Songs of Degrees: Part 5

Psalm 120-134
Recovery, or The Return Journey As typified by the "Songs of Degrees," Psalms 120-134
Part 5
Psalm 133.
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
"It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
"As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of? Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."
This beautiful little Psalm from its setting here is but the natural outflow of the activity of the Spirit of God now untrammeled and unhindered, the Lord having been given His rightful place.
Sometimes the condition of things as mentioned in this Psalm are spoken of as something to be attained by builders unheeding the exhortations of Psalm 127. If these things are not true, does it not call for repentance-doing the first works and getting back to first love? No doubt, in its future application, it refers to Israel as mentioned in Ezekiel 37, brought forth from the dust amongst the nations. Then the two sticks, Judah and Joseph, will become one in the hand, and the King shall be to them all.
To give it a typical application, is not this the "unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:33Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)) and connected with chapter 2 where God is looked at as the Builder of the house? (Ephesians 3 is a parenthesis.)
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone:
"In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord:
What a unity, brought about by the Holy Spirit! But it can only be kept in the uniting bond of peace, by heeding the exhortations given us by "the prisoner of the Lord." "I therefore,... beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called."
"With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love;
It is well to remember another exhortation:
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." 1 Cor. 14:3333For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33). What is needed is:
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Gal. 5:22, 2322But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22‑23).
Is not this what we find in our Psalm in the description of the anointing oil poured upon Aaron? Would it not be typical of our Great High Priest from whose ways ever arose that precious odor of the ointment which caused the heavens to open and say, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"? "That ran down upon the beard"; men wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth!
"That went down to the skirts of his garments."
Peter tells us He "went about doing good"; and is not He the only One who fits the description in Psalm 1 as that "Blessed" One?
Aaron's sons were also anointed with him (Exod. 29:4141And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Exodus 29:41)). We have received an anointing too-1 John 2:2020But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (1 John 2:20) and 27: "Ye have an unction from the Holy One" -"The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you," etc. Also 2 Cor. 1:21, 2221Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:21‑22): "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." We are to "show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." We are subjects too of the ministry of Christ to this end: "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Eph. 5:26, 2726That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26‑27).
In our Psalm 133 we have then, this fragrance going up from those who have sought Him and given Him His true place, and their lives corresponded to the step which they had taken. The Lord's answer to this was blessing coming down.
"As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."
v. 3.
Here we have a lofty mountain with its head reaching up into the heavens and bringing down the blessings from above.
This is the same position where Christ is as brought out in verse 20:
"Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." Again, in chapter 2:6: "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Psalm 134-the last Psalm of this series. We see Israel now in their true place as worshipers and called upon to bless the Lord:
"Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD. "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
"The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion"; that is His earthly dwelling place among His people.
In verse 1 there seems to be special significance attached to the servants "standing by night in the house of the LORD." Is this the recognition of those who had praises for Him ere the "Son of righteousness" arose "with healing in His wings"?
During the night season alluded to in 2 Peter, "before the day dawn," would include the "Simeons" and "Annas" of Luke 2 and those of the remnant in Rev. 7:14, 1514And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (Revelation 7:14‑15)-those who came out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Israel will find in that day also a heavenly leadership in the praises to the Lord as shown by the heavenly company of Rev. 5:99And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9): "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
The returned remnant are now in the place of being worshipers:
"The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion."
This last verse of Psalm 134 shows that the blessings for Israel, and in fact all the earth, will flow out of Zion from the sanctuary where He dwells.
In this present time or interval of His dealings with the Church, all blessings should be expected to flow out to His people both in ministry and the gospel, as in Acts 4:31-3431And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, (Acts 4:31‑34) where it was very manifestly God's center here below. We cannot hope to duplicate that except in principle only, for great failure has come in. Is it not a principle in Scripture that where great failure has come in, the Lord does not restore to its original place, but does restore in a measure so that faith can go on in a simple dependent way before Him?
The next two Psalms, 135 and 136, seem to be attached to this series, as has already been observed by others. Psalm 135 would give us the praises that ascend from those standing in the courts of the Lord. The last verse is specially significant:
"Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD" blessing from the Lord in the divine center.
In Psalm 136 we have a continuance, but more of His mercies being recounted, as we have often sung together: "Desert ways rehearsed above."
Now in summing up the typical application of Psalms 133 and 134, have we anything that answers to the Church's history? We have already mentioned a certain recovery at the Reformation, but has there been anything since? That there is much truth current among evangelical Christendom that was not taught at the time of the Reformation, is well known: the coming of the Lord for the Church, taking her out before He comes to reign; the heavenly calling of the Church; the eternal security of the believer emphasized in a way that has not been since the days of the apostles; the truth as to the one body of Christ—all believers being members of this one body.
Were these truths brought out at a certain time, or has there been a gradual bringing of them out? If a search is made (and I believe that the Lord would have us search them out), we would find that they were brought out about a hundred years ago when there was a remarkable movement of the Spirit of God.
At first there was a searching of the Scriptures as to prophecy, and this led to other searchings of the Word. Finally, after much exercise, a group of men found that they were privileged to meet together in the name of the Lord alone, which they did in much weakness and dependence. This was followed by the separating effect of the Word in their lives, answering to the anointing oil mentioned above. The result was that the Lord blessed them in the bringing out of long lost but hidden truths concerning Christ and the Church, answering to the "dew of Hermon."
The children of God were delivered from the many burdens of the law, and were set free to enjoy their privileges as the children of God. There was a definite reproach to going on simply in this way, apart from all the organizations as brought out in Heb. 13:1313Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:13): "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." The Lord has made up for all this in the joy of His approval, not only in the recovery of the precious truths already mentioned, but also in the unity and fellowship of the Spirit.
There is much confusion resulting from the speakers of perverse things, but "The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way." Psalm 25:99The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (Psalm 25:9). "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant." Psalm 25:1414The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. (Psalm 25:14).
If Acts 20:3030Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30) is true as to distracting and confusing elements coming in, 2 Timothy 2 also remains true: "Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." v. 22. It still remains true, "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen: the lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it." Job 28:7, 87There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen: 8The lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. (Job 28:7‑8).
Under plea of escaping the confusion that has come in, or of being able to help those still in the camp, some have sought to introduce into the camp the precious truths recovered to the saints in the going forth unto Him.
In Matt. 9:1616No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. (Matthew 9:16) we have the Lord's warning: "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse." "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." v. 17. Eloquent men can put a polish on these truths that may be pleasing to many an ear, but at the same time they neutralize them.
This is not said in a spirit of criticism, for every man is responsible to walk before the Lord according to the light he has. There are many sincere men going on in this way, and we can be thankful that Christ is preached (Phil. 1:1818What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)). Where this is the case there will be a lacking in depth of the truth, but God is sovereign and will bless His Word; but if there is a resisting of the truth as to shunning the reproach, or reasoning coming in, there will be a lack of real spiritual power and finally a giving up of the very truths once held and enjoyed. There will be for a time an intellectual grasp of divine things, but 1 Cor. 13:22And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2) says, "Though I have all faith,
so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." "And this is love, that we walk after His commandments.... That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it." 2 John 1:66And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2 John 6) I believe we can say that the enjoyment of that love is the fruit of communion. "But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him." 1 John 2:55But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5). Love is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:2222But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (Galatians 5:22)).
Scripture assures us of only one place where the truth can be preserved: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground [base] of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:1515But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15))—that which the Lord spoke of in Matt. 18:2020For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20), "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them."
In Psalm 122 there is a reference to the thrones of judgment or justice. This is alluded to in the context preceding the well-known verse of Matt. 18:2020For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20). (See verses 15-20.) This principle is also referred to in 1 Cor. 14:2929Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. (1 Corinthians 14:29): "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge"; also 1 Cor. 5:12, 1312For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Corinthians 5:12‑13): "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Then again, in chapter 6:1-6.
Where is there any stay for the truth when popular men take these truths and polish them up and organize a congregation to support them in the giving of it out? Is there anything of "the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge"? Is the Lord the Center of such a gathering? Is this the way He gathers to Himself? Is the Spirit of God free to use whomsoever He will?
What does "follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" mean? What is a pure heart in this sense? Is it not simply walking in the path of faith in simple dependence upon the Lord, without reasoning as to the consequences as to one's usefulness or path of service? How often have there been reasoning and fears that the path is too narrow for one's field of service.
"Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." Heb. 13:1313Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:13).
Are we not to gather from the above-mentioned scriptures that the Lord has a path marked out for faith, and that there will be those walking in it in however much weakness?
"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Rev. 3:1111Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11).
If the above principles we have been considering in our meditations on the path of ascent in these Psalms are true, then we should be able to go on in fellowship with those whose hearts have been exercised in a similar manner.
"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD." Psalm 122:11<<A Song of degrees of David.>> I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. (Psalm 122:1). There He has said, "I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread." Psalm 132:1515I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. (Psalm 132:15).
"We will go into His tabernacles: we will worship at His footstool." v. 7.
"The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." John 4:21, 23, 2421Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (John 4:21)
23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23‑24)
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If we have been attracted by the truth, let us not forget the spirit that goes with it which is necessary for suitable worship, and that our feet will continue in the path marked out for faith.
This reminds us of the time in John 1 when John Baptist stood and two of his disciples:
"And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
"And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
"Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto Him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou?
It was in a secret and unnamed, place, away from the multitude; and the invitation is still held forth to this day, Come and see. He would have us continue "the day" with Him—the remainder of the time we are left here.