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wrought by the enemy; whom neither the majesty of the temple, nor the reverence of its Divine inhabitant, could restrain from defacing the beauty of holiness. The ornaments of the internal and spiritual temple, sometimes suffer as much from the fury of inordinate affections, as the carved work of the sanctuary ever did from the armies of Nebuchadnezzar or Antiochus.
7. They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled, or, desecrated, by casting down, the dwelling-place of thy name to the ground.
The gates of the second temple were set on fire by Antiochus ; see 1 Mac. iv. 38. but the whole fabric of the first was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar. When animosities break forth, and contentions are raised in the Church, "fire is cast into the sanctuary:" when the soul sinks under a temptation,
dwelling-place of God's name is desecrated to the ground."
8. They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together : they have burnt up all the synagogues of God in the land.
Such is the rage of infidels, when it pleases God, for the sins of his people, to let them loose upon the Church as beasts of
From scenes like these, we learn the temper and disposition of that raging adversary of mankind and his associates ; who, if permitted, would root Christianity out of every heart.
“Watch, therefore, and pray,” saith the Captain of our salvation to all his soldiers.
9. We see not our signs, there is no more any prophet, neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.
Darkness is horrible in itself, and adds horror to every thing else. The Church therefore complains, that, in the midst of all her other troubles, she was deserted by the light of heaven. No
“signs," or miracles, were exhibited for her com
there was no “prophet,” to inform her concerning the will of God, or to promise her an "end" of her afflictions, as Daniel did when she was a captive in Babylon. Sin darkens the understanding, taking from it that light, the direction of which it then stands most in need of.
10. O God, how long shall the adversary reproach ; shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? 11. Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand ? Pluck it out of thy bosom.
To an enumeration of calamities succeeds a prayer for deliverance, grounded on the necessity of God's vindicating the honour of his name from the insolent and blasphemous reproaches and scoffs of the enemy: see Ezek. xx. 19. He is, therefore, entreated to make bare his arm in the sight of the nations, and to let his right hand become glorious in the vindication of his name, and the defence of his inheritance.
12. For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
And that He will do so, there is always reason for the afflicted Church to hope ; because, as her * King," He conducted and protected her of old, and wrought “salvation” for her upon the earth ; temporal salvation by the hand of Moses ; eternal salvation by the power of Christ.
13. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength : thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
The first part of this verse alludes to that marvellous act of omnipotence, which divided the Red Sea, for Israel to pass over; the second part, to the return of its waves upon the heads of the Egyptians, who, like so many sea monsters, opening their mouths to devour the people of God, were overwhelmed, and perished in the mighty
waters. The Christian Church is taught to contemplate, under this figure, the salvation of her children, and the destruction of their spiritual enemies, by the waters of baptism : see 1 Cor. x. 2, and the Office for Baptism in the Church of England. Parallel to this passage in our Psalm, is that most sublime one, Isa. li: 9, 10, 11. “Awake, awake, put on strength, 0 arm of the Lord ! awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon ? Art thou not it, that hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”
14. Thou brakest the heads of the leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
“Leviathan” stands for Pharaoh, or the Egyptian power, represented by the Egyptian animal, the crocodile of Nile, the Egyptian river. The “heads of leviathan” are the princes of Egypt, the leaders of the Egyptian armies. And “the people, or inhabitants, of the wilderness,” to whom they were given for a prey, are not men, but a species of wild beasts, hunting the deserts, for which the word " is used, Isa. xiii. 21, and xxxiv. 14. The sense therefore is, that the bodies of Pharaoh and his captains were thrown on shore by the sea, and so became food for the wild beasts of the neighbouring deserts. The final destruction of the adversaries of Messiah's kingdom, is described at large under a like image, Rev. xix. 17, &c. 15. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood,
that is, draw forth the fountain and the flood, by cleaving the rock-thou driedst up mighty rivers.
Two other remarkable exertions of the Divine power in favour of the Israelites are here referred to. Water was brought out of the rock, to satisfy their thirst in the time of drought ; and the river Jordan was dried up, to open the passage for them into Canaan. In the former of these transactions, faith beholds the water of life springing from the Rock of Salvation ; in the latter are discerned the mystic death and resurrection of Christians, as a prelude to the corporeal ; when rising from the depths of the grave, they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
16. The day is thine, the night also is thine, thou hast prepared the light and the sun. 17. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth : thou hast made summer and winter.
From the miraculous interpositions of God, in behalf of his people, the Church passes to those ordinary and standing evidences of his goodness towards us, the sweet vicissitudes of light and darkness, and the grateful succession of times and seasons ; by which man is taught, in the most sorrowful night, to look for a joyful morning ; and during the severest winter, to expect a reviving spring. Thus is the revolving year our constant instructor and monitor; incessantly inculcating the duties of faith and hope, as well as those of adoration, gratitude, and praise.
18. Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, 0 LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name. 19. O deliver not the soul of thy turtle dove unto the multitude of the wicked, forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.
After endeavouring to support her own faith, and excite the zeal of God for his inheritance, by
a rehearsal of former mercies, the Church again urges the argument of “reproach," touched on before at ver. 10, and then reminds her Saviour of that endearing appellation of his " turtle-dove,” by which He had not disdained to address her in times past. This turtle-dove, simple, defenceless, solitary, meek, timid, and mournful, was in danger of being speedily devoured by her inveterate and implacable enemies; who, like birds of
, her on all sides, thirsting impatiently for her blood. What an irresistible force do these circumstances give to the words“O deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove unto the multitude of the wicked; and forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever!” Let us not fail, in the hour of temptation, to use them, and try the success of them.
20. Have respect unto the covenant : for the dark places of the earth, or, the land, are full of the habitations of cruelty.
The main anchor of the holy ark, in storms and tempests, is faith in the COVENANT of grace, made from the beginning in Messiah ; communicated to Noah, Abraham, David, &c. as his illustrious representatives, and in them to the house of Israel ; accomplished (as Zacharias beareth witness by his song, Luke i. 72, &c.) at the birth of Christ, and then extended to the Gentiles. To this covenant, and the promises made therein, the Church here appeals, at a time when the enemy ravaged the promised land at pleasure, and every thing seemed to forebode the utter extirpation of the law and people of God. Hither, therefore, the soul is to fly for refuge, when nothing else seems capable of affording any.
21. Olet not the oppressed return ashamed : let the poor and needy praise thy name.