Critical: Part 2 Preface

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Piety in the reading of Scripture is precious, and I thank God that there are many (whose mother tongue is English) who study the English Psalter.
Still to piety must be added divine intelligence, or we shall come short of blessing; for that which men call the Old Testament presents us with the providential and governmental ways of the Creator toward man upon earth. Man was on trial. After he had fallen, could he save himself? And it was not until the gospel of Jesus Christ the Savior came, and was given forth in the New Testament, that life and immortality were brought to light. Man a ruined creature tried-is always man lost. Israel, indeed, will have passed through more than three thousand years of trial and failure as a nation ere it gives up its self-righteousness. A man as fallen deserves nothing at God's hand but rejection; but Christ, " the man that is Jehovah's fellow," " God manifest in flesh," overcame and won, for Himself a place, in which, on God's behalf, He is now Savior of the lost, Savior to all who find grace to receive Him. He alone is a ruined sinner's refuge, Himself, who died on the cross, and rose again, deserves everything at God's hand; this is through faith the believer's rest, and here should be the center and end of our new, our eternal life.
If still standing upon his own ground as a mere creature, a man may find in the Psalms how others have been upon the path he is treading, and been, too, in deeper sorrow and difficulties than himself; but while still holding fast to self, he will not see how Christ suffered for our sins, and now lives for us who believe in Him, so that we may live to Him, and wait for Him till He comes to fetch us. Self and worldliness, and acting for time, will as naturally result from the one course as unselfishness, heavenly-mindedness, and living to God and Christ result from the other; viz., that of seeing Christ as the one great Person and subject of the Psalms. The testimony of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, as in His teaching, is always to Jesus and His works, &c.
No one can understand the Psalms aright who does not see Christ in them. Read any book without seeing the writer's mind in it, and you will misunderstand it.
Language supposes the power of intercommunion between those that use it. But it supposes more; viz., correspondence of mind, to some extent, in them, and not only the knowledge of the forms of speech of the particular language in question. These, however perfect they may be, are not equal to the mind that can use them, and which judges of their force, or else uses them amiss.
Wonderful and adorable is He who, being God, has Himself spoken as God manifest in flesh to man; and who has referred, too, to the pre-eminent authority of the written Word. (John 5:46, 4746For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:46‑47).) Man is thus left without excuse. And, note it, men could understand Him; for through grace many did so, unto eternal life. He who made man Himself knows the mind and faculties of man; and He could, and did, use words with life-giving power, so as to bow the will of man, and move hearts and minds and consciences in those that received Him.
But more than this, God the Holy Spirit (owning the Anointed of God as the center and end of all God's actings) has given to us not only the truth as presented in Jesus when down here, and who then went on high and sent down the Holy Spirit to form us down here for Himself, but He has also given us God's counsel, plans, choice, ways, and the outline of the future from the cross of the Christ (as the One in whom a heavenly and an earthly people were destined from before the foundation of the world to be secured) until His new heavens and new earth, yet to come, be set up.
Now observe this. He, Jesus, has been born of the Virgin Mary, by the Holy Spirit; has lived on this earth; has made good His testimony, and done His work. He suffered on Calvary, but now (risen from among the dead) He sits at God's right hand. Grace had from the beginning delighted in the Son; and it cast much in the histories of men of God down here (as Adam, Noah, Moses, David, &c.) into types of Him that was to come. And further, when He came as Messiah, and was rejected, He opened up His glory as the last Adam, life-giving Spirit, and Heir of all things. But Himself has come, has made atonement in death under judgment, and is now pardon and life-giver to the believer. Note this, because the first book of the Psalms (i. to xli.) gives us Himself and His position at His first coming; the experiences He then made, and what He did thereon. He had access to Jerusalem, and was found there; and there were in Jerusalem and in the land Israelites who were waiting for the consolation promised. But He is now on high, earth rejected, though heaven honored.
Now if I study the first three gospels, I get light divine upon this first book of the Psalms. They give me the pictures of Himself, and as going through His course of humiliation-the moral side of Himself and His life on earth, from Bethlehem till His receiving up into glory.
In the Acts and the Epistles, I get a God-inspired yet detailed commentary upon this humiliation and its results, whether immediate or on to the final state. Such being the case, I do not think it too much to say, that if I or you, reader, are acquainted as we (made partakers of the benefit) ought to be with the Gospels and Acts and Epistles, then the first forty-one Psalms will be read in the light of God, and not merely (blessed as that is) with reverence and piety. Of one thing we are sure; God, when He wrote these Psalms, used words correctly according to the truth of what was before His own mind and of that which came to pass. Read these Psalms according to God's mind in them, then according to that which was true as to the being, position, experiences, &c., of the Anointed man. They are given to us by God in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles. And you will find both humbling enough, while so occupied, and intelligence to gladden your heart and brighten your mind through the operation of the Spirit given to those that believe. Nothing has struck my own mind, after the perusal of the Psalms and the Gospels, more than the moral impossibility of any created mind having originated the idea, firstly, of such a wondrous person as the Lord Jesus was, individually and morally too; and, secondly, of the necessity for such an One to be found and to come in if the whole outline of truth as presented in the Psalter was to be made good.
So Saul of Tarsus, when locked up in nature's darkness, but glorying (after the flesh) in Abram and David, what a contrast from Paul when he saw that Jesus had taken Moses' place and David's! Read the epistle to the Hebrews, And contrast Paul with Saul, and the contrast is less, really, than when you see the contrasts between Christ with His Melchizedek priesthood, sin done away, and Aaron with his priesthood ever recalling sin to mind the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched in heaven, and the perishable tabernacle in the wilderness. What a contrast!
Any translation which really contains one jot or one, tittle at variance with the truth of Jesus Christ and any part of His work must, so far forth, be in error, and the error should be corrected. But while learning the truth through the text and by the Spirit, I must know God's truth, His subject in eternity, and heaven as my subject, ere I can correct my defects in doctrine, or read the Psalms aright.
Context is said by some to be the key to the Hebrew language. I have no objection to make to this statement. I wish it had been more followed out and acted upon. I remark, however, that the observation is necessarily true of every language. For instance, in Greek, let any one write a disquisition on the term " beginning " as connected with our Lord. If he does not mark and observe the contexts of Gen. 1:11In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1), and Mark 1:11The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; (Mark 1:1), and John 1:11In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1), and its force generally in John, he will be without a right clue, even if he fall not into error. A teachable mind has to weigh forms and terms of a language ere using them; and much more important still in divine grace is the mind of the Spirit of God as given to the believer. (John 6:52, 6352The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:52)
63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)