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V. 1- 3. It is not agreed on what occasion, or by whom, this psalm was composed ; nor docs it fully suit any period in the histroy of the old-testament church : for even in the days of Hezekiah, under Sennacherib’s oppression, or afterwards, under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphancs, the bulk of the nation could not have made the solemn protestation contained in it.
(Note, 17- 22;) and it would have been still more unsuitable to the case of the Jews, during the Babylonish captivity. It is therefore no very improbable conjecture, that David, or some other prophet, composed this psalm tor the use of the true church, in every age, when persecuted for conscience-sake. However this may be, the remnant of suffering believers are here introduced, as recollecting the work of God for Israel in former ages, to encourage their hope of his further protection and powerful interposition. (Marg. Ref.) The first verse is incorporated into our Litany, after a manner, suited to lead our thoughts to the triumphs of divine grace at the reformation, and in the age of the apostles. Joshua and the Israelites fought valiantly against the Canaanites : yet their victories were not owing to their own valour or strength, but to the power and favour of God. (Note, Joshua 10:9-10.) The apostles laboured in the most zealous and self-denying manner to spread the gospel in the primitive times : but its prevalence was not the effect of their eloquence, or wisdom, or assiduity ; but of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven to prosper their labours. The conversion and salvation of the believer is not effected by his merit, wisdom, or resolution ; but springs from the mercy and grace of God : yet he diligently uses the appointed means. The peojtle. (2) Or peoples, the several nations inhabiting Canaan. (Notes, 1 Samuel 12:22. Romans 9:10-18.)
V. 4. Thou art He, my King, O God : command " the salvations of Jacob. Thou art the same almighty God and Saviour, who by thy sovereign will didst of old effect these wonderful deliverances to thy people. Thou art our King, as thou wast their’s : therefore save and deliver us, as thou didst them.’ This is a never failing plea for the church under persecution, and for the believer when steadily resisting temptation, and for the minister in praying for success on his labours. (Notes, Psalms 27:13. Matthew 6:13.)
V. 5- 7 God is frequently spoken of as a Horn, or as raising up for his church " a Horn of salvation " (Notes, Deuteronomy 33:7. 2 Samuel 22:2-3. Luke 1:67-75 ;) and the Psalmist, with allusion to that metaphor, says, "Through " thee will we push down our enemies." For the cause of God must, to the end, be maintained by the same powerful aid, as from the first made it ’to prevail ; and in the same entire dependence on him to prosper all the means, employed for that effect ; and not by trusting in the means themselves. (Notes, Psalms 20:6-8. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5. 2 Corinthians 4:7
V. 8. Or, " Unto God we will give praise continually, " and will confess thy name for ever. Selah." The whole confidence being placed in God, the whole glory will be rendered to him, and that for ever. " Glorying in God " is generally expressed, by another modification of the same verb. (Isaiah 45:25. Jeremiah 9:23. Heb.)
V. 9 -16. Israel, in general accustomed to victory by the help of JEHOVAH, is here represented as worsted and crushed by the enemy. The Lord is pleased to permit his church to be run down, as if he had cast her off with abhorrence : his people are then plundered and oppressed : many are slain, as sheep, for the pleasure or profit of their persecutors ; or driven from their native country, and scattered among idolaters and savages ; or sold at a very low price like the meanest of slaves. Of all these events, the history of the church gives many affecting illustrations.
Thus the Lord seems to sell his people for nought, and allow his enemies to prevail, even to his own dishonour ; as if he parted with his flock, without any increase to his other wealth. And while these things are transacting, his people have trials of cruel mockings, insults, and reproaches ; which they could the better endure, did they not also continually hear the name and truths of God blasphemed, by their impious and revengeful enemies. Many of the verbs are in the future tense, in the original : and perhaps the Psalmist meant, that past calamities led the people to very doleful conclusions as to the event. (Marg Ref. Notes, Psalms 60:1-3
V. 17- 22. (Note, 1- 3.) ’ Certainly we have deserved ’ ... all these calamities ; ’ though this comfort is still remaining, that we are not so wicked as to be moved by all this to desert thee, and violate that covenant, whereby we are engaged to worship thee alone.’ Bp. Patrick.
The formalist commonly escapes persecution, by turning with the stream, and purchasing security with sinful compliances, or open apostasy ; but the true church of God cannot be prevailed on, by menaces, suffering’s, or promises, to forget God, or deal falsely in his covenant : and as the believer’s heart does not turn back from God, so his feet do not decline from his way. Neither the malice, nor the subtlety, nor the poison, of the old serpent, and of his progeny, even when permitted to torment him grievously, can induce him to turn aside to idolatry, or to renounce his God and Saviour. This has been proved in ten thousand instances, while the disciples of Christ have been covered as with the shadow of death, in their constant expectation of it ; and they have seen their brethren killed, by every tedious excruciating method, " all the day long, " and accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Notes, John 16:1-33: I- 3. Romans 8:35-39.) Their regard to the authority of their holy and heart-searching God effectually preserves them even from committing secret wickedness ; and they make their appeal to him concerning their integrity.
And indeed so far from suffering for their iniquities, they are hated and killed for the Lord’s sake ; because they bear his image, profess his truths, adhere to his commandments, and seek his glory. " The place of dragons," or serpents, or monsters, gives the idea of man cast into a situation, in which every hateful and dreadful creature surrounds him. Such are persecutors, and such arc evil spirits who employ them. (Marg. Ref.s.)
V. 23- 26. In this trying situation, the church earnestly cries for help to God, by whose permission these afflictions come upon her, and who alone can remove them.
(Notes, Psalms 12:5-6
The church of God is one incorporated body, from the beginning to the end of the world : and the benefits conferred on it in every age, will be acknowledged with gratitude by believers, through all generations, and even to eternity. " Whatsoever things were written of old time, " were written for our instruction " and encouragement ; and parents should declare the work of God to their children, that they may learn to hope in him. (Notes, Psalms 78:3-8. Isaiah 38:17-20. Romans 15:4-7) When we hear of the wonderful works wrought for Israel, in bringing them out of Egypt, and settling them in Canaan or of the still more glorious interpositions of God, in the first promulgation of his’ gospel ; we should learn to hope and pray for displays of his power and love, equally efficacious, though not miraculous. The prosperity of the church has always been attended with the ruin of her enemies ; therefore the most prosperous despisers and persecutors have cause to tremble, on account of the prayers of God’s afflicted and despised people. As human policy, power, and authority could never prevail against the cause of God ; so they have been very little employed in promoting it : but, whatever instruments have been used, all real advantages have been gained by " his right hand, his arm, and " the light of his countenance, because he had a favour " to his people. They therefore give him the whole glory of the past, and entirely confide in him for the future ; and they prosper in their spiritual warfare, when they depend on his grace and go forth in his name. " Where the word of this King is, there is power : when he" commands " deliverances for Jacob," they will take place : and we may " push down all our enemies," and " tread them under " that rise up against us ; " when, like the servants of God of old, we disclaim all self-confidence, to trust in him alone. The Lord has always hitherto saved his people : they may now " boast in him all the day long,; " and they will praise his name for ever, for not having made them ashamed of their confidence. Yet, the believer must have seasons of temptations, afflictions, and humiliating discouragements ; and the church must have seasons of persecution, when her remaining witnesses prophesy in sackcloth. (Note, Revelation 11:3-6.) At such times the people of God will be trampled on, put to shame, plundered, murdered, banished, enslaved, despised, and reproached : and they will be ready to think that he has cast them off, and to fear that his name and truth will be eventually dishonoured ; while they continually hear the blasphemies and triumphs of his enemies. But in all our afflictions, especially in our sufferings for the sake of scriptural Christianity, we should complain unto the Lord, and " exercise ourselves to have a conscience void of offence : " we should be careful not to seek relief by sinful compliances; and should continually meditate on the power, truth, purity, and knowledge of our heart-searching God. If our heart turn back from him, or our steps decline from his way ; he knows it, and will discover it to others. But if we are faithful to our engagements, and are persecuted for “righteousness’ sake," we are and shall be safe and happy. Even if we should be given up into the hands of enemies, formidable and venemous as dragons, and thrown into dungeons hideous as their holes ; be sore broken with every torture which malice can invent, and live in the continual expectation of a violent death : yet nothing can " separate " us from the love of our God ; " none can go beyond his purpose and permission ; and in all these things we shall be more than conquerors. (Notes, Romans 8:28-39.)
For though he seems to hide his face, and to forget the affliction and oppression of his people, while they are trampled in the dust by antichristian persecutors ; yet he is waiting for our more fervent prayers, which will cause him, as it were, to awake, and arise, and help, and redeem us for his mercies’ sake. We have reason to be thankful, considering our frailty, for exemption from the more violent species of persecution ; but let us be careful, that prosperity and ease do not render us careless and lukewarm. We should remember that persecution may come on us speedily, and that we ought to prepare for it ; and we should not forget the state of the church, not yet delivered from her bondage and captivity. But in answer to the Redeemer’s intercession and the prayers of his people, all that hate his cause shall be put to shame ; truth and righteousness shall every where triumph ; and none that belong to Christ shall be cast off for ever, but every one of them shall be completely and eternally saved.
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 44". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29