« PreviousContinue »
1. WW E should learn to cultivate that love to public ordinances,
VV which David so affectionately expresses. How strongly does he point it out, even by the most eager and urgent natural appetites. He desired to be restored, not to enjoy the honours and pleasures of his court, but to frequent the house of God. And why did he desire that? not for what was to be seen, or the music to be heard there, or to have his curiosity gratified, but to enjoy the presence of God, and know more of his perfections ; to engage in his worship, and taste his love. Let us bless God that we are not driven from his house ; that ours is not a thirsty land, where there is no water for the body, nor any refreshment for the soul. We should value ordinances, because they bring us near to God; and it should be our desire and ambition in attending upon them, to see God's power and glory in his sanctuary. If his loving kindness is better than life, then, worshipping and serving him must be a nobler employment and entertainment than the business and pleasures of the world, or any of the delights of sense.
2. When we are detained from the house of God; and in the intervals of our solemn assemblies, we see what our thoughts and tempers should be. If providence confines us from God's house, let us be desirous of having the same communion with him in our dwellings as in the congregation ; to have our hearts fixed upon hini, and to enjoy his love. In the night season, our meditation should be of him ; this will add refreshment to our beds, when we are weary, pained, or perplexed. Let us praise him while we live, in every circumstance and condition ; and we shall find the pleasure of it to be infinitely superior to what affects the body, or what this world can possibly afford. Again,
3. It should be ascribed to divine assistance and support, if we find ourselves thus disposed. Amidst our afflictions and cares, let our souls follow hard afier God; and let nothing divert us from the pursuit. If we experience any degree of these devout regards to God, we should remember that it is to him we are indebted for them. His right hand upholds us, and strengthens us for this delightful employment ; he strengthens us for the pursuit, and keeps alive and warm our good affections and desires; otherwise we should forget God, become weary in well doing, and lose our happiness. May we all imbibe more of David's temper! then shall we find heaven begun on earth, and some foretaste of that pleasure with which we shall join in the services of God's temple above.
PSALM LXIV. To the chief musician, A Psalm of David. Occasioned by his persecution from the slander of Saul's courtiers.
1 L EAR my voice, O God, in my prayer : preserve my life
11 from fear of the enemy; that is, from the enemy I fear, 2 and all the uneasiness which fear accasions. Hide me from the
secret counsel of the wicked ; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity ; from all their secret plots and open at3 tempts : Who whet their tongue like a sword, are ready upon all
occasions to wound my reputation, [and] bend their [bows to 4 shoot] their arrows, [even) bitter words : That they may shoot
in secret at the perfect ; at me, who am perfectly clear of all they charge me with : suddenly, at the very first ohportunity, do they
shoot at him, and fear not; they vent their slanders, and spread 5 them abroad without fear either of God or man; They encourage
themselves (in) an evil matter : they commune of laying snares privily ; they say, Who shall see them ? they contrive together
how to lay their snares, and imagine I shall never be able to die. .6 cover them : They search out iniquities, they accomplish a dili
gent search ; take a great deal of pains to discover iniquity in me; both the inward (thought) of every one (of them,) and the heart [is] deep ; that is, they endeavour to find out, or pretend to die.
cover, a man's secret thoughts, and to penetrate into the very heari, 7 which lies out of their reach. But, while they are shooting their
arrows, God shall shoot at them [with] an arrow ; suddenly
shall they be wounded; he shall give them a sudden, deep, and 8 mortal wound. So they shall make their own tongue to fall
upon themselves ; God shall so confound them, that their plois shall be their own ruin : all that see them shall take notice of
God's hand, and shall flee away, lest they share in their ruin. 9 And all men shall fear such a conduct, and shall declare the
work of God; that it was by him they were destroyed, and not by
chance ; for they shall wisely consider of his doing; how his 10 word was fulfilled, and the cause of the upright pleaded. The
righteous shall be glad in the LORD, for his goodne88 manifested to me, and shall trust in him, and not be afraid in the way of duty ; and all the upright in heart shall glory, or boast of this, as an appearance of God for them as well as for me.
1. I ET us abhor and avoid that malignant, slanderous, suspi.
I cious temper, which was found in David's enemies. A great deal of this hellish disposition, is still in the world ; there are men, who whet their longues and shoot out bitter words, to wound the reputation of others, either by raising, or adding to, ill reports ; and if they can find nothing in a person's conduct that is excep
tionable, they will sazrch out iniquiły, arraign even his very thoughts. This detestable conduct is highly provoking to God; who can make the tongue of slanderers, revilers and evil speakers, fall upon themselves ; or shoot his arrows at those who destroy the credit of others; and his arrows always hit the mark, pierce deep, and fill the soul with exquisite anguish ; for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
2. We should habituate ourselves to search out and consider the works of God with diligence. His works are honourable and glori. Qu8, sought out of all those thet take pleasure therein ; and none are more remarkable than his vindicating the innocent, supporting and comforting the injured, and bringing distress, infamy, and ruin on malignant spirits. If we seriously consider such things, it will preserve us from speaking evil of others; it will make us calm and easy under censures and slanders, and engage us boldly to proceed in the way of duty, in full dependence on divine protection and care. Those who will wisely consider God's doings, will profit by them ; and it is their duty to declare God's works, for his glory and the edification and warning of others. We shall thus anticipate the pleasures of the heavenly world, where the equity, wisdom, and goodness of God will be more apparent, and the joy of his servants will be complete and everlasting.
In order to enter into the beauty of this fine composition, it is necessary
to observe, that it was penned toward the close of David's reign, on
1 D RAISE waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion ; thy people
I have been patiently waiting for an occasion of praise ; or, as in the margin of the bible, praise is silent, my mind is quite overawed, and I am brought to a respectful silence before thee : and
unto thee shall the vow be performed that was made in the time 2 of our trouble. O thou that hearest prayer, and hast now heard
our cry, unto thee shall all flesh come; not one of the sons of men 3 should omit this duty. Iniquities prevail against me : (as for)
our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away ; as if he had · said, Lord, I might find a reason for any of the calamities of my Vol. IV.
geign in my own iniquities, and each of us may make the same ac knowledgment; but as thou hast appointed an atonement for the wickedness that was committed with the concurrence and approba. tion, at least with the connivance, of the people, and so it became a
national act, we may hope thou hast graciously pardoned our inis · 4 quities. Blessed [is the man, that is, the priests and the Levites,
whom thou chooset, and causest to approach [unto thee, that • he may dwell in thy courts ; be a constant attendant upon thy or
dinances : we, who attend but sometimes, shall be satisfied with 5 the goodness of thy house, (even) of thy holy temple. (By) ter} rible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our
salvation; it is a terrible answer which thou hast given, and an aw. ful command, to hang un Saul's descendants ; nevertheless thou art a righteous God, and we believe the equity of this dispensation ;
[who art] the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them , that are afar off (upon] the sea ; thou art the support and guard
ion of all mankind, and will not suffer the Gibeonites to be destroy:6 ed, without punishing their persecutors : Which by his strength
setteth fast the mountains ; [being] girded with power ; thou
art the proper object of our trust ; thy power is the band of union 7 by which the several parts of nature are bound together : Which
stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the 8 tumult of the people, of which they are an emblem.* They also
that dwell in the uttermost parts, the most barbarous nations, are afraid at thy tokens ; at some awful appearances, as thunder and lightning, storms, earthquakes, and comets ; yet he generally ape pears to his creatures in milder glories ; thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice ; every morning and evening is generally calm ; and so many blessings attend us, that they may be said to make their revolutions with pleasure, and we
have occasion to rejoice in doth. After so long a drought as we have :9 experienced, Thou again visitest the earth in mercy, and water
est it : thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, (which] is full of water, a beautiful and subüme idea of rain, the river
of God, always full, and always at his command : thou pre• parest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it, or, fre10 flared it, that is, the earth. Thou waterest the new ploughed
ridges thereof abundantly : thou settlest the furrows thereof :
thou makest it soft with showers ; thou blessest the springing Il thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness ; every . part has its proper fruits and products, all which are the effects of
thy goodness ; and thy paths drop fatness ; wherever thou art
pleased to go forth, thy steps are attended with fruitfulness and 12 plenty. They drop (upon the pastures of the wilderness : and • the little hills rejoice on every side ; 'the wilderness and unculii
vated hills, which though before burnt up, when supplied with rain, 13 put on a green and flowery dress. The pastures are clothed with
flocks ; or, as it may be rendered, The rams of the flock are clothed
1.is probable there was some tumult on account of the execution of Saal's son, which God remarkably restrained.
with fine and heavy fleeces; the vallies also are covered over with corn, so that the face of the ground cannot be seen ; they shout for joy, they also sing ; they are all animated with joy, keep a kind of festival, and burst out into songs of praise.
REFLECTIONS. I, IN this psalm we see with what temper we ought to address • 1 ourselves to God ; with a serious awful recollection of his majesty and glory, in high admiration of his infinite excellencies, deep humility, as unworthy to come into his presence from a .consciousness of iniquities prevailing upon us, and yet with cheerful hope, as to a God hearing prayer. . 2. We hence learn the happiness of those who love God's house and draw near to him there :. they are blessed ; they approach him as a father, and as a friend whom they esteem and love. They are satisfied with his goodness; the comforts they there enjoy, and the privileges and blessings communicated to them, fill their hearts with sacred delight. Let us then love the habitation of God's house, and seek this blessedness for ourselves.
3. The awful, especially the pleasant scenes of nature, should lead our thoughts to God. When storms and tempests, thunder and lightning, terrify us, let us remember that they are God's tokens ; tokens of his awful majesty, his irresistible power, and dreadful wrath ; and we should be thankful that they are displayed so seldom. Let us own the hand of God in refreshing slowers ; to which it is owing that the heavens are not as iron, and the clods as brass ; that the grass and corn spring up, and that there is plenty for man and beast. When all nature appears gay and fruitful, as it does in the spring of the year, and the birds and beasts in their language express their joy, let our praise be daily rising to our bountiful benefactor. Thus we may hope for the dews of his grace and spirit to make our souls like a watered garden, grateful to the cultivation of God, as the earth is to ours ; and let our years that are crowned with goodness, be crowned with cheerful praises and faithful services. Amen.
PSALM LXVI. To the chief musician, A Song (or] Psalm. Probably composed soon after David's accession to the throne, when
the Philistines were vanquished, and the peace of Israel restored. IM A KE a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands; all natione
I that have heard of God's great goodness to his people : 2 Sing forth the honour of his name : make his praise glorious ;
do it in the most spirited and honourable manner, so as to engage 3 others to join in it. Say unto God, How terrible, or how awful,
(art thou in) thy works ; we are not able to express the greatnete