Verses 1–2

See here, 1. What continual frights those are subject to that go on in wicked ways. Guilt in the conscience makes men a terror to themselves, so that they are ready to flee when none pursues; like one that absconds for debt, who thinks every one he meets a bailiff. Though they pretend to be easy, there are secret fears which haunt them wherever they go, so that they fear where no present or imminent danger is, Ps. 53:5. Those that have made God their enemy, and know it, cannot but see the whole creation at war with them, and therefore can have no true enjoyment of themselves, no confidence, no courage, but a fearful looking for of judgment. Sin makes men cowards.

Degeneres animos timor arguit-- Fear argues a degenerate soul. VIRGIL.

Quos diri conscia facti mens habet attonitos-- The consciousness of atrocious crimes astonishes and confounds.JUVENAL.If they flee when none pursues, what will they do when they shall see God himself pursuing them with his armies? Job 20:24; Job 15:24. See Deut. 28:25; Lev. 26:36. 2. What a holy security and serenity of mind those enjoy who keep conscience void of offence and so keep themselves in the love of God: The righteous are bold as a lion, as a young lion; in the greatest dangers they have a God of almighty power to trust to. Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed. Whatever difficulties they meet with in the way of their duty, they are not daunted by them. None of those things move me.

Hic murus aheneus esto, nil conscire sibi-- Be this thy brazen bulwark of defence, Still to preserve thy conscious innocence. HOR. 2 For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.

Note, 1. National sins bring national disorders and the disturbance of the public repose: For the transgression of a land, and a general defection from God and religion to idolatry, profaneness, or immorality, many are the princes thereof, many at the same time pretending to the sovereignty and contending for it, by which the people are crumbled into parties and factions, biting and devouring one another, or many successively, in a little time, one cutting off another, as 1 Kgs. 16:8; or soon cut off by the hand of God or of a foreign enemy, as 2 Kgs. 24:5 As the people suffer for the sins of the prince,

Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi-- Kings play the madmen, and their people suffer for it, so the government sometimes suffers for the sins of the people. 2. Wisdom will prevent or redress these grievances: By a man, that is, by a people, of understanding, that come again to themselves and their right mind, things are kept in a good order, or, if disturbed, brought back to the old channel again. Or, By a prince of understanding and knowledge, a privy-counsellor, or minister of state, that will restrain or suppress the transgression of the land, and take the right methods of healing the state thereof, the good estate of it will be prolonged. We cannot imagine what a great deal of service one wise man may do to a nation in a critical juncture.