1. They who confide in Jehovah "are" as mount Zion, "which" shall not be removed, "but" shall abide for ever.1 2. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so Jehovah round about his people, henceforth and for ever.
1. They who confide in Jehovah are as mount Zion. The present Psalm differs from the preceding in this -- that while in the other it was said that the Church had been preserved by the power of God, without any human means, the Holy Spirit, in the one before us, teaches that in the time to come she shall always continue in perfect safety, because she is defended by the invincible power of God. When the Church is emblematically described by the situation of the city of Jerusalem, the design of the Prophet is to encourage each of the faithful to believe, that the safety promised in common to all the chosen people belongs to him. But in exhibiting to the eyes a visible image of the Church, he accommodates himself to the rudeness of those who, detained by the dulness of the flesh, still continue settled down in the earth. It ought then, in the first place, to be noticed, that to those who may not sufficiently apprehend by faith the secret protection of God, the mountains which environ Jerusalem are exhibited as a mirror, in which they may see, beyond all doubt, that the Church is as well defended from all perils, as if it were surrounded on all sides with like walls and bulwarks. Moreover, it is profitable to know what I have just now touched upon -- that whenever God speaks to all his people in a body, he addresses himself also to each of them in particular. As not a few of the promises are extended generally to the whole body of the Church, so many contemplate them as at a distance, as far removed from them, and will not presume to appropriate them to themselves. The rule here prescribed must therefore be observed, which is, that each apply to himself whatever God promises to his Church in common. Nor does the Psalmist without cause make Jerusalem a representation of the Church, for the sanctuary of God and the ark of the covenant were there.
With respect to the explanation of the words, it is to be observed that the last two verbs of the first verse may be understood in two ways. They may both be governed by Jerusalem as the nominative. But some understand the first verb, jwmy al al, lo yimmot, shall not be removed, only as spoken of Jerusalem and the latter verb, bsy, yesheb, shall abide, as referring to the faithful, so that according to this view there is a change of number, which is very common among the Hebrews -- the singular number, bsy, yesheb, being used instead of the plural, wbsy, yeshbu. And certainly the sentence might not improperly be translated thus: They who trust in Jehovah, as mount Zion shall not be removed, shall dwell for ever, or continue steadfast, for the verb translated to abide is taken in this sense. We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet, which is, that although the world is subject to so many and so sudden changes as almost to put on a new face every moment, and although the faithful are mingled with and placed in the same external condition as others, yet their safety continues steadfast under the invincible protection of God. Not that they are permitted to dwell undisturbed and at ease; but because their safety being under the guardianship of God is assaulted in vain; at least they can never altogether fall, although they may stumble. But let us notice that the word Myxmbh, habbtechim, which signifies, those who hope or wait for, conveys an implicit injunction to steadfastness of faith. Whoever, then, desires to be sustained by the hand of God, let him constantly lean upon it; and whoever would be defended by it, let him patiently repose himself under it. When God suffers us to be often carried hither and thither, or driven about like chaff by the wind, this comes to pass through our own inconstancy -- because we prefer fluttering in the air to fixing our minds on the rock of his help. The similitude employed in the second verse is abundantly plain, teaching us, that as the continuous chain of mountains round about Jerusalem exhibits the appearance of walls, so God encompasses the faithful by his power, to ward off from them all harm.2 Similar forms of expression are frequently to be met with in the Scriptures' God often promises to be a wall and a fore-wall to his people. But David, or whoever was the author of the psalm, proceeds still farther, showing under the figure of mountains the secret protection with which God defends his own people, to the end that the ignorant and feeble-minded who are still held down to the earth by their own dulness of understanding, aided by the sight of the mountains, may raise their minds upwards to the conception and contemplation of heavenly things.