Christianity 201

July 8, 2014

The Psalms in Rhythm

I recognize that today’s post may be wildly different from what we normally do here, but just as different translations can spark sections of scripture to life afresh, so also can this project The Psalms in Metre with Notes by John Brown of Haddington — first published in 1991 — bring fresh insights into very familiar words.  I’ve chosen to go with Psalm 19 here and also Psalm 91.  To begin, go to this page, and then select a text section. The book can also be purchased online.


Psalm 19

To the chief Musician,
A Psalm of David.

Now the books of God are opened, not for my trial and condemnation in the last judgment, but for my instruction. Let my soul look and read therein ­ (1.) The book of creation and providence, in which all the works of God instruct mankind in general, concerning the eternal wisdom, power and goodness, of their Maker, ver. 1-6. (2.) The book of inspiration; the sure, the right, the pure, the true, the perfect and powerful oracles of which instruct, convert, comfort, and warm the members of the church; and in keeping of which there is an exceeding great and everlasting reward of glory obtained, ver. 7-11. (3.) What conviction of sin! what supplication for pardon of it, and preservation from it! and for the acceptance of our duties through Jesus’ blood, doth or ought to ensue upon a proper perusal of these volumes of heaven, ver. 12-14.

While I sing these matters, let me, conscious of my own ignorance and folly, in all things consult the mind of God. Let me blush that my experience of the powerful influences of God’s word is so scanty; and that in me, still dwell such fearful remains of sinful corruption. Let me cry mightily to God, for the subduing and destruction thereof.

1    The heav'ns God's glory do declare,
          the skies his hand-works preach:
2    Day utters speech to day, and night
          to night doth knowledge teach.

3    There is no speech nor tongue to which
          their voice doth not extend:
4    Their line is gone through all the earth,
          their words to the world's end.
		
     In them he set the sun a tent;
5         Who, bridegroom-like, forth goes
     From's chamber, as a strong man doth
          to run his race rejoice.

6    From heav'n's end is his going forth,
          circling to th' end again;
     And there is nothing from his heat
          that hidden doth remain.

7    God's law is perfect, and converts
          the soul in sin that lies:
     God's testimony is most sure,
          and makes the simple wise.

8    The statutes of the Lord are right,
          and do rejoice the heart:
     The Lord's command is pure, and doth
          light to the eyes impart.

9    Unspotted is the fear of God,
          and doth endure for ever:
     The judgments of the Lord are true
          and righteous altogether.

10   They more than gold, yea, much fine gold,
          to be desired are:
     Than honey, honey from the comb
          that droppeth, sweeter far.

11   Moreover, they thy servant warn
          how he his life should frame:
     A great reward provided is
          for them that keep the same.

12   Who can his errors understand?
          O cleanse thou me within
13   From secret faults. Thy servant keep
          from all presumptuous sin:

     And do not suffer them to have
          dominion over me:
     Then, righteous and innocent,
          I from much sin shall be.

14  The words which from my mouth proceed,
          the thoughts sent from my heart,
     Accept, O Lord, for thou my strength
          and my Redeemer art.

Psalm 91

This psalm was perhaps penned on the occasion of the pestilence, inflicted for numbering the people, 2 Sam. 24. In it, while the psalmist, by faith, takes God for his own refuge and keeper (ver. 2-9) he, for the encouragement of others to do the same, represents, (1.) The dignity, extent, and continuance, of their happiness and safety, who have God for their residence, ver. 1-4. (2.) Their preservation from all malice and baleful influence of the powers of darkness, while multitudes are ruined thereby, ver. 3-9. (3.) Their enjoyment of angels for their guard; and their triumph over devils and other opposers, ver. 10-12. (4.) Their possession of special favour from, and delightful intimacy with God, here and hereafter, ver. 13-16.

In singing these lines, let mine eyes be fixed on Jesus, the Man of God’s right hand, in whom all these promises were fulfilled to the highest; and, in his name, let me depend on them to be accomplished in myself. And let all the begun experience I have had thereof, encourage me to rejoice in hope of the more abundant mercies and glory of God.

1    He that doth in the secret place
          of the most High reside,
     Under the shade of him that is
          th' Almighty shall abide.

2    I of the Lord my God will say,
          He is my refuge still,
     He is my fortress, and my God,
          and in him trust I will.

3    Assuredly he shall thee save,
          and give deliverance
     From subtile fowler's snare, and from
          the noisome pestilence.

4    His feathers shall thee hide; thy trust
          under his wings shall be:
     His faithfulness shall be a shield
          and buckler unto thee.

5    Thou shalt not need to be afraid
          for terrors of the night;
     Nor for the arrow that doth fly
          by day, while it is light;

6    Nor for the pestilence, that walks
          in darkness secretly;
     Nor for destruction, that doth waste
          at noon-day openly.

7    A thousand at thy side shall fall,
          on thy right hand shall lie
     Ten thousand dead; yet unto thee
          it shall not once come nigh.

8    Only thou with thine eyes shalt look,
          and a beholder be;
     And thou therein the just reward
          of wicked men shalt see.

9    Because the Lord, who constantly
          my refuge is alone,
     Ev'n the most High, is made by thee
          thy habitation;

10   No plague shall near thy dwelling come;
          no ill shall thee befall:
11   For thee to keep in all thy ways
          his angels charge he shall.

12   They in their hands shall bear thee up,
          still waiting thee upon;
     Lest thou at any time should'st dash
          thy foot against a stone.

13   Upon the adder thou shalt tread,
          and on the lion strong;
     Thy feet on dragons trample shall,
          and on the lions young.

14   Because on me he set his love,
          I'll save and set him free;
     Because my great name he hath known,
          I will him set on high.

15   He'll call on me, I'll answer him;
          I will be with him still
     In trouble, to deliver him,
          and honour him I will.

16   With length of days unto his mind
          I will him satisfy;
     I also my salvation
          will cause his eyes to see.