Verse 27. There is little Benjamin with their ruler. The tribe was small, having been greatly reduced in numbers, but it had the honour of including Zion within its territory. "And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders." Little Benjamin had been Jacob's darling, and now the tribe is made to march first in the procession, and to dwell nearest to the holy place.
The princes of Judah and their council. Judah was a large and powerful tribe, not with one governor, like Benjamin, but with many princes "and their company," for so the margin has it. "From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel," and the tribe was a quarry of stones wherewith to build up the nations: some such truth is hinted at in the Hebrew.
The princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali. Israel was there, as well as Judah; there was no schism among the people. The north sent a representative contingent as well as the south, and so the long procession set forth the hearty loyalty of all the tribes to their Lord and King. O happy day, when all believers shall be one around the ark of the Lord; striving for nothing but the glory of the God of grace.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 26-28. This Psalm was sung, it is probable, on the removal of the ark into the City of David. Numbers 10. It was now that the ark had rest, and the tribes assembled three times a year at Jerusalem, the place that God had chosen. The text is a lively description of their worship.
- Offer a few remarks by way of expounding the passage.
- Israel had their lesser congregations in ordinary every Sabbath day, and their national ones three times a year. Their business in all was to bless God.
- This business was to be carried on by all Israel, beginning at the fountain head, and proceeding through all its streams. God had blessed Israel; let Israel bless God.
- All the tribes are supposed to be present; four are mentioned in the name of the whole, as inhabiting the confines of the land. Their union was a source of joy; they had been divided by civil wars, but now they are met together.
- Those tribes which are named had each something particular attending it. Little Benjamin (see Judges 2
- had nearly been a tribe lacking in Israel, but now appears with its ruler. Judah had been at war with Benjamin: Saul was a Benjamite; David was of Judah: yet they happily lost their antipathy in the worship of God. Zebulun and Naphtali were distant tribes; yet they were there! dark, too, yet there.
- The princes and the people were all together.
- They were supposed to be strong, but were reminded that what they had of strength was of God's commanding. Their union and success, as well as that degree of righteousness among them which exalted the nation, was of God They are not so strong, but that they need strengthening, and are directed to pray as well as praise: Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.
- Apply the subject. Two things are here exemplified, namely -- diligence and brotherly union; and three things recommended, namely -- united praise; united acknowledgment that, for what they are, they are indebted to God; and united prayer for future mercies. Each of these affords a rule for us.
- The worship of God must be attended with diligence. There are the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali. They had to travel about two hundred miles three times a year, thither and back again; that is, twelve hundred in a year, twenty-four miles a week. Those who neglect the worship of God for little difficulties show that their heart is not in it, and when they do attend cannot expect to profit: "they have snuffed at it." Those whose hearts are in it often reap great advantage. God blessed the Israelites in their journeys, as well as when there ( Psalms 84:6 ): "The rain filleth the pools;" and so the Christians. There is a peculiar promise to those that seek him early.
- The worship of God must be attended to with brotherly love. All the tribes must go up together. It is a kind law that enjoins social worship; we need each other to stimulate. "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." God has made us so that we shall be greatly influenced by each other, both to good and evil. It greatly concerns us to cultivate such a spirit. To this end we must cherish an affectionate behaviour in our common intercourse -- bear, forbear, and forgive; and, whatever differences we may have, not suffer them to hinder our worship. The tribes, as we have seen, had their differences; yet they were there. When all Israel met at Hebron to anoint David king, what should we have said if some had kept away because others went?
- Our business, when assembled, must be to bless God in our congregations; and a pleasant work this is. Israel had reasons, and good reasons, and Christians more. Thank him for his unspeakable gift; bless him for the means of grace, and the hopes of glory. Bless him; he "healeth all thy diseases," etc. Psalm
- This is an employment that fits for heaven. The tears of a mourner in God's house were supposed to defile his altar. We may mourn for sin; but a fretful spirit, discontented and unthankful, defiles God's altar still.
- Another part of our business is to unite in acknowledging that whatever we are, we owe it to God alone; "Thy God hath commanded thy strength." We possess a degree of strength both individually and socially. Art thou strong in faith, in hope, in zeal? It is in him thou art strong. Are we strong as a society? It is God that increaseth us with men like a flock; it is he that keeps us in union, gives us success, etc.
- Another part of our business must be to unite in prayer for future mercies. We are not so strong, either as individuals or societies, but that there is room for increase; and this is the proper object of prayer. God has wrought a great work for us in regeneration. God has wrought much for us as a church in giving us increase, respect, and room in the earth. Pray that each may be increased; or, in the words of the text: Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us. Are there none who are strangers to all this? Andrew Fuller.
Verse 27. Benjamin, Judah, Zebulun, Naphtali. The two royal tribes,
- That of Benjamin, from which the first king sprang;
- That of Judah, from which the second; and the two learned tribes, Zebulun and Naphtali. And we may note, that the kingdom of the Messiah should at length be submitted to by all the potentates and learned men in the world. Henry Hammond.
Verse 27. Benjamin, Judah, Zebulun, Naphtali. The same tribes are prominent in the New Testament, as foremost in the battle of the church against the world. Paul, the "least" of the apostles ( 1 Corinthians 15:8-10 ), was by origin Saul of Benjamin ( Philippians 3:5 ). Christ, "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," James and John, the brothers, the other James, Thaddaeus, and Simon, were from Judah, and the other apostles were from Nephthalim and Zabulon, or Galilee ( Matthew 4:13 ). A. R. Fausset.
Verse 27. Their ruler. The prince of that tribe. The Greek version saith, in a trance; taking the Hebrew ~dr to be of ~dr, though it be not found elsewhere in this form; yet rare words but once used are sundry times found in this and other Psalms. These things applied to Christ's times and after are very mystical. Benjamin, the least, is put here first; so in the heavenly Jerusalem, the first foundation is a jasper ( Revelation 21:19 ), which was the last precious stone in Aaron's breastplate, on which Benjamin's name was graven ( Exodus 28:10 Exodus 28:20-21 ). In this tribe Paul excelled as a prince of God, though one of the least of the apostles ( 1 Corinthians 15:8-10 ), who was converted in a trance or ecstasy ( Acts 9:3-4 , etc.); and in ecstasies he and other apostles saw the mysteries of Christ's kingdom. Henry Ainsworth.
Verse 27-28. There are all the twelve tribes of Israel with their rulers present, to conduct the ark of God to the hill, in which it pleaseth him to dwell; for, though all the tribes are not mentioned, these which are named, include the whole, since Zebulun and Naphtali are the most remote, and Judah and Benjamin the nearest tribes to Zion. Benjamin was a dwindled family through the signal depopulation of that tribe, from which it never entirely recovered. Judges 20:43-48 1 Chronicles 12:29 . Edward Garrard Marsh, in "The Book of Psalms translated into English Verse... with Practical and Explanatory Notes." 1832.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The variety of song.
- The royal tribe of Benjamin in the time of Saul.
- The princely tribe of Judah, as David was prince regent in the time of Saul.
- The literary tribe of Zebulun: "Out of Zebulun" they that handle the pen of the writer.
- The eloquent tribe: "Naphtali giveth goodly words."
- The harmony of song. Let all unite in praising the Lord, the fountain of Israel. "Ten thousand thousand are their tongues," etc. G. R.