Through God we shall do valiantly - Through thee alone shall we do valiantly; thou alone canst tread down our enemies; and to thee alone we look for conquest.
The author to whom Harmer refers in the note on the fourth verse, is one of the writers in a work entitled Gesta dei per Francos, fol. Hanoviae, 1611, 2 vols. And the places quoted by Harmer may be found in vol. i., p. 282; and as the passage is singular, and a good use has been made of it for the illustration of a difficult passage, I shall lay the words of the original before the reader: "Proxima ab hinc die sabbati clarescente, quidam Sarracenorum spe vitae in summitatem tecti domus praecelsae Solomonis ab armis elapsi, circiter trecenti, confugerant. Qui multa prece pro vita flagitantes, in mortis articulo positi, nullius fiducia aut promissione audebant descendere, quousque vexillum Tankradi in signum protectionis vivendi susceperunt. Sed minime misellis profuit. Nam plurimis super hoc indignantibus, et Christianis furore commotis, ne unus quidem illorum evasit."
It is very properly added by Albertus, that the noble spirit of Tancred was filled with indignation at this most horrible breach of faith; and he was about to take a summary revenge on the instigators and perpetrators of this unprincipled butchery, when the chiefs interposed, and not only maintained the expediency of the massacre that had already been committed, but the necessity of putting all the inhabitants to the sword. On this the savage fiends, called Christians, flew to arms, and made a universal slaughter of all that remained of the inhabitants. They drew out the prisoners, chopped off their heads, stabbed all they met with in the streets, and-but I can translate no farther; it is too horrible. I shall give my author's words, who was an ecclesiastic, and wrote down the account from eye-witnesses: "Concilio hoc accepto, (the determination of the chiefs to put all to the sword), tertio die post victoriam egressa est sententia a majoribus: et ecce universi arma rapiunt, et miserabili caede in omne vulgus Gentilium, quod adhuc erat residuum, exsurgunt, alios producentes e vinculis et decollantes: alios per vicos et plateas civitatis inventos trucidantes, quibus antea causa pecuniae, aut humana pietate pepercerunt. Puellas vero, mulieres, matronas nobiles, et faetas cum puellis tenellis detruncabant, aut lapidibus obruebant, in nullis aliquam considerantes aetatem. E contra, puellae, mulieres, matronae, metu momentaneae mortis angustiatae et horrore gravissimae necis concussae Christianos in jugulum utriusque sexus debacchantes ac saevientes, medios pro liberanda vita amplexabantur, quaedam pedibus eorum advolvebantur, de vita et salute sua illos nimium miserando fletu et ejulatu solicitantes. Pueri vero quinquennes aut triennes matrum patrumque crudelem casum intuentes, una miserum clamorem et fletum multiplicabant. Sed frustra haec pietatis et misericordiae signa fiebant: nam Christiani sic neci totum laxaverunt animum, ut non lugens masculus aut faemina, nedum infans unius anni vivens, manum percussoris evaderet. Unde plateae totius civitatis Jerusalem corporibus extinctis virorum et mulierum, lacerisque membris infantium, adeo stratae et opertae fuisse referuntur, ut non solum in vicis, soliis et palatiis, sed etiam in locis desertae solitudinis copia occisorum reperiretur innumerabilis.'GestA Dei Vol. I., p. 283.
This is one specimen of the spirit of the crusaders, and is it any wonder that God did not shine on such villanous measures! No wonder that the Mohammedans have so long hated the name of Christian, when they had no other specimen of Christianity than what the conduct of these ferocious brutes exhibited; and these were called Gesta Dei, the transactions of God!
There are many difficulties in this Psalm; whether they are in general removed by the preceding notes, the reader must judge. The following analysis is constructed on the supposition that the Psalm speaks of the distracted state of the kingdom from the fatal battle of Gilboa, in which Saul fell, to the death of Ishbosheth, when the whole kingdom was united under David.
Through God - By the help of God.
We shall do valiantly - literally, we shall make strength. That is, we shall gain or gather strength; we shall go forth with spirit and with courage to the war. This expresses the confident assurance that they would secure the aid of God, and that under him they would achieve the victory.
For he it is that shall tread down our enemies - He will himself tread or trample them down; that is, he will enable us to do it. The psalm, therefore, though begun in despondency and sadness, closes, as the Psalms often do, with confident hope; with the assurance of the favor of God; and with the firm belief that the object sought in the psalm would be obtained. The history shows that the prayer was answered; that the armies of David were successful; that Edom was subdued; and that thus the territories of the Hebrew people had, in fact, in the time of David, the boundaries promised to Abraham.
“Through God we shall do valiantly.” What an amount of good you can do by being loyal to God and to your brethren, by repressing every unkind thought, every feeling of envy or self-importance! Let your life be filled with the ministry of kindness to others. How soon you may be called to lay off the armor, you know not. Death may claim you suddenly, giving you no time to prepare for your last change, no physical strength or mental power to fix your thoughts on God and make your peace with Him. Some, erelong, will know by experience how vain is the help of man, how worthless is the self-important, self-sufficient righteousness which has satisfied them. 5T 487.1
I feel urged by the Spirit of the Lord to tell you that now is your day of privilege, of trust, of blessing. Will you improve it? Are you working for the glory of God, or for selfish interests? Are you keeping before your mind's eye brilliant prospects of worldly success, whereby you may obtain self-gratification and financial gain? If so, you will be most bitterly disappointed. But if you seek to live a pure and holy life, to learn daily in the school of Christ the lessons that He has invited you to learn, to be meek and lowly in heart, then you have a peace which no worldly circumstances can change. 5T 487.2
A life in Christ is a life of restfulness. Uneasiness, dissatisfaction, and restlessness reveal the absence of the Saviour. If Jesus is brought into the life, that life will be filled with good and noble works for the Master. You will forget to be self-serving, and will live closer and still closer to the dear Saviour; your character will become Christlike, and all around you will take knowledge that you have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Each one possesses in himself the source of his own happiness or wretchedness. If he will, he may rise above the low, sentimental feeling which makes up the experience of many; but so long as he is self-inflated, the Lord can do nothing for him. Satan will present ambitious projects to daze the senses, but we must ever keep before us “the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Crowd all the good works you possibly can into this life. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” 5T 487.3Read in context »