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Wisdom, righteousness, truth, mercy, and sincerity, form a character the reverse of that drawn in the preceding verses, and such an one as God will accept, when appearing before him in his house, and offering, with humility and reverence, the sacrifices of the new law, as David did those of the old through faith in Him who alone filled up the character, and procured acceptance for believers, and their oblations.
8. Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness, because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.'
The child of God, admitted into his holy temple, there prefers this petition, praying to be led by the divine Spirit in a course of holy obedience, all impediments being removed out of the way, which otherwise might obstruct the progress, or cause the fall, of one beginning to walk in the path of life; of one who had many enemies' ready to contrive, to take advantage of, to rejoice and triumph in, his ruin. Thus a man's enemies, while they oblige him to pray more fervently, and to watch more narrowly over his conduct, oftentimes become his best friends.
9. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.'
A part of this verse is cited, Rom. iii. 13. together with several other passages from the Psalms and Prophets, to evince the depravity of mankind, whether Jews or Gentiles, till justified by faith, and renewed by grace. It is plain, therefore, that the description was designed for others, besides the enemies of the literal David, and is of more general import, reaching to the world of the ungodly, and to the enemies of all righteousness, as manifested in the person of Messiah, and in his church. The charge brought against these is, that 'truth' and ' fidelity' were not to be found in their dealings with God or each other; that their inward parts’ were very wickedness; their first thoughts and imaginations were defiled, and the stream was poisoned at the fountain; that their throat was an open sepulchre,' continually emitting, in obscene and impious language, the noisome and infectious exhalations of a putrid heart, entombed in a body of sin; and that, if ever they put on the appearance of goodness, they'fattered with their tongue,' in order the more effecta
ally to deceive and destroy. So low is human nature fallen! O thou Adam, what hast thou done? For though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee.' 2 Esd. vii. 48.
10. • Destroy them, o God; let them fall by their own counsels ; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against thee.'
Concerning passages of this imprecatory kind in the book of Psalms, it is to be observed, that they are not spoken of private and personal enemies, but of the opposers of God and his anointed; nor of any among these, but the irreclaimable and finally impenitent; and this by way of prediction, rather than imprecation; which would appear, if the original verbs were translated uniformly in the future tense, as they might be, and indeed, to cut off all occasion from them which desire it, should be translated. The verse before us would then run thus— Thou wilt destroy them, O God; they shall perish by their own counsels: thou wilt cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against thee.' The words, when rendered in this form, contain a prophecy of the infatuation, rejection, and destruction of such as should obstinately persevere in their opposition to the counsels of heaven, whether relating to David, to Christ, or to the church. The fate of Ahithophel and Absalom, of Judas and the Jews, should warn others not to offend after the same example.
11. "But let all those that trust in thee rejoice ; let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them : let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.' Heb. All they that trust in thee shall rejoice, &c.
As the last verse foretold the perdition of the ungodly, this describes the felicity of the saints:; who, trusting in God, rejoice evermore, and sing aloud in the church the praises of their Saviour and mighty defender; the love of whose name fills their hearts with joy unspeakable, while they experience the comforts of grace, pect the rewards of glory.
12. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield.'
The ' blessing' of God descends on us through Jesus Christ 'the righteous,' or just one,' as of old it did on Israel through David, whom, for the benefit of his chosen, God protected, delivered, and placed on the throne. Thou, o Christ, art the righteous Saviour, thou art the King of Israel, thou art the blessed of Jehovah, the fountain of blessing to all believers, and thy favor' is the defence and protection to the church militant.
FIRST DAY.--EVENING PRAYER.
[This is the first of those Psalms which are styled penitential. It contains, l. a deprecation of eternal rengeance, and 2, 3. a petition for pardon; which is enforced from the consideration of the penitent's sufferings; 4. from that of the divine mercy; 5. from that of the praise and glory which God would fail to receive, if man were destroyed; 6, 7. from that of the penitent's humiliation and contrition : 8-10. the strain changes into one of joy and triumph, on the success and return of the prayer.]
1. "O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.'
Let us suppose a sinner awakened to a true sense of his condition, and looking around him for help. Above is an angry God preparing to take vengeance; beneath, the fiery gulf ready to receive him ; without him, a world in flames; within, the gnawing worm. Thus situated, he begins, in extreme agony of spirit, O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.' He expects that God will • rebuke him, but only prays that it may not be in anger' finally to destroy him; he desires to be chastened, but chastened in fatherly love, not in the hot displeasure of an inexorable judge. As often as we are led thus to express our sense of sin, and dread of punishment, let us reflect on Him, whose righteous soul, endued with a sensibility
peculiar to itself, sustained the sins of the world, and the displeasure of the Father.
2. `Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: 0 Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed, Heb. shaken, or made to tremble.
The penitent entreats for mercy, first, by representing his pitiable case, under the image of sickness. He describes his soul as deprived of all its health and vigor, as languishing and fainting, by reason of sin, which had eat out the vitals, and shaken all the powers and supporters of the spiritual frame, so that the breath of life seemed to be departing. Enough, however, was left, to supplicate the healing aid of the God of mercy and comfort; to petition for oil and wine at the hands of the Physician of spirits. How happy is it for us, that we have a physician, who cannot but be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, seeing that he himself once took them on him, and suffered for them, even unto the death of the cross, under which he • fainted,' and on which his bones were vexed !'
3. “My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long ?
Another argument is drawn from the sense which the penitent hath of this his woeful condition, and the consternation and anxiety produced thereby in his troubled mind. These cause him to fly for refuge to the hope set before him. • Hope deferred maketh the heart sick;' he is therefore beautifully represented as crying out, with a fond and longing impatience. But thou, o Lord, how long ? His strength is supposed to fail him, and the sentence is left imperfect." What, blessed Jesus, were thy troubles,' when to thy companions thou saidst, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death ?' By those thy sorrows we beseech thee to hear the voice of thine afflicted church, crying to thee from the earth, “My soul also is sore troubled; but thou, 0 Lord, how long ??
4. • Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: Oh, save me for thy mercies' sake.
A third argument is formed on the consideration of God's mercy;' for the sake of which, as it is promised to penitents, he is requested to return,' or to turn himself towards the suppliant; to lift up
his countenance on the desponding heart; to deliver it from darkness and the shadow of death, and to diffuse around it light and life, salvation, joy, and gladness, like the sun in the morning, when he revisits a benighted world, and calls up the creation to bless the Maker of so glorious a luminary, so bright a representative of redeeming love.
5. For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in, the grave who shall give thee thanks ?'
The fourth argument proceeds on a supposition, that God created man for his own glory, which, therefore, would be so far diminished, if man were permitted finally to perish. The body could not glorify God, unless raised from the dead, nor could the soul, if left in hell. The voice of thanksgiving is not heard in the grave, and no hallelujahs are sung in the pit of destruction. This plea, now urged by the church, was urged for her withput all doubt by her Saviour in his devotions, and prevailed in his mouth, as, through him, it will do in hers.
6. I am weary with my groaning: all the night make I my bed to swim ; I water my couch with my
tears.' The penitent is supplied with a fifth argument, by the signs and fruits of a sincere repentance, which put forth themselves in him. Such was his sorrow, and such revenge did he take on himself, that for every idle word he now poured forth a groan, like him that is in anguish through extremity of bodily pain, until he was weary,' but yet continued groaning; while the sad remembrance of each wanton folly drew a tear from the fountains of grief. The all-righteous Saviour himself wept over sinners; sinners read the story, and yet return again to their sins ! 7. Mine
eye is consumed because of grief: it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.' Grief exhausts the animal spirits, dims the
eyes, brings on old age before its time. Thus it is said, concerning the man of sorrows, that • ‘many at him, his visage was so marred more than any man,