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V. 1. Some expositors think that this Psalm was composed after the famine of three years, which occurred towards the close of David’s reign ; when God had heard the prayer of his people, and was intreated for the land : and the concluding part of it renders that opinion highly probable. (Notes, 2 Samuel 21:1-14.) ’ It becomes us, O God, ... to praise thee in thy sanctuary, ’ (though we cannot worthily express, but must rather ’ silently adore, thy incomparable excellencies ;) and to ’ pay the vows which we made unto thee in the time of * our distress.’ Bp. Patiick. The old testament church waited in silent expectation for the coming of the Messiah, and the accomplishment of the promises relating to him, prepared then to burst forth into vocal praises, and to perform her vows. Zion was the centre of her worship, and the type of the true church, whence alone cordial praises are rendered by any of our fallen ra’.-e. (Note, Revelation 14:1-5.)
V. 2. The readiness of the Lord to answer prayer, and all that pertains to " the throne of grace," and the " way " of access " for sinful men, through the atonement and mediation of the Great High Priest, to the glory of the justice and mercy of God, as prefigured by the institutions of the law of Moses, with the invitations to draw near, and the precious promises to encourage men to do so, when extensively made known on earth, would induce men of all nations to come and worship him on his mercy-seat in Zion : and the answer of the church’s prayer, in the coming of the Messiah, would make way for the propagation of the gospel among the gentiles; till at length all the human race shall come to God, as his suppliants. These events the Psalmist evidently predicted. Indeed all men, in every age, should be invited to come to God on the throne of grace ; and if they accept the invitation, as they certainly ought to do, they will by no means be relected. (Notes, Hebrews 4:14-16
V. 3. Nor need their sins,’ (the sins of those who come to God,) ’ discourage them : for thou liadst matter * enough of that kind against me, to have hindered the ’ prevalency of my prayer, if thou hadst charged my iniquities upon me. But thou hast been graciously pleased ’ to forgive not only me, but all thy people their transgressions.’ Bp. Patiick.
O God, our iniquities stand 4 in the way of thy mercies, and prevail strongly against ’ all the endeavours of my reformation : but, do thou both ’ mercifully forgive, and powerfully remedy, our offences Bp. Hall.
He imputeth it to his sins, and to the sins of ’ the people, that God, who was accustomed to assist them, ’ with draweth his succour.’ The Psalmist evidently experienced, as the apostle afterwards, that " when he would " do good, evil was present with him : " and the mercy and grace of God, through the promised Saviour, to take away both the guilt and the power of sin, were his only support. (Notes, Romans 7:13-25.) Longing and hoping for this deliverance ’from guilt and depravity, he determined to persist in waiting on God, seeking his glory, expecting his help, and celebrating his praises.
V. 4. Here the Psalmist seems to congratulate the priests and Levites on their happiness, in being chosen to the sacred office of ministering to God in holy things, as their constant employment. But this was only an emblem of the spiritual priesthood, the chosen of God, to whom David belonged, though he was a king, and of the tribe of .1 IK hih : and therefore he joins himself with those who would be satisfied with the rich provisions of the sanctuary, the spiritual communion with God, of which the feasts on the peace-offerings were an external sign and sacramental prefiguration. (Notes, Psalms 27:4-6. Psalms 36:5-9
V. 5. The terrible judgments, which God in righteousness inflicted upon Pharaoh, the Egyptians, the Canaanites, and the other enemies of Israel, were answers to the prayers of his people: the dreadful judgments on the Philistines, Syrians, and others who opposed David, were the same : and so were the terrible things, by which the Christian dispensation was introduced, and the foundations of idolatry overturned. ’ Thou wilt declare thyself t oa be the preserver of thy church, in destroying thine enemies, as ’ thou didst in the Red Sea. It is however evident, that the terrible judgments executed on those, both Jews and Gentiles, who opposed the establishment of Christianity, were especially predicted : because these happened at that season, when the " God of salvation" became the " Confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that " were afar off upon the sea;" and in those regions which were called " the isles of the sea."
V. 6, 7 That almighty God, who created and preserves the lofty mountains ; who sets bounds to the tempestuous sea, and rules its waves in the most furious storms ; who divided the Red Sea before Israel, and with it overwhelmed Pharaoh and his host ; still protects his church : and, by the same power, he restrains the madness of enraged multitudes, of haughty tyrants, or combined nations, and calms their fury or crushes their power, whenever they attempt any thing contrary to his wise, faithful, and merciful designs. Who can read these verses without thinking of Him who " rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, " be still ; and the wind ceased and there was a great " calm ? " and who said to the furious company that came to apprehend him, " I am he," and " they went " backward and fell to the ground ? " (Notes, Matthew 8:23-27. John 18:4-9.)
V. 8. Several of the appearances in nature excited a fear of the divine power among the heathen : while the ordinary course of providence caused them to rejoice ; even from the most eastern regions, whence the morning-sun appears, to the most western whither he retires when it is evening. The reports also of the judgments of God, on the enemies of Israel, excited consternation in distant nations ; and the glad tidings of his salvation have made, or will make, the inhabitants of every land to rejoice.
V. 9. " Thou visitest the land, and causest it to desire, " and greatly enrichest it ; " or, " after thou hast made it " to desire rain, &c." (Marg.) " The river of God," in this connexion, evidently denotes those abundant and constant supplies of water, with which the Lord replenishes and fructifies the earth, as a large river waters the country through which it flows : but under that emblem the pouring out of the Spirit, after the ascension of Christ, and the blessed effects that followed, seem to have been predicted.
(Notes, h. Psalms 44:3-5. Revelation 22:1.)
V. 10. " Do thou water the ridges abundantly, do thou " cause the rain to descend into the furrows, &c." This verse seems to be a prayer for the blessing. Thus the land is made ready for the seed, after man has properly tilled it ; and when he has sown the corn, the Lord causes it to grow and ripen. In like manner, while his ministers use appointed means, and sow the seed of divine truth ; God both prepares the hearts of the hearers, and gives the increase.
V. 11. ’ The herbs, fruits, and flowers, produced by the ’ earth, are ... as a beautifully variegated crown, set upon ’ her head, by the . . . great Creator.’ Bp. Home. Every year also is thus crowned by his bounty. Wherever the Lord passes, he scatters abundance around his paths ; and the clouds, which are called his chariots, drop down fatness on the earth. (Marg. Ref.)
V. 12, 13. Nothing can be more beautifully descriptive of a fruitful country, in a favourable season, than these verses : while the poetical representation of the " little " hills girding themselves with gladness ; " and of pastures and valleys clothed with flocks of sheep and covered with crops of corn, exulting and shouting for joy, has peculiar animation. The same metaphors are often used for the happy effects of the gospel, when successfully preached, especially in places before enveloped in darkness.
(Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 96:11-13. Psalms 98:7-9. Isaiah 42:10-12
Our God reveals himself upon a mercy-seat, ready to hear and answer the prayers of all, who come to him by faith in Jesus Christ ; men in general are invited to come unto him, and seek his face ; and in due time all the inhabitants of the earth shall become his worshippers. As the Lord fulfils his promises, the church reiterates his Braises : the new-testament church renders that praise, and performs those vows, which the old-testament church engaged for, when waiting and praying for the coming of ;he promised Redeemer; future generations shall praise hm for hearing our prayers for the predicted success of the gospel through the earth ; and every believer will render him praises, as he graciously fulfils his promises. Thus " praise waiteth for our God in Zion ; " and thus are " the vows performed," which continually accompany the prayers of his people, and indeed are implied in them. And we may urge this as a cogent plea for the granting of our petitions, seeing it will redound to his glory. Nor can ether the number or prevalency of those iniquities, for which we are humbled, invalidate the plea, when we cone in the Redeemer’s name : because, " as for our transgressions, he will purge them away," " to the praise of the " glory of his grace." Blessed indeed is that man, whom the Lord chooses, and by his Spirit causes to approach him, in humble faith and prayer ; and who, finding acceptance with him, learns to delight in his courts and ordinances, as the rest of his soul. We may find that satisfaction in the goodness of his house, which others in vain expect from the world : and, while we see these blessings spring from his special love and choice, we may rejoice at the prospect of the eternal completion of them in his holy temple above. It is, however, only through that blessed One, who was chosen to approach unto the Father, and to abide in the true tabernacle as our Advocate, that we sinners can expect or experience this felicity : and through him, " the God of our salvation " is become " the Confidence of all the ends of the earth ; " even of us Britons, who are indeed " afar off upon the sea," at a very great distance from the land, in which the sacred oracles were first given. But these blessings, communicated to mankind in answer to the prayers of his people, have been attended with terrible vengeance upon opposers : still more dreadful tilings will accompany the further prevalence of the gospel : and the complete salvation of the church will be attended by the eternal destruction of the ungodly. Nay, the Lord often answers the prayers of his people, with such convictions, rebukes, and corrections, as are for the time very terrifying to them. But let us trust his power, truth, and love ; and submit to his righteousness. The " strength, which setteth fast the mountains," upholds the believer : the word, which " stilleth the stormy " ocean," can silence the tumult and rage of our most numerous and potent enemies : and he, who enriches the earth with such abundant and varied liberality, can neither want sufficiency nor bounty to feed the souls of his people. We should then adore the tokens of his power, in taking righteous vengeance on his enemies, and rejoice in beholding it displayed in mercy. We should, with wonder, gratitude, and praise, behold and participate the abundance, which, by the wise and kind providence of God, is diffused through the earth : and, while we see year after year crowned with the goodness of the Lord, so that the hills and valleys, covered with corn and cattle, seem to proclaim and rejoice in their Creator’s praise ; we should remember our unworthiness, be thankful for our portion, and use it to the glory of the Giver; admire and imitate his bounty to the indigent, as we are able, and his goodness to the wicked and ungrateful children of men ; and pity and pray for those, who abuse these gifts to the dishonour of the Giver. But these temporal mercies, to us unworthy creatures, shadow forth more important blessings. The rising of " the Sun of righteousness," and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, that " River of God" full of the waters of life and salvation, render the hearts of sinners, which before were hard, barren, and worthless, fruitful in every od work ; and change the face of nations, far more than the sun and rain do the face of nature. Wherever the Lord passes, by the preaching of his gospel, attended by his Holy Spirit, " his paths drop fatness ; " and numbers of every description are taught to rejoice in him and praise him. These blessings have already been extended to many nations, which were far off: may we unite in fervent prayers and vigorous, persevering, and self-denying endeavours, that they may descend upon the pastures of the wilderness, the heathen world, and the poor benighted Jews ; and that the whole earth may hear and embrace the gospel : and may all, who are favoured with the means of grace, bring forth abundantly " those fruits of righteousness, " which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the " Father."
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 65". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent