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the breath of God's displeasure, and driven into the fire prepared for it. Such is the state, such the lot of the ungodly; and so justly are they compared to chaff.
5. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
A day is coming, when the divine Husbandman shall appear with his fan in his hand, and shall thoroughly purge his floor. The wheat, which shall stand the winnowing of that day, will be gathered into the celestial granary ; while the chaff, for ever separated from it, shall be hurried out of the floor, and carried, by a mighty whirlwind, to its own place. Then shall there be a congregation of the righteous, in which sinners shall not stand. At present, wheat and chaff lie in one floor ; wheat and tares grow in one field ; good and bad fishes are comprehended in one net; good and bad men are contained in the visible church. Let us wait with patience God's time of separation.
6. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous : but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
In the present scene of confusion, we may be, and often are, deceived in the judgment we form of men. But it cannot be so with the Omniscient. foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his."
Their good deeds are not unobserved, nor will they be forgotten by him.
His eye sees them in secret, and his hand will reward them openly, in the day of final retribution; when crowns of glory shall sparkle on the heads of the righteous, but shame and torment shall be the portion of the wicked; "the way of the ungodly shall perish,”
The Psalmist, under persecution, declares himself
resolved to trust in God alone, at a time when he was advised to fly to some place of refuge ; he expresses his faith in the omniscience and over-ruling power of Jehovah; assigns the reason why good men are afflicted; who, after that the wicked shall be destroyed, will appear to have been all along the favoured of God.
1. In the LORD put I my trust; how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain ?
The Christian, like David, in perilous times, should make God his fortress, and continue doing his duty in his station : he should not, at the instigation of those about him, like a poor, timorous, inconstant bird, either fly for refuge to the devices of worldly wisdom, or desert his post, and retire into solitude, while he can serve the cause in which he is engaged. Nor indeed is there any mountain on earth out of the reach of care and trouble. Temptations are every where; and so is the grace of God.
2. For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
These seem to be still the words of David's friends, representing to him, as a motive for his flight, the extreme danger he was in from the arrows of the enemy, already, as it were, fitted to the string, and pointed at him in secret, so that not knowing from whence they were to come, he could not guard against them. The Christian's danger from the darts of the infernal archers, lying in wait for his soul, is full as great as that of David. But “the shield of FAITH" sufficeth, in both cases.
3. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
This likewise seems to be spoken by the same persons, discouraging David from making any farther resistance, by the consideration, that all was over; the foundations of religion and law were subverted; and, what could a man, engaged in the most righteous designs, hope to do, when that was the case ? Such arguments are often urged by the timid, in similar circumstances : but they are fallacious; since all is not over, while there is a man lest to reprove error, and bear testimony to the truth. And a man who does it with becoming spirit, may stop a prince, or senate, when in full career, and recover the day. But let us hear David's farther reply to his advisers.
4. The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven : his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
In the first verse, the Psalmist had declared his trust to be in Jehovah. After reciting the reasonings of his friends, he now proceeds to eyince the fitness
and propriety of such trust, notwithstanding the seemingly desperate situation of affairs. Jehovah is in his holy temple; into which, therefore, unholy men, however triumphant in this world, can never enter: Jehovah's throne is in heaven; and consequently superior to all power upon earth, which may be controlled and over-ruled by him in a moment; his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men; so that no secret wickedness can escape his knowledge, who scrutinizes the heart as well as the lives of all the sons of Adam. Why, then, should the man despair, who has on his side holiness, omnipotence, and omniscience ?
5. The Lord trieth the righteous ; but the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth.
As to the afflictions which persons may suffer, who are embarked in a righteous cause, they are intended to purge away the dross, and to refine then for the Master's use. Gold,” says
the son of Sirach, “is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity." In the mean time, God's displeasure against the wicked is ever the same, and their prosperity, instead of benefiting, will in the end destroy them. The cases of David and Saul, Christ and the Jews, the martyrs and their persecutors, are all cases in point, and should be often in our thoughts to teach us patience, and guard us against despair, in seasons of calamity, pain, or disgrace.
6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, or, burning coals, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest ; this shall be the portion of their cup.
St. Jude, ver. 7. tells us, that the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, &c. for their abominable sins, are set forth for an example, or, specimen, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." And here we see the images are plainly taken from the dreadful judgment inflicted on those cities, and transferred to the vengeance of the last day.
Then the sons of faithful Abraham shall behold a prospect, like that which once presented itself to the eyes of their father ; when rising early in the morning, and looking toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, he “ beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace !" Such must be the portion of their cup who have dashed from them the cup of salvation. He, therefore, who would enjoy the prosperity of the wicked here, must take with it their torment hereafter; as he who is ambitious of wearing the crown of righteousness in heaven, must be content to endure tribulation upon earth.
7. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness ; his countenance doth behold the upright.
He who is in himself essential righteousness, cannot but love his own resemblance, wrought in the faithful by his good Spirit. With a countenance full of
paternal affection, he beholds, and speaks peace and comfort to them, in the midst of their sorrows; until, admitted, through mercy, to the glory, from which justice excludes the wicked, and beholding that countenance which has always beheld them, they shall enter upon a life of boundless and everlasting felicity..