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Psalm 118:5-9

5. I called upon God in my distress, and God heard me, by setting me at large. 6. Jehovah is with me: ­I will not fear what man may do unto me. 7. Jehovah is with me among those who help me, and I shall see my desire upon mine enemies. 8. It is better to hope in Jehovah than to confide in man: 9. It is better to hope in Jehovah than to confide in princes.

 

5 I called upon God in my distress. We have here a particular application of the doctrine we formerly mentioned, to the person of David; with which also is conjoined the rejoicing of the whole Church, for whose public welfare God made provision by upholding him. By his own example he establishes the faithful, showing them that they ought not to faint in the day of adversity. He seems designedly to anticipate an objection, which is apt to arise in the minds of men the moment that the goodness of God is proclaimed, “Why does he permit his servants to be so sore oppressed and afflicted?” David therefore reminds them, notwithstanding, that God’s mercy never fails, for we have in prayer, consolation and an antidote for all our ills. The season, too, in which he says that he made supplication, by means of which he obtained deliverance, was that of distress, which touches us, that the time of sad adversity is most proper for abounding in prayer.

6 Jehovah is with me among those who help me Confiding solely in God’s help, he sets at defiance not a few enemies merely, but the whole world. “Defended by God’s hand, I may boldly and safely set at nought all the machinations of men.” When all the power of the universe is deemed as nothing, in comparison of God, then, indeed, is due honor attributed to him. Thus he tacitly reproves the unbelief of almost all men, who spontaneously alarm themselves with groundless fears. All, indeed, desire peace of mind; but, in consequence of robbing God of the praise due to his power, their own ingratitude does not permit them to realize this blessing. Were they, as is fitting, to submit in all things to the good pleasure and power of God, they would be always ready boldly to surmount all those difficulties, the dread of which from time to time annoys them. But paying more regard to the mischievous attempts of men, than to the help which God can give them, they deserve to tremble at the rustling of the falling leaf. It is the wish of David, by his own example, to correct such perversity; and, with this view, he affirms that, in the enjoyment of God’s favor, he would fear no man, being fully persuaded that he could rescue him from all the nefarious plots which were laid for him. Or if he composed this psalm after his deliverance, we see how much he had profited by the experience of the grace of God. Therefore, as frequently as God shall succor us, let our confidence in him for the future be increased, and let us not be unmindful of his goodness and power, which we experienced in our extremity. Possibly, he relates the meditations which occurred to him in the midst of his distresses; the former conjecture appears more probable, that, after he obtained deliverance, he gloried, for the future, in God’s continued assistance. Some refer the clause, those who are helpers with me, to the small troop which David had drawn to him; but this, in my opinion, is too refined; for it would tend little to the honor of God to class him among the six hundred whom David commanded, as if he were one of the troop. My interpretation is more simple, that he calls God his helper. “It is enough for me that God is on my side.” Were he deprived of all human aid, still he would have no hesitation in opposing God against all his enemies.

8 It is better to trust in Jehovah He appears to state nothing but what is common-place, it being unanimously admitted, that when God and men come into comparison, he must be viewed as infinitely exalted above them, and therefore it is best to trust in him for the aid which he has promised to his own people. All make this acknowledgment, and yet there is scarcely one among a hundred who is fully persuaded that God alone can afford him sufficient help. That man has attained a high rank among the faithful, who, resting satisfied in God, never ceases to entertain a lively hope, even when he finds no help upon earth. The comparison, however, is improper, inasmuch as we are not allowed to transfer to men even the smallest portion of our confidence, which must be placed in God alone. The meaning is by no means ambiguous; the Psalmist is ridiculing the illusory hopes of men by which they are tossed hither and thither; and declares, that when the world smiles upon them they wax proud, and either forsake God or despise him. Some are of opinion that David bitterly reproaches his enemies with their being deceived in depending upon the favor of Saul. This appears to me to be too limited a view of the passage; and I question not that David here proposes himself as an example to all the faithful; in that he had reaped the full fruit of his hope, when, depending solely upon God, he had patiently borne the loss of all earthly succor. In the 9th verse, in which he substitutes princes for men, there is an extension of the idea. “Not only those who put their confidence in men of low degree act foolishly, but also, those who confide even in the greatest potentates; for the trust that is put in flesh shall at last be accursed, but the enjoyment of God’s favor will convert even death itself into life.”

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