By Henry Law
In the bright day of prosperity the gloom of adversity is not forgotten. The contrast elevates the joy of success. Abundant victories are realized, and God is acknowledged as the author and giver of all good things.
1-3. "O God, You have cast us off, You have scattered us, You have been displeased; O turn to us again. You have made the earth to tremble; You have broken it; heal the breaches thereof; for it shakes. You have shown Your people hard things. You have made us drink the wine that makes us stagger."
The past miseries of the kingdom are vivid to the mind of David. He remembered the internal commotions, and the people like sheep scattered and imperilled on the mountain's brow. He traced this to the just displeasure of God. He well knew that sin produced this alienation of God's favor. The prayer goes forth that righteous displeasure might now cease, and that God would again visit His people with His favor. He realized the terrible effects of God being estranged. He compares it to the terrors which result when the earth quakes and trembles to its base. He acknowledges the hard sufferings of the people, and marks the astonishment which darkened every brow. O sin, O sin! what miseries you have brought upon a fallen earth!
4-5. "But you have raised a banner for those who honor you--a rallying point in the face of attack. Use your strong right arm to save us, and rescue your beloved people."
The retrospect increases the joy that God, who had afflicted, had not cast off. Signs of favor had reappeared. When the enemy came in like a flood, God had lifted up a standard against him. Around this banner David mustered his people. He saw in it a proof that God would not permit His truth to fail, nor His pledged word to be trampled beneath ungodly feet. He knew that God had a beloved flock, and that for their sakes deliverance would be granted. The Lord of hosts had left for Himself a blessed remnant "in the midst of His people, as a dew from the Lord, and as the showers upon the grass."
6-10. "God has spoken in His holiness; I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of my head; Judah is my lawgiver; Moab is my wash-pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; Philistia, triumph because of me. Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom? Will not You, O God, who have cast us off? and You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?"
Bright prospects glitter before David's eyes. He sees not only the firm establishment of Israel's kingdom beneath his sway, but the extension also of his dominion among tributary states. The assurance of this grand supremacy is founded on the Word of his God. God had spoken in His holiness. What God had promised in His holy Word He would assuredly perform. Therefore David's heart, full of this faith, overflowed with joy. He realized the preeminence of Judah's tribe. He knew that laws and decrees should issue from it, and that in God's good time the great Deliverer would be among its sons. He realized too that other tribes would await His royal decrees, and that neighboring provinces would bow before him. Moab should be reduced to servile work; Edom would be trodden down beneath his conquering feet; Philistia's triumph should be annexation to his rule.
The spiritual meaning is most obvious. Relying on God's holy Word, we should rejoice in the secure establishment of grace within our hearts, and we should long more, and strive more for the rapid growth of the Spirit's empire within, and the subjugation of all lusts and godless passions. David views the almost impregnable strength of Edom's fortress; but he knew that it must quickly fall; for God had returned to give victory to His arms.
11-12. "Give us help from trouble; for useless is the help of man. Through God we shall do valiantly; for it is He who shall tread down our enemies."
He sees that all his armaments are weak except upheld by God. He prays for this help. He believes that it will surely come. He believes that, through his God, valiant exploits would be performed, and that through his God his feet would crush the necks of His foes. We believe that through Jesus we too shall do valiantly, and that yet a little while and Satan will be crushed beneath our feet.