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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms
Psalms 144



Verses 1-15

Psalm 144:1-15

V:1. Tim psalm was, no doubt, written by David, after his accession to the throne over all Isiael; and when he had gained some of his first victories over the neighbouring nations; but before he had finished his wars against them. (Notes, 5- 8. 2 Samuel 5:1-25 :) " Blessed be the LORD my Strength," " who of a poor " shepherd hath made me a valiant warrior and mighty " conqueror." (Marg. and Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalm 44:1-3. 2 Samuel 22:34-35. Isaiah 12:2-4.)

V:2. Notes, 2 Samuel 22:1-3; 2 Samuel 22:31-33; 2 Samuel 22:43-51. My Goodness.] " The God, on whose goodness and mercy I " depend; or, " My supreme Good; " or, " The Author of " all that is good in me." My Deliverer.] " Heb. My Deli" verer unto me: for the prophet cannot satisfy himself with " any words."

V:3 , 4. (Marg. Ref. Note, Psalm 8:4-9. P. O.Note, Hebrews 2:5-9.) " Lord, what indeed is Prayer of Manasseh , ...who is now become like vanity, or instability itself; whose days are fleeting and transient as a shadow, which glides over the earth, vanishes, and is seen no more ! Such was human nature : but the Son of God has taken it upon himself, rendered it immortal, and exalted it to heaven," whither all will follow him hereafter, who follow him now in the paths of righteousness and holiness." Bp. Home.

Now what is Prayer of Manasseh , when grace reveals The virtue of a Saviour"s blood ? Again a life divine he feels, Despises earth, and walks with God. And what, in yonder realms above, Is ransom"d man ordain"d to be ? With honour, holiness, and love, No Seraph more adorn"d than he. Nearest the throne, and first iu Song of Solomon , Man shall his hallelujahs raise; While wond"rings angels round him throng, And swell the chorus of his praise."

Newton, Hymn.

V:5- 8. The Psalmist perceived, that war was again preparing against him on every side : and the number and power of his enemies were so formidable, that, like a dreadful inundation, they seemed ready to bear down and swallow up all before them. (Notes, Psalm 93:3-4. Nahum 1:7-8. Revelation 12:13-17.) But they were " strange children," aliens to Israel; so that their " mouth spake vanity, and " their right hand was a right hand of iniquity : " they were the avowed worshippers of idols, and blasphemed the God of Israel, and employed themselves in working wickedness; nay, if they made any league, and confirmed it by giving the right hand as a token of amity, they made no scruple of breaking it. David therefore expected and prayed, that God would appear for him against these idolaters, with such tokens of his presence and power, as Israel had witnessed in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and at mount Sinai. (Notes, 2 Samuel 8:3-14; 2 Samuel 22:7-16.) The deliverance and victories, which David expected and experienced from the immediate interposition of God, were typical of the Redeemer"s resurrection and exaltation, in which the miraculous power of God was gloriously manifested; and also of his victories over those who oppose the universal establishment of his kingdom, and of his " putting all " enemies under his feet; " of which event such passages may be considered as in some respects prophetical. (Notes, Psalm 18:49. 2 Samuel 22:43-51. P. O34- 51.)

V:9. Note, Psalm 33:2-3.

V:10. The preservation and success even of idolatrous princes are, in scripture, ascribed to God. " The LORD " strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel." " By Naaman the LORD had given deliverance to Syria." (Notes, Judges 3:12. 2 Kings 5:1.) "Nebuchadnezzar, " my servant, will I bring against this land." " The God " of heaven hath given thee," (Nebuchadnezzar,) " a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory : and wheresoever " the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and " the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, " and hath made thee ruler over the:/i all." (Notes Daniel 2:3-7; Daniel 5:18-24.) "Thus " saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right " hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him, &c." (Notes, Isaiah 44:25-28; Isaiah 45:16.)" Though wicked * kings be called God"s servants, as Cyrus, Isaiah 45:1, for " as much as he useth them to execute his judgments: yet " David, because of God"s promise, and they that rule " godly, are properly so called; because they serve not their " own affections, but set forth God"s glory."

V:11. (Note, 58.) The word " Rescue," in the old translation, is more expressive than the term " Rid," for which it is exchanged. Right hand.] " When they shake hands with others, as " if they were their friends, they intend thereby to deceive " them." Bp. Patrick.

V:12- 15. (Notes, Leviticus 26:3-12. Deuteronomy 28:1-14.) The prosperity of Israel, according to the promises of the national covenant, was one great end for which David was raised to the throne; and in all his undertakings and successes he kept this in view. When the surrounding idolaters were subdued, Israel would be at peace; and being united under the equitable administration of a pious king, they would adhere to the worship of God, and by his blessing they would multiply exceedingly. Their sons would grow, as plants in a fruitful soil, in vigour and courage, to be the stability of the country : and their daughters, prudent, virtuous, healthful, industrious, and amiable, fitted to fill the important relations of wives and mothers, would be the ornament of their families and of those into which they were married, and the bond of union between them; as polished corner-stones both beautify, and connect together, the parts of a magnificent structure. (Notes, Proverbs 31:10-31.) Having peace abroad and harmony at home, their land, being well cultivated, might be expected to be very productive in corn, wine, oil, and every thing valuable; and their cattle to multiply exceedingly. No invader would break in among them; none would go forth into captivity, or be induced to emigrate; nor would there be, or at least there would not be cause for, any complaining of oppression or penury, in their streets. These were the blessings engaged to Israel while they adhered to the service of JEHOVAH and of which David hoped to put them in possession : in the ordinary course of providence they are generally conferred upon nations, where princes and people unite in maintain ing the worship of God, and obedience to his laws : and they are also typical of those blessings, which the Son of David bestows upon his faithful subjects. " If God give " not to all his children all these blessings, yet he recompenseth them with better things." (Notes, Psalm 33:10-12; Psalm 65:9-13; Psalm 84:11-12. Psalm 146:5.) "The good things " of this world may fall to the lot of the righteous; who * are distinguished from the wicked, by the use which " they make of them, when given, and by their meek resignation of them when taken away." Bp. Home.



If men become eminent for those things, to which they were not regularly educated, and for which they have wanted many advantages, and which are of real value; they should be the more deeply sensible, that God himself has been their Teacher. Courage, strength, and military skill, are indeed gifts of the Creator, and all success is from him : yet they are seldom so used, as to warrant the successful warrior to say, "The LORD, my Strength, hath " taught my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:" for alas ! too frequently " the great murderer from the beginning" instigates ambitious, revengeful, and rapacious men, to destroy their fellow-creatures without any adequate cause. But those, who are really disposed to give God the glory of their endowments and success, will seek grace from him to make a proper use of them; and will praise him as " their Goodness," and their merciful God, more than as their Fortress, their Protector, and the Giver of their authority and prosperity. Happy are they, whom the Lord teaches to " fight the good fight of faith," and to whom he gives that noblest victory and rule, the conquest and dominion over their own spirits ! (Notes, Proverbs 16:32; Proverbs 25:28. 1 Timothy 6:11-12.) In the highest earthly exaltation, they will still recollect, how mean, sinful, and guilty they are in themselves; they will be filled with admiring gratitude for the condescension of the great God to such rebellious sinners, and for every instance of his regard to them; and thus they will be preserved from self-importance and presumption in prosperity. They will not forget that " man is like unto vanity; his days are as a " shadow, that passeth away;" (Note, Psalm 103:15-18;) that the transition from a throne to the grave, or even to the depths of hell, is frequent, and often almost instantaneous; that deliverance from the wrath to come, and a crown of unfading glory, are infinitely the most important concerns; and that living to the honour of God, and the benefit of his church, is far more desirable than all human exaltation and renown. Even in this life, success and authority rather expose men to trials and conflicts, than secure exemption from them. But whilst we are doing the duty of our station, we may depend on God to defend and prosper us : and when our enemies are infidel, impious, or licentious, our encouragement to hope in him for help against them may proportionably increase. He " who bows the " heavens and comes down," and " touches the mountains " and they smoke," can find innumerable ways to confound the devices, dissolve the confederacies, and scatter the forces of his most potent foes; to deliver his people from dangers as imminent, as if they were sinking in the depths of the ocean; and thus to turn all their fears and prayers into new songs of joyful praise.


It is the Lord who gives temporal deliverances to kings; and continues or restores their health, in answer to the prayers, or for the benefit, of their people : and he alone can give them eternal salvation, which they as much need as the meanest of their subjects, while they are commonly placed far more out of the way of it : and yet to be saved from the hurtful sword, or the wasting sickness, without being delivered from the dominion of sin, and from " the " wrath to come," is no enviable advantage. The higher any one is placed in society, the more entirely ought he to seek the publick good, in preference to his own personal emolument, reputation, or indulgence : yet how very seldom is this undeniable truth duly and practically considered ! No war ought to be undertaken, no victories desired, but for the sake of securing peace; the blessings of which are far more valuable than the most brilliant successes : even without bringing into the computation the thousands who are slain in war, and who too generally die in their sins. Wise, equitable, and pious princes and magistrates conduce much to the prosperity of nations; for these blessings we should pray, and when granted we should return thanks for them; as well as for our liberty, plenty, and other publick benefits. It is a very pleasant sight to behold a nation increasing in population; families brought up in industry, houesty, and plenty, and fitted for their several stations in publick and domestick life; not cut off by war, or wasted by famine or pestilence, or carried captives and exiles, or compelled by strong necessity to emigrate into foreign regions; and when all manner of abundance is stored in our garners, and clothes our fields and pastures. In many of these things we are a happy people : yet alas ! our numerous youth do not generally afford a pleasing prospect. Too many of the young men of all ranks, in this favoured land, grow up noxious plants; being early debauched in their principles and morals, and justly to be denominated infidel, profane, licentious, and dissipated; contracting and disseminating both mental and bodily diseases; and prepared to communicate vice, and ruin, and enfeebled constitutions, to the next generation. The daughters of the land are indeed sufficiently politlied, with exterior beauty and embellishment, and every superficial accomplishment : but few of them have the polishing of a corner-stone, as qualified to be the ornament of families, the cement of society, and a blessing to the land and to the next generation, by an attentive, judicious, and virtuous performance of the duties of domestick life; and still fewer are possessed of that adorning, which the word of God almost exclusively recommends. While we abound in luxury and excess, and are free from the irruptions of invaders, and the oppression of tyrants; there is still much complaining in our streets : yea, there is much extreme distress, through the vice, sloth, and extravagance, which prevail among the lower ranks in society; and through the enormous encouragement given by the affluent, to those worthless minions, who minister to their amusements, decorations, or excesses; attended with the neglect of the honest and industrious poor. Thus in proportion as we do not adhere to the worship and service of God, we cease to be a happy people, notwithstanding all our advantages. But, blessed be God, there is a considerable remnant of another character, the subjects of the Son of David; who share the blessings of his authority, and the fruits of his victories; and are a happy people, because " they have the LORD for their God." They dwell among the ungodly, as among " strange children, whose " mouth speaketh of vanity, and whose right hand is a " right hand of falsehood; " but they desire to be preserved from the contagion of their example. Their happiness is not placed in outward prosperity, nor even in flourishing families : but their endeavours are used, and their prayers offered daily, that " their sons may in their " youth " be planted and grow up " in the courts of the " LORD " that their daughters may be an ornamental part of God"s spiritual temple, and be fitted in due time to be " mothers in Israel," to train up a godly seed for the ensuing generation; that the number of Christians may increase, as the flocks in the fertile pastures of Canaan; that those who labour in the word and doctrine, may be strong in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ; that the good seed of the word may yield a very large increase; that persecutions, heresies, and divisions may be terminated; and that the church may be in peace, and prosper, without any murmurings, envyings, or contentions, to disgrace and weaken the cause of Christianity. These objects may we ever keep in view; that, as one united phalanx, all who love Christ, may oppose the irruption of infidelity and iniquity, and promote the diffusion of truth and righteousness : for " happy is that people, that is in such a case; " yea, happy is that people whose God is the LORD."


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Bibliography Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 144:4". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.

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Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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