Greatly encouraged by the generous reception awarded to my first volume, I have laboured on with diligence, and am now able to present the reader with the second instalment of my work. Whether life and health shall be given me to complete my task, which will probably extend to six volumes, remains with the gracious Preserver of men; but with his aid and allowance, my face is set towards that design, and I pray that my purpose may be achieved, if it be for the divine glory, and for the good of his church.
In this volume, which like the former, contains twenty-six sacred odes, we have several of the more memorable and precious of Zion's songs. In commenting upon some of them, I have been overwhelmed with awe, and said with Jacob, "How dreadful is this place, it is none other than the house of God." Especially was this the case with the fifty- first; I postponed expounding it week after week, feeling more and more my inability for the work. Often I sat down to it, and rose up again without having penned a line. It is a bush burning with fire yet not consumed, and out of it a voice seemed to cry to me, "Draw not nigh hither, put off thy shoes from off thy feet." The Psalm is very human, its cries and sobs are of one born of woman; but it is freighted with an inspiration all divine, as if the Great Father were putting words into his child's mouth. Such a Psalm may be wept over, absorbed into the soul, and exhaled again in devotion; but commented on -- ah! where is he who having attempted it can do other than blush at his defeat?
I have followed the same plan as in the former volume, not only because I am committed to it by the law of uniformity, but also because it is on the whole advantageous. Some have suggested alternatives, but many more have commended the very features which would have been improved away, and therefore I have continued in the selfsame method.
Greater use has, in this volume, been made of the Latin writers. Extracts have been made not only from those which are condensed in Poole's Synopsis; but from many others. These works are a mine of exposition far too little known. If the index shall serve to introduce fresh expositions to my ministerial readers, I shall not have laboured in vain.
The acknowledgments of obligation made in Volume 1 might very justly be repeated as concerning Volume 2; the reader will consider them as again recorded. It may also be needful to repeat the statement that as I give the name of each Author quoted, each authority is personally responsible for his own sentiments; and I do not wish it to be supposed that I endorse all that is inserted. It is often useful to us to know what has been said by authors whose views we could by no means accept.
More and more is the conviction forced upon my heart that every man must traverse the territory of the Psalms himself if he would know what a goodly land they are. They flow with milk and honey, but not to strangers; they are only fertile to lovers of their hills and vales. None but the Holy Spirit can give a man the key to the Treasury of David; and even he gives it rather to experience than to study. Happy is he who for himself knows the secret of the Psalms.
If permitted by the Great Master whom I serve, I shall now proceed with another portion of this TREASURY OF DAVID; but the labour and research are exceedingly great, and my other occupations are very pressing, and therefore I must crave the patience of the Christian public.
C. H. Spurgeon Clapham, November, 1870.
PSALM 27 OVERVIEW
Title and Subject. Nothing whatever can be drawn from the title as to the time when this Psalm was written, for the heading, "A Psalm of David," is common to so many of the Psalms; but if one may judge from the matter of the song, the writer was pursued by enemies, Psalms 27:2-3 , was shut out from the house of the Lord, Psalms 27:4 , was just parting from father and mother, Psalms 27:10 , and was subject to slander, Psalms 27:12 ; do not all these meet in the time when Doeg, the Edomite, spake against him to Saul? It is a song of cheerful hope, well fitted for those in trial who have learned to lean upon the Almighty arm. The Psalm may with profit be read in a threefold way, as the language of David, of the Church, and of the Lord Jesus. The plenitude of Scripture will thus appear the more wonderful.
Division. The poet first sounds forth his sure confidence in his God, Psalms 27:1-3 , and his love of communion with him, Psalms 27:4-6 . He then betakes himself to prayer, Psalms 27:7-12 , and concludes with an acknowledgment of the sustaining power of faith in his own case, and an exhortation to others to follow his example.
Verse 1. The Lord is my light and my salvation. Here is personal interest, "my light," "my salvation;" the soul is assured of it, and therefore, declaring it boldly. "My light;" -- into the soul at the new birth divine light is poured as the precursor of salvation; where there is not enough light to see our own darkness and to long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation. Salvation finds us in the dark, but it does not leave us there; it gives light to those who sit in the valley of the shadow of death. After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light; he is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light, but that he "is" light; nor that he gives salvation, but that he is salvation; he, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God has all covenant blessings in his possession. Every light is not the sun, but the sun is the father of all lights. This being made sure as a fact, the argument drawn from it is put in the form of a question, Whom shall I fear? A question which is its own answer. The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and the damnation of hell is not to be dreaded by us, for the Lord is our salvation. This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it is based upon a very different foundation; it rests not upon the conceited vigour of an arm of flesh, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I AM. The Lord is the strength of my life. Here is a third glowing epithet, to show that the writer's hope was fastened with a threefold cord which could not be broken. We may well accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace. Our life derives all its strength from him who is the author if it; and if he deigns to make us strong we cannot be weakened by all the machinations of the adversary. Of whom shall I be afraid? The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. "If God be for us," who can be against us, either now or in time to come?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 1. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Alice Driver, martyr, at her examination, put all the doctors to silence, so that they had not a word to say, but one looked upon another; then she said, "Have you no more to say? God be honoured, you be not able to resist the Spirit of God, in me, a poor woman. I was an honest poor man's daughter, never brought up at the University as you have seen; but I have driven the plough many a time before my father, I thank God; yet, notwithstanding, in the defence of God's truth, and in the cause of my Master, Christ, by his grace I will set my foot against the foot of any of you all, in the maintenance and defence of the same; and if I had a thousand lives they should go for the payment thereof." So the Chancellor condemned her, and she returned to the prison joyful. Charles Bradbury.
Verse 1. The Lord is my light, etc. St. John tells us, that "in Christ was life; and the life was the light of men;" but he adds that, "the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." John 1:4-5 . There is a great difference between the light, and the eye that sees it. A blind man may know a great deal about the shining of the sun, but it does not shine for him -- it gives him no light. So, to know that "God is light," is one thing 1 John 1:5 , and to be able to say, "The Lord is my light," is quite another thing. The Lord must be the light by which the way of life is made plain to us -- the light by which we may see to walk in that way -- the light that exposes the darkness of sin -- the light by which we can discover the hidden sins of our own hearts. When he is thus our light, then he is our salvation also. He is pledged to guide us right; not only to show us sin, but to save us from it. Not only to make us see God's hatred of sin, and his curse upon it, but also to draw us unto God's love, and to take away the curse. With the Lord lighting us along the road of salvation, who, or what need we fear? Our life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3 . We are weak, very weak, but his "strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:2 . With the Lord himself pledged to be the strength of our life, of whom need we be afraid? From Sacramental Meditations on the Twenty-seventh Psalm, 1843.
Verse 1. The Lord is my light. "Light" which makes all things visible, was the first made of all visible things; and whether God did it for our example, or no, I know not; but ever since, in imitation of this manner of God's proceeding, the first thing we do when we intend to do anything, is to get us "light." Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 1. The Lord is my light. Adorable Sun, cried St. Bernard, I cannot walk without thee: enlighten my steps, and furnish this barren and ignorant mind with thoughts worthy of thee. Adorable fulness of light and heat, be thou the true noonday of my soul; exterminate its darkness, disperse its clouds; burn, dry up, and consume all its filth and impurities. Divine Sun, rise upon my mind, and never set. Jean Baptiste Elias Avrillon, 1652-1729.
Verse 1. Whom shall I fear? Neither spiritual nor military heroes do exploits through cowardice, Courage is a necessary virtue. In Jehovah is the best possible foundation for unflinching intrepidity. William S. Plumer.
Verse 1. Of whom shall I be afraid? I have no notion of a timid, disingenuous profession of Christ. Such preachers and professors are like a rat playing at hide and seek behind a wainscot, who puts his head through a hole to see if the coast is clear, and ventures out if nobody is in the way; but slinks back again if danger appears. We cannot be honest to Christ except we are bold for him. He is either worth all we can lose for him, or he is worth nothing. H. G. Salter, A.M., in "The Book of Illustrations," 1840.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. (first clause). The relation of illumination to salvation, or the need of light if men would be saved.
Verse 1. The Christian hero, and the secret springs of his courage.
Verse 1. The believer's fearless challenge.
WORKS ON THE TWENTY-SEVENTH PSALM
Excellent Encouragements against Afflictions, containing David's Triumph over Distress; or an Exposition of Psalm 27. By THOMAS PIERSON, M.A. (Reprinted in Nichol's Series of Puritan Commentaries.)
Meditations upon the 27th Psalm of David. By SIR RICHARD BAKER. (See "Works," pg 10.)