8. O Jehovah! I have loved the habitation of thy house,1 and the dwelling-place of thy glory. 9. Gather not my soul with wicked men, nor my life with blood;2 10. For in their hands is maliciousness, and their right hand is full of bribes. 11. But I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful to me.
8. O Jehovah! I have loved, etc. In this verse he confirms what he had said before, that he came not into the sanctuary in a careless manner, but with serious devotion. Irreligious men, although they often resort to the sacred assemblies, frequent them merely as lurking places, where they may escape the eye of God. On the contrary, the truly pious and pure in heart resort to them, not for the sake of vain ostentation, but as they are sincerely bent on seeking God, they willingly and affectionately employ the helps which he there affords them; and the advantage which they derive from them creates love to them in their hearts, and longings after them. This declaration farther shows, that however David excelled others in faith, yet he was not without fear lest the violence of his enemies might deprive him of the ordinary means of instruction which God had conferred on his Church. He felt his need of the Church's common discipline and order, and he therefore anxiously labored to retain his enjoyment of them. From this we infer the impious pride of those who look with contempt on the services of religion as unnecessary, although David himself could not live without them. Another consideration, indeed, existed in those days, I confess, while the law, like a schoolmaster, held the ancient people in a state of servitude compared with ours. Our case, however, is one with theirs in this respect, that the weakness of our faith requires help as well as theirs. And as God for this purpose has appointed the sacraments, as well as the whole order of the Church, woe to the pride of those who recklessly desert the services which we perceive to have been held in such high esteem by the pious servants of God. The Hebrew word Nwem, me-on, according to some, is derived from a word3 which signifies an eye; and they translate it comeliness, or appearance. This is the translation of the Septuagint.4 But as the word is almost every where used to signify a dwelling-place, which is more simple, I prefer to retain it. The sanctuary is called God's house, and the dwelling-place of his glory; and we know how frequently expressions of this kind are employed in Scripture to bear testimony to the presence of God. Not that God either dwelt in a tent, or wished to confine the minds of his people to earthly symbols; but it was needful to remind the faithful of God's present goodness, that they might not think they sought him in vain, as we have elsewhere already said. Now, that God's glory may dwell among us, it is necessary that a lively image of it should shine forth in word and sacraments. From this it follows, that the temples which are reckoned such among Papists are only filthy brothels of Satan.
9. Gather not my soul with wicked men. Having now affirmed his innocence, he has recourse again to prayer, and calls upon God to defend him. At first sight, indeed, it appears strange to pray that God would not involve a righteous man in the same destruction with the wicked; but God, with paternal indulgence, allows this freedom in prayer, that his people may themselves in this way correct their anxieties, and overcome the fears with which they are tempted. David, when he conceived this supplication, in order to free himself from anxiety and fear, placed before his eyes the righteous judgment of God, to whom nothing is more abhorrent than to mingle good and bad together without distinction. The Hebrew word poa, asaph, sometimes signifies to gather together, and sometimes to destroy. In this place, I am of opinion it signifies to gather into a heap, as was wont to be the case in a confused slaughter. This was the objection stated by Abraham,
"That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked:and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee." (Genesis 18:25,)
Let us remember, therefore, that these forms of prayer are dictated by the Holy Spirit, in order that the faithful may unhesitatingly assure themselves that God still sits in inquisition upon every man's case, in order to give righteous judgment at last. In the second clause, instead of the phrase, wicked men, he uses bloody men, amplifying what he had said. For although many wicked men rush not all at once to murder, yet in process of time they harden themselves to cruelty; nor does Satan allow them to rest until he precipitate them into deeds of blood.
10. For in their hands is maliciousness. The Hebrew word hmz, zimmah, signifies properly an inward stratagem, or device. But here it is not improperly applied to the hands, because David wished to intimate, that the wicked, of whom he was speaking, not only secretly imagined deceits, but also vigorously executed with their hands the malice which their hearts devised. When he farther says, Their right hands are full of bribes, we may infer from this, that it was not the common people whom he pointed out for observation, but the nobility themselves, who were most guilty of practising this corruption. Although the common and baser sort of men may be hired for reward, and suborned as agents in wickedness, yet we know that bribes are offered chiefly to judges, and other great men who are in power; and we likewise know, that at the time referred to here the worst of men bore sway. It was no wonder, therefore, that David complained that justice was exposed to sale. We are farther admonished by this expression, that those who delight in gifts can scarcely do otherwise than sell themselves to iniquity. Nor is it in vain, unquestionably, that God declares that
"gifts blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the hearts of the righteous," (Deuteronomy 16:19.)
11. But I will walk in mine integrity. In this repetition there is to be remarked a circumstance which more clearly illustrates David's righteousness; namely, that, in the midst of so many temptations, he steadily held on his way. He saw many become suddenly rich by gifts, as we still see those who sit at the helm of affairs accumulating to themselves, in a very brief space, a great abundance of wealth, building sumptuous palaces, and extending their lands far and wide. As no allurements could induce him to imitate their example in this, he gave a proof of rare and heroic virtue. He therefore affirms with truth, that although the world accounted them happy, he had not been seduced from his wonted integrity, that thus it might appear that he ascribed more to the providence of God than to evil practices. He, therefore, beseeches God to redeem him, because, being oppressed with wrongs, and tempted in various ways, he relied only on God, trusting that he would deliver him. From this we may conclude, that he was at this time reduced to great straits. He adds, Be merciful to me, by which he shows that this deliverance flows from the grace of God, as its true source; and we have already seen that the cause is often put for the effect.