Asherite Psalms 1

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Psa. 1.
The name of the Book of Psalms is Tehillim in Hebrew, which means praise. The great secret of wisdom is to know how to put things as God puts them. If we read the Psalms aright we should find them all praise, hallel. That which viewed in one aspect might be as a firebrand to the conscience, in another would be blessed light shining in the darkness of the soul. Many of the Psalms begin with this word "blessed." It may be said of many of them as of the Beatitudes in Matt. 5, that if used as tests to probe the soul there would be anguish; but if we see that they express what Christ is there will be all praise. Thus, " Blessed are the merciful." If I see Jesus in this, I see just what I need as a poor ruined prodigal.
It is well to remark that these Psalms beginning " blessed " the Jews call Asherite Psalms. Asher was the name of one of Jacob's sons. The mother, delighted with her child, called him Asher-" Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed." These Psalms are addressed to three distinct characters of persons, and turn upon three different pivots. First, Psa. 1 is the blessing of some one who has perfectly done God's will: there is no allowance made for any evil-all Christ. Secondly, Psa. 32 is the blessing of the poor sinner who has not a shred of righteousness of his own, but is grafted into Christ. Thirdly, Psa. 41 one whose sins have been pardoned, walking in the ways of Christ, into whom he is grafted. They are either Christ as He was down here; Christ as He is; or Christ as He will be hereafter.
It is easy to see how entirely distinct are the three grounds just named. In the first it is one who can claim a right to His reward; but who can say it? (None of us, doubtless, would take such ground; but still there may be the thought of getting better.) But in Psa. 1 it is Christ, not what He says of Himself, but what God says of Him. Here is the delight of God in that Perfect One, that God-Man who never did anything amiss, so that He has given all things into His hands, and set Him upon the throne.
Though we may not be in the danger of taking the ground of this first blessing, I do think there is danger of the saints confounding the second and third species of blessedness; i.e. the blessedness of the poor prodigal utterly lost, and freely saved by Christ, with that of Him who has the joy of the Spirit in the sense of obedience. It is needful to have the foot firmly grounded on the Rock, Christ-free grace being the ground on which we are saved. Then there will be the going on to walk in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Saints begin in free grace, and then they try (and ought to try) to walk; but they are apt to forget that it is still the Rock on which the foot is planted. It is common in the Psalms to see a righteous one and an unrighteous one-this wicked one is always Satan, or antichrist. Again, in other Psalms there is one righteous one contrasted with many wicked. In this first Psalm it is this. Here we have the God-Man tried in the circumstances of men. It is not like the praise of Christ, now that He has sat down on high as He is presented to us in Ephesians It is true that God does now give Christ the praise that is due to Him as the perfect Man; but He has higher glory than this now, He was not only put into the furnace and tried here in the place of the wicked, He was truly put into the furnace, and no evil could be found in Him. He saw the path of the wicked, and the seat of the scornful, and still He remained the perfect pilgrim and stranger, " separate from sinners;" but God had thoughts higher than these, when He pointed out to His Son from His eternal throne, that if He would take the cup of wrath, receiving thus the penalty of sin, He would highly exalt Him, and give Him a name above every name. Here was all the largeness of the Divine counsels as to Christ as Man. Jesus is seen in a narrow field, bounded off as it were; God points to what His Son was here. I do not think that the sinner finds true rest of heart, unless he sees what sort of person Christ was down here. God did not at first present His Son in. all His exaltation, but showed Him as He walked on earth, saying, as it were, " Read my character by what you find in Him. Just as He is upon earth you may suppose me to be as God." I suppose the very spring of our first comfortable thought about God is the being brought to see God's thoughts about Christ. When wearied with all that is in self, has it not been brought vividly before the mind that God delights in Christ, having found in Him all that He can admire?
There are two things connected with this; first, God has found one in whom He can fully rest. Secondly, He is so occupied with Christ that I can draw near as accepted in the Beloved. I am sure that our near approach to God is inseparable from God's delight in Christ. God is occupied with this perfect One, and I know it. This measuring of what Christ is to God is very different from being occupied about that of which I am the center; and it is the only ground of stable peace.
Verse 1. There is no provision made in this first Psalm for the slightest failure. It must present Christ. Of course it gives our moral characteristics if we are saints; but none could take such ground for a moment but Christ. Could Paul, could Peter, have taken up this language? No It is the character of the way in which we try to walk; but no saint can say, Here is that which abstractedly marks me. What was that which characterized Paul? That he had been a blasphemer, but had obtained mercy. How careful he ever was to take this ground; but God came in in spite of it all. This first verse tells our hearts that we are blessed, not on the ground of what we are, but altogether on the ground of what He is. We have the threefold character of man's evil here; first, without God as the poor Gentiles; secondly, in sinnership, every man wandering in his own way as the Jews and apostate Christendom; and thirdly, the heading of evil in one man, antichrist-the seat of the scornful.
Verse 2. This enters more deeply into what the blessed Lord Jesus was. I believe there is a deep mine of comfort suited to meet our need down here, in thus looking at the Lord Jesus as man. Christ looks up to God and says, " I love thee, and I love what is dear to thee." Look at the Lord Jesus as loving His neighbors-the poor Jews, or more generally man-the Gentiles, &c., or the Church as Elder Brother, Firstborn from the dead. Thus it is that He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. We have His sympathy as one who has been a man down here. Let me ask you, Do you know what it is to be in Christ's presence, and to find His heart burdened? The Jews, the Gentiles, the brethren, are all dear to Christ's heart. I am as sure of this as that He is in the heavens; and I cannot say otherwise to God, than that the One at Thy right hand loves thee, and the things that thou lovest.
This is not merely a fact, but it is that which we should. do well to lay to heart. Has not Christ's heart been occupied about you during the past night, and up to when? Ah! He begins where He was found, with His Father. Dark man turns to darkness, and thinks of Christ as beginning with our darkness; but it is not so with Christ. He begins with God's thoughts above, we always begin from the evil, but Christ always begins from the good. His brethren are God's. He loves His own, because God loves them. How should He but love them? The very place which Christ holds is inseparably connected with God's love to some one else. If He is the Firstborn, it is among many brethren. Could any of us have held such a place? Our stress would have been upon the firstborn, " I am the Firstborn." Not so with Christ. If He is the Firstborn, it is to bring His brethren to God. What would all the pre-eminence be to Christ if it separated from God? Eve, in order to gain the pre-eminence, risked the loss of God; but Christ being from the Father, was ever associated with the Father. When seen pre-eminent in glory, it will be in full communion with God. The delight of Christ is to bring all the fullness of God's character to bear upon every little crevice in our hearts. What is that which is most precious to Christ? That through Him God could make Himself known to the many sons-all the fullness of His heart, the riches of His grace. How comforting, too, is this love of Christ's heart with reference to the poor Jews, who are becoming more and more the subjects of interest in all that is taking place on earth.
What was the origin of the present war? The Holy Land. Satan has a spite against the spot where Christ's glory as King is to be displayed, and so he has used it as a firebrand to the whole earth. But in Christ's heart there is a warm spot of love for His nation. The philosophers of this world, such as Voltaire, could only read in the history of the Jews that which degraded the character of God; but they knew not what was in Christ's heart as to His people. So also as to the Gentiles; if I look at them, and consider their sorrow, is there nothing in it which moves Christ's heart? Loving God, He loves all these-Gentiles, Jews, the Church, and more than Himself. For them He gave up all, and every thought connected with them in the heart of God is linked with Christ. Every trait in the divine character, everything which was morally glorious in God, shone out in Christ, as seen in this Psalm; light in the midst of darkness. The Son of Man gave the complete vindication of the character of God, and thus He fully merited this title of "Blessed."
Verse 3. He could not be alone in this glory. "He bringeth forth His fruit in His season." " I am the true vine, ye are the branches." Here is the full thought even with regard to God's earthly purposes. There is nothing before God but one single Being as the root and channel of all blessing. Observe, that the provision here made for us (and it is always so when mercy comes in) is on the ground of that which is in us not being what God can like. The peculiarity of the blessing connected with this root is that there is culture and success. Unlike Luke 14 we were looking at lately, where all the culture ended only in failure and disappointment.
" Success!" All things work together for good. Is this truth fresh in your hearts with respect to God's dealing with you now? Each of us has some peculiar trial, some thorn in the flesh, some pebble in the shoe; the gashes made by it may be rankling and festering, but you cannot, any of you, say it will end in disappointment. All things work together for good. In the light of the glory you cannot call this otherwise than good. The present distress may work out much evil, much of the world which was in our hearts; but so standing before Christ it will surely be found among the all things.
I may not deal with it, as in Luke 14, attempting to set things to rights around me, but rather as the poor prodigal in chap. 15; and then in the taste of grace we shall find every little hollow, every pool in the valley, filled with water, because we shall see how God has a purpose of blessing in it all.
Verses 4, 5. Though there be now a calm, the storm is at hand. What will it be when God arises, and, as Righteous and Holy, sweeps all before Him? We cannot dwell upon the misery and anguish of those who are outside Christ. When the hurricane arises, when God rises up and says, " Now I am come to reckon with you "blessed for those who are sheltered in Christ.
Verse 6. Our blessing is, that we have in Christ one who has communicable blessing for others, even for us. This Book of Praises has the best beginning. It begins with Christ, who is emphatically the Blessed One. As we near heaven, drawing towards the edge of the wilderness, the comparative value of Christ to God increases in our thoughts. When I first set out on the journey, the two thoughts uppermost in my mind were, that I as a poor sinner, who was so far off, had found salvation; and that I could go through the wilderness singing of mercy, for I had God to carry me through. Little indeed did I think what sort of a pilgrim I should make. But now in approaching Jordan I find it is more the thought of what Christ is-what He will be in the glory, what God's satisfaction and delight in Him is, takes the place in the heart. Were we more occupied with God's thoughts, and God's delight in Christ, we should have more strength for our pilgrimage; and very sure do I feel, that were any of us now present to be conscious that we should be called hence, say in an hour or two, the only thing which would give light to our souls would be the apprehension of what Christ is before God, and His delight in Him. I know not one thing more to be desired for the enlargement and refreshment of our souls than to have the sunshine of God's delight in Christ shining into our souls as we go onward through present darkness.