By William Binnie
A thoughtful person on taking up a religious autobiography, or a volume of sacred poetry, especially if they have come from a foreign country or a distant age, finds it a profitable and very interesting study to mark the distinctive features of the religious life expressed in them. In all ordinary cases, it is found that books of this sort furnish a more vivid and trustworthy representation of the piety of a given age and place, than works of a formally didactic character. In this connection also the Psalter possesses a singular value. In other parts of Scripture we are told much about godliness–its essential character, the dangers to which it is exposed, the truths which are its proper aliment; in this book we see godliness itself in living and powerful exercise. It is to be noted, moreover, that the devotional poetry here collected, while it undoubtedly expresses the genuine feelings of the several writers, was written under the special, preternatural impulse of the Holy Spirit; so that it is at once a just record of what godly men have felt, and an authentic intimation of the mind of God with respect to what we ought to feel.
Seeing, then, that we possess in the Psalms an authentic expression of genuine religion in all its manifold phases, I propose to devote some chapters to the illustration of the more characteristic features of the piety here set forth for our imitation. From this one portion of Scripture it will, I think, be possible to collect information with regard to every stage in the momentous history of Religion in the Soul. It will prepare the way for what is proposed, if at present we take pains to ascertain certain fundamental principles which underlie the whole subject.
“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”These heavenly words briefly express the kind of Personal Religion which has always animated the people of God. The sentiment uttered in them lies at the root of all genuine piety. Considering them attentively, we perceive that they proceed on the assumption of two doctrines, which must therefore be regarded as pertaining to the foundation of all living and effective religion. The one doctrine relates to the nature of God, the other to the nature of man. The one may be styled the doctrine of God’s Personality; the other, the doctrine of the Divine Similitude in man. These two are, in the Psalter, what the two pillars that Samson grasped were in the temple at Gaza; on them the whole fabric rests. They are correlative principles; they stand or fall together; and there is not a psalm but implies them both. It will greatly facilitate our subsequent progress if we can attain a clear conception of them.
I. The doctrine of the DIVINE PERSONALITY is simply this, that the Living God, the Infinite Mind, is a Being who can say I AM, and to whom his creatures may reasonably say Thou;–a Being to whom it is not a vain thing for us to speak, as a man will speak to a friend whom he knows to be near. A very simple truth, level to the capacity of a child; so simple that it may seem trifling to announce it as one of the main pillars of Scriptural piety. For who is there (it may be said) that needs to be taught that Personality belongs to the nature of God?
The doctrine, blessed be God, is simple, and to those who have known the Scriptures from their childhood may well seem trivial. Nevertheless, a little reflection will show that it possesses all the significance we have claimed for it. It is a doctrine which, although so evidently agreeable to the light of nature, has never been able to retain its hold on men’s minds apart from the Scriptures, and especially (may I not add?) from the Psalms. Those who have made the religious systems of the world their study, know that the personality of God finds no place in modern heathenism. The hoary systems which hold in bondage the educated minds of China and India are thoroughly pantheistic. Their God–if one ought not rather to say the vast company of their gods–is just another name for the universe. The soul of man is identified with the divine nature; it is the divine nature in a self conscious state. It is deemed absurd, therefore, to speak of holding communion with God, as a man may hold communion with his neighbor. Thus Personal Religion is annihilated. Among the ancient Greeks and Romans, this deadly leaven of Pantheism had not yet suppressed the traditions of a purer faith, but it was everywhere at work. The best of the philosophers spoke of the God, or the Deity, in a vague impersonal way. Their God was a nebulous abstraction, rather than a Personal Being whom one could speak to, whom one could love, into whose ear the burdened soul could pour its grief. I the rather call attention to these facts inasmuch as, even amongst ourselves, the philosophical systems continually gravitate towards the same base notion of God. So long as the human heart “dislikes to retain God in its knowledge,” Materialism and Pantheism will continue to make themselves heard in our schools of philosophy, and will make their influence felt far beyond, in the deadening of the sense of a personal God.
It would be instructive to mark how carefully the prescient wisdom of the Holy Spirit has framed the Scriptures to be, in all their parts, a powerful witness to the divine personality. The first sentence of the Bible is a proclamation of the truth that the world had a personal Creator; and the following verses explain the sense in which that announcement is to be understood. God created the heaven and the earth by his Word. “ He spake and it was done” so that the creatures were not emanations from the divine nature, but effects of the divine will,–the fruits of intelligence, and design, and counsel. It would be too wide a digression to follow out this line of remark here. I hasten, therefore, to observe, that the Psalter is the portion of Holy Writ in which the testimony to the divine personality is delivered with the most impressive force. The Psalms are the voice of the Church, addressing her Lord and pouring out her heart before him. Every one of them partakes of the nature of a prayer–a deliberate address to God, craving pardon, expressing gratitude, seeking light and help. In every one of them there is, therefore, a distinct profession of faith in God, as One who heareth prayer. Besides all this, the Psalter abounds in intimations of the divine personality, so boldly expressed, that, in the hands of uninspired writers, they could scarcely have failed to pass over into irreverent familiarity. Some striking examples of this will be cited immediately; in the meanwhile the reader may be referred to these:–” The Lordlooketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. He fashioneth their hearts alike; heconsidereth all their works. Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” “ The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” “But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” “I am poor and needy; yet the Lordthinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” The boon bestowed on the Church in such texts as these is quite inestimable. It is not merely that they teach the doctrine of the divine personality. They do more than teach doctrine. They take us by the hand, stir us up to remember God, conduct us into his presence, and enable us to commune with him.
The class of texts of which a specimen has been given exemplify a remarkable feature of the Scriptural representations of God. I refer to what divines have been used to call theanthropopathy of Scripture,–that is to say, the free ascription to the Most High of human thoughts and feelings. This mode of representation being peculiarly frequent in the psalms, claims notice in this place; especially since a handle is often made of it by the impugners of the Scriptures. Anger, grief, scorn, jealousy, disappointment, gladness, the relentings of fatherly love, exultation in the successful accomplishment of great enterprises,–these and such like are feelings which, as they are found in us, are attended with inward tumult. They always betray infirmity, and often cause poignant sorrow. Now it is most certain that there is no infirmity in the Almighty; no grief in the supremely Happy One, the blessed and only Potentate. How, then, are we to account for the fact that these human feelings are, constantly and in the boldest way, attributed to him by the psalmists? That they are so can hardly have escaped the notice of any reader. Not to revert to the texts already cited, how common are such statements as these:– ~They provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: so that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh.” “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” “The Lordawakened as one out of sleep, like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.” that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies!” “Awake, why sleepest thou, 0 Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? “
It is not difficult, I think, to perceive the design of the Holy Spirit in adopting so freely this boldness of speech respecting the divine nature. Nothing short of it would have sufficed to establish and maintain in men’s hearts a real effective belief in the living God. The only personal intelligences that are familiarly known to us are our fellow men. We believe, indeed, in the existence of persons of a higher order than ourselves–the angelic spirits, “whose dwelling is not with flesh;” but we have the same difficulty in realizing their existence as we have in realizing that of God. We cannot attain a vivid conception of an angelic person, except by clothing him in the garb of our own nature. It is plain, therefore, that when the Most High condescends to show himself “ in fashion as a man “(and this is precisely what he does in the texts in question) he adopts the only effectual way of enabling us to conceive of him as a person, and to speak to him as such. It is easy to stigmatize the language of the psalmists as rude, un-philosophical, unworthy of the divine majesty; but history proves that when men reject the guidance of this Scriptural mode of speech, they are obliged to forego all real salutary belief in God, all living communion with him.
I can imagine that this consideration may fail to satisfy some. They may say, “Utility is one thing, truth is another. You do not believe that God ever grieves, or laughs, or changes his mind, or falls asleep. Why, then, do you sing psalms that represent him as doing so? You have claimed for this manner of representation the merit of utility; but an honest man will not deal in falsehood in the hope that good may come out of it. From erroneous representations of the Godhead only mischief can come in the end.” That is a way of looking at the subject which, I rather think, is not very uncommon. How is it to be met?
Well, we might call attention, in the first place, to the obvious fact that the same Scriptures which attribute to God the feelings of a man, are careful to intimate the qualification with which this is to be understood. If the Forty‑fourth Psalm calls upon God as if he were asleep, the Hundred and twenty-first reminds us that “ he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep;” and it is only captious readers who omit to read the one text in the light of the other. However, I will not insist on this consideration, reasonable and just as it is. We are entitled to take higher ground. We hold that the representations of God which impart so much vividness and power to the Psalms rest on a far deeper wisdom, a far truer philosophy, than the vapid deism which ventures to condemn them. We hold that the reason why they are so useful is just because they are profoundly true. We admit, of course, that the Most High is infinitely superior to the infirmities of human nature. It is certain, nevertheless, that there must be in the divine mind thoughts and feelings analogous to those of which we are conscious in ourselves. Paley’s famous argument, in which, from the traces of design in nature, he demonstrates the existence of an all‑wise Designer, leads inevitably to this conclusion. The aptitude to be angry at the sight of base injustice, to relent over the tears of a sorely‑chastised child, to rejoice in the successful accomplishment of great works, is no blemish in human nature, but a part of its glory. It is not the symptom of a morbid condition of our faculties, but rather the token of their healthful play. The Author of our nature must therefore be One who sympathizes with those feelings; and we ought not to think it strange to find the psalmists declaring that he “rejoiceth in his works;” that “like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him;” that he “hateth all workers of iniquity.”
It will surprise some to be told that this very argument is urged in the Psalter itself It is very powerfully stated in a Psalm–the Ninety‑fourth–which may most probably be ascribed to the age of the later kings, when righteousness was oppressed, and the oppressors pleased themselves with the thought that there was no Eye above to see, nor Hand to smite them. How does the psalmist deal with the atheistical imagination?
6. The widow and the stranger they slay,
And they murder the fatherless.
7. Yet they say, Jah seeth not,
Neither doth the God of Jacob regard it.
8. Understand ye brutish among the people;
And ye fools, when will ye be wise?
9. He that planteth the ear, shall he not hear?
Or he that formeth the eye. shall he not see?
10. He that chastiseth the nations, shall not he reprove,
(Even) He that teacheth man knowledge. 
As the mechanism of the telescope bears witness to the skill of the optician who devised it, so the eye and the ear bear witness, in their curious structure, to the existence of an intelligent creative mind–a mind that can see and hear. ~n like manner, the ethical faculty in man, his “knowledge” of evil and of good, concurs with the moral purpose discernible in the providential government of the nations, in bearing witness to the existence in God of a mind that hates all workers of iniquity and will not fail to punish their evil deeds. Let this argument be duly prosecuted, and it will lead to the conclusion that the bold anthropopathy of the Psalms rests on a profoundly true conception of the divine nature. The nature of God is the prototype of our own; so that the fittest language for expressing his mind is that which is furnished by the analogy of our own thoughts and emotions. By boldly making use of this language, the Psalter rescues from neglect and brings to bear upon the conscience a whole world of truth respecting God, which quite escapes the notice of those who have impugned it as un-philosophical.
There is yet another light in which this subject may be viewed, and it is, in some respects, the most satisfactory of all. The Lord Jesus, although he was in the form of God, took upon him the form of a servant, and was found in fashion as a man. And he teaches us to regard his human nature as the truest and most adequate representation of God that our minds are capable of apprehending. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Let that one saying of our Lord be duly considered, and it will be found to cast a flood of light on the Psalmist’s habitual ascription to God of thoughts and feelings which might seem peculiar to human nature. It is true, the Incarnation did not take place till long after the Psalms were written; but that is no reason why we should refuse to read them in the light of the recorded life of the Incarnate Word. It was ever in the Person of the Son that God made himself known to the ancient saints. The appearances vouchsafed to the patriarchs and prophets took place in the likeness of the nature which was afterwards to be assumed. Thus the minds of God’s people were familiarized with the notion of an Incarnation, long before the birth at Bethlehem; and we have already found, in the Psalms themselves, distinct references to the union of the two natures in Christ. Of this I am sure that, when at any time misgivings arise in the heart respecting the legitimacy or trustworthiness of the representations of God in the Psalter, the effectual way to remove them is to call to remembrance the Christ of the Gospels. A believer in the Son of God, when he remembers the burning invective which Christ launched against the Scribes and Pharisees, and the tears he shed on Olivet over the doomed city which was about to crucify him, will not find it hard to believe that the Most High is such a one as the psalmists describe, that he regards his proud enemies with anger, and that, when those to whom he has made overtures of reconciliation will not be reconciled, there is room in his heart for the thought, “ Oh that my people had hearkened unto me.”
From what has been said, we may gather a lesson with respect to the practical use of the Psalms. Care ought to be taken not to yield to the dread of criticism from the side of “philosophical thinkers,” so as to begin to explain away, or even to tone down, the passages which attribute anger and hope, grief and joy, to the Most High. That there is a difficulty in understanding how feelings of this kind can have a place in Him, is undeniable. But the life of Christ admonishes usthat, in some shape, they are found in God; for He was touched with hope and anger, with joy and grief, and when we have seen Him we have seen the Father. There must be in the mind of God something analogous to the sentiments of a good man; thoughts and feelings which, although a perfect and adequate knowledge of them is beyond our reach, can be truly and profitably known to us from what passes within our own hearts, and from what is related of our Blessed Lord.
II. From these remarks on the Divine Personality, it is an easy transition to the kindred doctrine of the DIVINE SIMILITUDE IN MAN.
This also is a main pillar in the temple of scriptural devotion. It is. plain that, when I lift up my heart to God in such songs as those of David and Asaph, there is a reciprocation of thought and feeling between Him and me. I am admitted into his presence; I have “access unto the Father.” He vouchsafes to speak to me, and my heart is emboldened to respond. This is well brought out in the Twenty‑seventh Psalm, “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger.” This (as it has been already remarked) involves a certain assumption regarding the divine nature; for there can be no personal communing with God unless he is a Personal Intelligence. Let it be now remarked, that there is a certain assumption regarding the Human Nature also. It is assumed that we, by our souls, are of kin to God; so of kin to him as to be capable of knowing him and reciprocating his thoughts and feelings. The psalm in question, and all the psalms, are built upon the truth which Paul preached to the Athenians on Mars’ Hill, that men are the offspring of God.
It will not be a digression from our purpose to linger awhile on this topic.
It deserves to be noticed that the Bible, in its very first mention of man, announces this doctrine of the God‑like quality of human nature. I refer, of course, to the remarkable record in the beginning of Genesis, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them.” It is to that primitive record that the evangelist Luke carries us back, when he closes the genealogy of our Lord with the statement that Adam “ was the son of God.” In the work of the days many glorious creatures were formed: the sun, moon, and stars that adorn the heavens; the firm land and the ever‑surging sea; the manifold forms of vegetable life that cover the nakedness of the earth,–from the grey moss, scarce distinguishable from the rock it grows upon, to the stately cedar; and, last of all, the innumerable tribes of living creatures that people the sea and the dry land. But when God surveyed all those creatures of his hand, he saw that there was not one capable of recognising the wisdom and the power by which they were framed. All were fair and good of their several kinds, but not one of them was sufficiently of kin to himself to be capable of knowing him, or of maintaining conscious intercourse with him. Seeing this, he pronounced his creative work incomplete, and said, Let us form a creature with whom we may have fellowship; a creature which may join this lower world to our throne by the bond of intelligent homage and free obedience. “Let us make man in our Image, after our Likeness.”
This natural image of God in which man was created, and which is an indestructible property of the human soul, includes the fourfold capacity, of knowing God, of having intelligent communionwith him, of freely serving him, and of enjoying him. And the possession of such nobility of nature, the possession of a nature endowed with such high capacities, implies that it is not a matter of indifference whether they are dedicated to their appropriate object, or prostituted to the service of some creature. On the contrary, it is our chief end and felicity to seek God. “ Man’s Chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Of the numerous excellences that have endeared the Westminster Shorter Catechism to so many Churches on either side of the Atlantic, I am disposed to reckon this among the greatest, that it opens with such a solemn announcement of the nobility of our human nature. I know no other catechism that opens so grandly. And it is interesting to observe (I do not know whether the authors of the Catechism had adverted to the circumstance) that this opening statement holds forth the very same idea of our nature as is expressed in the passage just quoted from the beginning of Genesis. The truth thus announced is worthy of the place it occupies at the threshold, both of the Bible and the Catechism; for it is the key to the whole scriptural doctrine of Sin and Redemption, of Heaven and Hell. We have been so framed that God alone is the adequate portion of our souls; in him alone can we find enjoyment for ever. It was a keen sense of this that drew from the greatest of the fathers the oft‑quoted exclamation, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart hath no rest until it rest in Thee.” As the eye was formed for the light, the ear for sound, the palate for taste, the intellect for truth, and as those faculties can find pleasure only in their respective objects; so the soul was formed by God for himself, and can never know real or abiding enjoyment except in him.
If the doctrine of the Divine Similitude in man is the keynote of the entire Bible in its teaching respecting sin and salvation, it is emphatically the key‑note of the Psalms. Nothing, it is true, can exceed the humility which these lyrics breathe the mind in which they admonish us to approach the Throne is a mind clothed with the profoundest reverence. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Still it is to be observed, that these expressions of reverent humility are so framed as to shew that the Psalmist holds fast the confident persuasion that man is remembered and is visited by his Maker,–that the little children of Sion, the very babes and sucklings, may without presumption expect God to listen to their praises and take pleasure in them. In the immediate context, moreover, there occurs one of the boldest declarations of the divine similitude in man, “ thou hast made him a little lower than God,and hast crowned him with glory and honour” (ver. 5). The Psalms, as we shall see, bear terrible witness to the poisonous malignity with which our nature has become tainted, and the guilt resting on us in consequence; but they never deal in contemptuous disparagement. On the contrary, they admonish us of our original dignity, and invite us to seek its restoration; and they have ever been one of the principal levers by which the Holy Spirit has raised men’s thoughts and affections out of the dust, and directed them heavenwards.
These remarks on the two doctrines which sustain the devotional fabric of the Psalter, may be profitably followed up by calling attention to one or two passages, in which they stand forth with special prominence.
I invite the reader’s attention, in the first place, to the latter part of the Seventy‑third psalm. This is one of the twelve which bear the name of Asaph, and we have seen reason to conclude that it came from the pen of Asaph the seer, the great contemporary of David. The theme of it is one to which the prophets and psalmists often revert–the mystery of God’s providence towards the righteous and the wicked. Asaph’s faith staggers at the sight of the prosperity of the wicked. They get on in the world. Their forgetfulness of God seems no bar to their success. Beholding them, the saint is tempted to exclaim, My pains have been thrown away; verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. Indeed, he is only restrained from venting these dark atheistic doubts by the apprehension that he may thereby undermine the dearest hopes of some whom he knows to be the generation of God’s children. Such is his temptation. He recovers himself in some measure when, retiring from the din and glitter of the world, he goes into the sanctuary of God, and contemplates things as they appear in the serene light that shines there. He now perceives, what he had before failed to observe, the goal to which the prosperity of the wicked tends; how they are brought into desolation, as in a moment; how their felicity passes away like a dream and gives place to
consuming terrors. But the consideration which banishes all envy from his heart is not that of the sad end of the ungodly. It is by a loftier thought that his heart is purged of the perilous stuff with which it is overcharged:
23. Yet as for me, I am continually with thee:
Thou hast holden me by my right hand.
21. Thou Shalt guide me with thy counsel,
And afterwards take me to glory.
25. Whom have I in heaven?
And besides thee I have no desire upon earth.
26. My Flesh and my heart faileth:
THE STRENGTH OF MY HEART AND MY PORTION IS GOD
27. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish;
Thou hast destroyed every one that goeth a whoring from thee.
28. But as for me–to draw near to God is good for me;
I have put my trust in the Lord Jehovah.
That I may declare all thy works.
What a high estimate of the soul underlies these words with which the saint emerges from the cloud of his temptation! It is as if he had said, “ Why should I envy because of the prosperity of the foolish? Why should my faith stagger because a full cup of temporal felicities is occasionally bestowed on them? Wealth, and health, and honour–these are not the objects in which it was ever intended that my soul should find rest and supreme enjoyment. God himself is my soul’s fit portion. Seeing then that I have, in the Lord’s great mercy, been made heir of that portion, I will make my boast in Him, whatever my earthly lot may be. I shall be satisfied with his likeness.” It is thus that God would have us arm ourselves against unbelieving thoughts. It is well to be restrained from uttering unworthy suspicions of God by regard to the peace of our Christian acquaintances; it is better to curb envious thoughts by recollecting that godless prosperity is only a smooth road to hell; but it is best of all, to be raised above the reach of Satan’s fiery darts by the assured persuasion that we possess in God’s favour a portion that is richer than a thousand worlds.
Much akin to these exercises of Asaph are those of David in the Seventeenth psalm. Here again the theme is the mystery of God’s providence. But there is this difference between David’s temptation and Asaph’s, that while Asaph’s was caused merely by the sight of the prosperity of the ungodly, David’s came in the sharper form of cruel treatment at their hands The proud ungodly men of whom he speaks were his “ deadly enemies.” Lt is unnecessary here to trace the whole conflict of his faith under this trial: the closing verses will bring out the truth of which we are in quest:
13. Arise, 0 Jehovah, go forth to meet him, cast him down,
Deliver my soul from the wicked, by thy sword,–
14. From men, by thy hand, O Jehovah,–from men of the world,
Whose portion is in this life and whose belly thou fillest with thy treasures,
Who are rich in children and leave their abundance to their babes.
15. As for me, in righteousness I shall behold thy face;
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.
What a world of meaning lies in these few words! They suggest views respecting God and the soul which have elicited expressions of astonishment even from rationalizing critics  Let it be observed that David is not here complaining of the prosperity of the wicked which he so graphically describes. He has been lifted up to a height whence he can look on it with calm contempt. It is with commiseration, rather than envy, that he contemplates the gay abundance of his scornful enemies. For, after all, what is their condition? They are “men of the world,” “ their portion is in this life.” Their portion is a lean and hungry one at the best–one that may fill the hand, but cannot fill the soul; and, such as it is, when they die they shall have to part with it for ever. How different the condition of the righteous! They are not “men of the world “; their citizenship lies elsewhere. Their portion is not an earthly
and temporal one. It is God himself–the true and only adequate portion of souls created in the divine likeness. They live in the assured hope of beholding his face in righteousness, and of being satisfied with his image when they awake from the sleep of the grave.
The Sixty‑third psalm is a sunnier one, although it comes from the darkest period of David’s life. It embalms, for the solace of God’s people, the sentiments that filled the Psalmist’s heart when Absalom’s revolt drove him into the wilderness of Judah. In the day of his distress, his soul turns to God as his true Portion, and he finds ineffable enjoyment in communing with him.
1. O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee:
My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh pineth for thee~
In a dry and weary land where no water is.
2. So in the sanctuary have I gazed upon thee,
To see thy power and thy glory.
3. Because thy loving‑kindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise thee.
4. Thus will I bless thee while I live,
In thy name will I lift up my hands.
5. As with marrow and fatness shall my soul be satisfied,
And with jubilant lips shall my mouth praise thee,
6. When I remember thee upon my bed,
(When) I meditate on thee in the night watches.
7. For thou hast been a help unto me;
And in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
8. My soul followeth hard after thee:
Thy right hand upholdeth me.
How deeply does the psalmist realize the presence of God–of a personal god–to whom he can speak, whom his heart can trust! How entirely is he persuaded that he may behold, and has often beheld, God’s power and glory; and that this beholding of “ the beauty of the Lord “ is the proper felicity of his soul. It ought not to be thought to derogate from the sincerity or value of this profession of faith, or of the similar professions uttered in the psalms formerly cited, that they were elicited by sharp afflictions and temptations. When we are surrounded with the lights of a city, the stars are unheeded; but when those nearer lights are extinguished, the stars shine out and fill the eye with a superior delight. It is just so with God’s people. In a prosperous time, earthly enjoyments are apt so to occupy the thoughts and affections as to turn them aside from God. He is wont, accordingly, to send on his people afflictions and temptations, in order to drive them in upon their proper portion, and thus to fill their souls with the. deep and tranquil enjoyment which it alone yields.
It will sometimes happen–such is the perverseness of our nature–that when persons of a contemplative turn of mind ruminate long on these two doctrines which we have found underlying the devotional exercises of the Psalter, they get entangled in the meshes of a mischievous error. It would not be difficult to point to cases in which persons of undoubted piety, ruminating on the truth that the soul was made for aide and that he is its proper portion, have dreamt of a kind of mystical absorption in God. It may be well, therefore, to mark the corrective which the divine wisdom has provided against that error. The Psalms, while holding forth God as the soul’s portion, never fail to keep us in mind of the truth that he is also the soul’s Ruler and Judge. “ His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” David was not suffered to dream of mystical absorption. He was taught by the Spirit to know and feel his position as a moral subject of the Lord, who had violated His law, and whose only hope was in the mercy of his Judge. “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
Chapter 4 of Book 3 of The Psalms: Their History, Teaching and Use.
 Psalm 73:25 , 26.
 Romans i,28
 Psalm 13:9
 Psalm 33:13,15 ,18, 37:23-24, 78:38-39, 40:17.
 Psalm 78:58 ff, 2:4, 78:65, 81:13,14, 44:23,24
 Psalm 104:31 , 103:13, 5:5
 Our English Versions have been unfortunate in their rendering of the last verse of this passage. In the Prayer‑book Version it is sadly mangled, standing thus, “ Or he that nurtureth the heathen; it is he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he punish?” The Authorised Version (following in this the Genevan) Is more faithful to the Hebrew, but is marred by an ill-advised addition. “ He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?” The point of the psalmist’s argument is thus missed. The tenth verse is not a mere reiteration of the argument of the ninth. It carries the argument forward to another
and higher stage. The ancient Versions (the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Jerome’s translation from the Hebrew) give the correct rendering.
 John 14:9
 Psalm 81:13
 “ They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.”–Bacon’sEssays,15.
 Chapter 1:26-27
 Chapter 3:38
 * The same fine chord is, no doubt, struck in the opening Questions of the Catechism drawn up by Calvin for the Genevan Church; and the Westminster divines may have had these in their eye. But their imitation (if it be such) is a mighty improvement on the original
 Fecisti nos ad te, et inquietum est cor nostrum donoc requiescat in te. “– August. Confess. I. cap. 1.
 Psalm 8:3-4 .
 So it is in the original, and the literal rendering is preferred not only by Jerome (in his valuable translation from the Hebrew) and by all the modern critics, but also by Calvin and the Genevan (English) translators. Galvin explains that the reference is to “ the creation of man in God’s image. “ The less exact rendering given by the Seventy, and adopted from them in the Vulgate and our Authorised Version, is adopted also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. ii. 7. “ Thou madest him a little lower than the angels. “ But it is to be observed, that “ nothing in the way of argument is built (by the Apostle) on the difference between that version and the original; and the sentiment it expresses, so far as used by the Apostle, would not have been materially affected by a more literal translation.” (Principal Fairbairn, Typology, vol. i. 435.) Besides, Koenig is no doubt right in thinking that “the word Elohim (God) must be taken here in that general sense in which it denotes the Godhead abstractly– the divine–and thus the supermundane generally.”–(Theologie der Psalmen,326)
 Compare Hupfeld, Die Psalmen, vol. i. 450, 2d edition; and Ewald, Die Psalmen, p. 243, 3d edition.
 Psalm 10:4 .
 Psalm 51:3,4 .