4. Blessed is the man whom thou hast chosen, and hast brought near thee; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of the sanctuary of thy palace. 5. Terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer to us, O God of our salvation! the hope of all the ends of the earth, and the far of places of the sea.16. By his strength setting fast the mountains, being girded with power.27. Stilling the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the nations. 8. They also that dwell in the ends of the earth shall fear at thy signs; thou shalt make the outgoings of the evening and morning to rejoice.
What has been now said may show at once the scope of the Psalmist. The Church and chosen people of God being in possession of the promise of the remission of sin, he calls those blessed whom God has included within that number, and introduced into the enjoyment of such a distinguished privilege. His language intimates, that the election did not at that time terminate upon all; for he insists upon it as the special prerogative of the Jews, that they had been chosen by God in preference to the other nations. Were it supposed that man could do anything to anticipate the grace of God, the election would cease to be with God himself, although the right and power of it are expressly ascribed to him.3 But the Jews had no excellency above others, except in the one point of having enjoyed the distinguishing favor of God. The middle wall of partition is now broken down, that the Gentiles might be called in. It is evident, however, that all are not alike called; and observation proves the ignorance of those who will assert that the grace of God is extended to all in common, without any choice exerted on his part. Can any reason be imagined why God should not call all alike, except it be that his sovereign election distinguishes some from others? Faith and prayer may be means for procuring us an interest in the grace of God; but the source whence it flows is not within but without us.4 There is a blessedness in exercising trust upon God, and embracing his promises -- a blessedness experienced when, through faith in Christ the Mediator, we apprehend him as our Father, and direct our prayers to him in that character; -- but ere this faith and prayer can have any existence, it must be supposed that we who are estranged from God by nature have been brought near by an exercise of his favor. We are near him, not as having anticipated his grace, and come to him of ourselves, but because, in his condescension, he has stretched out his hand as far as hell itself to reach us. To speak more properly, he first elects us, and then testifies his love by calling us. It is noticeable, also, that though God separated the seed of Abraham to be a peculiar people, entitled as the circumcision to a place in his temple, there can be no question that David recognised a distinction even amongst those who were Jews, all not having been the subjects of God's effectual calling, nor yet properly entitled to a place in his temple. The Psalmist alludes, indeed, to the outward sanctuary, when he speaks of the Jews as chosen to approach God; but we must remember (what was brought under our attention, Psalm 15:1 and Psalm 24:3) that all were not real members of the Church who trod the court of the temple, but that the great qualifications necessary were the pure heart and the clean hands. Accordingly, we must understand by those brought near to God, such as present themselves before him in the exercise of genuine faith, and not such as merely occupy a place in his temple as to outward appearance. But, again, the being chosen, and the being called to approach God, are two things mentioned here together, to correct any such vain idea as that the sheep of God's flock are allowed to wander at will for any length of time, and not brought into the fold.5 This is one way by which our gratuitous adoption is evidenced, that we come to the sanctuary under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The Psalmist insists upon the fruit springing out of the blessed privilege of which he had spoken, when he adds, that believers
2 From the length and looseness of the garments of the inhabitants of the East, in ancient times, it was necessary to bind them close with a girdle, when they intended to exert their strength. Hence the expression, "girded with strength." Dr Lowth thinks the allusion is to the vesture of the Aaronical priesthood. -- Lectures on Sacred Poetry, volume 1, pp. 173-175.
3 "Nam si anteverterent homines Dei gratiam, non resideret penes ipsum electio, eujus potestas et jus ei tribuitur." -- Lat.
4 "Fides quidem et invocatio media sunt, quae nobis concilient Dei gratiam, sed fons extra nos quaerendus est." -- Lat. "Sont los moyens pour nous faire trouver grace envers Dieu." etc. -- Fr.
5 "Jam hic vocatio adjungitur electioni, ne quis somniet oves perpetuo vagari, neque unquam colligi in ovile. Nam hoc effectu se ostendit," etc. -- Lat. "Or la vocation exterieure est yci adjointe a l'election, afin que nul n'imagine que les brebis soyent tousjours errantes sans estre recueillies en la bergerie: car l'adoption gratuite de Dieu se declare," etc. -- Fr.
6 The original word for terrible things "signifies sometimes terrible. sometimes wonderful things, anything that exceeds in greatness or quality. In the latter sense we have it, Deuteronomy 10:21, when speaking of God, it is said, 'He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things,' -- great, exceeding, wonderful things; and those acts of mercy, and not of justice or punishment; and so here it appears to signify, being joined with answering us, or granting us, in answer to our prayers, (so