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Happy are the people who know the festal shout,

who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;

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The Blessedness of Israel Declared.

15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.   16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.   17 For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.   18 For the Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.

The psalmist, having largely shown the blessedness of the God of Israel, here shows the blessedness of the Israel of God. As there is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, so, happy art thou, O Israel! there is none like unto thee, O people! especially as a type of the gospel-Israel, consisting of all true believers, whose happiness is here described.

I. Glorious discoveries are made to them, and glad tidings of good brought to them; they hear, they know, the joyful sound, v. 15. This may allude, 1. To the shout of a victorious army, the shout of a king, Num. xxiii. 21. Israel have the tokens of God's presence with them in their wars; the sound of the going in the top of the mulberry-trees was indeed a joyful sound (2 Sam. v. 24); and they often returned making the earth ring with their songs of triumph; these were joyful sounds. Or, 2. To the sound that was made over the sacrifices and on the solemn feast-day, Ps. lxxxi. 1-3. This was the happiness of Israel, that they had among them the free and open profession of God's holy religion, and abundance of joy in their sacrifices. Or, 3. To the sound of the jubilee-trumpet; a joyful sound it was to servants and debtors, to whom it proclaimed release. The gospel is indeed a joyful sound, a sound of victory, of liberty, of communion with God, and the sound of abundance of rain; blessed are the people that hear it, and know it, and bid it welcome.

II. Special tokens of God's favour are granted them: "They shall walk, O Lord! in the light of thy countenance; they shall govern themselves by thy directions, shall be guided by the eye; and they shall delight themselves in thy consolations. They shall have the favour of God; they shall know that they have it, and it shall be continual matter of joy and rejoicing to them. They shall go through all the exercises of a holy life under the powerful influences of God's lovingkindness, which shall make their duty pleasant to them and make them sincere in it, aiming at this, as their end, to be accepted of the Lord." We then walk in the light of the Lord when we fetch all our comforts from God's favour and are very careful to keep ourselves in his love.

III. They never want matter for joy: Blessed are God's people, for in his name, in all that whereby he has made himself known, if it be not their own fault, they shall rejoice all the day. Those that rejoice in Christ Jesus, and make God their exceeding joy, have enough to counterbalance their grievances and silence their griefs; and therefore their joy is full (1 John i. 4) and constant; it is their duty to rejoice evermore.

IV. Their relation to God is their honour and dignity. They are happy, for they are high. Surely in the Lord, in the Lord Christ, they have righteousness and strength, and so are recommended by him to the divine acceptance; and therefore in him shall all the seed of Israel glory, Isa. xlv. 24, 25. So it is here, v. 16, 17. 1. "In thy righteousness shall they be exalted, and not in any righteousness of their own." We are exalted out of danger, and into honour, purely by the righteousness of Christ, which is a clothing both for dignity and for defence. 2. "Thou art the glory of their strength," that is, "thou art their strength, and it is their glory that thou art so, and what they glory in." Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph. 3. "In thy favour, which through Christ we hope for, our horn shall be exalted." The horn denotes beauty, plenty, and power; these those have who are made accepted in the beloved. What greater preferment are men capable of in this world than to be God's favourites?

V. Their relation to God is their protection and safety (v. 18): "For our shield is of the Lord" (so the margin) "and our king is from the Holy One of Israel. If God be our ruler, he will be our defender; and who is he than that can harm us?" It was the happiness of Israel that God himself had the erecting of their bulwarks and the nominating of their king (so some take it); or, rather, that he was himself a wall of fire round about them, and, as a Holy One, the author and centre of their holy religion; he was their King, and so their glory in the midst of them. Christ is the Holy One of Israel, that holy thing; and in nothing was that peculiar people more blessed than in this, that he was born King of the Jews. Now this account of the blessedness of God's Israel comes in here as that to which it was hard to reconcile their present calamitous state.