With context being so vitally important to our reading and understanding of the word of God we must consider this and then decide on which is correct. John Calvin says, to which I agree, “[In using the translation] since the time [it is] as if David had said, I rejoice when I see mine enemies prospering in the world. But the [other] translation appears to me much more suitable; according to which David declares, that he rejoices more in the favor of God alone, than earthly men rejoice when they enjoy all earthly good things, with the desire of which they are generally inflamed.” John Gill agrees with the implications but stands opposed to Calvin and says, “[This] shows of what an admirable spirit, and in what a sweet disposition of mind, the psalmist was; that while his enemies were seeking his life he was rejoicing in their prosperity.” Gill stands alone among my commentaries and I believe he got it wrong. So it is the context given by Calvin and agreed upon by my other commentaries that I will default to and thus the correct rendering is “in the time.”
“Thou hast given more joy to my heart than they have in the time when their corn and wine are increased.”
¨ By another comparison he better expresses and illustrates the strength of his affection, showing that, having obtained the good which he had longed for, he does not in the least degree envy the wealth and enjoyment of others, but is altogether contented with his own lot. The sum is, that he had more satisfaction in seeing the reconciled countenance of God beaming upon him, than if he has possessed garners full of corn, and cellars full of wine… This verse contains very profitable instruction. We see how earthly men, after they have despised the grace of God, and plunged themselves over head and ears in transitory pleasures, are so far from being satisfied with them, that the very abundance of them inflames their desires the more; and thus, in the midst of their fullness, a secret uneasiness renders their minds uncomfortable. Never, therefore, shall we obtain undisturbed peace and solid joy until the favor of God shine upon us.” JC
¨ “Whatsoever thou shalt do with me for the future, as to my outward distresses and concernments, I have at present unspeakable pleasure and full satisfaction in the impressions and testimonies of thy love in and to my soul; whereby also I am encouraged with confidence to expect good success to my righteous cause.” MP
¨ Christ in the heart is better than corn in the barn, or wine in the vat. Corn and wine are but fruits of the world, but the light of God’s countenance is the ripe fruit of heaven. “Thou art with me” is a far more blessed cry than “Harvest home.” Let my granary be empty, I am yet full of blessings if Jesus Christ smiles upon me; but if I have all the world, I am poor without Him.
¨ What madness and folly is it that the favorites of heaven should envy the men of the world, who at best do but feed upon the scraps that come from God’s table! Temporals are the bones; spirituals are the marrow. Is it below a man to envy the dogs, because of the bones? And is it not much more below a Christian to envy others for temporals, when [he] himself enjoys spirituals? Thomas Brooks
¨ The comforts which God reserves for His mourners are filling comforts. When God pours in the joys of heaven they fill the heart, and make it run over… Outward comforts can no more fill the heart than a triangle can fill a circle. Spiritual joys are satisfying. Worldly joys do put gladness into the face; but the Spirit of God puts gladness into the heart; divine joys are heart joys. Thomas Watson
¨ Perhaps it was the time of the feast of tabernacles. The harvest and the vintage were over. A rich harvest of corn and new wine was garnered. The followers of Absalom had, in these rich stores which were at their disposal, a powerful reserve upon which to fall back. David and his host were like a band of beggars or marauders. But the king brought down from the scepter to the beggar’s staff is nevertheless happier than they, the rebels against him. What he possesses in his heart is a richer treasure than all that they have in their barns and cellars. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ “Thou hast hereby often put gladness into my heart; not only supported and refreshed me, but filled me with joy unspeakable; therefore this is what I will still pursue, what I will seek after all the days of my life.” When God puts grace in the heart He puts gladness in the heart; nor is any joy comparable to that which gracious souls have in the communications of the divine favor, no, not the joy of harvest, or a plentiful harvest, when the corn and wine increase. This is gladness in the heart, inward, solid, substantial joy. MH
Oh how easy it is to get wrapped up in the concerns of this life! No one is immune to this dilemma, we have needs that must be met in order to survive and we have desires that we think must be met in order to survive. And apart from the actual needs we mire ourselves in the pursuit of worldly gain far too often and far too easily. Our hearts drift away from the Lord; our eyes stop staring into heaven and gain an unnatural focus on temporal “things.” Look around you, wherever you may be, and the easily recognizable reality of mankind is that people everywhere are trying to accumulate wealth and to accumulate toys for their pleasure. Calvin says, “[The world is] so bent upon, and addicted to, the pursuit of worldly prosperity, as to have no great care about God.” What a woeful reality this is! And not just in the midst of the heathens but in the midst of the Church! We get and get and get, nothing is ever enough! We always have to have more, and when we get it it has to be bigger and better than whatever we had before. All of it is a sinful distraction from the Lord. But oh how it fails us all! I am reminded here of a sermon I listened to by a friend of my family’s named Dr. Louis Hill. In it he is addressing the issue of worldliness and cites the ubiquitous bumper sticker that says “He who dies with the most toys wins,” to which he responds, “Yes, but he who dies with the most toys still dies!” There is no satisfaction found in the accumulation of things, nothing substantive at least. Whatever joy the world or the wayward Christian may have in such, it is sure that these will never be comparable to the joy we have in Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is expected from the world that they should spend their time and energy in making this life as lavish as possible though; after all, this is all they have. There is no hope for them; they are not sojourners merely passing through with the hope of everlasting life and eternity with God in heaven. This is their pinnacle; this is the epitome of their existence. But what a sad pitiful thing it is to see a Church consumed with selfishness and greed. We buy boats and expensive cars, we buy lavish homes and big TVs, we are season ticket holders at all kinds of sporting events, we take half a dozen vacations a year, and the list goes on and on and on. Meanwhile our churches are struggling to stay out of the red, people in our congregations are destitute, and our answer to all of them is that we have given and have no more to give. I spoke to a friend of mine recently who is a pastor and he was telling me that his church is fairly broke and the people of his church have no more to give. He himself exists on a relative pittance to the point that he may not have a running car in the near future. He was not complaining, in fact he seemed quite content with his life and the life of his church. But I use this as an example because his little congregation literally (in his own estimation) has given all that they can and it isn’t enough. But we have more churches than not that can give a whole lot more and won’t. How many churches can honestly say they are faithful as my friend’s dear church is? Dear friends, wealth is not given to the saints to be hoarded, it is given to the saints to bless others. Forget not the command given to us in 1 Tim. 6:17-19, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Do you, reader, believe you can say that you faithfully adhere to this biblical command, and that regardless of your level of riches; but, especially if you are blessed with wealth. Not many today can and it is likely not many ever have. We have loved our wealth more than our God and more than our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps on top of all of the rest of the sins associated with this topic we have also forgotten Christ’s words in Mr. 12:29-31, “[…] the first of all the commandments is, hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
As we have seen, the accumulation of wealth may provide material comfort but it does not bring true joy. That can only be found with a blessed heart such as David’s. That can only be found by focusing your life on God and being content with whatever He has made to be your lot. The presence of the Lord is worth more to the man of God than all of the wealth in this world. When temptation is knocking we must never forget, the gold they offer is but fool’s gold and the great kingdom of God contains the only true riches we should want; namely, to be in the presence of our God resting in the assurance that we will never be apart from Him again. Contentment in this life is not easy for all, and probably not for most, but seek it diligently and therein you will find your joy in the presence of the Lord.