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Commentary on Psalms - Volume 1
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Psalm 20:3-5

3. May he remember all thy offerings; and make thy holocaust [or burnt sacrifice] fat! 473473     That is, May he accept it! The best and fattest of the flocks and herds were, according to the Mosaic injunction, to be offered to God, and were consequently the sacrifices he most approved of. Selah. 4. May he grant thee according to thy heart, and fulfill all thy counsel! 5. That we may rejoice in thy salvation, [or safety;] and set up a banner in the name of our God, when Jehovah shall fulfill all thy petitions.

 

3. May he remember. I understand the word remember as meaning to have regard to, as it is to be understood in many other places; just as to forget often signifies to neglect, or not to deign to regard, nor even to behold, the object to which it is applied. It is, in short, a prayer that God would actually show that the king’s sacrifices were acceptable to him. Two kinds of them are here mentioned; first, the מנחה, mincha, mentioned in the first clause of the verse, which was the appointed accompaniment of all sacrifices, and which was also sometimes offered by itself; and, secondly, the holocaust, or whole burnt-sacrifice. But under these two kinds David intended to comprehend, by synecdoche, all sacrifices; and under sacrifices he comprehends requests and prayers. We know that whenever the fathers prayed under the law, their hope of obtaining what they asked was founded upon their sacrifices; and, in like manner, at this day our prayers are acceptable to God only in so far as Christ sprinkles and sanctifies them with the perfume of his own sacrifice. The faithful, therefore, here desire that the solemn prayers of the king, which were accompanied with sacrifices and oblations, might have their effect in the prosperous issue of his affairs. That this is the meaning may be gathered still more clearly from the following verse, in which they commend to God the desires and counsels of the king. But as it would be absurd to ask God to grant foolish and wicked desires, it is to be regarded as certain, that there is here described a king who was neither given to ambition, nor inflamed with avarice, nor actuated by the desire of whatever the unruly passions might suggest, but wholly intent on the charge which was committed to him, and entirely devoted to the advancement of the public good; so that he asks nothing but what the Holy Spirit dictated to him, and what God, by his own mouth, commanded him to ask.

5. That we may rejoice in thy salvation. This verse may be explained in two other ways, besides the sense it bears according to the translation which I have given. Some consider it to be a prayer, as if it had been said, Lord, make us to rejoice. Others think that the faithful, after having finished their prayer, encourage themselves to entertain good hope; 474474     Meaning, “We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God will we set up our banners.” or rather, being already inspired with an assured hope of success, they begin to sing, so to speak, of the victory, even as it is usual with David to intermingle such kind of rejoicings with his prayers, thereby to stir up himself to continue with the more alacrity in prayer. But upon considering the whole more carefully, my opinion is, that what is meant to be expressed is the effect or fruit which would result from the bestowment of the grace and favor of God, for which the people prayed; and, therefore, I have thought it necessary to supply the particle that, in the beginning of the verse. The faithful, as an argument to obtain the favor of God towards their king, set forth the joy which they would all experience in common, in seeing it exercised towards him, and the thanksgiving which they would with one accord render for it. The import of their language is, It is not for the preservation and welfare of one man that we are solicitous; it is for the safety and well-being of the whole Church. The expression, In thy salvation, may be referred to God as well as to the king; for the salvation which God bestows is often called the salvation of God; but the context requires that it should be rather understood of the king. The people lived “under the shadow of the king,” to use the words of Jeremiah, (Lamentations 4:20;) and, therefore, the faithful now testify, that as long as he is safe and in prosperity, they will all be joyful and happy. At the same time, to distinguish their joy from the heathen dancings and rejoicings, they declare that they will set up their banners in the name of God; for the Hebrew word דגל, dagal, here used, means to set or lift up a banner. The meaning is, that the faithful, in grateful acknowledgement of the grace of God, will celebrate his praises and triumph in his name.


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