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A commentary on the book of Psalms (Volume 2) online

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Home, George, 1730-1792.
A commentary on the book of





























ARGUMENT.— The church, in time of trouble, declares, 1.
her trust and confidence to be in God, and doubts not, 2, 3. of
being preserved safe, by means of this anchor, in the most
stormy seasons ; even then, 4, 5. enjoying the comforts of the
Spirit, and the presence of Christ in the midst of her. She
describes, 6. and, 7. exults in, the power and might of her vic-
torious Lord ; 8. calling the world to view and consider his
wonderfid works. 9. He himself is introduced, as speaking
the nations into peace and obedience. She concludes with a
repetition of ver. 7. in the way of chorus.

Verse " 1. God is our refuge and strength, a
very present help in trouble."

As we are continually beset by " troubles," either
bodily or spiritual, so we continually stand in need
of a city of " refuge and strength," into which we
may fly, and be safe. Religion is that city, whose


b [Ps. 46.

gates are always open to the afflicted soul. We
profess to believe this; do we act agreeably to such
profession ?

'' 2. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth
be removed, and though the mountains be carried
into the midst of the sea; 3. Though, the waters
thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains
shake with the swellinff thereof."


The church declares her full and firm confidence
in God, as her refuge and strength, amidst all the
tumults and confusions of the world, the raging of
nations, and the fall of empires. Nay, at that last
great and terrible day, when sea and land are to be
confounded, and every mountain and hill removed
for ever; when there is to be " distress of nations,
with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;"
even then the righteous shall have no cause to
" fear," but rather to " lift up their heads" with
joy and triumph, because then it is, that their " re-
demption draweth nigh." Let us set that day be-
fore us, and try ourselves by that test.

" 4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall
make glad the city of God: the holy place of the
tabernacle of the Most Hicrh. 5. God is in the


midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall
help her, a7id that right early; Heb, when the morn-
ing appeareth."

Such is the ground, on which the church erects
her confidence. Instead of those waters which over-
whelm the world, she has within herself the fountain

Ps. 46.] 7

of consolation, sending forth rivers of spiritual joy
and pleasure; and, in the place of secular instability,
she is possessed of a city and a hill which stand fast
for ever, being the residence of the Eternal, who, at
the dawn of the last morning, will finally appear as
the protector and avenger of Israel.

*' 6. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were
moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted."

How concise, how energetic, how truly and asto-
nishingly sublime ! The kingdom of Christ being
two-fold, these words may be applied either to the
overthrow of Heathenism, and the establishment of
the Gospel ; or to the destruction of the world, and
the erection of Messiah's triumphant throne. Con-
quer, O Lord, all our perverse aiffections, and reign
in us, that we may conquer and reign with thee.

*' 7. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of
Jacob is our refuge ; Ueb. a high place for us."

To the " Loud of hosts" all creatures in heaven
and earth are subject; in "the God of Jacob," the
church acknowledges the Saviour of his chosen. If
this person be Immanuel, God with us, of whom
can we be afraid ?

'' 8. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what
desolations he hath made in the earth. 9. He mak-
eth wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he
breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
he burneth the chariot in the fire."

8 [Ps. 47.

The church, in these words, proposes to us the
noblest subjects for contemplation; namely, the glo-
rious victories of our Lord, partly gained already,
and partly to be gained hereafter, in order to the.
final establishment of universal peace, righteousness,
and bliss, in his heavenly kingdom. Then the
mio-hty shall be fallen, and the weapons of war per-
ished, for ever. Hasten, O Lord, that blessed day;
but first prepare us for it.

" 10. Be still, and know that I am God: I will
be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in
the earth."

In this verse there is a change of person, and Je-
hovah himself is introduced, as commanding the world
to cease its opposition, to own his power, and to ac-
knowledge his sovereignty over all the kingdoms of
the nations. Let our rebellious passions hear this
divine edict, tremble and obey.

*' 11. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God
of Jacob is our refuge." See ver. 7.


Ninth Day. — Evening Prayer.

ARGUMENT. — In this Psalm, appointed by the church to be
used on Ascension-day, the prophet, 1. calls the nations to
celebrate so glorious a festival ; and that, on account, 2. of
Christ's power, and the mightiness of his kingdom ; 3. of his

Ps. 47.] 9

victories and triumphs, through the gospel ; 4. of the inheri-
tance prepared for his chosen, in the heavenly Canaan, by his
own ascension thither; which, 5. is described under images
borrowed from the ascent of the ark into the holy city and
temple ; an occasion on which the Psalm was probably com-
posed. 6, 7. He again and again exiiorts all people to sing the
praises of then- God and King, and to sing with the understand-
ing, as well as with the voice. 8, 9. The Psalm concludes
with predicting the establishment of Christ's kingdom, and the
conversion of the Gentile kings and nations to the faith.

" 1. O clap your hands, all ye people: shout
unto God with the voice of triumph."

The prophet invites all nations to celebrate the
festival of Messiah's exaltation, because all nations
had a share in the benefits and blessings of that glo-
rious day. God is to be worshipped with bodily, as
well as spiritual worship: every " hand" should be
lifted up to him who formed it, and every " mouth"
should praise him who giveth breath for that pur-

" 2. For the Lord most high is terrible; he is
a great King over all the earth."

The church celebrates the ascension of Christ,
because then he was " highly exalted;" then he be-
came " terrible" to his enemies, all power in heaven
and in earth being committed to him ; and then he
began to display the excellent majesty of his univer-
sal kingdom, to which he was then inaugurated, be-
ing crowned " King of kings, and Lord of lords."

" 3. He shall subdue the people under us, and
the nations under our feet."

10 [Ps. 47.

The consequence of our Lord's ascension was the
going forth of the all-subduing Word, under the in-
fluence and direction of which, the convinced and
converted nations renounced their idols and their
lusts, and bowed their willing necks to the yoke of
Jesus. This is that great conquest, foreshowed by
the victories of Joshua, David, and all the faithful
heroes of old time, and foretold in language borrow-
ed from their histories.

" 4. He shall choose our inheritance for us, the
excellency of Jacob whom he loved.".

The land of Canaan, emphatically styled " that
good land, and the glory of all lands," was the " ex-
cellent inheritance" chosen for the sons of Jacob,
and consigned to them, upon the expulsion of the
idolatrous nations. But from that inheritance Israel
also hath long since been expelled; and Christians
by these words, are taught to look to " an inheri-
tance eternal, and incorruptible, and that fadeth not
away;" to those happy and enduring mansions which
the Son of God is gone to prepare for them that
love him, and are beloved of him.

'' 5. God is gone up with a shout, the Lord
with the sound of a trumpet."

Literally, if applied to the ark, as Bishop Patrick
paraphrases the verse, " God is gone up, by the spe-
cial token of his presence, into that holy place, with
shouts of joy and praise ; the Lord is gone up in a
triumphant pomp, with the sound of the trumpet.

Ps. 47.] 11

and all other instruments of music." See 2 Sam.
vi. 5 — 15. 2 Chron. v. 2 — 12, &c. Ps. exxxii. 8, 9.
But spiritually, as applied now by the Christian
church, to the ascension of Christ into heaven, pre-
figured by that of the ark into the temple — God in-
carnate is gone up into that holy place, not made with
hands ; the everlasting doors of heaven are opened,
for the King of glory to enter, and repossess hisan-
cient throne; there he is received by the united ac-
clamations of the celestial armies, by that " shout,"
that voice of the archangel, and that " trump of
God," which are to sound again, in the day when
he shall " so come, in like manner, as he went into

*' 6. Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing prais-
es unto our King, sing praises. 7. For God is the
King of all the earth : sing ye praises with under-

Who can contemplate the glorious triumph of hu-
man nature over its enemies, in the person of our
King, risen and ascended, without finding himself
constrained to break forth into joy, and to sing, with
a thankful heart, and an elevated voice, the praises,
due unto his holy name ! These divine hymns were
designed for that purpose. Let us, therefore, sing
them, and let us sing them *' with understanding;"
considering by whom they were indited, and of whom
they treat ; reflecting, that the eternal Spirit is their
author, and their subject the blessed Jesus.

* " Ascendit Deus" — Ascendit area in Jerusalem cum cantu.
Prophetice, Ascendit Christus in coelum. Bossuet.

1^ [Ps. 47.

** 8. God reigneth over the heathen : God sitteth
upon the throne of his hoUness."

We are never suffered to forget, that the end of
Messiah's exaltation to the right hand of the majesty
in the heavens, was the conversion and salvation of
the world ; so continually do the prophets and apos-
tles delight to dwell upon that most interesting to-
pic, the conversion of the '* nations" to the Gos-
pel of Christ. Why do we vainly fancy, that we
belong to Him, unless his Spirit " reign" in our
hearts by faith ?

" 9. The princes of the people are gathered toge-
ther, even the people of the God of Abraham: for
the shields of the earth beloiig unto God: he is
greatly exalted."

This verse plainly describeth the kings of the
Gentiles as acceding to the church; as becoming,
with their subjects, through faith, ** the people of
the God of Abraham," and a part of the sacred pe-
culium ; as submitting to God in Christ that power
with which they were invested, as " shields of the
earth," or protectors of their several kingdoms ; and
as bowing their sceptres to the cross of Jesus.*
The sense of the verse, expressed in New Testament
language, would be, " the kingdoms of this world

♦ This latter part of the verse is differently explained by the
Rev. Mr. Merrick, in his poetical paraphrase of this Psalra :
For lie, whose hands, amid the skies,

Th' eternal sceptre wield,
To earth's whole race his care applies.
And o'er them spreads his sliield.

Ps. 48.] 13

are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ,
and he shall reign for ever and ever." So let every
nation be converted unto thee, O Lord ! and every
king become thy son and servant ; until all the world
shall worship thee, sing of thee, and praise thy
name !


ARGUMENT. —This Psalm is one of those which by our church
are appointed to be used on Whitsunday, because, under ima-
ges taken from the earthly city Jerusalem, newly rescued from
her enemies by him who resided in the material temple on
mount Zion, are celebrated, 1, 2, 3. the glory, the beauty, and
strength of the church Christian, that city and temple of Mes-
siah ; who, 4—7. is described as breaking in pieces, and bring-
ing to nothing, the opposition formed against her by the Hea-
then kings and emperors ; on which account, 8 — 11. she ex-
presseth her gratitude and joy; 12 — 14. exliorting her peo-
ple to contemplate and transmit to posterity, an account of
those wonderful works of God, the establishment and preser-
vation of his church in the world ; for which she wishes all gen-
erations, after her example, to adore and praise his holy name
for ever and ever.

" L Great is the Lord, and greatly to be prais-
ed in the city of our God, in the mountain of his

The prophet preparing to celebrate the beauty and
magnificence of the church, begins with setting forth
the praises of her great Founder; whose wisdom,
mercy, and power, as they are conspicuous in all his
works, so, more especially, in this, the chief and
Vol. II. B

14 [Ps. 48.

crown of all; for which, his name can never be suf-
ficiently extolled, by the inhabitants of the new Je-
rusalem ; and by them it ought to be extolled, for
ever and ever.

" 2. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole
earth, is mount Zion, 07i the sides of the north, the
city of the great King."

How " beautiful" is the holy and heavenly Zion,
or the Christian church ! how truly is she " the joy
of the whole earth," by the glad tidings which her
ministers continually publish; how properly is this
Jerusalem styled, '* the city of the great King!"

" 3. God is known in her palaces for a refuge."

The great Founder of the church is also her pro-
tector and defender ; the dependence of the new
Jerusalem, like that of the old, is not in man, or in
the arm of flesh, but in the God who resideth
in the midst of her. For, surely, unless he kept
the holy city, the watchmen in the towers would
wake but in vain.

" 4. For, lo, the kings were assembled, they pas-
sed by together."

Never were the power and malice of earthly
princes more violently bent to hinder the building of
Jerusalem, or to pull down what was already built,
than they were to prevent the edification of the church,
and to root up its foundations. But the event, with
regard to the latter, was the same which had often
happened, in the case of the former.

Ps. 48.1 1^

" 5. They saw zV, and so they marvelled; they
were troubled, and hasted away. 6. Fear took hold
upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in tra-

The potentates of the world saw the miracles of
the apostles, the courage and constancy of the mar-
tyrs, and the daily increase of the church, notwith-
standing all their persecutions ; they beheld with
astonishment the rapid progress of the faith through
the Roman empire; they called upon their gods, but
their gods could not help themselves; idolatry expired
at the foot of the victorious cross, and the power
which supported it, became Christian,

" 7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with
the east wind."

In the foregoing verse, the consternation amongst
the enemies of the church was compared to the hor-
rors of a travailing woman; here it is likened to the
apprehensions of despairing mariners. Nor indeed
can any thing in nature more fitly represent the over-
throw of Heathenism by the Spirit of the Gospel,
than the wreck of a fleet of ships in a storm at sea.
Both are effected by the mighty power of God.*

" 8. As we have heard, so have we seen in the

* Sensiis est; qualis ventus vehemens content naves magni
maris, talis est Dei vis tuentis Jerusalem, et hostilem exercitum
dissipantis. — Bossuet. Illustrations of this kind are sometimes
introduced, by the sacred writers, with the mark of comparison ;
and frequently, as here, without it. The meaning evidently is,
that as the east wind shatters in pieces the ships of Tarshish, so
the divine power struck the Heathen kings with terror and as-

B 2

16 [Ps. 48.

city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God :
God will establish it for ever."

The church heard, by the prophets, of the future
birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, of
Messiah: of the effusion of the Spirit, and her own
enlargement, establishment, and preservation, in
the Gentile world. These predictions, which she
had so often "heard," she hath '* seen" accomplish-
ed, even unto this day;* and therefore doubts not
of God's continuing his favour and protection to the
end of time.

" 9. We have thought of, o?-, we wait in silence
and patience, for, thy loving-kindness, O God, in the
midst of thy temple."

Contemplation of all the wondrous works which
the Lord our God hath wrought for us, produces
faith in his promises, and resignation to his will : and
he that, with these dispositions, waits for God's mer-
cies, in God's house, shall not wait in vain.

" 10. According to thy name, O God, so is thy
praise unto the ends of the earth : thy right hand is
full of righteousness."

* Sicut audivimus" — ^PropheticC Isaia videtur hie notari : sen-
susque est ; sicut audivimus ab Isaia prophetatum, fore ut obsi-
dio mirabiliter solveretur, ac Semiacherabi Dux Rabsaces, ejusque
exercitus caederetur; sic impletum vidimus. Isa. xxxvii. 21.
2 Keg. xix. 20. Qua figura coelestis Jerusalem incolae et ipsi ca-
nunt, " sicut audivimus," ex auditu fidei, Gal. iii. 25. " sic vidi-
mus," jam sublato velo, atque aperta Dei facie. " Deus funda-
vit eam :" nihil habet metuendum, tanto exempta periculo. Pro-
plietice, de Ecclesia fundata super petram, ideoque inconcussa.
Matt. xvi. 18. BossuET.

Ps. 48.] 17

Wherever the name of God is known, and his
works are declared, there the sacrifice of praise must
needs be offered to him, by men, who are made sen-
sible of his mercies towards them: and the day is
cominof when all the world shall be forced to acknow-
ledge, that his "right hand is full of righteousness,"
and his judgments are just.

" 11. Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters
of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments."

The church, and all her children, are exhorted to
rejoice, with joy unspeakable and full of glory, on
account of the manifestation of divine power, on her
behalf, against her enemies. Thus, at the fall of the
mystic Babylon, it is said — *' Rejoice over her, thou
heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God
hath avenged you on her." Rev. xviii. 20.

" 12. Walk about Zion, and go round about
her: tell the towers thereof. 13. Mark ye well her
bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to
the generations following."

Christians are here enjoined to contemplate, again
and again, continually, the fabric of the spiritual
Jerusalem, wonderfully raised, and as wonderfully
preserved: to consider attentively the parts designed
for use, for strength, for ornament ; that they may
be able to instruct posterity in the nature and history
of this holy building, and in their duty of forward-
ing and defending the same, from generation to gene-

18 [Ps. 49.

" 14. For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even unto death."

Let the world worship whom or what it will, we
worship none other but Him who, by his Spirit,
founded, and, by his power, preserveth, the church ;
who, by that Spirit, " guideth" us through life, and,
by that power, will enable us to overcome " death;"*
that so we may rejoice and triumph for evermore, as
citizens of the city of God, and subjects of the King
of glory.


ARGUMENT. — The prophet, after a solemn introduction, 1 — 4.
in which the whole world is called upon, to hear a lesson
of divine wisdom, 5. proposes the subject in a question, imply-
ing the great folly of yielding to the temptation of fear, in the
time of affliction and persecution, when the rich and the power-
ful are in arms against the innocent and righteous Sufferer ;
inasmuch as, 5 — 9. no man, by his riches or power, can redeem
his brother, or himself, in the evil day; but, 10. wise and foolish
die, and leave their estates to others; and, 11 — 13. notwith-
standing all their care' and pains, are soon forgotten, while they
are detained, by death, in the grave till they rise to judg-
ment and condemnation. On the other hand, the prophet,
in the person of Messiah, 15. declares his faith in a joyful re-
surrection to life and glory, through thfe power of Jehovah;
and, 16 — 20. exhorts believers, neither to fear nor envy the
man of the world, considering what his latter end is to be.

'• L Hear this, 2M ye people: give ear, all j/^ in-

* " This God will be our God to all eternity, and (by that
power which he has already exerted in our protection) will con-
duct us through life, with safety." Merrick.

Ps. 49.] 19

habitants of the world : 2. Both low and high, rich
and poor, together."

This Psalm opens with great dignity, and the pro-
phet speaks " as one having authority." He demands
an audience, like that which is to be assembled at
the last day; having something to deliver, which is
universally important and interesting; something
which concerns every age, and condition, and nation,
under heaven. And we may observe, that although
the sound of this Psalm, when first uttered, could be
heard only within the confines of Judea, yet the
knowledge of it hath since actually been diffused in
the Christian church, throughout the world, from the
rising to the setting sun. But how few, alas ! have
duly attended to the salutary lesson, which it so di-
vinely teacheth !

" 3. My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the
meditation of my heart shall be of understanding."

At the call of folly, what multitudes are always
ready to assemble ! But, Wisdom, eternal and essen-
tial Wisdom, crieth without; she lifteth up her voice
in the streets; and who is at leisure to attend her
heavenly lectures? The "mouth" of Jesus always
*' spake of wisdom;" but few regarded him: the
" meditation of his heart" was ever of " understand-
ing;" but it was accounted madness.

" 4. I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will
open my dark saying upon the harp."

In the promulgation of wisdom and understanding

20 [Ps. 49.

to tlie world, the prophet, as the faithful scribe of the
Spirit, was to speak only what he should hear, by
" inclining his ear" to his divine Teacher; he was to
speak in the way of " parable," or proverb, or pro-
blem, that is, in such a way, as should require study
and diligence, to unfold and explain: in such a way,
as the world is not inclined to understand, or listen
to; as our Lord delivered his doctrines when on
earth. And, that melody might serve as a vehicle
for instruction, this important lesson was to be set to
music, and played upon the harp.

" 5. Wherefore should I fear in the-days of evil,
\Johcn the iniquity of my heels shall compass me

" The iniquity of my heels," says Bishop Lowth,
is hardly sense. Suppose '•ipi; to be, not a noun,
but the present participle of the verb ; it will then be,
" The wickedness of those that lie in wait for me,"
or, " endeavour to supplant me." Bishop Hare like-
wise, as Mr. Merrick has observed, translates '•Upr,
" insidiantium mihi." I had, at first, given another
turn to the Psalmist's question, and, by "the ini-
quity of my heels," had understood to be meant,
" the iniquity of my footsteps," that is, " my goings,"
or " ways;" (^ipp being used for footsteps, Ps. Ivi.
7. and Cant. i. 8.) as if it had been said — Why, for
the sake of procuring riches, or power, should I bring
fear and anguish upon myself, in that hour, when
my sins will find me out, and neither riches, nor
power, can deliver me from the punishment due to
them? Thus Bossuet and Mudge understood the

Ps. 49.] 21

verse. But I am clear, that Bishop Lowth's idea is
the true one; and then the purport of the question
is plainly this — Why should I give way to fear and
despondency, in the time of calamity, when the
wickedness of my wealthy and powerful adversaries
compasseth me about, to supplant and overthrow me?

" 6. They that trust in their wealth, and boast
themselves in the multitude of their riches; 7. None
of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor
give to God a ransom for him: 8. (For the redemp-
tion of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

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