Verse 22. "The Lord redeemeth " - Both the life and soul of God's followers are ever in danger but God is continually redeeming both.
"Shall be desolate. " - Literally, shall be guilty. They shall be preserved from sin, and neither forfeit life nor soul. This verse probably should come in after the fifth. See the introduction to this Psalm.
ANALYSIS OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH PSALM
This Psalms is composed with great art, and this must be attended to by those who would analyze it. The scope of it is to praise God, and to instruct in his fear. Its parts are, in general, the following: - I. He praises God himself, and calls upon others to follow his example, 1-8.
II. He assumes the office of a teacher, and instructs both young and old in the fear of the Lord, 9-22.
1. He praises God, and expresses himself thus: - 1. I will bless the Lord. 2. His praise shall be in my mouth. 3. It shall be in my mouth continually. 4. It shall be expressed by a tongue affected by the heart: "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord." 5. And so long would he continue it till others should be moved to do the like: "The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad." 2. Upon which he calls upon others to join with him: "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." And to encourage them he proposes his own example: "I sought the Lord," &c. Should it be said this was a singular mercy shown to David which others are not to expect, he in effect replies, No, a mercy it is, but it belongs to all that seek God: "They looked unto him," &c. But should not this satisfy, and should they rejoin, This poor man (David) cried, and the Lord heard him, but David was in the Divine favour; he may be supposed to reply by this general maxim: "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him;" and be they who they may, if they fear God, this is their privilege.
II. Now he assumes the chair of the teacher; and the lessons are two: - 1. That they make a trial of God's goodness: "O taste and see that the Lord is good." 2. That they become his servants: "O fear ye the Lord, for there is no want," &c.
And this he illustrates by a comparison: "The young lions (or, the rich and the powerful) may lack and suffer hunger," but they that seek the Lord shall not.
These promises and blessings belong only to them that fear the Lord and lest some should imagine they had this fear, and were entitled to the promise, he shows them what this fear is.
Ale calls an assembly, and thus addresses them: "Come, ye children, and hearken unto me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord." That fear of the Lord which, if a man be desirous of life, and to see many days, shall satisfy him; and if he be ambitious to see good, the peace of a quiet soul and a good conscience shall lodge with him.
1. Let him be sure to take care of his tongue: "keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile." 2. Let him act according to justice: "Depart from evil." 3. Let him be charitable, ready to do good works: "Do good." 4. Let him be peaceable; "Seek peace, and pursue it." These are the characteristics of those who fear the Lord, and seek him; and they shall want no manner of thing that is good.
It may be objected: The righteous are exposed to afflictions, &c., and ungodly men have power and prosperity; to which it may be answered: Afflictions do not make the godly miserable, nor does prosperity make the wicked happy. 1. As to the righteous, they are always objects of God's merciful regards: "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers." But, 2. "The face of the Lord is against those who do evil," &c.
These points he illustrates: - 1. The righteous cries, and the Lord heareth him, and delivereth him out of all his troubles; either, 1. By taking them from him or, 2. By taking him from them.
2. "The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart," &c. Thus he comforts, confirms and strengthens.
3. Although the afflictions of the righteous are many, yet the Lord delivers him out of them all; makes him patient, constant, cheerful in all, superior to all.
4. "He keeps all his bones." He permits him to suffer no essential hurt.
But as to the ungodly, it is not so with them; the very root of their perdition is their malice which they show, 1. To God; 2. To good men.
1. "Evil shall slay the wicked." 2. "And they that hate the righteous shall be desolate." And then David concludes the Psalm with this excellent sentiment; Though God may suffer his servants to come into trouble, yet he delivers them from it. For it belongs to redemption to free one from misery; for no man can be redeemed who is under no hardship. This shall be done, says David. The "Lord redeemeth the souls of his servants, and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate." The Lord redeems from trouble and affliction, as well as from sin. He knows how to deliver the godly from temptation; and he knows how to preserve them in it. But it is his servants that he redeems, not his enemies. The servant may confidently look to his master for support.