Psalm 71:7

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 7. I am as a wonder unto many. "To thousand eyes a mark and gaze am I." The saints are men wondered at; often their dark side is gloomy even to amazement, while their bright side is glorious even to astonishment. The believer is a riddle, an enigma puzzling the unspiritual; he is a monster warring with those delights of the flesh, which are the all in all of other men; he is a prodigy, unaccountable to the judgments of ungodly men; a wonder gazed at, feared, and, by and by, contemptuously derided. Few understand us, many are surprised at us.

But thou art my strong refuge. Here is the answer to our riddle. If we are strong, it is in God; if we are safe, our refuge shelters us; if we are calm, our soul hath found her stay in God. When faith is understood, and the grounds of her confidence seen, the believer is no longer a wonder; but the marvel is that so much unbelief remains among the sons of men.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 7. I am as a wonder unto many. The Hebrew word translated wonder, would, perhaps, be better expressed by portent. It denotes anything uncommon and wonderful, and admits a double meaning. Some interpreters are of opinion, that it is here taken in the most favourable sense, and that the psalmist represents himself as considered, by the many, as a prodigy of God's goodness. But the whole tenor of the Psalm is against this meaning; which is not badly expressed by Green: "I am become a gazing stock to the multitude." Alexander Geddes. 1737-1802.

Verse 7. I am as a wonder unto many etc. On several accounts a converted man may be an object of surprise among his contemporaries. This may arise from the circumstance of his conversion dating at a late period of his life, when his long continuance in a state of impenitence seemed to render it almost certain that he would persist in it to the last. It is, indeed, a wonder to see any human being's course entirely altered at a late period, and to observe him afterwards moving in a totally different direction, influenced by different principals. Or, to take the instance of another convert, the character he is enabled to sustain, founded upon his great change, is in such marked and continued contrast to his former habits of life as to render it difficult to recognise in the Christian of today the sinner of yesterday. "Is Saul also among the prophets?" Or, in yet another example, the means divinely employed to effect result, as to place the result itself under suspicion and doubt. Every godly man, like Ananias of old, may hesitate to admit into his society the persecutor or the profligate of unhappy notoriety, except upon clearly discerning that he has become a new creature in Christ Jesus, and that old evil habits have passed away. At the same time, his former ungodly associates are mortified at his renunciation of fellowship with them, and are malicious enough to promulgate false reports concerning his character and motives. "They think it strange," says the apostle, "that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you." Yet to such a convert his God is a sun and shield -- a shield from the shafts of cruel slander, and a refuge to him from all storms of persecution. In all similar cases the language of the psalmist becomes particularly appropriate: I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge. John Leifchild.

Verse 7. A wonder. The Messiah did not attract the admiring gaze of mankind. He did arrest attention; he did excite wonder; but it was not the wonder of admiration. A few whose eyes God had opened, saw, indeed, in some measure, the real grandeur that was amid all this apparent meanness. They "beheld his glory -- the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;" a glory that bedimmed all created lustre. But the great body of those who beheld him were, "astonished" at him. His external appearance, especially when contrasted with his claim to be the Messiah, shocked them. The Galilean peasant -- the Nazarene carpenter -- the son of Joseph, claiming God for his own Father, -- declaring himself the "bread of life," and "the light of the world," and asserting that the destinies of eternity hung on the reception or rejection of him and his message; all this excited a mingled emotion of amazement and indignation, scorn and horror, in the bosom of the great majority of his countrymen. He was a wonder, a prodigy unto many. A mixture of pity and contempt, disgust and wonder, seems to have stirred the stern bosom of the Roman governor, when he brought him out wearing the robe of mock royalty and the torturing crown, and exclaimed, "Behold the man." Even his friends were confounded, though their astonishment bore a different character. The closing scene, notwithstanding what appear to us very plain forewarnings, appears to have come on them like a thunderbolt. They were overwhelmed with amazement, as well as sorrow. What blank astonishment sat on their countenances when he made the announcement, "Verily I say unto you, one of you shall betray me!" How must their amazement have risen at the successive scenes of Gethsemane, and the hall of the high priest, and the court of Pilate, till at last they saw him, in whom they trusted that he should redeem Israel, nailed to a cross like a felonious slave -- execrated of man, and deserted of God! Then their amazement reached its consummation: they were "astonished at him." John Brown, in "The Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah."

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 7. (first clause). may be accommodated to,

  1. The Saviour.
  2. The Saint. He is a wonder in reference to
    1. What he once was;
    2. What he now is;
    3. What he will hereafter be.
    4. The sinner is "a wonder unto many;" a wonder to three worlds: to
    5. angels;
    6. saints;
    7. devils and lost souls. Warwell Fenn. 1830.

Verse 7. Consider the text, with reference to David, to Christ, and to the Christian.

  1. With reference to David.
    1. David was a wonder as a man.
    2. As a king.
    3. As a servant of God.
    4. With respect to Christ.
    5. Christ was a wonder in his person.
    6. In his life.
    7. In his miracles.
    8. In his teaching.
    9. In his sufferings.
    10. In his ascension and mediatorial glory.
    11. With regard to the Christian.
    12. The Christian is a wonder to himself.
    13. To the world.
    14. To wicked spirits.
    15. To the angels in heaven. John Cawood.