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THE BOOK OF PSALMS.

PSALM I.

THIS Psalm was most probably composed by David; and it seems to have been placed at the head of the collection on account of its general character, which renders it a suitable introduction to the whole. It pronounces an elegant eulogium on all who assiduously study the divine law; and puts a vivid contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Nothing is known respecting the time, or occasion, of its being written.

1 BLESSED is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked; Nor standeth in the way of sinners;

Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers:

2 But who delighteth in the law of Jehovah,

And meditateth on his law by day and by night. 3 For he is like a tree planted near rivers of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season,

And its leaf fadeth not:

All, therefore, which he doeth, prospereth.

4 The wicked are not so:

But are like chaff, which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand in judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For Jehovah approveth the way of the righteous; But the way of the wicked shall perish.

5. Shall not stand in judgment.] — This is not to be restricted to the general and final judgment of the world. The meaning is, that the wicked will be convicted in every trial, all their projects will fail, all their happiness be irretrievably ruined, and themselves separated from the righteous, whose conduct God approves, and of whose cause he is the unchangeable guardian. Such a distribution of good and

evil was, to a considerable extent, displayed in temporal things, during the continuance of the Mosaic dispensation; and was eminently so in the case of David himself. The whole was so arranged, as to indicate the moral character of the divine government; and to presignify the final distinction that will be put between those who fear God, and those who fear him not.

PSALM II.

We are instructed by Acts iv. 25, that this Psalm was written by David, and that it relates to the kingdom of the Messiah. No sufficient reason can be alleged to show that it has any application to David himself, though it is a common opinion that this was its first purpose, and that it applies to the Messiah only in a secondary sense. It is, however, quite evident that several of the expressions contained in it cannot, without great license of interpretation, be referred to any recorded circumstances in David's history; whereas the whole is strictly characteristic of the reign of the Messiah, and is free from every degree of hyperbole when thus understood. The highest authority assures us that David was a prophet, Acts iii. 20; and we find that several of his Psalms are immediately descriptive of the kingdom and glory of Christ: and since nothing is found in the present Psalm that renders it inapplicable to this transcendent theme, we are authorized to regard it as its exclusive subject.

The opinions of Jewish interpreters are not very conclusive on such matters; yet it is not altogether without satisfaction we find, that the application of this Psalm to the Messiah was universally adopted by the most ancient of them, and that their modern successors have, by their own confession, applied it to David, from an apprehension of its otherwise favouring Christianity. Vide Rosenmüller. Arg. Ps. 2.

The poem opens by introducing the anointed King himself as the speaker, immediately subsequent to his resurrection, by which he was demonstrated to be the Son of God. The divine Sovereign describes the opposition that was made to his exaltation by the princes and rulers of the world; he expresses the utter impotency of their attempts; and exhorts them to lay aside their impious purposes, lest they should be overwhelmed in the inevitable ruin that awaits his adversaries.

1 WHY do the nations rage,

And the peoples imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against Jehovah and against his Anointed:
3 "Let us break their bands asunder,

"And cast away their cords from us.”
4 He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh;
The Lord will have them in derision.

4. He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh, &c.]-Let it not be imagined that the Most High exults over the crimes and miseries of sinful mortals. His p perfect benignity and goodness place him

infinitely beyond the suspicion of being capable of such emotions. He solemnly asserts that he derives no pleasure from human suffering: "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of

5 Then will he speak unto them in his wrath,

And vex them in his hot displeasure:

6 "Yet have I anointed my King, "Upon my holy hill of Zion."

7 I will declare the decree :

Jehovah hath said unto me,

"Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

8"Ask me, and I will give the nations for thy inheritance, "And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

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Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;

"Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." 10 Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings!

Be instructed, ye judges of the earth !

11 Serve Jehovah with fear,

And rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye suddenly perish : For his wrath will shortly be kindled.

Blessed are all they that put their trust in him!

the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." Ezek. xxxiii. 11. It would betray an equal ignorance of the character of "the blessed God," and of the just interpretation of the sacred writings, to derive such conclusions from this, or similar representations. The Psalms are poetical compositions. Poetry delights in figurative language; and Hebrew poetry, especially, in the boldest figures. Tropes, allegories, personifications, and hyperboles are its chosen ornaments. To take them literally would prove as injurious to the truth of religion, as it would be hostile to the first principles of correct interpretation. In the case before us, as in a thousand others in the Old Testament, human passions and affections are ascribed to God, for the purpose of illustration and impression; and are to be regarded, not as philosophical results, but as the vivid analogies which an ardent imagination selects, to communicate life and vigour to the conceptions which it aims to impart.

7. This day have I begotten thee.]—

Figures taken from generation and birth are often used in the Scriptures to denote great changes of condition or character. The Apostle Paul interprets these words of the resurrection of Christ, Acts xiii. 33. His humiliation was then terminated, and he assumed the regal dignity. He was the Son of God, from "the beginning," but he was shown to be so by this act of divine power. The text before us is prophetic of this great change in the apparent state and condition of our blessed Redeemer ; and has certainly no reference to an eternal generation, which has frequently been argued from it. Vide Additional Notes.

12. Kiss the Son.]-The reverence that is due to the anointed King is intimated by this symbolical precept. See 1 Sam. i. 10. It was the practice among the Hebrews, and other ancient nations, to manifest their respect for the objects of their idolatrous worship also by this rite. 1 Kings xix. 18; Hos. xiii. 2. Kissing the hand of the sovereign, as an expression of homage, is in well-known use in this country.

PSALM III.

THE inscription which is prefixed to this Psalm corresponds very satisfactorily with its contents, which afford an instructive example of the happy effects of a stedfast reliance upon divine power and goodness.

A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE WAS FLYING FROM ABSALOM HIS SON.

1 O JEHOVAH! how do they increase that trouble me!
Many are they that rise up against me.

2 Many are saying concerning me,

"There is no help for him in God." SELAH. 3 But thou, O Jehovah! art a shield around me; My glory, and the lifter-up of my head.

4 I cry unto Jehovah with my voice,

And he answereth me from his holy hill. SELAH.

5 I lie down, I sleep, I awake;

For Jehovah sustaineth me.

6 I will not be afraid of the tens of thousands of people
That compass me round about.

7 Arise, O Jehovah! save me, O my God!

For thou smitest all my enemies upon the cheek-bone:
Thou breakest the teeth of the wicked.

8 Deliverance is from Jehovah.

Thy blessing be upon thy people!

1. How do they increase, &c.] - See 2 Sam. xv. 12. "The people increased continually with Absalom."

2. Selah.]—The most probable opinion respecting this word, the sense of which is greatly controverted, is, that it is a musical note intended to direct the persons by whom the Psalm was sung; but what was its particular import it is now impossible to determine. It occurs many times.

4. From his holy hill.]-The ark of God was placed on Mount Zion, in the midst

of the tabernacle which David had pitched for it. 2 Sam. vi. 17; 2 Sam. v. 7. Here Jehovah condescended to dwell, manifesting his regal authority as in an earthly palace, by the symbols of his presence. To this abode of the divine glory the worshippers of God directed their addresses, and hence were wont to receive

answers.

7. Upon the cheek-bone.]-Wicked men are here compared to savage beasts, that are rendered incapable of inflicting injury by having their jaws and teeth broken.

PSALM IV.

THE probable occasion of the composition of this Psalm was the rebellion and usurpation of Absalom. The title ascribes it to David; and the contents evidently relate to a period when his regal dignity was assailed, and his character calumniated by his adversaries. Other occasions have been fixed upon, but none is, in my apprehension, so satisfactory as that which is now assigned. The Psalm consists of earnest entreaties for divine aid; of serious expostulation with the persons who were conspiring against their lawful sovereign; accompanied by warnings of the fatal consequences which they were bringing upon themselves : and concludes with an expression of the satisfaction and peace which its devout author drew from his conscious possession of the divine favour.

TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN. ON STRINGED INSTRUMENTS. A PSALM OF DAVID.

1 ANSWER me when I call, O my righteous God!

Thou hast delivered me from distress;

Have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.

2 How long, ye sons of men, will ye revile my dignity;

Will ye love vanity, and seek after falsehood? SELAH.

3 But know ye, that Jehovah hath chosen a good man for himself: Jehovah heareth when I call upon him.

4 Commit not iniquity in your anger;

Commune with your heart upon your bed, and be silent. SELAH. 5 Offer righteous sacrifices,

And put your trust in Jehovah.

6 Many are saying, Who will show us any good?

O Jehovah! lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us!

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3. A good man.]-David thus describes himself, not for the purpose of vaunting his own worth, but to convince his adversaries of their ingratitude towards him, in thus requiting the clemency and humanity by which his reign had been distinguished, and which many of them had largely experienced. He thus also suggests to them that God, who had selected him to be the governor of his people, and who had designated him as "a man after his own heart," would not permit them eventually to triumph over him.

6. Lift thou up the light, &c.]-A significant figure, expressive of the benignity

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