"the rams ascend upon the flocks;''
which sense is favoured by the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions;
the valleys also are covered over with corn; being made very fruitful with the rain, and bringing forth in great abundance; so humble souls are the most fruitful ones;
they shout for joy, they also sing; that is, the pastures, hills, and valleys, being laden with all kind of fruit for the use of man and beast, for necessity and pleasure, which occasion joy to the inhabitants of the earth: this may be expressive of the joy that will be among men, when the interest of Christ will be in a more flourishing condition in the latter day; see Isaiah 49:13.
(s) Sept. "arietes", V. L.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 66
To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. This psalm does not bear the name of David in the title of it, yet is generally thought to be one of his; but because the plural number is used in it, which is not so common in David's psalms, Aben Ezra is of opinion it is not his, but written by the singers. This is not a sufficient objection: and besides, in Psalm 66:13, the singular number is used. The Arabic version ascribes it to David, and that version makes the subject matter of it to be "concerning the resurrection"; as do the Septuagint, Ethiopic, and Vulgate Latin versions. The title of the Syriac version is,
"concerning sacrifices and burnt offerings, and the incense of rams; the spiritual sense intimates to us the calling of the Gentiles, and the preaching, that is, of the Gospel;''
which comes nearest the truth: for the psalm respects Gospel times, and the church of Christ under the New Testament, spread throughout the world, and especially as it will be in the latter day; see Psalm 66:1; and so in Yalkut Simeoni on the psalm, it is said to be a psalm for time to come, and agrees with Zephaniah 3:9; "I will turn to the people a pure language", &c. Kimchi says it is a psalm concerning the gathering of the captives of Israel; and so Jarchi and Obadiah expound it; and Theodoret says David wrote this psalm for the captives in Babylon.
all ye lands; that is, all the inhabitants of the earth, as the Targum; not Judea, to which some restrain it, but the whole earth: for Christ is the Saviour of some, in all countries, of the children of God, that are scattered abroad throughout the whole world, for whom he is a propitiation. The Gospel has been sent to all nations, and preached to every creature; some in all lands have been converted, and made partakers of the blessings and privileges of the Gospel, and therefore have reason to be glad and make a joyful noise; and the more so, inasmuch as they were in a state of great darkness and ignorance before, without Christ, without hope, and without God in the world.
make his praise glorious: let the high praises of him be in your mouths; give him, the most excellent praise; praise him in the best manner. This is done when we sing his praise with grace in our hears in exercise; when we with one mind and mouth glorify him; and when we honour him, the Son, as we honour the Father.
how terrible art thou in thy works! or "reverend" (u); to be feared and reverenced with a godly fear on account of them; such as the works of nature and providence, which are stupendous and marvellous, fearfully and wonderfully wrought; and especially those of grace and redemption, in which the goodness of Christ is manifest, and for which he is to be feared: unless rather his judgments upon his enemies are here meant; who, though he is a Lamb to his own people, is the Lion of the tribe of Judah to them, whom he will break in pieces as a potter's vessel it may be read, "how terrible", or "tremendous", is everyone of "thy works"; so Aben Ezra, and also Jarchi, who interprets the next clause,
through the greatness of thy power, thus,
"when thou showest to the world thy power, by the pestilence, or sword, or famine, or lightnings:''
shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee? in a lying, flattering, and deceitful manner, as the word (w) here used signifies; See Gill on Psalm 18:44; or, as the above interpreters,
"they shall, through the greatness of fear, confess the lies and transgressions they have committed.''
It will be a forced, and not a free, confession and submission; Christ's enemies, whether they will or not, will be obliged to own that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Philippians 2:10.
(t) "dicite de Deo", Campensis apud Gejerum; and some in Michaelis. (u) "reverendus", Junius & Tremellius. (w) "mentientur", V. L. Musculus, Montanus; "mendaciter se dedunt", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Amama.
and shall sing unto thee; the song of Moses and the Lamb, the Lamb's new song, the song of redeeming grace; which none but the redeemed ever can sing aright, Revelation 14:3;
they shall sing to thy name; or, "they shall", or "let them sing thy name" (x); thou shall be the subject of their song; thy person, offices, kingdom, grace, and glory: or they shall sing to the honour of thy name, as in Psalm 66:2.
Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.
(x) "cantent nomen tuum", Gejerus; "cantabunt nomen tuum", Michaelis.
he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men; in his vengeance on the Jews, for disbelieving and rejecting him; in destroying antichrist, and pouring out the vials of his wrath on the antichristian states; and in the everlasting damnation of the wicked. So that as his other works in the former clause design these of grace, this doing of his respects his work, his strange work of judgment on his enemies; on account of which he is terrible to them, and reverenced by his people.
they went through the flood on foot; or "river" (z); the river Jordan, as the Targum: for this alludes not to the passage of the Israelites through the sea, but through Jordan, when they entered into the land, of Canaan, Joshua 3:17. The words may be rendered, according to Kimchi,
"they shall pass through the river on foot;''
the Targum adds,
"the children of Israel;''
so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions. Such things are said in prophecy concerning the people of God in future times; see Isaiah 11:15. So the river Euphrates shall be dried up, to make way for the kings of the east, Revelation 16:12;
there did we rejoice in him; still alluding to the above cases, when Israel passed through the Red sea, and sung praise to God; and went through Jordan, and set up stones of memorial, Exodus 15:1. Or "there shall we rejoice in him": so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, Syriac, and Arabic versions; only the latter reads in the singular, "he shall rejoice." The Targum is,
"I will lead them to the mountain of his holiness, there shall we rejoice in his word:''
in the essential Word, the Messiah, as the saints do rejoice in him in his house, under his word and ordinances; when they see the salvation wrought out by him, and their interest in it; the righteousness he has brought in, and themselves clothed with it; pardon procured by him, and that applied to them; and when they are favoured with a sight of him, and communion with him; so will they rejoice in him when the marriage of the Lamb is come, and the bride is ready; when antichrist shall be destroyed, and they shall have got the victory over him; then they shall stand on the sea of glass, and there shall they sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb, Revelation 19:7; and when they shall have come through all their difficulties safely to heaven; there shall they rejoice in Christ, and with him to all eternity.
(y) "convertit", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (z) "per fluvium", Gejerus.
"over the world;''
over the whole world; for Christ will be King over all the earth in the latter day, Zechariah 14:9;
his eyes behold the nations; the antichristian states. He sees all the idolatry and wickedness committed in them; and his eyes will be as flames of fire to destroy them, when the time is come. The allusion is to God's looking through the pillar of fire and cloud upon the Egyptians in the Red sea, and troubling them, Exodus 14:24;
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. That are rebels against Christ, would not have him to reign over them; antichrist, who exalts himself above all that is called God, and all his followers. Or, "they shall not exalt themselves" (a): or, as the Targum,
"they shall not be exalted in themselves for ever;''
see Revelation 18:7.
(a) "haudquaquam sese exultabunt", Tigurine version, Musculus, & Gejerus.
and make the voice of his praise to be heard; far and near, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; by shoutings, and loud acclamations of joy; see Revelation 19:5; where Christ is called our God, and a like exhortation is made as here.
and suffereth not our feet to be moved; that is, not to be greatly moved; or if moved so as to slip and fall, yet not so as to fall finally and totally; see Psalm 55:22.
(b) "qui posuit", V. L. Pagninus, Musculus, Vatablus; "ponene", Montanus; "qui ponit", Gejerus, Michaelis.
thou hast tried us as silver is tried; in a furnace, where it is put and melted by the refiner, and purified from the dross that attends it. So the Targum,
"thou hast purified us as the silversmith purifieth the silver;''
or tries it by melting and purifying it. Thus the Lord puts his people into the furnace of afflictions, and sits as a refiner and purifier of them; hereby he tries their graces, faith, patience, hope, and love, their principles and their professions; refines their graces, and makes them more bright and illustrious; removes their dross and tin, and reforms their manners; and proves them to be good silver, and approves of them, and esteems them as such, even as his peculiar treasure. From whence it appears, as well as from the following verses, that afflictions are of God; that they are for the good of his people, and not their hurt; like silver they are put into the fire of affliction, not to be destroyed and lost, but to be purged and refined; and that they are not in wrath, but in love: and this, with what follows, may respect the sufferings of the saints under Rome, Pagan and Papal; when Christ's feet, the members of his mystical body, were like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; when their graces were tried, their works were known, and their persons proved and approved, Revelation 1:15; see Zechariah 13:9.
thou laidst affliction upon our loins: the Targum renders it "a chain": the word signifies anything that is binding and pressing; it seems to be a metaphor taken from the binding of burdens upon the backs of any creatures. Afflictions often lie heavy upon the saints, are very close upon them, and press them sore, even, as they sometimes think, beyond measure; though the Lord supports them, and will not suffer them to sink under them.
we went through fire and through water; through afflictions, compared to fire and water; through fiery trials and overwhelming providences, though not destroyed by them, because the Lord was with them; see Isaiah 43:2; therefore they are said to go through them, not to abide in them; nor to sink under them, and perish by them: they went cheerfully through them for Christ's sake, even the greatest hardships and difficulties, which this phrase may be expressive of. It may have a particular reference to the sufferings of the saints in Gospel times; to the burning of the martyrs with fire and faggot, who, like Elijah, went up to heaven in a fiery chariot; and to the flood of waters cast out after the woman, the church, by the dragon; see Revelation 1:15;
but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place; the Targum is, into largeness; or into a large place; see Psalm 18:19. This may intend either the state of the church upon the Reformation, or rather as it will be in the latter day glory; when there will be a large spread of the Gospel, and of the interest of Christ, everywhere; when the church will be enlarged with converts, and the members of it with the gifts and graces of the Spirit; and which will be a state of great liberty and freedom in the worship of God, both inward and outward. The Septuagint version renders it, "into refreshment": so the Tigurine version, and Piscator; as those times will be times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, which will be everywhere among his people, in his word and ordinances, and to a great degree; see Acts 3:19. The Arabic version, "unto rest"; from adversity, from persecution; for, after this state takes place, there will be no more persecution; no more fines, imprisonment, racks, and torturing deaths, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. The word used signifies a well watered place (d) or land; such as was the land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 8:7; and such will be the state of the church in the latter day: the Spirit will be poured down like floods of water upon the dry ground; the doctrines of the Gospel will drop as the rain, and as showers upon the grass: the ordinances of it will be as green pastures beside the still waters; and every believer will be as a watered garden, whose springs fail not; it will be a time of great plenty and prosperity in spiritual things. Ainsworth renders it, "to an abundant place"; so Gejerus: a place abounding with all good things: a "wealthy" one, as we translate it. And even in a literal sense this will be the wealthy time of the church; when kings shall come into it, and bring their riches and honour there, and use them for the good of it, Isaiah 49:23; and then also will the saints be enriched with every gift, and be rich in grace and in all good works.
(c) "hominem", Pagninus, Montanus. (d) "ad irrignam", Pagninus, Montanus.
I will pay thee my vows; thanksgivings promised in time of distress, as follows; see Psalm 50:14.
and my mouth hath spoken when I was in trouble; this refers to the time when the people of God were under antichristian tyranny and bondage; and when they vowed and promised, that, if the Lord would deliver them, they would give him all praise and glory.
(e) "aperuerunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus.
with the incense of rams; or "rams with incense" (f); the Targum is,
"with sweet incense, the sacrifice of rams;''
Kimchi interprets it of incense of the fat of rams.
I will offer bullocks with goats; he proposed to offer all kind of offerings, to show gratitude and thankfulness for the favours received; by all which are meant the calves, or fruit of the lips, the sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving to God, in the name of the whole church and people of God; see Revelation 19:1.
(f) "arietes cum incenso", Gejerus; so Campeusis in ibid.
and I will declare what he hath done for my soul: not what he had done for God, or offered unto him, or suffered for his sake; nor what God had done for his body in the make and preservation of it; but what he had done for his soul, and the salvation of that: what God the Father had done in setting him apart for himself; in making a sure, well ordered, and everlasting covenant with him in Christ; in blessing him with all spiritual blessings in him; in providing for the redemption of his soul by him; in pardoning his sins, justifying his person, adopting him into his family, and regenerating, quickening, and sanctifying him: also what God the Son had done for him; in engaging to assume a true body and a reasonable soul on his account; and to make that soul an offering for his sin, and thereby obtain for him eternal redemption, even the salvation of his immortal soul: likewise what God the Spirit had done for him; in quickening and enlightening his soul; in implanting principles of grace and holiness in it; in showing Christ unto him, and bringing near his righteousness, and leading him to him for salvation and eternal life; in applying exceeding great and precious promises to him, and remembering to him such on which he had caused him to hope; in delivering him out of temptation and troubles, and in carrying on the work of his grace in him hitherto: these are things that are not to be concealed in a man's breast, but to be told to the church and people of God, to their joy and comfort, and to the glory of divine grace; see Mark 5:19.
and he was extolled with my tongue: at the same time the psalmist prayed for deliverance out of his distresses, he praised God for the mercies he had received: and did, as the Apostle Paul directs, make known his requests with thanksgiving, Philippians 4:6; or "he was exalted under my tongue" (g); that is, in his heart, as some interpret it; his heart and his mouth went together; and out of the abundance of his heart his tongue spoke of the goodness, kindness, and mercy of God to him. The Targum is,
"and his promise was under my tongue;''
and so he was very different from a wicked man, who keeps iniquity under his tongue, as a sweet morsel, Job 20:12.
(g) "sublingua mea", Montanus, Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
the Lord will not hear me; for the Lord hears not sinners that delight in sin, and live in it; neither profane sinners nor hypocrites; see John 9:31.
(h) "si vidi", Pagninus, Montanus; "si aspexi", V. L. "si conspexi", Gejerus.
he hath attended to the voice of my prayer; which is an instance of the grace and condescension of God, and showed in what high favour the psalmist was with the Lord, and what regard he had unto him; and therefore could not be the man his enemies represented him to be.