This verse contains the sum and substance of Calvinistic doctrine. Search Scripture through, and you must, if you read it with a candid mind, be persuaded that the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is the great doctrine of the word of God: “_Salvation belongeth unto the Lord_.” This is a point concerning which we are daily fighting. Our opponents say, “Salvation belongeth to the free will of man, if not to man’s merit, yet at least to man’s will;” but we hold and teach that salvation from first to last, in every iota of it, belongs to the Most High God. It is God that chooses his people. _He_ calls them by his grace; _he_ quickens them by his Spirit, and keeps them by his power. It is not of man, neither by man; “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” May we all learn this truth experimentally, for our proud flesh and blood will never permit us to learn it in any other way. In the last sentence the peculiarity and speciality of salvation are plainly stated: “_Thy blessing is upon thy people_.” Neither upon Egypt, nor upon Tyre, nor upon Nineveh; thy blessing is upon thy chosen, thy blood-bought, thine everlastingly-beloved people. “_Selah_:” lift up your hearts, and pause, and meditate upon this doctrine. “Thy blessing is upon thy people.” Divine, discriminating, distinguishing, eternal, infinite, immutable love, is a subject for constant adoration. Pause my soul, at this _Selah_, and consider thine own interest in the salvation of God; and if by humble faith thou art enabled to see Jesus as thine by his own free gift of himself to thee, if this greatest of all blessings be upon thee, rise up and Sing- “Rise, my soul! adore and wonder! Ask, ‘O why such love to me?’ Grace hath put me in the number Of the Saviour’s family: Hallelujah! Thanks, eternal thanks to thee.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Verse 8.–“_Salvation belongeth unto the Lord:_” parallel passage in #Jon 2:9|, “_Salvation is of the Lord_.” The mariners might have written upon their ship, instead of Castor and Pollux, or the like device, _Salvation is the Lord’s_; the Ninevites might have written upon their gates, _Salvation is the Lord’s_; and whole mankind, whose cause is pitted and pleaded by God against the hardness of Jonah’s heart, in the last, might have written on the palms of their hands, _Salvation is the Lord’s_. It is the argument of both the Testaments, the staff and supportation of heaven and earth. They would both sink, and all their joints be severed, if the salvation of the Lord were not. The birds in the air sing no other notes, the beasts in the field give no other voice, than _Salus Jehovae_, Salvation is the Lord’s. The walls and fortresses to our country’s gates, to our cities and towns, bars to our houses, a surer cover to our heads than a helmet of steel, a better receipt to our bodies than the confection of apothecaries, a better receipt to our souls than the pardons of Rome, is _Salus Jehovae_, the salvation of the Lord. _The Salvation of the Lord_ blesseth, preserveth, upholdeth all that we have; our basket and our store, the oil in our cruses, our presses, the sheep in our fold, our stalls, the children in the womb, at our tables, the corn in our field, our stores, our garners; it is not the virtue of the stars, nor nature of all things themselves, that giveth being and continuance to any of these blessings. And, “What shall I more say?” as the apostle asked (#Heb 11|), when he had spoken much, and there was much more behind, but time failed him. Rather, what should I not say? for the world is my theatre at this time, and I neither think nor can feign to myself anything that hath not dependence upon this acclamation, _Salvation is the Lord’s_. Plutarch writeth, that the Amphictions in Greece, a famous council assembled of twelve sundry people, wrote upon the temple of Apollo Pythius, instead of the Iliads of Homer, or songs of Pindarus (large and tiring discourses), short sentences and memoratives, as, _Know thyself, Use moderation, Beware of suretyship_, and the like; and doubtless though every creature in the world, whereof we have use, be a treatise and narration unto us of the goodness of God, and we might weary our flesh, and spend our days in writing books of that inexplicable subject, yet this short apothegm of Jonah comprehendeth all the rest, and standeth at the end of the song, as the altars and stones that the patriarch set up at the parting of the ways, to give knowledge to the after-world by what means he was delivered. I would it were daily preached in our temples, sung in our streets, written upon our door-posts, painted upon our walls, or rather cut with an adamant claw upon the tables of our hearts, that we might never forget salvation to be the Lord’s. We have need of such remembrances to keep us in practice of revolving the mercies of God. For nothing decayeth sooner than love: _nihil facilius quam amor putrescit_. And of all the powers of the soul, memory is most delicate, tender, and brittle, and first waxeth old, _memoria delicata, tenera, fragilis, in quam primum senectus incurrit_; and of all the apprehensions of memory, first benefit _primum senescit beneficium_.–^John King’s Commentary on Jonah, 1594.
Verse 8.–“_Thy blessing is upon thy people_.” The saints are not only blessed when they are comprehensors, but while they are viators. They are blessed before they are crowned. This seems a paradox to flesh and blood: what, reproached and maligned, yet blessed! A man that looks upon the children of God with a carnal eye, and sees how they are afflicted, and like the ship in the gospel, which was covered with waves (#Mt 8:24|), would think they were far from blessedness. Paul brings a catalogue of his sufferings (#2Co 11:24-26|), “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck,” etc. And those Christians of the first magnitude, of whom the world was not worthy, “Had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword.” #Heb 11:36,37|. What! and were all these during the time of their sufferings blessed? A carnal man would think, if this be to be blessed, God deliver him from it. But, however sense would give their vote, our Saviour Christ pronounceth the godly man blessed; though a mourner, though a martyr, yet blessed. Job on the dunghill was blessed Job. The saints are blessed when they are cursed. Shimei did curse David (#2Sa 16:5|), “He came forth and cursed him;” yet when he was cursed David he was blessed David. The saints though they are bruised, yet they are blessed. Not only they shall be blessed, but they are so. #Ps 119:1|. “Blessed are the undefiled.” #Ps 3.8|. “_Thy blessing is upon thy people_.” –^Thomas Watson.
[As a curious instance of Luther’s dogmatical interpretations, we give very considerable extracts from his rendering of this Psalm without in any degree endorsing them.
Verse 8.–“_Salvation is of the Lord, and thy blessing is upon thy people_.” A most beautiful conclusion this, and, as it were, the sum of all the feelings spoken of. The sense is, it is the Lord alone that saves and blesses: and even though the whole mass of all evils should be gathered together in one against a man, still, it is the Lord who saves: salvation and blessing are in his hands. What then shall I fear? What shall I not promise myself? When I know that no one can be destroyed, no one reviled, without the permission of God, even though all should rise up to curse and to destroy; and that no one of them can be blessed and saved without the permission of God, how much soever they may bless and strive to save themselves. And as Gregory Nazianzen says, “Where God gives, envy can avail nothing; and where God does not give labour can avail nothing.” And in the same way also Paul saith (#Ro 8:31|), “If God be for us, who can be against us?” And so, on the contrary, if God be against them, who can be for them? And why? Because “_salvation is of the Lord_,” and not of them, nor of us, for “vain is the help of man.”–^Martin Luther.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 8 (first clause).–Salvation of God from first to last. (See the exposition).
Verse 8 (last clause).–They were blessed _in_ Christ, _through_ Christ, and shall be blessed _with_ Christ. The blessing rests upon their persons, comforts, trials, labours, families, etc. It flows from grace, is enjoyed by faith, and is insured by oath, etc. –^James Smith’s Portions, 1802–1862.