5. Exalt Jehovah our God, and worship at his footstool; he 1 is holy. 6. Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among those who call upon his name; they called upon Jehovah, and he answered them. 7. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: 2 they kept his testimonies, and the statute which he gave them. 8. O Jehovah our God, thou wast a God that wast favorable to them, though thou didst take vengeance upon their inventions. 9. Exalt Jehovah our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for Jehovah our God is holy.
But as the minds of men are prone to superstition, it was necessary to check this propensity, lest they should associate with their notions of God things fleshly and earthly, and their thoughts should be wholly engrossed by the outward forms of worship. The prophet, therefore, in calling the temple God's footstool, desires the godly to elevate their thoughts above it, for he fills heaven and earth with his infinite glory. Nevertheless, by these means he reminds us that true worship can be paid to God no where else than upon mount Zion. For he employs a style of writing such as is calculated to elevate the minds of the godly above the world, and, at the same time, does not in the least degree detract from the holiness of the temple, which alone of all places of the earth God had chosen as the place where he was to be worshipped. From this we may see, since the days of Augustine, how vainly many perplex themselves in endeavoring to ascertain the reason for the prophet ordering God's footstool to be worshipped. The answer of Augustine is ingenious. If, says he, we look to Christ's manhood, we will perceive a reason why we may worship the footstool of God, and yet not be guilty of idolatry; for that body in which he wishes to be worshipped he took from the earth, and on this earth nothing else than God is worshipped, for the earth is both the habitation of Deity, and God himself condescended to become earth. All this is very plausible, but it is foreign to the design of the prophet, who, intending to distinguish between legal worship, (which was the only worship that God sanctioned,) and the superstitious rites of the heathen, summons the children of Abraham to the temple, as if to their standard, there, after a spiritual manner, to worship God, because he dwells in celestial glory.
Now that the shadowy dispensation has passed away, I believe that God cannot otherwise be properly worshipped, than when we come to him directly through Christ, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells. It were improper and absurd for any one to designate him a footstool. For the prophet merely spake in this manner to show that God was not confined to the visible temple, but that he is to be sought for above all heavens, 3inasmuch as he is elevated above the whole world.
The frantic bishops of Greece, in the second Council of Nice, very shamefully perverted this passage, when they endeavored to prove from it that God was to be worshipped by images and pictures. The reason 4 assigned for exalting Jehovah our God, and worshipping at his footstool, contains an antithesis:
In the close of the psalm he repeats the same sentence which we had in the fifth verse, only substituting
1 The marginal translation in our English Bible is, it is holy, connecting holy with Jehovah's footstool, mentioned in the preceding clause. This construction appears to be very appropriate. The third, the fifth, and in effect the ninth verses, end with this expression, which seems to be a kind of chorus, and thus divides the psalm into three parts. The first part terminates with ascribing holiness to the name of Jehovah; the second with attributing the same property to his abode; and at the conclusion, holiness, essential, infinite, and immutable holiness, is ascribed to Jehovah himself.
"And it came to pass as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying," etc.
And when God said to Moses, Exodus 17:6, "Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb," The meaning undoubtedly is, that the cloudy pillar, from which he was to speak, would stand upon Horeb. See also Exodus 19:9, 18, 19. To this intercourse Aaron as well as Moses was admitted, as we learn from the 24th verse of that chapter, and from Exodus 20:21, 22. The only difficulty here is, how God can be said to have spoken to Samuel out of the cloudy pillar, of which we have no particular account in his history. To this it may be answered, that when God called upon Samuel four times successively, at the fourth time he "came and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel," (verse 10,) which seems parallel to those words of God to Moses, Exodus 17:6, "I will stand before thee upon the rock," and may, therefore, be presumed to mean that the cloud, the usual emblem of the Divine presence under the former dispensation, came and stood before Samuel, and that God spake from it, though it is evident that at the three preceding calls it did not appear. Again, when Samuel's offerings and prayers were so signally heard at Mizpeh, 1 Samuel 7, it is said, verse 9, "The Lord answered him," and verse 10, "The Lord thundered with a great thunder;" and as where thunder is, a cloud is supposed to exist, this answering of Samuel with thunder may not unreasonably be supposed to denote God's speaking to him at this time also out of the cloud.
3 "Comme aussi il est esleve par dessus tout le monde." -- Fr.
4 "La cause qu'il rend." -- Fr. "Causae redditio." -- Lat.
5 "Ceux qui sont les principaux et les plus excellens personnages." -- Fr.
6 Accordingly, some instead of priests read princes, or chief men.
7 Hammond translates, "O God, thou was propitiated for their sakes." He observes, that
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