The scene again changes, and counsel is given to those who have taken counsel to rebel. They are exhorted to obey, and give the kiss of homage and affection to him whom they have hated.
“_Be wise_.”–It is always wise to be willing to be instructed, especially when such instruction tends to the salvation of the soul. “Be wise _now, therefore_;” delay no longer, but let good reason weigh with you. Your warfare cannot succeed, therefore desist and yield cheerfully to him who will make you bow if you refuse his yoke. O how wise, how infinitely wise is obedience to Jesus, and how dreadful is the folly of those who continue to be his enemies! “_Serve the Lord with fear_;” let reverence and humility be mingled with your service. He is a great God, and ye are but puny creatures; bend ye, therefore, in lowly worship, and let a filial fear mingle with all your obedience to the great Father of the Ages. “_Rejoice with trembling_.”–There must ever be a holy fear mixed with the Christian’s joy. This is a sacred compound, yielding a sweet smell, and we must see to it that we burn no other upon the altar. Fear, without joy, is torment; and joy, without holy fear, would be presumption. Mark the solemn argument for reconciliation and obedience. It is an awful thing to _perish_ in the midst of sin, in the very _way_ of rebellion; and yet how easily could _his wrath_ destroy us suddenly. It needs not that his anger should be heated seven times hotter; let the fuel kindle _but a little_, and we are consumed. O sinner! Take heed of the terrors of the Lord; for “our God is a consuming fire.” Note the benediction with which the Psalm closes:–“_Blessed are all they that put their trust in him_.” Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in _him_? Our faith may be slender as a spider’s thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles:– “Lord, increase our faith.”
The first Psalm is a contrast between the righteous man and the sinner; the second Psalm is a contrast between the tumultuous disobedience of the ungodly world and the sure exaltation of the righteous Son of God. In the first Psalm, we saw the wicked driven away like chaff; in the second Psalm, we see them broken in pieces like a potter’s vessel. In the first Psalm, we beheld the righteous like a tree planted by the rivers of water; and here, we contemplate Christ, the Covenant Head of the righteous, made better than a tree planted by the rivers of water, for _he_ is made king of all the islands, and all the heathen bow before him and kiss the dust; while he himself gives a blessing to all those who put their trust in him. The two Psalms are worthy of the very deepest attention; they are, in fact, the preface in the entire Book of Psalms, and were by some of the ancients, joined into one. They are, however, two Psalms; for Paul speaks of this as the second Psalm. (#Ac 13:33|.) The first shows us the character and lot of the righteous; and the next teaches us that the Psalms are Messianic, and speak of Christ the Messiah–the Prince who shall reign from the river even unto the ends of the earth. That they have both a far-reaching prophetic outlook we are well assured, but we do not feel competent to open up that matter, and must leave it to abler hands.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Verse 10.–“_Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings_,” etc. As Jesus is King of kings and Judge of judges, so the gospel is the teacher of the greatest and wisest. If any are so great as to spurn its admonitions, God will make little of them; and if they are so wise as to despise its teachings, their fancied wisdom shall make fools of them. The gospel takes a high tone before the rulers of the earth, and they who preach it should, like Knox and Melville, magnify their office by bold rebukes and manly utterances even in the royal presence. A clerical sycophant is only fit to be a scullion in the devil’s kitchen.–^C. H. S.
Verse 11.–“_Serve the Lord with fear_.” This fear of God qualifies our joy. If you abstract fear from joy, joy will become light and wanton; and if you abstract joy from fear, fear then will become slavish.–^William Bates, D.D., 1625-1699.
Verse 11.–“_Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling_.” There are two kinds of serving and rejoicing in God. First, a serving in security, and a rejoicing in the Lord without fear; these are peculiar to hypocrites, who are secure, who please themselves, and who appear to themselves to be not unuseful servants, and to have great merit on their side, concerning whom it is said (#Ps 10:5|), “Thy judgments are far above out of his sight;” and also afterwards (#Ps 36:1|), “There is no fear of God before his eyes.” These do righteousness without judgment at all times; and permit not Christ to be the Judge to be feared by all, in whose sight no man living is justified. Secondly, a serving with fear and a rejoicing with trembling; these are peculiar to the righteous who do righteousness at all times, and always rightly attemper both; never being without judgments, on the one hand, by which they are terrified and brought to despair of themselves and of all their own works; nor without that righteousness, on the other, on which they rest, and in which they rejoice in the mercy of God. It is the work of the whole lives of these characters to accuse themselves in all things, and in all things to justify and praise God. And thus they fulfil that word of Proverbs, “Blessed is the man that feareth alway_” (#Pr 28:14|); and also that of #Php 4:4|, “Rejoice in the Lord alway.” Thus, between the upper and nether mill-stone (#De 24:6|), they are broken in pieces and humbled, and the husks thus being bruised off, they come forth the all-pure wheat of Christ.–^Martin Luther.
Verse 11.–The fear of God promotes spiritual joy; it is the morning star which ushers in the sunlight of comfort. “Walking in the fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” God mingles joy with fear, that fear may not be slavish. –^Thomas Watson, 1660.
Verse 12.–“_Kiss_,” a sign of love among equals: #Ge 33:4; 1Sa 20:41; Ro 16:16; 1Co 16:20|. Of subjection in inferiors: #1Sa 10:1|. Of religious adoration in worshippers: #1Ki 19:18; Job 31:27|.–^John Richardson, Bishop of Ardagh, 1655.
Verse 12.–“_Kiss the Son, lest he be angry_.” From the Person, _the Son_, we shall pass to the act (_Osculamini, kiss the Son_); in which we shall see, that since this is an act which licentious men have depraved (carnal men do it, and treacherous men do it–Judas betrayed his Master by a kiss), and yet God commands this, and expresses love in this; everything that hath, or may be abused, must not therefore be abandoned; the turning of a thing out of the way, is not a taking of that thing away, but good things deflected to ill uses by some, may be by others reduced to their first goodness. Then let us consider and magnify the goodness of God, that hath brought us into this distance, that we may _kiss the Son_, that the expressing of this love lies in our hands, and that, whereas the love of the church, in the Old Testament, even in the Canticle, went no farther but to the _Osculatur me_ (_O that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth_! #So 1:2|), now, in the Christian church, and in the visitation of a Christian soul, he hath invited us, enabled us to kiss him, for he is presentially amongst us. This leads us to give an earnest persuasion and exhortation _to kiss the Son_, with all those affections, which we shall there find to be expressed in the Scriptures, in that testimony of true love, a holy kiss. But then lest that persuasion by love should not be effectual and powerful enough to us, we shall descend from that duty, to the danger, from love, to fear, “_lest he be angry_;” and therein see first, that God, who is love, can be angry; and then, that this God who is angry here, is the Son of God, he that hath done so much for us, and therefore in justice may be angry; he that is our Judge, and therefore in reason we are to fear his anger: and then, in a third branch, we shall see how easily this anger departs–a kiss removes it.
Verse 12.–“_Kiss the Son_.” That is, embrace him, depend upon him all these ways: as thy kinsman, as thy sovereign; at thy going, at thy coming; at thy reconciliation, in the truth of religion in thyself, in a peaceable unity with the church, in a reverent estimation of those men, and those means whom he sends. Kiss him, and be not ashamed of kissing him; it is that which the spouse desired, “_I would kiss thee, and not be despised_.” #So 8:1|. If thou be despised for loving Christ in his gospel, remember that when David was thought base, for dancing before the ark, his way was to be more base. If thou be thought frivolous for thrusting in at service, in the forenoon, be more frivolous, and come again in the afternoon: “_Tanto major requies, quanto ab amore Jesu nulla requies;” [Gregory] “The more thou troublest thyself, or art troubled by others for Christ, the more peace thou hast in Christ.” … “_Lest he be angry_” Anger, as it is a passion that troubles, and disorders, and discomposes a man, so it is not in God; but anger, as it is a sensible discerning of foes from friends, and of things that conduce, or disconduce to his glory, so it is in God. In a word, Hilary hath expressed it well: “_Paena patientis, ira decernentis_;” “Man’s suffering is God’s anger.” When God inflicts such punishments as a king justly incensed would do, then God is thus angry. Now here, our case is heavier; it is not this great, and almighty, and majestical God, that may be angry–that is like enough; but even the _Son_, whom we must _kiss_, may be _angry_; it is not a person whom we consider merely as God, but as man; nay, not as man neither, but _a worm, and no man_, and he may be angry, and angry to our ruin … “_Kiss the Son_,” and he will not _be angry_; if he be, kiss the rod, and he will be angry no longer–love him lest he be; fear him when he is angry: the preservative is easy, and so is the restorative too: the balsamum of this kiss is all, to suck spiritual milk out of the left breast, as well as out of the right, to find mercy in his judgments, reparation in his ruins, feasts in his lents, joy in his anger.–^From Sermons of John Donne, D.D., Dean of St. Paul’s, 1621–1631.
Verse 12.–“_Kiss the son_.” To make peace with the Father, kiss the son. “Let him kiss me,” was the church’s prayer. #So 1:2|. Let us kiss him–that be our endeavour. Indeed, the son must first kiss us by his mercy, before we can kiss him by our piety. Lord, grant in these mutual kisses and interchangeable embraces now, that we may come to the plenary wedding supper hereafter; When the choir of heaven, even the voices of angels, shall sing epithalamiums, nuptial songs, at the bridal of the spouse of the Lamb.–^Thomas Adams.
Verse 12.–“_If his wrath be kindled but a little_;” the Hebrew is, if his nose or nostril be kindled but a little; the nostril, being an organ of the body in which wrath shows itself, is put for wrath itself. Paleness and snuffling of the nose are symptoms of anger. In our proverbials, to take a thing in snuff, is to take it in anger.–^Joseph Caryl.
Verse 12.–“_His wrath_.” Unspeakable must the wrath of God be when it is kindled fully, since perdition may come upon the _kindling of it but a little_.–^John] Newton.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 10.–True Wisdom, fit for kings and judges, lies in obeying Christ.
The gospel, a school for those who would learn how to rule and judge well. They may consider its principles, its exemplar, its spirit, etc.
Verse 11.–_Mingled experience_. See the case of the women returning from the sepulchre. #Mt 28:8|. This may be rendered a very comforting subject, if the Holy Spirit direct the mind of the preacher.
True religion, a compound of many virtues and emotions.
Verse 12.–_An earnest invitation_. 1. _The command_. 2. _The argument_. 3. _The benediction_ upon the obedient.–“Spurgeon’s Sermons,” No. 260.
Last clause.– Nature, object, and blessedness of saving faith.