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Commentary On Psalms Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 115:9-15

9. O Israel! Trust thou in Jehovah: he is their help and their shield.10. O house of Aaron! trust ye in Jehovah: he is their help and their shield.11. Ye that fear Jehovah! trust in Jehovah: he is their help and their shield.12. Jehovah has been mindful of us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron.13. He will bless them that fear Jehovah, both the small with the great.14. Jehovah will add unto you, unto you and unto your children.15. Blessed are ye of Jehovah, who made heaven and earth.

9 O Israel! trust thou in Jehovah The prophet again resumes the doctrinal point, that the genuine worshippers of God have no cause to fear that he will forsake or frustrate them in the time of need; because he is as much disposed to provide for their safety as he is furnished with power to do it. He proceeds, in the first place, to exhort all the Israelites generally to place their confidence in God; and, secondly, he addresses the house of Aaron in particular; and, thirdly, he sets down all who fear God. For this arrangement there was good cause. God had adopted indiscriminately all the people, to whom also his grace was offered, so that they were bound in common to place their hope in him. In accordance with this Paul says, that the twelve tribes of Israel wait for the promised deliverance, (Acts 26:7) The prophet, therefore, with great propriety first addresses Israel at large. But having in a peculiar manner set apart the Levites for himself, and more especially the priests of the house of Aaron, to take the precedence, and to preside over ecclesiastical matters, he demands more from them than from the common people; not that salvation was promised specially to them, but because it was proper that they who had the exclusive privilege of entering the sanctuary should point out the way to others. As if the prophet had said, Ye sons of Aaron, whom God hath chosen to be the teachers of religion to his people, be ye to others an example of faith, seeing that he hath so highly honored you in permitting you to enter his sanctuary.

11. Ye who fear Jehovah! He does not speak of strangers, as some erroneously suppose, as if this were a prediction respecting the calling of the Gentiles. Connecting them with the children of Israel and with the sons of Aaron, they are of opinion that he refers to the heathens and to the uncircumcised who were not yet gathered into the sheepfold. By parity of reason one might infer, that the priests are not of the seed of Abraham, because they are separately mentioned. It is more probable that there is in these words a tacit correction of what he had said before, by which he makes a distinction between the genuine worshippers of God and those hypocrites who were the degenerate sons of Abraham. Not a few of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh having departed from the faith of their father, the prophet here restricts the promise to those who, having received it by faith, were worshipping God in purity. We now perceive the reason for his first addressing the Israelites, next the house of Aaron, and then the fearers of Jehovah It is as if a person in our times were to point his exhortation first to the whole body of the Church, and then come more particularly to the ministers and teachers, who ought to be ensamples to others. And as many falsely pique themselves upon the mere name of being connected with the Church, and hence deserve not to be classed with God's true followers, he expressly mentions the genuine and not the counterfeit worshippers of God.

12 Jehovah hath remembered us Many render the term bless in the past tense, he has blessed, it being the design of the prophet, according to them, to propose the past experience of God's kindness as an encouragement to cherish good hope for the future: |We have already, from long experience, been taught how valuable the favor of our God is, because from this source alone have flowed our prosperity, our abundance, and our stability.| He assumes the principle, the truth of which ought to be admitted by all, that we neither enjoy prosperity nor happiness further than it pleases God to bless us. As often as the Israelites were rescued from manifold dangers, or succored in time of need, or treated in a friendly manner, so many palpable proofs had they of the loving-kindness of God towards them. As, however, there is no just cause to urge us to change the verb from the future into the past tense, it is quite in unison with the scope of the passage, if we say that the same blessing is here promised to the faithful which they have formerly realized. Thus the meaning will be, that God, mindful of his covenant, has hitherto been attentive to us; therefore, as he has begun to favor us, he will continue to do so for ever. In pronouncing these blessings, he observes the same order as above, assigning to the children of Aaron a superior place in God's benediction, excluding from it those among the Israelites who were hypocrites.

He says, both the small with the great, by which circumstance he magnifies God's paternal regard the more, showing that he does not overlook even the meanest and most despised, provided they cordially invoke his aid. Now, as there is no acceptance of persons before God, our low and abject condition ought to be no obstruction to our drawing near to him, since he so kindly invites to approach him those who appear to be held in no reputation. Moreover, the repetition of the word bless is intended to mark the uninterrupted stream of his loving-kindness. Should any prefer the past tense, he has blessed, the meaning will be, that the favor of God towards his people has continued for a long period, which ought to be a sure evidence of the perpetuity of his fatherly regard. This interpretation is strengthened by the subsequent verse, in which he says, that God would multiply the benefits which he had up to that time conferred upon them. For God's liberality is an inexhaustible fountain, which will never cease to flow so long as its progress is not impeded by the ingratitude of men. And hence it will be continued to their posterity, because God manifests the grace and the fruit of his adoption even to a thousand generations.

15. Ye are blessed of Jehovah In the preceding verse the prophet had given them the hope of uninterrupted happiness, arising from God's infinite resources never failing, however liberally and largely he bestows, and from his never ceasing to enrich those whom he hath admitted as sharers of his bounty. In confirmation of this doctrine, he declares that the children of Abraham were separated from other nations; so that, relying upon this privilege, they might unhesitatingly and unreservedly surrender themselves to a father so benignant and bountiful. And as the flesh, in consequence of its stupidity, cannot perceive the power of God, the understanding of which preserves us in a state of peace and security under his protection, the prophet, in designating him the maker of heaven and earth, reminds us that there is no ground to fear that he is unable to defend us; for, having created the heaven and the earth, he does not now remain unconcerned in heaven, but all creation is under his sovereign control.

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