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PSALM 118

At the time when this psalm was penned, whenever that was, David having attained to the possession of royal power, and aware that he reigned for the common safety of the Church, calls upon all the children of Abraham to ponder attentively this grace. He also recounts his dangers, the magnitude and variety of which would have slain him a hundred times, had not God wonderfully succored him. From this it is obvious that he came to the throne of the kingdom, neither by his own policy, nor by the favor of men, nor by any human means. At the same time, he informs us that he did not rashly or by wicked intrigues rush forward and take forcible possession of the kingdom of Saul, but that he was appointed and established king by God himself. Let us remember that it was the design of the Spirit, under the figure of this temporal kingdom, to describe the eternal and spiritual kingdom of God’s Son, even as David represented his person. 387387     Calvin ascribes this psalm to David; but, as it is without any title, it is uncertain who was its author. On this point, and the occasion of its composition, various opinions prevail among commentators. According to Hengstenberg, it celebrates the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and the laying the foundation of the second temple; in support of which he refers to Ezra 3:11. Phillips thinks it “probable that it was written for the occasion when David was to be anointed at Hebron king over the tribes of Israel, (2 Samuel 5;) for, previously to his inauguration, he was subjected to many dangers, both from avowed foes, as well as from Saul and his party. He was exposed to the hostility of the Philistines (1 Samuel 29,) and the Amalekites, (1 Samuel 30;) from the former he escaped in safety, and the latter he overcame in battle. Again, although he had been long chosen king of Israel by God, for a considerable period he was exposed to a severe persecution; he was obliged to flee for safety from his country, and it was not till after the death of Saul that his troubles ceased, and he ascended the throne, which had long been his by Divine appointment. To David, therefore, at Hebron, this psalm will apply; for he could then say, ‘All nations compassed me about. The Lord hath chastised me, but he hath not given me over unto death. The stone which the builders refused is become the head-stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.’” Some assign it to the time of Hezekiah; and others to that period of Israel’s history, which is adorned by the illustrious achievements of the Maccabees. “I shall not presume,” says Walford, “to decide which of these opinions is the most agreeable to truth. It will be more to our purpose to observe, that the psalm was read on occasion of a solemn procession that was formed by the king or chief magistrate, whoever he might be, the priests and the people at large, of all ranks, in order to perform public sacrifices of thanksgiving at the temple.”


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