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Psalm 118:15-21

15. The voice of shouting and salvation is in the tabernacles of the just: the right hand of Jehovah hath done valiantly. 16. The right hand of Jehovah is exalted, the right hand of Jehovah hath done valiantly. 17. I shall not die, yea, I shall live, and speak of the works of God. 18. God chastising has chastised me; but he did not deliver me unto death. 19. Open to me the gates of righteousness; and having entered into them, I will praise God. 20. This is the gate of Jehovah, the just shall enter into it. 21. I will praise thee, because thou hast heard me, and hast been my salvation.

 

15. The voice of shouting and salvation is in the tabernacles of the just. He affirms that the kindness which God had conferred upon him was so extensive, that it would not do to render thanks to him privately. In the benefits which he had received, God’s power appeared both remarkable and memorable, and the fruit of it also was extended to the whole Church. Therefore, as David’s deliverance was wonderful and advantageous generally to all the godly, he promises that he would make a public thanksgiving; and invites them to join him in this holy exercise. By this circumstance, he chiefly aims at magnifying the grace of God, and also by its effects to demonstrate, that not merely his individual preservation, but that of the whole Church, in his person, was accomplished. Intercommunion among believers does, indeed, bind them alternately to render thanks to God for each other; in David’s case, there was the specific reason which I have mentioned, his wonderful preservation from many deaths, and his having assigned to him the sovereignty of God’s chosen people. It is worthy of notice, that he combines the voice of joy and gladness with the praise of God, by which he shows that believers ought to mingle with their mirth a sense of the grace of God. To do valiantly, is tantamount to a magnificent display of his power, so that there may be a bright manifestation of its effulgence. God ofttimes secretly, and when apparently feeble, grants deliverance to his faithful people, that they may be sensible that it comes from him; but this is not so well known to others. Here, however, David asserts that the operation of God was so plainly developed, no one could doubt whence his safety came. The other phrase, that the right hand of God was exalted, refers to the same subject, because, by working powerfully and unwontedly, God had exalted his hand.

17. I shall not die David speaks like one emerging from the sepulcher. The very same person who says, I shall not die, acknowledges that he was rescued from death, to which he was near as one condemned to it. For a series of years his life was in imminent danger, exposed every moment to a thousand deaths, and no sooner was he delivered from one than he entered into another. Thus he declares that he would not die, because he regained life, all hope of which he had entirely abandoned. We, whose life is hid with Christ in God, ought to mediate upon this song all our days, Colossians 3:3. If we occasionally enjoy some relaxation, we are bound to unite with David in saying, that we who were surrounded with death are risen to newness of life. In the meantime, we must constantly persevere through the midst of darkness: as our safety lies in hope, it is impossible that it can be very visible to us. In the second member of the verse, he points out the proper use of life. God does not prolong the lives of his people, that they may pamper themselves with meat and drink, sleep as much as they please, and enjoy every temporal blessing, but to magnify him for his benefits which he is daily heaping upon them. Of this subject we have spoken on Psalm 115

18. In chastising God has chastised me. In these words David owns that his enemies assailed him unjustly, that they were employed by God to correct him, that this was fatherly chastisement, God not inflicting a deadly wound, but correcting him in measure and in mercy. He seems to anticipate the perverse decisions of perverse men which grievously pressed upon him, as if all the ills which he had endured were so many evidences of his being cast off by God. These calumnies which the reprobate cast upon him he applies very differently, by declaring that his correction was mild and paternal. The main thing in adversity is to know that we are laid low by the hand of God, and that this is the way which he takes to prove our allegiance, to arouse us from our torpidity, to crucify our old man, to purge us from our filthiness, to bring us into submission and subjection to God, and to excite us to meditate on the heavenly life.

If these things were recollected by us, there is not one of us who would not shudder at the thought of fretting against God, but would much rather yield submission to him with a mild and meek spirit. Our champing the bit, and rushing forward impatiently, certainly proceeds from the majority of men not looking upon their afflictions as God’s rods, and from others not participating in his paternal care. The last clause of the verse, therefore, merits particular attention, That God always deals mercifully with his own people, so that his correction proves their cure. Not that his paternal regard is always visible, but that in the end it will be shown that his chastisements, so far from being deadly, serve the purpose of a medicine, which, though it produce a temporary debility, rids us of our malady, and renders us healthy and vigorous.

19 Open unto me the gates of righteousness 392392     The gates of the temple, or doors of the tabernacle, are supposed to have been called the gates of righteousness, because they were intended for the reception of those only who were righteous. Under the influence of ardent zeal, David here sets himself to testify his gratitude, commanding the temple to be opened to him, as if the oblations were all already prepared. He now confirms what he said formerly, That he would render thanks to God publicly in the properly constituted assembly of the faithful. It was the practice of the priests to open the doors of the temple to the people; it appears, however, that David here alludes to his long exile, which supposition is corroborated by the following verse. Having been for a long period prevented from having access to the sanctuary, and even from coming within sight of it, he now rejoices and exults at being again admitted to offer sacrifice unto God. And he declares that he will not approach as the hypocrites were wont to do, whom God, by the prophet Isaiah, reproaches with treading his courts in vain, but that he will come with the sacrifice of praise, (Isaiah 1:12) Fully persuaded that he drew near in the spirit of genuine devotion, he says it is proper that the doors of the temple, which lately he durst not enter, should be opened to him and such as he. It is, says he, the gate of Jehovah, and, therefore, he will open it for the just. The meaning is, that banished as David had been from the temple and from his country, now that the kingdom is in a better condition, both he and all the true worshippers of God regained their right to approach his sanctuary. Thus he indirectly mourns over the profanation of the temple, in that, while under the tyranny of Saul, it was occupied by the profane contemners of God, as if it had been a kennel for dogs and other unclean animals. This abomination, the temple being for a long time a den of thieves, is here inveighed against; but now that it is patent to the righteous, he declares it to be God’s holy house. What occurred in the days of Saul is visible in these days, God’s bitter enemies most wickedly and shamefully occupying his sanctuary. The Pope would not be Antichrist if he did not sit in the temple of God, (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Having, by his vile pollutions, converted all temples into brothels, let us endeavor as much as we can to purge them, and prepare them for the pure worship of God. And as it has pleased Him to choose his holy habitation among us, let us exert ourselves to remove all the defilements and abominations which disfigure the purity of the Church. David then relates briefly the reason of his offering the sacrifice of praise to God, namely, that he had been preserved by his grace.


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