Psalms, Book 1, Psalms 16-18

Psalm 16‑18  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Next follows a deeply affecting group, in which Christ appears, more evidently perhaps than in Psa. 8, and as distinctly as in Psa. 2 This is marked in the first and last of the three.
Psalm 16
“Michtam of David,” a heading of doubtful import, which means “golden” or “jewel,” or both, according to many. It is without doubt David's writing, but of Christ, Who is here seen taking His place personally with God among the godly Jews here below. “Preserve Me, O God [El], for in Thee put I My trust. Thou hast said unto Jehovah, Thou [art] the Lord, My goodness [is] not to Thee; unto the saints that are on the earth and the excellent, all My delight [is] in them” (ver. 1-3). Deigning to be man, He is the perfectly dependent and trusting One (compare Isa. 8 and Heb. ii.). He identifies Himself here with the saints and the excellent on the earth, as we know He did when He took His place to be baptized in Jordan, to the astonishment of the Baptist; as to which Matt. 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18 afford inspired illustration, one might say comment. Jehovah is loyally owned as the Lord. This is what Christ said to Him. In the place He had freely taken, the bondman's place, He would not put Himself on a level with the Master; He said, “My goodness [is] not to Thee.” He was here to obey, not to assert co-equality. So He would not be called “Good Master” by one that knew not who He is, only what He became. None the less, but the more, was His heart with the feeblest of Israel who turned to the God of Israel in genuine repentance, though He needed none, but John rather to be baptized of Him. Therefore said He to such, “All My delight [is] in them.” “Their sorrows shall increase [who] have hastened after another: I will not pour out their drink-offerings of blood, and will not take their names upon My lips. Jehovah is the portion of Mine inheritance and My cup; Thou maintainest My lot. The lines have fallen unto Me in pleasant places, yea, I have a goodly portion. I will bless Jehovah Who hath counseled Me; also by night My reins have instructed Me. I have set Jehovah before Me always; because He is at My right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore My heart hath been glad and My glory [tongue, or soul] rejoiceth; My flesh also shall lie down in confidence. For Thou wilt not leave My soul to Sheol, Thou wilt not suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show Me the path of life, fullness of joys in Thy presence, pleasures at Thy right hand forever” (ver. 4-17.). It is Messiah's trust in Jehovah through life and death into resurrection and glory. Associated with the saints, He had His hope in God only and forever, and was shown the path of life, resurrection-life, and joy. It is glory in His presence for Christ.
Psalm 17
Here consequently Christ takes His place with the godly in contrast with the wicked and oppressive. It is rather righteousness before God and from Him, than grace in dependence on Him, and being with Him. “A prayer of David: Hear the right, O Jehovah, attend unto my cry: give ear unto My prayer [which is] not out of lips of deceit. My judgment goeth forth from Thy presence; Mine eyes behold that which is right. Thou host proved My heart, Thou hast visited Me by night; Thou hast tried Me, Thou shall find nothing; have purposed, My mouth shall not transgress. As to the works of men, by the words of Thy lips I have watched the paths of the violent [maul, to hold fast My feet in Thy paths; My footsteps were not moved. I have called upon Thee, for Thou answeredst Me, O God [El]; incline Thine ear unto Me; hear My speech, distinguish Thy mercies [O Thou] Who by Thy right hand savest those that trust from those that rise up [against them]. Keep Me as the apple of the eye; Thou wilt hide Me under the shadow of Thy wings, from the wicked who oppressed Me; Mine enemies in soul will surround Mc. They are shut up with their fat; [with] their mouths they speak in pride. [In] our steps they have now surrounded us; their eyes they set to stretch over the earth. His likeness [is] as a lion: he longeth to tear in pieces, and as a young lion sitting in secret places. Arise, O Jehovah, go before his face, cause him to bend down: deliver my soul from the wicked [man], Thy sword; from men, Thy hand, O, Jehovah, from men of the world (age): their portion [is] in this life, and with Thy treasure Thou fillest their belly; they are satisfied with sons and leave their abundance to their babes. As for Me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied in awakening with Thy likeness” (ver. 1-15).
Psalm 18
“To the chief musician, by a servant of Jehovah, by David, who spoke to Jehovah the words of this song in the day Jehovah delivered from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul; and he said, I will love Thee, O Jehovah, My strength. Jehovah [is] My high rock and My fortress and My deliverer; My God [El], My rock, I will trust in Him; My shield and horn of My salvation, My refuge. Worthy to be praised will I call Jehovah, and from Mine enemies shall I be delivered. Pains [cords] of death encompassed Me, and streams of Belial terrified Me. Pains of Sheol surrounded Me, snares of death fell upon Me. In my distress I called upon Jehovah, and unto My God I cry for help; from His temple He heareth My voice, and My supplication before Him cometh into His ears. Then the earth shaketh and trembleth, and the foundations of mountains are moved; they are shaken because He was angry. Then went up a smoke in His anger, and fire out of His mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. And He boweth the heavens and cometh down, and darkness [is] under His feet. And He rideth upon a cherub and flieth: yea, He flieth upon wings of the wind. He maketh darkness His covering, His tent round about Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him the thick clouds passed away: hail and coals of fire. And Jehovah thundereth in the heavens hail and coals of fire. And He sendeth His arrows and scattereth them, and lightning in abundance1 and discomfited them. And the beds of the waters are seen, and the foundations of the world are made bare through Thy rebuke, O Jehovah, at the blast of the breath of Thy nostrils. He reacheth forth from above, He calleth Me, He draweth Me out of great waters. He delivereth Me from strong enemies and from My haters, for they were stronger than I. They fell upon Me in the day of My trouble; but Jehovah was My stay. And He bringeth Me forth into the wide place; He delivereth Me because He delighted in Me. Jehovah recompenseth Me according to My righteousness; according to the cleanness of My hands He requiteth Me. For I have kept the ways of Jehovah and have not wickedly departed from My God. For all His ordinances were before Me, and I did not put away His statutes from Me. And I am upright before Him and keep Myself from Mine iniquity. And Jehovah requiteth Me according to My righteousness, according to the cleanness of My hands before His eyes. With the merciful Thou showiest Thyself merciful, with the upright man Thou showest Thyself upright. With the pure Thou showest Thyself pure, and with the perverse Thou showest Thyself contrary. For Thou savest an afflicted people and lofty eyes Thou bringest down. For Thou lightest My lamp; Jehovah My God enlighteneth My darkness. For by Thee I run [through] a troop, and by My God I leap over a wall. [As for] God, His way is perfect; the word of Jehovah [is] tried: a shield [is] He to all that trust in Him. For who [is] God beside Jehovah? and who is a rock except our God? It is God [El) that girdeth Me, with strength, and He maketh My way perfect. He maketh My feet like hinds, and upon My high places He causeth Me to stand, instructing My hands for the war; and a bow of brass is bent [by] mine arms. And Thou givest unto Me a shield, Thy salvation; and Thy right hand upholdeth Me, and Thy meekness maketh Me great. Thou enlargest My steps under Me, and Mine ancles have not slipped. I pursue Mine enemies and overtake them, and I turn not back till they are destroyed. I break them in pieces, and they are not able to rise; they fall under My feet. And Thou girdest Me with strength for the battle, Thou causest to bow down under Me those that rise up against Me. And Mine enemies—Thou turnest their back to Me; and My haters—Thou wilt destroy them. They cry for help, but there is no deliverer—unto Jehovah, but He answereth them not. And I bruise them as dust before the wind, and as mire of the streets I pour them out. Thou deliverest Me from the strivings of the people; Thou makest Me the head of Gentiles: a people that I have not known serve Me. At the hearing of the ear they obey Me; sons of a stranger feign submission to Me. Sons of a stranger fade away, and they tremble out of their enclosed places. Jehovah liveth, and blessed [is] My rock, and exalted the God of My salvation, the God [El] that avengeth Me and subdueth peoples under Me, My deliverer from Mine enemies: yea, Thou hast lifted Me up from among those who rise up against Me, from a man of violence Thou deliverest Me. Therefore I give thanks unto Thee, O Jehovah, among the Gentiles, and unto Thy name I sing praises. Great deliverances He giveth to His King, and showeth kindness to His Anointed, to David, and to His seed forever” (vers. 1-50).
Here again we have the Messiah, and this not so much as having His joy in God, or looking for righteous vindication in resurrection glory, but as identifying Himself from first to last, with Israel's history from Moses to David, and to His own reign yet future as David's greater Son. Thus viewed (and less or other than this is not the truth) it is a grand close and complement of the two psalms before it. It is strictly Jewish, as any unprejudiced must see. Even “Mine iniquity” in ver. 23 (Heb. 24) is no real difficulty, as it is allowed to mean, not indwelling sin which it never does, but that evil which was in His way, from which He absolutely kept Himself. Others indeed were naturally prone to it, He never and in no respect. We see how truly the suffering Christ is the final and full Deliverer of Israel, and the Head of the Gentiles too—glories to come. But in all their affliction He was afflicted, and in association with Israel, (not only in atonement for us) knew the sorrows of death. The psalm however contemplates Him as the delivered One at the beginning long before He delivers at the end. This the Jews have failed and refuse to see. The veil is still on their heart. But the day is at hand when their heart will turn to the Lord, and the veil be taken away. Meanwhile we who now believe in the rejected but risen and glorified Christ triumph in that grace which has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ; and so we await the day when Zion's light shall come and the glory of Jehovah rise on her. Surely He Will hasten it in its time.
1. Or, He shot forth.