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unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.
5 For I know that the LORD is great, and that our LORD is above all gods.
6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
7 He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.
8 Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.
9 Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants. 10 Who sinote great nations, and slew mighty kings;
11 Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan:
12 And gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel his people.
13 Thy naine, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations.
14 For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.
15 The idols of the heathen are
silver and gold, hands.
[national mercies. the work of men's
mouths, but they
16 They have speak not; eyes have they, but they
17 They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.
18 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
19 Bless the LORD, O house of Israel: bless the LORD, O house of Aaron:
20 Bless the LORD, O house of Levi; ye that fear the LORD, bless the LORD.
21 Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD. (U)
GIVE thanks unto the LORD; for he is good for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. 3 O give thanks to the LORD of lords; for his mercy endureth for ever.
4 To him who alone doeth great wonders for his mercy endureth for
5 To him that by wisdom made the
(U) This is evidently a dialogue psalm, between the priests and Levites; and Mr. Henley (in Lowth) supposes a third choir uttered the hallelujahs-" Praise ye Jah, praise ye Jehovah;" that is, praise ye the LORD. Ver. 4 is supposed to be a general chorus, in which the congregation joined, as also verses 12, 14, 18, 21. This, however, is in great measure conjectural. The chief topics of this psalm and of the following, and, indeed, of most of the Hebrew odes, are the deliverance from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, with the preference of the true God before the idols of the heathen. These psalms admonish us,
Ver. 7. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth-the extremities of the horison.
-He maketh lightnings for the rain-At Aleppo, a night seldom passes without lightning: when it appears in the West or S. West, it is a sure sign of approaching rain. Harmer, vol. i. p. 67. Compare
that it is our duty to praise God for his mercy to the church, and to the world at large; but specially to record our national mercies and deliverances, of which no nation under heaven has so many to record as ours. When the heart of man is in a suitable frame for praise, it can never want for topics, and all our temporal mercies will insensibly lead a pious mind to the blessings of redemption and eternal life.
"He for his people needful food provides,
Job xxxviii. 22, &c. Jer. xiv. 22.
Ver. 15-18. These verses seem copied from F exv. 4-5, 8.-only, instead of "Noses have the but they sinell not," we here read, "Neither is the any breath in their mouths;" i, e. they are lifele
endureth for ever.
[endureth for ever.
16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy. endureth for ever.
17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever.
18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:
20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:
21 And gave their land for an heritage for his mercy endureth for ever: 22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for
(X) A general exhortation to praise God for his mercies. The words," for his mercy endureth for ever," which are repeated as the chorus to every verse of this psalm, were used by the Israelites in their daily worship; (1 Chron. xvi. 41.) by Solomon, at the dedication of the temple; 2 Chron. vii. 3, 6.) and by Jehoshaphat, on the advice of a prophet, when he went out to engage the combined armies of the Ammonites and Moabites, (2 Chron. xx. 21.) and by their descendants, on laying the foundation of the second temple. (Ezra viii. 11.) Praise is as necessary as prayer; and it is impertinent continually to supplicate the divine Being for new mercies, without thanking him for those which we already have received.
On this psalm, Mr. Henry will furnish us with two or three pertinent remarks. 1.God's mercies to his people are thus repeated and drawn out from the beginning to the end, with a progress and advance ad infinitum. 2. In every favour received, we ought to notice the mercy of God, as the same now that it always has been. 3. That the everlasting continuance of God's mercy is equally to his honour and to his saints' comfort. 4. We must give thanks to God, not only because he does good to also because he is good in himself; the streams must be traced to the fountain; and be is the fountain of all mercy.
"Let us, with a joyful mind,
PSALM CXXXVI. Ver. 8. The sun to ruleHeb. "For ruling Gen. i. 16. Ver. 15. But overthrew - Heb. "Shaked off,”
(Exod. xiv. 27, 28.-xv. 4.) The various events named in this psalm have been repeatedly referred
Y the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?
5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my
mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
7 Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee, as thou hast served us.
9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. (Y)
A Psalm of David.
WILL praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
PSALM CXXXVII. (Y) The lament of the Israelites in Babylon." By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down-we wept."-" What an inexpressible pathos is there in these few words! (says Bishop Horne.) How do they at once transport us to Babylon, and place before our eyes the mournful situation of the Israelitish captives! Driven from their native country, stripped of every comfort and convenience, in a strange laud, among idolaters, wearied and broken hearted, they sit in silence by those hostile waters. Then the pleasant banks of Jordan present themselves to their imagination; the towers of Salem rise to view; and the sad remembrance of much-loved Zion causes tears to run down their cheeks." Their harps untuned hung pendant on the willows which bordered the Euphrates; and their cruel masters who had probably heard much of their native melodies, required of them a song, even "one of the songs of Zion." But can they sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?the praises of Jehovah to infidels and idol
worshippers? Ah no! say they; and imprecate upon themselves the loss of limbs, or of speech, if ever they should forget their country, their city, or their God. Nay, farther, they appear to rejoice in anticipating the destruction of their enemies, the Edomites, as well as Babylonians; for it appears by the prophet Obadiah (ver. 10 ) tha: the Edomites, though akin to Israel, rejoiced in their overthrow; and, as it is here expressed, encouraged their enemies to rase the foundations of their city.
How terrible soever may be the judgments of God on Babylon, there is no doubt but they are "just and righteous," for so are all the ways of the Almighty. (Rev. xv. 3,4; xvi. 5.) But let us turn our attention for a moment to the weeping sufferers who are now involved in a more dreadiu judgment for the rejection of their Saviour and drop a prayer and a tear over them.
"O weep for those that wept by Babel's stream, Whose shrines are desolate, whose land a dream; Weep for the harp of Judah's broken shell; Mourn where their God hath dwelt the godle dwell." Byron.
PSALM CXXXVII. Ver. 1. Rivers of Babylon --Euphrates, Tigris, &c. or, perhaps, plural for singular: "the great river Euphrates." Rev. vi. 12.
Ver.3. Required of us a song-Heb. "The words (or matter) of a song." So Ps. cxlv. 5." Thy marvellous works," is in the Hebrew," The words of thy marvels."-They that wasted us-Heb. "Laid us on heaps."
Ver. 4. In a strange land-Heb. "Land of a stranger," or of foreigners.
Ver. 6. Let my tongue cleave-that is, let me be speechless. See Job xxix. 10; Ezek. iii. 26.—My chief joy-Heb. " The head of my joy."
Ver. 7. Rase it-Heb. Make bare;" i. e. the
foundation level it to the ground.
Ver. 8. Who art to be destroyed-Heb. “ wasted by the divine decree, Is. xii. 1, &c. Or, as Ai worth reads it," Who art (worthy) to be destroyes So Rev. xvi. 6.—That rewardeth thee, &c.-H "That recompenseth to thee thy deed, which th didst to us. See Exod. xxi. 23-25.
Ver. 9. Against the stones-Heb." Rock."
PSALM CXXXVIII. Ver. 1. Before the god that is," rulers." See Ps. Ixxxii. 6, 7.
Ver. 2. Above all thy name-Or, "Thou hast m nified thy naine, (even) thy word, above all."* Horne,
2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
3 In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth.
5 Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
8 The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. (Z)
To the chief Musician. A Psalm of David. LORD, thou hast searched me,
and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting
[of God. and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13 For thou hast possessed my
(Z) David prophecieth the conversion of the Gentiles.--To this psalm is prefixed the name of David, with which the internal evidence agrees. God had now fulfilled his promise of giving him the kingdom; and this fidelity to his word, David considers more honourable to the divine character than the displays of mere power or wisdom. And this made such an impression upon his mind, that it was the subject of his conversation, even among kings and princes. (See Psalm exix. 46.) From this circunstance he is led forward, in prophetic vision, to anticipate the period when they also shall know and praise Jehovah, and,
instead of gross and cruel idolaters, be. come the "nursing fathers" of the church. (Isa. xlix. 23.)
We notice the last verse particularly, because of its containing a most important doctrine, and its practical improvement. God's promises of persevering grace have been often abused, to the neglect of practical religion; but every inference that such grace shall be afforded to those who are not anxious to persevere, is a horrid perversion of this truth. David, while he adores the perpetuity of divine mercy, prays for its continuance; and no longer than we do this, are we authorized to expect it.
Ver. 6. Such knowledge- Rather, "The (or this) knowledge," &c.
Ver. 8. If I ascend. This thought is amplified by the prophet Amos, chap. ix. 2-4. See also Job xxvi. 5-7.
Ver. 12. Darkness hideth not-Heb. " Darkereth not." The darkness and light-Heb. "As is the darkness, so is the light."
Ver. 13. Thou hast possessed-Or " formed." Bp
reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are
[of God. more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20 For they spake against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (A)
(A) The psalmist acknowledges God's omniscience, and appeals to it for his integrity. We know this psalm to be David's but there is no reason to seek the particular occasion of its being penned. A good man, who knows the deceitfulness of the human heart, will often feel the necessity of appealing to God to search and try his heart, that he may be relieved from the most dangerous of all errors, self-deception.
Various and beautiful is the imagery here employed to describe the divine omniscience. He considers, first, the human mind, and attributes to the divine Being a knowledge of its cogitations before man has time to utter them. Then he looks to God's omnipresence, which extends to the farthest part of the eastern continent, or the western sea; which descends at once to the abyss of hell, and rises to the highest heavens, where he keeps his throne, in light unapproachable. He next adverts to the secret formation of the human foetus, embroidered, as here described, with veins and nerves, so as to form one of the most wonderful works of God. Its members, as it were, written, or delineated, before the eye of the Creator, before one
Ver. 14. I am fearfully and wonderfully madethat is, so wonderfully made, as to impress on his mind an awful sense of the majesty of his Creator.
Ver. 15. My substance — Marg. "Strength, or body." The Hebrew means, the solid parts of the body, particularly the bores, Eccles. xi. 3.Curiously wrought-Bp. Lonth, "Wrought (as) with a needle," Ainsworth, "Embroidered." In the
of them was formed. Though anatomy like other studies, has been much abused, few are calculated to discover more of the infinite wisdom of our Maker. We are indeed "fearfully (or awfully) and wonderfully made." Though the Jews did not practice the anatomy of man, yet their priests could not be ignorant of animal anatomy, and consequently not wholly so of the structure of the human frame, whose formation they seem to have contemplated, not only with admiration, but with a kind of awe; as they did fire in the bowels of the earth, or lightning in the elaboratory of the clouds.
When the psalmist exclaims, "How precious are thy thoughts concerning me, O God!" we are inclined to consider him as engaged in contemplating his own being as the result of divine benevolence as well as power; as having occupied the friendly, as well as inscrutable thoughts of God. He considers himself, whether waking or sleeping, as equally the subject of divine providence; and, however far his dreaming thoughts might wander from the contemplation of his Maker, “when I awake (says he) I am still with thee."
Was it not from this sense of his perpe