He has prepared His deadly weapons; He ordains His arrows with fire.
If I have done this.
I. TRUE INNOCENCE IS MARKED BY HUMILITY. David is bold before men, but humble before God. Why? There is the sense that innocence is limited and imperfect. We may be free from particular sins, and yet be guilty in others. Besides, innocence is but comparative. Measured by the standard of men, we may be without offence, but tried by the holy, spiritual Law of God, we are convicted of innumerable sins, and behind all is a sinful heart.
II. ASSOCIATED WITH MERCY. "Yea, I have delivered him" (ver. 4). So David dealt gently with Saul. His magnanimous sparing of him when he was in his power was no mere impulse, but the free outcome of his loving and generous heart. The merciful, whom our Lord has blessed, are placed between those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" and "the pure in heart," who see God.
III. APPEALS WITH CONFIDENCE TO THE JUDGMENT OF GOD. The sense of right prophesies of the triumph of right. Having faith in the justice of God, we can leave all in his hands; and, loving him and assured of his love toward us, we can patiently await the end, knowing that all things shall work together for our good. - W.F.
He ordaineth His arrows against the persecutors.
Mercy and love often lurk in the meanings of these Psalms, which on their surface seem, like Saul on the road to Damascus, to breathe threatenings and slaughter. David thought only of the arrows of God's judgments; the Christian loves to think of these arrows of conviction and of love which God hath often discharged against the persecutors of His Church, such as Saul was. See this in his conversion. The disciples awaited his coming to Damascus in fear and trembling. But God's arrow was ready against him, had been "ordained" long ago. It was of God, of Christ. For of Him it is said: "Thine arrows are very sharp; and the people shall be subdued unto Thee, even in the midst among the King's enemies." Such were the Pharisees, of whom Saul was one. When Jesus appeared to Saul He spoke not of arrows, but of goads — the ox goads, which when the oxen lash out against them only wound themselves the more. Conscience had been such a goad to Saul. The influence of Stephen's death; the calm patience of those whom he had cruelly persecuted — all this must have made him feel as every persecutor, down to the inquisitors of later days, must have felt, that he was doing the devil's work. Yet he hardened himself and kicked out against the goads of conscience and went on madly persecuting Jesus. But this arrow was too much for him; it was altogether too sharp. The great lesson, then, of our text is that no persecutor will be allowed to proceed too far. If the arrows of conviction will not serve, then God "will whet His sword." As with Antiochus Epiphanes. Such an one most strikingly was that Julian the Apostate, who was perhaps more dangerous to the Church than any Nero or Decius, because he knew her weak points, and because he mingled so much craft with his violence. It was in very sooth an arrow — a Parthian arrow, shot at random in some paltry skirmish — which ]aid that persecutor low, for God had ordained it against him of old. He himself would seem to have been aware whence that arrow came, and who it was whom he had been so bitterly persecuting, for it is said that when he perceived his wound to be mortal, he threw some of his blood up into the air (after the manner of dying gladiators) and exclaimed, "Thou hast conquered, O Nazarene!"
It is said that God hath ordained His arrows against the persecutors; the word signifies such as burn in anger and malice against the godly; and the word translated "ordained," signifies God hath wrought His arrows; He doth not shoot them at random, but He works them against the wicked. Illiricus hath a story which may well be a commentary upon this text in both the parts of it. One Felix, Earl of Wartenburg, one of the captains of the Emperor Charles V, swore in the presence of divers at supper, that before he died he would ride up to the spurs in the blood of the Lutherans. Here was one that burned in malice, but behold how God works His arrows against him: that very night the hand of God so struck him, that he was strangled and choked in his own blood; so he rode not, but bathed himself, not up to the spurs, but up to the throat, not in the blood of the Lutherans, but in his own blood before ha died.
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