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THANKSGIVING FOR ANY GREAT DELIVERANCE. Ps. xviii. 50. Great deliverance giveth he to his King; and
sheweth mercy to his Anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore,
THE Psalm before us is also recorded in the Second Book of Samuela. There it stands, as it was drawn up at first by David for his own immediate use: but here it is inserted, with some slight alterations and improvements, for the use of the Church in all ages. The title informs us on what occasion it was written, namely, on David's deliverance from the hand of all his enemies, and especially from the hand of Saul. But, as in most of his psalms, so in this, David speaks, not in his own person only, but in the person of the Messiah, whose type he was. It is a composition of very peculiar beauty: the figures are extremely bold, and the poetry is sublime. Of course the expressions are not to be so literally taken, as if they were an unadorned relation of facts : some of them are altogether figurative; and were verified, not at all in the letter, but only in the Spirit : some are more applicable to David himself, and others to Christ: but altogether it is a poem highly wrought, and exquisitely finished. It is our intention to set
1. The diversified import of this psalm
The psalm admits of a threefold interpretation; 1. Historical, as it relates to David
[David from his youth experienced many troubles.-From the moment that Saul's envy and jealousy were awakened by the fame of David's exploits, this youth became the object of his incessant persecution; insomuch, that he was forced to flee for his life, and for several years was kept in constant fear of falling a sacrifice to the rage of Saul “ The sorrows of death and hell compassed him," as it were, continually b.
But his deliverances were great and manifold.—Repeatedly did he, almost by miracle, escape the stroke of the javelin that
ver. 4, 5.
was cast at him; and frequently did God in a visible manner interpose to keep him from falling into the hands of Saul. Once he was in the midst of Saul's army, and in the very same cave with Saul: and yet was preserved by God, so that neither Saul nor any of his soldiers could find it in their hearts to touch him. “David in his distress called upon the Lord; and God heard him out of his holy temple,” and delivered himo.
These deliverances he acknowledges with devoutest gratitude.—Here the Psalmist, borne as it were on eagle's wings, soars into the highest region of poetic imagery: he calls to mind the wonders which God had wrought for Israel of old, and represents them as renewed in his own experience. The glorious manifestations of Jehovah on Mount Sinai were not more bright in his eyes a, nor the passage of Israel through the Red Sea more wonderfule, than were the displays of almighty power and love which he had seen in his behalf. In these deliverances he further acknowledges the equity of God in having so vindicated his character from the undeserved calumnies by which his enemies had sought to justify their cruelty towards him.
From the experiences of past mercies, he expresses his confidence in God under whatever trials might yet await him. It is delightful to see how careful he is to ascribe all the glory of his preservation to that God who had delivered him"; -and the full persuasion that his victory would in due time be complete'. Then with profoundest gratitude he blesses and adores his heavenly Benefactor for all the mercies he has received ; recapitulating as it were, and giving us the substance of the whole, in the words of our textk.
Were we to view the psalm only as an historical record, it would be very instructive: but it has a far higher sense: it is,] 2. Prophetical, as it relates to Christ
[That it is a prophecy respecting Christ and his Gospel, we are assured by one
whose testimony is decisive on the point. St. Paul, maintaining that Christ, though himself “a minister of the circumcision," was to have his Gospel preached to the Gentiles, and to establish his kingdom over the heathen world, expressly quotes the words immediately preceding our text, as prophetic of that event!. Here therefore we see it proved, that David spake as a type of Christ; and a clew is given us for a fuller understanding of the whole psalm.
Behold then in this psalm our adorable Redeemer: behold his conflicts! He was indeed “a man of sorrows and
c ver. 6.
e ver. 15.
acquainted with grief ;” “nor was ever sorrow like unto his sorrow :" “his visage was marred more than any man's, and his form more than the sons of men.” How justly it might be said of him, that “the sorrows of hell encompassed him," we learn from his history: “Now," says he, " is my soul sorrowful even unto death.” In the garden he was in such an agony, that he sweat great drops of blood from every pore. And on the cross he uttered the heart-rending cry, My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” In that hour all the powers of darkness were let loose upon him: and God himself also, even the Father, combined to“ bruise him," till he fell a victim to the broken law, a sacrifice,
. But speedily we behold his deliverances. Like David," he cried to the Lord in his distress :” “ he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears; and was heard, in that he feared." In him the elevated language of the Psalmist obtained a more literal accomplishment: for at his resurrection “ the earth quaked, the rocks rent;" and together with him, as monuments and witnesses of his triumph, “ many of the dead came forth from their graves, and went into the city, and appeared unto many. O, what a deliverance was here! “ The cords of death were loosed” (it was not possible that he should any longer be held by them): and he rose triumphant from the grave: yea, he ascended, too, to heaven, and was there seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high, all the angels and principalities and powers of heaven, earth, and hell, being made subject unto him. In comparison of this display of the Divine glory, the images referred to in this psalm were faint, even as a taper before the sun.
Then commenced his victories. Then was literally fulfilled that prediction of the Psalmist, “ a people whom I have not known shall serve me; as soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me." No less than three thousand of his murderers were converted in the very first sermon: and soon his kingdom was established throughout the whole Roman Empire. This prediction is yet daily receiving a more enlarged accomplishment: thousands in every quarter of the globe are submitting themselves to him; and in due season, all the kingdoms of the world will acknowledge him their universal Lord. The triumphs of David over the neighbouring nations, though signal, were nothing in comparison of those which Christ is gaining over the face of the whole earth: and he will “ go on conquering and to conquer," “ till all his enemies are put under his feet.” O blessed and glorious day! May “the Lord hasten it in his time!"
m Gal. iii. 13.
ver. 6. with Heb. v. 7. o ver. 43, 44.
But like many other passages of Scripture, the psalm admits also of an interpretation, which is,]
3. Spiritual, as it relates to the people of God in
[The circumstance of its having been altered, and set apart for the use of the Church, shews, that, in substance, it exhibits the dealings of God with his people in all ages. They, like David, and like their blessed Lord and Master, have their trials, their deliverances, their triumphs; in all of which God is greatly glorified, and for which he ought ever to be adored. Who amongst us that has ever been oppressed with a sense of guilt, and with a fear of God's wrath; who that has felt the tranquillizing influence of the Redeemer's blood sprinkled on his conscience, and speaking peace to his soul; who that has been enabled to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to serve his God in newness of heart and life; who, I say, that has experienced these things, does not find, that the language of this psalm, figuratively indeed, but justly, depicts the gracious dealings of God towards him? - - Methinks, the sentiment that is uppermost in the mind of every such person is, “Who is God, save the Lord ? or who is a rock, save our God P?']
But this part of our subject will receive fuller illustration whilst we notice the psalm in reference to, II. The use we should make of it
The practical use of Scripture is that to which we should more particularly apply ourselves; and especially should we keep this in view in reading the Psalms, which, beyond any other part of the sacred volume, are calculated to elevate our souls to heaven, and to fill us with delight in God. From this psalm in particular we should learn,
1. To glorify God for the mercies he has vouchsafed unto us
(We should never forget what we were, whilst dead in trespasses and sins, and what we are made by the effectual working of God's grace in our souls. The change is nothing less than “passing from death unto life,” and “ from the power of Satan unto God:” and when we contemplate it, we should be filled with wonder and with love on account of the stupendous mercies we have received. We should ever remember, “ Who it is that has made us to differ” from those who are yet
p ver. 31.
in darkness and the shadow of death: and the constant frame of our souls should be, “ Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise!” We may, indeed, without impropriety on some occasions say, as the Psalmist, “ I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them; I have wounded them, that they were not able to rise;" but we must soon check ourselves, like St. Paul, and say, “Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me:” “He that hath wrought me to the self-same thing, is God.” It is worthy of particular observation, how anxious David is to give to God all the glory of those exploits which he commemorates; By Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God I have leaped over a wallq" - - Let us imitate him in this respect, and “give unto our God the glory due unto his name:" yea, “ let our mouths be filled with his praise all the day long."] 2. To confide in God under all future difficulties
[In what exalted terms David speaks of God at the commencement of this psalm"! Verily, he had profited well from his past experience. And ought not we to profit in like manner ? Ought not we to remember what God is to all his believing people? If we have God for our God, what have we to fear? Can any enemy prevail against us, when he is on our side? Remember how God reproved those of old, who, when danger threatened them, gave way to terror, instead of trusting confidently in their God: “Say ye not, A confederacy, a confederacy! &c. but sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread: and he shall be to you for a sanctuarys.” Whatever be your want, know that He is able to supply it
whatever be your difficulty, He can make you triumphant over it.
is perfect: his word is tried: he is a buckler to all those who trust in him."]
3. To conduct ourselves so that we may reasonably expect his blessing
[Though God is found of them that sought him not, and dispenses his blessings altogether sovereignly and according to his own good pleasure towards the ungodly world, he proceeds, for the most part, in a way of equity towards his own peculiar people. The declaration that was made to king Asa is found true in every age: “ The Lord is with
be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you: but if ye forsake him, he will forsake youu.” Precisely to the same effect are those expressions of the Psalmist, “With the upright,
I ver. 29. See also ver. 32–36, 47–49. s Isai. viii. 12–14.
I ver. 2.