Book 5, Psalms 107-150

Psalm 107‑150  •  3 hr. read  •  grade level: 12
Psalm 107
The subject of this beautiful and solemn Psalm is the order of God's moral government with reference to His redeemed people. That government is perceived to have as its basis, and to be directed in its administration, by the immutable holiness of God, while it conducts the objects of His gracious choice along the prepared ways of effectual mercy, through processes of disciplinary trial which never alter, though they may seem to retard in their ultimate development, the perfect counsels of omnipotent and faithful grace.
It possesses, therefore, for the Christian a peculiar value in its practical application to his ways as a pilgrim of redemption, whose days of temporal sojourn should be passed in learning more perfectly the manner of the God with whom he has to do. To such its closing verse addresses itself with richly persuasive meaning and encouragement.
But in its natural interpretation it refers undoubtedly to Israel, when finally gathered from the lands of their dispersion (verses 2, 3), and taught to judge wisely (because then the Spirit of wisdom will have superseded in their hearts the spirit of delusion) the right ways of Jehovah1, and to speak His praise who has redeemed them permanently from the hand of the enemy.2 It stands thus as a counterpart and prophetic response to the preceding Psalm. The cry there sent up (verse 47) for the deliverance and re-assembling of the nation has now been heard and answered.
To ransomed Israel it will belong, not only to celebrate the special manifestations of Divine grace and power, which have been unfolded historically in Jehovah's dealings with that nation, but also to become the world's instructors in the ways of Him whose goodness, though so easily despised,3 and whose wonders are towards the sons of men-towards man, that is, as such. As priests of knowledge, Israel's lips will both keep and freely dispense the doctrines of sound wisdom among the then willing nations of the earth.4 The reign of Jesus will be a partial fulfillment of that time of earthly blessedness, in delighted anticipation of which the heavenly multitude uttered their loud praises at the incarnation of the Son of God. "Peace on earth and satisfaction (or complacency) in men,"5 was the greeting then vouchsafed from heaven at the birth of Him whose title was to sit on David's throne, and to wield the scepter of righteousness over the ends of the earth. "Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth; I am not come to send peace but a sword,"6 is the warning of the rejected Son of man, addressed to those who looked for an immediate advent of earth's promised time of rest.
“Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God;" “We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter," etc., are testimonies of the Comforter who leads, as the Spirit of truth, the partakers of the heavenly calling into the bright pastures of their portion in the hidden Christ.7 The riches of Divine goodness, which now in the gospel are discerned and accepted only by the willing few whom God has quickened out of spiritual death, as a kind of first-fruits of His creatures,8 will be the object of the eager search of many nations in the day when the height of Zion is again acknowledged as the dwelling of Jehovah, and the mountain of His house is desired among men as the open fountain of light and blessing to the world.9 And thus will Israel be found to be the capable expounder of Jehovah's way. The nation, whose strange beginning and eventful course has been crowned with a yet more wondrous end, will be able, with ripe experience of the ways of God, to rehearse the rich memorial of His goodness in all its marvelous variety of praise.
The structure of the Psalm is peculiar and highly interesting. From verse 4 there commences a recital which, with few historical details, seems to take morally a retrospective survey of Jehovah's dealings with the nation from the days of Egypt. This recital is four times interrupted by a brief refrain of praise, expressed in two verses,10 the second of which contains some new and special argument of worship derived from the preceding division of the song. Varied features of the wisdom and goodness of the Lord are thus successively extolled.
Without insisting on an exclusive application of this Psalm to Israel, there may be traced, I think, not indistinctly the leading incidents of the nation's changeful experience in the descriptive language of the narrative part.
In verses 4-7, the story of the wilderness is briefly told, to the praise of the glory of His grace who satisfieth the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
The strong discipline of national affliction which visited the rebellious house, until the turning again of their captivity, when the appointed term of Babylonian exile was accomplished, appears to form the historical groundwork of verses 10-16; but in its prophetic intention this passage would demand a far wider interpretation. The resuscitation of Israel, both spiritually and politically, would alone adequately fulfill these words.11
The sufferings of the "foolish nation"12 when, filled with Jehovah's indignation, they find a snare in that which should have fed them,13 and pine beneath the pressure of a more grievous famine than that of bread,14 until, in answer to their cry of sorrow, the word of saving health is sent them from above,15 seem to be indicated in the next division (verses 17-20). The language of verse 22 is in agreement with this. They who had vainly gone about to establish their own righteousness are called on now to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving,16 and to declare His works with singing.
Besides the obvious force and beauty of the following verses (23-30) in their simple meaning and their general application, we have, I believe, a figure of Jacob's restless trouble when, like a vexed and frightened mariner, he wandered up and down the wide sea17 of nations without ease,18 a friendless pilgrim of the Lord's displeasure, until the long-desired rest was gained at last, under the faithful guidance of Him who seeks His people in the dark and cloudy day.19 Accordingly we find in the hortatory remembrancer of praise which follows (verse 32), a mention of the gathered people20 and their elders, who are now called on to celebrate, in the quiet resting-places of Immanuel's land, His faithful goodness and His might who had turned their long-endured tempest of affliction to the calm sunshine of perpetual peace.21
The remainder of this Psalm is of a more general import; though it is in Israel, nevertheless, that the most instructive exemplification of the aphorisms of Divine economy which the Spirit here recounts has been and will again be found. In verses 40, 41 we seem to have a contrast of the self-righteous boasting of those who magnified themselves, and were haughty because of the holy mountain—feasting on beds of ivory, but wholly strangers to the grief of Josephs22—with the poor of the flock, whom Israel's Shepherd would feed in secret places until the time should come for openly assembling them, with fruitful increase, as the beautiful flock of His abiding praise.23
“The righteous shall see this and rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth" (verse 42). Such is the sweet yet solemn note with which the Spirit of prophecy brings to its close this anticipative rehearsal of His ways, who presently will be known and worshipped everywhere as the Governor of the nations. At the lifting up of His poor the righteous will rejoice, because with such there is an eye to see and a heart to love the right ways of the God of Jacob. At the revelation of that arm of strength which is to bring low the lofty, and to raise the humble whose sole hope is in His word, the mouth of all iniquity will be stopped. All will not taste, indeed, the joy and peace which none but the regenerate can know; but all will bow before the power of Jehovah's Christ. The song of Israel will in that day be the song of redemption. Large multitudes of Gentile worshippers will share that song, singing with understanding the loud praises of the God of peace, and rejoicing with His people in the mercy of the new and everlasting covenant. But outward homage will be rendered by the entire family of man. Even they who disregard His goodness, and fail to understand His loving-kindness, will perceive and bow beneath the scepter of His power. For the earth's confession must be given entire, with all beneath it and with all above it, to the anointed Man who tarries yet a little while invisible at God's right hand.24
Psalm 108
THIS Psalm bears close resemblance to Psa. 6025 There is however, a noticeable difference of much interest between them.
In the former Psalm we hear the voice of faith first dwelling on the circumstances of the nation while lying under the angry visitations of Jehovah, and then, in fresh remembrance of the immutability of Divine counsel and promise, rising gradually to a strain of anticipative joy and triumph, because of the fulfillment in His time of the sure covenant of mercy. Here, on the other hand, Jehovah's name is first extolled and glorified because of His abiding truth and mercy. The heart of the worshipper is fixed there—settled upon God—uttering, therefore, stirring notes of lofty praise to Him whose counsels equally embrace both heaven and earth.
God being thus exalted according to the majesty of His truth, the special plea of the Spirit of Jesus, founded on the mercy which has throned itself above the heavens, is next urged (verse 6) on behalf of the nation of His ancient love. “That thy beloved [ones]26 may be delivered, save with thy right hand and answer Me." It is the Spirit of Immanuel that thus makes intercession for His well-remembered people27 according to God. His land should be rid in due time of those who had burdened it with wickedness. For God had spoken in His holiness concerning the portion of His Anointed. It might be wasted for a season, because the people's ways provoked the Holy One of Israel to pollute His inheritance for their sakes,28 but it should surely revert to Immanuel, the true David; and by Him, and through the blessing of His name, become the enjoyed possession of the nation for whose sakes29 He had been born of Abraham's seed.30
The confidence of rightful Messianic title is thus triumphantly expressed in verses 7-9. But the heart of Israel must be broken and turned with supplication to Jehovah, before the set time of deliverance can arise. Hence the concluding verses (in which the subject changes from singular to plural) bring the expectant remnant into view. Their pleadings are heard as of those who, with full avowal of the vanity of creature help, return with words of confession yet of confidence to the God of Israel's hope.31 The history of the nation, while walking in the flesh, while conversant with man, had ended in shame and dissolution; but the promise still remained entire and unimpaired. The wreath of ultimate victory and praise is woven for the seed of blessing in God's unfailing word of holiness and truth32 (verse 13).
Psalm 109
IN its general subject this Psalm resembles several of those which have already been examined. For it is the rejection of Jesus by the unrighteous nation, which hated Him without cause, that forms the main topic of the very remarkable and fearfully solemn utterances of the Spirit which are here presented to us.
The particular application of a portion of this Psalm to Judas, the betrayer of the Lord, is to be distinguished from its wider and more permanent bearing upon the nation at large.
In the earlier verses (1-5) we have the voice of the rejected holy One, addressing Himself in righteous testimony to the God of His praise. The life of Jesus in the flesh was a continual praise of Him whose will was, in the doing of it, the meat of the devoted servant of His choice. But the mouth of deceit and wickedness was open to defame and to condemn the only righteous One, in the very place and among the people where alone pretension was advanced to the knowledge and worship of the God of truth. The presence of Jesus was as the overflowing blessing of Jehovah in the midst of the heavily afflicted land. That "God had visited His people," was the spontaneous admission of those who viewed with admiration and amaze the wondrous tokens of that potent love which spread abroad on every hand such multitudinous evidences of its gracious energy before the eyes of men.33 They saw His works; they heard His words as He spake, not as men speak, but in the effective power of the truth of God. Yet lying in opposition to His doctrine and hatred in requital of His love, were the resulting fruits of bitterness which filled the bosom of the Son of God, whose labor seemed to be indeed in vain.34
Verses 6-19, while they have Judas Iscariot as their proper and immediate object,35 appear to involve also in their ultimate intention the instigators of his treason as well as the arch traitor himself. It was the nation's council that desired and rewarded the special act of Judas' sin. The rooted hatred of Jesus was characteristic rather of those who bargained with the betrayer of his Lord, than of the son of perdition himself. His governing lust of gain might lead him, as it did when Satan's power was allowed to act fully upon it, to sell God's Christ for a mere pecuniary trifle.
But the thirst for Jesus' blood was in their hearts who found in Judas an un-hoped for36 guide to their desired prey. The sin of Judas stood indeed alone in its unparalleled enormity. The immediate and especial action of the devil could alone bring such a sin to pass;37 for it excelled in its nature and antecedent circumstances the ordinary measures of human wickedness. As an act, then, it must remain in the solitary distinctness of super-eminent guilt.38 But the hatred and treachery against which appeal is here made are ascribed not to one, but to many. “They have rewarded me evil for good" (verse 5). And so, after denouncing in such fearful terms the individual case, it is immediately added (verse 20), “Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord, and of them, that speak evil against my soul.”
I believe, therefore, that we are to seek for the complete fulfillment of this judicial commination in the history of the natural Israel, upon whom the wrath has come to the full, until the turning away of that indignation in the promised remembrance, on Jehovah's part, of covenanted mercy.39
The appeal of His righteous Servant (verse 28) to the God of Judgment has already been answered with fearful effect, both upon the son of perdition personally and on the evil generation who rejoiced in his iniquity. Meanwhile the exaltation of the poor, and needy, and heart-broken sufferer from the grave, which His enemies vainly hoped would be His lasting rest, to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, is the just and blest requital of Him who for the Father's sake had endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself.
The day of manifested glory will alone complete effectually the desires expressed in the latter verses of this Psalm. Men will then know, when they look on the returning majesty of the Son of man, that the real designers40 of that work, which found its accomplishment at the hands of human wickedness, was none other than Jehovah Himself (verse 27). It is the believer's privilege to know Otis now, and in that knowledge to find his soul's salvation and most certain hope. The careless world does not as yet reject it as a fact, but has no care to know it as a saving truth,. But all will know it in that day.41 There are adversaries who now glory in their shame,42 whose present boasting will be hidden with a perpetual reproach at His appearing (verse 29). The language of verse 30 is of wide interpretation,43 and will apply to the present manifestation of Jesus by the Spirit, as the leader of His people's praise, but more fully to the latter day.
The closing verse is full of precious meaning for the self-judging believer, whose trust is not in himself but in God, who is able to make him to stand.44 That the blessed principle here expressed will also have its triumphant exemplification in the eventual justification of the broken and impoverished nation is most sure.45
Psalm 110
THE immediate answer to the suffering Christ's appeal in the foregoing Psalm may be read in the opening sentence of the one now before us, which though brief has peculiar claims on our attention. As a testimony to the Melchisedec priesthood of Jesus, it is dear to everyone who loves that name. On the other hand, it is on an attentive consideration of the numerous references which are made to this little Psalm in the New Testament that the justness and accuracy of our general estimate, both of the existing dispensation and of the prophetic future, in a great degree depend. Let us notice carefully its structure and contents.
The Psalm appears to divide itself into two parts. The direct address of the Spirit to the risen and ascended Son of David,46 with which it begins, is continued to the end of the fourth verse. From that point we seem to have a predictive description of the action of the reigning Christ in power, when the time for His manifest dominion shall have come.
Verse 1. The Spirit here greets to the throne of the Majesty in the heavens the world-rejected Son of God,47 there to remain until His enemies be made His footstool.
This is the present position of Jesus "who is gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God; angels, and authorities, and powers, being made subject unto Him."48 The value of this passage, as a testimony both to the glory of Messiah's person and to the truth of His ascension, is well understood by the careful reader of Scripture. It was by a reference to this verse that the blessed Lord Himself awed into shameful silence the venomous tongues of those who questioned Him with guile, in envious disavowal of His person and His name.49 The Holy Ghost, in His earliest testimony to the title and glory of the exalted Christ, turns to this same passage for prophetic corroboration of the mighty fact of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth, the fruit of David's loins according to the flesh.50 Again, the same Spirit, with an immediate reference to the latter clause of this verse, speaks51 of the ascended Messiah as now "expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." The power which is to do this is the same that raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. It is not said: "until they are made," but, "until I make." Three things are thus found to be contained in this opening verse. 1. The title of the risen and ascended Jesus, who is hailed as "LORD." 2. His session at the right hand of the Father. And 3. His expectance of a particular dominion which is yet to be received.52
Verse 2 reveals the center from whence (as it respects the earth) this expected sovereignty is to be displayed. The rod of Messiah's power is to issue, with an undisputed sway, from the same Zion53 in which His broken body had been laid, as a stumbling-stone and rock of offence, when He was crucified in weakness in the mystery of the grace of God.
Zion is His. Already He has redeemed it as His inheritance. He will presently appear as its Deliverer54 for the avenging of His own title on the enemies who will have brought the beloved city low into the dust of bitterest affliction before the rising of the light of her salvation.55 Moreover, it is not the doing of a single act of power only that is expressed in this verse, there is a delegation to Messiah of victorious and abiding rule.56 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places in that day.57 The city which no man inquired after in the time of her desolation will be the resort of suppliant foreigners, who will hasten to do lowly homage at that place which shall then be called the city of Jehovah, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.58
The succeeding verse (3) associates with the regnant and triumphant Christ the willing people of His power: “Thy people59 shall be willing in the day of thy power," etc. There was a time when Israel would none of Him; when, though He came unto His own, His own received Him not; when the people's choice was, “Not this man, but Barabbas.”
That was the day not of His power, but of His gracious weakness and humiliation. It was His day of self-imposed travail, as the ready servant of the Father's will—a day wherein He would endure, in grace to sinners, the burden of Divine vengeance, instead of inflicting it, as the appointed Judge of all, on the blasphemers of His name.60
With respect to the expression itself, “the day of thy power," it stands in a double contrast; first, to His day of humiliation just referred to; and secondly, to His expectant session at the right hand of God. The day of the Lord's patience and long-suffering61 is widely to be distinguished from the looked-for day of His power and coming.62 Neither at the time of His humiliation, nor during the season of absence at the right hand of the Father, are the nation of Messiah's fleshly kin the willing confessors of His title. But the day is not far distant when Jerusalem, which once refused His love and took Him for an enemy, shall say at the brightness of His second advent, “Blessed is He that cometh in Jehovah's name."63 They will be as the chariots of Amminadab at the shining forth of that Sun of righteousness which shall dissolve forever the veil of darkness and unbelief, which must cover until then the nation's heart.
The latter words of this verse refer, I believe, to the glory of Messiah's discovery of Himself to Israel, when, as the recognized seed of promise, He will be the apparent realization of the long-cherished prophecy of national hope: "Unto us a child is born,"64 etc. 'What the eye of faith beheld in the infant Messiah, when born of David's house according to the Scripture,65 will then be openly perceived and known in the glorious epiphany of the Firstborn from the dead, when with more than morning brightness (margin) He shall dissipate the darkness of Zion's long and dreary night of sorrow, and become the beginning of their lasting day of joy.
Verse 4 confers the new and everlasting title of royal priesthood upon the now exalted Christ. He glorified not Himself. But He who raised Him from the dead, the same said unto Him, “Thou art a priest for ever," etc. That this title attaches to the Lord only in resurrection is quite evident from Heb. 5:55So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. (Hebrews 5:5), and still more so from Heb. 8:44For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: (Hebrews 8:4): “For if He were on earth, He should not be a priest," etc. The Epistle to the Hebrews treats at large the subject of Christ's Melchisedec Priesthood in its present relation to the Church of God. It is in the power of an endless life that Jesus now exercises His unfailing ministry of intercession for the believing partakers of His grace.66 But in the title which is here addressed to Him there is involved, not only perpetuity of life, but the full exercise of a mediatorial kingdom as well as priesthood. He is King of righteousness and King of peace. To the Christian He is known as such while seated now at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens.67 But, as has been shown already, He is there awaiting the reduction of His foes. He tarries for a season, but will presently again return, as is witnessed in the same Epistle: "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry."68
While thus awaiting the arrival of the time appointed of the Father, His gracious occupation is the ministry of priestly intercession for the saints. But the priestly title of Jesus is according to the order of one who was priest of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and of earth; who was the receiver of earthly tribute from Abraham, the holder of God's earthly69 promises, and who spake the word of Divine blessing and congratulation to him whose warfare God had blessed in righteousness, as the accomplishment of His good pleasure, who is to be honored as the God of judgment.70 Full judicial victory and triumph, as well as the undisturbed administration, in the plenitude of Divine power, of peace and righteousness, belongs to Him who is to sit and rule upon His throne, and to be a priest upon His throne, in the day when He shall grow up manifestly in His place as the Branch, who shall build again the temple of Jehovah.71 The power of His intercession (already uttered for that nation, while fulfilling its ultimate redemption on the cross, which turned His glory into shame) will be made apparent when the iniquity of the land of His dishonor shall be removed in one day, at the advent of the Deliverer, who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
David and Levi will find alike in Jesus the Divine and lasting substance of their transient and shadowy functions, when the sure covenant of Jacob's mercy is visibly established in the land.72 I have elsewhere73 treated this subject more at large, and will not therefore pursue it further in this place.
At the fifth verse the action in power of the Lord, whose seat has hitherto been at the right hand of the Father, begins to be described. It is the day of the Lamb's wrath. The judgment which the Father hath committed to the Son of man74 will visit the mighty ones of the earth in that dread day. The confederacy of kingdoms in the league of Antichrist seems more especially contemplated in this verse.75
The same subject is continued generally in what remains. It may, however, be remarked, that the language of verse 6, “He shall judge among the heathen," while it relates, I believe, principally to the catastrophe at the valley of Jehoshaphat,76 may respect, in a wider sense, the permanent administration of Messiah's rule as the governor of the nations.77
The closing verses describe the untiring strength and complete sufficiency of Him who is thus to send forth judgment unto victory.
It is He who fainteth not, neither is weary,78 of whom the Spirit here speaks. He will ride prosperously on His way,79 because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness. No counsel or device may stay His progress. Being the trusted possessor of all power in heaven and in earth, He will take the spoil of human pride and Satanic power as the true Captain of Jehovah's hosts.80
Psalm 111
A TRULY beautiful and wise-hearted expression of that praise which can be rendered only by the lips and hearts of those whom Jesus has redeemed. It is evidently a latter-day song of Israel's commemorative worship, when Jehovah will again inhabit the praises of that people who now, as concerning the gospel, are enemies for us Gentiles' sake.81 The accomplishment of covenanted national redemption (verse 9), and the resulting supremacy of His earthly people over the Gentiles (verse 6), are leading topics in this melody of praise. Its full expression of perfected grace and power makes the present Psalm most acceptable to the spirit of expectant Christian faith, which sees in the ascended Christ the pledge and first-fruits of the salvation and glory which are ready to be fulfilled in power at His coming.
Verse 1 makes mention of the congregation as the assembly of the upright.82 It is in the assembly of the once purged worshippers alone that the Spirit can give true utterance to praise.
Verse 2. The works of the Lord had been always great. But the foolish generation had disregarded them, slighting the chiefest operations of His hands.83 Those works are now sought out with fervent desire by the people, who with unveiled heart behold the glory of their Savior and their God.
They confess His work (verse 3), glorying in that which once they had reviled. In the eyes of the preserved of Israel that work will be honorable and glorious; for Jehovah's righteousness shall then be an apparent thing. His glory will be their defense when—the filth of Zion's daughters having first been washed away, and the blood of Jerusalem purged from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning—the ripened fruit of covenanted mercy shall be enjoyed by the remnant of salvation in Immanuel's land84 Grace will then visibly reign in brightest luster of completed righteousness. Fully and richly does the Christian know these things by the Spirit in a yet higher degree of anticipative blessing, even a heavenly one. But it is with earthly rather than with heavenly things that the Psalm before us is concerned.85
Verse 4 is full of sweetest power. He has not only wrought the work; He has also established its memorial.
And what is this memorial? Rather may it be asked, What single member of redeemed creation, whether in heaven or on earth, will not be such in that day of joy? There is, indeed, a memorial of another sort. The power of His anger will be had in everlasting remembrance.86 Judgment as well as mercy will abide in their results for ever, to the praise of His glory who is both a Savior and a Judge. In the present passage, however, it is the power of redeeming mercy that is more distinctly celebrated: And so the latter clause of the verse is an applausive echo of the gospel: “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion.”
Verses 5, 6 recite the fulfillment in power of the un-repented promises made of old to the fathers.
Verses 7, 8 contain a precious meaning for the soul whose rest is in the finished work of Christ. Jehovah has commanded, giving it in trust to Jesus to make sure, in perfect obedience, the word of truth and holiness. The commandment therefore has been done. It has been done in truth and uprightness by Him whose meat it was to do it; who willingly received it with a knowledge of its end, and in whose accomplishment of it the believing sinner finds his assurance of eternal peace.87 Jesus held the law within His heart, to keep it there forever. As the fulfiller in truth of the commandment, He has become its end for righteousness to every believer in His name.88 Legal testimony is thus confirmed and established for ever in the person of the living Truth, who speaks in righteousness the gracious message of entire love.89
They who are now no people, because of their rejection of the Lord of glory, will yet be assembled as His acceptable worshippers within the bond of that covenant which is their own.90 Their hearts will be a sanctuary for His name.91
The Psalm concludes by laying again the long forgotten foundation of Jehovah's fear. That fear which had been taught in vain by the commandments of men will then be settled deeply in their contrite hearts by the quickening power of the Holy Ghost. Israel will be a wise and understanding nation in that day.92 They will become the willing people of Jehovah's praise, when the stony heart of nature has been changed for the ready table of the covenant of peace.93
Psalm 112
As the last Psalm ended with a disclosure of the source and beginning of all true wisdom, so we have now a description of the blessedness of the really wise man-of him that feareth the Lord.
With some special characteristics, which give a distinctly Jewish cast to this Psalm (compare verses 2, 3, and 8), it offers itself to our contemplation as a lovely portraiture of the moral and actual happiness of the man of faith. It is an extended exemplification of the apostle's maxim: “Godliness with contentment is great gain."94 The effects, both present and final, of single-eyed devotedness to God in love are alluringly displayed, to win the servant with a readier assent to practical imitation of the Master's ways. It is thus that the Psalm is quoted from in 2 Cor. 9.95
Jesus alone could fill the outline of the picture here presented. Like every other delineation of truth and moral beauty, of holiness or faith, or of aught else lovely and of good report with God, it has its perfect exhibition in the righteous One alone. Meanwhile, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Christian's calling is to walk in Hint and as He walked, who counted it more blessed to give than to receive. The root and living source of all practical righteousness in the believer's way is Christ, as the enjoyed expression of Divine and perfect love.
That the present Psalm relates in its prophetic intention to the prosperity of Jacob in the day of promised blessing, when, with Christ-fed heart and bountiful eye to minister the blessings of his own fat portion to the poor and needy, He will be known among the nations as the seed that Jehovah hath blessed,96 is, I think, quite plain.
Psalm 113
A VERY lovely song of praise. Its subject is the covenant God of the earthly people (verse 5) who rejoice beneath His blessing in the full realization of temporal happiness, and spiritual confidence and peace, as the children of His own most faithful promise. As a prophetic utterance of the Spirit, it anticipates the dated era of their joy. "From this time forth and for evermore," is an expression which, while it finds an echo in every heart that by the quickening word of grace is turned from idols to the living God in Christ, yet points distinctly to some definite though future time, when a universal recognition shall be had by all beneath the heavens of the kingdom of Jehovah, and the power of His Christ (verse 3).97
Verse 4 establishes Jehovah's name in confessed supremacy above all the nations of the earth. Its latter clause makes mention of that more excellent glory which will crown the scene of Messiah's universal realm. The Church finds here her true place. Sharing the joy of Him whose praises are evermore her chief employ, she has her seat amid that glory which, though its light be shed upon the nations upon earth, is from above the heavens in its source, and quits its native place only to follow and accompany the presence of the Lord of glory, whose delights were ever with the sons of men.98
In the fifth verse we seem to have an answer to Psa. 7:77So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high. (Psalm 7:7). The congregation of the peoples had groaned beneath the pressure of the bonds of vanity and death, while Satan held firm sway as the prince and ruler of the present world. But now Jehovah had ascended into the seat of power, and shown Himself openly to be the only God, the Savior, binding with an enduring chain the deceiver of the nations,99 and shining forth, in the revealed majesty of His Christ, as the rightful possessor of heaven and earth. There was none like Him. None were left who might compare with Him of all the vanities of the Gentiles. For at the lifting up of Aims& the powers of darkness had fled and disappeared; and now His name alone would be both the dread and the confidence of nations from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.100 Things in earth and things in heaven (verse 6) fall alike within the ken of Him whose throne of majesty is over all.101
Verses 7, 8 declare the ways of Jehovah to be those of perfect grace and mercy. The believer knows and rejoices in this now, and will celebrate it in a yet higher strain of heavenly praise, when the times to which this Psalm refers shall come. It is primarily to the restoration of Israel, and secondarily to the calling of Assyria and Egypt into the fellowship of His earthly people's blessing that these verses seem prophetically to relate.102 They have, however, a far wider moral bearing.
The allusion in the closing verse is plainly to the once rejected city of Jehovah's covenant, whose widowhood is but for an appointed time, until the ancient kindness be again renewed.103
Psalm 114
THERE is a rare power and sublimity in this brief but most expressive strain, which connects, in discerning celebration of Jehovah's praise, the latter-day glory of Israel with the former deliverance, when God exalted the people who dwelt as sojourners in Egypt, and led them forth from the house of bondage with a mighty hand.
The key of the Psalm is in the seventh verse, which calls upon the earth to tremble at the presence of the God of Jacob. The mountains had skipped like rams at the presence of Jehovah's majesty, when He marched through the wilderness to seek a rest for His people in the olden time. But the promises of the God of Jacob were not thus exhausted. Joshua gave no enduring rest to Israel. The covenant by which they entered Canaan could not maintain them permanently there. By another and better covenant the ancient promise must be perfectly fulfilled.
His hand should be put a second time to the work of their deliverance. It was Jacob's God who now was to appear in the excellency of His power as the God of the whole earth. His sanctuary had been Judah from the first, though while the former covenant endured this had existed only under type and promise. The Lion of that tribe could alone erect the abiding tabernacle of His praise.
And now He was at hand to come. His appearing would be as the faithful Redeemer of promise to His people, but also as the righteous Judge of all the world, whose coming is with power and great glory.104 At His arising He would shake terribly the earth.105 He had been once on earth among His own, but they had smitten the Judge of Israel upon the cheek. In the day of His humiliation, the world's authorities agreed together to disallow His title and His name;106 yet the mountains and the sea had known Him even then.107 The earth had quaked and trembled at the presence of that mighty sufferer of death. But now the former acts of His delivering power, when He led His people through the river and the sea, would be excelled by that eternal work of His redeeming love, whereby the fear of death should loose its bondage from their souls, whose standing under the new covenant of grace should be in righteousness and everlasting peace. It is a sweet song of ransomed Israel's praise—a memorial of the former deliverances as they will in that day be understood in the new heart of Jacob, when all his sorrows shall be but a remembrance whereby the riches of the glory of the God of his salvation may be more perfectly appreciated and more abundantly extolled.
Psalm 115
WE have in this Psalm a striking and emphatic, as well as very sweet expression of Israel's latter-day praise, when, in their effective realization of the everlasting covenant, they will have become worshippers in spirit and in truth.
Its opening verse contains the touching response of the delivered and accepted nation—whose heart will then perceive and magnify those ways from which their fathers ignorantly erred—to the former testimonies of prophetic promise,108 which were to them who heard them spoken no better than the transient sweetness of a pleasant song. The Lord had now wrought in effectual power for their sakes, according to His remembered covenant of mercy and of truth.
They had been brought very low. The heathen, who had willingly forgotten their own professed subjection to the truth, and had again relapsed into idolatry of direst form, had taunted the small remnant of Jehovah, who seemed to them to speak vain words, because they chose their God before the mighty and fearful objects of the world's deluded homage (verse 2).109 But now He had arisen to their help.
From the heavens where He dwelt on high, He had caused the glory of His power to be seen and felt. He had done according to His pleasure (verse 3), and that pleasure was the deliverance of His people. He had been mindful (verse 12) of those whom He had seemed to have forgotten, while awaiting with long patience, the ripe completion of that thankless evil which had closed the long day of Gentile mercy in the mist of atheistic darkness, and filled to the brim the cup of human wickedness and folly.110
Victory and its fruits are theirs. For the day of the Lord's decision has arrived, and has made clean riddance of the banded adversaries of His name. But not unto themselves do they ascribe the praise, for the stony heart is no longer in their breasts. Instead of the lying flattery of self-deceived hypocrisy, or the presumptuous indifference of natural self-confidence, there is now within their inward parts the wisdom which is only taught of God111
And so it is of Him that they now make their boast; contrasting, with impressive minuteness of detail, the objects of the Gentiles' fatuous homage, with Him who is the helper and the shield of Jacob (verses 4-11).
In verses 12, 13, we find a gradation of blessing. The special mention of the house of Aaron is significant. In the day of Israel's apostasy, the priests, whose lips should have still kept knowledge, had led the people in the ways of error and of sin. As their father Aaron, before the time of his anointing came, had built an altar to the people's sin,112 evincing thus his personal unworthiness to be the minister of Jehovah's sanctuary, and the two eldest of his sons were consumed by the fire of God's jealousy at the very inauguration of the tabernacle worship,113 so, while the nation ripened in its evil growth, had both priest and prophet erred alike.114 But the grace which will restore the nation on the ground of covenanted promise, will reestablish it according to the appointed order of its tribes. The latter chapters of the prophet Ezekiel are full of descriptive detail as to the ordering of Israel's worship, in the day when the name of the earthly Jerusalem will be “The Lord is there." Priest and people will alike be blessed in that fair day of joy. The more general expression which follows (verse 13) may perhaps refer to the believing Gentiles, as distinguished from the natural heirs of blessing.
Verses 14, 15 seem to express the benediction of Immanuel,—then known, in the full revelation of His Melchisedec glory, as Priest of the Most High God, as well as King of righteousness and King of peace,—pronounced upon the favored people of His heritage.
The sixteenth verse is very emphatic and conclusive as to the strictly terrestrial scope of the action of the present Psalm; it is also full of beauty, when read in connection with what follows, as a descriptive declaration of the effect of "the Regeneration"115 on this lower scene. For until then, man has rather been given to the earth than the earth to the sons of men. It is but a place of graves, and the day of death seems better than the day of birth, so long as men walk in no brighter light than that of the sun.116 But now all is changed; "the Resurrection and the Life" is the accepted ruler of the world, and they who walk in His light will look through the long day of terrestrial peace, not to the cold shadows of the night of death, but to the y et brighter glory of the life to come.117
Psalm 116
As this Psalm (unlike in this respect the greater number of those which bear a strongly experimental cast) is without a title, we cannot know either its instrumental authorship or the particular occasion of its composition. That its true prophetic object is Jesus, as alive from the dead, is very generally recognized among well-taught Christians. But because the risen Savior is His people's life,118 and because therefore it is the distinctive privilege of faith, while yet in the present world, to confess the standing and acceptance of the Beloved as its own,119 the language of this most sweet and deeply touching song of deliverance is a fit as well as rich expression of the believer's conscious blessedness as an expectant heir of salvation.
We may remark, however, that features characteristically Jewish are discernible, more especially in its closing verse. There seems indeed to be an especial reference throughout to the earthly city and people of Messiah's love. But in its complete sense the Psalm has a very much wider scope.
The opening verses (1-4) are full of rich and peculiar significance in their direct application to Messiah. Jesus had plainly proved His love to Him that sent Him by accepting and fulfilling the commandment that ordained the Lamb of God to die.120 He had not put away the cup of bitterness when the hour of the Father's will arrived, although strong crying and tears accompanied the supplications which He offered for His soul's deliverance (verse 4).121 And now that that deliverance is come, and Jesus—receiving life, as He had consented to the pains of death, at the just good pleasure of the Father—has been brought back from the dead by the glory of His power, He binds Himself anew to be the Minister of God in everlasting praise, even as He had already served Him in loving obedience unto death. “He liveth unto God."The words which He uttered, with His eyes upraised to heaven, when, just before He left the world, He said," Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee,122 seem to find their prophetic realization in the second verse of the present Psalm. Jesus lived and died to glorify the Father. He lives again, according to the power of an endless life, for the same glory. Having been “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father," He celebrates forever, as the first-fruits of resurrection,123 the praises of Him who answered thus in righteousness the dying appeal of His obedient Son.
But it was not for His own sake that Jesus sanctified Himself and went on high,124 but that they who here confess His name might be separated even now, by virtue of His finished work of redemption, to offer acceptable sacrifices in His name.125 And so it is as the leader of His people's worship that He comes before us in the following verse: "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful" (verse 5). It is thus that Jesus, having entered on the rich reward of His accepted work, associates with Himself, in ever blessed participation of His joys, the believing receivers of that abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, whose most sure hope it is to reign in life by Him.126
In the verses immediately following (6-11) we have an amplification, full of richest blessing, of the general thesis of the Psalm. It was as one of the “simple"127 that Jesus owned the faithful preservation of Jehovah, who helped Him when brought low (verse 6). He might be truly thus described, when, in self-emptied humiliation, He entered on the course of human obedience at its natural beginning. As He rose in stature from infancy to manhood, so He grew in wisdom upon that which maketh wise the simple.128
He stood and walked among the guileful men who watched His steps, as the self-revealing and apparent light of purity and truth.
He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, though in perfect grace His very holiness became the shelter of the broken and contrite sinner in his time of need.129 For His presence in the world was not to judge, but to deliver, as the messenger and personal reality of love. Yet Jesus Was brought low. He willingly descended to become Himself the subject of delivering power. He who alone knew the Father was capable (because so truly Man) of tasting and enjoying mercy as an attribute of God, differing from His people in this only, that He merited what He enjoyed. The baptism of mortal suffering was willingly endured by Jesus, that the loosing of the cords of death might redound to His eternal praise who would not suffer His Holy One to see corruption. The return of Jesus to His rests130 should be as the receiver of the blessings of Divine reward (verse 7). He would enter on the universal inheritance by a new and special title of appointment.131 His name must be exalted above every name, to the glory of God the Father.132
And now all this was done. Jehovah, whose delight He always was, and who upheld Him as His servant, had brought Him now triumphantly past all His sorrow (verse 8). The latter clause of this verse is most interesting as an expression of the complete dependence with which Jesus leaned on Him whom He had come to serve. It was not in the Perfect One to fall. Yet as He went about doing good, He walked beneath the unction and in the power of the Holy Ghost.133 It was His delight to own the Father as the doer of the works.134
Thus too it was, that whether in the presence of the tempter in the wilderness, or at the closing scene of His last agony, His words and acts were straightly fashioned to the written pattern of the will of God. By that word also had His deliverance been wrought, when, after man and Satan had accomplished all their part, the buried Son of God revived and left the grave.135
As Jesus once had walked before Jehovah in the land of vanity—Himself the only living One (save as in grace He imparted of His own to the chosen vessels of His love) amid a world of death—so would He walk, as the anointed Head of Redemption, in the land of the living (verse 9). He will be known in the new and fully blest creation as the upholding power, the center and the crown of everything which, either in the heavens or on earth, rejoices in the glad dominion of the Resurrection and the Life.
Verses 10, 11 seem strikingly to express the deep emotions of the soul of Jesus when, from the midst of His "great affliction," He lifted up His heart in unabated trust to God, though disappointment and dismay were about His lonely path on every side.136 The experience which He gathered for Himself (although He was no stranger, as the Maker of His creatures, to the true condition of His now corrupted work) of what was in the heart of man, pressed sorely and with weary weight upon a heart whose chief desire was to bless, but which could only bless with truth. But none were found to welcome love in truth. The hearts of those who would have worshipped for gain's sake,137 the visible power which wrought miraculously works of goodness in their sight, were hardened into stone against the voice of Jesus, when He spake the words of God.138 All men were liars when, by contact with the only truth, the secrets of their hearts were brought to light.139
The remaining verses contain much that is of the highest practical value to the Christian. Looking thus at verses 12, 13, we find that the most grateful recompense which the vessel of God's mercy can render to the Creator of his joy is praise. "I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." The Spirit leads continually the souls which once have tasted that the Lord is gracious to drink still deeper of the love of Christ. Praise thus abounds, with strength for true and acceptable service; for faith can only work by love.
Verse 15 should not be unnoticed. The death of His saints is precious in Jehovah's sight. This is universally true; for He is ever glorified in those who, in the hour of nature's dissolution, can assert a sober claim to endless life and blessedness, because their trust is in the living God. He is not ashamed of such. But more especially He is glorified in those to whom it is given, on the behalf of Christ, to suffer for His name's sake to the death. Nor should the moral meaning of this verse be overlooked.
To bear about in a body yet alive, the dying of the Lord; to die a daily death, and willingly to hate one's present life for the better knowledge of the power of the resurrection; to walk according to his rule who said, "Not I, but Christ," such things are grateful in the Father's sight. But to do this is only to confess the truth in act; since death here is the recorded state of those whose life is their ascended Lord.140
On the residue of the Psalm no lengthened observations seem at present needful, very full of matter as they are. With verse 16 compare Luke 1:3838And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38).141 It is in the closing verse that the distinctly Jewish coloring is most clearly apparent.
Psalm 117
THE position of this little Psalm is remarkable. It stands almost like an intended preface to the one which follows. For while in the latter we have one of the fullest and most emphatic celebrations of Israel's deliverance and final triumph, the particular rehearsal of national blessing is here preceded by a general summons, addressed to the nations of the world. They are provoked to Jehovah's praises, as the God of truth, on the part of those who then will be the standing witnesses, in full accomplished favor, of His faithfulness whose gifts and promises are without repentance, and in whose restored mercy to His once rejected people is contained the pledge of more abundant blessing to the families of earth.142
Psalm 118
NOTHING can surpass the force and majesty, as well as the richly varied beauty, of this Psalm. Its general burden-is quite manifest. It is the prophetic expression, by the Spirit of Christ, of that exultant strain of anticipative triumph, wherein the virgin daughter of Zion will laugh to scorn, in the immediate prospect of her Deliverer's advent,143 the congregated armies of the Man of Sin (verses 10-13.)
The subject is presented in a marvelous fullness and richness of detail. There is (1) the general celebration of mercy as the now apparent rest and stability of the nation, through the manifestation of the Rock of Israel in the person of the once rejected stone (verses 1-4, 22). There is (2) a memorial of the past dealings of Jehovah with His people, until, from the low place of their last distress, they cried to Him and had been heard (verses 5-7). (3) The full and grateful expression of confidence and rejoicing in Him is put in contrast with their former vain and fruitless reliance on the creature (verses 8, 9). All now redounds to the praise of the glory of His grace who had showed them light. There is moreover a clear and strong assertion of righteousness as their assured and settled standing (verses 19, 20). No longer a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity,144 they claim the right of entrance at the gates of righteousness, as the nation which Jehovah has both justified and saved.145 He had saved them in the faithfulness of covenanted mercy, though they had known His hand in heavy chastenings, because of their transgressions (verse 18).
The leading strains of the songs, both of Moses and of the Lamb, are found in the present Psalm. Realized redemption, that is, and confident rejoicing in the imputed righteousness of God, are laid as the basis of that triumphant earthly prosperity which was to result from their deliverance out of the hand of the enemy (as in the days of Egypt), by the manifestation of Divine power in judgment.
But the essence and sustaining spring of all this joy is Christ, now known as the marvelous Light, into which they who had long groped, though at noon-day,146 in thickest darkness, have been effectually brought. The Right Hand of Jehovah was exalted. And in the lifting up of Himself in judgment, for His own name's sake, He had become the salvation of the sorely pressed remnant of His nation (verse 14).147
The seventeenth verse expresses, with much power and sweetness, the unshaken stability of their faith when, girt with fear on every side, His people think upon the covenanted faithfulness and power of God,148 and joyfully anticipate the rehearsal of His mighty acts.
The latter verses of this Psalm demand especial attention. For it is from thence that two of the most remarkable and emphatic quotations at any time made by our Lord in the days of His flesh were taken. The general drift of the former of these references149 is easily perceived; and in its bearing upon what is called the Church dispensation has been accepted universally by those who love the truth. Jesus, whom the nation and its rulers crucified, and whom God raised from the dead, is revealed from heaven as the head stone of the corner,150 the alone Rock of salvation, to the believing sinner. Upon that Rock the Church now rests, and will remain forever151 But although the confession of that name, which should have been the nation's glory, is now distinctive of the Gentile rather than the Jew,152 and wrath has long since set in fiercely on the blinded rejecters of their own mercies;153 yet it is not to be always thus. The stone which the fathers threw aside, because it could not strengthen their foundation of self-righteousness, will yet be brought forth to view, and owned with joyful acclamation, when the veil of Israel's darkness is removed at the appearing of the Lord.
Accordingly, in the second of the two quotations referred to, the Lord, at the conclusion of His solemn denunciation of the unregenerate circumcision, assigns definitely the prophetic limits within which the period of Jerusalem's judicial blindness should have its full effect. They had seen Him, and rejected Him. They should desire and not see Him: “Behold, your house is left unto you., desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, until ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh, in the name of the Lord."154
Such is the remarkable language in which the Wisdom of God155 expressed Himself, when about to retire to His place until the set time of national repentance should arrive.156
It is plainly evident from these words that the same Jerusalem, that once rejected her Redeemer, is hereafter to receive Him. Israel, that is, will be converted as a nation to the Lord. But by what means, and under what circumstances will this take place? I need not recapitulate what has been alleged in the progress of these Notes as scriptural evidence on this point. Our question now is rather with the present Psalm, to which there attaches so peculiar an importance from its having been thus quoted by the Lord. Now an attentive perusal of its general contents can scarcely fail to convince a simple mind of the following facts: 1. That the subject of this Psalm is Israel rather than the Church.157 That it relates to a mighty national deliverance of a temporal kind (verses 10-13). 3. That this deliverance is connected, in the Spirit's view, with the yet greater blessing of emancipation from spiritual bondage—an emergence from natural darkness into spiritual light and life (verses 22-27). 4. That this double grace is effected by the advent of the Deliverer in person (verse 26);158 and lastly, that by the necessary meaning of the Lord's words above quoted, the messenger of covenanted mercy, who thus revisits with effectual salvation the long forsaken place of His name, is none other than the once rejected stone of Israel's offence.
That nation which once knew Jehovah at Mount Sinai by a sight and contact of judicial dread, and has since beheld the cloudy witness of His presence as it filled the pattern of the heavenly things,159 will know Him in the apparent brightness of His majesty when, as the God of truth and love, He openly reveals Himself in Jesus to the well-remembered people of His covenant.
It is the prophetic anticipation of that day that finds its expression in this noble strain. Man's day had run its course of evil, and Jehovah's day was come: a day of terror to His adversaries, but of joyful triumph to the people who had waited patiently for Him. They had waited, though still dark within,160 until the dawning of the day in which the Sun of righteousness should shine with healing in His wings. And now the morning of their hope was come (verse 24). They knew Jehovah as their God indeed, in the light of His apparent Christ. For thus had He revealed Himself as their salvation and their strength (verse 2-7). At this discovery of joy, their praises—long silent while Jerusalem remained a scornful treading of the Gentiles161—now break freshly forth. The habitation which Moses had desired to prepare,162 when he taught their fathers to extol the God who had redeemed them out of Egypt, shall become Jehovah's grateful and abiding rest. He will regard His earthly heritage in the complacence of enduring favor, by virtue of the Lamb's atoning blood.
The ancient formula of praise (verse 29), but little understood by the multitudes who sung it, in dark ignorance of their own heart's cureless evil, will then become the just expression of far deeper emotions than any outward dispensation of Jehovah's goodness could excite. The grace of God, profoundly understood, because received by a conscience made thoroughly alive to the fearful measure of the nation's guilt, will animate with joy unspeakable the hearts of those whose voices will make glad and tuneful melody to the God of their salvation in that day.
The Christian reader will hardly need to be assured, that to him pertains, in a sense yet higher than its primary one, the full enjoyment of this magnificent Psalm. By how much heavenly things excel earthly, by so much does the believer, who rightly estimates his calling, find the volume of his song of deliverance enlarged. Rest with Christ in heavenly places, without hope or desire of earthly prosperity, is the portion of those who now glory in Him who has spoiled principalities and powers.163 Meanwhile, to the heart that groans because of the long deferring of the creature's hope, and that finds all its interests and desires to be alone in Him whose dying love is its redemption from the present world, no utterance of the Spirit of Jesus which revives our too languid expectation of the time of His appearing can ever fail to bring an increase both of patience and of hope.
Nor is it only thus that we are interested in such Psalms. As has been more than once remarked, the things to come are ours. We have our part in ransomed Israel's joy, because united evermore to Him who is the Maker and the Fountain of that joy. It is with the holy myriads of His glorified saints that the light of Israel will come.164 He will be marveled at and glorified in them that now believe.165
Psalm 119
ON the value of this very remarkable Psalm to the lover of God's testimonies, it is needless to insist. Nothing like a detailed exposition of it can be ventured on in the present work; but a cursory notice of its general contents, with a view to an estimate of its own peculiar character, may not be out of place.
Its tone is in a high degree experimental. Purity of heart is not so much in question as purity of walk. That is, there is everywhere present the evidence of a faith which, when the grace of God is known in truth, purifies the heart of the believer; but the soul has not yet had revealed to it an object to which it can look in peaceful forgetfulness of itself. The darkness still continues, and the true light is wished for rather than enjoyed.
It is very manifestly the expression of one who discerned in his inner man the excellent perfection of the law,166 and whose whole heart, therefore, was set on its attempted fulfillment. The zeal of Jehovah, as that which marks distinctively the spiritual man, is plainly visible through every expression of human weakness and distress with which the Psalm abounds. A deep and still increasing consciousness of personal insufficiency—of the vanity of the creature under all circumstances,—finds its relief and compensation in the remembrance of the enduring and unchanging truth of Jehovah as a Savior in His righteousness (verse 40).
But this salvation is an object of desire rather than an enjoyed possession (verse 123). The soul, profoundly versed in the intricacies of human evil, and heavy at the spectacle of prosperous ungodliness, finds hope and refuge in the testimonies of promise; while, under the painful tuition of the law (painful rather because of intrinsic weakness than of proved evil), the prevailing tone of its experience is sadness more than joy. There is a striking union of full integrity of purpose with a pervading sense of failure and distress. The secret workings of a mind whose pureness is of God,167 while undergoing the process of actual conflict,168 plainly discover themselves in every part.
Hope is the prevailing element all through. Clouds, fraught heavily with darkness and with sorrow, intervene. But the master principle of the Psalm is confidence in God. Sin, in the form of transgression, takes no prominent place. Jehovah's chastenings are owned, indeed, with grateful recognition of their need and their effect; but in general it is the weakness and un-profitableness of the flesh—the experienced inability of the creature to stand without God—that is here displayed, rather than the agony of a self-upbraiding conscience.
One leading feature of this Psalm is its emphatic recognition of the word of God in all its breadth and fullness. Commandments, statutes, precepts, and testimonies, are severally specified, and receive like honor in the heart of the true servant of Jehovah. Patient continuance in well-doing is the practical tenor of a walk thus governed. Shrinking from contact with the world of ungodliness is not less strongly marked than are the heart-flowings of pure sympathy towards those who fear the lord. There is an abiding sense of near temptation and danger; but the testimonies of the Lord, held fast by faith, are as a continual deliverance—an ever-springing confidence and joy which rises still above the felt measure of trial and distress.
The complete identification of life with obedience is strikingly put (verses 17, 117). To live and to serve the living God are, in the estimation of the man of God, the self-same thing. Strangership is experienced as the necessary result of practical faithfulness in a world of sin. Darkness and imperfect knowledge of the truth are frequently complained of, while the heart continues fixed with fullest trust on God, awaiting patiently His time.
His truth and acts alone interest the soul. All else is as darkness and death. Evil is hated with an intense abhorrence, because the Lord is loved entirely. Hence sinners are disowned, and the judgments of Jehovah in righteousness make for the refreshment of the believer's hope. Suffering for righteousness' sake is endured. But the Lord is known in comfort, seeing that it is against Him that the reproach is leveled which thus lights upon the servant of His name. The proud oppressors are appealed from to Jehovah, to whom, as the faithful Creator, alone pertained the right of ownership and government of the creature. His rights were denied by the wicked, who willingly forgot Him. Persecution thus becomes the necessary accompaniment of faithfulness. But the word of Jehovah is settled in heaven. The earth also is His.
Still, hope is deferred. Hence fainting of heart ensues, with sore trial of faith and patience, while wickedness exalts itself in power against Jehovah's name. But faithful endurance continues to the end, through the sustaining power of God.
The entire Psalm affords a moral portraiture of “an Israelite indeed"169—an inward Jew.170 There are in it many passages which are applicable in their full extent to the JUST ONE171 alone. But in its prophetic aspect it relates, I believe, to the suffering remnant of the nation as its true subject. Its contrarieties of expression are on this supposition quite intelligible. The same Spirit of Christ who notes in confession the wanderings of the people, can also vindicate the devotedness of the holy seed, who stick to the testimonies and do not wander from the precepts which they love. The Psalm may, therefore, be regarded as His voice pleading in the latter-day remnant of them that fear the Lord, on the ground of the everlasting promises. The traditions of men are given up, and their heart is turned in truth to seek Jehovah and His goodness in the latter day.172
As a companion to the believer now, in his standing character as a man of God,—desiring thus to shape his walk in practical holiness in the day of evil, and consoling himself while in the house of his pilgrimage with the melody of God's fixed purposes in Christ (verse 54),—the value of this Psalm cannot be overrated, though its prevailing tone is plainly diverse from that of Christian confidence and rejoicing, as the realized effects of finished grace.
Psalm 120
A SONG of degrees173 He who sings it has been heard in his distress. The Psalm is thus a memorial of Jehovah's faithfulness to His prisoners of hope, and seems in its general language to rehearse the special topics of that supplication to which answer has been made.
The voice of this cry, heard often doubtless from God's suffering elect, comes finally, I think, from Jehovah's remnant while yet in the wilderness of the nations. It is touchingly descriptive of the sorrows felt and painfully endured by the heart of a stranger, detained reluctantly (until the hour of deliverance should come) among those whose ways and words were a daily vexing of soul to such as feared the Lord. Mesech and Kedar may be accepted in a general sense for the alien enemies of Israel.
The Psalm presents difficulties in its construction.174 Nor is it easy to assign to it a definite prophetic action. Its moral application to such as now, by patient continuance in well-doing, endure the reproach of Christ, is sufficiently clear. Many a calumniated follower of Jesus may have found in the last three verses the comfort of the Spirit's sympathy with his distress. Still, the proper character of the Psalm is evidently Jewish.
Psalm 121
THIS most exquisite Psalm divides itself into two unequal parts. In the first two verses there is the confident expression of a trustful assurance,175 which calls forth, as its Divine response, the rich and varied benediction which fills the remainder of the Psalm.
The mountains176 had been once the trust of Israel; when, in their day of pride, they had leaned upon the creature more than the Creator. But that help had only been to them a pitfall of destruction. They had stumbled and fallen, and been snared and broken. And now, awaking from the long and dishonored slumber of their night of blindness, they turn to seek for Israel's Savior in the alone Maker of heaven and of earth.177
Nor do they turn to Him in vain. A more than gracious answer is ready on His part who waited to be gracious, and whose affliction had been also in their grief, although in righteous judgment He had hidden from them the shining of His countenance in their day of un-repented sin.178 Because of their renunciation of creature confidence, He is now enabled to declare Himself again as Israel's keeper. He had been this through the long night of national apostasy, suffering no grain to fall to the ground of that wheat which He was sifting for Himself.179 And now He who had watched over them in displeasure, for their hurt, was turned to be the vigilant securer of His people's rest. Temporal and spiritual blessings are pledged to them alike. The seventh verse contains the climax. In the last verse, a reference is made to the set time180 at which this most sweet prophecy of peace and blessing shall take effect upon its destined and well-remembered object.
Meanwhile, let the believer, whose light of salvation is in the face of Jesus Christ, delight himself abundantly in meditating on the manner of that custody with which his soul' is kept secure from every ill, by the faithful vigilance and power of a sleepless Savior. Faith must be in active operation, or this Psalm will not be truly enjoyed. But one look of faith, directed in simplicity to Jesus, discovers Him to be the faithful Shepherd of the sheep.181 He is this. He will act in character. Happy are we if, with simple trust, we do its best honor to His love by unreservedly reposing on it. His Spirit elsewhere says, “I would have you without care." We find the reason of this exhortation in such a view as He has here presented to us of the Divine Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
Psalm 122
A VERY striking as well as lovely view is here prophetically given of the fullness of terrestrial happiness, which is to be Israel's portion in the latter day. It is a song of peace and rest, of quietness and assurance, the sanction and sustaining power of which is the name of Jehovah, whose presence in His own house is the gracious evidence of His having returned with mercies to Jerusalem. That the earthly Jerusalem, and not the heavenly, is the subject of this Psalm is very evident; for the tribes do not go up to the latter to give thanks, nor are the thrones of David's house set there;182 nor, lastly, is any house or temple of God discernible in that abiding city of His rest.183
Verses 3, 4 express the perfect union in blessing of the entire nation. Ephraim no longer envies Judah, nor does Judah vex Ephraim. They flow together as a testimony to Israel.184
Verse 5 records the royal pre-eminence of Jerusalem.
The seat of judgment is there. The King of righteousness and King of peace will hold His court of earthly dominion in the place which witnessed once His shame. Thrones more than one are there. For there are chosen assessors of that judgment, for whom especial grace has set apart that seat.185 Nothing can be clearer than the language of this Psalm as a prophetic testimony of the very plainest description to the future restoration of the kingdom to Israel.186
With verse 6 we may compare Isa. 60:12; 66:10, 1112For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)
10Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: 11That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. (Isaiah 66:10‑11)
; Psa. 48:22Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. (Psalm 48:2). Prosperity is never made to depend upon men's loving the heavenly Jerusalem. That is not preached in the world, but Christ. There is a sense in which such a Psalm as this may be applied to heavenly things. But it is safer, and infinitely more profitable, to endeavor to mark the riches of our portion in Christ according to the sure lines of blessedness with which the Spirit of revelation has described them, than to be seeking in Scriptures of palpably Jewish intention for the ornaments of the Lamb's heavenly bride. God is jealous for His own name. If we do not give Him glory as the God of Israel, we are surely in danger of that snare from which the chosen expounder of God's dispensational wisdom so earnestly endeavored to preserve the Church.187
Psalm 123
A PRAYER truly applicable, as far as it is an expression of hopeful patience, to the Church when in her honored place of wrongful suffering for Jesus' sake. But in the leading tone of its complaint it differs materially from that which the Spirit of adoption now puts into the hearts of God's saints. That Christians should be exceedingly filled with contempt is their very highest honor and chief joy, so long as it is the Master's reproach that they endure;188 for it belongs to their calling by the grace of God that they should drink a portion of their Master's cup.189 With a Jew it was precisely the opposite of this; so far, that is, as the respective dispensations are concerned. But the sufferings of godliness at the hands of ungodliness, have a standing moral resemblance in every dispensation and at all times. Hence the latter-day Christian, whose attitude, in the midst of general defection from the truth, is prayerful waiting for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ,190 and whose heaviness of heart is very far more because of the estrangement which truth makes within the professing household of faith, than on account of the direct hostility of that which denies without compromise the name of Christ,191 may find u sweet yet solemn consolation in this Psalm.
Its true subject is, I doubt not, the despised remnant of Judah, who, immediately before the Lord arises from His place, are brought more low than ever beneath the feet of the scornful men who dwell at ease' in Jerusalem. They will be despised exceedingly by those who will think scorn of the hope of them that wait truly for Jehovah, while their own hearts are fattened on the lying delusion of the covenant with death, on which their momentary prosperity is founded.192 But the Lord is the avenger of such as suffer for His name. He will have respect unto the lowly, and will hear their cry.
Psalm 124
A SONG for the escaped of Israel,193 to be sung in the day of the Lord's deliverance. It was from the wrath of man that they had been delivered. Men had oppressed them. Their conflict had been with flesh and blood, though Satanic power had stirred up and directed the rage of the oppressor. But the Name in which they put their trust had been their effectual deliverance.
A Christian's conflict, so far as it attaches to him characteristically as a partaker of the heavenly calling, is not with flesh and blood.194 He is indeed to beware of men; he is to reckon on persecution, if his purpose be a godly walk in Christ. He may have to suffer outward injury as an immediate infliction of the wrath of man. Nay, until Jesus comes to assert in power His rights as Lord of all, the believer's outward sufferings in Satan's world must be proportioned to his faith. For the disciple's honor is to taste the Master's cup.195 But his conflicts as a man in Christ are with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. He has to fight for Christ against the world, the devil, and the flesh. In the van of this last enemy he finds himself —his old and cureless nature of corruption. The whole armor of God is furnished for a species of contest which supposes for the soldier of Christ a standing materially different from what is commonly indicated in the Psalms. On the other hand, under the actual pressure of persecution, the experience of the sufferers in any dispensation is practically alike. Both suffer for truth and righteousness' sake; while the help of each is in the alone faithful Creator and Deliverer of His saints.
To resume. Man had set himself against God. But as the Maker of heaven and earth He had avenged His name (verse 8). The nations were angry;196 but there sat One in the heavens who laughed that wrath to scorn.197 Israel's folly had forged for his neck the weighty chain of Gentile oppression, but covenanted grace had abounded over his transgression. Jehovah was found to be on Israel's side, because it was with that name that He had clothed Himself in ancient promise, as with a garment of majesty and praise. The God of all the earth is Israel's Holy One while earth and heaven last.198
Psalm 125
THE starting point in the action of this Psalm, regarded prophetically, is the settlement of Israel safely in Immanuel's land. Faith's eye had always rested on Jehovah as the eternal refuge of His people.199 But the faithful promises have now been turned to facts. From henceforth, He will be about His once-forgotten people, as the ancient mountains round about Jerusalem.200
But the people are to dwell alone.201 As the righteous nation, keeping the truth, the lot of their inheritance is separate from Gentile participation. The land is Immanuel’s, and they, as His people, are called to be holy (verse 3).
Uprightness of heart will be the practical test of citizenship in Israel in the millennial age.202 The flesh will not be changed, but Satan will be bound. Instead of the active influence of His temptations on the old nature, there will be the ever present and abundant power of the Spirit. The visible effulgence also of Divine glory will be there, to shame and abash every motion of natural sin, and to draw out and invigorate all gracious affections. The just Lord, in the midst of the city of His choice,203 will be their light and covering of defense. The case of sin is, however, provided for; but in judgment, not in mercy. For it is the reign of righteousness, though mercy be the sure foundation of Jehovah's dealings with His people.
Verse 5 appears to contemplate the discovery of treachery and backsliding as a thing possible even in the land!'204But assuredly the nation in general will be a righteous nation. Nothing is clearer from Scripture than this. Still there may be (analogously to what takes place in the Church) a disciplinary chastisement needed at times by men who, though so richly blessed, remain as yet in a body of unchanged flesh. But after the purgation of Zion's filth by the Spirit of burning,205 the root and branches of Israel will be alike holy. As a nation they will be willingly subject to the scepter of righteousness. For the law of Jehovah will be written on their hearts, and those hearts will themselves be new. Peace will abide on such.206
This is plainly a millennial Psalm. In the meanwhile the Christian knows full well the force and blessing of the first two verses. The Lord is ever about the people of His love. With an eternal stability the blood-cleansed vessels of Divine mercy abide irremovable upon the tried Foundation of their hope.
Psalm 126
A MOST beautiful little Psalm. The bold flight of prophetic anticipation here gathers in, for the refreshment of them that wait still with tearful patience as prisoners of hope, the sweet fruits of accomplished deliverance and victory.
Its language can with no propriety be applied to the return from Babylon. There was nothing in the circumstances of that return or in its results, as they are detailed in Scripture, which may worthily be regarded as a fulfillment of verse 2. There was little to remind the heathen of the mighty working of the God of Jacob, in the permissive, return of such of Cyrus' Jewish subjects as might be so disposed, to the wasted land of their fathers, without prejudice to the still acknowledged rights of the scepter of Gentile supremacy.207
In the latter verses we have, I believe, a reference to the time of Israel's repentance, when they will sow the seed of future joy in the fallow ground of a repentant heart, which Jehovah will have given them in the latter days.208 But there is probably a more particular allusion to the suffering remnant who will have to bear in Zion itself their weeping testimony in the midst of blasphemy and persecution. They will sigh and cry for the abominations of that city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt.
And those tears will fall into the Lord's bottle as a precious memorial, to be acknowledged in due time.
But in a fuller, deeper sense, the sower in tears is the Man of sorrows Himself. Believers know Him thus. He has accomplished, in the sore travail of His soul, the seed time of affliction which is to bear its satisfying harvest when He shall again appear as the reaper of His own reward. He will fill His bosom with sheaves in that day of joy. The garner of His gladness will be filled to overflowing. By how much His affliction surpassed the natural measure of human grief, when He underwent for our sakes the dread realities of death and judgment; by so much shall the fullness of His pure delight as the eternal blesser of His people excel their joy (yet what a measure, too, is theirs!) whose sum of blessedness is to be forever with the Lord.
Specifically, however, the subject of this Psalm is Israel rather than the Church. The Bridegroom of the Church is also the Shepherd of Israel; to be manifested in both these characters in a little while. The lambs of His ancient fold will be gathered to His bosom, who will seek His flock upon the mountains in the dark and cloudy day.209 He will turn the, shame of His afflicted people, who yet cleave to Him, to glory. Like rivers in the south shall be the replenishing of the waste places of Immanuel's land with the rich fatness of Jehovah's blessing.
In their moral application to the believer, as a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, the last two verses are full of sweetest comfort and encouragement. Sowing in hope is characteristically descriptive of true spiritual service. The harvest surely awaits the laborer who does not faint.210
There is much in every godly man's experience to induce faintness, but the God of patience and of hope is the sustainer of faith's, husbandry. Bread must be cast in the sowing of the word of grace, as if to waste, upon the thankless bosom of the sea of nations;211 but it is not lost. Its return will be with increase at the time appointed. Long patience must, indeed, be had; yet the morning of the Lord is drawing nigh. In that day it will be manifested in a wondrous sort, that they whose labor has not been to please themselves, but for His sake who died for them, and rose again, have not bestowed their little strength in vain.212
Psalm 127
WITH one exception213 this is the only Psalm which bears on its title the name of Solomon.
It is a very lovely expression of wise-hearted peace and contentment,214 wherein the entire vanity of the creature is recognized by those who are delighting themselves in the overflowing blessings of Divine goodness. It is under the scepter of Jesus, the true Solomon, that the sweet security of unmolested peace shall be tasted by the people, who will need no more the refuge of defenced cities in a land whose living bulwark is the Lord of hosts.215
The former generation will have passed away, and the fountain of Israel will send forth fresh streams of life and happiness, when its waters shall have been healed by the effectual virtue of regenerating grace.
The house and the city are the Lord's. He will be trusted as the builder and the keeper of His people's rest.
Beneath the covert of His wings sweet sleep will visit His beloved ones. In the second verse there is an allusion, I believe, to the dropping of the manna around the sleeping hosts of Israel in the wilderness.216 His people's portions shall be fat. With royal dainties He will satisfy the household of His care.217
The latter-day happiness and prosperity of the earthly Zion appear to be especially prefigured in the beautiful language of the concluding verses. Known again as a wife of youth, in the covenant of a wedlock which shall never more be broken, her children will be worthy of Him who is both her Maker and her Spouse.218 They will be no more a shame and a reproach on account of their degeneracy. Everywhere they shall be acknowledged among the nations as the seed which the Lord hath blessed.219 With the last verse we may compare Zech. 9:13,1413When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. 14And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. (Zechariah 9:13‑14).
To the Christian who, as a child of redemption, sees nothing in the wide sphere of natural things that is not Christ's, and toils contentedly beneath the appointed burden of his days of vanity, until He come who is to change for him dishonor and mortality to deathless glory and delight, the earlier verses of this Psalm are full of sweetness and comfort. To be careful for nothing, in the calm and holy assurance that God is for our sakes caring for everything, is the perfection of that confidence which is well-pleasing in the Father's sight.220
Psalm 128
WE have now an individualized presentation of the same general blessings which form the subject of the foregoing Psalm. The true Israelite is here contemplated in the light of his own particular portion of Jehovah's favor. Beneath the vine and the fig-tree of realized domestic peace, the man whom God enriches with His blessing, and satisfies with His bounteous goodness, is here shown to us in the tranquil enjoyment of a sanctified earthly rest.
The cause of his contentment is revealed in the opening verse of the Psalm. The blessedness described is that of the man that feareth Jehovah and that walketh in His ways. And Israel will walk both willingly and prosperously in those ways of blessing when, on the fleshy tables of their hearts, there has been engraven by the Spirit of the living God the perfect testimony of His truth, according to the tenor of new covenant promise. The inward Jew221 will bear on him abundantly the outward tokens of the praise of God. There is nothing of heaven in either of these Psalms. The blessings specified are distinctly and exclusively of earth. Heavenly things stand connected with them beyond all doubt; for heaven shall be opened in that day, and angels shall ascend and descend upon the Son of man;222 but the center of the scene presented here is Jerusalem on earth. The joys enumerated have no place in the incorruptible inheritance above.223
Quite as clearly the present Psalm fails of direct application to the Christian in his pilgrim state. Neither fullness of days,224 nor numerous offspring, nor temporal influence is attached as a covenanted result to faithful walking in Christ Jesus. The reason is simple. The believer, as a partaker of the heavenly calling, is a pilgrim while on earth. He is not such in a particular locality, or under special circumstances merely, but by virtue of the truth which joins him in heavenly places to the ascended Christ, and teaches him to glory in His cross while here below. To be earthly-minded now is as much to God's dishonor as it will be to His praise, when the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. The gracious blessings of the Father of mercies are upon His children ever. But the Spirit's warning now is, that "The time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it;225 for the fashion of this world passeth away."226
Such Psalms as these are really void of meaning on any other supposition than that of a coming dispensation of terrestrial blessedness, the crown and flower of which will be Immanuel's land. They are, in other words, important and emphatic, as well as most interesting, testimonies to the millennial age and its effects.
Psalm 129
THE subject of this Psalm is the righteousness of Jehovah as the avenger of His own name and the word of His truth, on behalf of the poor and oppressed people whose trust, amid the darkness of affliction, had been in the faithfulness of His covenanted mercy.
The intrinsic condition of those who are the subjects of deliverance is not here in question. It is the celebration, rather, of the holy award of judgment against that which had exalted itself, both in purpose and in act, against the counsels of the Lord. Hence the retrospect of Israel's history (verses 1-3) is not taken with reference to the nation's conduct as the professed people of God, although it was their own way which had procured to them these afflictions at the hand of the enemy. What is reviewed is the long-standing and aggravated injury and reproach which had been cast on them by their godless enemies, who, while they served unwittingly Jehovah's purpose, who used them as the rod of His displeasure in chastening His own, thought loftily of their own power, and ascribed their greatness to themselves. Meanwhile, their eye was evil towards Zion, because they deemed that Israel's prosperity was the diminishing of themselves.
But in lifting up their horn as Israel's oppressors, they had trampled on the rights and despised the name of Jehovah. For, from the youth-time of Israel, when He loosed for him the bands of Egypt, God had known the people as His own, and had openly proclaimed their name as His memorial before the nations of the earth. In devising cruelties against the seed of Jacob, the haters of Zion had consulted shame and ruin to themselves. For now their cords had been for ever cut asunder, while themselves remained a withering memorial of His truth and power, whose judgments while afar off they had slighted and despised.
The Psalm does not appear to point prophetically to any especial crisis. Its general terms would suit the catastrophe of Gog,227 as well as that of the confederate armies of the pre-millennial beast.
Psalm 130
A VERY precious Psalm. It is the truthful and gracious utterance to which the Holy Ghost, as the Spirit of grace and supplication, will move the humbled and contrite hearts of Israel's remnant in the latter day. They wait for redemption. And therefore to Jehovah, as the Redeemer of Israel (verse 7), they pour forth, the desires of their hopeful though afflicted hearts.
In principle we find in the present Psalm what has been many a time expressed to Godward by those who have held the position of a waiting remnant in the day of rebuke. Such language, doubtless, found an utterance from Anna's lips, and from the lips of those who then were joined with her in prayerful waiting for the Hope of Israel.228 Thus also had the earlier prophets felt and spoken when, amid distresses and afflictions, they had borne their witness to the coming day of promise. But its complete realization will only be when, in the closing hour of Israel's night of blindness, the fore-ordained vessels of Jehovah's mercy shall be brought, with contrite spirit, to discern their need of a Divine redemption from their sins. They will cling, as the children to whose fathers God had spoken in His truth, to the sure promises of a mercy (verse 5) which (long fulfilled in heaven in the living covenant of peace) will then be ripe for its effectual manifestation to the nation for which Jesus died.
The point of chief interest in the Psalm is the deep consciousness which the suppliants express of the simple helplessness of their condition as sinners before God. They cleave to Him in a believing discernment of His covenant name of mercy, while profoundly feeling their entire personal unfitness for His presence. Hence the promise is their stay. The declared character of Jehovah, according to the ancient revelation of His goodness, is the ground of all their hope.229 Forgiveness belongs to God, and they feel that forgiveness is their need. Iniquities encompass them; and in the privity of their hearts to the past error of their way, they feel and acknowledge that enquiries of judgment on Jehovah's part would shut out hope from all. They find themselves in the depths; nor can they lift themselves from thence.
Their own iniquity has placed them there, and now another hand than theirs must put forth strength to save them from the fruit of their own way. They had struggled long against the God of truth. Their fathers had gone zealously about to establish their own righteousness; but the result had been to deepen still more hopelessly the pit of their perdition. These things they now perceive and acknowledge with understanding hearts. Instead of work, their cry is now for mercy. Plenteous redemption may alone relieve them from the confessed abundance of their sin.
Such is always the crisis of God's work of salvation, whether in a nation or an individual. That He may act effectually as a Savior, He must bring to pass within the soul a complete and self-renouncing confession of His name, according to the glory of that name, as the pledge and witness both of grace and righteousness—of pure, unalterable holiness, yet of omnipotent mercy and forgiveness in the absoluteness and perfection of Divine sovereignty. The smitten sinner thus learns to bow in truth before the High God—justifying Him in His sayings, while cleaving, with unshaken confidence, to that covenanted grace which forms the necessary basis of all God's dealings with His ruined creature in the way of blessing. It is thus that the Holy Ghost will work, as the Spirit of convincing truth, upon the hearts of the preserved of Israel, when their time of repentance has arrived.
The Christian, who has tasted grace in Jesus, stands now upon another and widely different ground. It is not for forgiveness that he waits. For in the precious blood of Jesus, that is assured already to His faith 230, He stands in finished peace, because He stands in Christ. His hope is not to be redeemed from His iniquities; but that the work.
of redemption, whose completeness is Divinely witnessed to his spirit by the Holy Ghost, may be brought to its appointed crown and triumph in the transformation of his mortal body to the likeness of the Son of God.231 His "blessed hope" is Jesus, whose glorious appearing only tarries yet a little while; and whom, meanwhile, he knows as his Redeemer from all iniquity—as his eternal righteousness and sanctification in the sight of God.232
A Christian's true and natural place is not in the depths here spoken of, but in the sunshine of the hill of God.233 For lower than all depths of mortal experience has Jesus once descended, self-laden with our sins. He has arisen thence again. He has ascended, as the witness of effectual redemption, to a height above the heavens. And thither has He borne that Church for which He gave Himself to death. We are lifted therefore from these deeps, by faith in Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. As justified heirs of salvation, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
But while such is the believer's true position as a partaker of redemption, his practical experience may at times be such as to render the general language of this Psalm of exactest application to his case. Hope may have faded; and that peace, which should abidingly possess the once purged conscience, may have been disturbed by conscious failure in the path of obedience. A soul thus painfully in conflict may find sweet consolation in a Psalm which so aptly expresses the feelings of a heart that seeks again, by a recurrence to the changeless covenant of peace, the renewed enjoyment of its portion in the love of Christ. Verse 4 is more especially to be noted in this practical relation, It is only when the weight of Divine mercy in Christ is felt consciously in the spirit of the saint—abounding absolutely over all the measures and degrees of human sin—that the fear of Jehovah's name is effectually learned. As God is known, so sin is understood. It is then hated with a hatred and a dread proportioned to the admiration and deep heart-filling peace and joy with which the thoroughly restored believer regards the manner of the Father's love.
Psalm 131
ALTHOUGH the mind turns, as it were, instinctively towards the meek and lowly One,235 on reading this brief but sweet expression of humble trust and patient waiting upon God, its true subject seems rather to be Israel under the power of the Spirit of grace. Thus regarded, it affords a blessed contrast to a former state of the same Israel, when his pride testified to 'his face, and with a heart untamed by repeated visitations of sore judgment, he refused to turn and seek the God of his salvation.236
Morally, this Psalm presents the qualifications for an entrance into the kingdom of God.237
We have to submit ourselves to the righteousness of God.238 Israel has hitherto refused to do this. In going about to establish his own righteousness, he has haughtily exercised himself in a thing that is above him. In the pride of his stout-heartedness, he has despised the precious things of his salvation. Walking in a fancied competence of strength, he has stumbled, and is fallen upon the Stone of his offence. The very God of salvations has become a gin and snare to the perverse and disobedient people who falsely claim to know Jehovah still.239 But here the nation seems to be presented to us in its humbled state; made contrite, and so capable of blessing from the Lord;240 prepared thus for entrance into the kingdom of God, which, whether in its heavenly or earthly sphere, can be seen and entered only by the newborn children of the Spirit241 The closing verse appears to refer to the decisive point of time ("from henceforth," etc.) when Ephraim, sitting in sound mind at Messiah's feet, will say, "What have I to do any more with idols?" because of the tasted sweetness of Jehovah's grace.242
Psalm 132
THE afflictions of David are here made the occasion of an appeal to Jehovah's faithfulness for the performance of His sworn promise of blessing and prosperity to the throne of His Anointed. The promise had seemed to fail; instead of prosperity there had come affliction. Zion was a place of desolations rather than a city of solemnities. Still the covenant remained; Jehovah had sworn in truth, unto David (verse 11). Nor would He turn from the word that He had spoken, for He is not a man that He should repent. The faith of Israel's believing remnant will hold fast this word. They will stick unto His testimonies who cannot lie. The latter-day pleadings with Jehovah will be upon no other ground.
The two principles of law and grace have each its illustration in this Psalm. There is the building of David and the building of God. Hence we have (verse 12) a recital of conditional promise to the natural seed; while the elective will of Jehovah, who chooses Zion for a perpetual habitation (verses 13, 14), is declared as the security of a Divine fulfillment of the condition not less than the promises of the covenant, in the Person of the Lord Christ. The horn of David is to bud there (verse 17). Jehovah has ordained for His servant a lamp of everlasting brightness in the manifested glory of Him whose look of majesty is as when the sun shineth in his strength.243 The crown of earthly promise will flourish upon the true seed of David, while His enemies shall be withered with a perpetual reproach at His appearing who will order His dominion with a scepter of righteousness and truth (verse 18).244
It is interesting to compare verse 9 with 16. Their desire is: "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness." The answer of God is: “I will deck her priests with salvation."In the language of the new covenant, “salvation" and "righteousness" are almost convertible terms.245 But there seems a peculiar significance in the above adjustment of the terms. Righteousness becometh the priests of Him who is the righteous God; while, as to the manner of that righteousness, it is by the saving grace of His own mercy to His people and toward the place of His own name.
The present Psalm is closely related, as to its general drift, to Psa. 89 Here, however, the ostensive center of the subject is rather Zion than David. Jehovah has loved Zion. In her king He will exalt the horn of David. Joy and salvation are to be known there by His saints; while the source of the blessing, as well as its unfailing security, is Jesus, the anointed and glorified seed of David—the fulfillment of Jehovah's un-repented oath.
Much of this Psalm is both obviously and richly applicable to the new covenant blessing of the Church, as come already to Mount Zion.246But most clearly it is, in the main, a prophecy of earthly things. David's throne is not in heaven, nor ever will be, though He who is to sit on it be there. We are come in spirit to Mount Zion, as the gracious contrast to that former mount which might be touched. But it is to the heavenly Jerusalem that we are come; Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, is there. For those who have received the Lord, the wish of David has been gained already in the revelation of his seed. The temple of Christ's body, once destroyed by wicked hands, He has Himself raised up,247 and in its mystic expansion it is to abide for ever as the acceptable dwelling of Jehovah.248 Meanwhile the anxieties of David are in spirit and principle repeated in every right-hearted saint, whose desire, as a follower of Christ, must be to toil and suffer patiently until God's building be complete.249
Psalm 133
THIS exquisite little Psalm appears to express prophetically the lasting blessedness of the united tribes of Israel, when the envy of Ephraim shall have departed, and Judah shall vex Ephraim no more; but both shall delight themselves together in the rich abundance of Jehovah's goodness in the latter day.
Consummate social harmony, reposing for its basis on their vital oneness (verse 3), through their common knowledge of Him who is the propitiation of His people's sins, is the subject of this meditative strain. A new and secure stage is thus prepared, upon which to exhibit the spectacle of enduring pleasantness and beauty. Israel after the flesh has had his beauty turned to burning, because of the evil of his way. Human selfishness and iniquity corrupted the portion of Jehovah, and laid waste His pleasant plant. They had used, as men and for themselves, privileges and blessings which were the gifts of God. They had not stood in His goodness, because their heart was of stone and not of flesh. Every one had turned to his own way, and disunion and mutual strife had naturally followed. Walking in the counsel of their own hearts, the people who held still the outward distinction of Jehovah's name, had exhibited all the features of corrupted nature in their most repulsive aspect and in an exaggerated measure. They were brethren, indeed; but, hateful and hating one another, they still dishonored equally their common ancestry, while they mutually devoured and destroyed each other. For when the reality of a common relation to Jehovah was forgotten, the sympathies of nature were too weak a bond to hold together those who, as men, were capable of separate interests, and whose only true center of unity was the name and acknowledged presence of their God.
But the dispersions which have been the effect, and in part the punishment of the nation's apostasy, will yet again be followed by Israel's lasting union within the bonds of the new and better covenant of life. In the hands of the great Shepherd of Israel, the sticks of Judah and of Joseph will again unite.250 Israel shall dwell safely, and in full harmonious peace, after having been saved, not only from their outward foes, but from the multitude of their own iniquities, through the knowledge of Jesus as the righteous Branch.
In verse 2 There is revealed the instrumental power of the unity which the Spirit counts so pleasant and so good. It is not to be found in natural relationship simply. That had been tried, and had ended in dispersion and reproach. It is only when born of the Spirit that the tribes of Jacob will exemplify the blessings of perfect and unbroken unity. The precious ointment of the Aaronic consecration is used symbolically to express the blessing and power of that Divine unction which is already the believer's portion, and which will rest on Israel also in the day when the Spirit shall be poured upon them from on high.251
The pure joy of Him who, after so long separation from His brethren, who sold Him in their envy, shall again discover Himself to them as the Lord of all grace and power,—the rich possessor for their sakes of the exhaustless treasures of Divine goodness,—will descend to the least among the seed of blessing in that day. They will understand their blessings when the time of their rejoicing is arrived. What Balaam saw, when, in the vision of the Almighty, he beheld the tents of Jacob, and looked upon the tabernacles of Israel as on a garden of the Lord's delight, will be realized by the happy subjects of the blessing here described. Its springs are in His changeless love, whose first deliverance of His own from Egypt shall be forgotten, when a new oath of remembrance shall have been put into the mouth of the tribes, because of the second and yet mightier victory of Jehovah's arm.252 The Lord will array Himself with His people, and display them as the chief glory of His manifested comeliness, as the God of the whole earth. As a girdle of majesty shall the tribes of His inheritance be to Him in the day when the thoughts of His heart respecting them are accomplished.253 The pride of Judah shall no more be the snare of his destruction. As a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation, the united family of Israel shall abide in the unity of acceptable worship; a praise and a peculiar treasure to the Lord.
Verse 3 defines the locality of the promised blessing. It is Zion. On this subject, enough has been said in the remarks on the foregoing Psalm.
A word may now be added on the application of this most beautiful Psalm to things Christian. Richly as well as obviously does it thus apply. Yet with what mournful and condemnatory power, when the actual condition of the Church is contemplated! That Christ's body is really one, though to confess this is one of the distinctive tokens of true spiritual life, seems virtually forgotten as a present reality—as a truth of vital power and effect.
The very grounds on which brethren, who are one spirit in the Lord, and members severally of His living and in-frangible body, should dwell together in unity, are at the present day but half perceived; and even where doctrinally admitted, are, for the most part, abandoned willingly in favor of some sectarian base of human device, which from its very nature is forever incapable of attesting practically the oneness of the Church of God.
Still, it is blessed to remember that the Church stands nearer to the consecrated Son of God than even his anointed garments did to Aaron. "We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."254 And if, for the needful proof of His own work, the outward union of the body be disturbed;255 and if the believer, whose lot is cast for him in days when little is left of the doctrine of the Spirit in the professing Church but the title of the Holy One, and a traditional remembrance that He once did act, instead of the faithful, and happy, and solemn recognition of His presence, as the Lord of life and power—the animating energy of all true ministry, and of every gracious work which should distinguish the one living body of Christ from the world's unity of death by which it is surrounded,-still He is, as ever, the sweet unction of undying freshness to the souls that cleave to Him. He is the present and sufficing Comforter of such as, even in very solitariness, can lift pure thoughts and holy hands to Godward, with a right discernment of their hope and calling, and in the simple recognition and the unabashed confession of the one Lord, one faith, one baptism, which the children of the one God and Father of all are, taught to make.256
We are come indeed, in spirit, to mount Zion, and to the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. Would that our feet stood so habitually in that clear and open shining of Christ's blessedness, and realized so experimentally the love of the Father who begat us, as to find our hearts thirsting for and bent on seeking the common joy of all who are truly born of Him.257
Meanwhile, let us remember that the work of the corrupter and destroyer is limited in its effects. The day of gladness is at hand. The pleasant sight now vainly desired here below, amid the darkening shades of growing evil, will be presently enjoyed. The full blessing of the Father's house awaits the children whom He has begotten for that inheritance which fadeth not away. The unity of life and holiness and never-ending joy will be known, with full fruition and responsive praise, within that heavenly Jerusalem whose light and gladness is the presence of God and of the Lamb.258
Psalm 134
THE last of the Songs of degrees. It leaves the accepted worshippers in the house of Jehovah. They stand, as His acknowledged servants, in the place of His name. Lifting up holy hands, they bless that name by night as well as day. And they are blessed. From the chosen city of solemnities the blessing of the Maker of heaven and of earth goes forth upon His people.
Looking at the structure of this little Psalm, the last verse seems like a response to the two former ones. If this be so, it beautifully expresses the entire sympathy existing between the appointed ministrants of the temple worship, as they fulfill, in their ordered courses, the continual praises of Jehovah, and their brethren whom they thus represent within the hallowed chambers of His house.
However this may be, the Psalm presents to us a lovely prophetic glimpse of the ordering of that house, which is ordained to be a house of prayer for all nations259 It will be known thus more especially by those who, with no compulsion save the drawings of the love of Christ, will fill continually courts, no more to be defiled in the manner of the former pollutions, by which their fathers had provoked the Holy One of Israel to jealousy.
The heavenly Antitype of this is to be found in Rev. 22:3-53And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:3‑5). Meanwhile the Christian's calling is to lift up holy hands in prayer unceasing, and with constant praise, until the fast waning night of toil and patience shall cease forever in the fulfillment of his blessed hope.260 Jesus is still a little sanctuary for such—a tabernacle of rest and blessing for the soul grown weary with what seems a lengthening way. Happy they who, when His presence puts an end to the long-protracted time of darkness, shall be found still wakefully accomplishing, as the children of the day, the ministry of acceptable worship in His name.261
Psalm 135
ANOTHER temple song of very manifest millennial promise. Jehovah is extolled as in His earthly dwelling-place at Jerusalem (verse 21). He is compassed by the praises of the nation which He has chosen for Himself (verse 4). He had made that choice from of old, exalting the people in His own name when He stilled the enemy for their sakes as He led them forth from Egypt. Again He had afflicted them and brought them low. He had hewn them by His prophets, and had disowned them as His people, because of the multiplied transgression of their sin. Nevertheless, His name, which He had taken as their God,262 endures for ever (verse 13), and His memorial throughout all generations, His far-dated purpose is the pledge of their permanent establishment, under the sure and unfading blessings of the new covenant, in the place which He has chosen for Himself.
Although Jehovah judged. His people, He would yet repent Himself concerning His servants (verse 14).263 His election of Jacob had been at the good pleasure of His own goodness, and not for any righteousness or strength in the poor vessel of His choice. It was a worm on which He might have just trampled in the loathings of His holiness that God was pleased to beautify with salvation, and to exalt to princely place as the chief bearer of His praise among the nations of the earth.264 And now the light which, while yet invisible, had cheered the hearts of those who, in the midst of national darkness, still hoped in God, had broken from its cloudy mantle, and was risen, never more to set, upon the city and the people of His name.
The Spirit of prophecy clearly contemplates the times of the kingdom in this Psalm. Jesus reigning before His ancients gloriously may be said to be its subject. It has, however, but a limited scope. The Gentiles as worshippers do not appear in the scene. They are remembered only with reference to their ancient discomfiture.(verses 8-12), and to the climax of their idolatrous folly, which provokes the vengeance of the God of judgment265 (verses 15-18). It is rather an utterance of true national worship on the part of the people which is the Lord's peculiar treasure. In many respects it closely resembles Psa. 115 It relates to the times of restitution.266 The prophets had spoken of these things; and once the things themselves had been brought within the nation's reach, and proffered by the Spirit of grace for their acceptance.267 But they had turned to rend the hand that would have fed them, that the perfect mystery of Jehovah's wisdom might be accomplished in its time.268
But now, brought back in peace within the borders of Immanuel's land, and with hearts made wise unto eternal salvation through the knowledge of the Lamb of God, they recount, with thanksgiving and comely praises, the story of His ancient works and ways. With verse 20 we may compare Mal. 3:3, 43And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. 4Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. (Malachi 3:3‑4). In verses 6,7, and also 15-18, we have reference to the crisis at which Jehovah's kingdom is set up in power in the hands of His Anointed.269 The power which produced creation.270 is displayed in the destruction of the idols which held captive the creatures of His hand; that where the will of Satan had hitherto prevailed the Father's pleasure might be known and done. It is in the millennium only that the prayer which Jesus taught to His disciples will receive its full response.
Psalm 136
A SEQUEL and counterpart to the preceding Psalm. In the former we have seen Jesus glorified as Jehovah, whose dwelling is at Jerusalem. In the present Psalm His praise is celebrated as the God of gods. As such He is extolled and magnified as the source in Pure Divine mercy, first, of the blessing of the creature universally; and secondly, of that of Israel as the servant (verse 22) and witness of His name.
It is as the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,271 that Jehovah here appears, in the sovereign majesty of His power, and in the plenitude of His goodness, as the creature's hope. But He is thus manifested in immediate connection with His earthly people as the God of their mercy. It is this characteristic feature which gives to this remarkable Psalm so rich an interest and value in the Christian's eyes. For it is an ever blessed privilege of faith that the believer, because he is himself a vessel of absolute grace,272 may associate thoughts of mercy with every department of Divine knowledge. He is entitled, that is, to connect in his mind every act of Divine power with the known realities of perfect love and grace, as they stand revealed to him in Jesus. Mercy thus becomes to God's true people the great exponent of all His mighty attributes. "All things are for your sakes"273 is a revelation of the Spirit, only excelled in its wondrous depth and blessedness by His yet mightier declaration, whereby the sum of all things is put even now within the grasp of the believer, as a co-heir of the Lord of glory.274
The work of God is for His people's sakes. The varied riches of His wisdom and glory are manifested through the effectual operation of those counsels which have for their objects the appointed vessels of His praise. This is a truth quite independent of all dispensational arrangement. Mercy in Scripture is, as it respects its blessed recipients, the Divine correlative of sovereignty and power. God gives according to the ability and at the good pleasure of His own un-biased will. Sin is always presupposed in the receiver, as well as holiness, its eternal antagonist, in the Bestower of mercy. Hence atonement, as a free provision of pure grace, must be an apprehended reality to the mind of faith before the song of mercy can be intelligently raised. Such is the Christian's happy portion now; and such will be Israel's case when, in the latter day, this solemn strain of recapitulative thanksgiving shall be addressed by the ransomed nation, with unveiled heart and circumcised lips, to the faithful God of their mercy.
This and the foregoing Psalm, taken together, comprise the descriptive elements and titles of Christ's full dominion in the coming dispensation of the kingdom of God. Things in heaven as well as things on earth are comprehended in the wide range of the Spirit's meditation, when teaching thus to ransomed Israel the perfect celebration of Divine mercy.275 It is, however, with an especial reference to His dealings in faithfulness, as the God of Israel's covenant, that Jehovah's name is thus extolled. The recital here presented of the nation's former history, if compared with what is given in the preceding Psalm, is found to be quite illustrative of the characteristic difference which distinguishes these kindred melodies from each other.
Power, working its own end in the absoluteness of the Divine will, and abasing every rival which erects itself against the majesty of God, draws forth, in the former instance, the praises of those who magnify the God of Jacob. In the present Psalm, each separate act of God is dwelt upon, and severally held up to the view of Israel as a token of Jehovah's mercy to themselves. The same acts are recited in both Psalms. But they are here seen in connection rather with their objects than with Him who wrought them by His power. And this extends far back, to the beginning of all time (verse 5). For the wisdom which designed the heavens wrought their creation with reference to the mercy which, in due time, would reconcile those heavens (contaminated, meanwhile, by the entrance of sin into the creature), when that precious blood should have been shed whereby the all-pervading taint of evil should be effectually removed.276 That mercy is the very basis of creation is a truth well known to the believer, whose joy is to remember, that by Jesus and for Him were all things made. The same truth, now hidden in Him, with all other saving and enlightening knowledge, from the blinded vision of the unbelieving nation, will be a moving topic of sweet praise to Israel when, by the advent of the Deliverer, the iniquity of Jacob shall have been purged away. The Church, which tastes in Christ the end of every promise,277 can sing with understanding these and all other utterances of inspired praise when making melody to her Lord; but has no descriptive place in these Psalms, except as she will be united in the joy of Him who is the center of the worship here rehearsed.
The sons of God are in their manifestation to be both the signal and the reason of the ransomed creature's joy.278
It may be remarked, that the outline of Israel's history contained in this Psalm is very ample. Verses 10-15 bring them from Egypt and through the Red Sea. In verse 16 we have a remembrance of the patience of the wilderness. Verses 17-22 describe the conquest of Canaan, and their settlement in the land. In verse 23 they are regarded in their self-procured ruin—the low estate in which they again become the objects of Jehovah's compassionate faithfulness. Verse 24 recounts their ultimate redemption from their enemies by the accomplishment of the sure mercies of the Covenant. Verse 25 extends the blessing of Divine goodness over all flesh—a truth of perpetual application under the Noachic covenant,279 but to receive a far richer and more abundant exemplification in the millennial times, when the full tide of the world's blessing shall set in through the open gates of Zion's finished mercy.
The Psalm closes by referring back to heaven and the God who has His dwelling there, as the source and sustaining power of the creature's blessing. To Him alone pertains the kingdom, and the glory, and the power.280 For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things. This truth, which faith delights to own, and which has now and then been forcibly extorted from the lips of humbled human pride,281 will shortly form the universal homage of the kingdoms of this world.282
Psalm 137
A LAMENT of Zion's mourners—captives for their sin, yet prisoners of hope. Passing by the primary interpretation of this remarkable Psalm, in its literal application to the times of the Babylonian captivity, it presents, both in its moral application to the Church in her affliction, and still more in its direct prophetic bearing upon Israel in the latter day, much that is of touching and peculiar interest.
It will be remarked immediately by an attentive reader that no reference is made in it to the national transgression. The Spirit, who elsewhere indicts such full confession of their sin, acts here in gracious sympathy with the sorrows of His people, and in righteous advocacy of their cause against the proud and reckless oppressors, whose taunting of Zion's captives were in God's remembrance as hard speeches spoken against Himself His jealousy is for His people, because His name and His memorial are there.283 The hearts of such as clave believingly to His testimonies, while sadly pining in a foreign land, remember still the place of their once-enjoyed solemnities, and hopefully defer the sound of melody until they stand again within the walls of Zion, and raise the Lord's song in the place of His appointed praise.
It was indeed through the judgments of the Lord that they had been estranged from their desire. Yet faith, cleaving always to the end of God in promise, lays by, but does not break, its harp of praise. Meanwhile the nations whom He had ordained for their correction, but who had sought to gratify their lusts of envious pride in the perpetual abasement of Jehovah's people, become the objects of the fearful burden of prophetic denunciation as the appointed victims of His wrath.
Edom and Babylon are the especial subjects of the judgments of Israel's avenger. Already have the prophecies directed against those nations received a large measure of their fulfillment. But the dregs of the cup of trembling will not become their portion until that cup has been for ever taken out of Zion's hand. In the day when the kingdom is shown to be the Lord's, the mount of Esau will be judged with an award of perpetual desolation?284 When the whole earth rejoices, the land of Edom will lie waste. For there is a day to come of Jehovah's vengeance, and a year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.'285The house of Jacob will possess their possessions in that day, while Joseph will be as a consuming flame to waste the last remainder of the house of Esau.286
This Psalm has also an application to any who in a time of general apostasy still keep, through grace, the word of Christ's patience.287 When the church (considered as a dispensation) is a captive at the will of Satan, in the bonds of the world, the heart of the spiritual believer must lament and mourn. For the contrast which exists between the spiritual desolation in which the church now lies and her true standing, and her destined glory as the spotless vessel of pure truth and blessedness, must make sorrow a familiar thing to every heart in which the true hope of her calling is perceived.
Yet is there joy for such. Their harps never hang upon the willows. For to the feeblest remnant, and also to the single Christian, JESUS remains the full unceasing argument of praise. The Spirit is their comforter. They have joy in God through Jesus Christ, rejoicing amid their sorrow in the certain hope of HIS-appearing. Rest in that day will be their portion, while vengeance falls relentlessly on those whose anger burned against them for the love they bore the Master's name, while keeping His word of patience to the end.288
Edom's hatred to Jerusalem was just the same in principle289 as the feeling which secretly is entertained by a lifeless and worldly "profession" towards that which is really of the Father. But God is just. The despiser of the birthright will receive the judgment of the profane. Rev. 6:9-119And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:9‑11) and 18 apply as general illustrations, but with peculiar reference to the times of Christian patience. The catastrophe of Edom in its immediate connection with the return of the Deliverer to Zion is presented in Isa. 63:1-61Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. 2Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? 3I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. 6And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth. (Isaiah 63:1‑6).
Psalm 138
A PSALM of David. It is one very full of comfort for the soul that in a patient experience of the evil day is kept in humble and heart-satisfied dependence on the living God. Most plainly it is in its prophetic character a millennial song. In this respect it contains, with some expressions common to other Psalms, others of marked force and beauty which are peculiar to itself.
First, we have in verse 2 a remarkable ascription of praise to Jehovah as the Magnifier of His word. “Thou Nast magnified Thy word above all Thy name."290 The Christian, who dates the commencement of his acceptable worship from the moment when he first discerned, through grace, the finished work of Jesus, and beheld in His glorified Person the consummation of the promises of God, finds a ready solution of this enigmatic verse. Standing, as a child of day and heir of resurrection-hope,291 in the full light of the Divine glory, as it beams forth on him from the face of Jesus Christ, he estimates the mighty measure in which the work of the incarnate WORD has excelled those former acts whereby in earlier days Jehovah's fame had spread among the nations.
But while to the eye of Christian faith the Person of the exalted Christ becomes the culminating point of all Divine promise, in its complete and glorious fulfillment, yet it is not as the heavenly object of spiritual vision alone that the Word of God is to be revealed in His magnificence. He will appear with a glory manifest to outward sight, which must be seen by all whose dwelling is on earth. In the light of that glory kings shall see and shall arise. Things before bidden from their sight will then be suddenly disclosed.292 Jehovah's ways, which never yet have willingly been trodden in the march of human politics, will open on the view of earthly monarchs, as the avenues of peace and safety, when the great light of Messiah's glory has arisen in commanding power to the zenith of supremest earthly rule.
Perhaps there is no promise relating to this habitable earth more wonderful than verse 5 of this Psalm. What manner of glory must that be that produces such effects! In what age of this world's wretchedness have such things been? What solitary page of human history can present to the keenest search of the most sanguine inquirer an instance of a willing and unanimous conformity of earth's ruling powers to the right ways of the Lord? Was it ever seen in Christendom? It will be seen; but not until the second advent of the Son of man with power shall have placed the kingdoms of this world under the apparent sovereignty of Jehovah and His Christ.293 Grace, unaccompanied by effectual administrative power, has not and will not produce the effects here described.
It is when the judgments of Jehovah are in the earth that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.294 Divine power in its manifested action will finally convince the world of the majesty and truth of the alone Governor among the nations. Grace, too, will act, and act with rich and marvelous result; but judgment must prepare the way.
The concluding verses seem to express the intercession of the Spirit of Immanuel in the patient expectants of covenanted national promise. The wrath of their enemies might still rage fiercely. But the right hand of Jehovah was ready to quit His bosom for the deliverance of His elect. His enduring mercy was, in the meantime, the song as well as the security of such as trusted still in Him. He would not abandon the work of His own hands.
Psalm 139
THIS wonderful Psalm lays open the solemn yet most blessed character which belongs to the dependent creature's true communion with the Creator. Man is here seen under a deeply searching and thorough sense of the Divine presence. But he is willingly conscious of the infinitude of the wisdom and power by which he is penetrated and encompassed, because he knows 'himself to be the object of the precious thoughts of God. He feels that gracious protection and full entire favor are his portion, as a vessel of Divine good pleasure.
Taken in its first and fullest sense, the sublime language of this Psalm belongs only to the Son of God, when found in fashion as a man. And it is by meditating it in this its original connection that the believer finds his richest blessing from the Spirit's words. For its application to himself is according to the grace of his present standing in the Perfect One. It relates to him as to one who, having been brought nigh to God by effectual redemption, from thenceforth has to do with Him, and not with man.295
Taking it now in this its secondary intention, it expresses the experience of one who, at what stage soever of his career as a believer, has been by the power of the Holy Ghost effectually discovered to himself, in the presence of a Savior-God. This, in its full extent, is no necessary preliminary to the knowledge and possession of true Gospel peace. The sifting process often, very often, goes on and reaches its appointed measure long after the soul's first awakening, and the attainment of a purged conscience through a just discernment of the blood of Jesus. On the other hand, the truth here taught us must be known in a certain measure, in order to the necessity of redemption being appreciated in a sufficient degree to draw the awakened sinner to the Savior.
The experience, however, which is expressed in this Psalm is emphatically that of a spiritual man—of one who not only feels habitually the searching presence of God, but while filled with the solemn fear and reverence which that presence inspires, rejoices to be there. Meanwhile his prayer is to be still more thoroughly searched, that a full and unhindered participation of God's holiness296 may become the conscious possession of his inner man (verses 23, 24).
The last two verses, when compared with the earlier ones (1-5), are of deeply instructive force. A profound sense of the sifting and penetrating power of the Divine presence may for a time take possession of the human soul. But this feeling, if only transient, is wholly insufficient to prevent the secret chambers of the heart, which has thus for a season been visited with the pure light of holiness and truth, from becoming again the fastnesses of all hidden evil. Practical sanctification in a believer is the result of the unceasing operation of the Spirit in keeping a constant and steady play of Divine truth both upon the conscience and the heart's affections.
Looking more closely at the general contents of the Psalm, we have in its earlier part (verses 1-12) an expression, in rare sublimity of language, of the subjective consciousness which belongs to the believer of being known of God. The most complete sense of self-winnowing297—the most intimate sifting of all that the heart contains—is found in union with the fullest enjoyment of assured peace and confidence in God. His right hand holds firmly (verse 10), in the grasp of sure salvation, the soul on which "His precious thoughts of peace are set, through all the possible experiences of its pilgrim way.
There is no terror in this remembrance of God's all-pervading presence. For He who thus fills all things is the Savior of His own.298 The Searcher of His people's hearts is likewise the Redeemer of their souls. But although the peace of God may thoroughly possess the spirits of His children, the knowledge of it, and of Him whose peace it is, is too wonderful to be fully comprehended. We cannot find out God (verse 6). We know now in part. But if any man love God he is known of Him.299
Yet it is for knowledge that we are renewed in Christ. To the believer the Holy Ghost is given as the living power of Divine communion, in order that we may know and not be ignorant of the God with whom we have to do. An essential condition of our true growth in the knowledge of God is our being brought consciously under His eye, as in the present Psalm. But this scrutiny our flesh instinctively avoids. Nothing is so undesirable to the natural heart as proximity to God. The shadow of the Almighty extinguishes the light of natural joy; for the will of nature may not act where God is truly felt. The wise believer knows this well, and seeks, by vigilant and prayerful waiting upon God, to perpetuate experimentally within his soul the truth of the Divine presence. Deep and unremitting self-judgment is the invariable accompaniment of real nearness to God. If His hand be leading us we cannot follow with a careless step.
This spirit of reverence and godly fear (itself a fruit of the heart's true knowledge of God and firm establishment in grace300) is the regulating spring of all acceptable service. It acts as a steadying ballast of the soul in its voyage over the restless surface of the sea of vanity. Meanwhile the sweet and ever present remembrance of Him who has filled in human form all parts successively of that creation which, as the Eternal WORD, He fashioned and sustains,—holding now, in the new title of Redemption, the ownership of things in heaven and things on earth—makes every place within the universe of His dominion a place of safety and contentment to the soul that trusts His love.
Verses 14-16 if read in immediate connection with verse 13 will refer, in their primary intention, to the mystery of natural generation as the work of God's astonishing wisdom and power. But, as nature is everywhere a parable of grace, they may be, mystically interpreted of Christ and His body, the Church, and this I presume to be their final meaning. Less obviously, they are capable of application to the new birth of the individual saint.
The appropriation of verse 17 to Jesus, as its true subject, will receive the ready assent of every spiritual mind. For it is He who from eternity supremely filled the thoughts of God. It is as in Him that the Church, or any other creature, becomes the object of Jehovah's thoughts. Nor can those thoughts be numbered by the tongue of man. Their full expression is in Christ, and they are precious. We who believe, not only hear with joy this testimony of the Spirit, but already, in our feeble measure, we have found it so. We have learned the difference between natural darkness and God's marvelous light. We shall sum up in eternity the measure of those precious thoughts, even when, in the perfect realization of their blessedness, we know as we are known.
In verse 18, we may discern a plain reference to the resurrection of the body.301
Verses 19-22. The believer, because he is of God,302 sympathizes in his inner man with the judgment of Divine holiness upon human evil. All the thoughts of God are precious to His people. Hence the solemn threatenings of the vengeance which will fall on the ungodly are announced to the believer as promises of comfort.303 The end of God's children is the glory of God. They joy in Him through Jesus Christ. The prospect, therefore, of the time when evil shall be effectually subdued, by the manifestation of Christ in power, is continually presented by the Spirit as an object of desire to the saints. "Yet now hath He promised, saying, Yet once more I shake," etc.304
A believer hates sin. He hates it whether in himself or in the world. And because his flesh, instead of hating it, delights in it, there is in all God's children an unceasing conflict between flesh and Spirit. But that which is born of God sinneth not. Nor does the wicked one attain to touch that hidden life which is the gift of God305."Sin is the only thing that a believer, walking in the Spirit, either dreads or hates. For that alone can intercept his soul's communion with God, who is the proper and appreciated source of all his joy. Hence the peculiar earnestness of the prayer which is expressed in the concluding verses of this Psalm. The exercised Christian knows well that the chief danger to his peace is always from within. He knows, moreover, that to be his own preserver is to fall. He looks thus from himself to God. He needs a keeper, and he finds one in the Shepherd and Bishop of his soul.306 The only safeguard against the hardening influence of “the deceitfulness of sin" is a watchful abiding, by faith, in the presence of the living God.307
Psalm 140
THIS Psalm is evidently an intercession of the Spirit of Christ in the afflicted remnant of His people against the counsel of wickedness and violence, whose desire is to blot out the memory of those who still cleave to Israel's covenant hope. Three special forms of Satanic energy are individualized. The evil or wicked man, the violent man, and the man of tongue308 are severally appealed from by the suppliant speaker of this prayer of faith. Secret evil, and devices cast cunningly for the furtherance of unrighteous power, distinctly characterize the times when the confession of Jehovah's name will be all but drowned in the loud and, for a season, unrestrained utterance of all that is in man's proud but utterly degraded heart.
In its general drift this Psalm appears to relate to the time of the two Beasts.309 Poison will then be found beneath their tongues, who, having long refused the saving truth of God, will have been delivered over, through their divinely-inflicted delusions, to believe and serve a lie.310 The quotation of verse 3 by the apostle311 seems to demand that the language generally of the present Psalm should be referred to the apostates of Israel, rather than the Gentile supporters of the Beast.312 The Antichrist himself appears to be indicated in the frequent and emphatic repetition, in the singular number, of terms descriptive of personal character (verses 1, 4, 8, 11).
But God the Lord is the strength of His people's salvation, and the shelter of their head in the day of battle. He will ride in the majesty of almighty power to the battle which is His own.313 The desires of wickedness will suddenly be met and answered by the decisive judgment of the avenger of His own name. Verses 10, 11 seem plainly to refer to the particular catastrophe of the Man of Sin.314
The concluding verses, while they are applicable (as is the Psalm generally) to the experience of suffering faith at all times when standing fast in the day of evil, sustained by the sure hope of speedy deliverance,315 seem in their prophetic intention to bear more emphatically upon the earthly nation and its hopes.
Psalm 141
SELF-JUDGMENT and a thirsting after practical holiness are the leading features of this Psalm, which, though in altered tone, sustains, like its predecessor, the appeal of suffering righteousness against the lawlessness of man. There are difficulties in its detailed interpretation, although its general outline seems not indistinctly drawn. The seventh verse furnishes a clue to its prophetic meaning as an expression of afflicted Jewish faith.
A very touching portraiture is presented in verses 7-10 of the moral condition of the sorely tried sufferers, whose bones become a memorial of the ruthless rage and power of the adversary. Thoroughly sifted and contrite in heart by the gracious workings of the Spirit of God, they walk softly before Him as those who are poor and broken in spirit, while they yet cleave in unshaken faith to Jehovah with a confident expectation of His help.
It is a beautiful exemplification (its beauty being heightened by the solemnity of its adjuncts) of the path of the just in the hour of sore and apparently hopeless trial. Keenly alive both to the danger and the power of temptation, and made to tremble at the near view of the fear which on every side surrounds them, they are driven by the stress of their affliction more deeply into the secret places of Divine communion. They turn to their stronghold as prisoners of hope. It is most interesting to note the tone of godly sensitiveness and dread of evil, coupled with the deepest heart-searching and mistrust of self, which distinguishes the earlier verses of this Psalm.
In verse 5 there is presented a striking contrast to the portrait of the proud and evil doer in the preceding Psalm. Taught truly the lesson of self-knowledge,316 the heart of faith has a ready and unfeigned welcome for the words of just reproof. The verse is in this respect a bright monitory mirror for “the man of God “in every age.
Verse 6 refers, I suppose, to the breaking in pieces of the nation of Israel and its heads, as a needful preliminary to their ears being unstopped to hear the words of Jesus. The moral force of these expressions is striking and apparent. A seeker of righteousness in the way of law is rather a judge than a suppliant317 confessor of sin. It is only when the spiritual power of the law is felt in the awakened conscience—so that what was once vainly boasted as a spring of life becomes a rocky desolation and a wilderness of death—that the words of saving grace become precious to the ear of faith.318 More generally this verse may apply also to the effect upon the inhabitants of the world at large of the introduction of Jehovah's judgments into the earth.319
With verse 7 we may compare Rom. 8:3636As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (Romans 8:36); 2 Cor. 1:99But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (2 Corinthians 1:9); and Rev. 2: 10, with a view to the practical bearing of this Psalm on the Christian, whose calling it is to be a partaker of the sufferings as well as the glory of Christ. The death of such is precious in the sight of the Lord. The true prophetic application of the passage is probably to the war of the dragon with the believing Jewish remnant, after he has been dispossessed of the place which, until the time of the ascension of the church is come, he holds in heaven as the accuser of the brethren.320
Psalm 142
THE title of this Psalm declares its subject. It was a prayer of Israel's royal exile while an outcast from the face of men, because of His anointing as Jehovah's chosen king. But David was a figure as well as a prophet of Him that was to come. His own experiences, in so far as by the grace of God he suffered the reproach of Christ, are faithfully portrayed in this plaintive yet hopeful strain. But the language is too deep and strong for the commemoration only of David's grief or hopes. Our attention is presently attracted to Jesus as the true subject of the emotions here described.
It was to the Father only that His path was truly known. His eye was evermore the welcome guide which Jesus followed in the dimness of that anguish through which, as the dishonored and rejected of men, His path of suffering obedience lay. He showed His trouble before Him. Men could not sympathize with Jesus. For their sakes He was burdened, but it was not for sinners to share or understand the just One's grief. When His spirit was overwhelmed within Him, at the hour of His sore amazement, during which the soul of Jesus was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, the Father's eye alone beheld the pure path of His devoted love.321 His disciples, who should have watched with Him, were sunk in sleep, unconscious of the Master's agony on their behalf. His enemies, meanwhile, directed by the treacherous betrayer of His love, were preparing secretly their snares against His life.
The daughters of Jerusalem might weep for Jesus when they saw Him uplifted on the cross of shameful death.322 Those tears flowed partly at the bidding of natural sympathy towards the blameless Sufferer, and more because of the apparent extinguishing of Israel's Light. But His sorrow none might feel or know but God. No man knew Him whom all forsook, that the Scriptures might be thus fulfilled. None but His destroyers sought after His soul; refuge failed the victim who was fore-ordained of God to die (verse 4).
Verse 5 expresses the unshaken trust of Jesus when within the immediate reach of the power of darkness. Jehovah was His refuge: "Thou art my portion in the land of the living." Death might intervene. But it was a death by undergoing which He would make both life and death for evermore His own. It was of God that death became the bitter portion of His Son. And glory waited but the accomplishment of that decease, to rest for ever on the risen Lord of life. He died indeed to sin, but at the Father's pleasure-His death was for the creature, by the grace of God. He liveth unto God. The will of God was His delight until He finished it in death. And now it is His everlasting joy to be the delighted receiver, of the honors which the righteous Father has awarded to His Son.323
The closing verse connects with the cry for deliverance a bold anticipation of His Coming joy.324 The results of His travail are diffused in blessing among the righteous (made such in Him alone), who shall surround Him for ever, as the fellows of His blessedness, in an endless enjoyment of the Father's love. The Church stands now in this relation to the Captain of her salvation.
It is perhaps rather to the corning time, when the redeemed nation shall adoringly surround Messiah, that this verse refers. He whom they sold and imprisoned in the grave shall be known, in the majesty of His presence, as their Prince and Savior, when He comes forth from His hiding-place to reign before His ancients gloriously.325
To the Christian, as having the first-fruits of the Spirit,326 this Psalm is of a peculiar value. The force and extent of its application will vary according to the nature of the secret communion of his soul with God, which his special circumstances, or the measure of his positive spiritual growth, may produce. There are groanings which cannot be uttered; but God, who searcheth the hearts, know eth the mind of the Spirit. Meanwhile deliverance from the body of death is at hand. Its redemption in transforming power is near. And while groaning in this body of humiliation, we may joy in the remembered pledge of its most sure accession, both to incorruption and eternal glory, which is presented to our faith in the Person of our Forerunner and our Hope. The powers of darkness may seem ready to devour. But it is a semblance rather than the reality of terror. Satan seeks his prey with open mouth. But the life of the believer is safe hidden in the Savior. The risen shepherd is the faithful keeper, in the presence of the God of peace, of the sheep which He has died to purchase for Himself by His most precious blood.
Psalm 143
THERE are few Psalms, perhaps, if any, to which the Christian when, either by reason of the imperfection of his faith or through practical carelessness, his soul has been dislodged from its own steadfastness, more frequently turns, in the hour of conflict, than the one now before us. It is, indeed, most suitable as an expression of the deep and earnest desires of a soul which, while compassed by the sore besetments of sin and Satan, is experimentally below the firm and established footing of finished grace in Christ;327 but it does not justly express, in any part of it, the characteristic language of Christian liberty. It is a prayer of faith unfeigned, and of godly and acceptable desire; but it is the heart of a servant, not that of a son, which speaks.328 Distance, not nearness, is the conscious position of the soul thus exercised. Judgment is deprecated. But there is no present discernment of remission and gracious acceptance. The soul is, in its experiences, under law, while hopefully anticipating grace. There is a confidence of ultimate deliverance. For it is to God, in His faithfulness and His righteousness, that the requests of the believer are addressed (verse 1). Darkness is the actual condition of the suppliant, but hope shines brightly in the distance. The wrath of the enemy is appealed from, while sin, as the real strength of the enmity, is owned in deep confession and self-judgment. The strength of sin is felt to be the law, and as yet the victory is but in prospect, not enjoyed.
David's own conflicts, when with godly sorrow he reviewed in secret his own ways, and found in God the refuge and desire of his humbled soul, are, doubtless, faithfully presented in this Psalm.
In common with several others of similar tenor, its ultimate object is, I doubt not, the believing remnant of Jewish faith, who await in suppliant patience, and amid severest trials, the advent of effectual deliverance in the latter day. It seems to be the last intercessional cry of the Spirit of Immanuel in and for them, being presently succeeded in the following Psalms by strains of final and triumphant praise. The point of view under which they are here contemplated is deeply interesting. There is a thorough conversion of their hearts to God; a thirsting, therefore, after the manifestation of His, righteousness and glory-after Christ. Being as yet under law, their souls, with full appreciation of the un-profitableness of the flesh, bend still toward the will of Jehovah as His servants,329 recognizing thus the eternal connection between blessing and obedience.
In verse 10 there is an expression which gives its character to the entire Psalm. The truth over which the nation stumbled to its ruin330 is here found on the lips of those who are yet beloved for the fathers' sakes, and all whose expectation in their day of sore distress is in the faithfulness of the God of their covenant. It is no longer the flesh but the Spirit that is their reliance. The will of God is their desire, but the performance of that will is no more felt to be in their own power. They call upon God to quicken them, and to lead them into the land of uprightness,331 the attainment of which they now perceive to be only by the new and living way which God would show. His loving-kindness will shine brightly in the morning. The Deliverer is near at hand. The power which fulfils the promised mercy to His afflicted people, must likewise make an end, in judgment, of those who had oppressed them in their day of pride.
The practical value of this Psalm is very great. For it contains expressions which echo the continual desire of the believer, who remembers that he is anointed in Christ to do the will of God,332 and who lives his days of earthly pilgrimage and conflict in patient expectation of the light, of promise. The enemy, who now afflicts, will presently be bruised beneath the feet of those whom he ceases not to harass, while his hour remains. The desires of one whose secret grief is heavy, because of conscious unfaithfulness, may often find themselves embodied in the language of this Psalm. But it is well for the believer to remember, that the ground of all true Christian prayer is Christ. God will never enter into judgment with the believing sinner on the score of his natural responsibilities, because already He has judged him in the cross of Jesus. God has condemned sin there. Through the victory which God has given us in His Son, the law, which is naturally the strength of sin, is become an approving witness of our justification. Jesus has been brought back from the dead by the God of peace, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. Peace, therefore, with God, is the rightful experience of every child of truth. Sin may break this peace, but cannot destroy the foundation on which it rested, and which cannot be removed. For it is Christ Himself who is our peace. It is even He who acts, not as the upbraiding accuser of our unfaithfulness, but as our Advocate in righteousness with the Father. He is thus the refuge and restorer of the contrite spirit that turns with confession, in its hour of bitterness, to the changeless lover of His own.
Psalm 144
THE careful reader recognizes immediately the general similarity which this Psalm presents in its earlier verses to corresponding expressions in Psa. 18 In both, as Messianic prophecies, we hear Immanuel's voice. But here it is with immediate reference to the deliverance and prosperity of Zion that the kingly title of Jesus, as the true David, is asserted.
It has an obvious moral connection with the foregoing Psalm. The vanity of the creature had there been fully owned. Jehovah is now 'called on not only as the fortress, but also the goodness,333 of His people, and their king. As the Son of man, Jesus refused to be called "good."334 For He had come into the world to glorify the Father—to be the servant of Jehovah in obedient dependence. He would take thus Ms honors and His blessings under the name and by the sanction of Jehovah's covenant with David. Himself the offspring, as well as the root of David, He yet awaits at God's right hand the setting up of the earthly kingdom in the mercy of the Most High God.
In verses 3, 4, there is an emphatic and reiterative acknowledgment of human vanity.335 The way is thus prepared for the manifestation of God in power as described in the verses which follow (5-11). The twofold glory of the person of Jesus is displayed. As the Seed of David, and Heir of covenanted mercy, He and His kingdom are the subjects of Divine deliverance. Yet is He Himself the Deliverer. He is the God whose thunder is heard in heaven; who cometh forth from His place to avenge the blood of His saints, and to glorify His name by accomplishing the faithful covenant of promise.
Verses 12-15. Destruction having passed upon the strange children, who loved leasing rather than the truth,336 praise is in readiness to break forth from Zion, where it long had waited silently, until the day of triumph and of binding up the breach was come.
The closing verses describe the happiness of Israel when, being brought at length within the bond of everlasting righteousness, they shall become the honored and richly replenished vessel of Jehovah's goodness in the earth. He will be their God. It is needless to insist upon the sublunary character of the blessedness here described. But it is the fruit and abiding effect of a righteousness which is from above. Divine righteousness in Christ is the sole basis of the kingdom of God, which then will be set up triumphantly upon earth. Christendom, in its just and proper sense, will then exist as a recognized reality of blessing, when the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of Jehovah and of His Christ. The introduction of the kingdom in this Psalm renders it a fitting precursor to the noble and perfect strain which follows.
Psalm 145
DAVID'S Psalm of praise. Such is the expressive title of this incomparable Psalm. In a pre-eminent sense it is the song of the kingdom. The praises of Jehovah are uttered to the full by the Spirit of Immanuel, whom as His anointed He will have set in undisputed establishment of royal dominion upon the throne of His abiding rule.
The kingdom is God's kingdom. Jesus will take it at His hands, receiving investiture of universal authority from Him, whom He will not cease to honor in His place as the supreme possessor of heaven and of earth.
David, the son of Jesse, as he gave forth by the Spirit this rich utterance of praise, could extol, in the anticipative realization of covenanted blessing, the name of Jehovah and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. JESUS, the Priest as well as King, will lead the praises of His people, and through them, of the sons of men, towards the one true God, as the then acknowledged object of His creature's worship. It is because He is the Son of man that Jesus is to occupy the throne of all dominion.337 He will represent, when crowned with honor and majesty as the governor of men, Him whose enduring title is, “the King eternal, invisible, the only wise God" (verse 1).338 Yet is it GOD who will reign before His ancients in His glory. The King of Israel is the Son of God.339 The mystery of godliness pervades in its greatness all the manifestations of Divine power, because it fills the secret fountain of all Divine counsel.
The present Psalm seems to stand, as a general celebration of Jehovah's kingdom, at the head of a series of commemorative hymns on the same subject. The last five Psalms open into fuller and diversified detail the divine argument, which is here more comprehensively set forth.
There is a rich variety of topic in this outpouring of Jehovah's praise. His name, His mighty acts; the glory of His grace, and the sovereignty of His power; His bounteous goodness over all His creatures, and the pervading majesty of His kingdom, are severally noted as the strain proceeds. Especially, it is the memory of His "great goodness" toward the people of His name that fills the hearts and mouths of those whose song is of His righteousness (verse 7). His judgments will have been in the earth, and He will have made a short work in righteousness340—making thus visible His glory in the sight of all flesh. But it is the portion of His saints341 to bless Him (verse 10)-of those whose sanctification, and whose righteousness, are alike in Him.342 They shall speak of His kingdom, and talk of His power. As the chosen vessels of His favor and His pleasure, they will make known to the sons of men343 Jehovah's mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom (verse 12). Filled themselves with light and truth, through the removal of the veil of blindness from their hearts, they become the ready instructors of the residue of the nations.
Fair blossoms will then grow on Jacob's withered staff. The face of the world will be replenished by the fruit of Israel. The light of the knowledge of Jehovah's glory shall cover the face of the nations, and fill their hearts, where now, and until that day, the gross darkness of ignorance and unbelief is spread. Deeply will the heart of ransomed Israel enter into the sweet expressions by which the leading features of Jehovah's character, as the covenant God of His people, are here portrayed (verse 8).344 The full enjoyment of the Divine character, in all its infiniteness of gracious perfection, is meanwhile their happy portion who now, by the Spirit, taste the manner of the Father's love in Christ.
Terrestrial things are not exclusively the subject of this Psalm. All Jehovah's works shall praise Him (verse 10). Celestial glories, not less than earthly dominion, are comprehended in the kingdom of His Christ. His glory will cover the heavens when the earth is filled with His praise.345 Still, it is the earthly sphere of the universal kingdom that principally occupies the mind of the Spirit in this song.
It is a celebration of continuance (verse 2); for the kingdom which is to be set up is an everlasting kingdom (verse 13). As long as human generations shall succeed each other upon earth, the scepter of the world's dominion will remain unbroken in Messiah's hands. This kingdom has its measured limits in the declared counsel of God. It will have an end, but yield to no successor in its place.346
What God is will be known and enjoyed by the creature in that day. That which is as yet the secret portion only of the believing and forgiven vessels of elective mercy, in the midst of a world still lying in willing ignorance of God, will then be recognized and gloried in by all the families of the earth.347 Whereas it is now the witness of the Spirit that "there is none that understandeth, that seeketh after God,"348 the eyes of all will wait upon Him, when the glorious majesty of His kingdom is become a manifested truth (verse 15). His sun indeed now shines alike upon the just and the unjust. For that God is good, and that His tender mercies are over all His works, is a principle, the blessing of which results continually to the creature (though interrupted from time to time by special visitations of judgment) by virtue of His covenant with Noah and the earth.349 But men will then know their Keeper and their Blesser. They will stay themselves upon their Maker. The living God will be the satisfying portion of every living thing (verse 16).
But holiness and righteousness are evermore the method of God's way (verse 17). The administration of His kingdom by the presence and power of Messiah will gloriously prove this truth. Verses 18-20 refer immediately to the moral order of that administration. He that is higher than the highest will not then be, as now, a remote spectator, in much long-suffering, of human folly and misrule.350
He will be a present Savior and a swift avenger of all whose cry of unjust suffering is addressed to Him. The Christian, whose present appointment is as a sheep to the slaughter, lives, as one saved by hope, upon these words as words of promise, and waits patiently until the revelation of the righteous judge.
The closing verse communicates the chorus of Jehovah's praise, from the lips of Him who leads it, to the whole family of man upon the earth: “Let all flesh bless His holy name, for ever and ever." May that day soon come!
Psalm 146
THE kingdom having been established over all, praise is now set free to flow from Zion. Jacob's God is here extolled with an especial reference to His covenant faithfulness, "He keepeth truth for ever" (verse 6). The face of Jacob is now no longer pale, as in the day of trouble, but shining in the light of that pure joy and gladness which rests abidingly upon the heads of all Jehovah's ransomed people, when He brings them back with full acceptance to the city of solemnities.351
It is a very beautiful Psalm, and full of most precious matter for the believer's meditation at all times. Specifically, it is the voice of Jacob recounting the fruits of His experience in Jehovah's ways. Truth having prevailed unto victory in the revealed person of Messiah,—the living covenant of the God of Israel's promise,—the satisfied possessors of His favor cast back their thoughts in retrospective survey of the ways of man. They find that all the times and fashions of natural experience are stamped with the common seal of vanity and dissolution; that the thoughts of man, though lofty, are destined to oblivion; that rank and power were but a delusive lie, so long as they pertained to man, whose breath was in his nostrils, and who spent his days of changeful vicissitude as the expectant victim of inevitable death (verses 3, 4).
But Jacob's way had long been in the flesh. From the first, he had been prone to swerve aside from God. His immediate trust had always been in man, while he forgot His Maker, though he lied towards Him still with flattering lips?352 And in the bitter harvest of his own perverseness, he had been made to prove the truth of what he here avows. The cup of trembling, which had been once commended by the righteous God to Israel's lips, when, abhorred for their transgressions, although still beloved in un-repented purpose, they had been smitten and dispersed towards the four winds of heaven, had taught them a true estimate of human things. They had learned thereby, moreover, to think righteously of God.
But now the season of this discipline is passed. As the creatures of the Lord omnipotent, and the full vessels of His favor, they abound to overflowing with the joy which brings forth singing. And Re is their song. His truth, kept always, though long hidden from their blinded eyes, now shines in Zion as the chosen 'habitation of His name; for Christ is there. The light of Israel, once quenched by wicked ignorance, now again shines forth in cloudless brightness of entire peace. Jacob is blessed of God, and the measure of His blessing is the title of the Seed to whom the promises were made.
Verses 7-9 present in a richly varied light the name and glory of Jehovah as the covenant God of Israel. They had had to do with Him under each and all of the characters here enumerated. He had saved them and had judged them. He had punished them for their iniquities, and He had broken again the yoke of the oppressor for their sakes. He had blinded their eyes when He hid. Himself in wrath, and suffered Jacob to go on perversely in his ways.353 Again, He had unsealed those blinded eyes, and poured on them the rich and wondrous light of His salvation. Both the widow's desolation and the renewing of her bridal joy had been tasted in succession by Jerusalem. The God of Jacob had found him when a wanderer, and led 'him to a peaceful habitation. In righteousness He had both raised the prostrate people of His covenant, and confounded in a common ruin the despisers of His truth.
The result is praise. Most blessed thought! The knowledge of what God really is becomes, to those whose eyes are opened in His light, an argument of ceaseless praise.
The God of Jacob is the God of grace. The Christian's praise of God is due to Him, according to the name with which He clothes Himself in the special revelation of His truth. Now He who hath called us in the Son of His love is the God of all grace. This title announces to the believer the perfect adjustment, in entire mercy, of the holiness of God in Christ to the existing need of those whom He has called by Him to His eternal glory. Jacob's God is ours, in the full emphasis of all His gracious name. We need Him thus. And having, in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the pronounces and fulfiller of all promise, we may boldly say, "Jehovah is my helper," in our day of trial,354 and thus respond, with full intelligence of their sweet meaning, to the gratulations of the Spirit in this wise and lovely song of Zion.
Psalm 147
ANOTHER and most comely strain of praise addressed to Jacob's God. It is more exclusively national in its tone than the last. No other nation had been so dealt with; but to Jacob He had shown His word—His statutes and His judgments unto Israel (verses 19, 20). The Gentiles, if they would learn the knowledge of Jehovah, must receive it from the wise and understanding people whom He had decked with everlasting favor as His chosen priests, the keepers and dispensers of His truth.355
We listen, in this Psalm, as to the pleasant melody of the Lord's song in His own land. The time of singing has now come. For Jehovah has built up Jerusalem, and gathered together the outcasts of Israel (verse 2).356 He is known in Zion as her God. For by His power He has stilled the adversaries, and established a border of perpetual peace around the loved inheritance of His choice. He has blessed the children of Jerusalem within her, while her gates are made sure from violence in the abiding strength of His salvation (verses 13, 14).357
Verses 3-6 declare the glories and ever blessed perfections of His character, whom they now know and make their boast in as their Lord, and whose discovery of Himself, in the marvelous riches of His goodness, has filled their harps with new strains of thanksgiving and praise (verse 7). And here it is that the believing citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem finds fit expression of his own heart-homage to the God of His salvation. What Israel will taste in their Messiah in the coming day, the Christian finds in Jesus now. In Him he sees and understands, experimentally, the association of Almighty power with the gracious tenderness of perfect love. It is He who telleth the number of the stars. By the greatness of His might, He has brought them severally forth to be the silent but irrefragable witnesses of His exceeding majesty who upholds them by the word of His own power.358 But He is likewise the watchful reckoner of the sheep of His blood-bought flock. The very hairs that grow upon His people's heads are numbered in the jealous minuteness of His care.
There is, in verse 4, an apparent allusion to Gen. 15:55And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. (Genesis 15:5). God only knows the number of His people. As no star fails of its appointed luster, but renders, as it brightly shines, its tribute to His glory who created it, so no living vessel of His grace and power shall fail of its allotted place, or bear a less than full resemblance to the image of that glory of the First-begotten, unto which God's many sons must be conformed.359
Christ, as the wisdom and power of God, shines brightly forth from verse 5, but rather in connection with the mystery of the Divine dealings with the earthly people.360
The once foolish nation speaks in the spirit of a sound mind of the true foundation of all blessing, in verses 10, 11: "Not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," will be the lowly but delighted acknowledgment of regenerate Israel in that day, even as now it is the key-note of all true Christian praise. The pervading goodness and power of Jehovah the alone ruler and possessor of the earth and its fullness, are finely described in this Psalm. But all is done with reference to Jerusalem, as the then recognized center of all earthly blessing. It is plain that the Church is in no way represented here, though involved in a paramount degree in all the blessing contemplated, as the inseparable associate of Him who is presently to be worshipped at Jerusalem as her Lord, the God and governor of all the earth.
Psalm 148
THE note of praise swells louder and with a more widely comprehensive range, in this magnificent Psalm, than in the one immediately preceding. It is a glorious celebration of Him who filleth all things, and who, as over all, blessed for ever, will have worship from His creatures, whether heavenly or earthly, or in those profounder deeps which human thought may not explore. Waters above the heavens, whose limits and the ordained purpose of whose creation are things not yet revealed to man, lift up their hands to praise the only Lord (verse 4).361
It is the sublime and perfect harmony of the freed creation's praise that greets us in this lofty and most beautiful ode, whose subject is the once-rejected Lord of glory. It is a worthy strain for anticipative Christian faith to utter, while still enduring the reproach of a world to which the mystery of a hidden and exalted Christ is little better than a cunning fable. But it is most plainly Israel's song (verse 14). He whose glory will be thus extolled, as over earth and heaven, receives, as the climax of terrestrial praise, the grateful celebration of the children of Israel, whom He has exalted to be a praise and a peculiar ornament of His majesty who is the God of the whole earth. Be it ours to remember, that it will be in the manifestation of the sons of God that the ennobled nation of His choice will pitch thus loftily their grateful and triumphant strains.
The double glory of Jesus—the Creator and Redeemer of all things—is sublimely indicated in this Psalm. Especially, He is extolled as the Redeemer and exalter of His saints. That title seems, however, to be appropriated exclusively to Israel in the present Psalm. For, as has been already remarked, the Church has her portion with Him who is the glorified object of this worship. He will come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them whose happy calling it now is to believe on, and to suffer for, a world-rejected Christ.362 And if this earthly song be sweet and worthy, there is a strain of yet surpassing richness and power, which, having its beginning in heaven before the throne of God, spreads no further among men on earth than to be echoed by that chosen multitude to whom it is given, just before the King of glory shines forth in apparent majesty, to know Him and to praise Him as the Lamb.363
There is an expression of peculiar and touching interest in the concluding verse. The children of Israel are described as “a people near unto Him." Always near, in covenanted purpose, to His gracious affection, who had loved them with an everlasting love,364 the people had been once brought nigh.365
Jehovah had borne them upon eagles' wings, and brought them to Himself. But then it was to receive a covenant which presently removed them into hopeless distance. From that far distance they had been again brought nigh. And now He who is the living covenant of grace and truth, sole mediator of blessing between God and man, had joined the people to their God for ever. In that nearness they will glory with a praise which shall not cease.
Psalm 149
ALTHOUGH there are passages366 in this Psalm which are manifestly applicable to the Church, and which at first sight might seem to pertain, in strict interpretation, to the partakers of the heavenly calling as their proper object, yet in its prophetic bearing it belongs, I believe, like the foregoing Psalms, to the redeemed nation of Israel.
It is a new song; to be raised only by the ransomed of Jehovah. It tells of the gladness which Zion's children have in their anointed King (verse 2). They will make such melody within her walls of salvation in the day when He who, when He once rode meekly, sitting on an ass, and entered in this guise, as Israel's Judge and Zion's King, within the city of solemnities, had been rejected and despised, shall be recognized and worshipped as the Maker367 of 'His new-created people. The new song of redemption- praise will be comely in the lips of Zion's new-born sons.
They will say of Him whom their fathers disallowed, “He is our God." And He will own them, and have pleasure in them, as His people. With dance and timbrel they will crown the vine-clad mountains of Samaria, in the happy exultation of an acceptable mirth, when, having been drawn by Jehovah's loving-kindness within the covenant of endless peace, they keep their feasts of gladness in the beauteous garments of salvation (verse 4).368
At verse 5, the subject changes from the blessedness of Israel, as a vessel of Divine goodness, to the yet higher and more solemn topic of the nation's honor as the associate and chosen instrument of God's judicial holiness. This had always been a part of Israel's calling. They were as Jehovah's sword, to visit on the ripe iniquity of the Canaanite the righteous vengeance of the God of judgment. This honor had indeed been turned, through the weakness and un-profitableness of the flesh, to shame and reprobation in their after history. They had howled upon their beds beneath the load of anguish which Jehovah's just displeasure had inflicted on them, when, although He was their Savior, they had spoken only mischief and revolt against His name.369 But now they sing. They rest upon their beds,370 every one settled and grounded in the Lord his righteousness.
Nothing is more obvious than the application of verses 6-9 to the armies of heaven, which follow the Lord of judgment in His advent of righteous visitation on the corrupters of the earth.371 But ancient prophecy is full of testimony to the part which reconciled Israel is to sustain in the solemn scenes of the latter day. Jehovah will surely bend Judah for Him, and fill His bow with Ephraim.372 Israel shall yet take them captives whose captives they were, and shall rule over their oppressors,373 when the kingdom is restored according to the sure word of promise. That word is faithful. It has been made to them who have as yet possessed their portion but a little while.374 But a promise of eternal excellency remains to be fulfilled to Zion by the changeless Holy One of Israel.375
Psalm 150
HEAVEN and earth again unite in this final chorus of the creation's joyful worship; God is to be praised in His sanctuary;376 He is to be lauded also in the firmament of His power. His mighty acts are the occasion of His power; its measure is His excellent greatness (verse 2). The ministers of this acceptable incense are the breathing creatures of His hand (verse 6). His breath is in their nostrils that His praise may fill their lips.
The detail given in verses 3-5 of the instrumental demonstration of human worship is full of interest. The musical inventions of man's device—originating as they did in the unblessed house of Cain, who was of that wicked one and slew his brother—had long been used for the furtherance of the unhallowed joys of men—as appliances of revelry for them who were lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. If not thus used their sound had been even less welcome in the ears of holiness, when the studied strains of artificial melody provoked a fresh remembrance of their deep hypocrisy, who outwardly professed to love the places of God's honor, while their hearts were alike destitute of His fear and of His love.377
But now those once dishonored instruments are in the hands of worshippers who have been taught experimentally that the inventor of true melody is the living Spirit of grace. Pure and delicious harmony will flow freely forth at their wise touch. Brought themselves within the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ, they will regard and use the works of their own hands only as welcome appliances of His pure worship, for whose glory themselves had been created and redeemed according to the riches of His grace.
May that day be hastened in His time I Meanwhile, for the expectant heirs of salvation, whose unction as the sons of God is of the Holy One, there are harps of purer tone, and of a different invention—the harps of GOD. Already, though in feeble and ungraceful numbers, there ascends to God an acceptable offering of praise from the voluntary exiles who, for Jesus' sake, go forth without the camp.378 May that offering be rich and plenteous, through the power of the Holy Ghost, in a growing discernment, and still deepening enjoyment, of the unsearchable riches of Christ, until His presence crowns their hope.379
3. Rom. 2
5. ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία, Luke 2:1414Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14). I have called the millennial reign a partial fulfillment of the angelic anticipation, because its terms will be completely satisfied only in the new creation, when God's tabernacle will be everlastingly with men. (Rev. 21:1-31And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:1‑3); 2 Peter 3:10-1310But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2 Peter 3:10‑13).
10. Viz., verses 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 31, 32
15. Deut. 30; compare Rom. 10
20. עָם בִּקְהַל ןִיךוֹמְמוּהוּ The restored integrity of the nation is clearly conveyed by the language of this verse.
25. It is in fact identical in its language, partly with that Psalm, and partly with Psa. 57
26. יְדִידֶיךָ
29. For their sakes truly. For He lived and died for Israel. (John 11:5151And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; (John 11:51).) But no reader of these Notes will I trust suppose me to mean that Christ, as the true seed of Abraham, stands related only to the regenerate nation of Israel. (Rom. 4; Gal. 3)
31. Hosea 14. passim
35. Acts 1:1-161The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 12Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. 13And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. 15And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. (Acts 1:1‑16)
36. It is not well to deal in conjecture upon subjects which the Holy Ghost has but partially revealed. But my own mind seems to find a practical solution of the circumstance (scarcely credible on ordinary principles) of so petty a sum being tendered as the price of Jesus' blood, in the characteristic cunning of the counselors of wickedness. They put small faith, I doubt not, in the sincerity of Judas' offer. Moreover, they were not ignorant that the life they sought so eagerly had more than once escaped, they knew not how, from the angry hands of those who seemed to have it in their grasp. Thus, prudent in their guilt, they unconsciously fulfilled the words of mournful irony in which the Spirit had so long before described this deep and strange extreme of national iniquity. (Zech. 11:1313And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. (Zechariah 11:13).)
37. John 13
38. For some further remarks on the sin of Judas, see the remarks on Psa. 69 Ante, p. 369.
40. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."(Acts 2:2323Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (Acts 2:23).)
43. The expression רַבִּים בְתוֹךְ is quite indefinite. ‘Εν μυέσῳ πολλῶν.―LXX "Im Vieler Mitte."―DE WETTE. It seems to point, in its indefiniteness, to the general results of redemption-the ultimate harvest of the travail of Messiah's soul.
45. Compare as to this Zech.
50. Acts 2:22-3622Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:22‑36)
53. I do not pause to substantiate by a general scriptural induction what is here assumed as a truth. Any reader who may heretofore have taken been laid, as a stumbling-stone and rock of offence, when He was crucified in weakness in the mystery of the grace of God. Zion metaphorically in this place, is requested to consider whether scriptural proof can be advanced to show that another Zion is here meant than the city where David dwelt.
58. Isa. 60:14, 1614The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 60:14)
16Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. (Isaiah 60:16)
; Zech. 14:16-2116And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 20In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. 21Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 14:16‑21)
59. That the people here mentioned are Israel I have no doubt. Assuredly the Church that loves and lives upon an unseen Christ will gladly witness the advent of His power. The companions of His patience will follow willingly their Captain of salvation when He rides forth in majesty to take possession of His kingdom. (Rev. 19:11-1411And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:11‑14).) But the language of the text is inapplicable to those whose willingness begins in the day of His reproach. Christian faith loves not its life unto the death for Jesus' sake. Its very calling and chief praise, while here below, is to be counted worthy to suffer for that Name. We are now exhorted to go forth to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. (Acts 5:4141And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (Acts 5:41); 1 Peter 4:1414If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:14); Heb. 13:1313Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:13).))
60. For faith, the day of Christ's power is already come. All power in heaven and in earth is His. I cannot, therefore, disallow an application of this verse to the present action of His electing mercy and constraining love in subduing the obdurate will of sinners to Himself. But this surely is not its just interpretation.
63. In the Note on Psa. 118 this point is more fully treated.
65. Luke 2
66. Heb. 7. passim.
67. Heb. 8
69. And heavenly also, as has been sufficiently insisted upon in the earlier pages of this work.
73. In my Notes on the Hebrews and Romans already mentioned.
77. The latter clause of verse 6 is of doubtful interpretation. It is in the original: רַבָּה עַל־אֶרֶץ ראֹשֹ מָחַץ it is thought by some that ראֹשֹ, being in the singular number, indicates the Willful King himself. DIODATI'S translation seems to recognize this (though, doubtless, in his mind it had respect to the Papal power): "Egli trafiggera it caps [che regna] sopra molti paesi." I rather prefer this view. But it is a point which cannot, I think, be ascertained. The remarks on Psa. 2 may be again examined with reference to the general drift of these latter verses.
79. Psa. 45
80. Already He is known to the believer as the mighty divider of the spoil in the accomplished victory which has laid the powers of darkness low beneath the feet of those who stand by faith complete in Him. (Col. 2:1616Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (Colossians 2:16); Isa. 53:1212Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12).) It is not, however, the secret joy of faith, but rather the manifested power of the kingdom of God, that is the subject of these verses.)
84. Isa. 4
95. Notes on Second Corinthians in loc.
99. Rev. 20
102. Isaiah 19
103. Isa. 54 passim.
105. Isaiah 2
106. 1 Cor. 2
108. Ezek. 36:22-3222Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 30And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 31Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. 32Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:22‑32)
109. Compare Rev. 13
110. Although it is true that the present Psalm might have served (and probably did so) as a memorial of Israel's praise during any one of the occasional revivals, which show like lucid intervals of brief continuance in the protracted season of the nation's madness, yet it is quite plain that in its prophetic intention it respects the ultimate deliverance of the people of the covenant, and the final abolition of idolatrous worship in the earth. (Compare Isa. 2) But this will not take place until the general apostasy (2 Thess. 2) has reached its climax in the monstrous worship of the image of the Beast. (Rev. 13) With respect to this last expression, I would remark that although the language of the passage referred to is such as almost to preclude any other than a literal interpretation, this is after all but a minor consideration. Idolatry is the worship of SATAN in some form, visible or ideal. Names and imagery are but adjunctive semblances and indications of the unseen and unsuspected reality. What the heathen sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils. (1 Cor. 10:2020But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (1 Corinthians 10:20).) Visible appearances, or aught besides that can be brought to act directly upon human sense, are powerful appliances by which the wining victims of delusion are bound more surely to the fatal covenant of death. But palpable imagery is not an essential of idol worship. Thus covetousness is idolatry. Idolatry is simply homage rendered to a shadow instead of a reality―to a lie instead of truth. Reliance, therefore, upon anything that is not God is idolatry in principle. The convincing and decisive token of the vanity of idols will be afforded when, at the appearing of the Lord, that mighty power of Satanic energy, which will have wielded at will the diverse interests of men, and whose last great effort will have been to set the harnessed forces of the nations for the battle of Almighty God, will become the fuel of an inextinguishable flame. (Rev. 19:2020And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20).)
113. Lev. 10
116. Eccles. passim.
117. With verses 17, 18, we may compare also Isa. 65:18-2518But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. 24And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 65:18‑25); 1 Cor. 15:2424Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:24)
127. פְּחָאִים Τὰ νήπια.―LXX. “Parvuli.―HIERON."Die Einfהltigen." ―DE WETTE. This word, in its application to Jesus, seems to combine the two distinct ideas, first, of guileless dependence upon God; and, secondly, of the contemptuous disregard whereby the living wisdom of God was slighted and derided by those who saw and hated both the Father and the Son.
129. John 8:2-112And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:2‑11); Luke 7:36-5036And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:36‑50)
135. Cor. 15:4. To the believing sinner there is given full participation in this grateful strain of triumph. For it is to God who hath stablished us in Christ, that we address our praise. (2 Cor. 1:2121Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; (2 Corinthians 1:21).) Our feet are planted on that Rock of life no more to be removed. For He who has set us there in grace will keep us there in faithfulness, and with sufficing power. Tears may flow still, by reason of the manifold distresses of the way. But endless consolations are secured to us in Christ (2 Thess. 2:1616Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, (2 Thessalonians 2:16)), and He who is the Spirit both of truth and glory, performs His blessed task of comfort to the soul, by teaching us to say even now, in this our day of conflict: "Thanks be unto God, which giveth us the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
136. Matt. 11:16-2616But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. 20Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. 25At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Matthew 11:16‑26); Mark 6:66And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. (Mark 6:6)
139. With respect to the expression בְחָפְזִי. the LXX. give what seems the best translation. They have: Ἐν τῆ ἐκστάσει μου. We shall try in vain to harmonize to our intelligence the union of Divine omniscience with a mind accessible to visitations of surprise. Yet such was found in Jesus. (Compare Matt. 8:1010When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Matthew 8:10); Mark 6:66And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. (Mark 6:6).) With the eleventh verse of this Psalm we may perhaps compare, for its fuller illustration, John 8:41-5541Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and ye do dishonor me. 50And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honoreth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. (John 8:41‑55). It may be remarked also, with reference to the tenth verse, that the manner of its quotation in 2 Cor. 4:13, 1413We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. (2 Corinthians 4:13‑14), seems plainly to intimate that the Apostle understood the passage to relate to Christ. Notes on Second Corinthians, in loc.
147. Verses 10-13 describe with a peculiar emphasis both the destruction of the banded hosts of the great Gentile confederacy, and the instrumentality of their defeat: "In the name of Jehovah will I destroy them." The governors of Judah will be as a torch of fire in a sheaf, to devour all the nations round about Jerusalem in that day. Zech. 12 should be carefully read in illustration of these verses. In verse 13 there seems to be an apostrophe addressed immediately to the willful king himself.
148. Compare Hab. 1:1212Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. (Habakkuk 1:12). The first chapter, both of Habakkuk and of Nahum, may be read with great advantage in connection with the earlier verses. Under different aspects we have there presented, not only the same great moral principles, but also, I believe, in their ultimate intention, the same prophetic facts which are the subject of the present Psalm.
157. It is well to bear always in remembrance that mankind are classified by God's Spirit in a threefold division, viz., the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God. In the millennial age the two former of these distinctions will still continue to exist. The Church will then have (a truth already recognized by faith) no place among the families of earth.
158. Together with His saints, as seems indicated by the change from singular to plural in the latter clause of this verse: we have blessed you בֵרַכְנּכֶם
163. Col. 2
167. 2 Peter 3.; Rom. 7 passim.
171. There are others which, in my judgment, forbid decisively our regarding the Lord Jesus as the proper subject of this Psalm. Some have been so struck by the suitableness of much of its language as an expression of Messiah's experience in the days of His flesh as to endeavor, by means of new translations, to remove the obvious difficulties which are presented in verses 67, 71, 176 to this scheme of interpretation. As to these attempts, such of them as have fallen under my own inspection, are to me utterly unsatisfactory. Without discussing here at large these proposed alterations, as it respects their critical soundness, I may convey to the simple reader an idea of the hazardous nature of such hypotheses, by acquainting or reminding him (as the case may be) that the language in the original of verse 176, "I have gone astray," etc., is similar exactly to that of Isa. 53:66All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6). What straying means in the latter passage will hardly be disputed. Nor will any one, I think, who notes the large use which the Spirit elsewhere makes of the same word חעה to express "wandering" in a moral sense, adventure lightly on a departure in this passage from its usual meaning.
173. הַמַּעְַלוֹת שִׁיר This title is borne by the present Psalm and those which follow, to Psa. 134 inclusive. As to the true meaning of this inscription, it seems impossible at the present day to determine it conclusively. Viewing the general drift and connection of the fifteen Psalms which are thus entitled, the judgment expressed by some that they belong more especially to the period of Israel's ascent out of the wilderness of the nations, to re-occupy in peace the land and city of their fathers, appears at least as good as any other conjecture. Authentic explanation is not to be obtained. With respect to the authorship of the Songs of degrees, ten are anonymous, four bear the name of David, and one (Psa. 127) is ascribed to Solomon.
174. The marginal translation of verses 3, 4, is perhaps to be preferred.
175. The first verse has not, I think, been happily rendered in our Authorized Version.
The marginal translation is decidedly superior. Still better, because more exact, is the version of DE WETTE "Ich hebe mein Auge zu den Bergen; woher wird mir Hlfe Kommen?"
176. I take the word הֵהָרִים in a sense not exclusively literal. It seems rather to stand here as a metaphor of human grandeur and power.
181. John 10
182. The throne of God and of the Lamb is there. (Rev. 22:11And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Revelation 22:1).) The thrones of David are the seats of Israel's dominion, which is a thing not of heaven but of earth.
184. לְישְֺרָאֵל עֵרוּתThese words refer, I believe, to the confluence of Israel's tribes to their ordered assemblies thrice in the year, and not to the place of their assembly. The word “unto " is a gratuitous interpolation, which mars the sense. Μαρτύριον τῷ ‘Ισραήλ.―LXX., is an exact translation. (Compare HIERON. et VULG.) DE WETTE'S version, "Nach Israel's Breech," is loose, but conveys the meaning more correctly than our own. It is the perpetually recurring memorial to Jehovah, the God of Israel's mercy, that seems to be intended, rather than the appointed place of His worship. The latter is emphatically specified in the Psalm at large, especially verses 1, 9.
190. Jude, passim.
196. Rev. 11
197. Psa. 2 8
199. Psa. 90; Deut. 27
201. Numbers 23:99For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. (Numbers 23:9). Israel will never lose its distinctive peculiarity as the nation of earthly pre-eminence, even when in the wide extension of millennial blessing God will bind in the game bond of mercy other nations with His own. (Compare Isaiah 19:23-26.)
207. Ezra; Nehem.
212. 1 Cor. 4:5; 15:68
213. Psa. 72
216. שֵׁנא לִידִידוֹ יִתֵּן בֵּן ".Dasselbe (sc. Brodt) giebt er seinem Geliebten im Schlafe."―DE WETTE. Similarly LUTHER: "Dean seinen Freunden giebt ers schlafend." I prefer this to our version. It is not sleep, but bread, that is the common object of human anxiety and toil in our days of natural vanity. (Prov. 16:2626He that laboreth laboreth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him. (Proverbs 16:26); Eccl. 6:77All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. (Ecclesiastes 6:7).) But for the people whom Jehovah takes in hand to bless, His lands shall give her increase with a bounteous profusion un-extorted by laborious toil. The plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth the seed. The corn and the wine, which had been smitten in the day of controversy and rebuke, shall be multiplied with plenteous increase in the day when Israel's captivity is turned. (Amos 9:13-1513Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God. (Amos 9:13‑15); Joel 2:18, 1918Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: (Joel 2:18‑19).)
224. Life and good days are lawful objects of Christian desire. For godliness hath promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1 Peter 3:10-1210For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (1 Peter 3:10‑12); 1 Tim. 4:88For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (1 Timothy 4:8).) The living God, who is worshipped in the Spirit by His children, “giveth us richly all things to enjoy." But what is the measure of contentment to the Spirit of adoption? We find it in 1 Tim. 6:6-86But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (1 Timothy 6:6‑8). The moral application of the quotation in 1 Peter 3 is very broad and clear. But nothing can be plainer than that the characteristic accompaniment of Christian faithfulness is persecution and dishonor, rather than outward prosperity and the praise of men (2 Tim. 3:1212Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12); Gal. 6:1212As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12); 1 Peter 4:12-1412Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:12‑14)), etc.
225. Ώς μὴ καταχρώμενοι. I do not think that "abusing" is an appropriate translation of this word in the passage above quoted, though it may be difficult to express (without a periphrasis) the meaning more exactly. It is evident from the context that the caution is directed against the using of present things (by a misconception of Christian liberty) for themselves, and not to the Lord; exercising, as it were, an absolute ownership over that which they really hold in trust for Him, and mistaking the time of patience for the time of rest.―Notes on First Corinthians, in loc.
227. Ezek. 38
238. Rom. 10
251. Isa. 32
256. Eph. 4
258. Rev. 21
265. Compare in connection with these verses the remarks on Psa. 115, especially the note there added on the corresponding passages in that Psalm
272. Rom. 9
286. Obad. 1:17, 1817But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. 18And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it. (Obadiah 17‑18). The burden of Babylon may be found in Isa. 13, 14.; Jer. 1.; Rev. 18; etc. The point of real importance for the reader to keep before him in the study of these prophecies is, not whether their eventual fulfillment may relate to a city or a system, but that the judgment denounced is inseparably connected by the Spirit of prophecy with the permanent restoration of Israel, and their exaltation in their own land.
289. It was the hatred, that is, with which the carnal mind in its natural enmity against God always regards whatever is the elect object of His favor. Jerusalem was the city of God. "Raze it, raze it even to the ground," is the mischievous desire of every unregenerate mind against every building that rests on the elect Stone of Divine foundation. For God's election never pleases man until, through grace, his own heart has become an adoring receiver of that mercy which while in his natural state he angrily resented and refused to own in its effects on other men. From Cain to Antichrist this solemn truth holds always good.
290. אִמְרָחֶךָ עַל־בָּל־שׁמְךָ בִּי־הִגְדַּלְתָּ "Verherrlicht hast du ber all deinen Ruhm deine Verheissung."―DE WETTE. ".Percioche to hai magnificata la tua parola sopra ogni tua fama."―DIOD.
293. Rev. 11:1515And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15). It is hardly necessary to apprise the reader that the individual salvation of king or governor is not at all in question here. By the grace of God, if not many such are called, some are. But never has Christ been the acknowledged Director of this world's policy, nor will be till He take it into His own hand with power, as His long-disputed right.
297. זֵרִיתָ"Thou winnowest," as the English margin correctly renders.
308. לָשׁוֹן אישׁ Ἀνὴρ γλωσσώδης.―LXX. (verse 11.)
309. Rev. 13
313. Rev. 16:14; 19:11-2114For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16:14)
11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11‑21)
318. Rom. 7:7-257What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. 12Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:7‑25)
325. Jesus is, as it respects that nation, still an outcast, forgotten as a dead man, out of mind. They will look on Him and recognize Him when the brightness of His glory is revealed. The story of Joseph and his brethren, so beautiful as a typical foreshadowing of these things, may naturally suggest itself to the reader in connection with this verse.
331. Perhaps the liturgical version of this clause is to be preferred: "Let Thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of uprightness." This agrees with LXX. and HIERON. LUTHER, DE WETTE, and DIODATI, also treat רוחַ as the nominative to תַנְחֵנִי The Bible version is not to be censured as a faulty translation of the words; but the other view seems, on the whole, to yield a juster sense to a passage which is equivocal in its original form.
335. Compare Psa. 8
336. 2 These.
337. John 5
341. חְַםׅידׅים Meaning, I believe, more immediately, the redeemed nation of Israel. (Compare 2 Chron. 6:4141Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. (2 Chronicles 6:41).) In a still more abundant measure does this term apply to the Church of the First-born, who, knowing then as they are known, will be the delighted ministrants of Jehovah's praises, as the glorified companions of Him, who will bear confessedly the government upon His shoulder in that day.
345. Hab. 3
347. Speaking, that is, generally. For, as has frequently been stated in the progress of these "Notes," the world is not universally converted to God in the millennium.
352. Isaiah 63; 59:13
357. Compare Isa. 60, passim.
359. Rota. 8:29
360. Rota. 11:33-36
366. Especially verses 1, 6-9. As to the phrase, הְַםִירִים קְהַל.’Εκκλησία ὁσίων.―LXX., it would apply, in its indefiniteness, with equal propriety to the Church or to the nation. But the strong Jewish context leaves no doubt upon my own mind that the latter are here intended.
367. Let Israel rejoice בְּעֺשָׂיו The plural form here employed will not be regarded as an accidental peculiarity by the reader, who, in the grateful enjoyment of the now unfolded mystery of godliness, delights to note its adumbrations in the ancient oracles of God, before the time had fully come for the epiphany of the true and perfect Light. (Compare in original, Gen. 1:2626And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26); Isa. 54:66For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. (Isaiah 54:6); etc. etc.)
376. That the earth by sanctuary is here meant is evident, not only from the sequel of the Psalm, but more conclusively from Rev. 21:2222And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. (Revelation 21:22).
379. Heb.10:37