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Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 22
To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, a Psalm of David. The only thing observable in the title of this psalm is the sense of the words "Aijeleth Shahar", left untranslated; which, according to some of the Jewish (g) interpreters, is the name of a musical instrument; to which our version inclines; and a learned Jew (h) says, it is the instrument which the mourning women used on account of distress which was sudden, not known till it came, as a man does not think of the morning till he sees it. "Aijeleth" with him has the signification of mourning, as "Eli" in Joel 1:8; and "Shahar", as in Isaiah 47:11; so and are used in the Misnah (i) for a mourning woman; and with others it is the beginning of a song to the tune of which the psalm was set (k) but I rather think the words express the subject matter of the psalm, and that they may be rendered, concerning "Aijeleth Shahar"; which signify, either according to the Chaldee paraphrase, "the daily morning sacrifice"; or, as some Jewish writers (l) observe, the "morning star"; or, according to the Septuagint, "the morning help" (m); or rather "the morning hind"; or "hind of the morning": but who should be designed hereby is the question. The Jews would have any rather than the Messiah; some say Esther (n), who so seasonably and readily appeared for the Jews in distress, and was the means of their deliverance; but there is not one word in the psalm that agrees with her; and there are some things which were manifestly spoken of a man, and not a woman, Psalm 22:8; others say David (o), when he fled from Saul, or, as others, from Absalom: but the disjointing the bones of this person, the piercing his hands and feet, parting his garments, and casting lots on his vesture, mentioned in Psalm 22:14; were never fulfilled in him. Others (p) would have the congregation of Israel in captivity intended; but it is plain that a single person is spoken of throughout; and he is manifestly distinguished from others, from his brethren, from the congregation, from the seed of Jacob and Israel, Psalm 22:22; and, indeed, no other than the Messiah can be meant: and of this there ought to be no doubt with Christians, when Psalm 22:1 is compared with Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:8 with Matthew 27:43; Psalm 22:18 with Matthew 27:35; Psalm 22:22 with Hebrews 2:12; and the Jews themselves sometimes say, that by "Aijeleth Shahar" is meant the Shechinah (q), or the divine Majesty; and in what way soever these words are rendered, they agree with Christ: he is the antitype of "the daily morning sacrifice", the Lamb of God, who continually takes away the sin of the world; and very fitly is he so called in the title of a psalm which speaks so much of his sufferings and death, which are a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of his people; he is "the bright and morning star", Revelation 22:16; the dayspring from on high, the sun of righteousness, and light of the world: he had "morning help" in his very infancy, when his life was sought for by Herod; and had early and seasonable help and assistance in the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation, and early in the morning was he raised from the dead, and had glory given him: but as the words are better rendered "the morning hind", this suits with Christ, who is frequently compared to a roe or a young hart, Sol 2:9; and he may be compared to a "hind" for its lovingness to its mate and young, Proverbs 5:19; the love of Christ to his church and people being very strong and affectionate, and passing knowledge; and also for its loveliness and goodliness, Genesis 49:21; Christ being exceeding amiable and lovely, and fairer than the children of men; likewise for its gentleness and harmlessness, Christ being meek and lowly, holy and harmless; and for its antipathy to serpents, there being an enmity between Christ, the seed of the woman, and the serpent and his seed; for its being hunted by dogs, as Christ was by Herod, by the Scribes and Pharisees, by Judas, and the band of soldiers; see Psalm 22:16; for its being fit for food, Deuteronomy 14:5; and as it is said to be the fitter for being hunted, Christ's flesh being meat indeed, and the more suitable to faith, as being sacrificed for us; and for its long life it is said to have, Christ, though once dead, being alive again, and living for evermore; to which may be added its great swiftness, expressive of the readiness of Christ to comply with his Father's proposals and do his will; to come into this world in the fulness of time, and set about the work he came to do; to deliver up himself into the hands of his enemies, and lay down his life for his people; and of his haste to help them in distress, and visit them with his gracious presence, and to appear a second time to them unto salvation. He may be called the hind of "the morning", looking lovely and beautiful as the morning, and swift and cheerful as the hind when it rises from its rest, and runs its course; or because of his being hunted in the morning of his infancy by Herod; or because it was early in the morning the chief priests consulted to take away his life; and as early also he rose from the dead, when God made his feet like hinds feet, and set him on his high places, Psalm 18:33. The ancient Christian writers generally understood it of Christ wholly. Justin Martyr (r) says, the whole psalm is spoken of Christ; and Tertullian observes (s), that it contains the whole passion, or all the sufferings of Christ. The late Mons. Fourmont (t), the elder, professor of the Oriental languages in the university of Paris, has a very singular notion, that this psalm was written by Jeremiah, when he was drawn up from the dungeon, and is a history of his life and sufferings, in which he was a type of Christ.
(g) Jarchi, Kimchi, & Abendana in loc. (h) Leo Mutinens. Shilte Hagibborim, fol. 5. 1.((i) Misn. Celim, c. 15. 6. & 16. 7. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (k) Aben Ezra in loc. (l) Vide Kimchium & Abendauam in loc. (m) So Menachem in Jarchi, and others in Kimchi & Abendana in loc. (n) R. R. in Jarchi in loc. (o) In Kimchi in loc. (p) Kimchi & Ben Melech in loc. (q) Zohar in Lev. fol. 5. 4. & Imre Binah in ib. (r) Dialog cum Tryphone, p. 325. (s) Adv. Judaeos, c. 10. (t) In hunc Psalm. M. S. penes me, fol. 8. 9.
1‹‹To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.›› My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
My God, my God,.... God is the God of Christ as he is man; he prepared a body for him, an human nature; anointed it with the oil of gladness; supported it under all its sorrows and sufferings, and at last exalted it at his own right hand:, and Christ behaved towards him as his covenant God; prayed to him, believed in him, loved him, and was obedient to him as such; and here expresses his faith of interest in him, when he hid his face from him, on account of which he expostulates with him thus, "why hast thou forsaken me?" which is to be understood, not as if the hypostatical or personal union of the divine and human natures were dissolved, or that the one was now separated from the other: for the fulness of the Godhead still dwelt bodily in him; nor that he ceased to be the object of the Father's love; for so he was in the midst of all his sufferings, yea, his Father loved him because he laid down his life for the sheep; nor that the principle of joy and comfort was lost in him, only the act and sense of it; he was now deprived of the gracious presence of God, of the manifestations of his love to his human soul, and had a sense of divine wrath, not for his own sins, but for the sins of his people, and was for a while destitute of help and comfort; all which were necessary in order to make satisfaction for sin: for as he had the sins of his people imputed to him, he must bear the whole punishment of them, which is twofold the punishment of loss and the punishment of sense; the former lies in a deprivation of the divine presence, and the latter in a sense of divine wrath, and both Christ sustained as the surety of his people. This expostulation is made not as ignorant of the reason of it; he knew that as he was wounded and bruised for the sins of his people, he was deserted on the same account; nor as impatient, for he was a mirror of patience in all his sufferings; and much less as in despair; for, in these very words, he strongly expresses and repeats his faith of interest in God; see Psalm 22:8; and also Isaiah 50:6. But this is done to set forth the greatness and bitterness of his sufferings; that not only men hid their faces from him, and the sun in the firmament withdrew its light and heat from him, but, what was most grievous of all, his God departed from him. From hence it appears that he was truly man, had an human soul, and endured sorrows and sufferings in it; and this may be of use to his members, to expect the hidings of God's face, though on another account; and to teach them to wait patiently for him, and to trust in the Lord, and stay themselves upon their God, even while they walk in darkness and see no light;
why art thou so far from helping me? or from my salvation; from saving and delivering him out of his sorrows and sufferings? not that he despaired of help; he firmly believed he should have it, and accordingly had it: but he expostulates about the deferring of it. He adds,
and from the words of my roaring? which expresses the vehemency of his spirit in crying to God, the exceeding greatness of his sorrows, and his excruciating pains and sufferings: this is what the apostle means by his "strong crying and tears", Hebrews 5:7; or "the words of my roaring are far from my salvation"; there is a great space or interval between the one and the other, as Gussetius (u) observes.
(u) Comment. Ebr. p. 788.
2O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
O my God, I cry in the daytime,.... In the time of his suffering on the cross, which was in the daytime:
but thou hearest me not; and yet he was always heard, John 11:41; though he was not saved from dying, yet he was quickly delivered from the power of death, and so was heard in that he feared, Hebrews 5:7;
and in the night season: in the night in which he was in the garden, sorrowing and praying, the night in which he was betrayed and was apprehended; and though the natural desires of his human soul were not heard and answered, that the cup might pass from him, yet his prayer in submission to the will of God was: moreover, the daytime and night season may design the incessant and continual prayer of Christ; he prayed always, night and day:
and am not silent; but continue to pray, though as yet seemingly not heard and answered; or there is "no silence to me" (w); that is, no rest from sorrow and pain; or "no likeness to me" (x), there are none like me, no sorrow like my sorrow, as in Lamentations 1:12.
(w) "non est silentium mihi", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; "intermissio", Cocceius; "quies", Gejerus; "cessatio, quies, aut silentium", Michaelis. (x) "Non est mihi similitudo", Gussetius, p. 193.
3But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
But thou art holy,.... Which may be considered either as an argument with his God, why he should hear and answer him, since he is holy, just, and faithful; he has promised, when any call upon him in a day of trouble, he will hear and answer them, and will be glorified by them; this Christ did, and therefore pleads his faithfulness to his promise: or rather a reason quieting him under divine desertion, and a sense of divine wrath, that God was righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works; and that whereas he was the surety of his people, and had all their sins on him, it was perfectly agreeable to the holiness and justice of God to treat him in the manner he did; yea, it was done to declare his righteousness, that he might appear to be just, while he is the justifier of him that believes in him;
O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel; either the place where Israel offered the sacrifices of praise to God, the tabernacle or temple, the house of prayer and praise in which Jehovah dwelt: or the true Israel of God praising him, who are formed for himself, and called by his grace to show forth his praises; among whom he takes up his residence: or else the praises themselves; and so the phrase denotes God's gracious acceptance of them, and well pleasedness in them, signified by his inhabiting of them, and the frequent and constant ascription of them to him: and perhaps respect may be had chiefly to the praises of his people for providing such a Saviour for them, settling him in the fulness of time, and not sparing him, but delivering him up into the hands of justice and death for them; and for giving all things freely with him.
4Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
Our fathers trusted in thee,.... By whom are meant Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from whom our Lord descended; and the people of Israel when in Egypt, in the times of the judges, and in all ages before the coming of Christ, of whom, as concerning the flesh, or as to his human nature, Christ came, Romans 9:5; these, as they were sojourners, and went from place to place, especially the patriarchs, and were often in trouble and distress, when they called upon the Lord, looked to him, and put their trust and confidence in him; not in themselves, their own wisdom, riches, and strength, nor in others, in any mere creature, nor in any outward thing, or arm of flesh, but in the Lord Jehovah, in whom is everlasting strength; they believed in the power of God, that he was able to help and deliver them, and they had faith in him that he would; they depended upon his word and promise, and were persuaded he would never suffer his faithfulness to fail; they committed themselves to the Lord, and stayed themselves upon him;
they trusted; this is repeated not only for the sake of emphasis, pointing out something remarkable and commendable, and for the greater certainty of it, more strongly confirming it; or to observe the many that put their trust in the Lord, the numerous instances of confidence in him; but also to denote the constancy and continuance of their faith, they trusted in the Lord at all times;
and thou didst deliver them; out of the hands of all their enemies, and out of all their sorrows and afflictions; instances of which we have in the patriarchs, and in the people of Israel when brought out of Egypt, and through the Red sea and wilderness, and in the times of the judges, when they were distressed by their neighbours, and God sent them a deliverer time after time.
5They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered,.... As the Israelites did in Egyptian bondage, and as they in later times did when in distress; see Exodus 2:23; &c. The crying is to be understood of prayer to God, and sometimes designs mental prayer, sighing, and groaning, which cannot be uttered, when no voice is heard, as in Moses, Exodus 14:15; but oftener vocal prayer, put up in times of distress, and denotes the vehemency of trouble, and eagerness of desire to be heard and relieved; and this cry was from faith, it followed upon and was accompanied with trusting in the Lord; it was the prayer of faith, which is effectual and availeth much, and issued in deliverance;
they trusted in thee, and were not confounded: or ashamed; neither of the object of their trust, the living God, as those who trust in graven images; so Moab was ashamed of Chemosh, Jeremiah 48:13; nor of their hope and trust in him, it being such as makes not ashamed, Psalm 119:116, Romans 5:5; nor of the consequences of it; When men trust in anything and it fails them, and they have not what they expect by it, they are filled with shame and confusion, Isaiah 30:2; but they that trust in the Lord are never confounded, or made ashamed; their expectations do not perish: now Christ mentions this case of his ancestors as a reason of the praises of Israel, which they offered up to God for deliverances, and which he inhabited, Psalm 22:3; as also by way of encouragement to himself in his present circumstances, that though the Lord was at a distance from him, and seemed not to regard him and his cries, yet that he would deliver him; and likewise as an argument with God that he would do so, since it had been his wonted way and method with his fathers before; moreover he may take notice of it in order to represent his own forlorn, uncomfortable, and deplorable condition, which was abundantly worse than theirs, and the reverse of it, as it seemed at present.
6But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
But I am a worm, and no man,.... Christ calls himself a worm, not because of his original, for he was not of the earth earthy, but was the Lord from heaven; nor because of his human nature, man being a worm, and the Son of Man such, Job 25:6; and because of his meanness and low estate in that nature, in his humiliation; nor to express his humility, and the mean thoughts he had of himself, as David, his type, calls himself a dead dog, and a flea, 1 Samuel 24:14; but on account of the opinion that men of the world had of him; so Jacob is called "a worm", Isaiah 41:14; not only because mean in his own eyes, but contemptible in the eyes of others. The Jews esteemed Christ as a worm, and treated him as such; he was loathsome to them and hated by them; everyone trampled upon him and trod him under foot as men do worms; such a phrase is used of him in Hebrews 10:29; there is an agreement in some things between the worm and Christ in his state of humiliation; as in its uncomeliness and disagreeable appearance; so in Christ the Jews could discern no form nor comeliness wherefore he should be desired; and in its weakness, the worm being an impotent, unarmed, and defenceless creatures, hence the Chaldee paraphrase renders it here "a weak worm"; and though Christ is the mighty God, and is also the Son of Man whom God made strong for himself, yet mere was a weakness in his human nature and he was crucified through it, 2 Corinthians 13:4; and it has been observed by some, that the word here used signifies the scarlet worm, or the worm that is in the grain or berry with which scarlet is dyed; and like, is scarlet worm did our Lord look, when by way of mockery be was clothed with a scarlet robe; and especially when he appeared in his dyed garments, and was red in his apparel, as one that treadeth in the wine fat; when his body was covered with blood when he hung upon the cross, which was shed to make crimson and scarlet sins as white as wool. When Christ says he was "no man", his meaning is, not that he was not truly and really man, for he assumed a true body and a reasonable soul; he partook of the same flesh and blood with his children, and was in all things made like unto his brethren, excepting sin; but that he was a man of no figure, he bore no office, and had no title of honour; he was not a Rabbi, nor a member of the Jewish sanhedrim; he had no share of government, either in the civil or ecclesiastic state; he was a carpenter's son, and a carpenter; nor was he treated as a man, but in the most inhuman manner; he was despised and rejected of men, he was called a madman, and said to have a devil;
a reproach of men; he was reproached by men, as if he had been the worst of men; the reproaches of God and of his people all fell on him, insomuch that his heart was broken with them; see Psalm 69:7; and it was reckoned a reproach to men to be seen in his company, or to be thought to belong to him, and be a disciple of his; hence some, who believed he was the Messiah, yet would not confess him, because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God, John 12:42;
and despised of the people; rejected with contempt as the Messiah, refused with scorn as the stone of Israel, disallowed of men, and set at nought by them; by "the people" are meant the people of the Jews, his own people and nation; which contempt of him they signified both by gestures and words, as in the following verses.
(When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. (x) What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might "bring many sons unto glory" (Hebrews 2:10)! He died for us, that we might live through him! Psalm 22:6 describes such a worm and gives us this picture of Christ. (cf. Isaiah 1:18) Editor.)
(x) Dr. Henry Morris, "Biblical Basis for Modern Science", p. 73. Baker Book House, 1985.
7All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
All they that see me laugh me to scorn,.... To the afflicted pity should be shown; but instead or pitying him in his distresses they laughed at him; this must be understood of the soldiers when they had him in Pilate's hall, and of the Jews in general when he hung upon the cross; some particular persons must be excepted, as John the beloved disciple, the mother of our Lord, Mary Magdalene, and some other women, who stood afar off beholding him;
they shoot out the lip; or "open with the lip" (y); they made mouths at him, they put out their lips, or gaped upon him with their mouths, and in a way of sport and pastime made wide mouths and drew out their tongues, as in Job 16:10;
they shake the head, saying; in a way of scorn and derision, as in Lamentations 2:15. This was fulfilled in the Jews, Matthew 27:39.
(y) "hiatum fecerunt labiis suis", Grotius; "they make a mow with their lip", Ainsworth.
Psalm 22:7.(z) Sota, c. 9. sect. 15.
8He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
He trusted on the Lord, that he would deliver him,.... Not that they spoke in a deriding way of the object of his trust, for, as impious as they were, this they did not do; but of his trust in the Lord, which they looked upon to be a false one, as would appear by his not being delivered, as he trusted; but his confidence was a well grounded one, though jeered at by these men, and he was delivered in the Lord's own time and way from all his enemies, and out of all his troubles;
let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him; this is another ironical sarcastic flout, not at God, but at Christ, and at his profession of trust in God, his claim of interest in his favour, and of relation to him as being the Son of his love, in whom he was well pleased; he always was the delight of his Father; he expressed his well pleasedness in him at his baptism, and transfiguration on the mount; he took pleasure in him while he was suffering and dying in the room and stead of his people; and he delivered him, raised him from the dead, and brought him into a large place, because he delighted in him, Psalm 18:19; These very words were said by the Jews concerning Christ, as he hung upon the cross, Matthew 27:43.
9But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb,.... The Papists affirm, that there was something miraculous in the manner of Christ's coming into the world, as well as in his conception; that his conception of a virgin was miraculous is certain, being entirely owing to the wonderful and mysterious overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and which was necessary to preserve his human nature from the contagion of sin, common to all that descend from Adam by ordinary generation; that so that individual of human nature might be proper to be united to the Son of God, and that it might be a fit sacrifice for the sins of men; but otherwise in all other things, sin only excepted, he was made like unto us; and it is a clear case, that his mother bore him the usual time, and went with him her full time of nine months, as women commonly do; see Luke 1:56; and it is as evident that he was born and brought forth in the same manner other infants are, seeing he was presented, to the Lord in the temple, and the offering was brought for him according to the law respecting the male that opens the womb, Luke 2:22; and the phrase that is here used is expressive of the common providence of God which attends such an event, every man being as it were midwifed into the world by God himself; see Job 10:18; though there was, no doubt, a peculiar providence which attended the birth of our Lord, and makes this expression more peculiarly applicable to him; since his mother Mary, when her full time was come, was at a distance from the place of her residence, was in an inn, and in a stable there, there being no room for her in the inn, and so very probably had no women about her to assist her, nor any midwife with her; and there was the more visible appearance of the hand of God in this affair, who might truly be said to take him out of the womb:
thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts; which may be understood of the expectation and hope, common to infants, which have not the use of reason, with all creatures, whose eyes wait upon the Lord, and he gives them their meat in due season; and here may regard the sudden and suitable provision of milk in the mother's breast, to which there is in the infant a natural desire, and an hope and expectation of. The words may be rendered, as they are by some, "thou didst keep me in safety", or make me safe and secure (z), when I was "upon my mother's breast": this was verified in Christ at the time Herod sought to take away his life; he was then in his mother's arms, and sucked at her breast; when the Lord in a dream acquainted Joseph with Herod's design, and directed him to flee with the young child and his mother into Egypt, where they were kept in safety till the death of Herod. This sense of the words frees them from a difficulty, how the grace of hope, or of faith and confidence, can, in a proper sense, be exercised in the infant state; for though the principle of grace may be implanted so early, yet how it should be exercised when there is not the due use of reason is not easy to conceive; if, therefore, the words are taken in this sense, the meaning must be, that he was caused to hope as soon as he was capable of it, which is sometimes the design of such a phrase; see Job 31:18; unless we suppose something extraordinary in Christ's human nature, which some interpreters are not willing to allow, because he was in all things like unto us excepting sin; but I see not, that seeing the human nature was an extraordinary one, was perfectly holy from the first of it, the grace of God was upon it as soon as born, and it was anointed with the Holy Ghost above its fellows, why it may not be thought to exercise grace in an extraordinary manner, so early as is here expressed, literally understood.
(z) "tu me tutum fecisti", Cocceius; so Michaelis.
10I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
I was cast upon thee from the womb,.... Either by himself, trusting in God, hoping in him, and casting all the care of himself upon him; or by his parents, who knew the danger he was exposed to, and what schemes were laid to take away his life; and therefore did, in the use of all means they were directed to, commit him to the care and protection of God: the sense is, that the care of him was committed to God so early; and he took the care of him and gave full proof of it:
thou art my God from my mother's belly: God was his covenant God from everlasting, as he loved his human nature, chose it to the grace of union, and gave it a covenant subsistence; but he showed himself to be his God in time, and that very early, calling him from the womb, and making mention of his name from his mother's belly, and preserving him from danger in his infancy; and it was his covenant interest in God, which, though mentioned last, was the foundation of all his providential care of him and goodness to him. Now all these early appearances of the power and providence of God, on the behalf of Christ as man, are spoken of in opposition to the scoffs and flouts of his enemies about his trust in God, and deliverance by him, and to encourage his faith and confidence in him; as well as are so many reasons and arguments with God yet to be with him, help and assist him, as follows.
11Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
Be not far from me,.... Who had been so near unto him, as to take him out of the womb, and to take the care of him ever since; this is to be understood not with respect to the omnipresence of God, who is everywhere, and is not far from any of us; but of his presence, which was now withdrawn from Christ, and he was filled with a sense of divine wrath, and with sorrow and distress; and also of his powerful and assisting presence which he had promised, and Christ expected, and believed he should have, as he had: the reasons for it follow:
for trouble is near; Satan was marching towards him with his principalities and powers, to attack him in the garden and on the cross; Judas, one of his own disciples, was at hand to betray him; a multitude with swords and staves were about to seize him; the sins and chastisement of his people were just going to be laid upon him; the sword of justice was awaked against him, ready to give the blow; the hour of death was near, he was brought to the dust of it, as in Psalm 22:15. A second reason is given,
for there is none to help; none among his disciples: one of them was to betray him, another to deny him, and all to forsake him and flee from him, as they did; nor any among the angels in heaven; for though they ministered to him in the wilderness, and strengthened him in the garden, there were none near him on the cross, that it might be manifest that salvation was wrought out alone by him, Isaiah 63:5; and, indeed, if any of these had been willing to have helped him, it was not in their power to do it, none but God could; and therefore he applies to him, who had promised and was as good as his word, Isaiah 49:8.
12Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
Many bulls have compassed me,.... By whom are meant the chief priests, elders, Scribes, and Pharisees, among the Jews, and Herod and Pontius Pilate among the Gentiles, comparable to bulls for their fierceness, rage, and fury against Christ, Psalm 2:1; and for their pushing at him with their horns of power and authority, and for their trampling him under their feet, his person and offices; these compassed him about at his apprehension, arraignment, trial, and condemnation; and there were many of them to one child, Jesus:
strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round; Bashan was a very fruitful country, in which cattle of various sorts, and bulls among the rest, were fed and fattened; see Deuteronomy 32:14; bulls are noted for their strength in other writers (a). Hence great men, who abounded in riches and power, and used them to the oppression of the poor, are compared to the kine of Bashan, Amos 4:1; and a very fit name this was for the kings and princes of the earth; for Caiaphas, Annas, and the chief priests, that lived upon the fat of the land, who beset Christ around, and employed all their power and policy to take him and bring him to death; nor is it unusual with Heathen writers (b) to compare great personages to bulls.
(a) "Fortes tauri", Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. v. 65. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 9. Fab. 1.((b) Homer. Iliad. 2. v. 48. Horat. Satyr. l. 1. Satyr. 3. v. 110.
13They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
They gaped upon me with their mouths,.... Either by way of derision and contempt, Job 16:10; or belching out blasphemy against him, or rather, with the greatest vehemency, crying out "Crucify him, crucify him", Luke 23:21; and this they did
as a ravening and roaring lion, when it has got its prey and rejoices, Amos 3:4; and being in such hands, and encompassed about with such enemies, as Christ was in the garden, in the high priest's hall, and in Pilate's judgment hall, is a third reason or argument used by him with God his Father, to be near to him and not far from him.
14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
I am poured out like water,.... This may refer to Christ's sweat in the garden, when through his agony or conflict with Satan, and his vehemency in prayer, and the pressure on his mind, in a view of his people's sins, and the wrath of God for, them, and the accursed death he was about to undergo on that account, sweat in great abundance came from all parts of his body, and not only stood in large drops, but fell to the ground like great drops of blood; so that his body was all covered with water, or rather seemed to be dissolving into water, or else to the quantity of tears he shed both there and elsewhere; his sorrow was great even unto death, which vented itself in floods of tears; his prayers were offered up with strong crying and tears; his head was, as Jeremiah wished his might be, as waters, and his eyes a fountain of tears, yea, his whole body seemed to be bathed with them: or else to the shedding of his blood, and the pouring out his soul unto death for his people, which was voluntarily done by himself, or by his enemies; which they shed like water, and made no account of it, Psalm 79:3. Some have thought this respects the opinion some had of him, even some of his own disciples, when he was dead; all their hopes of his being their Redeemer and Saviour being gone, he was as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up; see 2 Samuel 14:14; but rather the phrase intends his being quite dispirited, his heart failing, his soul sorrowful unto death, his hands feeble, his knees weak like water, and he just ready to faint and die; see Joshua 7:5, Ezekiel 7:17;
and all my bones are out of joint; not through the stretching of his body on the cross, which seems to be designed in Psalm 22:17; but as it is with persons in a panic, their joints seem to be loosed, and their bones parting asunder, their legs tremble, no member can perform its office, but as if everyone was dislocated and out of its place; see Psalm 6:2;
my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels; as wax melts before the fire, so did the heart of Christ at the wrath and fury of God, which was poured forth like fire upon him; and which he had a sense of, when in the garden and on the cross, bearing the sins of his people, and sustaining the punishment due unto them for it was not because of his enemies, nor merely at the presence of God, and his righteous judgments, which is sometimes the case; see 2 Samuel 17:10; but at the apprehension of divine wrath, and feeling the same, as the surety of his people; and what an idea does this give of the wrath of God! for if the heart of Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, melted at it, what heart can endure, or hands be strong, when God deals with them in his wrath? Ezekiel 22:14.
15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,.... The radical moisture of his body was dried up through his loss of blood and spirits, and through the violent fever upon him, brought on him by his being hurried from court to court; and which generally attends persons under a panic, in consternation and fear of danger and death, and at crucifixion; or this was occasioned by the inward sorrow and distress of his mind, which affected his body and dried his bones, as a broken spirit is said to do, Proverbs 17:22; and chiefly it was brought upon him through the sense he had the wrath of God, which like fire dried up his strength, just as a potsherd burnt in a furnace; which expresses his dolorous sufferings, which were typified by the passover lamb being roasted with fire, and the manna being baked in pans;
and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; so that he could not, or rather would not, speak; this phrase sometimes signifying silence, Job 29:10, Ezekiel 3:26. Thus Christ answered not a word to the charges of the false witnesses before the high priest, nor to the accusations of the chief priests and elders before Pilate; nor did he open his mouth, when he was led to be crucified, neither against the law and justice of God, nor against his people for whom he suffered, nor against his enemies who used him cruelly; when he was reviled he reviled not again; but rather this was occasioned by thirst, through the violent fever that was upon him; see Lamentations 4:4; Hence, when he hung upon the cross, he said, "I thirst", John 19:28;
and thou hast brought me into the dust of death; meaning either death itself, which brings to the dust, and which is signified in this psalm by going down to it, Psalm 22:29; or the grave, where the body crumbles into dust, and where it is covered with dust, and therefore is said to sleep in the dust of the earth, Daniel 12:2; and accordingly the Targum renders it here, "thou hast shut me up in the house of the grave": now Christ both died and was laid in the grave, though he did not lie there so long as to corrupt and decompose, yet he might be truly said to be laid in the dust: and this is attributed to God, to his counsel, disposal, and Providence; and even whatever was done to Christ antecedent to his death, and which led on to it, were what God's hand and counsel had determined to be done; and though it was with wicked hands the Jews took Christ and used him in the manner after related, and crucified and slew him, he was delivered to them by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; and by these he was delivered into the hands of justice, and brought to death itself, Acts 2:23.
16For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
For dogs have compassed me,.... By whom are meant wicked men, as the following clause shows; and so the Chaldee paraphrase renders it, "the wicked who are like to many dogs"; and to these such are often compared in Scripture, Matthew 7:6; and it may be the Roman soldiers, who were Gentiles, may be chiefly intended, whom the Jews used to call dogs, Matthew 15:26; these assembled together in Pilate's hall and surrounded Christ, and made sport with him; to these were committed the execution of him, they crucified him, and sat around him watching him while on the cross, as they also did when in the grave: some have thought the dregs of the Jewish people are designed, the common people, such as Job says he would not set with the dogs of his flock, Job 30:1; who encompassed Christ on the cross, wagging their heads at him; though I see not but that all of them, even the chief among them, the high priest, sanhedrim, Scribes, and Pharisees, may be intended; who are so called because of their impurity in themselves; for their avarice and covetousness, being greedy dogs that could never have enough; and for their impudence, calumnies, malice, and envy, against Christ: the allusion seems to be to hunting dogs, who, when they have got the creature they have been in pursuit of, surround it and fall upon it. Christ, in the title of this psalm, is called Aijeleth Shahar, "the morning hind", who was hunted by the Jews, and at last surrounded and taken by them;
the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; the Jewish sanhedrim, the chief priests and elders, who assembled together to consult his death, before whom he was brought when taken; and in, the midst of whom he was set and examined, and by them unanimously condemned; and who, notwithstanding all their pretensions to religion, were a set of wicked men: and also the whole congregation of the Jews, the body of the people, who were united in their request for his crucifixion and death; and who in great numbers got together, and in a circle stood around him when on the cross, insulting him;
they pierced my hands and my feet; by nailing them to the cross, which, though not related by the evangelists, is plainly suggested in John 20:25; and is referred to in other passages of Scripture, Zechariah 12:10; and clearly points at the kind of death Christ should die; the death, of the cross, a shameful and painful one. In this clause there is a various reading; in some copies in the margin it is, "as a lion my hands and my feet", but in the text, "they have dug" or "pierced my hands and my feet"; both are joined together in the Targum, "biting as a lion my hands and my feet"; as it is by other interpreters (c); and Schultens (d) retains the latter, rendering the preceding clause in connection with it thus,
"the assembly of the wicked have broken me to pieces, as a lion, my hands and my feet.''
In the Targum, in the king of Spain's Bible, the phrase, "as a lion", is left out. The modern Jews are for retaining the marginal reading, though without any good sense, and are therefore sometimes charged with a wilful and malicious corruption of the text; but without sufficient proof, since the different reading in some copies might be originally occasioned by the similarity of the letters and and therefore finding it in their copies, or margin, sometimes and sometimes have chose that which best suits their purpose, and is not to be wondered at; however, their "masoretic" notes, continued by them, sufficiently clear them from such an imputation, and direct to the true reading of the words; in the small Masorah on the text it is observed that the word is twice used as here pointed, but in two different senses; this is one of the places; the other is Isaiah 38:13; where the sense requires it should be read "as a lion": wherefore, according to the authors of that note, it must have a different sense here, and not to be understood of a lion; the larger Masorah, in Numbers 24:9; observes the word is to be found in two places, in that place and in Psalm 22:16; and adds to that, it is written "they pierced"; and Ben Chayim confirms (e) this reading, and says he found it so written it, some correct copies, and in the margin and so it is written in several manuscripts; and which is confirmed by the Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Greek, and Vulgate Latin versions; in which it is rendered, "they dug my hands and my feet"; and so took it to be a verb and not a noun: so Apollinarius in his metaphrase; and which is also confirmed by the points; though taking for a participle, as the Targum, that reading may be admitted, as it is by some learned men (f), who render it "digging" or "piercing", and so has the same sense, deriving the word either from or which signify to dig, pierce, or make hollow; and there are many instances of plural words which end in the omitted, being cut off by an apocope; see 2 Samuel 23:8; and either way the words are expressive of the same thing, and manifestly point to the sufferings of Christ, and that kind of death he should die, the death of the cross, and the nailing of his hands and feet to it, whereby they were pierced. This passage is sometimes applied by the Jews (g) themselves to their Messiah.
(c) Amamae Antibarb. Bibl. p. 743. (d) Origin. Heb. l. 1. c. 12. s. 8. Vid. Jacob. Alting. Dissert. Philolog. 5. s. 27-34. (e) In Maarcath fol. 10. 2. ad Calc. Buxtorf. Bibl. (f) Pocock. Miscell. c. 4. p. 59, 60. Pfeiffer. Exercitat. 8. s. 37. Carpzov. Critic. Sacr. p. 838, 839. Alting. ut supra. (Dissert. Philolog. 5.) s. 48, 49. (g) Pesikta in Yalkut, par. 2. fol. 56. 4.
17I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
I may tell all my bones,.... For what with the stretching out of his body on the cross, when it was fastened to it as it lay on the ground, and with the jolt of the cross when, being reared up, it was fixed in the ground, and with the weight of the body hanging upon it, all his bones were disjointed and started out; so that, could he have seen them, he might have told them, as they might be told by the spectators who were around him; and so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it, "they have numbered all my bones"; that is, they might have done if: the Targum is, "I will number all the scars of my members", made by the blows, scourges, and wounds he received;
they look and stare upon me; meaning not his bones, but his enemies; which may be understood either by way of contempt, as many Jewish interpreters explain it: so the Scribes and elders of the people, and the people themselves, looked and stared at him on the cross, and mocked at him, and insulted him; or by way of rejoicing, saying, "Aha, aha, our eye hath seen", namely, what they desired and wished for, Psalm 35:21; a sight as was enough to have moved an heart of stone made no impression on them; they had no sympathy with him, no compassion on him, but rejoiced at his misery: this staring agrees with their character as dogs.
18They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
They part my garments among them,.... Such as died the death of the cross were crucified naked (h), and their clothes were the perquisites of the executioners; there were four soldiers concerned in the crucifixion of Christ, and these parted his garments into four parts, and everyone took his part;
and cast lots on my vesture; which was a seamless coat, wove from the top to the bottom; and therefore, not willing to rend it, they cast lots upon it who should have it; all this was exactly fulfilled in Christ, John 19:23.
(h) Vid Lipsium de Cruce, l. 2. c. 7. p. 81.
19But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
But be not thou far from me, O Lord,.... See Gill on Psalm 22:11;
O my strength; Christ as God is the mighty God, the Almighty; as Mediator, he is the strength of his people; but, as man, God is his strength; he is the man of his right hand, whom he has made strong for himself, and whom he has promised his arm shall strengthen, Psalm 80:17; and therefore he addresses him in this manner here, saying,
haste thee to help me; his help was alone in God his strength; there were none that could help him but he, and he seemed to stand afar off from helping him, Psalm 22:1; and his case being so distressed, as is represented in the preceding verses, it required haste.
20Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
Deliver my soul from the sword,.... Wicked men, whose tongues were as a sharp sword, reproaching and blaspheming him, and bearing false witness against him; and crying out, "Crucify him, crucify him", Luke 23:21; see Psalm 17:12; or any instrument of violence, as the iron bar with which the legs of the malefactors crucified with him were broken, which he escaped; and the spear which pierced his side, after he had commended his soul or spirit into the hands of his Father; or a violent death; for though his death had the appearance of one, he was taken in a violent manner, and condemned to be put to death, and was crucified, yet his life was not taken away by men; he laid it down, and gave up his breath himself;
my darling from the power of the dog, or "my only one" (i); meaning his life or soul, as before; so called, not because there is but one soul in the body, but because it was dear and valuable to him; and hence we render it "darling", an only one being usually the darling of its parents; so a man's life is dear to him, all that he has will he give for it, Job 2:4. Christ's life was a more precious life than any man's, and peculiarly his own, in such sense as another man's, is not his own; and his soul also was an only one, it was not polluted with original sin, as the souls of other men are; it was pure and holy: the word here used is sometimes rendered "desolate" and "solitary"; see Psalm 25:16; and it may have this sense here, and be translated "my lonely" or "solitary one" (k); he being forsaken by God, and deserted by his disciples; his soul was in darkness, sorrow, and distress, wherefore he prays it might be delivered "from the power of the dog"; either Satan is so called for his malice and envy, who had put it into the heart of Judas to betray him, and had filled the Pharisees with envy at him, and who through it delivered him to Pilate; or the impure, cruel, and wicked Roman soldiers, and in short all his crucifiers; called in the plural number "dogs"; see Gill on Psalm 22:16.
(i) "unicam meam", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Tiguriue version, Cocceius, Junius & Tremellius. (k) "Solitariam meam", Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
21Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
Save me from the lion's mouth,.... Either the devil, who is as a roaring lion, whom Christ overcame both in the garden and on the cross, and destroyed him and his works; or all his wicked enemies, especially the most powerful of them, who were in greatest authority, as the chief priests and elders; so rulers and civil magistrates, who are cruel and unmerciful, are compared to lions, Proverbs 28:15;
for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns; some read this as a prayer like the former, "hear thou me" (l), &c. that is, deliver me; but according to our version it expresses what God had done, that he had heard him and saved him; and is used as a reason or argument with him that he would regard also his other petitions: or it may have respect to what follows, that since God had heard him, and delivered him out of the hands of his most powerful enemies, therefore he would declare his name and praise him; for the unicorn being a very strong creature, and its strength lying much in its horn, with which it pushes and does mischief; see Numbers 23:22. Christ's strong and potent enemies are intended here; such as Satan and his principalities and powers, the sanhedrim of the Jews, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and others, from whose power he was freed when raised from the dead. According to Pliny (m), the monoceros, or unicorn, is the fiercest of wild beasts; in its body like a horse, it has the head of an hart and feet of an elephant, the tail of a bear, makes a great bellowing; has one black horn rising up in the middle of the forehead, of two cubits long; it is denied that it was ever taken alive, which agrees with Job 39:9; See Gill on Job 39:9 and See Gill on Job 39:10.
(l) "exaudi me", Muis, Gejerus, Michaelis. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 21.
22I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
I will declare thy name unto my brethren,.... Not those who were more nearly related to him according to the flesh; for though there were some who believed in him, and to whom he declared the name of God, as James and Joses, and Judas and Simon, Matthew 13:55; yet there were others that did not believe on him, John 7:3; nor those more remotely related to him, as all the Jews, who were his brethren and kinsmen also according to the flesh; to these indeed he came and preached, but they received him not; but rather his apostles, whom he called his brethren, even after his resurrection, and to whom he appeared and declared the name of God, Matthew 28:10; and the five hundred brethren by whom he was seen at once may be also included; and even all true believers in him, who through his incarnation, being their "goel" and near kinsman, stands in such a relation to them, and through their adoption into his Father's family, his Father being their Father, and his God their God; which is manifested in regeneration, and evidenced by their doing the will of God, which is believing in Christ, Matthew 12:49. By the "name" of God is meant, not anyone of the names by which he is known, as God Almighty, Jehovah, &c. if any of these could be thought to be designed, the New Testament name and title of God as the Father of Christ would bid fair for it; but rather the perfections of God, which appear in Christ, and were glorified in the work of redemption; or God himself; or else his Gospel, Acts 9:15; and which Christ declared and manifested to his disciples, both before and after his resurrection, John 17:6; which latter seems here to be referred unto;
in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee; meaning not the congregation of the Jews, their synagogue, or temple, where he often attended on public worship, and preached and praised the Lord; but rather the company of his disciples, among whom he sung an hymn the night he was betrayed, and with whom he conversed by times for forty days after his resurrection: unless the general assembly and church of the firstborn in heaven is intended, in the midst of which he praised the Lord, when he ascended on high, led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; though it seems best to understand this of the church of God, particularly among the Gentiles, under the Gospel dispensation, where Christ in his members sings the praise of electing, redeeming, and calling grace; see Psalm 18:49; compared with Romans 15:9. This is a proof of singing of psalms and hymns in Gospel churches, and of its being a duty to be publicly performed by the members of them, who may expect the presence of Christ in the midst of his church, seeing he here promises to be there: these words are applied to Christ in Hebrews 2:12.
23Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
Ye that fear the Lord, praise him,.... By whom are meant, not the proselytes among the Gentiles, as distinct from the Jews, which is the sense of some Jewish interpreters (n); but all the people of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, who have the grace of filial and godly fear put into their hearts, with which they worship God, and walk before him in all holy conversation; which is not a fear of wrath, or a distrust of divine goodness; but is a reverential affection for God, and is consistent with the greatest degree of faith, the strongest expressions of spiritual joy and holy courage: it includes the whole worship of God, internal and external; and such who have it in their hearts, and before their eyes, are called upon by Christ to praise the Lord for him, for the unspeakable gift of his love; that he has not spared his son, but delivered him up for them, to undergo so much sorrow, and such sufferings as before related, to obtain salvation for them; and that he has delivered him out of them, raised him from the dead, and has given him glory;
all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; not the natural, but spiritual seed of Jacob, who walk in the steps of the faith of that man of God; these are exhorted to glorify the Lord with their bodies and spirits, which are his, being redeemed with the precious blood of Christ; by believing in him, glorying in him, and offering praise unto him;
and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel; who are the same with the seed of Jacob, Jacob and Israel being two names of the same person; and design not Israel according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; the whole Israel of God, the all spiritual seed of Israel, who are justified in Christ, and are saved in him; they are the same with them that fear the Lord, and are here stirred up to exercise the grace of fear upon him; to fear him only, and not men, though ever so mighty and powerful, as before described in Psalm 22:12; and that not only because of his power and greatness; but because of his grace and goodness, as shown forth in Christ Jesus.
(n) Midrash Tillim, Jarchi & Aben Ezra, in loc.
24For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,.... That is, Christ, who was afflicted by men, both by their tongues, and by their hands; by devils, by the temptations of Satan for Christ suffered being tempted, though he was not overcome; and by his attacks upon him, both in the garden and on the cross; and by the Lord himself, Jehovah his Father, who laid on him the iniquity and chastisement of his people, bruised him, and put him to grief; awoke the sword of justice against him, and spared him not: his afflictions were many, both in body and soul; in body, being scourged, buffeted, bruised, pierced, racked, and tortured on the cross; in soul, being made exceeding sorrowful, and an offering for sin; sustaining his Father's wrath, and seeking and enduring affliction by the rod of it; see Isaiah 53:4; now, though his afflictions and sufferings were despised by men, and he was despised and abhorred on account of them; yet not by his Father, he took pleasure in them, and in him as suffering for his people; not simply considered, as if he delighted in his sufferings as such, but as they were agreeable to his counsel and covenant, and brought about the salvation of his chosen ones: he accepted them in the room and stead of his people; the sacrifice of Christ was of a sweet smelling savour to him; he was well pleased with his righteousness, his law being magnified and made honourable by it; and his death was precious in his sight, being the propitiation for the sins of his people; so far was he from despising and abhorring the afflictions of his son. And this is mentioned as a reason or argument for praise and thanksgiving in them that fear the Lord; since God has looked upon the redemption price his Son has paid for them sufficient; has not despised, but accepted of it as the ransom of their souls: some render the words, "the prayer of the afflicted"; so the Targum, and the Septuagint version, and the versions that follow that; which agrees with the next words:
neither hath he hid his face from him; when men did, as ashamed of him, Isaiah 53:3; for though he forsook him for a while, and in a little wrath hid his face from him for a moment, that he might bear the whole curse of the law for us; yet he returned again, and did not hide his face from him for even;
but when he cried unto him, he heard; cried not only on account of his crucifiers, that God would forgive them; but on account of himself, that he would not be afar off from him; that he would take his spirit or soul into his hands, into which he committed it; that he would deliver him from the power of death and the grave, and loose their bands; in all which he was heard, Hebrews 5:7.
25My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation,.... Or, "my praise is from thee" (o); not that he should have praise of God, as he had, when he was received up into heaven, and set down at the right hand of God; but that God should be the object of his praise, as he was the cause of it; his salvation and deliverance of him, and resurrection from the dead, and exaltation of him, were the occasion and matter of it: the place where Christ determined to praise the Lord is "the great congregation"; either his apostles, who, though a little flock, yet, on account of their extraordinary office and gifts, and peculiar privileges, were the greatest congregation that ever was in the world; or the five hundred brethren to whom Christ appeared at once after his resurrection; or else the whole church under the Gospel dispensation; in the midst of which Christ is, and who in the members of it praises the name of the Lord; and this especially will have its accomplishment at the latter day, when great multitudes will be converted, and the voice of praise and thanksgiving will be among them, Revelation 7:9;
I will pay my vows before them that fear him; either those which he made in the council and covenant of grace, when he engaged to become a surety for his people, to assume their nature, to suffer and die for them, to redeem them from sin and misery, and bring them nigh to God, and save them with an everlasting salvation; all which he has openly done; see Psalm 31:19; or those which he made in Psalm 22:21; that he would declare the name of the Lord unto his brethren, and sing praise unto him in the midst of the church; compare with this Psalm 116:12.
(o) , Sept. "a te", Pagninus, Montanus, Rivetus, Cocceius, Ainsworth.
26The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
The meek shall eat and be satisfied,.... Such who, being made thoroughly sensible of sin, look upon themselves the chief of sinners, and the least of saints; and being truly convicted of the insufficiency of their own righteousness, wholly trust to and rely on the righteousness of Christ; and, being acquainted with their impotency and inability to do any good thing of themselves, ascribe all to the grace of God, and have no dependence on anything done by them; who are willing to be instructed and reproved by the meanest saint; are not easily provoked to wrath; patiently bear indignities and affronts, and are gentle unto all men: these shall "eat" the fat and drink the sweet of Christ the bread of lift; they shall eat of his flesh by faith, which is meat indeed; they shall find the word, and eat it; feed on the wholesome words of Christ, the words of faith and good doctrine, and shall be "satisfied", or "filled": other food is not satisfying; it proves gravel, ashes, and wind; it is not bread, and satisfies not; but such as hunger and thirst after Christ and his righteousness, and are poor in their own eyes, meek and humble; these are filled with good things to satisfaction, Matthew 5:6; Jarchi interprets these words of the time of the redemption and the days of the Messiah;
they shall praise the Lord that seek him; in Christ, with their whole heart; who being filled by him and satisfied, bless the Lord for their spiritual food and comfortable repast, as it becomes men to do for their corporeal food, Deuteronomy 8:10;
your heart shall live for ever; this is an address of Christ to them that fear the Lord, the seed of Jacob and Israel; the meek ones, and that seek the Lord, his face and favour, and who eat and are satisfied; signifying, that they should be revived and refreshed, should be cheerful and comfortable; should live by faith on Christ now, and have eternal life in them; and should live with him for ever hereafter, and never die the second death.
27All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord,.... That is, all the elect of God among the Gentiles, who live in the farthermost parts of the world, for whom Christ is appointed to be their salvation, and whom he calls to look to him for it; these shall remember the Lord whom they have forgotten, and against whom they have sinned, how great and how good he is; they shall be put in mind of their sins and iniquities committed against him, and call to mind their latter end; and consider, that after death will come judgment to which they must be brought; they shall be apprised of the grace and goodness of God in Christ, in providing and sending him to be the Saviour of lost sinners, by his sufferings and death, at large described in this psalm; which will encourage them to turn unto the Lord, since they may hope for full pardon of sin, through his blood and sacrifice; and to turn from their idols, and from all their evil ways, and from all dependence on themselves or on creatures, to trust in and serve the living God in faith and fear; which turning is usually brought about under and by the ministry of the word; which is appointed to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; and has this effect when it is attended with the Spirit and power of God; for conversion is not the work of man, neither of ministers nor of men themselves, but of God, in which men are at first passive; they are turned, and then, under the influence of grace, become active, and turn to the Lord, by believing in him, and so cleave unto him: and likewise remembrance of the above things is not owing to themselves, but to the Spirit of God, who puts them into their minds; and which is very necessary and essential to conversion, even as a remembrance of past things is necessary to a restoration after backslidings, which is a second conversion;
and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee; not only externally, by praying before the Lord, and attending on his word and ordinances; but internally, in spirit and in truth, which worshippers the Lord seeks; such spiritual worship being suitable to his nature, and such worshippers believers in him are; this must be understood of some of all nations, kindred and tongues, whom Christ has redeemed by his blood, and calls by his grace; see Zechariah 14:16.
28For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations.
For the kingdom is the Lord's,.... Not the kingdom of nature and providence, though that is the Lord Christ's; but the kingdom of grace, the mediatorial kingdom: this was Christ's by the designation and constitution of his Father from eternity; the government of the church was always upon his shoulders during the Old Testament dispensation; when he came into this world, he came as a King; though his kingdom being not of this world, it came not with observation; but upon his ascension to heaven, whither he went to receive a kingdom and return, he was made or declared Lord and Christ, and was exalted as a Prince, as well as a Saviour; and in consequence of his being set down at the right hand of God, he sent forth the rod of his strength, his Gospel, into the Gentile world, which was succeeded to the conversion of multitudes of them, among whom he has had a visible kingdom and interest ever since; and which will more abundantly appear in the latter day, when he shall be King over all the earth; and now this is a reason why so many, in the distant parts of the world, and among all the kindreds of the nations, shall remember, turn to him, and worship him;
and he is the Governor among the nations; he rules in the hearts of some by his Spirit and grace, and over others with a rod of iron.
29All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
All they that be fat upon earth,.... Rich men, who abound in worldly substance, are in very flourishing and prosperous circumstances, of whom for the most part this is literally true; yea, by these sometimes are meant princes, rulers, the chief among the people in power and authority, as well as in riches; see Psalm 78:31; the phrase may design such who are in prosperous circumstances in their souls, in spiritual things, in faith, comfort, and spiritual joy, Psalm 92:14; but the former sense is best: Jarchi inverts the words, "they shall eat", that is, the meek shall eat, "all the fat of the earth, and worship"; which may be understood of the spiritual blessings of grace, which converted persons shall feed and live upon, Psalm 63:5; the allusion may be to the fat parts of the earth, and what grows thereon, made so by ashes, which the word used has the signification of; for some lands are fattened by ashes being strewed upon them (p); but rather the rich and great men of the earth are intended, who yet are but dust and ashes. They
shall eat, and worship; for as, in the first times of the Gospel, not many mighty and noble were called, yet some were; so more especially, in the latter day, many of this sort will be called, even kings and queens; who will not live upon their titles of honour, their grandeur and glory, but upon Christ and his Gospel, and will fall down before him, and serve and worship him; see Psalm 72:10;
all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him; such as are in mean circumstances of life; so that both rich and poor shall serve him; or who are mean in their own eyes, sit in the dust of self-abhorrence, and put their mouths in the dust, are in a low condition, out of which the Lord raises them, Psalm 113:7. The Targum paraphrases it, "who go down to the house of the grave"; that is, the dead; and then the sense is, that Christ is the Lord, both of the dead and living, and that those that are under the earth, and are reduced to dust, as well as they that live and are fat upon it, shall bow the knee to Christ, when raised again, who is the Judge of quick and dead; see Romans 14:9, Philippians 2:10;
and none can keep alive his own soul; as no man can quicken himself when dead in trespasses and sins; so when he is made alive, he cannot preserve his life, nor nourish himself, nor make himself lively and comfortable, nor cause his heart to live, as in Psalm 22:26; but by eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of Christ, feeding and living upon him by faith: though some take the sense to be, that such as are before described as converted persons, will not seek to save their lives, but will freely lay them down and part with them for Christ's sake; but rather the meaning is, that so universal will the kingdom of Christ be, as that high and low, rich and poor, will be bowing to him; whoever are his enemies, and will not have him to rule over them, will be brought before him and slain, and none of them will be able to save themselves; so the Targum, "he will not quicken", or "keep alive, the soul of the wicked"; or as Jarchi interprets it,
"he will have no mercy on them, to keep their souls alive from hell.''
(p) "Effoetos cinerem immundum jactare per agros", Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. v. 79.
30A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
A seed shall serve him,.... That is, Christ shall always have a seed to serve him in every age; a remnant according to the election of grace; see Romans 9:29; so that as the former verses speak of the amplitude of Christ's kingdom, through the calling of the Gentiles, these words and the following express the duration of it: and this "seed" either means Christ's seed; so the Septuagint version, and others that follow it, render it, "my seed"; the spiritual seed and offspring of Christ, which the Father has given him, and which shall endure for ever, Isaiah 53:10; or else the church's seed, which comes to the same thing; not the natural seed of believers, but a succession of godly men in the church, who are born in her, and nursed up at her side; see Isaiah 59:21; such shall, and do, in every age serve Christ, willingly and cheerfully, in righteousness and true holiness, without slavish fear, and yet with reverence and godly fear. The Chaldee paraphrase is, "the seed of Abraham shall serve before him"; but this seed designs not the Jews only, but the Gentiles also, and chiefly;
it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation; of his people, his children whom he accounts of, reckons, and esteems as such; or the seed shall be reckoned to the Lord, as belonging to him, "unto generation"; that is, in every generation (q), throughout all ages, to the end of time; so the Targum, "to an after generation"; or "a generation to come".
(q) "in quacunque generatione", Noldius, p. 236. No. 1076.
31They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
They shall come,.... One generation after another; there shall always be a succession of regenerate persons, who shall come to Christ, and to his churches; and a succession of Gospel ministers among them, who shall come forth, being sent and qualified by Christ;
and shall declare his righteousness, either the faithfulness of God, in fulfilling his promises; especially those which respect the mission of Christ, and salvation by him, as Zacharias did, Luke 1:68; or rather the righteousness of Christ, which is revealed in the Gospel, and makes a most considerable part of the declaration of it, and is published by Gospel ministers in all ages, as the only justifying righteousness before God: and that
unto a people that shall be born; in successive generations; that shall be brought upon the stage of time and life; or that shall be born again; for to such only, in a spiritual and saving way, is the righteousness of Christ declared, revealed, and applied, by the blessed Spirit, through the ministry of the word: it is added,
that he hath done this; wrought this righteousness; so Jarchi; that is, is the author of it; is become the end of the law for it; has finished it, and brought it in; or else all the great things spoken of in this psalm, relating to the Messiah, his sufferings, death, and resurrection, and the calling of the Gentiles; all which are the Lord's doings, and are what is declared in the Gospel: the Targum is, "the miracles which he hath done"; the Septuagint version, and those that follow it, connect this clause with the preceding thus, "to a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made"; made them his people, created them in Christ, and formed them for himself.