V. 1. This Psalm has no title in the Hebrew: but the Septuagint call it ’A Psalm of David;’ and the apostle fully sanctions this testimony, by his manner of quoting it ; " Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, " To-day if ye will hear his voice, &c." " Again he limit" eth a certain day, saying in David," " To-day, after so " long a time, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden "not your hearts." (Notes, 7- 11. Hebrews 3:7-13; Hebrews 4:3-11.) This passage also manifestly shews, that the apostles considered the scriptures of the old Testament as the language of the Holy Spirit, whoever committed that language to writing. The Holy Ghost spake by David. (Notes, Matthew 22:41-46. Mark 12:35-37.) The Psalm appears to have been composed for the use of the Israelites, as they ascended in companies to the sanctuary, or as soon as they entered into the courts of the Lord ; being an introduction to the sacred services there performed, and especially the Psalmody, which had recently been instituted. And it is still retained in the offices of our church for similar purposes. The Psalmist ’ sheweth ’ that God’s service standeth not in dead ceremonies, but ’ chiefly in the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.’ (Note, 1. 7- 15.) Rock of our salvation.] Marg. Ref. d. Notes,Psalms 89:19-37, Psalms 5:2-6. Exodus 17:5-6. Is. 12: 2.
V. 2. (Marg. and Marg. Ref.) ’ Let us ... triumphantly laud the Author of all the good we enjoy, and in whom ’ we may safely confide for ever. Let us approach unto ’ his presence, with thankful hearts, to acknowledge the ’ benefits we have received from him ; and devoutly pro* claim with triumphant hymns, what a joy it is to us, that ’ we may address ourselves unto him.’ Bp.Patrick.
V. 3. Gods.] ’ Even the angels, (who in respect of ’ men are thought as gods,) are nothing in his sight ;’ much less the idols which man’s brain inventeth.’
(Notes,Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6-8 . Psalms 97:3-7. Psalms 138:1. Hebrews 1:5-7.)
V. 4, 5. The recesses of the earth, which man cannot penetrate or investigate, are in the hand of our Creator, and open to his inspection. The word rendered " strength," and in the margin lieighfs, is derived from a root signifying to weary: because men are wearied in ascending the heights of the mountains. ’ The treasures which lie hid in the ’ deep plates of the earth beneath ; the majestick pride and strength of the hills, which tower above and lift up their heads to heaven ; the unnumbered waves of the great and wide sea, which roll in perpetual motion round ’ the world ; the rich and variegated produce of the dry land, crowned with verdure and beauty ; together with every thing that liveth in the waters or on the earth, are all under the government of our God.’ Bp. Home. (Marg. Ref. Note, Psalms 93:3-4.)
V. 6. The former verses were intended to animate the people in joyful praise and thanksgiving : but this seems a call to humble prayer and supplication. Since God made ’ our bodies, as well as our souls, it is meet and right that ’ they should bear their part in his service, and that internal worship should be accompanied and signified by ’ that which is external.’ Bp. Home. Three words are used : " We will prostrate ourselves, we will bow our " heads, we will kneel, &c." (Notes, Genesis 17:1-3. 1 Kings 8:22.) ’ Let us all, with the lowest prostrations devoutly adore his majesty: let us... bow both our ’ bodies and souls, in token of our subjection to him : let ’ us fall on our knees, and submissively acknowledge the ’ duty we owe to the great Lord, who gave us our Being.’ Bp. Patrick. Kneeling is the posture of prayer most commonly mentioned, both in the old Testament, and in the new. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Daniel 6:10-11. Acts 21:1-6.)
V. 7. (Notes, Exodus 19:5-6; Exodus 20:2.) The Creator of the world became the God, or the covenanted Friend, of Israel : and the nation was under special obligations to devote themselves to his worship and service ; being taken peculiar care of by him, and favoured with manifold advantages above all other nations. They were " his people and " the sheep of his pasture."
(Notes, Psalms 23:1-3; Psalms 80:1.) Yet this was only an outward relation and privilege to most of them : the whole company were a type of the true Israel ; and nations professing Christianity are in great measure in a similar situation to that of Israel. Now, in large congregations, some may be supposed to be spiritual worshippers ; and others to be destitute of saving and sanctifying faith, though attending on the means of grace. The former part of the Psalm, therefore, may be considered as an address to the true worshippers, exciting them to alacrity and fervency in their spiritual sacrifices : but the latter part of it, is a warning to the unbelievers, from the example of the Israelites in the days of Moses ; and the apostle has taught us to apply it to the case of professed Christians, and to that of all who hear the gospel. If they ever mean to hear, that is, to believe and obey, the voice of God, let them lose no time, but attend without delay; lest the sentence of exclusion should be past, and the door be for ever shut. ’ He sheweth wherein they are God’s ’ flock, that is, if they hear his voice.’ (Marg. Ref. Notes, 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. Hebrews 3:7-13. Judges 1:5-8.)
His pasture."] ’ From those pastures, O thou good Shepherd, suffer us not to stray, or, if we do stray, bring us speedily back again, by any means, which thou, in thine ’ infinite wisdom, shalt think fit. Wholesome is the discipline, which drives us into the fold, and keeps us there. . . .What follows to the end of the psalm is undoubtedly ’ spoken in the person of God himself, who may be considered, as addressing us in these latter days, by the gospel of his Son.’ Bp Home.
V. 8. Harden, &c. Notes, Exodus 4:21; Exodus 9:12. Is. 6: 9, 10. The original words for " provocation" and " temptation," are Meribah and Massah. (Notes, Exodus 17:7 Numbers 20:10-13.)
V. 9-11. (Notes, Numbers 14:22-23. Matthew 4:5-7. The word translated was " grieved," is rendered by the Septuagint, provoked ; and the apostle has followed that reading, though our version uses the word grieved. Some versions render it, ’ I held them in abhorrence.’ It is certainly a much more indignant word, so to speak, than that used by the apostle, when he says, " Grieve not the " Holy Spirit, &c." (Note, Ephesians 4:30-32:) for he is speaking of the wrong tempers and other failures of true Christians ; but the Psalmist, or rather the Holy Spirit by him, refers to the obstinate unbelief and rebellion of that generation which fell in the wilderness, after all which they had seen and heard of JEHOVAH’S power, majesty, and goodness. " They rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit : " therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and fought " against them." (Notes, Is. 63. 10. Acts 7:51-53.) The root of all this rebellion lay in their hearts; they " erred," or wandered, " in their hearts ; " they were influenced by " an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from " the living God." They were apostates and idolaters : they disliked the holy service of God, and delighted in the sensual mirth and indulgences of idolatry, and in worldly pursuits; they were " carnally-minded, and enmity againsl " God ; " they " said to God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." The Lord therefore passed the irrevocable sentence of exclusion from Canaan, confirmed with an oath : and he set them forth in his word as a warning to all ages and nations ; lest by imitating their example, they should be for ever secluded from that heavenly rest, of which Canaan was a faint shadow (Notes, Exodus 32:1. Numbers 14:1-30. P. O. 26- 45. Notes, Hebrews 4:1-11.)
The Lord, being infinitely powerful, wise, just, merciful, and faithful ; the Creator, Benefactor, Sovereign, and Proprietor of all worlds ; ought to be universally adored, loved, and praised by all his rational creatures ; and gratitude to him should be the joy of every heart. But none of our fallen race cordially render him this reasonable tribute, unless they have known him as, in Christ Jesus, " the Rock of our salvation." This " great God," this " King above all gods," in whose " hand are the deep places of the earth," and the reservoirs of the mighty ocean, and whose is " the strength of the hills " which he has formed, is the Friend, the Father, and Portion of all believers. Their Creator is become their Shepherd : he sought them when lost, and brought them to his fold, and now feeds them, with tenderness and care, as the sheep of his hand : (Notes, Psalms 119:176. Is. 40: 9- 11, Luke 15:3-7 - 1 Peter 2:18-25; 1 Peter 5:2-5:) yea, " he laid down his life for " the sheep." (Notes, Is. 53: 4-6. John 10:10-18. Hebrews 13:20-21 .) How should they then delight in celebrating the praises of their glorious and gracious Benefactor, and in thanking him for his unspeakable mercies! and how gladly should they embrace every opportunity of meeting in his courts, to join their grateful songs of praise with those of their fellow Christians ! When we thus assemble together to worship our God, we should endeavour to express by our deportment, as well as to cultivate in our minds, believing confidence, joyful gratitude, and reverential awe : and, as conscious of our own meanness and unworthiness, and mindful of his infinite majesty and glory, we should " bow down, and kneel before the LORD our " Maker." But we must not imagine, that all, who meet in our religious assemblies, are at present capable of rendering such spiritual worship, or that they partake of such inestimable privileges. In general it is to be feared, they are but a remnant ; like the few believers found in Israel, when as a nation they were excluded from Canaan through unbelief. While therefore the true people of God should excite each other, and ministers should excite them, to rejoice in God and to render him praise ; and they ought to consider his solemn worship, as the chief business of their assembling together ; the rest are to be addressed, in the name and by the authority of God, to hear, and obey his voice, and accept of his salvation. The abundant encouragements of the gospel should be set before them, as well as the awful terrors of the law ; to convince and assure them, that the Lord is still " ready to forgive," and to save all who come to him. But it is a concern, which admits of no delay: death may come before to-morrow, if the sinner will not hear the voice of God to-day ; or he may be consigned to final impenitence, and be " hardened " by the deceitfulness of sin." Yet men in general procrastinate, and " harden their hearts " against present convictions : they do violence to their own consciences, and plunge into those pleasures and pursuits, which banish reflection, and increase their natural aversion to the truths and service of God. Thus is he " grieved " and provoked by their obstinacy; and his patience is wearied out by their contempt of his favour, their disregard of his displeasure, and their unbelieving neglect of his salvation. When this is the case, the Lord " gives them up to their " own hearts’ lusts : " and then they will never be able to enter heaven, any more than the condemned generation of Israel could enter Canaan. Let sinners then take warning by this awful example, and not approach the brink of that precipice, whence these ancient rebels were cast down into destruction. Let them fear giving way to temptation, by presuming upon the patience and mercy of God ; let them be careful not to sin on under the means of grace, and against the conviction of their o.vn consciences: let them be aware of the evil of their own hearts, which leads them to wander from God, and to remain ignorant of his ways, because haters of them : and let them dread giving into prejudices, or infidel objections to the gospel, because they are averse to its salutary restraints; or devising a scheme of religion more suited to their pride and lusts, and less disquieting to their consciences. These are a few of the numerous methods, by which Satan blinds and hardens numbers in our religious assemblies, to their everlasting destruction. Finally, let us all then " fear, lest a * promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us " should seem to come short of it." (P. 0. Hebrews 3:7-19; Hebrews 4:1-11.)