Psalm 68:20

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 20. He that is our God is the God of salvation. The Almighty who has entered into covenant with us is the source of our safety, and the author of our deliverances. As surely as he is our God he will save us. To be his is to be safe. And unto God the Lord belong the issues from death. He has ways and means of rescuing his children from death: when they are at their wit's end, and see no way of escape, he can find a door of deliverance for them. The gates of the grave none can open but himself, we shall only pass into them at his bidding; while on the heavenward side he has set open the doors for all his people, and they shall enjoy triumphant issues from death. Jesus, our God, will save his people from their sins, and from all else besides, whether in life or death.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 20. Our God is the God of salvation (that is of deliverance, of outward deliverance); and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death, or the goings out from death; that is, God hath all ways that lead out from death in his own keeping, he keepeth the key of the door that lets us out from death. When a man is in the valley of the shadow of death, where shall he issue out? Where shall he have a passage? Nowhere, saith man, he shall not escape. But God keepeth all the passages; when men think they have shut us up in the jaws of death, he can open them, and deliver us. To him belong the issues from death; it is an allusion to one that keepeth a passage or a door: and God is a faithful keeper, and a friendly keeper, who will open the door for the escape of his people, when they cry unto him. Joseph Caryl.

Verse 20. And unto God the Lord belong the issues from death. Buildings stand by the benefit of their foundations that sustain them, support them; and of their buttresses that comprehend them, embrace them; and of their contignations (a framing together; from contigno, to join together, or lay with beams and rafters), that knit and unite them. The foundation suffers them not to sink; the buttresses suffer them not to swerve; the contignation and knitting suffer them not to cleave. The body of our building is in the former part of this verse; it is this; He that is our God is the God of salvation; ad salutes, of salvations, in the plural, so it is in the original; the God that gives us spiritual and temporal salvation too. But of this building, the foundation, the buttresses, the contignation, are in this part of the verse, which constitutes our text, and in the three diverse acceptations of the words amongst our expositors, Unto God the Lord belong the issues of death. For, first, the foundation of this building (that our God is the God of all salvation) is laid in this, That unto this God the Lord belong the issues of death; that is, it is in his power to give us an issue and deliverance, even then, when we are brought to the jaws and teeth of death, and to the lips of that whirlpool, the grave; and so, in this acceptation, this exitus mortis, the issue of death, is liberatio a morte, a deliverance from death; and this is the most obvious and most ordinary acceptation of these words, and that upon which our translation lays hold: the issues from death. And then, secondly, the buttresses that comprehend and settle this building: that, He that is our God is the God of salvation, are thus raised; Unto God the Lord belong the issues of death, that is, the disposition and manner of our death, what kind of issue and transmigration we shall have out of this world, whether prepared or sudden, whether violent or natural, whether in our perfect senses or shaked or disordered by sickness; there is (no) condemnation to be argued out of that, no judgment to be made upon that; for howsoever they die, precious in his sight is the death of his saints, and with him are the issues of death, the ways of our departing out of this life are in his hands; and so in this sense of the words, this exitus mortis, the issue of death, is liberatio in morte, a deliverance in death; not that God will deliver us from dying, but that he will have a care of us in the hour of death, of what kind soever our passage be; and this sense and acceptation of the words, the natural frame and contexture doth well and pregnantly administer unto us. And then, lastly, the contignation and knitting of this building, that He that is our God, is the God of all salvation, consists in this, Unto this God the Lord belong the issues of death, that is, that this God the Lord, having united and knit both natures in one, and being God, having also come into this world, in our flesh, he could have no other means to save us, he could have no other issue out of this world, no return to his former glory, but by death. And so in this sense, this exitus mortis, the issue of death, is liberatio per mortem, a deliverance by death, by the death of this God our Lord, Christ Jesus; and this, St. Augustine's acceptation of the words, and those many and great persons that have adhered to him. In all these three lines then, we shall look upon these words, first as the God of power, the Almighty Father, rescues his servants from the jaws of death; and then, as the God of mercy, the glorious Son rescues us by taking upon himself the issue of death; and then (between these two), as the God of comfort, the Holy Ghost rescues us from all discomfort, by his blessed impressions before; that what manner of death soever be ordained for us, yet this exitus mortis shall be introitus in vitam, our issue in death shall be an entrance into everlasting life. And these three considerations, our deliverance a morte, in morte, per mortem, from death, in death, and by death, will abundantly do all the offices of the foundation, of the buttresses, of the contignation of this our building, that He that is our God is the God of salvation, because Unto this God the Lord belong the issues of death. John Donne.

Verse 20. The issues from death. That is, the issue, or escape, from death, both in the resurrection and in the various perils of our present life. Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 20. Issue from death. The English version cannot be sustained by the Hebrew; for l has never the force of from, and, therefore, the expression, as Dr. Hammond observes, must signify the several plagues and judgments inflicted by God on impenitent enemies -- such as drowning in the sea, killing by the sword, etc.; which were the ways of punishing and destroying the Egyptians and Canaanites. Thus the two members of the verse are "antithetical" the first speaks of God as a deliverer, and the second as a punisher; and in this respect the verse corresponds with the preceding. George Phillips, in "The Psalms... with a Critical, Exegetical, and Philological Commentary." 1846.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 20. Death in God's hand.

  1. Escapes from it.
  2. Entrances to it.
  3. The exit out of it beyond.
  4. The gate which, when closed, shuts us in it for ever.

Verse 20.

  1. What God has been to his people.
    1. Their salvation.
    2. Their portion: "Our God."
    3. What he will be: With them.
    4. Until death.
    5. In death.
    6. After death. G. R.