Title. A Psalm of David. From the title we learn nothing but the authorship: but this is interesting and leads us to observe the wondrous operations of the Spirit upon the mind of Israel’s sweet singer, enabling him to touch the mournful string in Psalm twenty-two, to pour forth gentle notes of peace in Psalm twenty-three, and here to utter majestic and triumphant strains. We can do or sing all things when the Lord strengtheneth us.
This sacred hymn was probably written to be sung when the ark of the covenant was taken up from the house of Obed-edom, to remain within curtains upon the hill of Zion. The words are not unsuitable for the sacred dance of joy in which David led the way upon that joyful occasion. The eye of the psalmist looked, however, beyond the typical up going of the ark to the sublime ascension of the King of glory. We will call it The Song of the Ascension.
Division. The Psalm makes a pair with the Psalms 15:1-5. It consists of three parts. The first glorifies the true God, and sings of his universal dominion; the second describes the true Israel, who are able to commune with him; and the third pictures the ascent of the true Redeemer, who has opened heaven’s gates for the entrance of his elect.
The Treasury of David.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. These are the regeneration, these are in the line of grace; these are the legitimate seed. Yet they are only seekers; hence learn that true seekers are very dear in God’s esteem, and are entered upon his register.
Even seeking has a sanctifying influence; what a consecrating power must lie in finding and enjoying the Lord’s face and favour! To desire communion with God is a purifying thing. Oh to hunger and thirst more and more after a clear vision of the face of God; this will lead us to purge ourselves from all filthiness, and to walk with heavenly circumspection. He who longs to see his friend when he passes takes care to clear the mist from the window, lest by any means his friend should go by unobserved. Really awakened souls seek the Lord above everything, and as this is not the usual desire of mankind, they constitute a generation by themselves; a people despised of men but beloved of God.
The expression O Jacob is a very difficult one, unless it be indeed true that the God of Jacob here condescends to be called Jacob, and takes upon himself the name of his chosen people. The preceding verses correct the inordinate boastings of those Jews who vaunted themselves as the favourites of heaven; they are told that their God is the God of all the earth, and that he is holy, and will admit none but holy ones into his presence. Let the mere professor as he reads these verses listen to the voice which saith, “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
Selah. Lift up the harp and voice, for a nobler song is coming; a song of our Well beloved.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face. Christians must be seekers. This is the generation of seekers. All mankind, if ever they will come to heaven, they must be a generation of seekers. Heaven is a generation of finders, of possessors, of enjoyers, seekers of God. But here we are a generation of seekers. We want somewhat that we must seek. When we are at best, we want the accomplishment of our happiness. It is a state of seeking here, because it is a state of want; we want something alway. But to come more particularly to this seeking the face of God, or the presence of God…The presence of God meant here is, that presence that he shows in the time of need, and in his ordinances. He shows a presence in need and necessity, that is, a gracious presence to his children, a gracious face. As in want of direction, he shows his presence of light to direct them; in weakness he shows his strength; in trouble and perplexity he will show his gracious and comfortable presence to comfort them. In perplexity he shows his presence to set the heart at large, answerable to the necessity. So in need God is present with his children, to direct them, to comfort them, to strengthen them, if they need that. Richard Sibbes.
This is the generation. By the demonstrative pronoun this, the psalmist erases from the catalogue of the servants of God all counterfeit Israelites, who, trusting only to their circumcision and the sacrifice of beasts, have no concern about offering themselves to God; and yet, at the same time, they rashly thrust themselves into the church. John Calvin.
That seek thy face, O Jacob. In Proverbs 7:15, and Proverbs 29:26, we have “seeking the face of” in the sense of seeking the favour of, or showing delight in. Their delight is not in Esau, who got “the fatness of earth” Genesis 27:39 as his portion. And those writers may be right, who consider Jacob as a name for Messiah, to whom belong the true birthright and blessing. Andrew A. Bonar.
That seek thy face, O Jacob. He is “the seed of Jacob;” he is “the Holy One of Israel;” “the face of thine Anointed” is the face of him who is both God and man; for “we shall see him as he is.” Isaac Williams.
O Jacob, or O God of Jacob. As the church is called Christ 1 Corinthians 12:12, so God is here called “Jacob;” such a near union there is betwixt him and his people. Or, this is Jacob. So the true seekers are fitly called, first because Israelites indeed John 1:47 Romans 9:6; secondly, because they see God face to face, as Jacob did at Peniel Genesis 32:24-30; thirdly, because they also, as he, do bear away a blessing Hosea 12:4, even “righteousness from the God of their salvation,” as in the former verse. John Trapp.
Those who truly seek fellowship with God.
The Treasury of David.
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