World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
Nuptial Song; Glories of the Messiah.
To the chief musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil. A song of loves.
1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. 2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. 3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. 4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. 5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.
Some make Shoshannim, in the title, to signify an instrument of six strings; others take it in its primitive signification for lilies or roses, which probably were strewed, with other flowers, at nuptial solemnities; and then it is easily applicable to Christ who calls himself the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys, Cant. ii. 1. It is a song of loves, concerning the holy love that is between Christ and his church. It is a song of the well-beloved, the virgins, the companions of the bride (v. 14), prepared to be sung by them. The virgin-company that attend the Lamb on Mount Zion are said to sing a new song, Rev. xiv. 3, 4.
I. The preface (v. 1) speaks, 1. The dignity of the subject. It is a good matter, and it is a pity that such a moving art as poetry should every be employed about a bad matter. It is touching the King, King Jesus, and his kingdom and government. Note, Those that speak of Christ speak of a good matter, no subject so noble, so copious, so fruitful, so profitable, and so well-becoming us; it is a shame that this good matter is not more the matter of our discourse. 2. The excellency of the management. This song was a confession with the mouth of faith in the heart concerning Christ and his church. (1.) The matter was well digested, as it well deserved: My heart is inditing it, which perhaps is meant of that Spirit of prophecy that dictated the psalm to David, that Spirit of Christ which was in the prophets, 1 Pet. i. 11. But it is applicable to his devout meditations and affections in his heart, out of the abundance of which his mouth spoke. Things concerning Christ ought to be thought of by us with all possible seriousness, with fixedness of thought and a fire of holy love, especially when we are to speak of those things. We then speak best of Christ and divine things when we speak from the heart that which has warmed and affected us; and we should never be rash in speaking of the things of Christ, but weigh well beforehand what we have to say, lest we speak amiss. See Eccl. v. 2. (2.) It was well expressed: I will speak of the things which I have made. He would express himself, [1.] With all possible clearness, as one that did himself understand and was affected with the things he spoke of. Not, "I will speak the things I have heard from others," that is speaking by rote; but, "the things which I have myself studied." Note, What God has wrought in our souls, as well as what he has wrought for them, we must declare to others, Ps. lxvi. 16. [2.] With all possible cheerfulness, freedom, and fluency: "My tongue is as the pen of a ready writer, guided by my heart in every word as the pen is by the hand." We call the prophets the penmen of scripture, whereas really they were but the pen. The tongue of the most subtle disputant, and the most eloquent orator, is but the pen with which God writes what he pleases. Why should we quarrel with the pen if bitter things be written against us, or idolize the pen if it write in our favour? David not only spoke what he thought of Christ, but wrote it, that it might spread the further and last the longer. His tongue was as the pen of a ready writer, that lets nothing slip. When the heart is inditing a good matter it is a pity but the tongue should be as the pen of a ready writer, to leave it upon record.
II. In these verses the Lord Jesus is represented,
1. As most beautiful and amiable in himself. It is a marriage-song; and therefore the transcendent excellencies of Christ are represented by the beauty of the royal bridegroom (v. 2): Thou art fairer than the children of men, than any of them. He proposed (v. 1) to speak of the King, but immediately directs his speech to him. Those that have an admiration and affection for Christ love to go to him and tell him so. Thus we must profess our faith, that we see his beauty, and our love, that we are pleased with it: Thou are fair, thou art fairer than the children of men. Note, Jesus Christ is in himself, and in the eyes of all believers, more amiable and lovely than the children of men. The beauties of the Lord Jesus, as God, as Mediator, far surpass those of human nature in general and those which the most amiable and excellent of the children of men are endowed with; there is more in Christ to engage our love than there is or can be in any creature. Our beloved is more than another beloved. The beauties of this lower world, and its charms, are in danger of drawing away our hearts from Christ, and therefore we are concerned to understand how much he excels them all, and how much more worthy he is of our love.
2. As the great favourite of heaven. He is fairer than the children of men, for God has done more for him than for any of the children of men, and all his kindness to the children of men is for his sake, and passes through his hands, through his mouth. (1.) He has grace, and he has it for us; Grace is poured into thy lips. By his word, his promise, his gospel, the good-will of God is made known to us and the good work of God is begun and carried on in us. He received all grace from God, all the endowments that were requisite to qualify him for his work and office as Mediator, that from his fulness we might receive, John i. 16. It was not only poured into his heart, for his own strength and encouragement, but poured into his lips, that by the words of his mouth in general, and the kisses of his mouth to particular believers, he might communicate both holiness and comfort. From this grace poured into his lips proceeded those gracious words which all admired, Luke iv. 22. The gospel of grace is poured into his lips; for it began to be spoken by the Lord, and from him we receive it. He has the words of eternal life. The spirit of prophecy is put into thy lips; so the Chaldee. (2.) He has the blessing, and he has it for us. "Therefore, because thou art the great trustee of divine grace for the use and benefit of the children of men, therefore God has blessed thee for ever, has made thee an everlasting blessing, so as that in thee all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." Where God gives his grace he will give his blessing. We are blessed with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, Eph. i. 3.
3. As victorious over all his enemies. The royal bridegroom is a man of war, and his nuptials do not excuse him from the field of battle (as was allowed by the law, Deut. xxiv. 5); nay, they bring him to the field of battle, for he is to rescue his spouse by dint of sword out of her captivity, to conquer her, and to conquer for her, and then to marry her. Now we have here,
(1.) His preparations for war (v. 3): Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Most Mighty! The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. By the promises of that word, and the grace contained in those promises, souls are made willing to submit to Jesus Christ and become his loyal subjects; by the threatenings of that word, and the judgments executed according to them, those that stand it out against Christ will, in due time, be brought down and ruined. By the gospel of Christ many Jews and Gentiles were converted, and, at length, the Jewish nation was destroyed, according to the predictions of it, for their implacable enmity to it; and paganism was quite abolished. The sword here girt on Christ's thigh is the same which is said to proceed out of his mouth, Rev. xix. 15. When the gospel was sent fort to be preached to all nations, then our Redeemer girded his sword upon his thigh.
(2.) His expedition to this holy war: He goes forth with his glory and his majesty, as a great king takes the field with abundance of pomp and magnificence—his sword, his glory, and majesty. In his gospel he appears transcendently great and excellent, bright and blessed, in the honour and majesty which the Father had laid upon him. Christ, both in his person and in his gospel, had nothing of external glory or majesty, nothing to charm men (for he had no form nor comeliness), nothing to awe men, for he took upon him the form of a servant; it was all spiritual glory, spiritual majesty. There is so much grace, and therefore glory, in that word, He that believes shall be saved, so much terror, and therefore majesty, in that word, He that believes shall not be damned, that we may well say, in the chariot of that gospel, which these words are the sum of, the Redeemer rides forth in glory and majesty. In thy majesty ride prosperously, v. 4. Prosper thou; ride thou. This speaks the promise of his Father, that he should prosper according to the good pleasure of the Lord, that he should divide the spoil with the strong, in recompence of his sufferings. Those cannot but prosper to whom God says, Prosper, Isa. lii. 10-12. And it denotes the good wishes of his friends, praying that he may prosper in the conversion of souls to him, and the destruction of all the powers of darkness that rebel against him. "Thy kingdom come; Go on and prosper."
(3.) The glorious cause in which he is engaged—because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness, which were, in a manner, sunk and lost among men, and which Christ came to retrieve and rescue. [1.] The gospel itself is truth, meekness, and righteousness; it commands by the power of truth and righteousness; for Christianity has these, incontestably, on its side, and yet it is to be promoted by meekness and gentleness, 1 Cor. iv. 12, 13; 2 Tim. ii. 25. [2.] Christ appears in it in his truth, meekness, and righteousness, and these are his glory and majesty, and because of these he shall prosper. Men are brought to believe on him because he is true, to learn of him because he is meek, Matt. xi. 29 (the gentleness of Christ is of mighty force, 2 Cor. x. 1), and to submit to him because he is righteous and rules with equity. [3.] The gospel, as far as it prevails with men, sets up in their hearts truth, meekness, and righteousness, rectifies their mistakes by the light of truth, controls their passions by the power of meekness, and governs their hearts and lives by the laws of righteousness. Christ came, by setting up his kingdom among men, to restore those glories to a degenerate world, and to maintain the cause of those just and rightful rulers under him that by error, malice, and iniquity, had been deposed.
(4.) The success of his expedition: "Thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things; thou shalt experience a wonderful divine power going along with thy gospel, to make it victorious, and the effects of it will be terrible things." [1.] In order to the conversion and reduction of souls to him, there are terrible things to be done; the heart must be pricked, conscience must be startled, and the terrors of the Lord must make way for his consolations. This is done by the right hand of Christ. The Comforter shall continue, John xvi. 8. [2.] In the conquest of the gates of hell and its supporters, in the destruction of Judaism and Paganism, terrible things will be done, which will make men's hearts fail them for fear (Luke xxi. 26) and great men and chief captains call to the rocks and mountains to fall on them, Rev. vi. 15. The next verse describes these terrible things (v. 5): Thy arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies. First, Those that were by nature enemies are thus wounded, in order to their being subdued and reconciled. Convictions are like the arrows of the bow, which are sharp in the heart on which they fasten, and bring people to fall under Christ, in subjection to his laws and government. Those that thus fall on this stone shall by broken, Matt. xxi. 44. Secondly, Those that persist in their enmity are thus wounded, in order to their being ruined. The arrows of God's terrors are sharp in their hearts, whereby they shall fall under him, so as to be made his footstool, Ps. cx. 1. Those that would not have him to reign over them shall be brought forth and slain before him (Luke xix. 27); those that would not submit to his golden sceptre shall be broken to pieces by his iron rod.
Majesty and Glory of Christ.
6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. 9 Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
We have here the royal bridegroom filling his throne with judgment and keeping his court with splendour.
I. He here fills his throne with judgment. It is God the Father that says to the Son here, Thy throne, O God! is forever and ever, as appears Heb. i. 8, 9, where this is quoted to prove that he is God and has a more excellent name than the angels. The Mediator is God, else he neither would have been able to do the Mediator's work nor fit to wear the Mediator's crown. Concerning his government observe, 1. The eternity of it; it is for ever and ever. It shall continue on earth throughout all the ages of time, in despite of all the opposition of the gates of hell; and in the blessed fruits and consequences of it it shall last as long as the days of heaven, and run parallel with the line of eternity itself. Perhaps even then the glory of the Redeemer, and the blessedness of the redeemed, shall be in a continual infinite progression; for it is promised that not only of his government, but of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end (Isa. ix. 7); even when the kingdom shall be delivered up to God even the Father (1 Cor. xv. 24) the throne of the Redeemer will continue. 2. The equity of it: The sceptre of thy kingdom, the administration of thy government, is right, exactly according to the eternal counsel and will of God, which is the eternal rule and reason of good and evil. Whatever Christ does he does none of his subjects any wrong, but gives redress to those that do suffer wrong: He loves righteousness, and hates wickedness, v. 7. He himself loves to do righteousness, and hates to do wickedness; and he loves those that do righteousness, and hates those that do wickedness. By the holiness of his life, the merit of his death, and the great design of his gospel, he has made it to appear that he loves righteousness (for by his example, his satisfaction, and his precepts, he has brought in an everlasting righteousness), and that he hates wickedness, for never did God's hatred of sin appear so conspicuously as it did in the sufferings of Christ. 3. The establishment and elevation of it: Therefore God, even thy God (Christ, as Mediator, called God his God, John xx. 17, as commissioned by him, and the head of those that are taken into covenant with him), has anointed thee with the oil of gladness. Therefore, that is, (1.) "In order to this righteous government of thine, God has given thee his Spirit, that divine unction, to qualify thee for thy undertaking," Isa. lxi. 1. 1. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me. What God called him to he fitted him for, Isa. xi. 2. The Spirit is called the oil of gladness because of the delight wherewith Christ was filled in carrying on his undertaking. He was anointed with the Spirit above all his fellows, above all those that were anointed, whether priests or kings. (2.) "In recompence of what thou has done and suffered for the advancement of righteousness and the destruction of sin God has anointed thee with the oil of gladness, has brought thee to all the honours and all the joys of thy exalted state." Because he humbled himself, God has highly exalted him, Phil. ii. 8, 9. His anointing him denotes the power and glory to which he is exalted; he is invested in all the dignities and authorities of the Messiah. And his anointing him with the oil of gladness denotes the joy that was set before him (so his exaltation is expressed, Heb. xii. 2) both in the light of his Father's countenance (Acts ii. 28) and in the success of his undertaking, which he shall see, and be satisfied, Isa. liii. 11. This he is anointed with above all his fellows, above all believers, who are his brethren, and who partake of the anointing—they by measure, he without measure. But the apostle brings it to prove his pre-eminence above the angels, Heb. i. 4, 9. The salvation of sinners is the joy of angels (Luke xv. 10), but much more of the Son.
II. He keeps his court with splendour and magnificence. 1. His robes of state, wherein he appears, are taken notice of, not for their pomp, which might strike an awe upon the spectator, but their pleasantness and the gratefulness of the odours with which they were perfumed (v. 8): They smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia (the oil of gladness with which he and his garments were anointed): these were some of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil which God appointed, the like to which was not to be made up for any common use (Exod. xxx. 23, 24), which was typical of the unction of the Spirit which Christ, the great high priest of our profession, received, and to which therefore there seems here to be a reference. It is the savour of these good ointments, his graces and comforts, that draws souls to him (Cant. i. 3, 4) and makes him precious to believers, 1 Pet. ii. 7. 2. His royal palaces are said to be ivory ones, such as were then reckoned most magnificent. We read of an ivory house that Ahab made, 1 Kings xxii. 39. The mansions of light above are the ivory palaces, whence all the joys both of Christ and believers come, and where they will be for ever in perfection; for by them he is made glad, and all that are his with him; for they shall enter into the joy of their Lord. 3. The beauties of his court shine very brightly. In public appearances at court, when the pomp of it is shown, nothing is supposed to contribute so much to it as the splendour of the ladies, which is alluded to here, v. 9. (1.) Particular believers are here compared to the ladies at court, richly dressed in honour of the sovereign: Kings' daughters are among thy honourable women, whose looks, and mien, and ornaments, we may suppose, from the height of their extraction, to excel all others. All true believers are born from above; they are the children of the King of kings. These attend the throne of the Lord Jesus daily with their prayers and praises, which is really their honour, and he is pleased to reckon it his. The numbering of kings' daughters among his honourable women, or maids of honour, intimates that the kings whose daughters they were should be tributaries to him and dependents on him, and would therefore think it a preferment to their daughters to attend him. (2.) The church in general, constituted of these particular believers, is here compared to the queen herself—the queen-consort, whom, by an everlasting covenant, he hath betrothed to himself. She stands at his right hand, near to him, and receives honour from him, in the richest array, in gold of Ophir, in robes woven with golden thread or with a gold chain and other ornaments of gold. This is the bride, the Lamb's wife, whose graces, which are her ornaments, are compared to fine linen, clean and white (Rev. xix. 8), for their purity, here to gold of Ophir, for their costliness; for, as we owe our redemption, so we owe our adorning, not to corruptible things, but to the precious blood of the Son of God.
The Glory of the Church.
10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; 11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. 12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. 13 The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. 14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. 15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace. 16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. 17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.
This latter part of the psalm is addressed to the royal bride, standing on the right hand of the royal bridegroom. God, who said to the Son, Thy throne is for ever and ever, says this to the church, which, upon the account of her espousals to the Son, he here calls his daughter.
I. He tells her of the duties expected from her, which ought to be considered by all those that come into relation to the Lord Jesus: "Hearken, therefore, and consider this, and incline thy ear, that is, submit to those conditions of thy espousals, and bring thy will to comply with them." This is the method of profiting by the word of God. He that has ears, let him hear, let him hearken diligently; he that hearkens, let him consider and weigh it duly; he that considers, let him incline and yield to the force of what is laid before him. And what is it that is here required?
1. She must renounce all others.
(1.) Here is the law of her espousals: "Forget thy own people and thy father's house, according to the law of marriage. Retain not the affection thou hast had for them, nor covet to return to them again; banish all such remembrance (not only of thy people that were dear to thee, but of thy father's house that were dearer) as may incline thee to look back, as Lot's wife to Sodom." When Abraham, in obedience to God's call, had quitted his native soil, he was not so much as mindful of the country whence he came out. This shows, [1.] How necessary it was for those who were converted from Judaism or paganism to the faith of Christ wholly to cast out the old leaven, and not to bring into their Christian profession either the Jewish ceremonies or the heathen idolatries, for these would make such a mongrel religion in Christianity as the Samaritans had. [2.] How necessary it is for us all, when we give up our names to Jesus Christ, to hate father and mother, and all that is dear to us in this world, in comparison, that is, to love them less than Christ and his honour, and our interest in him, Luke xiv. 26.
(2.) Here is good encouragement given to the royal bride thus entirely to break off from her former alliances: So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty, which intimates that the mixing of her old rites and customs, whether Jewish or Gentile, with her religion, would blemish her beauty and would hazard her interest in the affections of the royal bridegroom, but that, if she entirely conformed to his will, he would delight in her. The beauty of holiness, both on the church and on particular believers, is in the sight of Christ of great price and very amiable. Where that is he says, This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it. Among the golden candlesticks he walks with pleasure, Rev. ii. 1.
2. She must reverence him, must love, honour, and obey him: He is thy Lord, and worship thou him. The church is to be subject to Christ as the wife to the husband (Eph. v. 24), to call him Lord, as Sarah called Abraham, and to obey him (1 Pet. iii. 6), and so not only to submit to his government, but to give him divine honours. We must worship him as God, and our Lord; for this is the will of God, that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father; nay, in so doing it is reckoned that they honour the Father. If we confess that Christ is Lord, and pay our homage to him accordingly, it is to the glory of God the Father, Phil. ii. 11.
II. He tells her of the honours designed for her.
1. Great court should be made to her, and rich presents brought her (v. 12): "The daughter of Tyre," a rich and splendid city, "the daughter of the King of Tyre shall be there with a gift; every royal family round about shall send a branch, as a representative of the whole, to seek thy favour and to make an interest in thee; even the rich among the people, whose wealth might be thought to exempt them from dependence at court, even they shall entreat thy favour, for his sake to whom thou art espoused, that by thee they may make him their friend." The Jews, the pretending Jews, who are rich to a proverb (as rich as a Jew), shall come and worship before the church's feet in the Philadelphian period, and shall know that Christ has loved her, Rev. iii. 9. When the Gentiles, being converted to the faith of Christ, join themselves to the church, they then come with a gift, 2 Cor. viii. 5; Rom. xv. 16. When with themselves they devote all they have to the honour of Christ, and the service of his kingdom, they then come with a gift.
2. She shall be very splendid, and highly esteemed in the eyes of all, (1.) For her personal qualifications, the endowments of her mind, which every one shall admire (v. 13): The king's daughter is all glorious within. Note, The glory of the church is spiritual glory, and that is indeed all glory; it is the glory of the soul, and that is the man; it is glory in God's sight, and it is an earnest of eternal glory. The glory of the saints falls not within the view of a carnal eye. As their life, so their glory, is hidden with Christ in God, neither can the natural man know it, for it is spiritually discerned; but those who do so discern it highly value it. Let us see here what is that true glory which we should be ambitious of, not that which makes a fair show in the flesh, but which is in the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible (1 Pet. iii. 4), whose praise is not of men, but of God, Rom. ii. 29. (2.) For her rich apparel. Though all her glory is within, that for which she is truly valuable, yet her clothing also is of wrought gold; the conversation of Christians, in which they appear in the world, must be enriched with good works, not gay and gaudy ones, like paint and flourish, but substantially good, like gold; and it must be accurate and exact, like wrought gold, which is worked with a great deal of care and caution.
3. Her nuptials shall be celebrated with a great deal of honour and joy (v. 14, 15): She shall be brought to the king, as the Lord God brought the woman to the man (Gen. ii. 22), which was a type of this mystical marriage between Christ and his church. None are brought to Christ but whom the Father brings, and he has undertaken to do it; none besides are so brought to the king (v. 14) as to enter into the king's palace, v. 15.
(1.) This intimates a two-fold bringing of the spouse to Christ. [1.] In the conversion of souls to Christ; then they are espoused to him, privately contracted, as chaste virgins, 2 Cor. xi. 2; Rom. vii. 4. [2.] In the completing of the mystical body, and the glorification of all the saints, at the end of time; then the bride, the Lamb's wife, shall be made completely ready, when all that belong to the election of grace shall be called in and called home, and all gathered together to Christ, 2 Thess. ii. 1. Then is the marriage of the Lamb come (Rev. xix. 7; xxi. 2), and the virgins go forth to meet the bridegroom, Matt. xxv. 1. Then they shall enter into the king's palaces, into the heavenly mansions, to be ever with the Lord.
(2.) In both these espousals, observe, to the honour of the royal bride, [1.] Her wedding clothes—raiment of needle-work, the righteousness of Christ, the graces of the Spirit; both curiously wrought by divine wisdom. [2.] Her bride-maids—the virgins her companions, the wise virgins who have oil in their vessels as well as in their lamps, those who, being joined to the church, cleave to it and follow it, these shall go in to the marriage. [3.] The mirth with which the nuptials will be celebrated: With gladness and rejoicing shall she be brought. When the prodigal is brought home to his father it is meet that we should make merry and be glad (Luke xv. 32); and when the marriage of the Lamb has come let us be glad and rejoice (Rev. xix. 7); for the day of his espousals is the day of the gladness of his heart, Cant. iii. 11.
4. The progeny of this marriage shall be illustrious (v. 16): Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children. Instead of the Old-Testament church, the economy of which had waxed old, and ready to vanish away (Heb. viii. 13), as the fathers that are going off, there shall be a New-Testament church, a Gentile-church, that shall be grafted into the same olive and partake of its root and fatness (Rom. xi. 17); more and more eminent shall be the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, Isa. liv. 1. This promise to Christ is of the same import with that Isa. liii. 10, He shall see his seed; and these shall be made princes in all the earth; there shall be some of all nations brought into subjection to Christ, and so made princes, made to our God kings and priests, Rev. i. 6. Or it may intimate that there should be a much greater number of Christian kings than ever there was of Jewish kings (those in Canaan only, these in all the earth), nursing fathers and nursing mothers to the church, which shall suck the breasts of kings. They are princes of Christ's making; for by him kings reign and princes decree justice.
5. The praise of this marriage shall be perpetual in the praises of the royal bridegroom (v. 18): I will make thy name to be remembered. His Father has given him a name above every name, and here promises to make it perpetual, by keeping up a succession of ministers and Christians in every age, that shall bear up his name, which shall thus endure for ever (Ps. lxxii. 17), by being remembered in all the generations of time; for the entail of Christianity shall not be cut off. "Therefore, because they shall remember thee in all generations, they shall praise thee for ever and ever." Those that help to support the honour of Christ on earth shall in heaven see his glory, and share in it, and be for ever praising him. In the believing hope of our everlasting happiness in the other world let us always keep up the remembrance of Christ, as our only way thither, in our generation; and, in assurance of the perpetuating of the kingdom of the Redeemer in the world, let us transmit the remembrance of him to succeeding generations, that his name may endure for ever and be as the days of heaven.
God the Protection of His People.
To the chief musician for the sons of Korah. A song upon Alamoth.
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
The psalmist here teaches us by his own example.
I. To triumph in God, and his relation to us and presence with us, especially when we have had some fresh experiences of his appearing in our behalf (v. 1): God is our refuge and strength; we have found him so, he has engaged to be so, and he ever will be so. Are we pursued? God is our refuge to whom we may flee, and in whom we may be safe and think ourselves so; secure upon good grounds, Prov. xviii. 10. Are we oppressed by troubles? Have we work to do and enemies to grapple with? God is our strength, to bear us up under our burdens, to fit us for all our services and sufferings; he will by his grace put strength into us, and on him we may stay ourselves. Are we in distress? He is a help, to do all that for us which we need, a present help, a help found (so the word is), one whom we have found to be so, a help on which we may write Probatum est—It is tried, as Christ is called a tried stone, Isa. xxviii. 16. Or, a help at hand, one that never is to seek for, but that is always near. Or, a help sufficient, a help accommodated to every case and exigence; whatever it is, he is a very present help; we cannot desire a better help, nor shall ever find the like in any creature.
II. To triumph over the greatest dangers: God is our strength and our help, a God all-sufficient to us; therefore will not we fear. Those that with a holy reverence fear God need not with any amazement to be afraid of the power of hell or earth. If God be for us, who can be against us; to do us any harm? It is our duty, it is our privilege, to be thus fearless; it is an evidence of a clear conscience, of an honest heart, and of a lively faith in God and his providence and promise: "We will not fear, though the earth be removed, though all our creature-confidences fail us and sink us; nay, though that which should support us threaten to swallow us up, as the earth did Korah," for whose sons this psalm was penned, and, some think, by them; yet while we keep close to God, and have him for us, we will not fear, for we have no cause to fear;
——Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinæ.
—Let Jove's dread arm With thunder rend the spheres,
Beneath the crush of worlds undaunted he appears.
Observe here, 1. How threatening the danger is. We will suppose the earth to be removed, and thrown into the sea, even the mountains, the strongest and firmest parts of the earth, to lie buried in the unfathomed ocean; we will suppose the sea to roar and rage, and make a dreadful noise, and its foaming billows to insult the shore with so much violence as even to shake the mountains, v. 3. Though kingdoms and states be in confusion, embroiled in wars, tossed with tumults, and their governments incontinual revolution—though their powers combine against the church and people of God, aim at no less than their ruin, and go very near to gain their point—yet will not we fear, knowing that all these troubles will end well for the church. See Ps. xciii. 4. If the earth be removed, those have reason to fear who have laid up their treasures on earth, and set their hearts upon it; but not those who have laid up for themselves treasures in heaven, and who expect to be most happy when the earth and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up. Let those be troubled at the troubling of the waters who build their confidence on such a floating foundation, but not those who are led to the rock that is higher than they, and find firm footing upon that rock. 2. How well-grounded the defiance of this danger is, considering how well guarded the church is, and that interest which we are concerned for. It is not any private particular concern of our own that we are in pain about; no, it is the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High; it is the ark of God for which our hearts tremble. But, when we consider what God has provided for the comfort and safety of his church, we shall see reason to have our hearts fixed, and set above the fear of evil tidings. Here is, (1.) Joy to the church, even in the most melancholy and sorrowful times (v. 4): There is a river the streams whereof shall make it glad, even then when the waters of the sea roar and threaten it. It alludes to the waters of Siloam, which went softly by Jerusalem (Isa. viii. 6, 7): though of no great depth or breadth, yet the waters of it were made serviceable to the defence of Jerusalem in Hezekiah's time, Isa. xxii. 10, 11. But this must be understood spiritually; the covenant of grace is the river, the promises of which are the streams; or the Spirit of grace is the river (John vii. 38, 39), the comforts of which are the streams, that make glad the city of our God. God's word and ordinances are rivers and streams with which God makes his saints glad in cloudy and dark days. God himself is to his church a place of broad rivers and streams, Isa. xxxiii. 21. The streams that make glad the city of God are not rapid, but gentle, like those of Siloam. Note, The spiritual comforts which are conveyed to the saints by soft and silent whispers, and which come not with observation, are sufficient to counterbalance the most loud and noisy threatenings of an angry and malicious world. (2.) Establishment to the church. Though heaven and earth are shaken, yet God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, v. 5. God has assured his church of his special presence with her and concern for her; his honour is embarked in her, he has set up his tabernacle in her and has undertaken the protection of it, and therefore she shall not be moved, that is, [1.] Not destroyed, not removed, as the earth may be v. 2. The church shall survive the world, and be in bliss when that is in ruins. It is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [2.] Not disturbed, not much moved, with fears of the issue. If God be for us, if God be with us, we need not be moved at the most violent attempts made against us. (3.) Deliverance to the church, though her dangers be very great: God shall help her; and who then can hurt her? He shall help her under her troubles, that she shall not sink; nay, that the more she is afflicted the more she shall multiply. God shall help her out of her troubles, and that right early—when the morning appears; that is, very speedily, for he is a present help (v. 1), and very seasonably, when things are brought to the last extremity and when the relief will be most welcome. This may be applied by particular believers to themselves; if God be in our hearts, in the midst of us, by his word dwelling richly in us, we shall be established, we shall be helped; let us therefore trust and not be afraid; all is well, and will end well.
Confidence in God.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
These verses give glory to God both as King of nations and as King of saints.
I. As King of nations, ruling the world by his power and providence, and overruling all the affairs of the children of men to his own glory; he does according to his will among the inhabitants of the earth, and none may say, What doest thou? 1. He checks the rage and breaks the power of the nations that oppose him and his interests in the world (v. 6): The heathen raged at David's coming to the throne, and at the setting up of the kingdom of the Son of David; compare Ps. ii. 1, 2. The kingdoms were moved with indignation, and rose in a tumultuous furious manner to oppose it; but God uttered his voice, spoke to them in his wrath, and they were moved in another sense, they were struck into confusion and consternation, put into disorder, and all their measures broken; the earth itself melted under them, so that they found no firm footing; their earthly hearts failed them for fear, and dissolved like snow before the sun. Such a melting of the spirits of the enemies is described, Judg. v. 4, 5; and see Luke xxi. 25, 26. 2. When he pleases to draw his sword, and give it commission, he can make great havoc among the nations and lay all waste (v. 8): Come, behold the works of the Lord; they are to be observed (Ps. lxvi. 5), and to be sought out, Ps. cxi. 2. All the operations of Providence must be considered as the works of the Lord, and his attributes and purposes must be taken notice of in them. Particularly take notice of the desolations he has made in the earth, among the enemies of his church, who thought to lay the land of Israel desolate. The destruction they designed to bring upon the church has been turned upon themselves. War is a tragedy which commonly destroys the stage it is acted on; David carried the war into the enemies' country; and O what desolations did it make there! Cities were burnt, countries laid waste, and armies of men cut off and laid in heaps upon heaps. Come and see the effects of desolating judgments, and stand in awe of God; say, How terrible art thou in thy works! Ps. lxvi. 3. Let all that oppose him see this with terror, and expect the same cup of trembling to be put into their hands; let all that fear him and trust in him see it with pleasure, and not be afraid of the most formidable powers armed against the church. Let them gird themselves, but they shall be broken to pieces. 3. When he pleases to sheathe his sword, he puts an end to the wars of the nations and crowns them with peace, v. 9. War and peace depend on his word and will, as much as storms and calms at sea do, Ps. cvii. 25, 29. He makes wars to cease unto the end of the earth, sometimes in pity to the nations, that they may have a breathing-time, when, by long wars with each other, they have run themselves out of breadth. Both sides perhaps are weary of the war, and willing to let it fall; expedients are found out for accommodation; martial princes are removed, and peace-makers set in their room; and then the bow is broken by consent, the spear cut asunder and turned into a pruning-hook, the sword beaten into a ploughshare, and the chariots of war are burned, there being no more occasion for them; or, rather, it may be meant of what he does, at other times, in favour of his own people. He makes those wars to cease that were waged against them and designed for their ruin. He breaks the enemies' bow that was drawn against them. No weapon formed against Zion shall prosper, Isa. liv. 17. The total destruction of Gog and Magog is prophetically described by the burning of their weapons of war (Ezek. xxxix. 9, 10), which intimates likewise the church's perfect security and assurance of lasting peace, which made it needless to lay up those weapons of war for their own service. The bringing of a long war to a good issue is a work of the Lord, which we ought to behold with wonder and thankfulness.
II. As King of saints, and as such we must own that great and marvellous are his works, Rev. xv. 3. He does and will do great things,
1. For his own glory (v. 10): Be still, and know that I am God. (1.) Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them; let them rage no more, for it is all in vain: he that sits in heaven, laughs at them; and, in spite of all their impotent malice against his name and honour, he will be exalted among the heathen and not merely among his own people, he will be exalted in the earth and not merely in the church. Men will set up themselves, will have their own way and do their own will; but let them know that God will be exalted, he will have his way will do his own will, will glorify his own name, and wherein they deal proudly he will be above them, and make them know that he is so. (2.) Let his own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, he is God alone, and will be exalted above the heathen; let him alone to maintain his honour, to fulfil his own counsels and to support his own interest in the world. Though we be depressed, yet let us not be dejected, for we are sure that God will be exalted, and that may satisfy us; he will work for his great name, and then no matter what becomes of our little names. When we pray, Father, glorify thy name, we ought to exercise faith upon the answer given to that prayer when Christ himself prayed it, I have both glorified it and I will glorify it yet again. Amen, Lord, so be it.
2. For his people's safety and protection. He triumphs in the former: I will be exalted; they triumph in this, v. 7 and again v. 11. It is the burden of the song, "The Lord of hosts is with us; he is on our side, he takes our part, is present with us and president over us; the God of Jacob is our refuge, to whom we may flee, and in whom we may confide and be sure of safety." Let all believers triumph in this. (1.) They have the presence of a God of power, of all power: The Lord of hosts is with us. God is the Lord of hosts, for he has all the creatures which are called the hosts of heaven and earth at his beck and command, and he makes what use he pleases of them, as the instruments either of his justice or of his mercy. This sovereign Lord is with us, sides with us, acts with us, and has promised he will never leave us. Hosts may be against us, but we need not fear them if the Lord of hosts be with us. (2.) They are under the protection of a God in covenant, who not only is able to help them, but is engaged in honour and faithfulness to help them. He is the God of Jacob, not only Jacob the person, but Jacob the people; nay, and of all praying people, the spiritual seed of wrestling Jacob; and he is our refuge, by whom we are sheltered and in whom we are satisfied, who by his providence secures our welfare when without are fightings, and who by his grace quiets our minds, and establishes them, when within are fears. The Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, has been, is, and will be with us—has been, is and will be our refuge: the original includes all; and well may Selah be added to it. Mark this, and take the comfort of it, and say, If God be for us, who can be against us?