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Psalm 46:6-11

6. The peoples raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice 178178     “C’est, fait resonner.” — Fr. marg. “That is, made to resound.” the earth melted. 7. Jehovah of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah. 8. Come ye, consider the works of Jehovah, what desolations 179179     “Ou, quels deserts.” — Fr. marg. “Or, what deserts.” he hath made in the earth. 9. He maketh battles to cease even to the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, he cutteth in pieces the spear; he burneth the chariots with fire. 180180     There is probably here an allusion to the ancient custom of collecting the arms and armor of the vanquished into a heap, and setting it on fire. The image is employed to express complete victory, and a perfect establishment of peace. This custom prevailed among the Jews, and the first instance of it which we meet with is in Joshua 11:6. It is also referred to in the description of the judgments of God upon Gog, Ezekiel 39:8-10. This was also a Roman custom. Virgil alludes to it in Aeneid, lib. 8, 50, 560. A medal struck by Vespasian the Roman emperor to commemorate the termination of his wars both in Italy and through all parts of the world, represents the Goddess of Peace holding an olive-branch with one hand, and in the other a lighted torch, with which she sets fire to a heap of armor. 10. Be still 181181     “Ou, arrestez, demeurez coy.” — Fr. marg. “Or, stop, be quiet.” and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth 182182     “Par toute la terre.” — Fr. “Through all the earth.” 11. Jehovah of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

 

6 The peoples raged Since the Church of God is never without enemies, and these very powerful, and such as consequently fight against her with cruel and unbridled fury, the prophet now confirms from experience the doctrine which he had advanced concerning the impregnable character of the divine protection. He then deduces from it this general ground of consolation, That it belongs continually to God to restrain and quell all commotions, and that his arm is strong enough to break all the efforts of the enemy. This passage, I admit, might be understood in a more general sense, as meaning that the city of God is liable to be assailed by many storms and tempests; but that by the favor of God she is, nevertheless, always preserved in safety. It is, however, more probable, as I have already said at the beginning, that the Psalmist is here speaking of some notable deliverance, in which God had given a striking proof of the power and favor which he exercises in the constant preservation of the Church. Accordingly, he relates what had taken place, namely, that the enemies of the Church came with a dreadful host to waste and destroy it; but that immediately, by the voice of God, they, as it were, melted and vanished away. From this we derive an invaluable ground of consolation, when it is said, That although the whole world rise up against us, and confound all things by their increased madness, they can be brought to nought in a moment, as soon as God shows himself favorable towards us. The voice of God, no doubt, signifies his will or command; but the prophet, by this expression, seems to have an eye to the promises of God, by which he has declared, that he will be the guardian and defender of the Church. At the same time, let us observe the contrast which is here stated between the voice of God and the turbulent commotions of the kingdoms of this world.

7. Jehovah of armies is with us. In this verse we are taught how we shall be able to apply to our own use the things which the Scriptures everywhere record concerning the infinite power of God. We shall be able to do this when we believe ourselves to be of the number of those whom God has embraced with his fatherly love, and whom he will cherish. The Psalmist again alludes, in terms of commendation, to the adoption by which Israel was separated from the common condition of all the other nations of the earth. And, indeed, apart from this, the description of the power of God would only inspire us with dread. Confident boasting, then, arises from this, that God has chosen us for his peculiar people, to show forth his power in preserving and defending us. On this account, the prophet, after having celebrated the power of God by calling him the God of armies, immediately adds another epithet, the God of Jacob, by which he confirms the covenant made of old time with Abraham, that his posterity, to whom the inheritance of the promised grace belongs, should not doubt that God was favorable to them also. That our faith may rest truly and firmly in God, we must take into consideration at the same time these two parts of his character — his immeasurable power, by which he is able to subdue the whole world under him; and his fatherly love which he has manifested in his word. When these two things are joined together, there is nothing which can hinder our faith from defying all the enemies which may rise up against us, nor must we doubt that God will succor us, since he has promised to do it; and as to power, he is sufficiently able also to fulfill his promise, for he is the God of armies. From this we learn, that those persons err egregiously in the interpretation of Scripture, who leave in entire suspense the application of all that is said concerning the power of God, and do not rest assured that he will be a Father to them, inasmuch as they are of his flock, and partakers of the adoption.

8 Come ye, consider the works of Jehovah The Psalmist seems still to continue in this verse the history of a deliverance by which God had given abundant evidence that he is the most efficient and faithful protector of his Church, that the godly might derive from it both courage and strength to enable them to overcome whatever temptations might afterwards arise. The manifestations which God has given of his favor towards us in preserving us, ought to be kept continually before our eyes as a means of establishing in our hearts a persuasion of the stability of his promises. By this exhortation we have tacitly rebuked the indifference and stupidity of those who do not make so great account of the power of God as they ought to do; or rather, the whole world is charged with ingratitude, because there is scarcely one in a hundred who acknowledges that he has abundant help and security in God, so that they are all blinded to the works of God, or rather wilfully shut their eyes at that which would, nevertheless, prove the best means of strengthening their faith. We see how many ascribe to fortune that which ought to be traced to the providence of God. Others imagine that they obtain, by their own industry, whatever God has bestowed upon them, or ascribe to second causes what proceeds from him alone; while others are utterly lost to all sense. The Psalmist, therefore, justly calls upon all men, and exhorts them to consider the works of God; as if he had said, The reason why men repose not the hope of their welfare in God is, that they are indifferent to the consideration of his works, or so ungrateful, that they make not half the account of them which they ought to do. As he addresses himself in general to all men, we learn, that even the godly themselves are drowsy and unconcerned in this respect until they are awakened. He extols very highly the power of God in preserving his chosen people, which is commonly despised or not estimated as it ought to be, when it is exercised after an ordinary manner. He therefore sets before them the desolations of countries, and marvellous devastations, and other miraculous things, which more powerfully move the minds of men. If any one would prefer to understand what follows — He maketh battles to cease — of some special help vouchsafed by God, yet still it must be considered as intended to lead the faithful to expect as much help from him in future as they had already experienced. The prophet, it appears, from one particular instance, designs to show in general how mightily God is wont to defend his Church. At the same time, it happened more than once, that God quelled throughout the land of Judea all the dangerous tumults by which it was distracted, and drove away wars far from it, by depriving the enemies of their courage, breaking their bows, and burning their chariots; and it is very probable that the prophet, froth a particular instance, here takes occasion to remind the Jews how often God had disappointed the greatest efforts of their enemies. One thing, however, is quite certain, that God is here set forth as adorned with these titles, that we should look for peace from him, even when the whole world is in uproar, and agitated in a dreadful manner.

10 Be still, and know that I am God The Psalmist seems now to turn his discourse to the enemies of the people of God, who indulge their lust of mischief and revenge upon them: for in doing injury to the saints they do not consider that they are making war against God. Imagining that they have only to do with men, they presumptuously assail them, and therefore the prophet here represses their insolence; and that his address may have the more weight, he introduces God himself as speaking to them. In the first place, he bids them be still, that they may know that he is God; for we see that when men are carried away without consideration, they go beyond all bounds and measure. Accordingly, the prophet justly requires the enemies of the Church to be still and hold their peace, so that when their anger is appeased they may perceive that they are fighting against God. We have in the fourth Psalm, at the fourth verse, a sentiment somewhat similar, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” In short, the Psalmist exhorts the world to subdue and restrain their turbulent affections, and to yield to the God of Israel the glory which he deserves; and he warns them, that if they proceed to act like madmen, his power is not enclosed within the narrow limits of Judea, and that it will be no difficult matter for him to stretch forth his arm afar to the Gentiles and heathen nations, that he may glorify himself in every land. In conclusion, he repeats what he had already said, that God has more than enough, both of weapons and of strength, to preserve and defend his Church which he has adopted.


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