Practical Reflections on the Psalms: Psalms 107-113

Psalm 107‑113  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Psalm 107
In the last Book of Psalms we find, besides many songs of praise, all the moral circumstances of Israel on their return to blessing. The first psalm in it stamps this character on it. It looks at them as gathered back, but traces the various scenes through which they might have passed, and that after their entry into the land too, and God's ways with them in them. It is a description of toils and trials, in which the Lord was looked to, and answered and interfered in behalf of the tossed and tried soul, and men are exhorted to own and praise Him. It carried this blessed truth in the forefront. His mercy endures forever. God's unchanging love and goodness, celebrated from the first fully proved failure of Israel onward. Man fails, God's mercy to His people not. It is His redeemed and gathered ones who are the people that have to bear witness to this. Strangers and pilgrims where there was no resting-place, no home, hungry and thirsty, their soul fainting in them, they cried to the Lord and were led in a right way to where their foot and heart found rest. Two characters are given to the soul in this condition. It is a longing soul and a hungry soul. We have craving and want, but these brought before the Lord. This is mercy. It is not the case of holy desires here, but God meeting wants. The wearied and fainting soul wants, but this want turns into a cry to the Lord Mercy is surely there. But this might be even where their affliction and distress was chastisement, the fruit of rebellion. But here where the heart turned to the Lord, mercy met it, and there was deliverance. The gates of brass and iron which shut them in are broken, where iniquity and the folly of departure from the Lord had brought it all on. He sent His word that they might be healed and so delivered. When men were venturesome and braved dangers and found themselves at their wits' end through the storm of the sea which gives no footing to them, the Lord comes in and gives peace and leads them to the haven of their desire. In the very place of the habitation of His people, in the place of promises, there His direct government comes in. Rivers are a wilderness, a fruitful land barren, through judgment; turning the wilderness into pools of water, judging wickedness and showing mercy to the needy soul, satisfying the hungry who lean on Him. Careless and lifted up even there, they are brought down. He pours contempt on princes, but the poor and needy He sets on high. It is not the order of a world blessed of God where evil is not, but the government of God where evil is, where God overrules the evil to the purposes of His own government, to hide pride from man, and comfort and encourage the poor in spirit who look to Him, who trust not in pride and human strength and will rest in the Lord. In all the ways too where their will has brought them, where their sins even have brought them, if He be looked to, His mercy and goodness are found. Thus God deals with the heart—turns the state of things and the ways of men into the means of their hearts knowing Him. The righteous rejoice, and oh how true that is—how much truer it will be where the fruit of the Lord's goodness to the humble, waiting soul which has put its trust in Him is seen. In the end evil will be put down, but in the way the Lord meets, comforts, and justifies in result the path of the humble soul; and the wise and observant soul will see, however busy, however pretending, however seemingly successful man's will may be, the lovingkindness of the Lord will be made good before him to his joy and gladness of heart. The Lord teach us to walk softly before Him, and leave the results in His own gracious hand. It is sometimes difficult, but always wise—painful to see the wicked and wickedness prosper. It is a world of evil, but God works in it, and His ways will work out blessing, and the fruit of His goodness and righteous power.
Psalm 108
One or two brief remarks on Psa. 108, but on a point of great beauty. There is great confidence here, and, as ever, mercy to the soul which knows itself and comes before truth. But, then, for its own deliverance and blessing, it looks to the exalting of God. This shows it must be a holy, righteous exalting. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and thy glory above all the earth, that thy beloved may be delivered. It is a blessed thought, and this is what faith has to lay hold of now, even in the time of trial, that our blessing and God's glory are one, only we must put His glory first. This is the very principle of uprightness— “He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true,” says Christ, “and there is no unrighteousness in him” —and the highest blessing. So Jesus Himself, “What shall I say, Father, save me from this hour Father, glorify thy name.”
Then comes, “I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto me.” So in trial and even in evil, faith identifies the glory of God and His people. “The Egyptians will hear of it. . . . What wilt thou do to thy great name?” For the same reason there is no sparing evil when we are in the midst of the people, and evil calls this principle out, God being publicly dishonored, “Slay ye every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.” In a word, faith identifies God's glory and exaltation and His people, but puts God first. Here it is in blessing, and we have the remarkable answer of God. I will rejoice. His own joy and delight is in the blessing of His people; exults in doing them good, in delivering His beloved, in the employment of His might to set aside the evil which oppressed them, and put them in possession of what, by His gift, belonged to them. And, whatever the strength of their adversaries, He will accomplish their blessing: the strong city dare not stand before Him. And even when through their fault they had been refused His help, (in Israel's case, as we know, long cast off,) still, when the just time of the blessing of the humble comes, He will put forth the needed strength that all may be fulfilled. He gives strength to His people, His own power delivers them. They have learned that His only is of any worth or avail.
Psalm 109
Psa. 109 is the judgment of Judas and the antichristian Jews at the end. It affords us little experimental teaching, while most solemn in its testimony. First, the motive of help: “Do it for thy name's sake.” The nature and glory of God is at the root of all His ways; and when the heart caught at this, the answer of help is seen, God cannot be inconsistent with Himself. But for this the heart must be brought into the state co-ordinate with that name, lowliness, the judgment of evil in self and so uprightness, dependence; and God may exercise fully to manifest brokenness of will and produce it, and the heart's leaving all submissively to Him. In Christ's place all these exercises only brought out His perfectness, in us they work uprightness and dependence. In Him all this sorrow was purely God's hand, that is, there was no reason for it in Himself. And this is accorded to us in grace, even if we have given occasion to it by our self-will or evil, still God has taken it in hand in our discipline, and when He has wrought His work sets His saints up in blessing to the confusion of the adversary, forced to own His hand where they triumphed in evil, and thought only to triumph over the just. But they have met God, for these were His ways with His people, and this government can go on with us because redemption is complete. In Christ's ease it was pure hatred against good, He undergoing it for us. For His love they were His adversaries. But they, the lovers of evil, are before the Lord continually; the time of showing it is His own, for us when His work of subjugating our will, teaching us holy dependence, is complete; in Christ, when it has been manifested. and God fully glorified.
Psalm 110
Psa. 110 In this, glorifying Christ at God's right hand, I have only one remark to make. The last verse shows the perfection of Christ in this spirit of dependence on the way, the path in which we have to follow Him as walking in the new man; glad of the refreshments of God, but dependent in them and taking them as they are found, that is, as God Himself gives them in the way—the spirit of lowly dependence.
Psalm 111
Psa. 111 In a vast number of the psalms of this last book, the present intervention of judgment and power is so contemplated that instructions for the trials of the way are less to be looked for. It is the case in this psalm. It raises, anticipatively no doubt, its hallelujah for the works of God. Only this is to be remarked, and so always, that these works of deliverance are always conformable to, and founded on, and make good, the truth of God's character. They are verity and judgment. His commandments are proved sure in them. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. Hence to enjoy the fruit of them our path is to walk after the Lord's ways and reckon on the sureness of His promise, and if He tarry, wait for Him. But, as we have always seen, mercy and compassion towards us is found and felt in them. If we are delivered, it is sovereign goodness. Hence the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; obedience leads us to intelligence, being in the path of God. Light is truth in that path, and according to it. You cannot separate the true knowledge of divine things from godliness. It is the nature which is godly, obedient—grace dependent on God which alone desires or understands them. If any man will do my will, He shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Hence in the path of obedience, the realizing the light in a subjection which owns God, more is found; for light and the path of the new nature are one. The truth as it is in Jesus, that ye put off the old man and put on the new, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. We are renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created us. In this path we have to walk by till power comes in. In Israel, of course, it. was more as law; but the principle is always true, as true knowledge is the knowledge of God. It is impossible to separate true knowledge from a state which owns God for what He is—obedience and dependence on Him.
Psalm 112
Psa. 112 I leave aside, of course, the promises of temporal blessing, which apply directly to the Jewish people and system. These latter psalms refer especially to them, because blessing is just come in by judgment, but some principles are worthy of note—the wisdom of acting in obedience through the path of trial is specially insisted on in these psalms. Much was there (there always is) to say that faithfulness was folly and ruin. God warns them, and in that is the path of wisdom. It lasts in its effects when the wicked disappear. The generation of the upright will be blessed. His righteousness endures forever. No doubt darkness seems to shut him in, but light arises for him even there. We must learn to trust to God, blessing is sure to the obedient. But thus walking with God, peace of heart and the sense of goodness make him gracious and full of compassion towards others—upright too with them. Self-seeking is not his governing principle. He shows favor, is liberal in heart, nor is there rashness or self-will. He carries out and carries through his matters in the fear of God, with soundness of mind; does not use lightness, that his yea should be nay. Guided by God in going into them he carries through his path to the end, because it is God's will, and with the strength and steadiness the consciousness of doing that gives. And this is of importance in the path of the saints as a testimony, that God is there, and His mind the guide of our path. He abides, he that does God's will does so. Further, when the power of evil is abroad, he is not shaken. In the midst of exercises of heart, of moral evil, he has been with God. His will has been supreme with him. He has looked at God as one whose will ordered all, and God Himself as all. If He was pleased, be was content. Circumstances had lost their power as motives, and God had, so to speak, taken their place in his heart and mind. Hence, when adverse ones arise, they find God there known, trusted: his heart is fixed trusting in the Lord.
Psalm 113
Only one principle comes before us in Psa. 113, but one which cannot be too often brought before our souls, one which we have constant tendency to forget. God chooses weak things, that it may be evident that good and blessing come from His power and love. God uses means, but when man speaks of means be generally speaks not of reference of heart to God, prayer, His word, and the like, but of leaning on man's influence, and man's strength. This is all evil. Oh that we may remember that God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and weak things, and things that are not, to bring to naught things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. Blessing were not divine blessing indeed if it were not so. But then in this strength we may look for grace. He dwells on high, but humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth. He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the needy out of the dunghill to set him with the princes, even the princes of His people, and takes the barren and gives her children like a flock, makes her a joyful mother of children. Such are God's ways. The heart delights in them. Power is His, and goodness, but what a lesson in the midst of this world, and for the heart of man.