Verse 9. He hath dispersed, he hath given, to the poor. What he received, he distributed; and distributed to those who most needed it. He was God's reservoir, and forth from his abundance flowed streams of liberality to supply the needy. If this be one of the marks of a man who feareth the Lord, there are some who are strangely destitute of it. They are great at gathering, but very slow at dispersing; they enjoy the blessedness of receiving, but seldom taste the greater joy of giving. "It is more blessed to give than to receive" -- perhaps they think that the blessing of receiving is enough for them.
His righteousness endureth for ever. His liberality has salted his righteousness, proved its reality, and secured its perpetuity. This is the second time that we have this remarkable sentence applied to the godly man, and it must be understood as resulting from the enduring mercy of the Lord. The character of a righteous man is not spasmodic, he is not generous by fits and starts, nor upright in a few points only; his life is the result of principle, his actions flow from settled, sure, and fixed convictions, and therefore his integrity is maintained when others fail. He is not turned about by companions, nor affected by the customs of society; he is resolute, determined, and immovable.
His horn shall be exalted with honour. God shall honour him, the universe of holy beings shall honour him, and even the wicked shall feel an unconscious reverence of him. Let it be observed, in summing up the qualities of the God fearing man, that he is described not merely as righteous, but as one bearing the character to which Paul refers in the memorable verse, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die." Kindness, benevolence, and generosity, are essential to the perfect character; to be strictly just is not enough, for God is love, and we must love our neighbour as ourselves: to give every one his due is not sufficient, we must act upon those same principles of grace which reign in the heart of God. The promises of establishment and prosperity are not to churlish Nabals, nor to niggard Labans, but to bountiful souls who have proved their fitness to be stewards of the Lord by the right way in which they use their substance.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. When all the flashes of sensual pleasure are quite extinct, when all the flowers of secular glory are withered away; when all earthly treasures are buried in darkness; when this world, and all the fashion of it, are utterly vanished and gone, the bountiful man's state will be still firm and flourishing, and "his righteousness shall endure for ever."
His horn shall be exalted with honour. A horn is an emblem of power; for it is the beast's strength, offensive and defensive: and of plenty, for it hath within it a capacity apt to contain what is put into it; and of sanctity, for in it was put the holy oil, with which kings were consecrated; and of dignity, both in consequence upon the reasons mentioned (as denoting might, and influence, and sacredness accompanying sovereign dignity) and because also it is an especial beauty and ornament to the creature which hath it; so that this expression, "his horn shall be exalted with honour," may be supposed to import that an abundance of high, and holy, of firm and solid honour shall attend upon the bountiful person ... God will thus exalt the bountiful man's horn even here in this world, and to an infinitely higher pitch he will advance it in a future state. --Isaac Barrow, 1630-1677.
Verse 9. For ever. The Hebrew phrase in this text is not ~lw[l, in seculum, which is sometimes used of a limited eternity, but d[l, in eternum, which seems more expressive of an endless duration, and is the very same phrase whereby the duration of God's righteousness is expressed in the foregoing psalm at the third verse. -- William Berriman, 1688-1749.
Verse 9-10. These words are an enlargement of the character, begun at the first verse, of the blessed man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. The author closes that character with an amiable description of his charity, and so leaves on our minds a strong impression, that benevolence of heart when displayed in the benefaction of the hand is the surest mark and fairest accomplishment of a moral and religious mind; which, whether it rewards the worthy, or relieves the unworthy object, is the noblest imitation of the dealings of God with mankind. For he rewardeth the good if any can be called so but himself, (though the name good is but God spread out). He beareth even with the wicked and stretcheth out his hand to save even them. --Michael Cox.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9. Benevolence: its exercise in alms giving, its preserving influence upon character, and the honour which it wins.