[There] is a river
The allusion is either to the river Kidron, which ran by Jerusalem; or to the waters of Shiloah, which by different courses and branches, ran through the city of Jerusalem, and supplied the several parts of it with water, to the joy and comfort of its inhabitants: but the words are to be understood in a figurative sense, as applicable to Gospel times; and this river either designs the Gospel, the streams of which are its doctrines, which are living waters that went out from Jerusalem, and which publish glad tidings of great joy to all sensible sinners; or the Spirit and his graces, which are compared to a well, and rivers of living water, in the exercise of which the saints have much joy and peace; or else the Lord himself, who is a place of broad rivers and streams to his people, and is both their refreshment and protection; or rather his everlasting love to them is here intended; see ( Psalms 36:8 ) ( Ezekiel 47:5 ) ( Revelation 22:1 ) ; The head of this river is the heart of God, his sovereign goodwill and pleasure; the channel through which it runs is Christ Jesus; the rise of it was in eternity, when, like a river that runs underground, it flowed secretly, as it does before the effectual calling; when it breaks up, and appears in large streams, and flows, and so it proceeds running on to all eternity. It is a river that is unfathomable, and cannot be passed over; it has heights and depths, and lengths and breadths, which cannot be fully comprehended: as for the quality of it, it is a pure river, clear as crystal; free of all dissimulation in the heart of God, and clear of all motives and conditions in the creature. Its water is living water; which quickens dead sinners, revives drooping saints, secures from the second death, and gives eternal life; it makes all fruitful about it, or that are planted by it;
the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God;
the "streams" of this river are eternal election; the covenant of grace its blessings and promises; the provision and mission of Christ as a Saviour, and redemption by him; justification, pardon, adoption, regeneration, perseverance in grace, and eternal life; called "streams", because they flow from the fountain of divine love; and because of the rapidity, force, and power of the grace of God, in the application of them in conversion, which carries all before it; and because of the abundance, continuance, and freeness of them, and the gratefulness and acceptableness of them to those who see the worth of them, and their interest in them; see ( Song of Solomon 4:15 ) ; and these, when made known and applied, "make glad" the hearts of God's people under a sense of sin and guilt, under divine desertions, the temptations of Satan, and the various afflictions they meet with; for these are intended by "the city of God", as the church is often called, because of his building, and where he dwells, and where the saints are fellow citizens. And the same are signified by
the holy [place];
being an holy temple to God, consisting of holy persons, such who are sanctified by the Spirit of God, and live holy lives and conversations: and
of the tabernacles of the most High;
being the dwelling places of God, Father, Son, and Spirit. All which is a reason why the saints should not fear in the worst of times.