Verse 11. Be glad. Happiness is not only our privilege, but our duty. Truly we serve a generous God, since he makes it a part of our obedience to be joyful. How sinful are our rebellious murmurings! How natural does it seem that a man blest with forgiveness should be glad! We read of one who died at the foot of the scaffold of overjoy at the receipt of his monarch's pardon; and shall we receive the free pardon of the King of kings, and yet pine in inexcusable sorrow? "In the Lord." Here is the directory by which gladness is preserved from levity. We are not to be glad in sin, or to find comfort in corn, and wine, and oil, but in our God is to be the garden of our soul's delight. That there is a God and such a God, and that he is ours, ours for ever, our Father and our reconciled Lord, is matter enough for a never ending psalm of rapturous joy. And rejoice, ye righteous, redouble your rejoicing, peal upon peal. Since God has clothed his choristers in the white garments of holiness, let them not restrain their joyful voices, but sing aloud and shout as those who find great spoil. And shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. Our happiness should be demonstrative; chill penury of love often represses the noble flame of joy, and men whisper their praises decorously where a hearty outburst of song would be far more natural. It is to be feared that the church of the present day, through a craving for excessive propriety, is growing too artificial; so that enquirers' cries and believers' shouts would be silenced if they were heard in our assemblies. This may be better than boisterous fanaticism, but there is as much danger in the one direction as the other. For our part, we are touched to the heart by a little sacred excess, and when godly men in their joy over leap the narrow bounds of decorum, we do not, like Michal, Saul's daughter, eye them with a sneering heart. Note how the pardoned are represented as upright, righteous, and without guile; a man may have many faults and yet be saved, but a false heart is everywhere the damning mark. A man of twisting, shifty ways, of a crooked, crafty nature, is not saved, and in all probability never will be; for the ground which brings forth a harvest when grace is sown in it, may be weedy and waste, but our Lord tells us it is honest and good ground. Our observation has been that men of double tongues and tricky ways are the least likely of all men to be saved: certainly where grace comes it restores man's mind to its perpendicular, and delivers him from being doubled up with vice, twisted with craft, or bent with dishonesty. Reader, what a delightful Psalm! Have you, in perusing it, been able to claim a lot in the goodly land? If so, publish to others the way of salvation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 11. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. This exhortation containeth three parts. First, what he doth exhort unto, to rejoice. Secondly, whom, the righteous, and upright men. Thirdly, the limitation, in the Lord. He exhorteth them three times -- be glad, rejoice, and be joyful; and as he made mention of a threefold blessing, so doth he of a threefold joy. Wherein we have two things necessary to be observed. First the dulness of our natures, who as slow horses need many spurs and provocations to spiritual things, whereas we are naturally overmuch bent to carnal things, that we need no incitations thereunto. But by the contrary in spiritual things, we are cast into a deep sleep, who cannot be awakened at the first cry; but as men after drink have need to be roused often, that they may behold the light; so men drunken with the pleasures of sin, as Nazianzen saith, must be wakened by divers exhortations; as this same prophet in the subsequent Psalm redoubles his exhortations for the same effect. And the apostle to the Philippians saith: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice," Philippians 4:4 . Next, perceive that this exhortation grows: for the word be glad, properly in the original signifieth an inward and hearty joy, by the presence or hope at least of a thing desirable or good. The word rejoice, to express our joy by some outward gesture, sometimes used for dancing, as, "The hills skip for gladness." Psalms 65:12 . The word be joyful, to cry for gladness, as the dumb man's tongue shall sing. This gradation teacheth us, that this is the nature of spiritual joy -- that it still increaseth in us by certain degrees, until it come to the perfection of all joy, which is signified by the last word, importing, as it were, a triumph and shouting after victory. So that they are truly penitent who have overcome sin and Satan in their spiritual combat, and have triumphed over them as vanquished enemies. Archibald Symson.
Verse 11. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous. There's never a joyful man alive but a believer. Will you say that men take pleasure in their sins? Why, that is the Devil's joy; or that they rejoice in full barns and bags? That is the fool's joy; or that they rejoice in wine, that is, all dainties that gratify the palate? That is a Bedlam joy. Read and believe Ecclesiastes 2:3 ; indeed, from the first verse to the eleventh, the whole book, but especially that chapter, is the most divine philosophy that ever was or will be. Christopher Fowler (1610-1678), in "Morning Exercises."
Verse 11. Shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. When the poet Carpani enquired of his friend Haydn, how it happened that his church music was so cheerful, the great composer made a most beautiful reply. "I cannot," he said, "make it otherwise, I write according to the thoughts I feel: when I think upon God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance, and leap, as it were, from my pen: and, since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve him with a cheerful spirit." John Whitecross's Anecdotes.
Verse 11. Here the sensual man, that haply would catch hold when it is said, Rejoice, by and by, when it is added, in the Lord, will let his hold go. But they that, by reason of the billows and waves of the troublesome sea of this world, cannot brook the speech when it is said, Rejoice, are to lay sure hold fast upon it when it is added, Rejoice in the Lord. Henry Airay.
Verse 11. --
O sing unto this glittering glorious King.
O praise his name let every living thing;
Let heart and voice, like bells of silver, ring
The comfort that this day doth bring.
Kinwellmersh, quoted by A. Moody Stuart.
Verse 11. It is storied by the famous Tully concerning Syracuse, that there is no day throughout the whole year so stormy and tempestuous in which the inhabitants have not some glimpse and sight of the sun. The like observation may be truly made on all those Psalms of David in which his complaints are most multiplied, his fears and pressures most insisted on; that there is not any of them so totally overcast with the black darkness of despair, but that we may easily discern them to be here and there intervened and streaked with some comfortable expressions of his faith and hope in God. If in the beginning of a Psalm we find him restless in his motions, like Noah's dove upon the overspreading waters; yet in the close we shall see him like the same dove returning with an olive branch in its mouth, and fixing upon the ark. If we find him in another Psalm staggering in the midst of his distresses, through the prevalence of carnal fears, we may also in it behold him recovering himself again, by fetching arguments from faith, whose topics are of a higher elevation than to be shaken by the timorous suggestions that arise from the flesh. If at another time we behold him like to a boat on drift, that is, tossed and beaten by the inconstant winds and fierce waves; yet we shall still find all his rollings and agitations to be such as carry him towards the standing shore, where he rides at last both in peace and safety. William Spurstowe.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 11. A believer's gladness. Its spring, "in the Lord;" its vivacity, "shout;" its propriety, it is commanded; its beautiful results and its abundant reasons.
Verse 11. Upright in heart, an instructive description. Not horizontal or grovelling, nor bent, nor inclined, but vertical in heart.