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"5. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. 6. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. 7. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness."
Those works of God, which demand to be celebrated by the tongues of men, are here divided into three kinds. First, such as declare his glory, and excite our admiration, whenever we behold them. Of this sort are the shining frame of the heavens, and all the bodies which move therein; the earth, with its furniture without, and its contents within; the magnificent and stupendous ocean, which flows around it; the different tribes of animals inhabiting both the one and the other; and, above all, the construction of man, the lord of this lower world. Under the second class of God's works, are ranged all those which the Psalmist styleth his "terrible acts," or the exertions of his power against his enemies; such as, the destruction of the old world by water; of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire; of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; of the Canaanitish nations by the sword; and the victory gained over sin and death by the resurrection of Christ. In the third rank stand those works which have proceeded from the goodness of God, and his "righteousness" in the performance of his promises. And among these we may reckon all the different species of provision, which have been made by Providence for the bodies of men in the world, and by grace for their souls in the church. On any of these subjects meditation cannot be long employed, without breaking forth into wonder, gratitude, and praise.
8. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy. 9. The LORD is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works."
Mercy hath misery for its object, and is that attribute, towards which the eye of a fallen world must naturally be turned. The Psalmist hath, accordingly, introduced her last, with great pomp and splendour, seated in her triumphal chariot, and invested with a supremacy over all the works of God. She is above the heavens, and over all the earth, so that the whole creation findeth that refuge under the shadow of her wings, of which, by reason of man's transgression, it standeth in need. The original word for
his tender mercies," is on, the singular of which, On, signifies the womb. The "mercies" of God towards man, are, therefore, represented by this word, to be like those of a mother towards the child of her womb. And this is the very similitude which he himself hath made use of in that most affecting and comforting passage of the prophecy of Isaiah; chap. xlix. 15. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."-And now what follows? Are such "tender mercies" in God? and are they "over all his works?" Why then,
"10. All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. 11. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; 12. To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. 13. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations."
As "all the works" of God, in their several ways, make a due return for the mercy vouchsafed unto them, and set forth his glory; so more especially ought this to be done by man, who is the principal party concerned in the fall and redemption. The saints are the subjects of Messiah's kingdom; and of that kingdom it is their duty to publish to the world the blessings and the glories, to the end that, when these are made known, the nations may be thereby induced to submit their hearts to so gracious a sceptre, and the dominion of Christ may become as universal in its extent, as it is everlasting in its duration.
"14. The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down,"
After having proclaimed the glory and eternity of the kingdom, the prophet draws a character of the King, who, in the execution of his regal and pastoral office, is ever mindful of the necessities of his subjects. To those who, like Peter on the water, are sinking under temptation, he stretcheth out his saving arm, supporting and upholding them by his grace; and to those who, like the woman in the Gospel, have long been "bowed down" with sin or sorrow, he holdeth forth a pardon, "raising and setting them upright again by his mercy." The case is the same with regard to outward distresses, from which God either preserves or delivers his people, as he sees best for them.
15. The eyes of all wait upon thee: and thou givest them their meat in due season. 16. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.'
What a just and beautiful picture is here presented to view! We see the whole animal world assembled before us, with their eyes fixed on the great King and Father of all things, like those of a flock on their shepherd, when he enters the field, in time of dearth, with provender for them. From the same divine person, as the Saviour of men, as the King, Father, and Pastor of the church, do believers, with earnest expectation, wait for the food of eternal life. And neither one nor the other look and wait in vain. To both he giveth their meat in due season; "he openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."
“17. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy, or, good, merciful, in all his works."
Thus in all his ways, or dispensations towards his creatures, whether in nature, or in grace, "Jehovah is righteous," faithful and just, in extending his promised care, by making due provision for their wants; and "all his works," which, from the beginning of the world he hath wrought in behalf of the sons of men, are full of "mercy and loving-kindness."
"18. The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. 19. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them."
It is our happiness to have a King, who is not, like earthly princes, difficult of access, but one of whom the meanest subject may at any time obtain an audience, and be certain of having his request granted if it be made in truth, without wavering, and without hypocrisy, with humble confidence, and with unwearied constancy, expecting salvation from God, from none but him, and from him only in the way of duty and obedience; "he will fulfil the desire of them that fear him."
20. The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy."
To protect his subjects, and destroy their enemies, is the finishing part of the regal character, as here drawn from its great original in the King of saints. By his grace he now preserveth us from innumerable dangers and temptations, and gradually destroyeth sin in us: and by his power he will hereafter execute, in the fullest and most extensive sense, this part of his office," when the wicked shall be consumed with the spirit of his mouth, and destroyed with the brightness of his coming." Then the bodies of the righteous, preserved to a joyful resurrection, shall be reunited to their souls, and both together, perfected and glorified, shall reign and shine with him for ever. Thus the Lord Jesus Christ "preserveth all that love him," and maketh good his promise. "There shall not a hair of your head perish," Luke xxi. 18.
"21. My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever."
The Psalmist having now given the reasons why he had resolved" to extol his God and King, and to bless his name for ever and ever," concludes with repeating his resolution, and exhorts all the world to follow his example, in time and eternity.
In this Psalm the church is taught, 1, 2. to prolong the praises of Jehovah, as her God and King; 3-6. to beware of trusting in the powers of the world, and to rely on the world's Creator and Redeemer, whose miracles of love and mercy, wrought for the children of men, 7-9. are enumerated, and the eternity of whose kingdom, 10. is proclaimed.
"1. Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. 2. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God, while I have any being."
No sooner is one hallelujah ended, but another begins; and the prophet, in imitation of those who "rest not day or night,” stirs himself up afresh to praise the King of glory, the Creator and Redeemer of men, declaring himself resolved to employ the powers and faculties of his soul in the service of that God who gave and preserved them.
"3. Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sou of man, in whom there is no help. 4. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. 5. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: 6. Which made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever."
From Him, who is "the Prince of the kings of the earth," Sion looks for deliverance, and by Him, her true sons expect to be exalted. HE “ keepeth truth for ever;" he is able and willing to perform his promises, and never disappoints those who rely on him. There are no changes in the politics of heaven. The faithful servant of his master is by that Master infallibly approved and rewarded. Earthly princes, if they have the will, often want the power, even to protect their friends. And should they want neither will nor power to advance them, yet still all depends upon the breath in their nostrils, which, perhaps, at the very critical moment," goeth forth; they return to their earth; their thoughts," and all the thoughts of those who had hoped to rise by their means, "fall into the same grave," and are buried with them for ever. "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of? But trust ye in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength," Isa. ii. 22. xxvi. 4.
7. Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners: 8. The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: The LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: The LORD loveth the righteous: 9. The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fa therless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down."
That the Lord, of whom all things are spoken, is the Messiah, or Jehovah incarnate, appears, as Dr. Hammond hath justly observed, from what is said of him in verse 8. "The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind;" the miracle of restoring sight to men born blind being one reserved for the Son of God to work, at his coming in the flesh. "Since the world began," saith the man to whom sight had been thus restored, "was it not heard, that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind," John ix. 32. This therefore was the first of those tokens given by Jesus to the disciples of John whereby it might be known that he was the expected Christ; "Go and tell John the things which ye have heard and seen; The blind receive their sight," &c. But how did this evince him to be the Messiah? Plainly, because it had been foretold by the prophets, (as in Isa. xxxv. 5. xxix. 18. xlii. 18. so in this passage of our Psalm, which is exactly similar to those texts,) that Messiah, when he came, should give sight to the blind. Now, if one part of the Psalmist's description belong to Christ, the other mem
bers of it must do so likewise, it being evident that the whole is spoken of the same person. He, therefore, is "the God of Jacob, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that therein is ;" and, upon his appearing among men in the body of our flesh, he showed himself possessed of power to relieve all the wants, corporeal and spiritual, of poor lost mankind. When he rescued men from the bondage of Satan," he executed judgment for the oppressed;" when he fed thousands by a miracle, or when he preached the word to such as desired to hear and receive it, he gave food to the hungry: when, by pardon and grace, he released those who were bound with the chains of their sins, he "loosed the prisoners;" when he poured light into the sightless eyeball, or illuminated with saving knowledge the understanding of the ignorant, he "opened the eyes of the blind :" when he made the crooked woman straight, or rectified the obliquity of a depraved will, he "raised those that were bowed down:" while he protecteth, and guideth to the city of their eternal habitation, the sons of Adam, who are exiles, pilgrims, and sojourners upon earth, he "preserveth the strangers;" when he became a husband to the church, and a parent to her destitute children, he "relieved the fatherless and widow:" and when he shall come in his glorious majesty, to reward his servants, and to confound their enemies, it will be seen how "he loveth the righteous, and turneth the way of the wicked upside down." Happy the people of such a God; happy the subjects of such a King! Rejoice, and sing, and shout aloud; for lo,
10. The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD."
THIRTIETH DAY-EVENING PRAYER.
It has been conjectured, from ver. 2. that this Psalm was written to celebrate the return of Israel from Babylon, when Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt. 1-3. The people of God are exhorted to praise him for the mercies vouchsafed to them; 4-6. for his wisdom, power, and goodness; 7-9. for his providential care, and, 10, 11. the wonderful salvation wrought by his arm; 12-14. for the security, increase, and prosperity of the church; 15-18. for the happy change of her condition, like that produced in nature, when spring succeeds to winter; 19, 20. and for the glorious privilege of the Divine word, revealed and committed to her.
"1. Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God: for it is pleasant; and praise is comely."
Praise is "good" and acceptable to God our Saviour, whose glory is the great end of man's creation and redemption: and it is "pleasant and comeTy" for man, being the only return he can make for those, and all other mercies; the offspring of gratitude, and the expression of love; the eleva tion of the soul, and the antepast of heaven; its own reward in this life, and an introduction to the felicities of the next.
2. The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel."
If this Psalm were written on occasion of the return from Babylon, and the rebuilding of the earthly city, the ideas are to be transferred, as in other Psalms of the same kind, to a more important restoration from a much worse captivity, and to the building up of the church under the Gospel, when Christ" gathered together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad;" John xi. 52. that is, in the words of our Psalm, he "gathered together the outcasts of Israel. So shall he "again, at the resur
rection, gather together his elect from the four winds," Matt. xxiv. 31. and "build up a Jerusalem," in which they shall serve and praise him for
"3. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
The "broken hearts and wounded spirits" of the Israelites were "healed and made whole," when they returned to their own land, when they beheld Jerusalem rising again in beauteous majesty, and sung the songs of Zion in the courts of the temple. Thus Christ came "to preach deliverance to the captives, and to bind up the broken-hearted;" Isa. lxi. 1. Luke iv. 18. to speak pardon and peace to the wounded and contrite spirit, and to put a new song of thanksgiving in the mouth of the penitent, which he might sing, when restored to the holy city, and the house of his heavenly Father. The hour is coming when God shall heal the breaches which death has made in the bodies of his people, and translate them likewise from Babylon to Jerusalem.
"4. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names."
And he who does this, cannot be ignorant of the situation and circum-` stances of his elect. He knoweth each individual, and numbereth all the atoms which go to the composition of his frame. He can call his saints from the depths of earth and sea, "by their names," as when once"he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth;" and he can fix them in radient circles round his throne in the kingdom of glory, vying, for multitude, as well as splendour, with those bright orbs which glitter by night in the spangled firmament of heaven; so that what Baruch saith of the stars, may well be applied to the seed of Abraham, of whom it was foretold, that they should equal the stars in number, Gen. xv. "The stars shine in their watches, and rejoice; when he calleth them, they say, Here we be; and so with cheerfulness they show light unto him that made them." Baruch
5. Great is our LORD, and of great power: his understanding is infinite: Heb. of his understanding there is no number, or, computation;
This is a proper conclusion drawn from the former part of the Psalm, and especially from the preceding verse. The greatness of God's power, which overcometh all difficulties to effect the salvation of his people, is not to be grasped by the human mind; and that wisdom which numbers the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea, and the generations, of the sons of Abraham, can itself be subject to the rules of no arithmetic.
"6. The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground."
To exalt and reward the humble, penitent, believing, and obedient; to depress and punish the proud, impenitent, unbelieving, and disobedient; these are the measures and ends of all the Divine dispensations. And as a man ranks himself in one or other of these two divisions, he may expect from heaven, storm or sunshine, mercy or judgment.
7. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: 8. Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. 9. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.'
The faithful praise God for his goodness to the animal world, both on account of that goodness in itself, aud also because they behold therein an emblem and assurance of his mercy to themselves. The watchful care of Providence over all creatures, speaks the same language to us, which Jehovah made use of to Joshua, and which the Apostle hath applied to Christians; "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," Josh. i. 5. Heb. xiii. 5. He who, by sending rain on the mountains, which could not otherwise be watered, provideth food for the wild beasts inhabiting those mountains, will never leave the lambs of his flock destitute. And he who feedeth the