Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
&c.] The psalmist corrects himself, as being too much depressed in spirit with his present circumstances, and expostulates with himself; adding,
and [why] art thou disquieted in me?
which suggests, that the dejections of God's people are unreasonable ones; sin itself is no just cause and reason of them; for though it is very disagreeable, loathsome, and abhorring, troublesome and burdensome, to a spiritual man, and is ingenuously confessed, and heartily mourned over, and is matter of humiliation; yet no true reason of dejection: because there is forgiveness of it with God; the blood of Christ has been shed for the remission of it; it has been bore and done away by him; nor is there any condemnation for it to them that are in him; and though it rages, and threatens to get the ascendant; yet it is promised it shall not have the dominion over the saints; neither the nature of it, being great, as committed against God himself, nor the multitude of sins, nor the aggravated circumstances of them, are just causes of dejection, since the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin; nor are Satan and his temptations; he is indeed an enemy, very powerful, subtle, and terrible; he is the strong man armed, the old serpent, and a roaring lion; and his temptations are very troublesome and grieving; and it becomes the saints to be upon their guard against him and them; but they have no reason to be cast down on account hereof; for God, who is on the side of his people, is mightier than he; Christ is stronger than the strong man armed, and the divine Spirit who is in them is greater than he that is in the world: Satan is under divine restraints, and can go no further in tempting than he is suffered, and his temptations are overruled for good; besides, good armour is provided for the Christian to fight against him with, and in a short time he will be bruised under his feet: nor are the hidings of God's face a sufficient reason of dejection; for though such a case is very distressing, and gives great trouble to those that love the Lord; nor can they, nor does it become them to sit easy and unconcerned in such circumstances, as they are great trials of faith and patience; yet it is the experience of the people of God in all ages: some good ends are answered hereby, as to bring saints to a sense of sins, which has deprived them of the divine Presence, to make them prize it the more when they have it, and to be careful of losing it for the future. Besides, the love of God continues the same when he hides and chides; and he will return again, and will not finally and totally forsake his people; and in a little while they shall be for ever with him, and see him as he is; and though by one providence or another they may be deprived for a while of the word, worship, and ordinances of God, he that provides a place for his church, and feeds and nourishes her in the wilderness, can make up the lack of such enjoyments by his presence and Spirit. The means and methods the psalmist took to remove his dejections and disquietudes of mind are as follow;
hope thou in God;
for the pardon of sin; for which there is good ground of hope, and so no reason to be cast down on account of it; for strength against Satan's temptations, which is to be had in Christ, as well as righteousness; and for the appearance of God, and the discoveries of his love, who has his set time to favour his people, and therefore to be hoped, and quietly waited for. Hope is of great use against castings down; it is an helmet, an erector of the head, which keeps it upright, and from bowing down: it is an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, and is of great service in the troubles of life, and against the fears of death;
for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance;
or "the salvations of his countenance" F8; which implies that the psalmist believed, notwithstanding his present circumstances, that he should have salvation upon salvation; salvation of every kind; or a full and complete one, which should spring, not from any merits of his, but from the free grace and favour of God, expressed in his gracious countenance towards him; and also intimates, that the light of his countenance would be salvation to him F9 now; and that his consummate happiness hereafter would lie in beholding his face for evermore: all which would give him occasion and opportunity of praising the Lord. Now such a faith and persuasion as this is a good antidote against dejections of soul, and disquietude of mind; see ( Psalms 27:13 ) .
F8 (wynp twewvy) "salutes faciei ipsius", Cocceius; so Michaelis.
F9 "Salutes sunt facies ejus", De Dieu.