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his perfect innocence of those charges which they falsely make the ground of their hostility. It was in suffering as well as in faithfulness, that the anointed king of Israel was a type of the man Christ Jesus. There prevails therefore in many of his divine compositions a strength and magnificence of language, which in its fullest interpretation can be accommodated only to the purity and sanctity of the Redeemer; whose perfect rule of life, as seen in Himself, admitted of no comparison. But David wrote under the influence of divine inspiration; and while pouring forth his own prayers, his own complaints, his own professions of faithfulness, could not help (so to speak) pourtraying the character of Him, of whom he himself was the progenitor according to the flesh; and of whom it had been promised that He should sit upon the throne of David for ever.
Ver. 1-3. The bold confidence of David in his own comparative integrity is here, as in many other passages of the Psalms, truly marvellous. I speak as an accountable being, conscious of my own consciousness of infirmity, and natural impurity, and consequent liability to offences in the sight of God, to which my own self-love may possibly have blinded my own eyes. Such, brethren, is our common condition; yet we may approach the mercy-seat in the strong assurance of faith, that while we overlook, or have forgotten, our own transgressions, the God of Grace will at the same time be not extreme to mark what we have done amiss; but that in our supplications He will hearken unto the prayer that goeth not out of feigned lips. And this is our possible degree of integrity in the act of prayer, however deeply laden with the deeds of acted guilt. Let my sentence come forth from thy presence, and let thine eyes look upon the thing that is equal. Here is an appeal to the mercy of God against his strict justice, an imploration that He might weigh the eternally-settled provisions of that mercy against the misdeeds of the sinner. But in what follows we find the boldest portion of the passage; too bold, indeed, for our approval or comprehension even, unless by interpreting it as a vow of future obedience rather than a boast of past perfectness ;—Thou hast tried me, and shall find no wickedness in me; for I am utterly purposed that my mouth shall not offend. In the sense therefore which I attach to this passage, we find an
exemplary lesson of instruction. None of us can recal the past; few of us can remember all our transgressions; but all may implore the divine mercy; and while so doing, may form resolutions, with the aid of divine grace, that not even with our mouth will we again wilfully offend.
Ver. 4-7. The first of these verses contains an avowal of the principle upon which the Psalmist had hitherto acted; the same that he recommends in the first Psalm as the security of temporal happiness, or blessedness; namely, the habitual shunning of evil communications, whether with the ungodly, the sinner, or the irreligious scorner. The remaining verses constitute a prayer for grace to persevere, to be sustained, to be holden up in the ways of practical godliness, that his footsteps slip not. But he trusts to experience the marvellous lovingkindness of the Lord, only in answer to devout supplication for the needed mercies. Such is the tenor of the Gospel Law-Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full—and this Law requires something more than the prayer that goeth out of feigned lips—the mere utterance of a form of words. If we ask and receive not, it is because we ask amiss. The Psalmist appeals unto God as the Saviour of them who put their trust in Him. Faith is the grand and prominent condition of the acceptance of all our offerings; whether of prayer, of praise, or of deeds; and whether the objects of such oblations be the blessings of eternal salvation, or merely temporal deliverance from the evil influences of such as know not God, and obey not his commandments; thus resisting, as the Psalmist's forcible expression is, the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Ver. 8—16. This fine supplication of the devout spirit of David is evidently prompted by some existing hostilities, either openly carried on, or devised in the secret councils of Saul and his envious adherents—the ungodly that compassed him about to take away his soul. It is too descriptive to be the work of the imagination only; though it applies equally to the enemies
of David and to the adversaries of Christ's Holy Catholic Church upon earth. The figurative expression that they are inclosed in their own fat, while their mouth speaketh proud things, conveys a very just idea of the blindness and haughtiness of a multitude leagued together in defiance of all moral restraint, and neither fearing God nor regarding man. Such was the experience of David in his many seasons of adversitysuch was the contradiction of sinners to our Divine Master and his faithful disciples, in their united endeavours to establish the reign of righteousness over the earth. The pride, pomp, and circumstance of kingly power were arrayed in open hostility, alike against the anointed king and the Holy One of Israel : in each case they had taken counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed : their language in each case bore a similar import—we will not have this man to reign over us !
Yet were these rebellious foes of God and man permitted to possess their portion of the good things of this life—they were filled with the hidden treasures of the distributive Providence of the God whom they denied, abused, and opposed. Such are his mercies and forgivenesses, and long-suffering to us-ward. Such are human ingratitude, and human pride and obstinacy, when engaged in the pursuit of unhallowed objects. But, says the pious king of Israel, but as for me, I will behold thy Presence in righteousness; that is, by following after righteousness I will seek thy face, until I behold as in a glass the perfect glory of the Lord; and being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, I shall go down to the grave in peace; and when I awake up after thy likeness,—when Thou shalt have changed this vile body, according to the mighty power whereby Thou art able to subdue all things to Thyself,—I shall be satisfied with it.
Glory be to the Father, &c.
An old and very learned writer on the Psalms pronounces this to be a most beautiful
specimen of poetic skill, in the form of a triumphant celebration of the power and goodness of the Eternal God, displayed in the deliverance of his servant David from the evil designs of all his enemies. Though it was probably composed after the full establishment of the king upon the throne of Israel, it is introduced in this manner in the second Book of Samuel, (c. 22,)--And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song, in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul. As, however, David was the type of Christ, and Christ the Head of the Church, our true David, this Psalm is deemed to be prophetically commemorative of the honour and glory of his victories over the common foe of mankind, in whose nature (that is, David's) our Lord and Saviour achieved the final triumph over death and the powers of darkness.
Ver. 1–6. The strength and copiousness of these expressions indicate a degree of love or faithfulness, in the acknowledgment of which the inspired writer seems to feel that no language can be too ornate or emphatic. And he justifies his extreme devotedness, by calling to mind and enumerating the many and deep afflictions from which he had been delivered ; calling upon the Lord, as alone worthy of the praise due to such signal mercies, and trusting in Him only for future safety from all his enemies. And however figurative the language in which the Psalmist has expressed the nature and extremity of his past perils, the records of them in the two Books of Samuel prove that they are truly described, when he declares that the overflowings of ungodliness made him afraid ; that the snares of death overtook him; that the sorrows of death compassed him, and the pains of hell came about him. In his trouble, therefore, he had called upon the Lord, and complained unto his God; until He stooped from his Tabernacle on high to hear the cries of his faithful and afflicted servant, who had persevered in urging his complaint, until it had entered even into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
Ver. 7-15. These poetic descriptions are such as no writer, moved by mere enthusiasm, could have dared to adopt, except under the guidance of some extraordinary instinct or inspiration. The same judgment may be pronounced of the entire passage now read to you. It baffles all comment, it admits of no analysis, it defies every attempt to explain or enlarge upon it. The grandeur of the scenery which it unfolds to the mind's eye impresses the soul with that kind of awe, and almost to the same degree, which was felt by the band of men and officers, when the Incarnate Son of God announcing Himself to be the person whom they sought, they went backward, and fell to the ground. And this descriptive vision of the inspired poet is equalled in magnificence only by the record of the Evangelist St. Matthew, of what actually took place after our Lord's crucifixion; when from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour: and behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened ; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. We may therefore safely apply this sublime vision of the Psalmist to the awful scenes of that day, when the Son of Man shall come again in his glory, and all his holy angels with Him, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel.
Ver. 16—24. As it is stated in the prophet Samuel's History that it was soon after the death of Saul that David spake before the Lord all the words of this song, we must venture to change the tense in which these verses read, that is, from the past to the future; for the troubles of the son of Jesse ended with the life of his great enemy: or, as they stand, they must have a prospective reference to the rebellion of Absalom. We are not justified, however, in thus applying them. This diversity of