what I have already said, that he does not treat in this psalm of one victory or one deliverance only; for he proposes to himself in general all the miracles which God had wrought in his behalf, as subjects of meditation. He applies the term marvellous not to all the benefits which he had received from God, but to those more signal and memorable deliverances in which was exhibited a bright and striking manifestation of the divine power. God would have us to acknowledge him as the author of all our blessings; but on some of his gifts he has engraven more evident marks in order the more effectually to awaken our senses, which are otherwise as if asleep or dead. David's language, therefore, is an acknowledgement that he was preserved of God, not by ordinary means, but by the special power of God, which was conspicuously displayed in this matter; inasmuch as he had stretched forth his hand in a miraculous manner, and above the common and usual way.
2. I will rejoice and exult in thee. Observe how the faithful praise God sincerely and without hypocrisy, when they do not rest on themselves for happiness, and are not intoxicated with foolish and carnal presumption, but rejoice in God alone; which is nothing else than to seek the matter of their joy from the favor of God, and from no other source, since in it perfect happiness consists. I will rejoice in thee. We ought to consider how great is the difference and opposition between the character of the joy which men endeavor to find in themselves, and the character of the joy which they seek in God. David, the more forcibly to express how he renounces every thing which may keep hold of or occupy him with vain delight, adds the word exult, by which he means that he finds in God a full and an overflowing abundance of joy, so that he is not under the necessity of seeking even the smallest drop in any other quarter. Moreover, it is of importance to remember what I have previously observed, that David sets before himself the testimonies of the divine goodness which he had formerly experienced, in order to encourage himself with the more alacrity to lay open his heart fa148 to God, and to present his prayers before him. He who begins his prayer by affirming that God is the great source and object of his joy, fortifies himself before-hand with the strongest confidence, in presenting his supplications to the hearer of prayer.
3. While my enemies are turned back. In these words he assigns the reason why he undertakes to sing the praises of God, namely, because he acknowledges that his frequent victories had been achieved, not by his own power, nor by the power of his soldiers, but by the free favor of God. In the first part of the verse he narrates historically how his enemies were discomfited or put to flight; and then he adds, what faith alone could enable him to say, that this did not take place by the power of man or by chance, but because God fought for him, fa149 and stood against them in the battle. He says, they fall, fa150 and are put to flight At Thy Presence. David therefore acted wisely, when, upon seeing his enemies turn their backs, he lifted up the eyes of his mind to God, in order to perceive that victory flowed to him from no other source than from the secret and incomprehensible aid of God. And, doubtless, it is He only who guides the simple by the spirit of wisdom, while he inflicts madness on the crafty, and strikes them with amazement, — who inspires with courage the faint and timid, while he causes the boldest to tremble with fear, — who restores to the feeble their strength, while he reduces the strong to weakness, — who upholds the fainthearted by his power, while he makes the sword to fall from the hands of the valiant; - and, finally, who brings the battle to a prosperous or disastrous issue, just as he pleases. When, therefore, we see our enemies overthrown, we must beware of limiting our view to what is visible to the eye of sense, like ungodly men, who, while they see with their bodily eyes, are yet blind; but let us instantly call to our remembrance this truth, that when our enemies turn back, they are put to flight by the presence of the Lord. fa151 The verbs, fall and put to flight, in the Hebrew, are in the future tense, but I have translated them in the present, because David anew presents to his own view the goodness of God which had formerly been manifested towards him.
Psalm 9:4-5
4. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou sittest upon the throne a righteous judge. fa152 5. Thou hast rebuked the nations; thou hast destroyed the wicked; thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever.

The Psalmist proceeds a step farther in the 4th verse, declaring that God stretched forth his hand to give him succor, because he was unrighteously afflicted by his enemies. And surely if we desire to be favored with the assistance of God, we ought to see to it that we fight under his standard. David, therefore, calls him a judge of righteousness, or, which is the same thing, a righteous judge; as if he had said, God has acted towards me according to his ordinary manner and constant principle of acting, for it is his usual way to undertake the defense of good causes. I am more inclined to render the words, Thou sittest a just judge, than to render them, O just judge, thou sittest, fa153 because the form of expression, according to the first reading, is more emphatic. The import of it is this:God at length has assumed the character of judge, and is gone up into his judgment-seat to execute the office of judge. On this account he glories in having law and right on his side, and declares that God was the maintainer of his right and cause. What follows in the next verse, Thou hast destroyed [or discomfited,] the wicked, belongs also to the same subject. When he beholds his enemies overthrown, he does not rejoice in their destruction, considered simply in itself; but in condemning them on account of their unrighteousness, he says that they have received the punishment which they deserved. Under the name of nations he means, that it was not a small number of ungodly persons who were destroyed, but great armies, yea, even all who had risen up against him from different quarters. And the goodness of God shines forth the brighter in this, that, on account of the favor which he bare to one of his servants, he spared not even whole nations. When he says, Thou hast blotted out their name for ever, it may be understood as meaning, that they were destroyed without any hope of ever being able to rise again, and devoted to everlasting shame. We could not otherwise discern how God buries the name of the ungodly with themselves, did we not hear him declare that the memory of the righteous shall be for ever blessed, (<201007>Proverbs 10:7.)
Psalm 9:6-8
6. O thou enemy, desolations are come to an end for ever; and thou hast destroyed [or demolished fa154] cities; their memory has perished with them. 7. And Jehovah sitteth for ever, he hath prepared his throne for judgment. 8. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall judge the nations in uprightness.

6. O thou enemy, desolations are come to an end for ever. This sixth verse is explained in different ways. Some read it interrogatively, viewing the letter h, as a mark of interrogation, as if David, addressing his discourse to his enemies, asked whether they had completed their work of devastation, even as they had resolved to destroy every thing; for the verb µmt, tamam, signifies sometimes to complete, and sometimes to put an end to any thing. And if we here take it in this sense, David, in the language of sarcasm or irony, rebukes the foolish confidence of his enemies. Others, reading the verse without any interrogation, make the irony still more evident, and think that David describes, in these three verses, a twofold state of matters; that, in the first place, (verse 6,) he introduces his enemies persecuting him with savage violence, and persevering with determined obstinacy in their cruelty, so that it seemed to be their fixed purpose never to desist until the kingdom of David should be utterly destroyed; and that, in the second place, (verses 7, 8) he represents God as seated on his judgment-seat, directly over against them, to repress their outrageous attempts. If this sense is admitted, the copulative, in the beginning of the seventh verse, which we have translated and, must be rendered by the adversative particle but, in this way:Thou, O enemy, didst seek after nothing except slaughter and the destruction of cities; but, at length, God has shown that he sits in heaven on his throne as judge, to put into proper order the things which are in confusion on the earth. According to others, David gives thanks to God, because, when the ungodly were fully determined to spread universal ruin around them, he put an end to their devastations. Others understand the words in a more restricted sense, as meaning that the desolations of the ungodly were completed, because God, in his just judgment, had made to fall upon their own heads the calamities and ruin which they had devised against David. According to others, David, in the 6th verse, complains that God had, for a long time, silently suffered the miserable devastation of his people, so that the ungodly, being left unchecked, wasted and destroyed all things according to their pleasure; and in the seventh verse, they think he subjoins for his consolation that God, notwithstanding, presides over human affairs. I have no objection to the view, that there is first described ironically how dreadful the power of the enemy was, when they put forth their highest efforts; and next, that there is set in opposition to it the judgment of God, which suddenly brought their proceedings to an abrupt termination, contrary to their expectation. They anticipated no such issue; for we know that the ungodly, although they may not presume openly to deprive God of his authority and dominion, yet run headlong to every excess of wickedness, not less boldly than if he were bound with fetters. fa155 We have taken notice of an almost similar manner of speaking in a preceding psalm, (<190713>Psalm 7:13)
This contrast between the power of the enemies of God and his people, and the work of God in breaking up their proceedings, very well illustrates the wonderful character of the succor which he granted to his people. The ungodly had set to themselves no limit in the work of doing mischief, save in the utter destruction of all things, and at the commencement complete destruction seemed to be at hand; but when things were in this state of confusion, God seasonably made his appearance for the help of his people. fa156 As often, therefore, as nothing but destruction presents itself to our view, to whatever side we may turn, fa157 let us remember to lift up our eyes to the heavenly throne, whence God beholds all that is done here below. In the world our affairs may have been brought to such an extremity, that there is no longer hope in regard to them; but the shield with which we ought to repel all the temptations by which we are assailed is this, that God, nevertheless, sits Judge in heaven. Yea, when he seems to take no notice of us, and does not immediately remedy the evils which we suffer, it becomes us to realize by faith his secret providence. The Psalmist says, in the first place, God sitteth for ever, by which he means, that however high the violence of men may be carried, and although their fury may burst forth without measure, they can never drag God from his seat. He farther means by this expression, that it is impossible for God to abdicate the office and authority of judge; a truth which he expresses more clearly in the second clause of the verse, He hath prepared his throne for judgment, in which he declares that God reigns not only for the purpose of making his majesty and glory surpassingly great, but also for the purpose of governing the world in righteousness.
8. And he shall judge the world in righteousness. As David has just now testified, that the power of God is not inactive, so that he dwells in heaven only indulging himself in pleasures; but that it is a constantly operating power which he exercises in preserving his authority, and governing the world in righteousness and equity; so in this verse he adds the use of this doctrine, which is this, that the power of God is not shut up in heaven, but manifests itself in succouring men. The true doctrine on this subject, is not, like Epicurus, to imagine that God is a being wholly devoted to ease and pleasures, and who, satisfied with himself alone, has no care whatever about mankind, but to place him on the throne of power and equity, so that we may be fully persuaded, that although he does not immediately succor those who are unrighteously oppressed, yet there is not a moment in which he ceases to take a deep interest in them. And when he seems for a time to take no notice of things, the conclusion to which we should come most assuredly is, not that he deserts his office, but that he wishes hereby to exercise the patience of his people, and that, therefore, we should wait the issue in patience, and with tranquillity of mind. The demonstrative pronoun He, in my opinion, is of great weight. The import of it is, as if David had said, No one can deprive God of his office as Judge of the world, nor prevent him from extending his judgments to all nations. Whence it follows, that he will much more be the judge of his own people. David declares these judgments to be righteous, in order to induce us, when we are unrighteously and cruelly molested, to ask assistance from God, in the confident expectation of obtaining it; for since he judges the nations in righteousness, he will not suffer injustice and oppression always to reign with impunity in the world, nor deny his aid to the innocent.
Psalm 9:9-12
9. And Jehovah will be a refuge to the poor, and a protection in seasonable times in trouble. 10. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee:for thou forsakest not them that seek thee, O Jehovah. 11. Sing unto Jehovah, who dwelleth in Sion, and proclaim his doings among the nations. 12. For in requiring blood, he hath remembered it:he hath not forgotten the cry of the afflicted.

9. And Jehovah will be a refuge for the poor. David here furnishes a remedy for the temptation which greatly afflicts the weak, when they see themselves, and those who are like them, abandoned to the will of the ungodly, while God keeps silence. fa158 He puts us in mind that God delays his aid, and to outward appearance forsakes his faithful ones, in order at length to succor them at a more convenient season, according to the greatness of their necessity and affliction. From this it follows, that he by no means ceases from the exercise of his office, although he suffer the good and the innocent to be reduced to extreme poverty, and although he exercise them with weeping and lamentations; for by doing this he lights up a lamp to enable them to see his judgments the more clearly. Accordingly, David expressly declares, that God interposes his protection seasonably in the afflictions of his people. The Lord will be a protection to the poor in seasonable times in trouble. From this we are taught the duty of giving his providence time to make itself at length manifest in the season of need. And if protection by the power of God, and the experience of his fatherly favor, is the greatest blessing which we can receive, let us not feel so uneasy at being accounted poor and miserable before the world, but let this consolatory consideration assuage our grief, that God is not far from us, seeing our afflictions call upon him to come to our aid. Let us also observe, that God is said to be at hand in seasonable times when he succours the faithful during their affliction. fa159 The Hebrew word hrxb, batsarah, which occurs in the end of the 9th verse, is understood by some as if it were the simple word which signifies defense; but here they render it metaphorically distress, denoting those trying circumstances in which a person is so closely shut up, and reduced to such extremity, that he can find no escape. I, however, think there is more probability in the opinion of those who take b, the first letter of hrxb, batsarah, as a servile letter meaning in, which is its ordinary signification. fa160 What is here said, then, is, that God assists his own people in the time of need, namely, in affliction, or when they are weighed down with it, for then assistance is most necessary and most useful.
In the tenth verse, the Psalmist teaches us, that when the Lord delivers the righteous, the fruit which results from it is, that they themselves, and all the rest of the righteous, acquire increasing confidence in his grace; for, unless we are fully persuaded that God exercises a care about men and human affairs, we must necessarily be troubled with constant disquietude. But as most men shut their eyes that they may not see the judgments of God, David restricts this advantage to the faithful alone, and, certainly, where there is no godliness, there is no sense of the works of God. It is also to be observed, that he attributes to the faithful the knowledge of God; because from this religion proceeds, whereas it is extinguished through the ignorance and stupidity of men. Many take the name of God simply for God himself; but, as I have observed in my remarks on a preceding psalm, I think something more is expressed by this term. As God's essence is hidden and incomprehensible, his name just means his character, so far as he has been pleased to make it known to us. David next explains the ground of this trust in God to be, that he does not forsake those who seek him. God is sought in two ways, either by invocation and prayers, or by studying to live a holy and an upright life; and, indeed, the one is always inseparably joined with the other. But as the Psalmist is here treating of the protection of God, on which the safety of the godly depends, to seek God, as I understand it, is to betake ourselves to him for help and relief in danger and distress.
11. Sing unto Jehovah. David, not contented with giving thanks individually, and on his own account, exhorts the faithful to unite with him, praising God, and to do this not only because it is their duty to stir up one another to this religious exercise, but because the deliverances of which he treats were worthy of being publicly and solemnly celebrated; and this is expressed more clearly in the second clause, where he commands them to be published among the nations. The meaning is, that they are not published or celebrated as they deserve, unless the whole world is filled with the renown of them. To proclaim God's doings among the nations was indeed, as it were, to sing to the deaf; but by this manner of speaking, David intended to show that the territory of Judea was too narrow to contain the infinite greatness of Jehovah's praises. He gives God this title, He who dwelleth in Sion, to distinguish him from all the false gods of the Gentiles. There is in the phrase a tacit comparison between the God who made his covenant with Abraham and Israel, and all the gods who, in every other part of the world except Judea, were worshipped according to the blinded and depraved fancies of men. It is not enough for persons to honor and reverence some deity indiscriminately or at random; they must distinctly yield to the only living and true God the worship which belongs to him, and which he commands. Moreover, as God had particularly chosen Sion as the place where his name might be called upon, David very properly assigns it to him as his peculiar dwelling-place, not that it is lawful to attempt to shut up, in any particular place, Him whom "the heaven of heavens cannot contain," (<110801>1 Kings 8:1.) but because, as we shall afterwards see, (<19D212>Psalm 132:12) he had promised to make it his rest for ever. David did not, according to his own fancy, assign God a dwelling-place there; but he understood, by a revelation from heaven, that such was the pleasure of God himself, as Moses had often predicted, (<051201>Deuteronomy 12:1.) This goes far to prove what I have said before, that this psalm was not composed upon the occasion of David's victory over Goliath; for it was only towards the close of David's reign that the ark of the covenant was removed to Sion according to the commandment of God. The conjecture of some that David spake by the Spirit of prophecy of the residence of the ark on Sion, as a future event, appears to me to be unnatural and forced. Farther, we see that the holy fathers, when they resorted to Sion to offer sacrifices to God, did not act merely according to the suggestion of their own minds; but what they did proceeded from faith in the word of God, and was done in obedience to his command; and they were, therefore, approved of by him for their religious service. Whence it follows, that there is no ground whatever to make use of their example as an argument or excuse for the religious observances which superstitious men have, by their own fancy, invented for themselves. Besides, it was not enough for the faithful, in those days, to depend upon the word of God, and to engage in those ceremonial services which he required, unless, aided by external symbols, they elevated their minds above these, and yielded to God spiritual worship. God, indeed, gave real tokens of his presence in that visible sanctuary, but not for the purpose of binding the senses and thoughts of his people to earthly elements; he wished rather that these external symbols should serve as ladders, by which the faithful might ascend even to heaven. The design of God from the commencement in the appointment of the sacraments, and all the outward exercises of religion, was to consult the infirmity and weak capacity of his people. Accordingly, even at the present day, the true and proper use of them is, to assist us in seeking God spiritually in his heavenly glory, and not to occupy our minds with the things of this world, or keep them fixed in the vanities of the flesh, a subject which we shall afterwards have a more suitable opportunity of discussing more fully. And as the Lord, in ancient times, when he called himself, He who dwelleth in Sion, intended to give his people full and solid ground of trust, tranquillity, and joy; so even now, after the law has come out of Sion, and the covenant of grace has flowed to us from that fountain, let us know and be fully persuaded, that wherever the faithful, who worship him purely and in due form, according to the appointment of his word, are assembled together to engage in the solemn acts of religious worship, he is graciously present, and presides in the midst of them.
12. For in requiring blood. In the original, it is bloods, in the plural number, and, therefore, the relative which follows immediately after, And remembereth THEM, may very properly be referred to that word in this way, He requireth bloods, and remembereth them. But as it is sufficiently common in Hebrew to invert the order of the antecedent and the relative, and to put them before the word to which it refers, fa161 some explain it of the poor, thus:In requiring blood, he hath remembered them, namely, the poor, of whom he speaks a little after. As to the sum and substance of the matter, it is of small importance in which of these ways we explain the relative; but the former is, in my view, the more natural explanation. There is here a repetition of what the Psalmist had said a little before, that we ought especially to consider God's power, as it is manifested in the mercy which he exercises towards his servants, who are unrighteously persecuted by wicked men. From the numerous works of God, he selects one which he commends as especially worthy of being remembered, namely, his work in delivering the poor from death. God sometimes leaves them in his holy providence to be persecuted by men; but at length he takes vengeance for the wrongs inflicted upon them. The words which David uses denote a continued act; but I have no doubt that he intends from those examples, which he has related in the preceding part of the psalm, to lead men to acknowledge that God requireth innocent blood, and remembers the cry of his people.
He again insists on what I adverted to before, that God does not always put a stop to injuries so speedily as we would wish, nor break the attempts of the wicked at the first, but rather withholds and delays his assistance, so that it may seem that we cry to him in vain, a truth which it is of importance for us to understand; for if we measure the help of God according to our senses, our courage will ever and anon fail us, and in the end our hope will be entirely extinguished, and will give place to despondency and despair. We would fondly wish him, as I have said, to stretch forth his hand to a distance, and drive back the troubles which he sees to be prepared for us; yet he seems to take no notice, and does not prevent the blood of the innocent from being shed. Let this consolatory consideration, however, sustain us, that he will at length actually show how precious our blood was in his sight. If it is objected, that God's assistance comes too late, after we have endured all calamities, I answer, God delays to interfere no longer than he knows it to be of advantage for us to be humbled under the cross, and if he chooses rather to take vengeance after we have suffered outrage, than to aid us previous to the infliction of evil, it is not because he is not always willing and ready to succor us; but because he knows it is not always a proper time for manifesting his grace. By the way, it is a striking evidence, not only of his fatherly love towards us, but of the blessed immortality which is the portion of all the children of God, that he has a care about them even after they are dead. Were he always by his grace to prevent affliction from befalling us, who is there amongst us who would not be wholly attached to the present life? When, however, he avenges our death, from this it appears that, though dead, we still remain alive in his presence. For he does not, after the manner of men, hold in estimation the memory of those whom he could not preserve alive, fa162 but he actually shows that he cherishes in his bosom, and gives protection to those who seem to be no more, viewing them according to the flesh. And this is the reason why David says that he remembereth blood when he requireth it; for although he may not presently deliver his servants from the swords of the wicked, yet he suffers not their murder to pass unpunished. To the same purpose is the last clause He forgetteth not the cry of the afflicted. God may not show, by granting instant deliverance or relief, that he lends an immediate ear to the complaints of his servants; but at length he proves unanswerably that he has regarded them. Express mention is made of crying, to encourage all who desire to experience God as their deliverer and protector, to direct their wishes, groanings, and prayers to him.
Psalm 9:13-14
13. Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah, see my affliction which I suffer from those who persecute me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death. 14. That I may recount all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion; and that I may rejoice in thy salvation.

13. Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah. I think that this is the second part of the psalm. Others, however, are of a different opinion, and consider that David, according to his frequent practice, while giving thanks to God for the deliverance wrought for him, mingles with his thanksgiving an account of what had been the matter of his prayer in the extremity of his distress; and examples of the same kind, I confess, are every where to be met with in the Psalms. But when I consider all the circumstances more attentively, I am constrained to incline to the other opinion, namely, that in the commencement he celebrated the favors conferred upon him in order to make way for prayer; and the psalm is at last concluded with a prayer. He does not, therefore, in passing here insert the prayers which he had formerly made in the midst of his dangers and anxieties; but he purposely implores help from God at the present time, fa163 and asks that He, whom he had often experienced as his deliverer, would continue the exercise of the same grace towards him. His enemies, perhaps, whom he had already vanquished on various occasions, having gathered new courage, and raised new forces, made a desperate effort, as we often see those who are driven to despair rush upon their enemies just with the greater impetuosity and rage. It is indeed certain, that David, when he offered this prayer, was seized with the greatest fear; for he would not, on account of a small matter, have called upon God to witness his affliction in the way he here does. It ought to be observed, that while he humbly betakes himself to the mercy of God, he bears, with a patient and submissive mind, the cross which was laid upon him. fa164 But we ought chiefly to mark the title which he gives to God, calling him his lifter up from the gates of death; for we could not find a more appropriate expression than to lift up for the Hebrew word µmwrm, meromem. By this the Psalmist, in the first place, strengthens his faith from his past experience, inasmuch as he had often been delivered from the greatest dangers. And, in the second place, he assures himself of deliverance, even in the very jaws of death; because God is accustomed not only to succor his servants, and to deliver them from their calamities by ordinary means, but also to bring them from the grave, even after all hope of life is cut off; for the gates of death is a metaphorical expression, denoting the utmost perils which threaten destruction, or rather, which lay the grave open before us. In order, therefore, that neither the weight of the calamities which we presently endure, nor the fear of those which we see impending over us, may overwhelm our faith, or interrupt our prayers, let us call to our remembrance that the office of lifting up his people from the gates of death is not ascribed to God in vain.
14. That I may recount. David's meaning simply is, that he will celebrate the praises of God in all assemblies, and, wherever there is the greatest concourse of people, (for at that time it was the custom to hold assemblies at the gates of cities;) but, at the same time, there seems to be an allusion to the gates of death, of which he has just spoken, as if he had said, After I am delivered from the grave, I will do my endeavor to bear testimony, in the most public manner, to the goodness of God, manifested in my deliverance. As, however, it is not sufficient to utter the praises of God with our tongues, if they do not proceed from the heart, the Psalmist, in the last clause of the verse, expresses the inward joy with which he would engage in this exercise, And that I may rejoice in thy salvation; as if he had said, I desire to live in this world for no other purpose than to rejoice in having been preserved by the grace of God. Under the name of daughter, as is well known, the Jews meant a people or city, but he here names the city from its principal part, namely, Sion.
Psalm 9:15-16
15. The heathen are sunk into the pit which they made; in the net which they have hid are their own feet taken. 16. Jehovah is known by executing judgment. The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.

15. The heathen are sunk. David being now raised up to holy confidence, triumphs over his enemies. In the first place, he says metaphorically, that they were taken in their own craftiness and snares. He next expresses the same thing without figure, that they were snared in their own wickedness. And he affirms that this happened not by chance, but was the work of God, and a striking proof of his judgment. When he compares his enemies to hunters or fowlers, it is not without having just ground for doing so. The wicked, it is true, often commit violence and outrage, yet in deceits and cunning artifices they always imitate their father Satan, who is the father of lies, and, therefore, whatever ingenuity they have, they employ it in practising wickedness and in devising mischief. As often, therefore, as wicked men cunningly plot our destruction, let us remember that it is no new thing for them to lay nets and snares for the children of God. At the same time, let us comfort ourselves from the reflection, that whatever they may attempt against us, the issue is not in their power, and that God will be against them, not only to frustrate their designs, but also to surprise them in the wicked devices which they frame, and to make all their resources of mischief to fall upon their own heads.
16. The Lord is known in executing judgment. The reading of the words literally is this, The known Lord has done judgment. This manner of speech is abrupt, and its very brevity renders it obscure. It is therefore explained in two ways. Some explain it thus:- God begins then to be known when he punishes the wicked. But the other sense suits the passage better, namely, that it is a thing obvious and manifest to all that God executes the office of judge, as often as he ensnares the wicked in their own maliciousness. In short, whenever God turns back upon themselves whatever schemes of mischief they devise, David declares that in this case the divine judgment is so evident, that what happens can be ascribed neither to nature nor to fortune. If God, therefore, in this way manifestly display, at any time, the power of his hand, let us learn to open our eyes, that from the judgments which he executes upon the enemies of his Church our faith may be confirmed more and more. As to the word Higgaion, which properly signifies meditation, I cannot at present assign a better reason why it has been inserted than this, that David intended to fix the minds of the godly in meditation upon the judgments of God. The word Selah was intended to answer the same purpose, and as I have said before, regulated the singing in such a manner as to make the music correspond to the words and the sentiment.
Psalm 9:17-18
17. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. 18. For the poor shall not always be forgotten; the hope of the humble shall not perish for ever.

17. The wicked shall be turned into hell. Many translate the verb in the optative mood, Let the wicked be turned into hell, as if it were an imprecation. But, in my judgment, David here rather confirms himself and all the godly with respect to the future, declaring that whatever the wicked may attempt, it will have a termination disastrous to themselves. By the word turn he means that the issue will be far otherwise than what they imagine; for there is implied in it a tacit contrast between the height of their presumption and the depth of their fall. As they have no fear of God, they exalt themselves above the clouds; and then, as if they had "made a covenant with death," according to the language of Isaiah, (<232815>Isaiah 28:15) they become so much the more arrogant and presumptuous. But when we see them raging without apprehension of danger, the prophet warns us that their madness carries them headlong, so that, at length, they fall into the grave, from which they thought themselves to be a great way off. Here, then, is described to us the sudden and unexpected change, by which God, when he pleases, restores to order things which were in confusion. When, therefore, we see the wicked flying aloft devoid of all fear, let us, by the eyes of faith, behold the grave which is prepared for them; and rest assured that the hand of God, although it is unseen, is very near, which can turn them back in the midst of their course in which they aim at reaching heaven, and make them tumble into hell in a moment. The meaning of the Hebrew word hlwaç, sheolah, is doubtful, but I have not hesitated to translate it hell. fa165 I do not find fault with those who translate it the grave, but it is certain that the prophet means something more than common death, otherwise he would here say nothing else with respect to the wicked than what would also happen to all the faithful in common with them. Though then, he does not speak in express terms of eternal destruction, but only says, They shall be turned into the grave, yet, under the metaphor of the grave, he intimates that all the ungodly shall perish, and that the presumption with which, by every unlawful means, they raise themselves on high to trample righteousness under foot, and to oppress the innocent, shall bring upon them ruin and perdition. The faithful, also, it is true, descend into the grave, but not with such fearful violence as plunges them into it without hope of coming out again. So far is this from being the case, that even when shut up in the grave, they dwell already in heaven by hope.
18. For the poor shall not always be forgotten. The assertion that God will not forsake the poor and afflicted for ever, is a confirmation of the preceding sentence. By it he intimates, that they may indeed seem to be forsaken for a time. Let us, therefore, remember that God has promised his assistance to us, not in the way of preventing our afflictions, but of at length succouring us after we have been long subdued under the cross. David speaks expressly of hope or expectation, thereby to encourage us to prayer. The reason why God seems to take no notice of our afflictions is, because he would have us to awaken him by means of our prayers; for when he hears our requests, (as if he began but then to be mindful of us,) he stretches forth his powerful hand to help us. David again repeats that this is not done immediately, in order that we may persevere in hoping well, even although our expectations may not be instantly gratified.
Psalm 9:19-20
19. Arise, O Jehovah; let not man fa166 prevail: let the nations be judged in thy sight. 20. Put them in fear, O Jehovah; that the nations may know that they are men.

19. Arise, O Jehovah. When David beseeches God to arise, the expression does not strictly apply to God, but it refers to external appearance and to our senses; for we do not perceive God to be the deliverer of his people except when he appears before our eyes, as it were sitting upon the judgment-seat. There is added a consideration or reason to induce God to avenge the injuries done to his people, namely, that man may not prevail; for when God arises, all the fierceness fa167 of the ungodly must immediately fall down and give way. Whence is it that the wicked become so audaciously insolent, or have so great power to work mischief, if it is not because God is still, and gives them loose reins? But, as soon as he shows some token of his judgment, he immediately puts a stop to their proud tumults, fa168 and breaks their strength and power with his nod alone. fa169 We are taught, by this manner of praying, that however insolently and proudly our enemies may boast of what they will do, yet they are in the hand of God, and can do no more than what he permits them; and farther, that God can doubtless, whenever he pleases, render all their endeavors vain and ineffectual. The Psalmist, therefore, in speaking of them, calls them man. The word in the original is çwna, enosh, which is derived from a root signifying misery or wretchedness, and, accordingly, it is the same thing as if he had called them mortal or frail man. Farther, the Psalmist beseeches God to judge the heathen before his face. God is said to do this when he compels them, by one means or another, to appear before his judgment-seat. We know that unbelievers, until they are dragged by force into the presence of God, turn their backs upon him as much as they can, in order to exclude from their minds all thought of him as their Judge.
20. Put them in fear, O Jehovah. The Septuagint translates hrwm, morah, [nomoqe>thv,] a lawgiver, deriving it from hry, yarah, which sometimes signifies to teach. fa170 But the scope of the passage requires that we should understand it of fear or dread; and this is the opinion of all sound expositors. Now, it is to be considered of what kind of fear David speaks. God commonly subdues even his chosen ones to obedience by means of fear. But as he moderates his rigour towards them, and, at the same time, softens their stony hearts, so that they willingly and quietly submit themselves to him, he cannot be properly said to compel them by fear. With respect to the reprobate, he takes a different way of dealing. As their obduracy is inflexible, so that it is easier to break than to bend them, he subdues their desperate obstinacy by force; not, indeed, that they are reformed, but, whether they will or no, an acknowledgement of their own weakness is extorted from them. They may gnash their teeth and boil with rage, and even exceed in cruelty wild beasts, but when the dread of God seizes upon them, they are thrown down with their own violence, and fall with their own weight. Some explain these words as a prayer that God would bring the nations under the yoke of David, and make them tributaries to his government; but this is a cold and forced explanation. The word fear comprehends in general all the plagues of God, by which is repulsed, as by the heavy blows of a hammer, fa171 the rebellion of those who would never obey him except by compulsion.
There follows next the point to which the nations must be brought, namely, to acknowledge themselves to be mortal men. This, at first sight, seems to be a matter of small importance; but the doctrine which it contains is far from being trifling. What is man, that he dares of himself to move a finger? And yet all the ungodly run to excess as boldly and presumptuously as if there were nothing to hinder them from doing whatever they please. It is certainly through a distempered imagination that they claim to themselves what is peculiar to God; and, in short, they would never run to so great excess if they were not ignorant of their own condition. David, when he beseeches God to strike the nations with terror, that they may know that they are men, fa172 does not mean that the ungodly will profit so much under the rods and chastisements of God as to humble themselves truly and from the heart; but the knowledge of which he speaks just means an experience of their own weakness. His language is as if he had said, Lord, since it is their ignorance of themselves which hurries them into their rage against me, make them actually to experience that their strength is not equal to their infatuated presumption, and after they are disappointed of their vain hopes, let them lie confounded and abased with shame. It may often happen that those who are convinced of their own weakness do not yet reform; but much is gained when their ungodly presumption is exposed to mockery and scorn before the world, that it may appear how ridiculous was the confidence which they presumed to place in their own strength. With respect to the chosen of God, they ought to profit under his chastisements after another manner. It becomes them to be humbled under a sense of their own weakness, and willingly to divest themselves of all vain confidence and presumption. And this will be the case if they remember that they are but men. Augustine has well and wisely said, that the whole humility of man consists in the knowledge of himself. Moreover, since pride is natural to all, God requires to strike terror into all men indiscriminately, that, on the one hand, his own people may learn to be humble, and that, on the other hand, the wicked, although they cease not to elevate themselves above the condition of man, may be put back with shame and confusion.
PSALM 10.
David here complains, in his own name, and in the name of all the godly, that fraud, extortion, cruelty, violence, and all kind of injustice, prevailed every where in the world; and the cause which he assigns for this is, that ungodly and wicked men, being intoxicated with their prosperity, have shaken off all fear of God, and think they may do whatever they please with impunity. Accordingly, he earnestly beseeches God to help him, and to remedy his desperate calamities. In the close, he comforts himself and the rest of the faithful with the hope of obtaining deliverance in due time. This description represents, as in a mirror, a lively image of a widely corrupt and disorganised state of society. When, therefore, we see iniquity breaking out like a flood, that the strangeness of such a temptation may not shake the faith of the children of God and cause them to fall into despair, let them learn to look into this mirror. It tends greatly to lighten grief, to consider that nothing befalls us at this day which the Church of God has not experienced in the days of old; yea, rather that we are just called to engage in the same conflicts with which David and the other holy patriarchs were exercised. Farther, the faithful are admonished to have recourse to God in such a confused state of things; for unless they are convinced that it belongs to God to succor them, and to remedy such a state of matters, they will gain nothing by indulging in confused murmurings, and rending the air with their cries and complaints.
Psalm 10:1-2
1. Why standest thou afar off, O Jehovah? and winkest at seasonable times in trouble? fa173 2. The ungodly in his pride doth persecute the poor; fa174 let them be caught in the devices fa175 which they imagine.

1. Lord, why standest thou afar off? We here see how the prophet, seeking a remedy for his calamities, which were apparently past hope, directly addresses himself to God at the very commencement. And the rule which we should observe, when we are in trouble and sorrow, is this:We should seek comfort and solace in the providence of God; for amidst our agitations, vexations, and cares, we ought to be fully persuaded that it is his peculiar office to give relief to the wretched and afflicted. It is in an improper sense, and by anthropathy, fa176 that the Psalmist speaks of God as standing afar off. Nothing can be hid from his eyes; but as God permits us to speak to him as we do to one another, these forms of expression do not contain any thing absurd, provided we understand them as applied to God, not in a strict sense, but only figuratively, according to the judgment which mere sense forms from the present appearance of things. It is possible that a righteous man may not check an injury which is done to a poor man before his eyes, because he is destitute of the power; but this cannot be the case with respect to God, who is always armed with invincible power. If, therefore, he act as if he took no notice, it is the same as if he withdrew himself afar off. The word µyl[t, taelim, which signifies to hide, is explained in two ways. According to some, David here complains of God for hiding himself, as if he accounted the care of human affairs beneath him. Others understand it as meaning to shut the eyes; and this appears to me to be the more simple view. It is to be observed, that although David here complains that God kept himself afar off, he was, notwithstanding, fully persuaded of his presence with him, otherwise it would have been in vain to have called upon him for aid. The interrogation which he employs is to this effect:Lord, since it is thy prerogative to govern the world, and also to regulate it by thy righteousness as thou sustainest it by thy power, why is it that thou dost not more quickly show thyself a defender of thine own people against the arrogance and incredible pride of the ungodly? David, however, speaks thus not so much in the way of complaining, as to encourage himself in the confidence of obtaining what he desired. Through the infirmity of sense, he says, that it is unbecoming of God to cease so long from executing his office; and yet, at the same time, he fails not to yield to him the honor which is his due, and by his prayers he deposits into his bosom the great burden of trouble with which he was laden. The expression which follows, at needful times, relates to the same subject. Although God may not stretch forth his hand to take vengeance fa177 at every moment, yet when he beholds the simple and innocent oppressed, it is not time for him to defer any longer. David briefly defines the fit time for putting the hand to the work to be when the faithful are in distress. Of this form of speech we have spoken in the preceding psalm, at the tenth verse.
2. The ungodly in his pride, etc. Before uttering his prayer against the ungodly, the Psalmist briefly sets forth their wickedness in cruelly vexing the afflicted, for no other reason but because they disdain and despise them, through the pride with which they are inflated. And their cruelty is not a little enhanced from this, that, forgetful of all humanity, they contemptuously triumph over the poor and afflicted, mocking them and inflicting injuries upon them. fa178 Cruelty is, indeed, always proud, yea, rather, pride is the mother of all wrongs; for if a man did not through pride magnify himself above his neighbors, and through an overweening conceit of himself despise them, even common humanity would teach us with what humility and justice we ought to conduct ourselves towards each other. But David here intended to state that the only cause why the ungodly, whom he accuses, exercise their cruelty against the wretched and the needy, from whom they receive no provocation, is the pride and arrogance of their own spirits. Let every one, therefore, who desires to live justly and unblameably with his brethren, beware of indulging or taking pleasure in treating others disdainfully; and let him endeavor, above all things, to have his mind freed from the disease of pride. The word qld, dalak, signifies to suffer persecution, as well as to persecute; and, therefore, some prefer translating the words, The poor is persecuted in the pride of the ungodly. fa179 They may also not improperly be rendered thus, The poor burns in the pride of the ungodly, because this is the more common signification of the word. The pride of the wicked, like fire, devours the poor and afflicted.
Psalm 10:3-4
3. For the ungodly praiseth himself on account of the desire of his own soul; and the violent man blesseth himself; he despiseth Jehovah. 4. The ungodly, in the pride of his countenance, fa180 inquireth not:all his devices say, There is no God.

3. For the ungodly praiseth himself. This verse is variously explained. Literally the reading is, For praiseth the wicked or ungodly; and it is therefore necessary to supply some word, but what word is disputed. fa181 Some translate the words, ungodly and violent man, in the accusative case, thus:He praiseth the ungodly, and blesseth the violent man; because they think it strange that after "praiseth" the sentence should end abruptly, without any thing being said of who or what was praised. But since it is quite common in Hebrew, when the agent and the subject are one and the same person, to express the word only once, while we repeat it in order to complete the sense, the interpretation which I have followed appears to me the most proper, namely, that the ungodly man praises himself, and boasts of the desire of his soul, and blesses himself. Now, it may be asked, What is this desire of soul? It is usually understood in this sense, fa182 that the ungodly flatter and applaud themselves, while fortune smiles on them, and they obtain their wishes, and enjoy whatever they desire; just as David adds, a little after, that they abuse their prosperity, in attempting whatever comes into their fancy. But, in my opinion, desire of soul here denotes rather lust, and the intemperate gratification of passion and appetite; and thus the meaning is, that they indulge themselves with delight in their depraved desires, and, despising the judgment of God, fearlessly absolve themselves from all guilt, maintain their innocence, fa183 and justify their impiety. Moses uses a similar form of expression in <052919>Deuteronomy 29:19,
"I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart."
David, indeed, says a little after, that the ungodly abuse their prosperity, by flattering themselves; but here, in my judgment, he expresses something more weighty, namely, that they acquire praise from their presumptuousness, and glory in their wickedness; and this foolish confidence, or bold assurance, is the cause of their throwing off all restraint and breaking forth into every kind of excess. Accordingly, I interpret the words praise and bless as having the same meaning, just as the words, ungodly and violent man, are synonymous in this place, although they differ from each other as genus and species. With these statements agrees what is immediately added in the end of the verse that these ungodly persons despise God. To translate the verb, to blaspheme, as has been done by some, or to provoke to anger, as has been done by others, is too remote from the scope of the passage. David rather teaches, that the cause of their careless indulgence in the gratification of their lusts, is their base contempt of God. He who duly reflects that God will be his judge is so much alarmed by this reflection, that he dares not bless his soul while his conscience accuses him of guilt and of being given to the practice of sin. fa184
4. The ungodly, in the pride of his countenance, etc. Others translate the words, The ungodly man, by reason of the violence of his anger, or, in the pride which he displays, does not inquire after God. But this partly perverts the meaning, and partly weakens the force of what David intended to express. In the first place, the word inquire, which is here put absolutely, that is, without any noun which it governs, is, according to this translation, improperly limited to God. David simply means, that the ungodly, without examination, permit themselves to do any thing, or do not distinguish between what is lawful and unlawful, because their own lust is their law, yea, rather, as if superior to all laws, they fancy that it is lawful for them to do whatever they please. The beginning of well-doing in a man's life is inquiry; in other words, we can only begin to do well when we keep ourselves from following, without choice and discrimination, the dictates of our own fancy, and from being carried away by the wayward propensities of our flesh. But the exercise of inquiring proceeds from humility, when we assign to God, as is reasonable, the place of judge and ruler over us. The prophet, therefore, very properly says, that the reason why the ungodly, without any regard or consideration, presume to do whatever they desire, is because, being lifted up with pride, they leave to God nothing whatever of the prerogative of a judge. The Hebrew word ãp, aph, which we have translated countenance, I have no doubt is here taken in its proper and natural signification, and not metaphorically for anger; because haughty persons show their effrontery even by their countenance.
In the second clause, the prophet more severely, or, at least, more openly, accuses them, declaring that all their wicked imaginations show that they have no God. All his devices say, There is no God. fa185 By these words I understand, that through their heaven-daring presumption, they subvert all piety and justice, as if there were no God sitting in heaven. Did they truly believe that there is a God, the fear of the judgment to come would restrain them. Not that they plainly and distinctly deny the existence of a God, but then they strip him of his power. Now, God would be merely like an idol, if, contented with an inactive existence, he should divest himself of his office as judge. Whoever, therefore, refuse to admit that the world is subject to the providence of God, or do not believe that his hand is stretched forth from on high to govern it, do as much as in them lies to put an end to the existence of God. It is not, however, enough to have some cold and unimpressive knowledge of him in the head; it is only the true and heartfelt conviction of his providence which makes us reverence him, and which keeps us in subjection fa186 to him. The greater part of interpreters understand the last clause as meaning generally, that all the thoughts of a wicked man tend to the denial of a God. In my opinion, the Hebrew word twmzm, mezimmoth, is here, as in many other places, taken in a bad sense for cunning and wicked thoughts, fa187 so that the meaning, as I have noticed already, is this:Since the ungodly have the hardihood to devise and perpetrate every kind of wickedness, however atrocious, it is from this sufficiently manifest, that they have cast off all fear of God from their hearts.
Psalm 10:5-6
5. His ways are prosperous at all times; on high are thy judgments before him; he puffeth at all his enemies. 6. He saith in his heart, I shall not be moved from generation to generation, because he is not in adversity.

There is a great diversity of opinion among interpreters respecting the first clause of this verse. The translators of the Septuagint version, thinking the word wlyjy, yachilu, which is in the future tense, derived from the root llj, chalal, which it is not, have rendered it, his ways are defiled. But it is agreed among the Jewish expositors, that it is derived from the root lwj, chol. Many among them, however, take it actively for to put one in fear, or to put one to trouble, as if it had been said, The ways of the ungodly are dreadful to the good, and torment them. fa188 Some also apply the words to God, reading the sentence thus, His ways come, that is to say, have their course, or prosper at all times. This, however, in my judgment, is too forced. But as this word, in other texts of Scripture, means to be prosperous, I am surprised that there should be any difference of opinion among the learned concerning this passage, when immediately, in the next clause, the prophet clearly shows that he is speaking of the prosperous condition of the ungodly, and the continued course of pleasure which intoxicates them. He not only complains of this their prosperity, but from it he aggravates their guilt, in that they take occasion, from the goodness of God, to harden themselves in their wickedness. I would, therefor explain the verse thus:As they enjoy a continued course of prosperity, they dream that God is bound or plighted to them, and hence they put his judgments far from them; and if any man oppose them, they are confident they can immediately put him down, or dash him to pieces with a puff or breath. Now, we understand the simple meaning of the prophet to be, that the ungodly mock God, taking encouragement from his forbearance; as that base tyrant, Dionysius, because he had a prosperous voyage, after having plundered the temple of Proserpine, fa189 boasted that God favored the sacrilegious. fa190 Hence it is, that they put far from them the judgments of God.
In the opinion of some, these words, On high are thy judgments before him, mean much the same thing as if the prophet had said, God treats them with too much clemency, and spares them; just as he elsewhere complains of their being exempted from the common afflictions of life. But this interpretation does not so well agree with the words; yea, it appears to be unnatural and forced. The judgments of God then are said to be on high to the ungodly, because, presuming upon the great distance of God from them, fa191 they promise themselves not only a truce with death during their whole life, but also an everlasting covenant with it. We see how, by procrastinating the evil day, they harden themselves, and become more and more obstinate in evil; fa192 yea, persuading themselves that God is shut up in heaven, as if they had nothing to do with him, they strengthen themselves in the hope of escaping unpunished; fa193 as we see them, in Isaiah, (<232213>Isaiah 22:13) jesting at the threatenings of the prophets, saying, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die." When the prophets, in order to inspire the people with terror, denounced the dreadful vengeance of God, which was ready to be inflicted upon them, these wicked men cried out that it was all whims or idle stories. God therefore bitterly inveighs against them, because, when he called the people to mourning, ashes, and sackcloth, these mockers encouraged them to minstrelsy and feasting; and at length he swears, "As I live, surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die." The faithful, indeed, lift up their eyes to heaven to behold the judgments of God; and they are not less afraid of them than if they were just ready to fall upon their heads. The ungodly, on the contrary, despise them, and yet, in order not to be disturbed or tormented with the fear or apprehension of them, they would banish them into heaven; just as the Epicureans, although they did not presume avowedly to deny the existence of a God, yet imagined that he is confined to heaven, where he indulges himself in idleness, without taking any concern about what is done here below. fa194 From this infatuation flows their presumptuous confidence of which David speaks, by which they assure themselves of being able to destroy, with a puff or blast alone, all who are enemies to them. The word jwp, phuach, which sometimes signifies to ensnare, is here more properly taken for to puff, or to blow out.
The Psalmist confirms these statements in the next verse, where he tells us that the persons of whom he speaks are fully persuaded in their hearts that they are beyond all danger of change. He saith in his heart, I shall not be moved from generation to generation. The ungodly often pour forth proud language to this effect. David, however, only touches the hidden ulcer of their vile arrogance, which they cherish in their own breasts, and therefore he does not say what they speak with their mouth, but what they persuade themselves of in their hearts. It may here be asked, Why does David blame in others what he professes concerning himself in so many places? fa195 for trusting to the protection of God, he courageously triumphs over all dangers. fa196 And surely it becomes the children of God effectually to provide for their safety, so that, although the world should a hundred times fall into ruins, they may have the comfortable assurance that they will remain unmoved. The answer to this question is easy, and it is this, The faithful promise themselves security in God, and no where else; and yet while they do this, they know themselves to be exposed to all the storms of affliction, and patiently submit to them. There is a very great difference between a despiser of God who, enjoying prosperity today, is so forgetful of the condition of man in this world, as through a distempered imagination to build his nest above the clouds, and who persuades himself that he shall always enjoy comfort and repose, fa197 — there is a very great difference between him and the godly man, who, knowing that his life hangs only by a thread, and is encompassed by a thousand deaths, and who, ready to endure any kind of afflictions which shall be sent upon him, and living in the world as if he were sailing upon a tempestuous and dangerous sea, nevertheless, bears patiently all his troubles and sorrows, and comforts himself in his afflictions, because he leans wholly upon the grace of God, and entirely confides in it. fa198 The ungodly man says, I shall not be moved, or I shall not shake for ever; because he thinks himself sufficiently strong and powerful to bear up against all the assaults which shall be made upon him. The faithful man says, What although I may happen to be moved, yea, even fall and sink into the lowest depths? my fall will not be fatal, for God will put his hand under me to sustain me. By this, in like manner, we are furnished with an explanation of the different effects which an apprehension of danger has upon the good and the bad. Good men may tremble and sink into despondency, but this leads them to flee with all haste to the sanctuary of God's grace; fa199 whereas the ungodly, while they are affrighted even at the noise of a falling leaf, fa200 and live in constant uneasiness, endeavor to harden themselves in their stupidity, and to bring themselves into such a state of giddy frenzy, that being, as it were, carried out of themselves, they may not feel their calamities. The cause assigned for the confidence with which the prosperous ungodly man persuades himself that no change shall come upon him is, because he is not in adversity. This admits of two senses. It either means, that the ungodly, because they have been exempted from all calamity and misery during the past part of their life, entertain the hope of a peaceful and joyful state in the time to come; or it means, that through a deceitful imagination they exempt themselves from the common condition of men; just as in Isaiah, (<232815>Isaiah 28:15) they say,
"When the overflowing scourge shall pass through,
it shall not come upon us."
Psalm 10:7-10
7. His mouth is full of cursing, and deceit, and malice:under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. 8. He will sit in the ensnaring places of the villages; in his lurking places will he murder the innocent:his eyes will take their aim against the poor. 9. He will lie in wait secretly, as a lion in his den; he will lie in wait to catch the poor; he will catch the poor by drawing him into his net. 10. He will crouch low, and cast himself down, and then shall an army of the afflicted fall by his strengths. fa201

7. His mouth is full of cursing. The scope of these four verses is this:If God intends to succor his servants, it is now a proper time for doing so, inasmuch as the lawlessness of the ungodly has burst forth to the utmost possible excess. In the first place, he complains that their tongues are full of perjuries and deceits, and that they carry or hide mischief and wrongs, it being impossible to have any dealings with them in any matter without loss and damage. The word hla, alah, which some render cursing, does not signify the execrations which they throw out against others, but rather those which they call down upon their own heads:for they do not scruple to utter the most awful imprecations against themselves, that thereby they may the better succeed in deceiving others. It is, therefore, not improperly rendered by some, perjury, for this word ought to be joined to the other two, deceit and malice. Thus the wicked are described as cursing or swearing falsely, so far as it contributes to forward their purposes of deceiving and doing injury. Hence follow mischief and injustice, because it is impossible for the simple, without suffering detriment, to escape their snares, which are woven of deceits, perjuries, and malice.
8. He will sit in the ensnaring places of the villages. fa202 I have purposely avoided changing the verbs of the future tense into another tense, because they imply a continued act, and also because this Hebrew idiom has extended even to other languages. David, therefore, describes what ungodly men are accustomed to do. And, in the first place, he compares them to highwaymen, who lie in wait at the narrow parts of roads, and choose for themselves hiding-places from which they may fall upon travelers when off their guard. He says also, that their eyes are bent or leering, fa203 by a similitude borrowed from the practice of dart-shooters, who take their aim with leering, or half shut eyes, in order to hit the mark the surer. Nor does he here speak of the common sort of highwaymen who are in the woods; fa204 but he directs his language against those great robbers who hide their wickedness under titles of honor, and pomp, and splendor. The word µyrxj, chatserim, therefore, which we have rendered villages, is by some translated palaces; as if David had said, they have converted their royal mansions into places of robbery, where they may cut the throats of their unhappy victims. But granting the word to have this allusion, I consider that it refers principally to the practice of robbers, to which there is a reference in the whole verse, and I explain it thus:Like as robbers lie in wait at the egresses of villages, so these persons lay their snares wherever they are.
In the next verse, he sets forth their cruelty in a light still more aggravated, by another comparison, saying, that they thirst for their prey like lions in their dens. Now, it is a step higher in wickedness to equal in cruelty wild beasts than to make havoc after the manner of robbers. It is worthy of remark, that he always joins deceits and snares with violence, in order the better to show how miserable the children of God would be, unless they were succoured by help from heaven. There is also added another similitude, which expresses more clearly how craft in catching victims is mingled with cruelty. They catch them, says he but it is by drawing them into their net. By these words he means, that they not only rush upon them with open force and violence, but that, at the same time also, they spread their nets in order to deceive.
He again repeats all this in the tenth verse, giving a beautiful and graphic description of the very mien or gesture of such wicked men, just as if he set before our eyes a picture of them. They crouch low, says he, and cast themselves down, fa205 that they may not, by their cruelty, frighten away their victims to a distance; for they would fain catch in their entanglements those whom they cannot hurt without coming close to them. We see how he joins these two things together, first snares or gins, and then sudden violence, as soon as the prey has fallen into their hands. For, by the second clause, he means, that whenever they see the simple to be fully in their power, they rush upon them by surprise with a savage violence, just as if a lion should furiously rise from his couch to tear in pieces his prey. fa206 The obvious meaning of the Psalmist is, that the ungodly are to be dreaded on all sides, because they dissemble their cruelty, till they find those caught in their toils whom they wish to devour. There is some obscurity in the words, to which we shall briefly advert. In the clause which we have rendered an army of the afflicted, the Hebrew word µyaklj, chelcaim, an army, in the opinion of some, is a word of four letters. fa207 Those, however, think more accurately who hold it to be compound, and equivalent to two words. fa208 Although, therefore, the verb lpn, naphal, is in the singular number, yet the prophet, doubtless, uses XXX, chel caim, collectively, to denote a great company of people who are afflicted by every one of these lions. I have rendered µyak lj, atsumim, his strengths, as if it were a substantive; because the prophet, doubtless, by this term, intends the talons and teeth of the lion, in which the strength of that beast chiefly consists. As, however, the word is properly an adjective in the plural number, signifying strong, without having any substantive with which it agrees, we may reasonably suppose that, by the talons and teeth of the lion, he means to express metaphorically a powerful body of soldiers. In short, the meaning is this:These wicked men hide their strength, by feigned humility and crafty courteous demeanour, and yet they will always have in readiness an armed band of satellites, or claws and teeth, as soon as an opportunity of doing mischief is presented to them.
Psalm 10:11-13
11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten it:he hideth his face that he may never see it. 12. Arise, O Jehovah God, lift up thine hand:forget not the poor. 13. Why do the wicked despise God? He saith in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

11. He hath said in his heart. The Psalmist again points out the source from which the presumption of the ungodly proceeds. Because God seems to take no notice of their wicked practices, they flatter themselves with the hope of escaping unpunished. As, however, they do not openly utter with their mouth the detestable blasphemy, that God hath forgotten their conduct, and hath shut his eyes that he may never see it, but hide their thoughts in the deep recesses of their own hearts, as Isaiah declares, (<232915>Isaiah 29:15) the Psalmist uses the same form of expression which he used before, and which he repeats a little after the third time, namely, that the ungodly say to themselves, in their hearts, that God takes no concern whatever in the affairs of men. And it is to be observed, that the ungodly, when all things happen to them according to their wishes, form such a judgment of their prosperity as to persuade themselves that God is in a manner bound or obliged to them. fa209 Whence it comes to pass, that they live in a state of constant security, fa210 because they do not reflect, that after God has long exercised patience towards them, they will undergo a solemn reckoning, and that their condemnation will be the more terrible, the greater the long-suffering of God.
12. Arise, O Jehovah. It is a disease under which men in general labor, to imagine, according to the judgment of the flesh, that when God does not execute his judgments, he is sitting idle, or lying at ease. There is, however, a great difference with respect to this between the faithful and the wicked. The latter cherish the false opinion which is dictated by the weakness of the flesh, and in order to soothe and flatter themselves in their vices, they indulge in slumbering, and render their conscience stupid, fa211 until at length, through their wicked obstinacy, they harden themselves into a gross contempt of God. But the former soon shake from their minds that false imagination, and chastise themselves, returning of their own accord to a due consideration of what is the truth on this subject. fa212 Of this we have here set before us a striking example. By speaking of God after the manner of men, the prophet declares that the same error which he has just now condemned in the despisers of God had gradually stolen in upon his own mind. But he proceeds at once to correct it, and resolutely struggles with himself, and restrains his mind from forming such conceptions of God, as would reflect dishonor upon his righteousness and glory. It is therefore a temptation to which all men are naturally prone, to begin to doubt of the providence of God, when his hand and judgment are not seen. The godly, however, differ widely from the wicked. The former, by means of faith, check this apprehension of the flesh; while the latter indulge themselves in their froward imagination. Thus David, by the word Arise, does not so much stir up God, as he awakens himself, or endeavors to awaken himself, to hope for more of the assistance of God than he presently experienced. Accordingly, this verse contains the useful doctrine, that the more the ungodly harden themselves, through their slothful ignorance, and endeavor to persuade themselves that God takes no concern about men and their affairs, and will not punish the wickedness which they commit, the more should we endeavor to be persuaded of the contrary; yes, rather their ungodliness ought to incite us vigorously to repel the doubts which they not only admit, but studiously frame for themselves.
13. Why doth the wicked despise God? It is, indeed, superfluous to bring arguments before God, for the purpose of persuading him to grant us what we ask; but still he permits us to make use of them, and to speak to him in prayer, as familiarly as a son speaks to an earthly father. It should always be observed, that the use of praying is, that God may be the witness of all our affections; not that they would otherwise be hidden from him, but when we pour out our hearts before him, our cares are hereby greatly lightened, and our confidence of obtaining our requests increases. Thus David, in the present passage, by setting before himself how unreasonable and intolerable it would be for the wicked to be allowed to despise God according to their pleasure, thinking he will never bring them to an account, fa213 was led to cherish the hope of deliverance from his calamities. The word which is here rendered despise, is the same as that which he had used before. Some translate it to provoke, and others to blaspheme. But the signification which I have preferred certainly agrees much better with the context; for when persons take from God the power and office of judging, this is ignominiously to drag him from his throne, and to degrade him, as it were, to the station of a private individual. fa214 Moreover, as David had a little before complained that the ungodly deny the existence of a God, or else imagine him to be constantly asleep, having no care about mankind, so now he complains to the same purpose that they say, God will not require it.
Psalm 10:14-15
14. Thou hast seen it; for thou considerest mischief and vexation, fa215 that thou mayest take the matter into thine own hand:upon thee shall the poor leave, for thou wilt be the helper of the fatherless. 15. Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man; thou shalt seek his wickedness, and shalt not find it.

14. Thou hast seen it; for thou, etc. Here David, suddenly kindled with a holy zeal, enters into conflict, and, armed with the shield of faith, courageously repels these execrable opinions; but as he could derive no advantage by making his appeal to men, he has recourse to God, and addresses him. As the ungodly, in the hope of enjoying unrestrained license in the commission of all kinds of wickedness, withdraw to the greatest possible distance from God, fa216 and through the dictates of a perverse mind, imagine themselves to be far beyond his reach; so, on the contrary, the faithful ought carefully to keep themselves aloof from those wild opinions, which are afloat in the world, and with minds lifted upward, to speak to God as if present with them. Accordingly, David, in order to prevent himself from being overcome by the blasphemies of men, very properly turns away his attention from them. There is added a reason in confirmation of the first sentence of the verse, namely, because God considers mischief and vexation. Since it is the peculiar province of God to take cognisance of all wrongs, David concludes that it is impossible for God to shut his eyes when the ungodly are recklessly and without restraint committing their outrages. Moreover, he descends from the general to the particular, which ought to be attentively marked:for nothing is easier than to acknowledge in general terms that God exercises a care about the world, and the affairs of men; but it is very difficult to apply this doctrine to its various uses in every-day life. And yet, all that the Scripture says concerning the power and righteousness of God will be of no advantage to us, and, as it were, only matter of meagre speculation, fa217 unless every one apply these statements to himself, as his necessity may require. Let us therefore learn, from the example of David, to reason thus:that, since it belongs to God to take notice of all the mischief and injuries which are inflicted on the good and simple, He considers our trouble and sorrows even when he seems for a time to take no notice of them. The Psalmist also adds, that God does not look down from heaven upon the conduct of men here below as an idle and unconcerned spectator, but that it is his work to pass judgment upon it; for to take the matter into his own hand, is nothing else than duly and effectually to examine and determine it as a judge.
It is, however, our duty to wait patiently so long as vengeance is reserved in the hand of God, until he stretch forth his arm to help us. We see, therefore, the reason why it is immediately added, Upon thee shall the poor leave. By these words David means, that we ought to give the providence of God time to manifest itself. The godly, when they are afflicted, may with confidence cast their cares into his bosom, and commit themselves to his protection. They ought not, however, to be in haste for the accomplishment of their wishes; but, being now disburdened, they should take their breath till God manifestly declare that the fit time of interfering in their behalf is come. The man, therefore, leaves upon God who betakes himself to his protection, and who, fully persuaded of his faithfulness in keeping what is entrusted to him, quietly waits till the fit time of his deliverance come. Some read the verb passively, The poor shall be left upon thee. The first reading, however, is more correct, and it agrees with the rules of grammar; only it is a defective form of expression, inasmuch as the thing which the poor leaves is not expressed. But this defect is common in Hebrew; and there is no obscurity in the thing itself, namely, that, when the godly commit themselves and their concerns to God by prayer, their prayers will not be in vain; for these two clauses are closely connected, Upon thee shall the poor leave, and, Thou shalt be a helper to the fatherless. By a metaphor he terms the person fatherless whom he had in the preceding clause called poor. And the verb being in the future tense denotes a continued act.
15. Break thou the arm. This form of expression just means breaking the power of the wicked. And it is not simply a prayer; it may also be regarded as a prophecy. As the ungovernable fury of our enemies very often makes us lose courage, as if there were no means by which it could be restrained, David, in order to support his faith, and preserve it from failing through the fears which presented themselves, sets before himself the consideration, that whenever it shall please God to break the power of the ungodly, he will bring to nothing both themselves and all their schemes. To make the meaning the more evident, the sentence may be explained in this way, — Lord, as soon as it shall seem good to thee to break the arm of the wicked, thou wilt destroy him in a moment, and bring to nought his powerful and violent efforts in the work of doing mischief. David, indeed, beseeches God to hasten his assistance and his vengeance; but, in the meantime, while these are withheld, he sustains himself by the consolatory reflection, that the ungodly cannot break forth into violence and mischief except in so far as God permits them; since it is in his power, whenever he ascends into the judgment-seat, to destroy them even with his look alone. And certainly, as the rising sun dissipates the clouds and vapours by his heat, and clears up the dark air, so God, when he stretches forth his hand to execute the office of a Judge, restores to tranquillity and order all the troubles and confusions of the world. The Psalmist calls the person of whom he speaks not only wicked, but the wicked and the evil man, and he does so, in my judgment, for the purpose of setting forth in a stronger light the greatness of the wickedness of the character which he describes. His words are as if he had said, Wicked men may even be frantic in their malice and impiety; but God can promptly and effectually remedy this evil whenever he pleases.
Psalm 10:16-18
16. Jehovah is King for ever and ever:the heathen are perished out of his land. 17. Thou hast heard the desire of the needy, O Jehovah:thou, wilt direct fa218 their hearts, and thine ear shall hear them. 18. To judge the fatherless and the poor, that the man who is of earth may no more terrify them.

16. Jehovah is King for ever and ever. David now, as if he had obtained the desires of his heart, rises up to holy rejoicing and thanksgiving. When he calls God King for ever and ever, it is a token of his confidence and joy. By the title of King, he vindicates God's claim to the government of the world, and when he describes him as King for ever and ever, this shows how absurd it is to think to shut him up within the narrow limits of time. As the course of human life is short, even those who sway the scepter over the greatest empires, being but mortal men, very often disappoint the expectations of their servants, fa219 as we are taught in <19E603>Psalm 146:3, 4,
"Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish."
Often the power of giving assistance to others fails them, and while they are delaying to give it, the opportunity slips away from them. But we ought to entertain more exalted and honorable conceptions of our heavenly King; for although he does not immediately execute his judgments, yet he has always the full and the perfect power of doing so. In short, he reigns, not for himself in particular; it is for us that he reigns for ever and ever. As this, then, is the duration of his reign, it follows that a long delay cannot hinder him from stretching forth his hand in due season to succor his people, even when they are, as it were, dead, or in a condition which, to the eye of sense and reason, is hopeless. — The heathen are perished out of the land. The meaning is, that the holy land was at length purged from the abominations and impurities with which it had been polluted. It was a dreadful profanation, when the land which had been given for an inheritance to the people of God, and allotted to those who purely worshipped him, nourished ungodly and wicked inhabitants. By the heathen he does not mean foreigners, and such as did not belong to the race of Abraham according to the flesh, fa220 but hypocrites, who falsely boasted that they belonged to the people of God, just as at this day many, who are Christians only in name, occupy a place in the bosom of the Church. It is no new thing for the prophets to call apostates, who have degenerated from the virtues and holy lives of their fathers, by the reproachful name of heathen, and to compare them not only to the uncircumcised, but also to the Canaanites, who were the most detestable among all the heathen.
"Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite," (<261603>Ezekiel 16:3)
Many other similar passages are to be met with in Scripture. David, therefore, in applying the dishonorable name of heathen to the false and bastard children of Abraham, gives God thanks for having expelled such a corrupt class out of his Church. By this example we are taught, that it is no new thing if we see in our own day the Church of God polluted by profane and irreligious men. We ought, however, to beseech God quickly to purge his house, and not leave his holy temple exposed to the desecration of swine and dogs, as if it were a dunghill.
17. O Jehovah, thou hast heard the desire of the needy. In these words the prophet confirms what I have just now said, that when hypocrites prevail in the Church, or exceed the faithful in number, we ought, unceasingly, to beseech God to root them out; for such a confused and shameful state of things ought surely to be matter of deep grief to all the true servants of God. By these words, also, the Holy Spirit assures us, that what of old God granted to the fathers in answer to their prayers, we at the present day will obtain, provided we have that anxious solicitude about the deliverance of the Church which we ought to entertain. The clause which follows, Thou wilt direct their hearts, is variously interpreted by expositors. Some think it signifies the same thing, as if it had been said, Thou wilt give success to their desires. According to others, the meaning is, Thou wilt frame and sanctify their hearts by thy grace, that they may ask nothing in prayer but what is right and according to the divine will, as Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit
"stirs up within us groanings which cannot be uttered," (<450826>Romans 8:26)
Both these expositions are perhaps too forced. David, in this clause, magnifies the grace of God in sustaining and comforting his servants in the midst of their troubles and distresses, that they may not sink into despondency, — in furnishing them with fortitude and patience, - in inspiring them with good hope, - and in stirring them up also to prayer. This is the import of the verb ˆyk, Kin, which signifies not only to direct, but also to establish. It is a singular blessing which God confers upon us, when, in the midst of temptation, he upholds our hearts, and does not suffer them to recede from him, or to turn aside to any other quarter for support and deliverance. The meaning of the clause which immediately follows, Thou wilt cause thine ear to hear, is, that it is not in vain that God directs the hearts of his people, and leads them, in obedience to his command, to look to Himself, and to call upon him in hope and patience — it is not in vain, because his ears are never shut against their groanings. Thus the mutual harmony between two religious exercises is here commended. God does not suffer the faith of his servants to faint or fail, nor does he suffer them to desist from praying; but he keeps them near him by faith and prayer, until it actually appear that their hope has been neither vain nor ineffectual. The sentence might, not improperly, be rendered thus:Thou shalt establish their heart, until thine ear hear them.
18. That thou mayest judge. Here the Psalmist applies the last sentence of the preceding verse to a special purpose, namely, to prevent the faithful, when they are unjustly oppressed, from doubting that God will at length take vengeance on their enemies, and grant them deliverance. By these words he teaches us, that we ought to bear with patience and fortitude the crosses and afflictions which are laid upon us, since God often withholds assistance from his servants until they are reduced to extremity. This is, indeed, a duty of difficult performance, for we would all desire to be entirely exempted from trouble; and, therefore, if God does not quickly come to our relief, we think him remiss and inactive. But if we are anxiously desirous of obtaining his assistance, we must subdue our passion, restrain our impatience, and keep our sorrows within due bounds, waiting until our afflictions call forth the exercise of his compassion, and excite him to manifest his grace in succouring us.
That the man who is of earth may no more terrify them. David again commends the power of God in destroying the ungodly; and he does it for this purpose, - that in the midst of their tumultuous assaults we may have this principle deeply fixed in our minds, that God, whenever he pleases, can bring all their attempts to nothing. Some understand the verb ˜ra, arots, which we have translated to terrify, as neuter, and read the words thus, — that mortal man may be no more afraid. But it agrees better with the scope of the passage to render it transitively, as we have done. And although the wicked prosper in their wicked course, and lift up their heads above the clouds, there is much truth in describing them as mortal, or men liable to many calamities. The design of the Psalmist is indirectly to condemn their infatuated presumption, in that, forgetful of their condition, they breathe out cruel and terrible threatenings, as if it were beyond the power of even God himself to repress the violence of their rage. The phrase, of earth, contains a tacit contrast between the low abode of this world and the height of heaven. For whence do they go forth to assault the children of God? Doubtless, from the earth, just as if so many worms should creep out of the crevices of the ground; but in so doing, they attack God himself, who promises help to his servants from heaven.
PSALM 11.
This psalm consists of two parts. In the first part, David recounts the severe assaults of temptation which he had encountered, and the state of distressing anxiety to which he had been reduced during the time of his persecution by Saul. In the second, he congratulates himself on the deliverance which God had granted him, and magnifies the righteousness of God in the government of the world.
To the chief musician. A Psalm of David.
Psalm 11:1-3
1. In Jehovah do I put my trust:how then say ye to my soul, Flee ye into your mountain as a bird? 2. Surely, behold! the ungodly shall bend fa221 their bow, they have fixed their arrows upon the string, to shoot secretly at the upright in heart. 3. Truly, the foundations are destroyed:what fa222 hath the righteous One done?

1. In Jehovah do I put my trust. Almost all interpreters think that this is a complaint which David brings against his countrymen, that while seeking in every quarter for hiding-places, he could find nowhere even common humanity. And it is indeed true, that in the whole course of his wanderings, after betaking himself to flight to escape the cruelty of Saul, he could find no secure place of retreat, at least, none where he might continue for any length of time undisturbed. He might, therefore, justly complain of his own countrymen, in that none of them deigned to shelter him when he was a fugitive. But I think he has a respect to something higher. When all men were striving, as it were, with each other, to drive him to despair, he must, according to the weakness of the flesh, have been afflicted with great and almost overwhelming distress of mind; but fortified by faith, he confidently and steadfastly leaned on the promises of God, and was thus preserved from yielding to the temptations to which he was exposed. These spiritual conflicts, with which God exercised him in the midst of his extreme perils, he here recounts. Accordingly, as I have just now observed, the psalm should be divided into two parts. Before celebrating the righteousness of God, which he displays in the preservation of the godly, the Psalmist shows how he had encountered even death itself, and yet, through faith and an upright conscience, had obtained the victory. As all men advised him to leave his country, and retire into some place of exile, where he might be concealed, inasmuch as there remained for him no hope of life, unless he should relinquish the kingdom, which had been promised to him; in the beginning of the psalm, he opposes to this perverse advice the shield of his trust in God.
But before entering farther upon the subject, let us interpret the words. The word dwn, nud, which we have rendered to flee, is written in the plural number, and yet it is read in the singular; fa223 but, in my opinion, this is a corrupt reading. As David tells us that this was said to himself only, the Jewish doctors, thinking the plural number unsuitable, have taken it upon them to read the word in the singular. Some of them, wishing to retain the literal sense as it is called, perplex themselves with the question, why it is said, Flee ye, rather than Flee thou; and, at length, they have recourse to a very meagre subtilty, as if those who counselled him to betake himself to flight addressed both his soul and his body. But it was unnecessary labor to put themselves to so much trouble in a matter where there is no difficulty; for it is certain that those who counselled David did not say that he alone should flee, but that he should flee, together with all his attendants, who were in the same danger with himself. Although, therefore, they addressed themselves especially to David, yet they included his companions, who had a common cause with him, and were exposed to the like danger. Expositors, also, differ in their interpretation of what follows. Many render it from your mountain, as if it were µkrhm, meharkem; and, according to them, there is a change of person, because those who spoke to him must have said, flee thou from Our mountain. But this is harsh and strained. Nor does it appear to me that they have any more reason on their side, when they say that Judea is here called mountain. Others think we should read rwpx wmk rh, har kemo tsippor, fa224 that is, into the mountain as a bird, without a pronoun. fa225 But if we follow what I have said, it will agree very well with the scope of the passage to read thus, Flee ye into your mountain, for you are not permitted to dwell in your own country. I do not, however, think that any particular mountain is pointed out, but that David was sent away to the desert rocks wherever chance might lead him. Condemning those who gave him this advice, he declares that he depends upon the promise of God, and is not at all disposed thus to go away into exile. Such, then, was the condition of David, that, in his extreme necessity, all men repelled and chased him far away into desert places.
But as he seems to intimate that it would be a sign of distrust were he to place his safety in flight, it may be asked, whether or not it would have been lawful for him to flee; yea, we know that he was often forced to retire into exile, and driven about from place to place, and that he even sometimes hid himself in caves. I answer, it is true he was unsettled like a poor fearful bird, which leaps from branch to branch, fa226 and was compelled to seek for different bypaths, and to wander from place to place to avoid the snares of his enemies; yet still his faith continued so steadfast that he never alienated himself from the people of God. Others accounted him a lost man, and one whose affairs were in a hopeless condition, setting no more value upon him than if he had been a rotten limb, fa227 yet he never separated himself from the body of the Church. And certainly these words, Flee ye, tended only to make him yield to utter despair. But it would have been wrong for him to have yielded to these fears, and to have betaken himself to flight, as if uncertain of what would be the issue. He therefore says expressly, that this was spoken to his soul, meaning that his heart was deeply pierced by such an ignominious rejection, since he saw (as I have said) that it tended only to shake and to weaken his faith. In short, although he had always lived innocently, as it became a true servant of God, yet these malignant men would have doomed him to remain for ever in a state of exile from his native country. This verse teaches us, that however much the world may hate and persecute us, fa228 we ought nevertheless to continue steadfast at our post, that we may not deprive ourselves of a right to lay claim to the promises of God, or that these may not slip away from us; and that, however much and however long we may be harassed, we ought always to continue firm and unwavering in the faith of our having the call of God.
2. Surely, behold! the ungodly. Some think that this is added as the excuse made by those who desired David to save himself by flight. According to others, David expostulates with his countrymen, who saw death menacing him on all sides, and yet denied him shelter. But, in my judgment, he here continues his account of the trying circumstances in which he was placed. His design is not only to place before our view the dangers with which he was surrounded, but to show us that he was exposed even to death itself. He therefore says, that wherever he might hide himself, it was impossible for him to escape from the hands of his enemies. Now, the description of so miserable a condition illustrates the more strikingly the grace of God in the deliverance which he afterwards granted him. With respect to the words, they have fixed their arrows upon the string, to Shoot Secretly, or in darkness, some understand them metaphorically of the attempts which David's enemies made to surprise him by craft and snares. I, however, prefer this interpretation, as being more simple, - that there was no place so hidden into which the darts of his enemies did not penetrate, and that, therefore, to whatever caves he could betake himself for concealment and shelter, death would follow him as his inseparable attendant.
3. Truly, the foundations are destroyed. Some translate the word twtçh, hashathoth, by nets, a sense in which the Scripture in other places often uses this word; and their explanation of the words is, that the wicked and deceitful arts which the ungodly practiced against David were defeated. If we admit this interpretation, the meaning of what he adds immediately after, What hath the righteous one done? will be, that his escape in safety was owing neither to his own exertion, nor to his own skill, but that, without putting forth any effort, and when, as it were, he was asleep, he had been delivered from the nets and snares of his enemies by the power of God. But the word foundations agrees better with the scope of the passage, for he evidently proceeds to relate into what straits he had been brought and shut up, so that his preservation was now to all appearance hopeless. Interpreters, however, who hold that foundations is the proper translation of the word, are not agreed as to the sense. Some explain it, that he had not a single spot on which to fix his foot; others, that covenants which ought to have stability, by being faithfully kept, had been often shamefully violated by Saul. Some also understand it allegorically, as meaning that the righteous priests of God, who were the pillars of the land, had been put to death. But I have no doubt of its being a metaphor taken from buildings, which must fall down and become a heap of ruins when their foundations are undermined; and thus David complains, that, in the eyes of the world, he was utterly overthrown, inasmuch as all that he possessed was completely destroyed. In the last clause, he again repeats, that to be persecuted so cruelly was what he did not deserve:What hath the righteous one done? And he asserts his own innocence, partly to comfort himself in his calamities from the testimony of a good conscience, and partly to encourage himself in the hope of obtaining deliverance. That which encouraged him to trust in God was the belief which he entertained, that on account of the justice of his cause God was on his side, and would be favorable to him.
Psalm 11:4-5
4. Jehovah is in the palace of his holiness:Jehovah has his throne in heaven; his eyes behold, fa229 and his eyelids consider the children of men. 5. Jehovah approves the righteous man; but his soul hateth the ungodly, and him who loveth iniquity.

4. Jehovah is in the palace of his holiness. In what follows, the Psalmist glories in the assurance of the favor of God, of which I have spoken. Being destitute of human aid, he betakes himself to the providence of God. It is a signal proof of faith, as I have observed elsewhere, to take and to borrow, so to speak, fa230 light from heaven to guide us to the hope of salvation, when we are surrounded in this world with darkness on every side. All men acknowledge that the world is governed by the providence of God; but when there comes some sad confusion of things, which disturbs their ease, and involves them in difficulty, there are few who retain in their minds the firm persuasion of this truth. But from the example of David, we ought to make such account of the providence of God as to hope for a remedy from his judgment, even when matters are in the most desperate condition. There is in the words an implied contrast between heaven and earth; for if David's attention had been fixed on the state of things in this world, as they appeared to the eye of sense and reason, he would have seen no prospect of deliverance from his present perilous circumstances. But this was not David's exercise; on the contrary, when in the world all justice lies trodden under foot, and faithfulness has perished, he reflects that God sits in heaven perfect and unchanged, from whom it became him to look for the restoration of order from this state of miserable confusion. He does not simply say that God dwells in heaven; but that he reigns there, as it were, in a royal palace, and has his throne of judgment there. Nor do we indeed render to him the honor which is his due, unless we are fully persuaded that his judgment-seat is a sacred sanctuary for all who are in affliction and unrighteously oppressed. When, therefore, deceit, craft, treachery, cruelty, violence, and extortion, reign in the world; in short, when all things are thrown into disorder and darkness by injustice and wickedness, let faith serve as a lamp to enable us to behold God's heavenly throne, and let that sight suffice to make us wait in patience for the restoration of things to a better state. The temple of his holiness, or his holy temple, which is commonly taken for Sion, doubtless here signifies heaven; and that it does so is clearly shown by the repetition in the next clause, Jehovah has his throne in Heaven; for it is certain David expresses the same thing twice.
His eyes behold. Here he infers, from the preceding sentence, that nothing is hidden from God, and that, therefore, men will be obliged to render up to him an account of all that they have done. If God reigns in heaven, and if his throne is erected there, it follows that he must necessarily attend to the affairs of men, in order one day to sit in judgment upon them. Epicurus, and such like him as would persuade themselves that God is idle, and indulges in repose in heaven, may be said rather to spread for him a couch on which to sleep than to erect for him a throne of judgment. But it is the glory of our faith that God, the Creator of the world, does not disregard or abandon the order which he himself at first established. And when he suspends his judgments for a time, it becomes us to lean upon this one truth that he beholds from heaven; just as we now see David contenting himself with this consolatory consideration alone, that God rules over mankind, and observes whatever is transacted in the world, although his knowledge, and the exercise of his jurisdiction, are not at first sight apparent. This truth is still more clearly explained in what is immediately added in the fifth verse, that God distinguishes between the righteous and the unrighteous, and in such a way as shows that he is not an idle spectator; for he is said to approve the righteous, and to hate the wicked. The Hebrew word ˆjb, bachan, which we have rendered to approve, often signifies to examine or try. But in this passage I explain it as simply meaning, that God so inquires into the cause of every man as to distinguish the righteous from the wicked. It is farther declared, that God hates those who are set upon the infliction of injuries, and upon doing mischief. As he has ordained mutual intercourse between men, so he would have us to maintain it inviolable. In order, therefore, to preserve this his own sacred and appointed order, he must be the enemy of the wicked, who wrong and are troublesome to others. There is also here contrasted God's hatred of the wicked, and wicked men's love of iniquity, to teach us that those who please and flatter themselves in their mischievous practices gain nothing by such flatteries, and only deceive themselves.
Psalm 11:6-7
6. He will rain upon the ungodly snares, fire and brimstone, and a storm of whirlwinds:this is the portion of their cup. 7. For the righteous Jehovah loveth righteousness; fa231 his countenance approveth the upright. fa232

6. He will rain upon the ungodly. David now, in the last place, lays it down as a certain truth, that although God, for a time, may be still and delay his judgments, yet the hour of vengeance will assuredly come. Thus we see how by degrees he rises up to the hope of a happy issue to his present affliction, and he uses his efforts to attain this, that the social and moral disorder, which he saw prevailing around him, might not weaken his faith. As the tribunal of God remains firm and immovable, he, in the first place, sustains and comforts himself from the consideration, that God from on high beholds all that is done here below. In the next place, he considers what the office of judge requires, from which he concludes, that the actions of men cannot escape the inspection of God's omniscient eye, and that although he does not immediately punish their evil deeds, he hates all the wicked. Finally, he adds, that since God is armed with power, this hatred will not be in vain or ineffectual. Thus while God defers the infliction of punishment, the knowledge of his justice will have a powerful influence in maintaining our faith, until he actually show that he has never departed from his watch-tower, from which he beholds the actions of men. fa233 He appropriately compares the punishments which God inflicts to rain. As rain is not constant, but the Lord sends it forth when he pleases; and, when the weather is calmest and most serene, suddenly raises a storm of hail or violent showers of rain; in like manner, it is here intimated that the vengeance which will be inflicted on the wicked will come suddenly, so that, when they shall be indulging in mirth, and intoxicated with their pleasures, and "when they shall say, Peace and safety, sudden destruction will come upon them." fa234 At the same time, David here evidently alludes to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As the prophets, when they would promise the grace of God to the elect, remind them of the deliverance from Egypt, which God wrought in behalf of his ancient people, so when they would alarm the wicked, they threaten them with a destruction like that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah, and they do so upon good grounds; since Jude, in his Epistle, tells us that these cities "are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire," (<650107>Jude 1:7) The Psalmist, with much beauty and propriety, puts snares fa235 before fire and brimstone. We see that the ungodly, while God spares them, fear nothing, but give themselves ample scope in their wayward courses, like horses let loose fa236 in an open field; and then, if they see any adversity impending over them, they devise for themselves ways of escape; in short, they continually mock God, as if they could not be caught, unless he first entangle and hold them fast in his snares. God, therefore, begins his vengeance by snares, shutting up against the wicked every way of escape; and when he has them entangled and bound, he thunders upon them dreadfully and horribly, like as he consumed Sodom and the neighboring cities with fire from heaven. The word twp[lz, zilaphoth, which we have rendered whirlwinds, is by some translated kindlings or burnings; and by others, commotions or terrors. fa237 But the context requires the interpretation which I have brought forward; for a tempest is raised by stormy winds, and then follow thunder and lightning.
The portion of their cup. By this expression he testifies that the judgments of God will certainly take effect, although ungodly men may delude themselves by deceitful flattery. This metaphor is frequently to be met with in the Scriptures. As the carnal mind believes nothing with greater difficulty than that the calamities and miseries which seem to be fortuitous, happen according to a just distribution from God, he represents himself under the character of a householder, who distributes to each member his portion or allowance. David, therefore, here intimates that there is certainly a reward laid up for the ungodly; that it will be in vain for them to resist, when the Lord shall reach to them the cup of his wrath to drink; and that the cup prepared for them is not such as they may sip drop by drop, but a cup, the whole of which they will be compelled to drink, as the prophet threatens,
(<262334>Ezekiel 23:34) "Thou shalt drink it off even to the dregs."
7. For the righteous Jehovah loveth righteousness. The Psalmist has just now reasoned from the office of God that he will punish the wicked, and now, from the nature of God, he concludes, that he will be the defender of the good and the upright. As he is righteous, David shows that, as the consequence of this, he must love righteousness, for otherwise he would deny himself. Besides, it would be a cold speculation to conceive of righteousness as inherent in God, unless, at the same time, we could come to the settled conclusion that God graciously owns whatever is his own, and furnishes evidence of this in the government of the world. Some think that the abstract term righteousness is put for righteous persons. But, in my opinion, the literal sense is here more suitable, namely, that righteousness is well pleasing to God, and that, therefore, he favors good causes. From this the Psalmist concludes, that the upright are the objects of his regard:His countenance approveth the upright. He had said a little before in a different sense, that God beholds the children of men, meaning that he will judge the life of every man; but here he means that God graciously exercises a special care over the upright and the sincere, takes them under his protection, and keeps them in perfect safety. This conclusion of the psalm sufficiently shows, that the scope of the whole of it was to make it manifest that all those who, depending upon the grace of God, sincerely follow after righteousness, shall be safe under his protection. The Psalmist himself was one of this number and, indeed, the very chief of them. This last clause, His countenance approveth the upright, is, indeed, variously explained; but the true meaning, I have no doubt, is, that God has always a regard for the upright, and never turns away his eyes from them. It is a strained interpretation to view the words as meaning that the upright shall behold the face of God. But I will not stop to refute the opinions of other men.
PSALM 12.
David, deploring the wretched and forlorn condition of his people, and the utter overthrow of good order, beseeches God to afford them speedy relief. Then, in order to comfort both himself and all the godly, after having mentioned God's promise of assisting his people, he magnifies his faithfulness and constancy in performing his promises. From this he concludes, that at length God will deliver the godly, even when the world may be in a state of the greatest corruption. fa238
To the chief musician upon the eighth. A song of David.
Psalm 12:1-2
1. Save me, O Jehovah; for the merciful man hath failed, and the faithful are wasted away from among the children of men, 2. Every one speaketh deceit [or falsehood] with his neighbor; they speak with lips of flattery, with a double heart. fa239

To the chief musician upon the eighth. With respect to the word eighth, there are two opinions among interpreters. According to some, it means a musical instrument; while others are rather inclined to think that it is a tune. But as it is of no great importance which of these opinions is adopted, I do not trouble myself much about this matter. The conjecture of some, that it was the beginning of a song, does not seem to me to be so probable as that it refers to the tune, and was intended to point out how the psalm was to be sung. fa240 In the commencement David complains that the land was so overspread with wicked men, and persons who had broken forth into the commission of every kind of wickedness, that the practice of righteousness and justice had ceased, and none was found to defend the cause of the good; in short, that there remained no longer either humanity or faithfulness. It is probable that the Psalmist here speaks of the time when Saul persecuted him, because then all, from the highest to the lowest, had conspired to destroy an innocent and an afflicted man. It is a thing very distressing to relate, and yet it was perfectly true, that righteousness was so utterly overthrown among the chosen people of God, that all of them, with one consent, from their hostility to a good and just cause, had broken forth into acts of outrage and cruelty. David does not here accuse strangers or foreigners, but informs us that this deluge of iniquity prevailed in the Church of God. Let the faithful, therefore in our day, not be unduly discouraged at the melancholy sight of a very corrupt and confused state of the world; but let them consider that they ought to bear it patiently, seeing their condition is just like that of David in time past. And it is to be observed, that, when David calls upon God for succor, he encourages himself in the hope of obtaining it from this, that there was no uprightness among men; so that from his example we may learn to betake ourselves to God when we see nothing around us but black despair. We ought to be fully persuaded of this, that the greater the confusion of things in the world is, God is so much the readier to aid and succor his people, fa241 and that it is then the most proper season for him to interpose his assistance.
1. The merciful man hath failed. Some think that this is a complaint that the righteous had been unjustly put to death; as if the Psalmist had said, Saul has cruelly cut off all who observed justice and faithfulness. But I would understand the words in a simpler sense, as meaning that there is no longer any beneficence or truth remaining among men. He has expressed in these two words in what true righteousness consists. As there are two kinds of unrighteousness, violence and deceit; so men live righteously when, in their intercourse with each other, they conscientiously abstain from doing any wrong or injury to one another, and cultivate peace and mutual friendship; when they are neither lions nor foxes. When, however, we see the world in such a state of disorder as is here described, and are afflicted thereby, we ought to be careful not to howl with the wolves, nor to suffer ourselves to be carried away with the dissipation and overflowing flood of iniquity which we see prevailing around us, but should rather imitate the example of David.
2. Every man speaketh deceit. David in this verse sets forth that part of unrighteousness which is contrary to truth. He says that there is no sincerity or uprightness in their speech, because the great object upon which they are bent is to deceive. He next describes the manner in which they deceive, namely, that every man endeavors to ensnare his neighbor by flattery. fa242 He also points out the fountain and first cause of this, They speak with a double heart. This doubleness of heart, as I may term it, makes men double and variable in their speech, in order thereby to disguise themselves in different ways, fa243 or to make themselves appear to others different from what they really are. Hence the Hebrew word twqlj, chalakoth, which denotes flattery, is derived from a word which signifies division. As those who are resolved to act truthfully in their intercourse with their neighbors, freely and ingenuously lay open their whole heart; so treacherous and deceitful persons keep a part of their feeling hidden within their own breasts, and cover it with the varnish of hypocrisy and a fair outside; so that from their speech we cannot gather any thing certain with respect to their intentions. Our speech, therefore, must be sincere in order that it may be as it were a mirror, in which the uprightness of our heart may be beheld.
Psalm 12:3-4
3. Let Jehovah cut off all flattering tips, and the tongue that speaketh great [or proud] things:4. Those who have said we will be strengthened by our tongues; our lips are in our own power:who is lord over us ?

To his complaint in the preceding verse he now subjoins an imprecation, that God would cut off deceitful tongues. It is uncertain whether he wishes that deceitful men may be utterly destroyed, or only that the means of doing mischief may be taken from them; but the scope of the passage leads us rather to adopt the first sense, and to view David as desiring that God, by some means or other, would remove that plague out of the way. As he makes no mention of malice, while he inveighs so vehemently against their envenomed tongues, we hence conclude, that he had suffered much more injury from the latter than from the former; and certainly falsehood and calumnies are more deadly than swords and all other kind of weapons. From the second clause of the third verse it appears more clearly what kind of flatterers they were of whom mention was made in the preceding verse:The tongue that speaketh great or proud things. Some flatter in a slavish and fulsome manner, declaring that they are ready to do and suffer any thing which they possibly can for our benefit. But David here speaks of another kind of flatterers, namely, those who in flattering proudly boast of what they will accomplish, and mingle base effrontery and threatening with their deceitful arts. He does not, therefore, speak of the herd of mean conceited persons among the common people who make a trade of flattering, that they may live at other people's expense; fa244 but he points his imprecation against the great calumniators of the court to which he was attached, fa245 who not only insinuated themselves by gentle arts, but also lied designedly in boasting of themselves, and in the big and haughty discourse with which they overwhelmed the poor and simple. fa246
This the Psalmist confirms more fully in the following verse:Who have said, we will be strengthened by our tongues. Those must be possessed of great authority who think that, in the very falsehood to which they are addicted, they have enough of strength to accomplish their purposes, and to protect themselves. It is the utmost height of wickedness for persons to break out into such presumption, that they scruple not to overthrow all law and equity by their arrogant and boasting language; for, in doing this, it is just as if they openly declared war against God himself. Some read, we will strengthen our tongues. This reading is passable, in so far as the sense is concerned, but it scarcely agrees with the rules of grammar, because the letter l, lamed, is added. Moreover, the sense which is more suitable is this:that the wicked persons spoken of being armed with their tongues, go beyond all bounds, and think they can accomplish by this means whatever they please; just as this set of men so deform every thing with their calumnies, that they would almost cover the sun himself with darkness.
Psalm 12:5-6
5. Because of the spoiling fa247 of the needy, because of the groaning of the poor, I will now arise, Jehovah will say; I will set in safety him whom he snareth. fa248 6. The words of Jehovah are pure words:silver melted in an excellent crucible of earth, purified seven times.

5. Because of the spoiling of the needy. David now sets before himself as matter of consolation, the truth that God will not suffer the wicked thus to make havoc without end and measure. The more effectually to establish himself and others in the belief of this truth, he introduces God himself as speaking. The expression is more emphatic when God is represented as coming forward and declaring with his own mouth that he is come to deliver the poor and distressed. There is also great emphasis in the adverb now, by which God intimates that, although our safety is in his hand, and, therefore, in secure keeping, yet he does not immediately grant deliverance from affliction; for his words imply that he had hitherto been, as it were, lying still and asleep, until he was awakened by the calamities and the cries of his people. When, therefore, the injuries, the extortions, and the devastations of our enemies leave us nothing but tears and groans, let us remember that now the time is at hand when God intends to rise up to execute judgment. This doctrine should also serve to produce in us patience, and prevent us from taking it ill, that we are reckoned among the number of the poor and afflicted, whose cause God promises to take into his own hand.
With respect to the meaning of the second clause of the verse, expositors differ. According to some, to set in safety, means the same thing as to give or bring safety, as if the letter b, beth, which signifies in, were superfluous. But the language rather contains a promise to grant to those who are unjustly oppressed, full restitution. What follows is attended with more difficulty. The word hwp, phuach, which we have rendered to lay snares for, sometimes signifies to blow out, or to puff, — at other times to ensnare, or to lay snares for; and sometimes, also, to speak. Those who think it is here put for to speak also differ among themselves with respect to the meaning. Some render it God will speak to himself; that is to say, God will determine with himself; but as the Psalmist had already declared the determination of God, this would be an unnecessary and vain repetition. Others refer it to the language of the godly, as if David introduced them speaking one to another concerning the faithfulness and stability of the promises of God; for with this word they connect the following sentence, The words of the Lord are pure words, etc. But this view is even more strained than the preceding. The opinion of others, who suppose, that to the determination of God to arise, there is subjoined the language which is addressed to the godly, is more admissible. It would not be sufficient for God to determine with himself what he would do for our safety, if he did not speak to us expressly, and by name. It is only when God makes us to understand, by his own voice, that he will be gracious to us, that we can entertain the hope of salvation. God, it is true, speaks also to unbelievers, but without producing any good effect, seeing they are deaf; just as when he treats them with gentleness and liberality, it is without effect, because they are stupid, and devour his benefits without any sense of their coming from him. But as I perceive that under the word rmay, yomar, will say, the promises of God may be suitably and properly comprehended, to avoid a repetition of the same thing, I adopt without hesitation the sense of the last clause, which I have given in the translation, namely, that God declares he will arise to restore to safety those who seem on all sides to be environed by the snares of their enemies, and even caught in them. The import of the language is this:The ungodly may hold the poor and afflicted entangled in their snares as a prey which they have caught; but I will set them in safety. If it should be replied, that the reading in the Hebrew is not for whom, but for him, I would observe, that it is no new thing for these words, him, for him, to be used instead of whom and for whom. fa249 If any one prefer the sense of puffing at, I am not disposed greatly to oppose him. According to this reading, David would elegantly taunt the pride of the ungodly, who confidently imagine they can do any thing, fa250 even with their breath, as we have seen in the tenth psalm, at the fifth verse.
6. The words of Jehovah. The Psalmist now declares, that God is sure, faithful, and steadfast in his promises. But the insertion by the way of this commendation of the word of God would be to no purpose, if he had not first called himself, and other believers, to meditate on God's promises in their afflictions. Accordingly, the order of the Psalmist is to be attended to, namely, that, after telling us how God gives to his servants the hope of speedy deliverance, even in their deepest distresses, he now adds, to support their faith and hope, that God promises nothing in vain, or for the purpose of disappointing man. This, at first sight, seems a matter of small importance; but if any person consider more closely and attentively how prone the minds of men are to distrust and ungodly doubtings, he will easily perceive how requisite it is for our faith to be supported by this assurance, that God is not deceitful, that he does not delude or beguile us with empty words, and that he does not magnify beyond all measure either his power or his goodness, but that whatever he promises in word he will perform in deed. There is no man, it is true, who will not frankly confess that he entertains the same conviction which David here records, that the words of Jehovah are pure; but those who while lying in the shade and living at their ease liberally extol by their praises the truth of God's word, when they come to struggle with adversity in good earnest, although they may not venture openly to pour forth blasphemies against God, often charge him with not keeping his word. Whenever he delays his assistance, we call in question his fidelity to his promises and murmur just as if he had deceived us. There is no truth which is more generally received among men than that God is true; but there are few who frankly give him credit for this when they are in adversity. It is, therefore, highly necessary for us to cut off the occasion of our distrust; and whenever any doubt respecting the faithfulness of God's promises steals in upon us, we ought immediately to lift up against it this shield, that the words of the Lord are pure. The similitude of silver, which the Psalmist subjoins, is indeed far below the dignity and excellence of so great a subject; but it is very well adapted to the measure of our limited and imperfect understanding. Silver, if thoroughly refined, is valued at a high price amongst us. But we are far from manifesting for the word of God, the price of which is inestimable, an equal regard; and its purity is of less account with us than that of a corruptible metal. Yea, a great many coin mere dross in their own brain, by which to efface or obscure the brightness which shines in the word of God. The word lyl[b, baälil, which we have translated crucible, is interpreted by many prince, or lord, as if it were a simple word. According to them, the meaning would be, that the word of God is like the purest silver, from which the dross has been completely removed with the greatest art and care, not for common use, but for the service of a great lord or prince of some country. I, however, rather agree with others who consider that lyl[b, baälil, is a word compounded of the letter b, beth, which signifies in, and the noun lyl[, alil, which signifies a clean or well polished vessel or crucible.
Psalm 12:7-8
7. Thou, O Jehovah, wilt keep them; thou wilt preserve him from this generation for ever. 8. The ungodly walk about on every side; when they are exalted, there is reproach to the children of men.

7. Thou, O Jehovah. Some think that the language of the Psalmist here is that of renewed prayer; and they, therefore, understand the words as expressive of his desire, and translate them in the optative mood, thus, Do thou, O Jehovah, keep them. fa251 But I am rather of opinion that David, animated with holy confidence, boasts of the certain safety of all the godly, of whom God, who neither can deceive nor lie, avows himself to be the guardian. At the same time, I do not altogether disapprove of the interpretation which views David as renewing his supplications at the throne of grace. Some give this exposition of the passage, Thou wilt keep them, namely, thy words; fa252 but this does not seem to me to be suitable. fa253 David, I have no doubt, returns to speak of the poor, of whom he had spoken in the preceding part of the psalm. With respect to his changing the number, (for, he says first, Thou wilt keep them, and, next, Thou wilt preserve him fa254 it is a thing quite common in Hebrew, and the sense is not thereby rendered ambiguous. These two sentences, therefore, Thou wilt keep them, and Thou wilt preserve him, signify the same thing, unless, perhaps, we may say that, in the second, under the person of one man, the Psalmist intends to point out the small number of good men. To suppose this is not unreasonable or improbable; and, according to this view, the import of his language is, Although only one good man should be left alive in the world, yet he would be kept in perfect safety by the grace and protection of God. But as the Jews, when they speak generally, often change the number, I leave my readers freely to form their own judgment. This, indeed, cannot be controverted, that by the word generation, or race, is denoted a great multitude of ungodly persons, and almost the whole body of the people. As the Hebrew word rwd, dor, signifies as well the men who live in the same age, as the space of time itself, David, without doubt, here means that the servants of God cannot escape, and continue safe, unless God defend them against the malice of the whole people, and deliver them from the wicked and perverse men of the age in which they live. Whence we learn that the world, at that time, was so corrupt, that David, by way of reproach, puts them all, as it were, into one bundle. Moreover, it is of importance again to remember what we have already stated, that he does not here speak of foreign nations, but of the Israelites, and God's chosen people. It is well to mark this carefully, that we may not be discouraged by the vast multitude of the ungodly, if we should sometimes see an immense heap of chaff upon the barn-floor of the Lord, while only a few grains of corn lie hidden underneath. And then, however small may be the number of the good, let this persuasion be deeply fixed in our minds, that God will be their protector, and that for ever. The word µlw[l, leolam, which signifies for ever, is added, that we may learn to extend our confidence in God far into the future, seeing he commands us to hope for succor from him, not only once, or for one day, but as long as the wickedness of our enemies continues its work of mischief. We are, however, from this passage, at the same time, admonished that war is not prepared against us for a short time only, but that we must daily engage in the conflict. And if the guardianship which God exercises over the faithful is sometimes hidden, and is not manifest in its effects, let them wait in patience until he arise; and the greater the flood of calamities which overflows them, let them keep themselves so much the more in the exercise of godly fear and solicitude.
8. The ungodly walk about on every side. The Hebrew word bybs, sabib, which we have translated on every side, signifies a circuit, or a going round; and, therefore, some explain it allegorically thus:the ungodly seize upon all the defiles or narrow parts of roads, in order to shut up or besiege the good on all sides; and others expound it even more ingeniously, thus:that they lay snares by indirect means, and by inventions full of art and deception. But I think the simple meaning is, that they possess the whole land, and range about through every part of it; as if the Psalmist had said, Wherever I turn my eyes, I see troops of them on every side. In the next clause he complains that mankind are shamefully and basely oppressed by their tyranny. This is the meaning, provided the clause is read as a distinct one by itself, separate from the preceding, a point about which interpreters differ, although this view seems to come nearer to the mind of the inspired writer. Some render the verse in one continuous sentence, thus:The ungodly fly about every where, when the reproaches among the children of men (that is to say, when the worthless and the refuse of men) are exalted, an exposition which is not unsuitable. It commonly happens, that as diseases flow from the head into the members, so corruptions proceed from princes, and infect the whole people. As, however, the former exposition is more generally received, and the most learned grammarians tell us that the Hebrew word twlz, zuluth, which we have translated reproach, is a noun of the singular number, I have adopted the former exposition, not that I am dissatisfied with the latter, but because we must needs choose the one or the other.
PSALM 13.
The subject of this psalm is almost the same as that of the preceding. David, being afflicted, not only with the deepest distress, but also feeling himself, as it were, overwhelmed by a long succession of calamities and multiplied afflictions, implores the aid and succor of God, the only remedy which remained for him; and, in the close, taking courage, he entertains the assured hope of life from the promise of God, even amidst the terrors of death.
To the chief musician. A song of David.
Psalm 13:1-2
1. How long, O Jehovah, wilt thou forget me, for ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul? and have sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me ?

1. How long, O Jehovah. It is very true that David was so greatly hated by the generality of people, on account of the calumnies and false reports which had been circulated against him, that almost all men judged that God was not less hostile to him than Saul fa255 and his other enemies were. But here he speaks not so much according to the opinion of others, as according to the feeling of his own mind, when he complains of being neglected by God. Not that the persuasion of the truth of God's promises was extinguished in his heart, or that he did not repose himself on his grace; but when we are for a long time weighed down by calamities, and when we do not perceive any sign of divine aid, this thought unavoidably forces itself upon us, that God has forgotten us. To acknowledge in the midst of our afflictions that God has really a care about us, is not the usual way with men, or what the feelings of nature would prompt; but by faith we apprehend his invisible providence. Thus, it seemed to David, so far as could be judged from beholding the actual state of his affairs, that he was forsaken of God. At the same time, however, the eyes of his mind, guided by the light of faith, penetrated even to the grace of God, although it was hidden in darkness. When he saw not a single ray of good hope to whatever quarter he turned, so far as human reason could judge, constrained by grief, he cries out that God did not regard him; and yet by this very complaint he gives evidence that faith enabled him to rise higher, and to conclude, contrary to the judgment of the flesh, that his welfare was secure in the hand of God. Had it been otherwise, how could he direct his groanings and prayers to him? Following this example, we must so wrestle against temptations as to be assured by faith, even in the very midst of the conflict, that the calamities which urge us to despair must be overcome; just as we see that the infirmity of the flesh could not hinder David from seeking God, and having recourse to him:and thus he has united in his exercise, very beautifully, affections which are apparently contrary to each other. The words, How long, for ever? are a defective form of expression; but they are much more emphatic than if he had put the question according to the usual mode of speaking, Why for so long a time? By speaking thus, he gives us to understand, that for the purpose of cherishing his hope, and encouraging himself in the exercise of patience, he extended his view to a distance, and that, therefore, he does not complain of a calamity of a few days' duration, as the effeminate and the cowardly are accustomed to do, who see only what is before their feet, and immediately succumb at the first assault. He teaches us, therefore, by his example, to stretch our view as far as possible into the future, that our present grief may not entirely deprive us of hope.
2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul? We know that men in adversity give way to discontent, and look around them, first to one quarter, and then to another, in search of remedies. Especially, upon seeing that they are destitute of all resources, they torment themselves greatly, and are distracted by a multitude of thoughts; and in great dangers, anxiety and fear compel them to change their purposes from time to time, when they do not find any plan upon which they can fix with certainty. David, therefore, complains, that while thinking of different methods of obtaining relief, and deliberating with himself now in one way, and now in another, he is exhausted to no purpose with the multitude of suggestions which pass through his mind; and by joining to this complaint the sorrow which he felt daily, he points out the source of this disquietude. As in severe sickness the diseased would desire to change their place every moment, and the more acute the pains which afflict them are, the more fitful and eager are they in shifting and changing; so, when sorrow seizes upon the hearts of men, its miserable victims are violently agitated within, and they find it more tolerable to torment themselves without obtaining relief, than to endure their afflictions with composed and tranquil minds. The Lord, indeed, promises to give to the faithful "the spirit of counsels" (<231102>Isaiah 11:2) but he does not always give it to them at the very beginning of any matter in which they are interested, but suffers them for a time to be embarrassed by long deliberation without coming to a determinate decision, fa256 or to be perplexed, as if they were entangled among thorns, not knowing whither to turn, fa257 or what course to take. Some explain the Hebrew word µmwy, yomam, as meaning all the day long. But it seems to me, that by it is rather meant another kind of continuance, namely, that his sorrow returned, and was renewed every day. In the end of the verse he deplores another evil, that his adversaries triumph over him the more boldly, when they see him wholly enfeebled, and as it were wasted by continual languor. Now this is an argument of great weight in our prayers; for there is nothing which is more displeasing to God, and which he will less bear with, than the cruel insolence which our enemies display, when they not only feast themselves by beholding us in misery, but also rise up the higher against us, and treat us the more disdainfully, the more they see us oppressed and afflicted.
Psalm 13:3-4
3. Behold, [or look upon me,] answer me, O Jehovah my God; enlighten mine eyes, lest I sleep in death; 4. Lest my enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those who afflict me rejoice if I should fall.

3. Look upon me, answer me. As when God does not promptly afford assistance to his servants, it seems to the eye of sense that he does not behold their necessities, David, for this reason, asks God, in the first place, to look upon him, and, in the second place, to succor him. Neither of these things, it is true, is prior or posterior in respect of God; but it has been already stated in a preceding psalm, and we will have occasion afterwards frequently to repeat the statement, that the Holy Spirit purposely accommodates to our understanding the models of prayer recorded in Scripture. If David had not been persuaded that God had his eyes upon him, it would have availed him nothing to cry to God; but this persuasion was the effect of faith. In the meantime, until God actually puts forth his hand to give relief, carnal reason suggests to us that he shuts his eyes, and does not behold us. The manner of expression here employed amounts to the same thing as if he had put the mercy of God in the first place, and then added to it his assistance, because God then hears us, when, having compassion upon us, he is moved and induced to succor us. To enlighten the eyes signifies the same thing in the Hebrew language as to give the breath of life, for the rigour of life appears chiefly in the eyes. In this sense Solomon says,
"The poor and the deceitful man meet together; the Lord lighteneth both their eyes." (<202913>Proverbs 29:13)
And when Jonathan fainted for hunger, the sacred history relates that his eyes were overcast with dimness; and again, that when he had tasted of the honeycomb, his eyes were enlightened, (<091427>1 Samuel 14:27.) The word sleep, as it is used in this passage, is a metaphor of a similar kind, being put for death. In short, David confesses, that unless God cause the light of life to shine upon him, he will be immediately overwhelmed with the darkness of death, and that he is already as a man without life, unless God breathe into him new vigor. And certainly our confidence of life depends on this, that although the world may threaten us with a thousand deaths, yet God is possessed of numberless means of restoring us to life. fa258
4. Lest my enemy. David again repeats what he had a little before said concerning the pride of his enemies, namely, how it would be a thing ill becoming the character of God were he to abandon his servant to the mockery of the ungodly. David's enemies lay, as it were, in ambush watching the hour of his ruin, that they might deride him when they saw him fall. And as it is the peculiar office of God to repress the audacity and insolence of the wicked, as often as they glory in their wickedness, David beseeches God to deprive them of the opportunity of indulging in such boasting. It is, however, to be observed, that he had in his conscience a sufficient testimony to his own integrity, and that he trusted also in the goodness of his cause, so that it would have been unbecoming and unreasonable had he been left without succor in danger, and had he been overwhelmed by his enemies. We can, therefore, with confidence pray for ourselves, in the manner in which David here does for himself, only when we fight under the standard of God, and are obedient to his orders, so that our enemies cannot obtain the victory over us without wickedly triumphing over God himself.
Psalm 13:5
5. But I trust in thy goodness; my heart shall exult in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. fa259

The Psalmist does not as yet feel how much he has profited by praying; but depending upon the hope of deliverance, which the faithful promise of God enabled him to entertain, he makes use of this hope as a shield to repel those temptations with the terror of which he might be greatly distressed. Although, therefore, he is severely afflicted, and a multiplicity of cares urge him to despair, he, notwithstanding, declares it to be his resolution to continue firm in his reliance upon the grace of God, and in the hope of salvation. With the very same confidence ought all the godly to be furnished and sustained, that they may duly persevere in prayer. Whence, also, we gather what I have formerly adverted to, that it is by faith we apprehend the grace of God, which is hidden from and unknown to the understanding of the flesh. As the verbs which the Psalmist uses are not put in the same tense, different meanings may be drawn from the different tenses; but David, I have no doubt, here wishes to testify that he continued firm in the hope of the deliverance promised to him, and would continue so even to the end, however heavy the burden of temptations which might press upon him. Accordingly, the word exult is put in the future tense, to denote the continued exercise of the affection spoken of, and that no affliction shall ever shake out of his heart the joy of faith. It is to be observed, that he places the goodness of God first in order, as being the cause of his deliverance, — I will sing unto the Lord. I translate this into the future tense. David, it is true, had not yet obtained what he earnestly desired, but being fully convinced that God was already at hand to grant him deliverance, he pledges himself to give thanks to him for it. And surely it becomes us to engage in prayer in such a frame of mind as at the same time to be ready to sing the praises of God; a thing which is impossible, unless we are fully persuaded that our prayers will not be ineffectual. We may not be wholly free from sorrow, but it is nevertheless necessary that this cheerfulness of faith rise above it, and put into our mouth a song on account of the joy which is reserved for us in the future although not as yet experienced by us; fa260 just as we see David here preparing himself to celebrate in songs the grace of God, before he perceives the issue of his troubles. The word lmg, gamal, fa261 which others render to reward, signifies nothing else here than to bestow a benefit from pure grace, and this is its meaning in many other passages of Scripture. What kind of thanksgiving, I pray you to consider, would that be, to say that God rewarded and rendered to his servant due recompense? This is sufficient to refute the absurd and trifling sophism of those who wrest this passage to prove the merit of works. In short, the only thing which remains to be observed is, that David, in hastening with promptitude of soul to sing of God's benefits before he had received them, places the deliverance, which was then apparently at a distance, immediately before his eyes.
PSALM 14.
In the beginning the Psalmist describes the wicked contempt of God into which almost the whole people had broken forth. To give the greater weight to his complaint, he represents God himself as uttering it. Afterwards he comforts himself and others with the hope of a remedy, which he assures himself God will very soon provide, although, in the meantime, he groans and feels deep distress at the disorder which he beholds. fa262
To the chief musician of David.
Psalm 14:1
1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God; they have corrupted; fa263, They have done abominable work; there is none that doeth good.

Many of the Jews are of opinion that in this psalm there is given forth a prediction concerning the future oppression of their nation:as if David, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, bewailed the afflicted condition of the Church of God under the tyranny of the Gentiles. They therefore refer what is here spoken to the dispersed condition in which we see them at the present day, as if they were that precious heritage of God which the wild beasts devour. But it is very apparent, that in wishing to cover the disgrace of their nation, they wrest and apply to the Gentiles, without any just ground, what is said concerning the perverse children of Abraham. fa264 We cannot certainly find a better qualified interpreter than the Apostle Paul, and he applies this psalm expressly to the people who lived under the law, (<450319>Romans 3:19.) Besides, although we had not the testimony of this Apostle, the structure of the psalm very clearly shows that David means rather the domestic tyrants and enemies of the faithful than foreign ones; a point which it is very necessary for us to understand. We know that it is a temptation which pains us exceedingly, to see wickedness breaking forth and prevailing in the midst of the Church, the good and the simple unrighteously afflicted, while the wicked cruelly domineer according to their pleasure. This sad spectacle almost completely disheartens us; and, therefore, we have much need to be fortified from the example which David here sets before us:so that, in the midst of the greatest desolations which we behold in the Church, we may comfort ourselves with this assurance, that God will finally deliver her from them. I have no doubt that there is here described the disordered and desolate state of Judea which Saul introduced when he began to rage openly. Then, as if the remembrance of God had been extinguished from the minds of men, all piety had vanished, and with respect to integrity or uprightness among men, there was just as little of it as of godliness.
The fool hath said. As the Hebrew word lbn, nabal, signifies not only a fool, but also a perverse, vile, and contemptible person, it would not have been unsuitable to have translated it so in this place; yet I am content to follow the more generally received interpretation, which is, that all profane persons, who have cast off all fear of God and abandoned themselves to iniquity, are convicted of madness. David does not bring against his enemies the charge of common foolishness, but rather inveighs against the folly and insane hardihood of those whom the world accounts eminent for their wisdom. We commonly see that those who, in the estimation both of themselves and of others, highly excel in sagacity and wisdom, employ their cunning in laying snares, and exercise the ingenuity of their minds in despising and mocking God. It is therefore important for us, in the first place, to know, that however much the world applaud these crafty and scoffing characters, who allow themselves to indulge to any extent in wickedness, yet the Holy Spirit condemns them as being fools; for there is no stupidity more brutish than forgetfulness of God. We ought, however, at the same time, carefully to mark the evidence on which the Psalmist comes to the conclusion that they have cast off all sense of religion, and it is this:that they have overthrown all order, so that they no longer make any distinction between right and wrong, and have no regard for honesty, nor love of humanity. David, therefore, does not speak of the hidden affection of the heart of the wicked, except in so far as they discover themselves by their external actions. The import of his language is, How does it come to pass, that these men indulge themselves in their lusts so boldly and so outrageously, that they pay no regard to righteousness or equity; in short, that they madly rush into every kind of wickedness, if it is not because they have shaken off all sense of religion, and extinguished, as far as they can, all remembrance of God from their minds? When persons retain in their heart any sense of religion, they must necessarily have some modesty, and be in some measure restrained and prevented from entirely disregarding the dictates of their conscience. From this it follows, that when the ungodly allow themselves to follow their own inclinations, so obstinately and audaciously as they are here represented as doing, without any sense of shame, it is an evidence that they have cast off all fear of God.
The Psalmist says that they speak in their heart. They may not utter this detestable blasphemy, There is no God, with their mouths; but the unbridled licentiousness of their life loudly and distinctly declares that in their hearts, which are destitute of all godliness, they soothingly sing to themselves this song. Not that they maintain, by drawn out arguments or formal syllogisms, as they term them, that there is no God, (for to render them so much the more inexcusable, God from time to time causes even the most wicked of men to feel secret pangs of conscience, that they may be compelled to acknowledge his majesty and sovereign power;) but whatever right knowledge God instils into them they partly stifle it by their malice against him, and partly corrupt it, until religion in them becomes torpid, and at last dead. They may not plainly deny the existence of a God, but they imagine him to be shut up in heaven, and divested of his righteousness and power; and this is just to fashion an idol in the room of God. As if the time would never come when they will have to appear before him in judgment, fa265 they endeavor, in all the transactions and concerns of their life, to remove him to the greatest distance, and to efface from their minds all apprehension of his majesty. fa266 And when God is dragged from his throne, and divested of his character as judge, impiety has come to its utmost height; and, therefore, we must conclude that David has most certainly spoken according to truth, in declaring that those who give themselves liberty to commit all manner of wickedness, in the flattering hope of escaping with impunity, deny in their heart that there is a God. As the fifty-third psalm, with the exception of a few words which are altered in it, is just a repetition of this psalm, I will show in the proper places, as we proceed, the difference which there is between the two psalms. David here complains that they have done abominable work; but for the word work, the term there employed is iniquity. It should be observed that David does not speak of one work or of two; but as he had said, that they have perverted or corrupted all lawful order, so now he adds, that they have so polluted their whole life, as to make it abominable, and the proof of this which he adduces is, that they have no regard to uprightness in their dealings with one another, but have forgotten all humanity, and all beneficence towards their fellow-creatures.
Psalm 14:2-3
2. Jehovah looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see whether there were any that did understand, and seek after God. 3. Every one of them has gone aside, they have altogether become putrid, [or rotten;] there is none that doeth good, not even one,

2. Jehovah looked down from heaven. God himself is here introduced as speaking on the subject of human depravity, and this renders the discourse of David more emphatic than if he had pronounced the sentence in his own person. When God is exhibited to us as sitting on his throne to take cognisance of the conduct of men, unless we are stupified in an extraordinary degree, his majesty must strike us with terror. The effect of the habit of sinning is, that men grow hardened in their sins, and discern nothing, as if they were enveloped in thick darkness. David, therefore, to teach them that they gain nothing by flattering and deceiving themselves as they do, when wickedness reigns in the world with impunity, testifies that God looks down from heaven, and casts his eyes on all sides, for the purpose of knowing what is done among men. God, it is true, has no need to make inquisition or search; but when he compares himself to an earthly judge, it is in adaptation to our limited capacity, and to enable us gradually to form some apprehension of his secret providence, which our reason cannot all at once comprehend. Would to God that this manner of speaking had the effect of teaching us to summon ourselves before his tribunal; and that, while the world are flattering themselves, and the reprobate are trying to bury their sins in forgetfulness by their want of thought, hypocrisy, or shamelessness, and are blinded in their obstinacy as if they were intoxicated, we might be led to shake off all indifference and stupidity by reflecting on this truth, that God, notwithstanding, looks down from his high throne in heaven, and beholds what is going on here below!
To see if there were any that did understand. As the whole economy of a good and righteous life depends upon our being governed and directed by the light of understanding, David has justly taught us in the beginning of the psalm, that folly is the root of all wickedness. And in this clause he also very justly declares, that the commencement of integrity and uprightness of life consists in an enlightened and sound mind. But as the greater part misapply their intellectual powers to deceitful purposes, David immediately after defines, in one word, what true understanding is, namely, that it consists in seeking after God; by which he means, that unless men devote themselves wholly to God, their life cannot be well ordered. Some understand the word lykçm, maskil, which we translated, that did understand, in too restricted a sense; whereas David declares that the reprobate are utterly destitute of all reason and judgment.
Every one of them has gone aside. Some translate the word rs, sar, which is here used, to stink, fa267 as if the reading were, Every one of them emits an offensive odour, that it may correspond in meaning with the verb in the next clause, which in Hebrew signifies to become putrid or rotten. But there is no necessity for explaining the two words in the same way, as if the same thing were repeated twice. The interpretation is more appropriate, which supposes that men are here condemned as guilty of a detestable revolt, inasmuch as they are estranged from God, or have departed far from him; and that afterwards there is pointed out the disgusting corruption or putrescence of their whole life, as if nothing could proceed from apostates but what smells rank of rottenness and infection. The Hebrew word rs, sar, is almost universally taken in this sense. In the 53rd Psalm, the word gs, sag, is used, which signifies the same thing. In short, David declares that all men are so carried away by their capricious lusts, that nothing is to be found either of purity or integrity in their whole life. This, therefore, is defection so complete, that it extinguishes all godliness. Besides, David here not only censures a portion of the people, but pronounces them all to be equally involved in the same condemnation. This was, indeed, a prodigy well fitted to excite abhorrence, that all the children of Abraham, whom God had chosen to be his peculiar people, were so corrupt from the least to the greatest.
But it might be asked, how David makes no exception, how he declares that not a righteous person remains, not even one, when, nevertheless, he informs us, a little after, that the poor and afflicted put their trust in God? Again, it might be asked, if all were wicked, who was that Israel whose future redemption he celebrates in the end of the psalm? Nay, as he himself was one of the body of that people, why does he not at least except himself? I answer:It is against the carnal and degenerate body of the Israelitish nation that he here inveighs, and the small number constituting the seed which God had set apart for himself is not included among them. This is the reason why Paul, in his Epistle to the <450310>Romans 3:10, extends this sentence to all mankind. David, it is true, deplores the disordered and desolate state of matters under the reign of Saul. At the same time, however, he doubtless makes a comparison between the children of God and all who have not been regenerated by the Spirit, but are carried away according to the inclinations of their flesh. fa268 Some give a different explanation, maintaining that Paul, by quoting the testimony of David, did not understand him as meaning that men are naturally depraved and corrupt; and that the truth which David intended to teach is, that the rulers and the more distinguished of the people were wicked, and that, therefore, it was not surprising to behold unrighteousness and wickedness prevailing so generally in the world. This answer is far from being satisfactory. The subject which Paul there reasons upon is not, what is the character of the greater part of men, but what is the character of all who are led and governed by their own corrupt nature. It is, therefore, to be observed, that when David places himself and the small remnant of the godly on one side, and puts on the other the body of the people, in general, this implies that there is a manifest difference between the children of God who are created anew by his Spirit, and all the posterity of Adam, in whom corruption and depravity exercise dominion. Whence it follows, that all of us, when we are born, bring with us from our mother's womb this folly and filthiness manifested in the whole life, which David here describes, and that we continue such until God make us new creatures by his mysterious grace.
Psalm 14:4
4. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread? they call not upon the Lord. fa269

This question is added to give a more amplified illustration of the preceding doctrine. The prophet had said that God observed from heaven the doings of men, and had found all of them gone out of the way; and now he introduces him exclaiming with astonishment, What madness is this, that they who ought to cherish my people, and assiduously perform to them every kind office, are oppressing and falling upon them like wild beasts, without any feeling of humanity? He attributes this manner of speaking to God, not because any thing can happen which is strange or unexpected to him, but in order the more forcibly to express his indignation. The Prophet Isaiah, in like manner, (<235916>Isaiah 59:16,) when treating of almost the same subject, says,
"And God saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor." (<235916>Isaiah 59:16)
God, it is true, does not actually experience in himself such affections, but he represents himself as invested with them, that we may entertain the greatest horror and dread on account of our sins, when he declares them to be of so monstrous a character, that he is as it were thrown into agitation and disorder by them. And were we not harder than the stones, our horror at the wickedness which prevails in the world would make the hair of our head to stand on end, fa270 seeing God exhibits to us in his own person such a testimony of the detestation with which he regards it. Moreover, this verse confirms what I have said in the commencement, that David does not speak in this psalm of foreign tyrants, or the avowed enemies of the church, but of the rulers and princes of his people, who were furnished with power and honor. This description would not apply to men who were altogether strangers to the revealed will of God; for it would be nothing wonderful to see those who do not possess the moral law, the rule of life, devoting themselves to the work of violence and oppression. But the heinousness of the proceedings condemned is not a little aggravated from this circumstance, that it is the shepherds themselves, whose office it is to feed and to take care of the flock, fa271 who cruelly devour it, and who spare not even the people and heritage of God. There is a similar complaint in <330301>Micah 3:1-3,
"And I said, Hear I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel:Is it not for you to know judgment? Who hate the good and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them; and their flesh from off their bones; who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them,"
etc. If those who profess to know and to serve God were to exercise such cruelty towards the Babylonians or Egyptians, it would be a piece of injustice which could admit of no excuse; but when they glut themselves with the blood and flesh of the saints, as they devour bread, this is such monstrous iniquity, that it may well strike both angels and men with astonishment. Had such persons a particle of sound understanding remaining in them, it would restrain them from conduct so fearfully infatuated. They must, therefore, be completely blinded by the devil, and utterly bereft of reason and understanding, seeing they knowingly and willingly flay and devour the people of God with such inhumanity. This passage teaches us how displeasing to God, and how abominable is the cruelty which is exercised against the godly, by those who pretend to be their shepherds. In the end of the verse, where he says that they call not upon the Lord, he again points out the source and cause of this unbridled wickedness, namely, that such persons have no reverence for God. Religion is the best mistress for teaching us mutually to maintain equity and uprightness towards each other; and where a concern for religion is extinguished, then all regard for justice perishes along with it. With respect to the phrase, calling upon God, as it constitutes the principal exercise of godliness, it includes by synecdoche, (a figure of rhetoric, by which a part is put for the whole,) not only here, but in many other passages of Scripture, the whole of the service of God.
Psalm 14:5-6
5. There did they tremble with fear, fa272 for God is in [or with, or for fa273] the generation of the righteous. 6. Ye deride the counsel of the poor, because Jehovah is his hope.

5. There did they tremble with fear, The prophet now encourages himself and all the faithful with the best of all consolations, namely, that God will not forsake his people even to the end, but will at length show himself to be their defender. Some explain the adverb of place there, as meaning that God will take vengeance on the wicked in the presence of his saints, because they exercised their tyranny upon them. But I rather think that by this word there is expressed the certainty of their punishment, fa274 as if the Psalmist pointed to it with the finger. fa275 It may also intimate what we may gather from Psalm 53, that the judgment of God would come upon them suddenly, and when they were not thinking about it; for it is there added, where no fear is, or, where no fear was. fa276 Expositors, I am aware, differ in their interpretation of these words. Some supply the word equal or like, and read, There is no fear equal to it. Others refer them to those secret alarms with which the ungodly are tormented, even when there may be no ground for apprehension. God threatens the transgressors of his law with such mental torment that they "shall flee when none pursueth them," (Leviticus 26:17, and <202801>Proverbs 28:1) and that "the sound of a shaking leaf shall chase them," (<032636>Leviticus 26:36) just as we see that they are themselves their own tormentors, and are agitated with mental trouble even when there is no external cause to create it. But I think the meaning of the prophet is different, namely, that when their affairs are in a state of the greatest tranquillity and prosperity, God will suddenly launch against them the bolts of his vengeance.
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them," (<520503>1 Thessalonians 5:3.)
The prophet, therefore, encourages and supports the faithful with this prospect, that the ungodly, when they think themselves free from all danger, and are securely celebrating their own triumphs, shall be overwhelmed with sudden destruction.
The reason of this is added in the last clause of the verse, namely, because God is determined to defend the righteous, and to take in hand their cause:For God is in the generation of the righteous. Now, in order to preserve them safe, he must necessarily thunder in his wrath from heaven against their enemies, who unjustly oppress and waste them by violence and extortion. fa277 There is, however, some ambiguity in the word rwd, dor, which we have translated generation. As this noun in Hebrew sometimes signifies an age, or, the course of human life, the sentence might be explained as follows:Although God for a time may seem to take no notice of the wrongs inflicted upon his servants by the wicked, yet he is ever present with them, and exercises his grace towards them during their whole life. But it seems to me a more simple and natural exposition to interpret the clause thus:That God is on the side of the righteous, and takes their part, as we say, fa278 so that rwd, dor, will have the same signification here which the word natio, [nation,] sometimes has among the Latins.
In <195305>Psalm 53:5, the Psalmist adds a sentence which does not occur in this psalm, For God hath scattered the bones of him that besiegeth thee, thou shalt put them to shame; because God hath rejected them. By these words the prophet explains more clearly how God protects the righteous, that it is by delivering them from the jaws of death, just as if one were to put to flight those who had laid siege to a town, and were to set at liberty its inhabitants, who before were in great extremity and quite shut up. fa279 Whence it follows, that we must patiently bear oppression, if we desire to be protected and preserved by the hand of God, at the time of our greatest danger. The expression, bones, is used metaphorically for strength or power. The prophet particularly speaks of their power; for if the wicked were not possessed of riches, ammunition, and troops, which render them formidable, it would not appear, with sufficient evidence, that it is the hand of God which at length crushes them. The Psalmist next exhorts the faithful to a holy boasting, and bids them rest assured that an ignominious destruction hangs over the heads of the wicked. The reason of this is, because God hath rejected them; and if he is opposed to them, all things must ultimately go ill with them. As sam, maäs, which we have translated to reject, sometimes signifies to despise, some render it thus, Because God hath despised them; but this, I think, does not suit the passage. It would be more appropriate to read, — He hath rendered them contemptible, or, subjected them to disgrace and ignominy. Whence it follows, that they only draw down upon themselves dishonor and infamy while they strive to elevate themselves, as it were, in despite of God.
6. Ye deride the counsel of the poor. He inveighs against those giants who mock at the faithful for their simplicity, in calmly expecting, in their distresses, that God will show himself to be their deliverer. And, certainly, nothing seems more irrational to the flesh than to betake ourselves to God when yet he does not relieve us from our calamities; and the reason is, because the flesh judges of God only according to what it presently beholds of his grace. Whenever, therefore, unbelievers see the children of God overwhelmed with calamities, they reproach them for their groundless confidence, as it appears to them to be, and with sarcastic jeers laugh at the assured hope with which they rely upon God, from whom, notwithstanding, they receive no sensible aid. David, therefore, defies and derides this insolence of the wicked, and threatens that their mockery of the poor and the wretched, and their charging them with folly in depending upon the protection of God, and not sinking under their calamities, will be the cause of their destruction. At the same time, he teaches them that there is no resolution to which we can come which is better advised than the resolution to depend upon God, and that to repose on his salvation, and on the assistance which he hath promised us, even although we may be surrounded with calamities, is the highest wisdom.
Psalm 14:7
7. Who shall give salvation [or deliverance] to Israel out of Sion? When Jehovah shall have brought back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

David, after having laid down the doctrine of consolation, again returns to prayers and groanings. By this he teaches us, that although God may leave us for a long time to languish, yet we ought not to weary, or lose courage, but should always glory in him; and, again, that while our troubles continue, the most effectual solace we can have is often to return to the exercise of prayer. When he asks the question, Who shall give salvation? this does not imply, that he was looking either to the right hand or to the left, or that he turned away his eyes from God in search of another deliverer; he intends only to express the ardor of his desire, as if he had said, When will the time at length come when God will display his salvation, and make it fully manifest? By the word Sion, which he adds, he testifies that his hope is fixed on God; for Sion was the holy place from which God had promised to hear the prayers of his servants; and it was the dwelling-place of the ark of the covenant, which was an external pledge and symbol of the presence of God. He does not, therefore, doubt who would be the author of his salvation; but he asks, with a sorrowful heart, when at length that salvation will come forth which is to be expected from no other source than from God alone. The question may, however, be put, if this prayer refers to the time of Saul, how can Sion, with propriety, be named as being already the sanctuary of God? I will not deny that the Psalmist, by the spirit of prophecy, may have predicted what had not yet actually taken place; but I think it highly probable, that this psalm was not composed until the ark of the covenant had been placed on mount Sion. David, as we know, employed his leisure hours in committing to writing, for the benefit of posterity, events which had happened long before. Besides, by expressing his desire for the deliverance of Israel, we are taught that he was chiefly anxious about the welfare of the whole body of the Church, and that his thoughts were more occupied about this than about himself individually. This is worthy of being the more carefully marked when we consider, that, while our attention is engrossed with our own particular sorrows, we are in danger of almost entirely neglecting the welfare of our brethren. And yet the particular afflictions with which God visits each of us are intended to admonish us to direct our attention and care to the whole body of the Church, and to think of its necessities, just as we see David here including Israel with himself.
When the Lord shall have brought back the captivity of his people, In these words, David concludes, that God will not suffer the faithful to languish under continual sorrow, according as it is said in another psalm, (<19C605>Psalm 126:5) "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." He doubtless aims at confirming and encouraging himself and all the godly to hope for the promised deliverance. He therefore says, in the first place, that although God may delay, or at least may not make so much haste as we would wish, he will, nevertheless, show himself to be the defender of his people, by redeeming them from captivity. And, in the next place, he assuages their sorrow, by setting forth that the issue of it will be joyful, seeing it will at length be turned into gladness. The captivity, of which he makes mention, is not the Babylonish, or the dispersion of his people among the heathen nations; it rather refers to an oppression at home, when the wicked exercise dominion like tyrants in the Church. We are, therefore, taught by these words, that when such furious enemies waste and destroy the flock of God, or proudly tread it under foot, we ought to have recourse to God, whose peculiar office it is to gather together his Israel from all places whither they have been dispersed. And the term captivity, which he employs, implies, that when the wicked overthrow at their pleasure all good and lawful order in the midst of the Church, it is converted into a Babylon or Egypt. Farther, although David defers the joy of the holy people, to the time of their deliverance, yet the consolatory prospect of this should serve not only to moderate our grief, but also to mix and season it with joy.
PSALM 15.
This psalm teaches us upon what condition God made choice of the Jews to be his people, and placed his sanctuary in the midst of them. This condition was, that they should show themselves to be a peculiar and holy people, by leading a just and upright life.
A Song of David.
Psalm 15:1-2
1. O Jehovah, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle? Who shall rest in the mountain of thy holiness? 2. He who walketh in integrity, and doeth righteousness, and who speaketh truth in his heart.

1. O Jehovah, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle? As nothing is more common in the world than falsely to assume the name of God, or to pretend to be his people, and as a great part of men allow themselves to do this without any apprehension of the danger it involves, David, without stopping to speak to men, addresses himself to God, which he considers the better course; and he intimates, that if men assume the title of the people of God, without being so in deed and in truth, they gain nothing by their self-delusion, for God continues always like himself, and as he is faithful himself, so will he have us to keep faith with him in return. No doubt, he adopted Abraham freely, but, at the same time, he stipulated with him that he should live a holy and an upright life, and this is the general rule of the covenant which God has, from the beginning, made with his Church. The sum is, that hypocrites, who occupy a place in the temple of God, in vain pretend to be his people, for he acknowledges none as such but those who follow after justice and uprightness during the whole course of their life. David saw the temple crowded with a great multitude of men who all made a profession of the same religion, and presented themselves before God as to the outward ceremony; and, therefore, assuming the person of one wondering at the spectacle, he directs his discourse to God, who, in such a confusion and medley of characters, could easily distinguish his own people from strangers.
There is a threefold use of this doctrine. In the first place, If we really wish to be reckoned among the number of the children of God, the Holy Ghost teaches us, that we must show ourselves to be such by a holy and an upright life; for it is not enough to serve God by outward ceremonies, unless we also live uprightly, and without doing wrong to our neighbors. In the second place, As we too often see the Church of God defaced by much impurity, to prevent us from stumbling at what appears so offensive, a distinction is made between those who are permanent citizens of the Church, and strangers who are mingled among them only for a time. This is undoubtedly a warning highly necessary, in order that when the temple of God happens to be tainted by many impurities, we may not contract such disgust and chagrin as will make us withdraw from it. By impurities I understand the vices of a corrupt and polluted life. Provided religion continue pure as to doctrine and worship, we must not be so much stumbled at the faults and sins which men commit, as on that account to rend the unity of the Church. Yet the experience of all ages teaches us how dangerous a temptation it is when we behold the Church of God, which ought to be free from all polluting stains, and to shine in uncorrupted purity, cherishing in her bosom many ungodly hypocrites, or wicked persons. From this the Catharists, Novatians, and Donatists, took occasion in former times to separate themselves from the fellowship of the godly. The Anabaptists, at the present day, renew the same schisms, because it does not seem to them that a church in which vices are tolerated can be a true church. But Christ, in <402532>Matthew 25:32, justly claims it as his own peculiar office to separate the sheep from the goats; and thereby admonishes us, that we must bear with the evils which it is not in our power to correct, until all things become ripe, and the proper season of purging the Church arrive. At the same time, the faithful are here enjoined, each in his own sphere, to use their endeavors that the Church of God may be purified from the corruptions which still exist within her. And this is the third use which we should make of this doctrine. God's sacred barn-floor will not be perfectly cleansed before the last day, when Christ at his coming will cast out the chaff; but he has already begun to do this by the doctrine of his gospel, which on this account he terms a fan. We must, therefore, by no means be indifferent about this matter; on the contrary, we ought rather to exert ourselves in good earnest, that all who profess themselves Christians may lead a holy and an unspotted life. But above all, what God here declares with respect to all the unrighteous should be deeply imprinted on our memory; namely, that he prohibits them from coming to his sanctuary, and condemns their impious presumption, in irreverently thrusting themselves into the society of the godly. David makes mention of the tabernacle, because the temple was not yet built. The meaning of his discourse, to express it in a few words, is this, that those only have access to God who are his genuine servants, and who live a holy life.
2. He that walketh in integrity. Here we should mark, that in the words there is an implied contrast between the vain boasting of those who are only the people of God in name, or who make only a bare profession of being so, which consists in outward observances, and this indubitable and genuine evidence of true godliness which David commends. But it might be asked, As the service of God takes precedence of the duties of charity towards our neighbors, why is there no mention here made of faith and prayer; for, certainly, these are the marks by which the genuine children of God ought to have been distinguished from hypocrites? The answer is easy:David does not intend to exclude faith and prayer, and other spiritual sacrifices; but as hypocrites, in order to promote their own interests, are not sparing in their attention to a multiplicity of external religious observances, while their ungodliness, notwithstanding, is manifested outwardly in the life, seeing they are fall of pride, cruelty, violence, and are given to deceitfulness and extortion, - the Psalmist, for the purpose of discovering and drawing forth into the light all who are of such a character, takes the marks and evidences of true and sincere faith from the second table of the law. According to the care which every man takes to practice righteousness and equity towards his neighbors, so does he actually show that he fears God. David, then, is not here to be understood as resting satisfied with political or social justice, as if it were enough to render to our fellow-men what is their own, while we may lawfully defraud God of his right; but he describes the approved servants of God, as distinguished and known by the fruits of righteousness which they produce. In the first place, he requires sincerity; in other words, that men should conduct themselves in all their affairs with singleness of heart, and without sinful craft or cunning. Secondly, he requires justice; that is to say, that they should study to do good to their neighbors, hurt nobody, and abstain from all wrong. Thirdly, he requires truth in their speech, so that they may speak nothing falsely or deceitfully. To speak in the heart is a strong figurative expression, but it expresses more forcibly David's meaning than if he had said from the heart. It denotes such agreement and harmony between the heart and tongue, as that the speech is, as it were, a vivid representation of the hidden affection or feeling within.
Psalm 15:3
3. He that slandereth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his companion, nor raiseth up a calumnious report against his neighbor.

David, after having briefly set forth the virtues with which all who desire to have a place in the Church ought to be endued, now enumerates certain vices from which they ought to be free. In the first place, he tells them that they must not be slanderers or detractors; secondly, that they must restrain themselves from doing any thing mischievous and injurious to their neighbors; and, thirdly, that they must not aid in giving currency to calumnies and false reports. Other vices, from which the righteous are free, we shall meet with as we proceed. David, then, sets down calumny and detraction as the first point of injustice by which our neighbors are injured. If a good name is a treasure, more precious than all the riches of the world, (<202201>Proverbs 22:1,) no greater injury can be inflicted upon men than to wound their reputation. It is not, however, every injurious word which is here condemned; but the disease and lust of detraction, which stirs up malicious persons to spread abroad calumnies. At the same time, it cannot be doubted that the design of the Holy Spirit is to condemn all false and wicked accusations. In the clause which immediately follows, the doctrine that the children of God ought to be far removed from all injustice, is stated more generally:Nor doeth evil to his companion. By the words companion and neighbor, the Psalmist means not only those with whom we enjoy familiar intercourse, and live on terms of intimate friendship, but all men, to whom we are bound by the ties of humanity and a common nature. He employs these terms to show more clearly the odiousness of what he condemns, and that the saints may have the greater abhorrence of all wrong dealing, since every man who hurts his neighbor violates the fundamental law of human society. With respect to the meaning of the last clause, interpreters are not agreed. Some take the phrase, to raise up a calumnious report, for to invent, because malicious persons raise up calumnies from nothing; and thus it would be a repetition of the statement contained in the first clause of the verse, namely, that good men should not allow themselves to indulge in detraction. But I think there is also here rebuked the vice of undue credulity, which, when any evil reports are spread against our neighbors, leads us either eagerly to listen to them, or at least to receive them without sufficient reason; whereas we ought rather to use all means to suppress and trample them under foot. fa280 When any one is the bearer of invented falsehoods, those who reject them leave them, as it were, to fall to the ground; while, on the contrary, those who propagate and publish them from one person to another are, by an expressive form of speech, said to raise them up.
Psalm 15:4
4. In his eyes the offcast [or reprobate fa281] is despised; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord; when he hath sworn to his own hurt, he changeth not.

The first part of this verse is explained in different ways. Some draw from it this meaning, that the true servants of God are contemptible and worthless in their own estimation. If we adopt this interpretation, the copula and, which David does not express, must be supplied, making the reading thus, He is vile and despised in his own eyes. But besides the consideration, that, if this had been the sense, the words would probably have been joined together by the copula and, I have another reason which leads me to think that David had a different meaning, He compares together two opposite things, namely, to despise perverse and worthless characters, and to honor the righteous and those who fear God. In order that these two clauses may correspond with each other, the only sense in which I can understand what is here said about being despised is this, that the children of God despise the ungodly, and form that low and contemptuous estimate of them which their character deserves. The godly, it is true, although living a praiseworthy and virtuous life, are not inflated with presumption, but, on the contrary, are rather dissatisfied with themselves, because they feel how far short they are as yet of the perfection which is required. When, however, I consider what the scope of the passage demands, I do not think that we are here to view the Psalmist as commending humility or modesty, but rather a free and upright judgment of human character, by which the wicked, on the one hand, are not spared, while virtue, on the other, receives the honor which belongs to it; for flattery, which nourishes vices by covering them, is an evil not less pernicious than it is common. I indeed admit, that if the wicked are in authority, we ought not to carry our contempt of them the length of refusing to obey them in so far as a regard to our duty will permit; but, at the same time, we must beware of flattery and of accommodating ourselves to them, which would be to involve us in the same condemnation with them. He who not only seems to regard their wicked actions with indifference, but also honors them, shows that he approves of them as much as it is in his power. Paul therefore teaches us, (<490511>Ephesians 5:11,) that it is a species of fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness when we do not reprove them. It is certainly a very perverse way of acting, when persons, for the sake of obtaining the favor of men, will indirectly mock God; and all are chargeable with doing this who make it their business to please the wicked. David, however, has a respect, not so much to persons as to wicked works. The man who sees the wicked honored, and by the applause of the world rendered more obstinate in their wickedness, and who willingly gives his consent or approbation to this, does he not, by so doing, exalt vice to authority, and invest it with sovereign power? "But woe," says the prophet Isaiah, (<230520>Isaiah 5:20,) "unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness."
Nor ought it to be regarded as a rude or violent manner of speaking, when David calls base and wicked persons reprobates, although they may be placed in an exalted and honorable station. If (as Cicero affirms, in his book entitled The Responses of the Aruspices) the inspectors of the entrails of the sacrifices, and other heathen soothsayers, applied to worthless and abandoned characters the term rejected, although they excelled in dignity and riches, why should not a prophet of God be permitted to apply the name of degraded outcasts to all who are rejected by God? The meaning of the Psalmist, to express it in a few words, is, that the children of God freely judge of every man's doings, and that for the purpose of obtaining the favor of men, they will not stoop to vile flattery, and thereby encourage the wicked in their wickedness.
What follows immediately after, namely, to honor the righteous and those who fear God, is no mean virtue. As they are often, as it were, the filth and the offscouring of all things in the estimation of the world, so it frequently happens that those who show them favor and sympathy, excite against themselves every where the hatred of the world. The greater part of mankind, therefore, refuse the friendship of good men, and leave them to be despised, which cannot be done without grievous and heinous injury to God. Let us learn then not to value men by their estate or their money, or their transitory honors, but to hold in estimation godliness, or the fear of God. And certainly no man will ever truly apply his mind to the study of godliness who does not, at the same time, reverence the servants of God; as, on the other hand, the love we bear to them incites us to imitate them in sanctity of life.
When he hath sworn to his own hurt. The translation of the LXX. would agree very well with the scope of the passage, were it not that the points which are under the words in the Hebrew text will not bear such a sense. fa282 It is, indeed, no proof of the inaccuracy of their rendering, that it does not agree with the points; for, although the Jews have always used the points in reading, it is probable that they did not always express them in writing. I, however, prefer following the commonly received reading. And the meaning is, that the faithful will rather submit to suffer loss than break their word. When a man keeps his promises, in as far as he sees it to be for his own advantage, there is in this no argument to prove his uprightness and faithfulness. But when men make a promise to each other, there is nothing more common than from some slight loss which the performance of it would occasion, to endeavor to find a pretext for breaking their engagements. Every one considers with himself what is for his own advantage, and if it puts him to inconvenience or trouble to stand to his promises, he is ingenious enough to imagine that he will incur a far greater loss than there is any reason to apprehend. It seems, indeed, a fair excuse when a man complains that, if he does not depart from his engagement, he will suffer great loss. Hence it is, that we generally see so much unfaithfulness among men, that they do not consider themselves bound to perform the promises which they have made, except in so far as it will promote their own personal interest. David, therefore, condemning this inconstancy, requires the children of God to exhibit the greatest steadfastness in the fulfillment of their promises. Here the question might be asked, If a man, having fallen into the hands of a highwayman, promise him a sum of money to save his life, and if, in consequence of this, he is let go, should he in that case keep his promise? Again, if a man has been basely deceived, in entering into a contract, is it lawful for him to break the oath which he shall have made in such an engagement? With respect to the highwayman, he who confers upon him money falls into another fault, for he supports at his own expense a common enemy of mankind to the detriment of the public welfare. David does not impose upon the faithful such an alternative as this, but only enjoins them to show a greater regard to their promises than to their own personal interests, and to do this especially when their promises have been confirmed by an oath. As to the other case, namely, when a person has sworn, from being deceived and imposed upon by wicked artifice he ought certainly to hold the holy name of God in such veneration, as rather patiently to submit to loss than violate his oath. Yet it is perfectly lawful for him to discover or reveal the fraud which has been practiced upon him, provided he is not led to do so by a regard to his own personal interest; and there is, besides, nothing to hinder him from peaceably endeavoring to compromise the matter with his adversary. Many of the Jewish expositors restrict this passage to vows, as if David exhorted the faithful to perform their vows when they have promised to humble and afflict themselves by fasting. But in this they are mistaken. Nothing is farther from his meaning than this, for he discourses here only of the second table of the law, and of the mutual rectitude which men should maintain in their dealings with one another.
Psalm 15:5
5. He putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh bribes upon the innocent. He that doeth these things shall not be moved for ever.

In this verse David enjoins the godly neither to oppress their neighbors by usury, nor to suffer themselves to be corrupted with bribes to favor unrighteous causes. With respect to the first clause, as David seems to condemn all kinds of usury in general, and without exception, the very name has been every where held in detestation. But crafty men have invented specious names under which to conceal the vice; and thinking by this artifice to escape, they have plundered with greater excess than if they had lent on usury avowedly and openly. God, however, will not be dealt with and imposed upon by sophistry and false pretences. He looks upon the thing as it really is. There is no worse species of usury than an unjust way of making bargains, where equity is disregarded on both sides. Let us then remember that all bargains in which the one party unrighteously strives to make gain by the loss of the other party, whatever name may be given to them, are here condemned. It may be asked, Whether all kinds of usury are to be put into this denunciation, and regarded as alike unlawful? If we condemn all without distinction, there is a danger lest many, seeing themselves brought into such a strait, as to find that sin must be incurred, in whatever way they can turn themselves, may be rendered bolder by despair, and may rush headlong into all kinds of usury, without choice or discrimination. On the other hand, whenever we concede that something may be lawfully done this way, many will give themselves loose reins, thinking that a liberty to exercise usury, without control or moderation, has been granted them. In the first place, therefore, I would, above all things, counsel my readers to beware of ingeniously contriving deceitful pretexts, by which to take advantage of their fellow-men, and let them not imagine that any thing can be lawful to them which is grievous and hurtful to others.
With respect to usury, it is scarcely possible to find in the world a usurer who is not at the same time an extortioner, and addicted to unlawful and dishonorable gain. Accordingly, Cato fa283 of old justly placed the practice of usury and the killing of men in the same rank of criminality, for the object of this class of people is to suck the blood of other men. It is also a very strange and shameful thing, that, while all other men obtain the means of their subsistence with much toil, while husbandmen fatigue themselves by their daily occupations, and artisans serve the community by the sweat of their brow, and merchants not only employ themselves in labors, but also expose themselves to many inconveniences and dangers, — that money-mongers should sit at their ease without doing any thing, and receive tribute from the labor of all other people. Besides, we know that generally it is not the rich who are exhausted by their usury, fa284 but poor men, who ought rather to be relieved. It is not, therefore, without cause that God has, in <032535>Leviticus 25:35, 36, forbidden usury, adding this reason, "And if thy brother be waxen poor and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; take thou no usury of him or increase." We see that the end for which the law was framed was, that men should not cruelly oppress the poor, who ought rather to receive sympathy and compassion. fa285 This was, indeed, a part of the judicial law which God appointed for the Jews in particular; but it is a common principle of justice which extends to all nations and to all ages, that we should keep ourselves from plundering and devouring the poor who are in distress and want, Whence it follows, that the gain which he who lends his money upon interest acquires, without doing injury to any one, is not to be included under the head of unlawful usury. The Hebrew word °çn, neshek, which David employs, being derived from another word, which signifies to bite, sufficiently shows that usuries are condemned in so far as they involve in them or lead to a license of robbing and plundering our fellow-men. Ezekiel, indeed, <261817>Ezekiel 18:17, and <262212>Ezekiel 22:12, seems to condemn the taking of any interest whatever upon money lent; but he doubtless has an eye to the unjust and crafty arts of gaining, by which the rich devoured the poor people. In short, provided we had engraven on our hearts the rule of equity, which Christ prescribes in <400712>Matthew 7:12,
"Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,"
it would not be necessary to enter into lengthened disputes concerning usury.
What next follows in the text properly applies to judges who, being corrupted by presents and rewards, pervert all law and justice. It may, however, be extended farther, inasmuch as it often happens, that even private individuals are corrupted by bribes to favor and defend bad causes. David, therefore, comprehends, in general, all those corruptions by which we are led away from truth and uprightness. Some think that what is here intended is the rapacity of judges in extorting money from the innocent who are accused, as the price of their deliverance, when they ought rather to have protected and assisted them gratuitously. But it appears from the passages similar to this in Ezekiel, which we have quoted, that the sense is different.
He who doeth these things. This conclusion warns us again, that all who thrust themselves into the sanctuary of God are not permanent citizens of "the holy Jerusalem which is above;" fa286 but that hypocrites, and all who falsely assume the title of saints, shall at length be "cast out" with Ishmael whom they resemble. That which is ascribed in Psalm 46, to the whole Church, David here applies to every one of the faithful:He shall not be moved for ever. The reason of this which is there expressed is, because God dwells in the midst of Jerusalem. On the contrary, we know that he is far from the perfidious and the wicked, who approach him only with the mouth, and with reigned lips.
PSALM 16.
In the beginning David commends himself to the protection of God. He then meditates upon the benefits which he received from God, and thereby stirs himself up to thanksgiving. By his service, it is true, he could in no respect be profitable to God, but he, notwithstanding, surrenders and devotes himself entirely to him, protesting that he will have nothing to do with superstitions. He also states the reason of this to be, that full and substantial happiness consists in resting in God alone, who never suffers his own people to want any good thing.
Mictam of David.
As to the meaning of the word mictam, the Jewish expositors are not of one mind. Some derive it from µtk, catham, fa287 as if it were a golden crest or jewel. Others think it is the beginning of a song, which at that time was very common. To others it seems rather to be some kind of tune, and this opinion I am inclined to adopt.
Psalm 16:1
1. Keep [or guard fa288] me, O God; for in thee do I trust. fa289

This is a prayer in which David commits himself to the protection of God. He does not, however, here implore the aid of God, in some particular emergency, as he often does in other psalms, but he beseeches him to show himself his protector during the whole course of his life, and indeed our safety both in life and in death depends entirely upon our being under the protection of God. What follows concerning trust, signifies much the same thing as if the Holy Spirit assured us by the mouth of David, that God is ready to succor all of us, provided we rely upon him with a sure and steadfast faith; and that he takes under his protection none but those who commit themselves to him with their whole heart. At the same time, we must be reminded that David, supported by this trust, continued firm and unmoved amidst all the storms of adversity with which he was buffeted.
Psalm 16:2-3
2. Thou shalt say unto Jehovah, Thou art my Lord, my well-doing extendeth not unto thee. 3. Unto the saints who are on the earth, and to the excellent; all my delight is in them.

2. Thou shalt say unto Jehovah. David begins by stating that he can bestow nothing upon God, not only because God stands in no need of any thing, but also because mortal man cannot merit the favor of God by any service which he can perform to him. At the same time, however, he takes courage, and, as God accepts our devotion, and the service which we yield to him, David protests that he will be one of his servants. To encourage himself the more effectually to this duty he speaks to his own soul; for the Hebrew word which is rendered Thou shalt say, is of the feminine gender, which can refer only to the soul. fa290 Some may prefer reading the word in the past tense, Thou hast said, which I think is unobjectionable, for the Psalmist is speaking of an affliction which had a continued abode in his soul. The import of his language is, I am, indeed, fully convinced in my heart, and know assuredly, that God can derive no profit or advantage from me; but notwithstanding this, I will join myself in fellowship with the saints, that with one accord we may worship him by the sacrifices of praise. Two things are distinctly laid down in this verse. The first is, that God has a right to require of us whatever he pleases, seeing we are wholly bound to Him as our rightful proprietor and Lord. David, by ascribing to him the power and the dominion of Lord, declares that both himself and all he possessed are the property of God. The other particular contained in this verse is, the acknowledgement which the Psalmist makes of his own indigence. My well-doing extendeth not unto thee. Interpreters expound this last clause in two ways. As °yl[, aleyka, may be rendered upon thee, some draw from it this sense, that God is not brought under obligation, or in the least degree indebted to us, by any good deeds which we may perform to him; and they understand the term goodness in a passive sense, as if David affirmed that whatever goodness he received from God did not proceed from any obligation he had laid God under, or from any merit which he possessed. But I think the sentence has a more extensive meaning, namely, that let men strive ever so much to lay themselves out for God, yet they can bring no advantage to him. Our goodness extendeth not to him, not only because, having in himself alone an all-sufficiency, he stands in need of nothing, fa290a but also because we are empty and destitute of all good things, and have nothing with which to show ourselves liberal towards him. From this doctrine, however, the other point which I have before touched upon will follow, namely, that it is impossible for men, by any merits of their own, to bring God under obligation to them, so as to make him their debtor. The sum of the discourse is, that when we come before God, we must lay aside all presumption. When we imagine that there is any good thing in us, we need not wonder if he reject us, as we thus take away from him a principal part of the honor which is his due. But, on the contrary, if we acknowledge that all the services which we can yield him are in themselves things of nought, and undeserving of any recompense, this humility is as a perfume of a sweet odour, which will procure for them acceptance with God.
3. Unto the saints who are on the earth. Almost all are agreed in understanding this place, as if David, after the sentence which we have just now been considering, had added, The only way of serving God aright is to endeavor to do good to his holy servants. And the truth is, that God, as our good deeds cannot extend to him, substitutes the saints in his place, towards whom we are to exercise our charity. When men, therefore, mutually exert themselves in doing good to one another, this is to yield to God right and acceptable service. We ought, doubtless, to extend our charity even to those who are unworthy of it, as our heavenly Father
"maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good," (<400545>Matthew 5:45;)
but David justly prefers the saints to others, and places them in a higher rank. This, then, as I have said in the commencement, is the common opinion of almost all interpreters. fa291 But although I do not deny that this doctrine is comprehended under the words of David, I think he goes somewhat farther, and intimates that he will unite himself with the devout worshippers of God, and be their associate or companion; even as all the children of God ought to be joined together by the bond of fraternal unity, that they may all serve and call upon their common Father with the same affection and zeal. fa292 We thus see that David, after having confessed that he can find nothing in himself to bring to God, seeing he is indebted to him for every thing which he has, sets his affections upon the saints, because it is the will of God that, in this world, he should be magnified and exalted in the assembly of the just, whom he has adopted into his family for this end, that they may live together with one accord under his authority, and under the guidance of his Holy Spirit. This passage, therefore, teaches us that there is no sacrifice more acceptable to God than when we sincerely and heartily connect ourselves with the society of the righteous, and being knit together by the sacred bond of godliness, cultivate and maintain with them brotherly good-will. In this consists the communion of saints which separates them from the degrading pollutions of the world, that they may be the holy and peculiar people of God. He expressly speaks of the saints who are on the earth, because it is the will of God that, even in this world, there should be conspicuous marks, and as it were visible escutcheons, fa293 of his glory, which may serve to conduct us to himself. The faithful, therefore, bear his image, that, by their example, we may be stirred up to meditation upon the heavenly life. For the same reason, the Psalmist calls them excellent, or honorable, because there is nothing which ought to be more precious to us than righteousness and holiness, in which the brightness of God's Spirit shines forth; just as we are commanded in the preceding psalm to prize and honor those who fear God. We ought, therefore, highly to value and esteem the true and devoted servants of God, and to regard nothing as of greater importance than to connect ourselves with their society; and this we will actually do if we wisely reflect in what true excellence and dignity consist, and do not allow the vain splendor of the world and its deceitful pomps to dazzle our eyes.
Psalm 16:4
4. Their sorrows shall be multiplied who offer to a stranger. fa294 I will not taste fa295 their libations fa296 of blood, nor will I take their names in my lips.

The Psalmist now describes the true way of maintaining brotherly concord with the saints, by declaring that he will have nothing to do with unbelievers and the superstitious. We cannot be united into the one body of the Church under God, if we do not break off all the bonds of impiety, separate ourselves from idolaters, and keep ourselves pure and at a distance from all the pollutions which corrupt and vitiate the holy service of God. This is certainly the general drift of David's discourse. But as to the words there is a diversity of opinion among expositors. Some translate the first word of the verse twbx[, atsboth, by idols, fa297 and according to this rendering the meaning is, that after men in their folly have once begun to make to themselves false gods, their madness breaks forth without measure, until they accumulate an immense multitude of deities. As, however, this word is here put in the feminine gender, I prefer translating it sorrows or troubles, although it may still have various meanings. Some think it is an imprecation, and they read, Let their sorrows be multiplied; as if David, inflamed with a holy zeal, denounced the just vengeance of God against the superstitious. Others, whose opinions I prefer, do not change the tense of the verb, which in the Hebrew is future, Their sorrows shall be multiplied; but to me they do not seem to express, with sufficient clearness, what kind of sorrows David intends. They say, indeed, that wretched idolaters are perpetually adding to their new inventions, in doing which, they miserably torment themselves. But I am of opinion, that by this word there is, at the same time, denoted the end and issue of the pains which they take in committing it; it points out that they not only put themselves to trouble without any profit or advantage, but also miserably harass and busy themselves to accomplish their own destruction. As an incitement to him to withdraw himself farther from their company, he takes this as an incontrovertible principle, that, so far from deriving any advantage from their vain superstitions, they only, by their strenuous efforts in practising them, involve themselves in greater misery and wretchedness. For what must be the issue with respect to those miserable men who willingly surrender themselves as bond-slaves to the devil, but to be disappointed of their hope? even as God complains in Jeremiah, (<240213>Jeremiah 2:13,)
"They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
In the next clause there is also some ambiguity. The Hebrew word rhm, mahar, which we have translated to offer, in the conjugation kal signifies to endow, or to give. But as, in the conjugation hiphil, it is more frequently taken for to run, or to make haste, fa298 many have preferred this latter meaning, and interpret the clause thus, that superstitious persons eagerly hasten after strange gods. And in fact we see them rushing into their idolatries with all the impetuosity and recklessness of madmen running in the fields; fa299 and the prophets often upbraid them for this inconsiderate frenzy with which they are fired. I would, therefore, be much disposed to adopt this sense were it supported by the common usage of the language; but as grammarians observe that there is not to be found another similar passage in Scripture, I have followed, in my translation, the first opinion. In short, the sum of what the Psalmist says is this, That unbelievers, who lavish and squander away their substance upon their idols, not only lose all the gifts and offerings which they present to them, but also, by provoking the wrath of God against themselves, are continually increasing the amount of their miseries. Perhaps, also, the prophet has an allusion to the common doctrine of Scripture, that idolaters violate the promise of the spiritual marriage contracted with the true God, and enter into covenant with idols. fa300 Ezekiel (<261633>Ezekiel 16:33) justly upbraids the Jews, in that while the custom is for the lover to allure the harlot with presents, they, on the contrary, offered rewards to the idols to whom they prostituted and abandoned themselves. But the meaning which we have above given brings out the spirit of the passage, namely, that unbelievers, who honor their false gods by offering to them gifts, not only lose what is thus expended, but also heap up for themselves sorrows upon sorrows, because at last the issue will be miserable and ruinous to them.
I will not taste their libations of blood. By libations of blood some understand that there is a reference to sacrifices made of things acquired by murder or rapine. As, however, the prophet is not here inveighing against cruel and bloodthirsty men, but condemns, in general, all false and corrupt religious worship; and again, as he does not directly name sacrifices, but expressly speaks of the ceremony of taking the cup, and tasting a little of it, which was observed in offering sacrifices, fa301 I have no doubt but that to this ceremony, as it was observed according to the law of God, he here tacitly opposes the drinking of blood in heathen sacrifices. We know that God, in order to teach his ancient people to hold in greater abhorrence murder and all cruelty, forbade them to eat or to drink blood either in their common food or in sacrifices. On the contrary, the histories of the heathen nations bear testimony that the custom of tasting the blood in their sacrifices prevailed among them. David, therefore, protests, that he will not only keep himself uncontaminated by the corrupt and false opinions by which idolaters are seduced, but that he will also take care not to show outwardly any token of his complying with or approving them. In the same sense we are to understand what follows immediately after, I will not take their names in my lips. This implies that he will hold idols in such hatred and detestation, as to keep himself from naming them as from execrable treason against the majesty of heaven. Not that it is unlawful to pronounce their names, which we frequently meet with in the writings of the prophets, but David felt he could not otherwise more forcibly express the supreme horror and detestation with which the faithful ought to regard false gods. This is also shown by the form of expression which he employs, using the relative only, their names, although he has not expressly stated before that he is speaking of idols. Thus, by his example, he enjoins believers not only to beware of errors and wicked opinions, but also to abstain from all appearance of giving their consent to them. He evidently speaks of external ceremonies, which indicate either the true religion, or some perverse superstition. If, then, it is unlawful for the faithful to show any token of consenting to or complying with the superstitions of idolaters, Nicodemuses (who falsely call themselves by this name fa302) must not think to shelter themselves under the frivolous pretext that they have not renounced the faith, but keep it hidden within their hearts, when they join in the observance of the profane superstitions of the Papists. Some understand the words strangers and their names, as denoting the worshippers of false gods; but in my judgment David rather means the false gods themselves. The scope of his discourse is this:The earth is filled with an immense accumulation fa303 of superstitions in every possible variety, and idolaters are lavish beyond all bounds in ornamenting their idols; but the good and the holy will ever regard all their superstitious inventions with abhorrence.
Psalm 16:5-6
5. Jehovah is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup; thou sustainest my lot. 6. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

5. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance. Here the Psalmist explains his sentiments more clearly. He shows the reason why he separates himself from idolaters, and resolves to continue in the church of God, why he shuns, with abhorrence, all participation in their errors, and cleaves to the pure worship of God; namely, because he rests in the only true God as his portion. The unhappy restlessness of those blind idolaters fa304 whom we see going astray, and running about as if stricken and impelled by madness, is doubtless to be traced to their destitution of the true knowledge of God. All who have not their foundation and trust in God must necessarily be often in a state of irresolution and uncertainty; and those who do not hold the true faith in such a manner as to be guided and governed by it, must be often carried away by the overflowing floods of errors which prevail in the world. fa305 This passage teaches us, that none are taught aright in true godliness but those who reckon God alone sufficient for their happiness. David, by calling God the portion of his lot, and his inheritance, and his cup, protests that he is so fully satisfied with him alone, as neither to covet any thing besides him, nor to be excited by any depraved desires. Let us therefore learn, when God offers himself to us, to embrace him with the whole heart, and to seek in him only all the ingredients and the fullness of our happiness. All the superstitions which have ever prevailed in the world have undoubtedly proceeded from this source, that superstitious men have not been contented with possessing God alone. But we do not actually possess him unless "he is the portion of our inheritance;" in other words, unless we are wholly devoted to him, so as no longer to have any desire unfaithfully to depart from him. For this reason, God, when he upbraids the Jews who had wandered from him as apostates, fa306 with having run about after idols, addresses them thus, "Let them be thine inheritance, and thy portion." By these words he shows, that if we do not reckon him alone an all-sufficient portion for us, and if we will have idols along with him, fa307 he gives place entirely to them, and lets them have the full possession of our hearts. David here employs three metaphors; he first compares God to an inheritance; secondly, to a cup; and, thirdly, he represents him as He who defends and keeps him in possession of his inheritance. By the first metaphor he alludes to the heritages of the land of Canaan, which we know were divided among the Jews by divine appointment, and the law commanded every one to be content with the portion which had fallen to him. By the word cup is denoted either the revenue of his own proper inheritance, or by synecdoche, ordinary food by which life is sustained, seeing drink is a part of our nourishment. fa308 It is as if David had said, God is mine both in respect of property and enjoyment. Nor is the third comparison superfluous. It often happens that rightful owners are put out of their possession because no one defends them. But while God has given himself to us for an inheritance, he has engaged to exercise his power in maintaining us in the safe enjoyment of a good so inconceivably great. It would be of little advantage to us to have once obtained him as ours, if he did not secure our possession of him against the assaults which Satan daily makes upon us. Some explain the third clause as if it had been said, Thou art my ground in which my portion is situated; but this sense appears to me to be cold and unsatisfactory.
6. The lines fa309 have fallen to me. The Psalmist confirms more fully what he had already said in the preceding verse with respect to his resting, with a composed and tranquil mind, in God alone; or rather, he so glories in God as nobly to despise all that the world imagines to be excellent and desirable without him. By magnifying God in such honorable and exalted strains, he gives us to understand that he does not desire any thing more as his portion and felicity. This doctrine may be profitable to us in many ways. It ought to draw us away not only from all the perverse inventions of superstition, but also from all the allurements of the flesh and of the world. Whenever, therefore, those things present themselves to us which would lead us away from resting in God alone, let us make use of this sentiment as an antidote against them, that we have sufficient cause for being contented, since he who has in himself an absolute fullness of all good has given himself to be enjoyed by us. In this way we will experience our condition to be always pleasant and comfortable; for he who has God as his portion is destitute of nothing which is requisite to constitute a happy life.
Psalm 16:7
7. I will magnify Jehovah, who giveth me counsel; even in the night my reins instruct me. fa310

Last of all, David confesses that it was entirely owing to the pure grace of God that he had come to possess so great a good, and that he had been made a partaker of it by faith. It would be of no advantage to us for God to offer himself freely and graciously to us, if we did not receive him by faith, seeing he invites to himself both the reprobate and the elect in common; but the former, by their ingratitude, defraud themselves of this inestimable blessing. Let us, therefore, know that both these things proceed from the free liberality of God; first, his being our inheritance, and next, our coming to the possession of him by faith. The counsel of which David makes mention is the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit, by which we are prevented from rejecting the salvation to which he calls us, which we would otherwise certainly do, considering the blindness of our flesh. fa311 Whence we gather, that those who attribute to the free will of man the choice of accepting or rejecting the grace of God basely mangle that grace, and show as much ignorance as impiety. That this discourse of David ought not to be understood of external teaching appears clearly from the words, for he tells us that he was instructed in the night when he was removed from the sight of men. Again, when he speaks of this being done in his reins, he doubtless means secret inspirations. fa312 Farther, it ought to be carefully observed, that, in speaking of the time when he was instructed, he uses the plural number, saying, it was done in the nights. By this manner of speaking, he not only ascribes to God the beginning of faith, but acknowledges that he is continually making progress under his tuition; and, indeed, it is necessary for God, during the whole of our life, to continue to correct the vanity of our minds, to kindle the light of faith into a brighter flame, and by every means to advance us higher in the attainments of spiritual wisdom.
Psalm 16:8-9
8. I have set Jehovah continually before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9. Therefore my heart fa313 is glad, my tongue rejoiceth; my flesh also dwelleth in confidence, [or in security.]

8. I have set Jehovah, etc. The Psalmist again shows the firmness and stability of his faith. To set God before us is nothing else than to keep all our senses bound and captive, that they may not run out and go astray after any other object. We must look to him with other eyes than those of the flesh, for we shall seldom be able to perceive him unless we elevate our minds above the world; and faith prevents us from turning our back upon him. The meaning, therefore, is, that David kept his mind so intently fixed upon the providence of God, as to be fully persuaded, that whenever any difficulty or distress should befall him, God would be always at hand to assist him. He adds, also, continually, to show us how he constantly depended upon the assistance of God, so that, amidst the various conflicts with which he was agitated, no fear of danger could make him turn his eyes to any other quarter than to God in search of succor. And thus we ought so to depend upon God as to continue to be fully persuaded of his being near to us, even when he seems to be removed to the greatest distance from us. When we shall have thus turned our eyes towards him, the masks and the vain illusions of this world will no longer deceive us.
Because he is at my right hand. I read this second clause as a distinct sentence from the preceding. To connect them together as some do in this way, I have set the Lord continually before me, because he is at my right hand, would give a meagre meaning to the words, and take away much of the truth which is taught in them, as it would make David to say, that he measured God's presence according to the experience he had of it; a mode of speaking which would not be at all becoming. I consider, therefore, the words, I have set the Lord continually before me, as a complete sentence, and David set the Lord before him for the purpose of constantly repairing to him in all his dangers. For his greater encouragement to hope well, he sets before himself what it is to have God's assistance and fatherly care, namely, that it implies his keeping firm and unmoved his own people with whom he is present. David then reckons himself secure against all dangers, and promises himself certain safety, because, with the eyes of faith, he beholds God as present with him. From this passage we are furnished with an argument which overthrows the fabrication of the Sorbonists, fa314 that the faithful are in doubt with respect to their final perseverance; for David, in very plain terms, extends his reliance on the grace of God to the time to come. And, certainly, it would be a very miserable condition to be in, to tremble in uncertainty every moment, having no assurance of the continuance of the grace of God towards us.
9. Therefore my heart is glad. In this verse the Psalmist commends the inestimable fruit of faith, of which Scripture every where makes mention, in that, by placing us under the protection of God, it makes us not only to live in the enjoyment of mental tranquillity, but, what is more, to live joyful and cheerful. The principal, the essential part of a happy life, as we know, is to possess tranquillity of conscience and of mind; as, on the contrary, there is no greater infelicity than to be tossed amidst a multiplicity of cares and fears.
But the ungodly, however much intoxicated with the spirit of thoughtlessness or stupidity, never experience true joy or serene mental peace; they rather feel terrible agitations within, which often come upon them and trouble them, so much as to constrain them to awake from their lethargy. In short, calmly to rejoice is the lot of no man but of him who has learned to place his confidence in God alone, and to commit his life and safety to his protection. When, therefore, encompassed with innumerable troubles on all sides, let us be persuaded, that the only remedy is to direct our eyes towards God; and if we do this, faith will not only tranquillise our minds, but also replenish them with fullness of joy. David, however, not only affirms that he is glad inwardly; he also makes his tongue, yea, even his flesh, sharers of this joy. And not without cause, for true believers not only have this spiritual joy in the secret affection of their heart, but also manifest it by the tongue, inasmuch as they glory in God as He who protects them and secures their salvation. The word dwbk, kabod, properly signifies glory and excellence. I have, however, no doubt of its being here taken for the tongue, fa315 as it is in <014906>Genesis 49:6; for otherwise the division which is obviously made in this verse of the person into three parts is not so distinct and evident. Farther, although the body is not free from inconveniences and troubles, yet as God defends and maintains not only our souls, but also our bodies, David does not speak groundlessly when he represents the blessing of dwelling in safety as extending to his flesh in common with his soul.
Psalm 16:10
10. For thou wilt not leave my soul in the grave; neither wilt thou make thy Holy One to see the pit. fa316

The Psalmist goes on to explain still more fully the preceding doctrine, by declaring that as he is not afraid of death, there is nothing wanting which is requisite to the completion of his joy. Whence it follows, that no one truly trusts in God but he who takes such hold of the salvation which God has promised him as to despise death. Moreover, it is to be observed, that David's language is not to be limited to some particular kind of deliverance, as in <194915>Psalm 49:15, where he says, "God hath redeemed my soul from the power of the grave," and in other similar passages; but he entertains the undoubted assurance of eternal salvation, which freed him from all anxiety and fear. It is as if he had said, There will always be ready for me a way of escape from the grave, that I may not remain in corruption. God, in delivering his people from any danger, prolongs their life only for a short time; but how slender and how empty a consolation would it be to obtain some brief respite, and to take breath for a short time, until death, coming at last, should terminate the course of our life, fa317 and swallow us up without any hope of deliverance? Hence it appears that when David spake thus, he raised his mind above the common lot of mankind. As the sentence has been pronounced upon all the children of Adam, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," (<010319>Genesis 3:19,) the same condition in this respect awaits them all without exception. If, therefore, Christ, who is the first-fruits of those who rise again, does not come forth from the grave, they will remain for ever under the bondage of corruption. From this Peter justly concludes, (<440230>Acts 2:30,) that David could not have gloried in this manner but by the spirit of prophecy; and unless he had had a special respect to the Author of life, who was promised to him, who alone was to be honored with this privilege in its fullest sense. This, however, did not prevent David from assuring himself of exemption from the dominion of death by right, seeing Christ, by his rising from the dead, obtained immortality not for himself individually, but for us all. As to the point, that Peter (<440230>Acts 2:30) and Paul (<441333>Acts 13:33) contend that this prophecy was fulfilled in the person of Christ alone, fa318 the sense in which we must understand them is this, that he was wholly and perfectly exempted from the corruption of the grave, that he might call his members into his fellowship, and make them partakers of this blessing, fa319 although by degrees, and each according to his measure. As the body of David, after death, was, in the course of time, reduced to dust, the apostles justly conclude that he was not exempted from corruption. It is the same with respect to all the faithful, not one of whom becomes a partaker of incorruptible life without being first subjected to corruption. From this it follows that the fullness of life which resides in the head alone, namely, in Christ, falls down upon the members only in drops, or in small portions. The question, however, may be asked, as Christ descended into the grave, was not he also subject to corruption? The answer is easy. The etymology or derivation of the two words here used to express the grave should be carefully attended to. The grave is called lwaç, sheol, being as it were an insatiable gulf, which devours and consumes all things, and the pit is called tjç, shachath, which signifies corruption. These words, therefore, here denote not so much the place as the quality and condition of the place, as if it had been said, The life of Christ will be exempted from the dominion of the grave, inasmuch as his body, even when dead, will not be subject to corruption. Besides, we know that the grave of Christ was filled, and as it were embalmed with the life-giving perfume of his Spirit, that it might be to him the gate to immortal glory. Both the Greek and Latin Fathers, I confess, have strained these words to a meaning wholly different, referring them to the bringing back of the soul of Christ from hell. But it is better to adhere to the natural simplicity of the interpretation which I have given, that we may not make ourselves objects of ridicule, to the Jews; and farther, that one subtilty, by engendering many others, may not involve us in a labyrinth. In the second clause mention is without doubt made of the body; and we know it to be a mode of speaking very common with David intentionally to repeat the same thing twice, making a slight variation as to words. It is true, we translate çpn, nephesh, by soul, but in Hebrew it only signifies the vital breath, or life itself
Psalm 16:11
11. Thou wilt make me to know the path of life; fullness of joy is in thy countenance, pleasures are at thy right hand for evermore.

The Psalmist confirms the statement made in the preceding verse, and explains the way in which God will exempt him from the bondage of death, namely, by conducting and bringing him at length safely to the possession of eternal life. Whence we again learn what I have already observed, that this passage touches upon the difference which there is between true believers and aliens, or reprobates, with respect to their everlasting state. It is a mere cavil to say, that when David here speaks of the path of life being shown to him, it means the prolongation of his natural life. It is to form a very low estimate, indeed, of the grace of God to speak of him as a guide to his people in the path of life only for a very few years in this world. In this case, they would differ nothing from the reprobate, who enjoy the light of the sun in common with them. If, therefore, it is the special grace of God which he communicates to none but his own children, that David here magnifies and exalts, the showing of the way of life, of which he speaks, must undoubtedly be viewed as extending to a blessed immortality; and, indeed, he only knows the way of life who is so united to God that he lives in God, and cannot live without him.
David next adds, that when God is reconciled to us, we have all things which are necessary to perfect happiness. The phrase, the countenance of God, may be understood either of our being beheld by him, or of our beholding him; but I consider both these ideas as included, for his fatherly favor, which he displays in looking upon us with a serene countenance, precedes this joy, and is the first cause of it, and yet this does not cheer us until, on our part, we behold it shining upon us. By this clause David also intended distinctly to express to whom those pleasures belong, of which God has in his hand a full and an overflowing abundance. As there are with God pleasures sufficient to replenish and satisfy the whole world, whence comes it to pass that a dismal and deadly darkness envelopes the greater part of mankind, but because God does not look upon all men equally with his friendly and fatherly countenance, nor opens the eyes of all men to seek the matter of their joy in him, and no where else? Fulness of joy is contrasted with the evanescent allurements and pleasures of this transitory world, which, after having diverted their miserable votaries for a time, leave them at length unsatisfied, famished, and disappointed. They may intoxicate and glut themselves with pleasures to the greatest excess, but, instead of being satisfied, they rather become wearied of them through loathing; and, besides, the pleasures of this world vanish away like dreams. David, therefore, testifies that true and solid joy in which the minds of men may rest will never be found any where else but in God; and that, therefore, none but the faithful, who are contented with his grace alone, can be truly and perfectly happy.
PSALM 17.
This psalm contains a mournful complaint against the cruel pride of David's enemies. He protests that he did not deserve to be persecuted with such inhumanity, inasmuch as he had given them no cause for exercising their cruelty against him. At the same time, he beseeches God, as his protector, to put forth his power for his deliverance. The inscription of the psalm does not refer to any particular time, but it is probable that David here complains of Saul and his associates. fa320
A prayer of David.
Psalm 17:1-2
1. Hear my righteousness, fa321 O Jehovah, attend to my cry; hearken to my prayer, which proceedeth not from deceitful lips. 2. Let my judgment [or judgment in my favor] come forth from the presence of thy countenance; fa322 let thine eyes look upon my uprightness.

1. Hear my righteousness, O Jehovah. The Psalmist begins the psalm by setting forth the goodness of his cause. He does this because God has promised that he will not suffer the innocent to be oppressed, but will always, at length, succor them. Some explain the word righteousness as denoting righteous prayer, an interpretation which appears to me unsatisfactory. The meaning rather is, that David, confiding in his own integrity, interposes God as a Judge between himself and his enemies, to cognosce or determine in his cause. We have already seen, in a preceding psalm, that when we have to deal with wicked men, we may warrantably protest our innocence before God. As, however, it would not be enough for the faithful to have the approving testimony of a good conscience, David adds to his protestation earnest prayer. Even irreligious persons may often be able justly to boast of having a good cause; but as they do not acknowledge that the world is governed by the providence of God, they content themselves with enjoying the approbation of their own conscience, as they speak, and, gnawing the bit, bear the injuries which are done to them rather obstinately than steadfastly, seeing they do not seek for any consolation in faith and prayer. But the faithful not only depend upon the goodness of their cause, they also commit it to God that he may defend and maintain it; and whenever any adversity befalls them, they betake themselves to him for help. This, therefore, is the meaning of the passage; it is a prayer that God, who knew David to have done justly, and to have performed his duty without giving occasion to any to blame him, fa323 and, therefore, to be unrighteously molested by his enemies, would graciously look upon him; and that he would do this especially, since, confiding in his aid, he entertained good hope, and, at the same time, prays to him with a sincere heart. By the words cry and prayer he means the same thing; but the word cry, and the repetition of what it denotes, by a different expression, serve to show his vehement, his intense earnestness of soul. Farther, as hypocrites talk loftily in commendation of themselves, and to show to others a token of the great confidence which they have in God, give utterance to loud cries, David protests concerning himself that he does not speak deceitfully; in other words, that he does not make use of his crying and prayer as a pretext for covering his sins, but comes into the presence of God with sincerity of heart. By this form of prayer the Holy Spirit teaches us, that we ought diligently to endeavor to live an upright and innocent life, so that, if there are any who give us trouble, we may be able to boast that we are blamed and persecuted wrongfully. fa324 Again, whenever the wicked assault us, the same Spirit calls upon us to engage in prayer; and if any man, trusting to the testimony of a good conscience which he enjoys, neglects the exercise of prayer, he defrauds God of the honor which belongs to him, in not referring his cause to him, and in not leaving him to judge and determine in it. Let us learn, also, that when we present ourselves before God in prayer, it is not to be done with the ornaments of an artificial eloquence, for the finest rhetoric and the best grace which we can have before him consists in pure simplicity.
2. From the presence of thy countenance. Literally it is, from before thy face, or, before thy face. By these words David intimates that if God does not rise up as the vindicator of his cause, he will be overwhelmed with calumnies though innocent, and will be looked upon as a guilty and condemned person. The cognisance which God will take of his cause is tacitly set in opposition to the dark inventions of falsehood which were spread against him. fa325 His language is as if he had said, I do not ask for any other judge but God, nor do I shrink from standing before his judgment-seat, fa326 since I bring with me both a pure heart and a good cause. What he immediately adds with respect to God's looking upon his uprightness is of similar import. He does not mean to say that God is blind, but only beseeches him actually to show that he does not connive at the wickedness of men, and that it is not to him a matter of indifference when he beholds those who have not the means of defending themselves fa327 receiving evil treatment undeservedly. Some take the word judgment in too restricted a sense for the right to the kingdom which was promised to David, as if he petitioned to be placed on the royal throne by the power of God, inasmuch as he had been chosen by him to be king, and had also, in his name and by his authority, been anointed to this office by the hand of Samuel. The meaning which I attach to David's language is simply this, that being oppressed with many and varied wrongs, he commits himself to the protection and defense of God.
Psalm 17:3-4
3. Thou hast proved my heart; thou hast visited it by night; thou hast examined it, thou shalt find nothing; my thoughts shall not pass beyond my mouth. fa328 4. As for the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have taken heed of [or watched] the ways of the destroyer. fa329

3. Thou hast proved my heart. Some are of opinion that in the three first verbs the past tense is put for the future. Others more correctly and more clearly resolve the words thus:If thou provest my heart, and visitest it by night, and examinest it thoroughly, there will not be found any deceit therein. But without making any change upon the words, they may be suitably enough explained in this way:Thou, Lord, who understandest all the secret affections and thoughts of my heart, even as it is thy peculiar prerogative to try men, knowest very well that I am not a double man, and do not cherish any deceit within. What David intended to express is certainly very evident. As he was unjustly and falsely charged with crime, and could obtain neither justice nor humanity at the hands of men, he appeals to God, requesting he would become judge in the matter. fa330 But not to do this rashly, he subjects himself to an impartial examination, seeing God, whose prerogative it is to search the secret recesses of the heart, cannot be deceived by the external appearance. The time when he declares God to have visited him is during the night, because, when a man is withdrawn from the presence of his fellow-creatures, he sees more clearly his sins, which otherwise would be hidden from his view; just as, on the contrary, the sight of men affects us with shame, and this is, as it were, a veil before our eyes, which prevents us from deliberately examining our faults. It is, therefore, as if David had said, O Lord, since the darkness of the night discovers the conscience more fully, all coverings being then taken away, and since, at that season, the affections, either good or bad, according to men's inclinations, manifest themselves more freely, when there is no person present to witness and pronounce judgment upon them; if thou then examinest me, there will be found neither disguise nor deceit in my heart. fa331 Hence we conclude how great was David's integrity, seeing that, when purposely and leisurely taking account of his inmost thoughts, he presents himself so boldly, to be tried by the judgment of God. And he not only declares himself to be innocent of outward crimes, but also free from all secret malice. So far from cherishing malicious designs, while he covered them over with fair pretences, as his enemies alleged, he protests that his words were a frank and undisguised representation of what was passing in his heart:My thought shall not pass beyond my mouth. Our thought is said to pass beyond our mouth when, for the purpose of deceiving, the mind thinks differently from what the tongue expresses. fa332 The word hmz, zimmah, which we have translated simply thought, may also be taken in a bad sense for deceitful and malicious devices.
4. As for the works of men, by the word of thy lips. Interpreters explain this verse in different senses. Some thinking that the letter b, beth, which commonly signifies in or by, is taken for against, render it thus:As for the works of men which they practice against thy word. But I rather incline to the opinion of others who consider that there is here commended a right judgment of the actions of men which is formed according to the rule of the word of God. There are some shrewd and ingenious persons who carefully mark the works of men, but they do not judge of them according to the word of God. What we have as yet said does not, however, fully give us the sense of the passage. We must still consider what the Psalmist means when he speaks of the paths of the destroyer. fa333 Some think he refers to the men of his own company, who, if he had not restrained them, would have instantly rushed like robbers to commit depredation; since being reduced to the greatest distress, and seeing no prospect of an alteration to the better in their affairs, they were become bold through despair; and we know how sharp a spur necessity is in goading men forward in any course. But this exposition seems to me to be forced, and therefore I rather refer the words to his enemies. Farther, there is a diversity of opinion among interpreters with respect to the meaning of the word watched or observed. Some understand it in this sense, that David had done his duty in strenuously opposing outrageous men, and those who were wickedly engaged in the work of disturbing the repose and tranquillity of their fellow-men. fa334 Others understand it thus, that he was careful to distinguish between good and evil, or right and wrong, that he might not be corrupted by bad examples, fa335 but avoid them, and, on the contrary, practice those things which he saw to be agreeable to the word of God. But David, I have no doubt, had a different meaning, and intended to declare, that although wicked and malicious men provoked him to evil, he had, nevertheless, been always restrained by the word of God, so that he kept himself from exercising violence and inflicting injuries, or from rendering evil for evil. fa336 He therefore tells us, that whatever may have been the works of men, he had been always so devoted to the word of God, and so hung, as it were, upon his mouth, that he could not think of allowing himself, when provoked by the injuries his enemies inflicted on him, to act towards them as they acted towards him. We know how severe a temptation it is, and how difficult to overcome, to disregard the manner in which men behave themselves towards us, and to consider only what God forbids or commands us. Even those who are naturally inclined to gentleness and humanity, fa337 who desire to do good to all men, and wish to hurt nobody, whenever they are provoked, burst forth into a revengeful mood, carried away by a blind impetuosity; especially when we see all right and equity overthrown, the confusion so blinds us, that we begin to howl with the wolves. If, therefore, we would have a good rule for governing ourselves, when our enemies, by their mischievous actions, provoke us to treat them in a similar manner, let us learn, after the example of David, to meditate upon the word of God, and to keep our eyes fixed upon it. By this means our minds will be preserved from ever being blinded, and we shall always avoid the paths of wickedness, seeing God will not only keep our affections under restraint by his commandments, but will also train them to patience by his promises. He withholds us from doing evil to our neighbors, fa338 not only by forbidding us, but by declaring, at the same time, that he will take into his own hand the execution of vengeance on those who injure us, fa339 he admonishes us to "give place unto wrath," (<451219>Romans 12:19.)
Psalm 17:5-6
5. Uphold my steps in thy paths, that the soles of my feet may not slide. 6. I have called upon thee, surely thou wilt hear me, O God; incline thine ear unto me, and hear my words.

5. Uphold my steps. If we take God's paths for the precepts of his law, the sense will be evident, namely, that although David had spoken according to truth, in boasting of having, in the midst of the most grievous temptations which assailed him, constantly practiced righteousness with a pure heart, yet, conscious of his own weakness, he commits himself to God to be governed by him, and prays for grace to enable him to persevere. His language is as if he had said, Since hitherto, under thy guidance, I have proceeded onward in the right path, I beseech thee, in like manner, to keep my steps from sliding with respect to the time to come. And certainly the more any one excels in grace, fa340 the more ought he to be afraid of falling; for it is the usual policy of Satan to endeavor, even from the virtue and strength which God has given us, fa341 to produce in us carnal confidence which may induce carelessness. I do not altogether reject this sense, but I think it more probable that David here beseeches God to bring his affairs to a prosperous issue, however dark the aspect of matters was at present. The import of his language is this, Lord, since thou seest that I walk in uprightness and sincerity of heart, govern thou me in such a manner as to make all men see that thou art my protector and guardian, and leave me not to be cast down at the will of my enemies. Thus, by the paths of the Lord, he will mean not the doctrine by which our life is regulated, but the power by which God upholds us, and the protection by which he preserves us. And he addresses God in this manner, not only because all events are in his hand, but because when he takes care of us all things in our lot go on prosperously. When he adds, that the soles of my feet may not slide, he refers to the many adverse events which threaten us every moment, and to the danger we are in of perishing, if not sustained by the hand of God.
6. I have called upon thee, etc. This verb being put in the past tense denotes a continued act; and, therefore, it includes the present time. The Hebrew word yk, ki, which we translate surely, often signifies because, and if it is so understood in this passage, the meaning will be, that David took encouragement to pray, because, depending upon the promise of God, he hoped that his prayers would not be in vain. But, perhaps, it may be thought preferable to change the tense of the verb as some do, so as to give this meaning, I will pray, because I have hitherto experienced that thou hast heard fa342 my prayers. I have, however, chosen the exposition what appears to me the more simple. David, in my judgment, here encourages and animates himself to call upon God, from the confident hope of being heard, as if he had said, Since I call upon thee, surely, O God, thou wilt not despise my prayers. Immediately after he beseeches God to bestow upon him the blessings of which he told us he entertained an assured hope.
Psalm 17:7-9
7. Make marvellous thy mercies, O thou preserver of those who trust [in thee, fa343] from those that exalt themselves against thy right hand. 8. Keep me as the apple, the daughter of the eye fa344 hide me in the shadow of thy wings. 9. From the face of the ungodly, who go about to destroy me; and of mine enemies, who besiege [or encompass] my soul.

7. Make marvellous thy mercies. As the word hlph, haphleh, signifies sometimes to make wonderful, or remarkable, and sometimes to separate and set apart, both these senses will be very suitable to this passage. In <193119>Psalm 31:19, the "goodness" of God is said to be "laid up" in store as a peculiar treasure "for them that fear him," that he may bring it forth at the proper season, even when they are brought to an extremity, and when all things seem to be desperate. If, then, the translation, separate and set apart thy mercy, is preferred, the words are a prayer that God would display towards his servant David the special grace which he communicates to none but his chosen ones. While God involves both the good and the bad in danger indiscriminately, he at length shows, by the different issue of things, in regard to the two classes, that he does not confusedly mingle the chaff and the wheat together, seeing he gathers his own people into a company by themselves, (<400312>Matthew 3:12, and <402532>Matthew 25:32.) I, however, prefer following another exposition. David, in my judgment, perceiving that he could only be delivered from the perilous circumstances in which he was placed by singular and extraordinary means, betakes himself to the wonderful or miraculous power of God. Those who think he desires God to withhold his grace from his persecutors do too great violence to the scope of the passage. By this circumstance there is expressed the extreme danger to which David was exposed; for otherwise it would have been enough for him to have been succoured in the ordinary and common way in which God is accustomed daily to favor and to aid his own people. The grievousness of his distress, therefore, constrained him to beseech God to work miraculously for his deliverance. The title with which he here honors God, O thou preserver of those who trust [in thee,] serves to confirm him in the certain hope of obtaining his requests. As God takes upon him the charge of saving all who confide in him, David being one of their number, could upon good ground assure himself of safety and deliverance. Whenever, therefore, we approach God, let the first thought impressed on our minds be, that as he is not in vain called the preserver of those who trust in him, we have no reason whatever to be afraid of his not being ready to succor us, provided our faith continue firmly to rely upon his grace. And if every way of deliverance is shut up, let us also at the same time remember that he is possessed of wonderful and inconceivable means of succouring us, which serve so much the more conspicuously to magnify and manifest his power. But as the participle trusting, or hoping, is put without any additional word expressing the object of this trust or hope, fa345 some interpreters connect it with the last words of the verse, thy right hand, as if the order of the words were inverted. They, therefore, resolve them thus, O thou preserver of those who trust in thy right hand, from those who rise up against them. As this, however, is harsh and strained, and the exposition which I have given is more natural, and more generally received, fa346 let us follow it. To express, therefore, the meaning in one sentence, the Psalmist attributes to God the office of defending and preserving his own people from all the ungodly who rise up to assault them, and who, if it were in their power, would destroy them. And the ungodly are here said to exalt themselves against the hand of God, because, in molesting the faithful whom God has taken under his protection, they openly wage war against him. The doctrine contained in these words, namely, that when we are molested, an outrage is committed upon God in our person, is a very profitable one; for having once declared himself to be the guardian and protector of our welfare, whenever we are unjustly assailed, he puts forth his hand before us as a shield of defense.
The two similitudes which David has subjoined in the following verse, respecting the apple of the eye, and the little birds which the mother keeps under her wings, fa347 are introduced for illustrating the same subject. God, to express the great care which he has of his own people, compares himself to a hen and other fowls, which spread out their wings to cherish and cover their young, and declares them to be no less dear to him than the apple of the eye, which is the tenderest part of the body, is to man; it follows, therefore, that whenever men rise up to molest and injure the righteous, war is waged against him. As this form of prayer was put into the mouth of David by the Holy Spirit, it is to be regarded as containing in it a promise. We have here presented to our contemplation a singular and an astonishing proof of the goodness of God, in humbling himself so far, and in a manner so to speak, transforming himself, in order to lift up our faith above the conceptions of the flesh.
9. From the face of the ungodly. The Psalmist, by again accusing his enemies, intends to set forth his own innocence, as an argument for his obtaining the favor of God. At the same time, he complains of their cruelty, that God may be the more inclined to aid him. First, he says that they burn with an enraged desire to waste and to destroy him; secondly, he adds, that they besiege him in his soul, by which he means, that they would never rest satisfied until they had accomplished his death. The greater, therefore, the terror with which we are stricken by the cruelty of our enemies, the more ought we to be quickened to ardor in prayer. God, indeed, does not need to receive information and incitement from us; but the use and the end of prayer is, that the faithful, by freely declaring to God the calamities and sorrows which oppress them, and in disburdening them, as it were, into his bosom, may be assured beyond all doubt that he has a regard to their necessities.
Psalm 17:10-12
10. They have inclosed themselves in their own fat, fa348 they have spoken proudly with their mouth. 11. They have now compassed me round about in our steps; they have fixed their eyes to cast down to the ground. 12. The likeness of him is as a lion that desireth to tear in pieces, and as a lion's whelp which lurketh in secret places.

10. They have inclosed themselves in their own fat. If the translation which is given by others is considered preferable, They have inclosed their own fat, the meaning will be quite the same. Some Jewish interpreters explain the words thus:that being stuffed with fat, and their throat being, as it were, choked with it, they were unable to speak freely; but this is a very meagre and unsatisfactory exposition. By the word fat, I think, is denoted the pride with which they were filled and swollen, as it were, with fatness. It is a very appropriate and expressive metaphor to represent them as having their hearts choked up with pride, in the manner in which corpulent persons are affected from the fat within them. fa349 David complains of their being puffed up with their wealth and pleasures, and accordingly we see the ungodly, the more luxuriously they are pampered, conducting themselves the more outrageously and proudly. But I think there is described by the word fat an inward vice namely, their being inclosed on all sides with arrogance and presumption, and their having become utter strangers to every feeling of humanity. fa350 The Psalmist next declares that this is abundantly manifested in their language. In short, his meaning is, that inwardly they swell with pride, and that they take no pains to conceal it, as appears from the high swelling words to which they give utterance. When it is said, They have spoken proudly with their mouth, the word mouth is not a pleonasm, as it often is in other places; for David means, that with mouths widely opened they pour forth scornful and contemptuous language, which bears testimony to the pride which dwells within them.
11. They have now compassed me round about in our steps. The Psalmist confirms what he has said before concerning the furious passion for doing mischief with which his enemies were inflamed. He says they were so cruelly bent on accomplishing his destruction, that in whatever way he directed or altered his course, they ceased not to follow close upon him. When he says our steps, he doubtless comprehends his own companions, although he immediately after returns to speak of himself alone; unless, perhaps, another reading is preferred, for some copies have wnwbbs, sebabunu, They have compassed us, in the plural number. This, however, is not a matter of great importance. David simply complains, that unless God stretch forth his hand from heaven to deliver him, there now remains for him no way of escape, seeing his enemies, whenever he stirs his foot to avoid their fury, immediately pursue him, and watch all his steps. By the adverb now, he intimates not only that he is at present in very great danger, but also that at every moment his enemies, in whatever way he turns himself, pursue and press hard upon him. In the last clause, They have fixed their eyes to cast down to the ground, some consider David as comparing his enemies to hunters, who, with eyes fixed on the ground, are silently looking with eager desire for their prey. They, therefore, think that by the eyes fixed on the ground is denoted the gesture or attitude of David's adversaries, and certainly crafty and malicious men have their countenance often fixed on the ground. According to others, whose opinion is nearer the spirit of the passage, this form of expression signifies the continual and unwearied ardor by which the ungodly are impelled to turn all things upside down. To fix their eyes, therefore, is nothing else than to apply all their ingenuity, and put forth all their efforts. What follows, to cast down to the ground, is the same thing as to overthrow. The ungodly, as if they must necessarily fall, should the world continue to stand, would wish all mankind thrown down or destroyed, and, therefore, they exert themselves to the utmost to bring down and ruin all men. This is explained more fully by the figurative illustration introduced in the following verse, where they are said to be like lions and lions' whelps. fa351 But we ought always to keep this truth in remembrance, that the more proudly wicked men exercise their cruelty against us, the hand of God is so much the nearer to us to oppose itself to their savage fury; for to him alone belongs the praise of subduing and restraining these wild beasts who delight in shedding blood. David speaks of dens, or secret lurking places, because his enemies were deeply skilled in artful stratagem, and had various methods of doing mischief, while they had also at hand the power and means of executing them, so that it was difficult to resist them.
Psalm 17:13-14
13. Arise, O Jehovah, prevent [or go before] his face, lay him prostrate on the ground; fa352 deliver my soul from the ungodly man by thy sword:14. From men by thy hand, O Jehovah, from men who are of long duration, [or who are from an age, fa353] whose portion is in life, whose belly thou fillest with thy secret goods; their children are filled with them, and they leave the rest to their babes.

13. Arise, O Jehovah. The more furiously David was persecuted by his enemies, he beseeches God the more earnestly to afford him immediate aid; for he uses the word face to denote the swift impetuosity of his adversary, to repress which there was need of the greatest haste. By these words, the Holy Spirit teaches us, that when death shows itself to be just at hand, God is provided with remedies perfectly prepared, by which he can effect our deliverance in a moment. The Psalmist not only attributes to God the office of delivering his people; he at the same time arms him with power to crush and break in pieces the wicked. He does not, however, wish them to be cast down farther than was necessary to their being humbled, that they might cease from their outrageous and injurious conduct towards him, as we may gather from the following clause, where he again beseeches God to deliver his soul. David would have been contented to see them continuing in the possession of their outward ease and prosperity, had they not abused their power by practising injustice and cruelty. Let us know then, that God consults the good of his people when he overthrows the ungodly, and breaks their strength; when he does this, it is for the purpose of delivering from destruction the poor innocents who are molested by these wretched men. fa354 Some expositors read the passage thus, From the ungodly man, who is thy sword, fa355 and also, From the men who are thy hand; but this does not seem to me to be a proper translation. I admit, that from whatever quarter afflictions come to us, it is the hand of God which chastises us, and that the ungodly are the scourges he employs for this purpose; and farther, that this consideration is very well fitted to lead us to exercise patience. But as this manner of speaking would here be somewhat harsh, and, at the same time, not very consistent with the prayer, I prefer adopting the exposition which represents David's words as a prayer that God would deliver him by his sword, and smite with his hand those men who, for too long a time, had been in possession of power and prosperity. He contrasts God's sword with human aids and human means of relief; and the import of his words is, If God himself does not come forth to take vengeance, and draw his sword, there remains for me no hope of deliverance.
14. From men by thy hand, O Jehovah, from men who are from an age. I connect these words thus:O Lord, deliver me by thy hand, or by thy heavenly aid, from men; I say from men whose tyranny has prevailed too long, and whom thou hast suffered to wallow too long in the filth and draft of their prosperity. This repetition is very emphatic; David's voice being stifled, as it were, with the indignation which he felt at seeing such villany continuing for so long a period, he stops all at once after uttering the first word, without proceeding farther in the sentence which he meant to express; then, after having recovered his breath, he declares what it is that so greatly distressed him. In the preceding verse he had spoken in the singular number; but now he gives us to understand that he had not only one enemy but many, and that those who were set against him were strong and powerful, so that he saw no hope of deliverance remaining for him except in the aid of God.
These words, from world, or age, (for such is the exact literal rendering, fz336) are expounded in different ways. Some understand them as meaning men who have their time, as if David intended to say that their prosperous condition would not be of long duration; but this does not appear to me to be the proper explanation. Others suppose he means by this expression such as are wholly devoted to the world, and whose whole attention and thoughts are absorbed in the things of earth; and, according to their opinion, David compares his enemies to brute beasts. In the same sense they explain what follows immediately after, Their portion is in life, language which they consider as applied to them, because, being entirely destitute of the Spirit, and cleaving with their whole hearts to transitory good things, they think of nothing better than this world. For that in which each man places his felicity is termed his portion. As, however, the Hebrew word dlj, cheled, signifies an age, or the course of a man's life, David, I doubt not, complains that his enemies had lived and enjoyed prosperity longer than the ordinary term allotted to the life of man. The audacity and the outrages fz337 committed by wicked men might be borne with for a short time, but when they wax wanton against God, it is very strange indeed to see them continuing stable in their prosperous condition. That this is the sense appears from the preposition ˆm, min, which we have translated from, by which David expresses that they were not sprung up only a few days before or lately, but that their prosperity, which should have vanished away in a moment, had lasted for a very long time. Such, then, is the meaning of the Psalmist, unless, perhaps, we may understand him as denominating them of the world, or age, because they bear the chief authority among men, and are exalted in honors and riches, as if this world had been made for them alone.
When he says, Their portion is in life, I explain it as meaning that they are exempted from all troubles, and abound in pleasures; in short, that they do not experience the common condition of other men; as, on the contrary, when a man is oppressed with adversities, it is said of him that his portion is in death. David therefore intimates, that it is not a reasonable thing that the ungodly should be permitted to gad about in joy and gaiety without having any fear of death, and to claim for themselves, as if by hereditary right, a peaceful and happy life.
What he adds immediately after, Whose belly thou fillest with thy secret goods, is of the same import. We see these persons not only enjoying, in common with other men, light, breath, food, and all other commodities of life, but we also see God often treating them more delicately and more bountifully than others, as if he fed them on his lap, holding them tenderly like little babes, and fondling them more than all the rest of mankind. fz338 Accordingly, by the secret goods of God, we are here to understand the rare and more exquisite dainties which he bestows upon them. Now, this is a severe temptation, if a man estimates the love and favor of God by the measure of earthly prosperity which he bestows; and, therefore, it is not to be wondered at, though David was greatly afflicted in contemplating the prosperous condition of ungodly men. But let us remember that he makes this holy complaint to console himself, and to mitigate his distress, not in the way of murmuring against God and resisting his will; - let us remember this, I say, that, after his example, we may learn also to direct our groanings to heaven. Some give a more subtile exposition of what is here called God's secret goods, viewing it as meaning the good things which the ungodly devour without thinking of or regarding him who is the author of them; or they suppose the good things of God to be called secret, because the reason why God pours them forth so abundantly upon the wicked is not apparent. But the exposition which I have given, as it is both simple and natural, so of itself it sufficiently disproves the others. The last point in this description is, that, by continual succession, these persons transmit their riches to their children and their children's children. As they are not among the number of the children of God, to whom this blessing is promised, it follows, that when they are thus fattened, it is for the day of slaughter which he hath appointed. The object which David therefore has in view in making this complaint is, that God would make haste to execute vengeance, seeing they have so long abused his liberality and gentle treatment.
Psalm 17:15
15. But as for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness:I shall be satisfied, when I shall awake, with thy image, [or likeness.]

Having with anguish of heart declared before God the troubles which afflicted and tormented him, that he might not be overwhelmed with the load of temptations which pressed upon him, he now takes, as it were, the wings of faith and rises up to a region of undisturbed tranquillity, where he may behold all things arranged and directed in due order. In the first place, there is here a tacit comparison between the well regulated state of things which will be seen when God by his judgment shall restore to order those things which are now embroiled and confused, and the deep and distressing darkness which is in the world, when God keeps silence, and hides his face. In the midst of those afflictions which he has recounted, the Psalmist might seem to be plunged in darkness from which he would never obtain deliverance. fz339 When we see the ungodly enjoying prosperity, crowned with honors, and loaded with riches, they seem to be in great favor with God. But David triumphs over their proud and presumptuous boasting; and although, to the eye of sense and reason, God has cast him off, and removed him far from him, yet he assures himself that one day he will enjoy the privilege of familiarly beholding him. The pronoun I is emphatic, as if he had said, The calamities and reproaches which I now endure will not prevent me from again experiencing fullness of joy from the fatherly love of God manifested towards me. We ought carefully to observe, that David, in order to enjoy supreme happiness, desires nothing more than to have always the taste and experience of this great blessing that God is reconciled to him. The wicked may imagine themselves to be happy, but so long as God is opposed to them, they deceive themselves in indulging this imagination. To behold God's face, is nothing else than to have a sense of his fatherly favor, with which he not only causes us to rejoice by removing our sorrows, but also transports us even to heaven. By the word righteousness, David means that he will not be disappointed of the reward of a good conscience. As long as God humbles his people under manifold afflictions, the world insolently mocks at their simplicity, as if they deceived themselves, and lost their pains in devoting themselves to the cultivation and practice of purity and innocence. fz340 Against such kind of mockery and derision David is here struggling, and in opposition to it he assures himself that there is a recompense laid up for his godliness and uprightness, provided he continue to persevere in his obedience to the holy law of God; as Isaiah, in like manner, (<230310>Isaiah 3:10,) exhorts the faithful to support themselves from this consideration, that "it shall be well with the righteous:for they shall eat the fruit of their doings." We ought not, however, from this to think that he represents works as the cause of his salvation. It is not his purpose to treat of what constitutes the meritorious ground upon which he is to be received into the favor of God. He only lays it down as a principle, that they who serve God do not lose their labor, for although he may hide his face from them for a time, he causes them again in due season to behold his bright countenance fz341 and compassionate eye beaming upon them.
I shall be satisfied. Some interpreters, with more subtility than propriety, restrict this to the resurrection at the last day, as if David did not expect to experience in his heart a blessed joy fz342 until the life to come, and suspended every longing desire after it until he should attain to that life. I readily admit that this satisfaction of which he speaks will not in all respects be perfect before the last coming of Christ; but as the saints, when God causes some rays of the knowledge of his love to enter into their hearts, find great enjoyment in the light thus communicated, David justly calls this peace or joy of the Holy Spirit satisfaction. The ungodly may be at their ease, and have abundance of good things, even to bursting, but as their desire is insatiable, or as they feed upon wind, in other words, upon earthly things, without tasting spiritual things, in which there is substance, fz343 or being so stupified through the pungent remorse of conscience with which they are tormented, as not to enjoy the good things which they possess, they never have composed and tranquil minds, but are kept unhappy by the inward passions with which they are perplexed and agitated. It is therefore the grace of God alone which can give us contentment, fz344 and prevent us from being distracted by irregular desires. David, then, I have no doubt, has here an allusion to the empty joys of the world, which only famish the soul, while they sharpen and increase the appetite the more, fz345 in order to show that those only are partakers of true and substantial happiness who seek their felicity in the enjoyment of God alone. As the literal rendering of the Hebrew words is, I shall be satisfied in the awaking of thy face, or, in awaking by thy face; some, preferring the first exposition, understand by the awaking of God's face the breaking forth, or manifestation of the light of his grace, which before was, as it were, covered with clouds. But to me it seems more suitable to refer the word awake to David, fz346 and to view it as meaning the same thing as to obtain respite from his sorrow. David had never indeed been overwhelmed with stupor; but after a lengthened period of fatigue, through the persecution of his enemies, he must needs have been brought into such a state as to appear sunk into a profound sleep. The saints do not sustain and repel all the assaults which are made upon them so courageously as not, by reason of the weakness of their flesh, to feel languid and feeble for a time, or to be terrified, as if they were enveloped in darkness. David compares this perturbation of mind to a sleep. But when the favor of God shall again have arisen and shone brightly upon him, he declares that then he will recover spiritual strength and enjoy tranquillity of mind. It is true, indeed, as Paul declares, that so long as we continue in this state of earthly pilgrimage, "we walk by faith, not by sight;" but as we nevertheless behold the image of God not only in the glass of the gospel, but also in the numerous evidences of his grace which he daily exhibits to us, let each of us awaken himself from his lethargy, that we may now be satisfied with spiritual felicity, until God, in due time, bring us to his own immediate presence, and cause us to enjoy him face to face.
PSALM 18.
We all know through what difficulties and almost insurmountable obstacles David came to the kingdom. Even to the time of Saul's death he was a fugitive, and, as it were, an outlaw, and wearily passed his life in fear, amidst many threatenings and dangers of death. After God had, with his own hand, placed him on the royal throne, he was immediately harassed with the tumults and insurrections of his own subjects, and the hostile faction being superior to him in power, he was often at the point of being completely overthrown. Foreign enemies, on the other hand, severely tried him even to his old age. These calamities he would never have surmounted had he not been aided by the power of God. Having therefore obtained many and signal victories, he does not, as irreligious men are accustomed to do, sing a song of triumph in honor of himself, but exalts and magnifies God the author of these victories, by a train of striking and appropriate epithets, and in a style of surpassing grandeur and sublimity. This psalm, therefore, is the first of those psalms in which David celebrates, in lofty strains, the wonderful grace which God had shown towards him, both in putting him in possession of the kingdom, and in afterwards maintaining him in it. He also shows that his reign was an image and type of the kingdom of Christ, to teach and assure the faithful that Christ, in spite of the whole world, and of all the resistance which it can make, will, by the stupendous and incomprehensible power of the Father, be always victorious.
To the chief musician of David, the servant of Jehovah, who sung to Jehovah the words of this song in the day that Jehovah delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.
We ought carefully to mark the particular time when this psalm was composed, as it shows us that David, when his affairs were brought to a state of peace and prosperity, was not intoxicated with extravagant joy like irreligious men, who, when they have obtained deliverance from their calamities, shake off from their minds the remembrance of God's benefits, and plunge themselves into gross and degrading pleasures, or erect their crests, and obscure the glory of God by their proud and vain boasting. David, as the sacred history relates, (<102201>2 Samuel 22:1,) sung this song to the Lord, when he was now almost spent with age, and when, being delivered from all his troubles, he enjoyed tranquillity. The inscription here agrees with that account, and, from What is there stated, we conclude, that it has not been improperly or incorrectly prefixed to this psalm. David points out the time when it was sung, namely, after God had delivered him from all his enemies, to show us that he was then in perfectly quiet possession of his kingdom, and that God had assisted him not once, nor against one kind of enemies only; seeing his conflicts were from time to time renewed, and the end of one war was the commencement of another; yea, many armies often rose up against him at the same time. Since the creation of the world, we will scarcely find another individual in it whom God has tried by so many and so varied afflictions. As Saul had persecuted him with more cruelty, and with greater fury and determination than all others, his name on that account is here expressly mentioned, although, in the preceding clause, the Psalmist had spoken in general terms of all his enemies. Saul is not put last, as if he had been one of his later enemies, fz347 for his death had taken place about thirty years previous to this time; and since that event David had discomfited many foreign enemies, and had also suppressed the rebellion of his own son Absalom. But, persuaded that it was a singular manifestation of the grace of God towards him, and eminently worthy of being remembered, that he had for so many years escaped from innumerable deaths, or rather that as many days as he had lived under the reign of Saul, God had wrought, as it were, so many miracles for his deliverance, he firstly mentions and celebrates in particular his deliverance from the hands of this relentless enemy. By calling himself the servant of God, he doubtless intended to bear testimony to his call to be king, as if he had said, I have not rashly, and by my own authority, usurped the kingdom, but have only acted in obedience to the oracle of heaven. And, indeed, amidst the many storms which he had to encounter, it was a support highly necessary to be well assured in his own mind of having undertaken nothing but by the appointment of God; or rather, this was to him a peaceful haven, and a secure retreat in the midst of so many broils and strange calamities. fz348 There is not a more wretched object than mail in adversity, when he has brought himself into distress by acting according to the mere impulse of his own mind, and not by acting in obedience to the call of God. David, therefore, had a good reason for wishing it to be known that it was not ambition which impelled him to enter into those contests which were so painful and difficult for him to bear, and that he had not attempted any thing unlawful or by wicked means, but had always kept steadily in view the will of God, which served as a light to guide him in his path. This is a point which it is highly useful for us to know, in order that we may not expect to be exempted from all trouble, when we follow the call of God, but may rather prepare ourselves for a condition of warfare painful and disagreeable to our flesh. The name servant, therefore, in this passage, as in many others, relates to his public office; just as when the prophets and apostles call themselves the servants of God, they have a reference to their official character. It is as if he had said, I am not a king of my own creation, but have been chosen by God to fill that high station. At the same time, we ought particularly to notice the humility of David, who, although distinguished by so many victories, and the conqueror of so many nations, and possessed of so great dignity and wealth, honors himself with no other title than this, The servant of God; as if he meant to show that he accounted it more honorable to have faithfully performed the duties of the office with which God had invested him, than to possess all the honors and excellence of the world.
Psalm 18:1-2
1. And he said, I will affectionately love thee, fz349 O Jehovah, my strength. 2. Jehovah is my rock, fz350 a my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock, I will trust in him my shield, and the horn fz351 of my salvation, my refuge.

1. And he said, etc. I will not stop to examine too minutely the syllables, or the few words, in which this psalm differs from the song which is recorded in the twenty-second chapter of the Second Book of Samuel. When, however, we meet with any important difference, we shall advert to it in the proper place; and we find one in the remarkable sentence with which this psalm commences, I will love thee affectionately, O Jehovah, my strength, which is omitted in the song in Samuel. As the Scripture does not use the verb µhr, racham, for to love, except in the conjugation pihel, and as it is here put in the conjugation kal, some of the Jewish expositors explain it as here meaning to seek mercy; as if David had said, Lord, since I have so often experienced thee to be a merciful God, I will trust to and repose in thy mercies for ever. And certainly this exposition would not be unsuitable, but I am unwilling to depart from the other, which is more generally received. It is to be observed, that love to God is here laid down as constituting the principal part of true godliness; for there is no better way of serving God than to love him. No doubt, the service which we owe him is better expressed by the word reverence, that thus his majesty may prominently stand forth to our view in its infinite greatness. But as he requires nothing so expressly as to possess all the affections of our heart, and to have them going out towards him, so there is no sacrifice which he values more than when we are bound fast to him by the chain of a free and spontaneous love; and, on the other hand, there is nothing in which his glory shines forth more conspicuously than in his free and sovereign goodness. Moses, therefore, (<051012>Deuteronomy 10:12,) when he meant to give a summary of the law, says,
"And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require
of thee but to love him?"
In speaking thus, David, at the same time, intended to show that his thoughts and affections were not so intently fixed upon the benefits of God as to be ungrateful to him who was the author of them, a sin which has been too common in all ages. Even at this day we see how the greater part of mankind enjoy wholly at their ease the gifts of God without paying any regard to him, or, if they think of him at all, it is only to despise him. David, to prevent himself from falling into this ingratitude, in these words makes as it were a solemn vow, Lord, as thou art my strength, I will continue united and devoted to thee by unfeigned love.
2. Jehovah is my rock, etc. When David thus heaps together many titles by which to honor God, it is no useless or unnecessary accumulation of words. We know how difficult it is for men to keep their minds and hearts stayed in God. They either imagine that it is not enough to have God for them, and, consequently, are always seeking after support and succor elsewhere, or, at the first temptation which assails them, fall from the confidence which they placed in him. David, therefore, by attributing to God various methods of saving his people, protests that, provided he has God for his protector and defender, he is effectually fortified against all peril and assault; as if he had said, Those whom God intends to succor and defend are not only safe against one kind of dangers, but are as it were surrounded by impregnable ramparts on all sides, so that, should a thousand deaths be presented to their view, they ought not to be afraid even at this formidable array. fz352 We see, then, that the design of David here is not only to celebrate the praises of God, in token of his gratitude, but also to fortify our minds with a firm and steadfast faith, so that, whatever afflictions befall us, we may always have recourse to God, and may be fully persuaded that he has virtue and power to assist us in different ways, according to the different methods of doing us mischief which the wicked devise. Nor, as I have observed before, does David insist so much on this point, and express the same thing by different terms without cause. God may have aided us in one way, and yet whenever a new tempest arises, we are immediately stricken with terror, as if we had never experienced any thing of his aid. And those who in one trouble expect protection and succor from him, but who afterwards circumscribe his power, accounting it limited in other respects, act like a man who upon going into battle, considers himself well secured as to his breast, because he has a breastplate and a shield to defend him, and yet is afraid of his head, because he is without a helmet. David, therefore, here furnishes the faithful with a complete suit of armor, fz353 that they may feel that they are in no danger of being wounded, provided they are shielded by the power of God. That such is the object he has in view, is apparent from the declaration which he makes of his confidence in God:I will trust in him. Let us, therefore, learn from his example, to apply to our own use those titles which are here attributed to God, and to apply them as an antidote against all the perplexities and distresses which may assail us; or rather, let them be deeply imprinted upon our memory, so that we may be able at once to repel to a distance whatever fear Satan may suggest to our mind. I give this exhortation, not only because we tremble under the calamities with which we are presently assailed, but also because we groundlessly conjure up in our own imaginations dangers as to the time to come, and thus needlessly disquiet ourselves by the mere creations of fancy. In the song, as recorded in <102203>2 Samuel 22:3, instead of these words, My God, my rock, it is, God of my rock. And after the word refuge, there is, My fortress, my savior, thou shalt preserve me from violence; words which make the sentence fuller, but the meaning comes to the same thing.
Psalm 18:3-6
3. I will call upon the praised Jehovah, and I shall be saved from mine enemies. 4. The cords fz354 of death had compassed me about; the torrents of wickedness fz355 had made me afraid. 5. The cords of the grave fa356 had compassed me about; the snares of death had prevented me. 6. In my distress I called upon Jehovah, and cried to my God:and he heard my voice from his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

3. I will call upon the praised Jehovah. Calling upon God, as has been observed elsewhere, frequently comprehends the whole of his service; but as the effect or fruit of prayer is particularly mentioned in what follows, this phrase in the passage before us, I have no doubt, signifies to have recourse to God for protection, and to ask by prayer deliverance from him. David having said in the second verse, that he trusted in God, now subjoins this as an evidence of his trust; for every one who confides in God will earnestly beseech his aid in the time of need. He therefore declares, that he will be saved, and prove victorious over all his enemies, because he will have recourse to God for help. He calls God the praised Jehovah, not only to intimate that he is worthy of being praised, as almost all interpreters explain it, but also to point out, that, when he came to the throne of grace, his prayers would be mingled and interwoven with praises. fa357 The scope of the passage seems to require that it be understood as meaning, that giving thanks to God for the benefits which he has received from him in times past, he will ask his assistance by renewed supplications. And certainly no man will ever invoke God in prayer freely and frankly unless he animate and encourage himself by the remembrance of the grace of God. Accordingly Paul, in <500406>Philippians 4:6, exhorts the faithful
"in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, to make their requests known unto God" (Philippians 4:6)
and to disburden their cares, as it were, into his bosom. All those whose prayers are not accompanied with the praises of God are chargeable with clamouring and complaining against him, when engaged in that solemn exercise.
4. The cords fa358 of death had compassed me about. David now begins to recount the undoubted and illustrious proofs by which he had experienced that the hand of God is sufficiently strong and powerful to repel all the dangers and calamities with which he may be assailed. And we need not wonder that those things which might have been described more simply, and in an unadorned style, are clothed in poetical forms of expression, and set forth with all the elegancies and ornaments of language. The Holy Spirit, to contend against and make an impression upon the wicked and perverse dispositions of men, has here furnished David with eloquence full of majesty, energy, and wonderful power, to awaken mankind to consider the benefits of God. There is scarcely any assistance God bestows, however evident and palpable it may be to our senses, which our indifference or proud disdain does not obscure. David, therefore, the more effectually to move and penetrate our minds, says that the deliverance and succor which God had granted him had been conspicuous in the whole frame-work of the world. This his intention it is needful for us to take into view, lest we should think that he exceeds due bounds in expressing himself in a style so remarkable for sublimity. The sum is, that, when in his distresses he had been reduced to extremity, he had betaken himself to God for help, and had been wonderfully preserved.
We shall now make a few observations with respect to the words. The Hebrew word ylbj, chebley, means cords or sorrows, or any deadly evil, fa359 which consumes a man's health and strength, and which tends to his destruction. That the psalm may correspond with the song recorded in 2nd Samuel, formerly referred to, I do not disapprove of this word being here taken for contrition, because the phrase there employed is twm yrbçm, mishberey maveth, fa360 and the noun yrbçm, mishberey, is derived from a verb which signifies to break. But as the metaphor taken from cords or snares agrees better with the verb compass about, the import of which is, that David was on all sides involved and entangled in the perils of death, I am disposed rather to adopt this interpretation. What follows concerning torrents implies that he had been almost overwhelmed by the violence and impetuosity of his enemies against him, even as a man who is covered over the head with floods of water is almost lost. He calls them the torrents of Belial, because it was wicked and perverse men who had conspired against him. The Hebrew word Belial has a wide signification. With respect to its etymology there are different opinions among expositors. Why Jerome has rendered it without yoke, fa361 I know not. The more generally received opinion is, that it is compounded of these two words, ylb, beli, not, and l[y, yaäl, fa362 to denote that the wicked do not rise, in other words, ultimately gain nothing, and obtain no advantage by their infatuated course. The Jews certainly employed this word to designate every kind of detestable wickedness, and from this it is highly probable that David by it meant to describe his enemies, who basely and wickedly plotted his destruction. fa363 If, however, any prefer translating the phrase, by deadly torrents, I am not disposed to oppose this rendering. In the following verse he again repeats, that the corruptions or cords of the grave had compassed him about. As the Hebrew word is the same which he had employed in the preceding verse, I have thought it proper to translate it cords here, as I have done there, not only because he uses a verb which signifies to beset, to inclose, or to surround, but also because he adds immediately after, the snares of death, which, in my opinion, is to be understood in the same sense. This, then, is the description of the dangerous circumstances into which he was brought, and it enhances and magnifies so much the more the glory of his deliverance. As David had been reduced to a condition so desperate that no hope of relief or deliverance from it was apparent, it is certain that he was delivered by the hand of God, and that it was not a thing effected by the power of man.
6. In my distress, etc. It was a very evident proof of uncommon faith in David, when, being almost plunged into the gulf of death, he lifted up his heart to heaven by prayer. Let us therefore learn, that such an example is set before our eyes, that no calamities, however great and oppressive, may hinder us from praying, or create an aversion to it. It was prayer which brought to David the fruits or wonderful effects of which he speaks a little after, and from this it appears still more clearly that his deliverance was effected by the power of God. In saying that he cried, he means, as we have observed elsewhere, the ardor and earnestness of affection which he had in prayer. Again, by calling God his God, he separates himself from the gross despisers of God, or hypocrites, who, when constrained by necessity, call upon the Divine Majesty in a confused and tumultuous manner, but do not come to God familiarly and with a pure heart, as they know nothing of his fatherly favor and goodness. When, therefore, as we approach to God, faith goes before to illumine the way, giving us the full persuasion that He is our Father, then is the gate opened, and we may converse freely with Him and he with us. David, by calling God his God, and putting him on his side, also intimates that God was opposed to his enemies; and this serves to show that he was actuated by true piety and the fear of God. By the word temple we are not here to understand the sanctuary as in many other places, but heaven; for the description which immediately follows cannot be applied to the sanctuary. Accordingly, the sense is, that when David was forsaken and abandoned in the world, and all men shut their ears to his cry for help, God stretched forth his hand from heaven to save him.
Psalm 18:7-11
7. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of the mountains were troubled, and were shaken, because he was wroth. 8. There went up a smoke by [or out of] his nostrils, and fire proceeding from his mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it. 9. And he bowed the heavens and came down:and thick darkness was under his feet. 10. He rode also upon a cherub, and did fly; and was carried upon the wings of the wind. 11. He made darkness his secret [or hiding] place; his pavilion [or tent] round about him was dark waters, and the clouds of the skies.

7. Then the earth shook. David, convinced that the aid of God, which he had experienced, was of such a character, that it was impossible for him to extol it sufficiently and as it deserved, sets forth an image of it in the sky and the earth, as if he had said, It has been as visible as the changes which give different appearances to the sky and the earth. If natural things always flowed in an even and uniform course, the power of God would not be so perceptible. But when he changes the face of the sky by sudden rain, or by loud thunder, or by dreadful tempests, those who before were, as it were, asleep and insensible, must necessarily be awakened, and be tremblingly conscious of the existence of a presiding God. fa364 Such sudden and unforeseen changes manifest more clearly the presence of the great Author of nature. No doubt, when the sky is unclouded and tranquil, we see in it sufficient evidences of the majesty of God, but as men will not stir up their minds to reflect upon that majesty, until it come nearer to them, David, the more powerfully to affect us, recounts the sudden changes by which we are usually moved and dismayed, and introduces God at one time clothed with a dark cloud, — at another, throwing the air into confusion by tempests, — now rending it by the boisterous violence of winds, — now launching the lightnings, — and anon darting down hailstones and thunderbolts. In short, the object of the Psalmist is to show that the God who, as often as he pleases, causes all parts of the world to tremble by his power, when he intended to manifest himself as the deliverer of David, was known as openly and by signs as evident as if he had displayed his power in all the creatures both above and beneath.
In the first place, he says, The earth shook, and nothing is more dreadful than an earthquake. Instead of the words, the foundations of the mountains, it is in the song, as recorded in 2nd Samuel, the foundations of the heavens; but the meaning is the same, namely, that there was nothing in the world so settled and steadfast which did not tremble, and which was not removed out of its place. David, however, as I have already observed in the beginning, does not relate this as a piece of history, or as what had actually taken place, but he employs these similitudes for the purpose of removing all doubt, and for the greater confirmation of faith as to the power and providence of God; because men, from their slowness of understanding, cannot apprehend God except by means of external signs. Some think that these miracles were actually wrought, and performed exactly as they are here related; but it is not easy to believe this, since the Holy Spirit, in the narrative given of David's life, makes no mention whatever of such wonderful displays of divine power in his behalf. We cannot, however, justly censure or find fault with this hyperbolic manner of speaking, when we consider our slowness of apprehension, and also our depravity, to which I have just now called your attention. David, who was much more penetrating and quick of understanding than ordinary men, finding he could not sufficiently succeed in impressing and profiting people of sluggish and weak understandings by a simple manner of speaking, describes under outward figures the power of God, which he had discovered by means of faith, and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. He doubtless hereby apprehended and knew more distinctly the omnipresent majesty of God, than the dull sort of common people perceive the hand of God in earthquakes, tempests, thunders, the gloomy lowerings of the heavens, and the boisterous winds. At the same time, it is proper to consider, that although God had, in a wonderful manner, displayed his grace in defending and maintaining David, many, nevertheless, thought that it was by his own skill, or by chance, or by other natural means, that all his affairs had come to a prosperous issue; and it was such stupidity or depravity as this which he saw in the men of his own time, that constrained him to mention and to summon together all parts of creation as witnesses for God. Some also justly and judiciously consider that, in the whole of this description, David has an allusion to the common deliverance of God's chosen people from Egypt. As God then designed and established that event to be a perpetual memorial, from which the faithful might learn that he was the guardian and protector of their welfare, so all the benefits which, from that period, he bestowed upon his people, either as a public body or as private individuals, were, so to speak, appendages of that first deliverance. Accordingly David, in other places as well as here, with the view of exalting the succor which God had granted to his people, sets forth that most memorable instance of the goodness of God towards the children of Israel, as if it were the archtype or original copy of the grace of God. And surely, while many, seeing him an exile from his country, held him in derision as a man expelled from the family of God, and many murmured that he had violently and unrighteously usurped the kingdom, he had good ground to include, under the deliverance which had been common to all the people, the protection and safety which God had afforded to himself; as if he had said, I have been wrongfully cast off as an alien or stranger, seeing God has sufficiently shown, in the deliverance which he has wrought for me, that by him I am owned and acknowledged to be a distinguished and valuable member of the Church. We see how the prophets, whenever they would inspire the people with the hope of salvation, call their thoughts back to the contemplation of that first covenant which had been confirmed by those miracles which were wrought in Egypt, in the passage through the Red Sea and in Mount Sinai. When he says, The earth trembled, because he was wroth, it is to be understood as referring to the ungodly. It is a form of speech which God often employs, to say, that, being inflamed with indignation, he arms himself to maintain the safety of his people against their persecutors.
8. There went up a smoke by [or out of] his nostrils, etc. The Hebrew word ãa, aph, properly signifies the nose, or the nostrils. But as it is sometimes taken metaphorically for wrath, some translate it thus, There went up a smoke in his wrath, which, in my opinion, is not at all appropriate. David compares the mists and vapours which darken the air to the thick smoke which a man sends forth from his nostrils when he is angry. And when God, by his very breath, covers the heaven with clouds, and taking away from us the brightness of the sun and of all the stars, overwhelms us in darkness, by this we are very impressively taught how dreadful is his wrath. By the rendering which I have given, the figure here strikingly harmonises with the one in the clause which immediately follows, namely, that fire proceeding from his mouth consumed. The Psalmist means, that God, without great labor or effort, as soon as he shall have sent forth a breath or blast from his nostrils, and opened his mouth, will kindle such a fire that its smoke will darken the whole world, and its intense heat devour it. What he adds, Coals were kindled by it, serves to distinguish this dreadful fire from a flame which blazes for a moment, and then is extinguished. The bowing of the heavens, denotes a time when the heavens are covered and obscured with clouds. When dense vapours occupy the middle of the air, the clouds seem to us to come down and to lie upon our heads. And not only so, but the majesty of God then approaching, as it were, nearer us, strikes us with dread dismay, and greatly distresses us, although before, when the sky was fair, agreeable, and tranquil, we took ample scope, and enjoyed ourselves with much gaiety. Again, let us remember, that the Scripture, under these descriptions of a clouded and darkened sky, pourtray to us the anger of God. When the sky is clear and unclouded, it seems as if it were the pleasant and benignant countenance of God beaming upon us, and causing us to rejoice; whereas, on the other hand, when the atmosphere is troubled, we feel a depression of the animal spirits which constrains us to look sad, as if we saw God coming against us with a threatening aspect. At the same time, we are taught that no change takes place either in the atmosphere or in the earth, but what is a witness to us of the presence of God.
10. He rode also upon a cherub. The Psalmist having exhibited to us a sign of the wrath of God in the clouds, and in the darkening of the air, representing him as if he breathed out smoke, fa365 from his nostrils, and descended with a threatening countenance, to afflict men by the dreadful weight of his power; and having also represented lightnings and thunderbolts as flaming fire proceeding from his mouths — he now introduces him as riding upon the winds and tempests, to take a survey of the whole world with rapid speed, or rather with the swiftness of flying. We meet with a similar description in <19A403>Psalm 104:3, where God is said to "walk upon the wings of the winds," and to send them forth in every direction as his swift messengers. David does not, however, simply represent God as the governor of the winds, who drives them by his power whithersoever he pleases; he at the same time tells us that he rides upon a cherub, to teach us that the very violence of the winds is governed by angels as God has ordained. We know that the angels were represented under the figure of the cherubim. David, therefore, I have no doubt, here intended to make an allusion to the ark of the covenant. In proposing for our consideration the power of God as manifested in the wonders of nature, he does it in such a manner as all the time to have an eye to the temple, where he knew God had made himself known in a peculiar manner to the children of Abraham. He therefore celebrates God not only as creator of the world, but as He who entered into covenant with Israel, and chose for himself a holy dwelling-place in the midst of that people. David might have called the angels by their common name, but he has expressly made use of a term which has a reference to the visible symbol of the ark, that true believers, in singing this psalm, might always have their minds directed to the service of God which was performed in the temple. What follows with respect, to God's dark pavilion or tent, is a repetition of the preceding sentence in different words, namely, that when God covers the air with dark clouds, it is as if he spread a thick veil between him and men, to deprive them of the sight of his countenance, fa366 just as if a king, incensed against his subjects, should retire into his secret chamber and hide himself from them. Those take a mistaken view of this verse who bring it forward to prove, in general, the hidden and mysterious character of the glory of God, as if David, with the view of restraining the presumption of human curiosity, had said that God is hidden in darkness in regard to men. God, it is true, is said to dwell in the light which no man can approach unto" (<540616>1 Timothy 6:16;) but the form of expression which David here employs, I have no doubt, ought to be restricted, according to the scope of the passage, to the sense which I have given.
Psalm 18:12-19
12. At the brightness which was before him, his clouds passed away; there was hail-storm and coals of fire. 13. Jehovah thundered in the heavens, and the Highest sent forth his voice; there was hail-storm and coals of fire. 14. He sent out his arrows, and scattered them, [or put them to flight;] he multiplied lightnings, fa367 and put them into confusion. 15. The sources of the waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were disclosed at thy rebuke, O Jehovah! at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. fa368 16. He sent from on high, he took me, and drew me out of great waters. 17. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from my adversary; for they were too strong for me. 18. They had prevented me in the day of my calamity; but Jehovah was my support. 19. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he had a good will to me, [or because he loved me.]

12. At the brightness, etc. The Psalmist again returns to the lightnings which, by dividing and as it were cleaving the clouds, lay open the heaven; and, therefore, he says, that the clouds of God (that is to say, those which he had set before him, in token of his anger, for the purpose of depriving men of the enjoyment of the light of his countenance) passed away at the brightness which was before him. These sudden changes affect us with a much more lively sense of the power and agency of God than natural phenomena which move on in one uniform course. He adds, that there followed hail-storm and coals of fire; for when the thunder separates and rends asunder the clouds, it either breaks out in lightnings, or the clouds resolve themselves into hail.
13. Jehovah thundered. David here repeats the same thing in different words, declaring that God thundered from heaven; and he calls the thunder the yoke of God, that we may not suppose it is produced merely by chance or by natural causes, independent of the appointment and will of God. Philosophers, it is true, are well acquainted with the intermediate or secondary causes, from which the thunder proceeds, namely, that when the cold and humid vapours obstruct the dry and hot exhalations in their course upwards, a collision takes place, and by this, together with the noise of the clouds rushing against each other, is produced the rumbling thunder-peal. fa369 But David, in describing the phenomena of the atmosphere, rises, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, above the mere phenomena themselves, and represents God to us as the supreme governor of the whole, who, at his will, penetrates into the hidden veins of the earth, and thence draws forth exhalations; who then, dividing them into different sorts, disperses them through the air; who again collects the vapours together, and sets them in conflict with the subtile and dry heats, so that the thunder which follows seems to be a loud pealing voice proceeding from his own mouth. The song in 2nd Samuel also contains the repetition to which we have referred in the commencement of our remarks on this verse; but the sense of this and the preceding verse, and of the corresponding verses in Samuel, are entirely similar. We should remember what I have said before, that David, under these figures, describes to us the dreadful power of God, the better to exalt and magnify the divine grace, which was manifested in his deliverance. He declares a little after, that this was his intention; for, when speaking of his enemies, he says, (verse 14,) that they were scattered, or put to flight, by the arrows of God; as if he had said, They have been overthrown, not by the hands or swords of men, but by God, who openly launched his thunderbolts against them. Not that he means to affirm that this happened literally, but he speaks in this metaphorical language, because those who were uninstructed and slow to acknowledge the power of God, fa370 could not otherwise be brought to perceive that God was the author of his deliverance. The import of his words is, Whoever does not acknowledge that I have been preserved by the hand of God, may as well deny that it is God who thunders from heaven, and abolish his power which is manifested in the whole order of nature, and especially in those wonderful changes which we see taking place in the atmosphere. As God shoots lightnings as if they were arrows, the Psalmist has, in the first place, employed this metaphor; and then he has expressed the thing simply by its proper name.
15. And the sources of the waters were seen. In this verse, David doubtless alludes to the miracle which was wrought when the chosen tribes passed through the Red Sea. I have before declared the purpose for which he does this. As all the special benefits which God in old time conferred upon any of the children of Abraham as individuals, were so many testimonies by which he recalled to their remembrance the covenant which he had once entered into with the whole people, to assure them that he would always continue his grace towards them, and that one deliverance might be to them a token or pledge of their perpetual safety, and of the protection of God, David fitly conjoins with that ancient deliverance of the Church the assistance which God had sent from heaven to him in particular. As the grace which he declares God had shown towards him was not to be separated from that first deliverance, since it was, so to speak, a part and an appendage of it, he beholds, as it were at a glance, or in an instant, both the ancient miracle of the drying up of the Red Sea, and the assistance which God granted to himself. In short, God, who once opened up for his people a way through the Red Sea, and then showed himself to be their protector upon this condition, that they should assure themselves of being always maintained and preserved under his keeping, now again displayed his wonderful power in the defense and preservation of one man, to renew the remembrance of that ancient history. From this it appears the more evidently, that David, in using these apparently strange and exaggerated hyperboles, does not recite to us the mere creations of romance to please the fancy, after the manner of the heathen poets, fa371 but observes the style and manner which God had, as it were, prescribed to his people. At the same time, we ought carefully to mark the reason already adverted to, which constrained him to magnify the grace of God in a style of such splendid imagery, namely, because the greater part of the people never made the grace of God the subject of serious consideration, but, either through wickedness or stupidity, passed over it with shut eyes. The Hebrew word µyqypa, aphikim, which I have rendered sources, properly signifies the channels of rivers; but David, in this passage, evidently means that the very springs or sources of the waters were laid open, and that thus it could be discerned whence proceeds the great and inexhaustible abundance of waters which supply the rivers, and by which they always continue to flow on in their course.
16. He sent down from above. Here there is briefly shown the drift of the sublime and magnificent narrative which has now passed under our review, namely, to teach us that David at length emerged from the profound abyss of his troubles, neither by his own skill, nor by the aid of men, but that he was drawn out of them by the hand of God. When God defends and preserves us wonderfully and by extraordinary means, he is said in Scripture language to send down succor from above; and this sending is set in opposition to human and earthly aids, on which we usually place a mistaken and an undue confidence. I do not disapprove of the opinion of those who consider this as referring to the angels, but I understand it in a more general sense; for by whatever means we are preserved, it is God who having his creatures ready at his nod to do his will, appoints them to take charge of us, and girds or prepares them for succouring us. But, although every kind of aid comes from heaven, David, with good reason, affirms that God had stretched out his hand from on high to deliver him. In speaking thus, he meant to place the astonishing benefit referred to, by way of eminence, above others of a more common kind; and besides, there is in this expression a tacit comparison between the unusual exercise of the power of God here celebrated, and the common and ordinary means by which he succours his people. When he says, that God drew him out of great waters, it is a metaphorical form of expression. By comparing the cruelty of his enemies to impetuous torrents, by which he might have been swallowed up a hundred times, he expresses more clearly the greatness of the danger; as if he had said, I have, contrary to the expectation of men, escaped, and been delivered from a deep abyss in which I was ready to be overwhelmed. In the following verse he expresses the thing simply and without a figure, declaring that he had been delivered from a strong enemy, fa372 who mortally hated and persecuted him. The more to exalt and magnify the power of God, he directs our attention to this circumstance, that no strength or power of men had been able to prevent God from saving him, even when he was reduced to the greatest extremity of distress. As in the end of the verse there is the Hebrew particle yk, ki, which generally denotes the cause of what is predicated, almost all interpreters agree in explaining the verse thus:God has succoured me from above, because my enemies were so numerous and so strong that no relief was to be expected by the mere aid of men. From this we deduce a very profitable doctrine, namely, that the most seasonable time for God to aid his people is when they are unable to sustain the assaults of their enemies, or rather, when, broken and afflicted, they sink under their violence, like the wretched man who having in a shipwreck lost all hope of being able to swim to the shore, sinks with great rapidity to the bottom of the deep. The particle ky, ki, however, might also be explained by the adversative particle although, in this way:Although the enemies of David were superior to him in number and power, he nevertheless was saved.
18. They had prevented me in the day of my calamity. fa373 The Psalmist here confirms in different words the preceding sentence, namely, that he had been sustained by the aid of God, when there was no way of escaping by the power of man. He tells us how he had been besieged on all sides, and that not by an ordinary siege, inasmuch as his enemies, in persecuting him, always molested him most in the time of his calamity. From this circumstance it is the more evident that he had obtained enlargement by no other means than by the hand of God. Whence proceeded so sudden a restoration from death to life, but because God intended to show that he has in his hand, and under his absolute control, the issues of death? In short, the Psalmist ascribes his deliverance to no other cause than the mere good pleasure of God, that all the praise might redound to him alone:He delivered me, because he loved me, or had a good will to me. In mentioning the good pleasure of God, he has a special respect to his own calling to be king. The point on which he principally insisted is, that the assaults which were made upon him, and the conflicts which he had to sustain, were stirred up against him for no other reason but because he had obeyed the call of God, and followed with humble obedience the revelation of his oracle. Ambitious and turbulent men, who are carried headlong by their unruly lusts, inconsiderately to attempt any thing, and who, by their rashness, involve themselves in dangers, may often accomplish their undertakings by vigorous and resolute efforts, but at length a reverse takes place, and they are stopt short in their career of success, for they are unworthy of being sustained and prospered by God, since, without having any warrant or foundation for what they do in his call, they would raise their insane structures even to heaven, and disturb all around them. In short, David testifies, by this expression, that the assistance of God had never failed him, because he had not thrust himself into the office of king of his own accord, but that when he was contented with his humble condition, and would willingly have lived in obscurity, in the sheep-cotes, or in his father's hut, he had been anointed by the hand of Samuel, which was the symbol of his free election by God to fill the throne.
Psalm 18:20-24
20. Jehovah rewarded me according to my righteousness; he recompensed me according to the cleanness of my hands. 21. For I have kept the ways of Jehovah, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22. For all his judgments were before me, nor did I put away his statutes [or ordinances] from me. 23. I was also upright with him, fa374 and kept myself from my iniquity. 24. Therefore Jehovah hath recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands before his eyes.

20. Jehovah rewarded me. David might seem at first sight to contradict himself; for, while a little before he declared that all the blessings which he possessed were to be traced to the good pleasure of God, he now boasts that God rendered to him a just recompense. But if we remember for what purpose he connects these commendations of his own integrity with the good pleasure of God, it will be easy to reconcile these apparently conflicting statements. He has before declared that God was the sole author and originator of the hope of coming to the kingdom which he entertained, and that he had not been elevated to it by the suffrages of men, nor had he rushed forward to it through the mere impulse of his own mind, but accepted it because such was the will of God. Now he adds, in the second place, that he had yielded faithful obedience to God, and had never turned aside from his will. Both these things were necessary; first, that God should previously show his favor freely towards David, in choosing him to be king; and next, that David, on the other hand, should, with an obedient spirit, and a pure conscience, receive the kingdom which God thus freely gave him; and farther, that whatever the wicked might attempt, with the view of overthrowing or shaking his faith, he should nevertheless continue to adhere to the direct course of his calling. Thus, then, we see that these two statements, so far from disagreeing with each other, admirably harmonise. David here represents God as if the president fa375 of a combat, under whose authority and conduct he had been brought forth to engage in the combats. Now that depended upon election, in other words, upon this, that God having embraced him with his favor, had created him king. He adds in the verses which immediately follow, that he had faithfully performed the duties of the charge and office committed to him even to the uttermost. It is not, therefore, wonderful if God maintained and protected David, and even showed, by manifest miracles, that he was the defender of his own champion, fa376 whom he had, of his own free choice, admitted to the combat, and who he saw had performed his duty with all fidelity. We ought not, however, to think that David, for the sake of obtaining praise among men, has here purposely indulged in the language of vain boasting; we ought rather to view the Holy Spirit as intending by the mouth of David to teach us the profitable doctrine, that the aid of God will never fail us, provided we follow our calling, keep ourselves within the limits which it prescribes, and undertake nothing without the command or warrant of God. At the same time, let this truth be deeply fixed in our minds, that we can only begin an upright course of life when God of his good pleasure adopts us into his family, and in effectually calling, anticipates us by his grace, without which neither we nor any creature would give him an opportunity of bestowing this blessing upon us. fa377
There, however, still remains one question. If God rendered to David a just recompense, it may be said, does it not seem, when he shows himself liberal towards his people, that he is so in proportion as each of them has deserved? I answer, When the Scripture uses the word reward or recompense, it is not to show that God owes us any thing, and it is therefore a groundless and false conclusion to infer from this that there is any merit or worth in works. God, as a just judge, rewards every man according to his works, but he does it in such a manner, as to show that all men are indebted to him, while he himself is under obligation to no one. The reason is not only that which St Augustine has assigned, namely, that God finds no righteousness in us to recompense, except what he himself has freely given us, but also because, forgiving the blemishes and imperfections which cleave to our works, he imputes to us for righteousness that which he might justly reject. If, therefore, none of our works please God, unless the sin which mingles with them is pardoned, it follows, that the recompense which he bestows on account of them proceeds not from our merit, but from his free and undeserved grace. We ought, however, to attend to the special reason why David here speaks of God rewarding him according to his righteousness. He does not presumptuously thrust himself into the presence of God, trusting to or depending upon his own obedience to the law as the ground of his justification; but knowing that God approved the affection of his heart, and wishing to defend and acquit himself from the false and wicked calumnies of his enemies, he makes God himself the judge of his cause. We know how unjustly and shamefully he had been loaded with false accusations, and yet these calumnies did not so much bear against the honor and name of David as against the welfare and estate of the whole Church in common. It was indeed mere private spite which stirred up Saul, and drove him into fury against David, and it was to please the king that all other men were so rancorous against an innocent individual, and broke forth so outrageously against him; but Satan, there is no doubt, had a prime agency in exciting these formidable assaults upon the kingdom of David, and by them he endeavored to accomplish his ruin, because in the person of this one man God had placed, and, as it were, shut up the hope of the salvation of the whole people. This is the reason why David labors so carefully and so earnestly to show and to maintain the righteousness of his cause. When he presents and defends himself before the judgment-seat of God against his enemies, the question is not concerning the whole course of his life, but only respecting one certain cause, or a particular point. We ought, therefore, to attend to the precise subject of his discourse, and what he here debates. The state of the matter is this:His adversaries charged him with many crimes; first, of rebellion and treason, accusing him of having revolted from the king his father-in-law; in the second place, of plunder and robbery, as if, like a robber, he had taken possession of the kingdom; thirdly, of sedition, as if he had thrown the kingdom into confusion when it enjoyed tranquillity; and, lastly, of cruelty and many flagitious actions, as if he had been the cause of murders, and had prosecuted his conspiracy by many dangerous means and unlawful artifices. David, in opposition to these accusations, with the view of maintaining his innocence before God, protests and affirms that he had acted uprightly and sincerely in this matter, inasmuch as he attempted nothing without the command or warrant of God; and whatever hostile attempts his enemies made against him, he nevertheless always kept himself within the bounds prescribed by the Divine Law. It would be absurd to draw from this the inference that God is merciful to men according as he judges them to be worthy of his favor. Here the object in view is only to show the goodness of a particular cause, and to maintain it in opposition to wicked calumniators; and not to bring into examination the whole life of a man, that he may obtain favor, and be pronounced righteous before God. In short, David concludes from the effect and the issue, that his cause was approved of by God, not that one victory is always and necessarily the sign of a good cause, but because God, by evident tokens of his assistance, showed that he was on the side of David.
21. For I have kept the ways of Jehovah. He had spoken in the preceding verse of the cleanness of his hands, but finding that men judged of him perversely, and were very active in spreading evil reports concerning him, fa378 he affirms that he had kept the ways of the Lord, which is equivalent to his appealing the matter to the judgment-seat of God. Hypocrites, it is true, are accustomed confidently to appeal to God in the same way; yea, there is nothing which they are more forward in doing than in dallying with the sacred name of God, and making it a cover to conceal their hypocrisy; but David brings forward nothing which men might not have certainly known to be true, if any regard to justice had existed among them. Let us, therefore, from his example, endeavor above all things to have a good conscience. And, in the second place, let us have the magnanimity to despise the false judgments of men, and to look up to heaven for the vindicator of our character and cause. He adds, I have not wickedly departed from my God. This implies, that he always aimed directly at the mark of his calling, although the ungodly attempted many things to overthrow his faith. The verb which he uses does not denote one fall only, but a defection which utterly removes and alienates a man from God. David, it is true, sometimes fell into sin through the weakness of the flesh, but he never desisted from following after godliness, nor deserted the service to which God had called him.
22. For all his judgments were before me. He now shows how he came to possess that unbending rectitude of character, by which he was enabled to act uprightly amidst so many and so grievous temptations, namely, because he always applied his mind to the study of the law of God. As Satan is daily making new assaults upon us, it is necessary for us to have recourse to arms, and it is meditation upon the Divine Law which furnishes us with armor to resist. Whoever, therefore, would desire to persevere in uprightness and integrity of life, let them learn to exercise themselves daily in the study of the word of God; for, whenever a man despises or neglects instruction, he easily falls into carelessness and stupidity, and all fear of God vanishes from his mind. I do not intend here to make any subtle distinction between these two words, judgments and ordinances. If, however, any person is inclined to make a distinction between them, the best distinction is to refer judgments to the second table of the law, and ordinances, or statutes, which in Hebrew are called twkwj, chukoth, to the duties of piety and the exercises immediately connected with the worship of God.
23. I was also upright with him. All the verbs in this verse are put by David in the future tense, I will be upright, etc. because he does not boast of one act only, or of a good work performed by fits and starts, but of steady perseverance in an upright course. What I have said before, namely, that David takes God for his judge, as he saw that he was wrongfully and unrighteously condemned by men, appears still more clearly from what he here says, "I have been upright with him." The Scriptures, indeed, sometimes speak in similar terms of the saints, to distinguish them from hypocrites, who content themselves with wearing the outward mask of religious observances; but it is to disprove the false reports which were spread against him that David thus confidently appeals to God with respect to them. This is still more fully confirmed by the repetition of the same thing which is made a little after, According to the cleanness of my hands before his eyes. In these words there is evidently a contrast between the eyes of God and the blinded or malignant eyes of the world; as if he had said, I disregard false and wicked calumnies, provided I am pure and upright in the sight of God, whose judgment can never be perverted by malevolent or other vicious and perverse affections. Moreover, the integrity which he attributes to himself is not perfection but sincerity, which is opposed to dissimulation and hypocrisy. This may be gathered from the last clause of the 23rd verse, where he says, I have kept myself from my iniquity. In thus speaking, he tacitly acknowledges that he had not been so pure and free from sinful affections as that the malignity of his enemies did not frequently excite indignation within him, and gall him to the heart. He had therefore to fight in his own mind against many temptations, for as he was a man, he must have felt in the flesh on many occasions the stirrings of vexation and anger. But this was the proof of his virtue, that he imposed a restraint upon himself, and refrained from whatever he knew to be contrary to the word of God. A man will never persevere in the practice of uprightness and of godliness, unless he carefully keep himself from his iniquity.
Psalm 18:25-27
25. With the merciful thou wilt deal mercifully, fa379 with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright. 26. With the pure fa380 thou wilt be pure, and with the perverse thou wilt show thyself perverse. 27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people, fa381 and wilt bring down the haughty eyes. fa382

25. With the merciful, etc. David here prosecutes the same subject. In considering the grace of God by which he had been delivered, he brings it forward as a proof of his integrity, and thus triumphs over the unfounded and disgraceful calumnies of his enemies. Hypocrites, I confess, are also accustomed to act in the same way; for prosperity and the success of their affairs so elates them that they are not ashamed proudly to vaunt themselves not only against men, but even against God. As such persons, however, openly mock God, when, by his long-suffering, he allures them to repentance, their wicked and unhappy presumption has no resemblance to the boasting by which we here see David encouraging himself. He does not abuse the forbearance and mercy of God by palliating or spreading a specious varnish over his iniquities, because God bears with them; but having, by the manifold aids he had received from God, experienced beyond doubt that he was merciful to him, he justly viewed them as evident testimonies of the divine favor towards him. And we ought to mark well this difference between the ungodly and the faithful, namely, that the former, intoxicated with prosperity, unblushingly boast of being acceptable to God, while yet they disregard him, and rather sacrifice to Fortune, and make it their God; fa383 whereas the latter in their prosperity magnify the grace of God, from the deep sense of his grace with which their consciences are affected. Thus David here boasts that God had succoured him on account of the justice of his cause. For, in the first place, we must adapt the words to the scope of the whole discourse, and view them as implying that God, in so often delivering an innocent man from death, when it was near him, showed, indeed, that he is merciful towards the merciful, and pure towards the pure. In the second place, we must view the words as teaching the general doctrine, that God never disappoints his servants, but always at length deals graciously with them, provided they wait for his aid with meekness and patience. To this purpose Jacob said, in <013033>Genesis 30:33,
"God will make my righteousness to return upon me."
The scope of the discourse is, that the people of God should entertain good hope, and encourage themselves to practice uprightness and integrity, since every man shall reap the fruit of his own righteousness.
The last clause of the 26th verse, where it is said, With the perverse thou wilt show thyself perverse, seems to convey a meaning somewhat strange, but it does not imply any thing absurd; yea, rather, it is not without good reason that the Holy Spirit uses this manner of speaking; for he designs thereby to awaken hypocrites and the gross despisers of God, who lull themselves asleep in their vices without any apprehension of danger. fa384 We see how such persons, when the Scripture proclaims the sore and dreadful judgments of God, and when also God himself denounces terrible vengeance, pass over all these things, without giving themselves any trouble about them. Accordingly, this brutish, and, as it were, monstrous stupidity which we see in men, compels God to invent new forms of expression, and, as it were, to clothe himself with a different character. There is a similar sentence in <032621>Leviticus 26:21-24, where God says, "And if ye walk contrary unto [or perversely with] me, then will I also walk contrary unto [or perversely or roughly, or at random against] you;" as if he had said, that their obstinacy and stubbornness would make him on his part forget his accustomed forbearance and gentleness, and cast himself recklessly or at random against them. fa385 We see, then, what the stubborn at length gain by their obduracy; it is this, that God hardens himself still more to break them in pieces, and if they are of stone, he causes them to feel that he has the hardness of iron. Another reason which we may assign for this manner of speaking is, that the Holy Spirit, in addressing his discourse to the wicked, commonly speaks according to their own apprehension. When God thunders in good earnest upon them, they transform him, through the blind terrors which seize upon them, into a character different from his real one, inasmuch as they conceive of nothing as entering into it but barbarity, cruelty, and ferocity. We now see the reason why David does not simply attribute to God the name and office of judge, but introduces him as armed with impetuous violence, for resisting and overcoming the perverse, according as it is said in the common proverb, A tough knot requires a stout wedge.
27. For thou wilt save the afflicted people. This verse contains the correction of a mistake into which we are very ready to fall. As experience shows that the merciful are often severely afflicted, and the sincere involved in troubles of a very distressing description, to prevent any from regarding the statement as false that God deals mercifully with the merciful, David admonishes us that we must wait for the end; for although God does not immediately run to succor the good, yet, after having exercised their patience for a time, he lifts them up from the dust on which they lay prostrate, and brings effectual relief to them, even when they were in despair. Whence it follows, that we ought only to judge by the issue how God shows himself merciful towards the merciful and pure towards the pure. If he did not keep his people in suspense and waiting long for deliverance from affliction, it could not be said that it is his prerogative to save the afflicted. And it is no small consolation, in the midst of our adversities, to know that God purposely delays to communicate his assistance, which otherwise is quite prepared, that we may experience his goodness in saving us after we have been afflicted and brought low. fa386 Nor ought we to reckon the wrongs which are inflicted upon us too bitter, since they excite God to show towards us his favor which bringeth salvation. As to the second clause of this verse, the reading is a little different in the song in the 2nd Book of Samuel, where the words are, Thine eyes are against the proud to cast them down. But this difference makes no alteration as to the meaning, except that the Holy Spirit there more plainly threatens the proud, that, as God is on the watch to overthrow them, it is impossible for them to escape destruction. The substance of both places is this:The more the ungodly indulge in gratifying their own inclinations, without any fear of danger, and the more proudly they despise the afflicted poor who are under their feet, they are so much the nearer to destruction. Whenever, therefore, they cruelly break forth against us with mockery and contempt, let us know that there is nothing which prevents God from repelling their headstrong pertinacity, but that their pride is not yet come to its height.
Psalm 18:28-32
28. For thou shalt light my lamp, O Jehovah; my God shall enlighten my darkness. 29. For by thee fa387 I shall break through the wedge fa388 of a troop, and by my God I shall leap over a wall. 30. The way of God is perfect; the word of Jehovah is refined, [or purified;] he is a shield to all those who trust in him. 31. For who is God besides Jehovah? and who is strong except our God? 32. It is God who hath girded me with strength, and hath made my way perfect.

28. For thou shalt light my lamp. In the song in Samuel, the form of the expression is somewhat more precise; for there it is said not that God lights our lamp, but that he himself is our lamp. The meaning, however, comes to the same thing, namely, that it was by the grace of God that David, who had been plunged in darkness, returned to the light. David does not simply give thanks to God for having lighted up a lamp before him, but also for having converted his darkness into light. He, therefore, acknowledges that he had been reduced to such extremity of distress, that he was like a man whose condition was forlorn and hopeless; for he compares the confused and perplexed state of his affairs to darkness. This, indeed, by the transference of material things to things spiritual, may be applied to the spiritual illumination of the understanding; but, at the same time, we must attend to the subject of which David treats, that we may not depart from the true and proper meaning. Now, as he acknowledges that he had been restored to prosperity by the favor of God, which was to him, as it were, a life-giving light, let us, after his example, regard it as certain that we will never have the comfort of seeing our adversities brought to an end, unless God disperse the darkness which envelops us, and restore to us the light of joy. Let it not, however, be distressing to us to walk through darkness, provided God is pleased to perform to us the office of a lamp. In the following verse, David ascribes his victories to God, declaring that, under his conduct, he had broken through the wedges or phalanxes of his enemies, and had taken by storm their fortified cities. fa389 Thus we see that, although he was a valiant warrior, and skilled in arms, he arrogates nothing to himself. As to the tenses of the verbs, we would inform our readers once for all, that in this psalm David uses the past and the future tenses indifferently, not only because he comprehends different histories, but also because he presents to himself the things of which he speaks as if they were still taking place before his eyes, and, at the same time, describes a continued course of the grace of God towards him.
30. The way of God is perfect. The phrase, The way of God, is not here taken for his revealed will, but for his method of dealing towards his people. The meaning, therefore, is, that God never disappoints or deceives his servants, nor forsakes them in the time of need, (as may be the case with men who do not aid their dependants, except in so far as it contributes to their own particular advantage,) but faithfully defends and maintains those whom he has once taken under his protection. But we will never have any nearness to God, unless he first come near to us by his word; and, for this reason, David, after having asserted that God aids his people in good earnest, adds, at the same time, that his word is purified. Let us, therefore, rest assured that God will actually show himself upright towards us, seeing he has promised to be the guardian and protector of our welfare, and his promise is certain and infallible truth. That by the word we are not here to understand the commandments, but the promises of God, is easily gathered from the following clause, where it is said, He is a shield to all those who trust in him. It seems, indeed, a common commendation to say, that the word of God is pure, and without any mixture of fraud and deceit, like silver which is well refined and purified from all its dross. But our unbelief is the cause why God, so to speak, is constrained to use such a similitude, for the purpose of commending and leading us to form exalted conceptions of the steadfastness and certainty of his promises; for whenever the issue does not answer our expectation, there is nothing to which we are naturally more prone than forthwith to begin to entertain unhallowed and distrustful thoughts of the word of God. For a farther explanation of these words, we would refer our readers to our remarks on Psalm 12:6.
31. For who is God besides Jehovah? David here, deriding the foolish inventions of men, who, according to their own fancy, make for themselves tutelary gods, fa390 confirms what I have said before, that he never undertook any thing but by the authority and command of God. If he had passed beyond the limits of his calling, he could not with such confidence have said that God was on his side. Besides, although in these words he opposes to the true God all the false gods invented by men, his purpose, at the same time, is to overthrow all the vain hopes in which the world is wrapped up, and by which it is carried about, and prevented from resting in God. The question which David here treats of is not the bare title and name of God, but he declares that whatever assistance we need we should seek it from God, and from no other quarter, because he alone is endued with power:Who is strong except our God? We should, however, attend to the design of David, which I have first adverted to, namely, that, by confidently representing God as opposed to all his enemies, and as the leader, under whose standard he had valiantly fought against them, he means to affirm that he had attempted nothing according to his own fancy, or with an evil and condemning conscience.
32. It is God who hath girded. This is a metaphor taken either from the belt or girdle of a warrior, or from the reins, in which the Scripture sometimes places a man's vigor or strength. It is, therefore, as if he had said, I, who would otherwise have been feeble and effeminate, have been made strong and courageous by the power of God. He afterwards speaks of the success itself with which God had favored him; for it would not be enough for persons to have prompt and active courage, nor even to excel in strength, if their undertakings were not at the same time crowned with a prosperous issue. Irreligious men imagine that this proceeds from their own prudence, or from fortune; but David ascribes it to God alone:It is God who hath made my way perfect. The word way is here to be understood of the course of our actions, and the language implies, that whatever David undertook, God, by his blessing, directed it to a successful issue.
Psalm 18:33-36
33. Making my feet like hinds' fa391 feet, and he hath set me upon my high places. 34. Teaching my hands to war:and a bow of steel fa392 will be broken by my arms. 35. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation; and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy clemency hath increased me. 36. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, and my feet have not staggered.

David, having taken many strongholds which, on account of their steep and difficult access, were believed to be impregnable, extols the grace of God in this particular. When he says that God had given him feet like hinds' feet, he means that he had given him unusual swiftness, and such as does not naturally belong to men. The sense, therefore, is, that he had been aided by God in an extraordinary manner, so that like a roe he climbed with amazing speed over inaccessible rocks. He calls the strongholds, which, as conqueror, he had obtained by right of war, his high places; for he could justly boast that he took possession of nothing which belonged to another man, inasmuch as he knew that he had been called to occupy these fortresses by God. When he says that his hands had been taught and framed to war, he confesses that he had not acquired his dexterity in fighting by his own skill, nor by exercise and experience, but had obtained it as a gift through the singular goodness of God. It is true in general, that strength and skill in war proceed only from a secret virtue communicated by God; but David immediately after shows that he had been furnished with greater strength for carrying on his wars than what men commonly possess, inasmuch as his arms were sufficiently strong to break even bows of brass in pieces. True, he had by nature a vigorous and powerful bodily frame; but the Scripture describes him as a man of low stature, and the similitude itself which he here uses implies something surpassing the natural strength of man. In the following verse, he declares that it was by the grace of God alone that he had escaped, and been kept in perfect safety:Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation. By the phrase, the shield of God's salvation, he intimates, that if God had not wonderfully preserved him, he would have been exposed unprotected to many deadly wounds; and thus God's shield of salvation is tacitly opposed to all the coverings and armor with which he had been provided. He again ascribes his safety to the free goodness of God as its cause, which he says had increased him, or more and more carried him forward in the path of honor and success; for, by the word increase, he means a continuation and an unintermitted and ever growing augmentation of the tokens of the divine favor towards him.
By the enlargement of his steps, he intimates that God had opened up to him an even and an accommodating pathway through places to which there was before no means of access; for there is in the words an implied contrast between a large and spacious place and a narrow spot, out of which a person cannot move his foot. The meaning is, that when David was reduced to the greatest distress, and saw no way of escape, God had graciously brought him out of his straits and difficulties. This is a lesson which may be highly useful for correcting our distrust. Unless we see before us a beautiful and pleasant plain, in which the flesh may freely enjoy itself, we tremble as if the earth would sink under our feet. Let us, therefore, remember, that the office of enlarging our ways and making them level belongs to God, and is here justly ascribed to him. In short, the Psalmist subjoins the effect of this instance of the grace of God towards him, namely, that his feet had not staggered or slipped; in other words, no resistance, adversity, or calamity, which had befallen him, had been able to deprive him of courage or cast him into despair.
Psalm 18:37-40
37. I will pursue my enemies, and will overtake them; nor will I return till I have consumed them. 38. I have afflicted [or smitten] them, so that they were not able to rise; they have fallen under my feet. 39. Thou hast girded me with strength fa393 for the war; thou hast bowed down my enemies under me. 40. And thou hast given me the neck of my enemies, and those who hated me I have destroyed. fa394

The point on which David insists so much is, that of showing from the effect or issue, that all his victories were to be traced to the favor of God; and from this it follows that his cause was good and just. God, no doubt, sometimes grants successes even to the ungodly and wicked; but he at length shows by the issue, that he was all the while opposed to them and their enemy. It is his servants alone who experience such tokens of his favor as he shewed towards David, and he intends by these to testify that they are approved and accepted by him. We are apt to think that David here speaks too much after the manner of a soldier, in declaring that he will not cease from the work of slaughter until he has destroyed all his enemies; or rather that he has forgotten the gentleness and meekness which ought to shine in all true believers, and in which they should resemble their heavenly Father; but as he attempted nothing without the command of God, and as his affections were governed and regulated by the Holy Spirit, we may be assured that these are not the words of a man who was cruel, and who took pleasure in shedding blood, but of a man who faithfully executed the judgment which God had committed to him. And, indeed, we know that he was so distinguished for gentleness of disposition as to abhor the shedding of even a single drop of blood, except in so far as duty and the necessity of his office required. We must, therefore, take into consideration David's vocation, and also his pure zeal, which was free from all perturbation of the flesh. Moreover, it should be particularly attended to that the Psalmist here calls those his enemies whose indomitable and infatuated obstinacy merited and called forth such vengeance from God. As he represented the person of Christ, he inflicted the punishment of death only on those who were so inflexible that they could not be reduced to order by the exercise of a mild and humane authority; and this of itself shows, that there was nothing in which he more delighted than to pardon those who repented and reformed themselves. He thus resembled Christ, who gently allures all men to repentance, but breaks in pieces, with his iron rod, those who obstinately resist him to the last. The sum of these verses is, that David, as he fought under the authority of God, being chosen king by him, and engaging in no undertaking without his warrant, was assisted by him, and rendered invincible against the assaults of all his enemies, and enabled even to discomfit vast and very powerful armies. Farther, let us remember, that under this type there is shadowed forth the invincible character and condition of the kingdom of Christ, who, trusting to, and sustained by, the power of God, overthrows and destroys his enemies, — who, in every encounter, uniformly comes off victorious, — and who continues king in spite of all the resistance which the world makes to his authority and power. And as the victories secured to him involve a security of similar victories to us, it follows that there is here promised us an impregnable defense against all the efforts of Satan, all the machinations of sin, and all the temptations of the flesh. Although, therefore, Christ can only obtain a tranquil kingdom by fighting, let us not on that account be troubled, but let it be enough to satisfy us, that the hand of God is always ready to be stretched forth for its preservation. David was, for a time, a fugitive, so that it was with difficulty he could save his life, by taking shelter in the dens of wild beasts; but God, at length, made his enemies turn their backs, and not only put them to flight, but also delivered them over to him, that he might pursue and utterly discomfit them. In like manner, our enemies for a time may be, as it were, just ready to put the knife to our throat fa395 to destroy us, but God, at length, will make them not only to flee before us, but also to perish in our presence, as they deserve. At the same time, let us remember what kind of warfare it is to which God is calling us, against what kind of persons he will have us to contend, and with what armor he furnishes us, that it may suffice us to have the devil, the flesh, and sin overthrown and placed under our feet by his spiritual power. With respect to those to whom he has given the power of the sword, he will also defend them, and not suffer them to be unrighteously opposed, provided they reign under Christ, and acknowledge him as their head. As to the words, interpreters almost unanimously render the beginning of the 40th verse, My enemies have turned the back, a phrase of the same import as, They have been put to flight; but as the Hebrew word ãr[, oreph, properly signifies the head or neck, we may very suitably view the words as meaning that God gave David the neck of his enemies, inasmuch as he delivered them into his hands to be slain.
Psalm 18:41-45
41. They shall cry, but there shall be no savior for them; even unto Jehovah, but he shall not answer them. 42. And I will beat [or grind] them small as the dust which is driven by the wind; fa396 as the mire of the streets I will tread them under foot. 43. Thou shalt deliver me from the contentions of the people; thou shalt make me the head of the nations; a people whom I have not known shall serve me. 44. At the hearing of the ear, fa397 they shall obey me; the children of strangers fa398 shall lie to me. fa399 45. The children of strangers shall lose their courage, and tremble out of their places of concealment.

41. They shall cry, etc. The change of the tense in the verb from the past to the future does not break the continuity of the narration; and, therefore, the words should be explained thus:Although they cried to God, yet their prayers were rejected by him. He pursues the same subject which it was his object to illustrate before, namely, that it was at length manifest from the issue that his enemies falsely boasted of having the support and countenance of God, who showed that he had turned away from them. It is true, that when their affairs continued to go on prosperously, they sometimes received such applause and commendation, that it was commonly believed that God was favorable to them, while, at the same time he seemed to be opposed to David, who although he cried night and day to him, found it of no avail. But after God had sufficiently tried the patience of his servant, he cast them down, and disappointed them of their vain hope; yea, rather he would not deign to hear their prayers. We now perceive the design of David in these words. As the ungodly had long wickedly abused the name of God, by pretending that he favored their unjust proceedings, the Psalmist derides their vain boasting, in which they were completely disappointed. It is to be observed, that he here speaks of hypocrites, who never call upon God in sincerity and truth. For this promise shall never fail,
"The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth," (<19E518>Psalm 145:18.)
David does not, therefore, say that his enemies were repulsed when they had recourse to God with sincere affection of heart, but only when, with their accustomed effrontery, they thought that God was, so to speak, bound to conduct and advance their wicked enterprises. When the ungodly, in the extremity of their distress, pour forth prayers, and when, cast down with fear, and trembling with the dread of impending evils, they show an appearance of humility, they, notwithstanding, do not change their purpose so as truly to repent and amend the evil of their ways. Besides, instead of being influenced by faith, they are actuated by presumption and hardness of heart, or they pour forth their complaints in doubt, rather for the purpose of murmuring against God, than of familiarly and confidently placing their trust in him. from this passage we may gather a profitable warning, namely, that all who treat the afflicted poor with cruel mockery, and who proudly thrust back those who come to them as humble suppliants, will experience that God is deaf to their prayers. We are farther taught by the following verse, that after God has cast off the ungodly, he leaves them to be treated with every kind of indignity, and gives them up to be trampled under foot, as the mire of the streets. He not only declares, that when the proud and the cruel cry to him in their affliction, he will shut his ears against their cry; but he also threatens, that, in the course of his retributive providence, they shall be treated in the same manner in which they treat others.
43. Thou shalt deliver me from the contentions of the people. David states, in a few words, that he had experienced the assistance of God in all variety of ways. He was in great danger from the tumults which sometimes arose among his own subjects, if God had not wonderfully allayed them, and subdued the fierceness of the people. It also happened, contrary to the general expectation, that David, as is stated in the second clause of the verse, was victorious far and wide, and overthrew the neighboring nations who had a little before discomfited all Israel by their forces. It was an astonishing renovation of things, when he not only suddenly restored to their former estate the people of Israel, who had been greatly reduced by defeat and slaughter, but also made his tributaries the neighboring nations, with whom before, on account of their hostility to the nation of Israel, it was impossible to live in peace. It would have been much to see the kingdom, after having sustained so grievous a calamity, still surviving, and after having again collected strength recovering its former state; but God, contrary to all expectation, conferred upon the people of Israel more than this; he enabled them even to subdue those who before had been their conquerors. David makes mention of both these; he tells us, in the first place, that when the people rose up in tumult against him, it was none other but God who stilled these commotions which took place within the kingdom; and, in the second place, that it was under the authority, and by the conduct and power of God, that powerful nations were subjected to him, and that the limits of the kingdom, which, in the time of Saul, had been weak and half broken, were greatly enlarged. Hence it is evident that David was assisted by God, not less with respect to his domestic affairs, that is to say, within his own kingdom, than against foreign enemies. As the kingdom of David was a type under which the Holy Spirit intended to shadow forth to us the kingdom of Christ, let us remember that, both in erecting and preserving it, it is necessary for God not only to stretch forth his arm and fight against avowed enemies, who from without rise up against him, but also to repress the tumults and strifes which may take place within the Church. This was clearly shown in the person of Christ from the beginning. In the first place, he met with much opposition from the infatuated obstinacy of those of his own nation. In the next place, the experience of all ages shows that the dissensions and strifes with which hypocrites rend and mangle the Church, are not less hurtful in undermining the kingdom of Christ, (if God do not interpose his hand to prevent their injurious effects,) than the violent efforts of his enemies. Accordingly God, to advance and maintain the kingdom of his own Son, not only overthrows before him external enemies, but also delivers him from domestic contentions; that is to say, from those within his kingdom, which is the Church. fa400 In the song in 2nd Samuel, instead of these words, Thou hast made me the head of the nations, the word employed is ynrmçt, tishmereni, which signifies to keep or guard, and is therefore to be understood in this sense, that David will be securely, and for a long time, maintained in possession of the kingdom. He knew how difficult it is to keep under discipline and subjection those who have not been accustomed to the yoke; and, accordingly, nothing is of more frequent occurrence than for kingdoms which have been lately acquired by conquest to be shaken with fresh commotions. But David, in the song in Samuel, declares that God, having elevated him to such a high degree of power as to make him the head of the nations, will also maintain him in the possession of the sovereignty he had been pleased to confer upon him.
A people whom I have not known shall serve me. The whole of this passage strongly confirms what I have just now touched upon, that the statements here made are not to be restricted to the person of David, but contain a prophecy respecting the kingdom of Christ which was to come. David, it is true, might have boasted that nations, with whose manners and dispositions he was only very imperfectly acquainted, were subject to him; but it is nevertheless certain, that none of the nations which he conquered were altogether unknown to him, nor removed at so great a distance as to render it difficult for him to acquire some knowledge of them. The conquests of David, therefore, and the submission of the people to him, were only an obscure figure in which God has exhibited to us some faint representation of the boundless dominion of his own Son, whose kingdom extends
"from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same,"
(<390111>Malachi 1:11,)
and comprehends the whole world.
44. At the simple fame of my name they shall obey me. This is of the same import with the last clause of the preceding verse. Although David, by his victories, had acquired such reputation and renown, that many laid down their arms and came voluntarily to surrender themselves to him; yet, as they also had been subdued through the dread of the power of his arms, which they saw their neighbors had experienced to their smart, it cannot be said, properly speaking, that at the simple fame of the name of David they submitted themselves to him. This applies more truly to the person of Christ, who, by means of his word, subdues the world to himself, and, at the simple hearing of his name, makes those obedient to him who before had been rebels against him. As David was intended to be a type of Christ, God subjected to his authority distant nations, and such as before had been unknown to Israel in so far as familiar intercourse was concerned. But that was only a prelude, and, as it were, preparatory to the dominion promised to Christ, the boundaries of which must be extended to the uttermost ends of the earth. In like manner, David had acquired to himself so great a name by arms and warlike prowess, that many of his enemies, subdued by fear, submitted themselves to him. And in this God exhibited a type of the conquest which Christ would make of the Gentiles, who, by the preaching of the Gospel alone, were subdued, and brought voluntarily to submit to his dominion; for the obedience of faith in which the dominion of Christ is founded "cometh by hearing," (<451017>Romans 10:17.)
The children of strangers shall lie to me. Here there is described what commonly happens in new dominions acquired by conquest, namely, that those who have been vanquished pay homage with great reverence to their conqueror; but it is by a reigned and forced humility. They obey in a slavish manner, and not willingly or cheerfully. This is evidently the sense. Some interpreters, indeed, give a different explanation of the word lie, viewing David as meaning by it that his enemies had either been disappointed in their expectation, or that, in order to escape the punishment which they were afraid he might inflict upon them, they had lied in declaring that they had never devised any thing hostile against him; but it appears to me, that this does not sufficiently express what David intended. In my opinion, therefore, the words to lie are here to be understood generally as in other places, for to be humbled after a slavish manner. The Hebrew word çhk, cachash, here used, which signifies to lie, is sometimes to be understood metaphorically for to be humbled, to submit to, to take upon one's self the yoke of subjection; fa401 but still in a feigned and servile manner. Those whom he terms the children of the stranger, or of strangers, are the nations who did not belong to the people of Israel, but who, previous to their being conquered by him, formed a distinct and an independent community by themselves. This also we see fulfilled in Christ, to whom many come with apparent humility; not, however, with true affection, but with a double and false heart, whom, on that account, the Holy Spirit fitly terms strangers. They are, indeed, mingled among the chosen people, but they are not united to the same body with them by a true faith, and, therefore, ought not to be accounted children of the Church. It is very true that all the Gentiles, when in the beginning they were called into the Church, were strangers; but when they began to entertain new feelings and new affections towards Christ, they who before were "strangers and foreigners" became
"fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," (<490219>Ephesians 2:19.)
What is added immediately after, (verse 45,) the children of strangers shall fade away; they shall tremble fa402 from within their places of concealment, serves to place, in a still more striking light, the great fame and formidable name which we have said David had acquired. It is no ordinary sign of reverence when those who are protected in hiding-places, and shut up within steep fortifications, are so stricken with terror as to come forth of their own accord and surrender themselves. As fear made the enemies of David to come forth from their places of concealment, to meet him with submission, so the Gospel strikes the unbelieving with such fear, as compels them to yield obedience to Christ. Such is the power of prophecy, that is to say, the preaching of the word, as Paul testifies in <461424>1 Corinthians 14:24, that, convincing the consciences of men, and making manifest the secrets of their hearts, it causes those who before were rebels to prostrate themselves with fear, and to give glory to God.
Psalm 18:46-50
46. Let Jehovah live, fa403 and blessed be my strength:fa404 and let the God of my salvation be exalted; 47. The God who giveth me vengeance, and subdueth peoples [or nations] under me. 48. My deliverer from my enemies; yea, thou hast lifted me up from those who had risen up against me; thou hast delivered me from the man of violence. 49. Therefore will I praise thee, O Jehovah, among the heathen, and will sing to thy name. 50. He worketh great deliverances for his king, and showeth mercy to David, his anointed, and to his seed for ever.

46. Let Jehovah live. If it is thought proper to adopt this reading, which is in the optative mood expressing a wish that God might live, the manner of expression may seem somewhat strange; but it may be alleged in defense of it, that it is a metaphor borrowed from the custom of men, who not only use this manner of speaking when they wish well to any one, but likewise utter it with loud and applauding acclamation, when they intend to receive their princes with due honor. According to this view, it would be an expression in which praise is ascribed to God, and suitable for a triumphal song. fa405 It may, however, be very properly considered as a simple affirmation, in which David declares that God lives, in other words, that he is endued with sovereign power. Farther, the life which David attributes to God is not to be restricted to the being or essence of God, but is rather to be understood of the evidence of it deducible from his works, which manifest to us that he liveth. Whenever he withdraws the working of his power from before our eyes, the sense and cognisance of the truth, "God liveth," also evanishes from our minds. He is, therefore, said to live, inasmuch as he shows, by evident proofs of his power, that it is he who preserves and upholds the world. And as David had known, by experience, this life of God, he celebrates it with praises and thanksgiving. If we read the first clause in the present tense, The Lord liveth, the copula and, which follows, has the force of an inference; and, accordingly, the words should be resolved thus:Jehovah liveth, and, therefore, blessed be my strength. The epithet, My strength, and the other which occurs in verse 48th, My deliverer, confirm what I have already stated, that God does not simply live in himself, and in his secret place, but displays his vital energy in the government of the whole world. The Hebrew word, yrwx, tsuri, which we have translated my strength, is here to be understood in a transitive sense for Him who bestows strength.
47. The God who giveth me vengeance. The Psalmist again attributes to God the victories which he had obtained. As he could never have expected to obtain them unless he had been confident that he would receive the aid of God, so now he acknowledges God to be the sole author of them. That he may not seem carelessly to bestow upon him, as it were, in passing, only a small sprinkling of the praise of his victories, he repeats, in express terms, that he had nothing but what God had given him. In the first place, he acknowledges that power was given him from above, to enable him to inflict on his enemies the punishment which they deserved. It may seem at first sight strange that God should arm his own people to execute vengeance; but as I have previously shown you, we ought always to remember David's vocation. He was not a private person, but being endued with royal power and authority, the judgment which he executed was enjoined upon him by God. If a man, upon receiving injury, breaks forth to avenge himself, he usurps the office of God; and, therefore, it is rash and impious for private individuals to retaliate the injuries which have been inflicted upon them. With respect to kings and magistrates, God, who declares that vengeance belongeth to him, in arming them with the sword, constitutes them the ministers and executioners of his vengeance. David, therefore, has put the word vengeance for the just punishments which it was lawful for him to inflict by the commandment of God, provided he was led under the influence of a zeal duly regulated by the Holy Spirit, and not under the influence of the impetuosity of the flesh. Unless this moderation is exemplified in performing the duties of their calling, it is in vain for kings to boast that God has committed to them the charge of taking vengeance; seeing it is not less unwarrantable for a man to abuse, according to his own fancy and the lust of the flesh, the sword which he is allowed to use, than to seize it without the command of God. The Church militant, which is under the standard of Christ, has no permission to execute vengeance, except against those who obstinately refuse to be reclaimed. We are commanded to endeavor to overcome our enemies by doing them good, and to pray for their salvation. It becomes us, therefore, at the same time, to desire that they may be brought to repentance, and to a right state of mind, until it appear beyond all doubt that they are irrecoverably and hopelessly depraved. In the meantime, in regard to vengeance, it must be left to God, that we may not be carried headlong to execute it before the time. David next concludes, from the perils and distresses in which he had been involved, that if he had not been preserved by the hand of God, he could not in any other way have escaped in safety:My deliverer from my enemies; yea, thou hast lifted me up from those who had risen up against me. The sense in which we are to understand the lifting up of which he speaks is, that he was wonderfully raised up above the power and malice of his enemies that he might not sink under their violence, and that they might not be victorious over him.
49. Therefore will I praise thee, O Jehovah! In this verse he teaches us that the blessings God had conferred upon him, of which he had spoken, are worthy of being celebrated with extraordinary and unusual praises, that the fame of them might reach even the heathen. There is in the words an implied contrast between the ordinary worship of God which the faithful were then accustomed to perform in the temple, and this thanksgiving of which David speaks, which could not be confined within so narrow limits. The meaning, therefore, is, O Lord, I will not only give thee thanks in the assembly of thy people, according to the ritual which thou hast appointed in thy law, but thy praises shall extend to a greater distance, even as thy grace towards me is worthy of being recounted through the whole world. Moreover, from these words we conclude that this passage contains a prophecy concerning the kingdom of Christ, which was to come. Unless the heathen had been allured into the fellowship of the chosen people, and united into one body with them, to praise God among them would have been to sing his praises among the deaf, which would have been foolish work and lost labor. Accordingly, Paul very properly and suitably proves from this text, that the calling of the Gentiles was not a thing which happened by chance, or at a venture, (<451509>Romans 15:9.) We shall afterwards see in many places that the Church is appointed to be the sacred dwelling-place for showing forth the praises of God. And, therefore, the name of God could not have been rightly and profitably celebrated elsewhere than in Judea, until the ears of the Gentiles were opened, which was done when God adopted them, and called them to himself by the gospel.
50. He worketh great deliverances, etc. This concluding verse clearly shows why God had exercised such goodness and liberality towards David, namely, because he had anointed him to be king. By calling himself God's king, David testifies that he had not rashly rushed into that office, nor was thrust into it by conspiracies and wicked intrigues, but, on the contrary, reigned by lawful right, inasmuch as it was the will of God that he should be king. This he proves by the ceremony of anointing; for God, in anointing him by the hand of Samuel, had asserted his right to reign not less than if he had visibly stretched forth his hand from heaven to place and establish him on the royal throne. This election, he says, was confirmed by a continued series of great deliverances; and from this it follows, that all who enter on any course without having the call of God, are chargeable with avowedly making war against him. At the same time, he attributes these deliverances to the goodness of God as their cause, to teach us, that that kingdom was founded purely and simply upon the good pleasure of God. Farther, from the concluding sentence of the psalm, it appears, as I have said before, that David does not here so much recount by way of history the singular and varied instances of the grace of God which he had personally experienced, as predict the everlasting duration of his kingdom. And it is to be observed, that by the word seed we are not to understand all his descendants indiscriminately; but we are to consider it as particularly referring to that successor of David of whom God had spoken in <100712>2 Samuel 7:12, promising that he would be a father to him. As it had been predicted that his kingdom would continue as long as the sun and the moon should shine in the heavens, the prophecy must necessarily be viewed as descending to him who was to be king not for a time, but for ever. David, therefore, commends his seed to us, as honored by that remarkable promise, which fully applies neither to Solomon nor to any other of his successors, but to the only begotten Son of God; as the apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, (<580104>Hebrews 1:4,) teaches us, that this is a dignity in which he excels the angels. In conclusion, we shall then only duly profit in the study of this psalm, when we are led by the contemplation of the shadow and type to him who is the substance.
PSALM 19
To the chief musician. A song of David.
David, with the view of encouraging the faithful to contemplate the glory of God, sets before them in the first place, a mirror of it in the fabric of the heavens, and in the exquisite order of their workmanship which we behold; and in the second place, he recalls our thoughts to the Law, in which God made himself more familiarly known to his chosen people. Taking occasion from this, he continues to discourse at considerable length on this peculiar gift of Heaven, commending and exalting the use of the law. Finally, he concludes the psalm with a prayer.
Psalm 19:1-6
1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse fa406 proclaims the works of his hands. 2. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night publishes knowledge. fa407 3. There is no language and no speech [where] their voice is not heard. 4. Their writing has gone forth through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world:he hath set in them a tabernacle for the sun. 5. And he goeth forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber:he rejoiceth as a strong man to run his race. 6. His going forth is from the end of the heavens, and his circuit is to their utmost limits, and none is hidden from his heat.

1. The heavens declare the glory of God. fa408 I have already said, that this psalm consists of two parts, in the first of which David celebrates the glory of God as manifested in his works; and, in the other, exalts and magnifies the knowledge of God which shines forth more clearly in his word. He only makes mention of the heavens; but, under this part of creation, which is the noblest, and the excellency of which is more conspicuous, he doubtless includes by synecdoche the whole fabric of the world. There is certainly nothing so obscure or contemptible, even in the smallest corners of the earth, in which some marks of the power and wisdom of God may not be seen; but as a more distinct image of him is engraven on the heavens, David has particularly selected them for contemplation, that their splendor might lead us to contemplate all parts of the world. When a man, from beholding and contemplating the heavens, has been brought to acknowledge God, he will learn also to reflect upon and to admire his wisdom and power as displayed on the face of the earth, not only in general, but even in the minutest plants. In the first verse, the Psalmist repeats one thing twice, according to his usual manner. He introduces the heavens as witnesses and preachers of the glory of God, attributing to the dumb creature a quality which, strictly speaking, does not belong to it, in order the more severely to upbraid men for their ingratitude, if they should pass over so clear a testimony with unheeding ears. This manner of speaking more powerfully moves and affects us than if he had said, The heavens show or manifest the glory of God. It is indeed a great thing, that in the splendor of the heavens there is presented to our view a lively image of God; but, as the living voice has a greater effect in exciting our attention, or at least teaches us more surely and with greater profit than simple beholding, to which no oral instruction is added, we ought to mark the force of the figure which the Psalmist uses when he says, that the heavens by their preaching declare the glory of God.
The repetition which he makes in the second clause is merely an explanation of the first. David shows how it is that the heavens proclaim to us the glory of God, namely, by openly bearing testimony that they have not been put together by chance, but were wonderfully created by the supreme Architect. When we behold the heavens, we cannot but be elevated, by the contemplation of them, to Him who is their great Creator; and the beautiful arrangement and wonderful variety which distinguish the courses and station of the heavenly bodies, together with the beauty and splendor which are manifest in them, cannot but furnish us with an evident proof of his providence. Scripture, indeed, makes known to us the time and manner of the creation; but the heavens themselves, although God should say nothing on the subject, proclaim loudly and distinctly enough that they have been fashioned by his hands:and this of itself abundantly suffices to bear testimony to men of his glory. As soon as we acknowledge God to be the supreme Architect, who has erected the beauteous fabric of the universe, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power.
2. Day unto day uttereth speech. Philosophers, who have more penetration into those matters than others, understand how the stars are arranged in such beautiful order, that notwithstanding their immense number there is no confusion; but to the ignorant and unlettered, the continual succession of days is a more undoubted proof of the providence of God. David, therefore, having spoken of the heavens, does not here descend from them to other parts of the world; but, from an effect more sensible and nearer our apprehension, he confirms what he has just now said, namely, that the glory of God not only shines, but also resounds in the heavens. The words may be variously expounded, but the different expositions which have been given of them make little difference as to the sense. Some explain them thus, that no day passes in which God does not show some signal evidence of his power. Others are of opinion that they denote the augmentations of instruction and knowledge, - that every succeeding day contributes something new in proof of the existence and perfections of God. Others view them as meaning that the days and nights talk together, and reason concerning the glory of their Creator', but this is a somewhat forced interpretation. David, I have no doubt, here teaches, from the established alternations of days and nights, that the course and revolutions of the sun, and moon, and stars, are regulated by the marvellous wisdom of God. Whether we translate the words Day after day, or one day to another day, is of little consequence; for all that David means is the beautiful arrangement of time which the succession of days and nights effects. If, indeed, we were as attentive as we ought to be, even one day would suffice to bear testimony to us of the glory of God, and even one night would be sufficient to perform to us the same office. But when we see the sun and the moon performing their daily revolutions, — the sun by day appearing over our heads, and the moon succeeding in its turns — the sun ascending by degrees, while at the same time he approaches nearer us, — and afterwards bending his course so as to depart from us by little and little; — and when we see that by this means the length of the days and nights is regulated, and that the variation of their length is arranged according to a law so uniform, as invariably to recur at the same points of time in every successive year, we have in this a much brighter testimony to the glory of God. David, therefore, with the highest reason, declares, that although God should not speak a single word to men, yet the orderly and useful succession of days and nights eloquently proclaims the glory of God, and that there is now left to men no pretext for ignorance; for since the days and nights perform towards us so well and so carefully the office of teachers, we may acquire, if we are duly attentive, a sufficient amount of knowledge under their tuition.
3. There is no language nor speech [where] their voice is not heard. This verse receives two almost contrary interpretations, each of which, however, has the appearance of probability. As the words, when rendered literally, read thus — No language, and no words, their voice is not heard — some connect the third and fourth verses together, as if this sentence were incomplete without the clause which follows in the beginning of the fourth verse, Their writing has gone forth through all the earth, etc. According to them, the meaning is this:— The heavens, it is true, are mute and are not endued with the faculty of speech; but still they proclaim the glory of God with a voice sufficiently loud and distinct. But if this was David's meaning, what need was there to repeat three times that they have not articulate speech? It would certainly be spiritless and superfluous to insist so much upon a thing so universally known. The other exposition, therefore, as it is more generally received, seems also to be more suitable. In the Hebrew tongue, which is concise, it is often necessary to supply some word; and it is particularly a common thing in that language for the relatives to be omitted, that is to say, the words which, in which, etc., as here, There is no language, there is no speech, [where fa409] their voice is not heard. fa410 Besides, the third negation, ylb, beli, fa411 rather denotes an exception to what is stated in the preceding members of the sentence, as if it had been said, The difference and variety of languages does not prevent the preaching of the heavens and their language from being heard and understood in every quarter of the world. The difference of languages is a barrier which prevents different nations from maintaining mutual intercourse, and it makes him who in his own country is distinguished for his eloquence, when he comes into a foreign country either dumb or, if he attempt to speak, barbarous. And even although a man could speak all languages, he could not speak to a Grecian and a Roman at the same time; for as soon as he began to direct his discourse to the one, the other would cease to understand him. David, therefore, by making a tacit comparison, enhances the efficacy of the testimony which the heavens bear to their Creator. The import of his language is, Different nations differ from each other as to language; but the heavens have a common language to teach all men without distinction, nor is there any thing but their own carelessness to hinder even those who are most strange to each other, and who live in the most distant parts of the world, from profiting, as it were, at the mouth of the same teacher.
4. Their writing has gone forth, etc. Here the inspired writer declares how the heavens preach to all nations indiscriminately, namely, because men, in all countries and in all parts of the earth, may understand that the heavens are set before their eyes as witnesses to bear testimony to the glory of God. As the Hebrew word wq, kav signifies sometimes a line, and sometimes a building, some deduce from it this meaning, that the fabric of the heavens being framed in a regular manner, and as it were by line, proclaims the glory of God in all parts of the world. But as David here metaphorically introduces the splendor and magnificence of the heavenly bodies, as preaching the glory of God like a teacher in a seminary of learning, it would be a meagre and unsuitable manner of speaking to say, that the line of the heavens goes forth to the uttermost ends of the earth. Besides, he immediately adds, in the following clause, that their words are every where heard; but what relation is there between words and the beauty of a building? If, however, we render wq, kav, writing, these two things will very well agree, first, that the glory of God is written and imprinted in the heavens, as in an open volume which all men may read; and, secondly, that, at the same time, they give forth a loud and distinct voice, which reaches the ears of all men, and causes itself to be heard in all places. fa412 Thus we are taught, that the language of which mention has been made before is, as I may term it, a visible language, in other words, language which addresses itself to the sight; for it is to the eyes of men that the heavens speak, not to their ears; and thus David justly compares the beautiful order and arrangement, by which the heavenly bodies are distinguished, to a writing. That the Hebrew word wq, kav, signifies a line in writing, fa413 is sufficiently evident from <232810>Isaiah 28:10, where God, comparing the Jews to children who are not yet of sufficient age to make great proficiency, speaks thus:
"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little."
In my judgment, therefore, the meaning is, that the glory of God is not written in small obscure letters, but richly engraven in large and bright characters, which all men may read, and read with the greatest ease. Hitherto I have explained the true and proper meaning of the inspired writer. Some have wrested this part of the psalm by putting upon it an allegorical interpretation; but my readers will easily perceive that this has been done without reason. I have shown in the commencement, and it is also evident from the scope of the whole discourse, that David, before coming to the law, sets before us the fabric of the world, that in it we might behold the glory of God. Now, if we understand the heavens as meaning the apostles, and the sun Christ, there will be no longer place for the division of which we have spoken; and, besides, it would be an improper arrangement to place the gospel first and then the law. It is very evident that the inspired poet here treats of the knowledge of God, which is naturally presented to all men in this world as in a mirror; and, therefore, I forbear discoursing longer on that point. As, however, these allegorical interpreters have supported their views from the words of Paul, this difficulty must be removed. Paul, in discoursing upon the calling of the Gentiles, lays down this as an established principle, that, "Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved;" and then he adds, that it is impossible for any to call upon him until they know him by the teaching of the gospel. But as it seemed to the Jews to be a kind of sacrilege that Paul published the promise of salvation to the Gentiles, he asks whether the Gentiles themselves had not heard? And he answers, by quoting this passage, that there was a school open and accessible to them, in which they might learn to fear God, and serve him, inasmuch as "the writing fa414 of the heavens has gone forth through all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world," (<451018>Romans 10:18.) But Paul could not at that time have said with truth, that the voice of the gospel had been heard through the whole world from the mouth of the apostles, since it had scarcely as yet reached even a few countries. The preaching of the other apostles certainly had not then extended to far distant parts of the world, but was confined within the boundaries of Judea. The design of the apostle it is not difficult to comprehend. He intended to say that God, from ancient times, had manifested his glory to the Gentiles, and that this was a prelude to the more ample instruction which was one day to be published to them. And although God's chosen people for a time had been in a condition distinct and separate from that of the Gentiles, it ought not to be thought strange that God at length made himself known indiscriminately to both, seeing he had hitherto united them to himself by certain means which addressed themselves in common to both; as Paul says in another passage, that when God,
"in times past, suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, he nevertheless left not himself without a witness,"
(<441416>Acts 14:16, 17.)
Whence we conclude, that those who have imagined that Paul departed from the genuine and proper sense of David's words are grossly mistaken. The reader will understand this still more clearly by reading my commentaries on the above passage of St. Paul.
He hath set in them a tabernacle [or pavilion] for the sun. As David, out of the whole fabric of the world, has especially chosen the heavens, in which he might exhibit to our view an image of God, because there it is more distinctly to be seen, even as a man is better seen when set on an elevated stage; so now he shows us the sun as placed in the highest rank, because in his wonderful brightness the majesty of God displays itself more magnificently than in all the rest. The other planets, it is true, have also their motions, and as it were the appointed places within which they run their race, fa415 and the firmament, by its own revolution, draws with it all the fixed stars, but it would have been lost time for David to have attempted to teach the secrets of astronomy to the rude and unlearned; and therefore he reckoned it sufficient to speak in a homely style, that he might reprove the whole world of ingratitude, if, in beholding the sun, they are not taught the fear and the knowledge of God. This, then, is the reason why he says that a tent or pavilion has been erected for the sun, and also why he says, that he goes forth from one end of the heaven, and quickly passes to the other and opposite end. He does not here discourse scientifically (as he might have done, had he spoken among philosophers) concerning the entire revolution which the sun performs, but, accommodating himself to the rudest and dullest, he confines himself to the ordinary appearances presented to the eye, and, for this reason, he does not speak of the other half of the sun's course, which does not appear in our hemisphere. He proposes to us three things to be considered in the sun, — the splendor and excellency of his forms — the swiftness with which he runs his course, — and the astonishing power of his heat. The more forcibly to express and magnify his surpassing beauty and, as it were, magnificent attire, he employs the similitude of a bridegroom. He then adds another similitude, that of a valiant man who enters the lists as a racer to carry off the prize of the course. The swiftness of those who in ancient times contended in the stadium, whether on chariots or on foot, was wonderful; and although it was nothing when compared with the velocity with which the sun moves in his orbit, yet David, among all that he saw coming under the ordinary notice of men, could find nothing which approached nearer to it. Some think that the third clause, where he speaks of the heat of the sun, is to be understood of his vegetative heat, as it is called; in other words, that by which the vegetating bodies which are in the earth have their vigor, support, and growth. fa416 But I do not think that this sense suits the passage. It is, indeed, a wonderful work of God, and a signal evidence of his goodness, that the powerful influence of the sun penetrating the earth renders it fruitful. But as the Psalmist says, that no man or nothing is hidden from his heat, I am rather inclined to understand it of the violent heat which scorches men and other living creatures as well as plants and trees. With respect to the enlivening heat of the sun, by which we feel ourselves to be invigorated, no man desires to avoid it.
Psalm 19:7-9
7. The law of the Lord fa417 is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of Jehovah is faithful, [or true, fa418] instructing the babes in wisdom. 8. The statutes of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord fa419 is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9. The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring for ever; the judgments of Jehovah are truth, and justified together.

7. The law of the Lord. Here the second part of the psalm commences. After having shown that the creatures, although they do not speak, nevertheless serve as instructors to all mankind, and teach all men so clearly that there is a God, as to render them inexcusable, the Psalmist now turns towards the Jews, to whom God had communicated a fuller knowledge of himself by means of his word. While the heavens bear witness concerning God, their testimony does not lead men so far as that thereby they learn truly to fear him, and acquire a well-grounded knowledge of him; it serves only to render them inexcusable. It is doubtless true, that if we were not very dull and stupid, the signatures and proofs of Deity which are to be found on the theater of the world, are abundant enough to incite us to acknowledge and reverence God; but as, although surrounded with so clear a light, we are nevertheless blind, this splendid representation of the glory of God, without the aid of the word, would profit us nothing, although it should be to us as a loud and distinct proclamation sounding in our ears. Accordingly, God vouchsafes to those whom he has determined to call to salvation special grace, just as in ancient times, while he gave to all men without exception evidences of his existence in his works, he communicated to the children of Abraham alone his Law, thereby to furnish them with a more certain and intimate knowledge of his majesty. Whence it follows, that the Jews are bound by a double tie to serve God. As the Gentiles, to whom God has spoken only by the dumb creatures, have no excuse for their ignorance, how much less is their stupidity to be endured who neglect to hear the voice which proceeds from his own sacred mouth? The end, therefore, which David here has in view, is to excite the Jews, whom God had bound to himself by a more sacred bond, to yield obedience to him with a more prompt and cheerful affection. Farther, under the term law, he not only means the rule of living righteously, or the Ten Commandments, but he also comprehends the covenant by which God had distinguished that people from the rest of the world, and the whole doctrine of Moses, the parts of which he afterwards enumerates under the terms testimonies, statutes, and other names. These titles and commendations by which he exalts the dignity and excellence of the Law would not agree with the Ten Commandments alone, unless there were, at the same time, joined to them a free adoption and the promises which depend upon it; and, in short, the whole body of doctrine of which true religion and godliness consists. As to the Hebrew words which are here used, I will not spend much time in endeavoring very exactly to give the particular signification of each of them, because it is easy to gather from other passages, that they are sometimes confounded or used indifferently. Twd[, eduth, which we render testimony, is generally taken for the covenant, in which God, on the one hand, promised to the children of Abraham that he would be their God, and on the other required faith and obedience on their part. It, therefore, denotes the mutual covenant entered into between God and his ancient people. The word µydwqp, pikkudim, which I have followed others in translating statutes, is restricted by some to ceremonies, but improperly in my judgment:for I find that it is every where taken generally for ordinances and edicts. The word hwxm, mitsvah, which follows immediately after, and which we translate commandment, has almost the same signification. As to the other words, we shall consider them in their respective places.
The first commendation of the law of God is, that it is perfect. By this word David means, that if a man is duly instructed in the law of God, he wants nothing which is requisite to perfect wisdom. In the writings of heathen authors there are no doubt to be found true and useful sentences scattered here and there; and it is also true, that God has put into the minds of men some knowledge of justice and uprightness; but in consequence of the corruption of our nature, the true light of truth is not to be found among men where revelation is not enjoyed, but only certain mutilated principles which are involved in much obscurity and doubt. David, therefore, justly claims this praise for the law of God, that it contains in it perfect and absolute wisdom. As the conversion of the soul, of which he speaks immediately after, is doubtless to be understood of its restoration, I have felt no difficulty in so rendering it. There are some who reason with too much subtilty on this expression, by explaining it as referring to the repentance and regeneration of man. I admit that the soul cannot be restored by the law of God, without being at the same time renewed unto righteousness; but we must consider what is David's proper meaning, which is this, that as the soul gives vigor and strength to the body, so the law in like manner is the life of the soul. In saying that the soul is restored, he has an allusion to the miserable state in which we are all born. There, no doubt, still survive in us some small remains of the first creation; but as no part of our constitution is free from defilement and impurity, the condition of the soul thus corrupted and depraved differs little from death, and tends altogether to death. It is, therefore, necessary that God should employ the law as a remedy for restoring us to purity; not that the letter of the law can do this of itself, as shall be afterwards shown more at length, but because God employs his word as an instrument for restoring our souls.
When the Psalmist declares, The testimony of Jehovah is faithful, it is a repetition of the preceding sentence, so that the integrity or perfection of the law and the faithfulness or truth of his testimony, signify the same thing; namely, that when we give ourselves up to be guided and governed by the word of God, we are in no danger of going astray, since this is the path by which he securely guides his own people to salvation. Instruction in wisdom seems here to be added as the commencement of the restoration of the soul. Understanding is the most excellent endowment of the soul; and David teaches us that it is to be derived from the law, for we are naturally destitute of it. By the word babes, he is not to be understood as meaning any particular class of persons, as if others were sufficiently wise of themselves; but by it he teaches us, in the first place, that none are endued with right understanding until they have made progress in the study of the law. In the second place, he shows by it what kind of scholars God requires, namely, those who are fools in their own estimation, (<460318>1 Corinthians 3:18,) and who come down to the rank of children, that the loftiness of their own understanding may not prevent them from giving themselves up, with a spirit of entire docility, to the teaching of the word of God.
8. The statutes of Jehovah are right. The Psalmist at first view may seem to utter a mere common-place sentiment when he calls the statutes of the Lord right. If we, however, more attentively consider the contrast which he no doubt makes between the rectitude of the law and the crooked ways in which men entangle themselves when they follow their own understandings, we will be convinced that this commendation implies more than may at first sight appear. We know how much every man is wedded to himself, and how difficult it is to eradicate from our minds the vain confidence of our own wisdom. It is therefore of great importance to be well convinced of this truth, that a man's life cannot be ordered aright unless it is framed according to the law of God, and that without this he can only wander in labyrinths and crooked bypaths. David adds, in the second place, that God's statutes rejoice the heart. This implies that there is no other joy true and solid but that which proceeds from a good conscience; and of this we become partakers when we are certainly persuaded that our life is pleasing and acceptable to God. No doubt, the source from which true peace of conscience proceeds is faith, which freely reconciles us to God. But to the saints who serve God with true affection of heart there arises unspeakable joy also, from the knowledge that they do not labor in his service in vain, or without hope of recompense, since they have God as the judge and approver of their life. In short, this joy is put in opposition to all the corrupt enticements and pleasures of the world, which are a deadly bait, luring wretched souls to their everlasting destruction. The import of the Psalmist's language is, Those who take delight in committing sin procure for themselves abundant matter of sorrow; but the observance of the law of God, on the contrary, brings to man true joy. In the end of the verse, the Psalmist teaches that the commandment of God is pure, enlightening the eyes. By this he gives us tacitly to understand that it is only in the commandments of God that we find the difference between good and evil laid down, and that it is in vain to seek it elsewhere, since whatever men devise of themselves is mere filth and refuse, corrupting the purity of the life. He farther intimates that men, with all their acuteness, are blind, and always wander in darkness, until they turn their eyes to the light of heavenly doctrine. Whence it follows, that none are truly wise but those who take God for their conductor and guide, following the path which he points out to them, and who are diligently seeking after the peace which he offers and presents by his word.
But here a question of no small difficulty arises; for Paul seems entirely to overthrow these commendations of the law which David here recites. How can these things agree together:that the law restores the souls of men, while yet it is a dead and deadly letter? that it rejoices men's hearts, and yet, by bringing in the spirit of bondage, strikes them with terror? that it enlightens the eyes, and yet, by casting a veil before our minds, excludes the light which ought to penetrate within? But, in the first place, we must remember what I have shown you at the commencement, that David does not speak simply of the precepts of the Moral Law, but comprehends the whole covenant by which God had adopted the descendants of Abraham to be his peculiar people; and, therefore, to the Moral Law, the rule of living well — he joins the free promises of salvation, or rather Christ himself, in whom and upon whom this adoption was founded. But Paul, who had to deal with persons who perverted and abused the law, and separated it from the grace and the Spirit of Christ, refers to the ministry of Moses viewed merely by itself, and according to the letter. It is certain, that if the Spirit of Christ does not quicken the law, the law is not only unprofitable, but also deadly to its disciples. Without Christ there is in the law nothing but inexorable rigour, which adjudges all mankind to the wrath and curse of God. And farther, without Christ, there remains within us a rebelliousness of the flesh, which kindles in our hearts a hatred of God and of his law, and from this proceed the distressing bondage and awful terror of which the Apostle speaks. These different ways in which the law may be viewed, easily show us the manner of reconciling these passages of Paul and David, which seem at first view to be at variance. The design of Paul is to show what the law can do for us, taken by itself; that is to say, what it can do for us when, without the promise of grace, it strictly and rigorously exacts from us the duty which we owe to God; but David, in praising it as he here does, speaks of the whole doctrine of the law, which includes also the gospel, and, therefore, under the law he comprehends Christ.
9. The fear of Jehovah is clean. By the fear of God we are here to understand the way in which God is to be served; and therefore it is taken in an active sense for the doctrine which prescribes to us the manner in which we ought to fear God. The way in which men generally manifest their fear of God, is by inventing false religions and a vitiated worship; in doing which they only so much the more provoke his wrath. David, therefore, here indirectly condemns these corrupt inventions, about which men torment themselves in vain, fa420 and which often sanction impurity; and in opposition to them he justly affirms, that in the keeping of the law there is an exemption from every thing which defiles. He adds, that it endures for ever; as if he had said, This is the treasure of everlasting happiness. We see how mankind, without well thinking what they are doing, pursue, with impetuous and ardent affections, the transitory things of this world; but, in thus catching at the empty shadow of a happy life, they lose true happiness itself. In the second clause, by calling the commandments of God truth, David shows that whatever men undertake to do at the mere suggestion of their own minds, without having a regard to the law of God as a rule, is error and falsehood. And, indeed, he could not have more effectually stirred us up to love, and zealously to live according to the law, than by giving us this warning, that all those who order their life, without having any respect to the law of God, deceive themselves, and follow after mere delusions. Those who explain the word judgments, as referring only to the commandments of the second table, are, in my opinion, mistaken:for David's purpose was to commend, under a variety of expressions, the advantages which the faithful receive from the law of God. When he says, They are justified together, the meaning is, They are all righteous from the greatest to the least, without a single exception. By this commendation he distinguishes the law of God from all the doctrines of men, for no blemish or fault can be found in it, but it is in all points absolutely perfect.
Psalm 19:10-11
10. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and the droppings of honeycombs. fa421 11. Moreover, by them is thy servant made circumspect; and in the keeping of them there is great reward.

10. More to be desired are they than gold. The Psalmist now exalts the law of God both on account of its price and sweetness. This commendation depends on the commendations given in the preceding verses; for the many and great advantages which he has just now enumerated, ought justly to make us account heavenly truth the highest and most excellent treasure, and to despise, when compared with it, all the gold and silver of the world. Instead of the word fine gold, which the Latins have called Aurum obryzum, fa422 some render the Hebrew word a jewel, or precious stones, fa423 but the other translation is more generally received, namely, fine gold, that is, gold which is pure and well refined in the furnace; and there are many passages of Scripture by which this rendering is confirmed. fa424 The Hebrew word zp, paz, is derived from hzp, pazah, which signifies to strengthen; fa425 from which we may conjecture that the Psalmist does not mean the gold of any particular country, as if one should say the gold of Ophir, but gold completely refined and purified by art. So far is zp, paz, from being derived from the name of a country, that, on the contrary, it appears from <241009>Jeremiah 10:9, that the land of Uphaz took its name from this Hebrew word, because it had in it mines of the finest gold. As to the origin of the word obrizum, which the Latins have used, we cannot say any thing with certainty, except that, according to the conjecture of Jerome, it signifies brought from the land of Ophir, as if it had been said, aurum Ophrizum. In short, the sense is, that we do not esteem the law as it deserves, if we do not prefer it to all the riches of the world. If we are once brought thus highly to prize the law, it will serve effectually to deliver our hearts from an immoderate desire of gold and silver. To this esteem of the law there must be added love to it, and delight in it, so that it may not only subdue us to obedience by constraint, but also allure us by its sweetness; a thing which is impossible, unless, at the same time, we have mortified in us the love of carnal pleasures, with which it is not wonderful to see us enticed and ensnared, so long as we reject, through a vitiated taste, the righteousness of God. From this we may again deduce another evidence, that David's discourse is not to be understood simply of the commandments, and of the dead letter, but that he comprehends, at the same time, the promises by which the grace of God is offered to us. If the law did nothing else but command us, how could it be loved, since in commanding it terrifies us, because we all fail in keeping it? fa426 Certainly, if we separate the law from the hope of pardon, and from the Spirit of Christ, so far from tasting it to be sweet as honey, we will rather find in it a bitterness which kills our wretched souls.
11. Moreover, by them is thy servant made circumspect. These words may be extended generally to all the people of God; but they are properly to be understood of David himself, and by them he testifies that he knew well, from his own experience, all that he had stated in the preceding verses respecting the law. No man will ever speak truly and in good earnest of heavenly truth, but he who has it deeply fixed in his own heart. David therefore acknowledges, that whatever prudence he had for regulating and framing his life aright, he was indebted for it to the law of God. Although, however, it is properly of himself that he speaks, yet by his own example he sets forth a general rule, namely, that if persons wish to have a proper method for governing the life well, the law of God alone is perfectly sufficient for this purpose; but that, on the contrary, as soon as persons depart from it, they are liable to fall into numerous errors and sins. It is to be observed that David, by all at once turning his discourse to God, appeals to him as a witness of what he had said, the more effectually to convince men that he speaks sincerely and from the bottom of his heart. As the Hebrew word rhz, zahar, which I have translated made circumspect, signifies to teach, as well as to be on one's guard, some translate it in this place, Thy servant is taught, or warned, by the commandments of the law. But the sentence implies much more, when it is viewed as meaning that he who yields himself to God to be governed by him is made circumspect and cautious, and, therefore, this translation seems to me to be preferable. In the second clause the Psalmist declares, that whoever yield themselves to God to observe the rule of righteousness which he prescribes, do not lose their labor, seeing he has in reserve for them a great and rich reward:In keeping of them there is great reward. It is no mean commendation of the law when it is said, that in it God enters into covenant with us, and, so to speak, brings himself under obligation to recompense our obedience. In requiring from us whatever is contained in the law, he demands nothing but what he has a right to; yet such is his free and undeserved liberality, that he promises to his servants a reward, which, in point of justice, he does not owe them. The promises of the law, it is true, are made of no effect; but it is through our fault:for even he who is most perfect amongst us comes far short of full and complete righteousness; and men cannot expect any reward for their works until they have perfectly and to the full satisfied the requirements of the law. Thus these two doctrines completely harmonize:first, that eternal life shall be given as the reward of works to him who fulfils the law in all points; and, secondly, that the law notwithstanding denounces a curse against all men, because the whole human family are destitute of the righteousness of works. This will presently appear from the following verse. David, after having celebrated this benefit of the law - that it offers an abundant reward to those who serve God — immediately changes his discourse, and cries out, Who can understand his errors? by which he pronounces all men liable to eternal death, and thus utterly overthrows all the confidence which men may be disposed to place in the merit of their works. It may be objected, that this commendation, In the keeping of thy commandments there is great reward, is in vain ascribed to the law, seeing it is without effect. The answer is easy, namely, that as in the covenant of adoption there is included the free pardon of sins, upon which depends the imputation of righteousness, God bestows a recompense upon the works of his people, although, in point of justice, it is not due to them. What God promises in the law to those who perfectly obey it, true believers obtain by his gracious liberality and fatherly goodness, inasmuch as he accepts for perfect righteousness their holy desires and earnest endeavors to obey.
Psalm 19:12-14
12. Who can understand his errors? fa427 Cleanse thou me from my secret sins. 13. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins, fa428 that they may not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright and clean from much wickedness. fa429 14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah, my strength and my redeemer.

12. Who can understand his errors? This exclamation shows us what use we should make of the promises of the law, which have a condition annexed to them. It is this: As soon as they come forth, every man should examine his own life, and compare not only his actions, but also his thoughts, with that perfect rule of righteousness which is laid down in the law. Thus it will come to pass, that all, from the least to the greatest, seeing themselves cut off from all hope of reward from the law, will be constrained to flee for refuge to the mercy of God. It is not enough to consider what the doctrine of the law contains; we must also look into ourselves, that we may see how far short we have come in our obedience to the law. Whenever the Papists hear this promise,
"He who doeth these things shall live in them,"
(<031805>Leviticus 18:5,)
they do not hesitate at once to connect eternal life with the merit of their works, as if it were in their own power to fulfill the law, of which we are all transgressors, not only in one point, but in all its parts. David, therefore, being involved as it were in a labyrinth on all sides, acknowledges with astonishment that he is overwhelmed under a sense of the multitude of his sins. We ought then to remember, in the first place, that as we are personally destitute of the righteousness which the law requires, we are on that account excluded from the hope of the reward which the law has promised; and, in the next place, that we are guilty before God, not of one fault or of two, but of sins innumerable, so that we ought, with the bitterest sorrow, to bewail our depravity, which not only deprives us of the blessing of God, but also turns to us life into death. This David did. There is no doubt that when, after having said that God liberally offers a reward to all who observe his law, he cried out, Who can understand his errors? it was from the terror with which he was stricken in thinking upon his sins. By the Hebrew word twaygç, shegioth, which we have translated errors, some think David intends lesser faults; but in my judgment he meant simply to say, that Satan has so many devices by which he deludes and blinds our minds, that there is not a man who knows the hundredth part of his own sins. The saints, it is true, often offend in lesser matters, through ignorance and inadvertence; but it happens also that, being entangled in the snares of Satan, they do not perceive even the grosser faults which they have committed. Accordingly, all the sins to the commission of which men give themselves loose reins, not being duly sensible of the evil which is in them, and being deceived by the allurements of the flesh, are justly included under the Hebrew word here used by David, which signifies faults or ignorances. fa430 In summoning himself and others before the judgment-seat of God, he warns himself and them, that although their consciences do not condemn them, they are not on that account absolved; for God sees far more clearly than men's consciences, since even those who look most attentively into themselves, do not perceive a great part of the sins with which they are chargeable.
After making this confession, David adds a prayer for pardon, Cleanse thou me from my secret sins. The word cleanse is to be referred not to the blessing of regeneration, but to free forgiveness; for the Hebrew verb hqn, nakah, here used, comes from a word which signifies to be innocent. The Psalmist explains more clearly what he intended by the word errors, in now calling them secret sins; that is to say, those with respect to which men deceive themselves, by thinking that they are no sins, and who thus deceive themselves not only purposely and by expressly aiming at doing so, but because they do not enter into the due consideration of the majesty of the judgment of God. It is in vain to attempt to justify ourselves under the pretext and excuse of ignorance. Nor does it avail any thing to be blind as to our faults, since no man is a competent judge in his own cause. We must, therefore, never account ourselves to be pure and innocent until we are pronounced such by God's sentence of absolution or acquittal. The faults which we do not perceive must necessarily come under the review of God's judgment, and entail upon us condemnation, unless he blot them out and pardon them; and if so, how shall he escape and remain unpunished who, besides these, is chargeable with sins of which he knows himself to be guilty, and on account of which his own conscience compels him to judge and condemn himself? Farther, we should remember that we are not guilty of one offense only, but are overwhelmed with an immense mass of impurities. The more diligently any one examines himself, the more readily will he acknowledge with David, that if God should discover our secret faults, there would be found in us an abyss of sins so great as to have neither bottom nor shore, as we say; fa431 for no man can comprehend in how many ways he is guilty before God. From this also it appears, that the Papists are bewitched, and chargeable with the grossest hypocrisy, when they pretend that they can easily and speedily gather all their sins once a year into a bundle. The decree of the Lateran Council commands every one to confess all his sins once every year, and at the same time declares that there is no hope of pardon but in complying with that decree. Accordingly, the blinded Papist, by going to the confessional, to mutter his sins into the ear of the priest, thinks he has done all that is required, as if he could count upon his fingers all the sins which he has committed during the course of the whole year; whereas, even the saints, by strictly examining themselves, can scarcely come to the knowledge of the hundredth part of their sins, and, therefore, with one voice unite with David in saying, Who can understand his errors? Nor will it do to allege that it is enough if each performs the duty of reckoning up his sins to the utmost of his ability. This does not diminish, in any degree, the absurdity of this famous decree. fa432 As it is impossible for us to do what the law requires, all whose hearts are really and deeply imbued with the principle of the fear of God must necessarily be overwhelmed with despair, so long as they think themselves bound to enumerate all their sins, in order to their being pardoned; and those who imagine they can disburden themselves of their sins in this way must be persons altogether stupid. I know that some explain these words in a different sense, viewing them as a prayer, in which David beseeches God, by the guidance of his Holy Spirit, to recover him from all his errors. But, in my opinion, they are to be viewed rather as a prayer for forgiveness, and what follows in the next verse is a prayer for the aid of the Holy Spirit, and for success to overcome temptations.
13. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins. By presumptuous sins he means known and evident transgressions, fa433 accompanied with proud contempt and obstinacy. By the word keep back, he intimates, that such is the natural propensity of the flesh to sin, that even the saints themselves would immediately break forth or rush headlong into it, did not God, by his own guardianship and protection, keep them back. It is to be observed, that while he calls himself the servant of God, he nevertheless acknowledges that he had need of the bridle, lest he should arrogantly and rebelliously break forth in transgressing the law of God. Being regenerated by the Spirit of God, he groaned, it is true, under the burden of his sins; but he knew, on the other hand, how great is the rebellion of the flesh, and how much we are inclined to forgetfulness of God, from which proceed contempt of his majesty and all impiety. Now, if David, who had made so much progress in the fear of God, was not beyond the danger of transgressing, how shall the carnal and unrenewed man, in whom innumerable lusts exercise dominion, be able to restrain and govern himself by his own free will? Let us learn, then, even although the unruliness of our wayward flesh has been already subdued by the denial of ourselves, to walk in fear and trembling; for unless God restrain us, our hearts will violently boil with a proud and insolent contempt of God. This sense is confirmed by the reason added immediately after, that they may not have dominion over me. By these words he expressly declares, that unless God assist him, he will not only be unable to resist, but will be wholly brought under the dominion of the worst vices. This passage, therefore, teaches us not only that all mankind are naturally enslaved to sin, but that the faithful themselves would become the bond-slaves of sin also, if God did not unceasingly watch over them to guide them in the path of holiness, and to strengthen them for persevering in it. There is also another useful lesson which we have here to attend to, namely, that we ought never to pray for pardon, without, at the same time, asking to be strengthened and fortified by the power of God for the time to come, that temptations, in future, may not gain advantage over us. And although we may feel in our hearts the incitements of concupiscence goading and distressing us, we ought not, on that account, to become discouraged. The remedy to which we should have recourse is to pray to God to restrain us. No doubt, David could have wished to feel in his heart no stirrings of corruption; but knowing that he would never be wholly free from the remains of sin, until at death he had put off this corrupt nature, he prays to be armed with the grace of the Holy Spirit for the combat, that iniquity might not reign victorious over him. In the end of the verse there are two things to be observed. David, in affirming that he shall then be upright and clean from much wickedness, attributes, in the first place, the honor of preserving him innocent to the spiritual assistance of God; and depending upon it, he confidently assures himself of victory over all the armies of Satan. In the second place, he acknowledges, that unless he is assisted by God, he will be overwhelmed with an immense load, and plunged as it were into a boundless abyss of wickedness:for he says, that aided by God, he will be clear not of one fault or of two, but of many. From this it follows, that as soon as we are abandoned by the grace of God, there is no kind of sin in which Satan may not entangle us. Let this confession of David then quicken us to earnestness in prayer; for in the midst of so many and various snares, it does not become us to fall asleep or to be indolent. Again, let the other part of the Psalmist's exercise predominate in our hearts — let us boast with him, that although Satan may assault us by many and strong armies, we will nevertheless be invincible, provided we have the aid of God, and will continue, in despite of every hostile attempt, to hold fast our integrity.
14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart. David asks still more expressly to be fortified by the grace of God, and thus enabled to live an upright and holy life. The substance of the verse is this:I beseech thee, O God, not only to keep me from breaking forth into the external acts of transgression, but also to frame my tongue and my heart to the obedience of thy law. We know how difficult it is, even for the most perfect, so to bridle their words and thoughts, as that nothing may pass through their heart or mouth which is contrary to the will of God; and yet this inward purity is what the law chiefly requires of us. Now, the rarer this virtue — the rarer this strict control of the heart and of the tongue is, let us learn so much the more the necessity of our being governed by the Holy Spirit, in order to regulate our life uprightly and honestly. By the word acceptable, the Psalmist shows that the only rule of living well is for men to endeavor to please God, and to be approved of him. The concluding words, in which he calls God his strength and his redeemer, he employs to confirm himself in the assured confidence of obtaining his requests.
PSALM 20.
This psalm contains a common prayer of the Church in behalf of the King of Israel, that God would succor him in danger; and in behalf of his kingdom, that God would maintain it in safety, and cause it to prosper:for in the person of David the safety and well-being of the whole community centred. To this there is added a promise, that God will preside over that kingdom of which he was the founder, and so effectually watch over it as to secure its continual preservation.
To the chief musician. A Psalm of David.
Psalm 20:1-2
1. May Jehovah hear thee in the day of trouble! may the name of the God of Jacob defend thee! 2. May he send thee help from his sanctuary, and sustain thee out of Sion!

The inscription shows that the psalm was composed by David; but though he was its author, there is no absurdity in his speaking of himself in the person of others. The office of a prophet having been committed to him, he with great propriety prepared this as a form of prayer for the use of the faithful. In doing this, his object was not so much to commend his own person, by authoritatively issuing a royal ordinance enjoining upon the people the use of this prayer, as to show, in the exercise of his office as a teacher, that it belonged to the whole Church to concern itself, and to use its endeavors that the kingdom which God had erected might continue safe and prosperous. Many interpreters view this prayer as offered up only on one particular occasion; but in this I cannot agree. The occasion of its composition at first may have arisen from some particular battle which was about to be fought, either against the Ammonites, or against some other enemies of Israel. But the design of the Holy Spirit, in my judgment, was to deliver to the Church a common form of prayer, which, as we may gather from the words, was to be used whenever she was threatened with any danger. God commands his people, in general, to pray for kings, but there was a special reason, and one which did not apply to any other kingdom, why prayer was to be made in behalf of this kingdom; for it was only by the hand of David and his seed that God had determined to govern and maintain his people. It is particularly to be noticed, that under the figure of this temporal kingdom, there was described a government far more excellent, on which the whole joy and felicity of the Church depended. The object, therefore, which David had expressly in view was, to exhort all the children of God to cherish such a holy solicitude about the kingdom of Christ, as would stir them up to continual prayer in its behalf.
1. May Jehovah hear thee, etc. The Holy Spirit, by introducing the people as praying that God would answer the prayers of the king, is to be viewed as at the same time admonishing kings that it is their duty to implore the protection of God in all their affairs. When he says, In the day of trouble, he shows that they will not be exempted from troubles, and he does this that they may not become discouraged, if at any time they should happen to be in circumstances of danger. In short, the faithful, that the body may not be separated from the head, further the king's prayers by their common and united supplications. The name of God is here put for God himself and not without good reason; for the essence of God being incomprehensible to us, it behoves us to trust in him, in so far as his grace and power are made known to us. From his name, therefore, proceeds confidence in calling upon him. The faithful desire that the king may be protected and aided by God, whose name was called upon among the sons of Jacob. I cannot agree with those who think that mention is here made of that patriarch, because God exercised him with various afflictions, not unlike those with which he tried his servant David. I am rather of opinion that, as is usual in Scripture, the chosen people are denoted by the term Jacob. And from this name, the God of Jacob, the faithful encourage themselves to pray for the defense of their king; because it was one of the privileges of their adoption to live under the conduct and protection of a king set over them by God himself. Hence we may conclude, as I have said before, that under the figure of a temporal kingdom there is described to us a government much more excellent. fa434 Since Christ our King, being an everlasting priest, never ceases to make intercession with God, the whole body of the Church should unite in prayer with him; fa435 and farther, we can have no hope of being heard except he go before us, and conduct us to God. fa436 And it serves in no small degree to assuage our sorrows to consider that Jesus Christ, when we are afflicted, accounts our distresses his own, provided we, at the same time, take courage, and continue resolute and magnanimous in tribulation; which we should be prepared to do, since the Holy Spirit here forewarns us that the kingdom of Christ would be subject to dangers and troubles.
2. May he send thee help. That is to say, may he succor thee out of mount Sion, where he commanded the ark of the covenant to be placed, and chose for himself a dwelling-place. The weakness of the flesh will not suffer men to soar up to heaven, and, therefore, God comes down to meet them, and by the external means of grace shows that he is near them. Thus the ark of the covenant was to his ancient people a pledge of his presence, and the sanctuary an image of heaven. But as God, by appointing mount Sion to be the place where the faithful should continually worship him, had joined the kingdom and priesthood together, David, in putting into the lips of the people a prayer for help out of Sion, doubtless had an eye to this sacred bond of union. Hence I conjecture that this psalm was composed by David in his old age, and about the close of his life. Some think he spake of Sion by the Spirit of prophecy before it had been appointed that the ark should be placed there; but this opinion seems strained, and to have little probability.
Psalm 20:3-5
3. May he remember all thy offerings; and make thy holocaust [or burnt sacrifice] fat! fa437 Selah. 4. May he grant thee according to thy heart, and fulfill all thy counsel! 5. That we may rejoice in thy salvation, [or safety;] and set up a banner in the name of our God, when Jehovah shall fulfill all thy petitions.

3. May he remember. I understand the word remember as meaning to have regard to, as it is to be understood in many other places; just as to forget often signifies to neglect, or not to deign to regard, nor even to behold, the object to which it is applied. It is, in short, a prayer that God would actually show that the king's sacrifices were acceptable to him. Two kinds of them are here mentioned; first, the hjnm, mincha, mentioned in the first clause of the verse, which was the appointed accompaniment of all sacrifices, and which was also sometimes offered by itself; and, secondly, the holocaust, or whole burnt-sacrifice. But under these two kinds David intended to comprehend, by synecdoche, all sacrifices; and under sacrifices he comprehends requests and prayers. We know that whenever the fathers prayed under the law, their hope of obtaining what they asked was founded upon their sacrifices; and, in like manner, at this day our prayers are acceptable to God only in so far as Christ sprinkles and sanctifies them with the perfume of his own sacrifice. The faithful, therefore, here desire that the solemn prayers of the king, which were accompanied with sacrifices and oblations, might have their effect in the prosperous issue of his affairs. That this is the meaning may be gathered still more clearly from the following verse, in which they commend to God the desires and counsels of the king. But as it would be absurd to ask God to grant foolish and wicked desires, it is to be regarded as certain, that there is here described a king who was neither given to ambition, nor inflamed with avarice, nor actuated by the desire of whatever the unruly passions might suggest, but wholly intent on the charge which was committed to him, and entirely devoted to the advancement of the public good; so that he asks nothing but what the Holy Spirit dictated to him, and what God, by his own mouth, commanded him to ask.
5. That we may rejoice in thy salvation. This verse may be explained in two other ways, besides the sense it bears according to the translation which I have given. Some consider it to be a prayer, as if it had been said, Lord, make us to rejoice. Others think that the faithful, after having finished their prayer, encourage themselves to entertain good hope; fa438 or rather, being already inspired with an assured hope of success, they begin to sing, so to speak, of the victory, even as it is usual with David to intermingle such kind of rejoicings with his prayers, thereby to stir up himself to continue with the more alacrity in prayer. But upon considering the whole more carefully, my opinion is, that what is meant to be expressed is the effect or fruit which would result from the bestowment of the grace and favor of God, for which the people prayed; and, therefore, I have thought it necessary to supply the particle that, in the beginning of the verse. The faithful, as an argument to obtain the favor of God towards their king, set forth the joy which they would all experience in common, in seeing it exercised towards him, and the thanksgiving which they would with one accord render for it. The import of their language is, It is not for the preservation and welfare of one man that we are solicitous; it is for the safety and well-being of the whole Church. The expression, In thy salvation, may be referred to God as well as to the king; for the salvation which God bestows is often called the salvation of God; but the context requires that it should be rather understood of the king. The people lived "under the shadow of the king," to use the words of Jeremiah, (<250420>Lamentations 4:20;) and, therefore, the faithful now testify, that as long as he is safe and in prosperity, they will all be joyful and happy. At the same time, to distinguish their joy from the heathen dancings and rejoicings, they declare that they will set up their banners in the name of God; for the Hebrew word lgd, dagal, here used, means to set or lift up a banner. The meaning is, that the faithful, in grateful acknowledgement of the grace of God, will celebrate his praises and triumph in his name.
Psalm 20:6-9
6. Now I know that Jehovah hath saved his anointed; he will hear him from the heavens of his sanctuary, in the mightiness of the salvation of his right hand. fa439 7. Some trust fa440 in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of Jehovah our God. 8. They are bowed down and are fallen; but we are risen and are erect. 9. Save, O Jehovah! let the king hear us in the day that we call upon him.

6. Now I know. Here there follows grateful rejoicing, in which the faithful declare that they have experienced the goodness of God in the preservation of the king. To this there is at the same time added a doctrine of faith, namely, that God showed by the effect that he put forth his power in maintaining the kingdom of David, because it was founded upon his calling. The meaning is, It appears from certain experience, that God is the guardian of the kingdom which he himself set up, and of which he is the founder. For David is called Messiah, or anointed, that the faithful might be persuaded that he was a lawful and sacred king, whom God had testified, by outward anointing, to be chosen by himself. Thus, then, the faithful ascribe to the grace of God the deliverance which had been wrought for David from the greatest dangers, and at the same time, particularly mention the cause of this to be, that God had determined to protect and defend him who, by his commandment, had been anointed king over his people. They confirm still more clearly their hope, with respect to the future, in the following clause:God will hear him out of heaven. I do not translate the verb which is here used into the past tense, but retain the future:for I have no doubt, that from the experience which God had already given them of his goodness, they concluded that it would be hereafter exercised in the continual preservation of the kingdom. Here the Psalmist makes mention of another sanctuary, fa441 namely, a heavenly. As God then graciously vouchsafed to descend among the Israelites, by the ark of the covenant, in order to make himself more familiarly known to them; so, on the other hand, he intended to draw the minds of his people upwards to himself, and thereby to prevent them from forming carnal and earthly conceptions of his character, and to teach them that he was greater than the whole world. Thus, under the visible sanctuary, which was made with hands, there is set forth the fatherly goodness of God, and his familiarity with his people; while, under the heavenly sanctuary, there is shown his infinite power, dominion, and majesty. The words, In the mightiness of the salvation, mean his mighty salvation, or his saving power. Thus, in the very expression there is a transposing of the words. The sense comes to this: May God by his wonderful power, preserve the king who was anointed by his commandment! The Holy Spirit, who dictated this prayer, saw well that Satan would not suffer David to live in peace, but would put forth all his efforts to oppose him, which would render it necessary for him to be sustained by more than human power. I do not, however, disapprove of the other exposition which I have marked on the margin, according to which the faithful, for their greater encouragement, set before themselves this truth, that the salvation of God's right hand is in mightiness; in other words, is sufficiently strong to overcome all impediments.
7. Some trust in chariots. I do not restrict this to the enemies of Israel, as is done by other interpreters. I am rather inclined to think that there is here a comparison between the people of God and all the rest of the world. We see how natural it is to almost all men to be the more courageous and confident the more they possess of riches, power and military forces. The people of God, therefore, here protest that they do not place their hope, as is the usual way with men, in their military forces and warlike apparatus, but only in the aid of God. As the Holy Spirit here sets the assistance of God in opposition to human strength, it ought to be particularly noticed, that whenever our minds come to be occupied by carnal confidence, they fall at the same time into a forgetfulness of God. It is impossible for him, who promises himself victory by confiding in his own strength, to have his eyes turned towards God. The inspired writer, therefore, uses the word remember, to show, that when the saints betake themselves to God, they must cast off every thing which would hinder them from placing an exclusive trust in him. This remembrance of God serves two important purposes to the faithful. In the first place, however much power and resources they may possess, it nevertheless withdraws them from all vain confidence, so that they do not expect any success except from the pure grace of God. In the second place, if they are bereft and utterly destitute of all succor, it notwithstanding so strengthens and encourages them, that they call upon God both with confidence and constancy. On the other hand, when ungodly men feel themselves strong and powerful, being blinded with pride, they do not hesitate boldly to despise God; but when they are brought into circumstances of distress, they are so terrified as not to know what to become. In short, the Holy Spirit here recommends to us the remembrance of God, which, retaining its efficacy both in the want and in the abundance of power, subdues the vain hopes with which the flesh is wont to be inflated. As the verb rykzn, nazkir, which I have translated we will remember, is in the conjugation hiphil, some render it transitively, we shall cause to remember. But it is no new thing in Hebrew for verbs to be used as neuter which are properly transitive; and, therefore, I have adopted the exposition which seems to me the most suitable to this passage.
8. They are bowed down. It is probable that there is here pointed out, as it were with the finger, the enemies of Israel, whom God had overthrown, when they regarded no event as less likely to happen. There is contained in the words a tacit contrast between the cruel pride with which they had been lifted up for a time when they audaciously rushed forward to make havoc of all things on the one hand, and the oppression of the people of God on the other. The expression, to rise, is applied only to those who were before sunk or fallen; and, on the other hand, the expression, bowed down and fallen, is with propriety applied to those who were lifted up with pride and presumption. The prophet therefore teaches by the event, how much more advantageous it is for us to place all our confidence in God than to depend upon our own strength.
9. Save, O Jehovah! etc. Some read in one sentence, O Jehovah! save the king; fa442 perhaps because they think it wrong to attribute to an earthly king what is proper to God only, — to be called upon, and to hear prayer. But if we turn our eyes towards Christ, as it becomes us to do, we will no longer wonder that what properly belongs to him is attributed in a certain sense to David and his successors, in so far as they were types of Christ. As God governs and saves us by the hand of Christ, we must not look for salvation from any other quarter. In like manner, the faithful under the former economy were accustomed to betake themselves to their king as the minister of God's saving grace. Hence these words of Jeremiah,
"The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen." (<250420>Lamentations 4:20)
Whenever, therefore, God promises the restoration of his church, he sets forth a symbol or pledge of its salvation in the kingdom. We now see that it is not without very good reason that the faithful are introduced asking succor from their king, under whose guardianship and protection they were placed, and who, as the vicegerent of God, presided over them; as the Prophet Micah says, (<330213>Micah 2:13,) "Their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them;" by which words he intimates, that their king will be as it were a mirror in which they may see reflected the image of God. To return to the present passage:— The expression, Save, O Jehovah, is elliptical, but it has greater emphasis than if the object for which salvation is sought had been mentioned; for by this means David shows that this salvation belongs in common to the whole body of the church. In <19B825>Psalm 118:25, there is a prayer in the same words, and it is certain that it is the very same prayer. In short, this is a prayer, that God, by blessing the king, would show himself the Savior of the whole people. In the last clause of the verse there is expressed the means of this salvation. The people pray that the king may be furnished with power from God to deliver them whenever they are in distress, and cry to him for help. Let the king hear us in the day that we call upon him. God had not promised that his people would be saved in any other way than by the hand and conduct of the king whom he had given them. In the present day, when Christ is now manifested to us, let us learn to yield him this honor — to renounce all hope of salvation from any other quarter, and to trust to that salvation only which he shall bring to us from God his Father. And of this we shall then only become partakers when, being all gathered together into one body, under the same Head, we shall have mutual care one of another, and when none of us will have his attention so engrossed with his own advantage and individual interest, as to be indifferent to the welfare and happiness of others.
PSALM 21.
This psalm contains a public and solemn thanksgiving for the prosperous and happy condition of the king. Its subject is almost the same with that of the preceding. fa443 In the former there was set forth a common form of prayer, which was designed to excite in the whole people earnest concern for the preservation of their head. In this it is shown that the safety and prosperity of the king ought to produce public and general rejoicing through the whole realm, inasmuch as God by this means intended to preserve the whole body in safety. But, above all, it was the design of the Holy Spirit here to direct the minds of the faithful to Christ, who was the end and perfection of this kingdom, and to teach them that they could not be saved except under the head which God himself had appointed over them.
To the chief musician. A psalm of David.
Psalm 21:1-3
1. The king will rejoice in thy strength, O Yehovah! and in thy salvation how greatly will he rejoice! 2. Thou hast given him the desire of his heart, and hast not denied him the request of his lips. Selah. 3. For thou wilt prevent him with blessings of good, thou wilt set a crown of gold upon his head. fa444

1. The king will rejoice in thy strength, O Jehovah! David could have given thanks to God in private for the victories and other signal favors which he had received from him; but it was his intention to testify not only that it was God who elevated him to the throne, but also that whatever blessings God had conferred upon him redounded to the public good, and the advantage of all the faithful. In the beginning of the psalm the believing Israelites express their firm persuasion that God, who had created David to be king, had undertaken to defend and maintain him. It therefore appears that this psalm, as well as the preceding, was composed for the purpose of assuring the faithful that the goodness of God in this respect towards David would be of long duration, and permanent; and it was necessary, in order to their being established in a well-grounded confidence of their safety; to hope well of their king, whose countenance was as it were a mirror of the merciful and reconciled countenance of God. The sense of the words is:Lord, in putting forth thy power to sustain and protect the king, thou wilt preserve him safe; and, ascribing his safety to thy power, he will greatly rejoice in thee. The Psalmist has doubtless put strength and salvation for strong and powerful succor; intimating, that the power of God in defending the king would be such as would preserve and protect him against all dangers.
In the second verse there is pointed out the cause of this joy. The cause was this:that God had heard the prayers of the king, and had liberally granted him whatever he desired. It was important to be known, and that the faithful should have it deeply impressed on their minds, that all David's successes were so many benefits conferred upon him by God, and at the same time testimonies of his lawful calling. And David, there is no doubt, in speaking thus, testifies that he did not give loose reins to the desires of the flesh, and follow the mere impulse of his appetites like worldly men, who set their minds at one time upon this thing, and at another time upon that, without any consideration, and just as they are led by their sensual lusts; but that he had so bridled his affections as to desire nothing save what was good and lawful. According to the infirmity which is natural to men, he was, it is true, chargeable with some vices, and even fell shamefully on two occasions; but the habitual administration of his kingdom was such that it was easy to see that the Holy Spirit presided over it. But as by the Spirit of prophecy the Psalmist had principally an eye to Christ, who does not reign for his own advantage, but for ours, and whose desire is directed only to our salvation, we may gather hence the very profitable doctrine, that we need entertain no apprehension that God will reject our prayers in behalf of the church, since our heavenly King has gone before us in making intercession for her, so that in praying for her we are only endeavoring to follow his example.
3. For thou wilt prevent him. The change of the tense in the verbs does not break the connection of the discourse; and, therefore, I have, without hesitation, translated this sentence into the future tense, as we know that the changing of one tense into another is quite common in Hebrew. Those who limit this psalm to the last victory which David gained over foreign nations, and who suppose that the crown of which mention is here made was the crown of the king of the Ammonites, of which we have an account in sacred history, give, in my judgment, too low a view of what the Holy Spirit has here dictated concerning the perpetual prosperity of this kingdom. David, I have no doubt, comprehended his successors even to Christ, and intended to celebrate the continual course of the grace of God in maintaining his kingdom through successive ages. It was not of one man that it had been said,
"I will be his father, and he shall be my son,"
(<100714>2 Samuel 7:14;)
but this was a prophecy which ought to be extended from Solomon to Christ, as is fully established by the testimony of Isaiah, (<230906>Isaiah 9:6,) who informs us that it was fulfilled when the Son was given or manifested. When it is said, Thou wilt prevent him, the meaning is, that such will be the liberality and promptitude of God, in spontaneously bestowing blessings, that he will not only grant what is asked from him, but, anticipating the requests of the king, will load him with every kind of good things far beyond what he had ever expected. By blessings we are to understand abundance or plenteousness. Some translate the Hebrew word bwf, tob, goodness; fa445 but with this I cannot agree. It is to be taken rather for the beneficence or the free gifts of God. Thus the meaning will be, The king shall want nothing which is requisite to make his life in every respect happy, since God of his own good pleasure will anticipate his wishes, and enrich him with an abundance of all good things. The Psalmist makes express mention of the crown, because it was the emblem and ensign of royalty; and he intimates by this that God would be the guardian of the king, whom he himself had created. But as the prophet testifies, that the royal diadem, after lying long dishonored in the dust, shall again be put upon the head of Christ, we come to the conclusion, that by this song the minds of the godly were elevated to the hope of the eternal kingdom, of which a shadow only, or an obscure image, was set forth in the person of the successors of David. The doctrine of the everlasting duration of the kingdom of Christ is, therefore, here established, seeing he was not placed upon the throne by the favor or suffrages of men, but by God, who, from heaven, set the royal crown upon his head with his own hand.
Psalm 21:4-6
4. He asked life from thee, and thou hast given him length of days for ever and ever. 5. His glory is great in thy salvation: thou hast put upon him splendor and beauty. fa446 6. For thou hast set him to be blessings for ever: thou hast gladdened him with joy before thy countenance, [or, in thy presence.]

4. He asked life from thee. This verse confirms what I have formerly said, that this psalm is not to be limited to the person of any one man. David's life, it is true, was prolonged to an advanced period, so that, when he departed from this world, he was an old man, and full of days; but the course of his life was too short to be compared to this length of days, which is said to consist of many ages. Even if we reckon the time from the commencement of David's reign to the captivity of Babylon, this length of days will not be made up and completed in all David's successors. David, therefore, without doubt, comprehends the Eternal King. There is here a tacit comparison between the beginnings of this kingdom, which were obscure and contemptible, or rather which were fraught with the most grievous perils, and which bordered on despair; and the incredible glory which followed, when God, exempting it from the common lot of other kingdoms, elevated it almost above the heavens. For it is no ordinary commendation of this kingdom, when it is said, that it shall endure as long as the sun and moon shall shine in the heavens, (<197201>Psalm 72:1.) David, therefore, in saying that he asked life, tacitly points to the distressed circumstances to which he had often been reduced; and the meaning is, Lord, since the time thou hast called thy servant to the hope of the kingdom by thy holy anointing, his condition has been such that he has accounted it a singular blessing to be rescued from the jaws of death; but now, he has not only, by thy grace, escaped in safety the dangers which threatened his life:thou hast also promised that his kingdom will be continued for many ages in his successors. And it serves not a little to magnify the grace of God, that he vouchsafed to confer on a poor and miserable man, who was almost at the point of death, not only his life, - when, amidst the dangers which threatened it, he tremblingly asked merely its preservations — but also the inestimable honor of elevating him to the royal dignity, and of transmitting the kingdom to his posterity for ever. Some expound the verse thus:— Thou hast given him the life which he asked, even to the prolonging of his days for ever and ever. But this seems to me a cold and strained interpretation. We must keep in view the contrast which, as I have said, is here made between the weak and contemptible beginnings of the kingdom, and the unexpected honor which God conferred upon his servant, in calling the moon to witness that his seed should never fail. The same has been exemplified in Christ, who, from contempt, ignominy, death, the grave, and despair, was raised up by his Father to the sovereignty of heaven, to sit at the Father's right hand for ever, and at length to be the judge of the world.
5. His glory is great. By these words the people intimate that their king, through the protection which God afforded him, and the deliverances which he wrought for him, would become more renowned than if he had reigned in peace with the applause of all men, or had been defended by human wealth and human strength, or, finally, had continued invincible by his own power and policy; for thereby it appeared the more clearly that he had only attained to the royal dignity by the favor, conduct, and commandment of God. The believing Israelites, therefore, leave it to heathen kings to ennoble themselves by their own achievements, and to acquire fame by their own valor; and they set more value upon this, that God graciously showed himself favorable towards their king, fa447 than upon all the triumphs of the world. At the same time, they promise themselves such assistance from God as will suffice for adorning the king with majesty and honor.
6. For thou hast set him to be blessings for ever. Some explain these words simply thus, That God had chosen David to be king, in order to pour upon him his blessings in rich abundance. But it is evident that something more is intended by this manner of speaking. It implies, that the king had such an exuberant abundance of all good things, that he might justly be regarded as a pattern of the greatness of the divine beneficence; or that, in praying, his name would be generally used to serve as an example of how the suppliant wished to be dealt with. The Jews were accustomed to speak of those being set to be a curse, who were rendered so detestable, and on whom the dreadful vengeance of God had been inflicted with such severity, that their very names served for cursing and direful imprecations. On the other hand, they were accustomed to speak of those being set to be a blessing, whose names we propose in our prayers as an example of how we desire to be blessed; as if a man for instance should say, May God graciously bestow upon thee the same favor which he vouchsafed to his servant David! I do not reject this interpretation, but I am satisfied with the other, which views the words as implying that the king, abounding in all kind of good things, was an illustrious pattern of the liberality of God. We must carefully mark what is said immediately after concerning joy:Thou hast gladdened him with joy before thy countenance. fa448 The people not only mean that God did good to the king, seeing he looked upon him with a benignant and fatherly eye, but they also point out the proper cause of this joy, telling us that it proceeded from the knowledge which the king had of his being the object of the Divine favor. It would not be enough for God to take care of us, and to provide for our necessities, unless, on the other hand, he irradiated us with the light of his gracious and reconciled countenance, and made us to taste of his goodness, as we have seen in the 4th Psalm, "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, and we shall be saved." And without all doubt, it is true and solid happiness to experience that God is so favorable to us that we dwell as it were in his presence.
Psalm 21:7-10
7. For the king trusteth in Jehovah, and through the goodness of the Most High, he shall not be moved. 8. Thy hand shall find out all thy enemies, thy right hand shalt find out those that hate thee. 9. Thou shalt put them as it were into a furnace of fire, in the time of thy anger; Jehovah fa449 in his wrath shall overwhelm them, and the fire shall consume them. 10. Thou wilt destroy their fruit from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.

7. For the king trusteth. Here again the pious Israelites glory that their king shall be established, because he relies upon God; and they express at the same time how he relies upon him, namely, by hope or trust. I read the whole verse as one sentence, so that there is but one principal verb, and explain it thus:- The king, as he places by faith his dependence on God and his goodness, will not be subject to the disasters which overthrow the kingdoms of this world. Moreover, as we have said before, that whatever blessings the faithful attribute to their king, belong to the whole body of the Church, there is here made a promise, common to all the people of God, which may serve to keep us tranquil amidst the various storms which agitate the world. The world turns round as it were upon a wheel, by which it comes to pass, that those who were raised to the very top are precipitated to the bottom in a moment; but it is here promised, that the kingdom of Judah, and the kingdom of Christ of which it was a type, will be exempted from such vicissitude. Let us remember, that those only have the firmness and stability here promised, who betake themselves to the bosom of God by an assured faith, and relying upon his mercy, commit themselves to his protection. The cause or the ground of this hope or trust is at the same time expressed, and it is this, that God mercifully cherishes his own people, whom he has once graciously received into his favor.
8. Thy hand shall find. Hitherto the internal happiness of the kingdom has been described. Now there follows, as it was necessary there should, the celebration of its invincible strength against its enemies. What is said in this verse is of the same import as if the king had been pronounced victorious over all his enemies. I have just now remarked, that such a statement is not superfluous; for it would not have been enough for the kingdom to have flourished internally, and to have been replenished with peace, riches, and abundance of all good things, had it not also been well fortified against the attacks of foreign enemies. This particularly applies to the kingdom of Christ, which is never without enemies in this world. True, it is not always assailed by open war, and there is sometimes granted to it a period of respite; but the ministers of Satan never lay aside their malice and desire to do mischief, and therefore they never cease to plot and to endeavor to accomplish the overthrow of Christ's kingdom. It is well for us that our King, who lifts up his hand as a shield before us to defend us, is stronger than all. As the Hebrew word axm, matsa, which is twice repeated, and which we have translated, to find, sometimes signifies to suffice; and, as in the first clause, there is prefixed to the word lk, kal, which signifies all, the letter l, lamed, which signifies for, or against, and which is not prefixed to the Hebrew word which is rendered those that hate thee; some expositors, because of this diversity, explain the verse as if it had been said, Thy hand shall be able for all thine enemies, thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thus the sentence will ascend by degrees, — Thy hand shall be able to withstand, thy right hand shall lay hold upon thy enemies, so that they shall not escape destruction.
9. Thou shalt put them as it were into a furnace of fire. fa450 The Psalmist here describes a dreadful kind of vengeance, from which we gather, that he does not speak of every kind of enemies in general, but of the malicious and frantic despisers of God, who, after the manner of the giants fa451 of old, rise up against his only begotten Son. The very severity of the punishment shows the greatness of the wickedness. Some think that David alludes to the kind of punishment which he inflicted upon the Ammonites, of which we have an account in the sacred history; but it is more probable that he here sets forth metaphorically the dreadful destruction which awaits all the adversaries of Christ. They may burn with rage against the Church, and set the world on fire by their cruelty, but when their wickedness shall have reached its highest pitch, there is this reward which God has in reserve for them, that he will cast them into his burning furnace to consume them. In the first clause, the king is called an avenger; in the second, this office is transferred to God; and in the third, the execution of the vengeance is attributed to fire; which three things very well agree. We know that judgment has been committed to Christ, that he may cast his enemies headlong into everlasting fire; but, it was of importance distinctly to express that this is not the judgment of man but of God. Nor was it less important to set forth how extreme and dreadful a kind of vengeance this is, in order to arouse from their torpor those who, unapprehensive of danger, boldly despise all the threatenings of God. Besides, this serves not a little for the consolation of the righteous. We know how dreadful the cruelty of the ungodly is, and that our faith would soon sink under it, if it did not rise to the contemplation of the judgment of God. The expression, In the time of thy wrath, admonishes us that we ought patiently to bear the cross as long as it shall please the Lord to exercise and humble us under it. If, therefore, he does not immediately put forth his power to destroy the ungodly, let us learn to extend our hope to the time which our heavenly Father has appointed in his eternal purpose for the execution of his judgment, and when our King, armed with his terrible power, will come forth to execute vengeance. While he now seems to take no notice, this does not imply that he has forgotten either himself or us. On the contrary, he laughs at the madness of those who go on in the commission of every kind of sin without any fear of danger, and become more presumptuous day after day. This laughter of God, it is true, brings little comfort to us; but we must, nevertheless, complete the time of our condition of warfare till "the day of the Lord's vengeance" come, which, as Isaiah declares, (<233408>Isaiah 34:87) shall also be "the year of our redemption." It does not seem to me to be out of place to suppose, that in the last clause, there is denounced against the enemies of Christ a destruction like that which God in old time sent upon Sodom and Gomorrah. That punishment was a striking and memorable example above all others of the judgment of God against all the wicked, or rather it was, as it were, a visible image upon earth of the eternal fire of hell which is prepared for the reprobate:and hence this similitude is frequently to be met with in the sacred writings.
10. Thou shalt destroy their fruit from the earth. David amplifies the greatness of God's wrath, from the circumstance that it shall extend even to the children of the wicked. It is a doctrine common enough in Scripture, that God not only inflicts punishment upon the first originators of wickedness, but makes it even to overflow into the bosom of their children. fa452 And yet when he thus pursues his vengeance to the third and fourth generation, he cannot be said indiscriminately to involve the innocent with the guilty. As the seed of the ungodly, whom he has deprived of his grace, are accursed, and as all are by nature children of wrath, devoted to everlasting destruction, he is no less just in exercising his severity towards the children than towards the fathers. Who can lay any thing to his charge, if he withhold from those who are unworthy of it the grace which he communicates to his own children? In both ways he shows how dear and precious to him is the kingdom of Christ; first, in extending his mercy to the children of the righteous even to a thousand generations; and, secondly, in causing his wrath to rest upon the reprobate, even to the third and fourth generation.
Psalm 21:11-13
11. For they have spread out fa453 evil against thee; they have devised a stratagem against thee, which they could not accomplish. 12. For fa454 thou wilt set them as a butt; thou wilt prepare thy bowstrings to shoot against their faces. 13. Raise thyself, O Jehovah! In thy strength; then we will sing, and celebrate in psalms thy power.

11. For they have spread out. In this verse David shows that the ungodly had deserved the awful ruin which he predicted would befall them, since they had not only molested mortal man, but had also rushed forth in the fury of their pride to make war against God himself. No man, as has been stated in our exposition of the second psalm, could offer violence to the kingdom of Israel, which was consecrated in the person of David, by the commandment of God, without making foul and impious war against God. Much more when persons directly attack the kingdom of Christ to overthrow it, is the majesty of God violated, since it is the will of God to reign in the world only by the hand of his Son. As the Hebrew word hfn, natah, which we have translated to spread out, also sometimes signifies to turn aside, it may not unsuitably be here rendered either way. According to the first view the meaning is, that the wicked, as if they had spread out their nets, endeavored to subject to themselves the power of God. According to the second the meaning is, that for the purpose of hindering, and as it were swallowing up his power, fa455 they turned aside their malice, so as to make it bear against it, just like a man who, having dug a great ditch, turned aside the course of some torrent to make it fall within it. The Psalmist next declares, that they devised a stratagem, or device, which would fail of its accomplishment. By these words he rebukes the foolish arrogance of those who, by making war against God, manifest a recklessness and an audacity which will undertake any thing, however daring.
12. For thou wilt set them as a butt. As the Hebrew word µkç, shekem, which we have rendered a butt, properly signifies a shoulder, some understand it in that sense here, and explain the sentence thus:Their heads shall be smitten with heavy blows, so that having their bodies bended, their shoulders shall appear sticking out. According to these interpreters, the subjugation of the enemies of God is here metaphorically pointed out. But there is another explanation which is more generally received even among the Jewish expositors, namely, that God will shut them up in some corner, and there keep them from doing mischief; fa456 and they take this view, because the Hebrew word µkç, shekem, is often used to denote a corner, quarter, or place. As, however, the sacred writer, in the clause immediately following, represents God as furnished with a bow, ready to shoot his arrows directly in their faces, I have no doubt that, continuing his metaphor, he compares them to a butt, or mound of earth, on which it is customary to plant the mark which is aimed at, and thus the sense will flow very naturally thus:Lord, thou wilt make them as it were a butt against which to shoot thine arrows. fa457 The great object which the Psalmist has in view is doubtless to teach us to exercise patience, until God, at the fit time, bring the ungodly to their end.
13. Raise thyself, O Jehovah! The psalm is at length concluded with a prayer, which again confirms that the kingdom which is spoken of is so connected with the glory of God, that his power is reflected from it. This was no doubt true with respect to the kingdom of David; for God in old time displayed his power in exalting him to the throne. But what is here stated was only fully accomplished in Christ, who was appointed by the heavenly Father to be King over us, and who is at the same time God manifest in the flesh. As his divine power ought justly to strike terror into the wicked, so it is described as full of the sweetest consolation to us, which ought to inspire us with joy, and incite us to celebrate it with songs of praise and thanksgivings.
PSALM 22.
David complains in this psalm, that he is reduced to such circumstances of distress that he is like a man in despair. But after having recounted the calamities with which he was so severely afflicted, he emerges from the abyss of temptations, and gathering courage, comforts himself with the assurance of deliverance. At the same time, he sets before us, in his own person, a type of Christ, who he knew by the Spirit of prophecy behoved to be abased in marvellous and unusual ways fa458 previous to his exaltation by the Father. Thus the psalm, in the two parts of which it consists, explains that prophecy of Isaiah, (<235308>Isaiah 53:8,) "He was taken from prison and from judgment:and who shall declare his generation?"
To the chief musician. Upon the hind of the morning. A psalm of David.
This inscription is obscure; but interpreters have needlessly perplexed themselves in seeking after I know not what sublime mystery in a matter of small importance. Some are of opinion that the word tlya, ayeleth, means the morning star; fa459 others that it denotes strength fa460 but it is more correctly rendered hind. As it is evident, from the testimony of the apostles, that this psalm is a prophecy concerning Christ, the ancient interpreters thought that Christ would not be sufficiently dignified and honored unless, putting a mystical or allegorical sense upon the word hind, they viewed it as pointing out the various things which are included in a sacrifice. Those, also, who prefer translating the original words, rjçh tlya, ayeleth hashachar, the dawn of the day or morning, fa461 have endeavored to do the same thing. But as I find no solidity in these subtleties, it will be better to take that view of the title which is more simple and natural. I think it highly probable that it was the beginning of some common song; nor do I see how the inscription bears any relation to the subject-matter of the psalm. From the tenor of the whole composition, it appears that David does not here refer merely to one persecution, but comprehends all the persecutions which he suffered under Saul. It is, however, uncertain whether he composed this psalm when he peaceably enjoyed his kingdom, or in the time of his affliction; but there is no doubt that he here describes the thoughts which passed through his mind in the midst of his troubles, perplexities, and sorrows.
Psalm 22:1-2
1. My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou far from my help, and from the words of my roaring? 2. O my God! I cry in the day-time, fa462 but thou hearest not: and in the night-season, and there is no silence to me.

1. My God! The first verse contains two remarkable sentences, which, although apparently contrary to each other, are yet ever entering into the minds of the godly together. When the Psalmist speaks of being forsaken and cast off by God, it seems to be the complaint of a man in despair; for can a man have a single spark of faith remaining in him, when he believes that there is no longer any succor for him in God? And yet, in calling God twice his own God, and depositing his groanings into his bosom, he makes a very distinct confession of his faith. With this inward conflict the godly must necessarily be exercised whenever God withdraws from them the tokens of his favor, so that, in whatever direction they turn their eyes, they see nothing but the darkness of night. I say, that the people of God, in wrestling with themselves, on the one hand discover the weakness of the flesh, and on the other give evidence of their faith. With respect to the reprobate, as they cherish in their hearts their distrust of God, their perplexity of mind overwhelms them, and thus totally incapacitates them for aspiring after the grace of God by faith. That David sustained the assaults of temptation, without being overwhelmed, or swallowed up by it, may be easily gathered from his words. He was greatly oppressed with sorrow, but notwithstanding this, he breaks forth into the language of assurance, My God! my God! which he could not have done without vigorously resisting the contrary apprehension fa463 that God had forsaken him. There is not one of the godly who does not daily experience in himself the same thing. According to the judgment of the flesh, he thinks he is cast off and forsaken by God, while yet he apprehends by faith the grace of God, which is hidden from the eye of sense and reason; and thus it comes to pass, that contrary affections are mingled and interwoven in the prayers of the faithful. Carnal sense and reason cannot but conceive of God as being either favorable or hostile, according to the present condition of things which is presented to their view. When, therefore, he suffers us to lie long in sorrow, and as it were to pine away under it, we must necessarily feel, according to the apprehension of the flesh, as if he had quite forgotten us. When such a perplexing thought takes entire possession of the mind of man, it overwhelms him in profound unbelief, and he neither seeks, nor any longer expects, to find a remedy. But if faith come to his aid against such a temptation, the same person who, judging from the outward appearance of things, regarded God as incensed against him, or as having abandoned him, beholds in the mirror of the promises the grace of God which is hidden and distant. Between these two contrary affections the faithful are agitated, and, as it were, fluctuate, when Satan, on the one hand, by exhibiting to their view the signs of the wrath of God, urges them on to despair, and endeavors entirely to overthrow their faith; while faith, on the other hand, by calling them back to the promises, teaches them to wait patiently and to trust in God, until he again show them his fatherly countenance.
We see then the source from which proceeded this exclamation, My God! my God! and from which also proceeded the complaint which follows immediately after, Why hast thou forsaken me? Whilst the vehemence of grief, and the infirmity of the flesh, forced from the Psalmist these words, I am forsaken of God; faith, lest he should when so severely tried sink into despair, put into his mouth a correction of this language, so that he boldly called God, of whom he thought he was forsaken, his God. Yea, we see that he has given the first place to faith. Before he allows himself to utter his complaint, in order to give faith the chief place, he first declares that he still claimed God as his own God, and betook himself to him for refuge. And as the affections of the flesh, when once they break forth, are not easily restrained, but rather carry us beyond the bounds of reason, it is surely well to repress them at the very commencement. David, therefore, observed the best possible order in giving his faith the precedency - in expressing it before giving vent to his sorrow, and in qualifying, by devout prayer, the complaint which he afterwards makes with respect to the greatness of his calamities. Had he spoken simply and precisely in these terms, Lord, why forsakest thou me? he would have seemed, by a complaint so bitter, to murmur against God; and besides, his mind would have been in great danger of being embittered with discontent through the greatness of his grief. But, by here raising up against murmuring and discontent the rampart of faith, he keeps all his thoughts and feelings under restraint, that they may not break beyond due bounds. Nor is the repetition superfluous when he twice calls God his God; and, a little after, he even repeats the same words the third time. When God, as if he had cast off all care about us, passes over our miseries and groanings as if he saw them not, the conflict with this species of temptation is arduous and painful, and therefore David the more strenuously exerts himself in seeking the confirmation of his faith. Faith does not gain the victory at the first encounter, but after receiving many blows, and after being exercised with many tossings, she at length comes forth victorious. I do not say that David was so courageous and valiant a champion as that his faith did not waver. The faithful may put forth all their efforts to subdue their carnal affections, that they may subject and devote themselves wholly to God; but still there is always some infirmity remaining in them. From this proceeded that halting of holy Jacob, of which Moses makes mention in <013224>Genesis 32:24; for although in wrestling with God he prevailed, yet he ever after bore the mark of his sinful defect. By such examples God encourages his servants to perseverance, lest, from a consciousness of their own infirmity, they should sink into despair. The means therefore which we ought to adopt, whenever our flesh becomes tumultuous, and, like an impetuous tempest, hurries us into impatience, is to strive against it, and to endeavor to restrain its impetuosity. In doing this we will, it is true, be agitated and sorely tried, but our faith will, nevertheless, continue safe, and be preserved from shipwreck. Farther, we may gather from the very form of the complaint which David here makes, that he did not without cause redouble the words by which his faith might be sustained. He does not simply say that he was forsaken by God, but he adds, that God was far from his help, in as-much as when he saw him in the greatest danger, he gave him no token to encourage him in the hope of obtaining deliverance. Since God has the ability to succor us, if, when he sees us exposed as a prey to our enemies, he nevertheless sits still as if he cared not about us, who would not say that he has drawn back his hand that he may not deliver us? Again, by the expression, the words of my roaring, the Psalmist intimates that he was distressed and tormented in the highest degree. He certainly was not a man of so little courage as, on account of some slight or ordinary affliction, to howl in this manner like a brute beast. fa464 We must therefore come to the conclusion, that the distress was very great which could extort such roaring from a man who was distinguished for meekness, and for the undaunted courage with which he endured calamities.
As our Savior Jesus Christ, when hanging on the cross, and when ready to yield up his soul into the hands of God his Father, made use of these very words, (<402746>Matthew 27:46,) we must consider how these two things can agree, that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, and that yet he was so penetrated with grief, seized with so great mental trouble, as to cry out that God his Father had forsaken him. The apparent contradiction between these two statements has constrained many interpreters to have recourse to evasions for fear of charging Christ with blame in this matter. fa465 Accordingly, they have said that Christ made this complaint rather according to the opinion of the common people, who witnessed his sufferings, than from any feeling which he had of being deserted by his father. But they have not considered that they greatly lessen the benefit of our redemption, in imagining that Christ was altogether exempted from the terrors which the judgment of God strikes into sinners. It was a groundless fear to be afraid of making Christ subject to so great sorrow, lest they should diminish his glory. As Peter, in <440224>Acts 2:24, clearly testifies that "it was not possible that he should be holden of the pains of death," it follows that he was not altogether exempted from them. And as he became our representative, and took upon him our sins, it was certainly necessary that he should appear before the judgment-seat of God as a sinner. From this proceeded the terror and dread which constrained him to pray for deliverance from death; not that it was so grievous to him merely to depart from this life; but because there was before his eyes the curse of God, to which all who are sinners are exposed. Now, if during his first conflict "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood," and he needed an angel to comfort him, (<422243>Luke 22:43,) it is not wonderful if, in his last sufferings on the cross, he uttered a complaint which indicated the deepest sorrow. By the way, it should be marked, that Christ, although subject to human passions and affections, never fell into sin through the weakness of the flesh; for the perfection of his nature preserved him from all excess. He could therefore overcome all the temptations with which Satan assailed him, without receiving any wound in the conflict which might afterwards constrain him to halt. In short, there is no doubt that Christ, in uttering this exclamation upon the cross, manifestly showed, that although David here bewails his own distresses, this psalm was composed under the influence of the Spirit of prophecy concerning David's King and Lord.
2. O my God! I cry in the day-time. In this verse the Psalmist expresses the long continuance of his affliction, which increased his disquietude and weariness. It was a temptation even still more grievous, that his crying seemed only to be lost labor; for, as our only means of relief under our calamities is in calling upon God, if we derive no advantage from our prayers, what other remedy remains for us? David, therefore, complains that God is in a manner deaf to his prayers. When he says in the second clause, And there is no silence to me, the meaning is, that he experienced no comfort or solace, nothing which could impart tranquillity to his troubled mind. As long as affliction pressed upon him, his mind was so disquieted, that he was constrained to cry out. Here there is shown the constancy of faith, in that the long duration of calamities could neither overthrow it, nor interrupt its exercise. The true rule of praying is, therefore, this, that he who seems to have beaten the air to no purpose, or to have lost his labor in praying for a long time, should not, on that account, leave off, or desist from that duty. Meanwhile, there is this advantage which God in his fatherly kindness grants to his people, that if they have been disappointed at any time of their desires and expectations, they may make known to God their perplexities and distresses, and unburden them, as it were, into his bosom.
Psalm 22:3-8
3. Yet thou art holy, who inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6. But I am a worm, and not a man; the scorn of men, and the contempt of the people. 7. All those who see me mock at me: they thrust out the lip, and shake the head. 8. "He has committed," say they, "his cause unto [or, devolved his cause upon] Jehovah: fa466 let him deliver him, let him deliver him, fa467 seeing he delights in him."

3. Yet thou art holy. In the Hebrew, it is properly, And thou art holy:but the copula w, vau, ought, without doubt, to be rendered by the adversative particle yet. Some think that the eternal and immutable state of God is here set in opposition to the afflictions which David experienced; fa468 but I cannot subscribe to this opinion. It is more simple and natural to view the language as meaning, that God has always shown himself gracious to his chosen people. The subject here treated is not what God is in heaven, but what he has shown himself to be towards men. It may be asked, whether David, in these words, aggravates his complaint, by insinuating that he is the only person who obtains nothing from God? or whether, by holding up these words as a shield before him, he repels the temptation with which he was assailed, by exhibiting to his view this truth, that God is the continual deliverer of his people? I admit that this verse is an additional expression of the greatness of David's grief; but I have no doubt, that in using this language he seeks from it a remedy against his distrust. It was a dangerous temptation to see himself forsaken by God; and, accordingly, lest by continually thinking upon it, he should nourish it, he turned his mind to the contemplation of the constant evidences afforded of the grace of God, from which he might encourage himself, in the hope of obtaining succor. He, therefore, not only meant to ask how it was that God, who had always dealt mercifully with his people, should now, forgetting as it were his own nature, thus leave a miserable man without any succor or solace; but he also takes a shield with which to defend himself against the fiery darts of Satan. He calls God holy, because he continues always like himself. He says that he inhabiteth the praises of Israel; because, in showing such liberality towards the chosen people, as to be continually bestowing blessings upon them, he furnished them with matter for continued praise and thanksgiving. Unless God cause us to taste of his goodness by doing us good, we must needs become mute in regard to the celebration of his praise. As David belonged to the number of this chosen people, he strives, in opposition to all the obstacles which distrust might suggest as standing in the way, to cherish the hope that he shall at length be united to this body to sing along with them the praises of God.
4. Our fathers trusted in thee. Here the Psalmist assigns the reason why God sitteth amidst the praises of the tribes of Israel. The reason is, because his hand had been always stretched forth to preserve his faithful people. David, as I have just now observed, gathers together the examples of all past ages, in order thereby to encourage, strengthen, and effectually persuade himself, that as God had never cast off any of his chosen people, he also would be one of the number of those for whom deliverance is securely laid up in the hand of God. He therefore expressly declares that he belongs to the offspring of those who had been heard, intimating by this, that he is an heir of the same grace which they had experienced. He has an eye to the covenant by which God had adopted the posterity of Abraham to be his peculiar people. It would be of little consequence to know the varied instances in which God has exercised his mercy towards his own people, unless each of us could reckon himself among their number, as David includes himself in the Church of God. In repeating three times that the fathers had obtained deliverance by trusting, there is no doubt that with all modesty he intends tacitly to intimate that he had the same hope with which they were inspired, a hope which draws after it, as its effect, the fulfillment of the promises in our behalf. In order that a man may derive encouragement from the blessings which God has bestowed upon his servants in former times, he should turn his attention to the free promises of God's word, and to the faith which leans upon them. In short, to show that this confidence was neither cold nor dead, David tells us, at the same time, that they cried unto God. He who pretends that he trusts in God, and yet is so listless and indifferent under his calamities that he does not implore his aid, lies shamefully. By prayer, then, true faith is known, as the goodness of a tree is known by its fruit. It ought also to be observed, that God regards no other prayers as right but those which proceed from faith, and are accompanied with it. It is therefore not without good reason that David has put the word cried in the middle between these words, They trusted in thee, they trusted, in the fourth verse, and these words, They trusted in thee, in the fifth verse.
6. But I am a worm, and not a man. David does not murmur against God as if God had dealt hardly with him; but in bewailing his condition, he says, in order the more effectually to induce God to show him mercy, that he is not accounted so much as a man. This, it is true, seems at first sight to have a tendency to discourage the mind, or rather to destroy faith; but it will appear more clearly from the sequel, that so far from this being the case, David declares how miserable his condition is, that by this means he may encourage himself in the hope of obtaining relief. He therefore argues that it could not be but that God would at length stretch forth his hand to save him; to save him, I say, who was so severely afflicted, and on the brink of despair. If God has had compassion on all who have ever been afflicted, although afflicted only in a moderate degree, how could he forsake his servant when plunged in the lowest abyss of all calamities? Whenever, therefore, we are overwhelmed under a great weight of afflictions, we ought rather to take from this an argument to encourage us to hope for deliverance, than suffer ourselves to fall into despair. If God so severely exercised his most eminent servant David, and abased him so far that he had not a place even among the most despised of men, let us not take it ill, if, after his example, we are brought low. We ought, however, principally to call to our remembrance the Son of God, in whose person we know this also was fulfilled, as Isaiah had predicted,
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (<235303>Isaiah 53:3)
By these words of the prophet we are furnished with a sufficient refutation of the frivolous subtlety of those who have philosophised upon the word worm, as if David here pointed out some singular mystery in the generation of Christ; whereas his meaning simply is, that he had been abased beneath all men, and, as it were, cut off from the number of living beings. The fact that the Son of God suffered himself to be reduced to such ignominy, yea, descended even to hell, is so far from obscuring, in any respect, his celestial glory, that it is rather a bright mirror from which is reflected his unparalleled grace towards us.
7. All those who see me mock at me, etc., fa469 This is an explanation of the preceding sentence. He had said that he was an object of scorn to the lowest of men, and, as it were, to the refuse of the people. He now informs us of the ignominy with which he had been treated, — that not content with opprobrious language, they also showed their insolence by their very gesture, both by shooting out their lips, fa470 and by shaking their heads. As the words which we render they thrust out the lip, is, in the Hebrew, they open with the lip, fa471 some explain them as meaning to rail. But this view does not appear to me to be appropriate; for the letter b, beth, which signifies with, is here superfluous, as it often is in the Hebrew. I have therefore preferred rendering the original words, they thrust out the lip; which is the gesture of those who mock openly and injuriously. The reproachful language which follows was much more grievous when they alleged against him that God, who he openly avowed was his father, was turned away from him. We know that David, when he saw himself unjustly condemned of the world, was accustomed to support and console himself with the assurance, that since he had the approving testimony of a good conscience, he had God in heaven for his guardian, who was able to execute vengeance upon his revilers. fa472 But now, all who saw him reproached him, that with vain arrogance he had groundlessly boasted of the succor he would receive from God. Where is that God, say they, on whom he leaned? Where is that love to which he trusted? Satan has not a more deadly dart for wounding the souls of men than when he endeavors to dislodge hope from our minds, by turning the promises of God into ridicule. David's enemies, however, do not simply say that his prayers were in vain, and that the love of God of which he boasted was fallacious; but they indirectly charge him with being a hypocrite, in that he falsely pretended to be one of the children of God, from whom he was altogether estranged.
How severe a temptation this must have been to David every man may judge from his own experience. But by the remedy he used he afforded a proof of the sincerity of his confidence:for unless he had had God as the undoubted witness and approver of the sincerity of his heart, he would never have dared to come before him with this complaint. Whenever, therefore, men charge us with hypocrisy, let it be our endeavor that the inward sincerity of our hearts may answer for us before God. And whenever Satan attempts to dislodge faith from our minds, by biting detraction and cruel derision, let this be our sacred anchors — to call upon God to witness it, and that, beholding it, he may be pleased to show his righteousness in maintaining our right, since his holy name cannot be branded with viler blasphemy than to say that those who put their trust in him are puffed up with vain confidence, and that those who persuade themselves that God loves them deceive themselves with a groundless fancy. As the Son of God was assailed with the same weapon, it is certain that Satan will not be more sparing of true believers who are his members than of him. They ought, therefore, to defend themselves from this consideration - that although men may regard them as in a desperate condition, yet, if they commit to God both themselves and all their affairs, their prayers will not be in vain. By the verb, lg, gol, which is rendered to commit, the nature and efficacy of faith are very well expressed, which, reposing itself upon the providence of God, relieves our minds from the burdens of the cares and troubles with which they are agitated.
Psalm 22:9-11
9. Surely thou didst draw me forth from the womb, and thou didst cause me to confide upon the breasts of my mother. fa473 10. I was cast upon thee fa474 from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. 11. Depart not far from me, for distress is near, and there is none to help me.

9. Surely thou. David again here raises a new fortress, in order to withstand and repel the machinations of Satan. He briefly enumerates the benefits which God had bestowed upon him, by which he had long since learned that he was his father. Yea, he declares that even before he was born God had shown towards him such evidence of his fatherly love, that although now overwhelmed with the darkness of death, he might upon good ground venture to hope for life from him. And it is the Holy Spirit who teaches the faithful the wisdom to collect together, when they are brought into circumstances of fear and trouble, the evidences of the goodness of God, in order thereby to sustain and strengthen their faith. We ought to regard it as an established principle, that as God never wearies in the exercise of his liberality, and as the most exuberant bestowment cannot exhaust his riches, it follows that, as we have experienced him to be a father from our earliest infancy, he will show himself the same towards us even to extreme old age. In acknowledging that he was taken from the womb by the hand of God, and that God had caused him to confide upon the breasts of his mother, the meaning is, that although it is by the operation of natural causes that infants come into the world, and are nourished with their mother's milk, yet therein the wonderful providence of God brightly shines forth. This miracle, it is true, because of its ordinary occurrence, is made less account of by us. But if ingratitude did not put upon our eyes the veil of stupidity, we would be ravished with admiration at every childbirth in the world. What prevents the child from perishing, as it might, a hundred times in its own corruption, before the time for bringing it forth arrives, but that God, by his secret and incomprehensible power, keeps it alive in its grave? And after it is brought into the world, seeing it is subject to so many miseries, and cannot stir a finger to help itself, how could it live even for a single day, did not God take it up into his fatherly bosom to nourish and protect it? It is, therefore, with good reason said, that the infant is cast upon him; for, unless he fed the tender little babes, and watched over all the offices of the nurse, even at the very time of their being brought forth, they are exposed to a hundred deaths, by which they would be suffocated in an instant. Finally, David concludes that God was his God. God, it is true, to all appearance, shows the like goodness which is here celebrated even to the brute creation; but it is only to mankind that he shows himself to be a father in a special manner. And although he does not immediately endue babes with the knowledge of himself, yet he is said to give them confidence, because, by showing in fact that he takes care of their life, he in a manner allures them to himself; as it is said in another place,
"He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry," (<19E709>Psalm 147:9.)
Since God anticipates in this manner, by his grace, little infants before they have as yet the use of reason, it is certain that he will never disappoint the hope of his servants when they petition and call upon him. This is the argument by which David struggled with, and endeavored to overcome temptation.
11. Depart not far from me. Here he employs another argument to induce God to show him mercy, alleging that he is sorely pressed and hemmed in by the greatest distress. He doubtless set before his eyes the office which the Scriptures every where attribute to God of succouring the miserable, and of being the more ready to help us the more we are afflicted. Even despair itself, therefore, served as a ladder to elevate his mind to the exercise of devout and fervent prayer. In like manner, the feeling we have of our afflictions should excite us to take shelter under the wings of God, that by granting us his aid, he may show that he takes a deep interest in our welfare.
Psalm 22:12-16
12. Strong bulls have encompassed me; the bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13. They have opened their mouth against me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me to the dust of death. 16. For dogs have encompassed me; the assembly of the wicked have surrounded me: they have pierced my hands and my feet.

12. Strong bulls have encompassed me. The Psalmist now complains of the cruelty and barbarous rage of his enemies; and he compares them first to bulls, secondly to lions, and thirdly to dogs. When the anger of bulls is kindled, we know how fierce and terrible they are. The lion, also, is a cruel beast, and dreadful to mankind. And the eager and fierce boldness with which dogs, when once they are irritated, rush upon a man to do him injury, is well known. In short, David's enemies were so blood-thirsty and cruel, that they more resembled wild beasts than men. He calls them not simply bulls, but strong bulls. Instead of rendering the original word µybr, rabbim, strong, as we have done, some would render it many:with which I cannot agree. David, it is true, was assailed by great hosts of enemies; but it appears, from the second clause of the verse, that what is here described is their strength, and not their number. He there terms them the bulls of Bashan; meaning by that expression, well-fed bulls, and, consequently, large and strong:for we know that the hill of Bashan was distinguished for rich and fat pastures. fa475
14. I am poured out like water. Hitherto he has informed us that being surrounded by wild beasts, he was not far from death, as if he had been at the point of being devoured every moment. He now bewails, in addition to this, his inward distress; from which we learn that he was not stupid or insensible in dangers. It could have been no ordinary fear which made him almost pine away, by which his bones were disjointed, and his heart poured out like water. We see, then, that David was not buffeted with the waves of affliction like a rock which cannot be moved, but was agitated within by sore troubles and temptations, which, through the infirmity of the flesh, he would never have been able to sustain had he not been aided by the power of the Spirit of God. How these sufferings are applicable to Christ I have informed you a little before. Being a real man, he was truly subject to the infirmities of our flesh, only without the taint of sin. The perfect purity of his nature did not extinguish the human affections; it only regulated them, that they might not become sinful through excess. The greatness of his griefs, therefore, could not so weaken him as to prevent him, even in the midst of his most excruciating sufferings, from submitting himself to the will of God, with a composed and peaceful mind. Now, although this is not the case with respect to us, who have within us turbulent and disorderly affections, and who never can keep them under such restraint as not to be driven hither and thither by their impetuosity, yet, after the example of David, we ought to take courage; and when, through our infirmity, we are, as it were, almost lifeless, we should direct our groanings to God, beseeching him that he would be graciously pleased to restore us to strength and vigor. fa476
15. My strength is dried up. He means the vigor which is imparted to us by the radical moisture, as physicians call it. What he adds in the next clause, My tongue cleaveth to my jaws, is of the same import. We know that excessive grief not only consumes the vital spirits, but also dries up almost all the moisture which is in our bodies. He next declares, that in consequence of this, he was adjudged or devoted to the grave:Thou hast brought me to the dust of death. By this he intimates, that all hope of life was taken from him; and in this sense Paul also says, (<470109>2 Corinthians 1:9,) that "he had received the sentence of death in himself." But David here speaks of himself in hyperbolical language, and he does this in order to lead us beyond himself to Christ. The dreadful encounter of our Redeemer with death, by which there was forced from his body blood instead of sweat; his descent into hell, by which he tasted of the wrath of God which was due to sinners; and, in short, his emptying himself, could not be adequately expressed by any of the ordinary forms of speech. Moreover, David speaks of death as those who are in trouble are accustomed to speak of it, who, struck with fear, can think of nothing but of their being reduced to dust and to destruction. Whenever the minds of the saints are surrounded and oppressed with this darkness, there is always some unbelief mixed with their exercise, which prevents them from all at once emerging from it to the light of a new life. But in Christ these two things were wonderfully conjoined, namely, terror, proceeding from a sense of the curse of God; and patience, arising from faith, which tranquillised all the mental emotions, so that they continued in complete and willing subjection to the authority of God. With respect to ourselves, who are not endued with the like power, if at any time, upon beholding nothing but destruction near us, we are for a season greatly dismayed, we should endeavor by degrees to recover courage, and to elevate ourselves to the hope which quickens the dead.
16. They have pierced my hands and my feet. The original word, which we have translated they have pierced, is yrak, caari, which literally rendered is, like a lion. As all the Hebrew Bibles at this day, without exception, have this reading, I would have had great hesitation in departing from a reading which they all support, were it not that the scope of the discourse compels me to do so, and were there not strong grounds for conjecturing that this passage has been fraudulently corrupted by the Jews. With respect to the Septuagint version, there is no doubt that the translators had read in the Hebrew text, wrak, caaru, that is the letter w, vau, where there is now the letter y, yod. fa477 The Jews prate much about the literal sense being purposely and deliberately overthrown, by our rendering the original word by they have pierced:but for this allegation there is no color of truth whatever. What need was there to trifle so presumptuously in a matter where it was altogether unnecessary? Very great suspicion of falsehood, however, attaches to them, seeing it is the uppermost desire of their hearts to despoil the crucified Jesus of his escutcheons, and to divest him of his character as the Messiah and Redeemer. If we receive this reading as they would have us to do, the sense will be enveloped in marvellous obscurity. In the first place, it will be a defective form of expression, and to complete it, they say it is necessary to supply the verb to surround or to beset. But what do they mean by besetting the hands and the feet? Besetting belongs no more to these parts of the human body than to the whole man. The absurdity of this argument being discovered, they have recourse to the most ridiculous old wives' fables, according to their usual way, saying, that the lion, when he meets any man in his road, makes a circle with his tail before rushing upon his prey:from which it is abundantly evident that they are at a loss for arguments to support their view.
Again, since David, in the preceding verse, has used the similitude of a lion, the repetition of it in this verse would be superfluous. I forbear insisting upon what some of our expositors have observed, namely, that this noun, when it has prefixed to it the letter k, caph, which signifies as, the word denoting similitude, has commonly other points than those which are employed in this passage. My object, however, is not here to labor to convince the Jews who in controversy are in the highest degree obstinate and opinionative. I only intend briefly to show how wickedly they endeavor to perplex Christians on account of the different reading which occurs in this place. When they object, that by the appointment of the law no man was fastened with nails to a cross, they betray in this their gross ignorance of history, since it is certain that the Romans introduced many of their own customs and manners into the provin ces which they had conquered. If they object that David was never nailed to a cross, the answer is easy, namely, that in bewailing his condition, he has made use of a similitude, declaring that he was not less afflicted by his enemies than the man who is suspended on a cross, having his hands and feet pierced through with nails. We will meet a little after with more of the same kind of metaphors.
Psalm 22:17-21
17. I will number all my bones; they look and stare upon me. 18. They part my garments among them, and cast the lot upon my vesture. 19. Be not thou then, O Jehovah! far from me. O thou: who art my strength, make haste to help me. 20. Deliver my soul from the sword; my only one fa478 from the hand [or power] of the dog. 21. Save me from the mouth of the lion, and hear me from the horns of the unicorns. fa479

17. I will number. The Hebrew word twmx[, atsmoth which signifies bones, is derived from another word, which signifies strength; and, therefore, this term is sometimes applied to friends, by whose defense we are strengthened, or to arguments and reasons which are, as it were, the sinews and the strength of the defense of a cause. Some, therefore, put this meaning upon the passage, — I will profit nothing by reckoning up all my arguments in self-vindication; for my enemies are fully determined to destroy me by some means or other, whether fair or foul, without having any regard to the dictates of justice. Others explain it thus:Although I should gather together all the aids which might seem to be capable of affording me succor, they would avail me nothing. But the exposition which is more generally received seems to me to be also the more simple and natural, and, therefore, I embrace it the more readily. It is this - that David complains that his body was so lean and wasted, that the bones appeared protruding from all parts of it; for he adds immediately after, that his enemies took pleasure in seeing him in so pitiable a condition. Thus the two clauses of the verse are beautifully connected together. The cruelty of his enemies was so insatiable, that beholding a wretched man wasted with grief, and as it were pining away, they took pleasure in feeding their eyes with so sad a spectacle.
What follows in the next verse concerning his garments is metaphorical. It is as if he had said, that all his goods were become a prey to his enemies, even as conquerors are accustomed to plunder the vanquished, or to divide the spoil among themselves, by casting lots to determine the share which belongs to each. Comparing his ornaments, riches, and all that he possessed, to his garments, he complains that, after he had been despoiled of them, his enemies divided them among themselves, as so much booty, accompanied with mockery of him; and by this mockery the villany of their conduct was aggravated, inasmuch as they triumphed over him, as if he had been a dead man. The Evangelists quote this place to the letter, as we say, and without figure; and there is no absurdity in their doing so. To teach us the more certainly that in this psalm Christ is described to us by the Spirit of prophecy, the heavenly Father intended that in the person of his Son those things should be visibly accomplished which were shadowed forth in David. Matthew, (<400816>Matthew 8:16, 17,) in narrating that the paralytic, the blind, and the lame, were healed of their diseases, says, that this was done "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bear our sicknesses;" although the prophet, in that place, sets before us the Son of God in the character of a spiritual physician. We are extremely slow and backward to believe; and it is not wonderful, that, on account of our dullness of apprehension, a demonstration of the character of Christ, palpable to our senses, has been given us, fa480 which might have the effect of arousing the sluggishness of our understandings.
19. Be not thou, then, far from me, O Jehovah! We must keep in mind all that David has hitherto related concerning himself. As his miseries had reached the utmost height, and as he saw not even a single ray of hope to encourage him to expect deliverance, it is a wonderful instance of the power of faith, that he not only endured his afflictions patiently, but that from the abyss of despair he arose to call upon God. Let us, therefore, particularly mark, that David did not pour out his lamentations thinking them to be in vain, and of no effect, as persons who are in perplexity often pour forth their groanings at random. The prayers which he adds sufficiently show that he hoped for such an issue as he desired. When he calls God his strength, by this epithet he gives a more evident proof of his faith. He does not pray in a doubting manner; but he promises himself the assistance which the eye of sense did not as yet perceive. By the sword, by the hand of the dog, by the mouth of the lion, and by the horns of the unicorns, he intimates that he was presently exposed to the danger of death, and that in many ways. Whence we gather, that although he utterly fainted in himself when thus surrounded by death, he yet continued strong in the Lord, and that the spirit of life had always been vigorous in his heart. Some take the words only soul, or only life, for dear and precious; fa481 but this view does not appear to me to be appropriate. He rather means, that, amidst so many deaths he found no help or succor in the whole world; as in <193517>Psalm 35:17 the words, only soul, fa482 are used in the same sense for a person who is alone and destitute of all aid and succor. This will appear more clearly from <192516>Psalm 25:16, where David, by calling himself poor and alone, doubtless complains that he was completely deprived of friends, and forsaken of the whole world. When it is said in the end of the 21st verse, Answer me, or, Hear me from the horns of the unicorns, this Hebrew manner of speaking may seem strange and obscure to our ears, but the sense is not at all ambiguous. The cause is only put instead of the effect; for our deliverance is the consequence or effect of God's hearing us. If it is asked how this can be applied to Christ, whom the Father did not deliver from death? I answer, in one word, that he was more mightily delivered than if God had prevented him from falling a victim to death, even as it is a much greater deliverance to rise again from the dead than to be healed of a grievous malady. Death, therefore, did not prevent Christ's resurrection from at length bearing witness that he had been heard.
Psalm 22:22-24
22. I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the assembly will I praise thee. 23. [Saying, fa483] Ye who fear Jehovah, praise him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24. For he hath not despised nor disdained the poor; nor hath he hidden his face from him; and when he cried unto him he heard him.

22. I will declare thy name. fa484 David, in promising that when he is delivered he will not be ungrateful, confirms what I have previously stated, that he had never been so cast down by temptation as not to take courage to resist it. How could he be putting himself in readiness, as he is doing here, to offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, if he had not beforehand entertained the assured hope of deliverance? Should we even grant that this psalm was composed after David had actually obtained what he desired, there is no doubt that what he afterwards put into writing formed the meditations and reflections which had passed through his mind during the time of his heavy afflictions. It ought to be particularly noticed, that it is no ordinary token of gratitude which he promises, but such as God required for rare blessings; namely, that the faithful should come into his sanctuary, and there bear solemn testimony to the grace which they had received. The design of public and solemn thanksgiving is, that the faithful may employ themselves in all variety of ways, in serving and honoring God, and that they may encourage one another to act in the same manner. We know that God's wonderful power shone forth in the protection of David; and that not only by one miracle, but by many. It is, therefore, not wonderful that he brings himself under obligation, by a solemn vow, to make open and public profession of his piety and faithfulness towards God. By his brethren he means the Israelites; and he gives them this appellation, not only because he and they were both descended from the same parentage, but rather because the religion which they had in common, as a sacred bond, kept them united to one another by a spiritual relationship. The apostle, (<580212>Hebrews 2:12) in applying this verse to Christ, argues from it, that he was a partaker of the same nature with us, and joined to us by a true fellowship of the flesh, seeing he acknowledges us as his brethren, and vouchsafes to give us a title so honorable. I have already repeatedly stated, (and it is also easy to prove it from the end of this psalms) that under the figure of David, Christ has been here shadowed forth to us. The apostle, therefore, justly deduces from this, that under and by the name of brethren, the right of fraternal alliance with Christ has been confirmed to us. This, no doubt, to a certain extent belongs to all mankind, but the true enjoyment thereof belongs properly to genuine believers alone. For this reason Christ himself, with his own mouth, limits this title to his disciples, saying,
"Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God,"
(<432017>John 20:17.)
The ungodly, by means of their unbelief, break off and dissolve that relationship of the flesh, by which he has allied himself to us, and thus render themselves utter strangers to him by their own fault. As David, while he comprehended under the word brethren all the offspring of Abraham, immediately after (verse 23) particularly addresses his discourse to the true worshippers of God; so Christ, while he has broken down "the middle wall of partition" between Jews and Gentiles, and published the blessings of adoption to all nations, and thereby exhibited himself to them as a brother, retains in the degree of brethren none but true believers.
23. Ye who fear Jehovah. Here, again, the Psalmist expresses more distinctly the fruit of public and solemn thanksgiving, of which I have spoken before, declaring, that by engaging in this exercise, every man in his own place invites and stirs up the church by his example to praise God. He tells us, that the end for which he will praise the name of God in the public assembly is to encourage his brethren to do the same. But as hypocrites commonly thrust themselves into the church, and as on the barn-floor of the Lord the chaff is mingled with the wheat, he addresses himself expressly to the godly, and those who fear God. Impure and wicked men may sing the praises of God with open mouth, but assuredly, they do nothing else than pollute and profane his holy name. It were, indeed, an object much to be desired, that men of all conditions in the world would, with one accord, join in holy melody to the Lord. But as the chief and most essential part of this harmony proceeds from a sincere and pure affection of heart, none will ever, in a right manner, celebrate the glory of God, except the man who worships him under the influence of holy fear. David names, a little after, the seed of Jacob and Israel, having a reference to the common calling of the people; and certainly, he put no obstacle in the way to hinder even all the children of Abraham from praising God with one accord. But as he saw that many of the Israelites were bastard and degenerate, he distinguishes true and sincere Israelites from them; and at the same time shows that God's name is not duly celebrated, unless where there is true piety and the inward fear of God. Accordingly, in his exhortation he again joins together the praises of God and reverence towards him. — Fear him, ye seed of Israel, says he; for all the fair faces which hypocrites put on in this matter are nothing but pure mockery. The fear which he recommends is not, however, such as would frighten the faithful from approaching God, but that which will bring them truly humbled into his sanctuary, as has been stated in the fifth psalm. Some may be surprised to find David addressing an exhortation to praise God, fa485 to those whom he had previously commended for doing so. But this is easily explained, for even the holiest men in the world are never so thoroughly imbued with the fear of God as not to have need of being continually incited to its exercise. Accordingly, the exhortation is not at all superfluous when, speaking of those who fear God, he exhorts them to stand in awe of him, and to prostrate themselves humbly before him.
24. For he hath not despised. To rejoice in one another's good, and to give thanks in common for each other's welfare, is a branch of that communion which ought to exist among the people of God, as Paul also teaches,
"That for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf."
(<470111>2 Corinthians 1:11,)
But this statement of David serves another important purpose — it serves to encourage every man to hope that God will exercise the same mercy towards himself. By the way, we are taught from these words that the people of God ought to endure their afflictions patiently, however long it shall please the Lord to keep them in a state of distress, that he may at length succor them, and lend them his aid when they are so severely tried.
Psalm 22:25-29
25. My praise shall proceed from thee fa486 in the great assembly; I will pay my vows in the presence of them that fear him. 26. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; they shall praise Jehovah that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. 27. All the ends of the earth shall remember, and turn to Jehovah; and all the tribes of the Gentiles shall prostrate themselves before his face. 28. For the kingdom is Jehovah's, that he may be the governor among the nations. 29. All the fat ones of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who are going down to the dust shall bow before him; and he who quickeneth not his own soul, [or he who is unable to keep himself alive.]

25. My praise shall proceed from thee. I do not reject the other translation; but in my opinion, the Hebrew manner of expression here requires this sense - that David will take the matter of his song of praise from God. Accordingly, I supply the verb shall proceed, or shall flow, — My praise shall proceed or flow from thee; and he made this statement in order to testify that he owed his deliverance entirely to God. We know that there are many who, under pretense of praising God, trumpet forth their own praises, and those of their friends, and leaving God in the back-ground, take occasion from one thing or another to celebrate their own triumphs. The Psalmist repeats what he had touched upon a little before, that he will show the tokens of his gratitude in a public manner, in order thereby to edify others. He adds, that among these tokens will be the solemn exercise of godliness enjoined by the law:I will pay my vows in the presence of them that fear him. In important affairs, and when threatened with imminent danger, it was a common practice among God's ancient people to vow a peace-offering, and after having obtained the object of their desire, they performed their vow. As David, therefore, belonged to the number of the saints, he conformed himself, as it became him, to that common and understood regulation of the Church. The vows which he promises to pay are those which he intimates he had made in his extreme distress, and he prepares himself to perform them with a noble and cheerful heart, yea, with a heart full of confidence. Now, although it behoved him to perform this solemn act of religion in the presence of the whole assembly without distinction, he again confesses it to be his desire, that all who should be present there to witness it should be the true worshippers of God. Thus, although it may not be in our power to cleanse the Church of God, it is our duty to desire her purity. The Papists, by wresting this passage to support their false and deceitful vows, show themselves so stupid and so ridiculous, that it is unnecessary to spend much time in refuting them. What resemblance is there between these childish fooleries, with which according to their own imagination they attempt to appease God, and this holy testimony of gratitude, which not only a true sense of religion and the fear of God suggested to the fathers, but which God himself has commanded and ratified in his law? Yea, how can they have the face to equal their foolish and infamous superstitions to the most precious of all sacrifices - the sacrifice of thanksgiving? even as the Scriptures testify, that the principal part of the service of God consists in this, that true believers publicly and solemnly acknowledge that he is the author of all good things.
26. The poor shall eat. The Psalmist has a reference to the custom which was at that time prevalent among the Jews, of feasting on their sacrifices, as is very well known. He here promises this feast, in order to exercise and prove his charity. And surely that is a pleasant and an acceptable oblation to God to which compassion and mercy are joined. Without these, the ceremonies by which men profess to worship God, with all their pomp and magnificence, vanish into smoke. David does not, however, simply promise to bestow upon the poor and the hungry something for the mere nourishment of the body. He declares that they shall be partakers of this feast for another purpose, namely, that matter of comfort being ministered to them, joy might be restored to their hearts and flourish afresh. For they saw in that feast, as in a mirror, the goodness of God set forth to all who are in affliction, which might assuage with wonderful consolation the grief arising from all their calamities. The Psalmist therefore adds, They shall praise Jehovah that seek him. The abundant repast of which they had partaken ought, no doubt, to have incited them to give thanks to God; but what is particularly meant is, praising God for that deliverance in grateful commemoration of which the sacrifice was offered. This appears still more clearly from the last clause of the verse:Your heart shall live for ever. One meal could not have sufficed to make their hearts live for ever. It was rather the hope which they entertained of having ready succor from God which did this; for all the faithful justly reckoned the deliverance of this one man as a deliverance wrought for themselves in particular. Whence it follows, that, in the peace-offerings, the praises of God were so celebrated, as that genuine worshippers also exercised their hope in them. Farther, as hypocrites content themselves with merely going through the bare and lifeless ceremony, the Psalmist restricts the right performance of this exercise to true and holy Israelites; They shall praise Jehovah that seek him; and to seek God is the certain mark of genuine godliness. Now, if the fathers under the law had their spiritual life renewed and invigorated by their holy feasts, this virtue will show itself much more abundantly at this day in the holy supper of Christ, provided those who come to partake of it seek the Lord truly, and with their whole heart.
27. All the ends of the earth shall remember. This passage, beyond all doubt, shows that David stops not at his own person, but that under himself, as a type, he describes the promised Messiah. For even then, it ought to have been a well-known point, that he had been created king by God, that the people might be united together and enjoy a happy life under one head; and this was at length completely fulfilled in Christ. David's name, I admit, was great and renowned among the neighboring nations; but what was the territory which they occupied in comparison of the whole world? Besides, the foreign nations whom he had subdued had never been converted by him to the true worship of God. That forced and slavish submission, therefore, which the heathen nations had been brought by conquest to yield to an earthly king, was very different from the willing obedience of true godliness by which they would be recovered from their miserable wanderings, and gathered to God. Nor does the Psalmist mean an ordinary change, when he says, that the nations shall return to God, after having become well acquainted with his grace. Moreover, by uniting them to the fellowship of the holy feast, he manifestly grafts them into the body of the Church. Some explain these words, They shall remember, as meaning, that upon the restoration of the light of faith to the Gentiles, they should then come to remember God, whom they had for a time forgotten; fa487 but this seems to me too refined, and far from the meaning. I allow that the conversion or return of which mention is here made, implies that they had previously been alienated from God by wicked defection; but this remembrance simply means that the Gentiles, awakened by the signal miracles wrought by God, would again come to embrace the true religion, from which they had fallen away. Farther, it is to be observed, that the true worship of God proceeds from the knowledge of him; for the language of the Psalmist implies, that those shall come to prostrate themselves before God, in humble adoration, who shall have profited so far in meditation upon his works, as that they shall have no more desire proudly and contemptuously to break forth against him.
This sense is more fully confirmed by the reason fa488 which is added in the following verse, (28) The kingdom is Jehovah's, that he may rule over the nations. Some explain these words thus:- It is not to be wondered at if the Gentiles should be constrained to yield honor to God, by whom they were created, and by whose hand they are governed, although he has not entered into a covenant of life with them. But I reject this as a meagre and unsatisfactory interpretation. This passage, I have no doubt, agrees with many other prophecies which represent the throne of God as erected, on which Christ may sit to superintend and govern the world. Although, therefore, the providence of God is extended to the whole world, without any part of it being excepted; yet let us remember that he then, in very deed, exercises his authority, when having dispelled the darkness of ignorance, and diffused the light of his word, he appears conspicuous on his throne. We have such a description of his kingdom by the prophet Isaiah,
"He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people." (<230204>Isaiah 2:4)
Moreover, as God had not subdued the world to himself, prior to the time when those who before were unconquerable were subdued to a willing obedience by the preaching of the gospel, we may conclude that this conversion was effected only under the management and government of Christ. If it is objected, that the whole world has never yet been converted, the solution is easy. A comparison is here made between that remarkable period in which God suddenly became known every where, by the preaching of the gospel, and the ancient dispensation, when he kept the knowledge of himself shut up within the limits of Judea. Christ, we know, penetrated with amazing speed, from the east to the west, like the lightning's flash, in order to bring into the Church the Gentiles from all parts of the world.
29. All the fat ones of the earth shall eat and worship. Lest it should be thought inconsistent that now the fat ones of the earth are admitted as guests to this banquet, which David seemed immediately before to have appointed only for the poor, let us remember that the first place was given to the poor, because to them principally comfort was set forth in the example of David. Yet it was necessary, in the second place, that the rich and the prosperous should be called to the feast, that they might not think themselves excluded from the participation of the same grace. They are not, it is true, urged, by the pressure of present calamities, to seek comfort for grief, but they have need of a remedy to prevent them from intoxicating themselves with their delights, and to excite them rather to lay up their joy in heaven. Again, since they also are subject to a variety of troubles, their abundance will be a curse to them, provided it keep their minds down to the earth. The amount of the Psalmist's statement is, that this sacrifice will be common as well to those who are sound, lusty, and in opulent circumstances, as to those who are lean, poor, and half dead from the want of food; that the former, laying aside their pride, may humble themselves before God, and that the latter, though they may be brought low, may lift up their minds by spiritual joy to God, the author of all good things, as James (<590109>James 1:9, 10) admonishes both classes, in these words, "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich in that he is made low." Now, if God, under the law, joined the full with the hungry, the noble with the mean, the happy with the wretched, much more ought this to take place at the present day under the gospel. When, therefore, the rich hear that food is offered to them elsewhere than in earthly abundance, let them learn to use the outward good things which God has bestowed upon them for the purposes of the present life, with such sobriety as that they may not be disgusted with spiritual food, or turn away from it, through loathing. So long as they wallow in their own filth, they will never long for this food with a holy desire; and although they may have it at hand, they will never take pleasure in tasting it. fa489 Farther, as those who are fat must become lean, in order that they may present themselves to God to be fed and nourished, so David endeavors to inspire the famished with assured and undaunted confidence, lest their poverty should hinder them from coming to the banquet. Yea, he invites even the dead to come to the feast, in order that the most despised, and those who, in the estimation of the world, are almost like putrefying carcases, may be encouraged and emboldened to present themselves at the holy table of the Lord. The change which the Psalmist makes in the number, from the plural to the singular, in the end of the verse, somewhat obscures the sense; but the meaning undoubtedly is, that those who seem already to be reduced to dust, and whose restoration from death to life is, as it were, despaired of, shall be partakers of the same grace with him.
Psalm 22:30-31
30. Their seed shall serve him, and shall be registered to the Lord fa490 for a generation. 31. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness to a people that shall be born, because he hath done it.

30. Their seed shall serve him. The more to exalt the greatness of the benefit, he declares that it will be of such a character that posterity will never forget it. And he shows how it will come to be perpetuated, namely, because the conversion of the world, of which he has spoken, will not be for a short time only but will continue from age to age. Whence we again conclude, that what is here celebrated is not such a manifestation of the glory of God to the Gentile nations as proceeds from a transitory and fading rumor, but such as will enlighten the world with its beams, even to the end of time. Accordingly, the perpetuity of the Church is here abundantly proved, and in very clear terms:not that it always flourishes or continues in the same uniform course through successive ages, but because God, unwilling that his name should be extinguished in the world, will always raise up some sincerely to devote themselves to his service. We ought to remember that this seed, in which the service of God was to be preserved, is the fruit of the incorruptible seed; for God begets and multiplies his Church only by means of his word.
The expression, To be registered to the Lord for a generation, is explained in two ways. Some take the Hebrew word rwd, dor, for a succession of ages, and explain the clause thus:They shall be registered to the Lord age after age. Others take it for generation, in the sense in which the word natio [nation] is used in the Latin tongue. As both these senses suit very well, and come almost to the same thing, I leave my readers at liberty to choose between them. I am, however, I admit, rather inclined to the opinion, that by this word is designated God's chosen people and peculiar nation, which may be accounted the heritage of God. Farther, as the name Jehovah, which is expressive of God's essence, is not here used as it is a little before, but the word Adonai, I do not disapprove of the opinion of those who think that Christ is here expressly invested with authority over fa491 the Church, that he may register all who shall give in their names as on the side of God his Father. And, indeed, as our heavenly Father has committed all his chosen ones to the protection and guardianship of his own Son, he acknowledges as his people none but those who belong to the flock of Christ.
31. They shall come, and shall declare. The Psalmist here confirms what I have previously stated, that since the fathers will transmit the knowledge of this benefit to their children, as it were from hand to hand, the name of God will be always renowned. From this we may also deduce the additional truth, that it is by the preaching of the grace of God alone that the Church is kept from perishing. At the same time, let it be observed, that care and diligence in propagating divine truth are here enjoined upon us, that it may continue after we are removed from this world. As the Holy Spirit prescribes it as a duty incumbent on all the faithful to be diligent in instructing their children, that there may be always one generation after another to serve God, the sluggishness of those who have no scruple of conscience in burying the remembrance of God in eternal silence, a sin with which those are virtually chargeable who neglect to speak of him to their children, and who thus do nothing to prevent his name from utterly perishing, is condemned as involving the greatest turpitude. The term righteousness, in this place, refers to the faithfulness which God observes in preserving his people, of which we have a memorable example in the deliverance of David. In defending his servant from the violence and outrage of the wicked, he proved himself to be righteous. Hence we may learn how dear our welfare is to God, seeing he combines it with the celebration of the praise of his own righteousness. If then the righteousness of God is illustriously manifested in this, that he does not disappoint us of our hope, nor abandon us in dangers, but defends and keeps us in perfect safety, there is no more reason to fear that he will forsake us in the time of our need, than there is reason to fear that he can forget himself. We must, however, remember that it is not for any particular succor afforded to one individual, but it is for the redemption of the human race, that the celebration of the praise of God is required from us in this passage. In short, the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David, recommends to us the publication of Christ's resurrection. In the end of this psalm some commentators resolve the particle yk, ki, because, into the pronoun rça, asher, which, as if it had been said, The righteousness which he hath done. But the sentence will be fuller if we read, because, and explain the passage thus:They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness, because God shall have given proof, or demonstration, of his righteousness - shall have afforded evidence by the effect, or the deed itself, that he is the faithful guardian of his own people.
PSALM 23.
This psalm is neither intermingled with prayers, nor does it complain of miseries for the purpose of obtaining relief; but it contains simply a thanksgiving, from which it appears that it was composed when David had obtained peaceable possession of the kingdom, and lived in prosperity, and in the enjoyment of all he could desire. That he might not, therefore, in the time of his great prosperity, be like worldly men, who, when they seem to themselves to be fortunate, fa492 bury God in forgetfulness, and luxuriously plunge themselves into their pleasures, he delights himself in God, the author of all the blessings which he enjoyed. And he not only acknowledges that the state of tranquillity in which he now lives, and his exemption from all inconveniences and troubles, is owing to the goodness of God; but he also trusts that through his providence he will continue happy even to the close of his life, and for this end that he may employ himself in his pure worship.
A Psalm of David.
Psalm 23:1-4
1. Jehovah is my shepherd, I shall not want. fa493 2. He maketh me to lie down in pastures of grass; he leadeth me to gently flowing waters. fa494 3. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me by the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4. Though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy staff and thy crook comfort me.

1. Jehovah is my shepherd. Although God, by his benefits, gently allures us to himself, as it were by a taste of his fatherly sweetness, yet there is nothing into which we more easily fall than into a forgetfulness of him, when we are in the enjoyment of peace and comfort. Yea, prosperity not only so intoxicates many, as to carry them beyond all bounds in their mirth, but it also engenders insolence, which makes them proudly rise up and break forth against God. Accordingly, there is scarcely a hundredth part of those who enjoy in abundance the good things of God, who keep themselves in his fear, and live in the exercise of humility and temperance, which would be so becoming. fa495 For this reason, we ought the more carefully to mark the example which is here set before us by David, who, elevated to the dignity of sovereign power, surrounded with the splendor of riches and honors, possessed of the greatest abundance of temporal good things, and in the midst of princely pleasures, not only testifies that he is mindful of God, but calling to remembrance the benefits which God had conferred upon him, fa496 makes them ladders by which he may ascend nearer to Him. By this means he not only bridles the wantonness of his flesh, but also excites himself with the greater earnestness to gratitude, and the other exercises of godliness, as appears from the concluding sentence of the psalm, where he says, "I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for a length of days." In like manner, in the 18th psalm, which was composed at a period of his life when he was applauded on every side, by calling himself the servant of God, he showed the humility and simplicity of heart to which he had attained, and, at the same time, openly testified his gratitude, by applying himself to the celebration of the praises of God.
Under the similitude of a shepherd, he commends the care which God, in his providence, had exercised towards him. His language implies that God had no less care of him than a shepherd has of the sheep who are committed to his charge. God, in the Scripture, frequently takes to himself the name, and puts on the character of a shepherd, and this is no mean token of his tender love towards us. As this is a lowly and homely manner of speaking, He who does not disdain to stoop so low for our sake, must bear a singularly strong affection towards us. It is therefore wonderful, that when he invites us to himself with such gentleness and familiarity, we are not drawn or allured to him, that we may rest in safety and peace under his guardianship. But it should be observed, that God is a shepherd only to those who, touched with a sense of their own weakness and poverty, feel their need of his protection, and who willingly abide in his sheepfold, and surrender themselves to be governed by him. David, who excelled both in power and riches, nevertheless frankly confessed himself to be a poor sheep, that he might have God for his shepherd. Who is there, then, amongst us, who would exempt himself from this necessity, seeing our own weakness sufficiently shows that we are more than miserable if we do not live under the protection of this shepherd? We ought to bear in mind, that our happiness consists in this, that his hand is stretched forth to govern us, that we live under his shadow, and that his providence keeps watch and ward over our welfare. Although, therefore, we have abundance of all temporal good things, yet let us be assured that we cannot be truly happy unless God vouchsafe to reckon us among the number of his flock. Besides, we then only attribute to God the office of a Shepherd with due and rightful honor, when we are persuaded that his providence alone is sufficient to supply all our necessities. fa497 As those who enjoy the greatest abundance of outward good things are empty and famished if God is not their shepherd; so it is beyond all doubt that those whom he has taken under his charge shall not want a full abundance of all good things. David, therefore, declares that he is not afraid of wanting any thing, because God is his Shepherd.
2. He maketh me to lie down in pastures of grass. With respect to the words, it is in the Hebrew, pastures, or fields of grass, for grassy and rich grounds. Some, instead of translating the word twan, neoth, which we have rendered pastures, render it shepherds' cots or lodges. If this translation is considered preferable, the meaning of the Psalmist will be, that sheep-cots were prepared in rich pasture grounds, under which he might be protected from the heat of the sun. If even in cold countries the immoderate heat which sometimes occurs is troublesome to a flock of sheep, how could they bear the heat of the summer in Judea, a warm region, without sheepfolds? The verb ˜br, rabats, to lie down, or repose, seems to have a reference to the same thing. David has used the phrase, the quiet waters, to express gently flowing waters; for rapid streams are inconvenient for sheep to drink in, and are also for the most part hurtful. In this verse, and in the verses following, he explains the last clause of the first verse, I shall not want. He relates how abundantly God had provided for all his necessities, and he does this without departing from the comparison which he employed at the commencement. The amount of what is stated is, that the heavenly Shepherd had omitted nothing which might contribute to make him live happily under his care. He, therefore, compares the great abundance of all things requisite for the purposes of the present life which he enjoyed, to meadows richly covered with grass, and to gently flowing streams of water; or he compares the benefit or advantage of such things to sheep-cots; for it would not have been enough to have been fed and satisfied in rich pasture, had there not also been provided waters to drink, and the shadow of the sheep-cot to cool and refresh him.
3. He restoreth my soul As it is the duty of a good shepherd to cherish his sheep, and when they are diseased or weak to nurse and support them, David declares that this was the manner in which he was treated by God. The restoring of the soul, as we have translated it, or the conversion of the soul, as it is, literally rendered, is of the same import as to make anew, or to recover, as has been already stated in the 19th psalm, at the seventh verse. By the paths of righteousness, he means easy and plain paths. fa498 As he still continues his metaphor, it would be out of place to understand this as referring to the direction of the Holy Spirit. He has stated a little before that God liberally supplies him with all that is requisite for the maintenance of the present life, and now he adds, that he is defended by him from all trouble. The amount of what is said is, that God is in no respect wanting to his people, seeing he sustains them by his power, invigorates and quickens them, and averts from them whatever is hurtful, that they may walk at ease in plain and straight paths. That, however, he may not ascribe any thing to his own worth or merit, David represents the goodness of God as the cause of so great liberality, declaring that God bestows all these things upon him for his own name's sake. And certainly his choosing us to be his sheep, and his performing towards us all the offices of a shepherd, is a blessing which proceeds entirely from his free and sovereign goodness, as we shall see in the sixty-fifth psalm.4. Though I should walk. True believers, although they dwell safely under the protection of God, are, notwithstanding, exposed to many dangers, or rather they are liable to all the afflictions which befall mankind in common, that they may the better feel how much they need the protection of God. David, therefore, here expressly declares, that if any adversity should befall him, he would lean upon the providence of God. Thus he does not promise himself continual pleasures; but he fortifies himself by the help of God courageously to endure the various calamities with which he might be visited. Pursuing his metaphor, he compares the care which God takes in governing true believers to a shepherd's staff and crook, declaring that he is satisfied with this as all-sufficient for the protection of his life. As a sheep, when it wanders up and down through a dark valley, is preserved safe from the attacks of wild beasts and from harm in other ways, by the presence of the shepherd alone, so David now declares that as often as he shall be exposed to any danger, he will have sufficient defense and protection in being under the pastoral care of God.
We thus see how, in his prosperity, he never forgot that he was a man, but even then seasonably meditated on the adversities which afterwards might come upon him. And certainly, the reason why we are so terrified, when it pleases God to exercise us with the cross, is, because every man, that he may sleep soundly and undisturbed, wraps himself up in carnal security. But there is a great difference between this sleep of stupidity and the repose which faith produces. Since God tries faith by adversity, it follows that no one truly confides in God, but he who is armed with invincible constancy for resisting all the fears with which he may be assailed. fa499 Yet David did not mean to say that he was devoid of all fear, but only that he would surmount it so as to go without fear wherever his shepherd should lead him. This appears more clearly from the context. He says, in the first place, I will fear no evil; but immediately adding the reason of this, he openly acknowledges that he seeks a remedy against his fear in contemplating, and having his eyes fixed on, the staff of his shepherd:For thy staff and thy crook comfort me. What need would he have had of that consolation, if he had not been disquieted and agitated with fear? It ought, therefore, to be kept in mind, that when David reflected on the adversities which might befall him, he became victorious over fear and temptations, in no other way than by casting himself on the protection of God. This he had also stated before, although a little more obscurely, in these words, For thou art with me. This implies that he had been afflicted with fear. Had not this been the case, for what purpose could he desire the presence of God? fa500 Besides, it is not against the common and ordinary calamities of life only that he opposes the protection of God, but against those which distract and confound the minds of men with the darkness of death. For the Jewish grammarians think that twmlx, tsalmaveth, which we have translated the shadow of death, is a compound word, as if one should say deadly shade. fa501 David here makes an allusion to the dark recesses or dens of wild beasts, to which when an individual approaches he is suddenly seized at his first entrance with an apprehension and fear of death. Now, since God, in the person of his only begotten Son, has exhibited himself to us as our shepherd, much more clearly than he did in old time to the fathers who lived under the Law, we do not render sufficient honor to his protecting care, if we do not lift our eyes to behold it, and keeping them fixed upon it, tread all fears and terrors under our feet. fa502
Psalm 23:5-6
5. Thou wilt prepare a table before me in the presence of my persecutors: thou wilt anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for a length of days.

5. Thou wilt prepare. These words, which are put in the future tense, here denote a continued act. David, therefore, now repeats, without a figure, what he has hitherto declared, concerning the beneficence of God, under the similitude of a shepherd. He tells us that by his liberality he is supplied with all that is necessary for the maintenance of this life. When he says, Thou preparest a table before me, he means that God furnished him with sustenance without trouble or difficulty on his part, just as if a father should stretch forth his hand to give food to his child. He enhances this benefit from the additional consideration, that although many malicious persons envy his happiness, and desire his ruin, yea, endeavor to defraud him of the blessing of God; yet God does not desist from showing himself liberal towards him, and from doing him good. What he subjoins concerning oil, has a reference to a custom which then prevailed. We know that in old time, ointments were used at the more magnificent feasts, and no man thought he had honourably received his guests if he had not perfumed them therewith. Now, this exuberant store of oil, and also this overflowing cup, ought to be explained as denoting the abundance which goes beyond the mere supply of the common necessaries of life; for it is spoken in commendation of the royal wealth with which, as the sacred historian records, David had been amply furnished. All men, it is true, are not treated with the same liberality with which David was treated; but there is not an individual who is not under obligation to God by the benefits which God has conferred upon him, so that we are constrained to acknowledge that he is a kind and liberal Father to all his people. In the meantime, let each of us stir up himself to gratitude to God for his benefits, and the more abundantly these have been bestowed upon us, our gratitude ought to be the greater. If he is ungrateful who, having only a coarse loaf, does not acknowledge in that the fatherly providence of God, how much less can the stupidity of those be tolerated, who glut themselves with the great abundance of the good things of God which they possess, without having any sense or taste of his goodness towards them? David, therefore, by his own example, admonishes the rich of their duty, that they may be the more ardent in the expression of their gratitude to God, the more delicately he feeds them. Farther, let us remember, that those who have greater abundance than others are bound to observe moderation not less than if they had only as much of the good things of this life as would serve for their limited and temperate enjoyment. We are too much inclined by nature to excess; and, therefore, when God is, in respect of worldly things, bountiful to his people, it is not to stir up and nourish in them this disease. All men ought to attend to the rule of Paul, which is laid down in <500412>Philippians 4:12, that they "may know both how to be abased, and how to abound." That want may not sink us into despondency, we need to be sustained by patient endurance; and, on the other hand, that too great abundance may not elate us above measure, we need to be restrained by the bridle of temperance. Accordingly, the Lord, when he enriches his own people, restrains, at the same time, the licentious desires of the flesh by the spirit of confidence, so that, of their own accord, they prescribe to themselves rules of temperance. Not that it is unlawful for rich men to enjoy more freely the abundance which they possess than if God had given them a smaller portion; but all men ought to beware, (and much more kings,) lest they should be dissolved in voluptuous pleasures. David, no doubt, as was perfectly lawful, allowed himself larger scope than if he had been only one of the common people, or than if he had still dwelt in his father's cottage, but he so regulated himself in the midst of his delicacies, as not at all to take pleasure in stuffing and fattening the body. He knew well how to distinguish between the table which God had prepared for him and a trough for swine. It is also worthy of particular notice, that although David lived upon his own lands, the tribute money and other revenues of the kingdom, he gave thanks to God just as if God had daily given him his food with his own hand. From this we conclude that he was not blinded with his riches, but always looked upon God as his householder, who brought forth meat and drink from his own store, and distributed it to him at the proper season.
6. Surely goodness and mercy. Having recounted the blessings which God had bestowed upon him, he now expresses his undoubted persuasion of the continuance of them to the end of his life. But whence proceeded this confidence, by which he assures himself that the beneficence and mercy of God will accompany him for ever, if it did not arise from the promise by which God is accustomed to season the blessings which he bestows upon true believers, that they may not inconsiderately devour them without having any taste or relish for them? When he said to himself before, that even amidst the darkness of death he would keep his eyes fixed in beholding the providence of God, he sufficiently testified that he did not depend upon outward things, nor measured the grace of God according to the judgment of the flesh, but that even when assistance from every earthly quarter failed him, his faith continued shut up in the word of God. Although, therefore, experience led him to hope well, yet it was principally on the promise by which God confirms his people with respect to the future that he depended. If it is objected that it is presumption for a man to promise himself a continued course of prosperity in this uncertain and changing world, I answer, that David did not speak in this manner with the view of imposing on God a law; but he hoped for such exercise of God's beneficence towards him as the condition of this world permits, with which he would be contented. He does not say, My cup shall be always full, or, My head shall be always perfumed with oil; but in general he entertains the hope that as the goodness of God never fails, he will be favorable towards him even to the end.
I will dwell in the house of Jehovah. By this concluding sentence he manifestly shows that he does not confine his thoughts to earthly pleasures or comforts; but that the mark at which he aims is fixed in heaven, and to reach this was his great object in all things. It is as if he had said, I do not live for the mere purpose of living, but rather to exercise myself in the fear and service of God, and to make progress daily in all the branches of true godliness. He makes a manifest distinction between himself and ungodly men, who take pleasure only in filling their bellies with luxuriant fare. And not only so, but he also intimates that to live to God is, in his estimation, of so great importance, that he valued all the comforts of the flesh only in proportion as they served to enable him to live to God. He plainly affirms, that the end which he contemplated in all the benefits which God had conferred upon him was, that he might dwell in the house of the Lord. Whence it follows, that when deprived of the enjoyment of this blessing, he made no account of all other things; as if he had said, I wou