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Psalm 146:6-10

6. Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all things which are in them: who keepeth truth for ever. 7. Rendering right to the unjustly oppressed, giving bread to the hungry, Jehovah, loosening the bound. 8. Jehovah enlightening the blind, 287287     In our English Bible it is “openeth the eyes of the blind.” From this clause some of the ancients concluded that the whole of the attributes here enumerated are intended to apply to Christ. Bishop Horne, and other modern divines, entertain the same opinion. But though all that is here said may with the strictest truth be predicated of Christ, the propriety of restricting the interpretation of the Psalm to him, upon the slender ground specified, may be doubted. Walford translates this clause — “Jehovah delivereth them that are in darkness.” “There is no word,” says he, “in Hebrew to correspond with the ‘eyes’ of the English Bible; and it is more in agreement with the parallelism of the verse, to understand this clause of persons who are in distress and adversity, expressed by being in darkness.” Jehovah raising up the bowed down, Jehovah loving the righteous. 9. Jehovah guarding the strangers; he relieves the fatherless and widow, and will destroy the way of the wicked. 10. Jehovah shall reign for ever; thy God, O Zion! from generation to generation. Hallelujah.

 

6. Who made heaven, etc. By all these epithets he confirms the truth previously stated. For though at first sight it may seem inappropriate to speak of the Creation, the power of God bears most pertinently upon his helping us whenever danger is near. We know how easily Satan tempts to distrust, and we are thrown into a state of trembling agitation by the slightest causes. Now, if we reflect that God is the Maker of heaven and earth, we will reasonably give him the honor of having the government of the world which he created in his hands and power. There is in this first ascription, then, a commendation of his power, which should swallow up all our fears. As it is not enough that God is merely able to help us, but as a promise is farther necessary, to the effect that he is willing and shall do it, David next declares that he is faithful and true, that, on discovering his willingness, no room may be left for hesitation.

7. Rendering right, etc. He instances other kinds both of the power and goodness of God, which are just so many reasons why we should hope in him. All of them bear upon the point, that the help of God will be ready and forthcoming to those who are in the lowest circumstances, that accordingly our miseries will be no barrier in the way of his helping us; nay, that such is his nature, that he is disposed to assist all in proportion to their necessity. He says first, that God renders justice to the oppressed, to remind us that although in the judgment of sense God connives at the injuries done to us, he will not neglect the duty which properly belongs to him of forcing the wicked to give an account of their violence. As God, in short, would have the patience of his people tried, he here expressly calls upon the afflicted not to faint under their troubles, but composedly wait for deliverance from one who is slow in interposing, only that he may appear eventually as the righteous judge of the world. It follows, that he gives bread to the hungry. We learn from this that he is not always so indulgent to his own as to load them with abundance, but occasionally withdraws his blessing, that he may succor them when reduced to hunger. Had the Psalmist said that God fed his people with abundance, and pampered them, would not any of those under want or in famine have immediately desponded? The goodness of God is therefore properly extended farther to the feeding of the hungry. What is added is to the same purpose — that he looses them that are bound, and enlightens the blind. As it is the fate of his people to be straitened by anxiety, or pressed down by human tyranny, or reduced to extremity, in a manner equivalent to being shut up in the worst of dungeons, it was necessary to announce, by way of comfort, that God can easily find an outgate for us when brought into such straits. To enlighten the blind is the same with giving light in the midst of darkness. When at any time we know not what to do — are in perplexity, and lie confounded and dismayed, as if the darkness of death had fallen upon us — let us learn to ascribe this title to God, that he may dissipate the gloom and open our eyes. So when he is said to raise up the bowed down, we are taught to take courage when weary and groaning under any burden. Nor is it merely that God would here have his praises celebrated; he in a manner stretches out his hand to the blind, the captives, and the afflicted, that they may cast their grief’s and cares upon him. There is a reason for repeating the name Jehovah three times. In this way he stimulates and excites men to seek him who will often rather chafe and pine away in their miseries, than betake themselves to this sure asylum. 288288     “Qui saepe frenum rodendo, malunt putrescere in suis miseriis, quam ad certum hoe asylum se conferre.” — Lat. What is added in the close of the verse — that Jehovah loves the righteous, would seem to be a qualification of what was formerly said. There are evidently many who, though they are grievously afflicted, and groan with anxiety, and lie in darkness, experience no comfort from God; and this because in such circumstances they provoke God more by their contumacy, and by failing for the most part to seek his mercy, reap the just reward of their unthankfulness. The Psalmist therefore very properly restricts what he had said in general terms of God’s helping the afflicted, to the righteous — that those who wish to experience his deliverance, may address themselves to him in the sincere exercise of godliness.

9. Jehovah guarding, etc. By strangers, orphans, and widows, the Psalmist means all those in general who are destitute of the help of man. While all show favor to those who are known to them and near to them, we know that strangers are, for the most part, exposed to injurious treatment. We find comparatively few who come forward to protect and redress widows and orphans; it seems lost labor, where there is no likelihood of compensation. Under these cases the Psalmist shows that whatever the grievance may be under which we suffer, the reason can only be with ourselves if God, who so kindly invites all who are in distress to come to him, does not stretch forth his arm for our help. On the other hand, he declares that everything will have an adverse and unfortunate issue to those who wickedly despise God. We have said upon the first Psalm, that by the way is meant the course of life in general. God will destroy the way of the wicked, inasmuch as he will curse all their counsels, acts, attempts, and enterprises, so that none of them shall have good success. However excellent they may be in planning, although they may be crafty and sharp-sighted, and abound in strength of resources of every kind, God will overturn all their expectations. While he extends his hand to those who are his people, and brings them through all obstacles, and even impassable ways, he on the contrary destroys the path of the wicked, when apparently most open and plain before them.

10. Jehovah shall reign, etc. He directs his discourse to the Church, that he may more effectually persuade all God’s people of their really finding him to be such as he had just described. When he says that God is king for ever, we are to remember at the same time the purpose for which he reigns — taking our definition of it from the preceding ascription’s. It follows that, whether living or dying, we shall be safe under the keeping of a king who reigns expressly for our salvation. Had he said no more than that Jehovah reigned for ever, we would have been ready to object the distance between us and his inconceivable greatness. He states, therefore, in express terms, his being bound by sacred covenant to his chosen people.


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