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LECTURE ON PSALM II.
The second Psalm was written by David ; as you will find by referring to chap. vi. ver. 24, 25, of the Acts of the Apostles. But here perhaps you will say, “ were not all the Psalms written by David, for they are all called the Psalms of David?” I answer, “ that several of them were composed by other authors, but that, as David wrote the greater part of them, and was the chief author also, in point of dignity, they thus came to be called after him.”
I must now beg you to consider the occasion upon which this second Psalm was written, in order that you may the better understand it. David, you know, was, in a particular manner, chosen by God to be king over the Israelites. For this purpose he was anointed by the Prophet Samuel. But many cruel persecutions, arising from the envy of Saul, and the malice of his other enemies, were to be endured by him, before he could be seated on the throne. His adversaries opposed his accession to it with all their power and all their art; and persisted in so doing, though they were found to be fighting against God. Now it was this spirit of opposition to his authority, as king of Israel, or the Lord's anointed, which appear to have given rise to the composition of this Psalm..
Accordingly David, well knowing that the council of the Lord shall stand, though the whole world should combine against it, begins the Psalm by questioning his enemies as to the schemes of hostility which they were meditating against him, and by asserting the folly and weakness and inefficacy of all such schemes to overthrow him, who was appointed by God to be their king and governor. But here, I must observe, for our more clearly understanding this Psalm, that it is thrown into the form of a dialogue, in which the speakers are David himself, his enemies, and the Almighty. Several other of the Psalms have this form ; and though it may, to a careless or unlearned reader, give them at first an appearance of disorder and confusion, yet when they come to be explained, with a reference to it, we shall not fail to perceive how much animation and beauty are imparted to them by such a construction. Of this, the Psalm we are considering will afford us a very interesting example. David, as I before observed, begins it by questioning his enemies as to the schemes of hostility they were me. ditating against him, “ Why, (says he,) do the Heathen so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing. The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against (me) his anointed." Then, in the 3d verse, he introduces bis enemies, and puts into their mouths a language intended to mark their determination not to submit to his or the Lord's authority, but to cast off all allegiance to them, as they would cast away cords by which they had been bound. Upon this, David again introduces himself, and tells them what would be the consequence of this rage and opposition of theirs to the will of God, in the treatment they vould experience from him. “ He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn,” shall laugh to scorn all their vain attempts to counteract his de. crces: “ The Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” He will, in a terrible confusion of their counsels, and ruin of their designs, the visible effects of his wrath, make his purpose and decree concerning my establishment in the kingdom, as manifest as if he had spoken with a voice from heaven, saying, (as we read in ver. 6.) " Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Sion." In spite of all your rebellious attempts to counteract my will, I have, according to my purpose, esta
blished David, my anointed, as your king, who shall rule by my authority upon my holy hill of Zion.
David then proceeds again to speak in his own person, and to set forth the words of the decree which God had made concerning him. “I will preach the law whereof the Lord hath said unto me," or rather, as the version in our Bibles has it, “ I will declare the decree (in which decree) the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession." That is, as some have interpreted the passage, “Ask of me, and thou shalt shortly see not only this nation of the Jews, but the heathen nations of the Philistines, the Edomites, Moabites, Syrians, and other remoter countries, as far as the great river Euphrates, brought under thy dominion: nor be dismayed at the hostile and rebellious spirit of thine enemies, for 6 thou shalt bruise them with a rod of iron; thou shalt break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” They shall be no more able to resist thy authority than a potter's vessel can escape being broken to pieces when struck by a rod of iron. David having thùs declared God's decree concerning him, goes on in the remaining verses of the Psalm to recommend to the heads and leaders of the nations that were setting themselves in opposition to him, to return to a better mind, and, instead of resisting God, to serve him for the future with that mixture of joy and fear which the .consi. deration of a Being, in whom so much power and goodness are united, is calculated to inspire.
Such is the interpretation of this Psalm, as it relates immediately to David. But there is another, and that the more important sense, in which it must be considered, as prophetic of our blessed Redeemer, and of his spiritual kingdom. . In this
sense the Rabbies, or Jewish doctors, interpreted it, and the Christian Church have been unanimous in applying it, in the same manner, to our Saviour: so that you find it to be one of those appointed to be read on Easter-day. .
We are informed by the angel, in the book of Revelation (chap. xix. 10.) that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy;" that is, that the prophecies of Scripture were delivered for the purpose of bearing witness to Jesus--to his comingto his character, to his sufferings, death, and resurrection and to the nature and extent of his kingdom. Now, several of the Psalms contain prophecies respecting our blessed Saviour; and he has himself appealed to them as such. Hence, as David was a type or figure of Christ, he frequently mentions circumstances which are not strictly applicable to himself, but to that greater personage of whom he was the type. Thus, in this very Psalm, the 7th and 8th verses (the first of which has been applied to our Saviour by St. Paul, Heb. i. 5.) are thought by many learned men to indicate a degree of honour, and an extent of empire, much too grand and magnificent to be attributed to any earthly monarch, and only to be fully answered in the person of our Lord, and in the propagation of his religion into every quarter of the globe.
In considering the instruction to be derived from this Psalm, let us beware of endeavouring, in any manner, 'to act contrary to the will and the commands of our Maker. Let us, in no instance, be wilfully disobedient to him ; for this would be, like rebels, to reject his authority, and refuse to have Christ to reign over us. This would be to burst his bands asunder, to cast from us the cords of love, by which he would bind us to him, and to desert him whose service is perfect freedom.
Would we then be his faithful subjects? Would : we serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto him
with reverence? Would we kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and so we perish from the right wayfrom peace and virtue here, and immortal happiness hereafter? Then let us, on his cross, crucify our affections and lusts—let us die unto sin, as he died for it. Let faith be firmly planted in our souls, and shew forth its fruit in good works. Let eyil thoughts and evil passions be checked and sub. dued. Let the heart be kept with all diligence; the tongue, as it were, with a bridle. Let no malice, or hatred, dwell in the one ; no word, that is contrary to truth, decency and charity, be uttered by the other. Let humility take the place of vanity and pride; the love of the world be overcome by the love of God; and the love of God be shewn by keeping his commandments.
To the Editor of the Cottager's Monthly Visitor.
I am, Sir,
HARRIET Loveday. My father was a shoemaker, in good business. He had married early in life, and had had the misfortune to lose his wife, to whom he was tenderly attached, after an union of a very few years. She left two children, of whom I was the youngest; and, as my father had no other near relations, the