Psalm 65:4-8

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.


4. Blessed is the man whom thou hast chosen. Having already acknowledged that the people had separated themselves from God by their sins, and forfeited all right to be heard, he now takes refuge in the free grace of God, which secures the remission of sin amongst other blessings. He thus casts an additional light upon what he had said on the point of guilt being purged away, by pointing to the cause of God, as being favorable to poor sinners, which can only be found in his fatherly love leading him to welcome them into his presence, however undeserving. That pardon which we daily receive flows from our adoption, and on it also are all our prayers founded. How could the sinner venture into the sight of God, to obtain reconciliation with him, were he not persuaded of his being a Father? In the words before us, David does not speak of the grace of God as reaching to the Gentiles, (which he had done in a preceding part of the psalm,) but in terms which apply only to the times in which he wrote. The Church of God was confined to the Jews, and they only were admitted into the sanctuary; whereas now, when the distinction has been abolished, and other nations called to the same privilege, we are all at liberty to approach him with familiarity. Christ is our peace, (Ephesians 2:14,) who has united in one those who were far off, and those who were nigh.

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 would be satisfied with the fullness of his temple. Hypocrites may go there, but they return empty and unsatisfied as to any spiritual blessing enjoyed. It is noticeable, that the person is changed in this part of the verse, and that David associates himself with other believers, preferring to speak upon this subject from personal experience. We are not to understand that believers are fully replenished with the goodness of God at any one moment; it is conveyed to them gradually; but while the influences of the Spirit are thus imparted in successive measures, each of them is enriched with a present sufficiency, till all be in due time advanced to perfection. I might remark here, that while it is true, as stated, (Psalm 103:5,) that "God satisfieth our mouth with good things," at the same time it is necessary to remember what is said elsewhere, "Open thy mouth, and I will fill it." Our contracted desires is the reason why we do not receive a more copious supply of blessings from God; he sees that we are straitened in ourselves, and accommodates the communications of his goodness to the measure of our expectations. By specifying particularly the goodness of the sanctuary, the Psalmist passes an implied commendation upon the outward helps which God has appointed for leading us into the enjoyment of heavenly blessings. In these former times God could have directly stretched out his hand from heaven to supply the wants of his worshippers, but saw fit to satisfy their souls by means of the doctrine of the law, sacrifices, and other rites and external aids to piety. Similar are the means which he employs in the Church still; and though we are not to rest in these, neither must we neglect them.

5. Terrible things6 in righteousness wilt thou answer to us. He proceeds to illustrate, although in a somewhat different form, the same point of the blessedness of those who are admitted into the temple of God, and nourished in his house. He declares that God would answer his people by miracles or fearful signs, displaying his power; as if he had said, in deliverances as wonderful as those which he wrought for their fathers when they went out of Egypt. It is in no common or ordinary manner that God has preserved his Church, but with terrible majesty. It is well that this should be known, and the people of God taught to sustain their hopes in the most apparently desperate exigencies. The Psalmist speaks of the deliverances of God as specially enjoyed by the Jewish nation, but adds, that he was the hope of the ends of the earth, even to the world's remotest extremities. Hence it follows, that the grace of God was to be extended to the Gentiles.

6. By his strength setting fast the mountains. For the sake of illustration, he instances the power of God seen in the general fabric of the world. In these times it sounded as a new and strange truth to say that the Gentiles should be called to the same hope with the Jews. To prove that it was not so incredible as they were apt to conceive, the Psalmist very properly adverts to the Divine power apparent in all parts of the world. He instances the mountains rather than the plains, because the immense masses of earth, and the lofty rocks which they present, convey a more impressive idea of the Godhead. Interpreters are not agreed as to the exact meaning of the verse which follows. Some think that the mark of similitude must be supplied before the first word of the sentence, and that it is meant to be said that God stills the tumults of men when raging in their insolent attempts, as he stills the agitations of the sea. Others understand the first part of the verse to be a metaphorical declaration of what is plainly stated in the close. I would take the words simply as they stand, and consider that in the first member of the verse, David adverts to the illustration of the divine power which we have in the sea, and in the second to that which we have in his operations amongst men. His strength is shown in calming the waves and tempestuous swellings of the ocean. It is put forth also in quelling tumults which may have been raised by the people.

8. They also that dwell, etc. By the signs referred to, we must evidently understand those signal and memorable works of the Lord which bear the impress of his glorious hand. It is true, that the minutest and meanest objects, whether in the heavens or upon the earth, reflect to some extent the glory of God; but the name mentioned emphatically applies to miracles, as affording a better display of the divine majesty. So striking would be the proofs of God's favor to his Church, that, as the Psalmist here intimates to us, they would constrain the homage and wonder of the most distant and barbarous nations. In the latter part of the verse, if we take the interpretation suggested by some, nothing more is meant, than that when the sun rises in the morning, men are refreshed by its light; and again, that when the moon and stars appear at night, they are relieved from the gloom into which they must otherwise have been sunk. Were this interpretation adopted, a preposition must be understood; as if it had been said, Thou makest men to rejoice on account of, or by the rising of the sun, of the moon, and of the stars. But the words, as they stand, convey a sense which is sufficiently appropriate without having recourse to any addition. It was said, that in consequence of the wonders done by the Lord, fear would spread itself over the uttermost parts of the earth; and the same thing is now asserted of the joy which they would shed abroad: from the rising to the setting sun, men would rejoice in the Lord, as well as fear him.

1 My, yam, the sea, is frequently employed to denote the islands which are encompassed by the sea, and being here set in opposition to "the ends or extreme parts of the earth," that is, the continent, it signifies the most remote islands of the world. Accordingly, the Chaldee paraphrase is, "And of the islands of the sea which are remote from the continent." The concluding part of this verse is evidently prophetical of that period when all mankind, when people of every tribe and color and clime, shall be blessed with the knowledge of the gospel, and worship the only true God.

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 tne signifies to answer a request, to hear a prayer,) and with in righteousness, which frequently imports mercy. The LXX. accordingly read it qaumasto<v, wonderful." -- Hammond.