Heads of Psalms: Book 1

Psalm  •  26 min. read  •  grade level: 6
In the first place we get, in Psa. 1, the righteous man; and, in Psa. 2, the counsels of God as to Messiah. Then, in general, Psa. 3-7, the sufferings of Christ in the remnant, whether from enemies or from a sense of their own state; and in result, VIII., the Son of Man set over all the works of God's hands.
In 9 and 10, we get particulars of God's executing judgment against the heathen in Zion, in favor of the needy; and, in particular, the ways of the wicked one.
In 11-15, the sentiments and spirit of the remnant,-the moral movements of their heart in this time of trial.
16, The place Christ Himself takes in His dependance, in trusting in the time of humiliation; • ending in His joy in God's presence in resurrection. XVII, His appeal to right, which ends in His being displayed in glory, as man of course; a lower kind of thing, but still a part of His glory,
In 18, the sufferings of Christ are made the center of all God's ways in Israel, from Egypt to the manifestation of the glory of Messiah.
19. The testimony of creation and of the law; according to the letter of which the remnant presents itself in conscience before God.
In 20, the remnant prophetically sees Christ in His day of trouble, and in His sufferings from man,-in which God hears Him in order to His establishment in His royal rights. 21. He is answered with length of days forever and ever, and excellent majesty; and judges His enemies. 22. He is in sorrow, in which no remnant can enter; in which, through all the concentration of evil from without, He finds the forsaking of God within, instead of answer to His confidence: but, when He had drank the whole cup, He was answered in resurrection, and all flows forth in unmingled blessing; first, to the remnant, immediately consequent on His resurrection saluted as " brethren," with whom He unites Himself in spirit, as He says, " In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee;" then, to all Israel; then, to all the ends of the world: the testimony of that which is done going down to other generations.
23. He takes the place of the sheep on earth. 24. He is saluted as "Jehovah of Hosts," and "King of Glory."
25-28. In general, the exercises of the renewed love (in the remnant always), in confidence in the Lord; consciousness of integrity through grace; consciousness of sin; and earnest desire not to be drawn away with the wicked,-counting on the Lord's having called them to seek His face.
29. God's voice (not the still small voice) the answer to it all. 30 and 31. Enjoyment in the sense of this interference of God (still through in the trouble). 32. Forgiveness and guidance (still in the remnant). 33. Creation and the counsels of God in favor of His people give confidence. 34. What God has been for Messiah in His sufferings gives confidence. 34-39. We find them in the presence of the power and prosperity of the wicked, with the sense of having deserved judgments and having been under chastening, though their cry is to the Lord who chastened them.
40. Christ undertaking the accomplishment of the divine will in perfect obedience; His perfectness shown in waiting, etc. 41. In this last psalm of the book, all the humiliation and bitterness to which He exposed Himself in the accomplishment of it; but in which He is assured to be set before God's face forever.
There is a very distinct principle brought out in the Psalms, that while in connection with the Jews, yet the nation is not the thing owned. The distinction is made by moral character, and not by nation. It is a certain elect remnant in the midst of the mass that is owned, of whom Christ becomes the representative.
As a general principle, it looks for the government of God, and that that government will sanction and establish the righteous in contrast with the ungodly. Another principle comes up, the counsels of God as to His anointed, in spite of the heathen, who rise up against them. As soon, however, as we get these principles laid down, we find that, outwardly, it is not happening so at all. Hence the discussion of this question.
3. Faith in what God is. 7. He sees prophetically that He has done it; therefore He gives praise.
4. Dependance in calling on God. 3. The godly marked out, not the nation.
5 and 6. A great deal more the remnant. In 5, there is more sense of the evil that is pressing on them. 9. Christ's judgment of the then condition of the wicked. It goes on to the last days. 6. Quite in the latter day in Israel; it is a question of cutting off. 3. "How long!" the spirit of prophecy in the remnant, See Isa. 6 The cessation of this indicated in 84, there being no one who knew "How long." They were in circumstances like as if cast off forever; and faith knows that it cannot be so, so says "How long!" 4. In the psalms in which the remnant speaks, mercy comes before righteousness. In Psa. 4, where it is more the Lord Himself, righteousness comes before mercy.
In 3-7 it is much more introductory, and certain general principles. It is Messiah who first speaks, because He has first fully taken, nay, He alone could rightly take apart the place of the remnant, as apart from, and in contrast with, the people. Others had felt it—as having His Spirit, and, as prophets, had portrayed it in Him but He alone could rightly take it by intrinsic righteousness. Yet, in Him, it was as forced to it; that is, this righteousness forced out the wickedness in the others, and He wept over Jerusalem when it was done; but then He entered into all that concerned Israel, according to the purpose, love, and revelation of God. The psalms are the perfect display of all that a divinely perfect heart in the circumstances could feel of, and as to, the relationships of God with Israel, and of Israel with God.
10. The creation testimony is used, as a figure of that now given by the gospel, inasmuch as it is universal. The testimony had been given of God, whether man saw it or not (see Rom. 1) They did not see it as we find. 12, 13. Kept in detail, and so kept from the great apostasy.
9. Is more the heathen, man; 10, more the wicked one.
11-41. The development of faith in Christ, or the remnant as associated during the time of tribulation; but before the last. half week. Therefore 3-10 come in as a kind of general preface. 11:2. Not "privily" in last half week. 4., is the answer to ver. 3.
XII. The holy wisdom of owning Jehovah. 6. The words of the Lord a stay, when every one speaks vanity with his neighbor. 7. The second "them" should be him.
Christ comes in to give its full character to hope and faith. This psalm is like a stake in the midst of all these psalms. The moment we get Christ, we get the spirit of calmness and grace.
Specially Christ in the beginning. 11, The remnant comes in.
In 16, we have Christ's own joy in God; Jehovah shows him the path of life, and at His right hand are pleasures forever more, 17. In presence of the wicked and the prosperity of the men of this world, He beholds God's face in righteousness, and is satisfied in waking up after His image. Most interesting is it to find, that we have put, as analogous in the Church—the taking up for its own joy, and the display in glory as the reward of righteousness.
4, 5, 6. Evidently the death of Christ, The words may have an application, used hyperbolically, to Israel in Egypt. 15. The Red Sea.
21. Human enemies, and judgment..
22. Divine wrath, and perfect grace. 12. Bulls, i.e., violent men, who do their own will. 16. Dogs, i.e., shameless ones. 21. The lion's mouth, i.e., Satan's power over death. 22. The congregation, i.e., the remnant, which afterward became the Church; only here looked at as the remnant of Israel. 25. "The great congregation," as in Solomon's day. 30. The remnant who pass through the trouble. 31. The millennial people.
23, Thesis:-The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. Not:-He has given me good things, and I shall not want; but the Lord is my Shepherd, etc. 3. The weakness of man, which needed restoring. [We need restoring, because of sin as well as weakness],
24:3 and 4. "Who?" 7-10. The King of Glory. 6. The remnant coming in when the earth is the Lord's.
25. Important as chewing that the remnant do not ignore sin, but look from it to God.
26:2, Examine me, O Lord, etc, a For Thy loving kindness is before mine eyes.
27:1-6. Thesis. 7 onward, prayer founded on it.
29. In the midst of all these exercises of the heart of the remnant, God comes in. The voice of the Lord comes in, and puts everything in its place, In the psalms that follow, they have more to do with God„ they are more occupied with the Lord Himself, than with the circumstances.
30. Is more God's anger, so confession; 31, is the enemies, so insisting on integrity. We constantly find these two things.
32. "Be glad," not in the forgiveness, but, "in the Lord," etc.
34. A call to the remnant to bless the Lord in their worst sorrows, " at all times," not when they get the blessing but now.
35. Christ's spirit, in its perfectness, supplying a vent for their feelings in their weakness.
36. The wickedness is such as that there is no conscience in the adversary. 5. The answer—God is above it all.
37:34. " Wait on the Lord, and keep His way." The whole secret of what we have to do.
38. An important principle in this psalm-the difficulty of looking to the Lord for deliverance from the wicked, when sin is on the conscience. Nevertheless, God is the refuge from the enemy. It is beautiful to see this integrity of heart, when he has not a word to say for himself.
39. This leaning on the Lord, with faults, breakings down, and everything, is very beautiful.
40. Beautiful-how, in the midst of all these exercises in the former psalms, waves of every kind-Christ is brought in; and He says, I will tell you how I got on. 17. In Matt. 5, Christ is just giving a description of Himself. And herein is the difference between Matthew and Luke. Matthew tells who enter; Luke says, Ye are the very ones. He gives them the place of the remnant. In this psalm Christ sets aside the Jewish figures, and lays the ground of righteousness Himself.
The second book begins not with Christ, but with the condition of the remnant; and never has more for its subject, the facts of the latter day, Israel being driven out. It is not going through all these states of soul, so as that Christ might be brought in. It is like the position, when Christ went out to a place called Ephraim (John 11:5454Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. (John 11:54)). There was a kind of hoping for good, from the multitude before; but now He has done with the wicked, and come out. So now, it is not Jehovah, but God. He is cast more simply on God. fie is not trusting in the relationship, but on God, in the nature of Elohim.
42. More the Gentiles.
43:1. "Ungodly nation," more the Jews. "The deceitful and unjust man," Antichrist. The whole of this book is applicable to the period during which Antichrist has been received the last three and a-half years.
Book 2.
42 and 43. In the two first psalms of this book, Christ takes the place of the godly remnant as cast out of all Jewish privilege by the power of the enemy and the apostasy of the Jews themselves—a nation " Lo-chisid."
44-48. We have the appeal of the remnant to God, as the One who, at the beginning, had delivered them, with all the consequences consequent on the intervention of Messiah in Psa. 45, 49 being a moral comment on human grandeur in view of this.
In 50, God has summoned all in judgment, and shines out of Zion, owned the " perfection of beauty." 51. The Jews own their guilt in connection with the death of Christ.
In 52-58, we see the wickedness and violence within, i.e., among the people. In 59, it is more the heathen without come against them at the same time. But in 60, in the midst of this distress, there is the assurance that God Himself will interfere, and claim His own rights in the midst of them.
In 61, Messiah identifies Himself with the outcast remnant; and, in 62, expresses His confidence in God so as to lead theirs, and that of all men.
All these psalms are to God, and not to the LORD; i.e., depend on what God is in Himself.
In 63, it is the earnest desire of Messiah's soul after God, as He has known Him in the sanctuary. 64. The confidence of the Spirit of Christ in God, though obliged to wait for Him till the judgment is executed. In 65, His faith is pressing: God has only to give the word, and He will have the praise that waits for Him. While in 66, God's intervention in judgment is celebrated, and their state described until it come. In 67, the face of God, shining on His people, carries His saving health among all nations. 68. The heavenly exaltation of Christ, is the source of the blessing of His people. 69. All the depth of His distress as man—not exactly the cup of wrath, though it is on the cross. 70. He looks for deliverance; and that those who seek God may be able to praise God because of it, however needy He may be. In 71, He speaks as the representative of the family of David-all dying out. In 72, the son of David, in his new glorious reign on earth. That closes the book.
74. The cry, the remnant. Their present confidence is in God, through looking for Him to take the place of Jehovah.
Messiah comes in. 6. Then His divine title owned. 9. When we have the kingdom on earth, Jerusalem is the bride. 14. The virgins are the cities of Judah. 16. The old thing is not remembered; but the new, which grace has introduced.
The remnant find that they are owned as the nation, when they have settled in Zion. Messiah having been introduced, God is the God of Jacob.
In 47, He is subduing the peoples under their feet. The consequence of God's establishment in Zion is His stretching out His hand over the nations.
Zion takes her place. She is established in blessedness. 8. "As we have heard, so have we seen." It is not merely that He has come there, He is settled there. Not "I had gone with the multitude," but, "in the midst of thy temple." 10. "According to the name," etc. They had trusted the name, and now so is it. 14. Unto death-that is, all their life long. Death not destroyed. The desire of 42, 43, and 44, is fulfilled in 48.
A moral sermon; a kind of "improvement" of 44-49. 15. Resurrection, or preservation from death.
They now come into the covenant "by sacrifice;" not by obedience, as at Sinai. 3. The way He gets to Zion.
Their confession. 19. When the heart is set right, their "sacrifices of righteousness" are acceptable. Mercy coming before righteousness is always a sign of the remnant.
In 42, we have Israel cast out. In 45, the temporal deliverance. In 51, the deliverance within. The secret of the whole we get in 78 and 49 on to 72. In 50:6. The heavens declare His righteousness; in 68:18, we find that Christ has ascended there; in 69, we learn how He got there: whilst 72, gives His royal place in Zion in Solomon.
The horror of Spirit of Christ at seeing the total iniquity at Jerusalem—Judas and Antichrist. 10. Jerusalem. 20. Antichrist.
More outward. 8. "Wanderings;" that is, up and down, not knowing what to cry.
11. The meaning of judgment.
6. Not within the city yet.
3. " Hard things" shown the people. 4. "A banner " given to them that fear, that it may be displayed because of the truth.
61. All outside; when Jesus went beyond Jordan and abode there. The hill Mizar and Hermon.
The cast-out king. 2. The desire is not as in mysticism after a thing never known, but " to see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee," &c. 3. His life was all sorrow, yet, "because Thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee."
3. "They bend their bows to shoot their arrows;" but, 7, "God shall shoot at them with an arrow."
4. The Jews blessed. 8. Then all the earth.
18. The secret of it all. Jehovah received up into glory—the mystery of Godliness.
The utmost distress of Christ in the midst of Israel. 26. The fact of atonement, though not directly stated. He is looking at sorrows from the reproachers (not as in psalm 22), therefore the judgment of men..
72:16. Does not touch heaven; so it is not Son of man's dominion, but the King's son's.
Book 3,
I think that the third book gives the ways of God with Israel, not with Judah merely (" unto which [promise] our twelve tribes hope to come "); the result being, Psa. 73, that God is good to Israel, but to the clean-hearted among them; while the prosperity of the wicked is a long, sore trial, to faith. Hence, in 74, all that on which their natural hopes rest, is smashed and broken down. Flesh cannot build up what God has put under the power of judgment; but faith can wait on God, till He glorifies Himself. 75. His judgment is clearly unfolded, and Messiah declares the principles on which He will govern in respect of God.
Thus God is known in Judah, His name great in Israel, and Jerusalem the seat of His power and glory.
The believing heart blames all distrust of this, as its infirmity, and remembers the previous days of God's right hand.
In 78, all the perverse ways of Israel are discussed; and the electing grace of God, in the house of David, presented as its only resource.
In 79, the excesses of the heathen, in the latter days, are brought under God's eye, that He may favor His people, and not remember their iniquities against them.
In 80, the connection of God, as the dweller between the cherubim of old, and the manifestation of His power as Son of man, are brought together as the deliverance of the vine once brought out of Egypt.
81. On the reappearance of Israel, i.e., on the new moon, God shows the rectitude of His ways with that people in judgment.
In 82, He judges among the gods.
In 83, we have the last conspiracy of the Assyrians, and those that dwell within the limits of the land, where judgment displays that Jehovah is Most High over all the earth.
Up to this, we have had God, in His nature and character, as such. Now, 84, the people in connection with Him as Jehovah, thinks of the joy of going up to His sanctuary, i.e., to worship Him.
85. In the favor He has shown to His land, mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, have all been verified and brought together.
86, is a celebration of the character of Jehovah, in respect of the needy, bringing all nations up to worship before Him.
87. The excellency of Zion is celebrated as a defiance to the whole world, specially because Messiah is reckoned amongst her children.
Now we come to what Christ gets amidst all this. 88. The curse of the broken law, which rests on the remnant, entered into by the Spirit of Christ:- while in 89, all the mercies of God are centered in Him.
In the first Book of Psalms, we get Christ more as an object; e.g. 1, 2, 16, 40. In the second book, He is presented more as an answer. So it is more the remnant, and how they are to be delivered; there is as much of Christ, but more in the way of deliverer. In the third book, it is more entirely the remnant, for it is not David, but Asaph. There is a great deal more of grace, here, than of righteousness, for the remnant, and not so much of Christ. We get Israel in the old associations of Egypt, and not Christ Himself in the midst of the thing.
73. Israel beloved for the father's sakes, modified by the necessity of personal righteousness. It forms a kind of thesis for the whole book.
Exercise of soul in this state of things. 13, 19. If you get into the sanctuary, there you will be sure to find God's way; but if you look [for it] outside, it is "in the sea." 16. The Red Sea.
An account of how they behaved under these mercies. 67. The natural heir refused. Even if God is good to Israel, it is God who is good, not that Israel has claim. 68. He chose Judah.
82. If all the deputy-judges go wrong, God judges among the gods.
84:4. The "house" and " praise." 5. The "ways" and " strength;" both "blessed." 6. " Baca " weeping;" so, " rejoicing in tribulation."
86. David. A great deal more personal; the consciousness of standing in the gap for Israel.
89:1. "Mercies" celebrated. 19, &c. Summed up in the person of Christ. 49. Israel is cast over on the certainty of mercy in God's promise to David.
Book 4.
In 90, Jehovah has always been the dwelling-place of Israel; and His greatness, and their nothingness, is used as a plea for His compassion towards them:-while in 91, Messiah comes in, and owns the God of Israel, even Jehovah; and all the blessings of the name of Almighty and Most High, are manifested in connection with Him. This brings in 92, the celebration of His name in the rest-the Sabbath-of Israel.
Then from 93-100, we have the thesis of the Lord's reigning brought out from the cry of the remnant, who seek deliverance from the wicked one; the call to Israel to listen; the call to the heathen; the coming in glory to judge; the execution of the judgment; God's establishment in Zion between the cherubim; the summons of the world to come and worship there with joy.
Then, in 101, the principles of Christ's government; and in 102, the expression of His isolated sorrows, and to the inquiry how He, who was cut off in the midst of His days, could have part in the re-establishment of Zion, it is revealed that He is Himself the everlasting Jehovah.
In 103, He blesses Jehovah as the Forgiver and Healer of His people. In 104, as the glorious Creator. In 105, as faithful to His covenant with the fathers, and [to His] promises.
In 106, His dealings with them in chastening, but His abundant readiness to hear their cry which they now address to Him.
90. A supplication for mercy-a kind of introduction to the book. 9. We are poor, fading things. 14. Make haste to mercy.
91. Now comes the deliberate statement of Messiah's taking up the case of Israel; not merely His being found in the position, but a kind of public announcement of it. 1. Whoever gets the secret place, gets the Almightiness. 2. Messiah says, I will take Jehovah as my refuge, etc. 3. The Spirit declares the consequences of this. 9. The remnant address Messiah. 14. Jehovah comes in, and sets His seal on the whole.
92. The consequence on earth of the trust of 91.
93. Thesis. "The Lord reigneth."
94. Mercy of the remnant.
95. The summons to Israel. " To-day " goes on till Christ comes.
96. Summons to the heathen. The everlasting Gospel of Revelation.
97. He is coming.
98. He has come, and executed salvation or righteousness in favor of Israel.
99. Is actually sitting between the cherubim, taking His place on the throne.
100. Gentiles called to worship Him. "Rejoice ye Gentiles," &c fulfilled.
101. A kind of supplemental psalm. How Christ will guide His house when He takes it.
In 102 we get the celebration of the ways of the Lord in the restoration of His people (it is not what they are looking for), which they are specially called to notice; together, with 108, the celebration of His praises as their Redeemer.
We have, then, 109, at once introduced the sufferings of Christ under the apostasy, whether of Judas or Antichrist:-while, in 110, He is called to sit at Jehovah's right hand, until He makes His enemies His footstool, for the accomplishment of the purposes of this redemption-when His power shall go forth from Zion -while, because of His humiliation, He is exalted for the destroying of Him who elevates himself against Him.
111, 112. Then the Lord is praised for this redemption, and the display of His character in it; and the portion of the righteous consequently.
His majesty and grace are celebrated, 13, as high above all, extending everywhere, and considering the poor and needy. 114. God's presence is the real strength of His people. 115. In contrast with idols, all the glory is given to His name.
The afflicted one now praises the Lord before all, whom he had trusted in the time of his distress, when brought low. The Spirit of Christ, in the midst of His people, especially shown.
The nations are then summoned to praise the Lord, because of His abiding mercy and truth to Israel.
In 118, Christ takes up the song of Israel in the great congregation, declaring that " His mercy endureth forever." The enemies encompassed Him, the adversary beset Him, the Lord had chastened Him, but not given Him up. Israel now owns that the stone which the builders had rejected, has become the Head of the Corner, and their heart is prepared to say, " Save now," " Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord; " and they worship with joy.
119. The law is written in Israel's once wandering heart.
120-134. Then we get, in the Psalms of Degrees, various thoughts and feelings of Israel as now restored, whether as looking back and enjoying the blessing; or under the conviction of sin; or as David (i.e. really Christ) establishing the sign of the Lord's presence, in full blessing in Israel—the people being gathered in unity-closing with the blessing of Jehovah from the sanctuary.
In 135 and 136, we have the celebration of Jehovah's praise for His election of Israel, in connection, on the one hand, with the original promise to Abraham, and the mercy connected with His judgments on the other (compare Ex. 3, and Deut. 32); with the formal declaration that His mercy endures forever.
137. Babylon and Edom come up in judgment before God; and 138, God's word, the confidence of His people, is glorified in His ways towards them.
139, None can escape the searching out of God; but if. God creates for blessing, we can praise Him.
140. We have the cry for deliverance from the evil and violent man; the head of the faithful is covered in the day of his conflict, for God maintains his cause, and delivers him.
141. The Lord is trusted to guide them-i.e., the poor-in a right path, according to His mind, so as to avoid the snares of the wicked. In the utmost desolation he trusts Him. Then, 142, however overwhelmed, God knows his path.
143. He pleads not to enter into judgment, for no man can be justified, for the enemy has trodden down his soul; but he still looks to the Lord, and trusts that He will guide him in uprightness, and looks to Him in mercy, to cut off all his enemies, that, 144, full blessing may come in.
In 145, Messiah describes the millennium in the interchange of Jehovah's praises between Him and the people that are blessed.
Then we get the great Hallel.
146. Jehovah is praised as the God of Jacob, as the Creator of all things, the Keeper of truth, the Deliverer of the oppressed, and of all from affliction and distress. He shall reign as the God of Zion through all generations.
147. Then He is praised as the Builder up of Jerusalem, taking pleasure in them that fear Him, ruling every element by His word; but giving His word, His statutes, and His judgments, to Israel.
148. All creation is called upon to praise Him; who exalts the horn of His people (Israel)-a people near unto Him.
149. Israel, above all, is called to praise Him in a new song. Judgment is put into their hands.
The last Psalm, CL., is a kind of chorus. In Hi sanctuary, the firmament of His power, everything that has breath, is called to praise Him.
In this book we have either the explanation of the Lord's ways, or Hallelujahs. It is a kind of sermon.
110:6. "He shall wound the head over a great country." (Rosh al eretz rabba).
116:10. In the presence of death, He goes in and speaks, So Paul 2 Cor. 4
130. In this psalm, they get into the depths, not from circumstances, but from sin. Instead of speaking of enemies as in 124 ("when man rose up against us "), it is between him and God. It is after the new moon they have the day of atonement.
139. The searchings of God throw you back on the thoughts that God had in meeting you in grace; and therefore you can ask God to "search," &c. We are the creatures of His thoughts, as well as the subject of them,
144 is different from 143, in not having the death of Christ as a center; and, moreover, the heathen are not brought in.