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.
Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed. We live and learn, and what we learn we are not ashamed to acknowledge. He who thinks he knows everything will miss the joy of finding out new truth; he will never be able to cry, “now know I, “for he is so wise in his own conceit that he knows all that can be revealed and more. Souls conscious of ignorance shall be taught of the Lord, and rejoice as they learn. Earnest prayer frequently leads to assured confidence. The church pleaded that the Lord Jesus might win the victory in his great struggle, and now by faith she sees him saved by the omnipotent arm. She evidently finds a sweet relish in the fragrant title of “anointed;” she thinks of him as ordained before all worlds to his great work, and then endowed with the needful qualifications by being anointed of the Spirit of the Lord; and this is evermore the choicest solace of the believer, that Jehovah himself hath anointed Jesus to be a Prince and a Saviour, and that our shield is thus the Lord’s own anointed.
He will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. It is here asserted confidently that God’s holiness and power would both come to the rescue of the Saviour in his conflict, and surely these two glorious attributes found congenial work in answering the sufferer’s cries. Since Jesus was heard, we shall be; God is in heaven, but our prayers can scale those glorious heights; those heavens are holy, but Jesus purifies our prayers, and so they gain admittance; our need is great, but the divine arm is strong, and all its strength is “saving strength; “that strength, moreover, is in the hand which is most used and which is used most readily—the right hand. What encouragements are these for pleading saints!
Now know I. A sudden change of number, speaking in the person of one, thereby to note the unity and consent of the people to this prayer, as though they had been all one, and uttered it all with one mouth.
And will hear him (see Psalms 20:1), from his sanctuary. One readeth it thus—”from the heavens of his holiness; “meaning, from heaven where his holiness dwelleth. Thomas Wilcocks.
He will hear him. I would be glad of the prayers of all the churches of Christ; O that there were not a saint on earth but that I were by name in his morning and evening prayer (whosoever that art that readest, I beseech thee pray for me); but above all, let me have a property in those prayers and intercessions that are proper only to Christ; I am sure then I should never miscarry: Christ’s prayers are heavenly, glorious, and very effectual. Isaac Ambrose, 1592-1674.
His anointed. As priests, and sometimes kings and prophets, were among the Jews anointed to their offices, so our Saviour was anointed as a Prophet, to preach glad tidings to the meek; as a Priest, to bind up the broken hearted; and as a King to deliver the captives. As the unction means designation and ordination, it is properly applied to the divine person of the Mediator: he is spoken of as God, who was “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows.” Hebrews 1:8-9. As the anointing with the Holy Spirit signifies the gifts and aids of the Holy Spirit, it terminates upon his human nature only, and not his divine person, which has all the perfections in itself, and cannot properly, in the sense last mentioned, be said to be anointed with the Holy Spirit. But yet as the human nature is taken into a subsistence in his divine Person, the anointed may properly enough be predicated and affirmed of his Person. The unction of our Redeemer has a great stress laid upon it in Scripture. And therefore we read, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” “Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ?” 1 John 5:1, 2:22. Our Saviour’s enemies were sensible of this, when they made an order, that if “any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.” John 9:22. Our Saviour’s anointing was superior to that of any other, and more excellent as to the work to which he was consecrated. The apostles and others, who are called his followers, had the Spirit by measure, but Christ without measure. He is “fairer than the sons of men” (Psalms 45:2); and had a glory as the “only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 16); and of his fullness the apostles and all others receive. Christ’s anointing answers to that of Aaron his type; the precious ointment which was “poured upon his head, ran down to the skirts of his garments.” Psalms 133:2. Our Saviour was so anointed, as to “fill all in all.” Ephesians 1:23. He filleth all his members, and all their faculties, with all those measures of the Spirit, which they ever receive. Condensed from John Hurrion, 1675-1731.
His anointed. Our Lord as the Anointed. When? With what unction? How? For what offices? etc.
He will hear him. The ever prevalent Intercessor.
God’s saving strength; the strength of his most used and most skilful hand.
(first clause). Now know I. The moment when faith in Jesus fills the soul. The time when assurance is given. The period when a truth gleams into the soul etc.
The Treasury of David.
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