1. Praise ye Jehovah! Blessed is the man that feareth Jehovah; he will greatly delight in his commandments. 2. His seed shall be powerful in the earth: 1 the generation of the righteous shall be blessed. 3. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
1. Blessed is the man that feareth Jehovah. Although the prophet begins with an exhortation, he has, as I have already pointed out, something farther in view, than simply the calling upon the faithful to praise God. To practice wickedness, and perpetrate injustice, is, in all quarters, accounted a great happiness; and, although integrity may be occasionally praised, nevertheless, there is scarcely one among a hundred who pursues it, because all imagine that they will be miserable unless, by one means or another, they seize as booty every thing which comes in their way. In opposition to this, the prophet tells us that more advantage is to be expected from God's paternal regard, than from the inflicting of every species of injury, and the perpetrating of every kind of injustice in our power; and by setting before us the certain hope of reward, he calls us back to the practice of equity and beneficence. The following is the analysis which I give of the verse: Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, and delighteth himself in his commandments; and thus, by the second clause of the verse, the prophet specifies in what the fear of God consists. And that the addition of this explanatory clause is called for, is quite apparent from what we remarked towards the conclusion of the preceding psalm. For, while the law is boldly contemned by mankind, yet nothing is more common than to pretend that they fear God. Such impiety is well refuted by the prophet, when he acknowledges none as belonging to the worshippers of God, but he who endeavors to keep his law. The Hebrew verb Ppx, chaphets, is rather emphatical, which is, as it were, to take his pleasure, and I have rendered to delight himself. For the prophet makes a distinction between a willing and prompt endeavor to keep the law, and that which consists in mere servile and constrained obedience. We must, therefore, cheerfully embrace the law of God, and that, too, in such a manner, that the love of it, with all its sweetness, may overcome all the allurements of the flesh, otherwise, mere attention to it will be unavailing. Hence a man cannot be regarded as a genuine observer of the law, until he has attained to this -- that the delight which he takes in the law of God renders obedience agreeable to him. I now resume the consideration of the passage at large. The prophet, in affirming that the worshippers of God are happy, guards us against the very dangerous deception which the ungodly practice upon themselves, in imagining that they can reap a sort of happiness, I know not what, from doing evil.
2. His seed shall be powerful. For the purpose of confirming the statement which he advanced respecting the happiness of the man that fears Jehovah and takes delight in his commandments, the prophet enumerates the tokens of God's loving-kindness, which he is wont to bestow upon his worshippers. And, in the first place, he says that God's fatherly kindness is not confined to their own persons, it also extends to their posterity: agreeably to what is said in the law, "I am merciful to a thousand generations, towards them that love me and keep my commandments," Exodus 34:7. And in Psalm 103:8, 9, and other passages, we have formerly adverted to this doctrinal statement. As, however, not a few are disposed to pervert this doctrine, by applying it as the standard according to which God dispenses his temporal favors, it is therefore proper to bear in mind what I have said in Psalm 37:25, that these are bestowed according to the manner, and in the measure, which God pleases. Sometimes it happens that a good man is childless; and barrenness itself is considered a curse of God. Again, many of God's servants are oppressed with poverty and want, are borne down under the weight of sickness, and harassed and perplexed with various calamities. It is therefore necessary to keep this general principle in view, That God sometimes bestows his bounty more profusely, and, at other times, more sparingly, upon his children, according as he sees it to be most for their good; and, moreover, he sometimes conceals the tokens of his kindness, apparently as if he had no regard for his people at all. Still, amid this perplexity, it constantly appears that these words were not uttered in vain, the righteous and their offspring are blessed. God very frequently blasts the vain hopes of the ungodly, whose sole object is to bear rule in the world, and to raise their children to places of wealth and honor. On the other hand, as the faithful are satisfied with bringing up their children in the fear of God, and contented to live sparingly, God, as it were with an outstretched hand, exalts them to honor. Add to this, that anciently, under the law, the truth of this doctrine was more evident; because it was requisite for a people inexperienced and feeble, to be trained gradually, by means of temporal benefits, to entertain a better hope. And in our times, but for our vices, God's temporal kindness would shine more brightly upon us. For experience demonstrates that what is immediately subjoined does not uniformly hold true, wealth and riches shall be in the houses of the righteous. It is no uncommon occurrence for the virtuous and holy to suffer hunger, and to be in want even of the most homely fare; and, for this reason, it would not be for their good were God to bestow more earthly benefits upon them. In afflicting circumstances, numbers of them would be incapable of behaving in a manner becoming their profession. In the meantime, we may observe, that the grace which the prophet commends appears principally in this, that the good and sincere are satisfied with their humble estate, whereas no portion, however large, even to the extent of the world itself, will content the ungodly worldling. The old adage holds true, That the covetous wants that which he has, as well as that which he has not; because he is master of nothing, and is the slave of his own wealth. In connection with this clause must also be taken that which follows, the righteousness of good men endureth for ever. This, in fact, constitutes the true and proper difference between the godly and ungodly; because the latter may, for a time, hoard up immense wealth; yet, all that shall, according to the words of the prophet, "suddenly vanish away at the blast of the Almighty," Haggai 1:9. And we daily see that what has been acquired by violence and deceit, becomes the prey and property of others. But, to the faithful, their integrity is the best and surest preserver of God's blessings.