Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. To the Chief Musician upon Shoshannim. Thus for the second time we have a Psalm entitled "upon the lilies." In the forty-first they were golden lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh, and blooming in the fair gardens which skirt the ivory palaces: in this we have the lily among thorns, the lily of the valley, fair and beautiful, blooming in the garden of Gethsemane. A Psalm of David. If any enquire, "of whom speaketh the psalmist this? of himself, or of some other man?" we would reply, "of himself, and of some other man." Who that other is, we need not be long in discovering; it is the Crucified alone who can say, "in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." His footprints all through this sorrowful song have been pointed out by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, and therefore we believe, and are sure, that the Son of Man is here. Yet is seems to be the intention of the Spirit, while he gives us personal types, and so shows the likeness to the firstborn which exists in the heirs of salvation, to set forth the disparities between the best of the sons of men, and the Son of God, for there are verses here which we dare not apply to our Lord; we almost shudder when we see our brethren attempting to do so, as for instance Ps 69:5. Especially do we note the difference between David and the Son of David in the imprecations of the one against his enemies, and the prayers of the other for them. We commence our exposition of this Psalm with much trembling, for we feel that we are entering with our Great High Priest into the most holy place.
DIVISION. This Psalm consists of two portions of 18 verses each. These again may each be sub divided into three parts. Under the first head, from Ps 69:1-4, the sufferer spreads his complaint before God; then he pleads that his zeal for God is the cause of his sufferings, in Ps 69:5-12: and this encourages him to plead for help and deliverance, from Ps 69:13-18. In the second half of the Psalm he details the injurious conduct of his adversaries, from Ps 69:19-21; calls for their punishment, Ps 69:22-28, and then returns to prayer, and to a joyful anticipation of divine interposition and its results, Ps 69:29-36.
Verse 1. Save me, O God. "He saved others, himself he cannot save." With strong cries and tears he offered up prayers and supplications unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared (Heb 5:7). Thus David had prayed, and here his Son and Lord utters the same cry. This is the second Psalm which begins with a "Save me, O God, "and the former (Psalm 54) is but a short summary of this more lengthened complaint. It is remarkable that such a scene of woe should be presented to us immediately after the jubilant ascension hymn of the last Psalm, but this only shows how interwoven are the glories and the sorrows of our ever blessed Redeemer. The head which now is crowned with glory is the same which wore the thorns; he to whom we pray, "Save us, O God, "is the selfsame person who cried, "Save me, O God." For the waters are come in unto my soul. Sorrows, deep, abounding, deadly, had penetrated his inner nature. Bodily anguish is not his first complaint; he begins not with the gall which embittered his lips, but with the mighty griefs which broke into his heart. All the sea outside a vessel is less to be feared than that which finds its way into the hold. A wounded spirit who can bear. Our Lord in this verse is seen before us as a Jonah, crying, "The waters compassed me about, even to the soul." He was doing business for us on the great waters, at his Father's command; the stormy wind was lifting up the waves thereof, and he went down to the depths till his soul was melted because of trouble. In all this he has sympathy with us, and is able to succour us when we, like Peter, beginning to sink, cry to him, "Lord, save, or we perish."
Verse 2. I sink in deep mire. In water one might swim, but in mud and mire all struggling is hopeless; the mire sucks down its victim. Where there is no standing. Everything gave way under the Sufferer; he could not get foothold for supportthis is a worse fate than drowning. Here our Lord pictures the close, clinging nature of his heart's woes. "He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy." Sin is as mire for its filthiness, and the holy soul of the Saviour must have loathed even that connection with it which was necessary for its expiation. His pure and sensitive nature seemed to sink in it, for it was not his element, he was not like us born and acclimatised to this great dismal swamp. Here our Redeemer became another Jeremiah, of whom it is recorded (Jer 38:6) that his enemies cast him into a dungeon wherein "was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire." Let our hearts feel the emotions, both of contrition and gratitude, as we see in this simile the deep humiliation of our Lord. I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. The sorrow gathers even greater force; he is as one cast into the sea, the waters go over his head. His sorrows were first within, then around, and now above him. Our Lord was no fainthearted sentimentalist; his were real woes, and though he bore them heroically, yet were they terrible even to him. His sufferings were unlike all others in degree, the waters were such as soaked into the soul; the mire was the mire of the abyss itself, and the floods were deep and overflowing. To us the promise is, "the rivers shall not overflow thee, "but no such word of consolation was vouchsafed to him. My soul, thy Well beloved endured all this for thee. Many waters could not quench his love, neither could the floods drown it; and, because of this, thou hast the rich benefit of that covenant assurance, "as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." He stemmed the torrent of almighty wrath, that we might for ever rest in Jehovah's love.
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying. Not of it, but by it, with it. He had prayed till he sweat great drops of blood, and well might physical weariness intervene. My throat is dried, parched, and inflamed. Long pleading with awful fervour had scorched his throat as with flames of fire. Few, very few, of his saints follow their Lord in prayer so far as this. We are, it is to be feared, more likely to be hoarse with talking frivolities to men than by pleading with God; yet our sinful nature demands more prayer than his perfect humanity might seem to need. His prayers should shame us into fervour. Our Lord's supplications were salted with fire, they were hot with agony; and hence they weakened his system, and made him "a weary man and full of woes." Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. He wanted in his direst distress nothing more than his God; that would be all in all to him. Many of us know what watching and waiting mean; and we know something of the failing eye when hope is long deferred: but in all this Jesus bears the palm; no eyes ever failed as his did or for so deep a cause. No painter can ever depict those eyes; their pencils fail in every feature of his all but fair but all marred countenance, but most of all do they come short when they venture to pourtray those eyes which were fountains of tears. He knew both how to pray and to watch, and he would have us learn the like. There are times when we should pray till the throat is dry, and watch till the eyes grow dim. Only thus can we have fellowship with him in his sufferings. What! can we not watch with him one hour? Does the flesh shrink back? O cruel flesh to be so tender of thyself, and so ungenerous to thy Lord!
Verse 4. They that hate me. Surprising sin that men should hate the altogether lovely one, truly is it added, without a cause, for reason there was none for this senseless enmity. He neither blasphemed God, nor injured man. As Samuel said: "Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed?" Even so might Jesus enquire. Besides, he had not only done us no evil, but he had bestowed countless and priceless benefits. Well might he demand, "For which of these works do ye stone me?" Yet from his cradle to his cross, beginning with Herod and not ending with Judas, he had foes without number; and he justly said, they are more than the hairs of mine head. Both the civilians and the military, laics and clerics, doctors and drunkards, princes and people, set themselves against the Lord's anointed. "This is the heir, let us kill him that the inheritance may be ours, "was the unanimous resolve of all the keepers of the Jewish vineyard; while the Gentiles outside the walls of the garden furnished the instruments for his murder, and actually did the deed. The hosts of earth and hell, banded together, made up vast legions of antagonists, none of whom had any just ground for hating him.
They that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty. It was bad that they were many, but worse that they were mighty. All the ecclesiastical and military powers of his country were arrayed against him. The might of the Sanhedrin, the mob, and the Roman legions were combined in one for his utter destruction: "Away with such a fellow from this earth; it is not fit that he should live, "was the shout of his ferocious foes. David's adversaries were on the throne when he was hiding in caverns, and our Lord's enemies were the great ones of the earth; while he, of whom the world was not worthy, was reproached of men and despised of the people. Then I restored that which I took not away. Though innocent, he was treated as guilty. Though David had no share in plots against Saul, yet he was held accountable for them. In reference to our Lord, it may be truly said that he restores what he took not away; for he gives back to the injured honour of God a recompense, and to man his lost happiness, though the insult of the one and the fall of the other were neither of them, in any sense, his doings. Usually, when the ruler sins the people suffer, but here the proverb is reversedthe sheep go astray, and their wanderings are laid at the Shepherd's door.
Verse 5. O God, thou knowest my foolishness. David might well say this, but not David's Lord; unless it be understood as an appeal to God as to his freedom from the folly which men imputed to him when they said he was mad. That which was foolishness to men was superlative wisdom before God. How often might we use these words in their natural sense, and if we were not such fools as to be blind to our own folly, this confession would be frequently on our lips. When we feel that we have been foolish we are not, therefore, to cease from prayer, but rather to be more eager and fervent in it. Fools had good need consult with the infinitely wise. And my sins are not hid from thee. They cannot be hid with any fig leaves of mine; only the covering which thou wilt bring me can conceal their nakedness and mine. It ought to render confession easy, when we are assured that all is known already. That prayer which has no confession in it may please a Pharisee's pride, but will never bring down justification. They who have never seen their sins in the light of God's omniscience are quite unable to appeal to that omniscience in proof of their piety. He who can say, Thou knowest my foolishness, is the only man who can add, "But thou knowest that I love thee."
Verse 6. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake. If he were deserted, others who were walking in the same path of faith would be discouraged and disappointed. Unbelievers are ready enough to catch at anything which may turn humble faith into ridicule, therefore, O God of all the armies of Israel, let not my case cause the enemy to blasphemesuch is the spirit of this verse. Our blessed Lord ever had a tender concern for his people, and would not have his own oppression of spirit become a source of discouragement to them. Let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. He appealed to the Lord of hosts by his power to help him, and now to the God of Israel by his covenant faithfulness to come to the rescue. If the captain of the host fail, how will it fare with the rank and file? If David flee, what will his followers do? If the king of believers shall find his faith unrewarded, how will the feeble ones hold on their way? Our Lord's behaviour during his sharpest agonies is no cause of shame to us; he wept, for he was man, but he murmured not, for he was sinless man; he cried, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; "for he was human, but he added, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt, "for his humanity was without taint of rebellion. In the depths of tribulation no repining word escaped him, for there was no repining in his heart. The Lord of martyrs witnessed a good confession. He was strengthened in the hour of peril, and came off more than a conqueror, as we also shall do, if we hold fast our confidence even to the end.
Verse 7. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach. Because he undertook to do the Father's will, and teach his truth, the people were angry; because he declared himself to be the Son of God, the priesthood raved. They could find no real fault in him, but were forced to hatch up a lying accusation before they could commence their sham trial of him. The bottom of the quarrel was, that God was with him, and he with God, while the Scribes and Pharisees sought only their own honour. Reproach is at all times very cutting to a man of integrity, and it must have come with acute force upon one of so unsullied a character as our Lord; yet see, how he turns to his God, and finds his consolation in the fact that he is enduring all for his Father's sake. The like comfort belongs to all misrepresented and persecuted saints. Shame hath covered my face. Men condemned to die frequently had their faces covered as they were dragged away from the judge's seat, as was the case with the wicked Haman in Es 7:8: after this fashion they first covered our Lord with a veil of opprobrious accusation, and then hurried him away to be crucified. Moreover, they passed him through the trial of cruel mockings, besmeared his face with spittle, and covered it with bruises, so that Pilate's "Ecce Homo" called the world's attention to an unexampled spectacle of woe and shame. The stripping on the cross must also have suffused the Redeemer's face with a modest blush, as he hung there exposed to the cruel gaze of a ribald multitude. Ah, blessed Lord, it was our shame which thou wast made to bear! Nothing more deserves to be reproached and despised than sin, and lo, when thou wast made sin for us thou wast called to endure abuse and scorn. Blessed be thy name it is over now, but we owe thee more than heart can conceive for thine amazing stoop of love.
Verse 8. I am become a stranger unto my brethren. The Jews his brethren in race rejected him, his family his brethren by blood were offended at him, his disciples his brethren in spirit forsook him and fled; one of them sold him, and another denied him with oaths and cursings. Alas, my Lord, what pangs must have smitten thy loving heart to be thus forsaken by those who should have loved thee, defended thee, and, if need be, died for thee. And an alien unto my mother's children. These were the nearest of relatives, the children of a father with many wives felt the tie of consanguinity but loosely, but children of the same mother owned the band of love; yet our Lord found his nearest and dearest ones ashamed to own him. As David's brethren envied him, and spake evil of him, so our Lord's relatives by birth were jealous of him, and his best beloved followers in the hour of his agony were afraid to be known as having any connection with him. These were sharp arrows of the mighty in the soul of Jesus, the most tender of friends. May none of us ever act as if we were strangers to him; never may we treat him as if he were an alien to us: rather let us resolve to be crucified with him, and may grace turn the resolve into fact.
Verse 9. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. His burning ardour, like the flame of a candle, fed on his strength and consumed it. His heart, like a sharp sword, cut through the scabbard. Some men are eaten up with lechery, others with covetousness, and a third class with pride, but the master passion with our great leader was the glory of God, jealousy for his name, and love to the divine family. Zeal for God is so little understood by men of the world, that it always draws down opposition upon those who are inspired with it; they are sure to be accused of sinister motives, or of hypocrisy, or of being out of their senses. When zeal eats us up, ungodly men seek to eat us up too, and this was preeminently the case with our Lord, because his holy jealousy was preeminent. With more than a seraph's fire he glowed, and consumed himself with his fervour. And the reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen upon me. Those who habitually blaspheme God now curse me instead. I have become the butt for arrows intended for the Lord himself. Thus the Great Mediator was, in this respect, a substitute for God as well as for man, he bore the reproaches aimed at the one, as well as the sins committed by the other.
Verse 10. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. Having resolved to hate him, everything he did was made a fresh reason for reviling. If he ate and drank as others, he was a man gluttonous and a winebibber; if he wept himself away and wore himself out with fasting, then he had a devil and was mad. Nothing is more cruel than prejudice, its eye colours all with the medium through which it looks, and its tongue rails at all indiscriminately. Our Saviour wept much in secret for our sins, and no doubt his private soul chastening on our behalf were very frequent. Lone mountains and desert places saw repeated agonies, which, if they could disclose them, would astonish us indeed. The emaciation which these exercises wrought in our Lord made him appear nearly fifty years old when he was but little over thirty; this which was to his honour was used as a matter of reproach against him.
Verse 11. I made sackcloth also my garment. This David did literally, but we have no reason to believe that Jesus did. In a spiritual sense he, as one filled with grief, was always a sackcloth wearer. And I became a proverb to them. He was ridiculed as "the man of sorrows, "quoted as "the acquaintance of grief." He might have said, "here I and sorrow sit." This which should have won him pity only earned him new and more general scorn. To interweave one's name into a mocking proverb is the highest stretch of malice, and to insult one's acts of devotion is to add profanity to cruelty.
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate speak against me. The ordinary gossips who meet at the city gates for idle talk make me their theme, the business men who there resort for trade forget their merchandise to slander me, and even the beggars who wait at men's doors for alms contribute their share of insult to the heap of infamy. And I was the song of the drunkard. The ungodly know no merrier jest than that in which the name of the holy is traduced. The flavour of slander is piquant, and gives a relish to the revellers' wine. The character of the man of Nazareth was so far above the appreciation of the men of strength to mingle strong drink, it was so much out of their way and above their thoughts, that it is no wonder it seemed to them ridiculous, and therefore well adapted to create laughter over their cups. The saints are ever choice subjects for satire. Butler's Hudibras owed more of its popularity to its irreligious banter than to any intrinsic cleverness. To this day the tavern makes rare fun of the tabernacle, and the ale bench is the seat of the scorner. What a wonder of condescension is here that he who is the adoration of angels should stoop to be the song of drunkards! What amazing sin that he whom seraphs worship with veiled faces should be a scornful proverb among the most abandoned of men.
"The byword of the passing throng,
Verse 13. But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord. He turned to Jehovah in prayer as being the most natural thing for the godly to do in their distress. To whom should a child turn but to his father. He did not answer them; like a sheep before her shearers he was dumb to them, but he opened his mouth unto the Lord his God, for he would hear and deliver. In an acceptable time. It was a time of rejection with man, but of acceptance with God. Sin ruled on earth, but grace reigned in heaven. There is to each of us an accepted time, and woe to us if we suffer it to glide away unimproved. God's time must be our time, or it will come to pass that, when time closes, we shall look in vain for space for repentance. Our Lord's prayers were well timed, and always met with acceptance.
O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me. Even the perfect one makes his appeal to the rich mercy of God, much more should we. To misery no attribute is more sweet than mercy, and when sorrows multiply, the multitude of mercy is much prized. When enemies are more than the hairs of our head, they are yet to be numbered, but God's mercies are altogether innumerable, and let it never be forgotten that every one of them is an available and powerful argument in the hand of faith. In the truth of thy salvation. "Jehovah's faithfulness is a further mighty plea." His salvation is no fiction, no mockery, no changeable thing, therefore he is asked to manifest it, and make all men see his fidelity to his promise. Our Lord teaches us here the sacred art of wrestling in prayer, and ordering our cause with arguments; and he also indicates to us that the nature of God is the great treasury of strong reasons, which shall be to us most prevalent in supplication.
Verse 14. Deliver me out of the mire and let me not sink. He turns into prayer the very words of his complaint; and it is well, if, when we complain, we neither feel nor say anything which we should fear to utter before the Lord as a prayer. We are allowed to ask for deliverance from trouble as well as for support under it; both petitions are here combined. How strange it seems to hear such language from the Lord of glory. Let me be delivered from them that hate, me, and out of the deep waters. Both from his foes, and the griefs which they caused him, he seeks a rescue. God can help us in all ways, and we may, therefore, put up a variety of requests without fear of exceeding our liberty to ask, or his ability to answer.
Verse 15. Let not the waterflood overflow me. He continues to recapitulate the terms of his lament. He is willing to bear suffering, but entreats grace that it may not get the victory over him. He was heard in that he feared. Neither let the deep swallow me up. As Jonah came forth again, so let me also arise from the abyss of woe; here also our Lord was heard, and so shall we be. Death itself must disgorge us. Let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. When a great stone was rolled over the well, or pit, used as a dungeon, the prisoner was altogether enclosed, and forgotten like one on the oubliettes of the Bastille; this is an apt picture of the state of a man buried alive in grief and left without remedy; against this the great sufferer pleaded and was heard. He was baptised in agony but not drowned in it; the grave enclosed him, but before she could close her mouth he had burst his prison. It is said that truth lies in a well, but it is assuredly an open well, for it walks abroad in power; and so our great Substitute in the pit of woe and death was yet the Conqueror of death and hell. How appropriately may many of us use this prayer. We deserve to be swept away as with a flood, to be drowned in our sins, to be shut up in hell; let us, then, plead the merits of our Saviour, lest these things happen unto us.
Verse 16. Hear me, O Lord. Do not refuse thy suppliant Son. It is to the covenant God, the ever living Jehovah, that he appeals with strong crying. For thy lovingkindness is good. By the greatness of thy love have pity upon thine afflicted. It is always a stay to the soul to dwell upon the preeminence and excellence of the Lord's mercy. It has furnished sad souls much good cheer to take to pieces that grand old Saxon word, which is here used in our version, lovingkindness. Its composition is of two most sweet and fragrant things, fitted to inspire strength into the fainting, and make desolate hearts sing for joy. Turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. If the Lord do but turn the eye of pity, and the hand of power, the mourner's spirit revives. It is the gall of bitterness to be without the comfortable smile of God; in our Lord's case his grief culminated in "Lama Sabachthani, "and his bitterest cry was that in which he mourned an absent God. Observe how he dwells anew upon divine tenderness, and touches again that note of abundance, "The multitude of thy compassions."
Verse 17. And hide not thy face from thy servant. A good servant desires the light of his master's countenance; that servus servorum, who was also rex regium, could not bear to lose the presence of his God. The more he loved his Father, the more severely he felt the hiding of his face. For I am in trouble. Stay thy rough wind in the day of thine east wind; do not add sorrow upon sorrow. If ever a man needs the comforting presence of God it is when he is in distress; and, being in distress, it is a reason to be pleaded with a merciful God why he should not desert us. We may pray that our flight be not in the winter, and that God will not add spiritual desertion to all our other tribulations. Hear me speedily. The case was urgent, delay was dangerous, nay deadly. Our Lord was the perfection of patience, yet he cried urgently for speedy mercy; and therein he gives us liberty to do the same, so long as we add, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."
Verse 18. Draw nigh unto my soul. The near approach of God is all the sufferer needs; one smile of heaven will still the rage of hell. And redeem it. It shall be redemption to me if thou wilt appear to comfort me. This is a deeply spiritual prayer, and one very suitable for a deserted soul. It is in renewed communion that we shall find redemption realized. Deliver me because of mine enemies, lest they should, in their vaunting, blaspheme thy name, and boast that thou art not able to rescue those who put their trust in thee. Jesus, in condescending to use such supplications, fulfils the request of his disciples: "Lord, teach us to pray." Here we have a sad recapitulation of sorrows, with more especial reference to the persons concerned in their infliction.
Verse 19. Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour. It is no novelty or secret, it has been long continued; thou, O God, hast seen it; and for thee to see the innocent suffer is an assurance of help. Here are three words piled up to express the Redeemer's keen sense of the contempt poured upon him; and his assurance that every form of malicious despite was observed of the Lord. Mine adversaries are all before thee. The whole lewd and loud company is now present to thine eye: Judas and his treachery; Herod and his cunning; Caiaphas and his counsel; Pilate and his vacillation; Jews, priests, people, rulers, all, thou seest and wilt judge.
Verse 20. Reproach hath broken my heart. There is no hammer like it. Our Lord died of a broken heart, and reproach had done the deed. Intense mental suffering arises from slander; and in the case of the sensitive nature of the immaculate Son of Man, it sufficed to lacerate the heart till it broke. "Then burst his mighty heart." And I am full of heaviness. Calumny and insult bowed him to the dust; he was sick at heart. The heaviness of our Lord in the garden is expressed by many and forcible words in the four gospels, and each term goes to show that the agony was beyond measure great; he was filled with misery, like a vessel which is full to the brim. And I looked for some to take pity, but there was none. "Deserted in his utmost need by those his former bounty fed." Not one to say him a kindly word, or drop a sympathetic tear. Amongst ten thousand foes there was not one who was touched by the spectacle of his misery; not one with a heart capable of humane feeling towards him. And for comforters, but I found none. His dearest ones had sought their own safety, and left their Lord alone. A sick man needs comforters, and a persecuted man needs sympathy; but our blessed Surety found neither on that dark and doleful night when the powers of darkness had their hour. A spirit like that of our Lord feels acutely desertion by beloved and trusted friends, and yearns for real sympathy. This may be seen in the story of Gethsemane:
"Backwards and forwards thrice he ran.
"What ever he sought for, there was none;
Verse 21. They gave me also gall for my meat. This was the sole refreshment cruelty had prepared for him. Others find pleasure in their food, but his taste was made to be an additional path of pain to him. And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. A criminal's draught was offered to our innocent Lord, a bitter portion to our dying Master. Sorry entertainment had earth for her King and Saviour. How often have our sins filled the gall cup for our Redeemer? While we blame the Jews, let us not excuse ourselves. From this point David and our Lord for awhile part company, if we accept the rendering of our version. The severe spirit of the law breathes out imprecations, while the tender heart of Jesus offers prayers for his murderers. The whole of these verses, however, may be viewed as predictions, and then they certainly refer to our Lord, for we find portions of them quoted in that manner by the apostle in Ro 11:9-10, and by Christ himself in Mt 23:38.
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare before them. There they laid snares, and there they shall find them. From their feasts they would afford nothing but wormwood for their innocent victim, and now their banquets shall be their ruin. It is very easy for the daily provisions of mercy to become temptations to sin. As birds and beasts are taken in a trap by means of baits for the appetite, so are men snared full often by their meats and drinks. Those who despise the upper springs of grace, shall find the nether springs of worldly comfort prove their poison. The table is used, however, not alone for feeding, but for conversations, transacting business, counsel, amusement, and religious observance: to those who are the enemies of the Lord Jesus that table may, in all these respects, become a snare. This first plague is terrible, and the second is like unto it. And that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. This, if we follow the original closely, and the version of Paul in the Romans, is a repetition of the former phrase; but we shall not err if we say that, to the rejecters of Christ, even those things which are calculated to work their spiritual and eternal good, become occasions for yet greater sin. They reject Christ, and are condemned for not believing on him; they stumble on this stone, and are broken by it. Wretched are those men, who not only have a curse upon their common blessings, but also on the spiritual opportunities of salvation.
"Whom oils and balsams kill, what salve can cure?"
Verse 23. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not. They shall wander in a darkness that may be felt. They have loved darkness rather than light, and in darkness they shall abide. Judicial blindness fell upon Israel after our Lord's death and their persecution of his apostles; they were blinded by the light which they would not accept. Eyes which see no beauty in the Lord Jesus, but flash wrath upon him, may well grow yet more dim, till death spiritual leads to death eternal. And make their loins continually to shake. Their conscience shall be so ill at ease that they shall continually quiver with fear; their backs shall bend to the earth (so some read it) with grovelling avarice, and their strength shall be utterly paralysed, so that they cannot walk firmly, but shall totter at every step. See the terrifying, degrading, and enfeebling influence of unbelief. See also the retaliation of justice: those who will not see shall not see; those who would not walk in uprightness shall be unable to do so.
Verse 24. Pour out thine indignation upon them. What can be too severe a penalty for those who reject the incarnate God, and refuse to obey the commands of his mercy? They deserve to be flooded with wrath, and they shall be; for upon all who rebel against the Saviour, Christ the Lord, "the wrath is come to the uttermost." 1Th 2:16. God's indignation is no trifle; the anger of a holy, just, omnipotent, and infinite Being, is above all things to be dreaded; even a drop of it consumes, but to have it poured upon us is inconceivably dreadful. O God, who knoweth the power of thine anger? And let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Grasping them, arresting them, abiding on them. If they flee, let it overtake and seize them; let it lay them by the heels in the condemned cell, so that they cannot escape from execution. It shall indeed be so with all the finally impenitent, and it ought to be so. God is not to be insulted with impunity, and his Son, our ever gracious Saviour, the best gift of infinite love, is not to be scorned and scoffed at for nothing. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy, but what shall be the "sorer punishment" reserved for those who have trodden under foot the Son of God?
Verse 25. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. This may signify that their posterity shall be cut off, and the abode which they occupy shall be left a ruin; or, as our Lord quoted it, it refers to the temple, which was left by its divine occupant and became a desolation. What occurs on a large scale to families and nations is often fulfilled in individuals, as was conspicuously the case with Judas, to whom Peter referred this prophecy, Ac 1:20, "For it is written in the book of Psalms, let this habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein." The fierce proclamation of Nebuchadnezzar, "that every people, nation, and language, that speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill, "is but an anticipation of that dread hour when the enemies of the Lord shall be broken in pieces, and perish out of the land.
Verse 26. For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten. They are cruel where they should be pitiful. When a stroke comes to any in the providence of God, their friends gather around them and condole, but these wretches hunt the wounded and vex the sick. Their merciless hearts invent fresh blows for him who is "smitten of God and afflicted." And they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. They lay bare his wounds with their rough tongues. They lampoon the mourner, satirise his sorrows, and deride his woes. They pointed to the Saviour's wounds, they looked and stared upon him, and then they uttered shameful accusations against him. After this fashion the world still treats the members of Christ. "Report, "say they, "and we will report it." If a godly man be a little down in estate, how glad they are to push him over altogether, and, meanwhile, to talk everywhere against him. God takes note of this, and will visit it upon the enemies of his children; he may allow them to act as a rod to his saints, but he will yet avenge his own elect. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem, and for Zion, with a great jealousy; and I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction."
Verse 27. Add iniquity unto their iniquity. Unbelievers will add sin to sin, and so, punishment to punishment. This is the severest imprecation, or prophecy, of all. For men to be let alone to fill up the measure of their iniquity, is most equitable, but yet most awful. And let them not come into thy righteousness. If they refuse it, and resist thy gospel, let them shut themselves out of it.
"He that will not when he may,
Those who choose evil shall have their choice. Men who hate divine mercy shall not have it forced upon them, but (unless sovereign grace interpose) shall be left to themselves to aggravate their guilt, and ensure their doom.
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living. Though in their conceit they wrote themselves among the people of God, and induced others to regard them under that character, they shall be unmasked and their names removed from the register. Enrolled with honour, they shall be erased with shame. Death shall obliterate all recollection of them; they shall be held no longer in esteem, even by those who paid them homage. Judas first, and Pilate, and Herod, and Caiaphas, all in due time, were speedily wiped out of existence; their names only remain as bywords, but among the honoured men who live after their departure they are not recorded. And not be written with the righteous. This clause is parallel with the former, and shows that the inner meaning of being blotted out from the book of life is to have it made evident that the name was never written there at all. Man in his imperfect copy of God's book of life will have to make many emendations, both of insertion and erasure; but, as before the Lord, the record is for ever fixed and unalterable. Beware, O man, of despising Christ and his people, lest thy soul should never partake in the righteousness of God, without which men are condemned already. Imprecations, prophecies, and complaints are ended, and prayer of a milder sort begins, intermingled with bursts of thankful song, and encouraging foresight of coming good.
Verse 29. But I am poor and sorrowful. The psalmist was afflicted very much, but his faith was in God. The poor in spirit and mourners are both blessed under the gospel, so that here is a double reason for the Lord to smile on his suppliant. No man was ever poorer or more sorrowful than Jesus of Nazareth, yet his cry out of the depths was heard, and he was uplifted to the highest glory. Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. How fully has this been answered in our great Master's case, for he not only escaped his foes personally, but he has become the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him, and this continues to glorify him more and more. O ye poor and sorrowful ones, lift up your heads, for as with your Lord so shall it be with you. You are trodden down today as the mire of the streets, but you shall ride upon the high places of the earth ere long; and even now ye are raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.
Verse 30. I will praise the name of God with a song. He who sang after the passover, sings yet more joyously after the resurrection and ascension. He is, in very truth, "the sweet singer of Israel." He leads the eternal melodies, and all his saints join in chorus. And will magnify him with thanksgiving. How sure was our Redeemer of ultimate victory, since he vows a song even while yet in the furnace. In us, also, faith foresees the happy issue of all affliction, and makes us even now begin the music of gratitude which shall go on for ever increasing in volume, world without end. What clear shining after the rain we have in this and succeeding verses. The darkness is past, and the glory light shines forth as the sun. All the honour is rendered unto him to whom all the prayer was presented; he alone could deliver and did deliver, and, therefore, to him only be the praise.
Verse 31. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. No sacrifice is so acceptable to God, who is a Spirit, as that which is spiritual. He accepted bullocks under a dim and symbolical dispensation; but in such offerings, in themselves considered, he had no pleasure. "Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?" Here he puts dishonour upon mere outward offerings by speaking of the horns and hoofs, the offal of the victim. The opus operatum, which our ritualists think so much of, the Lord puffs at. The horning and hoofing are nothing to him, though to Jewish ritualists these were great points, and matters for critical examination; our modern rabbis are just as precise as to the mingling of water with their wine, the baking of their wafers, the cut of their vestments, and the performance of genuflections towards the right quarter of the compass. O fools, and slow of heart to perceive all that the Lord has declared. "Offer unto God thanksgiving" is the everlasting rubric of the true directory of worship. The depths of grief into which the suppliant had been plunged gave him all the richer an experience of divine power and grace in his salvation, and so qualified him to sing more sweetly "the song of loves." Such music is ever most acceptable to the infinite Jehovah.
Verse 32. The humble shall see this and be glad. Grateful hearts are ever on the look out for recruits, and the rejoicing psalmist discerns with joy the fact, that other oppressed and lowly men observing the Lord's dealings with his servants are encouraged to look for a like issue to their own tribulations. The standing consolation of the godly is the experience of their Lord, for as he is so are we also in this world; yea, moreover, his triumph has secured ours, and therefore, we may on the most solid grounds rejoice in him. This gave our great leader satisfaction as he foresaw the comforts which would flow to us from his conflict and conquest. And your heart shall live that seek God. A similar assurance is given in Psalm 22, which is near akin to this. It would have been useless to seek if Jesus' victories had not cleared the way, and opened a door of hope; but, since the Breaker has gone up before us, and the King at the head of us, our hope is a living one, our faith is living, our love is living, and our renewed nature is full of a vitality which challenges the cold hand of death to damp it.
Verse 33. For the Lord heareth the poor. The examples of David and David's Lord, and tens of thousands of the saints, all go to prove this. Monarchs of the nations are deaf to the poor, but the Sovereign of the Universe has a quick ear for the needy. None can be brought lower than was the Nazarene, but see how highly he is exalted: descend into what depths we may, the prayer hearing God can bring us up again. And despiseth not his prisoners. Poor men have their liberty, but these are bound; however, they are God's prisoners, and, therefore, prisoners of hope. The captive in the dungeon is the lowest and least esteemed of men, but the Lord seeth not as man seeth; he visited those who are bound with chains, and proclaims a jail delivery for his afflicted. God despises no man, and no prayer that is honest and sincere. Distinctions of rank are nothing with him; the poor have the gospel preached to them, and the prisoners are loosed by his grace. Let all poor and needy ones hasten to seek his face, and to yield him their love.
Verse 34. Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein. The doxology of a glowing heart. The writer had fathomed the deeps, and had ascended to the heights; and, therefore, calls on the whole range of creation to bless the Lord. Our Well Beloved here excites us all to grateful adoration: who among us will hold back? God's love to Christ argues good to all forms of life; the exaltation of the Head brings good to the members, and to all in the least connected with him. Inasmuch as the creation itself also is by Christ's work to be delivered from bondage, let all that have life and motion magnify the Lord. Glory be unto thee, O Lord, for the sure and all including pledge of our Surety's triumph; we see in this the exaltation of all thy poor and sorrowful ones, and our heart is glad.
Verse 35. For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah. Poor, fallen Israel shall have a portion in the mercy of the Lord; but, above all, the church, so dear to the heart of her glorious bridegroom, shall be revived and strengthened. Ancient saints so dearly loved Zion, that even in their distresses they did not forget her; with the first gleam of light which visited them, they fell to pleading for the faithful: see notable instances of this which have passed under our eye already. Ps 5:11 14:7 22:23 51:18. To us, in these modern times, it is the subject of cheering hope that better days are coming for the chosen people of God, and for this we would ever pray. O Zion, whatever other memories fade away, we cannot forget thee. That they may dwell there, and have it in possession. Whatever captivities may occur, or desolations be caused, the land of Canaan belongs to Israel by a covenant of salt, and they will surely repossess it; and this shall be a sign unto us, that through the atonement of the Christ of God, all the poor in spirit shall enjoy the mercies promised in the covenant of grace. The sure mercies of David shall be the heritage of all the seed.
Verse 36. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it. Under this image, which, however, we dare not regard as a mere simile, but as having in itself a literal significance, we have set forth to us the enrichment of the saints, consequent upon the sorrow of their Lord. The termination of this Psalm strongly recalls in us that of the twenty-second. The seed lie near the Saviour's heart, and their enjoyment of all promised good is the great concern of his disinterested soul. Because they are his Father's servants, therefore he rejoices in their welfare. And they that love his name shall dwell therein. He has an eye to the Father's glory, for it is to his praise that those who love him should attain, and for ever enjoy, the utmost happiness. Thus a Psalm, which began in the deep waters, ends in the city which hath foundations. How gracious is the change. Hallelujah.
TITLE. To the Chief Musician, on the lilies, of David. On the lilies, points to the beauty of the subject treated of. D. W. Hengstenberg.
Whole Psalm. The subject of the Psalm is an ideal person, representing the whole class of religious sufferers. The only individual in whom the various traits meet is Christ. That he is not, however, the exclusive, or even the immediate subject, is clear from the confession in Ps 69:5. There is no Psalm, except for the twenty-second, more distinctly applied to him in the New Testament. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Whole Psalm. This has usually been regarded as a Messianic Psalm. No portion of the Old Testament Scriptures is more frequently quoted in the New, with the exception of Psalm 22. When Jesus drives the buyers and sellers from the temple (Joh 2:17), his disciples are reminded of the words of Ps 69:9 (first clause). When it is said (Joh 15:25) that the enemies of Jesus hated him without a cause, and this is looked upon as the fulfilment of Scripture, the reference is probably to verse 4, though it may be also to Ps 35:18. To him, and the reproach which he endured for the sake of God, St. Paul refers the words of this Psalm, Ps 69:9 (second clause): The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. In Ps 69:12 we have a foreshadowing of the mockery of our Lord by the soldiers in the praetorium (Mt 27:27-30); in Ps 69:21, the giving of the vinegar and the gall found their counterpart in the scenes of the crucifixion, Mt 27:34. In Joh 19:28, there is an allusion, probably to verse 21 of this Psalm, and to Ps 32:15. The imprecation in Ps 69:25 is said, in Ac 1:20, to have been fulfilled in the case of Judas Iscariot, though, as the words of the Psalm are plural, the citation is evidently made with some freedom. According to Ro 11:9-10, the rejection of Israel may best be described in the words of Ps 69:22-23. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Whole Psalm. This Psalm follows in striking connection with the preceding, and in contrast with the glory of his kingdom. The two have been compared to the transfiguration on the mount, where, after the manifestation of Christ in glory, there appeared, also, Moses and Elias, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. The clearest anticipation of future glory must not shut out the conviction, that it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom. W. Wilson.
Whole Psalm. Remember this is the fourth Psalm which declares at length the passion and resurrection of our Lord. Through the whole Psalm Christ speaks in person. He prays for deliverance by the Father, because he has suffered by the Jews, without cause, many afflictions and persecutions. He supplicates on behalf of his members, that the hope of the faithful, resting on his resurrection, may not be disappointed. By the power of his prescience he declares the future events which should occur to his enemies. Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus, circa 468-560.
Whole Psalm. In this Psalm the whole Christ speaks; now in his own person, now crying with the voice of his members to God his Father. Gerhohus.
Verse 1. Save me, O God. Let his distances be never so great, he is resolved to cry after the Lord; and if he get but his head never so little above water, the Lord shall hear of him. One would think his discouragements such as he were past crying any more; the waters entered into his soul, in deep waters, the streams running over him: he sticketh fast in the mire where is no standing (he is at the very bottom, and there fast in the mire), he is weary of crying; yet, Ps 69:6,13: But, Lord, I make my prayers to thee: and as he recovers breath, so breathes out fresh supplications to the Lord. If men or devils would be forbidding to pray, as the multitude sometimes did the poor blind man to cry after Jesus; yet, as he, so an importunate suppliant "will cry so much the more, Jesus thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Mr 10:47-48. Thomas Cobbet.
Verse 1. The waters are come in unto my soul. What means he by coming in unto his soul? Surely no other than this:that they oppressed his spirit, and, as it were, penetrated into his conscience, raising fears and perplexities there, by reason of his sins, which at present put his faith and hope to some disorder; so that he could not for a while see to the comfortable end of his affliction, but was as one under water, covered with his fears, as appears by what follows (Ps 69:2): I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing. He compares himself to one in a quagmire that can feel no ground to bear him up; and, observe whence his trouble rose, and where the waters made their entrance (Ps 69:5): O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. This holy man lay under some fresh guilt, and this made him so uncomfortable under his affliction, because he saw his sin in the face of that, and tasted some displeasure from God for it in his outward trouble, which made it so bitter in the going down; and, therefore, when once he had humbled himself by confessing his sin, and was able to see the coast clear between heaven and him, so as to believe the pardon of his sin, and hope for good news from God again, he then returns to his sweet temper, and sings in the same affliction, where before he sunk. William Gurnall.
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying. The word egy means properly, to gape, to gasp, then, to become weary.... but to gasp in his crying, is not so much to grow weary because of the great vehemence thereof, but while the crying lasts, and while he is in the act, to succumb under the burden of his dangerous and shameful calamity. Hermann Venema.
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying. He had cried to God for the ways of man; he had cried to man of the ways of God; he had not ceased, from his first beginning to teach, till he said upon the cross, "I thirst." His eyes had grown dim, and his flesh was faint and weary with his sufferings, through the long passion of his life on earth. He had been waiting in poverty, and insult, and treachery, and scourging, and pain, until he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" From "A Plain Commentary."
Verse 3. I am weary of my crying, etc. David is like the post, who layeth by three horses as breathless; his heart, his throat, his eyes... Objection. But I have neither weeping one way or other, ordinary nor marred. Answer. Looking up to heaven, lifting up of the eyes, goeth for prayer also in God's books. "My prayer unto thee, and will look up, "(Ps 5:3). Mine eyes fail with looking upward (Ps 69:3). Because, first, prayer is a pouring out of the soul to God, and faith will come out at the eye, in lieu of another door: often affections break out at the window, when the door is closed; as smoke vents at the window, when the chimney refuses passage. Stephen looked up to heaven (Ac 7:55.). He sent a post; a greedy, pitiful, and hungry look up to Christ, out at the window, at the nearest passage, to tell that a poor friend was coming up to him. Second, I would wish no more, if I were in hell, but to send up a look to heaven. There be many love looks of the saints, lying up before the throne, in the bosom of Christ. The twinkling of thy eyes in prayer are not lost to Christ; else Stephen's look, David's look, should not be registered so many hundred years in Christ's written Testament. Samuel Rutherford, in "The Trial and Triumph of Faith."
Verse 3. Crying. Meanwhile, we see how the saints, in the vicissitudes of affairs, even when they are innocent, are not insensible and stony; they do not despise the threatening perils; they become anxious, they cry and sigh during their temptations. Musculus.
Verse 3. Mine eyes fail. O pitiable sight! that sight should fail, by which Jesus saw the multitudes and, therefore, ascended the mount to give the precepts of the New Testament; by which, beholding Peter and Andrew, he called them; by which, looking upon the man sitting at the receipt of custom, he called and made him an evangelist; by which, gazing upon the city, he wept over it... With these eyes thou didst look upon Simon, when thou didst say, "Thou art the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas." With these eyes thou didst gaze upon the woman who was a sinner, to whom thou didst say, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." Turn these eyes upon us, and never turn them away from our continual prayers. Gerhohus.
Verse 3. I wait for my God. The hour is coming when our eyes must fail, and be closed; but, even then, "Let us wait for our God; "in this respect, let us die the death of the righteous person, who died for us; "and let our last end be like this." George Horne.
Verse 4. Without a cause. In suffering, let not the mind be disturbed; for the injustice which is done to the innocent in his sufferings, is not laid to the charge of the sufferer, but to his who inflicts suffering... It is well known what Tertullian relates of Socrates, when his wife met him after his condemnation, and addresses him with a woman's tears: "Thou art unjustly condemned, Socrates." His reply was, "Wouldst thou have me justly?" Lorinus.
Verse 4. Then I restored that which I took not away. It was the great and blessed work of our Lord Jesus here upon the earth, to restore what he took not away. In handling this: (1) Show what it is which was taken away, and from whom? (2) Wherein it appears that Christ took it not away. (3) How he restored it? (4) Why he did so? (5) Use.
1. What it was which was taken away, and from whom?
(a) There was glory taken from God. Not his essential glory, nor any perfection of his being, for that cannot be taken away; but that glory which shines forth in the moral government of his creatures, and that glory which we are bound to give him.
(b) There was righteousness, holiness, and happiness taken from man also. (1.) There was a loss of righteousness to the guilty sinner; (2.) of holiness to the polluted sinner: (3.) of happiness to the miserable sinner.
2. Wherein it appears that Christ did not take away those things from either.
(a) It is plain, as to God, he never took away any glory from him; for he never did anything dishonourable, or offensive to God. Joh 8:29; Isa 50:5 Lu 1:35.
(b) It is also clear, as to man, that he took not away any righteousness, holiness, or happiness from him. He was not such a fountain of guilt, pollution, and misery, as the first Adam had been, but the contrary.
(c) The Scripture, therefore, speaks of Christ's being cut off, but not for himself, Da 9:26; 1Pe 3:18 Isa 53:4-5.
(d) The innocency of Christ was conspicuous in his very sufferings. Though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. Ac 13:28.
3. How did Christ restore those things which he took not away? In general, by his active and passive obedience.
(a) Christ's doing the will of God in such a manner as he did it, was a greater honour to God than ever had been, or could be done before.
(b) Christ's suffering of the will of God, made a considerable addition to the glory of God, which had been impaired by the sin of man, Heb 5:8; Joh 17:4 13:31.
(c) Christ hath provided for the justification of the sinner by the obedience which he fulfilled, Ro 5:8.
(d) Christ communicates that grace which is necessary for our sanctification also.
(e) Christ hath merited for us a present blessedness in this world.
(f) Jesus Christ hath procured for us a more full and absolute blessedness in the world to come.
4. Why did Jesus Christ make it his work to restore what he took not away?
(a) It was a necessary work, a work which must be done, in order to his being a Saviour.
(b) It was a work impossible for any mere creature to do; so that if Christ did not, it could not be done by any person besides him. Timothy Cruso's Sermon.
Verse 4. Then I restored that which I took not away. Rosenmueller observes, that this seems to be a proverbial sentence, to denote an innocent man unjustly treated. According to the law, if a man stole and killed, or sold an ox, he was to restore five oxen; or a sheep, he was to restore four; and if the ox or sheep was found alive, he was to restore two. Hence, to oblige a man to restore when he had taken nothing, was the greatest injustice. Ex 22:1-5. Ainsworth observes, that though it may be taken for all unjust criminations, whereof David and Christ were innocent, yet in special, it was verified in Christ, who, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, "Php 2:6; notwithstanding, for witnessing himself to be the Son of God, he was put to death by the Jews. Joh 19:7. Benjamin Boothroyd.
Verse 4. I restored that which I took not away. The devil took away by arrogating in heaven what was not his, when he boasted that he was like the Most High, and for this he pays a righteous penalty... Adam also took away what was not his own, when, by the enticement of the devil, "You will be as gods, "he sought after a likeness to God, by yielding to the deception of the woman. But the Lord Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal with God... And yet his enemies said, "Let him be crucified, for he hath made himself the Son of God." Gerhohus.
Verse 4. I restored that which I took not away. What a blessed verse is here! Amidst all the opposition and contradiction of sinners against himself, Jesus manifested that character, by which Jehovah had pointed him out to the church by the prophet; "Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in." Isa 58:12. But what was it Christ restored? Nay, all that was lost. Adam by sin had done all that he could to take away God's glory, and with it his own glory and happiness. He had robbed God of his glory, God's law of its due, himself of God's image, and of God's favour. Sin had brought in death, spiritual and eternal; and he and all his descendants stood tremblingly exposed to everlasting misery. All these and more Jesus restored. As man's Surety and man's Representative, and called to it by the authority of Jehovah, the Lord Christ restored to God his glory, and to man God's image of favour; and having destroyed sin, death, hell, and the grave, he restored to his redeemed a better paradise than our nature had lost! Hail, oh, thou blessed Restorer of all our long lost privileges. Robert Hawker.
Verse 5. Thou knowest. The knowledge of God is of a double use to pious men. The first is, as we observe in this place, to console the innocent: the second is, to make them circumspect, since all their thoughts, and words, and deeds are under the very eye of God. Musculus.
Verse 5. Thou knowest my offences, etc., that is to say, that I am not an offender. This verse is not a confession of sin, but a protestation of innocence, The writer maintains that he is a sufferer, not for his sins, but for his piety. See Ps 69:7, etc. George R. Noyes, in "A New Translation of the Book of Psalms, with Notes," etc. 1846.
Verse 5. My sins are not hid from thee. The sins of those for whom Christ died, by being imputed to him, no doubt became his in the eyes of the law, in such a sense as to make him answerable for them. But the Scriptures, be it observed, while they speak of him as "wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, "and as "bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, "as if afraid to use any forms of expression which would even seem to derogate from his immaculate purity, never speak of the sins of those for whom he died as his own sins. James Anderson's Note to Calvin in loc.
Verse 5. My sins are not hid. Not as the first Adam, do I, the second Adam, hide myself or my sins, especially in thy sight, O God; but lifted up upon the cross I suffered without the gate for sins in such a way, that I desire that my sins should be conspicuous to every creature in heaven, earth, and hellmy sins which, as they refer to my person, are marked with no taint, and, as they pertain to my people believing in me, are blotted out by my blood. Gerhohus.
Verse 6. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake, etc. This says, that unless the carriage and deportment of the godly man redounds to the comfort of all the rest of the godly, it in some way tends to the discredit of the godly. Since this is the case, when they slip aside, or carry not aright; since they are all in hazard of doing so, it should be matter of affecting and afflicting exercise, lest they do so. Fellow professors are ashamed of the person that walketh not aright; they are ashamed that ever they should have been in company or fellowship with him; they are ashamed that ever such a person should have owned such a cause, and that ever such a thing should have befallen a professor of such a cause; and, besides, they are weakened by him in their hopes of persevering for themselves. Again, they are in hazard of being a discredit to all the godly, because, say they, it seems the Lord has granted no peremptory promise, as to the manner of their final perseverance; and corruption enough remains in them still, to overturn all their stock of grace, if they get not present renewed influences. William Guthrie. 1620-1655.
Verse 6. Ashamed for my sake. I pray that they may not be confounded by external enemies with their boundless insults and reproaches, because they seem to be the worshippers of a God crucified and dead, and are themselves like dead men, and lie rotting before his sepulchre, as if their good name were gone. Rather let my enemies who do not wish me to live be terror stricken at my angelic countenance, and fall like the dead. Gerhohus.
Verse 6. For my sake. yb: more exactly, in me. In these words the voice of the Sponsor of his people's peace is clearly audible. The prayer of the Sufferer has its answer in the declarative testimony which now forms the basis of the gospel: "He that believeth on him shall not be confounded." 1Pe 2:6. Arthur Pridham.
Verse 6. Because I, for their sakes, do at thy command bear that shame which they should else have done, Lord, take it off from them, because thou hast laid it upon me; so it expressly follows, Ps 69:7: Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 7. Shame hath covered my face. It is a great question whether shame or death be the greater evil. There have been those who have rather chosen death, and have wiped off a dishonour with their blood. So Saul slew himself rather than he would fall into the hands of the Philistines, who would have insulted over him, and mocked him as they did Samson. So that king (Jer 38:19) rather chose to lose his country, life and all, than to be given to the Jews, his subjects, to be mocked of them... Confusion of face is one of the greatest miseries that hell itself is set forth unto us by. There is nothing that a noble nature more abhors than shame, for honour is a spark of God's image; and the more of God's image there is in any one, the more is shame abhorred by him, which is the debasing of it, and so the greater and more noble any one's spirit, the more he avoids it. To a base, low spirit, indeed, shame is nothing; but to a great spirit (as to David), than to have his "glory turned into shame, "as Ps 4:2, is nothing more grievous. And the greater glory any loseth, the greater is his shame. What must it be then to Christ, who because he was to satisfy God in point of honour debased by man's sin, therefore of all punishments besides, he suffered most of shame; it being also (as was said) one of the greatest punishments in hell. And Christ, as he assumed other infirmities of our nature, that made him passible in other thingsas to be sensible of hunger, want of sleep, bodily torments, of unkindness, contempt, so likewise of disgrace and shame. He took that infirmity as well as fear; and though he had a strength to bear and despise it (as the author of the Hebrews speaks), yet none was ever more sensible of it. As the delicacy of the temper of his body made him more sensible of pains than ever any man was, so the greatness of his spirit made him more apprehensive of the evil of shame than ever any was. So likewise the infinite love and candour of his spirit towards mankind made him take in with answerable grief the unkindness and injuries which they heaped upon him. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 8. A stranger unto my brethren. Unless this aversion of his brethren had pained him, he would not have complained of it. It would not have pained him unless he had felt a special affection for them. Musculus.
Verse 8. In the east where polygamy prevails, the husband is a stern and unfeeling despot; his harem a group of trembling slaves; and the children, while they regard their common father with indifference or terror, cling to their own mother with the fondest affection, as the only part, as the only parent, in whom they feel an interest. Hence it greatly aggravated the affliction of David that he had become an alien unto his mother's children: the enmity of the other children of his father, the children of his father's other wives, gave him less concern. W. Greenfield, in Comprehensive Bible.
Verse 9. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. He who recollects that the Scriptures speak of a "peace which passeth understanding, "and a "joy unspeakable and full of glory, "will be more disposed to lament the low state of his own feeling, than to suspect the propriety of sentiments the most rational and scriptural, merely because they rise to a pitch that he has never reached. The Sacred Oracles afford no countenance to the supposition that devotional feelings are to the condemned as visionary and enthusiastic merely on account of their intenseness and elevation; provided they be of the right kind, and spring from legitimate sources, they never teach us to suspect they can be carried too far. David danced before the Lord with all his might, and when he was reproached for degrading himself in the eyes of his people by indulging in such transports, he replied, "If this be vile, I will yet make myself more vile." That the objects which interest the heart in religion are infinitely more durable and important than all others will not be disputed; and why should it be deemed irrational to be affected by them in a degree somewhat suitable to their value? Robert Hall. 1764-1831.
Verse 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Consider the examples of the saints of old, who have taken heaven by force. David broke his sleep for meditation. Ps 119:148. His violence for heaven was boiled up to zeal, Ps 119:139: "My zeal hath consumed me." And Paul did "reach forth (epekteinomenoz) unto those things which were before." The Greek word signifies to stretch out the neck, a metaphor taken from racers that strain every limb, and reach forward to lay hold upon the prize. We read of Anna, a prophetess (Lu 2:37); "she departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." How industrious was Calvin in the Lord's vineyard. When his friends persuaded him for his health's sake to remit a little of his labour, saith he, "Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?" Luther spent three hours a day in prayer. It is said of holy Bradford, preaching, reading, and prayer, was his whole life. I rejoice, said bishop Jewel, that my body is exhausted in the labours of my holy calling. How violent were the blessed martyrs! They wore their fetters as ornaments, they snatched up torments as crowns, and embraced the flames as cheerfully as Elijah did the fiery chariot that came to fetch him to heaven. Let racks, fires, pullies, and all manner of torments come, so I may win Christ, said Ignatius. These pious souls "resisted unto blood." How should this provoke our zeal! Write after these fair copies. Thomas Watson.
Verse 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Zeal in and for true religion is a praise worthy thing. Was David zealous? it may then become a royal spirit. Was Christ our Saviour zealous? it may become an heroical spirit. Albeit, zeal is out of grace with most men who sit still, and love to be at quiet rest; yet it is no disgrace to any generous spirit that is regenerate, to have the zeal of God's house to eat him up. It is a slander to call it folly. Was not zealous David wiser than his teachers, than his enemies, than the aged? Lukewarm men call it fury; God's Spirit names it a "live coal, " that hath a most vehement flame. Why bears zeal the imputation of indiscretion, rashness, puritanism, or headiness? Was it David's rashness? It was fervency in religion. Was Christ indiscreet? The wisdom of his Father. Festus called Paul mad, with a loud voice (Ac 26:24), when he spake but words of truth and soberness (Ac 26:25). Christ's kinsmen thought that he was beside himself. Mr 3:21. Was the judgment of such stolid men any disparagement to our Saviour's zeal? Nay, it is a commendation. To root out evil from, and to establish good in, the house of God is a good thing. Ga 4:18. Thomas Wilson, in "A Sermon preached before sundry of the Honourable House of Commons, "entitled, "David's Zeal for Zion." 1641.
Verse 9. Zeal, reproaches. Grace never rises to so great a height as it does in times of persecution. Suffering times are a Christian's harvest times. Let me instance in that grace of zeal: I remember Moulin speaking of the French Protestants, saith, "When Papists hurt us for reading the Scriptures, we burn with zeal to be reading of them; but now persecution is over, our Bibles are like old almanacs, " etc. All the reproaches, frowns, threatenings, oppositions, and persecutions that a Christian meets with in a way of holiness, do but raise his zeal and courage to a greater height. Michal's scoffing at David did but inflame and raise his zeal: "If this be to be vile, I will be more vile, "2Sa 6:20-22. Look, as fire in the winter burns the hotter, by an antiperistasiv because of the coldness of the air; so in the winter of affliction and persecution, that divine fire, the zeal of a Christian, burns so much the hotter, and flames forth so much the more vehemently and strongly. In times of greatest affliction and persecution for holiness' sake, a Christian hath, first, a good captain to lead and encourage him; secondly, a righteous cause to prompt and embolden him; thirdly, a gracious God to relieve and succour him; fourthly, a glorious heaven to receive and reward him; and, certainly, these things cannot but mightily raise him and inflame him under the greatest opposition and persecution. These things will keep him from fearing, fawning, fainting, sinking, or flying in a stormy day; yea, these things will make his face like the face of an adamant, as God's promised to make Ezekiel's. Eze 3:7-9, and Job 41:24. Now an adamant is the hardest of stones, it is harder than a flint, yea, it is harder than the nether millstone. The naturalists (Pliny) observe, that the hardness of this stone is unspeakable: the fire cannot burn it, nor so much as heat it through, nor the hammer cannot break it, nor the water cannot dissolve it, and, therefore, the Greeks call it an adamant from its untameableness; and in all storms the adamant shrinks not, it shrinks not, it fears not, it changeth not its hue; let the times be what they will, the adamant is still the same. In times of persecution, a good cause, a good God, and a good conscience will make a Christian like an adamant, it will make him invincible and unchangeable. When one desired to know what kind of man Basil was, there was presented to him in a dream, saith the history, a pillar of fire with this motto, Talis est Basilius, Basil is such a one, he is all on a light fire for God. Persecutions will but set a Christian all on a light fire for God. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 9. Eaten me up. The verb means, not only "to eat up, to devour, "but "to corrode, or consume, "by separating the parts from each another, as fire. And the radical import of the Hebrew word for zeal seems to be "to eat into, corrode, as fire." The word, says Parkhurst, is in the Hebrew Bible generally applied to the fervent or ardent affections of the human frame; the effects of which are well known to be ever like those of fire, corroding and consuming. And, accordingly, the poets, both ancient and modern, abound with descriptions of these ardent and consuming affections, taken from fire and its effects. Richard Mant.
Verse 9. Eaten me up. He who is zealous in his religion, or ardent in his attachments, is said to be eaten up. "Old Muttoo has determined to leave his home for ever; he is to walk barefoot to the Ganges for the salvation of his soul: his zeal has eaten him up." J. Roberts' Oriental Illustrations.
Verse 9. The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. We should, if it were possible, labour to wipe off all the reproach of Christ, and take it upon ourselves that we might rather be spit upon and contemned than Christ. It was a brave speech of Ambrose, "he wished it would please God to turn all the adversaries from the church upon himself, and let them satisfy their thirst with his blood:" this is a true Christian heart. And, therefore, if it be for our sakes, and we have anything in the business by which Christ is reproached, we should be willing rather to sacrifice ourselves, than that Christ should be reproached; and as Jonah, when he knew that the tempest rose for his sake, says he, "Cast me into the sea; "and so Nazianzen, when contention rose about him, says he, "Cast me into the sea, let me lose my place, rather than the name of Christ should suffer for me." Jeremiah Burroughs.
Verse 10. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. Behold here, virtue is accounted vice; truth, blasphemy; wisdom, folly. Behold, the peace maker of the world is judged a seditious person; the fulfiller of the law, a breaker of the law; our Saviour, a sinner; our God, a devil. O poor troubled heart! wherefore dost thou weakly wail for any injury or abuse that is offered to thee? God handleth thee no otherwise in this world than he handled his only Son, who hath pledged thee in this bitter potion; not only taking essay thereof, but drinking to thee a full draught. It is not only a comfort, but a glory, to be a partner and fellow sufferer with Christ, who delighteth also to see in us some representation of himself. Dogs bark not at those whom they know, and with whom they are familiar; but against strangers they usually bark; not always for any hurt which they feel or fear, but commonly by nature or depraved custom. How then canst thou be a stranger to the world, if it dost not molest thee; if it detracts not from thee? Sir John Hayward (1560-1627), in "The Sanctuary of a Troubled Soul."
Verse 10. There is nothing so well meant, but it may be ill interpreted. Simon Patrick.
Verses 10-11. That Christ was derided and scoffed at is plain, from Mark 5; for, when he said, "The girl is not dead, but sleepeth, they laughed him to scorn; "and when he spoke of the necessity of giving alms, "Now, the Pharisees, who were covetous heard all these things, and they derided him." And, in his passion, he was derided by the soldiers, by Herod, by the high priests, and many others. Robert Bellarmine.
Verse 11. I made sackcloth also my garment, etc. Though we nowhere read that Jesus put on sackcloth on any occasion, yet it is not improbable that he did; besides, the phrase may only intend that he mourned and sorrowed at certain times, as persons do when they put on sackcloth; moreover, as the common garb of his forerunner was raiment of camel's hair, with a leathern girdle; it is very likely his own was very mean, suitable to his condition, who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor. And I became a proverb to them; a byword; so that, when they saw any person in sackcloth or in vile raiment, behold, such an one looks like Jesus of Nazareth. John Gill.
Verse 11. I became a proverb. Two things are usually implied when a man is said to be a byword. First, that he is in a very low condition: some men are so high that the tongues of the common people dare not climb over them, but where the hedge is low every man goes over. Secondly, that he is in a despised condition; to be a byword, carries a reflection of disgrace. He that is much spoken of, in this sense, is ill spoken of; and he is quite lost in the opinion of men, who is thus found in their discourse... Hence, observe, great sufferers in many things of this world, are the common subject of discourses, and often the subject of disgrace. Such evils as few men have felt or seen, all men will be speaking of. Great sorrows, especially if they be the sorrows of great men, are turned into songs, and poetry plays its part with the saddest disasters... Holy David met with this measure from men in the day of his sorrows: When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb (or a byword) to them. In the next verse he tells us in detail who did this: They that sit in the gate (that is, great ones) speak against me, and I was the song of the drunkard, that is, of the common sort. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate: i.e., as it is generally interpreted, the judges or chief persons of the state; for the gates of cities were the places of judicature. But Hillary interprets this of those who sat to beg at the gates of the city; which seems a more probable interpretation, better to agree with the design of the psalmist, and to suit with the drunkards, mentioned in the next clause. Samuel Burder.
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate. The magistrates at the gate. Literally, "assessors at the gate; ""judges sitting to determine causes." John Mason Good.
Verse 12. I was the song of the drunkards. Holy walking is the drunkard's song, as David was; and so preciseness and strictness of walking is ordinarily: the world cannot bear the burning and shining conversations of some of the saints; they are so cuttingly reproved by them, that with those heathens, they curse the sun, that by its shining doth scorch them. It is no new thing; the seed of the serpent did always persecute the seed of the woman; and he that was born after the flesh, persecutes him that was born after the spirit; even so it is now, saith the apostle; and so it is now, may we say. Ishmael mocked Isaac, and is it not so still? Or, if it be not so bold a sin as formerly, it is because the times, not sinner's hearts, are changed; they malign them still, watch for their halting: "report, say they, and we will report it." John Murcot.
Verse 12. I was the song of the drunkards. When magistrates discountenance true religion, then it becometh a matter of derision to rascals, and to every base villain without control, and a table talk to every tippler. The shame of the cross is more grievous than the rest of the trouble of it: this is the fourth time that the shame of the cross is presented unto God, in these last four verses: I was the song of the drunkards; after complaining of his being reproached and being made a proverb. David Dickson.
Verse 12. There is a tavern, or profane mirth, in drinking, and roaring, and revelling, and instead of another minstrel, David must be the song of the drunkards; nor can the Philistines be merry unless Samson be made the fool in the play (Jud 16:25): "Unless they scoff and jeer the ways and servants of God" (as Mr. Greenham saith), "the fools cannot tell how to be merry; "and then the Devil is merry with them for company. But what? Not merry without abusing their host? This some must dearly pay for, when a reckoning is called for; or, they rather called to make it. Then they will be off from their merry pins, and will find that this was very far from being the "Comfort of the Holy Ghost, "wherein and whereby that good Spirit and our Comforter was grieved, and holiness scoffed and laughed at. Anthony Tuckney (1599-1670), in "A Good Day Well Improved."
Verse 13. But as for me, my prayer, etc. The phrase is full of emphasis; And I, my prayer to thee: that is, such am I altogether, this is my main occupation; as it is in Ps 109:4: And I, a prayer; this was my employment, this ever my only refuge, this my present help and remedy. Venema.
Verse 13. An acceptable time. All times are not alike. We will not always find admittance at the same rate, with the same ease. As we will not always be chiding, so he will not always be so pleasing neither. We may knock, and knock again, and yet stand without a while; sometimes, so long, till our knees are ready to sink under us, our eyes ready to drop out, as well as drop with expectation, and our hearts ready to break in pieces, while none heareth, or none regardeth. We should have come before, or pitched our coming at a better time... The prophet David expressly speaks of an acceptable time to make our prayers in. And, "Today if you will hear his voice, "in the psalmist, paraphrased by the apostle, "Today, while it is called today, "shows there is a set day, or days, of audience with God, wherein he sets himself, as it were, with all readiness to hear and help usan accepted time. And will ye, next, know what it is that makes it so? There are but two things that do. Either God's being in a good or pleasing disposition towards us, or our being in a good and pleasing disposition towards him. Come we but to him in either of these, and we have nicked the time; we are sure to be accepted. Mark Frank. 1613-1664.
Heavier the cross, the heartier prayer;
Verse 15. Faith in God giveth hope to be helped, and is half a deliverance before the full deliverance come; for the psalmist is now with his head above water, and not so afraid as when he began the Psalm. David Dickson.
Verse 15. The pit. According to Dean Stanley, the word Beer here used is always rendered "well, "except in this and three other cases. When such wells no longer yielded a full supply of water they were used as prisons, no care being taken to cleanse out the mire remaining at the bottom. The Dean also tells us in the Appendix to his "Sinai and Palestine, "that "they have a broad margin of masonry round this mouth, and often a stone filling up the orifice." The rolling of this stone over the mouth of the well was the well's "shutting her mouth; "and the poor prisoner was, to all intents and purposes, buried alive. C. H. S.
Verse 17. Hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble. An upright servant, albeit he be troubled for God's cause, and do miss comfort from God; yet will he not change his Master, nor despair of his favour. David Dickson.
Verse 17. Hide not thy face. The proper sense of the word rtm, gives the meaning to the phrase, veil not thy face from thy servant. In this there is a reference to a king, who, to prevent promiscuous approach to his chamber, spreads a veil before it, and admits to his presence only his minister of high confidence. So in Ps 31:21. The face of God is his majesty, and his gracious and favourable presence; the servant of God is his minister enjoying intimate access, and to veil the face from him is to prevent him coming into the presence of God; and, therefore, it belongs to the servant of God to be treated in a widely different manner. Hermann Venema.
Verse 17. Thy servant. Hide not, he says, from thy servant; as if he should say, such as I am, I am thy servant. It belongs to the Master to take care of his servant, if in peril for his sake. In this same verse he says he is in a strait. In Ps 69:18 he declares that he is in jeopardy of his life. Musculus.
Verse 19. Thou hast known my reproach, etc. It is a great deal of comfort that God does take notice of our reproaches; this was the comfort of the psalmist. If a man suffer reproach, and disgrace, and trouble for his friends, while he is abroad from them; O, says he, did my friends know what I suffer, and suffer for them, it would comfort me: if it be comfort to be known, much more when they shall be accounted their own. Christ is acquainted with all the sufferings of every member; and, therefore, do not say, I am a poor creature; who takes notice of my sufferings? Heaven takes notice of your sufferings; Christ takes notice of them better than yourselves. Jeremiah Burroughs.
Verse 20. Reproach hath broken my heart. Mental emotions and passions are well known by all to affect the actions of the heart, in the way of palpitation, fainting, etc. That these emotions and passions, when in overwhelming excess, occasionally, though rarely, produce laceration or rupture of the walls of the heart, is stated by most medical authorities who have written on the affections of this organ; and our poets even allude to this effect as an established fact.
"The grief that does not speak,
But, if ever human heart was riven and ruptured by the mere amount of mental agony that was endured, it would surely, we might even argue, a priori, be that of our Redeemer, when, during those dark and dreadful hours on the cross, he, "being made a curse for us, ""bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows, "and suffered for sin the malediction of God and man, "full of anguish, "and now "exceeding sorrowful even unto death." There are theological as well as medical arguments in favour of the opinion that Christ, in reality, died from a ruptured or broken heart. If the various wondrous prophecies and minute predictions in Psalms 22 and 69, regarding the circumstances connected with Christ's death, be justly held as literally true, such as, "They pierced my hands and my feet, ""They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture, "etc., why should we regard as merely metaphorical, and not as literally true, also, the declarations in the same Psalms, Reproach hath broken my heart, "My heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels, " Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870), in W. Stroud's "Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ."
Verse 20. I looked for some to take pity, but there was none. Even under ordinary circumstances we yearn for sympathy. Without it, the heart will contract and droop, and shut like a flower in an unkindly atmosphere, but it will open again amidst the sounds of frankness and the scenes of love. When we are in trouble, this want is in proportion still more pressing; and, for the sorrowful heart to feel alone, is a grief greater than nature can sustain. A glance of sympathy seems to help it more than the gift of untold riches; and a loving look, even from a little child who is sorry for us, or a simple word from some homely friend, will sometimes brace the spirit to new exertions, and seem almost to waken life within the grasp of death. Charles Stanford, in "Central Truths." 1859.
Verse 21. They gave me also gall, etc. Such are the comforts often administered by the world, to an afflicted and deserted soul. George Horne.
Verse 21. Gall and vinegar are here put together to denote the most unpalatable forms of food and drink. The passion of our Lord was providentially so ordered as to furnish a remarkable coincidence with this verse. The Romans were accustomed to give sour wine, with an infusion of myrrh, to convicts on the cross, for the purpose of deadening the pain. This practice was adhered to in our Saviour's case (Mr 15:23). Though in itself not cruel, but the contrary, it formed part of the great process of murderous persecution. On the part of the Roman soldiery it may have been an act of kindness; but, considered as an act of the unbelieving Jews, it was giving gall and vinegar to one already overwhelmed with anguish. And so Matthew, in accordance with his general method, represents it as a verification of this passage (Mt 27:34). He does not contradict Mark's account, before referred to, but merely intimates that the wine and myrrh thus offered were to be regarded as identical with the gall and vinegar of this prediction. And, in order to prevent the coincidence from being overlooked, our Lord, before he died, complained of thirst, and vinegar was administered. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 21. Gall for my meat. Since the life of sin first began in tasting, contrary to the obedience due to God, the Redeemer of sinners willed to be obedient even unto death, upon the cross, and to end his life, in fulfilment of the prophecy with the bitter taste of gall and vinegar, that, in this manner, we, seeing the beginning of our perdition and the end of our redemption, might feel ourselves to be most sufficiently redeemed and most perfectly cured. Thome de Jesu (1582), in "The Sufferings of Jesus."
Verse 21. Vinegar. Commentators have frequently remarked the refreshing quality of the Eastern vinegar. I shall not repeat their observations, but rather would ask, why the psalmist prophetically complains of the giving him vinegar to drink, in that deadly thirst, which, in another Psalm, he describes by the tongue's cleaving to the jaws, if it be so refreshing? Its refreshing quality cannot be doubted; but may it not be replied, that, besides the gall which he mentions, and which ought not to be forgotten, vinegar itself, refreshing as it is, was only made use of by the meanest people? When a royal personage has vinegar given him in his thirst, the refreshment of a slave, of a wretched prisoner, instead of that of a prince, he is greatly dishonoured, and may well complain of it as a bitter insult, or represent such insults by this image. Sweet wines, as appears from the ancient Eastern translators of the Septuagint, were chiefly esteemed formerly, for that which our version renders "royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the King, "(Es 1:7.) they translate, "much and sweet wine, such as the King himself drank." Perhaps, it was with a view to this, that the soldiers offered our Lord vinegar (wine that was become very sour), in opposition to that sweet wine princes were wont to drink: for Luke tells us that they did this in mockery (Lu 23:36.) "And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar." Medicated wine, to deaden their sense of pain, was wont, we are told, to be given to Jewish criminals, when about to be put to death; but, they gave our Lord vinegar, and that in mockeryin mockery (as they did other things) of his claim to royalty. But the force of this does not appear, if we do not recollect the quality of the wines drank anciently by princes, which, it seems, were of the sweet kind. Thomas Harmer.
Verse 22. The imprecations in this verse and those following it are revolting only when considered as the expression of malignant selfishness. If uttered by God, they shock no reader's sensibilities, nor should they, when considered as the language of an ideal person, representing the whole class of righteous sufferers, and particularly him, who though he prayed for his murderers while dying (Lu 23:34), had before applied the words of this very passage to the unbelieving Jews (Mt 23:38), as Paul did afterwards (Ro 11:9-10). The general doctrine of providential retribution, far from being confined to the Old Testament, is distinctly taught in many of our Saviour's parables. See Mt 21:41 22:7 24:51. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare. Their table figuratively sets forth their prosperity, the abundance of all things. It represents peace and security, as in Ps 33:5 Job 26:16. It likewise describes mutual friendship, a blending of minds and plans; the emblem and sign whereof convivia are accustomed to be. Ps 41:10 Da 11:27. Hermann Venema.
Verse 22. Let their table, etc. One said well, Licitis perimus omnes, etc., "Ruin usually ariseth from the use of lawful things; " there being most danger where it is least suspected. In all our comforts, there is a forbidden fruit, which seemeth fair and tasteth sweet, but which must not be touched. Henry Wilkinson (1675), in "Morning Exercises."
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare. Many would have excused themselves from following Christ, in the parable of the feast: some had bought land, some had married wives, and others had bought yokes of oxen, and could not come (Lu 14:18-20), that is, an immoderate love of the world hindered them: their lawful enjoyments, from servants, became their idols; they worshipped them more than God, and would not quit them to come to God. But this is recorded to their reproach; and we may herein see the power of self upon the worldly man, and the danger that comes to him by the abuse of lawful things. What, thy wife dearer to thee than thy Saviour! and thy land and oxen preferred to thy soul's salvation. O beware, that thy comforts prove not snares first, and then curses: to overrate them, is to provoke him that gave them to take them away again. Come, and follow him that giveth life eternal to the soul. William Penn (1644-1718), in "No Cross, No Crown."
Verse 22. Let their table become a snare. That is, for a recompense for their inhumanity and cruelty towards me. Michaelis shows how exactly these comminations were fulfilled in the history of the final siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. Many thousands of the Jews had assembled in the city to eat the paschal lamb, when Titus unexpectedly made an assault upon them. In this siege, the greater part of the inhabitants of Jerusalem miserably perished. William Walford.
Verse 22-23. Observe the Divine retribution of the Jews. They gave gall and vinegar as food and drink to Christ; and their own spiritual food and drink has become a snare to them. His eyes were blindfolded; their eyes were darkened. His loins were scourged; their loins were made to shake. Christopher Wordsworth.
Verse 23-28. He denounces ten plagues, or effects of God's wrath, to come upon them for their wickedness. David Dickson.
Verse 24. Pour out. Observe what is denoted by pouring out. First, the facility with which God is able, without any labour, to destroy his enemies, as easy is it as to incline a vial full of liquid and pour it out. Secondly, the pouring out denotes the abundance of his anger. Thirdly, that his wrath is sudden, overwhelming, and inevitable. When it drops, one must take care; when it is poured forth, it crushes the thoughtless. Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living. All the Israelites who came up out of Egypt were put down in a muster roll of the living, called "the writing of the house of Israel" (Eze 13:9), and "the book of life." Those who had died were excluded when the names were written out afresh each year. They were, thereby, consigned to oblivion (Pr 10:7). Hence, the book of life was used as an image for God's book of predestination to eternal life (Ps 139:16 Ex 32:32 Ps 87:6 Da 12:1 Php 4:3 Re 17:8 13:8 Re 21:27; Lu 10:20). The book of life, in the human point of view, has names written in it who have a name to live, but are dead, being in it only by external call, or in their own estimation, and in that of others. But, in the divine point of view, it contains only those who are elected finally to life. The former may be blotted out, as was Judas (Re 3:5 Mt 13:12 25:29 7:23 Ex 32:33); but the latter never (Re 20:12,15 Joh 10:28-29 Ac 13:48). A. R. Fausset.
Verse 28. Let them be wiped out, etc. This verse alludes to the ancient Jewish practice of recording the names of the inhabitants of every division, or tribe, of the people, in a volume somewhat similar to the Dom-boc of the Saxons. See Lu 2:1. The names of those who died were blotted out or wiped out, and appeared no longer on the list of the living. Such a book is attributed to God in Ps 139:16: and the blotting out of Moses from God's book, in Ex 32:32, is a figurative expression, for depriving him of life. Richard Warner.
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, etc. We come to the question, Whether to be written in heaven be an infallible assurance of salvation; or, whether any there registered may come to be blotted out? The truth is, that none written in heaven can ever be lost; yet they object against it this verse. Hence, they infer, that some names once there recorded are afterwards put out; but this opinion casteth a double aspersion on God himself. Either it makes him ignorant of future things, as if he foresaw not the end of elect and reprobate, and so were deceived in decreeing some to be saved that shall not be saved; or, that his decree is mutable, in excluding those upon their sins whom he hath formerly chosen. From both these weaknesses St. Paul vindicates him (2Ti 2:19): "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." First, "The Lord knows them that are his; "this were not true if God's prescience could be deluded. Then, his "foundation stands sure; "but that were no sure foundation, if those he hath decreed to be his should afterwards fall out not to be his. The very conclusion of truth is this impossibilis est deletio; they which are "written in heaven" can never come into hell. To clear this from the opposed doubt, among many, I will cull out three proper distinctions:
1. One may be said to be written in heaven simpliciter, and secundum quid. He that is simply written there, in quantum praedestinatus ad vitam, because elected to life, can never be blotted out. He that is written after a sort may, for he is written non secundum Dei praescientiam, sed secundum praesentem justitiamnot according to God's former decree, but according to his present righteousness. So they are said to be blotted out, not in respect of God's knowledge, for he knows they never were written there; but according to their present condition, apostatising from grace to sin. (Lyra.)
2. Some are blotted out non secundum rei veritatem, sed hominum opinionemnot according to the truth of the thing but according to men's opinion. It is usual in the Scriptures to say a thing is done quando innotescat fieri, when it is declared to be done. Hypocrites have a simulation of outward sanctity, so that men in charity judge them to be written in heaven. But when those glistening stars appear to be only ignes fatui, foolish meteors, and fall from the firmament of the church, then we say they are blotted out. The written ex existentia, by a perfect being, are never lost; but ex apparentia, by a dissembled appearance, may. Some God so writes, in se ut simpliciter habituri vitamthat they have life simply in themselves, though not of themselves. Others he so writes, ut habeant non in se, sed in sua causa; from which falling they are said to be obliterated. (Aquinas.)
3. Augustine says, we must not so take it, that God first writes and then dasheth out. For if a Pilate could say, Quod scripsi, scripsi"What I have written, I have written, "and it shall stand; shall God say, Quod scripsi expungamWhat I have written, I will wipe out, and it shall not stand? They are written, then, secundum spem ipsorum, qui ibi se scriptos putabantaccording to their own hope that presumed their names there; and are blotted out quando ipsis constet illos non ibi fuissewhen it is manifest to themselves that their names never had any such honour of inscription. This even that Psalm strengthens whence they fetch their opposition: Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. So that to be blotted out of that book, it is, indeed, never to be written there. To be wiped out in the end, is but a declaration that such were not written in the beginning. Thomas Adams.
Verse 32. Your heart shall live that seek God. As such who are poor in spirit, and truly humbled, do live upon God's alms, and are daily at his doors for relief of their necessities, and for communion with his gracious goodness; so shall they thrive well in this trade. David Dickson.
Verse 32. Your heart shall live. The heart, or the soul, is said to live, to be converted, or to return, when it is refreshed and cured of its pains and griefs. In this way it could be said of Jacob, when the good tidings were brought, that his spirit revived... On the contrary, when Nabal heard the bad news, it is recorded that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. Lorinus.
Verse 33. The Lord heareth the poor. The consolation is much greater when it is said, "The Lord heareth the poor, "than if it were written, He hath heard poor David. Musculus.
Verse 1. Our trials like waters.
1. They should be kept out of the heart.
Verses 2-3. The sinner aware of his position, unable to hope, overwhelmed with fear, finding no comfort in prayer, unvisited with divine consolation. Direct and console him.
1. Here is faith in the midst of trouble: My God.
2. Hope in the midst of disappointment: Mine eyes fail, etc.
3. Prayer in the midst of discouragement: I am weary, etc.; My throat, etc. Or, (a) There is praying beyond prayer: I am weary, etc.; (b) Hoping beyond hope: Mine eyes, etc. G. R.
Verse 4. Jesus as the Restorer, the Christian imitating him in the same office; Christianity a power which will do this for the whole race in due season.
Verse 5. Our foolishness. Wherein it appears generally, how it may display itself in individuals, what it occasions, and what are the divine provisions to meet it.
1. God's knowledge of sin is an inducement to repent.
(a) Because it is foolish to endeavour to hide any sin from him.
(b) Because it is impossible to confess all our sin to him.
2. It is an encouragement to hope for pardon.
(a) Because, in the full knowledge of sin, he has declared himself to be merciful and ready to forgive.
(b) Because he has made provision for pardon, not according to our knowledge of sin, but his own.
1. A grievous trial.
1. The object of zeal: thy house; thy Zion; thy Church.
2. The degree of zeal: hath eaten me up. Our Lord was consumed by his own zeal. So Paul: And I if I be offered up, etc.
3. The manifestation of zeal: The reproaches, etc.; of thy justice; of thy law; of thy moral government; of thy lovingkindness. "Who himself bare our sins," etc. G. R.
Verses 10-12. A prophecy.
1. Of the Saviour's tears: When I wept.
2. Of his fasting.
3. Of reproach.
4. Of his humiliation: I made sackcloth, etc.
5. Of the perversion of his words: as, "I will destroy this temple, "etc.
6. Of the opposition of the Pharisees, and rulers: They that sit in the gate, etc.
7. Of the contempt of the lowest of the people: I was the song, etc. G. R.
Verse 11. Proverbial sayings of a scoffing character.
Verse 13. An acceptable time. While life lasts usually, and especially when we are repentant, feel our need, are importunate, give all glory to God, have faith in his promise, and expect a gracious reply.
Verse 13. Multitude of thy mercy. Seen in many forbearances before conversion, countless pardons, innumerable gifts, many promises, frequent visits, and abundant deliverances. Of all these who can count the thousandth part?
Verse 13. The truth of thy salvation. An instructive topic. Its reality, certainty, completeness, eternity, etc., all illustrate its truth under various aspects.
1. The depth from which prayer may rise.
2. The height to which it may ascend. Thus Jonah, when at the bottom of the sea, says, "My prayer came up," etc. G. R.
1. Prayer: Hide not thy face.
1. God knows what his people suffer; how much, how long, from whom, for what.
2. His people should find consolation in this knowledge.
(a) That trial is permitted by him.
(b) That it is apportioned by him.
(c) That it has its design from him.
(d) That when the design is accomplished, it will be removed by him. G. R.
Verse 20. The Saviour's broken heart. Broken hearts, such as are sentimental, caused by disappointed pride, penitence, persecution, sympathy, etc.
Verse 21. The conduct of men to Jesus throughout his entire life, rendering to him evil for all his good, and where good would have seemed to be the inevitable return.
Verse 22. The table a snare. Excess in feasting; looseness in conversation; want of principal in confederate councils; superstition in religion.
Verse 23. The judicial curse which falls on some despisers of Christ; their understandings fail to perceive the truth; and they tremble because they are unable to receive strengthening comforts.
1. The humiliation that precedes exaltation.
(a) Deep: I am poor and sorrowful.
(b) Confessed: I am poor, etc.
2. The exaltation that follows humiliation.
(a) Divine: Thy salvation, O Lord. Though the Lord be high, etc.
(b) Complete: God does nothing by halves.
(c) Preeminent: Set me up on high. G. R.
1. The effect of deliverance upon the people of God. It fills them with praise and thanksgiving.
2. The effect in relation to God. He is more pleased with it than with any other offerings: "Whoso offereth praise, "etc. G. R.
1. The joy of a good man's heart is in the experience of others.
2. The life of his heart is in God.
1. What the people of God are in their own esteem: "poor" and "prisoners."
2. What they are in the divine esteem: not unnoticed; not unheard; not despised.
Verse 34. The sea, etc. How God is, should be, and shall be praised by the sea.
Verse 35. Salvation, edification, preservation, peace, full assurance.
Verses 35-36. Observe the sequence:"Save, ""build, ""dwell and have, ""inherit, ""love and dwell."
1. The sure evidence of grace: "love his name."
1. The inheritance: "Inherit it; "we reign with Christ on earth, then in heaven.
2. The title.
(a) Legal: "Seed of his servants"Abraham, Jacob, DavidDavid's Lord and Son.
(b) Moral: "They that love his name." G. R.
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