The LORD redeems the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
The R.V. accurately renders the words: "None of them that trust in Him shall be condemned." When we read in the New Testament that "we are justified by faith," the meaning is precisely the same as that of our text. Thus, however it came about, here is this psalmist, standing away back amidst the shadows and symbols and ritualisms of that Old Covenant, and rising at once, above all the mists, right up into the sunshine, and seeing, as clearly as we see it, that the way to escape condemnation is simple faith.
I. THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SPOKEN OF HERE. "None of them that trust in Him." The word that is here translated, rightly, "trust," means literally to fly to a refuge, or to betake oneself to some defence in order to get shelter there. There is a trace of both meanings, literal and metaphorical, in another psalm, where we read, amidst the psalmist's rapturous heaping together of great names for God: "My Rock, in whom I will trust." Now keep to the literal meaning there, and you see how it flashes up the whole into beauty: "My Rock, to whom I will flee for refuge," and put my back against it, and stand as impregnable as it; or get myself well into the clefts of it, and then nothing can touch me. Then we find the same words, with the picture of flight and the reality of faith, used with another set of associations in another psalm, which says: "He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shelf thou trust." That grates, one gets away from the metaphor too quickly; but if we preserve the literal meaning, and read, "under His wings shalt thou flee for refuge," we have the picture of the chicken flying to the mother-bird when kites are in the sky, and huddling close to the warm breast and the soft, downy feathers, and so with the spread of the great wing being sheltered from all possibility of harm. There is one thing more that I would notice, and that is that this designation of the persons as "them that trust in Him" follows last of all in a somewhat lengthened series of designations for good people. They are these: "the righteous" — "them that are of a broken heart" — "such as be of a contrite spirit" — "His servants," and then, lastly, comes, as basis of all, as, so to speak, the keynote of all, "none of them that trust in Him." That is to say — righteousness, true and blessed consciousness of sin, joyful surrender of self to loving and grateful submission to God's will, are all connected with or flow from that act of trust in Him. And if you are really trusting in Him, your trust will produce all these various fruits of righteousness, and lowliness, and joyful service.
II. THE BLESSING HERE PROMISED. "None of them that trust in Him shall be condemned." The word includes the following varying shades of meaning, which, although they are various, are all closely connected, as you will see — to incur guilt, to feel guilty, to be condemned, to be punished. All these four are inextricably blended together. And the fact that the one word in the Old Testament covers all that ground suggests some very solemn thoughts.
1. Guilt, or sin, and condemnation and punishment, are, if not absolutely identical, inseparable. To be guilty is to be condemned.
2. This judgment, this condemnation, is not only present, according to our Lord's own great words, which perhaps are an allusion to these: "He that believeth not is condemned already"; but it also suggests the universality of that condemnation. Our psalmist says that only through trusting Him can a man be taken and lifted away, as it were, from the descent of the thundercloud, and its bolt that lies above his head. "They that trust Him are not condemned," every one else is; not "shall be," but is, to-day, here and now.
III. THE SOLE DELIVERANCE from this universal pressure of the condemnatory influence of universal sin lies in that fleeing for refuge to God. And then comes in the Christian addition, "to God, as manifested in Jesus Christ." You and I know more than this singer did, for we can listen to the Master, who says, "He that believeth on Him is not condemned"; and to the servant who echoes, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.