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ARGUMENT.-This Psalm is appointed by the church to be read on Christmas-day. It celebrates, ver. 1-4. the mercies of God in Christ, promised to David; 5—13. the almighty power of Jehovah, manifested in his works and dispensations; 14. his justice, mercy, and truth; 15-18. the happiness and security of his people; 19-37. his covenant made with David, as the representative of Messiah, who should come of his seed; 38-45. the church lamenteth her distressful state, at the time when this Psalm was penned ;1 46-51. she prayeth for the accomplishment of the promise; and, in the meantime, 52. blesseth Jehovah.
VERSE 1. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
The mercies of Jehovah' have ever employed the voices of believers to celebrate them.
1 Sedeciâ capto, domo David e solio deturbatâ, promissiones Dei irritas videri propheta queritur, necdum adesse Christum. -Bossuet. Dr. Kennicott imagines it to have been composed by Isaiah, as a solemn and public address to God, at the time when Rezin and Pekah were advancing against Jerusalem.
mercies were promises to the human race, in their great representative and surety, before the world began; 2 Tim. i. 9; Tit. i. 2; they were prefigured by ancient dispensations; and, in part, fulfilled, at the incarnation of Christ. The faithfulness' of God in so fulfilling them, is now made known,' by the holy services of the Christian church, 'to all generations.'
2. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
Whatever be at any time the state of the church on earth, she knoweth that the foundation of God standeth sure; that the sacred edifice, raised thereon, will be incorruptible and eternal as ' heaven' itself, where only mercy and truth are to have their perfect work, in the everlasting felicity of the redeemed. Of this felicity, which is to be the consummation of God's promises and our hopes, we behold some faint resemblance as often as we view the stability, the beauty, and the glory of the visible material heavens,'
3. I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant: 4. Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations.
The two former verses set forth a profession of faith in God's mercy: these two assign the ground of such faith; namely, the covenant which God is here introduced as declaring that he had made with David, and which he did make with him by the prophet Nathan. 2 Sam. vii. 12, &c. The covenant relates to David's seed,' and to the establishment of his throne' in that seed; literally, in
Solomon for a time; spiritually, in Christ for ever. 'When thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.' These last words are cited by the apostle, Heb. i. 5, as spoken of Christ, to evince his superiority over the angels. Yet, that the whole passage does, in the letter, relate to Solomon, can admit of no doubt, he being the seed' and immediate successor of David, and the person appointed to build an house for God's name.' Here then we have an incontestable proof, that the covenant with David had Messiah for its object; that Solomon was a figure of him; and that the Scripture hath sometimes a double sense. It is moreover to be observed, that the covenants made with Abraham, David, &c. all had their original and foundation in the covenant made with Messiah, who was the true Father of the faithful, the beloved and chosen of God; the great Prophet, Priest, and King; the only person qualified to be a sponsor, and to engage in a covenant with the Father for mankind. His sufferings were the price of our redemption: and because he suffered in the flesh, as 'the son of David,' therefore is he 'established for ever, and his throne built up to all generations.' Remarkable are the words of the angel to Mary. The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall
1 'Disposui testamentuin :' percussi fœdus cum electo meo: id est, Davide et Christo.-Bossuet.
reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.' Luke, i. 32.
5. And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord; thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints: or, The heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord; and the saints thy faithfulness in the congregation.
Did not the heavens praise the wonders of Jehovah,' when a choir of angels descended from above, to sing an anthem, at the birth of Christ? And how must the celestial courts have resounded with the hallelujahs of those blessed spirits, when they again receive their King, returning in triumph from the conquest of his enemies? Nor do the saints' omit to celebrate God's faithfulness in the congregation' upon earth, while with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, they laud and magnify his glorious name, evermore praising him, and saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high.'
6. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? 7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints; and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. 8.0 Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? or, and thy faithfulness is round about thee.
These verses proclaim that right and title which Jehovah hath to the praises of all his creatures in 'heaven and earth.' No one of them, however excellent and glorious, however deified and adored
by fond and foolish man, can enter the lists, and contest the superiority with its Maker. High over all is the throne of God: before him angels' veil their faces, saints' prostrate themselves with lowest reverence, and created nature trembles at his word: his 'power' is almighty, and derived from none; and with truth' he is on all sides invested as with a garment: the former enables him, the latter (if we may so express it) binds him, to perform those gracious promises, which mercy prompted him to make, concerning our eternal redemption.
9. Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.
The extent of the ocean, the multitude of its waves, and their fury when excited by a storm, render it, in that state, the most tremendous object in nature; nor doth any thing, which man beholds, give him so just an idea of human impotence, and of that divine power which can excite and calm so boisterous an element at pleasure. God himself therefore frequently appeals to this instance of his omnipotence; see Job, xxviii. 11; Jer. v. 22; an attribute of which our Lord showed himself to have been possessed, when, being with his disciples in the ship, he arose and rebuked a tempestuous wind and a raging sea, and there was instantly a calm. In all our troubles and temptations, be thou, blessed Jesu, with us, and then they shall never finally overwhelm us.
10. Thou hast broken Rahab, i. e. Egypt, in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.