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24. Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

2For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

3Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

5He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

7Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

8Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

9Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

10Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

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1. The earth is Jehovah’s. We will find in many other places the children of Abraham compared with all the rest of mankind, that the free goodness of God, in selecting them from all other nations, and in embracing them with his favor, may shine forth the more conspicuously. The object of the beginning of the psalm is to show that the Jews had nothing of themselves which could entitle them to approach nearer or more familiarly to God than the Gentiles. As God by his providence preserves the world, the power of his government is alike extended to all, so that he ought to be worshipped by all, even as he also shows to all men, without exception, the fatherly care he has about them. But since he preferred the Jews to all other nations, it was indispensably necessary that there should be some sacred bond of connection between him and them, which might distinguish them from the heathen nations. By this argument David invites and exhorts them to holiness. He tells them that it was reasonable that those whom God had adopted as his children, should bear certain marks peculiar to themselves, and not be altogether like strangers. Not that he incites them to endeavor to prejudice God against others, in order to gain his exclusive favor; but he teaches them, from the end or design of their election, that they shall then have secured to them the firm and peaceful possession of the honor which God had conferred upon them above other nations, when they devote themselves to an upright and holy life. 540540     “Qu’adonc ils entrerent en ferme et paisible possession de l’honneur que Dieu leur a fait par dessus les autres nations.” — Fr. In vain would they have been collected together into a distinct body, as the peculiar people of God, if they did not apply themselves to the cultivation of holiness. In short, the Psalmist pronounces God to be the King of the whole world, to let all men know that, even by the law of nature, they are bound to serve him. And by declaring that he made a covenant of salvation with a small portion of mankind, and by the erection of the tabernacle, gave the children of Abraham the symbol of his presence, thereby to assure them of his dwelling in the midst of them, he teaches them that they must endeavor to have purity of heart and of hands, if they would be accounted the members of his sacred family.

With respect to the word fullness, I admit that under it all the riches with which the earth is adorned are comprehended, as is proved by the authority of Paul; but I have no doubt that the Psalmist intends by the expression men themselves, who are the most illustrious ornament and glory of the earth. If they should fail, the earth would exhibit a scene of desolation and solitude, not less hideous than if God should despoil it of all its other riches. To what purpose are there produced so many kinds of fruit, and in so great abundance, and why are there so many pleasant and delightful countries, if it is not for the use and comfort of men? 541541     “Car a quelle fin font produits des fruits de tant de sortes, et en telle abondance, et qu’il y a tant de vieux de plaisance, si non pour l’usage et commodite des hommes?” — Fr. Accordingly, David explains, in the following clause, that it is principally of men that he speaks. It is his usual manner to repeat the same thing twice, and here the fullness of the earth, and the inhabitants of the world, have the same meaning. I do not, however, deny that the riches with which the earth abounds for the use of men, are comprehended under these expressions. Paul, therefore, (1 Corinthians 10:26) when discoursing concerning meats, justly quotes this passage in support of his argument, maintaining that no kind of food is unclean, because, “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

2. For he hath founded it upon the seas. The Psalmist here confirms the truth, that men are rightfully under the authority and power of God, so that in all places and countries they ought to acknowledge him as King. And he confirms it from the very order manifested in the creation; for the wonderful providence of God is clearly reflected in the whole face of the earth. In order to prove this, he brings forward the proof of it, which is most evident. How is it that the earth appears above the water, but because God purposely intended to prepare a habitation for men? Philosophers themselves admit, that as the element of the water is higher than the earth, it is contrary to the nature of the two elements 542542     “C’est contre la nature des deux elemens.” — Fr. for any part of the earth to continue uncovered with the waters, and habitable. Accordingly, Job (Job 28:11, 25) extols, in magnificent terms, that signal miracle by which God restrains the violent and tempestuous ragings of the sea, that it may not overwhelm the earth, which, if not thus restrained, it would immediately do and produce horrible confusion. Nor does Moses forget to mention this in the history of the creation. After having narrated that the waters were spread abroad so as to cover the whole earth, he adds, that by an express command of God they retired into one place, in order to leave empty space for the living creatures which were afterwards to be created, (Genesis 1:9) From that passage we learn that God had a care about men before they existed, inasmuch as he prepared for them a dwelling-place and other conveniences; and that he did not regard them as entire strangers, seeing he provided for their necessities, not less liberally than the father of a family does for his own children. David does not here dispute philosophically concerning the situation of the earth, when he says, that it has been founded upon the seas. He uses popular language, and adapts himself to the capacity of the unlearned. Yet this manner of speaking, which is taken from what may be judged of by the eye, is not without reason. The element of earth, it is true, in so far as it occupies the lowest place in the order of the sphere, is beneath the waters; but the habitable part of the earth is above the water, and how can we account for it, that this separation of the water from the earth remains stable, but because God has put the waters underneath, as it were for a foundation? Now, as from the creation of the world, God extended his fatherly care to all mankind, the prerogative of honor, by which the Jews excelled all other nations, proceeded only from the free and sovereign choice by which God distinguished them.




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