John Calvin: Commentary on the Psalms Volume 5

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Some translate the Hebrew word Nehiloth, heritages, and others, armies. The former assign this reason for their opinion, that David prayed for the welfare of the twelve tribes, whom he calls heritages. Psalm Give ear unto my words, O Jehovah; attend to my speech. Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God: for unto thee will I pray. I presume not positively to determine whether David, in this psalm, bewails the wrongs which he suffered from his enemies at some particular time, or whether he complains generally of the various persecutions with which, for a long time, he was harassed under Saul.

Some of the Jewish commentators apply the psalm even to Absalom; because, by the bloody and deceitful man , they think Doeg and Ahithophel are pointed out. To me, however, it appears more probable, that when David, after the death of Saul, had got peaceable possession of the kingdoms he committed to writing the prayers which he had meditated in his afflictions and dangers.

But to come to the words:— First, he expresses one thing in three different ways; and this repetition denotes the strength of his affection, and his long perseverance in prayer. For he was not so fond of many words as to employ different forms of expression, which had no meaning; but being deeply engaged in prayer, he represented, by these various expressions, the variety of his complaints.

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By not uttering the desires of his heart, he shows more emphatically that his inward feelings, which he brought with him before God, were such that language was insufficient to express them. Again, the word cry , which signifies a loud and sonorous utterance of the voice, serves to mark the earnestness of his desire. David did not cry out as it were into the ears of one who was deaf; but the vehemence of his grief and his inward anguish, burst forth into this cry. But the second sense seems better suited to this passage. And as by calling God his King and his God, he intended to stir up himself to entertain more lively and favorable hopes with respect to the issue of his afflictions, let us learn to apply these titles to a similar use, namely, for the purpose of making ourselves more familiar with God.

At the close, he testifies that he does not sullenly gnaw the bit, as unbelievers are accustomed to do; but directs his groaning to God: for they who, disregarding God, either fret inwardly or utter their complaints to men, are not worthy of being regarded by him. Some translate the last clause thus, When I pray to thee; but to me it seems rather to be the reason which David assigns for what he had said immediately before, and that his purpose is, to encourage himself to trust in God, by assuming this as a general principle that whoever call upon God in their calamities never meet with a repulse from him.

O that thou wouldst hear my voice in the morning; O Jehovah, in the morning will I direct unto thee, and I will keep watch. The first sentence may also be read in the future tense of the indicative mood, Thou shalt hear my prayer. But, in my opinion, the verb is rather in the optative mood, as I have translated it. Having besought God to grant his requests, he now entreats him to make haste. Some think he alludes to the morning prayers which were wont to be joined with the daily sacrifices in the temple, according to the appointment of the law.

Therefore, O Lord, delay no longer the help of which I stand in need, but grant immediately my desires.

Many, as if the language were elliptical, supply the words, my prayer. But in my judgment, David rather intends to declare that he was not turned hither and thither, nor drawn different ways by the temptations to which he was exposed, but that to betake himself to God was the settled order of his life. There is, in the words, an implied contrast between the rambling and uncertain movements of those who look around them for worldly helps, or depend on their own counsels and the direct leading of faith, by which all the godly are withdrawn from the vain allurements of the world, and have recourse to God alone.

This sense is very suitable to the passage, in which David plainly declares it to be his determination not to be drawn away in any degree from his orderly course into the indirect and circuitous paths of error and sin, but to come directly to God.

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Commentary on Psalms - Volume 1

By the word, watch, he conveys the idea of hope and patience as well as of anxiety. No doubt, in the exercise of longing, there is always implied some degree of uneasiness; but he who is looking out for the grace of God with anxious desire, will patiently wait for it. This passages therefore, teaches us the uselessness of those prayers to which there is not added that hope which may be said to elevate the minds of the petitioners into a watch-tower.

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all that commit iniquity.

Commentary on the Book of Psalms: Volume 2 (only, of 5)

Here David makes the malice and wickedness of his enemies an argument to enforce his prayer for the divine favor towards him. The language is indeed abrupt, as the saints in prayer will often stammer; but this stammering is more acceptable to God than all the figures of rhetoric, be they ever so fine and glittering.

Besides, the great object which David has in view, is to show, that since the cruelty and treachery of his enemies had reached their utmost height, it was impossible but that God would soon arrest them in their course. His reasoning is grounded upon the nature of God. Since righteousness and upright dealing are pleasing to him, David, from this, concludes that he will take vengeance on all the unjust and wicked.

And how is it possible for them to escape from his hand unpunished, seeing he is the judge of the world?

Psalm 121 and the Perseverance of the Saints (Calvin)

The passage is worthy of our most special attention. Likewise the mountains that shake in the heart of the sea are not just any mountains but the mountains which hold up the world, the foundations which are being shaken. Our lack of fear is conditional; it is trust in God alone, rather than some easy calm of our own devising. Hear Calvin on this, in his commentary on Psalm It is an easy matter to manifest the appearance of great confidence, so long as we are not placed in imminent danger: but if, in the midst of a general crash of the whole world, our minds continue undisturbed and free of trouble, this is an evident proof that we attribute to the power of God the honor which belongs to him.

In any version of the hymn God the fortress stands in contrast to all strongholds built with hands. This is what has become of the universally destructive chaos—element of water in the second creation saga. This is what it now attests and signifies. It is no longer the water averted and restrained but the water summoned forth by God.

It is no longer now the suppressed enemy of man but his most intimate friend. It is no longer his destruction but his salvation. It is not a principle of death, but of life.

The statements in the Psalms about the dwelling place or throne of God are made of the place which can not be found on any map. So where can God, who is our refuge and strength, be found? In the Old Testament there is, of course, always a dwelling place that can be found on a map, but the freedom of God prohibits a simple equation of God with any place. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. The sad fact is that few teachers and preachers of the gospel today ever use any of Calvin's commentaries.

Some busy pastors and ministers balk at the sheer scale of Calvin's five-volume commentary on the Psalms, which forms part of a much larger twenty-two-volume set. Others tend to shy away from Calvin's writings, mistakenly thinking that such are the preserve of academics and theologians, and not of the whole church. Alas, nothing could be further from the truth! This abridgement has been made with such people in mind.

It is not intended to deprive readers of the full benefit of Calvin's unabridged text, but to edify those who otherwise might remain strangers to Calvin's practical and pastoral wisdom. Indeed, in the view of the publisher the editor's noble aims have been fully met, that in this single volume 'something of the unsurpassed excellence of Calvin's instruction will have been preserved and made available to a wider public than would ever have made use of the original massive and magisterial work.

This book might be a good addition to your library for quick thoughts on the Psalms, but the text is way too abridged for it to be immensely useful in sermon preparation. If you are looking for a quick devotional commentary on the Psalms this may be the right fit for you, if you are looking to preach out of the Psalms your money would be better spent elsewhere. Spurgeon's 3 Volume Treasury of David is probably the best bet for anyone considering preaching from the Psalms.

Kudos to David Searle for trying to make Calvin's thoughts on the Psalms accessible to everyone, but I think it went to far for the preacher. We promise to never spam you, and just use your email address to identify you as a valid customer. This product hasn't received any reviews yet.