Praise opens and concludes this instructive Psalm. The
context is dark in frightful displays of the rebellion and ingratitude of
God's people. Bright manifestations of sparing and forgiving grace finally
1-2. "Praise the Lord. O give thanks to the Lord; for
He is good; for His mercy endures forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of
the Lord? who can show forth all His praise?"
By precept and by example we should strive to awaken
songs of thanksgiving. A glorious theme animates our minds. Goodness and
mercy invite attention. This goodness is unsearchable. This mercy swells as
an ocean without shore. Vain, then, are our utmost efforts to lift up
adequate strains. If we possessed all the powers of all the angelic hosts,
and all the tongues of all who ever breathed, and if they were expanded in
one perpetual utterance, they could not measure the due expanse. But the
more we strive the more we shall succeed.
3. "Blessed are those who keep judgment, and he who
does righteousness at all times."
There is no blessedness apart from walking in the fear of
God. Let our feet ever traverse this righteous path.
4-5. "Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that You
bear to Your people; O visit me with Your salvation; that I may see the good
of Your chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I
may glory with Your inheritance."
This aspiration is offspring of heaven. Let us ever look
to God to raise us to this height of blessedness. The terms exhort us to fix
our delighted gaze on the happiness of God's chosen. Salvation is their
property. They realize the pledged enjoyment. But still the blessedness and
glory of this inheritance exceed all thought. God, who gave the heirs of
salvation to His dear Son, and who gave His Son for them, will with Him also
freely give them all things. They are the true inheritors of earth. They
soon shall be the inhabitants of celestial homes, and eternity will not
exhaust their bliss.
6-7. "We have sinned with our fathers, we have
committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. Our fathers understood not Your
wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of Your mercies; but
provoked Him at the sea, even at the Red Sea."
This salvation springs from grace. No merit wins it. We
are poor sinners, even as our fathers were. Look back to the deliverance
from Egypt. All the tokens of love and tender compassion destroyed not the
seeds of iniquity in the favored nation. Marvelously brought through the Red
Sea, they showed proofs that evil still rankled in their hearts.
8-11. "Nevertheless He saved them for His name's sake,
that He might make His mighty power to be known. He rebuked the Red Sea
also, and it was dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the
wilderness. And He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, and
redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their
enemies; there was not one of them left."
Patience still endured. Mercy held back the arm of
vengeance. Support and deliverance still magnified His glorious name. They
were led safely through the depths of the sea. They were rescued from the
cruelty of their enemies, while the returning waters overwhelmed the foes.
Every child of Israel was saved; every child of Egypt died.
12-15. "Then believed they His words; they sang His
praise. They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel; but
lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And He
gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul."
Such lovingkindness for a moment melted them; hymns of
praise resounded. But their goodness was like the morning cloud, as the
early dew it passed away. In the wilderness they murmured, because their
lust for food was not indulged. They impiously tempted God. He granted their
desire, but the food in their mouths was impoverishment in their hearts.
16-18. "They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron
the saint of the Lord. The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered
the company of Abiram. And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame
burned up the wicked."
They treated their appointed leaders with contempt, and
scoffed at their authority. Terrible punishment ensued. The gaping earth
swallowed up the rebels. Devouring flames consumed their substance.
19-22. "They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the
molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox
that eats grass. They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in
Egypt; wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red
At Horeb they dethroned Jehovah, and exalted as their god
the image of a calf. Their hearts relapsed into the idolatry of Egypt. The
mighty wonders which marked their deliverance from that tyrannic sway were
as a forgotten tale. Let us chide our souls to treasure up the memory of all
23. "Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had
not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath,
lest He should destroy them."
God's patience had been tried to the extremest point.
Just vengeance reared its head. But Moses interposed. He sought the Lord. He
humbled himself in dust and ashes, and prayed that mercy might still be
glorified. The prayer of faith is heard, and longer space is given to the
rebellious host. Let us learn in faith to cry for others. Such sympathy is
welcomed in the courts above. God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed
for his friends.
24-27. "Yes, they despised the pleasant land; they
believed not His word; but murmured in their tents, and hearkened not to the
voice of the Lord. Therefore He lifted up His hand against them, to
overthrow them in the wilderness; to overthrow their seed also among the
nations, and to scatter them in the lands."
Reports were brought of the luxuriant beauty of their
future home. But incredulity derided, and haughty scoffs sneered. The
promise which secured this great inheritance was treated as an empty word.
We see an dreadful picture of the terrible evil which by nature depraves
28-31. "They joined themselves also to Baal-Peor, and
ate the sacrifices of the dead. Thus they provoked Him to anger with their
inventions; and the plague broke in upon them. Then Phinehas stood up, and
executed judgment; and so the plague was stayed. And that was counted to him
for righteousness unto all generations forevermore."
The filthy pleasures of idolatry enticed them. They
reveled in guilty scenes of impurity, and feasted on the idol-offerings.
Unblushing iniquity shunned not the light. Phinehas in holy zeal rushed to
vindicate God's honor. He hastened to deal extraordinary punishment. Thus he
gave evidence that faith was the inhabitant of his heart. By this righteous
act he obtained acknowledgment that he was a Spirit-taught believer. Let us
be diligent to give evidence that faith is our living principle.
32-33. "They angered Him also at the waters of strife,
so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes; because they provoked his
spirit, so that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips."
When water failed again their provocation so exceeded
that even the meek spirit of Moses was ruffled. He spoke in petulance, and
for a moment yielded to temptation. Sin in God's most faithful servants is
sin still, and calls for tokens of displeasure. Moses suffered keenly. The
decree went forth that his feet should never tread the longed-for Canaan.
34-39. "They did not destroy the nations, concerning
whom the Lord commanded them; but were mingled among the heathen, and
learned their works. And they served their idols; which were a snare to
them. Yes, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to devils, and
shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with
blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with
their own inventions."
Surely when they rested in all the comforts of their
desired abode their walk would be undeviating obedience. Surely happiness
and love would be the inhabitants of their dwellings. Alas! what is man?
They spared the idolaters whom they were commanded to destroy. They
intermingled with their services, and adopted their abominable vices. They
devoted their own children to accursed devils. The blood of impious
sacrifices stained their hands. No sin appalled them.
40-46. "Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled
against His people, insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He
gave them into the hand of the heathen; and those who hated them ruled over
them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into
subjection under their hand. Many times He delivered them; but they provoked
Him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.
Nevertheless He regarded their affliction when He heard their cry; and He
remembered for them His covenant, and repented according to the multitude of
His mercies. He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them
Extraordinary judgments followed. Invaders subjugated
their land. Oppressed, they cried again, and were delivered only to sin
47-48. "Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from
among the heathen, to give thanks to Your holy name, and to triumph in Your
praise. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting;
and let all the people say, Amen. Praise the Lord."
The result should stimulate us to be more diligent in
prayer and praise. Let all within us cry, Save us, good Lord, and we will
bless Your name. Dangers are always near. Sacred records warn us. Our
experience confirms the truth. It is madness to hope for safety from our own
vigilance or strength. They fall who trust in such unstable ground. Let our
eyes be ever on the Lord, so shall we triumph in His praise.