Verse 3. Say unto God. Turn all your praises to him. Devotion, unless it be resolutely directed to the Lord, is no better than whistling to the wind.
How terrible art thou in thy works. The mind is usually first arrested by those attributes which cause fear and trembling; and, even when the heart has come to love God, and rest in him, there is an increase of worship when the soul is awed by an extraordinary display of the more dreadful of the divine characteristics. Looking upon the convulsions which have shaken continents, the hurricanes which have devastated nations, the plagues which have desolated cities, and other great and amazing displays of divine working, men may well say: How terrible art thou in thy works. Till we see God in Christ, the terrible predominates in all our apprehensions of him.
Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee; but, as the Hebrew clearly intimates, it will be a forced and false submission. Power brings a man to his knee, but love alone wins his heart. Pharaoh said he would let Israel go, but he lied unto God; he submitted in word but not in deed. Tens of thousands, both in earth and hell, are rendering this constrained homage to the Almighty; they only submit because they cannot do otherwise; it is not their loyalty, but his power, which keeps them subjects of his boundless dominion.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Say. Dicite, say, says David, delight to speak of God; Dicite, say something. There was more required than to think of God. Consideration, meditation, contemplation upon God and divine objects, have their place and their season; but this is more than that, and more than admiration too; for all these may come to an end in ecstasies, and in stupidities, and in useless and frivolous imaginations. John Donne.
Verse 3. Unto God. To God, not concerning God, as some interpret, but to God himself; to his praises, and with minds raised to God, as it is in Psalms 66:4 , sing to himself; Gejerus also correctly remarks, that the following discourse is addressed to God. Besides, it is to our God, as in Psalms 66:8 , O bless our God, ye people: he is called God absolutely, because he alone is the true God. Hermann Venema.
Verse 3. How terrible. Take from the Bible its awful doctrines, and from providence its terrible acts, and the whole system, under which God has placed us, would be emasculated. William S. Plumer.
Verse 3. Thine enemies shall submit themselves unto thee. In this, our first consideration is, that God himself hath enemies; and then, how should we hope to be, nay, why should we wish to be, without them. God had good, that is, glory from his enemies; and we may have good, that is, advantage in the way to glory, by the exercise of our patience, from enemies too. Those for whom God had done most, the angels, turned enemies first; vex not thou thyself, if those whom thou hast loved best hate thee deadliest... God himself hath enemies. Thine enemies shall submit, says the text, to God; there thou hast one comfort, though thou have enemies too; but the greater comfort is, that God calls thine enemies his. Nolite tangere Christus meos ( Psalms 105:15 ), says God of all holy people; you were as good touch me, as touch any of them, for, "they are the apple of mine eye" ( Psalms 17:8 ). Our Saviour Christ never expostulated for himself; never said, Why scourge you me? why spit you upon me? why crucify you me? As long as their rage determined in his person, he opened not his mouth; when Saul extended the violence to the church, to his servants, then Christ came to that, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" ... Here is a holy league, defensive and offensive; God shall not only protect us from others, but he shall fight for us against them; our enemies are his enemies. Condensed from John Donne.
Verse 3. Thine enemies submit themselves. Literally, lie unto thee. This was remarkably the case with Pharaoh and the Egyptians. They promised again and again to let the people go, when the hand of the Lord was upon them; and they as frequently falsified their word. Adam Clarke.
Verse 3. (second clause). In times of affliction every hypocrite -- all tag and rag -- will be ready to come in to God in an outward profession; but usually this submission to God at this time is not out of truth. Hence it is said, Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee: in the original it is, they shall lie unto thee, and so it is translated by Arias Montanus, and some others, noting hereby that a forced submission to God is seldom in truth. Jeremiah Burroughs.
Verse 3. The earthquakes in New England occasioned a kind of religious panic. A writer, who was then one of the ministers of Boston, informs us, that immediately after the great earthquake, as it was called, a great number of his flock came and expressed a wish to unite themselves with the church. But, on conversing with them, he could find no evidence of improvement in their religious views or feelings, no convictions of their own sinfulness; nothing, in short, but a kind of superstitious fear, occasioned by a belief that the end of the world was at hand. All their replies proved that they had not found God, though they had seen the greatness of his power in the earthquake. Edward Payson, D.D.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. The terrible in God's works of nature and providence.