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acquaint us with what is to be the end, the final portion of sinners at the last day. This is an arrow from the heavenly quiver, which brings down our enemy at once, and lays Dagon prostrate before the ark.
18. Surely thou didst, or, dost, set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
Worldly prosperity is as the narrow and slippery summit of a mountain, on which, to answer the designs of his providence, God permits the wicked, during his pleasure, to take their station; till at length the fatal hour arrives, when, by a stroke unseen, they fall from thence, and are lost in the fathomless ocean of sorrow, torment, and despair.
19. How are they brought into desolation as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
The sudden alteration which death makes in the state of a powerful and opulent sinner, cannot but affect all around him, though they behold but one part of it. How much more would they be astonished and terrified, if the curtain between the two worlds were undrawn, and the other half of the change disclosed to view! Let faith do that which sight cannot do; and then the ungodly, however wealthy and honourable, will surely cease to be the objects of our envy.
20. As a dream when one awaketh, so, O LORD, when thou awakest, or, causest them to awake, thou shalt despise their image.
The life of the ungodly is a sleep; their happiness a dream, illusive and transitory; at best a shadow; afterwards, nothing. At the day of death, the soul is roused out of this sleep, and the dream vanishes.
When God shall thus awaken them, he will despise their image; he will bring to nought, and render utterly contemptible, even in their own sight, as well as that of himself, of his holy angels, and the spirits of the righteous, those imaginary and fantastic pleasures, for which they have lost the substantial joys and glories of his heavenly kingdom. Now, therefore, while it will not be in vain, “ Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
21. Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
The Psalmist, fully satisfied with the conduct of Providence, reflects upon the folly of his former 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 held me by my right hand.
The remainder of the Psalm contains the most duti. ful 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 held me, thy child, by my right hand.
24. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards 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 expressa
26. My flesh and my heart fail: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
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 Jesus, 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.