The Psalmist teaches us, in the first place, that human affairs are not regulated by the fickle and uncertain wheel of fortune, but that we must observe the judgments of God in the different vicissitudes which occur in the world, and which men imagine happen by chance. Consequently, adversity and all the ills which mankind endure, as shipwrecks, famines, banishments, diseases, and disasters in war, are to be regarded as so many tokens of God's displeasure, by which he summons them, on account of their sins, before his judicial throne. But prosperity, and the happy issue of events, ought also to be attributed to his grace, in order that he may always receive the praise which he deserves, that of being a merciful Father, and an impartial Judge. About the close of the psalm, he inveighs against those ungodly men who will not acknowledge God's hand, amid such palpable demonstrations of his providence. 1
1 "The author of this psalm is not known; but it was probably David, although some think it better to consider it as having been written after the return from the Babylonish captivity. This psalm is of very singular construction, and was obviously intended to be sung in responses. It has a frequently recurring double burden or intercalary verse. The first burden is found in verses 6, 13, 19, 28; the second 8, 15, 21, 31; that is, after the description of a class of calamities comes the first chorus expressing the cry to the Lord for deliverance; then a single verse describes the deliverance as granted, after which follows the chorus of thanksgiving -- and thus on to verse 35, where the system ends. The last two burdens are, however, separate by two verses instead of one, as before. It will also be observed, that the second chorus has sometimes annexed another reflective distich, illustrative of the sentiment, as in verses 9, 16. There are many other examples of a similar arrangement to be found in the Psalms; but in Lowth's opinion, few of them are equal, and none superior, to this." -- Illustrated Commentary upon the Bible. The beauties of this very interesting and highly instructive composition are many and striking, of which the least intelligent reader who peruses it with any degree of attention must be convinced. In point of poetical beauty, it may, according to the best judges, be classed with the most admired productions of Theocritus, Bion, Moschus, or Virgil. "It may undoubtedly be enumerated," remarks Lowth, "among the most elegant monuments of antiquity; and it is chiefly indebted for its elegance to the general plan and conduct of the poem. It celebrates the goodness and mercy of God towards mankind, as demonstrated in the immediate assistance and comfort which he affords, in the greatest calamities, to those who devoutly implore his aid: in the first place, to those who wander in the desert, and who encounter the horrors of famine; next, to those who are in bondage; again, to those who are afflicted with disease; and, finally, to those who are tossed about upon the ocean. The prolixity of the argument is occasionally relieved by narration; and examples are superadded of the divine severity in punishing the wicked, as well as of his benignity to the devout and virtuous." -- Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, volume 2, page 376. "Had such an Idyl," says Dr Adam Clarke, "appeared in Theocritus or Virgil, or had it been found as a scene in any of the Greek Tragedies, even in æschylus himself, it would have been praised up to the heavens, and probably been produced as their masterpiece."
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