Psalms 78

* Attention called for. (1-8) The history of Israel. (9-39)

Their settlement in Canaan. (40-55) The mercies of God to Israel

contrasted with their ingratitude. (56-72)1-8 These are called dark and deep sayings, because they are

carefully to be looked into. The law of God was given with a

particular charge to teach it diligently to their children, that

the church may abide for ever. Also, that the providences of

God, both in mercy and in judgment, might encourage them to

conform to the will of God. The works of God much strengthen our

resolution to keep his commandments. Hypocrisy is the high road

to apostacy; those that do not set their hearts right, will not

be stedfast with God. Many parents, by negligence and

wickedness, become murderers of their children. But young

persons, though they are bound to submit in all things lawful,

must not obey sinful orders, or copy sinful examples.

#9-39. Sin dispirits men, and takes away the heart.

Forgetfulness of God's works is the cause of disobedience to his

laws. This narrative relates a struggle between God's goodness

and man's badness. The Lord hears all our murmurings and

distrusts, and is much displeased. Those that will not believe

the power of God's mercy, shall feel the fire of his

indignation. Those cannot be said to trust in God's salvation as

their happiness at last, who can not trust his providence in the

way to it. To all that by faith and prayer, ask, seek, and

knock, these doors of heaven shall at any time be opened; and

our distrust of God is a great aggravation of our sins. He

expressed his resentment of their provocation; not in denying

what they sinfully lusted after, but in granting it to them.

Lust is contented with nothing. Those that indulge their lust,

will never be estranged from it. Those hearts are hard indeed,

that will neither be melted by the mercies of the Lord, nor

broken by his judgments. Those that sin still, must expect to be

in trouble still. And the reason why we live with so little

comfort, and to so little purpose, is, because we do not live by

faith. Under these rebukes they professed repentance, but they

were not sincere, for they were not constant. In Israel's

history we have a picture of our own hearts and lives. God's

patience, and warnings, and mercies, imbolden them to harden

their hearts against his word. And the history of kingdoms is

much the same. Judgments and mercies have been little attended

to, until the measure of their sins has been full. And higher

advantages have not kept churches from declining from the

commandments of God. Even true believers recollect, that for

many a year they abused the kindness of Providence. When they

come to heaven, how will they admire the Lord's patience and

mercy in bringing them to his kingdom!
40-55. Let not those that receive mercy from God, be thereby

made bold to sin, for the mercies they receive will hasten its

punishment; yet let not those who are under Divine rebukes for

sin, be discouraged from repentance. The Holy One of Israel will

do what is most for his own glory, and what is most for their

good. Their forgetting former favours, led them to limit God for

the future. God made his own people to go forth like sheep; and

guided them in the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock, with all

care and tenderness. Thus the true Joshua, even Jesus, brings

his church out of the wilderness; but no earthly Canaan, no

worldly advantages, should make us forget that the church is in

the wilderness while in this world, and that there remaineth a

far more glorious rest for the people of God.
56-72 After the Israelites were settled in Canaan, the children

were like their fathers. God gave them his testimonies, but they

turned back. Presumptuous sins render even Israelites hateful to

God's holiness, and exposed to his justice. Those whom the Lord

forsakes become an easy prey to the destroyer. And sooner or

later, God will disgrace his enemies. He set a good government

over his people; a monarch after his own heart. With good reason

does the psalmist make this finishing, crowning instance of

God's favour to Israel; for David was a type of Christ, the

great and good Shepherd, who was humbled first, and then

exalted; and of whom it was foretold, that he should be filled

with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. On the uprightness

of his heart, and the skilfulness of his hands, all his subjects

may rely; and of the increase of his government and peace there

shall be no end. Every trial of human nature hitherto, confirms

the testimony of Scripture, that the heart is deceitful above

all things, and desperately wicked, and nothing but being

created anew by the Holy Ghost can cure the ungodliness of any
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