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Commentary On Psalms Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 14:7

7. Who shall give salvation [or deliverance] to Israel out of Sion? When Jehovah shall have brought back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

David, after having laid down the doctrine of consolation, again returns to prayers and groanings. By this he teaches us, that although God may leave us for a long time to languish, yet we ought not to weary, or lose courage, but should always glory in him; and, again, that while our troubles continue, the most effectual solace we can have is often to return to the exercise of prayer. When he asks the question, Who shall give salvation? this does not imply, that he was looking either to the right hand or to the left, or that he turned away his eyes from God in search of another deliverer; he intends only to express the ardor of his desire, as if he had said, When will the time at length come when God will display his salvation, and make it fully manifest? By the word Sion, which he adds, he testifies that his hope is fixed on God; for Sion was the holy place from which God had promised to hear the prayers of his servants; and it was the dwelling-place of the ark of the covenant, which was an external pledge and symbol of the presence of God. He does not, therefore, doubt who would be the author of his salvation; but he asks, with a sorrowful heart, when at length that salvation will come forth which is to be expected from no other source than from God alone. The question may, however, be put, if this prayer refers to the time of Saul, how can Sion, with propriety, be named as being already the sanctuary of God? I will not deny that the Psalmist, by the spirit of prophecy, may have predicted what had not yet actually taken place; but I think it highly probable, that this psalm was not composed until the ark of the covenant had been placed on mount Sion. David, as we know, employed his leisure hours in committing to writing, for the benefit of posterity, events which had happened long before. Besides, by expressing his desire for the deliverance of Israel, we are taught that he was chiefly anxious about the welfare of the whole body of the Church, and that his thoughts were more occupied about this than about himself individually. This is worthy of being the more carefully marked when we consider, that, while our attention is engrossed with our own particular sorrows, we are in danger of almost entirely neglecting the welfare of our brethren. And yet the particular afflictions with which God visits each of us are intended to admonish us to direct our attention and care to the whole body of the Church, and to think of its necessities, just as we see David here including Israel with himself.

When the Lord shall have brought back the captivity of his people, In these words, David concludes, that God will not suffer the faithful to languish under continual sorrow, according as it is said in another psalm, (Psalm 126:5) |They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.| He doubtless aims at confirming and encouraging himself and all the godly to hope for the promised deliverance. He therefore says, in the first place, that although God may delay, or at least may not make so much haste as we would wish, he will, nevertheless, show himself to be the defender of his people, by redeeming them from captivity. And, in the next place, he assuages their sorrow, by setting forth that the issue of it will be joyful, seeing it will at length be turned into gladness. The captivity, of which he makes mention, is not the Babylonish, or the dispersion of his people among the heathen nations; it rather refers to an oppression at home, when the wicked exercise dominion like tyrants in the Church. We are, therefore, taught by these words, that when such furious enemies waste and destroy the flock of God, or proudly tread it under foot, we ought to have recourse to God, whose peculiar office it is to gather together his Israel from all places whither they have been dispersed. And the term captivity, which he employs, implies, that when the wicked overthrow at their pleasure all good and lawful order in the midst of the Church, it is converted into a Babylon or Egypt. Farther, although David defers the joy of the holy people, to the time of their deliverance, yet the consolatory prospect of this should serve not only to moderate our grief, but also to mix and season it with joy.

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