The Treasury of David

Psalm 14

Title. This admirable ode is simply headed, “To the Chief Musician, by David.” The dedication to the Chief Musician stands at the head of fifty-three of the Psalms, and clearly indicates that such psalms were intended, not merely for the private use of believers, but to be sung in the great assemblies by the appointed choir at whose head was the overseer, or superintendent, called in our version, “the Chief Musician, “and by Ainsworth, “the Master of the Music.” Several of these psalms have little or no praise in them, and were not addressed directly to the Most High, and yet were to be sung in public worship; which is a clear indication that the theory of Augustine lately revived by certain hymn book makers, that nothing but praise should be sung, is far more plausible than scriptural. Not only did the ancient Church chant hallowed doctrine and offer prayer amid her spiritual songs, but even the wailing notes of complaint were put into her mouth by the sweet singer of Israel who was inspired of God. Some persons grasp at any nicety which has a gloss of apparent correctness upon it, and are pleased with being more fancifully precise than others; nevertheless it will ever be the way of plain men, not only to magnify the Lord in sacred canticles, but also, according to Paul’s precept, to teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts unto the Lord. As no distinguishing title is given to this Psalm, we would suggest as an assistance to the memory, the heading—Concerning Practical Atheism. The many conjectures as to the occasion upon which it was written are so completely without foundation, that it would be a waste of time to mention them at length. The apostle Paul, in Romans 3:1-31, has shown incidentally that the drift of the inspired writer is to show that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin; there was, therefore, no reason for fixing upon any particular historical occasion, when all of history reeks with terrible evidence of human corruption. With instructive alterations, David has given us in Psalms 53:1-6 a second edition of this humiliating psalm, being moved of the Holy Ghost thus doubly to declare a truth which is ever distasteful to carnal minds.

Division. The world’s foolish creed (Psalms 14:1); its practical influence in corrupting morals, Psalms 14:1-3. The persecuting tendencies of sinners, Psalms 14:4; their alarms, Psalms 14:5; their ridicule of the godly, Psalms 14:6; and a prayer for the manifestation of the Lord to his people’s joy.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 14:6

Exposition

Notwithstanding their real cowardice, the wicked put on the lion’s skin and lord it over the Lord’s poor ones. Though fools themselves, they mock at the truly wise as if the folly were on their side; but this is what might be expected, for how should brutish minds appreciate excellence, and how can those who have owl’s eyes admire the sun? The special point and butt of their jest seems to be the confidence of the godly in their Lord. What can your God do for you now? Who is that God who can deliver out of our hand? Where is the reward of all your praying and beseeching? Taunting questions of this sort they thrust into the faces of weak but gracious souls, and tempt them to feel ashamed of their refuge. Let us not be laughed out of our confidence by them, let us scorn their scorning and defy their jeers; we shall need to wait but a little, and then the Lord our refuge will avenge his own elect, and ease himself of his adversaries, who once made so light of him and of his people.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge. In the fifty-third Psalm it is, “Thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.” Of course, the allusion is totally different in each; in this Psalm it is the indignant remonstrance of the Psalmist with “the workers of iniquity” for undervaluing and putting God’s poor to shame; the other affirms the final shame and confusion of the ungodly, and the contempt in which the Lord holds them. In either case it sweetly illustrates God’s care of his poor, not merely the poor in spirit, but literally the poor and low ones, the oppressed and the injured. It is this character of God which is so conspicuously delineated in his word. We may look through all the Shasters and Vedas of the Hindu, the Koran of the Muslims, the legislation of the Greek, and the code of the Roman, aye, and the Talmud of the Jew, the bitterest of all; and not in one single line or page shall we find a vestige or trace of that tenderness, compassion, or sympathy for the wrongs, and oppressions, and trials, and sorrows of God’s poor, which the Christian’s Bible evidences in almost every page. Barton Bouchier.

Ye have shamed. Every fool that saith in his heart there is no God, hath out of the same quiver a bolt to shoot at goodness. Barren Michal hath too many sons, who, like their mother, jeer at holy David. John Trapp.

Ye have shamed, saith he, the counsel of the poor. There is nothing that wicked men do so despise as the making God a refuge—nothing which they scorn in their hearts like it. “They shame it, “saith he, “It is a thing to be cast out of all consideration. The wise man trusts in his wisdom, the strong man in his strength, the rich man in his riches; but this trusting in God is the most foolish thing in the world.” The reasons of it are—

  1. They know not God; and it is a foolish thing to trust one knows not whom.
  2. They are enemies to God, and God is their enemy; and they account it a foolish thing to trust their enemy.
  3. They know not the way of God’s assistance and help. And—
  4. They seek for such help, such assistance, such supplies, as God will not give; to be delivered, to serve their lusts; to be preserved, to execute their rage, filthiness, and folly. They have no other design or end of these things; and God will give none of them. And it is a foolish thing in any man to trust God to be preserved in sin. It is true, their folly is their wisdom, considering their state and condition. It is a folly to trust in God to live in sin, and despise the counsel of the poor. John Owen.

Ye have made a mock of the counsel of the poor: and why? because the Lord is his trust. This is the very true cause, whatsoever other pretences there be. Whence observe this doctrine; that true godliness is that which breeds the quarrel between God’s children and the wicked. Ungodly men may say what they list, as, namely, that they hate and dislike them for that they are proud and saucy in meddling with their betters; for that they are so scornful and disdainful towards their neighbours; for that they are malcontent, and turbulent, and I know not what; but the true reason is yielded by the Lord in this place, to wit, because they make him their stay and their confidence, and will not depend upon lying vanities as the men of the world do. John Dod.

The Lord is his refuge. Be persuaded actually to hide yourselves with Jesus Christ. To have a hiding place and not to use it, is as bad as to want one; fly to Christ; run into the holes of this Rock. Ralph Robinson, 1656.

Hints to the Village Preacher

The wisdom of making the Lord our refuge. John Owen.

Describe,

  1. The poor man here intended.
  2. His counsel.
  3. His reproach.
  4. His refuge.

Trust in God, a theme for mockery to fools only. Show its wisdom.
The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms

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