صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


[ocr errors]

cannot fail of making a very wrong judgment. It is to be sought for in the sacred writings of the prophets, who have given us sufficient assurance, that they understood the law not according to the letter. Our religion, in like manner, is true and divine in the Gospels, and in the preaching of the apostles, but it appears utterly disfigured in 'those who maim or corrupt it.'" (p. 1.)—We subjoin another extract :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


"It is obvious, that every part of the Psalter, when explicated according to this scriptural and primitive method, is rendered universally profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;' and the propriety immediately appears of its having always been used in the devotional way, both by the Jewish and the Christiair church. With regard to the Jews, Bishop Chandler very pertinently remarks, that they must have understood David, their prince, to have been a figure of Messiah. They would not otherwise have made his Psalms part of their daily worship, nor would ⚫ David have delivered them to the church to be so employed, were it not to instruct and support them in the knowledge and belief of this fundamental article. Was the Messiah not concerned in the Psalms, it were absurd to celebrate, twice a day, in their public 'devotions, the events of one man's life, who was deceased so long ago as to have no relation now to the Jews and the circumstances of their affairs; or to transcribe whole passages from them into their prayers for the coming of the Messiah.' Upon the same principle, it is easily seen that the objections which may seem to lie against the use of Jewish services in Christian congregations cease at once. Thus it may be said, Are we concerned with the affairs of David and of Israel? Have we any thing to do with the ark and the temple? They are no more. A Are we to go up to Jerusalem, and to worship on Sion? They are desolated and trodden under foot by the Turks. Are we to sacrifice young bullocks according to the law? The law is abolished never to be observed again. Do we pray for victory over Moab, Edom, and Philistia, or for deliverance from Babylon? There are no such nations, no such places in the world. What then do we mean, when taking such expressions into our mouths, we utter them in our own persons as parts of our devotions, before God? Assuredly, we must mean a spiritual Jerusalem and Sion, a spiritual ark and temple, a spiritual law, spiritual sacrifices, and spiritual victories over spiritual enemies, all described under the old names, which are still retained, though 'old things are passed away, and all things are become new. By substituting Messiah for David, the Gospel for the Law, the church Christian for that of Israel, and the enemies of the one for those of the other, the Psalms are made our own: nay, they are with more fulness and propriety applied now to the substance, than they were of old to the shadow of good things (then) to come." And, therefore, ever since the commencement of the Christian era, the church hath chosen to celebrate the Gospel mysteries in the words of these ancient hymns, rather than to compose for that purpose new ones of her own. For, let it not pass unobserved that, when, upon the first publication of the Gospel, the apostles had occasion to utter their transports of joy on their being counted worthy to suffer for the name of their dear Lord and Master, which was then opposed by Jew and Gentile, they brake forth into an application of the second Psalm to the transactions then before their eyes; (see Acts iv. 25.) The primitive Christians constantly followed this method in their devotions; and particularly, when delivered out of the hands of persecuting tyrants by the victories of Constantine, they praised God for his goodness, and the glorious success and establishment of Christ's religion, no words were found so exquisitely adapted to the purpose as those of David, in the ninety-sixth, ninety-eighth, and other PsalmsSing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth: ... be telling of his salvation from day to day. Declare his honour unto the heathen, his worship ' unto all people,' &c. &c. In these and the like Psalms, we continue to praise God for all his spiritual mercies in Christ to this day." (Preface, p. xxiii.)


After these excellent remarks, it is needless for us to enlarge upon the same topics; but there are a few other points on which it may be proper to remark; and first, as to the application of the Psalms to the Messiah in the New Testament. Our humble opinion is, that when such application is used by way of argument, as in proof of his cru cifixion or resurrection, it must be considered as the direct and proper meaning of the Psalm; but that when the application is only cursory or transient, it may be considered by way of accommodation, as we often quote poetical writers, both inspired and uninspired. The same remark may be applied to quotations from the Law and the prophets, which are sometimes cited in argument, and at others only by way of allusion, to deter mine which, the context in both testaments must be consulted.

The divine authority of the book of Psalms, has, we believe, never been controverted by those who admit the inspiration of any part of the Old Testament: nor can it be with any appearance of reason, since they are so often referred to by our Lord and his apostles as inspired: about half these have David's name prefixed, and others may pro

[ocr errors]


bably have been written by him, which have not his name. Twelve bear the name of Asaph, two that of Solomon, one that of Moses, and two others those of Hemau and . Ethan. David is described in the New Testament both as a patriarch and a prophet, (Acts ii. 29, 30,) and he was unquestionably an eminent type of the Messiah, as we shall have frequent occasion to observe as we proceed.

In the New Testament, the whole number of the Psalins are considered as one book, Lake xx. 42; Acts i. 20.) but the Jews divide it into five, as follows:-Book 1. Psalm i. to -II. Psalm xlii. to lxxii.-III. Psalm Ixxiii. to lxxxix.-IV. Psalm xc. to cvi.— V.evi. to el. Each of these books closes with Amen or Hallelujah: but the antiquity of this division is uncertain, as is also that of the titles of some of the Psalms, which we shall consider as they occur. All the Psalms are admitted to be poetical; and on the Hebrew poetry we have offered a few suggestions in our Intoduction to the book of Job. Seven of these are in a peculiar form, which we call Acrostic, namely, Psalms xxv., xxxv., xxxvii., exi., exii., exix., exlv., two of which are ascribed to David (Psalm xxxiv. and exlv.) and are the earliest specimens of that kind of composition in the Bible, and in the world. The only scriptural acrostics beside these, are part of the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs and the book of Lamentations; and they were so written probably With a view to assist the memory, and to be learned by rote.

[ocr errors]

We have said, the Psalms are poetical; and, as Mr. Hartwell Horne remarks, they present every possible variety of Hebrew poetry. They may all, indeed, be termed poems of the lyric kind; that is, adapted to music: but with great variety in the style of composition. Thus some are simply odes. An ode (according to Bishop Horsley) is agnified sort of song; a narrative of the facts, either of public history, or of private life, in a highly adorned and figured style. Others, again, are ethic, or didactic, delivering grave maxims of life, or the precepts of religion, in solemn, but, for the most part, simple strains.' To this class we may refer the 119th, and the other alphabetical Psalms, which are so called because the initial letters of each line or stanza followed the order of the alphabet. Nearly one-seventh part of the Palms are elegiac, or pathetic compositions on mournful subjects. Some are enigmatic, delivering the doctrines of religion in en gmata; sentences contrived to strike the imagination forcibly, and yet easy to be understood; while a few may be referred to the class of idyls, or short pastoral poems. But the greater part [of the book], according to Bishop Horsley, is a sort of “ dramatic ode, consisting of dialogues between certain persons sustaining certain characters."*

These remarks naturally lead to some observations on the Hebrew Music, and on the manner of performing the Psalms in public worship. There can be no doubt that the first music attempted by man, was that of the human voice,

[blocks in formation]

It is also highly probable that the first exertions of that voice were as the same great poet expresses it)" unmeditated," and could only, therefore, be in the form of chant, unquestionably the only method adapted to unmeditated strains; which has been adopted in the public worship of almost all nations, and is still retained among both Jews and Greeks, and in the cathedral worship of both Roman Catholics and Protestants. As to Musical Instruments, none seem to have been originally used in the tabernacle service, but the silver trumpets of the priests; though on festival occasions, and in public processions, we read of the timbrel and harp, as accompanying the sacred dances, and the devotions of the prophetic schools ‡ David, however, who was himself a practical musician, a poet, and a prophet, invented some instruments,§ and doubtless improved others. He also established regular choirs of Levites,|| who, in the Dialogue Psalms, replied to each other. (See Ps. xxiv.) The one choir, probably, being accompanied by stringed instruments, as the psaltery and harp; and the other by wind instruments, as the organ, &c. Of these instruments we shall take some further notice, as the names occur, and hope to throw some little light on points which have been miserably obscured by learned men, totally unacquainted with the science or history of music.

Solomon greatly enlarged the number of performers, and had the worship of the temple conducted on a more magnificent scale;** yet the temple itself was so small as

[blocks in formation]

? Exod. XV. 20; | Sam. x. 5; 1 Chron. xiii. 8.

[blocks in formation]


to admit a part only of the Levites at a time;* and on grand occasions, as the dedication of the temple, the chief parts of the performance must have been in the open air. After this time, every thing degenerated, and when the Jews went into captivity, they "hung their harps upon the willows." The fame of their former musical excellence must, however, have reached their enemies, for they required of them a song," to which they properly replied, "How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"+

[ocr errors]

In entering upon this important book, we acknowledge ourselves first and principally indebted to Bishop Horne, whose expositions we have generally compared with the previous labours of Mr. Ainsworth and Bishop Patrick. Nor shall we forget the evangelical paraphrase of Dr. Watts, whom we respect, both as an interpreter and a poet, and in whose first edition (now before us) are some useful hints, which, we regret to say, are omitted in all the modern editions. And we shall occasionally enrich our Exposition with a verse from him, as well as from Milton, and other poetical translators of the Psalms. The beautiful Lectures of Bishop Lowth will be consulted on this book, as well as on Job; and in our Notes we shall not neglect the original criticisms of Dr. Kennicott and Bishop Horsley, though we confess we never follow without hesitation commentators on the sacred writers, who are so bold, as to treat an inspired writer with the same freedom as a heathen classic. We would use all diligence to ascertain the meaning of the sacred writers; but we would also treat them with all reverence, carefully avoiding to attach to them any meaning, but that of the inspired authors. For this reason, we must be excused from following systematically, the scheme of interpretation adopted by Bishops Horne, Horsley, and other Hutchinsonian writers, though it will be seen we have seldom neglected to consult them.

We shall conclude this Introduction with another extract from the same learned and excellent writer with whose words we commenced. Speaking of David's Psalms, Bishop Horne adds, "His invaluable Psalms convey those comforts to others which they afforded to himself. Composed upon particular occasions, yet designed for general use; delivered out as services for the Israelites under the law, yet no less adapted to the circumstances of Christians under the gospel; they present religion to us in the most engaging dress, communicating truths which philosophy could never investigate, in a style which poetry can never equal; while history is made the vehicle of prophecy, and creation lends all its charms to paint the glories of redemption. Calculated alike to profit and to please, they inform the understanding, elevate the affections, and entertain the imagination. Indited under the influence of Him to whom all hearts are known, and all events foreknown, they suit mankind in all situations; grateful as the manna which descended from above, and conformed itself to every palate. The fairest productions of human wit, after a few perusals, like gathered flowers, wither in our hands, and lose their fragrancy; but these unfading plants of Paradise become, accustomed to them, still more and more beautiful; their bloom appears to be daily heightened; fresh odours are emitted, and new sweets extracted from them. He who bath once tasted their excellencies will desire to taste them yet again; and he who tastes them oftenest, will relish them best." (Pref. p. lix.)

See 1 Kings vi. 2, and Nots.

+ Ps. cxxxvii. 1-4. On the Music of the He. brews, the Editor begs to refer to his "Historical

as we are

Essay on Church Music," which has been long out of print, but which, if his life is spared, may probably be presented to the public in a new form.


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]



A Introductory Psalm.-The blessedof the righteous, and misery of the weled-The author of this psalm is unAva; but many have ascribed it to Eon the presumption that on his collecting these sacred poems into a volume, be might prefix this didactic (or precepave psalmi, as a proper introduction to the whole. It does not follow, however, that it must have been his own composition, and we know nothing of Ezra as a poet

This psalm contains a contrasted view of the character of the righteous and the wicked, with the blessings which attend the former, and the miseries which await the latter. The blessedness of the good man ariseth, not from riches, nor pleasures, her gay companions, nor great connexions; but, on the contrary, from a total separation from sin and sinners. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." Ahaziah, we are told, "walked in the way of Ahab; for his mother (Athaliah) was his counsellor to do wickedly;" which led, as wickedness always does, "to his destruction." (2 Chron. ii. 2-4.) Those who walk in the counsels of such men, will be found often "standing," or stopping, in their way, and sometimes seating themselves in the chair of the scorners; those who make a scoff and ridicule of all religion.-Here is intimated a gradation in vice. "The way of iniquity, says Mr. Henry, "is down hill; the bad grow worse, and sinners them

selves become tempters to others, and advocates for Baal."

But the blessed man "delights in the law and in the word of God," and spends those hours in reading and meditation, which others spend in sinful pursuits abroad, or revellings at home. The good man makes the lively oracles of God his companion, and will (as the excellent Bishop Horne observes) "have recourse to them for direction in the bright and cheerful hours of prosperity;" and for "comfort in the dark and dreary seasons of adversity." The enemy, when advanc ing to the assault, will always find him well employed, and will be received with — "Get thee behind me, Satan;" as he was repulsed by our divine Redeemer.

Such an one is compared to "a tree planted by the rivers:" He is planted by the "river of the water of life;" and as this nourishes his root, his leaves of profession are ever green, and his fruits of righteousness abundant. (Jer. xvii. 11.) But" the ungodly are not so." Like chaff winnowed in the open air, as in the eastern countries is the custom to this day, his hopes and expectations shall all be scattered. Neither his character nor his actions will stand the trial of affliction, or of death; much less shall he "stand in the judgment, or be numbered in the congregation of the righteous." "For the Lord knoweth them that are his :" (2 Tim. ii. 19.) his eye is upon the way of the righteous, both to guide them and guard them, and they are blessed, while sinners perish.

[blocks in formation]

3. Wither-Marg, "fade" more literally, "This may be rendered impersonally, Its lea ball not wither, and whatsoever it douth (or

produceth) shall prosper." "A tree is said to make fruit when it beareth it." Jer. xvii. 8.-Ainsworth, Ver. 5. In the judgment-The judgment here intended, is evidently the last judgment; the congregation of the righteous, is their assembly at the judg ment-seat of Christ. Bishop Horne.

Ver 6. The Lord knoweth-That is, approveth and acknowledgeth. See Ps. xxxi. 7; Amos iii. 2;

Matt. xxv. 12.

The kingdom]

[ocr errors]



WHY do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set them selves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

5 Then shall he speak unto them

in his wrath, and vex them in his

sore displeasure.

[of Christ. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, rejoice with trembling.


12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his

6 Yet have I set my king upon my wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are

holy hill of Zion.


all they that put their trust in him. (B)


(B) The kingdom of Messiah. A Psalm of David. The kings of the earth (or of the land) are explained (Acts iv. 26, 27.) to be the Jewish and Roman governors, "Herod and Pontius Pilate," who "set themselves" against Messiah; particularly the former, who, as if purposely to fulfil this prediction, "with his men of war set him at nought, mocked him," and having arrayed him in a gorgeons robe, sent him again to Pilate; "and the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together." (Luke xxiii. 11.) "Thus they set themselves in array against him."

There is something peculiar in the manner in which the Psalmist represents the Lord JEHOVAH, as sitting upon the throne of the universe, and looking down with the most sovereign contempt upon all human

opposition. Ridicule can only be ascribed to Deity in the same figurative manner as grief and repentance are in other places: God is not affected by human passions; but his actions are explained in analogy with ours. Fools that scoff at God, and make "a mock at sin," are given to know that they will reap the fruit of their y own folly; and He whom they now deride, will then have them in derision." (See Gen. iii. 20–24. and Exposition.)

But to apply to the great subject of this psalm: "The views which it gives of the Messiah (says Dr. P. Smith) are, that he should be, in a peculiar sense, the Son of God; that he should be entitled to the homage of the world; that, pursuant to the appointment of the Almighty Father, he should support his own throne by the righteous exercise of authority and power;


PSALM II. David's name is not prefixed to this psalm in our bibles; it is so in the Septuagint translation, and the whole assembly of the apostles attribute it to his pen, and apply it to his illustrious Son and Lord, as the anointed King of Israel, of whom David was a type only. (Acts iv. 25, &c. xiii.33.) The Targum also refers (it) to the Messiah. So do the Bereshith Rabba, the book Jalkuth, (Zohar) and others of the Talmudical writings." So Solomon Jarchi confesses, in these words, "Our masters have expounded (this psalm) of the King Messiah; but, according to the letter, and for furnishing answers to the Minim, (heretics, i. e. the Christians) it is better to interpret it of David himself." (Dr. Smith's Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, vòl. i. pp. 213, 215.)

Ver. 1. Why do the heathen-Heb. "the nations." The Jews called all nations beside their own heathen we restrain it to pagan, or idolatrous nations. -Rage?-Marg. "Tumultuously assemble."Imagine-Heb. "Meditate," design.

Ver. 3. Bands.... cords.-This implies rebellion, or renouncing all allegiance.

Ver. 4. The Lord-Adonai, not JEHOVAH, as in ver. 2. As we shall frequently meet with both these words in this book, we inay here observe, that when the word Lord occurs in small letters, it is the former in the original; but the latter when in capitals: here, however, all the printed Bibles in Hebrew we have consulted, read Adonai, "Lord;" yet most copies of our authorized version we have seen, print the word in capitals, as if it were JEHOVAH, which Dr. Boothroyd says is the reading of many Hebrew MSS, and he thinks the true one. Ver. 5. Vex-Marg. "trouble:" "rebuke," Dr. J. P. Smith: "confound," Dr. Chandler. Ver.6. I have set-Heb. "anointed."- -My holy hill-Marg. "Zion, the hill of my holiness." Ver. 7. I will declare the decree-Messiah is here introduced as speaking in his own person.

Ver. 9. A rod of iron-" A sceptre of iron," See Note on Genesis xlix. 10.

Ver. 12. Perish from the way-Or" by the way;" or" on the road." Dr. J. P. Smith.-Kiss-was used not only as an act of submission, but also of Idolatry. 1 Kings xix. 18; Hos. xiii. 2,



« السابقةمتابعة »