12. For he will deliver the poor when he crieth to him; and the afflicted person who hath none to succor him. 13. He will have pity on the poor and indigent; and will save the souls [or lives] of the poor. 14. He will redeem their souls from fraud and violence: and their blood will be precious in his sight. 15. And he shall live; and there shall be given to him of the gold of Sheba; and prayer shall continually be made for him, and daily shall he be blessed.
12. For he will deliver the poor when he crieth to him. The Psalmist again affirms that the kingdom which he magnifies so greatly will not be tyrannical or cruel. The majority of kings, neglecting the well-being of the community, have their minds wholly engrossed with their own private interests. The consequence is, that they unmercifully oppress their miserable subjects; and it even happens that the more formidable any of them is, and the more absorbing his rapacity, he is accounted so much the more eminent and illustrious. But it is far different with the king here described. It has been held as a proverb by all mankind, "That there is nothing in which men approach nearer to God than by their beneficence;" and it would be very inconsistent did not this virtue shine forth in those kings whom God has more nearly linked to himself. Accordingly, David, to render the king beloved who was chosen of God, justly declares, not only that he will be the guardian of justice and equity, but also that he will be so humane and merciful, as to be ready to afford succor to the most despised; qualities too seldom to be found in sovereigns, who, dazzled with their own splendor, withdraw themselves to a distance from the poor and the afflicted, as if it were unworthy of, and far beneath, their royal dignity to make them the objects of their care. David avows that the blood of the common people, which is usually accounted vile and as a thing of nought, will be very precious in the estimation of this heavenly king. Constancy and magnanimity are denoted by the words he will redeem; for it would be far short of the duty of a king merely to hate fraud and extortion, did he not resolutely come forward to punish these crimes and set himself to defend those who are oppressed.1 Under the terms fraud and violence is comprehended all kind of wrong-doing; for a man in working mischief is either a lion or a fox. Some rage with open violence, and others proceed to wrong-doing insidiously and by secret arts. Moreover, we know that supreme sovereignty, both in heaven and earth, has been given to Christ, (Matthew 28:18,) that he may defend his people not only from all temporal dangers, but especially from all the harassing annoyances of Satan, until having delivered them at length from all trouble, he gather them into the everlasting rest of his heavenly kingdom.
15. And he shall live. To refer the word live to the poor, as some do, seems forced. What David affirms is, that this king shall be rewarded with long life, which is not the least of God's earthly blessings. The words which follow are to be read indefinitely, that is to say, without determining any particular person;2 as if it had been said, The gold of Arabia shall be given him, and prayers shall everywhere be made for his prosperity. There is thus again a repetition of what had been previously said concerning his power; for if Arabia shall pay him tribute, how vast an amount of riches will be gathered from so many countries nearer home! Christ, it is true, does not reign to hoard up gold, but David meant to teach by this figure, that even the nations which were most remote would yield such homage to him, as to surrender to him themselves and all that they possessed. It is no uncommon thing for the glory of the spiritual kingdom of Christ to be portrayed under images of outward splendor. David, in conformity with this usual style of Scripture, has here foretold that the kingdom of Christ would be distinguished for its wealth; but this is to be understood as referring to its spiritual character. Whence it appears how wickedly and wantonly the Papists have perverted this passage, and made it subserve their purpose of raking to themselves the perishable riches of the world. Moreover, when he speaks of the common prayers of the people, by which they will commend the prosperity of the king to the care of God, he intimates that so well-pleased will they be with being his subjects, that they will account nothing so desirable as to yield entire submission to his authority. Many, no doubt, reject his yoke, and hypocrites fret and murmur secretly in their hearts, and would gladly extinguish all remembrance of Christ, were it in their power; but the affectionate interest here predicted is what all true believers are careful to cultivate, not only because to pray for earthly kings is a duty enjoined upon them in the Word of God, but also because they ought to feel a special desire and solicitude for the enlargement of the boundaries of this kingdom, in which both the majesty of God shines forth, and their own welfare and happiness are included. Accordingly, in Psalm 118:25, we will find a form of prayer dictated for the whole Church, That God would bless this king; not that Christ stands in need of our prayers, but because he justly requires from his servants this manifestation or proof of true piety; and by it they may also exercise themselves in praying for the coming of the kingdom of God.
1 "Si d'un grand coeur il ne se presentoit pour les punir et en faire la vengence, et s'opposoit pour defendre ceux qu'on oppresse." -- Fr.
2 "C'est a dire, sans determiner quelque certaine personne." -- Fr. In the Hebrew, the three last verbs of the verse are in the singular number, in the future of kal active, and there is no nominative with which they agree. Calvin translates them literally: "Et dabit ei de auro Seba: et orabit pro eo semper, quotidie benedicit eum;" "And shall give to him of the gold of Sheba, and shall pray for him continually, daily shall bless him." But, on the margin of the French version, he thus explains the construction: "C'est, on luy donnera, etc., on priera, etc., on benira." "That is, the gold of Sheba shall be given to him, prayer shall be made for him continually, and daily shall he be blessed."
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