The Church is here exhibited as in the depths of grievous
trouble. But faith reviews the mercies of past days before it bewails
present sufferings. Confidence in God is then professed, and prayer pleads
with fervent zeal.
1, 2, 3. "O God, we have heard it with our own
ears—our ancestors have told us of all you did in other days, in days long
ago: You drove out the pagan nations and gave all the land to our ancestors;
you crushed their enemies, setting our ancestors free. They did not conquer
the land with their swords; it was not their own strength that gave them
victory. It was by your mighty power that they succeeded; it was because you
favored them and smiled on them."
The study of God's dealings with His people sweetly
quickens faith. What strength is gained by pondering the subjugation of the
heathen tribes, the victorious march of Israel's hosts, and their grand
triumphs over all foes! But, did this conquest arise from their own might?
Their own sword was weak to conquer, their own arm was powerless to save.
The might of Jehovah was their prowess, the favor of the Lord was their
prevalence. The Lord fought for them, and they were invincible.
Individual believers should constantly review their
Ebenezers. A marvelous work has been transacted in their souls. Mighty foes
have fought against them. Weak has been their own strength; yet they have
prevailed. It is the Lord who has upheld and strengthened them, and caused
their enemies to flee. Grace begins; grace carries on; grace will
complete the work of deliverance and salvation.
4. "You are my King, O God; command deliverances for
The believer claims aid as a subject of the Lord of
Hosts. You are my King; Your scepter is omnipotence. Your word goes forth
with absolute power. Resistance is vain. Speak, then, one word, and victory
5. "Through You will we push down our enemies; through
Your name will we tread them under who rise up against us."
Who can resist when God comes forth to help? He is a horn
of salvation. Creatures thus armed are terrible in fight; so the believer
advances to sure conquest. Striding onward in the name of the Lord, he
tramples down opposing enemies. Thus aided he will bruise Satan under his
6, 7, 8. "I do not trust my bow; I do not count on my
sword to save me. It is you who gives us victory over our enemies; it is you
who humbles those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and
constantly praise your name.
When the Holy Spirit reveals to us our own weakness, and
nothingness, and sinfulness, all self-confidence is utterly destroyed; our
best strength is feebleness. To trust in SELF is to lean on a rotten plank.
But still we are invincible, and utter confusion must
overwhelm all adversaries. Let, then, every moment of each day testify our
unwavering confidence, and our happy assurance that heavenly protection will
never fail. Let praise on earth begin, even the praise which shall never
9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. "But You have cast off, and put
us to shame; and go not forth with our armies. You make us to turn back from
the enemy; and those who hate us spoil for themselves. You have given us
like sheep appointed for food; and have scattered us among the heathen. You
sell Your people for nothing, and do not increase Your wealth by their
price. You make us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to
those who are round about us. You make us a byword among the heathen, a
shaking of the head among the people."
In varied and most graphic terms the sufferings of the
godly are here depicted. Trouble is a needful path. The discipline corrects
many budding evils, lops off the growths of pride, self-confidence, and
self-righteousness, leads to the healthy valley of humiliation, and fits for
the inheritance of the saints in light. Hence we must, through much
tribulation, enter into the kingdom of heaven.
In the furnace of these trials the mourner is prone to
write bitter things against himself, and to draw fears of God's desertion.
But let patience have its perfect work; our fathers in the faith have
trodden this path before us. Observe the great multitude, which no man can
number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, who stand
before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms
in their hands. These are those who came out of great tribulation, and have
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Good Lord,
purge us, and we shall be clean; wash us, and we shall be whiter than snow.
15, 16. "My confusion is continually before me, and
the shame of my face has covered me, for the voice of him that reproaches
and blasphemes; by reason of the enemy and avenger."
Enmity is placed between the diverse children of light
and darkness. The ungodly vent their hate in torrents of reproach. These
shafts inflict most grievous wounds. The downcast look, the heaving breast,
bear testimony to the inward pain.
17, 18, 19. "All this has happened despite our loyalty
to you. We have not violated your covenant. Our hearts have not deserted
you. We have not strayed from your path. Yet you have crushed us in the
desert. You have covered us with darkness and death."
Faith may be sorely tried, but still its constancy
remains. The tree yet lives, though wintry blasts disrobe it. In all
distress the mind adheres to God. The pledged allegiance is not broken; and
the vows of love and service are most diligently kept. The heart continues
its covenanted affections, and the feet turn not from the narrow way of
life. There is no faltering even in the extremity of misery. The seed of the
old serpent will not relax in cruelty and venom, and death in many shapes
may threaten, yet Christian principles will triumph. Prison-cells have
sounded with the voice of trust, and martyrs at the stake have smiled amid
20, 21. "If we have forgotten the name of our God, or
stretched out our hands to a strange god; shall not God search this out? for
He knows the secrets of the heart."
The heart is kept steadfast, when persecution is most
hot, by the reflection that God's eye watches each movement. "How shall I do
this great wickedness and sin against God?" is a sure check when tempted to
seek help from other than our God. "You, God, see me" is a thought which
braces the loins and brings needful strength.
22. "Yes, for Your sake are we killed all the day
long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter."
Persecution and oppression are the heritage of the Lord's
followers in every age. Those who hate the Lord will not have kindlier
feelings towards His devoted flock. Since the day when righteous Abel fell
by his brother's hand, the same persecuting spirit has not ceased its cruel
work. Alas! what scenes of malignant enmity has this earth witnessed; what
cries of misery have ascended from the tortured in gloomy dungeons and in
open martyrdom! If the same opportunities were given today, the same
cruelties would be re-enacted.
Paul, writing by the Spirit's guidance, warns that the
portrait which this verse exhibits will represent the persecuted flock until
the end of time. But encouragement is added. Vain the sword, the stake, the
prison, and all the train of multitudinous barbarities. "In all these things
we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." The inward joy
exceeds all outward pain. While the flesh quivers, the spirit sings, None
but Jesus." A chariot of agony conveys the happy sufferers to fullness of
joy and pleasures at God's right hand forevermore.
23, 24, 25, 26. "Awake, why do You sleep, O Lord?
arise, cast us not off forever. Why do You hide Your face, and forget our
affliction and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our
belly cleaves to the earth. Arise for our help, and redeem us, for Your
The reality of the misery is not denied. Appearances seem
to justify the apprehension that God's eye no longer rests on the oppressed.
But still faith lives, and grows bolder in wrestling importunity. It will
not let God go. Its cries are redoubled for early support. No merit is
pleaded—no, all unworthiness is allowed. Deliverance is implored, but only
on the ground that God is rich in mercy. In the lowest depths faith looks up
to God, as the Father of all mercies, as delighting in mercy, whose mercy
endures forever, and the cry ascends, "Send help according to the multitude
of Your tender mercies." Happy are those who boldly urge the prevailing
plea, "Redeem us for Your mercies' sake."