Psalm 69

Psalm 69  •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 6
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There are three states of suffering in which souls may be. First, that which is their portion as sinners under judgment; second, the sufferings of a saint for righteousness, or love's sake; third, suffering as the consequence of sin under the government of God.
This last is not judgment and condemnation for sin, nor is it properly the chastening of a saint, though it may be used as such, and brings exercise of soul in such an one. Thus the consequence of Adam's transgression was to eat bread in the sweat of his brew, and the woman was to have sorrow in child bearing, both connected with the government of God. The suffering of the Jews in the latter day will be connected with this kind of suffering, though it will seem as chastening too. It is more difficult to get hold of this third kind of suffering. In it God is dealing with a man about his sins without his coming under condemnation. No doubt the Lord Jesus went through all these kinds of sufferings; of course, the first and last as saving or sympathizing with others. In representing God, bearing His reproaches, He suffered for righteousness' sake. For His love He had hatred. This was one character of His suffering. The next was that of suffering for the expiation of our sins. Of this, though it is not my purpose now to speak, we can never think enough. We can never get peace until we know it. "He was bruised for our iniquities." "He bore our sins in his own body on the tree."
The third class of sufferings He did not go through, except anticipatively, just at the close of His life, when He said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished." If He had been in it all the time, He would not have spoken of going through it afterward. At the close, He enters into a new scene, not only in the way of expiation, but Satan comes back after he had departed for a season. (Luke 4:1313And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. (Luke 4:13).) He said, " Henceforth I will not talk much with you, for the prince of this world cometh." That character of suffering is not the present forsaking of God. However, as from Him, Satan stirred up the whole world against Him; but besides that, He brought the terribleness of distress from a broken law, the power of death, and an angry God to distress his soul.
We get the same character of suffering in the remnant. They go through all the consequences of their conduct in the government of God, though the condemnation they have deserved will not come upon them. Satan will have come down, knowing that he has but a little time. All his violence will be directed against Israel in that day. We have a picture of it in Job. Satan was let loose against him; his friends were against him, and what was worse, the terrors of God were drinking up his spirit. So with them. Satan will use all his power to bring hips terribleness into their hearts. To Peter the Lord said, " I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not," when the same occasion for exercise was coming upon him. The remnant will be sustained by the High Priest during all the exercises and trials of heart they will go through.
All through the life of Christ, He never calls God God. We never find Him do so in the Gospels until the cross. It would not have been walking in the power of the relationship which was always unhindered. When on the cross, which was expiation, He does not say, "Father," until all being over, He was commending his spirit to Him, but "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" All that was against us was there coming out against Him. The favor of God was hidden from Him. Righteousness was coming forth in the execution of judgment for sin. Never was there a moment of the Father's more perfect delight in Him; but if God was dealing according to His nature and being, it must be against sin, and therefore all was against Him, for He was made sin for us. As soon as He has gone through it, He uses both terms, "Father" and "God." He comes out as having done the work, and when He has wrought the atonement, He can bring us into the blessed fruit of it. Not only are we brought to the Father but to God, and all that was against us before is for us now. Righteousness, love, &c., are all made for us. The very same things He is in His nature that were against the sinner are for the saint. Christ, risen out of death, and having entered (sin being put away) into the unclouded joy of God His Father's countenance, when He had perfectly glorified Him, says to His disciples, "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." All that is connected with these names of God and Father flow out to us. We are holy and without blame before Him in love. "I have manifested thy name," He says of the Father; but now He could reveal God to them.
This would have been condemnation except through the cross. This is the effect of expiation on our position before God, besides bringing us into the place of children through adoption. Christ, then, never addressed God as God during His life. When Christ is made sin, then this relationship comes out directly: " My God, my God, why Nast thou forsaken me?" God in His nature was there dealing with that which was contrary to it, that is, with sin. The sin is fully dealt with here, according to the nature of God; Christ has revealed God to us, after He has gone through it. All the revelation of God against sin was wrath; God's face was hidden. In His suffering, then, Christ was quite alone. It stood by itself, it was expiation. Chastening for sin is quite another thing. There is love in that; in the other it was wrath, and the effect of it is, not a single cloud is left between us and God.
The suffering of Christ for righteousness' sake is intelligible enough in its nature, though its depth be hard to fathom. Our place in connection with it is also simple, filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, suffering for love's sake; and this may go very deep into the soul too; still there is joy with it if not in it, as we find. Christ Himself having meat to eat. Going through the world, His heart was refreshed by the thought of souls getting blessing, and yet there was suffering with it. He had consolation from His Father according to His perfect faithfulness, and we may feel with Him, as well as He feel with us. When souls reject the gospel, or the Church is going on badly, or saints are losing their own blessing; all this will affect us if we are not insensible, but we shall have balm in suffering in this way.
This 69th Psalm expresses this kind of suffering. Christ says, "I am the song of the drunkard." "In the multitude of thy mercy hear me." He has access to His Father, getting refreshment from Him. "My prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time." These sufferings of Christ were deeper, I believe, than we have any idea of. He had all kinds of sufferings on the cross; still, that from man disappeared in comparison with that for sin from God.
There is often in God's ways with men suffering for righteousness' sake and suffering for sin, or to prevent it, at the same time.1 This often causes perplexity. For the Jews, under a sense of a broken law, there will be terrible trial of faith. They will see the ungodly in prosperity, while it is promised to the godly, " they shall flourish like the palm tree." The consequence of following in the way of righteousness brings dreadful trial on them, and yet what they go through is also in consequence of their sins, yet not condemnation. The nation has received antichrist, because they would not have the Lord Jesus. At the same time the terrors of the law enter the soul of the righteous, and Satan uses it all against them, urging that they have broken the law. Death is the judgment of God for sin. Who has the power of it? Satan. They cry out in their distress, and God delivers them; but Satan presents death as a terror, and as the judgment of God, to bring their sins to remembrance. They suffer from their sins, but yet they have integrity, and are in the place of exercising integrity. They are brought so low, that though faith is not extinct, they scarcely have any. " Shall he find faith on the earth?" They cry, " How long!" There is faith in the word, but it is near coming to an end. They are like a teil-tree in winter, with no signs of life in it, their leaves all cast. Yet this remnant is the sap of life in the midst of death, and the prophet says, " How long!" The expression " how long!" implies some faith left. They are as though they were cast off, yet hold to God's promise. It cannot be forever. There is the integrity of heart which will not willfully break the law, and a terror of judgment, knowing what sin has deserved. The weapon Satan will use in that day is the truth of God; not the grace but the truth. Many souls are in this state now, because of integrity of heart, and their sins are all brought up to the conscience. Satan is there, and the Lord allows him to sift the soul, because He has to lay the sins on the conscience, and it is a very terrible exercise when the grace which meets the need is not known. The sorrow of this Christ went through, when He was going indeed to bear the sins. He went through it for them. If they feel the terror of judgment for their own sins, which they will ultimately escape, that they may morally learn their state and need, and God display His righteous government, Christ went through the wrath, and did not escape, and at the close of His path went through the anticipation of it, which Satan, as the prince of darkness, pressed upon His soul, perfect in looking to God there as everywhere, and the spring by His Spirit to them for right feelings, when they pass through the shadow of it as an exercise of heart. This suffering of the remnant is not suffering with Christ. They get a little comfort by an influx of hope, and they are down again in the mire. It is an, alternation of almost despairing and hoping. Christ never went through this in His life, but He did go through it in death, Gethsemane, and drawing near to, only that He was perfect in His feelings in it.
A redeemed soul may be going through many exercises of conflict between self and Satan to learn there is no good in itself. We are cast on a good out of ourselves. There must be practically the knowledge of good and evil in the conscience. Different characters need different experience. If there be pride of nature, where there is much levity of soul, or where dangers and temptations are before us, great exercise may be needed to make the value of Christ known. You cannot prescribe to God a form of experience, but the soul must learn from Christ good and evil; all the good as coming from Him, and the evil as in our will and nature where it lives. Some often go through great exercise that they may be used to others. But this solemn question of what good and evil is must be learned under the government of God and with Satan against us. Christ went through the trial of this. No evil indeed was in Him and perfect good was, but His perfect obedience as a man was put to the test and He was tempted in all points like as we are, except sin. Would He stop in obedience because of what it cost? Would He allow the entrance of evil into His soul? Blessed be God! we know His obedience was perfect even unto death and the drinking of that bitter cup, and not the smallest thought of evil could ever find an entrance into His soul. The question of good and evil was tried to the uttermost, but only to show the utter exclusion of all evil by one who was always good, and walking in perfect good kept the evil always at a distance as such; that is, was perfect as man, perfect with God. In us the conflict and trial ends in the full acknowledgment of evil in ourselves and of perfect good in Him, and the victory too of good received from Him in life and maintained by Him in grace in our hearts. His soul then was to go through the conflict, not as though He had the evil, but as tested by Satan and doing it for God's glory and our sakes, whether in the presence of good and evil He will go through all and glorify God; and He says, " As my Father gave me commandment, even so I do." Then He was to go through it as a real man. He says to His disciples, "Tarry ye here;" but all that man is was used by Satan. Then His own forsake Him. He is left without comfort, which yet His soul would seek and did, and left exposed to Satan without any and alone. " This is your hour and the power of darkness." Angels, indeed, came and ministered unto Him. This loneliness the remnant will not be tried by. " They that feared the Lord spake often one to another." No sorrow was like His. All that man was is turned against Him. He looked for comforters but found none. Then He goes through the power of death. (I am not speaking of expiation now, but of death as an evil pressing on man and Satan's power in it, yet as terror looking forward.) Was He to give way? Was He to take it from Satan and so enter into the temptation and shrink from it, or fall into despair, or go through in obedience and drink this cup of wrath, taking all this evil and bearing the judgment of God for it? He went through " with strong crying and tears." He went through as none other could. The remnant will, in their measure, go through this exercise as an exercise of heart. Christ takes up language for them, " Thou knowest my foolishness," &c. That was not His own; He takes up the language with Israel that He may go through with them and sympathize with them, (not in the way of yet actually working out expiation.) He will come to them in it but not take them out of it, because they must learn what sin is-learn it in integrity and in the presence of Satan, fearing lest they should not get from under it, though indeed they will be delivered. He can come and sustain the soul under the trial and inspire faith under it, and show them how to bear it. They are to be sifted as wheat, the grain not falling through, though the chaff does. He can minister faith to them, as to Peter, with a look at the right moment. They will see there is something to hope for. They may say, After all there is grace for a poor sinner, and then be sinking down in the mire again as bad as ever, while learning what sin is morally before God and under the power of Satan, appealing to God against the thing He has pronounced judgment upon. Thus they will learn the evil of Satan and the flesh and bless God for deliverance. They will be walking in darkness while hearing the word. There is no praise nor liberty in that state. (See Isa. 1:1010Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:10).) In Christ there was no inward darkness, but the whole power of it, as He says, was pressed upon His soul. " This is your hour and the power of darkness," and His soul was sorrowful even unto death. We should not be in that condition. The path of obedience is not the path of darkness to us, though there may be darkness in getting into it. They are told to trust.
There is something for faith to lay hold of, a rope to cling to in the waters, until they come to know the full redemption accomplished.
It is important for us not to miss a perception of all these different sufferings of Christ. We should not go into it merely critically-that is ruinous-but with the heart. It is most important also to remember that in expiation He was alone, without a ray of comfort, all light hidden. Besides, men being all against Him, He has the power of Satan to meet, and then the wrath of God. Perfect, absolute Obedience, came out when put to the test. He went through everything. He was left alone in His own perfectness with evil there, made sin-and wrath came upon it -for God to be glorified. What the sufferings of Christ were, none can fathom. What this grand solution of the question of good and evil. We shall reap the blessedness in perfect good, blessed be the name of our God! where no evil can enter.
1. See 2 Cor. 12 and Heb. 12