a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Judah’s Song of Victory


On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

We have a strong city;

he sets up victory

like walls and bulwarks.


Open the gates,

so that the righteous nation that keeps faith

may enter in.


Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—

in peace because they trust in you.


Trust in the L ord forever,

for in the L ord G od

you have an everlasting rock.


For he has brought low

the inhabitants of the height;

the lofty city he lays low.

He lays it low to the ground,

casts it to the dust.


The foot tramples it,

the feet of the poor,

the steps of the needy.



The way of the righteous is level;

O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.


In the path of your judgments,

O L ord, we wait for you;

your name and your renown

are the soul’s desire.


My soul yearns for you in the night,

my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

For when your judgments are in the earth,

the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.


If favor is shown to the wicked,

they do not learn righteousness;

in the land of uprightness they deal perversely

and do not see the majesty of the L ord.


O L ord, your hand is lifted up,

but they do not see it.

Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.

Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.


O L ord, you will ordain peace for us,

for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.


O L ord our God,

other lords besides you have ruled over us,

but we acknowledge your name alone.


The dead do not live;

shades do not rise—

because you have punished and destroyed them,

and wiped out all memory of them.


But you have increased the nation, O L ord,

you have increased the nation; you are glorified;

you have enlarged all the borders of the land.



O L ord, in distress they sought you,

they poured out a prayer

when your chastening was on them.


Like a woman with child,

who writhes and cries out in her pangs

when she is near her time,

so were we because of you, O L ord;


we were with child, we writhed,

but we gave birth only to wind.

We have won no victories on earth,

and no one is born to inhabit the world.


Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise.

O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

For your dew is a radiant dew,

and the earth will give birth to those long dead.



Come, my people, enter your chambers,

and shut your doors behind you;

hide yourselves for a little while

until the wrath is past.


For the L ord comes out from his place

to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;

the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,

and will no longer cover its slain.


1. In that day shall a song be sung. Here the Prophet begins again to shew that, after the return of the people from captivity, they will be defended by God’s power and guardianship, and that under his protection Jerusalem will be as safe as if she had been surrounded by bulwarks, ramparts, a ditch, and a double wall, so that no enemy could find entrance.

It is proper to observe the time when “this song was sung.” The Prophet had foretold the calamity that would befall the Church, which was not yet so near at hand, but happened a short time after his death. When the people were led into captivity, they would undoubtedly have despaired, if they had not been encouraged by such promises. That the Jews might cherish a hope that they would be delivered, and might behold life in the midst of death, the Prophet composed for them this song, even before the calamity occurred, that they might be better prepared for enduring it, and might hope for better things. I do not think that it was composed solely that, when they had been delivered, they might give thanks to God, but that even during their captivity, though they were like dead men, (Ezekiel 37:1,) they might strengthen their hearts with this confidence, and might also train up their children in this expectation, and hand down these promises, as it were, to posterity.

We have formerly 154154     See vol. 1 p. 162.
    FT412 See Calvin on Isaiah, vol. 1 p. 384

    FT413 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace (Heb. peace, peace) whose mind (or, thought, or, imagination) is stayed on thee.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT414 “For in the Lord Jehovah is (Heb. the Rock of ages) everlasting strength.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT415 “For he bringeth down them that dwell on high.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT416 See Commentary on Isaiah, vol. 1 p. 407

    FT417 It will be observed, that this accords very nearly with our English version. — Ed

    FT418 Bishop Stock’s rendering is, “The road of the just is the direct road; rightly the path of the just dost thou make even;” and he makes the following annotations: — “The direct road to happiness, the object of all human pursuit. ‘Rightly,’ or with reason, ‘the path of the just dost thou make even,’ smooth before him, till he reaches his journey’s end. ‘The straight road is the short one,’ says the divine as well as the geometrician.” — Ed

    FT419A se fier en Dieu;” — “To trust in God.”

    FT420Encor que les choses soyent du tout hors d’espoir;” — “Even when matters are altogether beyond hope.”

    FT421Tous les desirs et travaux des hommes.”

    FT422 “Early.” — (Eng. Ver.) In the marginal reading of the Author’s version, he renders it “earnestly.” — Ed

    FT423Que les hommes sont enseignez à eraindre Dieu par les verges dont il les frappe;” — “That men are taught to fear God by the scourges with which he strikes them.”

    FT424 “Let favour be shewed to the wicked.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT425Et se retiennent en bride de crainte qu’ils ont d’estre fouettez;” — “And are kept in check through fear of being chastised.”

    FT426 Accordingly, our English version, instead of “upright actions,” uses the term “uprightness,” which corresponds to the Author’s French version, “la terre de droiture,” “the land of uprightness.” — Ed

    FT427La terre de droiture;” — “The land of uprightness.”

    FT428 The Author refers to his exposition of Isaiah 5:12. See Commentary on Isaiah, vol. 1 p. 176

    FT429 Μετωνυμία, or metonymy, denotes that figure of rhetoric by which one word is exchanged for another on account of a connection of idea, such as, “Moses and the prophets,” for their works, or, as in this passage, the “hand” for the works performed by it. — Ed

    FT430 “(They are) dead, they shall not live.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT431Des fideles et des infideles;” — “Of believers and unbelievers.”

    FT432 “(They are) deceased, they shall not rise.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT433 Professor Alexander renders רפאים (rĕphāīm) ghosts and remarks, “It is here a poetical equivalent to מתים (mēthīm,) and may be variously rendered shades, shadows, spirits, or the like. The common version (deceased) leaves too entirely out of view the figurative character of the expression. Giants, on the contrary, is too strong, and could only be employed in this connection in the sense of gigantic shades, or shadows.”

    FT434 As if the reading had been not rĕphāīm, but rōphĕīm, the Seventy render it ἰατροὶ οὐ μὴ ἀναστήσουσι, “physicians shall not rise again.” — Ed

    FT435Faisoyent que la demeurance estiot plus estroite et moins libre;” — “Made habitation to be narrower and less free.”

    FT436Que nous avons traduit Prière;” — “Which we have translated Prayer.”

    FT437Pour une prière articulee;” — “For an articulated prayer.”

    FT438 “An obvious phrase for inanity. See below, Isaiah 33:11 They who think of a female disorder, termed empneumatosis, should remember that it is an uncommon disorder, and that metaphors are not drawn from objects or events of rare occurrence.” — Stock

    FT439 “We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT440Esperant avoir part de leur resurrection;” — “Hoping to share in their resurrection.”

    FT441En ceste vie.”

    FT442 Bishop Lowth’s rendering is, “For thy dew is as the dew of the dawn.” Bishop Stock follows him very closely: “For as the dew of day-light is thy dew,” and remarks: — “A dew of rays, that is, as I conceive, a dew able to abide the solar rays, or a steady dew, in oppostion ‘to the early dew that passeth away’ of Hosea 6:4, 13:3; which the Prophet there parallels with ‘the morning cloud.’ The comparison of Isaiah intimates that the refreshing of Israel should not be transient, but lasting.” Professor Alexander, with his usual learning and judgment, produces a formidable array of conflicting authorities, but vindicates the usual rendering. “There are,” he says, “two interpretations of ארות, (ōrōth,) both ancient, and supported by high modern authorities. The first gives the word the usual sense of איר, (ōr,) light; the other, that of plants, which it has in 2 Kings 4:39. To the former it may be objected, that it leaves the plural form unexplained, that it arbitrarily makes light mean life, and that it departs from the acknowledged meaning of ארותrōth) in the only other place where it occurs. The second interpretation, on the other hand, assumes but one sense of the word, allows the plural form its proper force, and supposes an obvious and natural allusion to the influence of dew upon the growth of plants. In either case, the reference to the dew is intended to illustrate the vivifying power of God.” — Ed

    FT443 As to the interpretation of רפאים (rĕphāīm) by giants, See page 231, note 3

    FT444Que ces tourbillons et orages passent, et sont de petite duree;” — “That these whirlwinds and storms pass away, and are of short duration.”

    FT445 “Her blood (Heb. bloods).” — Eng. Ver.
seen the reason why these and other promises were put by Isaiah into the form of verse. It was, that, having been frequently sung, they might make a deeper impression on their memory. Though they mourned in Babylon, and were almost overwhelmed with sorrow, (hence these sounds, (Psalm 137:4,) “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”) yet they must have hoped that at a future period, when they should have returned to Judea, they would give thanks to the Lord and sing his praises; and therefore the Prophet shews to them at a distance the day of deliverance, that they may take courage from the expectation of it.

We have a city of strength. By these words a full restoration of Jerusalem and of the people is promised, because God will not only deliver the captives and gather those that are scattered, but will also preserve them safe, after having brought them back to their country. But not long afterwards believers saw that Jerusalem was destroyed, (2 Kings 25:9,) and the Temple thrown down, (2 Chronicles 36:19,) and after their return nothing could meet their eye but hideous ruins; and all this Isaiah had previously foretold. It was therefore necessary that they should behold from the lofty watch-tower of faith this restoration of Jerusalem.

He hath made salvation to be walls and a bulwark. He now defines what will be “the strength of the city;” for the “salvation” of God will supply the place of a “wall,” towers, ditches, and mounds. As if he had said, “Let other cities rely on their fortifications, God alone will be to us instead of all bulwarks.” Some allege that the words may be read, “He hath set a wall and bulwark for salvation;” and I do not set aside that rendering. But as a more valuable doctrine is contained in the Prophet’s words, when nothing is supplied, it serves no good purpose to go far for a forced interpretation; especially since the true and natural interpretation readily presents itself to the mind, which is, that God’s protection is more valuable than all ditches and walls. In like manner, it is also said in the psalm, “Thy mercy is better than life,” (Psalm 63:3;) for as David there boasts of enjoying, under God’s shadow, greater safety and freedom from care than if he had been fortified by every kind of earthly defense, so Isaiah here says, that there will be good reason for laying aside fear, when God shall have undertaken to guard his people. Now, since this promise extends to the whole course of redemption, we ought to believe that at the present day God is still the guardian of his Church, and therefore, that his power is of more avail than if it had been defended by every kind of military force. Accordingly, if we wish to dwell in safety, we must remain in the Church. Though we have no outward defences, yet let us learn to be satisfied with the Lord’s protection, and with his sure salvation, which is better than all bulwarks.

2. Open ye the gates. This “song” was undoubtedly despised by many, when it was published by Isaiah; for during his life, the inhabitants of Jerusalem were wicked and ungodly, and the number of good men was exceedingly small. But after his death, when they had been punished for their wickedness, it was in some measure perceived that this prediction had not been uttered in vain. So long as wicked men enjoy prosperity, they have no fear, and do not imagine that they can be brought low. Thus the Jews thought that they would never be driven out of Judea, and carried into captivity, and hoped that they would continue to dwell there. It was therefore necessary to take away from them every pretense for being haughty and insolent; and such is the import of the Prophet’s words:

And a righteous nation, which keepeth the truth, shall enter in. “The inhabitants of the restored city shall be unlike the former; for they will maintain righteousness and truth. But at that time this promise also might appear to have failed of its accomplishment; for when they had been driven out of the country and led into captivity, no consolation remained. Accordingly, when the Temple had been destroyed, the city sacked, and all order and government overthrown and destroyed, they might have objected, “Where are those ‘gates’ which he bids us ‘open?’ Where are the people who shall ‘enter?’” Yet we see that these things were fulfilled, and that nothing was ever foretold which the Lord did not accomplish. We ought, therefore, to keep before our minds those ancient histories, that we may be fortified by their example, and, amidst the deepest adversity to which the Church is reduced, may hope that the Lord will yet raise her up again.

When the Prophet calls the nation “righteous and truthful,” he not only, as I mentioned a little before, describes the persons to whom this promise relates, but shews the fruit of the chastisement; for when its pollution shall have been washed away, the holiness and righteousness of the Church shall shine more brightly. At that time wicked men were the majority, good men were very few, and were overpowered by the multitude of those who were of an opposite character. It was therefore necessary that that multitude, which had no fear of God, and no religion, should be taken away, that God might gather his remnant. Thus, it was a compensation for the destruction, that Jerusalem, which had been polluted by the wickedness of her citizens, again was actually devoted to God; for it would not have been enough to regain prosperity, if newness of life had not shone forth in holiness and righteousness.

Now, as the Prophet foretells the grace of God, so he also exhorts the redeemed people to maintain uprightness of life. In short, he threatens that these promises will be of no avail to hypocrites, and that the gates of the city will not be opened for them, but only for the righteous and holy. It is certain that the Church was always like a barn, (Matthew 3:12,) in which the chaff is mingled with the wheat, or rather, the wheat is overpowered by the chaff; but when the Jews had been brought back into their country, the Church was unquestionably purer than before. Those who returned must have been animated by a good disposition, to undertake a journey so long, and beset by so many annoyances, embarrassments, and dangers; and many others chose rather to remain in captivity than to return, thinking that to dwell in Babylon was a safer and more peaceful condition than to return to Judea. Such persons must have had a seed of piety, which led them to take possession of those promises which were granted to the fathers. Now, though the Church even at that time was stained by many imperfections, still this description was comparatively true; for a large portion of the filth had been swept away, and those who remained had profited in some degree under God’s chastisements.

A righteous nation, which keepeth the truth. Some distinguish these terms in this manner, “A nation righteous before God, and upright before men.” But I take the meaning to be more simple; that, after having called the nation “righteous,” he shews in what righteousness consists; that is, where there is uprightness of heart, which has nothing feigned or hypocritical, for nothing is more opposite to righteousness than hypocrisy. And though no man ever existed who advanced so far that he could receive the commendation of being perfectly righteous, yet the children of God, who with their whole heart aim at this “truth,” may be said to be keepers of it. But perhaps it will rather be thought that, by a figure of speech, one part is taken for the whole, to describe what is true righteousness; that is, when all deceit and all wicked practices have been laid aside, and men act towards each other with sincerity and truth.

If any man wish to make use of this passage for upholding the merits of men, the answer is easy; for the Prophet does not here describe the cause of salvation, or what men are by nature, but what God makes them by his grace, and what kind of persons he wishes to be members of his Church. Out of wolves he makes sheep, as we have formerly seen. 155155    {Bogus footnote} So long as we live here, we are always at a great distance from perfection, and are in continual progress towards it; but the Lord judges of us according to that which he has begun in us, and, having once led us into the way of righteousness, reckons us to be righteous. As soon as he begins to check and reform our hypocrisy, he at once calls us true and upright.

3. The thought is fixed; thou wilt keep peace, peace. 156156    {Bogus footnote} As the Hebrew word יצר (Yĕtzĕr) signifies both “imagination” or “creature,” and “thought,” some render it, “By a settled foundation thou wilt keep peace;” as if the Prophet meant, that when men, amidst the convulsions of the world, continue to rest firmly on God, they will always be safe. Others render it, “For the fixed thought thou wilt keep peace;” which amounts to nearly the same thing, that they who have fixed their minds on God alone will at length be happy; for in no other way does God promise that he will be the guardian of his people than when they rely on his grace with settled thoughts, and without change or wavering. Since, however, the sign of the dative case is not added, but the Prophet in a concise manner of expression says, “Fixed or steadfast thought,” let my readers judge if it be not more appropriate to view it as referring to God, so as to make the meaning to be, that the peace of the Church is founded on his eternal and unchangeable purpose; for, in order to prevent godly minds from continual wavering, it is of the highest importance to look to the heavenly decree.

It is undoubtedly true that we ought constantly to hope in God, that we may perceive his continual faithfulness in defending us; and believers are always enjoined not to be driven about by any doubt, or uncertainty, or wavering, but firmly to rely on God alone. Yet the meaning which is more easily obtained from this passage, and comes more naturally from the words of the Prophet, is, that it is a fixed and unchangeable decree of God, that all who hope in him shall enjoy eternal peace; for if fixed thought means the certainty and steadfastness of the godly, it would be superfluous to assign the reason, which is —

Because he hath trusted in thee. In short, both modes of expression would have been harsh, that “continual peace is prepared for imagination,” or “for thought.” But it is perfectly appropriate to say that, when we trust in God, he never disappoints our hope, because he has determined to guard us for ever. Hence it follows, that, since the safety of the Church does not depend on the state of the world, it is not moved or shaken by the various changes which happen daily; but that, having been founded on the purpose of God, it stands with steady and unshakable firmness, so that it can never fall.

There is also, I think, an implied contrast between God’s fixed thought and our wandering imaginations; for at almost every moment there springs up something new which drives our thoughts hither and thither, and there is no change, however slight, that does not produce some doubt. We ought therefore to hold this principle, that we do wrong if we judge of God’s unshaken purpose by our fickle imaginations; as we shall elsewhere see,

“As far as the heavens are from the earth, so far are my thoughts from your thoughts, O house of Israel.” (Isaiah 55:9.)

We ought therefore above all to hold it certain, that our salvation is not liable to change; because the purpose of God is unchangeable.

Thou wilt keep peace, peace. What has now been stated explains the reason of the repetition of the word peace; for it denotes uninterrupted continuance for ever. By the word peace I understand not only serenity of mind, but every kind of happiness; as if he had said, that the grace of God alone can enable us to live prosperously and happily.

4. Trust ye in Jehovah for ever. As to the words, some read in the second clause, “Trust in God, the strong Jehovah of ages;” but as צור (tzūr) is not always an adjective, but signifies strength, I reject that meaning as forced, besides that it has little relation to the subject, as will immediately appear. There is also little ground for the ingenuity of those who infer from this passage the divinity of Christ, as if the Prophet said, that “Jehovah is in Jah;” for the twofold name of God is given for the express purpose of magnifying his power.

He now exhorts the people to rest safely on God, and therefore, after the preceding doctrine, there is now room for exhortation. Besides, it would have been vain to say that our peace is in the hand of God, and that he is our faithful guardian, if we had not been taught and instructed on this subject, and at the same time urged by exhortations. Yet he exhorts us not only to earnest hope, but to perseverance; and this discourse applies properly to believers, who have already learned what it is to trust in the Lord, and who need to be strengthened, because they are still weak, and may often fall, in consequence of the various motives to distrust with which they are called to struggle. He therefore does not enjoin them merely to trust in the Lord, but to remain steadfastly in trust and confidence to the end.

For in Jah Jehovah is the strength of ages. 157157    {Bogus footnote} We ought to attend to the reason which is here assigned, namely, that as the power of God, which is the object of faith, is perpetual, so faith ought to be extended so as to be equally perpetual. When the Prophet speaks of the strength and power of God, he does not mean power which is unemployed, but power active and energetic, which is actually exerted on us, and which conducts to the end what he had begun. And this doctrine has a wider application, for it bids us truly believe that we ought to contemplate the nature of God; for, as soon as we turn aside from beholding it, nothing is seen but what is fleeting, and then we immediately faint. Thus ought faith to rise above the world by continual advances; for neither the truth, nor the justice, nor the goodness of God, is temporary and fading, but God continues always to be like himself.

5. For he will bring down the inhabitants of loftiness. 158158    {Bogus footnote} He now explains more fully what is that power of God of which he spoke. It is that which we ourselves feel, and which is exerted for our benefit. The two clauses are therefore closely connected, that “the proud are laid low by the power of God,” and that “the lowly and despised are placed in their room;” for it would not have yielded full consolation to tell us, in the first place, that “the proud will be laid low,” if he had not likewise added, that “the lowly will be exalted,” so as to hold dominion over the proud. We therefore acknowledge, that in our own experience God works powerfully for our salvation, and this yields to us a ground of hope.

Under the word loftiness he includes not only bulwarks and fortifications of every kind, (for the ancients were wont to build their cities in lofty places,) but also wealth and magnificence. He therefore means, that no defense can prevent God from casting down the wicked, and laying them low. Towers and bulwarks, indeed, are not displeasing to God; but as it rarely happens that they who are strong and powerful are not proud, so loftiness frequently denotes pride. Unquestionably he speaks of the wicked, who have abundance of arms, forces, and money, and imagine that they are protected against God himself. He likewise comforts the Jews, as we have formerly said, 159159    {Bogus footnote} because the invincible power of Babylon might have terrified them and thrown them into despair, if the Lord had not supported them by this promise: “You have no reason for being terrified at the greatness or strength of Babylon; for she will quickly fall, and will not stand before the power of the Lord.”

7. Straightnesses are the way of the righteous man. He does not praise the righteousness of the godly, as some have falsely supposed, but shews that, through the blessing of God, they are prosperous and successful during the whole course of their life. Having only stated briefly in the beginning of the verse, that “their ways are plain and smooth,” he explains more fully in the second clause, ascribing it to the grace of God that in an open plain, as it were, the righteous proceed in their course, till they reach the goal.

Thou wilt weigh the straight path of the righteous. The word weigh contains a metaphor, that God, by applying a balance, as it were, brings to an equal measure those things which in themselves were unequal. The Hebrew word ישר (yāshār) is ambiguous, for it may refer either to God or to the path. Accordingly some render it, Thou, who art upright, will direct the path of the righteous; 160160    {Bogus footnote} and in other passages God is called upright. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 25:8.) There would also be propriety in the allusion, that the straightness of which he spoke proceed from God, for he alone is straight or upright. But the other version appears to be more natural. 161161    {Bogus footnote}

He promises in general, that God will take care of the righteous, so as to lead them, as it were, by his hand. When the wicked prosper and the righteous are oppressed, everything in this world appears to be moved by chance; and although Scripture frequently declares and affirms that God takes care of them, (Psalm 37:5; 1 Peter 5:7,) yet we can scarcely remain steadfast, but waver, when everything that happens to them is unfavourable. Yet it is true that the ways of the righteous are made plain by God’s balance, however rough and uneven they may appear to be; and not only so, but he has committed them to the guardianship of his angels, “lest they should be injured, or dash their foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11.) But for this, they would easily fall or give way through exhaustion, and would hardly ever make way amidst so many thorns and briers, steep roads, intricate windings, and rough places, did not the Lord lead out and deliver them.

Let us therefore learn to commit ourselves to God, and to follow him as our leader, and we shall be guided in safety. Though snares and artifices, the stratagems of the devil and wicked men, and innumerable dangers, may surround us, we shall always be enabled to escape. We shall feel what the Prophet says here, that our ways, even amidst deep chasms, are made plain, so that there is no obstacle to hinder our progress. And, indeed, experience shews, that if we are not led by God’s guidance, we shall not be able to push our way through rugged roads; for so great is our weakness that we shall scarcely advance a single step without stumbling at the smallest stone that comes in our way. Satan and wicked men not only entangle and delay us by many perplexities, and not only present to us slight difficulties, but cause us to encounter sometimes high mounds and sometimes deep pits, which even the whole world would be unable to avoid.

It is therefore proper for us to acknowledge how much we need heavenly direction, and to confess with Jeremiah, “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself; and it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23.) Let us not be puffed up with vain confidence, as if the result were placed in our own power. Let us not boast, as James warns us, that “we shall do this or that.” (James 4:15.) Such is the manner of rash men, who act as if they could do everything at their own pleasure; while it is not in our power, as Solomon tells us, to direct our tongue so as to give a proper answer. (Proverbs 16:1.) In vain, therefore, do men form plans, and deliberate, and decide about their ways, if God do not stretch out his hand. But he holds it out to the righteous, and takes peculiar care of them; for, while the providence of God extends to all, and while he supplies the wants of young ravens (Psalm 147:9) and sparrows, (Matthew 10:29,) and of the smallest animals, yet he has a fatherly kindness towards the godly, and delivers them out of dangers and difficulties.

8. Yea, in the way of thy judgments. This verse contains a very beautiful doctrine, without which it might have been thought that the former statements were without foundation. Since he said that God will be our guide during the whole of life, so that we shall neither wander nor stumble, and while, on the other hand, we are pressed by so many straits, we might conclude that those promises have not been actually fulfilled. Accordingly, when he tries our patience, we ought to strive, and yet to trust in him. Here the Prophet gives us this instruction, that, though our eyes are not gratified by an easy and delightful path, and though the road is not made smooth under our feet, but we must toil through many hard passages, still there is room for hope and patience.

By the way of judgments he means adversity, and the word judgment often has this meaning in Scripture. But here is a mark which distinguishes the godly from hypocrites; for in prosperity hypocrites bless God, and speak highly of him; but in adversity they murmur, and curse God himself, and plainly shew that they had no confidence in him, and thus judge of God according as their prosperity lasts. The godly, on the other hand, when they are tried by afflictions and calamities, are more and more excited to place confidence. 162162    {Bogus footnote}

The particle אף, (ăph,) Even, is inserted for the sake of emphasis, as if the Prophet had said, that believers are earnest in the worship of God, not only so long as he treats them with gentleness, but that, if he deal harshly with them, still they do not faint, because they are supported by hope. It is therefore the true test of sincere godliness, when not only while God bestows his kindness upon us, but while he withdraws his face, and afflicts us, and gives every sign of severity and displeasure, we place our hope and confidence in him. Let us learn to apply this doctrine to our own use, whenever we are hard pressed by the calamities of the present life; and let us not cease to trust in him, even when our affairs are in the most desperate condition. 163163    {Bogus footnote} “Though He slay me,” says Job, “I will trust in Him;” and David says that: “though he walk amidst the shadow of death, he will trust and not be afraid, because he knows that God is with him.” (Job 13:15; Psalm 23:4.)

To thy name. The Prophet aims at shewing what is the source of that uwearied earnestness which prevents the godly from sinking under the greatest calamities. It is because they are free from wicked desires and from excessive solicitude, and in their aspirations boldly rise to God. For, in consequence of our disorderly passions and cares holding us bound, as it were, to the earth, our hearts either wander astray, or sink into indolence, so that they do not freely rise to God; and as the essence of God is hidden from us, this makes us more sluggish in seeking him. From his hidden and incomprehensible essence, therefore, the Prophet draws our attention to the name of God, as if he enjoined us to rest satisfied with that manifestation of it which is found in the word; because there God declares to us, as far as is necessary, his justice, wisdom, and goodness, that is, himself.

And to the remembrance of thee. It is not without good reason also that he has added the word remembrance; for it means that the first perception or thought is not enough, but that continual meditation is enjoined; because without its aid all the light of doctrine would immediately vanish away. And indeed the true and sincere knowledge of God inflames us to desire him, and not only so, but also prompts us to desire to make progress, whenever the “remembrance” of it occurs to our minds. The knowledge of God, therefore, comes first; and next, we must be employed in frequent “remembrance;” for it is not enough that we have once obtained knowledge, if love and desire do not grow through constant meditation. Hence, also, we perceive that the knowledge of God is not a dead imagination.

9. My soul hath desired thee. This is a stronger expression of the former statement; for, having previously spoken in the person of believers, he had said that the desire of their soul was towards God. He now adds, with regard to himself, My soul hath desired; as if he had said, “I have all the faculties of my soul directed towards seeking thy name.” The word נפש (nēphĕsh) frequently denotes the vital Soul; but as the Prophet here employs two words, I distinguish them so as to make נפש (nephesh) mean the desire or will, and רוח (rūăch) the intellectual parts; for we know that these are the chief parts of the human soul, namely, the Understanding and the Will, both of which God justly claims for himself. Such is also the import of that passage, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37.) The Prophet therefore shews, that all the faculties of his soul are directed to this point, to seek God and embrace him.

Others take רוח, (rūăch,) the Spirit, to mean the regenerated part; and so by נפש (nĕphĕsh) they understand the natural soul, and by רוח, (rūăch,) the Spirit, they understand the grace of God, which is supernatural. But this cannot be admitted; for the sensual man (ψυχικός) never seeks God; and we perceive how strongly we are opposed by our feelings when we rise to God, and with what difficulty we conquer that aversion. It is unnecessary, therefore, to refute this interpretation, for it is directly contrary to Scripture; and from many similar passages it is sufficiently plain that the Spirit and Soul mean the understanding and the heart.

In the night. By the night Scripture often means adversity, which is compared to darkness and gloominess. But I interpret it somewhat differently, as if the Prophet had said, “There is no time so improper or unreasonable that I may not call upon thee or pray to thee.” That interpretation differs little from the former, but is rather more general; for night is supposed to be set apart for rest, and at that time all the desires and labors of men 164164    {Bogus footnote} cease; and, in short, there is little difference between a sleeping and a dead man. He says, therefore, that at the time which is devoted to rest and repose he rises to seek God, so that no occasion turns him aside; — not that those who are asleep have any active thought, but that sleep itself, if we turn to God, is a part of our course; and although we slumber and are silent, still we praise him by hope and confidence.

In the morning 165165    {Bogus footnote} will I seek thee. By the night the Prophet does not literally mean sleep; and this is perfectly evident from the present clause, in which night is contrasted with morning, which denotes continuance.

The inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness. We must observe the reason assigned, when he says that “the inhabitants of the earth learn righteousness from the judgments of God,” meaning that by chastisements men are taught to fear God. 166166    {Bogus footnote} In prosperity they forget him, and their eyes are as it were blinded by fatness; they grow wanton and petulant, and do not submit to be under authority; and therefore the Lord restrains their insolence, and teaches them to obey. In short, the Prophet confesses that he and others were trained, by God’s chastisements, to yield submission to his authority, and to intrust themselves to his guardianship; because if God do not, with uplifted arm, claim his right to rule, no man of his own accord yields obedience.

VIEWNAME is study