Verse 8. The fear of death at one time cast its dark shadow over the soul of the Redeemer, and we read that, "he was heard in that he feared." There appeared unto him an angel, strengthening him; perhaps the heavenly messenger reassured him of his glorious resurrection as his people's surety, and of the eternal joy into which he should admit the flock redeemed by blood. Then hope shone full upon our Lord's soul, and, as recorded in these verses, he surveyed the future with holy confidence because he had a continued eye to Jehovah, and enjoyed his perpetual presence. He felt that, thus sustained, he could never be driven from his life's grand design; nor was he, for he stayed not his hand till he could say, "It is finished." What an infinite mercy was this for us! In this immovableness, caused by simple faith in the divine help, Jesus is to be viewed as our exemplar; to recognize the presence of the Lord is the duty of every believer;
I have set the Lord always before me; and to trust the Lord as our champion and guard is the privilege of every saint; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. The apostle translates this passage, "I foresaw the Lord always before my face;" Acts 2:25 ; the eye of Jesus' faith could discern beforehand the continuance of divine support to his suffering Son, in such a degree that he should never be moved from the accomplishment of his purpose of redeeming his people. By the power of God at his right hand he foresaw that he should smite through all who rose up against him, and on that power he placed the firmest reliance.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 8. I have set the Lord always before me. David did not by fits and starts set the Lord before him; but he "always" set the Lord before him in his course; he had his eye upon the Lord, and so much the Hebrew word imports: I have equally set the Lord before me; that is the force of the original word, that is, I have set the Lord before me, at one time as well as another, without any irregular affections or passions, etc. In every place, in every condition, in every company, in every employment, and in every enjoyment, I have set the Lord equally before me; and this raised him, and this will raise any Christian, by degrees, to a very great height of holiness. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 8. I have set the Lord always before me. Hebrew, I have equally set, or proposed. The apostle translates it, "I foresaw the Lord always before my face." Acts 2:25 . I set the eye of my faith full upon him, and suffer it not to take to other things; I look him in the face, oculo irretorto, as the eagle looketh upon the sun; and oculo adamantino, with an eye of adamant, which turns only to one point: so here, I have equally set the Lord before me, without irregular affections and passions. And this was one of those lessons that his reins had taught him, that the Holy Spirit had dictated unto him. John Trapp.
Verse 8. I have set the Lord ALWAYS before me. Like as the gnomon doth ever behold the north star, whether it be closed and shut up in a coffer of gold, silver, or wood, never losing its nature; so a faithful Christian man, whether he abound in wealth or be pinched with poverty, whether he be of high or low degree in this world, ought continually to have his faith and hope surely built and grounded upon Christ, and to have his heart and mind fast fixed and settled in him, and to follow him through thick and thin, through fire and water, through wars and peace, through hunger and cold, through friends and foes, through a thousand perils and dangers, through the surges and waves of envy, malice, hatred, evil speeches, railing sentences, contempt of the world, flesh, and devil, and even in death itself, be it never so bitter, cruel, and tyrannical, yet never to lose sight and view of Christ, never to give over faith, hope, and trust in him. Robert Cawdray.
Verse 8. I have set the Lord always before me. By often thinking of God, the heart will be enticed into desires after him. Isaiah 26:8 . "The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee;" and see what follows, Isaiah 26:9 : "With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early." Love sets the soul on musing, and from musing to praying. Meditation is prayer in bullion, prayer in the ore -- soon melted and run into holy desires. The laden cloud soon drops into rain; the piece charged soon goes off when fire is put to it. A meditating soul is in proxima potentia to prayer. William Gurnall.
Verse 8. I have set the Lord always before me, etc. He that by faith eyes God continually as his protector in trouble shall not be moved with any evil that he suffers, and he that eyes God by faith as his pattern in holiness, shall not be moved from doing that which is good. This thought -- the Lord is at our right hand -- keeps us from turning either to the right hand or to the left. It is said of Enoch, that "he walked with God" ( Genesis 5:22 ), and though the history of his life be very short, yet it is said of him a second time ( Genesis 5:24 ), that "he walked with God." He walked so much with God that he walked as God: he did not "walk" (which kind of walking the apostle reproves, 1 Corinthians 3:3 ), "as men." He walked so little like the world, that his stay was little in the world. "He was not," saith the text, "for God took him." He took him from the world to himself, or, as the author to the Hebrews reports it, "he was translated that he should not see death, for he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Joseph Caryl.
Verse 8. Because he is at my right hand, etc. Of ourselves we stand not at any time, by his power we may overcome at all times. And when we are sorest assaulted he is ever ready at our right hand to support and stay us that we shall not fall. He hath well begun, and shall happily go forward in his work, who hath in truth begun. For true grace well planted in the heart, how weak soever, shall hold out for ever. All total decays come from this -- that the heart was never truly mollified, nor grace deeply and kindly rooted therein. John Ball.
Verse 8. He is at my right hand. This phrase of speech is borrowed from those who, when they take upon them the patronage, defence, or tuition of any, will set them on their right hand, as in place of most safeguard. Experience confirmeth this in children, who in any imminent danger shroud and shelter themselves under their father's arms or hands, as under a sufficient buckler. Such was the estate of the man of God, as here appeareth, who was hemmed and hedged in with the power of God, both against present evils, and dangers to come. Richard Greenham.
Verse 8. Even as a column or pillar is sometimes on thy right hand, and sometimes on thy left hand, because thou dost change thy standing, sitting or walking, for it is unmovable and keepeth one place; so God is sometimes favourable and bountiful unto thee, and sometimes seemeth to be wroth and angry with thee, because thou dost fall from virtue to vice, from obedience and humility to pride and presumption; for in the Lord there is no change, no, not so much as any shadow of change. He is immutable, always one and everlasting. If thou wilt bend thyself to obedience, and to a virtuous and godly life, thou shalt ever have him a strong rock, whereupon you may boldly build a castle and tower of defence. He will be unto thee a mighty pillar, bearing up heaven and earth, whereto you may lean and not be deceived, wherein you may trust and not be disappointed. He will ever be at thy right hand, that thou shalt not fall. He will take thy part, and will mightily defend thee against all enemies of thy body and of thy soul; but if thou wilt shake hands with virtue, and bid it adieu and farewell, and, forsaking the ways of God, wilt live as thou list, and follow thy own corruption, and make no conscience of aught thou doest, defiling and blemishing thyself with all manner of sin and iniquity, then be sure the Lord will appear unto thee in his fury and indignation. From his justice and judgments none shall ever be able to deliver thee. Robert Cawdray.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 8. Set the Lord always before you as --
- Your protector.
- Your leader.
- Your example.
- Your observer.
Verse 8-9. A sense of the divine presence our best support. It yields,
- Good confidence concerning things without. I shall not be moved.
- Good cheer within. My heart is glad.
- Good music for the living tongue. My glory rejoiceth.
- Good hope for the dying body. My flesh also, etc.