Verse 18. "But we will bless the Lord " - Our fathers, who received so much from thy bounty, are dead, their tongues are silent in the grave; we are in their place, and wish to magnify thy name, for thou hast dealt bountifully with us. But grant us those farther blessings before we die which we so much need; and we will praise thee as living monuments of thy mercy, and the praise we begin now shall continue for ever and ever.
"The Targum, for "neither any that go down into silence," has "nor any that descend into the house of earthly sepulture," that is, the tomb. The Anglo-Saxon: [A.S." - , neither all they that go down into hell. "Nogh the dede sal loue the Lorde, ne al that lyghtes in hell". Old Psalter. The word hell among our ancestors meant originally the covered, or hidden obscure place, from helan, to cover or conceal: it now expresses only the place of endless torment.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FIFTEENTH PSALM
The prophet, being zealous of God's honour, which the heathens were solicitous to give to their idols, earnestly beseeches God to manifest that power which belongs to him alone, and which he will not give to another.
This Psalm, has four parts: - I, His petition for God's honour, ver. 1; which belongs to no idol, ver. 3-9.
II. An exhortation to praise God, and hope in him, ver. 10- 12.
III. The benefit that will arise from it, a blessing, ver. 12-16.
IV. A profession, that for the blessing they will bless God, ver. 17, 18.
1. Some join this Psalm to the former, conceiving that the prophet, having expressed the goodness of God in the deliverance of his people from Egypt, would not have any of the glory attributed to Moses or Aaron, but wholly to God. Therefore he begins: - 1. "Not unto us," &c. Or any leader among us.
2. "But unto thy name," &c. We seek it not; take it wholly to thyself.
And this, for these reasons, he desires might always be shown to his people.
1. "Give glory to thy name," &c. For the manifestation of his mercy.
2. "Do it for thy truth's sake." As a promise-keeping God.
3. "Wherefore should the heathen say," &c. Give them not occasion to blaspheme, as if thou hadst forsaken thy people. Should the heathen ask, we can answer: "As for our God, he is in the heavens, which his miracles testify. He can deliver or afflict his people as he pleases." But where are their gods? 1. "Their idols are silver and gold." The mere productions of the earth.
2. "The work of men's hands." Works, and not makers of works.
3. They are of no use or power, though formed like men: "For they have mouths," &c. "They have hands, but they handle not," &c.
They have not the power of articulating sounds; they are lower than even the beasts that perish.
The prophet, having thus described the idols, now notices their makers.
1. "They that make them," &c. Quite senseless people.
2. "So is every one that puts his trust," &c. Christ says, "Having eyes," &c. Mark viii.
II. The prophet, having passed this sarcasm upon the idols and idolaters, leaves them, and exhorts the Israelites.
1. "O Israel, trust thou," &c. You are God's servants; and to encourage them he adds, "He is their help," &c. The protector of the whole nation.
2. "A house of Levi," &c. You are the leaders and guides in religion; and therefore, you ought especially to trust in him who is the shield of your tribe.
3. "Ye that fear the Lord," &c. In whatever nation you live; for all who fear him, and do righteously, are accepted of him.
III. That this exhortation might be the deeper rooted, he puts them in mind that God "hath been mindful of us," by his special providence.
1. "He will bless the house of Israel" as a nation.
2. "He will bless the house of Aaron" as the priesthood.
3. "He will bless them that fear the Lord," &c., without distinction.
The prophet, taking his example from God, pours his blessing upon them also, and upon their children.
1. "The Lord shall increase you," &c.
2. "Ye are the blessed of the Lord," &c. Though the world speak evil of you.
3. "The Lord which made heaven and earth." Which words are added that they may be assured that their blessings are real, and come forth from his hand directly and alone.
4. They come from one able to bless; for, 1. The heaven, even the heavens, &c. In them he especially shows his presence, majesty, and glory; but sends his dews and rain upon the earth. 2. As for the earth, he hath given it, &c., that by his blessing upon their labours they might have food and raiment; therefore praise him.
IV. For this is the true end of their being: which he illustrates by an antithesis.
1. "For the dead praise not the Lord," &c. These temporal blessings are not felt by the dead-they need them not: but the living should render continual thanks for them to God their author.
2. But we that are upon earth enjoy his protection and temporal care of us, and besides we have his far richer spiritual blessings; therefore, "we will bless the Lord," &c., by ourselves while we live, and aim by our instructions and prayers that our posterity may do the same when we are gone down into silence.
3. However, ye that are alive this day, "praise ye the Lord."