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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 118

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-29

Psalms 118:1-29.

V. 1-4. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 115:9-13. Psalms 136:1-3.) David is thought to have composed this psalm, after his advancement to the throne, and his victories over his enemies round about : and probably it was sung by the priests, Levites, and congregation of Israel, with David at the head of them, as they inarched up to the tabernacle to render publick thanks for these benefits.

’ David, rejected of Saul and the people, in the appointed ’ time obtained the kingdom. ...Under his person in all ’ this was Christ lively set forth, who should be of his ’ people rejected. Because God, by creating David king, ’ shewed his mercy towards his afflicted church ; the pro’ phet doth not only himself thank God, but exhorteth all ’ the people to do the same.’ ’ Let the children of Israel, ’ who have had such long experience of his love, and now ’see his promises fulfilled, .. .confess and thankfully ac’ knowledge, that his kindness continues to all generations. ’ Let the priests and the Levites, . . . and let all the devout ’ worshippers of the Lord, of whatsoever nation they be, . . . ’ confess now most thankfully, that there is no end of his ’ kindness.’ Bp. Patrick. The effects also of the mercy and grace of God, in the everlasting salvation and felicity of his redeemed people, seem especially intended.

V. 5. ’ We are here taught, that the more that troubles ’ oppress us, the more ought we to be instant in prayer.’ " The LORD heard" (or answered) " me by enlarge" ment." When the Israelites, being straitened by the Canaanites, were enabled to drive them away and possess their inheritance ; the Lord heard them, as he did Jabez ; and " enlarged their coast." (Note, 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. P. O.) David brought out of the cave, and made king over all Israel ; Christ freed from the grave, and made " Head over " all things to his church ; " the slave of sin made free, and become the servant of God ; and the believer " de" livered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious " liberty of the children of God ; " are instances illustrative of the Psalmist’s meaning, to which many others might be added.

(Notes, Psalms 31:7-8. 2 Samuel 22:20.)

V. 6. " JEHOVAH for me ; " (marg.) that is, a Protector. (Notes, 7. Psalms 27:1-3. Psalms 46:1-3. Is. 56. 3, 4. Is. Psalms 8:9-9. Romans 8:28-31.)

V. 7- David had for a long time but few and feeble helpers ; but the Lord almighty aided, prospered, and increased them ; till his cause was become triumphant : and as this had been the case, he trusted that it would be the case in all his future dangers and conflicts. (Notes, 1 Samuel 14:6-10; 1 Samuel 5:6. 2 Kings 6:15-17. 2 Chronicles 32:6-8. Romans 8:28-31, v: 31. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.) How few helpers, and how feeble, had the Lord Jesus, on the morning of his resurrection ! but the Lord was with them, and his cause triumphed, and does triumph, and will still more triumph, till " all kings fall down before him, all nations " do him service."

See my desire, &c.] The Septuagint render this very properly " I shall look upon mine enemies." ’ I shall meet them with boldness, look them in the face without fear ; and witness either their submission or destruction.’ (Notes, Psalms 54:7. Psalms 92:11.)

V. 8, 9. The unfaithfulness, changeableness, weakness, and mortal nature of men, however distinguished, render all reliance on them vain and insecure : and the Lord’s jealousy for his own honour induces him to punish those, who are guilty of this idolatrous confidence, and to encourage such as betake themselves to him in danger and distress ; so that experience proves, that it is far better to seek to the Lord in trouble, and rely on him, than to confide in any man, or number of men, or the most powerful princes.

(Notes, Ixii. 8- 10. Psalms 146:3-6. Is. 2: 22. Psalms 31:1-5. Jeremiah 17:5-8. Daniel 6:12-23.)

V. 10- 12. The several nations bordering on Canaan confederated against David, and compassed him about, like swarms of bees, as if they would sting him to death. But, depending on the assistance of the Lord, and going forth to battle in his name, he gained repeated and decisive victories over them : so that their rage terminated, like the fire kindled among thorns; which is vehement, and makes a great blaze and noise, and consumes the thorns, and then is extinguished without much effect.

(Notes, Psalms 20:6-8; Psalms 83:13-18. Deuteronomy 1:39-44, v: 44. 2 Samuel 5:17-24; 2 Samuel 8:1-14; 2 Samuel 10:8-14; 2 Samuel 18:22: v. 20.) Every victory David gained, was an earnest of further success ; and he trusted that, by the help of the Lord, he should be able to destroy all his enemies. Thus the Redeemer, personally, and in his church, has been opposed by all the nations of the earth ; but destruction from the Lord is the inevitable consequence of persisting in that opposition, however numerous and formidable the opponents may appear.

(Notes, 2: Psalms 21:8-12. Psalms 22:16-21. Psalms 45:3-5; Psalms 69:22-28; Psalms 105:5-6 Revelation 19:11-21.)

V. 13. Perhaps Saul was meant, as that enemy who had thrust sore at David that he might fall. (Marg. Ref.)

When Satan tempted Christ, and when he afterwards prevailed to have him crucified, and assailed him with all his power in that " hour of darkness " he thrust sore at the church, to destroy her at once in the person of her Representative.

(Notes, Genesis 3:14-15. Matthew 4:1-11. P. O. 1- 11. Note, Matthew 26:36-39. P. O. 36-46. Notes, Luke 22:47-53. Hebrews 2:16-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 5:7-10.) The believer has often occasion to, use the words with application to his own experience, and the temptiitions with which his enemy assails him, that he may fall into sin, and disgrace the cause of God, as well as greatly distress himself; nay, that he may fall into destruction : but the Lord has hitherto helped him.

V. 14. ’ In that he was delivered, it came not of him’ self, nor of the power of man, but only of God’s favour : ’ therefore he will praise him.’ (Notes, Exodus 15:2. Is. 12: 2.) The name I AM, used in the texts referred to, (the former of which is exactly the same as this verse,) occurs many times in the Psalm. (Note,Psalms 68:4.)

V. 15, 16. David’s deliverance from Saul, and his exaltation to the throne, were typical of Christ’s resurrection and ascension : (Note, Psalms 2:1-6:) and on the Lord’s day, when his resurrection is especially commemorated, the dwellings of true believers, as well as the places in which they assemble for publick worship all over the earth, resound with the voice of joyful and thankful praises ; because " the right hand of the LORD hath done valiantly, " and is exalted." (Notes, 19 -24. Exodus 15:3-6. Acts 2:33-36.) But rejoicing belongs to the righteous at all times ; it becomes them, and them alone : and indeed amost universally, the voice of thankful and holy joy is heard in their dwellings, though often mean and poorly supplied; while murmurs, discontent, and complaints of various kinds, are heard in the habitations of their more prosperous and wealthy neighbours. (Notes, Psalms 33:1 . Psalms 97:11-12. Philippians 4:4-7.)

V. 17, 18. The triumph of David over his persecutors was an earnest of further mercies and continued protection ; that he mignt " declare the works of the LORD." He had been sharply chastened and tried : yet he " was " not given over to death ; " but preserved to be a highly honoured instrument of glorifying God, and promoting Israel’s prosperity. Christ, having suffered unknown agonies, when " the chastisement of our peace was upon " him ; " was not " given over unto death," but rose from the dead, and said to his servant John, " I am he, that " liveth and was dead ; and behold I am alive for ever" more ; and have the keys of death and of hell."

(Notes, Psalms 22:22-24. Is. 53: 4- 6. 9-12. Acts 2:22-24. Romans 14:7-9. Revelation 1:2-20.) By his gospel he declares the works of the LORD throughout the earth ; and " because " he liveth," all his true disciples " shall live also." (Notes, John 14:18-20. Colossians 3:1-4.)

V. 19- 24. David, preserved from death, triumphant over his enemies, and now going up to the temple to offer his thank-offerings, attended by the thousands of Israel, seems here to call upon the porters and other Levites, to open the gates of the sanctuary for his admission. These are called " the gates of righteousness ; " because of the characters of those who offered acceptable worship in the courts of God, and because of the nature of the services there performed. Those who were within seem to have sung responsively, " This is the gate of the LORD, into " which the righteous shall enter : " and then the whole company, perhaps in parts, sang the following verses. (Note, 1 4.) David’s advancement to the throne, notwithstanding the opposition which had long been made to it, was referred to : but the whole passage is evidently a prediction of Christ. When he arose from the grave, he ascended into heaven, as the Forerunner of all his redeemed people ; and he demanded the opening of those gates of righteousness, that he and they might enter in, and praise the Lord. (Notes, Psalms 24:7-10. P. O.) The ministering angels may be considered, as opening the gates of heaven, into which the righteous alone can enter ; and then the whole church in chorus celebrates the praises of God, for having heard their prayers, and " become their " Salvation." The Redeemer doubtless is also that " Stone, " which the builders rejected," and would have thrown aside as worthless among the rubbish ; but which, by the mighty power of God, and to the astonishment of the apostles and disciples, became the chief Corner-stone, sup- porting the whole spiritual temple, and uniting the several parts of it into one building, " an habitation of God " through the Spirit." (Notes, Matthew 21:40-44. Luke 20:9-18. Acts 4:5-12. Ephesians 2:19-22. 1 Peter 2:7-8.) And as the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees of old refused this Foundation-stone of the church ; so many of the wise and learned, and professedly religious, of every age and nation ever since, have rejected it, and numbers of them have long endeavoured to substitute some other in its place. But, by the marvellous interposition of the Lord, their attempts have been frustrated, and proved ruinous to themselves and their adherents alone. The day of thanksgiving also, which David and Israel celebrated, was but a shadow of that blessed day which saw the Redeemer rise from the dead : that was indeed " the " day, which the LORD had made," for his people to rejoice in ; and it has ever since been commemorated every week in the Christian church, and in most parts has had a more solemn annual commemoration.

(Notes, 15, 16. John 20:19-23. Acts 20:7-12. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. Hebrews 13:20-21. Revelation 1:9-11.) The twenty-second and twenty-third verses are quoted six times in the New Testament, and expressly applied to Christ ; nay, many of the Jewish Rabbies acknowledge this to be a prediction of the Messiah.

V. 25, 26. The word rendered, " Save now," is " Hosanna;" which seems equivalent to our modern congratulatory prayer on the accession of a monarch to the throne, " God save the king." It is evident that the Jews had this passage in mind, when they said before Christ, at his entrance into Jerusalem, " Hosanna to the Son of David ; "’ blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord Hosanna in the highest." They meant to welcome him as the promised Messiah : but they totally misunderstood the nature of his kingdom and salvation.

(Notes, Matthew 21:8-11. Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40.) And our Lord himself also referred to this prophecy, when he said to the priests and rulers, " Ye shall not see me henceforth ; " till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name " of the Lord."

(Note, Matthew 23:37-39. P. 0. 34- 39.) The priests from the sanctuary seem to have answered David and his company, in the latter clause, " We " have blessed you out of the house of the LORD."

V. 27- 29. The whole congregation, having now met in the courts of the sanctuary, joined in solemn sacrifices and ardent praises ; which were typical of the joy and praise of the church, on earth and in heaven, on account of the Redeemer’s exaltation. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 1- 4. Psalms 136:1-3.)


V. 1-18.

Whether the believer reviews his past experience, or traces back his comforts to the everlasting goodness and mercy of God ; or whether he looks forward, and anticipates, in lively hope, those future blessings, which are secured to him by the promises of the new covenant ; he will be sure to find abundant cause for joy and praise : and when thus excited to rejoice in God and celebrate his praises with lively gratitude, he will desire to animate others in their several stations, to unite in this delightful work : and this always was, and always will be, the substance of the redeemed sinner’s grateful song, " The LORD is good, be" cause his mercy endureth for ever." No poor sinner, in deep distress, ever yet called earnestly upon him, who was not afterwards enabled to say, " The LORD answered me," with enlargement of heart, hopes, and prospects : and every answer to our prayers is an evidence that he is on our side ; and then we need not " fear what man can do " unto us." Whether few or many help us, if he take part with them, those who hate us will be treated as enemies. If indeed we allow, (and who can doubt it ?) that it is far " better to trust in the LORD, than to put confidence even in princes ; " we should take care to act consistently with our judgment: we should not pay court to the rich and powerful, as if they could make us happy or miserable; but, without any undue compliances, we should conscientiously do our duty to them and to all men, and trust in the Lord alone to accept and bless us. We may indeed be compassed with enemies, and be disquieted by their malice: but "in the name of the LORD" we shall be delivered from them, and rendered victorious over them all, and their rage will only erect their own destruction. Even when Satan thrusts sore at us, that we may fall into sin or misery; yet, trusting in our almighty Friend, we may make head against him and his legions : for " the " LORD is the Strength and Song" of every believer, " and " is become his Salvation." As we need not dread the rage of the ungodly, so we should not envy their carnal, vain, and vanishing mirth. For the voice of rational rejoicing, and of salvation, is in the tabernacles of the righteous ; while they enjoy the Lord’s love, are safe under the protection of his powerful and valiant right hand, and are employed in praising his name. With peace of conscience, and "joy in the Holy Ghost," and liberty to " cast all their cares upon him, who careth for them ; " they possess a lively hope of an incorruptible inheritance. Their bodies indeed must drop into the grave; yet they shall not die eternally ; but live, and " declare the works of " the LORD : " and though he chasten them for their good, repeatedly and sharply ; yet he will not " give them over " unto death" eternal, nor leave their bodies in the grave for ever ; but will bring them forth, immortal and incorruptible, that " death may be swallowed up in victory."

V. 19-29.

Renewed mercies and deliverances send believers again and again, to the courts of the Lord, that they may enter in and praise his name : and at last, delivered from death and every evil, they will enter the gates of heaven to praise him for evermore. He has generally chosen and honoured those, whom man despised ; he has done good to his people by some, of whom it was said, " How shall " these men save us ?" And none aie more apt to mistake, and mislead others, in these matters, than those who by prescription are deemed, and deem themselves, " builders" in Zion. We should not then be discouraged, by contempt and neglect, from " occupying with our talent, " till the Lord come : " but attend to our proper work, whatever acceptance it may meet with from man, and desire no more than to be approved by God. " Every good " gift is from him," and the glory of every good work belongs to him : and when beneficial changes are brought about, which " are marvellous in our eyes," we should acknowledge it to be his doing. Gracious deliverances give occasion to days of joy and gladness: such are days, " which the LORD hath made," and we should remember to rejoice in a holy manner; for carnal mirth and sensual indulgence, when we are rejoicing in the goodness of God, are like offering his corn and wine to Baal. (Note, Has. Psalms 2:8-9.) Our thanksgivings on earth must always be accompanied with prayers for further mercies, and the continuance of our prosperity ; our Hallelujahs, with Hosannas. We should ever pray for those, who " come in the " name of the LORD," and who evidently, in their proper station, act by his authority and for his glory : and the blessings of his servants, out of his sanctuary, should be much valued by the greatest of princes, as highly conducive to their prosperity. All our success should animate us to abound in spiritual sacrifices to the Lord, who gives us light and comfort. If he is our God, our Portion, and Salvation, the Object of our cordial worship, and the Lord of our choice, we shall render him willing obedience, and exalt him in every way, to the extent of our abilities and opportunities : and thus we shall here begin, and for ever continue, to give thanks to him who is " good, and whose " mercy endureth for ever." In all these things our Redeemer is the grand Pattern and Exemplar of his people. Delivered from great distress, which he endured in our behalf; placed upon a glorious throne, according to his confidence in his heavenly Father, and in answer to his fervent prayers ; having overcome every enemy, which compassed him about, or " thrust sore at him that he might " fall ;" and ever living to declare " the works of the " LORD ; " he has opened the gates of righteousness to all his people ; he has become our Way of access to his Father’s presence, and the Foundation of our hopes and of our souls ; and he has shewn us the way to conquer, by patience, faith, and prayer. Contemned by the builders he is become the Foundation and the Corner-stone of the whole church : and his resurrection, ascension, and exaltation were marvellous in the eyes of numbers, who acknowledged and rejoiced in them as the Lord’s doing When he left the grave, a glorious day commenced, which knows no night; our "Sun of righteousness" arose to set no more : and our weekly commemoration of that great event, on the Lord’s day, is the earnest of our celebrating an eternal sabbath in heaven to his glory, and, if duly employed, a most blessed preparation for it. Let us then wclcome the return of this " day which the LORD hath made and rejoice and be glad in it:" let us beseech him to send prosperity to the preaching of his Gospel, and by it to save the souls of men, adding multitudes every day, and especially every Lord’s day, to the number of the saved ones : let us welcome those, who come as ambassadors in the name of Christ ; as an evidence, that we welcome him to our hearts, and shall welcome him when he comes to judgment : and let us join our prayers for those who belong to the Redeemer, and every act of love to them, with our spiritual sacrifices of praise to him, our Lord, our God, our Saviour, and our Portion.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 118". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-118.html. 1804.
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