7. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my hope, is in God. 8. Hope in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is our hope. Selah. 9. Nevertheless, the sons of Adam are vanity, and the children of men1 a lie 2 when they ascend in the scales, they are found together lighter than vanity.310. Trust not in oppression and robbery, and be not vain: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
7. In God is my salvation. One expression is here heaped upon another and this apparently because he wished to rein that infirmity of disposition which makes us so prone to slide into wrong exercise. We may throw out a passing and occasional acknowledgement, that our only help is to be found in God, and yet shortly display our distrust in him by busying ourselves in all directions to supplement what we consider defective in his aid. The various terms which he employs to express the sufficiency of God as a deliverer, may thus be considered as so many arguments to constancy, or so many checks which he would apply to the waywardness of the carnal heart, ever disposed to depend for support upon others rather than God. Such is the manner in which he animates his own spirit; and next, we find him addressing himself to others, calling upon them to enter upon the same conflict, and reap the same victory and triumph. By the people, there seems little doubt that he means the Jews. The Gentiles being yet unvisited by the true religion and divine revelation, it was only in Judea that God could be the object of trust and religious invocation; and it would appear, that by distinguishing the chosen people of the Lord from the surrounding heathen, he insinuates how disgraceful it would be in them not to devote themselves entirely to God, being, as they were, the children of Abraham, favored with the discovery of his grace, and specially taken under his divine protection. The expression, at all times, means both in prosperity and adversity, intimating the blameworthiness of those who waver and succumb under every variation in their outward circumstances. God tries his children with afflictions, but here they are taught by David to abide them with constancy and courage. The hypocrites, who are loud in their praises of God so long as prosperity shines upon their head, while their heart fails them upon the first approach of trial, dishonor his name by placing a most injurious limitation to his power. We are bound to put honor upon his name by remembering, in our greatest extremities, that to Him belong the issues of death. And as we are all too apt at such times to shut up our affliction in our own breast -- a circumstance which can only aggravate the trouble and imbitter the mind against God, David could not have suggested a better expedient than that of disburdening our cares to him, and thus, as it were, pouring out our hearts before him. It is always found, that when the heart is pressed under a load of distress, there is no freedom in prayer.4 Under trying circumstances, we must comfort ourselves by reflecting that God will extend relief, provided we just freely roll them over upon his consideration. What the Psalmist advises is all the more necessary, considering the mischievous tendency which we have naturally to keep our troubles pent up in our breasts till they drive us to despair. Usually, indeed, men show much anxiety and ingenuity in seeking to escape from the troubles which may happen to press upon them; but so long as they shun coming into the presence of God, they only involve themselves in a labyrinth of difficulties. Not to insist farther upon the words, David is here to be considered as exposing that diseased but deeply-rooted principle in our nature, which leads us to hide our griefs, and ruminate upon them, instead of relieving ourselves at once by pouring out our prayers and complaints before God. The consequence is, that we are distracted more and more with our distresses, and merge into a state of hopeless despondency. In the close of the verse, he says, in reference to the people generally, what he had said of himself individually, that their safety was to be found only under the divine protection.
9. Nevertheless, the sons of Adam are vanity. If we take the particle Ka, ach, affirmatively, as meaning surely or certainly, then this verse contains a confirmation of the truth expressed in the preceding verse; and David argues by contrast,5 that as men are lighter than vanity, we are shut up to the necessity of placing all our expectation upon God. It would agree well, however, with the contrast to suppose, that, under an impression of the little effect which the truth he had announced was calculated to have upon the people, (ever disposed to build upon fallacious hopes,) he exclaims, with a degree of holy fervor, Nevertheless, etc. According to this view, he is here administering a reproof to the blind infidelity so prevalent amongst men, and which leads them to deceive themselves with lying vanities rather than trust in the infallible promises of Jehovah. Having had occasion to discover such a large amount of vanity in the chosen seed of Abraham, he does not scruple to speak of the whole human family in general as being abandoned to lying delusions. The adverb dxy, yachad, together, intimates that all, without exception, are ready to find an occasion of turning aside. Such is the sweeping condemnation passed, not upon a few individuals, but upon human nature, declaring men to be lighter than vanity; and may we not ask what in this case becomes of boasted reason, wisdom, and free-will? It is of no avail to object, that believers are delivered from the deceit which is here condemned. If they owe their exemption from lying and vanity to the regeneration of the Spirit, this is to grant that they were subject to these in their natural state. The first man was created by God upright, but drew us by his fall into such a depth of corruption, that any light which was originally bestowed has been totally obscured. Is it alleged that there still remain in man such gifts of God as are not to be despised, and as distinguish him from all the other creatures, this is easily answered, by remembering, that however great these may be, he is tainted by sin, and therefore nothing to be accounted of. It is only when allied with the knowledge of God that any of the endowments conferred upon us from above can be said to have a real excellency; -- apart from this, they are vitiated by that contagion of sin which has not left a vestige in man of his original integrity. With too much justice, then, might David say that all men are vanity and nothingness.
10. Trust not in oppression and robbery. We are here taught that there can be no real trusting in God until we put away all those vain confidences which prove so many means of turning us away from him. The Psalmist bids us remove whatsoever would have this tendency, and purge ourselves of every vicious desire that would usurp the place of God in our hearts. One or two kinds of sin only are mentioned, but these are to be understood as representing a part for the whole, all those vain and rival confidences of which we must be divested before we can cleave to God with true purpose and sincerity of heart. By oppression and robbery may be understood the act itself of abstracting by violence, and the thing which has been abstracted. It is obviously the design of the passage to warn us against the presumption and hardihood of sin, which is so apt to blind the hearts of men, and deceive them into the belief that their evil courses are sanctioned by the impunity which is extended to them. Interpreters have differed in their construction of the words of this verse. Some join to each of the nouns its own verb, reading, Trust not in oppression, and be not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.6 Others connect the words oppression and robbery with the first verb, and make the second to stand apart by itself in an indefinite sense. It is of very little consequence which of the constructions we adopt, since both express the main sentiment; and it is evident that the Psalmist, in condemning the infatuated confidence of those who boast in robbery, appropriately terms it a mere illusion of the mind, with which they deceive or amuse themselves. Having denounced, in the first place, those desires which are plainly evil and positively wicked, he proceeds immediately afterwards to guard against an inordinate attachment even to such riches as may have been honestly acquired. To set the heart upon riches, means more than simply to covet the possession of them. It implies being carried away by them into a false confidence, or, to use an expression of Paul, "Being high-minded." The admonition here given is one which daily observation teaches us to be necessary. It is uniformly seen that prosperity and abundance engender a haughty spirit, leading men at once to be presumptuous in their carriage before God, and reckless in inflicting injury upon their fellow-creatures. But, indeed, the worst effect to be feared from a blind and ungoverned spirit of this kind is, that, in the intoxication of outward greatness, we be left to forget how frail we are, and proudly and contumeliously to exalt ourselves against God.