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As the royal prophet, when driven from Jerusalem by Absalom, was melted into tears at the comparison of his destitute and forlorn situation with his former glory and happiness, when, upon some joyous festival, with all his subjects about him, he had attended the service of the tabernacle, in the city of God; so the Christian pilgrim cannot but bewail his exile from the heavenly Jerusalem, out of which sin has driven him, and doomed him to wander, for a while, in the vale of misery. Led, by repentance and faith, to look back to the place from whence he is fallen, he sighs after the unspeakable joys of the celestial Zion; longing to keep a festival, and celebrate a jubilee in heaven; to join in the songs of angels, and bear a part in the music of hallelujahs.
5. Why art thou cast, or, bowed, down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted within me ? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help, or, salvation, of his countenance.
The holy mourner now expostulates with his soul, for suffering herself to sink into a kind of despondency, on account of her afflictions, and the insolent triumph of the adversary; and, as a sovereign cordial for melancholy, prescribes faith in God, which will show the morning of salvation dawning, after the night of calamity shall have run its course, a night which cannot be long, and may be very short. When the sun arises, we cannot be without light; when God turns his countenance towards us, we cannot be without salvation.
6. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar, or, the little hill.
The soul, although exhorted, in the last verse, to put her trust in God, yet, considering her own infirmity, still continues to be dejected: the prophet, therefore, confesses as much ; and makes his complaint to God, from whom alone he expects comfort: and whom he did not forget, while, far from the sanctuary, he wandered up and down in the country beyond Jordan, whither he had fled from the face of Absalom. This world is, to us, that country beyond Jordan. Lord, make us to remember thee, under all the affliction and tribulations we meet with therein, until, restored to thy Jerusalem, we shall praise thee in heaven, for the mercies experienced upon earth.
7. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts : all thy waves and thy billows are gone over
The prophet describes the troubles which successively came upon him, by the judgment of heaven, from above, raising up evil against him, out of his own house and kingdom, from beneath, according to the prediction of Nathan. The ideas seem to be borrowed from the general deluge; or from a storm at sea, when, at the sound of descending waterspouts, or torrents of rain, the depths are stirred up, and put into horrible commotion ; the clouds above calling, as it were, to the waters below, and one wave encouraging and exciting another to join their forces, and overwhelm the despairing sufferer. The whole compass of creation affords not, perhaps, a more just and striking image
of the nature and number of those calamities which sin has brought upon the children of Adam.
8. Yet the LORD will command his loving kindness in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
The gloomy prospect begins again to brighten, by a ray of hope shooting through it; and the prophet returns to his rest and confidence in the mercy of God, determining not only to give him thanks in the day of prosperity, but, as Paul and Silas afterwards did, to sing his praises at midnight, in adversity and affliction.
9. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10. As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me : while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
He ventures, notwithstanding, meekly and humbly, upon the strength of the promises, to expostulate with him, who was the rock of his salvation, as to his seeming destitution, while continually oppressed and insulted by the cutting reproaches of the adversary. These might be thought to render it in some sort necessary, for God to arise, and vindicate his own honour, by the protection and deliverance of his servant. The Psalmist concludes with that exhortation to his soul, to trust in God, and to wait for his salvation, which makes the mournful chorus to this beautiful Psalm :
11. Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
The church, in time of trouble, declares her trust and
confidence to be in God, and doubts not of being preserved safe, by means of this anchor, in the most stormy seasons; even then enjoying the comforts of the spirit, and the presence of Christ in the midst of her. She describes, and exults in, the power and might of her victorious Lord; calling the world to view and consider his wonderful works. He himself is introduced, as speaking the nations into peace and obedience. She concludes with a repetition of ver. 7. in the way of chorus.
1. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,
As we are continually beset by troubles, either bodily or spiritual, so we continually stand in need of a city of refuge and strength, into which we may fly, and be safe. Religion is that city, whose gates are always open to the afflicted soul. We profess to believe this: do we act agreeably to such profession?
2. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea ; 3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
The church declares her full and firm confidence in God, as her refuge and strength, amidst all the tumults and confusions of the world, the raging of nations, and the fall of empires. Nay, at that last great and terrible day, when sea and land are to be confounded, and every mountain and hill removed for ever; when there is to be " distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;" even then, the righteous shall have no cause to fear, but rather to “ lift up their heads" with joy and triumph, because then it is, that their “ redemption draweth nigh.” Let us set that day before us, and try ourselves by that test.
4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God: the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. 5. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early; Heb. when the morning appeareth.
Such is the ground on which the church erects her confidence. Instead of those waters which overwhelm the world, she has within herself the fountain of consolation, sending forth rivers of spiritual joy and pleasure; and, in the place of secular instability, she is possessed of a city and a hill which stand fast for ever, being the residence of the Eternal, who, at the dawn of the last morning, will finally appear as the protector and avenger of Israel.
6. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
How concise, how energetic, how truly and asto. nishingly sublime! The kingdom of Christ being twofold, these words may be applied either to the over