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The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
Encouragement to Trust in God.
5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: 6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever: 7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners: 8 The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous: 9 The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. 10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord.
The psalmist, having cautioned us not to trust in princes (because, if we do, we shall be miserably disappointed), here encourages us to put our confidence in God, because, if we do so, we shall be happily secured: Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, that has an interest in his attributes and promises, and has them engaged for him, and whose hope is in the Lord his God.
I. Let us take a view of the character here given of those whom God will uphold. Those shall have God for their help, 1. Who take him for their God, and serve and worship him accordingly. 2. Who have their hope in him, and live a life of dependence upon him, who have good thoughts of him, and encourage themselves in him, when all other supports fail. Every believer may look upon him as the God of Jacob, of the church in general, and therefore may expect relief from him, in reference to public distresses, and as his God in particular, and therefore may depend upon him in all personal wants and straits. We must hope, (1.) In the providence of God for all the good things we need, which relate to the life that now is. (2.) In the grace of Christ for all the good things which relate to the life that is to come. To this especially the learned Dr. Hammond refers this and the following verses, looking upon the latter part of this psalm to have a most visible remarkable aspect towards the eternal Son of God in his incarnation. He quotes one of the rabbies, who says of v. 10 that it belongs to the days of the Messiah. And that it does so he thinks will appear by comparing v. 7, 8, with the characters Christ gives of the Messiah (Matt. xi. 5, 6), The blind receive their sight, the lame walk; and the closing words there, Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me, he thinks may very well be supposed to refer to v. 5. Happy is the man that hopes in the Lord his God, and who is not offended in him.
II. Let us take a view of the great encouragements here given us to hope in the Lord our God. 1. He is the Maker of the world, and therefore has all power in himself, and the command of the powers of all the creatures, which, being derived from him, depend upon him (v. 6): He made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and therefore his arm is not shortened, that it cannot save. It is very applicable to Christ, by whom God made the world, and without whom was not any thing made that was made. It is a great support to faith that the Redeemer of the world is the same that was the Creator of it, and therefore has a good-will to it, a perfect knowledge of its case, and power to help it. 2. He is a God of inviolable fidelity. We may venture to take God's word, for he keepeth truth for ever, and therefore no word of his shall fall to the ground; it is true from the beginning, and therefore true to the end. Our Lord Jesus is the Amen, the faithful witness, as well as the beginning, the author and principle, of the creation of God, Rev. iii. 14. The keeping of God's truth for ever is committed to him, for all the promises are in him yea and amen. 3. He is the patron of injured innocency: He pleads the cause of the oppressed, and (as we read it) he executes judgment for them. He often does it in his providence, giving redress to those that suffer wrong and clearing up their integrity. He will do it in the judgment of the great day. The Messiah came to rescue the children of men out of the hands of Satan the great oppressor, and, all judgment being committed to him, the executing of judgment upon persecutors is so among the rest, Jude 15. 4. He is a bountiful benefactor to the necessitous: He gives food to the hungry; so God does in an ordinary way for the answering of the cravings of nature; so he has done sometimes in an extraordinary way, as when ravens fed Elijah; so Christ did more than once when he fed thousands miraculously with that which was intended but for one meal or two for his own family. This encourages us to hope in him as the nourisher of our souls with the bread of life. 5. He is the author of liberty to those that were bound: The Lord looseth the prisoners. He brought Israel out of the house of bondage in Egypt and afterwards in Babylon. The miracles Christ wrought, in making the dumb to speak and the deaf to hear with that one word, Ephphatha—Be opened, his cleansing lepers, and so discharging them from their confinements, and his raising the dead out of their graves, may all be included in this one of loosing the prisoners; and we may take encouragement from those to hope in him for that spiritual liberty which he came to proclaim, Isa. lxi. 1, 2. 6. He gives sight to those that have been long deprived of it; The Lord can open the eyes of the blind, and has often given to his afflicted people to see that comfort which before they were not aware of; witness Gen. xxi. 19, and the prophet's servant, 2 Kings vi. 17. But this has special reference to Christ; for since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind till Christ did it (John ix. 32) and thereby encouraged us to hope in him for spiritual illumination. 7. He sets that straight which was crooked, and makes those easy that were pained and ready to sink: He raises those that are bowed down, by comforting and supporting them under their burdens, and, in due time, removing their burdens. This was literally performed by Christ when he made a poor woman straight that had been bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself (Luke xiii. 12); and he still does it by his grace, giving rest to those that were weary and heavily laden, and raising up with his comforts those that were humbled and cast down by convictions. 8. He has a constant kindness for all good people: The Lord loveth the righteous, and they may with the more confidence depend upon his power when they are sure of his good-will. Our Lord Jesus showed his love to the righteous by fulfilling all righteousness. 9. He has a tender concern for those that stand in special need of his care: The Lord preserves the strangers. It ought not to pass without remark that the name of Jehovah is repeated here five times in five lines, to intimate that it is an almighty power (that of Jehovah) that is engaged and exerted for the relief of the oppressed, and that it is as much the glory of God to succour those that are in misery as it is to ride on the heavens by his name Jah, Ps. lxviii. 4. (1.) Strangers are exposed, and are commonly destitute of friends, but the Lord preserves them, that they be not run down and ruined. Many a poor stranger has found the benefit of the divine protection and been kept alive by it. (2.) Widows and fatherless children, that have lost the head of the family, who took care of the affairs of it, often fall into the hands of those that make a prey of them, that will not do them justice, nay, that will do them injustice; but the Lord relieveth them, and raiseth up friends for them. See Exod. xxii. 22, 23. Our Lord Jesus came into the world to help the helpless, to receive Gentiles, strangers, into his kingdom, and that with him poor sinners, that are as fatherless, may find mercy, Hos. xiv. 3. 10. He will appear for the destruction of all those that oppose his kingdom and oppress the faithful subjects of it: The way of the wicked he turns upside down, and therefore let us hope in him, and not be afraid of the fury of the oppressor, as though he were ready to destroy. It is the glory of the Messiah that he will subvert all the counsels of hell and earth that militate against his church, so that, having him for us, we need not fear any thing that can be done against us. 11. His kingdom shall continue through all the revolutions of time, to the utmost ages of eternity, v. 10. Let this encourage us to trust in God at all times that the Lord shall reign for ever, in spite of all the malignity of the powers of darkness, even thy God, O Zion! unto all generations. Christ is set King on the holy hill of Zion, and his kingdom shall continue in an endless glory. It cannot be destroyed by an invader; it shall not be left to a successor, either to a succeeding monarch or a succeeding monarchy, but it shall stand for ever. It is matter of unspeakable comfort that the Lord reigns as Zion's God, as Zion's king, that the Messiah is head over all things to the church, and will be so while the world stands.