5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; the ways are in their hearts. 6. They passing through the valley of weeping,1 will together make it a fountain;2 the rain also will cover the cisterns, [or reservoirs.]3 7. They will go from strength to strength;4 the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee. David again informs us, that the purpose for which he desired liberty of access to the sanctuary was, not merely to gratify his eyes with what was to be seen there, but to make progress in faith. To lean with the whole heart upon God, is to attain to no ordinary degree of advancement: and this cannot be attained by any man, unless all his pride is laid prostrate in the dust, and his heart truly humbled. In proposing to himself this way of seeking God, David's object is to borrow from him by prayer the strength of which he feels himself to be destitute. The concluding clause of the verse, the ways are in their hearts,5 is by some interpreted as meaning, That those are happy who walk in the way which God has appointed; for nothing is more injurious to a man than to trust in his own understanding. It is not improperly said of the law, "This is the way, walk ye in it," Isaiah 30:21. Whenever then men turn aside, however little it may be, from the divine law, they go astray, and become entangled in perverse errors. But it is more appropriate to restrict the clause to the scope of the passage, and to understand it as implying, that those are happy whose highest ambition it is to have God as the guide of their life, and who therefore desire to draw near to him. God, as we have formerly observed, is not satisfied with mere outward ceremonies. What he desires is, to rule and keep in subjection to himself all whom he invites to his tabernacle. Whoever then has learned how great a blessedness it is to rely upon God, will put forth all the desires and faculties of his mind, that with all speed he may hasten to Him.
6. They passing through the valley of weeping, will together make it a well. The meaning of the Psalmist is, that no impediments can prevent the enlightened and courageous worshippers of God from making conscience of waiting upon the sanctuary. By this manner of speaking, he confirms the statement which he had previously made, That nothing is more desirable than to be daily engaged in the worship of God; showing, as he does, that no difficulties can put a stop to the ardent longings of the godly, and prevent them from hastening with alacrity, yea, even though their way should be through dry and barren deserts, to meet together to solemnise the holy assemblies. As the Hebrew word
7. They will go from strength to strength. In this verse the same sentiment is repeated. Mount Zion being the place where, according to the appointment of the law, the holy assemblies were observed, after the ark of the covenant was removed thither, it is said, that the people of God will come to Zion in great numbers, provoking one another to this good work.8 The word
1 "Ou, du meurier." -- Fr. marg. "Or, of the mulberry-tree."
2 "Fontem ponent." -- Lat. "La rendent semblable a une fontaine." -- Fr.
3 "Pools or reservoirs of water, as well as wells, are common in the Eastern deserts: the latter are supplied by springs, the former by rains, as here noticed: but both are to be found in considerable numbers in Judea, and are, according to Rauwolff, more numerous in these countries than springs that lie high; that is, than fountains and brooks of running water. Some of these have been made for the use of the people that dwell in the neighborhood; some for travelers, and especially those that travel for devotion; as for instance, such as go in pilgrimage to Mecca. The Psalmist appears to refer to provisions of this sort, made by the devout Israelites in the way of their progress to Jerusalem." -- Mant.
This last clause has been very variously rendered. It has been understood by all the versions, in a different sense from that given to it by Calvin and our English version, which agrees with him. The Septuagint reads: "The law-giver will give blessings." Dr Adam Clarke: "Yea, the instructor is covered, or clothed with blessings." "God," says he, "takes care to give his followers teachers after his own heart, that shall feed them with knowledge: and while they are watering the people they are watered themselves." Mudge reads: "Even Moreh is clothed with ponds." He translates the 5th, 6th, and 7th verses thus: -- "How happy the man whose strength is in thee! that travel the roads with their hearts. In the valley of Baca he maketh it a fountain; even Moreh is clothed with ponds. They walk from strength to strength; he appeareth before God in Zion." His note on these verses is as follows: -- "I join the latter end of the 5th to the first word of the 6th, (so the Seventy direct, and the sense seems to require,) with a slight alteration into
4 "Ou, de troupe en troupe." -- Fr. marg. "Or, from company to company."
5 "Heb. The ways are in his heart; i.e., the highways to the temple are the objects of his delight. In the former verses he had alluded to the happiness of the priests, etc., who were always engaged in the service of Jehovah; here he expresses the felicity of other Israelites, who frequented the worship of the temple." -- Dr Good's new Version of the Book of Psalms, with Notes.
6 "Ou la cloche sonnera pour appeler les gens aux prieres publiques" -- Fr.
7 "Il dit que les fideles y viendront a grand foulle, et a l'envie l'un de l'autre, comme on dit." -- Fr.
8 "Horsley reads, 'from wall to wall;' Merrick, 'from station to station;' others, 'from virtue to virtue,' in the military sense. All come to the same effect; they persevere through all difficulty or opposition, having their hearts set on reaching Zion's hill." -- Williams. "I think with Gejerus that the Hebrew may be translated from strength to strength, (answerably to the words from faith to faith, Romans 1:17, and from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18,) and signify, that whereas other travelers grow more and more weary as they travel, each of the pious persons here described shall, by the refreshments administered to them, proceed from one degree of strength to another, viresque acquiret eundo. As Jerusalem is represented in the New Testament as a type of heaven, I see nothing irrational in supposing that the inspired writer might, in describing the ascent to Jerusalem, have in view also that spiritual progress which leads to the city which is above, the mother of us all. The words before us are certainly very applicable to the advances made in this progress, from strength to strength, from one stage of Christian perfection to another." -- Merrick's Annotations.
9 "Ailleurs." This supplement is not in the Latin version.