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Psalm 147

Praise for God’s Care for Jerusalem

1

Praise the Lord!

How good it is to sing praises to our God;

for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.

2

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;

he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

3

He heals the brokenhearted,

and binds up their wounds.

4

He determines the number of the stars;

he gives to all of them their names.

5

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;

his understanding is beyond measure.

6

The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;

he casts the wicked to the ground.

 

7

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;

make melody to our God on the lyre.

8

He covers the heavens with clouds,

prepares rain for the earth,

makes grass grow on the hills.

9

He gives to the animals their food,

and to the young ravens when they cry.

10

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,

nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;

11

but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,

in those who hope in his steadfast love.

 

12

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!

Praise your God, O Zion!

13

For he strengthens the bars of your gates;

he blesses your children within you.

14

He grants peace within your borders;

he fills you with the finest of wheat.

15

He sends out his command to the earth;

his word runs swiftly.

16

He gives snow like wool;

he scatters frost like ashes.

17

He hurls down hail like crumbs—

who can stand before his cold?

18

He sends out his word, and melts them;

he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.

19

He declares his word to Jacob,

his statutes and ordinances to Israel.

20

He has not dealt thus with any other nation;

they do not know his ordinances.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 148

Praise for God’s Universal Glory

1

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;

praise him in the heights!

2

Praise him, all his angels;

praise him, all his host!

 

3

Praise him, sun and moon;

praise him, all you shining stars!

4

Praise him, you highest heavens,

and you waters above the heavens!

 

5

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for he commanded and they were created.

6

He established them forever and ever;

he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

 

7

Praise the Lord from the earth,

you sea monsters and all deeps,

8

fire and hail, snow and frost,

stormy wind fulfilling his command!

 

9

Mountains and all hills,

fruit trees and all cedars!

10

Wild animals and all cattle,

creeping things and flying birds!

 

11

Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the earth!

12

Young men and women alike,

old and young together!

 

13

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for his name alone is exalted;

his glory is above earth and heaven.

14

He has raised up a horn for his people,

praise for all his faithful,

for the people of Israel who are close to him.

Praise the Lord!


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Praise ye God, etc. Though the benefits he speaks of are such as God extends to all men indiscriminately, it is plain that he addresses more especially God’s people, who alone behold his works in an enlightened manner, whereas stupidity and blindness of mind deprive others of their understanding. Nor is his subject confined to the common benefits of God, but the main thing which he celebrates is his mercy, as shown to his chosen people. That the Church may address itself to the praises of God with more alacrity, he states that this kind of exercise is good, delightful, and pleasant, by which he indirectly censures a sin which is all but universal of becoming wearied at the very mention of God, and counting it our highest pleasure to forget both God and ourselves, that we may give way to unrestrained indulgence. To teach men to take a delight in this religious exercise, the Psalmist reminds them that praise is comely, or desirable. For the term נאוה, navah, may be rendered either way.

2. Jehovah building up, etc. He begins with the special mercy of God towards his Church and people, in choosing to adopt one nation out of all others, and selecting a fixed place where his name might be called upon. When he is here called the builder of Jerusalem, the allusion is not so much to the outward form and structure, as to the spiritual worship of God. It is a common figure in treating of the Church to speak of it as a building or temple. The meaning is, that the Church was not of human erection, but formed by the supernatural power of God; for it was from no dignity of the place itself that Jerusalem became the only habitation of God in our world, nor did it come to this honor by counsel, industry, effort or power of man, but because God was pleased to consecrate it to himself. He employed the labor and instrumentality of men indeed in erecting his sanctuary there, but this ought never to take from his grace, which alone distinguished the holy city from all others. In calling God the former and architect of the Church, his object is to make us aware that by his power it remains in a firm condition, or is restored when in ruins. Hence he infers that it is in his power and arbitrament to gather those who have been dispersed. Here the Psalmist would comfort those miserable exiles who had been scattered in various quarters, with the hope of being recovered from their dispersion, as God had not adopted them without a definite purpose into one body. As he had ordered his temple and altar to be erected at Jerusalem, and had fixed his seat there, the Psalmist would encourage the Jews who were exiles from their native country, to entertain good hope of a return, intimating that it was no less properly God’s work to raise up his Church when ruined and fallen down, than to found it at first. It was not, therefore, the Psalmist’s object directly to celebrate the free mercy of God in the first institution of the Church, but to argue from its original, that God would not suffer his Church altogether to fall, having once founded it with the design of preserving it for ever; for he forsakes not the work of his own hands. This comfort ought to be improved by ourselves at the present period, when we see the Church on every side so miserably rent asunder, leading us to hope that all the elect who have been adjoined to Christ’s body, will be gathered unto the unity of the faith, although now scattered like members torn from one another, and that the mutilated body of the Church, which is daily distracted, will be restored to its entireness; for God will not suffer his work to fail.

In the following verse he insists upon the same truth, the figure suggesting that though the Church labor under, and be oppressed by many diseases, God will speedily and easily recover it from all its wounds. The same truth, therefore, is evidently conveyed, under a different form of expression — that the Church, though it may not always be in a flourishing condition, is ever safe and secure, and that God will miraculously heal it, as though it were a diseased body.

4. Numbering the multitude, etc. As the gathering together of the people of whom the Psalmist spoke might appear to be an impossibility, there seems some ground for the opinion of those who think that he confirms it in this verse. The connection they give to the Psalmist’s words is this — that as it is at least not more difficult to gather men together who are outcast and scattered, than to number the stars, there was no reason why the wandering exile Israelites should despair of their return, provided they should resort with one consent to God as their only head. There is some probability, too, in the conjecture that the Psalmist may allude to that promise —

“Look now towards the stars of heaven, if thou canst tell them,
so shall thy seed be.” (Genesis 15:5.)

But as the Psalmist immediately afterwards treats of the order of things in nature generally, the simplest rendering, I think, is to understand this verse with reference to the admirable work of God to be seen in the heavens, where we behold his matchless wisdom, in regulating, without one degree of aberration, the manifold, complex, winding courses of the stars. To each of them he assigns its fixed and distinct office, and in all the multitude there is no confusion. He therefore exclaims immediately — Great is God, and boundless, both in power and understanding. We learn from this that there cannot be greater folly than to make our judgment the measure of God’s works, displaying in these, as he often does, his incomprehensible power and wisdom.

6. Raising up, etc. The ascription of this to God fitly tends to confirm our hope under affliction, and prevent our souls from fainting under the cross. From this we may infer that although our fathers who lived under the Law were more gently dealt with, they knew something at least of that warfare with which God daily exercises us, in order to make us seek our true rest elsewhere than in this world. Should a doubt steal upon the minds of those who have been brought under heavy afflictions, as to the forthcoming of that help which God has promised to extend, let the truth recur to our remembrance, that we are brought low that God may lift us up again. And if upon seeing the prosperity of the wicked we are smitten and inflamed with envy, let the words of the Psalmist come into our mind, That they are lifted up that they may be cast down into destruction. When he speaks of their being cast down even to the earth, there can be no doubt that he passes an indirect censure upon their pride which leads them to exalt themselves on high, as if they belonged to some superior order of beings.

7. Sing to Jehovah in thanksgiving Again he exhorts to sing the praises of God, intimating at the same time that abundant matter was not wanting, since new proofs still meet our eyes of his power, goodness, and wisdom. First he tells us that he covers the heavens with clouds, and this change would awaken our attention, were we not chargeable with so much thoughtlessness. Various as are the marvels to be seen in the heavens above us, were the same serenity always to continue, we would not have so wonderful a display of his power as when he suddenly veils them with clouds, withdrawing the light of the sun, and setting a new face as it were upon the world. He afterwards hints that in this way provision is made for all living creatures, for thus the herbs germinate, and the earth is supplied with the moisture which makes it fertile. Thus in connection with the proofs of his power God sets before our eyes those of his mercy and fatherly consideration for the human family; nay, he shows that he does not overlook even the wild beasts and cattle. Philosophers discover the origin of rain in the elements, and it is not denied that clouds are formed from the gross vapors which are exhaled from the earth and sea, but second causes should not prevent us from recognizing the providence of God in furnishing the earth with the moisture needed for fructification. As the earth chapped with heat shows its thirst by opening its mouth, so God on his part in sending rain distills drink for it. He might in other ways of a more secret kind give it strength to preserve it from failing, but this irrigation is something which passes before our eyes to image forth the continual care which he has over us.

9. Who gives to the cattle their food By giving an instance he explains more clearly what he had said, of God’s providing food for every living creature. When he speaks of the cattle and the ravens being fed, and not of men, this is to give more emphasis to his argument. We know that it was for man’s sake the world was made at all, and endued with fertility and plenty; and in proportion as we are nearer in the scale of existence to God, he shows us the more of his goodness. But if he condescends to notice the brute creation, it is plain that to us he will be a nurse and a father. For the same reason he names the ravens, the most contemptible of all birds, to teach us that the goodness of God extends to every part of the world. When he says that their young cry unto God, he no doubt refers to their natural cry, but hints at the same time that they own that they must be in want unless God give them meat from heaven. As to the Jewish fable that the ravens desert their young ones as soon as put forth, and that worms are bred in the barks of the trees to feed them, this is one of their customary stories, never scrupling as they do, nor being ashamed, to invent anything, however unfounded, when a difficulty comes in the way. 292292     “Car quant a la fable que les Juifs racontent, que les corbeaux laissent leur petits si tost qu’ils sont esclos,” etc. — Fr. It is enough for us to know that the whole system of nature is so regulated by God, that not even the young ravens want their food, when with hoarse outcry they confess that they are in need, and that they cannot have it supplied except by God.

10. Not in the strength of the horse, etc. After the Psalmist has shown that there is proof of the divine goodness in every part of the world, he takes particular notice that men have no strength but what is given them from above, and this he adds with the express purpose of checking the pride by which almost all men are inflamed, and which leads them to trust in their own strength. The meaning of the passage is, that let man come in the preparation of his own strength, and with all the assistance’s that seem to him most prevalent, this will only issue in smoke and vanity; nay, that in arrogating the very least to himself, this will only be a hindrance in the way of the mercy of God, by which alone we stand. The strength of the horse is mentioned by synecdoche to denote any kind of protection. Not that God is displeased with those things in themselves considered which he has given us as helps, but it is necessary that we be withdrawn from a false confidence in them, for very commonly when any resource is at hand, we are foolishly intoxicated and lifted up with pride. He opposes the fear of God therefore to the strength both of men and of horses, and places his hope in his mercy, intimating that it is highly incumbent upon us to show our moderation in worshipping God with reverence and holiness, and depending upon his grace. Hence we learn that he only condemns that strength which would take from God the honor due to him.

12. Celebrate Jehovah, O Jerusalem! Having spoken in general of the mercies of God, he again addresses his discourse to the Lord’s people, who alone, as we have remarked already, can appreciate them, calling upon them to recognize with thanksgiving the blessings which others riot upon without acknowledgment. Under the name of Jerusalem, he comprises the whole Church, for in that place the faithful then held their religious assemblies, and flowed together as it were to the standard of the Lord. Although he will take occasion afterwards again to speak of the government of the world at large, he here commemorates the goodness of God as manifested to his own people, in protecting his own Church, bountifully cherishing it, enriching it abundantly with all blessings, and preserving it in peace and safety from all harm. When he says that the bars of the gates are strengthened by God, he means that the holy city was perfectly guarded by him from all fear of hostile attack. To the same effect is the other expression which comes after — that all its bounds were made peace Enemies were under divine restraint so as to cause no disturbance or confusions. Not that the Church is always in a state of peace throughout its whole extent, and exempt from attack, but that God in a visible manner stretches forth his hand to repel these assaults, and it can securely survey the whole array of its enemies. A more extensive meaning indeed may be given to the term peace, which is often taken to signify a happy and prosperous condition. But as mention is made of bounds, the former sense seems most appropriate. The blessing of God enjoyed within is next spoken of, consisting in this, that the citizens dwell prosperously and happily in it, and are fed bountifully, even to satiety; which does not mean that the children of God always wallow in abundance. This might be the means of corrupting them, prone as our nature is to wantonness; but it suggests that they recognize the liberality of God in their daily food more clearly than others who want faith, and whom either abundance renders blind, or poverty vexes with deplorable anxiety, or covetousness inflames with a desire that never can be satisfied. God’s paternal favor was shown more particularly to our fathers under the law in the abundance of temporal provision, it being necessary to lead them forward to something higher by what was elementary.

15. While he sends forth, etc. He again touches upon some instances of the operation of God, everywhere to be seen in the system of nature. And as the changes which take place in the air, and upon the earth, and which should be considered evidences of his power, may perhaps be regarded by the world as the effect of chance, the Psalmist, before proceeding to speak of the snow, hoar frost, and ice, expressly declares, that earth is governed by his power and control. The sending forth of his word is nothing else than the secret influence by which he regulates and governs all things, for without his orders and appointment no movement could take place among the elements, nor could they be borne, now one way and now another, upon their own spontaneous impulse without his foregoing secret decree. He says, that his word runneth quickly, because, when once God has intimated his will, all things concur to carry it into effect. If we do not hold fast by this principle, however acutely we may investigate second causes, all our perspicacity will come to nothing. It is thus that Aristotle, for example, has shown such ingenuity upon the subject of meteors, that he discusses their natural causes most exactly, while he omits the main point of all, upon which the merest child, at least having any religion, has the superiority over him. He must have little discernment who, in the sudden snows and hoar-frosts, does not perceive how quickly the word of God runs. If, then, we would avoid a senseless natural philosophy, we must always start with this principle, that everything in nature depends upon the will of God, and that the whole course of nature is only the prompt carrying into effect of his orders. When the waters congeal, when the hail spreads through the air, and hoar frosts darken the sky, surely we have proof how effectual his word is. But if all these wonders produce no effect upon most men, at least the piercing cold which benumbs our bodies, should force us to recognize the power of God. When the heat of the sun scorches us in summer, and again, upon the succession of winter, all things are bound up, such a change as this, which must have appeared incredible had we not been accustomed to it, cries out loudly that there is a being who reigns above.

19. He announces his words to Jacob, etc. Here it is another word that is spoken of than what was formerly mentioned; for God speaks in a different way to the insensate works of his hands, which he silently subordinates to his will by secret laws impressed upon them, than he does to men who are endued with understanding, for these he teaches with articulate language, that they may obey him intelligently and with consent. Although the blessings formerly mentioned are not to be depreciated, they fall far short of this, that he has condescended to be the teacher of his chosen people, by communicating to them that religious doctrine which is a treasure of everlasting salvation. How little would it avail the Church that it were filled with the perishing enjoyments of time, and protected from hostile violence, did not its hope extend beyond this world. This, accordingly, is the grand proof of his love, that he has set before us in his word the light of eternal life. On this account it is appropriately mentioned here as the crowning part of true solid happiness. And let us learn from this, that we should not only receive the doctrine of God with reverential and holy obedience, but embrace it with affection, for we can conceive of nothing more delightful and desirable than that God should undertake our salvation, and give testimony of this by stretching out his hand to bring us to himself. For this is the design with which the doctrine has been given to us, that amidst the thick darkness of this world, and the devious errors into which Satan misleads the children of men, the great Father of us all may by it cast a foregoing light upon our path before gathering us to the inheritance of heaven. We are to notice, that the part which was sustained by Moses and the Prophets according to divine appointment is here ascribed to God himself, for we only put due honor upon the doctrine of religion, and estimate it at its proper worth when we rise to the consideration of God, who, in using the instrumentality of men, still claims to be considered our chief and only teacher. Thus its due majesty is assigned to the word from the person of its author. Again, he enhances the mercy shown by stating a comparison, intimating that this had not been done for other nations For if it be asked why God preferred one people to others, this pre-eminence will certainly lead us to gratuitous election as its source, since we will find that the children of Israel did not differ from others in any excellency attaching to themselves, but because God passed by others and condescended to adopt them into his favor.

1. Praise Jehovah from the heavens He seems here to include the stars as well as the angels, and, therefore, heaven itself, the air, and all that is gendered in it; for afterwards a division is made when he first calls upon angels, then upon the stars, and the waters of the firmament. With regard to the angels, created as they were for this very end — that they might be instant in this religious service, we need not wonder that they should be placed first in order when the praises of God are spoken of. Accordingly, in that remarkable vision which Isaiah describes, (Isaiah 6:3,) the cherubim cry out — “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts.” And in several other places of Scripture the angels are represented as praising God by such ascription’s. How, then, can zeal like theirs stand in need of exhortations? Or, if they require to be incited, what can be more unseemly than that we, who are so sluggish in the service, should assume the part of exhorting them to their duty? David, then, who did not equal the angels in zeal, but came far behind them, was not qualified to be an exhorter to them. But neither did this enter into his purpose; he would simply testify that it was the height of his happiness and desire to join in sacred concert with elect angels in praising God. And there is nothing unreasonable that, in order to stir himself up in the praises of God, he should call as companions upon the angels, although these run spontaneously in the service, and are fitter to lead the way. He calls them, in the second part of the verse — the armies of God; for they stand always ready to receive his orders. “Ten thousand times ten thousand surround his throne,” as Daniel says, (Daniel 7:10.) The same name is applied also to the stars, both because they are remarkable for the order which maintains among them, and because they execute with inconceivable quickness the orders of God. But the angels are here called armies, upon the same account as elsewhere principalities and powers, inasmuch as God exerts his power by their hands.

3. Praise him, ye sun and moon This passage gives no countenance to the dream of Plato, that the stars excel in sense and intelligence. Nor does the Psalmist give them the same place as he had just assigned to angels, but merely intimates that the glory of God is everywhere to be seen, as if they sang his praises with an audible voice. And here he tacitly reproves the ingratitude of man; for all would hear this symphony, were they at all attent upon considering the works of God. For doth not the sun by his light, and heat, and other marvelous effects, praise his Maker? The stars when they run their course, and at once adorn the heavens and give light to the earth, do they not sound the praises of God? but as we are deaf and insensible, the Psalmist calls upon them as witnesses to reprove our indolence. By the heavens of heavens he no doubt means the spheres. Eclipses, and other things which we observe, plainly show both that the fixed stars are above the planets, and that the planets themselves are placed in different orbits. 297297     “Que les estoilles sont plus haut que les planetes, et qu’icelles planetes sont situees en divers cercles ou spheres.” — Fr. The excellency of this contrivance the Psalmist justly commends, speaking expressly of the heavens of heavens; not as if there were really more heavens than one, but to extol the matchless wisdom which God has shown in creating the heavens; for the sun, moon, and stars are not confusedly mixed together, but each has its own position and station assigned to it, and their manifold courses are all regulated. As under the name of the heavens he comprehends the air, or at least all the space from the middle region of the air upwards, he calls rains, the waters above the heavens There is no foundation for the conjecture which some have made, that there are waters deposited above the four elements; and when the Psalmist speaks of these waters as being above, he clearly points at the descent of the rain. It is adhering too strictly to the letter of the words employed, to conceive as if there were some sea up in the heavens, where the waters were permanently deposited; for we know that Moses and the Prophets ordinarily speak in a popular style, suited to the lowest apprehension. It would be absurd, then, to seek to reduce what they say to the rules of philosophy; as, for example, in the passage before us, the Psalmist notes the marvelous fact that God holds the waters suspended in the air, because it seems contrary to nature that they should mount aloft, and also, that though fluid they should hang in vacant space. Accordingly it is said elsewhere, that they are held there as enclosed in bottles. (Psalm 33:7.) The Psalmist has borrowed the form of expression from Moses, who says — “that the waters were divided from the waters.” (Genesis 1:6.)

5. Let them praise the name, etc. As he speaks of things wanting intelligence, he passes to the third person, from which we infer that his reason for having spoken in the second person hitherto, was to make a deeper impression upon men. And he asks no other praise than that which may teach us that the stars did not make themselves, nor the rains spring from chance; for notwithstanding the signal proofs we constantly have before our eyes of the divine power, we with shameful carelessness overlook the great author. He says emphatically — for He Himself created, intimating that the world is not eternal, as wicked men conjecture, nor made by a concourse of atoms, but that this fair order of things which we see, suddenly sprang forth upon the commandment of God. And, speaking of the creation, he adds what is even more worthy of observation, that he gave that law to them which remains inviolable. For many, while they grant that the world was made by God, lapse from this into the senseless notion that now the order of nature stands of itself, and that God sits idle in the heavens. The Psalmist very properly insists, therefore, that the works of God above us in the heavens were not only made by him, but even now move forward at his disposal; and that not only was a secret power communicated to them at first, but while they go through their assigned parts, their operation and ministry to their various ends is dependent upon God.

7. Praise Jehovah, etc. He now comes to the lower parts of the world; although deviating at the same time from the exact order, he mixes up such things as are produced in the air — lightning’s, snow, ice, and storms. These should rather have been placed among the former class, but he has respect to the common apprehension of men. The scope of the whole is, that wherever we turn our eyes we meet with evidences of the power of God. He speaks first of the whales; for, as he mentions the abysses or deeps immediately afterwards, I have no doubt that by תנינים, tanninim, he means fishes of the sea, such as whales. It is only reasonable to think that matter for praising God should be taken from the sea, which is fraught with so many wonders. He then ascends to hail, snows, and storms, which he says fulfill the word of God; for it is not by an effect of chance that the heavens are clouded, or that a single drop of rain falls from the clouds, or that the thunders rage, but one and all of these changes depend upon the secret will of God, whether he will show his goodness to the children of men in irrigating the earth, or punish their sins by tempest, hail, or other calamities. The passage contains instruction of various kinds, as, for example, that when dearth impends, however parched the earth may be by long continued heat, God can promptly send rain which will remove the drought at his pleasure. If from incessant rains, on the other hand, the seed rot in the ground, or the crops do not come to maturity, we should pray for fair weather. If we are alarmed by thunder, we are taught to pray to God, for as it is he who sends it in his anger, so he can still all the troubled elements. And we are not to take up the narrow view of this truth which irreligious men advocate, that things in nature merely move according to the laws impressed upon them from the beginning, while God stands by idle, but are to hold firmly that God watches over his creatures, and that nothing can take place without his present disposal, as we have seen, Psalm 104:4 that

“he maketh the winds his messengers,
and his ministers a flaming fire.”

11. Kings of the earth, etc. He now turns his address to men, with a respect to whom it was that he called for a declaration of God’s praises from creatures, both above and from beneath. As kings and princes are blinded by the dazzling influence of their station, so as to think the world was made for them, and to despise God in the pride of their hearts, he particularly calls them to this duty; and, by mentioning them first, he reproves their ingratitude in withholding their tribute of praise when they are under greater obligations than others. As all men originally stand upon a level as to condition, the higher persons have risen, and the nearer they have been brought to God, the more sacredly are they bound to proclaim his goodness. The more intolerable is the wickedness of kings and princes who claim exemption from the common rule, when they ought rather to inculcate it upon others and lead the way. He could have addressed his exhortation at once summarily to all men, as indeed he mentions peoples in general terms; but by thrice specifying princes he suggests that they are slow to discharge the duty, and need to be urged do it. Then follows a division according to age and sex, to show that all without exception are created for this end, and should unitedly devote their energies to it. As to old men, the more God has lengthened out their lives the more should they be exercised in singing his praises; but he joins young men with them, for though they have less experience from continued habit, it will be inexcusable if they do not acknowledge the great mercy of God in the vigor of their lives. In speaking of girls or virgins, the particle גם, gam, also, is not merely expletive, but added to make the words more emphatical, conveying the truth that even the young women who are not so liberally educated as the male sex, being considered as born for domestic offices, will omit their duty if they do not join with the rest of the Church in praising God. It follows that all from the least to the greatest are bound by this common rule.

14. And hath exalted the horn, etc. As we saw in the former Psalm, that the perfections of God are to be seen more conspicuously in the Church than in the constitution of the world at large, the Psalmist has added this sentence, as to the Church being protected by the divine hand, and armed with a power against all enemies which secures its safety in every danger. By the horn, as is well known, is meant strength or dignity. Accordingly the Psalmist means that God’s blessing is apparent in his Church and among his chosen people, inasmuch as it only flourishes and is powerful through his strength. There is a tacit comparison implied between the Church of God and other hostile powers, for it needs divine guardianship as being exposed on all sides to attack. Hence the Psalmist infers that praise is to all the merciful ones of God, for they have ground given them in the singular goodness of his condescension both for self-congratulation and praise. In calling the children of Israel a people near unto God, he reminds them of the gracious covenant which God made with Abraham. For how came the nearness, except in the way of God’s preferring an unknown despised stranger to all nations? Nor are we to seek the cause of the distinction elsewhere than in the mere love of God. Though all the world equally belongs to God, he graciously discovered himself to the children of Israel, and brought them near to him, strangers as they were from God, even as are the whole race of Adam. Hence the words of Moses —

“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, and distributed the peoples, he stretched forth his line to Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 32:8.)

He is to be considered, therefore, as pointing out the cause why God hath extended such signal blessings to a single people, and a people poor and despised — his adoption of them to himself.




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