Book 5: Psalms 107-150

Psalm 107-150
Overview. This book gives the general results of the government of God and a moral review of God’s ways. It includes the restoration of Israel (the whole nation) amid dangers and difficulties, the exaltation of Messiah to God’s right hand till His enemies are made His footstool, God’s ways with Israel, and their whole condition and the principles on which they stand with God, His law being written in their hearts. It ends with full and continued praise after the destruction of their enemies, in which they have part with God. It gives an affecting series of songs of degrees, followed after due interval by an ever-swelling chorus of hallelujahs, universal and lasting while earth endures.
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Psalm 107, verses 13, give the general character of the book. It is the song of the redeemed, as such, recounting all the vicissitudes of their return, and how in it all, mercy has triumphed over judgment. This testimony to Jehovah’s mercy enduring forever connects them in principle with the ark when it was brought back by David after “Ichabod” had been written on the people, for there it was that Israel first sang, “His mercy endureth forever.” Though they are the redeemed and brought back in this psalm, they are still in trouble, and in verse 39 they are brought low, even after being in the land. As in Isaiah 18:22That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled! (Isaiah 18:2), ambassadors sent by sea to bring them back to their land, but in verse 5 they are all cut down, and in verse 7 the Lord gathers them and establishes them in blessing.
Psalm 108. God is in the land and claims it as His own. See verse 8.
In Psalm 109 we have Judas, the son of perdition, but running on into the plural and thus a type of the apostate Jews in the end.
Psalm 110. Christ is exalted. He is seated at Jehovah’s right hand until His enemies are made His footstool. He must be there to deliver them.
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Psalm 111. The works of Jehovah are celebrated. This and the two following psalms go together as a hallelujah in reference to Jehovah’s ways with Israel in their deliverance. Each psalm begins with, “Hallelujah.”
Psalm 112 is the character of those who are to be blessed on the earth. The fear of the Lord is that which characterizes them especially.
Psalm 113 goes back a little to His mercy. Jehovah is to be exalted. It takes up the poor and the barren woman. In delivering power He comes in when man has failed altogether. These psalms are not occupied with facts but with moral principles.
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Psalm 114. What is the meaning of the earth trembling and the sea fleeing? It is the same power as of old in the deliverance of Israel, as it says in Deuteronomy 32:3636For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. (Deuteronomy 32:36), “The Lord shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.”
Psalm 115 is praises to His name (in contrast with idols) for their deliverance from death. The dead praise not the Lord (they say), but we do.
Psalm 116 is the cry in the depth of distress to Jehovah and he is heard. He will pay his vows unto the Lord in the presence of all His people. The effect of the trouble was to drive him to Jehovah, and the deliverance calls forth his praise.
Psalm 117. The title they have to call upon all nations to join in praising Jehovah is that His merciful kindness is great toward them and the truth of the Lord in His faithfulness to Israel, who has fulfilled all His promises toward them, “endureth forever.”
Psalm 118 brings out in a remarkable way the whole dealings of God with Israel on the ground of His mercy. In verses 10-12 we have the power of man against the godly, in verse 13 the adversary, and in verse 18 he sees himself the subject of the chastening of Jehovah. Verse 22 is what Christ quoted of Himself; it is His rejection. Verse 25 is the hosannah that the children cried in the temple; verse 26 is what the Lord told the Jews — that until they said that, they should never see Him again. In verse 24 is the true Sabbath for Israel. The night is past with them, so they can say, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” The psalm is summed up with, “His mercy endureth forever.” It is a summary of all that is going on then until the millennial day.
Do we have the sufferings of Christ in verse 18? No doubt Christ entered into it, but the chastening was upon Israel.
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Psalm 119 is writing the law upon their hearts according to the promise of the new covenant.
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Psalms 120-134 are a series of fifteen “songs of degrees,” or steps in Israel’s restoration, not yet fulfilled. I doubt not that they depict the process that goes on until they get to the full blessing of unity in Psalm 133. They represent Israel as in the land, but all opposition not as yet removed.
The series begins with, “In my distress I cried unto the Lord,” and it ends with, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” and their praising Jehovah in the temple.
In Psalm 120 the deceitful foe is discerned.
In Psalm 121 Jehovah is looked to for help; in Psalm 122 Christ’s Spirit kindles their joy in worship. Then in Psalm 123 their eyes are devotedly lifted up to Jehovah; in Psalm 124 the snare is broken, and they bless Him. In Psalm 125 they confide in Jehovah, peace on Israel; in Psalm 126 joy is reaped after sowing in tears, by Christ above all.
Psalm 127 is for Solomon, contrasting the house and the city of the rest of God with the Babel-building that preceded and looking for a blessed posterity. The blessing of those who fear Jehovah duly ensues in Psalm 128 and their many afflictions can now, in Psalm 129, be calmly remembered with the assurance of shame to all that hate Zion. Then Psalm 130 tells how forgiveness with Jehovah taught them to fear Him, to wait for Him and to hope; in Psalm 131 the moral effect goes forth in subjection of heart, deepening that hope.
Psalm 132 is a plea for the Lord to remember David and all his afflictions. In verse 8 we have a contrast with Numbers 10. There Jehovah arose to scatter Israel’s enemies, and then He returned to the many thousands in Israel, but now the enemies are scattered, and the prayer is that Jehovah with the ark of His strength shall arise and take His rest in Israel. In verse 14 Jehovah says, “This is My rest forever.” It is the restoration of the ark of the covenant to its resting-place and the promises of Jehovah in answer to the supplication of His servant.
In each point you find the answer is greater than the request. In verse 8 it is, “Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest.” In verses 13-14 the Lord has “desired it for His habitation. This is My rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” Then in verse 9 the prayer is, “Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy saints shout for joy.” Then comes the answer, “I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.” In verse 10 we have the prayer, “For Thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of Thine anointed.” Then the answer comes, “There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for Mine anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.”
Psalm 133 points us to the beauteous dwelling in unity that results in the power of the Spirit, honoring a greater than Aaron in the blessing — life forevermore.
Psalm 134 ends this series with blessing rising up, even at night, and Jehovah blesses out of Zion, king and priest being here together in it.
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Psalm 135 is praise to Jehovah. We have His name here in connection with Israel and in contrast with idols. In verse 13, Exodus 3:1515And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15) is quoted, where we have Jehovah, the name He takes to stand by Israel forever. Verse 14 is a quotation from Deuteronomy 32:3636For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. (Deuteronomy 32:36) in the prophetic song of Moses, when He has unfolded to them their picture as apostate. Then, when they should be helpless and hopeless in themselves, Jehovah would judge His people and would repent Himself concerning His servants.
These two verses (vss. 13-14) give us the first deliverance and purpose of God and the judgment and ways of God in the last days, which afford the key to the interpretation of the Psalms.
Psalm 136 takes up these things much in the same manner, but with the addition of mercy enduring forever with each statement — the lesson we are learning here.
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Psalm 137. We have had the Assyrian; now we get Babylon which we have not had before. Babylon lasts on in prophecy to the beast. We have Edom too, the old rival of Israel. Obadiah prophesies largely of Edom’s judgment, for its perpetual hatred to Israel. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem captive, Edom stood in the way to cut them off lest any of them should escape. The Roman beast is Babylon in the end. Assyria is the enemy when Israel is owned as God’s people, and Babylon when Israel is not owned.
Psalm 138. In spite of all this the remnant praises God in spirit, though in the presence of the power of Babylon. We have God’s Word and the cry of faith in this psalm — the same principle as in Hebrews 4, where we have the Word of God laying bare the heart and the conscience and the Priest on high, so that we can come boldly to the throne of grace. In Luke 10 we have Mary hearing Christ’s words, and in chapter 11 the disciples say, “Lord, teach us to pray.” The Word of God and prayer are the two channels of communication between God and man.
Psalm 139. The Spirit of God is here searching out the heart, and faith looks to God’s creation, although with Israel they are restored in the flesh. At first he cannot get out of God’s hand and cannot stand before Him in the searching out of flesh, but afterwards he sees he is God’s handiwork and that he is His creation and now he can ask to be searched out. The principles of the new creation are here without revealing it. Verse 16, in principle, applies to the church, but there is no direct allusion to it.
What are the lower parts of the earth? His mother’s womb. It is curious how in the Old Testament they speak of their mother’s womb as the earth. As we read in Job, “Wilt Thou bring me into dust again?” And in Ecclesiastes 3:2020All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:20), “All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Man comes out of the dust of death really, and returns there again.
In the close of the psalm we have brought out God’s thoughts and purposes of grace toward Israel.
In Psalm 140 he finds himself in the presence of the evil man and is looking for deliverance and counts on Jehovah. In these psalms it is always the remnant and sometimes a positive promise about Christ.
Psalm 141 is looking for deliverance, but asking to be kept, both as to heart and lips, in the midst of distress. He is crying to the Lord in the place of testimony in the midst of judgment and trials.
Psalm 142 has a special character. “I cried unto the Lord with my voice”: not merely with the heart, but an expression of it with his voice. He cries openly to God and makes confession of Jehovah in his supplications as his refuge and his portion in the land of the living.
Psalm 143. They are fully in the distress, but still crying and praying for deliverance.
The Assyrian is destroyed after the man of sin. Western Europe is the territory of the beast, and Russia is the territory of Gog or Assyria. The Lord has come in these psalms and destroyed the beast and the false prophet (the man of sin), and then the Assyrian comes up again and finds the Lord there, and the Lord Himself destroys him in Idumea. Isaiah 24 and Isaiah 63 are the same time. We find it distinctly stated in Micah 5:55And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. (Micah 5:5), “This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land.”
Who is the King of the North in Daniel 11? He is the Assyrian. He shall “plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas [and] the glorious holy mountain” —between the Mediterranean and Jerusalem. Gog and Magog in Revelation refer to all the nations; they come up on the breadth of the whole earth.
Psalm 144. Three times we have the question, “What is man?” raised in Scripture. Job asks it in a complaining, haughty spirit, “How long wilt Thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?” (Job 7:1919How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? (Job 7:19)). In other words, Why should He make so much of him, following him up in every detail of his life to persecute him? Here, on the contrary, the psalmist says, What is man, so wicked as he is, that the Lord should think so much of him and not cut him off directly? Why should he be spared and the Lord be so patient with these wicked people? Then, in Psalm 8 the question is raised, Why is he so exalted? It is answered by Him making His own Son a man and setting Him in glory as man, over all the works of His hands.
Psalm 145. We have here the communication between Christ and His people during the millennium, celebrating Jehovah’s praise. It is “I” and “they.” “And men shall speak of the might of Thy terrible acts: and I will declare Thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of Thy great goodness, and shall sing of Thy righteousness.”
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The concluding psalms form what is called the “great Hallel.”
Psalm 146. Here we have God, the Creator, who has executed judgment and delivered His people.
Psalm 147. His mercy and goodness are celebrated in building up Jerusalem.
Psalm 148. The angels are called upon to join the praises of Jehovah until praise goes out to all creation.
Psalm 149. The call is to Israel to praise.
Are we in the millennium in these psalms? No, it is still the spirit of prophecy (see vs. 6). The praises of God are in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hands — evil is still present.
Psalm 150 is the general closing summons to praise Jehovah.
This pamphlet is based on an 1868 reading meeting, augmented by comments taken from other sources such as Brief Hints on the Psalms by W. Kelly, the Synopsis by J. N. Darby and the Concise Bible Dictionary.