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cable both to the one and the other. These varieties often appear in the very same psalm; some parts of which exclusively relate to the type, or to the antitype; and other parts are common to both. It is thus in the psalm before us. That it refers to the Messiah, there can be no doubt; because it is applied to him by God himself a. Yet there are in it some expressions, which should rather be explained in reference to David only.
The twelfth verse in particular must be understood in this way: and the circumstance of all the following verses being repeated in another place, and formed into a distinct psalm by themselves, is a strong reason for referring them also to him principally, or perhaps to him alone. In the words of our text we notice, 1. His complaint
David on some occasions was reduced to great straits and difficulties with respect to his temporal concerns : but he was also much tried in his spirit : and the complaint before us seems to have arisen from, 1. A sense of his guilt
[In ver. 12, he speaks of “ his iniquities having taken such hold upon him, that he was not able to look up; that they were more than the hairs of his head, so that his heart failed him.” It is very probable that he alluded in some measure to those dreadful enormities which he had committed in the matter of Uriah. But he would not consider those actions merely as insulated and detached, but rather as indications of the extreme depravity of his hearto: and in reference to that he might well say of himself, “ I am poor and needy.” Indeed, who that knows any thing of the spirituality of God's law, or of his own immediate departures from it, can use any other language than that in the text? Was Adam poor when despoiled of the Divine image through the commission of one sin; and are not we, whose iniquities are more in number than the hairs of our head ? Was he needy, when banished from Paradise, and doomed to eternal death; and are not we, who from our very birth have been “ treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath ?" Though God has forgiven us, it does not become us to forget what we are in ourselves, but to go softly before him all our days, repenting in dust and ashes.)
a Compare ver. 6—8. with Heb. x. 5—7. b Ps. lxx. c In this light he speaks of them in Ps. li. 5.
2. A sense of his weakness
[David had other enemies than those who opposed his regal authority. He complains in another psalm, Iniquities prevail against med." and he found it exceeding difficult to subdue them. On this account also he used the expressions in the text. He felt himself poor and needy in reference to every thing that he accounted good. He lamented especially his want of wisdom, and strength, and righteousness. Hence he cried, “ Open thou mine eyes;” “O give me understanding in the way of godliness!” “Hold thou me up!” “ hold up my goings in thy ways, that my footsteps slip not!” “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord! for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Similar to this is the experience of all the saints. All are insufficient of themselves for any thing that is good: and the man who was stripped, and wounded, and left half dead, was but a faint emblem of the man who, feeling in himself innumerable corruptions, is unable to mortify so much as one of them, except as he is aided from above, and strengthened by communications of the Spirit of grace. St. Paul himself lamented his state in reference to this; yea, he even surpassed the Psalmist in his humiliating confessions and mournful complaints'.]
But in the midst of all this, we view with pleasure, II. His consolation
He considered that God's thoughts were exercised
[God is not an inattentive observer of any of his creatures: but “ his eyes are more especially upon the righteous." As “ his eyes were upon the promised land from one end of the year even to the other”," so are they upon his own people in every place and in every age. He says, “ I know the thoughts that I think towards you, thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you an expected end'.” He thinks of his people with tender compassion—with anxious care—with joyful complacency. How tenderly did he listen to the effusions of Ephraim's sorrowk! With what anxiety does he sit, as a refiner, to watch the vessel which he is purifying in the furnace, lest it should by any means suffer injury by the process that was intended only for its good?! With what exultation too does he say, “ To this man will I look, even unto him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit;" as though not all the angels in heaven could engage his attention in comparison of such a sight! David was sensible, that in the midst of all his spiritual distress he was not forgotten of his God; but that he was, notwithstanding all his unworthiness, an object of his paternal care m.] What comfort must such a consideration afford him!
f Rom. vii. 24.
d Ps. lxv. 3.
e Luke x. 30. & Ps. xxxiii. 18, 19. and xxxiv. 15. h Job xxxvi. 7. Deut. xi. 12. * Jer. xxxi. 18—20. and Hos. xiv. 8.
i Jer. xxix. 11. 1 Mal. iii. 3.
[Surely greater consolation could scarcely be conceived than that which would arise from this source. What must it be to have unsearchable wisdom contriving for his good!
- almighty power ready to execute whatever Divine wisdom should judge expedient!
unbounded mercy pleading, that his sins and frailties may not provoke God to withdraw his loving-kindness from him! - --- and, lastly, unchanging faithfulness demanding on his behalf the accomplishment of all the promises ! The consideration of these things must of necessity check every desponding fear, and constrain him to exclaim,“ Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my
God n." And every one who can realize this one consideration, has within himself an antidote for every fear, and a balm for every wound.] ADDRESS1. Those who know little of David's experience
[The generality of those who are called Christians would be ready to despise any one who should express himself like the inspired Psalmist. They would suppose that he was under the influence of a weak deluded mind. But let them not congratulate themselves on their fancied superiority ; for they only betray their own ignorance. Let them rather seek to know themselves, that, being made sensible of their destitute condition, they may be made rich in Christ Jesus”.] 2. Those whose feelings are like his
[While you are complaining of your poverty, God is saying, “But thou art rich." The truth is, that the more we are sensible of our guilt and helplessness, the more ready God is to help and deliver us : “ The hungry he filleth with good things; but the rich he sends empty away." Indeed he paints the most destitute condition that can be imagined, on purpose that he may administer consolation to us under it'. then be cast down as though there were no hope, let them plead with him as David dids: and they shall soon find, by happy experience, that “ God's thoughts and ways as far exceed ours, as the heavens are above the earth. "]"
m He knew it from both his past and present experience, Ps. xxxi. 7. with ver. 5.
n Ps. xlii. 11. • Rev. iii. 17. with Mic. iv, 12.
+ See Ps. lxxii. 12, 13. which may be illustrated by Jonah i. 6, 15. and ii. 1-10.
u If this were a subject for a Charity Sermon, the Application should be altered, and another substituted, recommending the audience to imitate God by thinking of the distresses of their fellow-creatures.
of the year.
DAVID'S DESIRE AFPER GOD. Ps. xlii. 1, 2. As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so
panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
GREAT are the vicissitudes of the Christian life: sometimes the soul basks, if we may so speak, in the full splendour of the Sun of Righteousness; and at other times it feels not in any degree the cheering influence of his rays. And these variations are sometimes of shorter duration, like successive days; and at other times of longer continuance, like the seasons
In David these changes were carried almost to the utmost extremes of elevation and depression, of confidence and despondency, of exultation and grief. At the time of writing this psalm he was driven from his throne by Absalom, and constrained to flee for his life beyond Jordan. There, exiled from the city and temple of his God, he stated, for the edification of the Church in all future ages, how ardently he longed for the renewed enjoyment of those ordinances, which were the delight and solace of his life. In these things he may be considered as a pattern for us :
we shall therefore endeavour distinctly to mark, I. The frame of his mind towards God
This is described in terms peculiarly energetic “ he thirsted after God; yea, he panted after him, as the hart panteth after the water-brooks.” We cannot conceive any image that could mark more strongly the intenseness of his desire, than that which is here
used. A hart or deer, when fleeing from its pursuers, has naturally its mouth parched through fear and terror: but when, by its own exertions in the flight, its very blood almost boils within it, the thirst is altogether insupportable, and the creature pants, or brays, (as the expression is,) for some brook, where it may refresh its sinking frame, and acquire strength for further exertions. Such was David's thirst after God, the living God. His circumstances, it is true, were peculiar
[Jerusalem was the place where God had appointed the ordinances of his worship: and David, being driven from thence, was precluded from a possibility of presenting to the Lord his accustomed offerings. This was a great distress to his soul : for though God was accessible to him in prayer, he could not hope for that measure of acceptance which he had reason to expect in an exact observance of the Mosaic ritual; nor could he hope that such manifestations would be vouchsafed to his soul, as he might have enjoyed, if he had approached God in the way prescribed by the law. Hence all his ardour might well be accounted for, since by the dispensation under which he lived, his way to the Deity was obstructed, and the communications of the Deity to him were intercepted.
We acknowledge that these peculiar circumstances account for the frame of David's mind at that time.]
Nevertheless, his frame is as proper for us as it was for him
[Though the observance of certain rites and ceremonies is no longer necessary, and God may be approached with equal ease from any spot upon the globe, yet it is no easy matter to come into his presence, and to behold the light of his countenance lifted up upon us.
To bow the knees before him, and to address him in a form of words, is a service which we may render without any difficulty; but to draw nigh to the very throne of God, to open our mouths wide, and to have our hearts enlarged in prayer, to plead with God, to wrestle with him, to obtain answers of prayer from him, and to maintain sweet fellowship with him from day to day, this, I say, is of very difficult attainment: to do it indeed is our duty, and to enjoy it is our privilege ; but there are few who can reach these heights, or, having reached them, prolong to any great extent the heavenly vision. Hence we all have occasion to lament seasons of comparative darkness and declension; and to pant with insatiable avidity after the renewed enjoyment of an absent God.]