This Psalm is akin to the preceding, and, so to speak, a kind of appendage to it; for it declares that the divine blessing, to the diffusion of which among the whole human race Solomon testified, is to be seen most conspicuously in the ease of God's true and sincere servants.
A Song of Degrees.
1. Blessed is the man who feareth Jehovah, and walketh in his ways. 2. For when thou shalt eat the labor of thy hands, thou shalt be blessed, and it shall be well with thee. 3. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine on the sides of thy house, and thy children as olive plants around thy table.1
But before I proceed farther, it is to be noticed that in the second part of the verse there is with good reason added a mark by which the servants of God are distinguished from those who despise him. We see how the most depraved, with no less pride than audacity and mockery, boast of fearing God. The Prophet therefore requires the attestation of the life as to this; for these two things, the fear of God and the keeping of his law, are inseparable; and the root must necessarily produce its corresponding fruit. Farther, we learn from this passage that our life does not meet with the divine approbation, except it be framed according to the divine law. There is unquestionably no religion without the fear of God, and from this fear the Prophet represents our living according to the commandment and ordinance of God as proceeding.
"The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
We must remember that the Prophet does not speak of the highest blessedness, which consists not in meat and drink, nor is confined within the narrow bounds of this transitory life; but he assures God's believing people that even in this pilgrimage or earthly place of sojourn they shall enjoy a happy life, in so far as the state of the world will permit; even as Paul declares that God promises both these to such as fear him, in other words, that God will take care of us during the whole course of our life, until he has at last brought us to eternal glory. (1 Timothy 4:8.) The change of person serves also to give greater emphasis to the language; for after having),' spoken in the third person, the Prophet comes to address his discourse to. each individual in particular, to this effect: -- Not only does immortal felicity await thee in heaven, but during thy pilgrimage in this world God will not cease to perform the office of the father of a family in maintaining thee, so that thy daily food will be administered to thee by his hand, provided thou art contented with a lowly condition.
"Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
But by this he does not cast any hindrance or impediment in our way to keep us from elevating our minds to heaven, but ladders are by this means rather erected to enable us to mount up thither step by step. The Prophet, therefore, very properly reminds the faithful that they already receive some fruit of their integrity, when God gives them their food, makes them happy in their wives and children, and condescends to take care of their life. But his design in commending the present goodness of God is to animate them to hasten forward with alacrity on the path which leads to their eternal inheritance. If the earthly felicity described in this Psalm may not always be the lot of the godly, but should it sometimes happen that their wife is a termagant, or proud, or of depraved morals, or that their children are dissolute and vagabonds, and even bring disgrace upon their father's house, let them know that their being deprived of God's blessing is owing to their having repulsed it by their own fault. And surely if each duly considers his own vices he will acknowledge that God's earthly benefits have been justly withheld from him.
1 "The tables of the Jews, as we may hence (and from 1 Samuel 16:11) infer, were round: they had sobs (Ezekiel 23:41) placed about them, on which (Genesis 27:19; Judges 10:6; 1 Samuel 2:5, 24, 25; 1 Kings 13:20) they sat, excepting at the Paschal feast." -- Cresswell. In the Illustrated Commentary upon the Bible, the writer on this passage objects to the common reading -- Fruitful vine by the sides of thine house. olive-plants round about thy table. "We do not remember," says he, "to have met with a single instance in the East of vines trained against the walls of a house, or of olives near or about a house. Neither have we read of such instances. The passage doubtless derives its figures from the fertility of the vine, and from the appearance of the olive, or the order in which olive-trees are planted." He accordingly proposes the following construction -- "Thy wife, on the sides (interior apartments) of thy house, shall be as the fruitful vine; and thy children, round about thy table, like olive-plants."
2 "Lequel true fois ayant bon vent sur mer, et la navigation prospore apres avoir pille une temple." -- Fr.
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