Verse 52. "Blessed be the Lord for evermore. " - Let him treat us as he will, his name deserves eternal praises: our affliction, though great, is less than we have deserved.
This verse concludes the THIRD BOOK of the PSALTER; and, I think, has been added by a later hand, in order to make this distinction, as every Masoretic Bible has something of this kind at the end of each book. The verse is wanting in one of Kennicott's and one of Deuteronomy Rossi's MSS.; in another it is written without points, to show that it does not belong to the text, and in three others it is written separately from the text.
It is found, however, in all the ancient Versions. The Chaldee finishes thus: "Blessed be the name of the Lord in this world. Amen and Amen. Blessed be the name of the Lord in the world to come. Amen and Amen." And the reader will find no difficulty to subscribe his Amen, so be it.
ANALYSIS OF THE EIGHTY-NINTH PSALM
In this Psalm the stability and perpetuity of Christ's kingdom, of which the kingdom of David was but a type, are excellently described and foretold.
"The parts of this Psalm are these: " - I. The argument and sum of the whole; the loving-kindness and the truth of God, ver. 1, 2.
II. The particular instance of God's goodness and truth in making a covenant with David, ver. 3, 4.
III. A doxology in which God is praised for his wonders, faithfulness, power, providence, justice, judgment, mercy, and truth, ver. 3-15.
IV. The happy state of God's people, ver. 15-19.
V. A special example of God's goodness towards his Church, exemplified in David, but verified in Christ, ver. 20-28.
VI. How David's posterity should be dealt with, on their disobedience, ver. 29-38.
VII. An expostulation on the contrary events, where the psalmist deplores the ruined state of the Jewish kingdom, ver. 38-47.
VIII. A petition for mercy and restoration, ver. 48-51.
IX. The conclusion, in which the psalmist blesseth God for the hope he has in his favour, in all states, ver. 52.
I. The argument or sum of the Psalm set down in the first verse, and amplified by the reason in the second.
1. "I will sing." I will set this forth in a song; because, 1. It is the fittest way to express joy for any thing. 2. It will be best inculcated in this way. 3. It will be more easily remembered; and, 4. More easily delivered to others, in order to be remembered. Many ancient histories had not been preserved at all, had they not been delivered in poetry.
2. "Of thy mercies." Plurally, for they are many; and a song of this kind should be of all.
3. "For ever." Intentionally, not in himself, not actually; for as a wicked man, could he live always, would sin always; so a good man, could he live here for ever, would sing for ever of the mercies of the Lord.
4. "With my mouth will I make known," &c. While I live I will make them known, and when I am dead they shall be known by the record which I leave behind. His reason for it is, because God's mercy is everlasting; it is therefore proper to be the subject of everlasting song.
1. "For I have said." This is an indubitable truth.
2. "Mercy shall be built up for ever." It is not exhausted in one age, but, as a house built on a strong foundation, it shall be firm, and last from age to age.
3. "Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish." As is thy mercy, so is thy faithfulness, perpetual as the heavens.
II. For the proof of God's goodness and truth he produces the instance of the covenant made with David, where he brings in God speaking: - 1. "I have made a covenant with my chosen." I have made this covenant through my mere mercy, not on account of their merits. I have chosen David, not because he deserved it, but because he is fit for it.
2. "I have sworn." In compassion to the weakness of men, I have condescended to bind myself by an oath; and the covenant and the oath are extant. 2 Sam. vii. 11.
3. The tenor of the covenant is, "Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations." Thy seed-this is true of Christ only, who was of the seed of David, and of whose kingdom there shall be no end. The words are not to be understood of David's earthly kingdom, but of Christ's spiritual kingdom, for that alone will be established for ever.
III. A Doxology. What the psalmist undertook in the first part he now performs, and thus he begins: "The heavens shall praise." By these some understand the Church, and the preachers in the Church; others, the angels: both are true. GOD'S followers and his angels praise him; and the subject of their praise is: - 1. God's wondrous works, and his truth. 2. the manner in which he showed his works and his truth, in promising the Messiah, and in so faithfully keeping that promise.
And now he sings praise to his majesty, setting forth his power in three respects: - 1. By way of comparison; there is nothing in heaven or earth equal to it, ver. 6-8.
2. By his agency in governing the world: as, for example, the sea, Thou stillest the raging of it, &c.
3. The creation of all things; the world and its fullness.
The other part of the praise, sung both by the prophets and the angels, is taken from his attributes, summed up in ver. 14: "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy face." He represents God as a great King sitting in his throne; the basis of which is, 1. Justice and Judgment. 2. The attendants are mercy and truth.
1. Justice, which defends his subjects, and does every one right.
2. Judgment, which restrains rebels, and keeps off injuries.
3. Mercy, which shows compassion, pardons, supports the weak.
4. Truth, that performs whatsoever he promiseth.
IV. And in regard that God is powerful, just, merciful, faithful, he takes an occasion to set out the happy condition of God's people, who live under this King.
"Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound: " that is, do know that God is present with them, and his kingly Majesty is at hand to protect them. The phrase is taken from Moses. For the law was given by sound of trumpet. The calling of the feasts was by sound of trumpet: at that sound they removed; at that sound they assembled. Balaam said, "The sound of a king is among them." Happy, then, are the people that know the joyful sound. God presents their King speaking, ruling, defending, pardoning therm. Or it may refer to the year of jubilee, (see the notes.) That they are happy, the effects do evince; which are: - 1. "They shall walk in the light of thy countenance," i.e., though beset with troubles, yet they shall walk confidently, being assured of God's favour.
2. "In thy name shall they rejoice all the day long." Their joy is firm.
3. "In thy righteousness shall they be exalted." They shall get a name, strength. In their union and communion with God they shall be happy.
Confident, yea, joyful and strong they are in all temptations; which yet they have not from themselves. All is from God. For "thou art the glory of their strength, and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. For the Lord is our defense, the Holy One of Israel is our King." V. The doxology being now ended, and the happiness of God's people expressed and proved, the prophet now enlarges himself upon the covenant formerly mentioned. ver. 4, 5, exemplified in David, but truly verified in Christ. Which he continues to verse 30.
1. "Then," i.e., when David was chosen to be king, and invested with the regal robe.
2. "Thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One." To Samuel for his anointing; and saidst, 3. "I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people." That is, David in type, but Christ in the antitype. So explained, "I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him." To which there follow the promises made to him: - 1. For his establishment and confirmation in the throne: "With whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen him." 2. For protection against his enemies: "The enemy shall not exact upon him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him." 3. A conquest over his enemies: "And will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him." 4. And that there be no doubt of the performance of these ample promises, nor yet those that follow, the prophet interposes the cause, viz., the faithfulness and mercy of God. In mercy he said it, and it should so come to pass: "But my faithfulness and mercy shall be with him." And now he goes on: - 5. "His horn shall be exalted." His power shall be greatly increased.
And this his exaltation appears: - 1. In the dilatation of his empire: "I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers," i.e., from the sea to Euphrates, 2 Sam. viii.
2. In the honour done him, to call GOD Father, his God, his Rock: "He shall call to me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation." 3. Then that God asserts and fixes this prerogative upon him, acknowledging him to be his Son; his flrst-born Son: "Also I will make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth." 4. In the perpetuity of his kingdom, which is rightly attributed to God's mercy; as ver. 25: "My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him." 5. In the promise made to his seed: "His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven." VI. And next the prophet puts a case, and answers it: But what, if David's seed transgress God's covenant, break his laws, violate his statutes, become rebels and disobedient; will God then keep covenant with them! shall his seed endure for ever? and his throne as the days of heaven? To this doubt God answers, ver. 30-38; showing us how David's seed, if they transgress, shall be dealt with.
1. "If his children forsake my law;" that is, my whole doctrine of worship, religion, faith, &c.
2. "And walk not in my judgments;" i.e., in those laws which set out rewards and punishments.
3. "If they break my statutes." Those statutes I have set down for my service, the rites, ceremonies, new moons, Sabbaths, sacrifices, circumcision, passover, &c.
4. "And keep not my commandments;" that is, the decalogue and moral law. In a word, if they become vicious in their morals, and profane, and rebels in my worship and religion.
This then shall happen unto them, - escape they shall not, but shall soundly smart for it. They shall feel, - 1. The rod; and, 2. The scourge.
Then, 1. "I will visit (that is, punish) their transgression with the rod." 2. "And their iniquity with stripes." Which was often done by the Babylonians, Antiochus, &c. And yet in judgment I will remember mercy. I will remember my covenant, my promise, my word, my oath, and will make that good. I will not totally cast off David's seed; which I mean not after the flesh, for that is long since cast off, but after the Spirit Christ, which was of the seed of David, and those which are his seed, viz., the Church, shall enjoy the benefit of my covenant and oath for ever: "Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing gone out of my lips." And that there be no doubt of this, he brings in God repeating his oath and covenant.
1. His oath: "Once have I sworn by my holiness;" that is, by myself, who am holy.
2. His covenant: "That I will not lie unto David; for his seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." As the sun and moon are not liable to any ruinous mutations no more is this covenant: they must endure to the end of the world; and so must this covenant. They are faithful witnesses in heaven; and so we are to seek for the performance of this covenant in heaven; not in the earth the covenant being about a heavenly kingdom not an earthly; it being evident that the kingdom of David on earth has failed many ages since: but that of Christ shall never fail.
VII. Now that David's kingdom did fail, or at least was brought to a low ebb, is the complaint in the following words, which flesh and blood considering, gave a wrong judgment upon it, as if God did nothing less than perform his oath and covenant. This is what the prophet lays to God's charge: "But thou hast cut off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed." Both king and people are cast aside, than which nothing seems more contrary to thy covenant.
Thou hast made void the covenant of the servant, of which there are many lamentable consequences: - 1. "His crown is cast to the ground." The glory of his kingdom trampled upon.
2. "His hedges broken down." His strong holds brought to ruin.
3. "All that pass by the way spoil him." He is exposed to all rapine and plunder.
4. "He is a reproach to his neighbour." Exposed to all contumely and disgrace.
5. "Thou hast set up the right hand of his enemies, and made all his adversaries to rejoice." Thou seemest to take part with the enemy against him, and makest him to exult and rejoice in oppressing him.
6. "Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, (blunted his sword that was wont to slay,) and hast not made him to stand in the battle," but to fly and turn his back.
7. "Thou hast made his glory (the glory dignity, authority of his kingdom) to cease, and cast his crown to the ground." 8. "The days of his youth hast thou shortened;" cut him off in the prime and strength of his years. "Thou hast covered him with shame;" made his opulent, glorious kingdom ignominious; which was true in divers of David's posterity, especially Jehoiakim.
These were the sad complaints which the prophet pours out; but he quickly recovers and recalls his thoughts; and that he may move God to help, he falls to prayer, which is very pathetic.
VIII. He considers the nature of God as kind, loving, merciful, slow to anger; and asks: - 1. "How long, Lord? wilt thou hide thyself for ever?" Hide thy favour? 2. "Shall thy wrath burn like fire?" An element that hath no mercy.
He then uses other arguments, pathetically expressed, to move God to pity: - 1. Drawn from the brevity of man's life: "Remember how short my time is." 2. From the end for which man was created; not in vain, but to be an object of God's goodness and favour.
3. From the weakness and disability of man. His life is short; and can he lengthen it? "What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?" Yea, though he live long, yet he is a mortal creature: "Shall he deliver his soul from the grave?" 4. From the covenant, of which he puts God in mind: "Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest to David in thy truth?" 5. From the ignominy, scorns, sarcasms, by enemies cast upon them, which he desires God to look upon. 1. "Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servant." 2. "And how I do bear in my bosom." Not spoken afar off, but in my hearing, and to my face, as if poured and emptied into my bosom; the rebukes not of this or that man, but of many people.
6. And lastly, that these reproaches, in effect, fall upon God. For they who reproach God's servants are his enemies: "Remember the reproaches" - 1. "Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord." 2. "Wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed," i.e., either whatsoever he says or does; or else by footsteps is to be understood the latter end of David's kingdom, which was indeed subject to reproach. 3. But the Chaldee paraphrast by footsteps understands the coming of the Messiah in the flesh; which, because it was long promised and men saw not performed, many derided, mocked, and reproached, as vain.
IX. The close of this long Psalms is a benediction, by which the prophet, after his combat with flesh and blood about the performance of the covenant, composes his troubled soul, and acquiesces in God; blessing him for whatever falls out, breaking forth into: - 1. "Blessed be the Lord for evermore:" Blessed be his name, who does and orders all things for the best of his people, although in the midst of calamities and troubles he seems to desert them.
2. And that we may know that he did this from his heart, he seals it with a double Amen. "Amen, Amen." So I wish it; so be it.