Subject. We have before us a National Anthem, fitted to be sung at the outbreak of war, when the monarch was girding on his sword for the fight. If David had not been vexed with wars, we might never have been favoured with such psalms as this. There is a needs be for the trials of one saint, that he may yield consolation to others. A happy people here plead for a beloved sovereign, and with loving hearts cry to Jehovah, “God save the King.” We gather that this song was intended to be sung in public, not only from the matter of the song, but also from its dedication “To the Chief Musician.” We know its author to have been Israel’s sweet singer, from the short title, “A Psalm of David.” The particular occasion which suggested it, it would be mere folly to conjecture, for Israel was almost always at war in David’s day. His sword may have been hacked, but it was never rusted. Kimchi reads the title, concerning David, or, for David, and it is clear that the king is the subject as well as the composer of the song. It needs but a moment’s reflection to perceive that this hymn of prayer is prophetical of our Lord Jesus, and is the cry of the ancient church on behalf of her Lord, as she sees him in vision enduring a great fight of afflictions on her behalf. The militant people of God, with the great Captain of salvation at their head, may still in earnest plead that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in his hand. We shall endeavour to keep to this view of the subject in our brief exposition, but we cannot entirely restrict out remarks to it.
Division. (Psalms 20:1-4) are a prayer for the success of the king. (Psalms 20:5-7) express unwavering confidence in God and his Anointed; (Psalms 20:8) declares the defeat of the foe, and (Psalms 20:9) is a concluding appeal to Jehovah.
The Treasury of David.
Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice. Selah. Before war kings offered sacrifice, upon the acceptance of which the depended for success; our blessed Lord presented himself as a victim, and was a sweet savour unto the Most High, and then he met and routed the embattled legions of hell. Still does his burnt sacrifice perfume the courts of heaven, and through him the offerings of his people are received as his sacrifices and oblations. We ought in our spiritual conflicts to have an eye to the sacrifice of Jesus, and never venture to war until first the Lord has given us a token for good at the altar of the cross, where faith beholds her bleeding Lord.
Selah. It is well to pause at the cross before we march onward to battle, and with the psalmist cry “Selah.” We are too much in a hurry to make good haste. A little pausing might greatly help our speed. Stay, good man, there is a haste which hinders; rest awhile, meditate on the burnt sacrifice, and put thy heart right for the stern work which lieth before thee.
Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice. All thy offerings; the humiliation that brought him from heaven to earth; the patient tabernacling in the womb of the holy Virgin; the poor nativity; the hard manger; ox and ass for courtiers; the weary flight into Egypt; the poor cottage at Nazareth; the doing all good, and bearing all evil; the miracles, the sermons, the teachings; the being called a man gluttonous and a wine bibber, the friend of publicans and sinners; the attribution of his wondrous deeds to Beelzebub. And accept thy burnt sacrifice. As every part of the victim was consumed in a burnt sacrifice, so what limb, what sense of our dear Lord did not agonize in his passion? The thorny crown on his head; the nails in his hands and feet; the reproaches that filled his ears; the gloating multitude on whom his dying gaze rested; the vinegar and the gall; the evil odours of the hill of death and corruption. The ploughers ploughed upon his back, and made long furrows; his most sacred face was smitten with the palm of the hand, his head with the reed. What could have been done more for the vineyard than he did not do in it? Isaiah 5:4. So, what more could have been borne by the vine, that this dear Vine did not bear? “Remember” them now, O Father, call to mind for us sinners, for us miserable sinners, and for our salvation, “all” these “offerings;” “accept,” instead of our eternal punishment, who are guilty, his “burnt sacrifice,” who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth! Dionysius, and Gerhohus (1093-1169), quoted by J. M. Neale.
Accept: Hebrew, “turn to ashes,” by fire form heaven, in token of his acceptance, as was usual. Matthew Poole.
That thy burnt offering may be fat. That is, abundant, fruitful, and full. But here we must understand this burnt offering, as we did the sacrifice, in a spiritual sense, as we have before observed. Thus Christ offered up himself wholly upon the cross to be consumed by the fire of love. And here, instead of “all thy sacrifice, “it might be rendered “the whole of thy sacrifice.” Even as burnt sacrifice (holocaustum) signifies the whole of it being burnt with fire. By which groanings of the Spirit, he shows and teaches the righteous, that they should pray and hope that none of their sufferings shall be vain, but that all shall be well pleasing, remembered, and fully acceptable. Martin Luther.
Selah. This word, in the judgment of the learned, is sometime vox optantis, the voice of one that wishes, equivalent to amen; of vox admirantis, the voice of one admiring, showing some special matter; or vox affirmantis, of one affirming, avouching what is said; or vox meditantis, of one meditating, requiring consideration of what is said. But withal, it is a rest in music. Jerome saith it is commutatio metri, or vicissitudo canendi. Edward Marbury.
Ver. 1-3. A model of good wishes for our friends.
God’s ceaseless respect to the sacrifice of Jesus.
Ver. 3-4. The great privilege of this fourfold acceptance in the Beloved.
The Treasury of David.
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