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Turner, bishop of Ely, in the Christian Magazine, vol. ii. p. 356.
3. The LORD that made heaven and earth, bless thee out of Zion.
The two preceding verses, as Mr. Mudge observes, seem directed to the priests of the temple, by some person, probably of consequence, come up to pay his devotion. This third verse is therefore returned, as from the priests. And thus it is, that prayer and praise, which by grace are caused to asceud from our hearts to God, will certainly return in the benedictions of heaven upon our souls and bodies, our persons and our families, our church and our country; like the vapours, which, exhaled by the warmth of the sun from the bowels of the earth, mount upwards into the air, but soon fall again in fruitful showers, causing the little hills to rejoice, and the valleys to laugh and sing.
In this Psalm, 1, 2. the servants of Jehovah are
exhorted to praise him, 3. on account of his goodness; of the pleasure to be found in the employ, ment; 4. of the peculiar mercies shown to Israel ; 5. of his infinite superiority over the gods of the nations, manifested, 6, 7. in the works of creation, 8-14. in his dealings with the church, and with her adversaries. 15–18. The folly of idolatry,
and of those who practise it, is described ; and 19-21. Israel is again stirred up to praise Jehovah.
1. Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, Oye servants of the LORD. 2. Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. 3. Praise the LORD; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name ; for it is pleasant.
All the servants of God, they, more especially, who minister in the temple, are repeatedly, as in the foregoing Psalm, excited to praise their blessed Master. Two reasons are assigned why they should do this. First, the goodness of that Master, and secondly, the pleasantness of the employment. The latter of these reasons hath a natural and necessary dependence on the former. A sense of the divine mercy will tune our hearts and voices to praise. We, who are upon earth, often find ourselves indisposed for the duty of thanksgiving, because the concerns of the body, the cares and pleasures of life, extinguish for a time, this sense in us,
grace, prayer, and meditation, render it again lively and active. In the inhabitants of heaven, who behold God without the veil of matter interposed, it is always so; and therefore, they rest not day or night from singing hallelujahs, nor cease one moment to rejoice in God their Saviour.
4. For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. 5. For I know
that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
A third reason why the children of Israel should praise the name of Jehovah, was the circumstance of their having been selected from among the nations to be his church, to receive the law and the promises, to have his presence residing in the midst of them, and to be the guardians of the true faith and worship. And a fourth reason, was the superiority of Jehovah their God over the gods of the heathen, and consequently over those who worshipped them; from whence followed this comfortable inference, that he was able to protect and to defend his people against every enemy that had evil will to Zion. Shall not we Christians, then, praise the same gracious Lord, who hath chosen us out of the world, who hath given unto us his Gospel, who dwelleth in us by his Spirit, and who, by that Spirit, maketh us more than conquerors over our spiritual adversaries ?
6. Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
The pre-eminence of Jehovah above the gods of the nations is evinced by this consideration, that he, at the beginning, created and formed those powers of nature, whose operations in the heavens, the earth, and the waters, Jed the heathen world, after it had lost the knowledge of the Creator, to adore the creature as independent. Let us praise him, who, in the intellectual as in the material world, is Lord and King; who is obeyed by the angels in heaven, served by the church upon earth, and feared by the spirits imprisoned in deep places beneath. VOL. II.
7. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth ; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.
They who in old time paid their devotions to the elements, imagined those elements to be capable of giving or withholding rain at pleasure. Therefore we find the prophet Jeremiah reclaiming that power to Jehovah, as the God who made and governed the world : “ Are there any among the vanities of the the Gentiles that can cause rain ? or can the heavens
give showers ? Art thou not he, O Jehovah our * God? Therefore we will wait upon thee : for thou “ hast made all these things :” Jer. xiv. 22. Among the Greeks and Romans we meet with a Jupiter possessed of the thunder and the lightning, and an Æolus ruling over the winds. The Psalmist teacheth us to restore the celestial artillery to its rightful owner. Jehovah, the God of Israel, and the Creator of the universe, contrived the wonderful machinery of light and air, by which vapours are raised from the earth, compacted into clouds, and distilled in rain. At his command the winds are suddenly in motion, and as suddenly at rest again ; we hear the sound, but cannot tell whence they come, or whither they go ; as if they were taken from secret storehouses of the Almighty, and then laid up till their service was required again. The same idea God himself is pleased to give us in the book of Job, where he describeth the instruments of his power, as so many weapons of war in the arsenal of a mighty prince : “ Hast " thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or • hast thou seen the treasures of the hail which I
“ have reserved against the time of trouble, against “ the day of battle and war? By what way is the
light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon " the earth? Who hath divided a watercourse for “the overflowing of waters ? or a way for the light“ ning of thunder, to cause it to rain on the earth ?" Job xxxviii. 22, &c. It is a great instance of the divine wisdom and goodness, that lightning should be accompanied by rain, to soften its
and prevent its mischievous effects. Thus, in the midst of judgement, does God remember mercy. The threatenings in his word against sinners are like lightning; they would blast and scorch us up, were it not for his promises made in the same word to penitents, which, as a gracious rain, turn aside their fury, refreshing and comforting our affrighted spirits.
8. Who smote the first-born of Egypt, both of man and beast. 9. Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants.
Egypt was the theatre of the grand contest between the God of Israel and the gods of the heathen. The superiority of the former over the latter was shown in every possible way by the miracles of Moses, which demonstrated all the powers of nature to be under the dominion of Jehovah, and to act at his command ; so that, instead of being able to protect, they were made to torment and destroy their deluded votaries. See more on Psalm lxxviii. 44, &c. The objects of a man's sin frequently become, in the end, the instruments of his punishment. 10. Who smote great nations, and slew mighty