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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 9–18
Verses 9–18

In these verses,

I. We are earnestly exhorted, all of us, to repose our confidence in God, and not suffer our confidence in him to be shaken by the heathens’ insulting over us upon the account of our present distresses. It is folly to trust in dead images, but it is wisdom to trust in the living God, for he is a help and a shield to those that do trust in them, a help to furnish them with and forward them in that which is good, and a shield to fortify them against and protect them from every thing that is evil. Therefore, 1. Let Israel trust in the Lord; the body of the people, as to their public interests, and every particular Israelite, as to his own private concerns, let them leave it to God to dispose of all for them, and believe it will dispose of all for the best and will be their help and shield. 2. Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers, and all the families of the house of Aaron, trust in the Lord, (Ps. 115:10); they are most maligned and struck at by the enemies and therefore of them God takes particular care. They ought to be examples to others of a cheerful confidence in God, and a faithful adherence to him in the worst of times. 3. Let the proselytes, who are not of the seed of Israel, but fear the Lord, who worship him and make conscience of their duty to him, let them trust in him, for he will not fail nor forsake them, Ps. 115:11. Note, Wherever there is an awful fear of God, there may be a cheerful faith in him: those that reverence his word may rely upon it.

II. We are greatly encouraged to trust in God, and good reason is given us why we should stay ourselves upon him with an entire satisfaction. Consider, 1. What we have experienced (Ps. 115:12): The Lord has been mindful of us, and never unmindful, has been so constantly, has been so remarkably upon special occasions. He has been mindful of our case, our wants and burdens, mindful of our prayers to him, his promises to us, and the covenant-relation between him and us. All our comforts are derived from God’s thoughts to us-ward; he has been mindful of us, though we have forgotten him. Let this engage us to trust in him, that we have found him faithful. 2. What we may expect. From what he has done for us we may infer, He will bless us; he that has been our help and our shield will be so; he that has remembered us in our low estate will not forget us; for he is still the same, his power and goodness the same, and his promise inviolable; so that we have reason to hope that he who has delivered, and does, will yet deliver. Yet this is not all: He will bless us; he has promised that he will; he has pronounced a blessing upon all his people. God’s blessing us is not only speaking good to us, but doing well for us; those whom he blesses are blessed indeed. It is particularly promised that he will bless the house of Israel, that is, he will bless the commonwealth, will bless his people in their civil interests. He will bless the house of Aaron, that is, the church, the ministry, will bless his people in their religious concerns. The priests were to bless the people; it was their office (Num. 6:23); but God blessed them, and so blessed their blessings. Nay (Ps. 115:13), he will bless those that fear the Lord, though they be not of the house of Israel or the house of Aaron; for it was a truth, before Peter perceived it, That in every nation he that fears God is accepted or him, and blessed, Acts 10:34, 35. He will bless them both small and great, both young and old. God has blessings in store for those that are good betimes and for those that are old disciples, both those that are poor in the world and those that make a figure. The greatest need his blessing, and it shall not be denied to the meanest that fear him. Both the weak in grace and the strong shall be blessed of God, the lambs and the sheep of his flock. It is promised (Ps. 115:14), The Lord shall increase you. Whom God blesses he increases; that was one of the earliest and most ancient blessings, Be fruitful and multiply. God’s blessing gives an increase—increase in number, building up the family—increase in wealth, adding to the estate and honour—especially an increase in spiritual blessings, with the increasings of God. He will bless you with the increase of knowledge and wisdom, of grace, holiness, and joy; those are blessed indeed whom God thus increases, who are made wiser and better, and fitter for God and heaven. It is promised that this shall be, (1.) A constant continual increase: “He shall increase you more and more; so that, as long as you live, you shall be still increasing, till you come to perfection, as the shining light,” Prov. 4:18. (2.) An hereditary increase: “You and your children; you in your children.” It is a comfort to parents to see their children increasing in wisdom and strength. There is a blessing entailed upon the seed of those that fear God even in their infancy. For (Ps. 115:15), You are blessed of the Lord, you and your children are so; all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord has blessed, Isa. 59:9. Those that are the blessed of the Lord have encouragement enough to trust in the Lord, as their help and shield, for it is he that made heaven and earth; therefore his blessings are free, for he needs not any thing himself; and therefore they are rich, for he has all things at command for us if we fear him and trust in him. He that made heaven and earth can doubtless make those happy that trust in him, and will do it.

III. We are stirred up to praise God by the psalmist’s example, who concludes the psalm with a resolution to persevere in his praises. 1. God is to be praised, Ps. 115:16. He is greatly to be praised; for, (1.) His glory is high. See how stately his palace is, and the throne he has prepared in the heavens: The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s; he is the rightful owner of all the treasures of light and bliss in the upper and better world, and is in the full possession of them, for he is himself infinitely bright and happy. (2.) His goodness is large, for the earth he has given to the children of men, having designed it, when he made it, for their use, to find them with meat, drink, and lodging. Not but that still he is proprietor in chief; the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; but he has let out that vineyard to these unthankful husbandmen, and from them he expects the rents and services; for, though he has given them the earth, his eye is upon them, and he will call them to render an account how they use it. Calvin complains that profane wicked people, in his days, perverted this scripture, and made a jest of it, which some in our days do, arguing, in banter, that God, having given the earth to the children of men, will no more look after it, nor after them upon it, but they may do what they will with it, and make the best of it as their portion; it is as it were thrown like a prey among them, Let him seize it that can. It is a pity that such an instance as this gives of God’s bounty to man, and such a proof as arises from it of man’s obligation to God, should be thus abused. From the highest heavens, it is certain, God beholds all the children of men; to them he has given the earth; but to the children of God heaven is given. 2. The dead are not capable of praising him (Ps. 115:17), nor any that go into silence. The soul indeed lives in a state of separation from the body and is capable of praising God; and the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burdens of the flesh, do praise God, are still praising him; for they go up to the land of perfect light and constant business. But the dead body cannot praise God; death puts an end to our glorifying God in this world of trial and conflict, to all our services in the field; the grave is a land of darkness and silence, where there is no work or device. This they plead with God for deliverance out of the hand of their enemies, “Lord, if they prevail to cut us off, the idols will carry the day, and there will be none to praise thee, to bear thy name, and to bear a testimony against the worshippers of idols.” The dead praise not the Lord, so as we do in the business and for the comforts of this life. See Ps. 30:9; 88:10. 3. Therefore it concerns us to praise him (Ps. 115:18): “But we, we that are alive, will bless the Lord; we and those that shall come after us, will do it, from this time forth and for evermore, to the end of time; we and those we shall remove to, from this time forth and to eternity. The dead praise not the Lord, therefore we will do it the more diligently.” (1.) Others are dead, and an end is thereby put to their service, and therefore we will lay out ourselves to do so much the more for God, that we may fill up the gap. Moses my servant is dead, now therefore, Joshua, arise. (2.) We ourselves must shortly go to the land of silence; but, while we do live, we will bless the Lord, will improve our time and work that work of him that sent us into the world to praise him before the night comes, and because the night comes, wherein no man can work. The Lord will bless us (Ps. 115:12); he will do well for us, and therefore we will bless him, we will speak well of him. Poor returns for such receivings! Nay, we will not only do it ourselves, but will engage others to do it. Praise the Lord; praise him with us; praise him in your places, as we in ours; praise him when we are gone, that he may be praised for evermore. Hallelujah.