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

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lio-ht into my soul, and make me not only dismiss,
but even forget, that sorrow and melancholy, which
my thoughtfulness had brought upon me." Who
that reads this will not thankfully take and follow
the advice offered in another part of the same dis-
course ? " Whenever, therefore, thoughts arise in
thy heart, and troubles from those thoughts, when
thy mind is dark and, cloudy, and all the regions of
the soul are overcast; then betake thyself to thy
oratory, either to thy closet, or the church, and there
entertain thy soul with the pleasures of religion, and
the satisfactions of a clear conscience." See Norris'
Practical Discourses, vol. iii. ser. 4.

" 20. Shall the throne of iniquity have fellow-
ship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law ?'*

One consideration which affordeth comfort to the

Ps. 94.] 341

faithful under persecution and affliction, is this, that
God can never be on the side of oppression and in-
justice, though, to answer wise and salutary purposes,
he may, for a time, suffer them to have the dominion
and to establish iniquity by law. A distinction there
certainly must be between right and wrong; and the
former must as certainly triumph at the last day.

"21. They gather themselves together against
the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent

Righteousness and innocence are most atrocious
crimes, in the eyes of wickedness and guilt. For
these crimes Cain slew his brother Abel, the Jews
crucified Christ, the Pagans tortured and murdered
his disciples, and bad men in all ages have perse-
cuted the good. " Marvel not, my brethren, if the
world hate you." 1 John iii. 13.

*' 22. But the Lord is my defence : and my God
w the rock of my refuge. 23. And he shall bring
upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them
off in their own wickedness; yea^ the Lord our
God shall cut them off."

Jehovah is our " defence ;" we fear not the fiery
darts of the enemy. He is the " rock of our re-
fuge;" we bid defiance to the rage and malice of
earth and hell. Armed with the shield of faith,
and the sword of the Spirit, we rise superior to ev-
ery effort of diabolical malice and secular power ;
waiting, in patience and hope, for the coming of that
day, when He who hateth unrighteousness, and
with whom the throne of iniquity can have no fellow-


[Ps. 94.

ship, shall visit the wickedness of the wicked upon
them ; when the world of the ungodly shall share
the fate of apostate Jerusalem, and the righteous
shall be glorified with their Lord and Saviour.


Nineteenth Day, — Morning Prayer,

ARGUMENT.— This Psalm hath been long used in the Chris-
tian church, as a proper introduction to her holy ser\'ices. It
containeth, 1, 2, an exhortation to praise Jehovah, 3. for his
greatness, 4, 5. and for his works of creation ; 6. men are
invited to worship him as their Maker, and, ,7* as their Pre-
server; 8 — 11. they are warned against tempting and provok-
ing him, by the example of the Israelites in the wilderness.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews hath taught us to
consider the Psalm as an address to believers under the

" 1. O come, let us sing unto the Lord : let us
make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation."

In this first verse, Christians now exhort and stir
up each other, as the Jews did of old, to employ
their voices in honour of Jehovah, to celebrate " the
rock of their salvation." Jesus, by redeeming us
from our enemies, hath opened our lips, and our
mouths ought, therefore, to show forth his praise.
He is the Rock of ages, in which is opened a foun-
tain for sin and uncleanness; the Rock which attends
the church in the wilderness, pouring forth the water
of life for her use and comfort; the Rock which
is our fortress against every enemy, shadowing and
refreshing a weary land. " O come, then, let us

Ps. 95.] 34i3

sing unto this our Lord; let us make a joyful
noise unto this rock of our salvation."

" 2. Let us come before his presence with thanks-
giving, and make a joyful noise unto him with

The " presence" of Jehovah dwelt formerly be-
tween the cherubim, in a tabernacle, or temple,
made with hands, whether the Israelites were to
resort, until God became manifest in the flesh. Af-
ter that time, the divine presence left the synagogue,
and removed into the Christian church ; by her we
are now invited to ** come before that presence
with thanksgiving," and, while we " make a joyful
noise," by chanting these divine Psalms," to imi-
tate, in some measure, the heavenly choirs, who
'' rest not," from their blessed employment of prais-
ing God, " day or night." Rev. iv. 8.

" 3. For the Lord is a great God, and a great
King above all gods."

It is not without reason, that we are exhorted to
give thanks and praise unto our God and King; for
he is " worthy to receive glory and blessing :" Rev.
V. 12. He is a God above all that are called by
that name; above those deities, which were once
worshipped by the ancient Heathen ; above the
world, which still continues to be an object of adora-
tion among infatuated mortals. His throne is over
all, and power and dominion are his.

" 4. In his hand are the deep places of the earth;
the strength of the hills is his also. 5. The sea is

344 [Ps. 93.

his, and he made it; and his hands formed the dry

The treasures, which lie hid in the " deep places"
of the earth beneath ; the majestic pride and
" strength of the hills," which tower above, and lift
up their heads to heaven; the unnumbered waves of
the great and wide " sea," which roll in perpetual
motion round the world; the rich and variegated
produce of the " dry land," crowned with verdure
and beauty ; together with every thing that liveth in
the waters or on the earth; all are under the govern-
ment of our God; by him were all things created;
by him have all things been redeemed.'

'' 6. O come, let us worship and bow down: let
us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

As in the beginning of the Psalm we were called
upon to " praise" Jehovah, so here we are invited
to humble ourselves before him in " prayer." From
him we had our being ; him, therefore, we are to
supplicate for every other blessing, both in this life,
and that which is to come. And since he made our
bodies, as well as our souls, it is meet and right that
they should bear their part in his service, and that
internal worship should be accompanied and signified
by that which is external.

'* 7. For he is our God, and we ai^e the people
of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."

An additional reason why we should both praise
Jehovah, and pray to him, is the peculiar relation
into which he hath been pleased to put himself by

Ps. 95.] 345

the covenant of grace; " he is our God;" we are
the objects of his tender care and unspeakable love:
we are his " people," and his " sheep ;" his chosen
flock, which he hath purchased with his blood, which
he feeds with his word, and refreshes with his Spirit,
in fair and pleasant pastures. From those pastures,
O thou good Shepherd! suffer us not to stray; or,
if we do stray, bring us speedily back again, by any
means which thou, in thine infinite wisdom, shalt
think fit. Wholesome is the discipline which drives
us into the fold, and keeps us there.

" 8. To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not
your hearts, as in the provocation, and as iyi the day
of temptation in the wilderness : 9. When your
fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work."

The first clause of these two verses may be joined
to the preceding verse thus, " He is our God, we
are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his
hand, if ye will hear his voice to-day;" that is, if ye
will be his obedient people, he will continue to be
your God. Or else the word Cdx, translated " if,"
may be rendered in the optative form, " O that you
would hear his voice " to-day," saying unto you,
" Harden not," &c. However this be, what follows
to the end of the Psalm is undoubtedly spoken in
the person of God himself, who may be considered
as addressing us, in these latter days, by the Gospel
of his Son; for so the apostle teaches us to apply
the whole passage, Heb. iii. iv. The Israelites,
when they came out of Egypt, had a day of proba-
tion, and a promised rest to succeed it; but, by un-
belief and disobedience, they to whom it was pro-

346 [Ps. 95.

mlsed, that is, the generation of those who came out
of Egypt, fell short of it, and died in the wilderness.
The Gospel, in like manner, offers, both to Jew and
Gentile, another day of probation in this world, and
another promised rest to succeed it, which remaineth
for the people of God, in heaven. All whom it
concerns are, therefore, exhorted to beware lest they
forfeit the second rest, as murmuring and rebellious
Israel came short of the first. The verses now be-
fore us allude to what passed at the place called
" Massah," and " Meribah," from the people there
" tempting" and striving with their God, notwith-
standing all the mighty works which he had wrought
for them, before their eyes. Exod. xvii. 7.

" 10. Forty years long was I grieved, or, dis-
gusted, with this generation, and said. It is a people
that do err in their hearts, and they have not known
my ways."

O the desperate presumption of man, that he
should offend his Maker " forty years !" O the
patience and long suffering of his Maker, that he
should allow him forty years to offend in ! Sin be-
gins in the " heart," by its desires " wandering"
and going astray after forbidden objects; whence
follows inattention to the " ways" of God; to his
dispensations, and our own duty. Lust in the heart,
like vapour in the stomach, soon affects the head, and
clouds the understanding.

«' 11. Unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they
should not enter into my rest."

Exclusion from Canaan was the punishment of

Ps. 95.] 347

Israelitish contumacy; exclusion from heaven is to
be the punishment of disobedience among Chris-
tians. To take vengeance on those who reject the
Gospel terms, is no less a part of the covenant and
oath of God, than it is to save and glorify those
who accept them. Yet men continue deliberately
to commit those sins, which the Almighty standeth
thus engaged to punish with destruction !* " Take
heed," therefore, " brethren, lest there be in any of
you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the
living God. But exhort one another daily, while it
is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through
the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers
of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence
steadfast unto the end; while it is said, To-day, if
ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts as in
the provocation. For some, when they had heard,
did provoke ; howbeit, not all that came out of Egypt
by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty
years? Was it not with them that had sinned,
whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom
sware he, that they should not enter into his rest,
but to them that believed not ? So we see that they
could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us
therefore fear, lest, a promise being made us of en-

* Sensus hujus loci ex Paulo sic concinnandus : nempe re-
quiem a Deo Israelitis esse promissam in terra Chanansea : omnes
tamen interim in deserto cecidisse hac requie frustrates : quare
Spiritum Sanctum per Davidem ad novam requiem invitasse; ad
novum illud sabbatum ab ipso mundi exordio diei septimie requie
figuratum, novumque indixisse diem quo sub Cliristo, in Ecclesia,
ac coelesti patria quiesceremus, nisi essemus increduli : unde sic
concludit Paulus: " Festinemus ingredi in illam r(Kiuicm." Bos-

348 [Ps. 96.

terlng into his rest, any of you should seem to come
short of it. For unto us was the Gospel preached,
as well as unto them ; but the word preached did not
profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that
heard it." Heb. iii. 12. &c.


ARGUMENT. — By common consent of Jews and Cluistians,
we apply this Psalm to the times of Messiah. 1 — 4. Men are
exhorted to sing his praises; to declare his salvation; 4, 5.
to acknowledge his supremacy over the gods of the nations,
with, 6. the glory and beauty of his sanctuary ; 7, 9. to give
him the honour, the worship, and the obedience due unto him,
and 10. to publish the glad tidings of his kingdom being estab-
lished: 11 — 13. the whole creation is called upon to rejoice
at this great event. "We find, by 1 Chron. xvi. that David de-
livered out this Psalm, to be sung on occasion of temporal
blessings prefigurative of future spiritual ones.

" 1. O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing
unto the Lord, all the earth."

Jehovah, our Redeemer, is the person whose
praises are to be sung. They are to be sung in a
'* new" song; a song calculated to celebrate new
mercies, prefigured by old ones wrought for Israel
iu former times ; a song fit for the voices of renewed
and regenerate men to sing in the new Jerusalem,
in those new heavens and that new earth, which con-
stitute the new creation, or kingdom of Jesus Christ.
And as the mercies of God are universal, extending
themselves not only to the Jews, but to all the na-
tions of the earth, all the nations of the earth are
therefore exhorted to bear a part in this new song;

Ps. 96.] 349

" Sing unto the Lord a new song ; sing unto the
Lord, all the earth." Thus St. John, after rec-
koning up the 144,000, or full number of those who
were sealed to salvation from among the tribes of
Israel, proceeds to tell us, that he " beheld, and,
lo, a great multitude, which no man could number,
of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,
stood before the throne, and before the Lamb,
clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands."
All these sung a new song, which none could learn
but the redeemed : they " cried with a loud voice,
saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the
throne, and to the Lamb." See Rev. v. vii. xiv.

'' 2. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; show
forth his salvation from day to day."

Again, are we excited to sing unto the Lord
Jesus, and in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs,
to bless his saving name. The latter clause of the
verse is very expressive in the original, "nu;i,
*' preach," or, " evangelize his salvation from day to
day ;" let it be the constant theme of all your dis-
courses ; publish it to the world in every possible
way, by your words, and by your actions ; and while
God allows you breath and life, let one day transmit
the glorious employment to another, until it be re-
sumed and continued in heaven to all eternity.

" 3. Declare his glory among the heathen; his
wonders among all people."

The " glory" of Messiah in his incarnation, his
life, his death, resurrection, ascension, and kingdom,
the " wonders" or miracles by him wrought upon the
Vol. II. Q


[Ps. 96.

bodies and souls of men : these were the thino-s
" declared among the heathen," even " among all
people," by the apostles and their successors; these
things are still declared, by the Scriptures read, and
sermons preached, in the church, which was gathered
originally from among the Gentiles.

" 4. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be
praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5. For
all the gods of the nations are idols, or things of
nought; but the Lord made the heavens."

Christ is to be celebrated, his glory and wonders
are to be declared, because he is, in every possible
sense, "great;" great in dignity, in -power, in mer-
cy; and therefore " greatly to be praised" by every
creature. The heavens and heavenly bodies, adored
by the nations, were no gods, but the works of
*' his" hands, who had fixed his everlasting throne
high above them all. At the publication of the
Gospel, idolatry fell before it; and what is the world
itself but one great idol, which is to fall and disap-
pear in like manner?

" 6. Honour and majesty are before him; strength
and beauty are in his sanctuary."

What are the splendour and magnificence of
earthly courts, when compared with that glory and
majesty, the unutterable brightness of which fills
the court of the heavenly King ? Some portion of
this celestial light is communicated, through grace,
to the Christian church, which is described by St.
John, under images borrowed from the figurative
sanctuary, and the earthly Jerusalem, as an edifice

Ps. 96.] 3,51

composed of gold and precious stones, illuminated by
the glory of God and the Lamb residing in the
midst of it. See Rev. xxi.

" 7. Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds, or,
families, or, tribes, of the people, give unto the
Lord glory and strength. 8. Give unto the Lord
the glory due unto his name; bring an offering and
come into his courts. 9. O worship the Lord in
the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.'*

In these three verses, the tribes of the spiritual
Israel are enjoined to ascribe to their Redeemer all
'' glory and strength," as essentially inherent in
him, and by him communicated to his people; to
give him the entire " glory of his name," and of
that " salvation" imported by it; to bring the
" sacrifices" of the new law, and to assemble in the
" courts" of his house ; to worship him in that
^* beauty of holiness" which is constituted by the
regular and solemn services of the church; to
" fear" and obey him, as the subjects of a King in-
vested with plenitude of power in heaven and earth.


10. Say among the heathen, that the Lord
reigneth: the world also shall be established that it
shall not be moved : he shall judge the people

In other words — Make proclamation, therefore,
O ye apostles and preachers of the Gospel, that a
new and eternal kingdom is erected; the usurped
empire of Satan is overthrown, and the Lord Jesus,
having redeemed mankind, reigneth in the hearts
of his people by faith, a community is formed, not

352 [Ps. 96.

upon the plan of secular policy, but upon the divine
principle of heavenly love; it is established on im-
moveable foundations, nor shall the gates of hell
prevail against it: righteousness shall dwell in it,
since He, who is the King of Righteousness, pre-
sides, directs, and determines all things, by his
Word, and his Spirit.

" 11. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth
be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof:
12. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein:
then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before
the Lord."

Transported with a view of these grand events,
and beholding in spirit the advent of King Messiah,
the Psalmist exults in most jubilant and triumphant
strains, calling the whole creation to break forth into
joy, and to celebrate the glories of redemption.
The heavens, with the innumerable orbs fixed in
them, which, while they roll and shine, declare the
glory of beautified saints; the earth, which, made
fertile by celestial influences, showeth the work of
grace on the hearts of men here below; the field,
which, crowned with the produce of an hundred fold,
displayeth an emblem of the fruit yielded by the
seed of the word in the church; the trees of the
wood, lofty, verdant, and diffuse, apt representatives
of holy persons, those " trees of righteousness, the
planting of Jehovah," Isa. Ixi. 3. whose examples
are eminent, fair, and extensive; all these are, by
the prophet, excited to join in a chorus of thanks-
giving to the Maker and Redeemer of the world.

^* 13. For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the

Ps. 96.] 353

earth ; he shall judge the world with righteousness,
and the people with his truth.'*

The coming of Christ is twofold; first he came
to sanctify the creature, and he will come again to
glorify it. Either of his kingdoms, that of grace,
or that of glory, may be signified by his " judging
the world in righteousness and truth." If creation
be represented as rejoicing at the establishment of
the former, how much greater will the joy be at
the approach of the latter; seeing that, notwith-
standing Christ be long since come in the flesh,
though he be ascended into heaven, and have sent
the Spirit from thence, yet " the whole creation,"
as the apostle speaks, Rom. viii. 22. " groaneth and
travaileth in pain together until now, expecting to
be delivered, from the bondage of corruption, into
the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And not
only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-
fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within
ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the re-
demption of the body:" when at the renovation of
all things, man, new made, shall return to the days
of his youth, to begin an immortal spring, and be
for ever young.


[Ps. 97.


ARGUMENT.— In this Psalm, 1. the reign of Christ is again
celebrated, and the nations are again called to rejoice on that
account : 2 — 7. He is described as taking vengeance on his
enemies, overthrowing idolatry in the Heathen world, com-
manding adoration from all creatm-es, and, 8, 9. inspiring glad-
ness into the church, by subduing her enemies : 10 — 12. The
duties of holiness, thankfulness, and religious joy, are incul-

" 1. The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice;
let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof. ^^

Triumphant over death and hell, the Lord Jesus
is gone up on high, and " reigneth." What greater
cause can the whole earth have to " rejoice ;" yea,
even the most distant isles of the Gentiles, to " be
glad,'* and to sing for joy; since they are all become
his subjects, and share the unspeakable blessings of
so gracious a reign ? We Britons, as inhabiting
one of those heathen isles, and enjoying so fair a
portion of evangelical blessings, have reason to re-
peat this verse, with a particular pleasure and energy.
The Hebrews called by the name of " iles," Cd^^k,
not only countries surrounded by the sea, but all the
countries which the sea divided from them ; so that
the term became synonymous wdth " Gentiles."
Thus, it is said, Isa. xlii. 4. " The isles shall
wait for his law;" which passage. Matt. xii. 2L is
expounded as follows: " In him shall the gentiles

Ps. 97.1 855

" 2. Clouds and darkness are round above him :
righteousness and judgment are the habitation, or,
establishment, of his throne."

When the mercy and grace of our heavenly
King are to be described, he is likened to the sun
shining: in a clear firmament, and ffladdeninsr uni-
versal nature with his beneficent rays. But when
we are to conceive an idea of him as going forth,
in " justice and judgment," to discomfit and punish
his adversaries, the imagery is then borrowed from a
troubled sky; he is pictured as surrounded by
" clouds and darkness;" from whence issue light-
nings and thunders, storms and tempests, affrightino-
and confounding the wicked and impenitent.

" 3. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his
enemies round about. 4. His lio^htnino-s enliffh-

o o o

tened the world : the earth saw and trembled. 5.
The hills melted like wax at the presence of the
Lord ; at the presence of the Lord of the whole

The judgments of God, and their effects upon
the world, are here set forth, under the usual si-
militude of lightning and fire from heaven, causing
the earth to tremble, and the mountains to melt
and dissolve away. The exaltation of Christ, to
the throne of his kingdom, was followed by a dread-
ful display of that vengeance which broke in pieces
the Jewish nation, and brought their civil and reli-
gious polity to an utter dissolution. Li the history
of their destruction, the world of the ungodly may
view a striking picture of the great and terrible day,


[Ps. 97.

when the Lord Jesus shall render a recompense to
all his enemies. He is then to descend in flaming
fire ; lightnings shall be his harbingers ; the earth
shall tremble ; and the hills shall, literally, " melt
like wax at the presence of Jehovah."

" 6. The heavens declare his righteousness; and
all the people see his glory."

•" The heavens," by the manifestation of ven-
geance from thence, reveal, " declare," and pro-
claim, the " righteous" judgments of Messiah ;
and all " the people" upon earth are witnesses of
the " glory" of his victory over every thing that
opposeth itself to the establishment of his kingdom.
This will be more eminently the case at the second
advent, when the trumpet of the archangel shall
proclaim his approach in the clouds of heaven, and
all the tribes of the earth shall see him coming in
the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.

" 7. Confounded be, or, shall be, all they that

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