19. Then thou spakest in vision to thy meek ones,1 and saidst, I have laid help upon a mighty one; I have exalted one chosen from among the people. 20. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil [literally with the oil of my holiness] have I anointed him. 21. Therefore, my hand shall be established with him: my arm also shall strengthen him. 22. The enemy shall not exact upon him,2 nor shall the son of iniquity afflict him. 23. And I will break in pieces his oppressors before his face ; and I will strike those who hate him.
19. Then thou spakest in vision to thy meek ones. The Psalmist now declares at greater length why he said that the king, set over the chosen people for the preservation of the public good, was given them from heaven; namely, because he was not chosen by the suffrages of men, nor usurped at his own hand the supreme power, nor insinuated himself into it by corrupt arts, but was elected by God to be the instrument of maintaining the public good, and performed the duties of his office under the auspices and conduct of God. The design of the prophet, as we shall shortly see more clearly, is to distinguish this Divinely-appointed king from all other kings. Although what Paul teaches in Romans 13:1, is true, "There is no power but of God;" yet there was a great difference between David and all earthly kings who have acquired sovereign power by worldly means. God had delivered the scepter to his servant David immediately with his own hand, so to speak, and had seated him on the royal throne by his own authority. The particle
There next follows the substance or amount of the Divine oracle, That God had furnished with help the strong or mighty one whom he had chosen to be the supreme head and governor of the kingdom. David is called strong, not because naturally and in himself he excelled in strength, (for, as is well known, he was of small stature, and despised among his brethren, so that even Samuel passed him over with neglects) but because God, after having chosen him, endued him with new strength, and other distinguished qualities suitable for a king; even as in a parallel case, when Christ chose his apostles, he not only honored them with the title, but at the same time bestowed the gifts which were necessary for executing their office. And at the present day he imparts to his ministers the same grace of his Spirit. The strength of David, then, of which mention is here made, was the effect of his election; for God, in creating him king, furnished him at the same time with strength adequate for the preservation of the people. This appears still more distinctly from the second clause, where this invincible strength is traced to its source: I have exalted one chosen from among the people. All the words are emphatic. When God declares that he exalted him, it is to intimate the low and mean condition in which David lived, unknown and obscure, before God stretched out his hand to him. To the same effect is the expression which follows, from among the people. The meaning is, that he was at that time unnoted, and belonged to the lowest class of the people, and gave no indications of superior excellence, being the least esteemed of his father's children, in whose country cottage he held the humble office of a herdsman.3 By the word chosen, God calls us back to the consideration of his own free will, as if he forbade us to seek for any other cause of David's exaltation than his own good pleasure.
20. I have found David my servant. The prophet confirms the same proposition, That there was nothing of royalty in David, who owed all to the sovereignty of God in preventing him by his grace. Such is the import of the word found, as if God had said, When I took him to elevate him, this proceeded entirely from my free goodness. The name servant, therefore, does not denote any merit, but is to be referred to the divine call. It is as if God had said, that he confirmed and ratified by his authority the sovereign power of David; and if He approved it, its legitimacy is placed beyond all doubt. The second clause of the verse affords an additional confirmation of God's free election: With my holy oil have I anointed him. This anointing, which was not the fruit of David's own policy, but which he obtained contrary to all expectation, was the cause of his elevation to the estate of royalty. God then having of himself, and according to his mere good pleasure, anticipated David, that he might anoint him king by the hand of Samuel, he justly declares that he found him. It is afterwards added, that he will be the guardian and protector of this kingdom of which he was the founder; for it is not his usual way to abandon his works after having commenced them, but, on the contrary, to carry them forward by a continued process of improvement to their completion.
22. The enemy shall not exact upon him.4 Here it is declared in express terms, that although David may not be without enemies, the power of God will be always ready to maintain and defend him, that he may not be oppressed with unrighteous violence. It is accordingly affirmed, that David will not be tributary to his enemies, as he who is vanquished in battle is constrained to grant such conditions of peace as his conqueror may dictate, however injurious to himself these may be. When his enemies are called sons of iniquity, it is tacitly intimated, that this government will be so exempt from tyranny and extortion, that whoever shall attempt to overthrow it will be involved in the perpetration of wrong and wickedness. The amount is, that David and his successors will be so secure and strongly fortified by the divine protection, that it will be impossible for their enemies to treat them as they would wish. In regard to the fact, that God suffered this kingdom to be greatly afflicted, so that David's successors were constrained to pay a vast amount of tribute to foreign and heathen kings, it is not at variance with this promise; for, although the power of the kingdom was reduced, it was enough that the root still remained, until Christ came, in whose hand the kingdom was at length firmly established. As both the king and the people wickedly rejected this singular blessing of God, the kingdom was often shaken through their own default, afterwards impaired, and finally ruined. Yet God, to confirm his oracle concerning the perpetuity of this kingdom, ceased not all along to cherish and preserve some hope, by contending against their ingratitude. Besides, when mention is made of David's haters and oppressors, it is intimated, that this throne will not be privileged with exemption from annoyances and troubles, inasmuch as there will be always some who will rise up in hostility against it, unless God set himself in opposition to them.
1 "Sans qu'il y en ait aucune autre cause." -- Fr.
2 The word in the Hebrew Bible for "thy meek ones" is in the singular number; but in the ancient versions, and in sixty-three MSS. of Dr Kennicott's collection, and seventy-one of De Rossi's, it is in the plural number.
3 "L'ennemi n'aura puissance sur luy." -- Fr. "The enemy shall not have power over him."
4 "Quum ultimus esset in rustico tugurio, et inter pecuarios." -- Lat. "Veu qu'il estoit le plus petit en la maison de son pere, et qu'en ce mesnage de village il estoit de ceux qui gardoyent les bestes." -- Fr.
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