Verse 7. The Lord of hosts is with us. This is the reason for all Zion's security, and for the overthrow of her foes. The Lord rules the angels, the stars, the elements, and all the hosts of heaven; and the heaven of heavens are under his sway. The armies of men though they know it not are made to subserve his will. This Generalissimo of the forces of the land, and the Lord High Admiral of the seas, is on our side -- our august ally; woe unto those who fight against him, for they shall fly like smoke before the wind when he gives the word to scatter them. The God of Jacob is our refuge, Immanuel is Jehovah of Hosts, and Jacob's God is our high place of defence. When this glad verse is sung to music worthy of such a jubilate, well may the singers pause and the players wait awhile to tune their instruments again; here, therefore, fitly stands that solemn, stately, peaceful note of rest, SELAH.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. The Lord of hosts is with us. There be three sorts of God's special presence, all which may be justly accounted the church's privilege. First, his glorious presence, or his presence testified by eminent glory, and the residence thereof. Thus God is said to be in heaven differentially, so as he is not anywhere else; and heaven is therefore called his throne or dwelling place 1 Kings 8:39 ; as a king is nowhere so majestically as upon his throne, or in his chair of state; and this is so great a privilege of the church as that she comes not to enjoy it, unless she be triumphant in heaven, and therefore is not the presence here intended. Secondly, his gracious presence, or his presence testified by tokens of his grace and favour toward a people, whether visible as in the temple where he chose to place his name, and wherein above all places he would be worshipped, in which respect he is said to dwell between the cherubim 2Sa 6:2; or spiritual tokens of his grace, as assistance and acceptance in the duties of his worship, together with enjoyment and benefit of his ordinances. Thus he is present with his church and people in times of the gospel: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20 . This kind of presence is a privilege of the church militant, that he will be with her in holy and spiritual administrations and ordinances; yet this is not the presence principally intended here. Thirdly, the providential presence, or his presence testified by acts of special providence, wherein the power, wisdom or any other of God's attributes are eminently put forth, either by way of assistance or defence fro a people. Thus the Lord was present with Israel in the wilderness by the pillar of fore and of a cloud Exodus 13:21 ; "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light." And as this presence was intended for a guide, so was it also for a defence to his people against their enemies, and at which their enemies the Egyptians were troubled. Exodus 15:20 . By this kind of presence the Lord is with his church militant, in reference to her external regiment, and more especially in her warfare, standing up for her and with her against her enemies; and this is the church's privilege in these words, The Lord of hosts is with us. John Strickland, B.D. (1601-1670), in a Sermon, entitled, "Immanuel," 1644.
Verse 7. The God of Jacob. If any shall ask me, Why then the God of Jacob more than the God of Isaac? Though it might suffice that the Spirit of God is pleased so to speak, yet Mr. Calvin gives this reason, the covenant of grace was more solemnly made and publicly ratified with Abraham and Jacob, than it was with Isaac, and therefore when he will be looked upon as a God in covenant with his people, he holds forth himself more frequently by the name of the God of Abraham, and the God of Jacob, than of the God of Isaac; albeit sometimes he is pleased to take upon him that style also. John Strickland.
Verse 7. Our refuge. Our refuge, or stronghold, where the church, as a ship in quiet haven, amy anchor and ride safe; or it may be a metaphor from the dens or burrows, where weaponless creatures find shelter, when they are hunted and pursued by their enemies, as Proverbs 30:26 , "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks." They are safe in the rock if they can get thither, though never so weak in themselves. So the church, though pursued by bloody enemies, and though weak in herself, if yet she get under the wing of the God of Jacob, she may be fearless, for she is safe there. He is our refuge. It were to undervalue God, if we should fear the creatures, when he is with us. Antigonus, when he overheard his soldiers reckoning how many their enemies were, he steps in unto them suddenly, demanding, "And how many do you reckon me for?" John Strickland.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS