10. For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thy Christ. 11. Jehovah has sworn to David in truth, nor will he turn from it; of the fruit of thy belly will I set upon thy throne. 12. If thy children will keep my covenant and my, testimonies which I will teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.
10. For thy servant David's sake, etc. Some would connect the first part of the verse with the preceding. without adducing reasons against this, it must at once strike the reader that this verse must be taken together. Before entering upon an explanation of the Psalmist's meaning I may just say that it would be to put a forced sense upon the words were we to understand by turning away the face of thy Christ depriving us of a view of the Redeemer. We may infer with certainty from Solomon's prayer, that they are a request that God would show favor to the king. The same expression is employed by Bathsheba in the request which she made to her son Solomon, "Turn not away thy face," meaning that he would not cast her out of his sight. (1 Kings 2:20.) It is an expression tantamount to shewing displeasure; and we might say a word or two in reference to it because the other idea of referring the words to our Redeemer is plausible, and might mislead persons of little discernment. Nothing more, then, is here asked than that God would not despise and reject the prayers which David had preferred in the name of all the people. The favor is asked for David's sake, only because God had made a covenant with him. So far as that privilege was concerned, he did not stand exactly upon the footing of any other ordinary man. The prayer, in short, is to the effect that God in remembrance of his promise would show favor to the posterity of David, for though this prayer for the Church must be considered as dictated to each of the kings, the foundation was in the person of David. The Church was thus taught figuratively that Christ, as Mediator, would make intercession for all his people. As yet he had not appeared in the flesh, nor entered by the sacrifice of himself into the Holiest of all, and in the meantime the people had a figurative Mediator to embolden them in their supplications.
11. Jehovah sware unto David.1 Here he brings out the idea still more clearly, that the only thing he had respect to in David was the free promise which God had made to him. He takes notice of the fact, as confirmatory to his faith, that God had ratified the promise by oath. As to the particular words used, he speaks of God having sworn in truth, that is, not fallaciously, but in good faith, so that no doubt could be entertained of his departing from his word. The thing promised was a successor to David of his own seed; for though he did not want children, he had already almost despaired of the regular succession, from the fatal confusions which prevailed in his family, and the discord which internally rent his household, and might eventually ruin it. Solomon was particularly marked out, but the promise extended to a continuous line of successors. This arrangement affected the welfare of the whole Church, and not of David only, and the people of Godare encouraged by the assurance, that the kingdom which he had established amongst them was possessed of a sacred and enduring stability. Both king and people needed to be reminded of this divine foundation upon which it rested. We see how insolently the sovereigns of this world often deport themselves filled with pride, though in words they may acknowledge that they reign by the grace of God. How often, besides, do they violently usurp the throne; how rarely do they come to it in a regular manner. A distinction is therefore drawn between the kingdoms of this world and that which David held by the sacred tenure of God's own oracle.
12. If thy sons keep my covenant. More distinct. notice is now taken of the descending line, by which the perpetuity of the succession, as I have already shown, is pointed out. Sons of princes commonly succeed them in this world by right of inheritance, but there was this undoubted peculiarity of privilege in the case of David's kingdom, that God expressly declared that he would always have a descendant from his body upon the throne, not for one age merely, but for ever. For though that kingdom was for a time destroyed, it was restored again, and had its everlasting establishment in Christ. Here the question occurs Did the continuance of the kingdom rest upon good conduct, or human merit? for the terms of this agreement would seem to suggest that God's covenant would not be made good, unless men faithfully performed their part, and that thus the effect of the grace promised was suspended upon obedience. We must remember, in the first place, that the covenant was perfectly gratuitous, so far as related to God's promise of sending a Savior and Redeemer, because this stood connected with the original adoption of those to whom the promise was made, which was itself free. Indeed the treachery and rebellion of the nation did not prevent God from sending forth his Son, and this was a public proof that he was not influenced by the consideration of their good conduct. Hence Paul says, (Romans 3:3,)
"What if some did not believe
is therefore the truth of God of none effect?"
intimating that God had not withdrawn his favor from the Jews, having chosen them freely of his grace. We know, too, that notwithstanding their efforts, as if it had been of set purpose, to destroy the promises, God met their malicious opposition with displays of his marvellous love, made his truth and faithfulness to emerge in a most triumphant manner, and showed that he stood firm to his own purpose, independently of any merit of theirs. This may serve to show in what sense the covenant was not conditional; but as there were other things which were accessories to the covenant,2 a condition was appended, to the effect that God would bless them if they obeyed his commandments. The Jews, for declining from this obedience, were removed into exile. God seemed at that time "to make void or profane his covenant," as we have seen elsewhere. The dispersion was a kind of breaking of the covenant, but only in part and to appearance. This will be brought out more clearly by reference to what we learn, from sacred history, to have occurred shortly after David's death. By the defection of the ten tribes the kingdom suffered a severe blow, only a small portion of it being left. Afterwards it was reduced by fresh disasters, till at length it was torn up by the root. And although their return from the captivity gave some hope of restoration, there was no one bearing the name of king, and any dignity that attached to Zerubbabel was but obscure, till kings sprung up who were spurious, and not of the right line. In this case would we not have said that the covenant of God was abolished? and yet, as the Redeemer came forth from the very source predicted, it is plain that it stood firm and stable. In this sense it is said by Ezekiel of the crown, (Ezekiel 21:26,)
"Remove the diadem; reversed, reversed, reversed shall it be,
till he come whose it is;"
where the Prophet might seem to cancel what God had written with his own hand, and nullify his promise, for the safety of the people stood intimately connected with the throne, according to the expression we find in the Lamentations,
"The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord,
was taken in their pits." (Lamentations 4:20)
The Prophet, we say, might seem to strike directly against the covenant made by God, when he speaks of the crown being taken away, and yet what he adds in the subsequent part of the sentence, proves that covenant, in so far as it was gratuitous, to have been everlasting and inviolable, since he holds out the promise of the Redeemer, notwithstanding the conduct of the Jews, which was such as to exclude them temporarily from the divine, favor. God, on the one hand, took vengeance upon the people for their ingratitude, so as to show that the terms of the covenant did not run conditionally to no purpose; while on the other, at the coming of Christ there was a free performance of what had been freely promised, the crown being set upon Christ's head. The obedience which God demands is particularly stated to be the obedience of his covenant, to teach us that we must not serve him by human inventions, but confine ourselves within the prescription of his word.