Psalm 118:9

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 9. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. These should be the noblest of men, chivalrous in character, and true to the core. The royal word should be unquestionable. They are noblest in rank and mightiest in power, and yet as a rule princes are not one whit more reliable than the rest of mankind. A gilded vane turns with the wind as readily as a meaner weathercock. Princes are but men, and the best of men are poor creatures. In many troubles they cannot help us in the least degree: for instance, in sickness, bereavement, or death; neither can they assist us one jot in reference to our eternal state. In eternity a prince's smile goes for nothing; heaven and hell pay no homage to royal authority. The favour of princes is proverbially fickle, the testimonies of worldlings to this effect are abundant. All of us remember the words put by the world's great poet into the lips of the dying Wolsey; their power lies in their truth:


"O how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours!
There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again."

Yet a prince's smile has a strange witchery to many hearts, few are proof against that tuft hunting which is the index of a weak mind. Principle has been forgotten and character has been sacrificed to maintain position at court; yea, the manliness which the meanest slave retains has been basely bartered for the stars and garters of a profligate monarch. He who puts his confidence in God, the great King, is thereby made mentally and spiritually stronger, and rises to the highest dignity of manhood; in fact, the more he trusts the more is he free, but the fawning sycophant of greatness is meaner than the dirt he treads upon. For this reason and a thousand others it is infinitely better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 9. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. David knew that by experience, for he confided in Saul his king, at another time in Achish, the Philistine, at another time in Ahithophel his own most prudent minister, besides some others; and they all failed him; but he never confided in God without feeling the benefit of it. Robert Bellarmine.

Verse 9. It is better, etc. Literally, "Good is it to trust in Jehovah more than to confide in man." This is the Hebrew form of comparison, and is equivalent to what is stated in our version. "It is better," etc. It is better,

  1. because man is weak, -- but God is Almighty;
  2. because man is selfish, -- but God is benevolent;
  3. because man is often faithless and deceitful, -- God never;
  4. because there are emergencies, as death, in which man cannot aid us, however faithful, kind, and friendly he may be, -- but there are no circumstances in this life, and none in death, where God cannot assist us; and
  5. because the ability of man to help us pertains at best only to the present life, -- the power of God will be commensurate with eternity. Albert Barnes.

Verse 9. Than to put confidence in princes. Great men's words, saith one, are like dead men's shoes; he may go barefoot that waiteth for them. John Trapp.

Verse 9. They who constantly attend upon God, and depend upon him, have a much sweeter life, than those that wait upon princes with great observance and expectation. A servant of the Lord is better provided for than the greatest favourites and minions of princes. Thomas Manton.