Verse 45. "That they might observe his statutes " - That they might be properly instructed, and properly disciplined. This is the end proposed by Divine revelation: men are to be made wise unto salvation, and then to be brought under the yoke of obedience. He who is not conformed to God's word shall not enter into Christ's kingdom.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FIFTH PSALM
The title of this Psalms is Hallelujah, as are also the two following; and the first fifteen verses of it were sung at the bringing up of the ark by David, 1 Chronicles 16.
The scope of it is the same with the two former Psalms, "that we praise God;" but yet with this difference: in the hundred and third, that he be magnified "for his benefits of redemption;" in the hundred and fourth, "for the manifestation of his power and providence in creating, governing, and sustaining the world;" but in this, "for the gracious covenant he made with Abraham, and, in him, with his whole Church." I. An exhortation to praise God, ver. 1-7.
II. An enumeration of the favours God bestowed to persuade to it, ver. 7-45.
I. He that loves his prince truly desires also that others should magnify and honour him. This was David's case; he was a true lover of his God, and set a true estimate upon him. He honoured and praised God himself, and desired that others should do the same outwardly and inwards with heart and tongue: he thought all too little, and therefore, he repeats the duty often, and shows how it is to be done.
1. By giving of thanks: "O give thanks unto the Lord." 2. By invocation: "Call upon his name." 3. By communication: "Make known his deeds among the people." 4. By voices, psalms, and hymns: "Sing unto him; sing psalms unto him." 5. By frequent colloquies of his works: "Talk ye of all his wondrous works." 6. By boasting of him: "Glory ye in his holy name." Profess that you are happy men, that God's holy name was ever made known to you.
"He that glories, let him glory in the Lord;" 2 Cor. xi.
He invites all outwardly to exhibit praise; and now he advises that it be done inwardly also, with exultation and gladness of heart.
1. "Let the heart of them rejoice." The Holy Spirit does not sing but out of a joyous heart.
2. "Let them seek the Lord." For, indeed, they only who seek him rejoice heartily: they can acquiesce in God, in his promises of grace, pardon, and acceptance; which is so necessary to every one who will make his approaches to the throne of grace, and have his praise rendered acceptable, that the prophet seriously urges the duty: - (1) "Seek the Lord." Cast all impiety and wickedness away: seek him.
(2) "Seek his strength." Which at that time was the ark, it being the symbol of his presence. Seek him in his Church.
(3) "Seek his face evermore." His favour, and grace, and reconciliation; seek them in his word and sacraments, &c.
(4) "Evermore seek him." Now and then is too little; it must be our constant work.
Having thus spoken of the heart, he comes to the memory: "Remember, forget not." And the things to be remembered are, 1. His marvellous works. 2. His wonders. 3. His judgments; which three are the substance of this whole Psalm, and are explained according to their heads. They ought to be particularly remembered by the Israelites, the posterity of Abraham, and the sons of Jacob.
"Remember his marvellous works," &c. "O ye seed of Abraham, his servant; ye children of Jacob, his chosen." Remember that he made Abraham and chose Jacob to be his servants, gave you laws, and showed you with what rites he would be worshipped. Forget them not.
II. But at the seventh verse the prophet begins his narration; and tells the Israelites, and in them us, what marvellous works God had done for his people, all which he presses as arguments to his people that they should praise, honour, worship, and obey him. There is much reason for it.
1. "He is the Lord our God." The same argument prefaces the commandments: "I am the Lord thy God." 2. "His judgments are in all the earth." He is a mighty Monarch, and has all nature under his empire.
And if neither of these move, yet there is another, drawn from his many and infinite favours: "On you Israelites," and all mankind as well; for on the fall of man his covenant was, That the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; and this he forgot not: "He hath remembered his covenant," &c.
1. "Which covenant he made with Abraham," and confirmed it by sacrifice, Gen. xv. 13.
2. "His oath unto Isaac," Gen. xxvi. 3, 4.
3. "And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law," &c.; Genesis xxviii. 13-15.
4. The form of the covenant recited: "Saying, Unto thee will I give," &c.; for it was divided to the tribes by lots.
Which covenant God made with their fathers and them, not out of any merit that could be in them; Deut. viii. 4-6; Josh. xxiv. 2.
1. "When there were but a few men," and humble; "yea, very few." 2. And they "strangers" in the land. For the patriarchs only sojourned in Canaan.
3. Yea, "when they went from one nation to another," &c.
Now when they were in this condition, very few, strangers, sojourners, and pilgrims, God protected and defended them.
1. "He suffered no man to do them wrong," &c.; no, not the greatest, for "he reproved even kings for their sakes." 2. For he gave the command: "Touch not mine anointed," - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were anointed with the Holy Ghost, though not with material oil; "and do my prophets no harm," i.e., the same men, for they were prophets. Abraham foresaw the bondage of his seed in Egypt; Isaac foretold what should befall Esau's posterity, Genesis 27.; and Jacob, by a prophetical spirit, gave his blessings, Gen. xlix. Of Abraham it is expressly said, "He is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee," Gen. xx. 7.
Two of these mercies, the covenant and protection, are already named; and now he goes on and insists upon the third, ver. 16-23, for which there was infinite matter of praise for the wonderful wisdom of God, that brought out of the greatest evils the chiefest good, by preserving their lives in Egypt in the midst of famine, Gen. xxxvii.
1. "Moreover he called for a famine upon the land." It came not by chance.
2. "He brake the whole staff of bread," the upholder of our lives; and this he brake when he ordered that there should be no ploughing, sowing, nor harvest, Genesis 45.
3. By this famine the patriarchs were to suffer; yet God provided for their subsistence: "He sent a man, (a wise man,) before them,"- Joseph.
4. This Joseph was sold by the envy and cruelty of his brethren.
And now he comes, 1. To his base usage. 2. His advancement.
1. By the false accusation of Potiphar's wife, who turned her base love into hatred: "His feet were hurt with fetters of iron." 2. "He was laid in iron;" or, as some read, "the iron entered into his soul." Grief that he should lie under foul aspersions.
There he lay: "Until the time that his word came." So long then he lay in prison, and no longer.
1. "Until the time that his word came:" his word-God's word for his deliverance. Or, as others: "Joseph's word to the butler." 2. "The word of the Lord tried him." God tried his patience: or the interpretation of the dreams proved that by the Lord he spake.
And now follows his honour and advancement: - 1. Pharaoh, by his butler, hearing of Joseph's wisdom: "He sent," &c.
2. "Even the ruler of the people let him go free." A work fit for a king.
And his advancement follows: - 1. "He made him lord of his house." 2. "A ruler of all his substance." A viceroy, a grand vizier.
The king's end in it; not only in the famine to provide bread for their bodies, but for the good of their souls.
1. To punish the rebellious: "To bind his princes at his pleasure." 2. To instruct his counsellors in wisdom, arts, sciences, religion. It is supposed that all the learning in which the Egyptians excelled was first taught them by Joseph.
The fourth benefit follows of God towards his people, ver. 22-37, which was their nourishment, increase in Egypt, their oppression, and deliverance.
1. He begins with Jacob's descent thither:
1. "Israel also, Joseph's father, went down into Egypt," Gen. xlvi. 2. "And Jacob with all his family," &c.
2. He proceeds with their strange increase there; for it is wonderful that in so short a time they should grow into such a multitude, Exod. i. 7. At their going out they were six hundred thousand, besides children, Exod. xii. xx17: "And he increased his people greatly, and made them stronger than their enemies," Exod. i. 9.
This was the occasion of their afflictions, bondage, and sufferings; for: - 1. "He turned the Egyptians' hearts to hate his people." He suffered them to be turned: "For there arose another king," &c.
2. "And to deal subtilly with his people. Come on, say they," &c.
"To set over them taskmasters," &c.; Exod. i. 11. But when they saw "that the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied," ver. 12, then they ordered "that all the male children should be strangled by the midwives," ver. 16. And when even this would not do, then Pharaoh charged "that every son that was born," &c., ver. 22. Thus subtilly they dealt; but it did not hinder their multiplication. There is no counsel against God.
Now God, seeing their affliction, and hearing their groans, sent them a deliverer.
1. "He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron whom he had chosen." 2. "They showed his signs among them." 1. To the Israelites; 2. "And wonders in the land of Ham." The catalogue follows: - 1. "He sent darkness," &c.
2. "He turned their waters into blood," &c.
3. "The land brought forth frogs," &c.
4. "He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies," &c.
5. "He gave them hail for rain," &c.
6. "He smote the vines also, and the fig-trees," &c.
7. "He spake, and the locusts came," &c.
8. "He smote also the first-born of their land," &c.
These were the wonders that God wrought in Egypt by the hand of Moses and Aaron for the deliverance of his people, which the psalmist briefly records that they might remember-be thankful, and praise him.
The fifth benefit that the psalmist records is, that God brought not out his people beggars, but enriched them with the spoils of Egypt.
1. "He brought them forth with silver and gold." For they were sent by God to ask jewels: and when the Jews pretend by their example to rob more honest men than themselves, when they can show an immediate commission from God to do it, I am content that they borrow, and never restore; rob and spoil whom they please. Till this be shown, they are thieves and sacrilegious persons.
2. Farther, they left the Egyptians afflicted with some strange disease, of which their flrst-born had died; yet they were healthy: "There was not one, no, not one feeble person, among them." The terror of them was so great, and the fear of death so instant, that, regarding not their jewels, they urged them to be gone-they thrust them out; which the prophet expresses: "Egypt was glad when they departed." The sixth benefit follows after their departure, which was "the pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night. He spread a cloud for a covering," &c.; which most interpret as if the cloud kept off the heat of the sun; and therefore the prophet says: "He spread it for a covering." The seventh benefit was quails and manna: - 1. "The people asked, and he brought quails." Those given Exod. xvi.
2. "And satisfied them with the bread of heaven" - manna, because it was made of the sweet dew descending from the air, and therefore called heavenly bread; the earth having nothing to do with its production.
The eighth benefit was the water out of the rock; "for they traveled through a dry wilderness." 1. "He opened the rock." He did not turn the rock into water, but opened a passage for the fountain he had made.
2. For the waters gushed out upon the passage being made for them.
3. "And they ran in dry places." Now here he inserts the reason both of the former and latter benefits, which was his covenant and promise to Abraham: "For he remembered his holy promise," &c.
The ninth benefit was, he brought them not only out of Egypt; but that too in such a manner that they had reason to exult and triumph, Exodus 15.: "And he brought forth his people with joy," &c.
And to make the number of his benefits complete, he adds a tenth, which was the exact fulfilling of his promise, his introduction of them into Canaan, ejection of the inhabitants, and the donation of their inheritances to his people, which they afterwards possessed.
"He gave them the lands of the heathen," &c. The houses they built not, the vines they planted not, the lands they tilled not, fell to them.
For which benefits God requires no more than their obedience: this he requires as his due and tribute. He bestowed so many benefits on them for one end only: "That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws." Hallelujah! "Let your light so shine before men, that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven."