Verse 7. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust. This is an instance of his gracious stoop of love: he frequently lifts the lowest of mankind out of their poverty and degradation and places them in positions of power and honour. His good Spirit is continually visiting the down trodden, giving beauty for ashes to those who are cast down, and elevating the hearts of his mourners till they shout for joy. These up liftings of grace are here ascribed directly to the divine hand, and truly those who have experienced them will not doubt the fact that it is the Lord alone who brings his people up from the dust of sorrow and death. When no hand but his can help he interposes, and the work is done. It is worth while to be cast down to be so divinely raised from the dust.
And lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, whereon they lay like worthless refuse, cast off and cast out, left as they thought to rot into destruction, and to be everlastingly forgotten. How great a stoop from the height of his throne to a dunghill! How wonderful that power which occupies itself in lifting up beggars, all befouled with the filthiness in which they lay! For he lifts them out of the dunghill, not disdaining to search them out from amidst the base things of the earth that he may by their means bring to nought the great ones, and pour contempt upon all human glorying. What a dunghill was that upon which we lay by nature! What a mass of corruption is our original estate! What a heap of loathsomeness we have accumulated by our sinful lives! What reeking abominations surround us in the society of our fellow men! We could never have risen out of all this by our own efforts, it was a sepulchre in which we saw corruption, and were as dead men. Almighty were the arms which lifted us, which are still lifting us, and will lift us into the perfection of heaven itself. Praise ye the Lord.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. He raiseth up the poor, etc. There is no doubt a reference in this to the respect which God pays even to the lower ranks of the race, seeing that "he raiseth up the poor, and lifteth up the needy." I have no doubt there is reference throughout the whole of this psalm to evangelical times; that, in this respect, it is a prophetic psalm, including a reference especially to Christianity, as it may be called by eminence and distinction the religion of the poor -- its greatest glory. For when John the Baptist sent two disciples to Jesus, to know whether he was the Messiah or not, the answer of our Lord was, "The blind see, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised" -- all extraordinary events -- miracles, in short, which proved his divine commission. And he summed up the whole by saying, "The poor have the gospel preached unto them;" as great a miracle as any -- as great a distinction as any. There never was a religion but the true religion, in all its various dispensations, that had equal respect to all classes of society. In all others there was a privileged class, but here there is none. Perhaps one of the most interesting views of Christianity we can take is its wonderful adaptation to the character and circumstances of the poor. What an opportunity does it furnish for the manifestation of the bright and mild graces of the Holy Spirit! What sources of comfort does it open to mollify the troubles of life! and how often, in choosing the poor, rich in faith, to make them heirs of the kingdom, does God exalt the poor out of the dust, and the needy from the dunghill! -- Richard Watson.
Verse 7. He raiseth up the poor, etc. Gideon is fetched from threshing, Saul from seeking the asses, and David from keeping the sheep; the apostles from fishing are sent to be "fishers of men." The treasure of the gospel is put into earthen vessels, and the weak and the foolish ones of the world pitched upon to be preachers of it, to confound the "wise and mighty" ( 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 ), that the excellency of the power may be of God, and all may see that promotion comes from him. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 7. He raiseth up the poor. The highest honour, which was ever done to any mere creature, was done out of regard to the lowest humility; the Son of God had such regard to the lowliness of the blessed virgin, that he did her the honour to choose her for the mother of his holy humanity. It is an observation of S. Chrysostom, that that very hand which the humble John Baptist thought not worthy to unloose the shoe on our blessed Saviour's feet, that hand our Lord thought worthy to baptize his sacred head. --Valentine Nalson.
Verse 7. And lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; which denotes a mean condition; so one born in a mean place, and brought up in a mean manner, is sometimes represented as taken out of a dunghill; and also it is expressive of a filthy one; men by sin are not only brought into a low estate, but into a loathsome one, and are justly abominable in the sight of God, and yet he lifts them out of it: the phrases of raising up and lifting out suppose them to be fallen, as men are in Adam, fallen from a state of honour and glory, in and out of which they cannot deliver themselves; it is Christ's work, and his only, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to help or lift up his servant Israel. Isaiah 49:6 Luke 1:54 ; see 1 Samuel 2:8 . --John Gill.
Verse 7. The poor ... the needy. Rejoice, then, in the favourable notice God taketh of you. The highest and greatest of beings vouchsafes to regard you. Though you are poor and mean, and men overlook you; though your brethren hate you, and your friends go far from you, yet hear! God looketh down from his majestic throne upon you. Amidst the infinite variety of his works, you are not overlooked. Amidst the nobler services of ten thousand times ten thousand saints and angels, not one of your fervent prayers or humble groans escapes his ear. --Job Orton, 1717-1783.
Verse 7. Almighty God cannot look above himself, as having no superiors; nor about himself, as having no equals; he beholds such as are below him; and therefore the lower a man is, the nearer unto God; he resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble, 1 Peter 5:5 . He pulls down the mighty from their seat, and exalteth them of low degree. The Most High hath special eye to such as are most humble; for, as it followeth in our text, "he taketh up the simple out of the dust, and lifteth the poor out of the dirt." --John Boys.
Verse 7. Dunghill. An emblem of the deepest poverty and desertion; for in Syria and Palestine the man who is shut out from society lies upon the mezbele (the dunghill or heap of ashes), by day calling upon the passers by for alms, and by night hiding himself in the ashes that have been warmed by the sun. --Franz Delitzsch.
Verse 7. Dunghill. The passages of the Bible, in which the word occurs, all seem to refer, as Parkhurst remarks, to the stocks of cow dung and other offal stuff, which the easterns for want of wood were obliged to lay up for fuel. --Richard Mant.
Verse 7, 8. These verses are taken almost word for word from the prayer of Hannah, 1Sa 2:8. The transition to the "people" is all the more natural, as Hannah, considering herself at the conclusion as the type of the church, with which every individual among the Israelites felt himself much more closely entwined than can easily be the case among ourselves, draws out of the salvation imparted to herself joyful prospects for the future. --E. W. Hengstenberg.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. The gospel and its special eye to the poor.
- Where men are? In the dust of sorrow and on the dunghill of sin.
- Who interferes to help them? He who dwelleth on high.
- What does he effect for them? "Raiseth, lifteth, setteth among princes, among princes of his people."