46. Let Jehovah live,1 and blessed be my strength:2 and let the God of my salvation be exalted; 47. The God who giveth me vengeance, and subdueth peoples [or nations] under me. 48. My deliverer from my enemies; yea, thou hast lifted me up from those who had risen up against me; thou hast delivered me from the man of violence. 49. Therefore will I praise thee, O Jehovah, among the heathen, and will sing to thy name. 50. He worketh great deliverances for his king, and showeth mercy to David, his anointed, and to his seed for ever.
46. Let Jehovah live. If it is thought proper to adopt this reading, which is in the optative mood expressing a wish that God might live, the manner of expression may seem somewhat strange; but it may be alleged in defense of it, that it is a metaphor borrowed from the custom of men, who not only use this manner of speaking when they wish well to any one, but likewise utter it with loud and applauding acclamation, when they intend to receive their princes with due honor. According to this view, it would be an expression in which praise is ascribed to God, and suitable for a triumphal song.3 It may, however, be very properly considered as a simple affirmation, in which David declares that God lives, in other words, that he is endued with sovereign power. Farther, the life which David attributes to God is not to be restricted to the being or essence of God, but is rather to be understood of the evidence of it deducible from his works, which manifest to us that he liveth. Whenever he withdraws the working of his power from before our eyes, the sense and cognisance of the truth, "God liveth," also evanishes from our minds. He is, therefore, said to live, inasmuch as he shows, by evident proofs of his power, that it is he who preserves and upholds the world. And as David had known, by experience, this life of God, he celebrates it with praises and thanksgiving. If we read the first clause in the present tense, The Lord liveth, the copula and, which follows, has the force of an inference; and, accordingly, the words should be resolved thus:-- Jehovah liveth, and, therefore, blessed be my strength. The epithet, My strength, and the other which occurs in verse 48th, My deliverer, confirm what I have already stated, that God does not simply live in himself, and in his secret place, but displays his vital energy in the government of the whole world. The Hebrew word, yrwu, tsuri, which we have translated my strength, is here to be understood in a transitive sense for Him who bestows strength.
47. The God who giveth me vengeance. The Psalmist again attributes to God the victories which he had obtained. As he could never have expected to obtain them unless he had been confident that he would receive the aid of God, so now he acknowledges God to be the sole author of them. That he may not seem carelessly to bestow upon him, as it were, in passing, only a small sprinkling of the praise of his victories, he repeats, in express terms, that he had nothing but what God had given him. In the first place, he acknowledges that power was given him from above, to enable him to inflict on his enemies the punishment which they deserved. It may seem at first sight strange that God should arm his own people to execute vengeance; but as I have previously shown you, we ought always to remember David's vocation. He was not a private person, but being endued with royal power and authority, the judgment which he executed was enjoined upon him by God. If a man, upon receiving injury, breaks forth to avenge himself, he usurps the office of God; and, therefore, it is rash and impious for private individuals to retaliate the injuries which have been inflicted upon them. With respect to kings and magistrates, God, who declares that vengeance belongeth to him, in arming them with the sword, constitutes them the ministers and executioners of his vengeance. David, therefore, has put the word vengeance for the just punishments which it was lawful for him to inflict by the commandment of God, provided he was led under the influence of a zeal duly regulated by the Holy Spirit, and not under the influence of the impetuosity of the flesh. Unless this moderation is exemplified in performing the duties of their calling, it is in vain for kings to boast that God has committed to them the charge of taking vengeance; seeing it is not less unwarrantable for a man to abuse, according to his own fancy and the lust of the flesh, the sword which he is allowed to use, than to seize it without the command of God. The Church militant, which is under the standard of Christ, has no permission to execute vengeance, except against those who obstinately refuse to be reclaimed. We are commanded to endeavor to overcome our enemies by doing them good, and to pray for their salvation. It becomes us, therefore, at the same time, to desire that they may be brought to repentance, and to a right state of mind, until it appear beyond all doubt that they are irrecoverably and hopelessly depraved. In the meantime, in regard to vengeance, it must be left to God, that we may not be carried headlong to execute it before the time. David next concludes, from the perils and distresses in which he had been involved, that if he had not been preserved by the hand of God, he could not in any other way have escaped in safety:My deliverer from my enemies; yea, thou hast lifted me up from those who had risen up against me. The sense in which we are to understand the lifting up of which he speaks is, that he was wonderfully raised up above the power and malice of his enemies that he might not sink under their violence, and that they might not be victorious over him.
49. Therefore will I praise thee, O Jehovah! In this verse he teaches us that the blessings God had conferred upon him, of which he had spoken, are worthy of being celebrated with extraordinary and unusual praises, that the fame of them might reach even the heathen. There is in the words an implied contrast between the ordinary worship of God which the faithful were then accustomed to perform in the temple, and this thanksgiving of which David speaks, which could not be confined within so narrow limits. The meaning, therefore, is, O Lord, I will not only give thee thanks in the assembly of thy people, according to the ritual which thou hast appointed in thy law, but thy praises shall extend to a greater distance, even as thy grace towards me is worthy of being recounted through the whole world. Moreover, from these words we conclude that this passage contains a prophecy concerning the kingdom of Christ, which was to come. Unless the heathen had been allured into the fellowship of the chosen people, and united into one body with them, to praise God among them would have been to sing his praises among the deaf, which would have been foolish work and lost labor. Accordingly, Paul very properly and suitably proves from this text, that the calling of the Gentiles was not a thing which happened by chance, or at a venture, (Romans 15:9.) We shall afterwards see in many places that the Church is appointed to be the sacred dwelling-place for showing forth the praises of God. And, therefore, the name of God could not have been rightly and profitably celebrated elsewhere than in Judea, until the ears of the Gentiles were opened, which was done when God adopted them, and called them to himself by the gospel.
50. He worketh great deliverances, etc. This concluding verse clearly shows why God had exercised such goodness and liberality towards David, namely, because he had anointed him to be king. By calling himself God's king, David testifies that he had not rashly rushed into that office, nor was thrust into it by conspiracies and wicked intrigues, but, on the contrary, reigned by lawful right, inasmuch as it was the will of God that he should be king. This he proves by the ceremony of anointing; for God, in anointing him by the hand of Samuel, had asserted his right to reign not less than if he had visibly stretched forth his hand from heaven to place and establish him on the royal throne. This election, he says, was confirmed by a continued series of great deliverances; and from this it follows, that all who enter on any course without having the call of God, are chargeable with avowedly making war against him. At the same time, he attributes these deliverances to the goodness of God as their cause, to teach us, that that kingdom was founded purely and simply upon the good pleasure of God. Farther, from the concluding sentence of the psalm, it appears, as I have said before, that David does not here so much recount by way of history the singular and varied instances of the grace of God which he had personally experienced, as predict the everlasting duration of his kingdom. And it is to be observed, that by the word seed we are not to understand all his descendants indiscriminately; but we are to consider it as particularly referring to that successor of David of whom God had spoken in 2 Samuel 7:12, promising that he would be a father to him. As it had been predicted that his kingdom would continue as long as the sun and the moon should shine in the heavens, the prophecy must necessarily be viewed as descending to him who was to be king not for a time, but for ever. David, therefore, commends his seed to us, as honored by that remarkable promise, which fully applies neither to Solomon nor to any other of his successors, but to the only begotten Son of God; as the apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, (Hebrews 1:4,) teaches us, that this is a dignity in which he excels the angels. In conclusion, we shall then only duly profit in the study of this psalm, when we are led by the contemplation of the shadow and type to him who is the substance.