Psalm 33:16

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host. Mortal power is a fiction, and those who trust in it are dupes. Serried ranks of armed men have failed to maintain an empire, or even to save their monarch's life when a decree from the court of heaven has gone forth for the empire's overthrow. The all seeing God preserves the poorest of his people when they are alone and friendless, but ten thousand armed men cannot ensure safety to him whom God leaves to destruction. A mighty man is not delivered by much strength. So far from guarding others, the valiant veteran is not able to deliver himself. When his time comes to die, neither the force of his arms nor the speed of his legs can save him. The weakest believer dwells safely under the shadow of Jehovah's throne, while the most mighty sinner is in peril every hour. Why do we talk so much of our armies and our heroes? the Lord alone has strength, and let him alone have praise.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host. At the battle of Arbela, the Persian hosts numbered between five hundred thousand and a million men, but they were utterly put to the rout by Alexander's band of fifty thousand; and the once mighty Darius was soon vanquished. Napoleon led more than half a million of men into Russia --

"Not such the numbers, nor the host so dread,
By northern Bren, or Scythian Timour led."

But the terrible winter left the army a mere wreck, and their leader was soon a prisoner on the lone rock of St. Helena. All along the line of history this verse has been verified. The strongest battalions melt like snowflakes when God is against them. C. H. S.

Verse 16. A mighty man; or a giant; Goliath for instance. As the most skilful swimmers are often drowned, so here. John Trapp.

Verse 16-17.: --

Not the chief his serried lances,
Not his strength secures the brave;
All in vain the warhorse prances,
Weak his force his lord to save.
Richard Mant.

Verse 16-17. The weakness and insufficiency of all human power, however great, as before of all human intellect. J. J. Stewart Perowne.

Verse 16-17. As a passenger in a storm, that for shelter against the weather, steps out of the way, betakes him to a fair spread oak, stands under the boughs, with his back close to the body of it, and finds good relief thereby for the space of some time; till at length comes a sudden gust of wind, that tears down a main arm of it, which falling upon the poor passenger, either maims or mischieves him that resorted to it for succour. Thus falleth it out with not a few, meeting in the world with many troubles, and with manifold vexations, they step aside out of their own way, and too, too often out of God's, to get under the wing of some great one, and gain, it may be, some aid and shelter thereby for a season; but after awhile, that great one himself coming down headlong, and falling from his former height of favour, or honour, they are also called in question and to fall together with him, that might otherwise have stood long enough on their own legs, if they had not trusted to such an arm of flesh, such a broken staff that deceived them. Thomas Gataker.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 16-18. The fallacy of human trust, and the security of faith in God.