Thoughts on Psalm 91 and 102

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The thing we have to learn is Christ. We may learn a good deal in ourselves, but all that is for blessing will be in Christ. This is what the apostle means (Heb. 6:11Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1)) when he speaks of going on to perfection. It is vain to learn the first principles over and over again; if we have learned that, let us go on to learn Christ—learn Him in all His characters, or in all our exercises. To know Christ is to know Him in all His various characters. At one time we have to look on Him as Jehovah—at another, as a suffering Man.
Here comes a testimony concerning the Most High. We have in this verse 1 a general truth: the person that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Verse 2. The words of Jesus are brought out: I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust. The apostle, in Heb. 2:1313And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. (Hebrews 2:13), refers to this and other parts in the Psalm as the words of Christ. The apostle declares, I will put my trust in Him, as our Lord's expression whilst walking in the midst of trial on the earth. Then (vers. 3-13) we come to the testimony of the Spirit concerning Jesus. Verse 9. This was true in its perfectness only in Jesus; it is true in all its extent only in Him. In verse 14 we get the declaration of the Father, “because he hath set his love upon me.” This was true, and true only of Jesus. He was the only One who set His love on God. We love Him because He first loved us. In our Lord's sufferings we learn the principle and fullness of love.
“The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me, but that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” He was showing this principle of love to the Father. There is deep blessing in seeing our Lord thus. “Wherefore God hath highly exalted him.” (Phil. 2:99Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (Philippians 2:9).)
He knew His name. God's greatness is shown by despising nothing. His love is so great that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without His knowledge. Christ always trusted Him. (Psa. 20; 21) In the case of Jesus is the practical exhibition of this truth—He dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High; in us in measure, being one with Christ, we are able to appropriate this to ourselves. All His actings on earth came from the perfectness of communion with the Father. The promise was, He shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I do always those things that please the Father, and abide in His love. (Ver. 2.) What He calls for is complete recognition of Himself, then come all the promises. The one thing we have to do is to own God in all His fullness. Imperfectly, but in principle, we dwell in the secret of the Most High. Why we are often in trial, &c., is because we are not dwelling in the secret of the Most High. Verse 4. “He shall cover thee with his feathers,” &c. As His power covers and shelters us, so His truth is our shield and buckler. God's truth always comes to us in Jesus. Just so far as we are in the secret of the Most High, we are under the shadow of the Almighty. If we are going our own way, we shall have chastening and trial, and in mercy too. What we have to seek is to make the Lord our habitation. He leadeth us forth in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
This psalm (102) is one of peculiar strength and blessedness to the believer, as it brings, in one point of view) the identity of Christ in spirit with His suffering people; and, on the other side, His identity with Jehovah, His being Jehovah the basis of all hopes that belong to the Jews, and to the saints consequently. Our Lord's sufferings become the earnest of glory to those that are His. The triumph of Christ comes to be the pledge of deliverance and blessing to them. This makes the testimony of His deliverance, when suffering for us, so blessed, because the earnest of ours. “In the day when I call, answer me speedily.” The craving of the godly soul in trouble is the Lord's hearing him; this is their anxiety, for otherwise there would be wrath in the case. Of this the resurrection of Jesus was the great witness.
In this psalm our Lord enters into every protracted suffering of His people. In all His sufferings, as a righteous man on earth, He could say, “I know that thou hearest me always.” I watch, &c.—the very opposite of ease. Verses 9, 10: I never find the deepest sorrow of our Lord spoken of exclusive of indignation. “Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.” The lifting up here spoken of was true of Jesus with the Jews. For what nation is so great? who hath God so nigh unto them? &c. Jesus is looked at as the Messiah, as coming in the flesh, most exalted, as Head of the people, yet had to be “cast down” for the indignation that was come upon this people. He never took the headship, but took the casting down. The spirit of Christ in us always takes portion with sorrow. “My days are like a shadow that declineth.” Then comes the assertion of strength, of all comfort, the perpetuity of Jehovah: “Thou, O Lord, shalt endure; thou shalt arise, and have mercy on Zion,” &c. Here is contrasted the way in which Messiah was cast down in the lowest degree of suffering, and, in the midst of it, the certainty of Jehovah's taking mercy on His people.
If you set up Zion, all the nations who disbelieved that it would be set up “shall fear thy name.” Then comes another positive declaration: He shall appear in His glory. How Jehovah is to appear brings out the identity of the suffering Messiah with Jehovah: The people which shall be created, &c.—they shall be new creatures then. Messiah's prayer (ver. 17) will be then regarded, and fully answered; it was not apparently regarded during His sufferings on earth. The great statements in this psalm are, Messiah cast down, but Jehovah faithful, and will build up Zion. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will look down from heaven on what takes place on earth. Then comes in the repetition of the sufferings of Messiah, then His glory, not merely taken in consequence of suffering, but in virtue of His glorious person. The secret of all our strength is this unfathomable mystery—Christ's being Jehovah, and His identity with the sufferings of His people. It is just the portion of the church to know the glory is His, that He is the Jehovah-God who founded heaven and earth, and to understand how He was on that earth cast down, was bruised, was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and to rest in the happy consciousness of the perfect sympathy of Christ in all our trials, in all that in which wrath may appear to us. In all our sorrows and troubles we must find, whilst under them, wrath, although we know it is chastening in love; it produces in us, not merely the sorrow of the world, but sense of the displeasure of the Lord under them, and we shall be looking out for His hearing our cry, just as a child grieves to see the frown of a tender parent, because of his displeasure shown in it.
Thus should we, not only on account of the trouble it brings us into—then we are thinking of ourselves instead of God. The great comfort of the believer is, that the Lord Jesus having passed through all this trial, is itself a witness to us of the love of God in them; and thus we are more than conquerors, not in carelessness, knowing that nothing shall separate us from the love of God. We may ourselves be the occasion of chastisement—then must there be humbling, but love in it surely. One learns in Christ, having gone through all, the faithfulness of God in all the exercises we may have to pass through. We (believers) must take everything as coming from God: otherwise we do not give sufficient value to our sufferings, but give value to ourselves in them. When wicked men cut our Lord down, He took it all as coming from God: “Thou hast cast me down,” &c. Faith always looks to the great source, and not to casual instruments.