Treasury of David
TITLE. To the Chief Musician—a Psalm of David. The dedication to the chief musician proves that this song of mingled measures and alternate strains of grief and woe was intended for public singing, and thus a deathblow is given to the notion that nothing but praise should be sung.
Perhaps the Psalms, thus marked, might have been set aside as too mournful for temple worship, if special care had not been taken by the Holy Spirit to indicate them as being designed for the public edification of the Lord's people. May there not also be in Psalms thus designated, a peculiar distinct reference to the Lord Jesus? He certainly manifests himself very clearly in the twenty-second, which bears this title; and in the one before us we plainly hear his dying voice in the fifth verse. Jesus is chief everywhere, and in all the holy songs of his saints he is the chief musician.
SUBJECT. The psalmist in dire affliction appeals to his God for help with much confidence and holy importunity, and before long finds his mind so strengthened that he magnifies the Lord for his great goodness. Some have thought that the occasion in his troubled life which led to this Psalm, was the treachery of the men of Keilah, and we have felt much inclined to this conjecture; but after reflection it seems to us that its very mournful tone, and its allusion to his iniquity demand a later date, and it may be more satisfactory to illustrate it by the period when Absalom had rebelled, and his courtiers fled from him, while lying lips spread a thousand malicious rumors against him. It is perhaps quite as well that we have no settled season mentioned, or we might have been so busy in applying it to David's case, as to forget its suitability to our own.
DIVISION. There are no great lines of demarcation; throughout the strain undulates, falling into valleys of mourning, and rising with hills of confidence. However, we may for convenience arrange it thus:
David testifying his confidence in God pleads for help, Verses 1-6;
David expresses gratitude for mercies received, Verses 7-8;
David particularly describes his case, Verses 9-13;
David vehemently pleads for deliverance, Verses 14-18;
David confidently and thankfully expects a blessing, Verses 19-22;
and closes by showing the bearing of his case upon all
the people of God.
Verse 1. In you, O Lord, do I put my trust. Nowhere else do I fly for shelter, let the tempest howl as it may. The psalmist has one refuge, and that the best one. He casts out the great sheet anchor of his faith in the time of storm. Let other things be doubtful—yet the fact that he relies on Jehovah, David lays down most positively; and he begins with it, lest by stress of trial he should afterwards forget it.
This avowal of faith is the fulcrum by means of which he labors to uplift and remove his trouble; he dwells upon it as a comfort to himself and a plea with God. No mention is made of merit, but faith relies upon divine favor and faithfulness, and upon that alone.
Let me never be ashamed. How can the Lord permit the man to be ultimately put to shame who depends alone upon him? This would not be dealing like a God of truth and grace. It would bring dishonor upon God himself if faith were not in the end rewarded. It will be an ill day indeed for religion, when trust in God brings no consolation and no assistance.
Deliver me in your righteousness. You are not unjust to desert a trustful soul, or to break your promises; you will vindicate the righteousness of your mysterious providence, and give me joyful deliverance. Faith dares to look even to the sword of justice for protection. While God is righteous, faith will not be left to be proved futile and fanatical. How sweetly the declaration of faith in this first verse sounds, if we read it at the foot of the cross, beholding the promise of the Father as yes and amen through the Son; viewing God with faith's eye as he stands revealed in Jesus crucified.
Verse 2. Bow down your ear to me. Condescend to my low estate; listen to me attentively as one who would hear every word. Heaven with its transcendent glories of harmony might well engross the divine ear, but yet the Lord has an hourly regard to the weakest moanings of his poorest people.
Deliver me speedily. We must not set times or seasons—yet in submission we may ask for swift as well as sure mercy. God's mercies are often enhanced in value by the timely haste which he uses in their bestowal; if they came late they might be too late—but he rides upon a cherub, and flies upon the wings of the wind when he intends the good of his beloved.
Be my strong rock. Be my immutable, immovable, impregnable, sublime, resort. For a house of defense to save me, wherein I may dwell in safety, not merely running to you for temporary shelter, but abiding in you for eternal salvation. How very simply does the godly man pray, and yet with what weight of meaning! He uses no ornamental flourishes, he is too deeply in earnest to be otherwise than plain: it were well if all who engage in public prayer would observe the same rule.
Verse 3. For you are my rock and my fortress. Here the tried soul avows yet again its full confidence in God. Faith's repetitions are not vain. The avowal of our reliance upon God in times of adversity is a principle method of glorifying him. Active service is good, but the passive confidence of faith is not one jot less esteemed in the sight of God. The words before us appear to embrace and fasten upon the Lord with a strong grip which is not to be relaxed. The two personal pronouns, like sure nails, lay hold upon the faithfulness of the Lord. O for grace to have our heart fixed in firm unstaggering belief in God!
The figure of a rock and a fortress may be illustrated to us in these times by the vast fortress of Gibraltar, often besieged by our enemies, but never wrested from us. Ancient strongholds, though far from impregnable by our modes of warfare, were equally important in those remoter ages—when in the mountain fastnesses, feeble bands felt themselves to be secure.
Note the singular fact that David asked the Lord to be his rock, because he was his rock; and learn from it that we may pray to enjoy in experience, what we grasp by faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer.
Therefore for your name's sake lead me, and guide me. The psalmist argues like a logician with his fors and therefores. Since I do sincerely trust you, says he, O my God, be my director. To lead and to guide are two things very like each other, but patient thought will detect different shades of meaning, especially as the last may mean provide for me.
The double word indicates an urgent need—we require double direction, for we are fools, and the way is rough. Lead me as a soldier, guide me as a traveler! Lead me as a babe, guide me as a man! Lead me when you are with me, but guide me even if you are absent! Lead me by your hand, guide me by your Word.
The argument used is one which is fetched from the armory of free grace: not for my own sake, but for your name's sake guide me. Our appeal is not to any imagined virtue in our own names, but to the glorious goodness and graciousness which shines resplendent in the character of Israel's God. It is not possible that the Lord should allow his own honor to be tarnished, but this would certainly be the case if those who trusted him should perish. This was Moses' plea, "What will you do for your great name?"
Verse 4. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me. The enemies of David were cunning as well as mighty; if they could not conquer him by power, they would capture him by craft. Our own spiritual foes are of the same order—they are of the serpent's brood, and seek to ensnare us by their deceit.
The prayer before us supposes the possibility of the believer being caught like a bird; and, indeed, we are so foolish that this often happens. So deftly does the fowler do his work that simple ones are soon surrounded by it. The text asks that even out of the meshes of the net the captive one may be delivered. This is a proper petition, and one which can be granted. From between the jaws of the lion and out of the belly of Hell can eternal love rescue the saint. It may need a sharp pull to save a soul from the net of temptation, and a mighty pull to extricate a man from the snares of malicious cunning, but the Lord is equal to every emergency, and the most skillfully placed nets of the hunter shall never be able to hold his chosen ones.
Woe unto those who are so clever at net laying: they who tempt others shall be destroyed themselves. Villains who lay traps in secret shall be punished in public.
For you are my strength. What an inexpressible sweetness is to be found in these few words! How joyfully may we enter upon labors, and how cheerfully may we endure sufferings when we can lay hold upon celestial power. Divine power will rend asunder all the schemes of the foe, confound their politics and frustrate their knavish tricks. He is a happy man who has such matchless might engaged upon his side. Our own strength would be of little service when entrapped in the nets of base cunning, but the Lord's strength is ever available; we have but to invoke it, and we shall find it near at hand. If by faith we are depending alone upon the strength of the strong God of Israel, we may use our holy reliance as a plea in supplication.
Verse 5. Into your hand I commit my spirit. These living words of David were our Lord's dying words, and have been frequently used by holy men in their hour of departure. Be assured that they are good, choice, wise, and solemn words; we may use them now and in the last tremendous hour.
Observe, the object of the godly man's solicitude in life and death is not his body or his estate, but his spirit. This is his jewel, his secret treasure; if this be safe, all is well. See what he does with his pearl! He commits it to the hand of his God; it came from him, it is his own, he has aforetime sustained it, he is able to keep it, and it is most fit that he should receive it.
All things are safe in Jehovah's hands! What we entrust to the Lord will be secure, both now and in that day of days towards which we are hastening. Without reservation the godly man yields himself to his heavenly Father's hand; it is enough for him to be there; it is peaceful living and glorious dying to repose in the care of Heaven.
At all times we should commit and continue to commit our all to Jesus' sacred care, then, though life may hang on a thread, and adversities may multiply as the sands of the sea—our soul shall dwell at ease, and delight itself in quiet resting places.
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. Redemption is a solid base for confidence. David had not known Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him. Shall not eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong pleas for present assistance. What the Lord has done he will do again, for he changes not. He is a God of veracity, faithful to his promises, and gracious to his saints; he will not turn away from his people.
Verse 6. I have hated those who regard lying vanities. Those who will not lean upon the true arm of strength, are sure to make to themselves vain confidences. Man must have a God, and if he will not adore the only living and true God, he makes a fool of himself, and pays superstitious regard to a lie, and waits with anxious hope upon a base delusion.
Those who did this were none of David's friends; he had a constant dislike to them: the verb includes the present as well as the past tense. He hated them for hating God; he would not endure the presence of idolaters; his heart was set against them for their stupidity and wickedness. He had no patience with their superstitious observances, and calls their idols vanities of emptiness, nothings of nonentity.
Small courtesy is more than Romanists and Puseyists deserve for their fooleries. Men who make gods of their riches, their persons, their wits, or anything else—are to be shunned by those whose faith rests upon God in Christ Jesus. So far from being envied, they are to be pitied as depending upon utter vanities.
But I trust in the Lord. This might be very unfashionable, but the psalmist dared to be singular. Bad example should not make us less decided for the truth, but in the midst of general defection we should grow the more bold. This adherence to his trust in Jehovah is the great plea employed all along: the troubled one flies into the arms of his God, and ventures everything upon the divine faithfulness.
Verse 7. I will be glad and rejoice in your mercy. For mercy past he is grateful, and for mercy future, which he believingly anticipates, he is joyful. In our most importunate intercessions, we must find breathing time to bless the Lord. Praise is never a hindrance to prayer, but rather a lively refreshment therein. It is delightful at intervals to hear the notes of the high sounding cymbals when the dolorous sackbut rules the hour. Those two words, glad and rejoice, are an instructive reduplication, we need not stint ourselves in our holy triumph. This wine we may drink in bowls without fear of excess.
For you have considered my trouble. You have seen it, weighed it, directed it, fixed a bound to it, and in all ways made it a matter of tender consideration. A man's consideration means the full exercise of his mind; what must God's consideration be?
You have known my soul in adversities. God owns his saints when others are ashamed to acknowledge them; he never refuses to know his friends. He thinks not the worse of them for their rags and tatters. He does not misjudge them and cast them off when their faces are lean with sickness, or their hearts heavy with despondency.
Moreover, the Lord Jesus knows us in our pangs in a peculiar sense, by having a deep sympathy towards us in them all. When no others can enter into our griefs, from lack of understanding them experimentally, Jesus dives into the lowest depths with us, comprehending the direst of our woes, because he has felt the same. Jesus is a physician who knows every case; nothing is new to him. When we are so bewildered as not to know our own state, he knows us altogether. He has known us and will know us: O for grace to know more of him!
"Man, know yourself," is a good philosophic precept, but "Man, you are known of God," is a superlative consolation. Adversities in the plural, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous."
Verse 8. And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy. To be shut up in one's hand is to be delivered over absolutely to his power. Now, the believer is not in the hand of death or the devil, much less is he in the power of man. The enemy may get a temporary advantage over us, but we are like men in prison with the door open. God will not let us be shut up, he always provides a way of escape.
You have set my feet in a large room. Blessed be God for liberty. Civil liberty is valuable, religious liberty is precious, spiritual liberty is priceless. In all troubles we may praise God if these are left. Many saints have had their greatest enlargements of soul when their affairs have been in the greatest straits. Their souls have been in a large room when their bodies have been lying in Bonner's coal hole, or in some other narrow dungeon. Grace has been equal to every emergency; and more than this, it has made the emergency an opportunity for displaying itself.
Verse 9. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble. Now, the man of God comes to a particular and minute description of his sorrowful case. He unbosoms his heart, lays bare his wounds, and expresses his inward desolation.
This first sentence pithily comprehends all that follows, it is the text for his lamenting discourse. Misery moves mercy—no more reasoning is needed. "Have mercy" is the prayer. The argument is as prevalent as it is plain and personal, "I am in trouble."
My eye is consumed with grief. Dim and sunken eyes are plain indicators of failing health. Tears draw their salt from our strength, and floods of them are very apt to consume the source from which they spring. God would have us tell him the symptoms of our disease, not for his information, but to show our sense of need.
Yes, my soul and my body. Soul and body are so intimately united, that one cannot decline without the other feeling it. We, in these days, are not strangers to the double sinking which David describes; we have been faint with physical suffering, and distracted with mental distress. When two such seas meet, it is well for us that the Pilot at the helm is at home in the midst of the water floods, and makes storms to become the triumph of his art.
Verse 10. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing. It had become his daily occupation to mourn; he spent all his days in the dungeon of distress. The sap and essence of his existence was being consumed, as a candle is wasted while it burns. His adversities were shortening his days, and digging for him an early grave.
Grief is a sad market to spend all our wealth of life in, but a far more profitable trade may be driven there than in Vanity Fair. It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. Black is good wear. The salt of tears is a healthy medicine. Better spend our years in sighing, than in sinning.
The two members of the sentence before us convey the same idea. There are no idle words in Scripture, the duplication is the fitting expression of fervency and importunity.
My strength fails because of my iniquity. David sees to the bottom of his sorrow, and detects sin lurking there. It is profitable trouble, which leads us to trouble ourselves about our iniquity. Sin was the psalmist's foulest crime which now gnawed at his heart, and devoured his strength. Sinful morsels, though sweet in the mouth, turn out to be bitter in the belly. If we wantonly give a portion of our strength to sin, it will by and by take the remainder from us. We lose both physical, mental, moral, and spiritual vigor by iniquity.
And my bones are consumed. Weakness penetrated the innermost parts of his system, the firmest parts of his frame felt the general decrepitude. A man is in a piteous plight when he comes to this.
Verse 11. I was a reproach among all my enemies. They were pleased to have something to throw at me. My mournful estate was music to them, because they maliciously interpreted it to be a judgment from Heaven upon me. Reproach is little thought of by those who are not called to endure it, but he who passes under its lash knows how deep it wounds. The best of men may have the bitterest foes, and be subject to the most cruel taunts.
But especially among my neighbors. Those who are nearest can stab the sharpest. We feel most the slights of those who should have shown us sympathy.
Perhaps David's friends feared to be identified with his declining fortunes, and therefore turned against him in order to win the mercy if not the favor of his opponents. Self-interest rules the most of men. Ties the most sacred are soon snapped by its influence, and actions of the utmost baseness are perpetrated without scruple.
And a fear to my acquaintance. The more intimate before, the more distant did they become. Our Lord was denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas, and forsaken by all in the hour of his utmost need. All the herd turn against a wounded deer. The milk of human kindness curdles when a despised believer is the victim of slanderous accusations.
They who saw me on the street fled from me. Afraid to be seen in the company of a man so thoroughly despised, those who once courted his society hastened from him as though he had been infected with the plague! How villainous a thing is slander which can thus make an eminent saint, once the admiration of his people—to become the general butt of ridicule, the universal aversion of mankind! To what extremities of dishonor may innocence be reduced!
Verse 12. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind. All David's youthful prowess was now gone from remembrance; he had been the Savior of his country, but his services were buried in oblivion. Men soon forget the deepest obligations. Popularity is evanescent to the last degree—he who is in every one's mouth today may be forgotten by all tomorrow. A man had better be dead than be smothered in slander. Of the dead we say nothing but good, but in the psalmist's case they said nothing but evil. We must not look for the reward of philanthropy on this side of Heaven, for men pay their best servants but sorry wages, and turn them out of doors when no more is to be gotten out of them.
I am like a broken vessel, a thing useless, done for, worthless, cast aside, forgotten. Sad condition for a king! Let us see herein the portrait of the King of kings in his humiliation, when he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.
Verse 13. For I have heard the slander of many. One slanderous viper is death to all comfort—what must be the venom of a whole brood? What the ear does not hear, the heart does not rue. But in David's case the accusing voices were loud enough to break in upon his quiet. Foul mouths had grown so bold, that they poured forth their falsehoods in the presence of their victim. Shimei was but one of a class, and his cry of "Go up, you bloody man," was but the common speech of thousands of the sons of Belial. All Beelzebub's pack of hounds may be in full cry against a man, and yet he may be the Lord's anointed.
Fear was on every side. He was encircled with fearful suggestions, threatenings, remembrances, and forebodings; no quarter was clear from incessant attack.
While they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life. The ungodly act in concert in their onslaughts upon the excellent of the earth. It is to be wondered at that sinners should often be better agreed than saints, and generally set about their wicked work with much more care and foresight than the righteous exhibit in holy enterprises.
Observe the cruelty of a godly man's foes! They will be content with nothing less than his blood—for this they plot and scheme. Better fall into the power of a lion, than under the will of malicious persecutors; for the beast may spare its prey if it be fed to the full, but malice is unrelenting and as cruel as a wolf. Of all fiends the most cruel is envy. How sorely was the psalmist distressed, when the poisoned arrows of a thousand bows were all aimed at his life! Yet in all this his faith did not fail him, nor did his God forsake him. Here is encouragement for us.
Verses 14-18. In this section of the Psalm he renews his prayers, urging the same pleas as at first. Earnest wrestlers attempt over and over again the same means of gaining their point.
Verse 14. But I trusted in you, O Lord. Notwithstanding all afflicting circumstances, David's faith maintained its hold, and was not turned aside from its object. What a blessed saving clause is this! So long as our faith, which is our shield, is safe, the battle may go hard, but its ultimate result is no matter of question. If faith could be torn from us, we should be as surely slain as were Saul and Jonathan upon the high places of the field.
I said, You are my God. He proclaimed aloud his determined allegiance to Jehovah. He was no fair-weather believer, he could hold to his faith in a sharp frost, and wrap it about him as a garment fitted to keep out all the ills of time. He who can say what David did, need not envy Cicero his eloquence. "You are my God," has more sweetness in it than any other utterance which human speech can frame. Note that this adhesive faith is here mentioned as an argument with God to honor his own promise by sending a speedy deliverance.
Verse 15. My times are in your hand. The sovereign arbiter of destiny holds in his own power all the issues of our life. We are not waifs and strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our desired haven. Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads, a remedy for anxious care, a grave for despair.
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. It is lawful to desire escape from persecution if it be the Lord's will. When this may not be granted us in the form which we desire, sustaining grace will give us deliverance in another form, by enabling us to laugh to scorn all the fury of the foe.
Verse 16. Make your face to shine upon your servant. Give me the sunshine of Heaven in my soul, and I will defy the tempests of earth. Permit me to enjoy a sense of your favor, O Lord, and a consciousness that you are pleased with my manner of life—and all men may frown and slander as they will. It is always enough for a servant if he pleases his master; others may be dissatisfied, but he is not their servant, they do not pay him his wages, and their opinions have no weight with him.
Save me for your mercies' sake. The godly man knows no plea but mercy; whoever might urge legal pleas, David never dreamed of it.
Verse 17. Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon you. Put not my prayers to the blush! Do not fill profane mouths with jeers at my confidence in my God.
Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. Cause them to their amazement to see my wrongs righted, and their own pride horribly confounded.
A milder spirit rules our prayers under the gentle reign of the Prince of Peace. Therefore, we can only use such words as these in their prophetic sense, knowing as we do full well, that shame and the silence of death are the best portion that ungodly sinners can expect. That which they desired for despised believers, shall come upon themselves by a decree of retributive justice, at which they cannot cavil, "As he loved mischief, so let it come upon him."
Verse 18. Let the lying lips be put to silence. A right good and Christian prayer; who but a bad man would give liars more license than need be? May God silence them either by leading them to repentance, by putting them to thorough shame, or by placing them in positions where what they may say will stand for nothing.
Who speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. The sin of slanderers lies partly in the matter of their speech. "They speak grievous things;" things cutting deep into the feelings of godly men, and wounding them sorely in that tender place—their reputations.
The sin is further enhanced by the manner of their speech. They speak proudly and contemptuously. They talk as if they themselves were the cream of society, and the righteous the mere scum of vulgarity. Proud thoughts of self, are generally attended by debasing estimates of others. The more room we take up ourselves, the less we can afford our neighbors.
What wickedness it is that unworthy characters should always be the loudest in railing at godly men! They have no power to appreciate moral worth of which they are utterly destitute, and yet they have the effrontery to mount the judgment seat, and judge the men compared with whom they are as so much chaff. Holy indignation may well prompt us to desire anything which may rid the world of such unbearable impertinence and detestable arrogance.
Verses 19-22. Being full of faith, the psalmist gives glory to God for the mercy which he is assured will be his position.
Verse 19. Oh how great is your goodness. Is it not singular to find such a joyful sentence in connection with so much sorrow? Truly the life of faith is a miracle. When faith led David to his God, she set him singing at once.
He does not tell us how great was God's goodness, for he could not. There are no measures which can set forth the immeasurable goodness of Jehovah, who is goodness itself. Holy amazement uses interjections where adjectives utterly fail. Notes of exclamation suit us when words of explanation are of no avail. If we cannot measure, we can marvel; and though we may not calculate with accuracy, we can adore with fervency.
Which you have laid up for them that fear you. The psalmist in contemplation divides goodness into two parts, that which is in store and that which is wrought out. The Lord has laid up in reserve for his people supplies beyond all count. In the treasury of the covenant, in the field of redemption, in the caskets of the promises, in the granaries of providence—the Lord has provided for all the needs which can possibly occur to his chosen.
We ought often to consider the laid up goodness of God which has not yet been distributed to the chosen, but is already provided for them. If we are much in such contemplations, we shall be led to feel devout gratitude, such as glowed in the heart of David.
Which you have wrought for those who trust in you before the sons of men. Heavenly mercy is not all hidden in the storehouse. In a thousand ways it has already revealed itself on behalf of those who are bold to avow their confidence in God. Before their fellow men this goodness of the Lord has been displayed, that a faithless generation might stand rebuked.
Overwhelming are the proofs of the Lord's favor to believers. History teems with amazing instances, and our own lives are full of prodigies of grace. We serve a good Master. Faith receives a large reward even now, but looks for her full inheritance in the future. Who would not desire to take his lot with the servants of a Master whose boundless love fills all holy minds with astonishment?
Verse 20. You shall hide them in the secret of your presence from the pride of man. Pride is a barbed weapon. The proud man's revilement is iron which enters into the soul. But those who trust in God, are safely housed in the Holy of holies, the innermost court, into which no man may dare intrude. Here in the secret dwelling place of God the mind of the saint rests in peace, which the foot of pride cannot disturb. Dwellers at the foot of the cross of Christ grow callous to the sneers of the haughty. The wounds of Jesus distill a balsam which heals all the scars which the jagged weapons of contempt can inflict upon us. In fact, when armed with the same mind which was in Christ Jesus, the heart is invulnerable to all the darts of pride.
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Tongues are more to be dreaded than beasts of prey—and when they strive, it is as though a whole pack of wolves were let loose. But the believer is secure even in this peril, for the royal pavilion of the King of kings shall afford him quiet shelter and serene security. The secret tabernacle of sacrifice, and the royal pavilion of sovereignty afford a double security to the Lord's people in their worst distresses. Observe the immediate action of God, "You shall hide," "You shall keep," the Lord himself is personally present for the rescue of his afflicted.
Verse 21. Blessed be the Lord. When the Lord blesses us, we cannot do less than bless him in return.
For he has showed me his marvelous kindness in a strong city. Was this in Mahanaim, where the Lord gave him victory over the hosts of Absalom? Or did he refer to Rabbath of Ammon, where he gained signal triumphs? Or, best of all, was Jerusalem the strong city where he most experienced the astonishing kindness of his God?
Gratitude is never short of subjects; her Ebenezers stand so close together as to wall up her path to Heaven on both sides. Whether in cities or in hamlets our blessed Lord has revealed himself to us. We shall never forget the hallowed spots: the lonely mount of Hermon, or the village of Emmaus, or the rock of Patmos, or the wilderness of Horeb, all alike are renowned when God manifests himself to us in robes of love.
Verse 22. Confession of faults is always proper; and when we reflect upon the goodness of God, we ought to be reminded of our own errors and offences.
For I said in my haste. We generally speak amiss when we are in a hurry. Hasty words are but for a moment on the tongue, but they often lie for years on the conscience!
I am cut off from before your eyes. This was an unworthy speech. Unbelief will have a corner in the heart of the firmest believer, and out of that corner it will vent many spiteful things against the Lord if the course of providence be not quite so smooth as nature might desire.
No saint ever was, or ever could be, cut off from before the eyes of God, and yet no doubt many have thought so, and more than one has said so. Forever be such dark suspicions banished from our minds.
Nevertheless you heard the voice of my supplications when I cried unto you. What a mercy that if we believe not—yet God abides faithful, hearing prayer even when we are laboring under doubts which dishonor his name. If we consider the hindrances in the way of our prayers, and the poor way in which we present them, it is a wonder of wonders that they ever prevail with Heaven.
Verse 23. O love the Lord, all you his saints. A most affecting exhortation, showing clearly the deep love of the writer to his God. There is the more beauty in the expression, because it reveals love toward a smiting God, love which many waters could not quench. To bless him who gives is easy, but to cling to him who takes away is a work of grace. All the saints are benefitted by the sanctified miseries of one, if they are led by earnest exhortations to love their Lord the better. If saints do not love the Lord, who will? Love is the universal debt of all the saved family—who would wish to be exonerated from its payment? Reasons for love are given, for believing love is not blind.
For the Lord preserves the faithful. They have to bide their time, but the recompense comes at last, and meanwhile all the cruel malice of their enemies cannot destroy them.
And plentifully rewards the proud doer. This also is cause for gratitude. Pride is so detestable in its acts that he who shall mete out to it its righteous due, deserves the love of all holy minds.
Verse 24. Be of good courage. Keep up your spirit, let no cowardly thoughts blanch your cheek. Fear weakens, courage strengthens. Victory waits upon the banners of the brave.
And he shall strengthen your heart. Power from on high shall be given in the most effectual manner by administering force to the fountain of vitality. So far from leaving us, the Lord will draw very near to us in our adversity, and put his own power into us.
All you that hope in the Lord. Every one of you, lift up your heads and sing for joy of heart. God is faithful, and does not fail even his little children who do but hope—why then should we be afraid?