10. Jehovah scattereth the counsel of the nations, and bringeth to nought the imaginations of the people.1 11. The counsel of Jehovah shall stand for ever, and the thoughts of his heart from age to age.2 12. Blessed are the people whose God is Jehovah, the people whom he hath chosen for his inheritance.
10. Jehovah scattereth the counsel of the nations. After briefly touching upon the creation of the world, the Psalmist returns to his former subject, namely, to show that the events which daily come to pass are undoubted proofs of the providence of God. And lest any man should be surprised, that he should exhibit God as an adversary to men, scattering their counsels rather than establishing and bringing them to a happy issue, he selects an instance which had the greatest power to comfort the saints. We know how many things men continually venture upon and contrive against all law and justice, and how they endeavor by their devices to turn the world upside down, that they may tyrannically acquire power to trample upon the good and simple. What creatures then would be more miserable than we, if men, possessed of such a variety of wicked affections, were permitted to act with unlicensed wantonness towards us? But when God declares from heaven to us, that it is his work to dash in pieces their devices, and to bring their determinations to nought, there is no reason why we should not keep ourselves quiet, even when they bestir themselves most tumultuously. God is, therefore, said to overthrow the counsels of men, not because he professedly delights in frustrating them, but to check their wantonness; for they would immediately throw all things into confusion were they to succeed according to their wishes:yea, as in outraging equity, and vexing the upright and innocent, they fail not to fight against God himself, it is very necessary to consider that God's power and protection is set in opposition to their fury. And as the great majority of men, despising all modesty, rush headlong into indiscriminate licentiousness, the prophet speaks not only of individual men, but of whole nations; in other words, he affirms, that however men may conspire among themselves, and determine to attempt this or that with great hosts, yet shall their purposes be brought to nought, because it is as easy for God to scatter multitudes as to restrain a few. But although it is God's design in this place to fortify us with good hope against the boldness of the wicked, he warns us, at the same time, to undertake nothing without his command and guidance.
11. The counsel of Jehovah. The prophet extols the infinite power of God in such a manner as that he may build up our faith in its greatness; for he does not here commend a counsel of God which is hidden in heaven, and which he would have us to honor and revere at a distance. But as the Lord everywhere in Scripture testifies that he loveth righteousness and truth; that he cares for the righteous and good; and that he is ever inclined to succor his servants when they are wrongfully oppressed; -- the prophet means, that all this shall remain sure and steadfast. Thus he declares for what end God bringeth to nought the counsels of the nations, namely, because without discrimination they run headlong into the violation of all order.
In the first place, then, let us learn to look at God's counsel in the glass of his word; and when we have satisfied ourselves that he has promised nothing but what he has determined to perform, let us immediately call to mind the steadfastness of which the prophet here speaks. And as many, or rather whole, nations sometimes endeavor to impede its course by innumerable hinderances, let us also remember the preceding declaration, that when men have imagined many devices, it is in God's power, and often his pleasure, to bring them to nought. The Holy Spirit unquestionably intended to have our faith exercised in this practical knowledge; otherwise what he here says of the counsel of God would be but cold and fruitless. But when we shall have once persuaded ourselves of this, that God will defend his servants who call upon his name, and rid them of all dangers; whatever mischief the wicked may practice against them, their endeavors and attempts shall in nowise terrify us, because, so soon as God sets himself in opposition to their machinations, no craft on their part will be able to defeat his counsel.
12. Blessed are the people whose God is Jehovah. This verse excellently agrees with the preceding, because it would profit us little to observe what is said of the stability of God's counsel if that counsel referred not to us. The prophet, therefore, in proclaiming that they are blessed whom God receives into his protection, reminds us that the counsel which he had just mentioned is not a secret which remains always hidden in God, but is displayed in the existence and protection of the Church, and may there be beheld. Thus we see, that it is not those who coldly speculate about the power of God, but those alone who apply it to their own present benefit, who rightly acknowledge God as the Governor of the world. Moreover, when the Psalmist places all our blessedness in this, that Jehovah is our God, in touching upon the fountain of divine love towards us, he comprehends, in one word, whatever is wont to be desired to make life happy. For when God condescends to undertake the care of our salvation, to cherish us under his wings, to provide for our necessities, to aid us in all our dangers, all this depends on our adoption by him. But lest it should be thought that men obtain so great a good by their own efforts and industry, David teaches us expressly that it proceeds from the fountain of God's gracious electing love that we are accounted the people of God. It is indeed true, that, in the person of Adam, men were created at first for the very purpose that they should be the sons of God; but the estrangement which followed upon sin deprived us of that great blessing. Until God, therefore, freely adopt us, we are all by nature wretched, and we have no other entrance to or means of attaining happiness but this, that God, of his own good pleasure, should choose us who are altogether unworthy. It appears, accordingly, how foolishly they corrupt this passage, who transfer to men what the prophet here ascribes to God, as if men would choose God for their inheritance. I own, indeed, that it is by faith that we distinguish the true God from idols; but this principle is always to be held fast, that we have no interest in him at all unless he prevent us by his grace.