Psalms 92

PSALM XCII

The psalmist shows the duty and advantage of praising God, 1-3;

speaks of the grandeur of God's works, 4-6;

the fall of the wicked, 7-9;

the happiness of the righteous, 10-14;

and all this founded on the perfections of God.

NOTES ON PSALM XCII

The title, A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath, gives no information

concerning the time, occasion, or author. The Chaldee, has

"Praise, and a song which the first man spoke concerning the

Sabbath:" but this is an idle conceit; and, though entertained by

some rabbins, has been followed by none of the Versions. Calmet

supposes the Psalm to have been composed by some of the Levites

during or near the close of the Babylonish captivity,

acknowledging the mercy of God, and foreseeing the desolation of

their enemies, and their own return to Jerusalem, and their temple

service.

Verse 1. It is a good thing to give thanks] This Psalm begins

very abruptly. Good to confess unto the Lord. He had been

acknowledging God's goodness, and praising him for his mercy; and

now he breaks out and tells how good he felt this employment to

be.

Verse 2. To show forth thy loving-kindness] chasdecha,

thy abundant mercy, in the morning-that has preserved me

throughout the night, and brought me to the beginning of a new

day: and thy faithfulness in the night, that has so amply

fulfilled the promise of preservation during the course of the

day. This verse contains a general plan for morning and evening

prayer.

Verse 3. Upon an instrument of ten strings] Eusebius, in his

comment on this Psalm, says: ψαλτηριονδεδεκαχορδονητουαγιου

πνευματοςδιατωναισθητηριωνπεντεμεντουσωματοςισαριθμωνδε

τηςψυχηςδυναμεωνεπιτελουμενηλατρεια "The Psaltery of ten

strings is the worship of the Holy Spirit, performed by means of

the five senses of the body, and by the five powers of the soul."

And, to confirm this interpretation, he quotes the apostle,

1Co 14:15: "I will pray with the spirit, and with the

understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, and with the

understanding also." "As the mind has its influence by which it

moves the body, so the spirit has its own influence by which it

moves the soul." Whatever may be thought of this gloss, one thing

is pretty evident from it, that instrumental music was not in use

in the Church of Christ in the time of Eusebius, which was near

the middle of the fourth century. Had any such thing then existed

in the Christian Church, he would have doubtless alluded to or

spiritualized it; or, as he quoted the words of the apostle above,

would have shown that carnal usages were substituted for spiritual

exercises. I believe the whole verse should be translated thus:

Upon the asur, upon the nebel, upon the higgayon, with the

kinnor. Thus it stands in the Hebrew.

Verse 4. For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work] I

am delighted with thy conduct towards me; with the work of thy

providence, the works of thy grace, and thy works of creation.

Verse 5. How great are thy works!] They are multitudinous,

stupendous, and splendid: and thy thoughts-thy designs and

counsels, from which, by which, and in reference to which, they

have been formed; are very deep-so profound as not to be fathomed

by the comprehension of man.

Verse 6. A brutish man knoweth not] ish baar, the

human hog-the stupid bear-the boor; the man who is all flesh; in

whom spirit or intellect neither seems to work nor exist. The

brutish man, who never attempts to see God in his works.

Neither doth a fool understand this.] kesil, the fool, is

different from baar, the brutish man; the latter has mind,

but it is buried in flesh; the former has no mind, and his

stupidity is unavoidable.

Verse 7. When the wicked spring as the grass] This is a lesson

which is frequently inculcated in the sacred writings. The favour

of God towards man is not to be known by outward prosperity; nor

is his disapprobation to be known by the adverse circumstances in

which any person may be found. When, however, we see the wicked

flourish, we may take for granted that their abuse of God's

mercies will cause him to cut them off as cumberers of the ground;

and, dying in their sins, they are destroyed for ever.

Verse 8. High for evermore.] They are brought down and

destroyed; but the Lord is exalted eternally, both for his

judgments and his mercies.

Verse 10. Like the horn of a unicorn.] reeym, perhaps

here, the oryx or buffalo. But the rhinoceros seems to be the

real monoceros of the Scriptures.

I shall be anointed with fresh oil.] Perhaps the allusion is

here not to any sacramental anointing, but to such anointings as

were frequent among the Asiatics, especially after bathing, for

the purpose of health and activity.

Verse 11. Mine eye also shall see,-and mine ears shall hear]

Even in my own times my enemies shall be destroyed; and of this

destruction I shall either be an eye-witness or have authentic

information.

Verse 12. The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree] Very

different from the wicked, Ps 92:7, who are likened to grass.

These shall have a short duration; but those shall have a long and

useful life. They are compared also to the cedar of Lebanon, an

incorruptible wood, and extremely long-lived. Mr. Maundrell, who

visited those trees in 1697, describes them thus: "These noble

trees grow among the snow, near the highest part of Lebanon. Some

are very old, and of prodigious bulk. I measured one of the

largest, and found it twelve yards six inches in girt, and yet

sound; and thirty-seven yards in the spread of its boughs. At

about five or six yards from the ground, it was divided into five

limbs, each of which was equal to a large tree." Some of these

trees are supposed to have lived upwards of one thousand years!

The figure of the palm-tree gives us the idea of grandeur and

usefulness. The fruit of the palm-tree makes a great part of the

diet of the people of Arabia, part of Persia, and Upper Egypt.

The stones are ground down for the camels; the leaves are made

into baskets; the hard boughs, or rather strong leaves, some

being six or eight feet in length, make fences; the juice

makes arrack; the threads of the web-like integument between the

leaves make ropes, and the rigging of small vessels; and the wood

serves for slighter buildings and fire-wood. In short, the palm or

date tree, and the olive, are two of the most excellent and useful

productions of the forest or the field.

The cedar gives us the idea of majesty, stability, durableness,

and incorruptibility. To these two trees, for the most obvious

reasons, are the righteous compared. William Lithgow, who

travelled through the holy land about A.D. 1600, describes the

cedars of Mount Lebanon as "being in number twenty-four, growing

after the manner of oaks, but a great deal taller straighter, and

thicker, and the branches growing so straight, and interlocking,

as though they were kept by art: and yet from the root to the top

they bear no boughs, but grow straight and upwards like to a

palm-tree. Their circle-spread tops do kiss or embrace the lower

clouds, making their grandeur overlook the highest bodies of all

other aspiring trees. The nature of this tree is, that it is

always green, yielding an odoriferous smell, and an excellent kind

of fruit, like unto apples, but of a sweeter taste, and more

wholesome. The roots of some of these cedars are almost destroyed

by the shepherds, who have made fires thereat, and holes where

they sleep; yet nevertheless they flourish green above, in the

tops and branches."-Lithgow's 17 years' Travels, 4to., London,

1640.

Verse 13. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord] I

believe the Chaldee has the true meaning here: "His children shall

be planted in the house of the sanctuary of the Lord, and shall

flourish in the courts of our God." As these trees flourish in

their respective soils and climates, so shall the righteous in the

ordinances of God. I do not think there is any allusion to either

palm-trees or cedars, planted near the tabernacle or temple.

Verse 14. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age] They

shall continue to grow in grace, and be fruitful to the end of

their lives. It is a rare case to find a man in old age full of

faith, love, and spiritual activity.

Verse 15. To show that the Lord is upright] Such persons show

how faithful God is to his promises, how true to his word, how

kind to them who trust in him. He is the Rock, the Fountain,

whence all good comes.

There is no unrighteousness in him.] He does nothing evil,

nothing unwise, nothing unkind. He is both just and merciful.

ANALYSIS OF THE NINETY-SECOND PSALM

I. A general proposition, Ps 92:1: "It is good to give thanks

to the Lord," &c.; which is explained Ps 92:2, 3, and applied

Ps 92:4.

II. A particular narration of such works, in which the goodness

and faithfulness of God do especially consist, viz., the creation

and government of the world, Ps 92:4, 5. And of the last he gives

two instances:-

1. One in wicked men; of their stupidity, Ps 92:6. Then of

their sudden extirpation, Ps 92:7-9.

2. Another in the godly, whose prosperity is great,

Ps 92:10-14, and security certain, Ps 92:15.

I. He begins with a maxim: 1. "It is good," i.e., just,

profitable, pleasant, and commendable, "to give thanks to the

Lord." 2. "And to sing praises (with heart and tongue) to thy

glorious name, O thou Most High."

And both parts he explains. 1. That we give thanks at all times,

morning and evening, in prosperity and in adversity; and in our

praises especially to remember his loving-kindness and

faithfulness. These must be the matter of our thanksgiving: "It is

good to show forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, and thy

faithfulness every night," Ps 92:2; and by all manner of means,

Ps 92:3.

And thus the maxim being proposed and explained, he applies it

to himself, and shows his own practice, and the reason of it: "For

thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work; I will triumph in

the works of thy hands," Ps 92:4.

1. "Thou hast made me glad." He was first delighted and affected

with God's work.

2. And then he exults and triumphs in it. The heart must be

first truly affected with the work of God before a man shall take

any true content or delight in it.

II. He had made mention of the works of God; and now he farther

opens what they are: First, The creation of the universe;

Secondly, His especial providence in ordering the things of this

world, particularly about man.

1. First, he begins with the work of creation, upon which he

enters, not with less than an admiration: "O Lord, how great are

thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep." As if he said, I

cannot be satisfied in the contemplation of them. There is such a

depth in them, that I cannot attain to it, nor comprehend it.

2. And he ends it, not without an indignation, that the wise men

of the world, who yet in his judgment, for their disregard of it,

are but fools, should not consider it. In the creature they look

after nothing but profit and pleasure, in which regard they are

but fools. For this brutish man knows not how great are his works;

this fool understands not how deep are his cogitations.

And that he may illustrate their folly the more, from the work

of creation he comes to God's work of governance of the world; and

shows, that as they who would be and are reputed wise, are

mistaken in the one, so also they are mistaken in the other; for

they think the ungodly, and such as flourish in power and wealth,

happy, and that the righteous men, sometimes oppressed, are

unhappy: and upon these two instances, he insists to the end of

the Psalm. First, he instances the ungodly: When the wicked spring

up-rise on a sudden, (for such a time there is,) as the grass,

that grows insensibly and in a night; and when all the workers of

iniquity do flourish-become very conspicuous, exalted in power and

pride, and abound in wealth; who would not now take them for happy

men? No, saith our prophet, it is not so.

1. This their felicity is the greatest infelicity: It is, "that

they may perish," be destroyed.

2. "That they may perish for ever." Remember the rich man in the

Gospel.

3. And this their destruction is from God, that sits on the

throne, and is immutable in his decrees and ways. They flourish

and are exalted: but it is but for a moment: "But thou, Lord, art

most high for evermore." And thou wilt execute thy decree upon

them.

4. Which the prophet fully opens in the next verse, which the

epizeuxis makes more emphatical: "For, lo, thine enemies, O

Lord, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; and all the workers of

iniquity shall be scattered."

1, Behold, they were green, they flourished: but the change

shall be sudden.

2. They were enemies, thy enemies, workers of iniquity;

therefore cursed with a curse.

3. "They shall perish, they shall be scattered;" they rose, they

flourished as grass, and they shall be scattered as dry grass,

which the wind blows from the face of the earth.

His second instance is the godly, whose happy condition he

demonstrates, 1. In hypothesi, or in himself, Ps 92:10, 11; and,

2. In thesi; in all others that be true members of the mystical

Church of Christ, Ps 92:12-15.

He instanceth in himself, that his condition is not like the

ungodly. He shot not up as the fading grass, but his strength and

power should be as a unicorn.

1. "But my horn shalt thou exalt as the horn of a unicorn;" that

is, my power, and glory, and felicity shall still mount higher.

2. "And I shall be anointed with fresh oil." Anointed to be king

over Israel, by Samuel, with a horn of oil;-by God, with the

gracious oil of his Spirit.

3. And that which adds to my flourishing estate: "My eye shall

see my desire upon my enemies, and my ears shall hear my desire of

the wicked that rise up against me;" which David lived to see and

hear in the ruin of Saul and his house.

And that which the prophet said of himself he now transfers to

all just and righteous men, whom he compares to the palm and

cedar.

1. "The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree." So a good

Christian; the greater weight he carries, the more he flourishes.

2. "He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon Cedar-wood is not

consumed by worms or time; nor the Church by antiquity nor

persecution. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it, nor

any true member of it.

Of which the reason is, because these palms and cedars-these

righteous men, are planted, set by faith, watered by the word and

sacraments, rooted by charity in the Church, which is the house of

the Lord; and therefore they shall flourish-be green and vigorous,

in the courts of our God.

Nay, which is yet more, they shall be full of sap and laden with

fruit.

1. "They shall bring forth fruit in their old age." It shall be

contrary to them, as with other trees. Those grow fruitless, and

bear not when they grow old; these are then most laden with the

fruits of grace.

2. "They shall be fat and flourishing." Other trees, when old,

are hard and dry; these then are fat in juice, and flourish in

good works.

3. And the reason of this vigour, of the continuance of this

radical and vital moisture to old age, is, that they bring forth

fruit, which is specified in the last verse: "That they might show

forth God's faithfulness, praise him for that," as it is in the

second verse. 1. "That they might show that the Lord is

upright,"-just and righteous in himself. 2. "That he is a Rock,"-a

sure, stable foundation to trust to. 3. "And that there is no

unrighteousness in him,"-no injustice; though for a time he suffer

the wicked to flourish, and the just to be under the cross. For in

his good time he will show his justice in rewarding the just, and

punishing the unjust.

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