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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 9–15
Verses 9–15

The method is the same in this latter part of the psalm as in the former; David first gives glory to God and then begs mercy from him.

I. He praises God for the experiences he had had of his goodness to him and the encouragements he had to expect further mercy from him, Ps. 144:9, 10. In the midst of his complaints concerning the power and treachery of his enemies, here is a holy exultation in his God: I will sing a new song to thee, O God! a song of praise for new mercies, for those compassions that are new every morning. Fresh favours call for fresh returns of thanks; nay, we must praise God for the mercies we hope for by his promise as well as those we have received by his providence, 2 Chron. 20:20, 21. He will join music with his songs of praise, to express and excite his holy joy in God; he will praise God upon a psaltery of ten strings, in the best manner, thinking all little enough to set forth the praises of God. He tells us what this new song shall be (Ps. 144:10): It is he that giveth salvation unto kings. This intimates, 1. That great kings cannot save themselves without him. Kings have their life-guards, and have armies at command, and all the means of safety that can be devised; but, after all, it is God that gives them their salvation, and secures them by those means, which he could do, if there were occasion, without them, Ps. 33:16. Kings are the protectors of their people, but it is God that is their protector. How much service do they owe him then with their power who gives them all their salvations! 2. That good kings, who are his ministers for the good of their subjects, shall be protected and saved by him. He has engaged to give salvation to those kings that are his subjects and rule for him; witness the great things he had done for David his servant, whom he had many a time delivered from the hurtful sword, to which Saul’s malice, and his own zeal for the service of his country, had often exposed him. This may refer to Christ the Son of David, and then it is a new song indeed, a New-Testament song. God delivered him from the hurtful sword, upheld him as his servant, and brought him off a conqueror over all the powers of darkness, Isa. 42:1; 49:8. To him he gave salvation, not for himself only, but for us, raising him up to be a horn of salvation.

II. He prays for the continuance of God’s favour.

1. That he might be delivered from the public enemies, Ps. 144:11. Here he repeats his prayer and plea, Ps. 144:7, 8. His persecutors were still of the same character, false and perfidious, and who would certainly over-reach an honest man and be too hard for him: “Therefore, Lord, do thou deliver me from them, for they are a strange sort of people.”

2. That he might see the public peace and prosperity: “Lord, let us have victory, that we may have quietness, which we shall never have while our enemies have it in their power to do us mischief.” David, as a king, here expresses the earnest desire he had of the welfare of his people, wherein he was a type of Christ, who provides effectually for the good of his chosen. We have here,

(1.) The particular instances of that public prosperity which David desired for his people. [1.] A hopeful progeny (Ps. 144:12): “That our sons and our daughters may be in all respects such as we could wish.” He means not those only of his own family, but those of his subjects, that are the seed of the next generation. It adds much to the comfort and happiness of parents in this world to see their children promising and likely to do well. First, It is pleasant to see our sons as plants grown up in their youth, as olive-plants (Ps. 128:1-6), the planting of the Lord (Isa. 61:3),—to see them as plants, not as weeds, not as thorns,—to see them as plants growing great, not withered and blasted,—to see them of a healthful constitution, a quick capacity, a towardly disposition, and especially of a pious inclination, likely to bring forth fruit unto God in their day,—to see them in their youth, their growing time, increasing in every thing that is good, growing wiser and better, till they grow strong in spirit. Secondly, It is no less desirable to see our daughters as corner-stones, or corner-pillars, polished after the similitude of a palace, or temple. By daughters families are united and connected, to their mutual strength, as the parts of a building are by the corner-stones; and when they are graceful and beautiful both in body and mind they are then polished after the similitude of a nice and curious structure. When we see our daughters well-established and stayed with wisdom and discretion, as corner-stones are fastened in the building,—when we see them by faith united to Christ, as the chief corner-stone, adorned with the graces of God’s Spirit, which are the polishing of that which is naturally rough, and become women professing godliness,—when we see them purified and consecrated to God as living temples, we think ourselves happy in them. [2.] Great plenty. Numerous families increase the care, perhaps more than the comfort, where there is not sufficient for their maintenance; and therefore he prays for a growing estate with a growing family. First, That their store-houses might be well-replenished with the fruits and products of the earth: That our garners may be full, like those of the good householder, who brings out of them things new and old (those things that are best new he has in that state, those that are best when they are kept he has in that state),—that we may have in them all manner of stores, for ourselves and our friends,—that, living plentifully, we may live not luxuriously, for then we abuse our plenty, but cheerfully and usefully,—that, having abundance, we may be thankful to God, generous to our friends, and charitable to the poor; otherwise, what profit is it to have our garners full? Jas. 5:3. Secondly, That their flocks might greatly increase: That our sheep may bring forth thousands, and ten thousands, in our folds. Much of the wealth of their country consisted in their flocks (Prov. 27:26), and this is the case with ours too, else wool would not be, as it is, a staple commodity. The increase of our cattle is a blessing in which God is to be acknowledged. Thirdly, That their beasts designed for service might be fit for it: That our oxen may be strong to labour in the plough, that they may be fat and fleshy (so some), in good working case. We were none of us made to be idle, and therefore we should pray for bodily health, not that we may be easy and take our pleasures, but that we may be strong to labour, that we may do the work of our place and day, else we are worse than the beasts; for when they are strong it is for labour. [3.] An uninterrupted peace. First, That there be no war, no breaking in of invaders, no going out of deserters. “Let not our enemies break in upon us; let us not have occasion to march out against them.” War brings with it abundance of mischiefs, whether it be offensive or defensive. Secondly, That there be no oppression nor faction—no complaining in our streets, that the people may have no cause to complain either of their government or of one another, nor may be so peevish as to complain without cause. It is desirable thus to dwell in quiet habitations.

(2.) His reflection upon this description of the prosperity of the nation, which he so much desired (Ps. 144:15): Happy are the people that are in such a case (but it is seldom so, and never long so), yea, happy are the people whose God is the Lord. The relation of a people to God as theirs is here spoken of either, [1.] As that which is the fountain whence all those blessings flow. Happy are the Israelites if they faithfully adhere to the Lord as their God, for they may expect to be in such a case. National piety commonly brings national prosperity; for nations as such, in their national capacity, are capable of rewards and punishments only in this life. Or, [2.] As that which is abundantly preferable to all these enjoyments. The psalmist began to say, as most do, Happy are the people that are in such a case; those are blessed that prosper in the world. But he immediately corrects himself: Yea, rather, happy are the people whose God is the Lord, who have his favour, and love, and grace, according to the tenour of the covenant, though they have not abundance of this world’s goods. As all this, and much more, cannot make us happy, unless the Lord be our God, so, if he be, the want of this, the loss of this, nay, the reverse of this, cannot make us miserable.