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neighbours, to prepare himself for his own departure hence? Such holy consideration is the gift of God, from whom the Psalmist, in the next verse, directeth us to request it. 12. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. He who “ numbereth his days,” or taketh a right account of the shortness of this present life, compared with the unnumbered ages of that eternity which is future, will soon become a proficient in the school of true wisdom. He will learn to give the preference where it is due ; to do good, and suffer evil, upon earth, expecting the reward of both in heaven. Make us wise, blessed Lord, but wise unto salvation. 13. Return, O Lord, how long 2, and let it repent thee concerning, or, be propitiated towards, thy servants. During the reign of death over poor mankind, God is represented as absent; he is therefore by the faithful entreated to “return,” and to satisfy their longing desires after salvation; to hasten the day when Messiah should make a “propitiation” for sin, when he should redeem his servants from death, and ransom them from the power of the grave. The Christian, who knoweth that his Lord is risen indeed, looks forward to the resurrection of the just, when death shall be finally swallowed up in victory. 14. O satisfy us early, or, in the morning, with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15. Make us glad according to the days
wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. The church prayeth for the dawning of that glorious morning, when every cloud shall vanish at the rising of the Sum of righteousness, and night and darkness shall be no more. Then only shall we be “satisfied, or saturated, with the mercy” of Jehovah; then only shall we “ rejoice and be glad all our “ days.” The time of our pilgrimage upon earth is a time of sorrow; we grieve for our departed friends and our surviving friends must soon grieve for us; these are “the days wherein God afflicteth us, these “ the years wherein we see evil:” but he will hereafter “make us glad according to them;” in proportion to our sufferings, if rightly we bear those sufferings, will be our reward; nay, “these light “ afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for “us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of “glory.” Then shall our joy be increased, and receive an additional relish from the remembrance of our former sorrow ; then shall we bless the days and the years which exercised our faith, and perfected our patience; and then shall we bless God, who chastised us for a season, that he might save us for ever. 16. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. 17. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us ; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us, yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. The redemption of man is that “work” of God
whereby his “glory” is manifested to all generations, and which all generations do therefore long to behold accomplished. For this purpose the faithful beseech God to let his “beauty,” his splendour, the light of his countenance, his grace and favour, be upon them: to “establish the work of their hands,” to bless, prosper, and perfect them in their Christian course and warfare; until, through him, they shalf be enabled to subdue sin, and triumph over death.
The Prophet, 1–10. declareth the security of the righteous man under the care and protection of Heaven, in times of danger, when, 11, 12, a guard of angels is set about him. 13. His final victory over the enemies of his salvation is foretold; and 14–16. God himself is introduced, promising him deliverance, exaltation, glory, and immortality. This Psalm is addressed, primarily, to Messiah. That it related to him, Jews and Christians are agreed; and the devil, Matt. iv. 6, cited two verses from it, as universally known and allowed to have been spoken of him.
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress : my God; in him will I trust. 3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the jowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
In these verses, as they now stand, there is much obscurity and confusion. Bishop Lowth, in his xxvith Lecture, seemeth to have given their true construction: “He who dwelleth in the secret place “ of the Most High; who abideth under the shadow “of the Almighty; who saith of the Lord, He is my “refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I will “trust;”—leaving the sentence thus imperfect, the Psalmist maketh a beautiful apostrophe to that person whom he has been describing—“Surely he shall “ deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and “from the noisome pestilence.” The description is eminently applicable to the man Christ Jesus *. He is represented as dwelling, like the ark in the Holy of holies, under the immediate “shadow” and protection of the Almighty, who was his “refuge and “ fortress” against the open attacks of his enemies; his preserver from the “snares” of the devil, and from the universal contagion of sin, that spiritual “pestilence.” In all dangers, whether spiritual or corporeal, the members of Christ's mystical body may reflect with comfort, that they are under the same Almighty protector.
4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
*.Ode Davidica insignis xci. agit directe et primo loco de tegmine et defensione quam Deus Christo Jesu Doctori et apostolis ipsius praestaret. VitriNGA, Comment. in Jesai. ii. 565.
The security afforded by a superintending Providence, to those who trust therein, is here, with the utmost beauty and elegance, compared to that shelter, which the young of birds are always sure to find under the “wings” of their dam, when fear causeth them to fly thither for refuge: see Deut. xxxii. 11. Matt. xxiii. 37. The “truth” of God’s word, wherein he promiseth to be our defence, is, to a believer, his “ shield and buckler,” in the day of battle and war. 5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day: 6. Norfor the pestilence that walketh in darkness: nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day. How much man standeth in need of the abovementioned protection of Heaven, appeareth from a survey of the dangers, to which he is continually exposed. Various are the terrors of the night; manifold the perils of the day ! from diseases whose infection maketh its progress unobserved; from assaults, casualties, and accidents, which can neither be foreseen, nor guarded against. The soul hath likewise her enemies, ready to attack and surprise her at all hours. Avarice and ambition are abroad watching for her in the day ; while concupiscence, like a pestilence, “walketh in darkness.” In adversity she is disturbed by terrors; in prosperity, still more endangered by pleasures. But Jesus Christ has overcome the world, to prevent us from being overcome by it. 7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thou