Psalm 33:16
There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
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(16) There is no king.—Better, The king doth not triumph by the greatness of his force.

Psalm 33:16-17. No king is saved by the multitude of a host — But only by God’s providence, who disposeth of victory and success as he pleaseth, and that frequently to the weakest side. He instances in kings and mighty men, as the most uncontrollable persons in the world, and most confident of themselves. By which he strongly proves his general proposition of God’s powerful providence over all men. A horse is a vain thing for safety — Though he be strong, Job 39:19, &c.; and fit for battle, Proverbs 21:31; or, for flight, if need requires. This is put for all warlike provisions, of which horses were, and are, a very considerable part. The word שׁקר, sheker, here translated a vain thing, properly means a lie, signifying that it promises the help and safety which it cannot give. Neither shall he deliver any by his great strength — The expressions being the same, the meaning is also the same in this and the preceding verse. After having particularized the stout man, and the horse, that is to say, the infantry and the cavalry, the strength and the swiftness of an army; and said, that neither of them could save a king; he repeats again, what he had said before in general, implying that no number of forces could do it. He then points out, in the next verses, where is the true defence and the only sure dependance of man.33:12-22 All the motions and operations of the souls of men, which no mortals know but themselves, God knows better than they do. Their hearts, as well as their times, are all in his hand; he formed the spirit of each man within him. All the powers of the creature depend upon him, and are of no account, of no avail at all, without him. If we make God's favour sure towards us, then we need not fear whatever is against us. We are to give to him the glory of his special grace. All human devices for the salvation of our souls are vain; but the Lord's watchful eye is over those whose conscientious fear of his name proceeds from a believing hope in his mercy. In difficulties they shall be helped; in dangers they shall not receive any real damage. Those that fear God and his wrath, must hope in God and his mercy; for there is no flying from him, but by flying to him. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us; let us always have the comfort and benefit, not according to our merits, but according to the promise which thou hast in thy word given to us, and according to the faith thou hast by thy Spirit and grace wrought in us.There is no king saved by the multitude of an host - By the number of his armies. His safety, however numerous and mighty may be his forces, is in God alone. He is the great Protector, whatever means men may use to defend themselves. The most numerous and the best organized armies cannot secure a victory. It is, after all, wholly in the hands of God. A wasting sickness in a camp may defeat all the plans of war; or success in battle may depend on contingencies which no commander could anticipate or provide against. A mutiny in a camp, or a panic on the battlefield, may disconcert the best-laid schemes; or forces may come against an army that were unexpected; or storm and tempest may disarrange and frustrate the entire plan of the campaign. See Ecclesiastes 9:11.

A mighty man - A strong man; a giant - as Goliath of Gath. "Strength" is not the only thing necessary to secure a victory.

Is not delivered by much strength - By the mere fact that he is strong. Other things are needed to ensure success; and God has power so to arrange events that mere strength shall be of no avail.

16, 17. Men's usual reliances in their greatest exigencies are, in themselves, useless. King; he instanceth in these, as the most potent and uncontrollable persons in the world, and most confident of themselves and least sensible of their dependence upon God; by which he strongly proves his general proposition, of God’s powerful providence over all men.

By the multitude of an host; but only by God’s providence, who disposeth of victory and success as he pleaseth, and that frequently to the weakest and most foolish side, Ecclesiastes 9:11. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host,.... He may be at the head of a numerous army, and yet not get the victory over a lesser one, nor escape safe, but be taken by it: there have been such instances; and if he is saved, or gets the victory, it is not owing to the multitude with him, but to the Lord, that gives salvation to kings, Psalm 144:10. Hence it appears that even such men need salvation themselves, and cannot save themselves, though they have ever so many at command, and therefore are not to be trusted in; salvation is only of the Lord;

a mighty man is not delivered by much strength; as Goliath, with his great strength, could not deliver himself out of the hands of David, a stripling; wherefore the mighty man should not glory in his might.

There is no {l} king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

(l) If kings and the mighty of the world cannot be saved by worldly means, but only by God's providence, what do others have to trust in, who have not similar means?

16. A king is not saved by a numerous host; or, by greatness of power, including other forces beside forces of soldiers. See Psalm 20:7; Psalm 44:3 ff.; Psalm 60:11 f.; and comp. the noble expression of this truth in 1Ma 3:19; “The victory of battle standeth not in the multitude of an host; but strength cometh from heaven.”

16–19. The delusiveness of material resources is contrasted with Jehovah’s care for His people. The discomfiture of Pharaoh with his host and horses and chariots (Exodus 14:17; Exodus 15:4) may have been in the poet’s mind; and ‘saved’ again recalls Deuteronomy 33:29.Verse 16. - There is no king saved by the multitude of an host; literally, the king is not saved by the greatness of his host. The article, however, is used generically, as it is with "horse" in the next verse, so that the translation of the Authorized Version gives the true sense. (For illustration of the sentiment, see 2 Chronicles 14:11; 1 Macc. 3:19.) A mighty man is not delivered by much strength (comp. 1 Samuel 17:47). His praiseworthiness (c) as the irresistible Ruler in the history of men. Since in 2 Samuel 15:34; 2 Samuel 17:14, and frequently, הפר עצה is a common phrase, therefore heepiyr as in Psalm 89:34, Ezekiel 17:19, is equivalent to הפר (Ges. ֗67, rem. 9). The perfects are not used in the abstract, but of that which has been experienced most recently, since the "new song" presupposes new matter. With Psalm 33:11 compare Proverbs 19:21. The עצת of God is the unity of the "thoughts of His heart," i.e., of the ideas, which form the inmost part, the ultimate motives of everything that takes place. The whole history of the world is the uninterrupted carrying out of a divine plan of salvation, the primary object of which is His people, but in and with these are included humanity at large.
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