8. I have set Jehovah continually before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9. Therefore my heart1 is glad, my tongue rejoiceth; my flesh also dwelleth in confidence, [or in security.]
8. I have set Jehovah, etc. The Psalmist again shows the firmness and stability of his faith. To set God before us is nothing else than to keep all our senses bound and captive, that they may not run out and go astray after any other object. We must look to him with other eyes than those of the flesh, for we shall seldom be able to perceive him unless we elevate our minds above the world; and faith prevents us from turning our back upon him. The meaning, therefore, is, that David kept his mind so intently fixed upon the providence of God, as to be fully persuaded, that whenever any difficulty or distress should befall him, God would be always at hand to assist him. He adds, also, continually, to show us how he constantly depended upon the assistance of God, so that, amidst the various conflicts with which he was agitated, no fear of danger could make him turn his eyes to any other quarter than to God in search of succor. And thus we ought so to depend upon God as to continue to be fully persuaded of his being near to us, even when he seems to be removed to the greatest distance from us. When we shall have thus turned our eyes towards him, the masks and the vain illusions of this world will no longer deceive us.
Because he is at my right hand. I read this second clause as a distinct sentence from the preceding. To connect them together as some do in this way, I have set the Lord continually before me, because he is at my right hand, would give a meagre meaning to the words, and take away much of the truth which is taught in them, as it would make David to say, that he measured God's presence according to the experience he had of it; a mode of speaking which would not be at all becoming. I consider, therefore, the words, I have set the Lord continually before me, as a complete sentence, and David set the Lord before him for the purpose of constantly repairing to him in all his dangers. For his greater encouragement to hope well, he sets before himself what it is to have God's assistance and fatherly care, namely, that it implies his keeping firm and unmoved his own people with whom he is present. David then reckons himself secure against all dangers, and promises himself certain safety, because, with the eyes of faith, he beholds God as present with him. From this passage we are furnished with an argument which overthrows the fabrication of the Sorbonists,2 that the faithful are in doubt with respect to their final perseverance; for David, in very plain terms, extends his reliance on the grace of God to the time to come. And, certainly, it would be a very miserable condition to be in, to tremble in uncertainty every moment, having no assurance of the continuance of the grace of God towards us.
9. Therefore my heart is glad. In this verse the Psalmist commends the inestimable fruit of faith, of which Scripture every where makes mention, in that, by placing us under the protection of God, it makes us not only to live in the enjoyment of mental tranquillity, but, what is more, to live joyful and cheerful. The principal, the essential part of a happy life, as we know, is to possess tranquillity of conscience and of mind; as, on the contrary, there is no greater infelicity than to be tossed amidst a multiplicity of cares and fears.
But the ungodly, however much intoxicated with the spirit of thoughtlessness or stupidity, never experience true joy or serene mental peace; they rather feel terrible agitations within, which often come upon them and trouble them, so much as to constrain them to awake from their lethargy. In short, calmly to rejoice is the lot of no man but of him who has learned to place his confidence in God alone, and to commit his life and safety to his protection. When, therefore, encompassed with innumerable troubles on all sides, let us be persuaded, that the only remedy is to direct our eyes towards God; and if we do this, faith will not only tranquillise our minds, but also replenish them with fullness of joy. David, however, not only affirms that he is glad inwardly; he also makes his tongue, yea, even his flesh, sharers of this joy. And not without cause, for true believers not only have this spiritual joy in the secret affection of their heart, but also manifest it by the tongue, inasmuch as they glory in God as He who protects them and secures their salvation. The word dwbk, kabod, properly signifies glory and excellence. I have, however, no doubt of its being here taken for the tongue,3 as it is in Genesis 49:6; for otherwise the division which is obviously made in this verse of the person into three parts is not so distinct and evident. Farther, although the body is not free from inconveniences and troubles, yet as God defends and maintains not only our souls, but also our bodies, David does not speak groundlessly when he represents the blessing of dwelling in safety as extending to his flesh in common with his soul.