Notes of a Reading on the Psalms: Book 5: Part 1

Psalm 107‑150  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
IN the fifth book we have the ways and dealings of God recounted by the people as brought back; with a divine commentary, as it were, on it all, ending in praise. The book is supplementary in its character.
Psa. 107 gives, in vv. 1, 2, 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 v. 39 they are brought low, even after being in the land. As in Isa. 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 bring them back to their land; but in v. 6 they are all cut down, and in v. 7 the Lord gathers them and establishes them in blessing.
Psa. 108 God is in the land, and claims it as His own. See v. 8.
In Psa. 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.
Psa. 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.
Psa. 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.”
Psa. 112 The character here of those who are to be blessed on the earth. The fear of the Lord is that which characterizes them especially.
Psa. 113 goes back a little to His mercy. Jehovah is to be exalted. It takes up the poor and the barren woman. He comes in in delivering power when man has failed altogether. They are not facts but moral principles in these Psalms.
Psa. 114 The question is raised, What is the meaning of the earth trembling and the sea fleeing? The answer is, It is the same power as of old in the deliverance of Israel, as it says in Deut. 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.”
Psa. 115 Praises to His name, in contrast with idols, for their deliverance from death. The dead praise not the Lord (they say), but we do.
Psa. 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.
Psa. 117 The title they have to call upon all nations to join in praising Jehovah, because His merciful kindness is great towards them. and the truth of the Lord, in His faithfulness to Israel, who has fulfilled all His promises towards them, “endureth forever.”
Psa. 118 This Psalm brings out in a remarkable way—the whole dealings of God with Israel on the ground of His mercy. In vv. 10-12 we have the power of man all against the godly; in v. 13, the adversary, and in v. 18, he sees himself the subject of the chastenings of Jehovah. In v. 22 is what Christ quoted of Himself; it is His rejection; v. 25 is the hosannah the children cried in the temple; v. 26 is what the Lord told the Jews, that until they said that they should never see Him again; v. 24 is the true Sabbath for Israel. The night is past with them, so they can say, “This is the day 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.
Q. Do we not have the sufferings of Christ in v. 18?
No doubt Christ entered into it, but the chastening was upon Israel.
Psa. 119 is writing the law upon their hearts according to the promise of the new covenant
We come now with Psa. 120 to the songs of degrees. Some have thought they were written on the occasion of the bringing back of the ark; but be that as it may, I doubt not that they depict the process that goes on until they get to the full blessing of unity in Psa. 133
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.
Psa. 130-They are not in the depths in this Psalm, but it speaks of their having been in them.
Psa. 132 is a plea for the Lord to remember David and all his affliction’s. In v. 8 we have a contrast with Num. 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 v. 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 v. 8 it is, “Arise, 0 Lord, into thy rest. In vv. 13, 14 the Lord hath “desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell, for I have desired it.” Then in v. 9 the prayer is, “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness, and let thy saints shout aloud for joy.” Then comes the answer, “I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.” Then in v. 10 we have the prayer “For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed;’ and 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.”
Psa. 135 is praise to Jehovah. We have His name here in connection with Israel, and in contrast with idols. In v. 13, Ex. 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; in v. 14 you find a quotation from Deut. 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, their spot not the spot of His children, &c.; and then when they should be helpless and hopeless in themselves, Jehovah would judge His people, and would repent Himself concerning His servants. So that these two verses 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.
Psa. 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.
Psa. 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.
Psa. 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 Heb. 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; just as in Luke 10 we have Mary hearing Christ’s, words, and in chap. 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.
(To be continued, if the Lord will.)