Verse 9. The princes of the people are gathered together. The prophetic eye of the psalmist sees the willing subjects of the great King assembled to celebrate his glory. Not only the poor and the men of low estate are there, but nobles bow their willing necks to his sway. "All kings shall bow down before him." No people shall be unrepresented; their great men shall be good men, their royal ones regenerate ones. How august will be the parliament where the Lord Jesus shall open the court, and princes shall rise up to do him honour! Even the people of the God of Abraham. That same God, who was known only to here and there a patriarch like the father of the faithful, shall be adored by a seed as many as the stars of heaven. The covenant promise shall be fulfilled, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Shiloh shall come, and "to him shall the gathering of the people be." Babel's dispersion shall be obliterated by the gathering arm of the Great Shepherd King.
For the shields of the earth belong unto God. The insignia of pomp, the emblems of rank, the weapons of war, all must pay loyal homage to the King of all. Right honourables must honour Jesus, and majesties must own him to be far more majestic. Those who are earth's protectors, the shields of the commonwealth, derive their might from him, and are his. All principalities and powers must be subject unto Jehovah and his Christ, for He is greatly exalted. In nature, in power, in character, in glory, there is none to compare with him. Oh, glorious vision of a coming era! Make haste, ye wheels of time! Meanwhile, ye saints, "Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. The princes of the people are gathered together. I note from hence,
- That it is not impossible for great men to be good men; for the heads of a country to be members of Christ; and for princes as well as the people to serve the God of Abraham. It is said by the prophet, "upon my peace came great bitterness;" "a thousand fell on the left hand, but ten thousand at the right hand" Psalms 91:7 : ten perish in their prosperity, for one that falleth in adversity. Homo victus in paradiso, victum in stercore: Adam in the garden of pleasure was overcome by the subtil serpent, whereas Job on the dunghill of misery was more than a conqueror. Woodmen say that deer are more circumspect in fat pastures; so the godly fear most in a rich estate: nihil timendum video (saith one), timeo tamen. (Seneca.) It is a sweet prayer of our church in the Litany, "Good Lord, deliver us in all time of our wealth," insinuating that our minds are not so wanton as in abundance: yet, as you see, such is Christ's unspeakable goodness towards all sort of men, in preventing them even with the riches of his mercy, that not only the mean people, but also the mighty princes among the heathen are joined unto the church of the God of Abraham. John Boys.
Verse 9. Gathered together. Christ's gathering of the saints together unto him will be at his second coming, his coming to judgment, the general and final judgment. "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him." 2 Thessalonians 2:1 . James Scott (--1773), in "A Collection of Sermons," 1774.
Verse 9. The people of the God of Abraham. First, touching the God of Abraham, it is Christ, whose day Abraham desired to see, and in seeing whereof he did so much rejoice John 8:1-59 ; that is, not only the day of his birth, which he saw, as we learn by the oath which he caused his servant to take Genesis 24:1-67 but also the day of his passion, which he saw long ago, and rejoiced in seeing it, when he said to his son Isaac in the mount, "The Lord will provide a sacrifice." Genesis 22:8 . Secondly, The people of the God of Abraham, are his children and posterity: not only that they are the seed of Abraham, coming out of his loins, and are "the children of the flesh" Romans 9:9 ; but "the children of the promise;" for if they that come out of Abraham's loins were only his children, then the Hagarins, the Turks, and Ishmaelites should be the people of God; "But in Isaac shall thy seed be called." They that lay hold of the promise by faith, "They that are of the faith, are the children of Abraham" Galatians 3:7 , that have the same spirit of faith that Abraham had. As the apostle saith Romans 2:28 , "He is not a Jew that is one outwardly, but a Jew inwardly is the true Jew." They that worship the Messias by believing in him with the faith of Abraham, they are Abraham's children, and the people of Abraham's God, which thing John Baptist affirms Matthew 3:1-17 , "God can of stones raise up children unto Abraham." So the Gentiles, which worshipped stones, and therefore were "like unto them" Psalms 115:1-18 , were notwithstanding raised up to be children to Abraham. Lancelot Andrewes.
Verse 9. The shields of the earth belong unto God. There we have the rulers of the earth set forth by a double relation; the one upward, they are scuta Deo, they belong to God; the other downward, they are scuta terae, "the shields of the earth;" and both these noting two things, their dignity and their duty. They belong to God, it is their honour that he hath sealed them: they belong to God, it is their duty to be subject to him. They are shields of the earth, it is their honour that they are above others: they are the shields of the earth, it is their duty to protect others. Edward Reynolds (Bishop).
Verse 9. The shields of the earth are God's, is understood by many as spoken of princes. I admit that this metaphor is of frequent occurrence in Scripture, nor does this sense seem to be unsuitable to the scope of the passage ... Yet the sense will be more simple if we explain the words thus: That, as it is God alone who defends and preserves the world, the high and supreme majesty which is sufficient for so exalted and difficult a work as the preservation of the world, is justly looked upon with admiration. The sacred writer expressly uses the word shields in the plural number, for, considering the various and almost innumerable dangers which unceasingly threaten every part of the world, the providence of God must necessarily interpose in many ways, and make use, as it were, of many bucklers. John Calvin.
Verse 9. The shields of the earth. Magistrates are said to bear the sword, not to be swords; and they are said to be shields, not to bear shields; and all this to show that protection and preservation are more essential and intrinsical to their office than destruction and punishment are. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- A shield is a merciful weapon, none more so.
- A shield is a venturous weapon, a kind of surety, which bears the blows and receives the injuries which were intended for another.
- A shield is a strong weapon, to repel the darts of wickedness and break them in pieces.
- A shield is an honourable weapon, none more: taking away of shields was a sign of victory; preserving them a sign of glory.
- Remember, a shield must ever have an eye to guide it -- you the shields, the law the eye. Bishop Reynolds.