The safety of those who trust in God, 1,2. God's protecting providence in behalf of his followers, 3. A prayer for the godly, 4. The evil lot of the wicked, 5.
NOTES ON PSALM CXXV
This Psalm is without a title: it belongs most probably to the times after the captivity; and has been applied, with apparent propriety, to the opposition which Sanballat the Horonite, Geshem the Arabian, and Tobiah the Ammonite, gave to the Jews while employed in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and restoring the temple.
They that trust in the Lord
Every faithful Jew who confides in Jehovah shall stand, in those open and secret attacks of the enemies of God and truth, as unshaken as Mount Zion; and shall not be moved by the power of any adversary.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem
Jerusalem, according to Sandys, was situated on a rocky mountain every way to be ascended, except a little on the north, with steep ascents and deep valleys, naturally fortified. It is surrounded with other mountains, at no great distance, as if placed in the midst of an amphitheatre; for on the east is Mount Olivet, separated from the city by the valley of Jehoshaphat, which also encompasses a part of the north; on the south, the mountain of Offiner interposed with the valley of Gehinnom; and on the west it was formerly fenced with the valley of Gihon, and the mountains adjoining. The situation was such as to be easily rendered impregnable.
The Lord is round about his people
He is above, beneath, around them; and while they keep within it, their fortress is impregnable, and they can suffer no evil.
For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous
Rod, here. may be taken for persecution, or for rule; and then it may be thus interpreted: "The wicked shall not be permitted to persecute always, nor to have a permanent rule." In our liturgic version this clause is thus rendered: "The rod of the ungodly cometh not into the lot of the righteous." "This," said one of our forefathers, "is neither truth nor scripture. First, it is not truth; for the rod of the wicked doth come into the inheritance of the righteous, and that often. Secondly, it is not scripture, for the text saith, 'The rod of the wicked shall not rest there.' It may come, and stay for a time; but it shall not be permitted to abide."
This is only one, and not the worst, of the many sad blemishes which deform the Version in our national Prayer-book. In short, the Version of the Psalms in that book is wholly unworthy of regard; and should be thrown aside, and that in the authorized Version in the Bible substituted for it. The people of God are misled by it; and they are confounded with the great and glaring differences they find between it and what they find in their Bibles, where they have a version of a much better character, delivered to them by the authority of Church and state. Why do not our present excellent and learned prelates lay this to heart, and take away this sore stumbling-block out of the way of the people? I have referred to this subject in the introduction to the Book of Psalms. See Clarke on Psalms 1:1.
Lest the righteous put forth
Were the wicked to bear rule in the Lord's vineyard, religion would soon become extinct; for the great mass of the people would conform to their rulers. Fear not your enemies, while ye fear God. Neither Sanballat, nor Tobiah, nor Geshem, nor any of God's foes, shall be able to set up their rod, their power and authority, here. While you are faithful, the Lord will laugh them to scorn.
Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good
Let the upright ever find thee his sure defence! Increase the goodness which thou hast already bestowed upon them; and let all who are upright in heart find thee to be their stay and their support!
As for such as turn aside
Who are not faithful; who give way to sin; who backslide, and walk in a crooked way, widely different from the straight way of the upright, yesharim, the straight in heart; they shall be led forth to punishment with the common workers of iniquity. Thus thy Church will be purified, and thy peace rest upon thy true Israel. Let him that readeth understand.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIFTH PSALM
It is the purpose of the psalmist to comfort the people of God,-
I. By an assurance of their perpetuity, both from God's presence and protection, Psalms 125:1,2.
II. That though he may permit them to be harassed by the wicked, yet he will not leave them under their rod. Psalms 125:3.
III. He prays for the good; and,
IV. Sets down the portion of the wicked, Psalms 125:4,5.
I. A general promise of the perpetuity of the Church; that is, of them "that trust in God."
1. "They that trust in the Lord:" "The congregation of God's faithful people, who have the pure word of God preached, and the sacraments duly administered," Acts xix. ??
2. "Shall be as Mount Zion," secure and immovable; immovable, because a mountain,-a holy mountain,-and particularly dear to God.
3. "Which abideth for ever:" So surely as Mount Zion shall never be removed, so surely shall the Church of God be preserved. Is it not strange that wicked and idolatrous powers have not joined together, dug down this mount, and carried it into the sea, that they might nullify a promise in which the people of God exult! Till ye can carry Mount Zion into the Mediterranean Sea, the Church of Christ shall grow and prevail. Hear this, ye murderous Mohammedans!
4. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,"-to fortify it.
5. "So the Lord is round about his people"-to preserve them.
6."From henceforth, even for ever:" Through both time and eternity.
II. 1. But the Church is often persecuted and harassed. Granted; for the "rod," the power and scourge, "of the wicked, may come into the heritage of the righteous."
2. But then may it not finally prevail? No: for though it come, it shall not rest.
3. And why? Because it might finally destroy the Church, pervert the good, and cause them to join issue with the ungodly. Therefore, "they shall not be tempted above that they are able."
III. Therefore the psalmist prays,-
1. "Do good to the good:" Give them patience, and keep them faithful.
2. And "to the upright in heart:" Let not the weak and the sincere be overcome by their enemies:
IV. He sets down the lot of the ungodly:-
1. "They turn aside."
2. They get into crooked paths; they get into the spirit of the world, and are warped into its crooked and winding ways.
3. They shall be condemned, and then led forth to punishment. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways; he shall have writhing in pain, for crooked walking in sin.
4. But while this is their portion, "peace," prosperity, and blessedness, "shall be upon Israel."