Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 8: Psalms, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
David boasts that his kingdom, though assailed by a vast multitude of powerful enemies, would, notwithstanding, be perpetual, because it was upheld by the hand and power of God. He adds, that in spite of his enemies, it would be extended even to the uttermost ends of the earth. And, therefore, he exhorts kings and other rulers to lay aside their pride, and receive, with submissive minds, the yoke laid upon them by God; as it would be vain for them to attempt to shake it off. All this was typical and contains a prophecy concerning the future kingdom of Christ.
1. Why do the nations rise tumultuously, and the peoples murmur in vain? 2. The kings of the earth have confederated, and the princes have assembled together, against Jehovah and against his Christ. 3. Let us break of their bonds, and cast away their yoke from us.
WE know how many conspired against David, and endeavored to prevent his coming to the throne, and from their hostile attempts, had he judged according to the eye of sense and reason, he might have been so full of apprehension, as forthwith to have given up all hope of ever becoming king. And, doubtless, he had often to struggle sorrowfully with very grievous temptations. But, as he had the testimony of an approving conscience, that he had attempted nothing rashly nor acted as ambition and depraved desire impel many to seek changes in the government of kingdoms; as he was, on the contrary, thoroughly persuaded that he had been made king by divine appointment, when he coveted no such thing, nor even thought of it; 24 he encouraged himself by strong confidence in God against the whole world, just as in these words, he nobly pours contempt both on kings and their armies. He confesses, indeed, that he had a sore battle to fight, inasmuch as it was no small party, but whole nations with their kings, who had conspired against him; but he courageously boasts that their attempts were vain, because they waged war, not against mortal man, but against God himself. It is not certain from the words, whether he speaks only of enemies in his own kingdom, or extends his complaints to foreign invaders. But, since the fact was, that enemies rose up against him in all quarters, and that as soon as he had settled the disturbances among his own people, the neighboring states, in their turn, became hostile to him, I am disposed to think that both classes of enemies are meant, Gentiles as well as Jews. It would be a strange mode of expression to speak of many nations and people when only one nation was meant, and to speak of many kings when he had in eye Saul only. Besides, it agrees better with the completeness of the type to suppose that different kinds of enemies were joined together; for we know that Christ had not only to do with enemies in his own country, but likewise with enemies in other nations; the whole world having entered into a common conspiracy to accomplish his destruction. The Jews, indeed, first began to rage against Christ as they had formerly done against David; but afterwards the same species of madness seized upon other nations. The sum is, that although those who endeavored to overthrow him might be strengthened by powerful armies, yet their tumults and counsels would prove vain and ineffectual.
By attributing to the people commotion and uproar, and to kings and rulers the holding of assemblies, to take counsel, he has used very appropriate language. Yet he intimates that, when kings have long and much consulted together, and the people have poured forth their utmost fury, all of them united would make nothing of it. But we ought carefully to mark the ground of such confidence, which was, that he had not thrust himself forward to be king rashly, or of his own accord, but only followed the call of God. From this he concludes, that in his person God was assailed; and God could not but show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder. By honoring himself with the title of Messias, or the Anointed, he declares that he reigned only by the authority and command of God, inasmuch as the oil brought by the hand of Samuel made him king who before was only a private person. David’s enemies did not, indeed, think they were making a violent attack against God, yea, they would resolutely deny their having any such intention; yet it is not without reason that David places God in opposition to them, and speaks as if they directly levelled their attacks against him, for by seeking to undermine the kingdom which he had erected, they blindly and ferociously waged war against Him. If all those are rebels against God who resist the powers ordained by him, much more does this apply to that sacred kingdom which was established by special privilege.
But it is now high time to come to the substance of the type. That David prophesied concerning Christ, is clearly manifest from this, that he knew his own kingdom to be merely a shadow. And in order to learn to apply to Christ whatever David, in times past, sang concerning himself, we must hold this principle, which we meet with everywhere in all the prophets, that he, with his posterity, was made king, not so much for his own sake as to be a type of the Redeemer. We shall often have occasion to return to this afterwards, but at present I would briefly inform my readers that as David’s temporal kingdom was a kind of earnest to God’s ancient people of the eternal kingdom, which at length was truly established in the person of Christ, those things which David declares concerning himself are not violently, or even allegorically, applied to Christ, but were truly predicted concerning him. If we attentively consider the nature of the kingdom, we will perceive that it would be absurd to overlook the end or scope, and to rest in the mere shadow. That the kingdom of Christ is here described by the spirit of prophecy, is sufficiently attested to us by the apostles, who, seeing the ungodly conspiring against Christ, arm themselves in prayer with this doctrine, (Ac 4:24.) But to place our faith beyond the reach of all cavils, it is plainly made manifest from all the prophets, that those things which David testified concerning his own kingdom are properly applicable to Christ. Let this, therefore, be held as a settled point, that all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God. Since it seems good to God to rule us by the hand of his own Son, those who refuse to obey Christ himself deny the authority of God, and it is in vain for them to profess otherwise. For it is a true saying,
“He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the
Father which hath sent him,” (Joh 5:22.)
And it is of great importance to hold fast this inseparable connection, that as the majesty of God hath shone forth in his only begotten Son, so the Father will not be feared and worshipped but in his person.
A twofold consolation may be drawn from this passage:— First, as often as the world rages, in order to disturb and put an end to the prosperity of Christ’s kingdom, we have only to remember that, in all this there is just a fulfillment of what was long ago predicted, and no changes that can happen will greatly disquiet us. Yea, rather it will be highly profitable to us to compare those things which the apostles experienced with what we witness at the present time. Of itself the kingdom of Christ would be peaceable, and from it true peace issues forth to the world; but through the wickedness and malice of men, never does it rise from obscurity into open view without disturbances being excited. Nor is it at all wonderful, or unusual, if the world begin to rage as soon as a throne is erected for Christ. The other consolation which follows is, that when the ungodly have mustered their forces, and when, depending on their vast numbers, their riches, and their means of defense, they not only pour forth their proud blasphemies, but furiously assault heaven itself, we may safely laugh them to scorn, relying on this one consideration, that he whom they are assailing is the God who is in heaven. When we see Christ well nigh overwhelmed with the number and strength of his enemies, let us remember that they are making war against God over whom they shall not prevail, and therefore their attempts, whatever they may be, and however increasing, will come to naught, and be utterly ineffectual. Let us learn, farther, that this doctrine runs through the whole gospel; for the prayer of the apostles which I have just quoted, manifestly testifies that it ought not to be restricted to the person of Christ.
3. Let us break, etc. This is a prosopopoeia, 25 in which the prophet introduces his-enemies as speaking; and he employs this figure the better to express their ungodly and traitorous design. Not that they openly avowed themselves rebels against God, (for they rather covered their rebellion under every possible pretext, and presumptuously boasted of having God on their side;) but since they were fully determined, by all means, fair or foul, to drive David from the throne, whatever they professed with the mouth, the whole of their consultation amounted to this, how they might overthrow the kingdom which God himself had set up. When he describes his government under the metaphorical expressions of bonds, and a yoke, on the persons of his adversaries, he indirectly condemns their pride. For he represents them speaking scornfully of his government, as if to submit to it were a slavish and shameful subjection, just as we see it is with all the enemies of Christ who, when compelled to be subject to his authority reckon it not less degrading than if the utmost disgrace were put upon them.
4. He who dwelleth in heaven will laugh at them; the Lord 26 will have them in derision. 5. Then will he speak to them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6. I have anointed my King upon my holy hill of Sion.
After David has told us of the tumult and commotions, the counsels and pride, the preparation and resources the strength and efforts of his enemies, in opposition to all these he places the power of God alone, which he concludes would be brought to bear against them, from their attempting to frustrate his decree. And, as a little before, by terming them kings of the earth, he expressed their feeble and perishable condition; so now, by the lofty title of He that dwelleth in heaven, he extols the power of God, as if he had said, that power remains intact and unimpaired, whatever men may attempt against it. Let them exalt themselves as they may, they shall never be able to reach to heaven; yea, while they think to confound heaven and earth together, they resemble so many grasshoppers, and the Lord, meanwhile, undisturbed beholds from on high their infatuated evolutions. And David ascribes laughter to God on two accounts; first, to teach us that he does not stand in need of great armies to repress the rebellion of wicked men, as if this were an arduous and difficult matter, but, on the contrary, could do this as often as he pleases with the most perfect ease. In the second place, he would have us to understand that when God permits the reign of his Son to be troubled, he does not cease from interfering because he is employed elsewhere, or unable to afford assistance, or because he is neglectful of the honor of his Son; but he purposely delays the inflictions of his wrath to the proper time, namely, until he has exposed their infatuated rage to general derision. Let us, therefore, assure ourselves that if God does not immediately stretch forth his hand against the ungodly, it is now his time of laughter; and although, in the meantime, we ought to weep, yet let us assuage the bitterness of our grief, yea, and wipe away our tears, with this reflection, that God does not connive at the wickedness of his enemies, as if from indolence or feebleness, but because for the time he would confront their insolence with quiet contempt. By the adverb then, he points to the fit time for exercising judgment, as if he had said, after the Lord shall have for a time apparently taken no notice of the malpractices of those who oppose the rule of his Son, he will suddenly change his course, and show that he retards nothing with greater abhorrence than such presumption.
Moreover, he ascribes speech to God, not for the purpose of instructing his enemies, but only to convict them of their madness; indeed, by the term speak, he means nothing else than a manifestation of God’s wrath, which the ungodly do not perceive until they feel it. The enemies of David thought it would be the easiest thing in the world for them to destroy one who, coming from a mean shepherd’s cot, had, in their view, 27 presumptuously assumed the sovereign power. The prophecy and anointing of Samuel were, in their estimation, mere ridiculous pretences. But when God had at length overthrown them, and settled David on the throne, he, by this act, spoke not so much with his tongue as with his hand, to manifest himself the founder of David’s kingdom. The Psalmist hereon then, refers to speaking by actions, by which the Lord, without uttering a single word, makes manifest his purpose. In like manner, whenever he defends the kingdom of his Son against the ungodly, by the tokens and inflictions of his wrath, although he does not speak a single word, yet in effect he speaks enough to make himself understood. 28 David afterwards, speaking in the name of God, shows more clearly how his enemies were guilty of wickedly fighting against God himself in the hatred which they bore towards him whom God had made king. The sum is this: Wicked men may now conduct themselves as wickedly as they please, but they shall at length feel what it is to make war against heaven. The pronoun I is also emphatical, by which God signifies that he is so far exalted above the men of this world, that the whole mass of them could not possibly obscure his glory in the least degree. As often, then, as the power of man appears formidable to us, let us remember how much it is transcended by the power of God. In these words there is set before us the unchangeable and eternal purpose of God effectually to defend, even to the end, the kingdom of his Son, of which he is the founder; and this may well support our faith amidst the troublous storms of the world. Whatever plots, therefore, men may form against it, let this one consideration be sufficient to satisfy us, that they cannot render ineffectual the anointing of God. Mention is here made of mount Sion in express terms, not because David was first anointed thereon but because at length, in God’s own time, the truth of the prophecy was manifested and actually established by the solemn rite of his consecration. And although David in these words had a regard to the promise of God, and recalled the attention of himself and others to it, yet, at the same time, he meant to signify that his own reign is holy and inseparably connected with the temple of God. But this applies more appropriately to the kingdom of Christ, which we know to be both spiritual and joined to the priesthood, and this is the principal part of the worship of God.
7. I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
7. I will declare, etc. David, to take away all pretense of ignorance from his enemies, assumes the office of a preacher in order to publish the decree of God; or at least he protests that he did not come to the throne without a sure and clear proof of his calling; as if he had said, I did not, without consideration, publicly go forward to usurp the kingdom, but I brought with me the command of God, without which, I would have acted presumptuously, in advancing myself to such fin honorable station. But this was more truly fulfilled in Christ, and doubtless, David, under the influence of the spirit of prophecy, had a special reference to him. For in this way all the ungodly are rendered inexcusable, because Christ proved himself to have been endued with lawful power from God, not only by his miracles, but by the preaching of the gospel. In fact, the very same testimony resounds through the whole world. The apostles first, and after them pastors and teachers, bore testimony that Christ was made King by God the Father; but since they acted as ambassadors in Christ’s stead, He rightly and properly claims to himself alone whatever was done by them. Accordingly, Paul (Eph 2:17) ascribes to Christ what the ministers of the gospel did in his name. “He came,” says he, “and preached peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” Hereby, also, the authority of the gospel is better established because, although it is published by others, it does not cease to be the gospel of Christ. As often therefore, as we hear the gospel preached by men, we ought to consider that it is not so much they who speak, as Christ who speaks by them. And this is a singular advantage, that Christ lovingly allures us to himself by his own voice, that we may not by any means doubt of the majesty of his kingdom.
On this account, we ought the more carefully to beware of wickedly refusing the edict which he publishes, Thou art my Son. David, indeed could with propriety be called the son of God on account of his royal dignity, just as we know that princes, because they are elevated above others, are called both gods and the sons of God. But here God, by the singularly high title with which he honors David, exalts him not only above all mortal men, but even above the angels. This the apostle (Heb 1:5) wisely and diligently considers when he tells us this language was never used with respect to any of the angels. David, individually considered, was inferior to the angels, but in so far as he represented the person of Christ, he is with very good reason preferred far above them. By the Son of God in this place we are therefore not to understand one son among many, but his only begotten Son, that he alone should have the pre-eminence both in heaven and on earth. When God says, I have begotten thee, it ought to be understood as referring to men’s understanding or knowledge of it; for David was begotten by God when the choice of him to be king was clearly manifested. The words this day, therefore, denote the time of this manifestation; for as soon as it became known that he was made king by divine appointment, he came forth as one who had been lately begotten of God, since so great an honor could not belong to a private person. The same explanation is to be given of the words as applied to Christ. He is not said to be begotten in any other sense than as the Father bore testimony to him as being his own Son. This passage, I am aware, has been explained by many as referring to the eternal generation of Christ; and from the words this day, they have reasoned ingeniously as if they denoted an eternal act without any relation to time. But Paul, who is a more faithful and a better qualified interpreter of this prophecy, in Ac 13:33, calls our attention to the manifestation of the heavenly glory of Christ of which I have spoken. This expression, to be begotten, does not therefore imply that he then began to be the Son of God, but that his being so was then made manifest to the world. Finally, this begetting ought not to be understood of the mutual love which exists between the Father and the Son; it only signifies that He who had been hidden from the beginning in the sacred bosom of the Father, and who afterwards had been obscurely shadowed forth under the law, was known to be the Son of God from the time when he came forth with authentic and evident marks of Sonship, according to what is said in Joh 1:14, “we have seen his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father.” We must, at the same time, however, bear in mind what Paul teaches, (Ro 1:4) that he was declared to be the Son of God with power when he rose again from the dead, and therefore what is here said has a principal allusion to the day of his resurrection. But to whatever particular time the allusion may be, the Holy Spirit here points out the solemn and proper time of his manifestation, just as he does afterwards in these words
“This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118:24)
8. Ask of me. Christ, it is true, besought his Father (Joh 17:5) to “glorify him with the glory which he had with him before the world was;” yet the more obvious meaning is, that the Father will deny nothing to his Son which relates to the extension of his kingdom to the uttermost ends of the earth. But, in this wonderful matter, Christ is introduced as presenting himself before the Father with prayers, in order to illustrate the free liberality of God in conferring upon men the honor of constituting his own Son governor over the whole world. As the eternal Word of God, Christ, it is true, has always had in his hands by right sovereign authority and majesty, and as such can receive no accessions thereto; but still he is exalted in human nature, in which he took upon him the form of a servant. This title, therefore, is not applied to him only as God, but is extended to the whole person of the Mediator; for after Christ had emptied himself there was given to him a name which is above every name, that before him every knee should bow, (Php 2:9) David, as we know, after having obtained signal victories reigned over a large extent of territory, so that many nations became tributaries to him; but what is here said was not fulfilled in him. If we compare his kingdom with other monarchies it was confined within very narrow boundaries. Unless, therefore, we suppose this prophecy concerning the vast extent of kingdom to have been uttered in vain and falsely, we must apply it to Christ, who alone has subdued the whole world to himself and embraced all lands and nations under his dominion. Accordingly, here, as in many other places, the calling of the Gentiles is foretold, to prevent all from imagining that the Redeemer who was to be sent of God was king of one nation only. And if we now see his kingdom divided, diminished, and broken down, this proceeds from the wickedness of men, which renders them unworthy of being under a reign so happy and so desirable. But although the ingratitude of men hinders the kingdom of Christ from prospering it does not render this prediction of none effect, inasmuch as Christ collects the dispersed remnants of his people from all quarters, and in the midst of this wretched desolation, keeps them joined together by the sacred bond of faiths so that not one corner only, but the whole world is subjected to his authority. Besides, however insolently the ungodly may act, and however they may reject his sovereignty, they cannot, by their rebellion, destroy his authority and power. To this subject also belongs what immediately follows:
9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
This is expressly stated to teach us that Christ is furnished with power by which to reign even over those who are averse to his authority, and refuse to obey him. The language of David implies that all will not voluntarily receive his yoke, but that many will be stiff-necked and rebellious, whom notwithstanding he shall subdue by force, and compel to submit to him. It is true, the beauty and glory of the kingdom of which David speaks are more illustriously displayed when a willing people run to Christ in the day of his power, to show themselves his obedient subjects; but as the greater part of men rise up against him with a violence which spurns all restraint, it was necessary to add the truth, that this king would prove himself superior to all such opposition. Of this unconquerable power in war God exhibited a specimen, primarily in the person of David, who, as we know, vanquished and overthrew many enemies by force of arms. But the prediction is more fully verified in Christ, who, neither by sword nor spear, but by the breath of his mouth, smites the ungodly even to their utter destruction.
It may, however, seem wonderful that, while the prophets in other parts of Scripture celebrate the meekness, the mercy, and the gentleness of our Lord, he is here described as so rigorous, austere, and full of terror. But this severe and dreadful sovereignty is set before us for no other purpose than to strike alarm into his enemies; and it is not at all inconsistent with the kindness with which Christ tenderly and sweetly cherishes his own people. He who shows himself a loving shepherd to his gentle sheep, must treat the wild beasts with a degree of severity either to convert them from their cruelty, or effectually to restrain it. Accordingly in Ps 110:5, after a commendation is pronounced upon the obedience of the godly Christ is immediately armed with power to destroy, in the day of his wrath, kings and their armies who are hostile to him. And certainly both these characters are with propriety ascribed to him: for he was sent by the Father to cheer the poor and the wretched with the tidings of salvation, to set the prisoners free, to heal the sick, to bring the sorrowful and afflicted out of the darkness of death into the light of life, (Isa 61:1) and as, on the other hand, many by their ingratitude, provoke his wrath against them, he assumes, as it were, a new character, to beat down their obduracy. It may be asked, what is that iron scepter which the Father hath put into the hand of Christ, wherewith to break in pieces his enemies? I answer, The breath of his mouth supplies to him the place of all other weapons, as I have just now shown from Isaiah. Although, therefore, Christ move not a finger, yet by his speaking he thunders awfully enough against his enemies, and destroys them by the rod of his mouth alone. They may fret and kick, and with the rage of a madman resist him never so much, but they shall at length be compelled to feel that he whom they refuse to honor as their king is their judge. In short, they are broken in pieces by various methods, till they become his footstool. In what respect the doctrine of the gospel is an iron rod, may be gathered from Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians, (2Co 10:4) where he teaches that the ministers of Christ are furnished with spiritual weapons to cast down every high thing which exalteth itself against Christ, etc. I allow that even the faithful themselves may be offered in sacrifice to God, that he may quicken them by his grace, for it is meet we should be humbled in the dust, before Christ stretch forth his hand to save us. But Christ trains his disciples to repentance in such a way as not to appear terrible to them; on the contrary, by showing them his shepherd’s rod, he quickly turns their sorrow into joy; and so far is he from using his iron rod to break them in pieces, that he rather protects them under the healing shadow of his hand, and upholds them by his power. When David speaks, therefore, of breaking and bruising, this applies only to the rebellious and unbelieving who submit to Christ, not because they have been subdued by repentance, but because they are overwhelmed with despair. Christ does not, indeed, literally speak to all men; but as he denounces in his word whatever judgments he executes upon them, he may be truly said to slay the ungodly man with the breath of his mouth, (2Th 2:8.) The Psalmist exposes to shame their foolish pride by a beautiful similitude; teaching us, that although their obstinacy is harder than the stones, they are yet more fragile than earthen vessels. Since, however, we do not see the enemies of the Redeemer immediately broken in pieces, but, on the contrary, the Church herself appears rather to be like the frail earthen vessel under their iron hammered the godly need to be admonished to regard the judgments which Christ daily executes as presages of the terrible ruin which remains for all the ungodly, and to wait patiently for the last day, when he will utterly consume them by the flaming fire in which he will come. In the meantime, let us rest satisfied that he “rules in the midst of his enemies.
10. And now, O ye kings, be wise; and ye judges of the earth be instructed. 11. Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
David having, as a preacher of the judgments of God, set forth the vengeance which God would take upon his enemies proceeds now, in the character of a prophet and teacher, to exhort the unbelieving to repentance, that they may not, when it is too late, be compelled to acknowledge, from dire experience, that the divine threatenings are neither idle nor ineffectual. And he addresses by name kings and rulers, who are not very easily brought to a submissive state of mind, and who are, besides, prevented from learning what is right by the foolish conceit of their own wisdom with which they are puffed up. And if David spare not even kings themselves, who seem unrestrained by laws, and exempted from ordinary rules, much more does his exhortation apply to the common class of men, in order that all, from the highest to the lowest, may humble themselves before God. By the adverb now, he signifies the necessity of their speedy repentance, since they will not always be favored with the like opportunity. Meanwhile, he tacitly gives them to understand, that it was for their advantage that he warned them, as there was yet room for repentance provided they made haste. When he enjoins them to be wise, he indirectly condemns their false confidence in their own wisdom as if he had said, The beginning of true wisdom is when a man lays aside his pride, and submits himself to the authority of Christ. Accordingly, however good an opinion the princes of the world may have of their own shrewdness, we may be sure they are arrant fools till they become humble scholars at the feet of Christ. Moreover, he declares the manner in which they were to be wise, by commanding them to serve the Lord with fear. By trusting to their elevated station, they flatter themselves that they are loosed from the laws which bind the rest of mankind; and the pride of this so greatly blinds them as to make them think it beneath them to submit even to God. The Psalmist therefore, tells them, that until they have learned to fear him, they are destitute of all right understanding. And certainly, since they are so much hardened by security as to withdraw their obedience from God, strong measures must at the first be employed to bring them to fear him, and thus to recover them from their rebelliousness. To prevent them from supposing that the service to which he calls them is grievous, he teaches them by the word rejoice how pleasant and desirable it is, since it furnishes matter of true gladness. But lest they should, according to their usual way, wax wanton, and, intoxicated with vain pleasures, imagine themselves happy while they are enemies to God, he exhorts them farther by the words with fear to an humble and dutiful submission. There is a great difference between the pleasant and cheerful state of a peaceful conscience, which the faithful enjoy in having the favor of God, whom they fear, and the unbridled insolence to which the wicked are carried, by contempt and forgetfulness of God. The language of the prophet, therefore, implies, that so long as the proud profligately rejoice in the gratification of the lusts of the flesh, they sport with their own destruction, while, on the contrary, the only true and salutary joy is that which arises from resting in the fear and reverence of God.
12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when 29 his wrath is kindled in a moment. O blessed are all who put their trust in him.
David expresses yet more distinctly what kind of fear and service God requires. Since it is the will of God to reign by the hand of his Son, and since he has engraved on his person the marks and insignia of his own glory, the proper proof of our obedience and piety towards him is reverently to embrace his Son, whom he has appointed king over us, according to the declaration,
“He that honoureth not the Son,
honoureth not the Father who hath sent him,” (Joh 5:23)
The term kiss refers to the solemn token or sign of honor which subjects were wont to yield to their sovereigns. The sum is, that God is defrauded of his honor if he is slot served in Christ. The Hebrew word בר Bar, signifies both a son and an elect person; but in whatever way you take it, the meaning will remain the same. Christ was truly chosen of the Father, who has given him all power, that he alone should stand pre-eminent above both men and angels. On which account also he is said to be “sealed” by God, (Joh 6:27) because a peculiar dignity was, conferred upon him, which removes him to a distance from all creatures. Some interpreters expound it, kiss or embrace what is pure, 30 which is a strange and rather forced interpretation. For my part, I willingly retain the name of son, which answers well to a former sentence, where it was said, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
What follows immediately after is a warning to those who despise Christ, that their pride shall not go unpunished, as if he had said, As Christ is not despised without indignity being done to the Father, who hath adorned him with his own glory, so the Father himself will not allow such an invasion of his sacred rights to pass unpunished. And to teach them to beware of vainly deceiving themselves with the hope of a lengthened delay, and from their present ease indulging themselves in vain pleasures, they are plainly told that his wrath will be kindled in a moment. For we see, when God for a time connives at the wicked, and bears with them, how they abuse this forbearance, by growing more presumptuous, because they do not think of his judgments otherwise, than according to sight and feeling. Some interpreters, I know, explain the Hebrew word כמעט, Camoat, which we have rendered, in a moment, in a different way, namely, that as soon as God’s wrath is kindled in even a small degree, it will be all over with the reprobate. But it is more suitable to apply it to time, and to view it as a warning to the proud not to harden themselves in their stupidity and indifference, nor flatter themselves from the patience of God, with the hope of escaping unpunished. Moreover, although this word appears to be put for the purpose of giving a reason of what goes before, 31 namely, why those who refuse to kiss the Son shall perish, and although the Hebrew word כי, ki, signifies more frequently for than when, yet I am unwilling to depart from the commonly received translation, and have thought it proper to render the original word by the adverb when, which denotes both the reason and time of what is predicated. Some explain the phrases, to perish from the way, as meaning, a perverse way, or wicked manner of listing. Others resolve it thus, lest your way perish, according to that saying of the first psalm, the way of the ungodly shall perish. But I am rather inclined to attach to the words a different meaning, and to view them as a denunciation against the ungodly, by which they are warned that the wrath of God will cut them off when they think themselves to be only in the middle of their race. We know how the despisers of God are accustomed to flatter themselves in prosperity, and run to great excess in riot. The prophet, therefore, with great propriety, threatens that when they shall say, Peace and safety, reckoning themselves at a great distance from their end, they shall be cut off by a sudden destruction, (1Th 5:3)
The concluding sentence of the psalm qualifies what was formerly said concerning the severity of Christ; for his iron rod and the fiery wrath of God would strike terror into all men without distinction, unless this comfort had been added. Having, therefore discoursed concerning the terrible judgment which hangs over the unbelieving, he now encourages God’s faithful and devout servants to entertain good hope, by setting forth the sweetness of his grace. Paul likewise observes the same order, (2Co 10:6) for having declared that vengeance was in readiness against the disobedient, he immediately adds addressing himself to believers “When your obedience is fulfilled.” Now, we understand the meaning of the Psalmist. As believers might have applied to themselves the severity of which he makes mention, he opens to them a sanctuary of hope, whither they may flee, in order not to be overwhelmed by the terror of God’s wrath; 32 just as Joel (Joe 2:32) also after having summoned the ungodly to the awful judgment-seat of God, which of itself is terrible to men, 33 immediately subjoins the comfort, Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For it appears to me that this exclamation, Blessed are all they that put their trust in him, 34 should be read as a distinct sentence by itself. The pronoun him may be referred as well to God as to Christ, but, in my judgment, it agrees better with the whole scope of the psalm to understand it of Christ, whom the Psalmist before enjoined kings and judges of the earth to kiss.
Ne mesme y pensait. — Fr.
A rhetoric figure, in which persons or things are feigned or supposed to speak; a personification.
The word in our Hebrew Bibles is Elohai; but is considerable number of MSS, it is Jehovah. “The Jews in latter ages had a superstitious dread of pronouncing the word Jehovah, and frequently inserted Adonai and Elohim instead of it in their manuscripts of the Scriptures. But the more ancient MSS. Have Jehovah frequently where the more modern have Adonai and Elohim. Sixty MSS, of Dr. Kennicott’s collation and twenty-five of De Rossi’s have Jehovah here.” — Street, 2:4.
Il avoit a Leur avis. — Fr.
Encore qu’il ne dise un seul, si est ce qu’en effect il parle assez pour se faire entendre. — Fr.
Ou, car son; or, for his. — Fr. Marg.
The word בר, Bar, which here signifies son, is also sometimes used to denote pure, as it is in Job 11:4, Ps 24:4 and Ps 73.1. In this former sense it is a Chaldee word, in the latter it is a Hebrew one. This rendering, of which Calvin disapproves, is substantially that of the Septuagint, which reads, δραξασθε παιδειας, literally, lay hold upon instruction. But as the Arabic version of the Psalms, which generally follows the Septuagint, has used here (and in many other places, where the Septuangint has παιδειας) a word which signifies not only instruction, but good morals, virtue, Street thinks that the authors of the Septuangint, by παιδειας, meant good morals, or virtue in general, and that they understand בר, Bar, as a general expression for the same thing. The Chaldee, Vulgate, and Ethiopic version, also render בר, Bar, by a word meaning doctrine or discipline. “This is a remarkable case,” says Dr. Adam Clark, “and especially that in so pure a piece of Hebrew as this poem is, a Chaldee word should have been found, בר, Bar, instead of בן, Ben, which adds nothing to the strength of the expression, or the elegance of the poetry. I know that בר, Bar, is also pure Hebrew as well as Chaldee; but it is taken in the former language in the sense of purifying, the versions probably understood it so here. Embrace that which is pure, namely, the doctrine of God.
Pour rendre raison du precedent ascavoir pour quoy c’est qu’ila periront. — Fr.
Pour n’estre point accablez de la frayeur d’ire de Dieu. — Fr.
Qui de soy est espouvantable aux hommes — Fr.
The word אשרי, ashre, which occurs in the beginning of the psalm, is also used here; and therefore, the word may be rendered, O the blessednesses of all those who put their trust in him.