Book 4, Psalms 90-106

Psalm 90‑106  •  1.3 hr. read  •  grade level: 13
Psalm 90
A PRAYER of Moses the man of God; being the only Psalm for which this authorship is claimed. It is a strain well worthy of a man who stood in the secret of Jehovah;1 whose singular and happy distinction it was to listen, in the nearness of the Divine presence, to the revelation of the ways of God, as a man hearkens to the counsels of his own familiar friend.2
It is an intercessory address of the Spirit to the Eternal God, whose counsels of mercy had contained from everlasting the people of His choice. A full discernment of elective grace is the basis of this wonderful supplication, which, while it has for its definite aim the lasting establishment of Israel's peace, presents as its two characterizing topics, the glory and omnipotence of the only God, and the intrinsic vanity and helplessness of man.
To the Christian who knows the grace of God in truth,3 and who, therefore, can rejoice in the knowledge of his election of God in love,4 this Psalm addresses itself with a peculiar power and blessing.
Stablished in Christ as the sure and everlasting habitation of his rest, he can ponder the contrasted verities of human vanity and Divine glory with an ever-growing intelligence, and more abundant enjoyment, of that boundless mercy which has changed for him the dim anguish of a ruined conscience into the marvelous light of the Lord his righteousness. The true subject, however, of this prayer is Israel; who are contemplated by the Spirit of prophecy as still under the covenant of bondage, but awaiting, with earnest expectation, the advent of the day of their redemption. Hence it enters deeply into the moral history and experience of the nation as under law. But although Israel and their vicissitudes form the immediate subject of the Psalm, the ground and moving necessity of this prayer of the man of God is the experienced vanity of man, as such. The story of human life is closed up in the dark mists of ever-present and resistless death. The power of God is evinced in judgment, not in grace.5 The light of His countenance is set full upon His mortal image only to discover, in its holy brightness, the secret realities of sin (verses 5-10).
The law had wrought wrath.6 They knew what it was to suffer affliction at Jehovah's hands, according to the tenor of the covenant under which ostensibly the nation stood. But wrath was not the end of Jacob's God. He had chosen Israel to be the people of His heritage; and His gifts and calling are without repentance. Faith always finds its rest in the known character of God.
The man of God, whose judgment of present things is according to the Spirit's testimony in the word, looks evermore towards His end in hope. It is the importunity of this faith which finds expression in the expostulatory appeal at verse 13. Jehovah had long known His people afar off because of their iniquities, against which the law of His holiness pleaded as a relentless witness of condemnation. But the heart of the man of God is athirst for the mercy (verse 14) which he knew well to be the sole remedy of human wretchedness, and which stood pledged eventually to the seed of Jacob in the sure covenant of promise. The work of God (verse 16) is the desired object of expectant faith. He would make His people glad according to the long and evil days of their affliction, but with a more abundant joy. When He turned again to bless them it should be for ever.7
The revelation of Jesus in glory will be the answer to the nation of this prophetic intercession. Isa. 63 and 64 may be studied profitably in connection with the latter verses of this Psalm, which they illustrate in a striking manner. They had rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit, and He, had therefore turned to be their enemy. Yet had He earnestly remembered them still, in the unchanged purpose of His love; and the expression of true spiritual desire is always according to the secret intent of Divine goodness. While therefore, for a season, drooping mournfully beneath the dull burden of the spirit of heaviness, because of present affliction, the heart of faith arrays itself, by hopeful anticipation, in the fair garment of salvation. Grace with glory—its necessary and abiding crown—must needs be the desire of the man whose prayer was in the Holy Ghost, and therefore according to the mind of God (verses 15-17).
The closing verses, as indeed the whole Psalm, are of strongest national import. But the soul that is advancing in the knowledge of the only wise God will find, in the sublime language of this Psalm, rich matter of fruitful meditation on some of the deepest topics of Divine knowledge.
Psalm 91
A PSALM of exquisite beauty, setting forth the blessedness of the true lover of God (14). Its proper subject is Jesus in the days of His flesh. The devil quotes it thus, when endeavoring, by means of the truth of God, to ensnare the feet of the Holy One, and to divert Him from the pure path of obedience.8 Of Jesus alone could the language of the opening verse be characteristically and descriptively used in its primary sense. "He that dwelleth," etc. He dwelt there from eternity as the only-begotten of the Father, when in co-equal glory He abode in the brightness of undiscovered light. The same “secret" was His place of habitation when, self-humbled and self-emptied, He looked from the low place of His earthly sojourn upwards as a worshipper of the Most High God. Under the shadow of the Almighty He had His lodging9 when, less sure of earthly refuge than the beasts that perish,10 He entered for our sakes upon that course of suffering obedience which should merit the full and eternal acceptance of the Father, whose good pleasure He had come to do.11
To the believer, who is now brought nigh through the blood of Jesus and in Him,12 the rich blessings of Divine promise with which this Psalm abounds are laid most freely open. Union with the ascended Savior makes the Christian capable of entering, according to the measure of his faith, into the proper enjoyment of the love of the Father to the Son. Because we are accepted in the beloved, the position of Jesus in the world becomes the pattern of that in which the Christian is now placed. The Son of God was sanctified of the Father, and sent into the world to work His work. In like manner is the disciple of Jesus sent into the world, as into a strange place, according to the power of that unction from the Holy One which gives to the believing soul a knowledge of God's perfect love, and grounds him in all acceptable blessedness in the Father's sight, according to the full title of filial acceptance.13 It is in the spirit of subject and devoted obedience in love14 that the children are exhorted now to glorify the Father. Every promise, which in the days of His flesh sustained and cheered the weary spirit of the Son of God, applies itself, with more or less directness and effect, to that believer who, with a true appreciation of the heavenly calling, finds himself indeed a stranger in the present evil world. The more simple his faith, the more abundant will be his enjoyment, and the more ready and distinct his appropriation of such a Psalm as this.
Its general language appears to bear prophetically upon the promise of earthly Messianic blessing. Christ in the flesh being its subject, His exaltation as the anointed Priest and King of the Most High God is promised (verse 16), as the result of His devotedness in self-humbled obedience. There is thus room for a moral identification of Israel with Him who Himself bare that name15 as the chosen Seed of promise—the true Heir of blessing—and consequently the natural object of all the hatred of the enemy. The promises of this Psalm seem thus to have a prospective application to Israel, when the nation shall at length find its lasting rest under the shadow of the mighty Rock of their salvation, and shall deride in safety the anger of the enemy from beneath the covert of Jehovah's wings. That shelter which had been forsaken and despised, when with blinded hearts they chose a lie before the living Truth, will then be known and enjoyed by those who, in the recognition of Jehovah-Jesus as the God of their deliverance, shall lie down in quiet resting-places, none making them afraid.
The more obvious and important bearing of this precious Psalm, however, is upon the Christian now, as a companion of the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. The principle illustrated is most simple. God, being loved and trusted, appears on behalf of His own.16 The creature, which arrays itself against the sufferer, obeys the will of the Almighty Lover of his soul. All thus turns to confidence and security. God is not tempted of evil. The soul, therefore, that dwells in His secret is safe. No plague can reach that dwelling. With verse 11 Compare Heb. 1:1414Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:14). For the practical application of verse 13, see Eph. 6:1010Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Ephesians 6:10), etc.
Psalm 92
IT is hardly necessary to point out to the Christian reader the rich and full spiritual application of this Psalm to those who, being now saved by hope, are awaiting in their day of patience the advent of the promised rest.18
In its prophetic character, it possesses a solemn and peculiar interest, and is worthy of careful attention. It is plain that in its full expression there is here contemplated by the Spirit a class of worshippers, who not only have their hearts established with grace, but who also taste abundantly of temporal prosperity, as the effect and accompaniment of-the favor of Jehovah. Such has never been the calling of the Church of God.19 But it will be thus with Israel, when the un-repented promises of God shall have received their fulfillment in the latter day.
We have then in the present Psalm a rich strain of prophetic anticipation, expressive of Israel's sabbatic20 joy, in the day when, in the knowledge of the name and finished work of Jesus, the restored nation shall have received the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.
Gladness and triumph will fill the hearts and lips of that richly favored seed of blessing whose song is of the work of God.21
Two names are distinctly celebrated in this song. First, that of Jehovah, who is extolled as the faithful fulfiller in gracious power of His own eternal thoughts of peace towards His people,—the God of Israel's covenant—as He will then be known through the removal of the veil of darkness from the nation's heart;22 and secondly, the Most High is glorified as the possessor of heaven and of earth. The earth will then be filled with His praise as the manifested and undisputed holder and governor of the nations. The voice of the regenerate people, whose praises He will again inhabit, will in that day of joy be echoed in pure worship by the kings and peoples of the Gentiles,23 who will learn the language of acceptable homage from the purged lips of Israel, who are ordained to be Jehovah's ministers and priests.24
It is the Sabbath of millennial promise that is here prophetically anticipated. Jehovah will then have brought to its close the mystery of His long-protracted patience of human evil. The depth of His counsel will be made apparent in that day, through the marvelous accomplishment of His mighty works (verse 5). Rom. 11:2525For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25) ad fin. should be studied, for the general elucidation of the Psalm in its prophetic bearing.
The cutting down of the self-planted tree of iniquity, and the restoration, in the fullness of gracious power, of the long-despised branch of promise, is the work in which Jehovah will rest in that day. He will rest in the fulfillment of His love toward the once afflicted nation of His choice,25 when He shall have poured finally the indignation of His jealousy upon the apostate professors of His name. Meanwhile, the brutish man knoweth not.26 The self-confident boasting of godless profession27 draws, for the unbelieving heart of nature, a veil of darkness over the clearest testimonies of the Spirit of God. The mystery of iniquity already works. It will be upon the crown of human pride, the matured flower of natural presumption (verse 7), that the stroke of destruction will suddenly descend.
Verses 9-11 describe, first, the judgment of the enemies of the Lord generally; secondly, the exaltation of Messiah's horn, which involves as its immediate effect the consummation of Israel's national prosperity; and thirdly, the retributive vengeance ordained against the oppressors who had trodden under foot the city and land of Immanuel in the pride of their unrighteous rule.
Verses 12 ad fin are beautifully descriptive of Israel's millennial blessing when, founded upon the sure foundation, they shall be "satisfied with favor and full of the blessing of the Lord."28 It is plainly an earthly scene that is here described. Old age (verse 14), whether of nations or of individuals, has no place in heaven. Verse 15 is very important. It connects the name of Jehovah with the national promises of millennial blessing for the vindication in their fulfillment of His name and character as the righteous God. "To declare that Jehovah is upright," etc.29 The ultimate fullness of national happiness is secured in the fidelity of the unchangeable God. The promises which, having been fulfilled in Christ,30 are kept hidden in Him until the veil is taken from the heart of Jacob, will bear their full harvest of appointed blessing, when Israel, in the knowledge of Him whom their fathers had rejected, shall again blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.31
Psalm 93
A STRAIN full of sublimity and power, short as it is. Its subject is the majesty of the reigning Christ. Once crucified in weakness, He lives by the power of God,32 and will presently33 reign in Nis own apparent glory as the God of the whole earth. He will come forth girded with power to exercise the authority of universal dominion.
The supremacy of Jehovah is here celebrated as the result of the decisive settlement of the long disputed question, “Who is the Lord?" From of old it had been testified that power belonged to Him. But truth had fallen in the street, and the claims of His holiness had been disowned in the mad ravings of those who foamed out their own shame, while asserting their natural rights as men.34
But now the reign of God is come. The brightness of His appearing has dispelled the foul mists of wickedness, and stilled the impotent raging of the ungodly nations; confirming thus (verse 5) the sure testimonies of the Spirit of truth, to which the faint and wearied souls of His afflicted people had stuck during the long night of darkness and rebuke.35
They discover (verse 2) in the revelation of Messiah, the One whose throne had been established of old,36 whose goings forth had been from everlasting. The living God and an everlasting King.37 His coming, long deferred, had been the sustaining promise of His people's hope. And now He is come; and being come, He restores, in the fullness of His righteous power, the broken and disorganized foundations. The earth, which He had first swept clean from its pollutions with the besom of destruction, with which He had destroyed the corrupter and his work, is now set fast, to be no more shaken terribly at His arising.38
The Psalm concludes (verse 5) with a solemn attestation of the work and glory of Jehovah, as the Holy One, on the part of those who, having learned the secret of their sure salvation as of Him, rejoice with trembling in that marvelous light. This is the proper language even now of Christian faith. The believer, being of the household of the Son, enters by the Spirit into the fellowship of that glory which is ready to be revealed. In the meanwhile, the doctrine of filial liberty is to be exemplified in all holy conversation and godliness. For He is holy, who is His people's trust and present portion, and their desired glory in that coming day.
Psalm 94
THIS very remarkable Psalm appears to describe the moral condition and hopes of the faithful remnant of Israel in the latter day, when, in the midst of the ripe ungodliness and utter recklessness of the nation at large, the Spirit of Christ impels them to this urgent and solemn appeal to Jehovah, the God of revenges to shine forth.
It is not in its general expression, as in some other Psalms, a pleading of Jewish faith and patience against Gentile iniquity and oppression. The throne of iniquity is indeed mentioned (verse 20) as a thing set up. But the unrighteousness appealed from has its seat among the nominal people of Jehovah. What is here expressed is rather the cry of those whose departure from evil has made them a prey to their ungodly brethren. They call upon the righteous God to appear as the Judge of all the earth—to judge wickedness, as such—to cut down the rod of pride, which, having budded in its strength, was then affording the shelter of falsehood to everything but that which clave still to the name and promises of Jehovah, who is unchangeably the God of Israel, the Savior.
Two distinct points are thus included in the subject of this Psalm. First, there is the prevalence of human wickedness in general. Under the guidance of the wicked one himself, they seek to establish his throne upon the broken ruins of Divine testimony, digging thus unconsciously the pit of their own destruction (verses 13, 20). Secondly, and principally, there is presented the special case of Jewish apostasy, as it will be found in confederacy with Gentile wickedness, when the deceivableness of unrighteousness shall have subjected the bulk of the unbelieving nation to the dominion of the beast, as the willing worshippers of a lie.39 Chapters 65 and 66 of Isaiah throw much light upon this Psalm. The workers of iniquity, who boast themselves of an evil work, and who utter hard speeches against the true people40 and inheritance of Jehovah, are not ignorant of the name and witness of the God of Jacob (verses 3-7).41
Verses 8-11 Contain a striking apostrophe, applicable to the deluded votaries of idolatrous worship under any circumstances, but directed especially, I believe, to those apostate worshippers of the beast and his image42 who naturally are of Abraham's seed:43 Israel had known.44 If they swerved, it was from truth which their fathers had confessed. Hence the peculiar force of the appeal in verse 10, "He that chastiseth the heathen," etc. Pharaoh and the hosts of Egypt—the nations whom Jehovah had thrust out for their sakes—the catastrophe of Sennacherib—the discomfited armies of the aliens, so often turned to flight through the prayer of faith—all these national memories of Divine deliverance would remain indelibly graven on the people's mind, to give increased pungency to such an appeal.
If they were ignorant of these things, it was because they had willingly dismissed them from their hearts. The language of these verses seems to suggest the inference that the time of this Psalm's fulfillment may fall in with the era of the two witnesses, who prophesy unharmed until their appointed service be accomplished in the midst of Jerusalem, albeit the power of the beast be then acknowledged in that place.45
Verses 12-15 describe the blessedness of the man who, humbling himself under the mighty hand of God, and accepting the appointed rod of chastening, finds in it a pledge of Divine faithfulness for the sure fulfillment in His time of the un-repented promise. "For Jehovah will not cast off His people," etc. This is the language of suffering faith at all times. It will be especially characteristic of those who, in the solemn and immediate expectation of the God of judgment, will seek to establish their hearts in the sure testimonies of the Spirit of prophecy.46
Verses 16-19 are full of sweetest power and significance to the tried believer at all times. They savor richly of Christ to one who has already tasted that the Lord is gracious. In their proper interpretation, however, these verses harmonize entirely with the general subject of the Psalm.
They express, that is, the trials and the confidence of Jewish rather than of Christian faith. The distressful yet not despairing inquiry of verse 16 will be met by the advent in power of Messiah. As it is elsewhere written: “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince, which standeth for the children of thy people,"47 etc. The comfortable words of promise,48 which have nourished and sustained the long-deferred hope of the faithful remnant, will be verified in gracious power in the day of His appearing.
Verses 20-23 place the throne of Antichrist in contrast with the name of Jehovah, whose name is the defense49 of His prisoners of hope. The willful king had thought to change times and laws—to establish the ordinances of unrighteousness, and to make his mark the sole sanction of life and liberty in the very land of Immanuel. But he will come to his end—he and his deluded myriads—at the arising of Jehovah. Their own iniquity, recoiling with the weight of eternal judgment upon the heads of the evildoers, must sink them low and forever into the appointed place of their perdition. The gathering of the nations will be by the imperious counsel of self-confident strength. But their proud array will be as a dead ripe sheaf in the presence of devouring flame, when the Lord looks forth on them in anger from the place which He has hallowed by His name. The purpose of the adversary is to obliterate the very memory of Jerusalem, that the earth and its fullness may be the undisputed possession of the king of pride, whose desire of dominion enlarges itself above the stars of heaven.50 But the wrath of man will redound to the praise of Him who has set the throne of His judgment, as the Just Ruler of the world, in the place which He has chosen for 'Ms name, the city of the great King.51
Psalm 95
A CALL of the Spirit of Christ, addressed to Israel as the redeemed people of Jehovah, to celebrate in joyful thanksgiving the kingdom (now come) for which they had so long waited in hope. Praise had been silent in Zion while the power of ungodliness had held prevailing sway. But now, in the apparent manifestation of the Great King (verse 3), the Stone of Israel is discovered, and owned as the gathering point of proper national worship.
The greatness of Jehovah is the subject of this Psalm. They will wisely sing it who will have felt subjectively the might of His power as their Savior.52 He had made them—creating them anew to be the sheep of His hand. They were not their own. Grace had made them to be the people of His pasture, but Israel after the flesh could never learn this truth. Going about in their ignorance of it to establish their own righteousness, they had fallen and been broken on the rock of offence. But now the voice of Him who quickeneth the dead had been heard speaking comfortably to His people, and they are ready to rejoice in the conscious blessing of the Rock of their salvation.
What we have in this Psalm is a prophetic exhortation. It is addressed to Israel as no longer under law, but under grace. They stand, indeed, before God and in one another's presence, as the children of the fathers who had of old provoked Him in the wilderness; but their hearts being turned in truth to the Lord, they are ready to enter into that rest which their fathers lost through unbelief.
A pointed application has been elsewhere made by the Spirit of God of a portion of this Psalm to the believer now, while as a partaker of the heavenly calling he is accomplishing his pilgrimage of hope.53 The warning, which the Christian knows to be so needful to his own soul's health while on his way to God,54 will not be superfluous to Israel when in the actual enjoyment of millennial rest, since they will be still in their natural bodies. The pledged faithfulness and sustaining power of Christ will keep them surely to the end; for they shall all be taught of God, and shall all be justified and shall glory in Jesus, as the Rock of their salvation;55 yet will they need, and doubtless then receive with willing ears, those reproofs of instruction which are the way of life.56 Moreover there is a probable reference in this Psalm to the last pleadings of Jehovah with His ancient people Israel in the wilderness, when with gracious purposes of love He shall have allured them thither,57 previously to their final establishment in the land.
But the time of praise was come. And being come, there would be mingled in their hearts, with the sense of present exultation, a pervading softness and brokenness of spirit at the remembrance of their former ways58
For they that have erred in spirit will then have come to understanding, and they that murmured will be willing disciples of true doctrine in the day when Jacob shall behold his children in the midst of him, and shall know them to be indeed the work and glory of his Holy One.59
Psalm 96
THE subject of the preceding Psalm—the greatness of Jehovah—is here continued. But it is with reference to the Gentiles and the earth at large, rather than to Israel as His peculium, that that Name is magnified in the beautiful Psalm before us.60 Israel, as the acceptable ministers of the Lord,61 are stirred up not only to worship with blessing the name of their Deliverer, but also to publish the testimony of His saving grace and power among all the nations of the earth (verses 2, 3).
The varied imagery of idolatrous worship under which Satan, while his sway over the minds of men, as the god of this world, remained undestroyed, had caused the nations to serve in evil bondage the powers of darkness, is contrasted with the manifested presence and glory of the Maker of the heavens (verses 4, 5). The secret of His power has been disclosed by the advent of Him whose coming is with righteous judgment as the Avenger of His own name, and in faithful mercy as the Deliverer of His people.
He who had thus come was sitting on the throne of general dominion as the reigning Lord of all the earth—the equitable Administrator of Divine government over all the nations of the world (10): and proclamation must be made of this to all the kindreds of mankind.
The ambassadors of this new Gospel of Jehovah's glory, in the manifestation of the Son of man with power,62 will be the escaped remnant of Jacob.63 The sanctuary of His name will have been again established in Jerusalem when the time of this prophecy arrives (verses 8, 9).64 The long-delayed promise, uttered by the last of God's earlier witnesses,65 will receive its true accomplishment,66 when the appointed channels of the whole world's blessing shall have been reopened by the restoring to Israel of the sure mercies of their covenant. It is from the earthly Jerusalem that the streams of life and blessing will take their course, through the wilderness of Gentile ignorance and death, in that great day of restitution.67
Verses 11-13 are full of comprehensive beauty and power. They present the gathering together68 of everything under the confessed dominion of the reigning Christ. Things in heaven, as well as things on earth, rejoice together in the acknowledged blessing of the Lord of peace. The Psalm is throughout a very sweet strain of millennial prophecy.69
Psalm 97
THE opening verse of this sublime Psalm comes like a greeting of the Spirit of Jesus to the now freed and quieted creation,70 which is called on to rejoice with gladness at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth (verse 5). “Jehovah reigneth" is the declaration which serves the ready mind of the Spirit as a base whereon to build the varied harmonies of this admirable strain.
The power and coming of the Lord of glory71 are first described (verses 2-5). Judgment must be administered where the title of dominion is the scepter of Divine righteousness.72 As to the Judge, He is perfect Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. But about His throne there are clouds of darkness, fraught heavily with vengeance against the recusants of mercy in the long day of His patience.73 The immediate effects of the arising of the God of judgment are described in verses 4 and 5. But the terrible shaking of the earth is a preparation for the abiding settlement of the throne of peace and blessing, when, in the fullness of His own just title as the Heir of all things, Jesus takes the kingdom and dominion beneath those heavens, which He does not cease meanwhile to fill with the bright glory of His presence.74
Verse 6 seems to contemplate the glorified Church as the heavenly witness of the righteous love of God, in the day when He will be justified in the marvelous sayings of His now despised testimonies,75 and when the liberated creature will rejoice in the manifestation of the sons of God.76 The nations shall see the light of that glory, which has its abiding resting-place in the holy Jerusalem,77 which descendeth out of heaven from God. The kings of the nations shall then see that which had not been told them.78 The manifestation, that is, of Messiah's glory is set in contrast with the present dispensation of Gospel testimony to a hidden, though exalted Christ, whose power is a reality to those alone who are begotten of the word of truth.
Verse 7 appears to refer more immediately to the catastrophe of the beast and his idolatrous worshippers, whose final discomfiture is by the judgment of the WORD of God79—His name alone being exalted in that day.80
Verses 8, 9 set Zion in her true place as the city of righteousness—now honored and made glad as the accepted habitation of the King—redeemed in grace, but founded in judgment, by the God to whom vengeance belongeth. The daughters of Judah also share her joy.
Verses 10-12, full as they are of pointed application, both in comfort and in warning, to the Christian on his pilgrim way, are, in their proper interpretation, quite in keeping with the rest of the Psalm.
We may regard them as a sample of the testimony which Zion's converts will bear among the Gentiles when, as the witnesses and partakers of accomplished grace, they will really be, in love and spiritual power, that which their fathers vainly claimed to be while in the flesh, and under law.81 The language of verse 11, so full of beauty for the Christian as a prophecy of hope, to be presently realized at the appearing of the Lord, is susceptible of a further meaning, which renders it quite consistent with its context, as a portion of Israel's testimony of actual Messianic blessedness to the distant nations of the earth.82
Psalm 98
RESTORED Israel now calls upon all below the heavens to sing the new song of redemption. The scope of this Psalm is more confined than that of the one immediately preceding. No mention is here made of the heavens.83
The faithful mercy and perfect righteousness of Jehovah as the Savior of Israel, have been openly made manifest in the sight of the nations (verses 2, 3). The ends of the earth, which had beheld His power, are now invited, by the rejoicing subjects of His mercy, to partake their joy, and to swell the volume of their new and grateful song.
The veil of darkness, which lay so long upon the nations, has been dissolved; and the feast of fatness is now spread in Zion. The importunate biddings of persuasive mercy are sounded far and wide among the tribes of the earth, to gather in the multitudinous guests of Jehovah's goodness.84 A richer and more wide-spread blessing will flow, through Israel's fullness, to the nations of the world, than now reaches them because of their diminishing and fall.85
The present Psalm describes the shedding abroad over the physical creation of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, which now shines only through the revealing power of the Spirit in the hearts of His believing people. Some of the characteristic points of diversity between the present dispensation and that which is to come (the millennium) may be easily gathered from the Psalm before us, and though it involve some repetition of what has been already said, it may be useful to notice them in order.
1. There is the open revelation of Jehovah's righteousness,86 of Christ, that is, in the sight of the nations; whereas the Church is set as a witness in the present world through her confession of an unseen Christ. The death of the Lord is now shown, until He come, in the assemblies of His saints.87 Believers are exhorted to hold forth the word of life for the obedience of faith. Their own joy is, in the meanwhile, full in their discernment of Jesus, through the power of that Spirit whom the world neither sees nor knows.
2. There is the declared fulfillment of Divine promise in blessing to Israel, whose description during the present dispensation is, that they are enemies, as concerning the Gospel, for the Gentiles' sake.88
3. The display of God's salvation is made to the ends of the earth; the world and its inhabitants being summoned to rejoice in it (verse 7). But the word of the Spirit now is: "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one."89 Until that wicked one be bruised under the feet of the Church, according to the promise of the God of peace,90 God's general gospel quickens none but His elect, whose calling is to suffer for His name. Hence the exhortation addressed to such to be patient, stablishing their hearts in hope of the coming of the Lord.91
But 4, the creature, which now groaneth and travaileth in pain,92 is here called on to rejoice and utter praise, because that for which it now waits longingly is really come.
Lastly, the cause of the joy here mentioned is not the presence of the Christ with the Father (as it now is to the Church),93 but His visible epiphany, in manifested power, as the Judge of all the world.
With verse 3 may be compared Mary's prophetic note of anticipative national joy and triumph at the birth of Jesus as the Royal Seed—the Righteous Branch.94 What she then sang was of the Holy Ghost, whose power had filled her virgin womb with the Lord's incarnate Christ. Those joyful anticipations will be realized in their appointed time.
For the blessings contemplated in her song are all secured in Him who was raised from the dead to be the living and manifested covenant of the sure mercies of David.95
Most fully does this beautiful Psalm offer itself to the enjoyment of the Christian. For to him the Son of God is already come, and has given him an understanding whereby the mighty results of redemption, whether in the heavenly calling of the Church, or in the future accomplishment of prophetic earthly blessing, are capable of a present realization in spirit 'by his faith. And joy and praise are the fruits of that Spirit which sets free the soul of the believer into the liberty of Divine adoption. Happy is it to be enabled thus to dwell, amid the actual scene of darkness and vanity, upon the bright and hopeful picture which the Spirit of Jesus has traced with unerring hand in the fair and indelible colors of prophetic truth. It is in the light of such clear and joyous notes of promise that we are emboldened to speak positively of that "world to come," into which presently the now hidden First-born is to be ushered in the glory of His majesty, attended by the angels and companioned by His saints. A present Christ will make a happy world. The peace of the nations will be through the scepter of His righteousness. The Church, which is His bride and fellow-heir, will know her better portion in the general jubilee of the emancipated creature in that wished-for day.
Psalm 99
IN this Psalm the majesty of Jehovah, as the Holy One of Israel, is celebrated; while the preceding one has delivered, as its happy burden, the praise of the glory of His grace.
Israel, as a nation of unshod worshippers, made through the blood of the covenant partakers of the holiness which they praise, are here heard extolling the name of Him that dwelleth between the cherubim.96
The nations are summoned to fear the majesty of Israel's God. For He whose greatness is in Zion (verse 2) is high above all the peoples—a name to be dreaded among the heathen (verse 3)97
In the manifestation of Messiah's glory, the full rays of the Divine holiness, which dwelt secretly of old in Israel's tabernacle—veiled from every eye, even of the tribes of His own inheritance,—will shine forth upon the utmost families of the heathen. For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.98 But the praises of Israel will in that day be the chosen habitation of His love. The sanctity of Jerusalem, as the footstool of Jehovah, and the appointed place of Gentile confluence for the worship of His name, is distinctly asserted in verse 5.99
Verses 6-8 review the former dealings, in grace and faithfulness of Israel's God. The union of perfect holiness with faithful mercy, which had characterized the ways of Jehovah through the eventful course of the national history, will be fully understood by the generation who will then be known among the nations as the righteous people that keepeth the truth.100 Wise-hearted Israel, with eyes now opened to see out of obscurity into the marvelous light of Jesus, will thus rear up a tabernacle of holy praise, in which He who loved Jacob while as yet unborn will long delight to dwell.
We may note that in this and the preceding Psalm the two leading principles of Messiah's royal government are prominently displayed. First, grace reigning through righteousness; and secondly, the power of holiness in judgment. The knowledge of His glory, as the omnipotent God, will compel a universal obedience of the nations to the scepter of His rule.101
Psalm 100
ANOTHER and most sweet millennial song. Its action is much more limited than that of most of those we have lately been examining. It is a Psalm for Israel in their own land,102 and seems to be addressed exclusively to the tribes of the Lord, who, as the sheep His pasture, will obey with willing heart the summons to enter into His courts with praise.
Their fathers had trodden those courts with other sacrifices.103 But now the children of the new covenant are called on to assemble there with thanksgivings, because of mercy, of goodness and of truth (verse 5). These things will then be known and delighted in by the new-born nation, whose boast will no longer be in the law of works, but in that mighty workmanship of grace, which has made them what they are as the satisfied possessors of Jehovah's blessing.104
It is not a declaration of His name to those who know it not that is expressed in verse 3, but the glad rehearsal rather of that name on the part of His own people, who, in the tasted enjoyment of Divine mercy, will answer one another in songs of thanksgiving to Jehovah's praise.105 The nations of the world will know the glory of the Lord, and many will flow with thirsting hearts to the place of His name to taste the sweetness of His grace in truth. But not all the offered Gentile homage will be the true sacrifice of praise. Power will constrain an acknowledgment of fealty to the Prince of the kings of the earth, even where the love of Christ is a stranger to men's hearts.106 But the language of this Psalm is such as becomes those only whose hearts are full of the marrow and fatness of appreciated grace—who bless God because themselves blessed of Him. There may be implied in verse 1 an invitation to the Gentiles to partake the fatness of the nation's blessing; but the land and people of Immanuel are, undoubtedly, the true subjects of the Psalm.
Surely they whose marvelous portion it is, as believing vessels of the grace of God, to be blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and who have access through Him, by one Spirit, unto the Father—knowing the pure liberty of spiritual worship, according to the life and power of the everlasting Minister of the true sanctuary107—may find full communion of heart with this sweet melody of Israel's praise. True spiritual discrimination108 never confounds what God has distinguished in His word. Jehovah's people and Immanuel's land are not the Church of God and the Father's house. Yet no well taught Christian finds his power of enjoying Jewish Scripture diminished, but rather greatly enhanced, by a discovery which opens to his view “the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God."109
Psalm 101
THIS Psalm is doubly interesting. First, when considered with reference to its author; and secondly, in its prophetic character as a Messianic Psalm.
Under the former of these aspects it is, when read in the light of David's personal history, of high practical value to the believer who is learning to have his conversation in this world by the grace of God.110 We find in David's earlier career a wonderful example of trustful devotedness and personal holiness of walk. While watched by the evil eye of Saul, he behaved himself wisely in all his ways.111 When persecuted because the unction of Jehovah's choice was on him, we everywhere meet with the fairest traits of spiritual loveliness in the record which the Scripture affords us of his ways. Doubtless his heart, profoundly versed during his day of affliction, both in the goodness of God and the hatefulness of sin, framed many a pure resolve with righteous purpose of accomplishment, when once the government of Israel should be entrusted to his hands. He fully knew, as taught of God, that "he that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God"—that the toleration of iniquity in the Lord's inheritance was an abomination, and a sure provoking of angry judgment, in the eyes of the Holy One of Israel.
The present Psalm may be accepted primarily as an utterance of David's aspirations after an opportunity of righteous rule, to which his own experience of the reign of wickedness, when misery wasted everywhere the Lord's inheritance, and he was himself beset by perils upon every side, because of the godless willfulness of Saul, must have added a daily growing earnestness. The Spirit indeed was willing in the man of God's election. But he had yet to learn, in a more bitter and appalling sort than he had known it by observation of the ways of others, the utter weakness and un-profitableness of the flesh. He was to make in his own person the most convincing discovery of the hopeless evil and vanity of the creature. There was found no vigor, to rid Jehovah's city and land from the power of evil, in the hand of one who, in the very noontide of his kingly glory, was to become the chief example of transgression in his realm. Deeply interesting, indeed, in all its parts, is the personal history of the son of Jesse to one who, as a child of electing mercy, is being daily taught what it means to be “kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation."112 The dying strains of the sweet Psalmist of Israel are full of richest instruction in connection with this subject. “Not so with my house," is the truthful acknowledgment which, while it abases the creature as a worthless and unprofitable thing, makes way for the mention of that other house which, because established in righteousness upon the sure foundation, abides forever in the light and favor of the God of truth.113
Let us now for a moment regard this Psalm in its second and principal sense, as a song of Messiah, the true David; set up from everlasting as the Branch of promise, the covenant King and Shepherd of His people.114 Thus considered it presents us with a speaking portrait of the true Anointed of the God of Israel. Himself the Root as well as offspring of David, He is also the royal Dispenser of perfect equity as the appointed Governor of the nations. Mercy and judgment form untidily the burden of Messiah's song. For it is to Jehovah that He sings (verse 1), whose ways will be purely and faithfully reflected in the administration of His King.
Two principal attributes of Messiah's dominion are here displayed. First, His faithful rule as the Anointed of Jehovah—cutting off evil-doers from the city of the Lord (verse 8)—exercising kingly power, not in His own name, but as the Messenger of Jehovah's covenant. He appears, secondly (verse 2), as the Director in holiness of His own house (now His in possession, the enemy having been thrust out) according to the will of God 115—ruling that house for Him—glorying in God, as His anointed King, in the exercise of His royal dominion, even as He had glorified Him in suffering obedience in the days of His flesh. His eyes will be upon the faithful in the land, that despised remnant, hated for His name's sake, to whose joy He will appear, and whom He will take to be His people, surrounding Himself with them in the day of His power.116
The expression in verse 2, "O when wilt Thou come unto me," I feel to be of difficult interpretation. It may refer to the yet future expectation of Jesus, as the holder of a limited term of royal dominion, a kingdom which is to be rendered up at its appointed close to the Father;117 for millennial glory does not fill to the full the measure of Messiah's joy. When that has ceased, there will remain the post-dispensational and eternal display of the Divine fullness, to be ministered and enjoyed in the new heavens and the new earth, through the never-ending mediatorial glory of Christ. But with respect to the above expression, I do not feel that I have any sure apprehension of its meaning.118
Psalm 102
THE title of this wonderful Psalm should not be disregarded. Messiah's affliction is its main burden. But in none of the varied presentations of the Man of sorrows and His voluntary afflictions, with which the Psalms abound, does the Holy Ghost unfold more distinctly, and with more perfect sublimity of expression, the Divine majesty of His Person, who tasted thus for our sakes the low extreme of human sorrow and distress.
It is the Ancient of days—the eternal God—the Layer of the old foundations of the earth (verses 24, 25), whose grief finds utterance in the earlier verses of this Psalm. It is a truly wonderful disclosure of the mystery of godliness that is here made. A perfect appreciation of the doctrine of this Psalm is impossible to those whose knowledge is as yet but in part; while it is the very marrow of Divine nurture to the growing soul. For it is by means of such testimonies that the child of God is enabled to draw into his heart's secret the gracious sweetness of that full joy119 which is ministered by the Holy Ghost to those who by faith behold the manner and greatness of the love of God in Christ.
If we look at the Psalm before us with a general reference to its contents, we perceive immediately that it is of manifestly Jewish cast. In this consists its characteristic beauty and power. For it is in the intercessory cry of the rejected Son of God for Jerusalem—still making mention of Zion as the object of His heart's desire, though it was there that His enemies had hated Him to madness with a causeless enmity, and had laid deep counsel to destroy His life (verse 8),—that we learn to estimate aright the nature of that grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ.
Zion would none of Him in the day when, as the messenger of the covenant, He called, but there was none to answer,—when He came as to His own, but there was none to receive Him save they to whom, not flesh and blood, but the power of the Father had revealed the secret of His person.120
Yet, though Israel were not gathered, the love of Messiah for His own fainted not, although His labor seemed to be in vain. There is a set time (verse 13) for Zion's mercy to arrive. Although by reason of her wickedness the once honored city of solemnities must know the bitter desolateness of Divine repudiation, yet He who has smitten her in a little wrath will restore to her in her latter end both health and cure.121 Mercy will prevail, and will rejoice against judgment, when the victory of faithful promise brings back, in the strong and never-turning flood of Divine righteousness, the full tide of Jehovah's favor upon the people and city of His choice.
It is not, then, the personal experience of Jesus in the flesh that forms the exclusive subject of this Psalm, although in this surely consists its deepest interest for the believer; it may be regarded as expressing likewise the intercessory action of the Spirit of Christ on behalf of the believing remnant of Israel, when, on the eve of the Deliverer's advent,122 they will pour out, under the overwhelming pressure of their affliction, their deep yet hopeful complaint before the presence of Jehovah.123 Verses 13-17 appear more especially to respect this remnant.
In the earlier verses (1-11) we have a recital of the matchless sorrow of Jesus Himself, as the gracious and patient sustainer of the allotted burden of His affliction for His people's sake.124 Suffering according to the will of God, He pours out His supplication to Him who alone could understand His grief, whose counsel and whose word had both lifted Him up and cast Him down (verse 10). The Father had uplifted Jesus. He had placed on Him in whom men saw only one of themselves the acknowledgment of Divine Sonship,125 after having announced Him before His human birth, and in the cradle of His infancy, to be the Messiah of glory—the royal Seed of promise.
But He had cast Him down as the obedient vessel of His will into the low depths of suffering and shame, permitting thus the partner of His glory to sit in the lonely vigil (verse 7) of an incommunicable sorrow, while fear and hatred compassed Him on every side (verse 8). The light of life must needs be quenched (for ever as they hoped who thought their hand alone had smitten Him, who said He was the Son of God)126 in the grave of the rejected of men, that in Him and upon Him might be perfectly fulfilled the counsel of Divine judgment upon sin. Indignation and wrath (verse 10) must be the tasted portion of Messiah's cup, when as His people's substitute He undertook the fearful burden of their guilt.127
Verses 11, 12 set in striking and affecting contrast the personal experience of Christ, made willingly subject to vanity,—fast ripening in His daily sufferance for the appointed hour for which He had come into the world,—to the enduring and changeless majesty of Him, with whom the unrequited work of Messiah's patience was laid up, to be openly rewarded in due time.128
At verse 13, the Spirit of prophecy turns more immediately to speak of Zion as the object of the un-repented promises of God. The longing desire of the faithful remnant-when, in the latter day, the hearts of those who fear Jehovah's name will yearn towards the holy places where their fathers praised, and where, in the spirit of faith, they surely know that thanksgiving and melody will again resound to the glory of that name—is touchingly expressed (verse 14).129
It was time for Him to arise. For it was through Zion's mercy alone that His name could be known and feared by the kings and nations of the earth (verses 13-15). The promise of deliverance had been made of old. And faith found in the word of promise material for prayer which God would not despise (verse 17), though it might come forth from suppliants who spake low as from the very dust. The answer to their cry should be His epiphany in glory (verse 16). He would thus appear as the builder of Zion—the repairer of her cureless breach,—when, in the person of the once despised and dishonored Jesus, they would recognize the Divine Redeemer of His people,130 the Holy One of Israel their King.131
The eighteenth verse is remarkable, and has an obvious application to the Church of God.132 Its proper interpretation, however, respects, I doubt not, Israel in the times of restitution, when the nation shall be regenerate to a Man;133 their iniquities being turned to everlasting righteousness through their confession of the Lamb of God.
Verse 22, if read in immediate connection with those which precede, would seem to refer to the destruction of the hostile powers of wickedness by which Jerusalem will be found beleaguered when the Lord shall go forth to the battle, for His name's sake, as the deliverer of Israel.134 It may, however, be construed in a larger sense, with reference to the season of millennial blessing, when the nations shall flow together with gladness to the mountain of Jehovah's house.135
In verses 23, 24, the voice of Messiah is again heard, as He addresses Himself, with perfect self-surrender to His will, in mournful supplication to the God of His life.136 It was He who weakened the strength of Jesus in the way. His counsel it was that made the short span of His earthly days to be a fearful looking for of that dread hour which was to close the term of His appointed sorrow. But, instantly, the Spirit's note is changed.137 The answer of the Father is returned while yet the sufferer speaks, asserting endless perpetuity of days for Him who had just preferred His prayer to God as one void of all strength-a prisoner of death according to the good pleasure of His will. On this wonderful passage, in which the Divine pre-eminence138 of the self-devoted victim of death is so strikingly affirmed, I have elsewhere written more at length,139 and will not further dwell at present.
The closing verse applies, in its moral force, both to the Church and to the regenerate nation. All who are partakers at any time of saving grace, through the knowledge of the Son of God, are pictured here; but it is to ransomed Israel that these words seem chiefly to relate.140
Psalm 103
A SONG of the once-wearied soul, when satiated141 and replenished with the fullness of effectual grace. It is truly a Christian song, for its burden is Christ. Very precious to the heart that has needed and has found in Jesus the deep realities of Divine mercy, is the language of this beautiful Psalm.
Specifically, it is the memorial, not of the Church, but of the Israel of God;142 who will thus ascribe, in the day of light and of Divine pacification,143 the glory of their redemption to the covenant GA of their mercy. Praise will flow freely from those inward parts where only vanity and wickedness had once been found;144 but in which Jesus, the living truth, will then be known.145
Verses 3-5 involve, not only the spiritual enjoyment of forgiveness, but also the fullest realization of all the outward blessings of Divine goodness. The conditional statute which the Lord appointed146 when He brought their fathers out of Egypt, will have been superseded by the abiding ordinance of life and righteousness in Christ. The varied forms of sore disease, which had stamped upon the unregenerate nation the memorial of their unfaithfulness, will be removed from the people whose acceptable standing will be in the new covenant of the blood of Christ. Israel will be blessed in Immanuel with all temporal as well as spiritual blessings, in the land whose iniquity shall be removed in one day.147 The faded flower of Ephraim's beauty will be as a lily of fragrant purity beneath the lasting dew of grace.148 The grey hairs of dishonor, which were upon him when he stooped beneath the shameful burden of his sins,149 shall be forgotten at the coming hour in which the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.150
For the virgin of Israel shall again be adorned with her timbre's, and shall go forth in the dance with them that make merry,151 in the day when Ephraim's watchman shall cry, "Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, unto Jehovah our God!”
Verses 6-13 set forth the perfectness of the Divine character as it had exemplified itself in the general dealings of Jehovah with His people. His acts had been done before the eyes of the fathers; but to Moses only had the secret of His ways been shown152 (verse 7). And now the regenerate nation, standing in the accomplished results of those ways, are quick to discern, and eager to celebrate with heartfelt praise, those counsels of wisdom and mercy which had reached their end in the effectual saving of the chosen people of His name.153 In verse 10 we find a climax of touching power, well understood by the soul that has been taught Divinely the meaning of the cross as the true exponent of the grace of God. “He hath not dealt with us after our sins," etc. In verse 8 the general statement had been made: "Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and great of mercy."154 One of the mightiest monuments of this great mercy will be reared in the restitution of the self-destroyed nation to more than its pristine blessing, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. He had not dealt with them after their sins, for in requital of their hatred, He had commended to them His priceless love. In Him, whom the nation abhorred, He had found the effectual bearer of the nation's guilt.155
This will be seen and acknowledged by the no longer blinded Israel, when they learn at once the true nature and extent of their sin, and the excelling measure of Jehovah's grace, in the manifestation of the once rejected Jesus as the living truth of their salvation.
Verses 14-18 bring into contrast the vanity of the creature and the enduring glory of Jehovah. But it is His mercy and His righteousness that thus endure. And they who mark this contrast already stand securely based in Christ on that abiding Rock of ages. The everlasting mercies of Jehovah are firmly bound to them and to their heirs by the perpetual covenant of grace. Hence the diminishing of the creature does but exalt and magnify the true security and blessedness of them whose knowledge of God is according to the faith of His elect. It is, indeed, a specification of Israel's covenanted hope that the people of Jehovah's choice shall long enjoy on earth the work of their own hands—that their days shall be as the age of a tree in the times of the Lord's refreshing, when, He will rejoice over them, to bless them and to do them good, in the allotted land of their inheritance.156 But the Spirit of God, while exciting in a believer expectations according to the specialties of declared promise, always leads the soul for its ultimate rest to God as the raiser of the dead. Hence, resurrection, even where not expressed, is always implied in this and similar strains of new covenant praise. For the ETERNAL GOD is the refuge of His saints. He is their shield, and their exceeding great reward.157
The concluding verses indicate that heavenly rule158 in the manifestation of which the blessing of Israel and the joy of creation can alone be eventually realized. The pervading dominion of Jehovah will be held, in the tenure of the new title of redemption, by the Lord of peace Himself. JESUS will reign.
The hearts of His people, touched effectually by the quickening Spirit of grace, desire an acclamation of universal praise. For He is worthy. But, as the believer well knows, the beginning and the strength of perfect praise are evermore in the heart of the conscious receiver of grace. Angels may praise, and so may all the multitudinous creatures of Divine power. They will praise to the utmost limit of their being. Now worship is rendered adequately; according to the intelligent nearness in which the creature stands to God as the known fountain of blessing, and with reference to the kind and measure of the favor thus enjoyed. But what manner of blessing can compare with that which grace bestows on the redeemed? God's richest and unending praises can be sung only in the glory of His presence by the vessels of His own electing love. And again, which of those who have washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb, when pondering his hope as an heir of salvation, would fail to claim for himself a title of preeminence in uttering the praises of One who had not dealt with him according to his sins? And so this lovely Psalm concludes as it began, with “Bless Jehovah, O my soul!”
Psalm 104
Tim strain of blessing is continued159 in this truly magnificent Psalm; in which the glory of Jehovah, as the creator and possessor of heaven and earth, is celebrated by one whose ability to estimate and adore the displayed wonders of the Divine majesty consists in his heart-knowledge of the God of His praise (verses 33, 34). Gladness in the Lord Himself alone qualifies a believer for the true enjoyment of His works. It is the proper majesty and glory of Christ160 that the Spirit of promise is declaring in this Psalm, which is a most beautiful description of the harmonious blessing of creation, as sustained in power by the God of the, whole earth. It presents a view of millennial peace and order, so far as it respects the outward material creation. "The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works” (verse 13). A very obvious relation thus subsists between this and the preceding Psalm.
Man, instigated by Satan, has hitherto corrupted the earth. The creature has been worshipped more than the Creator. Not until Satan is bound will men consent to view the works of their own hands (verse 26), as well as the great lineaments of external nature, and the accessible secrets of her wealth, with willing reference to the alone Possessor of wisdom and power. The natural tendency of merely intellectual progress is precisely opposite to this. Meanwhile the child of God, who is walking in the Spirit, sees outward objects with the eyes of Him who saw the Father in His outward works,161 and who alone fulfilled His chosen place and calling as Man, by perfectly glorifying God in an absolute subjection to His will.
It is needless to dwell in detail upon the varied beauties with which this Psalm abounds. They will commend themselves to every thoughtful reader. With respect to verse 35, it does not appear to refer to any particular catastrophe,—such as the destruction of Messiah's enemies, who are found embattled against His name and title at His second advent,—but rather to the eventual eradication of every evil thing from the wide sphere of His dominion. "For He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet."162
Psalm 105
THIS is most plainly a millennial Psalm. The judgments of Jehovah, of which the waiting spirit of prophetic desire had so long testified,163 as the solemn preparative for the world's instruction in righteousness, have been fulfilled (verse 7). He has made Himself manifest as the God of Israel's mercy. The people, therefore, are summoned as the elect seed of blessing164 (verse 6), first to render the calves of their own lips to Jehovah—glorying with understanding in His holy name (verse 3),—and secondly, to publish His deeds among the nations, who then will be in readiness to share the gladness of His chosen165
Jehovah, as the fulfiller in sovereign power and in faithful mercy of the recorded covenant of promise, is the subject of this Psalm. The face of Jacob, now shining in the light of the Lord's joy, is turned towards the Gentiles to declare to them Jehovah's wondrous acts; that at the hearing of this report they might themselves draw nigh and put their trust beneath the shadow of that strength which had carried Israel safely from the cradle of Abrahamic promise, through all the strange vicissitudes of intervening circumstance, into the full blessings of accomplished promise in Immanuel’s land.166 With thirsting ears the tribes of the wide earth will listen to the joyful sound.
Nations will flow with willing haste, in that day, to the mountain of Jehovah's holiness and grace.167
It will be remarked that the recital of the national history which this Psalm contains is not extended beyond the original entrance of the people into Canaan.
Moreover, there is no allusion made to national failure of any kind. The ancient judgments upon Egypt are rehearsed. For it is the action of God for His own name, and for the people of that name, that is here celebrated by the Spirit. On the other hand, no mention is made of the patriarchal envy which made Joseph a bondman in a foreign land. The overruling sovereignty of God is alone kept in view: "He sent a man before them, even Joseph," etc. (verse 17.) The subject of the Psalm is not the people and their ways, but the triumphant victory of mercy, according to the truth and omnipotent ability of Israel's covenant God. The gift of Canaan had been from of old the promised recompense of patriarchal faith (verse 11). By Joshua's hand, the hereditary claimants of that promise assumed possession of the inheritance, from whence their descendants were again to be expelled by reason of the evil of their ways. But Israel's tenure of that land was by an everlasting covenant (verse 10). Legal condition might frustrate for a season the enjoyment of the promised blessing, but it could not extinguish hope in the heart of faith. And that hope has now been realized. As Jehovah once had wrought, when with strength of hand He set the seed of Abraham free from their oppressors, and planted them in Canaan (though He strewed, in righteous judgment, the carcasses of the unbelieving generation in the wilderness), according to His word, so had He a second time put forth His hand to gather, with a yet mightier deliverance, the outcasts of His people into the appointed dwelling-places of their rest.168 The will of God prevailed to bring the tribes of provocation into the promised land, though only to be again ejected from it by a righteous retribution on their sins. The same will had now effected, in entire holiness while in perfect grace, the permanent settlement of Jacob in the lot of his inheritance (verse 11).
The present Psalm possesses thus, not only a wonderful beauty, when considered in its direct bearing upon Israel, as its primary subject, but is of rich practical comfort to the believer now, as an exemplification of the perfect way of the God with whom he has to do. God is at the bottom of everything. He works, and the fruit of His labor is the blessing of His own. If evil must be mentioned in the truthful record of their ways, yet it is He who is around, and above, and beneath it all. He saves by power the people whom He has created for Himself in grace. Egypt is but a fitted vessel and implement of His designs towards His own name, as the portion of His chosen people.169
We have, moreover, in this Psalm a full expression of the highest order of worship. It is an unqualified memorial of the prosperity of Jehovah's way, as the God who worketh all things according to the good pleasure of His will. It is a song "to the praise of His glory," absolutely. Grace is indeed the medium through which that glory shines, as it respects the delighted ministers of His praise; but the prominent theme of the Spirit's celebration is the exceeding greatness of His power whose counsels from of old are faithfulness and truth.170 It is a worship offered by a seed who will be able to review with joyful and wise-hearted wonder and admiration the perfection of that way which their fathers knew not, but which their feet will have entered as the way of peace, in the knowledge of Jesus as the covenant of the people, as well as the light of the Gentiles.171
The moral bearing of this memorial of Jehovah's faithfulness upon the Church is as important as it is clear; for it brings to the believer the full power of that comfort which is secured to him in his covenant knowledge of the God of peace.172 He whom we call on as the Father173 is the bringer of His people to their rest. Faith draws within the circle of her actual experience the fidelity of God in the discharge of His own covenanted promises in Christ. The believer's conscious impotency is sheltered in the Fortress of his trust. The force of the concluding verse should not be overlooked. The end of grace is holiness; we are redeemed to God, to be the keepers of His way for ever.174 Israel will acknowledge this in the day when the law shall have been graven indelibly upon their hearts by the power of the Holy Ghost175 It is the blessing and honor of the Christian to confess it now.
Psalm 106
THE present Psalm offers in some of its characteristic features a striking contrast to the last. They stand, however, in a very close moral relation to each other. Both are alike the utterance of the Spirit of prophecy, whose constant theme of celebration is Jehovah's praise (verse 1); but with an ever-varying expression, according to the point of observation from whence the excellency of His work is presented to His people's view.
There are two points in which the Psalm before us principally differs from the last. First, the people are regarded as still in a state of dispersion (verse 47). Secondly, it is a memorial, not of power absolutely, as in the former Psalm, but of grace and judgment, as they had alternated in the past history of the nation, according to the recorded process of Jehovah's dealings as the just Savior of His people. This process, while it left not their iniquities unpunished, yet tended always to the ultimate establishment of the mercy whereby the good of His chosen would be surely effected in His time176 (verses 4, 5).
We listen here anticipatively to that wise and hopeful confession to which the Spirit of grace will move Israel's remnant in the latter day. They recount as their own sin the past failure of the nation. But they discern distinctly, amid their confusion of faces, the coming joy and triumph of that final deliverance, in the accomplishing of which the Lord God of Israel will find His perfect and enduring praise (verse 48); when all Israel shall have been brought within the covenant of grace.177
The abiding character of Jehovah, as the God that delighteth in mercy178 is the ground upon which are displayed the riches of the Divine wisdom in His dealings with the rebellious and stiff-necked people. All their sin had but commended His righteousness and the faithfulness of His truth, as the gracious and all-wise framer of the covenant of national mercy. That He is good, and that His mercy endureth forever, is the lasting burden of ransomed Israel's worship. Mercy had dictated all those mighty acts which passed the utterance of human praise (verses 1, 2). But the national retrospect was of grace and goodness perpetually abused, under all their varied manifestations, by the people who never understood Jehovah's wonders, from Egypt to the last dispersion of His wrath.179 Yet the blessing of the nation was founded in promise upon the name of God.180 He would act, therefore, in the eventual accomplishment of Israel's destiny, with a paramount reference to Himself and His own counsel. Meanwhile His judgments intervened, and often fell with heavy stroke upon a generation which waited not for His counsel. Fleshly impatience, the natural associate of unbelief, was ready always to assert itself, and had a counsel of its own which Israel followed willingly in unworthy forgetfulness and contradiction of the Rock who had begotten them. And so, because the nation was economically under law and not under grace, judgment prevailed in righteous visitation of their sin. God acted against them for the time present, though a sure end of unrepentant mercy remained settled in the tranquil depths of His unaltered mind. He knew the thoughts that He thought towards them,181 and His Ford should be established in His time.
It is to be noticed that the order in which the national transgressions are here recited is not chronological. It is not an historical detail of the evil that is presented, but a general summary, in which particular instances are so placed as to set in clear and striking view the unity and fatal consistency of the national conduct, as contrasted with the right ways of the Lord. They had sinned with their fathers—they had committed iniquity—they had done wickedly (verse 6). Such had been the mournful uniformity of the nation's way. In Egypt and at the Red Sea, in the wilderness and in the land, while in captivity and when visited again with delivering mercies, the story of Israel had been a memorial of ceaseless and inexcusable offence.
All these things will be fully recognized in the hearts of those who set themselves in the latter day to seek Jehovah's face. Truth will be found upon their lips. Instead of going about to establish their own righteousness, perversely boasting in the very law of their condemnation,182 saying within themselves, "We have Abraham to our father,"183 and vainly confiding in the name and outward standing of Jehovah's people, they will own that name in suppliant confession of their sin. They will call upon the Lord their God to gather them again (verse 47), in the thorough acknowledgment of His hand in their dispersion. They will await in hope, as prisoners of hope, the fulfillment of that covenanted mercy which should set them before His presence in true, and happy, and enduring praise and worship. Nor will He on whom they call be heedless of their prayer. He will be very gracious at the voice of that cry; when He shall hear it, He will surely answer it.184 And thus the closing verse of this remarkable Psalm is an anticipative melody of the liberated nation's praise: "Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting; and let all the peoples185 say, Amen!”
It is well to remember, while pondering this and similar passages of Scripture, in which the ways of Israel after the flesh are traced by the Spirit of God, that it is for our instruction that these things have been written. Very searching, and very full of comfort also, is the memorial of grace and judgment which this Psalm contains to the wise-hearted believer. Such testimonies are profitable in a high degree as practical aids to self-judgment before God. But fearfully solemn is the consideration, that the picture of human evil which is here presented is to have (and, alas! has long had in principle, though the measure of its fullness be not yet attained) its moral counterpart of yet more exceeding pravity in that system of iniquity which has for so long been growing onward to its measured term;186 which, beginning in the early corruption of the Gospel of God, produces, as its resulting effects on human conduct, the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, and the gainsaying of Core;187 in whose latter end there is found no hope, and the catastrophe of whose judgment is the divinely-shown condition of Israel's returning mercy.188
1. Exod. 34
5. I do not feel sure that there is an allusion to the Flood in verse 5, though the use of the term זְרַמְתָּם leaves room for such a supposition. This is rendered by GESENIUS: "Inundasti eos." DE WETTE has: "Du raffest sie weg." DIODATI: "To porti via gli uomini come per una piena d'acque."
7. Isa. 54
9. The language of verse 1 is full of significance in its application to the believer. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall lodge יִתְלוֺנָן under the shadow of the Almighty." It is the knowledge by faith of completeness in Christ, as already brought in Him into the Father's house, that enables the believer to understand his present position here below as a sojourner with God. The cross, rightly learned, annihilates all creature strength and confidence, and replaces both by the power of God in love. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" The realization of this will be according to the simplicity of the heart's desires in Christ. Single-minded devotedness in love brings the shadow of God perceptibly over the Christian's pilgrim way. He is to such “a little sanctuary," an ever-present tabernacle of safety and of peace.
14. John 15
17. The only Psalm that bears this title.
20. Christ is to the Christian the substance of sabbatic shadow. (Col. 17.) The several hebdomadal types in Leviticus are thus susceptible of an application purely Christian. Their true fulfillment however (except, perhaps, the weekly Sabbath, which I suppose will find its antitype only in post-millennial rest, when God shall be all in all), appears to be in the dispensation of the fullness of times. I need not say that in their realized fulfillment to the nation, it is Christ Himself who will be the substance of His people's joy.
24. Isa. 61
25. Zeph. 3
29. לּהַגִּיד "Um zu verkunden."―DE WETTE.
33. That all power, in heaven and on earth, is already His, is the joyful trust of those who still wait on, in patience and tribulation, until the time of the kingdom be arrived. The seven eyes and the seven horns pertain already to the Lamb once slain. (Rev. 5:66And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6).) The knowledge of the full supremacy of Jesus is the sustaining power of all true Christian service. (Matt. 28:18, 1918And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:18‑19); 2 Cor. 12:99And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9).) But this is a truth which is as yet acknowledged only by the elect members of His body, the Church. He is thus discerned now spiritually only, and by faith. The revelation of His kingdom, on the contrary, will be disclosed to every eye. Rev. 1:77Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7); Matt. 26:6464Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 26:64).
36. מֵאָז "from then" (margin). From when? From that "beginning" when "the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:11In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1).) The reigning Christ will be the seasonable outshining, in its living fulfillment, of eternal truth.
38. Isaiah 2
41. For the expressions אַלְמָנָה נֵר and יְתוֹמִים (verse 6), as descriptive of the state of those who are grieved for the affliction of Joseph, see Isa. 51 and 53:16, 17
42. Rev. 3
43. בָּעָם בֺעִַרִים "Αφρονες ἐν τῷ λαῷ,―LXX., is the descriptive appellation of those here addressed. That Israel is meant is quite evident. For the general principle which identifies apostasy with folly, see Jude passim. They are fools by their own deliberate choice, when they forsake the right way of obedience, wherein safety and blessing may alone be found.
45. Rev. 11
46. Compare James 5:88Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (James 5:8); Mal. 3:16-1816Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. 17And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 18Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Malachi 3:16‑18). Mal. 4:44Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. (Malachi 4:4), compared with verse 12 of the present Psalm, throws increased light upon the moral standing of the expectant Jewish remnant at the close of the present dispensation. Walking in true Mosaic discipleship, they will be filled with longings for Him who is the hope both of Israel and the nations. We must not confound the remnant here spoken off with those Jewish Christians whose calling is to suffer death for the witness of Jesus, in the closing days of the present dispensation, and who will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. (Rev. 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4).) There is a remnant which is ordained to salvation and to earthly millennial blessings. Until the light of the Deliverer's presence shines on them, these last are Jews, not Christians. (Zech. 13:8, 98And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. (Zechariah 13:8‑9).)
48. Isaiah 40
49. מִשְׂנָב
50. Isaiah 14
52. And therefore this Psalm, although strongly Jewish in its whole tone and bearing, is capable of a right spiritual application to the true circumcision. (Phil. 3:33For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3).) How falsely it has been applied to the purposes of what is falsely called national Christian worship will be perceived by those who listen heedfully to the written warnings of the Spirit. (Rom. 11:2525For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25).) See further on the subject of "the churches," Notes on Second Corinthians, pp. 268-277.
53. Heb. 3. 4.
54. a As to the nature and scope of this exhortation, see the Notes on the Hebrews, chaps. 3. 4.
55. Isaiah 45:26; 54:13.
60. In 1 Chron. 16:23-3323Sing unto the Lord, all the earth; show forth from day to day his salvation. 24Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations. 25For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. 26For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. 27Glory and honor are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place. 28Give unto the Lord, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. 29Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. 30Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. 31Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigneth. 32Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. 33Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth. (1 Chronicles 16:23‑33), we have nearly the exact language of the present Psalm. It there forms a part of the extended service of praise with which David celebrated the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Zion. The typical relation of that event to the advent of Jehovah in delivering power, and in the fullness of permanent mercy, is easily seen.(Zech. 1:16,1716Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. 17Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem. (Zechariah 1:16‑17))
66. Its false accomplishment, according to the lie of Papal pretension, is well known to Protestants. But it is well for the latter to acquaint themselves carefully with the counsel of God concerning the mystery of His dispensational dealings, lest that come upon them which is written, not in the figurative language of prophecy, but in the earnest and sober plainness of apostolic warning. (Rom. 11:17-2617And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:17‑26).
69. In the concluding verse, the verb ti; should rather, I think, be rendered by the perfect tense than the present. "He is come" suits the general tone of the Psalm, in which Jehovah is represented as already reigning, better than “He cometh." That it may be so rendered is plain. Such is, indeed, its literal translation. In Psa. 98 the same word is translated ἥκει by the LXX. In the present passage they have ἔρχεται.
77. ROM. 21:11
79. Rev. 19
80. The apostle's reference to this verse in Heb. 1:66And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:6), where the version of the LXX. is given in substance (although the actual words are extant only in the Septuagint translation of Deut. 32:4343Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. (Deuteronomy 32:43)), is a decisive proof―even if the general tenor of the Psalm did not demand such a conclusion―that this description belongs to the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Notes on the Hebrews, in. loc.
82. לַצַּדִּיק זָרִעַ אוֹר The Authorized Version, "Light is sown for the righteous," literally correct, but those translations which substitute "sprung up," or "arisen" for "sown," appear to give a better sense; e.g., Φῶς ἀνέτειλε τῷ δικαίῳ.―LΧX. "Lux orta eat justo."―HIERON. "Licht geht auf dem Gerichten."-DE WETTE. The difference is that which exists between an assured hope and an accomplished fact. The latter seems more appropriate in the present case.
83. None, that is, expressly. In verse 2 There is an implication of the heavenly revelation of the Lord and His saints. In Isa. 44:2323Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. (Isaiah 44:23), we have a yet richer and more comprehensive apostrophe, in which the heavens as well as the lower parts of the earth are called to celebrate Jehovah's praises as the Redeemer of Jacob.
84. Isaiah 25. passim.
85. Rom. 11:1212Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? (Romans 11:12). The reader will observe that I am merely contrasting the respective degrees of positive dispensational blessing now and in the millennium. The language of the text would be quite inappropriate, were I comparing the value of the blessing now bestowed on the elect Church with that of the millennial nations.
96. Isa. 6
101. Compare Psa. 2 and 18
102. It is clearly a mistranslation to render the words בָל־הָאָרֶץ by "all ye lands." Nor do I think that even the margin (which gives "all the earth") is, in the present instance, correct. We should translate, I doubt not, "all the land." The word "land" may be taken as a metonymy for its inhabitants. But there is no need of this. The land which had spewed out the former generation for their wickedness, and had mourned in desolation beneath the judgments of the Lord, will be filled with gladness and with rest when the glory of Jehovah shall have returned thither, to be no more removed.
103. Isa. 1
104. The marginal reading, "His we are," in verse 3, is, I think, to be preferred to the text of the A. V. The Hebrew קרי is לוֹ and is followed by HIERON., who has “ipsius sumus."DE WETTE likewise renders," sein sind wir."
105. Compare Exod. 15
107. Heb. 7, 8
111. 1 Sam 18
113. 2 Sam. 23
115. With respect to the Church, as the Son's house in the present dispensation, see Notes on the Hebrews, chaps. 3-4.
120. Isaiah 1; John 1
123. Comp. the title of the Psalm
126. Matt. 26:66; 28:62-64
127. The tenth verse is capable, together with its context, of application to the afflicted nation. Israel had known the extremes, both of exaltation and of depression, at the hand of Jehovah, in the vicissitudes of the national history. I prefer, however, to regard the whole of this passage as an immediate expression of Messiah's suffering experience, whilst enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and in present anticipation of the cross. I hope that it is not necessary to add that I reject as utterly unsound the inference drawn by some from this and other kindred expressions in the Psalm, that God's hand was laid "in governmental wrath" upon His Christ anterior to, and irrespective of, the great work of atonement for which He had come into the world.
129. Compare Isa. 64
131. The concluding chapters of Isaiah (62.-66.) are worthy of attentive study in connection with the prophetic language of this Psalm.
132. Compare Matt. 11:43
134. Zech. 14
137. The response from the excellent glory (2 Peter 1:1717For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (2 Peter 1:17)) appears to begin at the latter clause of verse 24: "Thy years are throughout all generations," etc. It is noticeable that the apostle, in writing to Hebrews, renders the next verse (after the LXX.): Σὺ κατ ἀρχὰς Κύριε. Κ. λ., although no equivalent for the last word is found in the Hebrew text.
139. Notes on the Hebrews, chap. 1.
142. On this expression I would add a remark. By the majority of Christians it is supposed to refer, in the only passage in which it is found (Gal. 6:1616And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)) to the Church,-inaccurately as I judge. In the body of his Epistle, he had been laboring to deliver the Galatian saints from the deadly snare of legal pretension, which threatened the destruction of their faith. At the close of his exhortation, he again returns in strong and pointed language to the same subject. (6:12-15.) Having defined in his own person the proper lineaments of a believer as a man in Christ, he adds the benediction: "and as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy." And then, with reference to that error which had, by confounding Israel with the Church, exposed them in their ignorance to the devices of the deceiver, he continues: "and upon the Israel of God." God has an Israel, whose destined portion, though long delayed, is peace and mercy. How real an object of the apostle's interest this Israel was, we learn from his language in another Epistle. (Rom. 9-11) Whilst, therefore, he defends, with watchful jealousy, the simplicity of Christ, he can rest with prophetic anticipation in the reserved but most sure mercy of the nation for which Christ died.
I would not have the reader suppose that I am objecting, in this note, to a figurative use of the expression "Israel of God," and its consequent application to the Church. As the leading events in the history of the natural Israel are plainly typical of things now realized by the believer (1 Cor. 10), so the descriptive name of one may be, and sometimes is, applied to the other. (Compare 1 Peter 2:99But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9), with Ex. 19:66And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6).) The Church is now the true "circumcision." (Phil. 3:33For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3).) All I desire is that we should escape the danger of forgetting that God has a nation whose destinies of blessing are broadly distinguished in His word from those of the Church. To confound these things would be to become wise in our own conceits. (Rom. 11:2525For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25).)
148. Hos. 14
150. Jer. 1:20
154. Margin.
155. Isa. 53 passim.
159. There is no title to this Psalm. Opening as it does with a repetition of the closing words of the one preceding, it is evidently to be regarded in close connection with it. The grace and power of Christ, in reigning majesty, form the continuous subject of both Psalms.
165. Dent. 32:43
169. Rom. 9
170. Isa. 25
174. Rom. 6. passim
177. Isaiah 55:17
179. Thess. 2:16
182. Rom. 2
186. 2 Thess. 2