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I. Explain it
[There can be no doubt but that the words, in their literal meaning, refer to the covenant which God made with David respecting the continuance of his posterity on his throne a ; and which seemed to be violated, now that both king and people were carried captive to Babylon; but which, in fact, should be accomplished in all its parts; because whatever they might endure for a season, the sceptre should not depart from Judah till Shiloh should come.
But there is doubtless a reference to Christ, who is often called Davidb. Some of the words originally addressed to David, are expressly declared to refer to Christ chiefly, yea exclusively. They must be understood therefore as containing God's covenant with Christ.
In them we see, first, God's assurances respecting Christ himself, that notwithstanding all the troubles he should experience, he should be raised from the dead, and have all the kingdoms of the earth for his possessione
Next, Christ is assured respecting his people, who are his seed', that though through infirmity and temptation they may fall into sin, the Father will not utterly abandon them, or finally withdraw his love from them. He will not indeed leave them to continue in sin (for that would be incompatible with their salvation h) but he will chastise them, till they repent and turn from all their transgressions, and thus will he secure them to Christ as his inheritance.
The grounds of these assurances are, lastly, specified. These are God's covenant, and his oath. Having entered into covenant with his Son, he cannot disannul it. Yet, if he were to give up to final destruction any who were Christ's spiritual seed, this covenant would be broken; seeing that some who were given to Christ would perish, and Christ, as far as relates to them, would have died in vain. Moreover, in this, the oath, which (for our consolation) he sware to his Son, would be violated: but, having sworn by his holiness, which is the glory of all his perfections, he never can, nor ever will recede. On these grounds therefore the glory of Christ, and the salvation of his people are irrevocably secured.]
Lest however this consolatory passage should be abused, let us,
a 2 Sam. vii. 12—17. b Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24. Hos. iii. 5. c Compare 2 Sam. vii. 14. with Heb. i. 5. d Compare Isai. lv. 3. with Acts xiii. 34. e Luke i. 32, 33. Rev. xi. 15. f Isai. liii. 10. Ps. xxii. 30. 1 Pet. i. 23. & Isai. liv, 7--10. Jer. xxxii. 40. h Heb. xii. 14. i John xvii. 11, 1 Pet. i. 5-7.
II. Improve itIt evidently TEACHES us, 1. To cleave unto Christ with full purpose of heart
[The covenant, whether made with David or with Abraham, was confirmed before of God in Christk. Every blessing of the covenant was made over to him as our head and representative, and must be received from him by faith? To him therefore must we look for pardon, stability, and everlasting salvation. As to him the promises were madem, so in him alone are they yea, and Amen". Let it then be our great care to be found in himo; and then we may rest assured that nothing shall ever separate us from him P.]
2. To endure with patience and thankfulness whatever afflictions God may lay upon us
[Part of God's covenant is, to “ correct us in measure?." And, however afflicted any may be, have they any cause to say, that they are corrected beyond measure? Can a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins"? Surely it is far better to be chastened here, than to be condemned with the world hereafters. We may all see reason enough for chastisement, if we will but mark our daily and hourly transgressions. Let us therefore not so much as desire God to spare us, provided he see that we need correction for the welfare of our souls; but rather let us kiss the rod", and improve it", and adore the hand that uses it for our good*] 3. To dread sin as the greatest of all evils
[Though at first sight this passage may seem to weaken our dread of sin, yet, in reality, it is calculated to impress us with a holy fear of offending God. The covenant made with Christ does indeed secure the salvation of his people: but does it provide them impunity in sin? No-on the contrary, it engages God to punish sin, yea, to punish it effectually; and never to leave his people under its dominiony. Is there then room to say, I shall be saved, though I commit sin? No: for either God will “ drive it out with the rod of correction," or leave it as an indisputable mark that we never belonged to him at allz. Let us never then make Christ a minister of sina; but learn from the very grace that saves us, to glorify him by a holy conversation b.]
k Gal. iii. 17. I Col. i. 19. John i. 16. m Gal. iii. 16. n 2 Cor. i. 20. o Phil. iii. 9. p Rom. viii. 38, 39. 9 Jer. xxx. 11. r Lam. iii. 39. 81 Cor. xi. 32. t Mic, vi. 9. u Isai. xxvii. 9. * Heb. xii. 10. y Rom. vi. 14. 2 1 John iii. 9, 10. a Gal. i. 17. b Tit. ï. 11, 12.
DCLI. GOD'S ANGER A REASON FOR TURNING TO HIM. Ps. xc. 11, 12. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even
according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
THIS psalm is entitled, “ A prayer of Moses the man of God.” It seems to have been written by Moses on account of the judgment denounced against the whole nation of Israel, that they should die in the wilderness. It had been already executed to a great extent, God having consumed multitudes of them in his angerb: and the period of man's life was then reduced to its present standard of seventy or eighty years. From this awful demonstration of God's displeasure, he is led to this reflection: “Who knoweth the power of thine anger?” And then he prays, that the whole nation might be induced by the shortness and uncertainty of their lives to seek without delay the favour of their offended God: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
In accordance with our text let us also contemplate, I. The inconceivable weight of God's anger
Of course, in speaking of God's anger we must divest it of all those tumultuous feelings, which agitate the minds of men; and conceive of it as manifested only in his dispensations towards the objects of his displeasure.
Let us contemplate it then,
[The whole world bears the evidence of being under the displeasure of an angry God. The creation itself, even the animal and vegetable, as well as the rational parts of it, is greatly changed since it came out of its Creator's hands. A curse has been inflicted on it all, on account of sin. Storms, and tempests, and earthquakes, and pestilences, and diseases of every kind, and death with its antecedent pains and its attendant horrors, are all the sad fruits of sin, and the effects of God's anger on account of sin. Death has obtained an universal empire, and "reigns even over those who have never sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression,” as well as over the actual transgressors of God's law.
a ver. 3.
b ver. 5—7.
c ver. 10.
But the anger of God is yet more strikingly visible, in those particular judgments which God has executed upon men from time to time. Behold the plagues in Egypt, the destruction of the Egyptian first-born, and of Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea! behold the awful judgments inflicted on Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and on the myriads, who, by their lewdness, their unbelief, and their murmurings, drew down the wrath of God upon them d! behold fire and brimstone rained down from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities of the plain! yea, and the whole world, with every living creature except those contained in the ark, swept away by one universal deluge!—these serve as awful proofs of God's indignation against sin, and his determination to punish it according to its deserts.
There are other proofs, less visible indeed, but not less real, of God's anger, which may be found in the horrors of a guilty conscience, or the distresses of a soul that is under the hidings of his face. Hear what was Job's experience under a sense of God's displeasure: “ The arrows of the Almighty are within me; the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against mee." To the same effect the Psalmist also speaks, when describing the anguish of his own mind: “ Thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day. I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart'.” The unhappy end of Judas shews how insupportable is a sense of God's wrath, when the consolations of hope are altogether withdrawn.
But, after all, there is nothing that will give us such an idea of God's anger, as a view of the Lord Jesus Christ when “ Jehovah's sword awoke against him” to inflict the penalty that was due to sin. Behold that immaculate Lamb of God sweating great drops of blood from every pore of his body, through the inconceivable agonies of his soul! Hear him, in the depths of dereliction, crying, “My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" and see him, finally, giving up the ghost, and dying under the load of his people's sins! Could we at all appreciate this mystery, we should indeed say, “ Who knoweth the power of thine anger?"
But let us contemplate it,]
[Of this however we can form but little conception. The terms which are used to depict the misery of the fallen angels, and of those who from amongst the human race have died in their sins, though exceeding terrible to the imagination, fall infinitely short of the reality. But the very circumstance of millions of once happy angels, as happy as any that are now before the throne of God, being cast out of heaven for their pride; and hell itself being prepared by Almighty God for their reception, that they may there endure his wrath and indignation to the uttermost-this very circumstance, I say, may serve to shew, how deeply God abhors iniquity, and how fearfully he will punish it. Of the place where they are confined “in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day," Tophet, as described by the Prophet Isaiah, may be considered as a type or emblem : “ It is a place both deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood: and the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." And the state of the unhappy sufferers there is thus described in the Revelation of St. John: “ They drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation : and they are tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor nighth." Yet, terrible as this description is, it conveys no adequate idea either of the torment itself, or even of those foretastes of it, which are sometimes given to those for whom it is prepared. Well therefore may it be asked, “ Who knoweth the power of thine anger?" and well is it added, “ According to thy fear," that is, according to the terror which the very apprehension of it excites, “so is thy wrath:” for, in truth, it not only equals, but infinitely exceeds, all the conceptions that can be formed of it.]
The whole scope both of the preceding and following context leads us to consider, II. The wisdom of seeking reconciliation with him
without delayNotwithstanding his anger against sin, God is willing to be reconciled to his offending people
["He will not always chide; neither will he keep his anger for ever." “ Many times did he turn away his wrath from his people in the wilderness; and did not suffer his whole displeasure to arise.” He has even sent his own Son into the world to effect reconciliation by the blood of his cross. He could not consistently with his own honour pardon sin without an atonement made for it: and, that a sufficient atonement 8 Isai. xxx. 33.
h Rev. xiv. 10, 11.