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PSALM 54

To him that presides on Neginoth; an instructive Psalm of David, when the Zephims came and said to Saul, does not David hide himself with us?

  1. Save me, O god, by your name; and judge me by your strength.
  2. Hear my prayer, O god, and give ear to the words of my mouth.
  3. For strangers rise up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul; they have not set god before them. Selah.
  4. Behold god is my helper; the lord is amongst them that uphold my soul.
  5. He shall repay evil to mine enemies; cut them off in your truth.
  6. I will willingly sacrifice to you; I will praise your name, O jehovah, for it is good.
  7. For he has delivered me out of all trouble, and mine eye has beheld mine enemies.

The Internal Sense

A prayer to the father that he would assist against those who wish to destroy him, verses 1 to 3; that he will assist, and that they will perish, verses 4, 5; a thanksgiving for assistance, verses 6, 7.

Exposition

Verse 3. For strangers rise up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul. Strangers here denote evils and the falses of evil; oppressors denote the same offering violence to goods and truths: they who look at the sense of the letter of the Word alone, understand nothing else by strangers but those who are out of the church, and that they rose up against David, nevertheless there does not any thing of person enter into the heavens, but the things which are signified see AC 8343, 8985, 9007, thus not strangers, but, instead of them, strange things, which are things alienated from the church, thus evils and the falses of evils, which destroy the church; by David also, against whom they arose, is perceived the lord, see AC 1888, 9954. AC 10287.

Verse 6. I will willingly sacrifice to you. It is an acknowledged truth collected from the Word of the lord, that worship, proceeding from a free principle is true and acceptable worship, and that the lord is well pleased with whatever is spontaneous or voluntary, wherefore it is said in the Psalms, "I will willingly sacrifice to you," 54:6; and in another place, "The voluntary of the people are gathered together, the people of the god of Abraham," 47:9. Hence amongst the children of Israel spontaneous or free-will sacrifices were instituted, and their sacred worship consisted principally in sacrifices. AR 495.

All liberty is of love, for what a man loves, this he does freely; hence also all liberty is of the will, for what a man loves, this he also wills; and for as much as love and the will constitute the life of man, so also does liberty. From these considerations, it may appear what liberty is, namely, that it is that which is of the love and the will, and thence of the life of man: hence it is that what a man does from liberty, appears to him as if he did it from his own proprium. To do evil from liberty appears as if it were liberty, but it is slavery, because that liberty is from the love of self, and from the love of the world, and these loves are from hell: such liberty is actually turned into slavery after death, for the man, who has been in such liberty, then becomes a vile slave in hell. But to do good from liberty is liberty itself, because it proceeds from love to the lord, and from love towards our neighbour, and these loves are from heaven; this liberty also remains after death, and then becomes liberty indeed, for the man who has been in such liberty, becomes in heaven, like a son in the house of his father: this the lord thus teaches, "Every one that does sin is the servant of sin; the servant abides not in the house for ever: the son abides for ever; if the Son shall have made you free, you shall be truly free," John 8:34, 35, 36. Now for as much as all good is from the lord, and all evil from hell, it follows, that liberty consists in being led by the lord, and slavery in being led by hell. That man has the liberty of thinking what is evil and false, and also of doing it, so far as the laws do not withhold him, is in order that he may be capable of being reformed: for goods and truths are to be implanted in his love and will, so that they may become of his life, and this cannot be done unless he have the liberty of thinking what is evil and false as well as what is good and true: this liberty is given to every man by the lord, and so far as he does not love evil and the false, so far, when he thinks what is good and true, the lord implants them in his love and will, consequently in his life, and thus reforms him. What is inseminated in liberty, this also remains, but what is inseminated in a state of compulsion, this does not remain, because what is from compulsion is not from the will of the man, but from the will of him who compels. Hence also it is, that worship from liberty is pleasing to the lord, but not worship from compulsion; for worship from liberty is worship from love, but worship from compulsion is not so. The liberty of doing good, and the liberty of doing evil, though they appear alike in the external form, are as different and distant from each other as heaven and hell are: the liberty of doing good also is from heaven, and is called heavenly liberty, but the liberty of doing evil is from hell, and is called infernal liberty: so far likewise as man is in the one, so far he is not in the other, for no man can serve two lords, Matthew 6:24; which also appears from here, that they who are in infernal liberty believe that it is slavery and compulsion not to be allowed to will evil and think what is false at their pleasure, whereas they who are in heavenly liberty abhor willing evil and thinking what is false, and would be tormented if they were compelled to do so. For as much as acting from liberty appears to man like acting from his own proprium, therefore heavenly liberty may also be called the heavenly proprium, and infernal liberty may be called the infernal proprium: the infernal proprium is that into which man is born, and this is evil; but the heavenly proprium is that into which man is reformed, and this is good. Hence it may appear what Free-will is; namely that it consists in doing good from choice or will, and that they are in that freedom who are led by the lord; and they are led by the lord who love good and truth for the sake of good and truth. Man may know what is the quality of the liberty in which he is, from the delight which he feels when he thinks, speaks, acts, hears, and sees; for all delight is of love. N. J. H. 141147.

That liberty originates from the equilibrium between heaven and hell, and that man, without liberty, cannot be reformed, is shown in the Treatise on Heaven and Hell; in the articles concerning that equilibrium, HH 589 to 596, and concerning liberty, HH 597 to the end: but for the sake of instruction respecting what, liberty is, and to show that man is reformed by means of it, I will here adduce the following extract from, that Treatise: "It has been shown that the equilibrium between heaven and hell is an equilibrium between the good that is from heaven and the evil that is from hell, thus that it is a spiritual equilibrium, which in its essence is liberty. The reason that spiritual equilibrium in its essence is liberty, is because it is an equilibrium between good and evil, and between truth and the false, and these are spiritual; wherefore the power of willing good or evil, or of thinking what is true or what is false, and of choosing one in preference to the other, is liberty. This liberty is given to every man by the lord, nor is it ever taken away; in its origin indeed it is not of man but of the lord, because it is from the lord, but still it is given to man together with life as his own, in order that man may be capable of being reformed and saved, for without liberty there is no reformation and salvation. Every one may see from any rational contemplation, that man is at liberty to think either well or ill, sincerely or insincerely, justly or unjustly; and also that he may speak and act well, sincerely and justly, but not ill, insincerely and unjustly, on account of moral and civil laws, by which his external is kept in bonds: hence it is plain, that the spirit of man, which is what thinks and wills, is in liberty, but not man's external, which speaks and acts, unless it speak and act according to the above-named laws. That man cannot be reformed, unless he be in liberty, is because he is born into evils of every kind, which must nevertheless be removed, in order that he may be saved; and they cannot be removed unless he sees them in himself, and acknowledges them, and afterwards ceases to will them, and at length is averse to them; then are they first removed; and this cannot be done, unless man be in good as well as in evil, for he can see evils from good, but cannot see goods from evil: the spiritual goods, which man may think he learns from infancy, from the reading of the Word, and from preaching; and he learns civil and moral goods from his life in the world; this is the first reason why man ought to be in liberty. Another reason is because nothing is appropriated to man, except what is done from an affection which is of the love; other things may indeed enter, but no further than into the thought, and not into the will, and what does not also enter into the will of man does not become his, for the thought derives what belongs to it from the memory, but the will from the life itself; nothing ever partakes of liberty, which does not proceed from an affection which is of the love, for whatever a man wills or loves, this he does freely; hence it is that the liberty of man, and the affection which is of his love or will, are one: man therefore is endowed with liberty, that he may be capable of being affected with truth and good, or of loving them, whereby they may become as his own. In a word, whatever does not enter in with man in liberty, does not remain, because it is not of his love or will, and the things which are not of man's love or will, are not of his spirit; for the esse of man's spirit is love or will. In order that man may be in liberty, to the end that he may be reformed, he is conjoined as to his spirit with heaven and with hell, for there are with every man spirits from hell and angels from heaven; by means of the spirits from hell man is in his own evil, and by means of the angels from heaven he is in good from the lord; thus he is in spiritual equilibrium, that is. in liberty."

The Translator's Notes and Observations

Verse 7. Mine eye has beheld mine enemies. To look upon enemies manifestly implies that the intellectual mind is exalted to a state of spiritual light, capable of noting them, and thus of putting them to flight.

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