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uneasiness, and humbly owns, that his doubts were occasioned solely by his ignorance of God's ways; while he formed his judgment of them without having duly taken into consideration the final issue of things. The last day, when it comes, will bring with it a solution of all difficulties. He who bears impressed upon his mind such an idea of that day, as the Scriptures can give him, may solve them now.
23. Nevertheless, I am continually with thee : thou hast holden me by my right hand.
The remainder of the Psalm contains the most dutiful and affectionate expressions of a mind perfectly at ease, and reposing itself, with comfortable assurance, on the loving-kindness of the Lord, of which it had experienced a fresh instance, in its support under the late temptation, and complete victory over it. “I am continually with thee," as a child under the tender care of a parent ; and, as a parent, during my danger of falling, in a slippery path, “thou hast holden me,” thy child,“ by my right hand.”
24. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
He who, but a little while ago, seemed to question the providence of God over the affairs of men, now exults in happy confidence of the Divine mercy and favour towards himself, nothing doubting but that grace would ever continue to guide him upon earth till glory should crown him in heaven. Such are the blessed effects of “going into the sanctuary," and consulting the “lively oracles" in all our doubts, difficulties, and temptations.
25. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside, 'Heb. with, or, in comparison of, thee.
The believing soul seems here to speak in the person and with the affection of a spouse, declaring, that not only earth, but heaven itself, would be unsatisfactory and comfortless, without the presence of her beloved Redeemer, the God of her salvation. But there is a pathos in the words themselves, which, though the Christian feels, the commentator cannot express.
26. My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for
None of these things, in the abundance of which the wicked place their happiness, can deliver us in the day of death. “ Flesh” must revert to dust, and the “heart” must cease its beating. He alone, therefore, is the proper object of our faith and love, who can support, and carry us through the dreadful hour, and then raise us again, to be our "portion for ever.” Lord Jesu, who hast so graciously promised to become our portion in the next world, prevent us from choosing any other in this.
27. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish : thou hast destroyed, or, wilt destroy, all them that go a whoring from thee.
They who are far from God,” are just so far from salvation ; and of course, if they remain in that situation, must “perish." Nor have they reason to expect any other fate, who in their hearts depart from the holy Jesus, after He has betrothed them to Himself in righteousness; and prefer to Him the vilest and basest of his enemies, the world and the flesh, by whose wicked hands He was crucified and slain.
28. But it is good for me to draw near to God : I have put my trust in the LORD God, that I may declare all thy works.
As if the Psalmist had said, in other words-Hear, therefore, the conclusion of the whole matter. Let others, dazzled by the blaze of worldly prosperity, forsake God, to obtain a share of it; or murmur against Him, because they cannot obtain it. I am persuaded, it now is, and finally will be,
good,” delightful, profitable, and honourable, “ for me to draw near,” and join myself “to him ;" which, in this life, I can do no otherwise, than by believing and hoping in his holy name; “I will put my trust in the LORD God,” and excite others to do the same by “declaring his works, and dispensations; that all may perceive what an amazing difference will one day be made, between Him who lusteth after the creature, and Him who loveth the Creator.
Upon whatever occasion this Psalm might have been originally composed, it is plainly intended for the use of the Church in time of persecution. 1, She bemoans herself as deserted by God; the return of whose favour she entreats, on account of his having redeemed her; 3-9, of the ravages made, and, 10, the reproaches thrown out, by the enemy; 11-15, she reminds Him of the wonders formerly wrought in her behalf, and, 16, 17, of his power and goodness, manifested in the common course of nature; 19, of the relation in which she stands to Him; 20, of his covenant; 21, 22, of the honour of his naine, and, 23, the increasing fury of her adversaries, just ready to swallow her up.
1. O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture ?
God not only permits, but, by his prophet, who indited this form of words, directs the Church,
under persecution, to expostulate with Him for having, to all appearance, finally deserted her. And that, in such deplorable circumstances, she may move his compassion, and, as it were, revive his love towards her, she is taught to remind Him of that endearing relation which once subsisted between Him and his people, the relation of a “shepherd” to his “sheep." The soul, when led into captivity, and detained in it, by a prevailing lust or passion, may make her prayer likewise in these words, adapted to her case.
2. Remember thy congregation which thou hast purchased of old ; the rod, or tribe, or portion, of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Sion, wherein thou hast dwelt.
The Israelitish Church pleads for mercy, upon these considerations, that God had formerly vouchsafed to redeem her from the Egyptian bondage, and to fix his residence on mount Sion, all which would prove to have been done in vain, should He leave her, at last, in the hands of her enemies. The redemption by Jesus Christ, and his habitation in the Church Christian by his Spirit, are the corresponding arguments to be urged, on similar occasions, by her, and by the believing soul.
3. Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations ; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary
God is represented as having withdrawn Himself, and departed afar off; He is therefore entreated to return without delay, to view the long lasting desolations of the once highly favoured city, and the ravages made by aliens in the sanctuary ; which could not but excite in Him compassion for his people, and indignation against their enemies. The outward calamities of a persecuted Church should cause us to reflect on the sad havoc and devastation made by sin and Satan in the soul, which before was the city and temple of the living God.
4. Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations, or, places of worship; they set up their ensigns for signs.
No sound can be more shocking than the confused clamours of an heathen army sacking the temple ; no sight so afflicting, as that of “the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.” Turbulent passions are the enemies, which raise an uproar of confusion in the heart; wealth, power, and pleasure are the idols which profane that sanctuary.
5. A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees. 6. But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers.
The difficulty of these verses lies altogether in the first word, yty, without which, their literal construction is as follows—“As he who lifted up axes in the thick wood, so now they,” the enemies above-mentioned, "break down the carved work thereof," of the sanctuary, “with hatchets and hammers.” Some interpreters render yny impersonally; not “He was famous,” but “It is ell known, it is manifest, O God, to all the world, “that as he who lifteth up axes, so now," &c. Or, may not the sense be—"as yiy, a knowing, skilful person, one who understands his business, lifted up the axe in the thick wood, so now men set themselves to work to demolish the ornaments and timbers of the sanctuary." The words suggest another reason why God should arise and have mercy upon Sion, lest his name should be blasphemed among the nations, when they saw and heard of the sacrilegious and horrible destruction