Verse 19. "In the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. " - He speaks as if present in the city, offering his vowed sacrifices in the temple to the Lord.
Most of this Psalm has been applied to our Lord and his Church; and in this way it has been considered as prophetic; and, taken thus, it is innocently accommodated, and is very edifying. This is the interpretation given of the whole by the old Psalter.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND SIXTEENTH PSALM
This Psalms is gratulatory; for it shows how great straits the psalmist was brought into, from which God delivered him.
This Psalm has three parts: - I. The psalmist makes profession of his love, and shows the reasons of it: God's goodness in hearing and delivering him from his low and sad condition, ver. 1-9.
II. He professes his duty and faith, ver. 9-11.
III. He promises to be thankful, and in what manner, ver. 12- 19.
I. He begins with the expression of his content and love: "I love the Lord." And he gives these reasons: - 1. "Because he hath heard," &c. This is reason enough why I should love him.
2. "Because he hath inclined," &c. An evidence that he was heard.
Upon which experience that he was heard he adds: "Therefore will I call," &c.
Another reason which moved him to love God was, that he heard him in the extremity of his deep distress; for: - 1. "The sorrows of death," &c. Death is the king of fear.
2. "The pains of hell," &c. He feared the anger of God for his sins.
3. "I found trouble and sorrow." The psalmist was sensible of his condition: though others might suppose him compassed with prosperity, yet he knew himself distressed.
But he prayed to the Lord.
1. "Then." In these troubles and pangs.
2. "I called upon," &c. Invocation to God was his sole refuge.
3. "O Lord, I beseech thee," &c. He sets down the very words of his prayer.
And then, that he might show that he prayed to God in faith and hope, he points out the attributes of God for the encouragement of others.
1. "God is gracious." It is he who inspires prayer and repentance, remits sin, and pardons those who fly in faith to him for mercy.
2. "And righteous and just." He will perform what he has promised.
3. "Yea, our God is merciful." He mingles mercy with his justice; he corrects with a father's hand, and loves to forgive rather than to punish. Of which David gives an instance in himself: "I was brought low, and he helped me." And all others may find the same who come in the way that I did to him for pardon.
Another reason he gives for loving God was, the tranquillity of soul he found after this storm was over: "Therefore, return unto thy rest, O my soul." Hitherto thou hast been tossed up and down on the waves of sorrow, finding no port or haven: now faith has opened to thee a harbour where thou mayest be safe: "For the Lord hath dealt," &c.: but of his infinite mercy he has given thee joy for sadness.
He attributes to him the whole of his work.
1. "Thou hast delivered," &c. Turned my heaviness into joy, by removing all fear of death.
2. "Thou hast delivered my eyes," &c. Made me joyful.
3. "Thou hast delivered my feet," &c. When my infirmity is great, the devil takes advantage of me that I might fall; but now thou hast settled my feet-made me able to resist him. And this God does for all who call upon him, and trust in him.
II. The psalmist, having expressed his sorrows and God's goodness, now professes his dutiful attachment, 1. By his obedience; 2. By a faithful confession of his errors, and future confidence.
1. "I will walk before the Lord," &c. Be careful to please God, by walking, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
He professes his faith, on which he will evermore rely.
1. "I believed, and therefore," &c. Which confidence came from faith.
2. "I was greatly afflicted," &c.; but I became docile and humble to the Spirit of God. When David was tossed between hope and despair, he found those sorrows were not easily quieted; for "I said in my haste," &c.
Which clause is differently understood by commentators.
1. Some suppose it to be an amplification of his former grief. I was so amazed, and overwhelmed with sorrow, that if any one reminded me of God's promises, "I said in my haste, All men are liars." I will not believe God; he hath no care for me.
2. Others again refer this clause to the preceding: They talk of happiness and felicity, but none is to be found in the land of the living.
3. Some again refer it to Absalom, who deceived David by his vow at Hebron; or to Ahithophel, who revolted from him.
4. Again, others suppose that he taxed even Samuel himself that he spoke not by God's Spirit, when he anointed him king over Israel; because, during Saul's persecution, there appeared so little hope of it. But the first sense is the most cogent.
III. Henceforth, to the end of the Psalm, David declares his gratitude: "What shall I render to the Lord," &c. As if he had said, I acknowledge the benefits God has bestowed upon me; but in what way can I best evince my gratitude? 1. "I will take the cup of salvation." Here interpreters vary as to what is to be understood by the cup of salvation. 1. Some refer it to the ucharistical sacrifices of the old law, in which, when a man offered a sacrifice to God for some deliverance, he made a feast to the people, as did David, 1 Chron. i. 2, 3. 2. The fathers understood it of the cup of patience and affliction, which is often in Scripture called a cup, Matt. xx. 22. 3. But here it seems to signify plenty, abundance, &c. See the note.
2. "I will pay my vows," &c. It was usual in God's service to make vows, or to confess his name in an open assembly. God cares for all his people, however circumstanced; for precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. The servants of God trouble themselves in vain when they distrust him; for in life he is with them, and in death he will not forsake them.
The psalmist does not become proud upon God's favours; but in all humility, though a king, he exclaims: - 1. "O Lord, truly I am thy servant," &c.
2. And yet no slave, but a willing servant: "Thou hast loosed my bonds," - taken from my neck the bonds of fear: thou hast made me thy servant through love.
3. And therefore will I do what thy servants ought to do.
Showing his earnestness he repeats again, "I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord." Within the Chureh, and at all times, he would praise and do him worship.
What is not done according to God's word and Spirit is of little service. He who neglects public worship is not very likely to keep up private devotion, either in his family or in his closet. "I will pay my vows in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem."