This Psalm is a psalm of instruction. It should seem that God the Holy Ghost was graciously pleased to make use of his servant the prophet's pen to give suitable information to the church, concerning the prosperity of the wicked, and the apparent distress of the righteous.
A Psalm of David.
The prosperity of sinners, and the distresses of good men, have been in all ages a stumbling-block even to the faithful. The prophet Jeremiah puts it down as an undeniable conclusion, that God is righteous; but yet desires permission to make an humble inquiry wherefore the way of the wicked should prosper? Jeremiah 12:1, etc. And Job's friends went upon no other conclusion in their ideas of Job's hypocrisy, but from the greatness of his calamities; Job 4:7-8. We cannot therefore sufficiently thank God the Holy Ghost that he hath condescended by this beautiful Psalm to set the doctrine in a clear light, and, before those brighter discoveries made of God's government in the gospel by our Lord Jesus Christ, that he should give the church those blessed views of his attention to the righteous, and sure punishment of the wicked. How very gracious, and kind, and affectionate, doth this Psalm open to this effect, and even in the opening, framing a conclusion similar to the prophet, Isaiah 3:10-11.
Reader! do not overlook, however, the person of Christ in what is here said; while the chief scope of the Psalm is to comfort his church, yet recollect that that comfort is, all in, and from Jesus. It is his righteousness which is said to be brought forth as the light. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. But he is made of God to us, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that he that gloried may glory in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Isaiah 64:6.
Jesus is the rest wherewith the Lord will cause the weary to rest; and he that believeth in him will not (for he need not) make haste. Isaiah 28:12. There is a great beauty in the thought of the transitory abode of the sinner. Even while looking upon him, or looking after him, he is gone. Psalms 103:15-17.
The Reader will not forget that Jesus hath said the same, and pronounced a blessedness on the meek, Matthew 5:5. But Reader! do not, by looking to the meekness of any follower of the Lord, overlook the source of it, and more especially the meek and lowly Jesus. Yea, Lord! I would pray to learn of thee; for thou art meek and lowly in heart. Matthew 11:29.
What an awful day of God will this be. Reader! if you look into the world, and behold the proud man's scorn, and the poor man's oppressed circumstances, recollect what is here said: The day is coming. Man hath seemingly his day. But the Lord certainly hath his. And oh! what woe, what accumulated woe to the wicked, when God riseth up in judgment.
These verses are all so plain, that, as they need no explanation, so an attempt to do it would only enervate their own pure and decisive language. A little with Christ is beyond millions of riches without him. Reader I look diligently in all your enjoyments, whether Jesus be in them, and whether those enjoyments be real enjoyments, because of finding the Lord Christ in them.
This is a charming observation, founded on long experience, from youth to age: never was it known that the Lord forsook his redeemed. But, Reader! without my observing it, surely it will strike you, as it doth me, that the begging of bread means somewhat of more importance than the bread that perisheth; for many of God's people have been driven to great straits and difficulties, by reason of outward circumstances of poverty. But if read with an eye to that bread which Jesus handeth in secret, and which none knoweth save he that receiveth; even in the deepest want the soul can say, in the language of his master, I have bread to eat that the world knows not of. Revelation 2:17; John 4:32. I detain the Reader just to remark on this last verse, concerning the mouth of the righteous, that it is the righteous One, even God's holy One, that is here spoken of, and of whom, as the following verse saith, the law of his God is in his heart, or in his bowels, wrought up and forming part of his very nature. Psalms 40:8.
I have not interrupted the progress of these verses from the same reason as before: they contain so many beautiful repetitions of the same unquestionable truth; the wicked shall not go unpunished, neither shall the faithful go unnoticed. But let the Reader take with him the cause of the good man's safety and security, as expressed in the last verses; namely, that the salvation of every believer is of the Lord. Jesus is their righteousness, and their hope, and their trust; and it is he that will save them. He will rest in his love, and rejoice over them with joy and singing. Zephaniah 3:17.
My soul! from the perusal of this blessed Psalm, take the apostle's words as the best conclusion from the whole, and subscribe to the doctrine, as a doctrine perfectly conclusive and unquestionable: Godliness is profitable unto all things; it hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Oh! ye children of sin, wherefore do ye oppress the righteous? Why is it that ye enlist yourselves under the banner of Satan? Why should you wear his livery, engage in his service, and oppose Christ and his little ones? What are your wages now? And what will be the just judgment of Almighty God hereafter?
Oh! ye feeble souls, who bear the image of Christ, and are persecuted for righteousness sake! What though enemies surround you, and the world, and sin, and Satan, sometimes make you afraid.; be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. In the mean time, see that ye live by faith. Lay hold of the hope that is before you, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Think of him who endured such a contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be weary and faint in mind. The hour hasteneth, (nay the judge is at the door,) when those Egyptians which now harass you shall be seen by you no more. Be patient; stablish your heart; for the coming of the . Lord draweth nigh. He which testified these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Even so come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 37". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29