2008-06-30

Adams on Psalm 90:10


10 Their strength is labour and sorrow Most commonly old age is a feeble estate; the very grasshopper is a burden to it. Ecc 12:5. Even the old man himself is a burden, to his wife, to his children, to himself. As Barzillai said to David, "I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women?" 2 Sam 19:35. Old age, we say, is a good guest, and should be made welcome, but that he brings such a troop with him; blindness, aches, coughs, etc; these are troublesome, how should they be welcome? Their strength is labour and sorrow. If their very strength, which is their best, be labour and grief, what is their worst?
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.

2008-06-28

Adams on Psalm 86:13 & 16


13, 16 There is no stronger argument of God's infallible readiness to grant our requests, than the experience of his former concessions. So David reasons, "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine", 1 Sam 17:37. This is the argument a priori, the voice of a strong faith, that persuades the conscience God will be gracious to him, because he hath been gracious. The prophet thus often comforted his soul: "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress"; therefore, "have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer", Ps 4:1. So, Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell; therefore, O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me. Let the justiciaries deduce arguments from their own present merits, my soul from God's former mercies. Thou, O Lord, madest me good, restoredst me when I was evil; therefore have mercy upon me, miserable sinner, and give me thy salvation. Thus Paul grounded his assurance: because the Lord had stood with him, and delivered him out of the lion's mouth; therefore the Lord shall deliver me still, from every evil work, and preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom. 2 Tim 4:17, 18.
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.
(For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; ... give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.)
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.

2008-06-23

Adams on Psalm 84:11 & 85:8

84:11 No good thing will he withhold, etc This is an immense fountain; the Lord fill all the buckets of our hearts at the spring, and give us capacious souls, as he hath a liberal hand.

85:8 I will hear, etc The eye as a mere organ of sense must give place to the ear. Therefore it is wittily observed, that our Saviour commanding the abscession of the offending hand, foot and eye, (Mr 9:43-47), yet never spake of the ear. If thy hand, thy foot or thine eye, cause thee to offend, deprive thyself of them; but part not with thine ear, for that is an organ to derive unto thy soul's salvation. As Christ says there, a man may enter into heaven, lamed in his feet, as Mephibosheth, blind in his sight, as Barzillai, maimed in his hand, as the dry handed man in the gospel; but if there be not an ear to hear of the way, there will be no foot to enter into heaven. If God be not first in the ear, he is neither sanctifiedly in the mouth, nor comfortably in the heart. The Jews had eyes to see Christ's miracles, but because they had no ears to hear his wisdom, therefore they had no feet to enter into his kingdom. The way into the house is by the door, not by the window: the eye is but the window of the heart, the ear is the door. Now Christ stands knocking at the door, not at the window. Re 3:20. And he will not come in at the window, but at the door. "He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep." Joh 10:2. He comes now in by his oracles, now by his miracles. "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice" Joh 10:3. The way to open and let him in is by the door; to hear his voice. There was a man in the gospel blind and deaf; blind eyes is ill; but deaf ears, worse. It is bad to have the eyes seeled (Seel, to close up: a term in falconry), but worse to have the ears sealed up. Open your ears therefore to this heavenly voice. Bernard hath this description of a good ear: Which willingly hears what is taught, wisely understands what it heareth, and obediently practises what it understandeth. O give me such an ear, and I will hang on it jewels of gold, ornaments of praise.
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.

2008-06-19

Adams on Psalm 80:4

4 Lord God of hosts All creatures are mustered, and trained, and put into garrison, or brought forth into the field, by his command. Which way can we look beside his armies? If upward into heaven, there is a band of soldiers, even a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, Lu 2:13. If to the lower heavens, there is a band of soldiers, Ge 2:1; it was universa militia caeli, to which those idolaters burnt incense. On the earth, not only men are marshalled to the service; so Israel was called the "host of the living God; "but even the brute creatures are ranged in arrays. So God did levy a band of flies against the Egyptians; and a band of frogs that marched into their bed chambers. He hath troops of locusts, Pr 30:27, and armies of caterpillars. Not only the chariots and horsemen of heaven to defend his prophet; but even the basest, the most indocible, and despicable creatures, wherewith to confound his enemies. If Goliath stalk forth to defy the God of Israel, he shall be confuted with a pebble. If Herod swells up to a god, God will set his vermin on him, and all the king's guard cannot save him from them. You have heard of rats that could not be beaten off till they had destroyed that covetous prelate; and of the fly that killed Pope Adrian. God hath more ways to punish than he hath creatures. "The Lord God of Hosts" is not properly a title of creation, but of Providence. All creatures have their existence from God as their Maker; but so have they also their order from him as their Governor. It refers not so much to their being as to their marshalling; not to their natural but militant estate; not only as creatures do they owe him for their making, but as they are soldiers for their managing. Their order is warlike, and they serve under the colours of the Almighty. So that here, God would be respected, not as a creator, but as a general. His anger, therefore, seems so much the more fearful, as it is presented to us under so great a title: "the Lord God of Hosts" is angry. They talk of Tamerlane that he could daunt his enemies with the very look of his countenance. Oh! then what terror dwells in the countenance of an offended God! The reprobates shall call to the rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. Re 6:16. If ira agni doth so affright them, how terrible is ira leonis, the wrath of the lion? It may justly trouble us all to hear that the Lord, "the Lord God of Hosts," is angry; in the sense whereof the prophet breaks forth here into this expostulation: "O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry with thy people that prayeth?"
Angry against the prayer of thy people There may be infirmities enough in our very prayers to make them unacceptable. As if they be Exanimes, without life and soul; when the heart knows not what the tongue utters. Or Perfunctoriae, for God will have none of those prayers that come out of feigned lips. Or Tentativae, for they that will petere tentando, tempt God in prayer, shall go without. Or Fluctuantes, of a wild and wandering discourse, ranging up and down, which the Apostle calls "beating the air, "as huntsmen beat the bushes, and as Saul sought his father's asses. Such prayers will not stumble upon the kingdom of heaven. Or if they be Preproperae, run over in haste, as some use to chop up their prayers, and think long till they have done. But they that pray in such haste shall be heard at leisure. Or sine fiducia; the faithless man had as good hold his peace as pray; he may babble, but prays not; he prays ineffectually, and receives not. He may lift up his hands, but he does not lift up his heart. Only the prayer of the righteous availeth, and only the believer is righteous. But the formal devotion of a faithless man is not worth the crust of bread which he asks. Or sine humilitate, so the pharisee's prayer was not truly supplicatio, but superlatio. A presumptuous prayer profanes the name of God instead of adoring it. All, or any, of these defects may mar the success of our prayers.
As quoted in Spurgeon'sTreasury of David.

2008-06-17

Adams on Psalm 73:18, 20; 77:10

18, 20 Their banqueting house is very slippery, and the feast itself a mere dream.
10 I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High Not the moments, nor the hours, nor days of a few short afflictions, that his left hand hath dealt to me: but the years of his right hand; those long, large and boundless mercies wherewith he hath comforted me.
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.

2008-06-13

Adams on Psalm 71:18

18 Forsake me not; until, etc Apostasy in old age is fearful. He that climbs almost to the top of a tower, then slipping back, hath the greater fall. The patient almost recovered, is more deadly sick by a relapse. There were stars struck from heaven by the dragon's tail (Re 12:4); they had better never have perched so high. The place where the Israelites fell into that great folly with the daughters of Moab, was in the plain, within the prospect of the Holy Land; they saw their inheritance and yet fell short of it. So wretched is it for old men to fall near to their very entry of heaven, as old Eli in his indulgence (1 Samuel 2); old Judah in his incest (Genesis 38); old David with Bathsheba; old Asa trusting in the physicians more than in God (2 Chr 16:12); and old Solomon built the high places. Some have walked like cherubs in the midst of the stones of fire, yet have been cast as profane out of God's mountain. Eze 28:14, 16. Thus the seaman passeth all the main, and suffers wreck in the haven. The corn often promises a plenteous harvest in the blade, and shrinks in the ear. You have seen trees loaden with blossoms, yet, in the season of expectation, no fruit. A comedy that holds well many scenes, and goes lamely off in the last act, finds no applause. Remember Lot's wife (Lu 17:32): think on that pillar of salt, that it may season thee.
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.

2008-06-12

Adams on Psalm 69:28

28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, etc We come to the question, Whether to be written in heaven be an infallible assurance of salvation; or, whether any there registered may come to be blotted out? The truth is, that none written in heaven can ever be lost; yet they object against it this verse. Hence, they infer, that some names once there recorded are afterwards put out; but this opinion casteth a double aspersion on God himself. Either it makes him ignorant of future things, as if he foresaw not the end of elect and reprobate, and so were deceived in decreeing some to be saved that shall not be saved; or, that his decree is mutable, in excluding those upon their sins whom he hath formerly chosen. From both these weaknesses St Paul vindicates him (2 Tim 2:19): "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." First, "The Lord knows them that are his; "this were not true if God's prescience could be deluded. Then, his "foundation stands sure;" but that were no sure foundation, if those he hath decreed to be his should afterwards fall out not to be his. The very conclusion of truth is this impossibilis est deletio; they which are "written in heaven" can never come into hell. To clear this from the opposed doubt, among many, I will cull out three proper distinctions:
1. One may be said to be written in heaven simpliciter, and secundum quid. He that is simply written there, in quantum praedestinatus ad vitam, because elected to life, can never be blotted out. He that is written after a sort may, for he is written non secundum Dei praescientiam, sed secundum praesentem justitiam - not according to God's former decree, but according to his present righteousness. So they are said to be blotted out, not in respect of God's knowledge, for he knows they never were written there; but according to their present condition, apostatising from grace to sin. (Nicholas of Lyra)
2. Some are blotted out non secundum rei veritatem, sed hominum opinionem - not according to the truth of the thing but according to men's opinion. It is usual in the Scriptures to say a thing is done quando innotescat fieri, when it is declared to be done. Hypocrites have a simulation of outward sanctity, so that men in charity judge them to be written in heaven. But when those glistening stars appear to be only ignes fatui, foolish meteors, and fall from the firmament of the church, then we say they are blotted out. The written ex existentia, by a perfect being, are never lost; but ex apparentia, by a dissembled appearance, may. Some God so writes, in se ut simpliciter habituri vitam - that they have life simply in themselves, though not of themselves. Others he so writes, ut habeant non in se, sed in sua causa; from which falling they are said to be obliterated. (Thomas Aquinas)
3. Augustine says, we must not so take it, that God first writes and then dasheth out. For if a Pilate could say, Quod scripsi, scripsi - "What I have written, I have written," and it shall stand; shall God say, Quod scripsi expungam - What I have written, I will wipe out, and it shall not stand? They are written, then, secundum spem ipsorum, qui ibi se scriptos putabant - according to their own hope that presumed their names there; and are blotted out quando ipsis constet illos non ibi fuisse - when it is manifest to themselves that their names never had any such honour of inscription. This even that Psalm strengthens whence they fetch their opposition: Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. So that to be blotted out of that book, it is, indeed, never to be written there. To be wiped out in the end, is but a declaration that such were not written in the beginning.
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.

2008-06-09

Adams on Psalm 66:12, 13

12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads The agents are men. Man is a sociable living creature and should converse with man in love and tranquillity. Man should be a supporter of man; is he become an overthrower? He should help and keep him up; doth he ride over him and tread him under foot? O apostasy, not only from religion, but even from humanity! Quid homini inimicissimum? Homo (Seneca.) The greatest danger that befalls man comes whence it should least come, from man himself. Caetera animantia, says Pliny, in suo genere, probe degunt, &c. Lions fight not with lions; serpents spend not their venom on serpents; but man is the main suborner of mischief to his own kind ...
1. They ride. What need they mount themselves upon beasts, that have feet malicious enough to trample on us? They have a "foot of pride" Ps 36:11, from which David prayed to be delivered; a presumptuous heel, which they dare lift up against God; and, therefore, a tyrannous toe, to spurn dejected men. They need not horses and mules, that can kick with the foot of a revengeful malice, Ps 32:9.
2. Over us. The way is broad enough wherein they travel, for it is the devil's road. They might well miss the poor, there is room enough besides; they need not ride over us. It were more brave for them to justle with champions that will not give them the way. We never contend for their path; they have it without our envy, not without our pity. Why should they ride over us?
3. Over our heads. Is it not contentment enough to their pride to ride, to their malice to ride over us, but must they delight in bloodiness to ride over our heads? Will not the breaking of our arms and legs, and such inferior limbs, satisfy their indignation? Is it not enough to rack our strength, to mock our innocence, to prey on our estates, but must they thirst after our bloods and lives? Quo tendit saeva libido? Whither will their madness run? But we must not tie ourselves to the letter. Here is a mystical or metamorphical gradation of their cruelty. Their riding is proud; their riding over us is malicious; and their riding over our heads is bloody oppression.
... The time was when the Bonners and butchers rode over the faces of God's saints, and madefied (Madefy, to moisten, to make wet) the earth with their bloods, every drop whereof begot a new believer.
... This verse is like that sea (Mt 8:24) so tempestuous at first, that the vessel was covered with waves; but Christ's rebuke quieted all, and there followed a great calm. Here are cruel Nimrods riding over innocent heads, as they would over fallow lands; and dangerous passages through fire and water; but the storm is soon ended, or rather the passengers are landed. Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. So that this strain of David's music, or psalmody, consists of two notes - one mournful, the other mirthful; the one a touch of distress, the other of redress: which directs our course to an observation of misery and of mercy; of grievous misery, of gracious mercy. There is desolation and consolation in one verse: a deep dejection, as laid under the feet of beasts; a happy deliverance, broughtest us out into a wealthy place. In both these strains God hath his stroke; he is a principal in this concert. He is brought in for an actor, and for an author; and actor in the persecution, and author in the deliverance. Thou causest, etc; Thou broughtest, etc. In the one he is a causing worker; in the other a sole working cause. In the one he is joined with company: in the other he works alone. He hath a finger in the former; his whole hand is in the latter. We must begin with misery before we come to mercy. If there were no trouble, we should not know the worth of a deliverance. The passion of the saints is given, by the hearty and ponderous description, for very grievous; yet it is written in the forehead of the text, "The Lord caused it." Thou causest men to ride, etc. Hereupon, some wicked libertine may offer to rub his filthiness upon God's purity, and to plead an authentic derivation of all his villainy against the saints from the Lord's warrant: He caused it. We answer, to the justification of truth itself, that God doth ordain and order every persecution that striketh his children, without any allowance to the instrument that gives the blow. God works in the same action with others, not after the same manner. In the affliction of Job were three agents - God, Satan and the Sabeans. The devil works on his body, the Sabeans on his goods; yet Job confessed a third party: "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away." Here oppressors trample on the godly, and God is said to cause it. He causeth affliction for trial (so Ps 66:10-11: Thou hast tried us, etc.); they work it for malice; neither can God be accused nor they excused.
... But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place Every word is sweetly significant, and amplifies God's mercy to us. Four especially are remarkable:—
1. The deliverer
2. The deliverance
3. The delivered
4. Their felicity or blessed advancement.
So there is the deliverer, aliquid celsitudinis, Thou; in the delivery, certitudinis, broughtest out, in the delivered, solitudinis, us; in the happiness, plenitudinis, into a wealthy place. There is highness and lowness, sureness and fulness. The deliverer is great, the deliverance is certain, the distress grievous, the exaltation glorious. There is yet a first word, that like a key unlocks this golden gate of mercy, a veruntamen: BUT. This is vox respirationis, a gasp that fetcheth back again the very life of comfort. But thou broughtest, etc. We were fearfully endangered into the hands of our enemies; they rode and trod upon us, and drove us through hard perplexities. But thou, etc. If there had been a full point or period at our misery, if those gulfs of persecution had quite swallowed us, and all our light of comfort had been thus smothered and extinguished we might have cried, Periit spes nostra, yea, periit salus nostra - Our hope, our help is quite gone. He had mocked us that would have spoken, Be of good cheer. This same but is like a happy oar, that turns our vessel from the rocks of despair, and lands it at the haven of comfort.
13 You see all the parts of this song; the whole concert or harmony of all is praising God. You see quo loco, in his house; quo modo, with burnt offering; quo animo, paying our vows.
Burnt offerings For ourselves, be we sure that the best sacrifice we can give to God is obedience; not a dead beast but a living soul. The Lord takes not delight in the blood of brutish creatures. It is the mind, the life, the soul, the obedience, that he requires: 1Sa 15:22, "To obey is better than sacrifice." Let this be our burnt offering, our holocaust, a sanctified body and mind given up to the Lord, Ro 12:1-2. First, the heart: "My son, give me thy heart." Is not the heart enough? No, the hand also: Isa 1:16, Wash the hands from blood and pollution. Is not the hand enough? No, the foot also: "Remove thy foot from evil." Is not the foot enough? No, the lips also: "Guard the doors of thy mouth; " Ps 34:13, "Refrain thy tongue from evil." Is not thy tongue enough? No, the ear also: "Let him that hath ears to hear, hear." Is not the ear enough? No, the eye also: "Let thine eyes be towards the Lord." Is not all this sufficient? No, give body and spirit: 1Co 6:20, "Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." When the eyes abhor lustful objects, the ear slanders, the foot erring paths, the hands wrong and violence, the tongue flattery and blasphemy, the heart pride and hypocrisy; this is thy holocaust, thy whole burnt offering.
As quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David