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

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together: they have burnt up all the synagogues of
God in the land,"

Such is the rage of infidels, when it pleases God
for the sins of his people, to let them loose upon the
church as beasts of prey. From scenes like these,
we learn the temper and disposition of that raging
adversary of mankind and his associates; who, if per-
mitted, would root Christianity out of every heart
" Watch, therefore, and pray," saith the Captain of
our salvation to all his soldiers.

" 9. W^e see not our signs, there is no more any
prophet, neither is there among us any that knoweth
how long."

Darkness is horrible in itself, and adds horror to
every thing else. The church therefore complains
that, in the midst of all her other troubles, she was
deserted by the light of heaven. No " signs" or
miracles, were exhibited for her comfort: there was
no " prophet," to inform her concerning the will of
God, or to promise her an " end" of her afilictions.
Vol, II. I

182 [Ps. 74.

as Daniel did when she was a captive in Babylon. Sin
darkens the understanding, taking from it that light,
the direction of which it then stands most in need of.

"10. O God, how long shall the adversary re-
proach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for
ever? 11. Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even
thy right hand? Pluck it out of thy bosom."

To an enumeration of calamities succeeds a prayer
for deliverance, grounded on the necessity of God's
vindicating the honour of his name from the insolent
and blasphemous reproaches and scoffs of the enemy:
see Ezek. xx. 19. He is therefore, entreated to
make bare his arm in the sight of the nations, and to
let his right hand become glorious in the vindication
of his name, and the defence of his inheritance.

" 12. For God is my king of old, working salva-
tion in the midst of the earth."

And that he will do so, there is always reason for
the afflicted church to hope: because, as her " King,"
he conducted and protected her of old, and wrought
" salvation" for her upon the earth; temporal salva-
tion by the hand af Moses; eternal salvation by the
power of Christ.

** 13. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength;
thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters."

The first part of this verse alludes to that marvel-
lous act of omnipotence, which divided the Red Sea,
for Israel to pass over; the second part, to the return
of its waves upon the heads of the Egyptians, who,
like so many sea monsters, opening their mouths to

Ps. 74.]


devour the people of God, were overwhelmed, and
perished in the mighty waters. The Christian church
is taught to contemplate, under this figure, the sal-
vation of her children, and the destruction of their
spiritual enemies, by the waters of baptism: see 1
Cor. X. 2. and the Office of Baptism in the Church
of England. Parallel to this passage in our Psalm,
is that most sublime one, Isa. li. 9, 10, 11. " Awake,
awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord ! awake
as in the ancient days, in the generations of old.
Art thou not it, that hath cut Rahab, and wound-
ed the dragon? Art thou not it, that hath dried
the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath
made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed
to pass over? Therefore, the redeemed of the
Lord shall return, and come singing into Sion, and
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they
shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and
mourning shall flee away."

" 14. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in
pieces, a7ul gavest him to be meat to the people in-
habiting the wilderness."

" Leviathan" stands for Pharaoh, or the Egyptian
power, represented by the Egyptian animal, the cro-
codile of Nile, the Egyptian river. The "heads of
leviathan" are the princes of Egypt, the leaders of
the Egyptian armies. And "the people, or inhabi-
tants, of the wilderness," to whom they were given
for a prey, are not men, but a species of wild beasts,
hunting the deserts, for which the word tD^''^ is used,
Isa. xiii. 21. and xxxiv. 14. The sense therefore
is, that the bodies of Pharaoh and his captains were

I 2

184 [Ps. 74.

thrown on shore by the sea, and so became food for
the wild beasts of the neighbourhig deserts. The
final destruction of the adversaries of Messiah's king-
dom is described at large under a like image, Rev.
xix. 17, &c.

" 15. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the
flood — that is, draw forth the fountain and the flood,
by cleaving the 7'ock — thou driedst up mighty rivers."

Two other remarkable exertions of the divine
power in favour of the Israelites, are here referred to.
Water was brought out of the rock, to satisfy their
thirst in the time of drought; and the river Jordan
was dried up, to open a passage for them into Canaan.
In the former of these transactions, faith beholds the
water of life springing from the Rock of Salvation;
in the latter are discerned the mystic death and re-
surrection of Christians, as a prelude to the corporeal;
when, rising from the depths of the grave, they shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven.

" 16. The day is thine, the night also is thine, thou
hast prepared the light and the sun. 17. Thou hast
set all the borders of the earth : thou hast made sum-
mer and winter."

From the miraculous interpositions of God, in be-
half of his people, the church passes to those ordi-
nary and standing evidences of his goodness towards
us, the sweet vicissitudes of light and darkness, and
the grateful succession of times and seasons; by
which man is taught, in the most sorrowful night, to
look for a joyful morning; and, during the severest
winter, to expect a reviving spring. Thus is the

Ps. 74.] 185

revolving year our constant instructor and monitor;
incessantly inculcating the duties of faith and hope,
as well as those of adoration, gratitude, and praise.

" 18. Remember this, that the enemy hath re-
proached, O Lord, and that the foolish people have
blasphemed thy name. 19. O deliver not the soul
of thy turtle-dove unto the multitude of the ^wicked ;
forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever."

After endeavouring to support her own faith, and
excite the zeal of God for his inheritance, by a re-
hearsal of former mercies, the church again argues
the argument of " reproach," touched on before at
ver. 10. and then reminds her Saviour of that en-
dearing appellation of his " turtle-dove," by which he
had not disdained to address her in times past. This
turtle-dove, simple, defenceless, solitary, meek, timid,
and mournful, was in danger of being speedily de-
voured by her inveterate and implacable enemies;
who, like birds of prey, beset her on all sides, thirst-
ing impatiently for her blood. What an irresistible
force do these circumstances give to the words —
" O deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove unto the
multitude of the wicked; and forget not the con-
gregation of thy poor for ever!" Let us not fail
in the hour of temptation, to use them, and try the
success of them.

" 20. Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark
places of the earth, or, the land, are full of the habi-
tations of cruelty."

The main anchor of the holy ark, in storms and
tempests, is faith in the covenant of grace, made from

186 [Ps. n.

the beginning in Messiah; communicated to Noah,
Abraham, David, &c. as his illustrious representa-
tives, and in them to the house of Israel; accomplish-
ed (as Zacharias beareth witness by his song, Luke
i. 72, &c.) at the birth of Christ, and then extended
to the Gentiles. To this covenant, and the promises
made therein, the church here appeals, at a time
when the enemy ravaged the promised land at plea-
sure, and every thing seemed to forebode the utter
extirpation of the law and people of God. Hither,
therefore, the soul is to fly for refuge, when nothing
else seems capable of affording any.

" 21. O let not the oppressed return ashamed; let
the poor and needy praise thy name."

It is for the honour of God, that they who have
recourse to him for help, should not, by " returning"
without it, suffer " shame" and confusion, in the
presence of their insulting adversaries. And another
motive to engage his assistance is, that, for every lost
soul, there would be a voice the less in that choir,
which is to " praise his name" to all eternity.

" 22. Arise, O God, plead thine own cause; re-
member how the foolish man blasphemeth thee daily.
23. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tu-
mult of those that rise up against thee increaseth con-

The church, growing more importunate in her
petitions, as the danger increases, beseeches God to
appear in her cause, as being in effect his own, on
account of his promises, his attributes of righteous-
ness and truth, and the reproaches cast on Him,

Ps. 75.] 187

through his people. While speaking, she seems to
hear the tumultuous clamours of the approaching
enemy, growing every minute louder as they ad-
vance: and we leave the "turtle-dove," without the
divine assistance, ready to sink under the talons ol
the rapacious eagle.


Fifteenth Day, — Morning Prayer,

ARGUMENT. — The prophet, 1. gives thanks, with the church,
to God for the manifestation of his Name, and the wonders of
salvation wrought thereby. 2. He declares his resolution of
executing judgment and justice in his kingdom, which, 3. had
been in disorder and confusion ; ^ 5. he rebukes the wicked j
6 — 8. reminds them of the power, providence, counsels, and
judgments of God ; 9, 10. he concludes with repeating his re-
solution to praise God, to break the power of \^dckedness, and
establish righteousness.

" 1. Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks,
unto thee do we give thanks : for that thy name is
near, thy wondrous works declare."

The church offers up her repeated praises to God
for deliverance ; she acknowledges the presence of
his Name in the midst of her, which had been evi-
denced by the "wonderful works" wrought for her sal-
vation. Upon whatever occasion these words were
originally endited, the Christian church now cele-
brates in them that great deliverance which, by so
many miracles of mercy and power, hath been accom-
plished for her through Messiah, who is in Scripture

188 [Ps. 75.

frequently styled, " the name of Jehovah.'* See
Isa. XXX. 27.

*' 2. When I shall receive the congregation, I
will judge uprightly."

The first verse was spoken by many persons;
" unto thee, O God, do we give thanks ;" here
the speaker is one, and that one is plainly a ruler,
who promises, that when he shall have " received
the congregation," or, as some render it, " when
he shall have gotten an appointed, or fit time, or
season," that is, when he shall be established in
])o\ver and authority, at a fit time and place, he will
" judge uprightly," and introduce a thorough refor-
mation into a kingdom, which, as we shall find by
the following verse, stood greatly in need of it.
From these circumstances it should seem most pro-
bable, that David is speaking of his advancement to
the throne of Israel, and the intended rectitude of
his administration, when he should be settled there-
on. What David did in Israel, was done in the
church universal, by him who sat upon the throne of
David, when he " received," for his inheritance, the
great " congregation" of the Gentiles, and the earth
was full of the "righteousness" of Jehovah.

" 3. The earth, or, the land, and all the inhabi-
tants thereof, are, or, were, dissolved ; I bear up the
pillars of it."

Civil distractions, and the continual irruptions of
foreign enemies, had thrown the Israelitish affairs
into confusion, and " dissolved" the frame of govern-
ment; until, by the re-establishment of royal autho-

Ps. 75.] 189

rity, countenance and support were again given to all
the subordinate magistrates; who are, in their re-
spective stations, the " pillars'* of a community.
Such was the universal corruption and dissolution of
manners both among Jews and Gentiles, when Mes-
sias, entering upon his regal office, reformed the
world, raised the glorious fabric of the church, and
made his apostles and their successors the " pillars"
of his spiritual kingdom. Let men support religion,
and God will support them.

" 4. I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly ;
and to the wicked. Lift not up the horn : 5. Lift
not up your horn on high ; speak not imth a stiff

" Where the word of a king is, there is power."
The prophet addresses himself to the opposers of his
government, and the disturbers of Israel : he urges
the " folly" of exalting themselves against their
prince; and exhorts them, for their own sakes, to
humility and obedience. Is not this the very mes-
sage which the ministers of Christ have received from
their King, and are commanded to deliver to the
world ?

" 6. For promotion cometli neither from the east,
nor from the west, nor from the south : 7. But God
is the judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up

The opposition, mentioned in the preceding verse,
was called " folly." In these verses it is proved to
be such; as being an opposition, in effect, to the
counsels of heaven ; for, not by worldly power or craft,

I 3

190 [Ps. 75.

but by the designation and providence of God him-
self, the supreme judge of princes, and disposer of
kingdoms, was the house of Saul " put down," and
the house of David " set up." And are not, then,
the enemies of the Son of God in arms against the
Father; who, according to the promises going before
concerning him, hath highly exalted him ; hath com-
mitted all power and judgment to him ; and hath put
all things under his feet? Yea, and the hour is
coming, when he shall put down all rule, and all au-
thority, and power, and the Lord Jesus alone shall
be exalted in that day. What will then be the
portion of his impenitent adversaries, the next verse
will inform us.

" 8. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup,
and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he
poureth out of the same : but the dregs thereof all
the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and
drink tkem.^'

As the choicest of heavenly blessings are frequently
in Scripture represented by the salutary effects of
wine, a cup of which the master of the family is sup-
posed to hold in his hand, ready to distribute due
portions of it to those around him ; so from the
noxious and intoxicating qualities of that liquor, when
drunk strong, and in too large a quantity, is borrowed
a most tremendous image of the wrath and indigna-
tion of Almighty God. Calamity and sorrow, fear
and trembling, infatuation and despair, the evils of
the present life, and of that which is to come, are the
bitter ingredients which compose this most horrible
cup of mixture. It is entirely in the hand and dis-

Ps. 75.] 191

posal of God, who, through every age, has been
pourmg out, and admmistering of its contents, more
or less, in proportion to the sins of men. But much
of the strength and power of the liquor still remains
behind, until the day of final vengeance. It will
be then exhausted, even to the dregs, by unrepenting
rebels ; when " burning coals, fire, and brimstone,"
and eternal " tempest," shall be " the portion of their
cup." Ps. xi. 6.

" 9. But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises
to the God of Jacob."

These dispensations of mercy and judgment the
prophet resolves to " declare" to the world for ever,
by thus " singing" the works and the '' praises" of
God, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.
And while we now sing them, we declare our resolu-
tion to be the same with his.

" 10. All the horns of the wicked also will I cut
off; hut the horns of the righteous shall be exalted."

He determines likewise, as every good governor
should do, to exert the authority with which he was
intrusted; to break the power of triumphant wicked-
ness, and to exalt that righteousness which exalteth
a nation ; hereby rendering himself a fit image of
Him, who hath since done away transgression, and
brought in everlasting righteousness, who will one
day turn the wicked into hell, and exalt his faithful
servants to reign with him in heaven. Already he
reigns in them upon earth; causing " all carnal affec-
tions to die in them, and all things belonging to the
Spirit to live and grow in them."

192 IPs. 76.


ARGUMENT. — It is obvious, at first sight, to any one who
reads this Psalm, that it was composed, as a thanksgiving hymn,
on account of some great deliverance, wrought for his people,
by the immediate hand of God. Tlie miraculous destruction of
the Assyrian army by the angel, in the days of king Hezekiah,
is generally pitched upon, as the subject of it, and affirmed to be
so by the ancient Greek inscription prefixed to it in the LXX
version. The prophet, 1, 2. declares the glory which God hath
gotten liim in Israel ; 3 — 6. describes the circumstances of the
deliverance, with, 7. a reflection thereupon ; 8 — 10. he men-
tions the effects it had produced among the nations, and, 11, 12.
those which it ought to produce in Israelitish hearts. The
ideas are to be transferred to the salvation of the church imi-
versal, by the destruction of sin and Satan, and the overthrow
of the persecuting powers.

" 1. In Judah is God known; his name is great
in Israel. 2. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and
his dwelling place in Sion."

On occasion of some great deliverance, the pro-
phet speaks in transport concerning that presence and
protection of God, which the highly favoured Judah
once enjoyed. She enjoyed them while she con-
tinued faithful, and really was what she professed to
be. But, on account of her infidelity, and rejection
of her Messiah, an alteration of circumstances has
taken place. They are no longer Jews, who are
such outwardly; nor is that circumcision which is
outward in the flesh ; but they are Jews, who believe
in the Son of God ; and they are of the circumcision,
who are cleansed by him from all filthiness of flesh
and spirit. The Gentile Christian church hath suc-
ceeded to the privileges of the Israelitish. In her
now '*God is known" by the Gospel; and **his

Ps. 76.] 193

Name is great" in her, by reason of all the mighty
wonders which he hath wrought for her : she is the
true " Salem," or city of peace ; she is the true
" Sion," the spiritual, holy, and beloved hill; and in
her is the " tabernacle'' and " dwelling place" of
God her Saviour, by the Spirit.

" 3. There brake he the arrows of the bow, the
shield, and the sword, and the battle."

When God appeared in the defence of his ancient
people, the weapons of their enemies were at once
blunted and broken, and all the formidable appara-
tus of war became, in a moment, utterly useless. Such
was the event, when the holy Jesus entered the lists
against our spiritual adversaries, " for" us; and such
ever will be the event, when he engages them "in" us.

" 4. Thou art more glorious and excellent than
the mountains of prey."

This may be a beautiful apostrophe to mount Sion
(mentioned ver. 2.) as appearing infinitely more
glorious and excellent, through the favour and pro-
tection of her God, than the arm of flesh and the
instruments of war could render the kingdoms of the
earth, which set themselves against her; and which,^
for their tyranny, and cruelty, and the ravages com-
mitted by them, are likened to those mountains,
where beasts of prey, with similar dispositions, rove,
and roar, and devour. The powers of the world "make
war with the Lamb, whose station is upon mount
Sion ;" but " the Lamb shall overcome them, for
he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they
that are with him are called, and chosen, and
faithful." Rev. xiv. L xvii. 14.

194^ [Ps. 76.

" 5. The stout-hearted are spoiled, they have
slept their sleep : and none of the men of might have
found their hands. 6. At thy rebuke, O God of
Jacob, both the chariot, or, rider, and horse, are cast
into a dead sleep.**

It must be acknowledged, that these two verses
seem in a very particular manner to point at the
miraculous destruction of Sennacherib's army, when
the " stout-hearted," who doubted not of taking and
spoiling the holy city, were themselves suddenly
" spoiled" of strength and life ; they " slept their
sleep, and found not their hands;" they awaked not
again to the use of their powers and faculties ; a re-
buking blast was sent from the God of Jacob, under
which the flower of Assyria withered in the space of
a night, and in the morning was no more ; " the horse
and his rider were cast into a dead sleep; " they
slept the sleep of death. How, in a moment, "were
the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perish-
ed !" How astonishing the downfal of the tyrant !
How complete the triumph of the daughter of Sion !
Such will be the destruction of the world; such the
salvation of the people of God.

" T. Thou, even thou, art to be feared ; and who
may stand in thy sight, when once thou art angry ?"

Why are the miraculous exertions of omnipotence
recorded in the book of life, but to suggest to us this
reflection, that God, and God only, is the proper
object of our fear ; since neither the wisdom of the
wise, nor the power of the mighty, no, not the world
itself, can stand a single moment before him, " when
once he is angry ?" Yet we continue to dread any

Ps. 76.] 195

frowns but those of heaven ; and one poor, vain, sin-
ful man shall, through a course of sixty or seventy
years, incessantly and undauntedly tempt and provoke
Him who destroyed 185,000 in a night. What is
this, but madness ?

'' 8. Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from
heaven ; the earth feared, and was still; 9. When
God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the
earth, or, the afflicted of the land."

A destruction so far exceeding human power, was
evidently the sentence of God's judgment, audibly
pronounced from the eternal throne ; and it was heard
by all the earth with an awful silence, as when he
speaks to attentive nature in thunder. Such was
the effect which this interposition in behalf of his
people produced among the surviving Assyrians, and
the neighbouring nations. Let us carry our thoughts
on to the sensations which will be felt in the hearts
of men, at that hour when the last trump shall sound
in the heavens, and the earth shall shake from her
foundations; when God shall arise to execute judg-
ment on the adversaries of his church ; and to save,
with an everlasting salvation, all the meek and afflicted
of the earth.

" 10. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee:
the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."

The wrath of man, and of Satan himself, against
the church, turns, in the end, to the praise and glory
of God, who represses it when at its height ; and at
all times appoints those bounds which it cannot pass,
any more than the raging waves of the ocean can
overflow their appointed barrier of sand.

196 [Ps. 77.

" 11. Vow and pray unto the Lord your God;
let all that are round about him bring presents unto
him that ought to be feared. 12. He shall cut off,
or, restrain, the spirit of princes ; he is terrible to the
kings of the earth."

If such should have been the gratitude and devo-
tion of Israelites, for a temporary deliverance from
the fury of an earthly tyrant : how much higher ought
that of Christians to rise, for eternal redemption from
the great oppressor ! How ought they to " vow
and pay their vows unto the Lord their God; to
bring presents," to offer all they have, and all they
are, to him who is so greatly "to be feared," so
highly to be loved ; to him who " restrains" the fury
of evil angels, as well as the " spirit of princes ;" and
is " terrible" to the powers of darkness, no less than
to " the kings of the earth !"


ARGUMENT.— As the foregoing Psalm was evidently compos-
ed, when the church had obtamed deliverance from her ene-
mies, this seems no less plainly to have been written at a time
when she was in captivity under them. It contains, 1 — 1. a
complaint of sufferings ; and 5 — 20. a description at large of the
struggle between distrust and faith ; which latter prevails, by
having recourse to the consideration of ancient mercies ; par-
ticularly, that of redemption from Egypt. The Psalm is ad-
mirably calculated for the use and consolation of any church,
or soul, when in affliction and distress.

" 1. I cried unto God with my voice, even unto
God with my voice ; and he gave ear unto me."

Ps. 77.] 197

Uneasiness in the heart will utter itself by the
"voice;" and when the pain is intense, the "cry"
will be loud. Only let it take a right direction, and

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