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8. Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.'
God is reminded of the favor once shown by him to the church of Israel, and of that prosperity which she once enjoyed. She is compared to avine, removed from the unkindly soil of Egypt, to the happier regions of Canaan, and there planted by Jehovah, in the place of nations extirpated for their unfruitfulness. The vine is a plant weak and lowly, and needing support; when supported, wild and luxuriant, unless restrained by the pruning knife; capable of producing the most valuable. fruit; but, if barren, the most unprofitable among trees, and fit only for the flames. In all these respects it is a lively emblem of the church, and used as such by Isaiah v.7. by Ezekiel xv. xvii. xix, and by our Lord himself, Matt. xxi. 33. The Christian church, after her redemption, by the death and resurrection of Jesus, was planted in the Heathen world, as Israel had been in Canaan; and the description suits one as well as the other.
9. “Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.' 10 “The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs there of were like the goodly cedars;' or and the goodly cedars were covered with the boughs thereof.
As the vine striketh its roots deep into the soil prepared for it, and then diffuseth its numerous branches all around, covering the fertile hills, by the sides of which it is planted, or running up the lofty cedars, to the bodies of which it is joined ; such was the growth and fruitfulness of the Israelitish church; but much greater was that of the church Christian. Her roots were fast fixed in the hearts and affections of the faithful, and her boughs shot forth abundantly; they often felt the knife, but increased under it, both in number and vigor; till, at length, she overshadowed the Roman empire with her branches, and replenished the earth with her fruit, grateful to God and man.
11. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.'
This relates to the extent of Palestine, which was occupied by the tribes of Israel, even from the Mediter
sea,' westward, to the river' Euphrates, east
ward. This was promised, Deut. i. 24. From the river Euphrates to the uttermost sea shall your coast be;' and fulỆlled in the days of Solomon. See 1 Kings iv. 21. Psal. lxxii. 8. To the Christian church the whole earth was the land of promise, and the Gospel was preached to all nations: 'I will give thee,' saith Jehovah to Christ, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.' Psalm ii.8.
12. “Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?'
The Psalmist, having described the exaltation of Israel, under the figure of a vine, proceeds, under the same figure, to lament her depression. She is now represented as deprived of the protection of God, the counsels of the wise, and the arms of the valiant; of all her bulwarks and fortifications, and whatever else could contribute to her defence and security; so that, like a vineyard without a fence, she lay open on every side, to the incursions and ravages of her neighbouring adversaries; who soon stripped her of all that was valuable, and trod her under foot.
13. The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.'
Fierce and unrelenting, her Heathen persecutor issued, at different times, from his abode, like a wild boar' out of the forest, resolved not only to spoil and plunder, but to eradicate and extirpate her for ever. Nor let the church Christian imagine that these things relate only to her elder sister. Greater mercies, and more excellent gifts, should excite in her greater thankfulness, and call forth more excellent virtues ; otherwise, they will serve only to enhance her account, and multiply her sorrows. If she sin, and fall after the same example of unbelief, she must not think to be distinguished in her punishment, unless by the severity of it. She may expect to see the favor of Heaven withdrawn, and the secular arm, instead of supporting, employed to crush her; her discipline may be annihilated, her unity broken, her doctrines perverted, her worship deformed, her practice corrupted, her possessions alienated, and her revenues seized; till at length the word be given from above, and some antichristian. power be unchained, to execute on
her the full vengeance due to her crimes. Unclean desires, and furious passions, are the enemies of the soul, which deface her beauty, and devour all the productions of grace in that lesser vineyard of God.
Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts ; look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;' 15. And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest so strong for thyself.'
The church, thus distressed and desolated, offereth a prayer for a return of the divine favor, and for a gracious visitation from on high; she beseecheth God to look down, with an eye of pity, from heaven, on the vineyard, which his own hands had planted,' and on that royal branch, the family of David, in particular, which he had raised and established for himself, to accomplish his eternal purpose of saving mankind by Messiah, who was, one day, to spring from the root of Jesse. The Chaldee Paraphrast expounds the branch,' of Messiah himself, NOVO No sy, on King Messiah, whom thou hast established,' &c. So do the rabbies, Aben Ezra and Obadiah, cited by Dr. Hammond. And the LXX, instead of supposing the word 13 a son,' to refer to vine,' and so signify a branch,' which, in the Hebrew style, is 'a son of the vine,' have rendered the passage, étà viòn åvOpúrov, 'on the son of man;' an expression actually used by the Psalmist, two verses below. To the advent of this Son of man, Israel was ever accustomed to look forward, in time of affliction : on his second and glorious advent the Christian church must fix her eye, in the day of her calamities.
16. “It is burnt with fire: it is cut down,' or dug up; they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.'
The sad estate of the vineyard is yet again set forth, to excite the compassion of heaven. As to the latter clause of this verse, if it be rendered, as our translators have rendered it, in the present time, it seems to relate to the Israelites, and the destruction made amongst them by the wrath of God. If it have a future rendering, 'they shall perish at the rebuke of thy countenance,' it may
be supposed to predict the fate of the adversaries, when God should deliver his people out of their hands.
17. “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man, whom thou madest strong for thyself.'
These phrases, the man of thy right hand, and the son of man,' if at all applicable, in a lower and subordinate sense, to a temporal king of Israel, considered as a representative of Messiah, are most certainly, in their full and prophetical acceptation, intended to denote King Messiah himself.' Assured of his coming, the church prayeth that the hand,' the protection and the power of Jehovah, might be upon' him, over him, and with him, in bis great undertaking finally to deliver her out of all her troubles, and to lead her captivity captive.'
18. “So will not we go back from thee : quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.'
The end of our redemption is, that we should serve him who hath redeemed us, and go back' no more to our old sins. That soul which hath been quickened,' and made alive by Christ, should live to his honor and glory; that mouth which hath been opened by him, can do no less than show forth his praise, and call on his' saving .name.'
19. “Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” See ver. 3.
[This Psalm, whensoever, or by whomsoever, composed, was, probably, intended to be sung at the feast of trumpets, as also at any other feast-time. It contains, 1 -3. an exhortation duly to observe the festivals of the church, 4, 5. as God had appointed, who is introduced expostulating with his people, on account, 6–10. of his mercies, and, 11, 12. their ingratitude, and, 13.-16. un- . der the form of a most affectionate wish, renewing his promises, on condition of their obedience.]
1. Sing aloud unto God our strength : make a joyful
1, " Virum dexteræ tuæ :'. Davideu a te designatum. et confirmatum regem, et in ejus figura Christum. Bossuet.
noise unto the God of Jacob. 2. “Take a psalm and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.'
If Israelites were thus exhorted to keep their feast days with joy and gladness of heart; to exalt their voices, and join together all their sweetest instruments of music, in honor of him who had rescued them from the Egyptian bondage, and given them a law from Sinai; in what exulting strains ought we to celebrate the festivals of the Christian church? With what triumph of soul, and harmony of affections, are we bound to sing aloud to God our strength, who hath redeemed us from death, and published the Gospel from Sion ? since, as the apostle saith, "holy days, new moons, and sabbath days,' of old
were' only a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Col. ij. 16.
3. • Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day,'
In the Jewish church, notice was given of feasts, jubilees, &c. by sound of trumpet. All the new moons, or beginnings of months, were observed in this manner; see Numb. x. 1. but on the September new moon, or first day of the seventh month, was kept a great festival, called 'the feast of trumpets ;' Levit. xxiii. 24. Numb. xxix. 1. which, probably, is here intended. This September new moon had a particular regard paid to it, because, according to the old calculation, before Israel came out of Egypt, it was the first new moon in the year, which began on this day, the first of the (afterwards) seventh month. The tenth of the same month was the great day of atonement; and on the fifteenth was celebrated the feast of tabernacles. See Levit. xxiii. 27. and 34. Our Psalm, therefore, seems to have been designed for the purpose of awakening and stirring up the devotion of the people on the solemn entrance of a month, in which they were to commemorate so many past blessings, prefigurative of much greater blessings to come. We have now our feast-days, our Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, &c. On these, and all other solemn occasions, let the evangelical trumpet give a sound of victory, of liberty, of joy and rejoicing; of victory over death, of liberty from sin, of joy and rejoicing in Christ Jesus our Saviour,