Verse 9. He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. The strong desire of the easterns to have children caused the birth of offspring to be hailed as the choicest of favours, while barrenness was regarded as a curse; hence this verse is placed last as if to crown the whole, and to serve as a climax to the story of God's mercy. The glorious Lord displays his condescending grace in regarding those who are despised on account of their barrenness, whether it be of body or of soul. Sarah, Rachel, the wife of Manoah, Hannah, Elizabeth, and others were all instances of the miraculous power of God in literally fulfilling the statement of the psalmist. Women were not supposed to have a house till they had children; but in certain cases where childless women pined in secret the Lord visited them in mercy, and made them not only to have a house, but to keep it. The Gentile church is a spiritual example upon a large scale of the gift of fruitfulness after long years of hopeless barrenness; and the Jewish church in the latter days will be another amazing display of the same quickening power: long forsaken for her spiritual adultery, Israel shall be forgiven, and restored, and joyously shall she keep that house which now is left unto her desolate. Nor is this all, each believer in the Lord Jesus must at times have mourned his lamentable barrenness; he has appeared to be a dry tree yielding no fruit to the Lord, and yet when visited by the Holy Ghost, he has found himself suddenly to be like Aaron's rod, which budded, and blossomed, and brought forth almonds. Or ever we have been aware, our barren heart has kept house, and entertained the Saviour, our graces have been multiplied as if many children had come to us at a single birth, and we have exceedingly rejoiced before the Lord. Then have we marvelled greatly at the Lord who dwelleth on high, that he has deigned to visit such poor worthless things. Like Mary, we have lifted up our Magnificat, and like Hannah, we have said, "There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God."
Praise ye the LORD. The music concludes upon its key note. The Psalm is a circle, ending where it began, praising the Lord from its first syllable to its last. May our life psalm partake of the same character, and never know a break or a conclusion. In an endless circle let us bless the Lord, whose mercies never cease. Let us praise him in youth, and all along our years of strength; and when we bow in the ripeness of abundant age, let us still praise the Lord, who doth not cast off his old servants. Let us not only praise God ourselves, but exhort others to do it; and if we meet with any of the needy who have been enriched, and with the barren who have been made fruitful, let us join with them in extolling the name of him whose mercy endureth for ever. Having been ourselves lifted from spiritual beggary and barrenness, let us never forget our former estate or the grace which has visited us, but world without end let us praise the Lord. Hallelujah.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. Ye maketh the barren woman to keep house, etc. Should a married woman, who has long been considered sterile, become a mother, her joy, and that of her husband and friends, will be most extravagant. "They called her Malady," that is, "Barren," "but she has given us good fruit." "My neighbours pointed at me, and said, Malady: but what will they say now?" A man who on any occasion manifests great delight, is represented to be like the barren woman who has at length borne a child. Anything which is exceedingly valuable is thus described: "This is as precious as the son of the barren woman"; that is, of her who had long been reputed barren. --Joseph Roberts.
Verse 9. He maketh the barren woman to keep house, etc. As baseness in men, so barrenness in women is accounted a great unhappiness. But as God lifteth up the beggar out of the mire, to set him with princes, even so doth he "make the barren woman a joyful mother of children." He governs all things in the private family, as well as in the public weal. Children and the fruit of the womb are a gift and heritage that cometh of the Lord, Psalms 127:3 ; and therefore the Papists in praying to S. Anne for children, and the Gentiles in calling upon Diana, Juno, Latona, are both in error. It is God only who makes the barren woman "a mother," and that "a joyful mother." Every mother is joyful at the first, according to that of Christ, "a woman when she travaileth hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world."
Divines apply this also mystically to Christ, affirming that he made the church of the Gentiles, heretofore "barren," "a joyful mother of children," according to that of the prophet: "Rejoice, O barren, that didst not bear; break forth into joy and rejoice, thou that didst not travail with child: for the desolate hath more children than the married wife, saith the Lord," Isaiah 54:1 . Or it may be construed of true Christians: all of us are by nature barren of goodness, conceived and born in sin, not able to think a good thought ( 2 Corinthians 3:5 ); but the Father of lights and mercies makes us fruitful and abundant always in the work of the Lord ( 1 Corinthians 15:58 ); he giveth us grace to be fathers and mothers of many good deeds, which are our children and best heirs, eternizing our name for ever. --John Boys.
Verse 9. The barren woman is the poor, forsaken, distressed Christian church, whom the false church oppresses, defies, and persecutes, and regards as useless, miserable, barren, because she herself is greater and more populous, the greatest part of the world. -- Joshua Arndt, 1626-1685.
Verse 9. Praise ye the Lord. We may look abroad, and see abundant occasion for praising God, -- in his condescension to human affairs, -- in his lifting up the poor from the humblest condition, -- in his exalting those of lowly rank to places of honour, trust, wealth, and power; but, after all, if we wish to find occasions of praise that will most tenderly affect the heart, and be connected with the warmest affections of the soul, they will be most likely to be found in the domestic circle -- in the mutual love -- the common joys the tender feelings -- which bind together the members of a family. --Albert Barnes.
Verse 9. Praise ye the LORD. The very hearing of the comfortable changes which the Lord can make and doth make the afflicted to find, is a matter of refreshment to all, and of praise to God from all. --David Dickson.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9. For mothers' meetings. "A joyful mother of children."
- It is a joy to be a mother.
- It is specially so to have living, healthy, obedient children.
- But best of all to have Christian children ... Praise is due to the Lord who gives such blessings.
- A household God, or, God in the Household: "He maketh," etc. Have you children? It is of God. Have you lost children? It is of God. Have you been without children? It is of God.
- Household worship, or, the God of the Household: "Praise ye the Lord."
- In the family.
- For family mercies. --G. R.
WORK ON THE HUNDRED AND THIRTEENTH PSALM.
There are Expositions of Psalms 113 and 114 in the Works of John Boys, Dean of Canterbury, 1638; folio edition, pp. 846-861.