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Psalm 113:5-9

5. Who is like unto Jehovah our God, who hath his dwelling on high, 6. Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, and on earth! 353353     “Lowth translates rightly after Hare: —
   ‘Who is like Jehovah our God?
Who dwelleth high,
Who looketh low;
In heaven and on earth.’

   He refers to the same structure, Cant. 1, 5. For the first part, see Jeremiah 49:8; and for the whole, see Psalm 138:6; Isaiah 57:15.” — Archbishop Secker in Merricks Annotations on the Psalms. Lowth observes that the last member is to be divided, and assigned in its two divisions to the two preceding members, as if it were, “Who dwelleth high in heaven, and looketh low on earth.”
7. Who raises the poor from the dust, who lifts the afflicted from the dunghill; 8. That he may place him with princes, with the princes of his people. 9. Who maketh the barren woman to dwell in the family, a joyful mother of children. Praise ye Jehovah. 354354     The words, Praise ye Jehovah, at the end of the psalm, are, in the Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, and Æthiopic versions, and in a very ancient manuscript, placed at the head of next psalm, where, perhaps, they formerly stood as the title.

 

5 Who is like unto Jehovah our God The prophet strengthens his position for the celebration of God’s praises, by contrasting the height of his glory and power with his unbounded goodness. Not that his goodness can be separated from his glory; but this distinction is made out of regard to men, who would not be able to endure his majesty, were he not kindly to humble himself, and gently and kindly draw us towards him. The amount is, that God’s dwelling above the heavens, at such a distance from us, does not prevent him from showing himself to be near at hand, and plainly providing for our welfare; and, in saying that God is exalted above the heavens, he magnifies his mercy towards men, whose condition is mean and despicable, and informs us that he might righteously hold even angels in contempt, were it not that, moved by paternal regard, he condescends to take them under his care. If in regard to angels he humble himself, what is to be said in regard to men, who, grovelling upon the earth, are altogether filthy? Is it asked, whether or not God fills heaven and earth? The answer is obvious. The words of the prophet simply mean, that God may trample the noblest of his creatures under his feet, or rather that, by reason of their infinite distance, he may entirely disregard them. In short, we must conclude that it is not from our proximity to him, but from his own free choice, that he condescends to make us the objects of his peculiar care.

7 Who raiseth the poor from the dust In this passage, he speaks in terms of commendation of God’s providential care in relation to those diversified changes which men are disposed to regard as accidental. He declares that it is solely by the appointment of God that things undergo changes far surpassing our anticipations. If the course of events were always uniform, men would ascribe it merely to natural causes, whereas, the vicissitudes which take place teach us that all things are regulated in accordance with the secret counsel of God. On the other hand, struck with astonishment at the events which have happened contrary to our expectation, we instantly ascribe them to chance. And as we are so apt to view things from a point the very reverse from that of recognising God’s superintending care, the prophet enjoins us to admire his providence in matters of marvellous, or of unusual occurrence; for since cowherds, and men of the lowest and most abject condition, have been elevated to the summit of power, it is most reasonable that our attention should be arrested by a change so unexpected. We now perceive the prophet’s design. In this passage, as well as in others, he might have set before us the structure of the heavens and the earth; but, as our minds are unaffected by the ordinary course of things, he declares that the hand of God is most apparent in his marvellous works. And in saying that men of mean and abject condition are not merely elevated to some petty sovereignty, but that they are invested with power and authority over God’s holy people, he increases the greatness of the miracle — that being of far more consequence than to rule in other parts of the earth; for the state or kingdom of the Church constitutes the principal and august theater where God presents and displays the tokens of his wonderful power, wisdom, and righteousness.

9 Who maketh the barren woman to dwell in the family He relates another work of God, which if, apparently, not so notable, ought not, on that account, the less to engage our thoughts. Unimpressed as we are by the ordinary works of God, we are constrained to express our astonishment when a woman who has been for a long period barren, unexpectedly becomes the mother of a numerous family. The Hebrew term, הבית, habbayith, is to be understood, not simply of a house, but also of a household,that is, the thing containing, for that which is contained, — just as the Greeks apply οικος, and the Latins domus, to a household. The meaning is, that the woman who was formerly barren is blessed with fruitfulness, and fills the house with children. He attributes joy to mothers, because, though the hearts of all are prone to aspire after wealth, or honor, or pleasures, or any other advantages, yet is progeny preferred to every thing else. Wherefore, since God superintends the ordinary course of nature, alters the current of events, elevates those of abject condition and ignoble extraction, and makes the barren woman fruitful, our insensibility is very culpable, if we do not attentively contemplate the works of his hand.


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