8. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord! nor any that can work as thou workest. 9. All the nations which thou hast made shall come and worship before thy face, O Lord! and shall give glory to thy name. 10. For thou art great, and thou alone, O God! doest wondrous things. 11. Show me thy ways, O Jehovah! I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
8. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord! Here the Psalmist may be considered either as bursting forth into thanksgivings, after having obtained what he desired, or else as gathering courage and new strength for prayer. The latter opinion I am most inclined to adopt; but perhaps it may be preferable to regard both views as included. Some understand the word
9. All nations which thou hast made shall come.2 If any would rather limit what is here stated to David's present case, this view does not seem liable to any material objection. He, in fact, often enhances the Divine goodness of which he himself had experience by the like magnificent strain. It may, however, be fitly extended to the universal power of God; but whether he speaks of the grace that was bestowed upon himself alone, or treats, in general, of the works of God, we must bear in mind what has been observed in another place, that whenever he celebrates the prevalence of true godliness among the heathen, he has an eye to the kingdom of Christ, prior to whose coming God gave only the initial or dawning manifestation of his glory, which at length was diffused through the whole world by the preaching of the Gospel. David was not ignorant of the future calling of the Gentiles; but this being a doctrine with which Jewish ears were not familiar, that people would have felt it a disagreeable announcement, to have been told that the Gentiles should come to worship God indiscriminately with the children of Abraham, and, all distinction being removed, become partakers with them of heavenly truth. To soften the announcement, he asserts that the Gentiles also were created by God, so that it ought not to be accounted strange if they, being enlightened also, should at length acknowledge Him who had created and fashioned them.
10. For thou art great, and thou alone, O God! doest wondrous things. In this verse there is again repeated the cause which will bring all nations to worship before the Lord, namely, the discovery made of his glory by the greatness of his works. The contemplation of God's glory in his works is the true way of acquiring genuine godliness. The pride of the flesh would always lead it to wing its way into heaven; but, as our understandings fail us in such an extended investigation, our most profitable course is, according to the small measure of our feeble capacity, to seek God in his works, which bear witness of him. Let us therefore learn to awaken our understandings to contemplate the divine works, and let us leave the presumptuous to wander in their own intricate mazes, which, in the end, will invariably land them in an abyss from which they will be unable to extricate themselves. To incline our hearts to exercise this modesty, David magnificently extols the works of God, calling them wondrous things, although to the blind, and those who have no taste for them, they are destitute of attraction. In the meantime, we ought carefully to attend to this truth, That the glory of Godhead belongs exclusively to the one true God; for in no other being is it possible to find the wisdom, or the power, or the righteousness, or any of the numerous marks of divinity which shine forth in his wonderful works. Whence it follows, that the Papists are chargeable with rendering, as much as in them lies, his title to true Godhead nugatory, when despoiling him of his attributes they leave him almost nothing but the bare name.
11. Show me thy ways, O Jehovah! David now rises higher, praying that he may be governed by the spirit of sound understanding, in order to his living a holy life, and that he may be strengthened in his endeavors thereto by the spirit of fortitude. He tacitly contrasts the ways of God with all the counsels which he could derive from carnal reason. In submitting himself to God, and in imploring Him to be his guide, he confesses that the only possible way by which we can be enabled to live a holy and an upright life is, when God goes before us, while we follow after him; and, accordingly, that those who deviate, let it be never so little, from the law through a proud conceit of their own wisdom, wander from the right path. This he more fully confirms, by adding immediately after, I will walk in thy truth. He pronounces all to be guilty of vanity and lying who observe not this rule of truth. Farther, his prayer to be taught in the ways of the Lord does not imply that he had been previously altogether ignorant of divine truth; but well aware of the much darkness -- of the many clouds of ignorance in which he was still enveloped, he aspires after greater improvement. Let it also be observed, that he is not to be understood as speaking only of external teaching: but having the law among his hands, he prays for the inward light of the Holy Spirit, that he may not labor in the unprofitable task of learning only the letter; according as he prays in another place,
"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law," (Psalm 119:18.)
If a prophet so distinguished, and so richly endued with the graces of the Holy Spirit, makes such a frank and cordial confession of his own ignorance, how great our folly if we feel not our own deficiency, and are not stirred up to greater diligence in self-improvement from the knowledge of our slender attainments! And, assuredly, the more progress a man has made in the knowledge of the true religion, the more sensible will he be that he is far from the mark. Secondly, it is necessary to add, that reading or hearing is not enough, unless God impart to us inward light by his Spirit.
In addition to this, the Psalmist desires that his heart may be framed for yielding obedience to God, and that it may be firmly established therein; for as our understanding has need of light, so has our will of uprightness. The original words which I have translated, unite my heart, are translated by some, rejoice my heart, as if the verb were from the root,
1 The word for "and propitious" is
2 "Among the gods, i.e., among the gods of the Gentiles, such as Baal, Baal-berith, Baal-zebub, Dagon, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Milcom, Nisroch, and especially, as R. Kimchi thinks, the heavenly bodies, the sun and the stars. Some commentators suppose that it may mean, among angels, or among princes. There is good reason for doubting, however, with Parkhurst, whether the word Alaim ever positively means princes, judges, or magistrates; and the passage (Judges 13:22) quoted by Buxtorf, to show that it sometimes means an angel, only proves that Manoah intended to say that he had seen God in the person of his angel. Comp. Psalm 89:7; 96:5." -- Cresswell.
4 The reading of the LXX. is, "Let my heart rejoice," with which the Syriac agrees; and this sense is adopted by several critics, as Muis, Dr Durell, and others.