David sang this song to the LORD on the day the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.
naer) or glory of the nation, and the continuance of his life and reign was essential to its welfare. This is a striking testimony to their estimate of his personal character and faithful and prosperous rule. Similar language is used of others. "He was the lamp that burueth and shineth," etc. (John 5:35; John 8:12; Matthew 5:14). And every faithful servant of God is "a light giver in the world" (Philippians 2:15). Such a lamp is -
I. KINDLED BY THE GRACIOUS HAND OF GOD, the true Glory of Israel, the Father of lights, the Fountain of life and light (Psalm 36:9). None are so ready to recognize dependence upon God for life and all good as the devout man himself.
"Thou art my Lamp, O Jehovah,
II. CONDUCTIVE TO THE REAL WELFARE OF MEN. "Neither do men light a lamp and put it under the bushel," etc. (Matthew 5:15).
"Heaven does with us as we with torches do,
III. EXPOSED TO IMMINENT DANGER OF EXTINCTION. The light is liable to be quenched. Life is always precarious; the life of some peculiarly so; like that of David when he went down into the conflict (vers. 15, 16; 2 Samuel 5:17-25), waxed faint, and was set upon by the giant Ishbi-benob, in a new suit of armour. And it is not only natural life, but also moral and spiritual life, that is beset by danger. The part which a good man takes in the conflict between good and evil attracts the attention of his adversaries, makes him a special object of attack (1 Kings 22:31); his efforts are exhausting, and his zeal is apt to consume him (Psalm 69:9; Psalm 119:139). "Ernestus, Duke of Luneburg, caused a burning lamp to be stamped on his coin, with these four letters, A.S.M.C., by which was meant, Aliis serviens meipsum contero, 'By giving light to others I consume myself'" (Spencer).
IV. WORTHY OF BEING HIGHLY ESTEEMED, carefully sustained, and zealously guarded. "And Abishai succoured him, and he [Abishai, or perhaps David, ver. 22] killed him," etc. The preserving care of God (2 Samuel 8:14) does not render needless human sympathy, assistance, prudence, resolution (2 Samuel 18:3). He who freely spends his strength and risks his life for others ought to be esteemed, considered, defended, and helped by them (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 23; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Hebrews 13:17); and, herein, they also benefit themselves and the whole community. "If any man serve me, let him follow me," etc. (John 12:26-28). - D.
David spake unto the Lord the word of this song.
I. The leading thought of the song, AN ADORING ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF WHAT GOD HAD BEEN AND WAS TO DAVID (vers. 2-4.)
1. The feeling that recognised God as the Author of all his deliverances was intensely strong, for every expression that can denote it is heaped together: "My rock, my portion, my deliverer; the God of my rock, my shield; the horn of my salvation, my high tower, my refuge, my Saviour." He takes no credit to himself; he gives no glory to his captains; the glory is all the Lord's. He sees God so supremely the Author of his deliverance that the human instruments that helped him are for the moment quite out of view. He who, in the depths of his penitence, sees but one supremely injured Being,. and says, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned," at the height of his prosperity sees but one gracious Being, and adores Him, who only is his rock and his salvation. In an ago when all the stress is apt to be laid on the human instruments, and God left out of view, this habit of mind is instructive and refreshing. It was a touching incident in English history when, after the battle of Agincourt, Henry V. of England directed the hundred and fifteenth Psalm to be sung; prostrating himself on the ground, and causing his whole army to do the same, when the words were sounded out, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy name give glory."
2. The emphatic use of the pronoun "my" by the Psalmist is very instructive. It is so easy to speak in general terms of what God is, and what God does; but it is quite another thing to be able to appropriate Him as ours, and rejoice in that relation. The use of the "my" indicates a personal transaction, a covenant relation into which the parties have solemnly entered.
3. One other point has to be noticed in this introduction — when David comes to express his dependence on God, he very specially sets Him before his mind as "worthy to be praised."
II. TRIALS AND GOD'S DELIVERANCE IN HIS TIMES OF DANGER (vers. 5-20.) That description is eminently poetical. First, there is a vivid picture of his troubles. "The waves of death compassed me, and the floods vi ungodly men made me afraid; the sorrows of hell compassed me; the snares of death prevented me." ("The cords of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid; the cords of sheol were round about me; the snares of death came upon me," R.V.) It is no overcharged picture. With Saul's javelins flying at his head in the palace, or his best troops scouring the wilderness in search of him; with Syrian hosts bearing down on him like the waves of the sea, and a confederacy of nations conspiring to swallow him up, he might well speak of the waves Of death and the cords of Hades. Then, after a brief account of his calling upon God, comes a most animated description of God coming to his help. The description is ideal, but it gives a vivid view how the Divine energy is roused when any of God's children are in distress. Faith saw God bestirring Himself for his deliverance, as if every agency of nature had been set in motion on his behalf. And this being done, his deliverance was conspicuous and corn-plebe. He saw God's hand stretched out with remarkable distinctness. And what a blessed thing to have accumulated through life a store of such providences — to have Ebenezers reared along the whole line of one's history!
III. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH THE DIVINE PROTECTION WAS THUS ENJOYED BY DAVID. Substantially these grounds were the uprightness and faithfulness with which he had served God. The expressions are strong, and at first sight they have a flavour of self-righteousness. "The Lord rewarded me according to my self-righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath He recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God." But it is impossible to read this Psalm without feeling that it is not pervaded by the spirit of the self-righteous man. It is pervaded by a profound sense of dependence on God, and of obligation to His mercy and love. Now that is the very opposite of the self-righteous spirit. What he here celebrates is not any personal righteousness that might enable him as an individual to claim the favour and reward of God, but the ground on which he, as the public champion of God's cause before the world, enjoyed God's countenance and obtained His protection. There would be no self-righteousness in an inferior officer of the navy or the army who had been sent on some expedition, saying, "I obeyed your instructions in every particular; I never deviated from the course you prescribed."
IV. HIS PROVIDENTIAL MERCIES, FOR WHICH HE SPECIALLY PRAISES GOD. One of the earliest appears to be recalled in the words, "By my God have I leaped over a wall" — the wall, it may be supposed, of Gibeah, down which Michal let him when Saul sent to take him in his house. Still further back: perhaps, in his life is the allusion in another expression — "Thy gentleness hath made me great." He seems to go back to his shepherd life, and in the gentleness with which he dealt with the feeble lamb that might have perished in rougher hands, to find an emblem of God's method with himself. If God had not, dealt gently with him, he never would have become what he was. But what? Can David praise God's gentleness and in the next words utter such terrible words against his foes? How can he extol God's gentleness to him and immediately dwell on his tremendous severity to them? We cannot but regard it as the spirit of one who was imperfectly enlightened. We rejoice in the Christian spirit that teaches us to regard even public enemies as our brothers, for whom individually kindly and brotherly feelings are to be cherished. In the closing verses of the Psalm, the views of the Psalmist seem to sweep beyond the limits of an earthly kingdom. His eye seems to embrace the wide-spreading dominion of Messiah; at all events, he dwells on those features of his own kingdom that were typical of the all-embracing kingdom of the Gospel. "It is beyond doubt," says Luther, "that the wars and victories of David prefigured the passion and resurrection of Christ." At the same time, he admits that it is very doubtful how far the Psalm applies to Christ, anal how far to David,. and he declines to press the type to particulars. But we may surely apply the concluding words to David's son: "He showeth loving-kindness to his anointed, to David and to his seed for evermore."
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
(A. Whyte, D. D.)
Christian Endeavour Times.Max O'Rell has well and wittily said that people are divided into two classes — those who complain that roses have thorns and those who rejoice that thorns have roses. We know to which class we ought to belong. Let us make most of our mercies. God is a great God, and His gifts are like Himself, and more than can be numbered. The Rev. Mark Guy Pearse tells us that, when going home from a meeting once on a starlit night, and wishing to have a little quiet to think, he gave his little girl, who was with him, the task of counting the stars, knowing this would be a task long enough until they reached home, and longer. He heard her count into the third hundred, then she stopped, and he heard her say, "Dear me! I never thought they were so many!" "And so," he said — and we can say it with him — "when I begin to count" my mercies and the kindnesses of my God, I am surprised, and have to say I never thought they were so many until I began to count them."
(Christian Endeavour Times.)
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