- The design of this psalm is to reprove the common miscarriages of many professors of religion, who satisfied their own consciences, and fancied that they pleased God with their external and ceremonial performances, notwithstanding their neglect of piety, justice, and charity: and to instruct men concerning the nature of the true and acceptable worship of God. The glorious appearance of the great judge, verse 1-6.
- Instructions given how to worship him, verse 7-15.
- A reproof of those who pretend to worship him, while they disobey his commands, verse 16-20.
- Their doom read, and warning given to all, to order their conversation aright, verse 21-23.
- A psalm of Asaph.
Title of the psalm. Asaph-Who was not only the chief of the sacred singers, but also a prophet, 2 Chronicles 29:30, and a composer of several psalms, 2 Chronicles 29:30.
Called - All the inhabitants of the earth, from one end to the other: whom he here summons to be witnesses of his proceedings in this solemn judgment, between him and his people, which is here poetically represented. For here is a tribunal erected, the judge coming to it, the witnesses and delinquents summoned, and at last the sentence given.
Zion - The place where he was supposed to reside, and where he would now sit in judgment. The perfection - The most amiable place of the whole world, because, of the presence and worship, and blessing of God. Shined - Hath manifested himself in a glorious manner.
Our God - The prophet speaks this in the persons of the worshippers of God. Though he be our God, yet he will come to execute judgment upon us. Cease - Or delay to sit in judgment. Tempestuous - This is a farther description of that terrible majesty, wherewith God would clothe himself when he came to his tribunal.
Call - To the inhabitants of them, all angels and men, whom he calls in for witnesses of the equity of his proceedings.
Gather - O ye angels, summon and fetch them to my tribunal. Which is poetically spoken, to continue the metaphor, and representation of the judgment. My saints - The Israelites, whom God had chosen and separated them from all the nations of the earth, to be an holy and peculiar people to himself, and they also had solemnly devoted themselves to God; all which aggravated their apostacy. Those - Who have entered into covenant with me, and have ratified that covenant by sacrifice. This seems to be added, to acquaint them with the proper nature, use and end of sacrifices, which were principally appointed to be signs and seals of the covenant made between God and his people; and consequently to convince them of their great mistake in trusting to their outward sacrifices, when they neglected the very life and soul of them, which was the keeping of their covenant with God.
Declare - God will convince the people of his righteousness, and of their own wickedness, by thunders and lightnings, and storms, or other dreadful signs wrought by him in the heavens. Himself - In his own person. God will not now reprove them, by his priests or prophets, but in an extraordinary manner from heaven.
Hear - Having brought in God, as coming to judgment, he now gives an account of the process and sentence of the judge. Testify - I will declare my charge against thee. Thy God - Not only in general, but in a special manner, by that solemn covenant made at Sinai; whereby I avouched thee to be my peculiar people, and thou didst avouch me to be thy God.
I will not - This is not the principal matter of my charge, that thou hast neglected sacrifices which thou shouldst have offered.
Bullock - Be not so foolish, as to imagine that thou dost lay any obligations upon me by thy sacrifices.
The fowls - Such as are wild and fly up and down upon mountains.
Offer - If thou wouldest know what sacrifices I prize, and indispensably require, in the first place, it is that of thankfulness, proportionable to my great and numberless favours; which doth not consist barely in verbal acknowledgments, but proceeds from an heart deeply affected with God's mercies, and is accompanied with such a course of life, as is well-pleasing to God. Vows - Those substantial vows and promises, which were the very soul of their sacrifices.
Call - And make conscience of that great duty of fervent prayer, which is an acknowledgment of thy subjection to me, and of thy trust and dependance upon me. Glorify - Thou shalt have occasion to glorify me for thy deliverance.
But - With what confidence darest thou make mention of my grace and favour, in giving thee such a covenant and statutes.
Kept silence - I did not express my displeasure against thee in such judgments as thou didst deserve. Thoughtest - Thou didst misconstrue my patience and long-suffering, as if it had proceeded from my approbation of thy evil courses. Set in order - I will bring to thy remembrance, and lay upon thy conscience all thy sins.
Glorifieth - He and he only gives me the honour that I require, and not he who loads my altar with sacrifices.