1. Why do the nations rise tumultuously, and the peoples murmur in vain? 2. The kings of the earth have confederated, and the princes have assembled together, against Jehovah and against his Christ.3. Let us break of their bonds, and cast away their yoke from us.
WE know how many conspired against David, and endeavored to prevent his coming to the throne, and from their hostile attempts, had he judged according to the eye of sense and reason, he might have been so full of apprehension, as forthwith to have given up all hope of ever becoming king. And, doubtless, he had often to struggle sorrowfully with very grievous temptations. But, as he had the testimony of an approving conscience, that he had attempted nothing rashly nor acted as ambition and depraved desire impel many to seek changes in the government of kingdoms; as he was, on the contrary, thoroughly persuaded that he had been made king by divine appointment, when he coveted no such thing, nor even thought of it; he encouraged himself by strong confidence in God against the whole world, just as in these words, he nobly pours contempt both on kings and their armies. He confesses, indeed, that he had a sore battle to fight, inasmuch as it was no small party, but whole nations with their kings, who had conspired against him; but he courageously boasts that their attempts were vain, because they waged war, not against mortal man, but against God himself. It is not certain from the words, whether he speaks only of enemies in his own kingdom, or extends his complaints to foreign invaders. But, since the fact was, that enemies rose up against him in all quarters, and that as soon as he had settled the disturbances among his own people, the neighboring states, in their turn, became hostile to him, I am disposed to think that both classes of enemies are meant, Gentiles as well as Jews. It would be a strange mode of expression to speak of many nations and people when only one nation was meant, and to speak of many kings when he had in eye Saul only. Besides, it agrees better with the completeness of the type to suppose that different kinds of enemies were joined together; for we know that Christ had not only to do with enemies in his own country, but likewise with enemies in other nations; the whole world having entered into a common conspiracy to accomplish his destruction. The Jews, indeed, first began to rage against Christ as they had formerly done against David; but afterwards the same species of madness seized upon other nations. The sum is, that although those who endeavored to overthrow him might be strengthened by powerful armies, yet their tumults and counsels would prove vain and ineffectual.
By attributing to the people commotion and uproar, and to kings and rulers the holding of assemblies, to take counsel, he has used very appropriate language. Yet he intimates that, when kings have long and much consulted together, and the people have poured forth their utmost fury, all of them united would make nothing of it. But we ought carefully to mark the ground of such confidence, which was, that he had not thrust himself forward to be king rashly, or of his own accord, but only followed the call of God. From this he concludes, that in his person God was assailed; and God could not but show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder. By honoring himself with the title of Messias, or the Anointed, he declares that he reigned only by the authority and command of God, inasmuch as the oil brought by the hand of Samuel made him king who before was only a private person. David's enemies did not, indeed, think they were making a violent attack against God, yea, they would resolutely deny their having any such intention; yet it is not without reason that David places God in opposition to them, and speaks as if they directly levelled their attacks against him, for by seeking to undermine the kingdom which he had erected, they blindly and ferociously waged war against Him. If all those are rebels against God who resist the powers ordained by him, much more does this apply to that sacred kingdom which was established by special privilege.
But it is now high time to come to the substance of the type. That David prophesied concerning Christ, is clearly manifest from this, that he knew his own kingdom to be merely a shadow. And in order to learn to apply to Christ whatever David, in times past, sang concerning himself, we must hold this principle, which we meet with everywhere in all the prophets, that he, with his posterity, was made king, not so much for his own sake as to be a type of the Redeemer. We shall often have occasion to return to this afterwards, but at present I would briefly inform my readers that as David's temporal kingdom was a kind of earnest to God's ancient people of the eternal kingdom, which at length was truly established in the person of Christ, those things which David declares concerning himself are not violently, or even allegorically, applied to Christ, but were truly predicted concerning him. If we attentively consider the nature of the kingdom, we will perceive that it would be absurd to overlook the end or scope, and to rest in the mere shadow. That the kingdom of Christ is here described by the spirit of prophecy, is sufficiently attested to us by the apostles, who, seeing the ungodly conspiring against Christ, arm themselves in prayer with this doctrine, (Acts 4:24.) But to place our faith beyond the reach of all cavils, it is plainly made manifest from all the prophets, that those things which David testified concerning his own kingdom are properly applicable to Christ. Let this, therefore, be held as a settled point, that all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God. Since it seems good to God to rule us by the hand of his own Son, those who refuse to obey Christ himself deny the authority of God, and it is in vain for them to profess otherwise. For it is a true saying,
|He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the
Father which hath sent him,| (John 5:22.)
And it is of great importance to hold fast this inseparable connection, that as the majesty of God hath shone forth in his only begotten Son, so the Father will not be feared and worshipped but in his person.
A twofold consolation may be drawn from this passage: -- First, as often as the world rages, in order to disturb and put an end to the prosperity of Christ's kingdom, we have only to remember that, in all this there is just a fulfillment of what was long ago predicted, and no changes that can happen will greatly disquiet us. Yea, rather it will be highly profitable to us to compare those things which the apostles experienced with what we witness at the present time. Of itself the kingdom of Christ would be peaceable, and from it true peace issues forth to the world; but through the wickedness and malice of men, never does it rise from obscurity into open view without disturbances being excited. Nor is it at all wonderful, or unusual, if the world begin to rage as soon as a throne is erected for Christ. The other consolation which follows is, that when the ungodly have mustered their forces, and when, depending on their vast numbers, their riches, and their means of defense, they not only pour forth their proud blasphemies, but furiously assault heaven itself, we may safely laugh them to scorn, relying on this one consideration, that he whom they are assailing is the God who is in heaven. When we see Christ well nigh overwhelmed with the number and strength of his enemies, let us remember that they are making war against God over whom they shall not prevail, and therefore their attempts, whatever they may be, and however increasing, will come to naught, and be utterly ineffectual. Let us learn, farther, that this doctrine runs through the whole gospel; for the prayer of the apostles which I have just quoted, manifestly testifies that it ought not to be restricted to the person of Christ.
3. Let us break, etc. This is a prosopopoeia, in which the prophet introduces his-enemies as speaking; and he employs this figure the better to express their ungodly and traitorous design. Not that they openly avowed themselves rebels against God, (for they rather covered their rebellion under every possible pretext, and presumptuously boasted of having God on their side;) but since they were fully determined, by all means, fair or foul, to drive David from the throne, whatever they professed with the mouth, the whole of their consultation amounted to this, how they might overthrow the kingdom which God himself had set up. When he describes his government under the metaphorical expressions of bonds, and a yoke, on the persons of his adversaries, he indirectly condemns their pride. For he represents them speaking scornfully of his government, as if to submit to it were a slavish and shameful subjection, just as we see it is with all the enemies of Christ who, when compelled to be subject to his authority reckon it not less degrading than if the utmost disgrace were put upon them.