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Commentary On Psalms Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 24:5-6

5. He shall receive blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.6. This is the generation of them that seek him, of them that seek thy face, O Jacob! Selah.

5. He shall receive blessing. The more effectually to move the minds of the Israelites, David declares that nothing is more desirable than to be numbered among the flock of God, and to be members of the church. We must here consider that there is an implied contrast between true Israelites and those of them who were degenerate and bastards. The more license the wicked give themselves, the more presumptuous are they in pretending to the name of God, as if he were under obligation to them, because they are adorned with the same outward symbols or badges as true believers. Accordingly, the demonstrative pronoun this, in the following verse, is of great weight, for it expressly excludes all that bastard generation which gloried only in the mask of external ceremonies. And in this verse, when he speaks of blessing, he intimates that it is not those who boast of being the servants of God, while they have only the name, who shall be partakers of the promised blessing, but those only who answer to their calling with their whole heart, and without hypocrisy. It is, as we have already observed, a very powerful inducement to godliness and an upright life, when the faithful are assured that they do not lose their labor in following righteousness, since God has in reserve for them a blessing which cannot fail them. The word righteousness may be explained two ways. It either means all the benefits of God, by which he proves himself to be righteous and faithful towards his people in keeping his promises to them, or it denotes the fruit or reward of the believer's righteousness. Indeed, David's meaning is abundantly manifest. He intends to show on the one hand, that it is not to be expected that the fruit or reward of righteousness will be bestowed on those who unrighteously profane God's sacred worship; and on the other hand, that it is impossible for God to disappoint his true worshippers; for it is his peculiar office to give evidence of his righteousness by doing them good.

6. This is the generation. I have just now observed, that by the demonstrative pronoun this, the Psalmist erases from the catalogue of the servants of God all counterfeit Israelites, who, trusting only to their circumcision and the sacrifices of beasts, have no concern about offering themselves to God; and yet, at the same time, they rashly thrust themselves into the church. Such persons may pretend to have delight in the service of God, by often coming to his temple, but they have no other design than to withdraw themselves from him as far as they can. Now, as nothing was more common in the mouths of each of them than to say, that they all belonged to the holy seed, the Psalmist has limited the name of holy generation to the true observers of the law; as if he had said, All who have sprung from Abraham, according to the flesh, are not, on that account, his legitimate children. It is, no doubt, truly said in many other places, as we shall see in Psalm 27, that those sought the face of God who, to testify their godliness, exercised themselves in the ceremonies before the ark of the covenant; that is to say, if they were brought thither by a pure and holy affection. But as hypocrites seek God externally in a certain way, as well as true saints, while yet they shun him by their windings and false pretences, David here declares that God is not sought in truth unless there go before a zealous cultivation of holiness and righteousness. To give the sentence greater emphasis, he repeats it, using the second person, and addressing his discourse to God. It is as if he summoned before the judgment-seat of God hypocrites, who account it nothing falsely to use the name of God before the world; and he thus teaches us, that whatever they may say in their empty talk among men, the judgment of God will be a very different matter. He adds the word Jacob, for the confirmation of the same doctrine putting it for those who were descended from Jacob; as if he had said, Although circumcision distinguishes all the seed of Jacob according to the flesh from the Gentiles, yet we can only distinguish the chosen people by the fear and reverence of God, as Christ said, |Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!| (John 1:47.)

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