Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

presents, that is, our sacrifices of prayer and praise, and cheerful obedience to him ; that we may enjoy that peace now which no other prince can give, and that happiness which will last for ever.

4. Let us join with the psalmist in earnest prayer that his king, dom may be further advanced ; that it may come, that is, spread further, appear with greater lustre and power, and make all the nations obedient to the faith ; that the whole earth may be filled with the glory of God. Dying saints cannot conclude their lives better than in the language of prayer and praise ; blessing God for all the wondrous things he has done for the church and for them ; and committing all its interests to him, who has been hitherto its guard. jan, and in whom all the nations of the earth shall finally be blessed. O may his kingdom come ; and his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven! Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone doeth wondrous things ; and blessed be his glorious name for ever, and let the whole earth be filled with his glory ; Amen, and Amen.

PSALM LXXIII.

A Psalm of Asaph.

This Asaph is probably the same person mentioned 2 Chron. xxix. 30.

This psalm is an admirable composition, it describes his struggle with a strong temptation, and his victory over it ; after revolving things in his mind, this was the result of his thoughts.

1

TRULY God [is] good to Israel, [even) to such as are of a

2 not to doubt the truth of it any more. But as for me, my feet

were almost gone, I was once ready to think otherwise, my steps

had well nigh slipped ; my faith in God was almost overthrown, 3 and I was ready to repent of my piety. For I was envious at 4 the foolish, (when) I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For

[there are] no bands in their death ; they are not put to a violent death, by the hand of the magistrate, nor suffer any grievous tona

ments of mind or body : but their strength [is] firm ; they con5 tinue strong and healthful all their days. They Care] not in

trouble (as other) men, as many pious, honest men are : neither 6 are they plagued like (other) men. Therefore pride compass- .

eth them about as a chain ; violence covereth them (as) a gara ment ; they think Providence favours them, or that there is no

Providence at all, and therefore are haughty and tyrannical. They 7 live in great plenty and prosperity, so that Their eyes stand out

with fatness: they have more than heart could wish ; better 8 success than they themselves could have expected, They are cor

rupt, and speak wickedly concerning) oppression : they speak

loftily ; they think themselves not bound by the laws of justice, 9 and vindicate their oppressions, and boast of their power. They

1

set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh 10 through the earth; they blaspheme God and slander men. There.

fore his people, who have the same difficulties as I have, return hither, revolve these scenes in their mind : and waters of a full

(cup) are wrung out to them; the cup of affliction is put into 11 their hands. And they, that is, God's fieople, are sometimes' ready

to adoni the language of the wicked, and to say, How doth God

know ? and is there knowledge in the most High? surely he 12 takes no notice of affairs here below. Behold, these [are] the

ungodly, who, instead of receiving the punishment they deserve,

prosper in the world ; they increase (in) riches. Therefore I 13 am ready to say, Verily I have cleansed my heart [in] vain, and

washed my hands in innocency; I have taken pains in live hon14 estly and keep my heart pure, but it has been in vain. For all the

day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning ; my

afflictions have been very great, and renewed every day. . But 15 will check myself ; for If I say I will speak thus ; behold, I

should offend (against] the generation of thy children; it would be contrary to the sense of good men in all ages ; I should set them

a bad example, and grieve the men and injure the cause that God 16 approves. When I thought to know this, it (was) too painful

for me ; before I determined the point, I was willing to study it

more closely, and I found difficulties in it that I could not sur17 mount : Until I went into the sanctuary of God'; (then) under

stood I their end; while consulting the scriptures, worshipping

God, and seeking direction from him, he was pleased by his Spirit 18 to give me such a view of things as to take off the burden. Surely

thou didst set them in slippery places : thou castedst then down

into destruction ; now I see that their standing was slippery, and 19 their fall unspeakably dreadful. How are they (brought) into

desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with 20 terrors, sure, swift, and terrible destruction comes upon them. As

a dream when [one] awaketh ; [so,] O LORD, when thou awakest, to execute judgment upon them, thou shalt despise their image ; dissipate those dreams of happiness they have been amusing

themselves with ; and then-all their glory shall vanish as a dream. 21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins; I 22 was distressed that I should ever entertain such doubis. So fool

ish (was] I, and ignorant : I was (as) a beast before thee, br

cause I did not use the reason thou hast given me. And this folly 23 has been aggravated, for Nevertheless, notwithstanding these fail

ings and miscarriages of mine, I (am) continually with thee; I have enjoyed thy gracious, as well as providential presence, and

thou hast holden (me) by my right hand ; supported me amidst 24 all my afflictions and temptations. Thou shalt guide me with thy

counsel through every future difficulty, and preserve me from such

snares ; and afterward receive me [to] glory, everlasting glory 25 in heaven. Whom have I in heaven (but thee ?) and (there is)

none upon earth (that] I desire beside thee ; my hope is in thy favour alone ; there is no being but shyself that can be my prore

[ocr errors]

tion ; no creatures, possessions, or delights on earth are equally 26 desirable. My flesh and my heart faileth ; my bodily strength ...fails, and the courage of my mind is broken ; [but) this is my

comfort, that God [is] the strength of my heart, and my portion 27 for ever. For lo, they that are far from thee, those who oppose

and forsake thee, shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that

go a whoring from thee ; whose hearts are alienated from their 28 rightful Lord and only happiness. But [it is) good for me to

draw near to God; to adhere to thee and ihy service, and to live near to thee : I have put my trust for comfort and happiness, in the Lord God ; that I may declare all thy works; the justice and goodness of thy providence in the final salvation of the good, and the destruction of the wicked ; and lead others to understand the meaning and design of thy providence,

REFLECTIONS.

[ocr errors]

E are cautioned from hence to guard against the temp

tation which the psalmist describes, and by which he. suffered so much. It is too common an error; the best of men are ready to slip, and fall by it. But we should remember how foolish it is, and what ignorance it shows, to doubt the providence and goodness of God. It is especially inexcusable in christians, who have life and immortality brought to light by the gospel. Therefore fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious at their prosperity.

2. When we are pressed with such difficulties, let us have recourse to the sanctuary of God ; consult his word, seek assistance from him by prayer, and use the appointed public means for our comfort. Let us learn to judge of every appearance in the moral world by the light of revelation ; this will correct our mistakes, and silence our doubts.

3. We should make it our business to secure an interest in the favour of God; then we may joyfully rest in him as our portion and happiness, however we may be afflicted. Nothing in earth or in heaven, but God, can be a suitable portion to our souls, and satisfy their boundless desires. We shall find the need of his favour in afflictions, especially in dying moments, when flesh and heart fail; if God does not at that time strengthen us, nothing can : and at death, if he be not our portion, we have no other, but are undone for ever.

4. Let the people of God cheersully commit themselves to his guidance in life and death ; to the direction of his providence, his word, and his Spirit. It is good for us, our duty and interest, the best thing in the world, to draw near to God, by meditation and prayer, and live near to him by the exercise of faith, love, and hope. This we shall find to be the most comfortable life, and the firmest security against temptation. He will be our guide to death, and will receive us to that world, where every temptation and pain. ful doubt will be vanquished, and he himself shall be our everlasting felicity.

PSALM LXXIV.

Maschil of Asaph ; or, a psalm for Asaph to give instruction.

Composed during the captivity by some pious Israclite who continued

in the land.

'O

we seem to be forgotten? (why) dorh thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture ? thy peculiar people, once 80 2 dear to thee? Remember thy congregation, (which] thou hast

purchased of old ; the rod of thine inheritance, (which] thou

hast redeemed out of Egypt and settled in Canaan ; this mount 3 Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt as thy palace. Lift up thy feet

unto the perpetual desolations ; [even), all [that] the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary ; make hasie to visit and

repair this desolation, which otherwise is likely to be perpetr.al. A Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations ; there is

the voice of rage and triumph, ruhere thy people used to pray and frraise ; they set up their ensigns (for) signs of their conquest

and victories, and boas' as if their gods were superior to thee, 5 (A man) was famous according as he had listed up axes upon

the thick trees, that is, contributed his help toward the building of 6 the temple. But now they break down the carved work thereof

at once with axes and hammers ; they make no more scruple of breaking this curious work, than a man would in cutting down a

tree ; they destroy the work for the sake of the gold that is upon it, 7 They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled (by

casting down] the dwelling place of thy name to the ground; 8 they have destroyed what the fire had not consumed. They said

in their hearts, Let us destroy them together, she people and the place : they have burned up all the synagogues of God, or

houses of prayer, in the land, as if they would utterly destroy our 9 religion. We see not our signs ; such miracles or appearances of

Providence for us as we had in times past : (there is) no more any prophet :* neither [is there) among us any that knoweth bow long,; we shall be thus reproached, (v. 10.) and continue in this

calamitous condition, being uncertain about reckoning the time 10 when the caprivily shall be restored. O God, how long shall the

adversary reproach ? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for 11 ever, as if inou wast not able to deliver us? Why withdrawest

thou thy hand, even thy right hand ? pluck [it] out of thy bose 12 om ; ezert that hand which hath formerly done such wonders. For

God [is] my King of old, the king of Israel many generations ago, working salvation in the midst of the earth, that is, of this

land, though it is now desolate, and therefore I do not despair, 13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength : thou brakest the

heads of the dragons, destroyedst the Egyptians in the waters.

Ezekiel and Daniel were now in Babylon, and Jeremiah was gone into Egypte

14 Thou brakest the heads of the leviathan in pieces, Pharaoh

and his princes, [and] gavest him (to be] meat io the people in

habiting the wilderness ; the sea throw up their dead bodies, which 15 were devoured by the beasts of the desert. Thou didst cleave the

fountain and the flood ; cleave the rock, and madest a spring there :

thou driedst up mighty rivers, both Jordan and the Red sea. 16 The day (is) thine, the night also [is] thine : thou hast prepar

ed the light and the sun ; instances of thy power are continual in 17 the revolutions of day and night, the sun and moon. Thou

hast set all the borders of the different climates of the earth :

thou hast made summer and winter, the change of seasons. 18 Remember this, (that) the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, 19 and (that) the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.

deliver not the soul, the life; of thy turtle dove, who trusteth in thee, unto the multitude [of the wicked :) forget not the con

gregation of thy poor for ever; a poor helpless company, who de20 pend only upon thee. Have respect unto the covenant with our

fathers : for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty ; this land, once fruitful, full of the knowledge of

God, and under good government, is now full of darkness, rapine, 21 and cruelty. O let not the oppressed return ashamed of our

prayers und hopes : let the poor and needy praise thy name in

their ancient possessions, from which they have been long banished. 22 Arise, O God, plead thine own cause, the cause of thine hɔnour and

worship : remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee, 23 useth reproachful expressions, daily. Forget not the voice of

thine enemies : the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually, therefore it is time for thee to chastise and silence them.

REFLECTIONS.

1. W

E may reflect, how melancholy and pitiable their case is,

who thus suffer insults and persecution. How tenderly does this good man lay to heart the desolation of the sanctuary ! He makes no complaint of the burning of cities, and laying waste the country, but the temple and the synagogues. He laments the want of prophets and ministers, more than of armies. This is the case of many of our protestant brethren in the world; and we should think of them with tender pity, and earnestly pray that God would remember them; lift up his feet for their deliverance, and plead his own cause.

2. We have great reason to be thankful that the case is not our own. Blessed be God, that our eyes do not see that worst of sights, an enemy in the sanctuary of the Lord ; that our Jerusalem is a quiet habitation ; that violence is not heard in our land ; that our eyes see our teachers ; and that if we now and then are reproached by our neighbours, that is the utmost to which their malice can extend. God grant that we may be sensible of the value of our peace and liberty; and so improve them, that his salvation may be still near to us, and that glory may dwell in our land.

« PreviousContinue »