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1 Praise ye Jehovah, etc. The object of these opening words simply is, that the offspring of Abraham should place all their blessedness in the free adoption of God. It was indeed a blessing not to be despised that they had been created men, that they had been cherished in the world by God’s fatherly care, and that they had received sustenance at his hand; but it was a far more distinguished privilege to have been chosen to be his peculiar people. While the whole human race are condemned in Adam, the condition of the Israelites was so different from all other nations, as to give them ground to boast, that they were consecrated to God. This is the reason why the prophet heaps together so many words in commendation of this grace. He does not treat of the government of the whole world as he did in the preceding psalm, but he celebrates the fatherly favor which God had manifested towards the children of Israel. He indeed names in general his works, and his wonders, but he limits both to that spiritual covenant by which God made choice of a church, that might lead on earth a heavenly life. He does not intend to include as among these wonders, that the sun, moon, and stars, daily rise to give light to the world, that the earth produces its fruit in its seasons, that every living creature is supplied with abundance of all good things for its food, and that the human family are liberally provided with so many conveniences; but he celebrates the sovereign grace of God, by which he chose for himself from amongst the lost race of Adam a small portion to whom he might show himself to be a father. Accordingly, he enjoins them to rejoice in the name of God, and to call upon him; a privilege by which the Church alone is distinguished. Whence it follows, that this language is addressed to none but true believers, whom God would have to glory in his name, since he has taken them under his special protection.
4 Seek ye Jehovah, and his strength 204204 “For וזו, his strength, the LXX. seem to have read עזו, be strengthened, and accordingly render it κραταιωθὢτε, the Latin ‘confirmamini’, ‘be confirmed,’ and so the Syriac, ‘be strengthened.’ This the sense would well bear, ‘Seek the Lord, and be confirmed;’ let all your strength be sought from him. So the Jewish Arab, ‘Seek the Lord, and seek that he would strengthen you, or strength from him, or you shall certainly be strengthened,’ if by prayer you diligently seek him.” — Hammond. Horsley also reads, “Seek the Lord, and be strong.” Although he had in the preceding verse characterized the faithful by the honorable designation, those who seek God, yet he again exhorts them to earnestness in seeking him, which is not an unnecessary exhortation. Seeking God, it is true, is the mark by which all genuine saints are particularly distinguished from the men of the world; but they come far short of seeking him with due ardor; and, accordingly, they have always need of incitements, to urge them on to this exercise, although they run of their own accord. Those whom the prophet here stirs up to seek God are not fickle persons, nor such as are altogether indolent, and who cleave to the impurities of earth, but those who with a prompt and ready mind already aim at doing this; and he thus stimulates them, because he perceives that they are obstructed by many impediments from advancing in their course with sufficient rapidity. However willing then we may be, we have notwithstanding, need of such incitement to correct our slowness. The strength and face of God, doubtless refer to that kind of manifestation by which God, accommodating himself to the rudeness of the times, drew at that time true believers to himself. The ark of the covenant is in many other places called both the strength and the face of God, because by that symbol the people were reminded, that he was near them, and also really experienced his power. 205205 With this agrees the interpretation of Lowth: “The holy ark, and the shechinah which remained upon it, the symbol of the divine presence, is called the face of God; and to seek the face of God, is to appear before the ark, to worship at the sanctuary of God, which was required of the Israelites thrice a year. — See 2 Samuel 21:1; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 27:8; Exodus 23:17, — Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, volume 2, page 24l. The more familiarly then God showed himself to them, with the more promptitude and alacrity would the prophet have them to apply their hearts in seeking him; and the aid by which God relieves our weakness should prove an additional stimulus to our zeal. Modesty also is recommended to us, that, mindful of our slowness in seeking God, we may keep the way which he has prescribed to us, and may not despise the rudiments through which he by little and little conducts us to himself. It is added continually, that no person may grow weary in this exercise, or, inflated with a foolish opinion of having reached perfection, may neglect the external aids of piety, as is done by many, who, after having advanced a few degrees in the knowledge of God, exempt themselves from the common rank of others, as if they were elevated above the angels. Again, the injunction is given to remember the marvelous works which God had performed, in the deliverance of his people from Egypt, when he displayed his power in new and unusual ways. By the judgments of his mouth, some understand the law. But as I read all the three expressions, his marvelous works, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth, as referring to one series of events, I prefer explaining it rather of the miracles by which God subdued the pride of Pharaoh. Still, however, there is some doubt as to the reason of this manner of speaking. Some are of opinion, that these miracles are called the judgments of God’s mouth, because he had foretold them by Moses, which is highly probable. At the same time, the expression might be taken more simply, as denoting that the power of God was manifested in an extraordinary manner in these miracles; from which it would be easy to gather, that they were performed by him. I do not mean to exclude the ministry of Moses, whom God had raised up to be a prophet to the Egyptians, that in denouncing what was to come to pass, he might show that nothing happened by chance. Yet I think there is an allusion to the manifest character of the miracles, as if it had been said, Although God had not uttered a word, the facts themselves evidently showed, that he was the deliverer of his people.