George Horne.

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

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it is good. For he hath delivered me out of all
my trouble, and mine eye hath looked upon mine


ARGUMENT. — David, as it is supposed, when driven out of
Jerusalem by the rebellion of Absalom, and in danger of being
suddenly cut oif, 1 — 8. maketh his prayer to God, and describ-
eth the sorrowful state of his soul; 9 — 11. entreateth that the
iniquitous counsels of the rebels maybe divided and confounded;
12 — 14. upbraideth Ahithophel, the Judas of those times, with
his foul treason; 15 — 19. foretelleth the tragical end of faction,

5Af [Pr. 55.

and his own re-establishment through faith in God, notwith-
standing the base treachery of his favourite son and favourite

" 1. Give ear to my prayer, O God: and hide
not thyself from my petition. 2. Attend unto me,
and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, Heb. am
dejected in my meditation, and make a noise, Ueb.
am in a violent, tumultuous agitation, as the waves
of the sea."

In the person of David, driven from his throne,
and put in fear of his life, by Absalom and Ahitho-
phel, we here behold our blessed Redeemer, on the
day of his sufferings, praying earnestly, and repeat-
ing his supplications, as in the garden of Gethse-
mane, at the prospect of that sea of sorrows which
was then about to overwhelm his agonizing soul. In
all our afflictions, he was afflicted: in all his afflic-
tions, let us be so.

'' 3. Because of the voice of the enemy, because
of the oppression of the wicked : for they cast ini-
quity upon me, and in wrath they hate me."

O my God, how can we repine and murmur at
any oppressiour and calumny which we suffer from
the world, when we see, not only thy servant David,
but thy son Jesus, thus hated, slandered, and per-
secuted, by their own subjects, and their own chil-

" 4. My heart is sore pained within me; and the
terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5. Tearfulness
and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath
overwhelmed me."

Ps. 55.] 55

These words describe the state of David's mind,
when he went over the brook Cedron, and up mount
Olivet, " weeping as he went," and expecting speed-
ily to be cut off: 2 Sam. xv. 23, 30. they describe
the agony of the Son of David, when he likewise
went over the same brook Cedron, John xviii. 1. at
the time of his passion, when his soul was ** sore
amazed and very heavy, and exceeding sorrowful,
even unto death :" Mark xiv. 33, 34. and every man
will too surely find them applicable to himself, if not
often before, yet certainly, in the day when the king
of terrors shall draw up all his forces in array against

" 6. And I said, O that I had wings like a
dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
7^ Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in
the wilderness. 8. I would hasten my escape from
the windy storm and tempest."

The calamitous situation of the Israelitish monarch
forced from him a wish, that, like the bird of inno-
cence and peace, he could in a moment banish him-
self from the distractions of his rebellious kingdom,
and enjoy, in holy solitude, that repose which his
sceptre and his guards were not able to procure him.
There are few crowned heads, perhaps, which have
not more than once found occasion to form, if not
to utter, a wish of the same nature. Much more
must it have been the wish of the King of Israel,
whose crown w^as literally one of thorns ; and it often
will be the wish of the devout Christian, who, sen-
sible of the sins and follies that overspread the earth,
is taught to aspire after his heavenly country, and to


[Ps. 55.

delight in that resemblance of it which the closet
best affords.

" 9. Destroy, O Lord, a7id divide their tongues,
for I have seen violence and strife in the city."

In these words, King David beseecheth God to
divide, confound, and bring to nothing, the counsels
of the iniquitous and rampant faction ; for so, in the
history, we find him saying, " O Lord, I pray thee,
turn the counsel of Ahithophel mto foolishness:"
2 Sam. XV. 3L The royal prayer was heard; the
counsel of Ahithophel was overthrown by Hushi,
and the disappointed traitor became his own execu-
tioner. The treason of Judas, against the Son of
David, brought him likewise to the same end.
Every one, who finds himself tempted to betray the
cause of his prince, or his Saviour, should set these
two examples before his eyes.

*' 10. Day and night they go about it upon the
walls thereof; mischief also and sorrow are in the
midst of it. IL Wickedness is in the midst there-
of; deceit and guile depart not from her streets."

The violence and strife, mentioned at the conclu-
sion of the preceding verse, are here described as
going their rounds, like an armed watch, upon the
walls, to guard rebellion, which had taken up its
residence in the heart of the city, from the attacks
of loyalty, right, and justice, driven with the king
beyond Jordan. Thus from the same city was righ-
teousness afterwards expelled, in the person of the
King of righteousness, and nothing left, but " mis-
chief, and sorrow, wickedness, deceit, and guile,"
encompassed with a guard of " violence and strife."

Ps. 55.] 57

Whether the state of the Gentile Christian church,
in the last days, will not too much resemble that of
Jerusalem before its destruction, is a matter of sad
and sorrowful consideration.

" 12. For it "joas not an enemy thai reproached
me, then I could have borne itj neither was it he
that hated me, that did magnify himself against me,
then I would have hid myself from him. 13. But
it was thou, a man mine equal, ray guide, Heb, my
disciple, and mine acquaintance. 14. We took sweet
counsel together, a?id walked unto the house of God
in company."

The many aggravating circumstances of Ahitho-
phel's treason against David, and that of Judas
against Christ, are here strongly marked. The
treachery of pretended friends is generally to the
church, as it was to her Lord, the beginning of sor-
rows. Ingratitude, malice, and falsehood, are ingre-
dients that must always meet in the composition of
a traitor.

'* 15. Let death seize upon them, or, death shall
remove, or, take them away, and let them, or, they
shall, go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in
their dwellings, and among them."

In these words is predicted the tragical fate of
Ahithophel, and those who followed Absalom; of
Judas and the Jews ; and of all, who shall resemble
them in wickedness. The sudden destruction of
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who, for stirring up a
rebellion against Moses and Aaron, " went down
alive into the pit," seems here alluded to, as the


[Ps. 55

grand representation of the manner in which the
bottomless pit shall one day shut her mouth for ever
upon all the impenitent enemies of the true King of
Israel, and the great High-Priest of our profession.

" 16. As for me, I will call upon God, and the
L.ORD shall save me. 17. Evening and morning,
and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud, and he shall
hear my voice."

Prayer is the believer's universal medicine for all
the disorders of the soul within, and his invincible
shield against every enemy that can attack him from
without. " Morning, Evening, and Noon," were
three of the hours of prayer in the Jewish church.
We find holy Daniel observing them in Babylon,
notwithstanding the royal decree, which made it
death for him so to do. The event fully justified
him, and showed the power of true devotion, whose
high prerogative it still is, to save the righteous from
the mouth of the lion. See Dan. vi. 10, 22.
2 Tim. iv. 17. 1 Pet. v. 8.

"18. He hath delivered, ar, shall deliver my
soul in peace from the battle that "jDas, or, is, against
me; for there were, c^r, are, many with me."

David was delivered in peace, when, after having
suppressed the rebellion, he was brought back in tri-
umph to his capital; the Son of David was delivered
in peace, when, victorious over the enemies of man's
salvation, he arose from the dead, and returned to
the Jerusalem above; the believing soul is delivered
in peace, when her sins are forgiven, and her cor-
ruptions mortified; and the bodies of the saints shall

Ps. 55.] 59

be delivered in peace, at the resurrection of the just.
The ground of all these deliverances is one and the
same — " They that are with us are more than they
that are against us:" 2 Kings vi. 16. " Greater is
he that is in us, than he that is in the world."
1 John iv. 4.

" 19. God shall hear, and afflict, or humble,
them, even he that abideth of old. Because they
have no changes, therefore they fear not God; or,
because they will not be converted, and fear God."

He who inhabiteth eternity, remaining unchano-e-
ably the same, from everlasting to everlasting, hath
determined to hear the prayers of his faithful ser-
vants, and finally to humble the pride of his unre-
penting adversaries. These are the decrees which
he hath thought fit to promulgate; and on them we
may safely depend.

" 20. He hath put forth his hand against such as
be, or, were, at peace with him; he hath broken his

The prophet goes on to describe the perfidy of
traitors, like Ahithophel and Judas. Every wilful
and malicious sinner " puts forth his hand against"
the person who is " at peace with him," nay, who
" made his peace" with the Father; and, by so do-
ing, " breaketh the covenant" into which by baptism
he was admitted. O blessed Jesus, how often do
we betray thee to thine enemies, our own lusts, and
consider it not !

** 21. The xwrds of his mouth were smoother

60 [Ps. 55.

than butter, but war *was in liis heart; his words
were softer than oil, yet *were they drawn swords."

Of this complexion are the cant of hypocrites, the
charity of bigots and fanatics, the benevolence of
atheists, the professions of the world, the allurements
of the flesh, and the temptations of Satan, when he
thinks proper to appear in the character of an angel
of light.

** 22. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he
shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous
to be moved."

The conclusion of the whole matter is, that amidst
all dangers and adversities, whensoever they oppress
us, we are to put our full trust and confidence only
in his mercy, who delivered David, and the Son of
David, out of all their troubles. He, who once bore
the burden of our sorrows, requested of us, that
we would now and ever permit him to bear the bur-
den of our cares ; that, as he knoweth what is best
for us, he may provide it accordingly. When shall
we trust Christ to govern the world which he hath

** 23. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down
into the pit of destruction : bloody and deceitful
men shall not live out half their days; but I Will
trust in thee."

O terrible voice of most just judgment, pronounc-
ed against rebels and murderers! Of the sure and
certain execution of his righteous sentence who can

Ps. 56.] 61

doubt, that considers the fate of Korah, Dathan, and
Abiram; of Absalom, Ahithophel, and Judas; and,
above all, of the city which contained within its walls
those rebels, and murderers of the Son of God? Let
us trust for ever in Him alone who can thus deliver,
and thus destroy.


Eleventh Day, — Morning Prayer,

ARGUMENT. — David, in danger with the PhiUstines, among
whom he was driven, as well as from Saul and his associates, is
supposed to, 1, 2. make supplication to God, in whom, 3, 4. he
placeth all his hope and confidence, 5 — 7. of being saved from
the wiles and stratagems of the adversary ; 8, 9. he comforteth
himself with the consideration that God taketh account of his
suiferings, and will appear on his behalf; 10, 11. he repeateth
the declaration of his faith in the divine promises; and, 12, 13.
concludeth with paying his tribute of praise and thanksgiving.
What David was in Philistia, the disciples of the Son of David
are in the world.

" L Be merciful unto me, O God; for man would
swallow me up : he fighting daily oppresseth me.
2. Mine enemies would daily swallow me up, for
they be many that fight against me, O thou Most

The same words are applicable to the situation and
circumstances of David, pursued by his enemies : of
Christ, persecuted by the Jews; of the church, af-
flicted in the world ; and of the soul, encompassed by
enemies, against whom she is forced to wage perpe-
tual war.

Vol. II. D

62 [Ps. 56.

" 3. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
4. In God I will praise, or, glorify in, his word, in
God I have put my trust ; I will not fear what flesh
can do unto me."

Whoever, like the prophet Elisha's servant, be-
holdeth only the forces of the enemy, will be apt, like
him, to cry out, " Alas, my master ! how shall we
do?" 2 Kings vi. 15. But when our eyes are
" opened," to see those " horses and chariots of fire"
which are " round about us;" when we perceive the
promises of the Word, and the mighty succours of
the Spirit, which are all on our side; we no longer fear
the terrors or the temptations of flesh and blood; but
find ourselves enabled to do, and to suffer, all things,
through faith in him who strengtheneth us to the bat-
tle. " He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee;" so that we may boldly say, " the Lord
is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do
unto me." Heb. xiii. 5, 6.

" 5. Every day they wrest my words: all their
thoughts are against me for evil. 6. They gather
themselves together, they hide themselves, they
mark my steps, when they wait foi^ my soul."

These words could not be more literally descrip-
tive of the behaviour of David's persecutors, than
they certainly are of that conduct which the Scribes
and Pharisees observed towards our blessed Lord;
when, like serpents by the way-side, they " marked
his steps," till a proper opportunity offered, to dart
from their lurking-place, and " bruise his heel." We
think it hard, when men use us in this manner; but

Ps. 56.] ^^

surely we either forget that the Son of God was so
used before us, or that we are his disciples.

** 7. Shall they escape by iniquity? In tJiine
anger cast down the people, O God."

The signal vengeance inflicted on the enemies of
David, of Christ, and of the church, in different
ages, may serve to convince us, that if we would
'* escape," it must be from sin, not by it.

'* 8. Thou tellest my wanderings : put thou my
tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?"

Known unto God are all the afflictions of his ser-
vants, while banished, like David, from their abiding
city and country, they " wander" here below, in the
land of their pilgrimage. The ''tears" of penitents
are had in remembrance, and, as so many precious
gems, will one day adorn their crowns. How dear,
then, in the sight of God, were the " wanderings"
and the "tears" of the holy Jesus, submitting to per-
form penance for those sins which he never committed!

" 9. When I cry unto thee, then shall mine ene-
mies turn back : this I know; for God is for me."

What can we possibly desire more, than this as-
surance, that, how many, or how formidable, soever
our enemies may be, yet there is one always ready
to appear in our defence, whose power no creature is
able to resist? ''This I know," saith David; and
had we the faith of David, we should know it too.

" 10. In God will I praise his word : in the Lord
will I praise his word. 11. In God have I put my
trust ; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

D 2


[Ps. 57,

See above, on verse 4. 12. Thy vows are upon me,
O God; I will render praises unto thee. 13. For
thou hast delivered my soul from death ; will not Ikou
deliver my feet, or, my feet also, or, assuredly, from
falling, that I may walk before God, in the light of
the living."

At the conclusion of this Psalm, and of many
others, the prophet speaketh of his deliverance as ac-
tually accomplished ; he acknowledgeth himself under
the obligation of the vows made to God in the night
of affliction, which he is resolved to pay on the morn-
ing of triumph and jubilee. O come that glorious
morning, when the redeemed shall sing eternal praises
to the Lord God of their salvation, for having *' de-
livered their souls from death, and their feet from
falling, that they may walk before him, in the light
of the living !'*


ARGUMENT. — This Psalm is said to have been composed by
David, on occasion of his escape from Saul, in the cave at En-
gedi. See 1 Sam. xxiv. 3. And the church, by her appoint-
ment of it as one of the proper Psalms for Easter-day, hath in-
structed us to transfer the ideas to the resurrection of Christ
from the grave. The Psalm contauieth, 1 — 3. an act of faith in
the promises; 4

Online LibraryGeorge HorneA commentary on the book of Psalms (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 24)