Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Psalm 52 - The hope of the Righteous One when spoken against everywhere.

This Psalm was originally written when Doeg informed Saul against David.

In arranging the Psalms it was natural to place it after the last, inasmuch as the assaults which it describes would no doubt be repeated in some shape on the occasion of David's fall, and even after his restoration to the full sunshine of divine fellowship.

The enemy of the Woman's seed has never in any age been at a loss for matter of calumny and reproach, nor will he cease till the Lord comes and he is finally cast out.

In verse 1, "the mighty man" is like Nimrod (Gen 10:9), the very antithesis in character to "the mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6) who is to destroy him.

In verse 5, closed by the significant Selah, the true rendering of the middle clause is "He will pluck you out of The Tabernacle;" not only referring us back to such cases as Korah, or any rebels whom the Lord thrust out of the holy camp of Israel, but pointing us onward to the time when "the Tabernacle of God shall be with men."

On that day you shall have no place among the blessed ones; they shall see you uprooted with ease, and shall enjoy the "laugh" of Him who sits in the heavens (Psalm 2:4), and of Wisdom whom you did despise (Prov 1:26), but who then mocks at your calamity.

Men will not then speak of the Son of God, as they did in the day of his humiliation, but shall say to his ruined foes: "Behold the man! (v7)

All along their history true Israelites could adopt and appropriate the words of verse 8, but they shall sing it better still on the day of Antichrist's final ruin, when they become "the Olive tree" again (Rom 11:17).

At the same time it is David's Son, Christ himself, who best of all could sing this Psalm, and best of all could appropriate these words: "I am a green olive tree in the house of God" (v8)

He being indeed the true Israelite who "continued in God's goodness" (Rom 11:17,22), the tender love of his God ever being as dew on his branches.

He will, on the Day of his Appearing, give the key-note of praise over foes overthrown for ever, raising the "Hallelujah" of Rev 19:2 - "because you have done it."

Nothing less than this result is what we look for and expect; and Christ along with us is looking for that display of the Divine character, "waiting for your name" (as in Psalm 75:1) when it shall be revealed in judgement acts. Thus viewed, this Psalm may be entitled - The hope of the Righteous One when spoken against everywhere.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Psalm 51 - The broken-hearted sinner's cry to the God of grace.

"The riches, the power, the glory of a kingdom, could neither present nor remove the torrent of sin, which puts the monarch and the beggar upon a level" says Charles Horne.

No one has more keenly scrutinised his own backslidings, and more bitterly lamented them,, "laying bare the iron ribs of misery" than David, in this Psalm.

We saw a series of considerable length concluded in Psalm 50. The Psalm before us stands in an isolated position. It is not part of any series. It has a peculiarity that no previous Psalm has exhibited, for it is written (and the Hebrew title authenticates the fact) on the occasion of David's adultery, and his detestable attempts to hide his adultery by murder of the basest kind.

Now, no such circumstances as these could ever had in them aught that corresponded in the remotest manner to any circumstances in the life of the Surety, David's Son.

On the contrary, so far is this Psalm from being fitted to express the work of the Surety, that it seems introduced at this point in order to lead us to look back on the former songs of David, and to say of what was set forth in them: Surely this David, who appears here as a leper all over, with a heart as vile as the worst action of his life, cannot be the David of whom such glorious things were formerly spoken?

Viewed in this light, the Psalm before us is fitted, both by its title and its contents, to direct us in the other Psalms to the true David, as He of whom the lofty things of preceding Psalms were sung.

Coming, as this Psalm does, close upon one which set the principles of judgement before us, int is not uninteresting to observe that it falls into its place very appropriately.

For here we find a sinner - an individual sinner - realising his position at that bar, and consenting to the decisions of a tribunal where nothing but justice has free course.

The sinner acknowledges in verse 4 that his sin is all his own, and done in direct opposition to the Holy One; and he owns his folly before all the universe.

"That you may be justified in the manner of the law proclaimed by you... and be clear in regard to the judgement pronounced by you on the law breaker."

He finds nothing in the terms of the law too strict, nor anything in the penalty annexed too severe. We may have a reference to Exodus 20:1.

It is as if God had printed the diary of David, and, in order to humble him, handed it to the "Chief musician", that all Israel might know his bitter repentance, and might say, in substance, what Augustine writes:

"It is not an example of falling into sin that is set before you, but of rising if you have fallen. Do you love in David that which David hated in himself?"

1. Deep groans for pardoning mercy, from the pit of pollution (v1,2)
2. Confession of sin, and acknowledgement of the Lord's righteous law (v3,4)
3. An awful gaze upon the source of all actual sin (v5)
4. Deliverance from falsehood, folly and guilt, must come from God alone (v6,7) "Purge me from sin with hyssop", as the leper is purged.
5. The voice of a reconciled God heard again (v8). Perhaps it was the idea of Resurrection that suggested "bones rejoicing."
6. On the foundation of thorough forgiveness, prayer is made for thorough and constant holiness (v9,10) "Renew to me the gift of a fixed spirit"
7. He seeks permanent holiness, as well as permanent fellowship (v11)
8. The joy of full salvation (i.e. of both pardon and holiness) is sought, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, the true and natural equipment for future usefulness (v12) "Uphold me with the Spirit, who is generous" - princely.
9. Efforts are made to for the good of others (v13)
10. Sorrow for having, in days past, injured others is expressed (v14, first clause)
11. Closing strain of adoring gratitude (the last clause of 14, and 15,16,17)
12. A closing prayer for the glory of God in the land and in the earth (v18,19)

This desire for God's glory, the unfailing mark of a soul in communion with God, is expressed in terms that indicate hope as well as faith. "Be favourable to Zion for your own sake, as a fruit of your free will."

This is the sense; as if he said, "I have given you cause to forsake my kingdom and people, and even to abandon Zion, where your ark stands; but will you not rather show free grace?"

"Build the walls of Jerusalem!" Make your people in Jerusalem strong against their foes; build up this city, fortifying and ornamenting it. This city which I took from the Jebusites and am seeking to beautify though my sin might provoke you to give it back to the Canaanite again. Make Zion and Jerusalem strong  in their bulwarks as you will yet do in the latter day (Psalm 48:11.)

"Then shall you be pleased with sacrifices of righteousness."

In that spot where your name has been blasphemed by me, you shall yet again be honoured, if instead of judgement you send us victory and peace. We shall testify of you to all lands by the "sacrifices according to just rule and measure" (Lev 19:36) and by bullocks as our calves of thank-offering (Hosea 14:3).

This city Jerusalem shall be a place in which atonement is proclaimed, and your praises sung by your forgiven ones, whose contrite, broken hearts shall be a daily thank offering (v17). This last result was especially attained under Solomon.

In addition to what we have stated as the primary meaning, is there not a look into the future? Is not the strain to this effect: Hasten Zion's final glory, and then shall there be no more scandals to give the enemy cause to blaspheme, no more backslidings, no more falls.. Then shall you be fully honoured as the God of atonement and fully praised with the calves of our lips.

Hasten the day of Jerusalem's glory under the true Solomon. Such is this Psalm of David - The broken-hearted sinner's cry to the God of grace.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Psalm 50 - The principles that shall guide the judgement of the Righteous One at the gathering of the Saints.

"El, Elohim, the LORD has spoken!" So reads the Hebrew. Arrived at the end - having sung of the elect's cry, the response to their cry in the Mighty One's appearing, the Mighty One's protection, the throne on which he sits, the city where his glory abides, and himself in the glory - having also sung that melancholy dirge over those who have no portion in this lot of the righteous - the Psalmist is led by the Spirit to strike his harp to one other strain of a kindred nature.

Here he sets out the principles of judgement that guide the decision of the King "who sits on the throne of his holiness," and reigns from "out of Zion."

It is the day of Romans 1:18. The heavens are not silent now; angels come with the God of heaven. The glory of the Lord, and those gathered saints around him (2 Thess 2:4), those who over the sacrifice have entered into covenant with him, being celebrated in v1-6, and the solemn Selah-pause having given us time to fix our eye upon the scene, the Lord suddenly speaks, reasoning with men as to their wrong idea of the way of salvation (v7-15).

Then follows their sinful practice (v16-22). In v22, the word is emphatic: "Consider this, I urge you, you who forget God."

Man treats God as if he were a being to be ministered to, instead of a gracious, sovereign benefactor. Man acts in the view of God as if the holy God were just like us. But the end comes. None shall enter into glory, none shall be shown "the salvation of God" i.e. his glorious completed redemption (as Paul spoke in Romans 8:11, and Peter in 1 Peter 1:5) at the Lord's appearing, except for the one who "orders his conversation rightly." that is, who regulates his life by such a rule as v5; in other words: by gospel rule - who prepares his way according to the preparation revealed to him by the Lord.

The one who does so must begin at the altar (v5), and there "sacrifice" or "offer praise," even as v15 also declared. He must begin by owning the LORD's benefits to us sinners, responding to the song of the angels at Bethlehem over a Saviour born, and answering to the Saviour's cry, "It is finished," by his soul's glad acceptance of that finished work.

This is the "ordering of the conversation" - and to declare this is the object of this Psalm. It sets out, at the lips of the Righteous Judge himself, The principles that shall guide the judgement of the Righteous One at the gathering of the Saints.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Psalm 49 - Dirge of the Righteous over the unredeemed.

The mighty one never rests till he has "led us over death" (48:14) to Resurrection-fulness of bliss in the kingdom.

Thrice happy are those who will enjoy it! But who shall tell the misery of those who are excluded from that bliss? It is this misery that is the theme of this Psalm. As sure as the eternal felicity of the redeemed is the miserable doom of the unredeemed; and this Psalm is the dirge over them.

The Redeemer himself speaks this "parable", this weighty discourse which in its topic is to the world no better than an unintelligible enigma - "a dark saying." But nevertheless, "these things which have been kept secret from the beginning" (Matt 13:38), are laid open here in their solemn grandeur, in their awful importance, in their truth and certainty.

Messiah speaks here "wisdom" and "understanding" as in Proverbs 1:20, revealing the deep things of God to man.

It is Messiah who says (v5), "why should I fear in the days of evil, when iniquity is at my heals to surround me?"

Messiah in our world of evil, pursued by sons of Belial, who would fain trample on him, surrounded by the troops of hell, breathing the atmosphere of this polluted world, walking amid its snares, is able to break through all unscathed, and foretell impending ruin to every foe.

Man has no means of paying to God his ransom money (Ex 21:30), although he brings the most costly price earth can furnish. He "must let that alone for ever" (prayer book version); he cannot come up to the amount demanded; he cannot give even what might be sufficient to redeem the life from the grave.

See how generations die, disappear, give way to other generations, all equally the prey of corruption; and yet fools continue to hope for immortality for themselves.

Things of this infatuation; pause, meditate; the harp will be silent for a time that you may ponder it - "Selah!"

But lift the veil! Where are these sons of folly? In the grave; "Death leads them to his pastures" as his sheep (Hengstenberg); and

"The Righteous have dominion over them in the morning.
Their beauty consumes away;
The grave is the dwelling for every one of them." (v14)

The First Resurrection is described in these few strokes, the Resurrection of the Just. They live and reign - have dominion - while "the rest of the dead do not live again until the thousand years are finished" (Rev 20:5) And to stifle all doubts in their birth, the Redeemer declares himself sure of resurrection; and if he, then they also, for he is the first fruits, the pledge of theirs.

"Surely God shall redeem my soul from the hand of the grave;
For He shall redeem me." (v15)

He shall receive me as Enoch was received, receive me up to glorious rest (Gen 5:25, the same word). Hear, therefore, the sum of the whole matter. The ungodly shall never see "the light" of that "morning" (v14); yes (v20), "man in prosperity" even Antichrist in the flush of his power, "is like the beasts; he is to be rooted out" (Hengstenberg) - he has no lot of portion with the blessed.

In such strains the Redeemer himself utters this melancholy Dirge of the Righteous over the unredeemed.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Psalm 48 - The Mighty One become the glory of Jerusalem.

The subject of the Mighty One's history is still continued. The Mighty One is king, has entered on his Dominion, is seated on the throne, is ruling in righteousness. But where is his capital? It is at Jerusalem. Here He manifests himself; and by the glory of his presence being shed over that "City of the Great King," brighter than the light of seven days, yet far more mellow and tranquillising than the sweetest hues of evening, Jerusalem becomes
"The joy of the whole earth
(the joy) of the sides of the north" (Jer 6:22)

She has become the joy of earth, far and near, the source of joy to earth's remotest bounds. Now is fulfilled Isaiah 24:23. Now is Jerusalem made "beautiful for situation," or set aloft on its hills in beauty, in another sense than formerly.

Now is Zion exalted above the mountains, and obtains established pre-eminence above the hills.

And if associations are needed to make any place completely interesting, these are not lacking here. Such deeds have been done here, that Sennacherib's overthrow is, in a manner, cast into the shade. The gathered kings of earth came up, "they passed" in all the pomp of battle, and the Lord scattered them' and writes here his "Veni, vidi, vici," to all nations.

"They save!
They marvelled!
They were troubled!
They hasted away!" (v5)

It was as when an east wind hurls the ships of Tarshish on the rocks (v7). It comprised in it all that is recorded as wonderful in the achievements of former days; present events now come fully up to the measure of former good deeds,
As we have heard, so we have seen,
In the city of the Lord of hosts." (v8)

The solemn Selah-pause occurs here; and then we look out on a peaceful scene, God known in all the earth (v10) "you are praised wherever your name is known." or rather now at last you are getting praise worthy of your glorious name.

Zion is glad, Judah's tears are wiped away, while a voice invites all men to come and survey the bulwarks of the city of the Great King, that they may tell it from age to age. The bulwarks are strong, for the Lord's presence, is the wall of fire, on whose battlements the happy citizens walk in security singing:
"This God is our God for ever and ever;
He is our guide even over death." (Tholuck, 'even beyond death')

The last clause is much misunderstood. It is not "Our guide to death" for the words are "shall lead us over death." Surely it means "it is He who leads over death to resurrection" - over Jordan into Canaan. See also Leviticus 15:25 for "beyond" in regard to time. Beyond the time of death! Till death is over for us? Till we have stood upon the grave of death? Yes: He it is who leads us on to this last victory; he swallows up death in victory, and leads us to trample on death.

And so viewed, we easily discern the beautiful link of thought that joins this Psalm to the one which follows. Such is the celebration of The Mighty One become the glory of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Psalm 47 - The Mighty One on the throne of earth.

Some have applied this Psalm to Christ's ascension; but it speaks of his Second Coming. The Mighty One is seated peacefully on his throne. We are referred back to Psalm 45:9.

His happy people stand around, exulting in his coronation, as Israel rejoiced till earth rang again, when Athaliah, the usurper, was deposed, and the King of David's line was manifested after his long concealment. Then they clapped their hands (2 Kings 11:12) to show their rapturous joy, as here all earth is invited to do; for even woods and trees and rivers are elsewhere represented as joining in this ecstasy of bliss (Isaiah 40:12; Psalm 93:9), when our King sets the New Earth in its regenerated order.

Verses 2,3,4, show what the King has come to do, to choose the "excellency" of the excellent Land, "of Jacob." Resting over this blissful scene, the Psalmist inserts his "Selah" - a pause of meditation.

But verse 5 breaks the thoughtful silence with a shout to our Immanuel - for he it is who is celebrated as "God" -

"Sing praises to God!
Sing praises!
Sing praises to our King!
Sing praises!
For God is King over all the earth!
Sing praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations!
God sits upon the throne of his holiness!"

Around our Incarnate God and King are gathered Israel's princes - 2princes of the God of Abraham" - Abraham's seed now receiving in full the blessings promised to their father, and all earth blessed in him.

Everywhere "the shields of earth," earth's princes, who once, like "the shields" mentioned in Hosea 4:18, instead of defending their people, robbed and preyed on them, now gather round our God to receive authority from him and to use it for him.

He is King of kings. He is Lord of lords. And this is the enthusiastic celebration of The Mighty One on the throne of earth.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Psalm 46 - The Mighty One on the side of the righteous, amid earth's sorest throes.

Before the dawn of that day of the Bridegroom and the Bride, the Marriage-feast, earth shall shake with commotions;wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, all combining to make men perplexed.

But here we find the same Mighty One giving strength to his own in these perilous times.

The title is peculiar, "on Alamoth" suggesting "a choir of virgins," as if this Virgin-choir were selected to sing a Psalm that tells of perils and fears and alarms abounding, in order to show that even the feeble virgins may in that day sing without dread because of The Mighty One on their side.

They and the "Sons of Korah" join in this lofty strain of confidence. We all know how Luther used to sing this Psalm in times of peril and alarm, and many have done the line in all  ages.

They sing of the LORD, a very present help, or more literally: He is found a help most truly, being the same word here as in 1 Sam 13:16, present with Saul, 2 Chron 35:18, Judah and Israel present, or found at their post; and 1 Sam 21:3, whatever is present - is at hand. He has proved himself to be a help at hand.

The river in verse 4 alludes to the Euphrates of Babylon and the Tigris of Assyria. Jerusalem has no such mighty floods to boast of. Yet Jerusalem has a river too. She has her waters of Siloah, flowing softly from her Temple (Isaiah 8:6-7), which may be despised by men of might, yet are Jerusalem's glory.

Her glory is, that the LORD is in her Temple, from beneath whose rock flows out Siloah; and thus "a river is there, that gladdens this city of God."

Or if this is not the primary reference, the allusion is to this same Siloah when it shall flow from the Temple (Joel 3:18, Isaiah 33:221, Ezek 48:1-16), and shall heal whatever it laves; far excelling the mighty waters of Euphrates and Hiddekel, which bear the proud gallies of tyrants.

Victory shall come as soon as the Lord's set time arrives; "when morning appears" as at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:27). The Lord himself shall invite men to see his victory: come and see! (v), and to hear Him proclaim his own right to exaltation. At this announcment, his people shout in reply, v7 and v11, each marked (like v5) by the "Selah"

"The Lord of hosts is with us!"
"The God of Jacob is our refuge!" (v2)

Thus setting forth: The Mighty One on the side of the righteous, amid earth's sorest throes.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Psalm 45 - Messiah, the Mighty One appearing as King and Bridegroom.

The appeal made to the Shepherd, by the sheep led to the slaughter, is heard. Hengstenberg calls it a “matter of fact reply.”

The Shepherd at the bleating of his flock appears to glory to help them; but appears in the character of a Mighty Conqueror. The Lamb is the Lion of Judah. The title given to this Psalm corresponds to its glorious words and theme. Upon Shoshannim, the lily-instrument, some Temple instrument of music, peculiarly adapted for the celebration of themes that were fresh and bright and beautiful.

This Psalm is for the Sons of Korah and to the Chief Musician. The Chief Singer and the whole choir are gathered to sing. This Maschil calls for great skill from the musicians. It is the product of David or Solomon, quite possibly for the occasion of marriage festivities in the Royal Court.

It is a song of loves, or rather “of the Beloved”, regarding the Bride. The word is used in Jeremiah 12:7 as a term for Israel as God’s Beloved, God’s Spouse. He the Husband. So it corresponds to Jedidiah, Beloved of the LORD, just as Shulamite does to Solomon.

If so, it is a Song concerning The Bride, as well as concerning The King, the Bridegroom. “My heart boils with goodly words. My work is for the King! My tongue is the pen of a ready writer!” (v1)

Abrupt and fervent surely – the Holy Spirit thus uses the faculties and feelings of the human instrument to indicate the exciting nature of the subject. “You are beautiful with beauty among the sons of men!”

The verb employed has an unusual form, and might be rendered “Beautiful, beautiful are you” (Alexander).

“Grace is poured upon your lips.”

Everything that is attractive, everything that is graceful in character and form, in feature and expression, is meant by grace. It is not what we usually call by that name; it is a term for what fits with the person and draws the eyes of others to him.

It is thus used in Proverbs 4:9, “She shall give to your head an ornament of grace, a crown of glory shall she deliver to you.” – wisdom so clothing the person with moral beauty.

It is thus, too, in Psalm 84:11 – “The Lord will give grace and glory” – the ornament of beauty, the crown of glory. All this, in full perfection, is found in Messiah’s person; all that is fitted to attract and fix the soul’s gaze; all that is beautiful in excellence; all that is drawing in holiness and majestic worth.

Now comes v3:
“Warrior! Gird your sword upon your thigh” (Horsley)

This is “The Mighty One” whom Isaiah 9:5 calls “The Mighty God.” He is the one who goes forth to victory and yet acts on behalf of meekness and truth and righteousness (See Rev 19:15), or more literally “on behalf of meekness and truth;” the doing which in such a case is “righteousness.” “On his thigh,” we find a name in Rev 19:15 in perfect keeping with this, “King of kings, Lord of lords.”

“Your arrows are sharpened!
The nations fall under you!
Your arrows are in the hearts of the King’s enemies!”

He reaches the Throne, and sits down, his enemies made his footstool. Messiah, thus seated on the throne in visible majesty, is addressed in v6,7, by the name “God” “Your Throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” “Your God has anointed you, O God!” (Compare Hebrews 1:8,9, in the Greek and undoubtedly the true rendering of the Hebrew)

Everything is ready for the Marriage: “myrrh and aloes and cassia” (Song 3:6) have been prepared for this day of Espousal, brought out of “palaces of ivory” to help the joy, or in other words, to complete the mirthful arrangements of this day of heavenly gladness.

“Out of the ivory palaces, the sound of the harp, makes you glad” (Tholuck) The “King’s daughters” who are in attendance, “precious ones” i.e. of high value, seem to be like the “daughter of Jerusalem” in The Song; and especially this portion of the Psalm reminds us of Song 6:8,9. “Threescore queens, fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.”

We suspect that both in that Song and here also, these represent the Angelic hosts. They are natives of that heavenly country – not like The Bride, brought into it from a far foreign land.

The Bride, or Queen, is the redeemed Church, made up of Jewish and Gentile saints, the one Body of the redeemed who are referred to in Hebrews 11:39,40.

In this view we find no difficulties left. “Be it” sings the sweet singer “Be it that your princesses who fill your court are of highest rank, such as are Kingd’s daughters, yet pre-eminent stands The Queen in gold of Ophir! No rival to her! She is honoured, and worthy of honour, above all!”

A pause follows. The Bride is addressed in prospect of this day. It is “Will you not, since this is your glorious destiny, be willing to leave all former relationships? Will you not, O daughter, be as Rebecca going to Isaac? This Mighty One is your Lord; be you as Sarah to Abraham.” (Gen 18:12, 1 Pet 3:5,6)

But the scene is not yet sufficiently set before us. The sweet singer touches his harp again to a lofty strain, to describe the splendour of dominion possessed by the Bride from the Bridegroom.

“The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift.
"The rich among the people shall entreat your favour” (v12)

This tells of the Glorified Church, the Lamb’s Wife, ruling over a subdued world, in the millennial days.
“Tyre” is taken as a sample of Gentile nations, and elsewhere referred to as acting a part in these happy times (Isaiah 23:18); while “the rich among the people” are the Jews in their restored prosperity. The glorified Church reigns with Christ over the nations upon earth. The glorified Church is with Christ on his throne, wherever that may be, while he rules the people and nations under the whole heaven, Gentile and Jew, Tyre and The People.

“The virgins her companions” are we think the same as in v9 and Song 6:8. These participate in the joy of this scene, even as they sympathised with the birth of the Bridegroom at Bethlehem. As for her she is all splendour, and gold embroidery is her vesture, i.e. the richest and rarest fabric of creation. And (not to dwell too long on these verses that tempt us to linger at every step), at last comes the final strain. The Queen, or Bride, is addressed in v16. It is, like Genesis 24:60 and Ruth 4:11, the expression of a wish for the after fruitfulness of the Bride.

The Glorified Church, reigning with Christ, is to see her prayers answered and her labours crowned in blessings which shall be poured on Earth in those glad millennial days.

“Instead of your fathers,” those who filled earth in your former days, “shall be your children.” Earth shall have its new generations, generations of holy men – “whom you may make princes in all the earth” – every one fit to be a prince, the weakest among them as David, and the House of David as the Angel of the Lord.

“So shall the nations praise you for ever and ever!”
This ends the loftiest Epithalmium ever sung. It is what Milton would call
“The unexpressive nuptial song.
In the blessed kingdom meek of joy and love.”

It is Earth taught by Heaven to sing heaven’s infinite love to man. It is a prelude to the New Song. Every clause in it is melody, and every thought in it is sublimity; but it is just such as we might expect to be breathed forth when the theme on hand was – Messiah, the Mighty One appearing as King and Bridegroom.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Psalm 44 - The cry of the slaughtered sheep to the Shepherd.

There is apparently a series beginning here and extending to Psalm 50, in which the Head is addressed, and the various phenomena of his actings described, by the members of his body.

This Psalm, committed to the Sons of Korah, is the cry of David and any other true followers of the Lord, in times of trial, when the witnesses prophesy in sackcloth.

It is not so much a national Psalm, as one for the Church Universal, in as much as verses 17-22, humbly protest (what Israel as a nation could not) firm, unfaltering adherence to his name; and in Rom 8:36, are applied by Paul as expressive of the believer's state in a persecuting world.

Maschil is a musical reference.

It is the cry, or appeal, of the slaughtered sheep to their Shepherd. They begin by recalling his great deeds on behalf of his people coming out of Egypt. They lay all the stress of that deliverance on Himself, on his holy arm alone (v2).  "You drove out the heathen!" etc.

This You is emphatic, similar to the use of the pronoun in Ezekiel 37:3, "You and none else know;" and then verse 5 "I, and none else, will cause the Spirit of life to enter you." Or like the pronoun (Rev 4:11), "For you, and non else, have created all things." Then in verse 5, there is an emphatic "O God, you are he: my King."

No less significant is the other monosyllable (v9) - "But you have cast off" -

The Selah pause (v8) had for a moment brought the harp to silence; and when its strings are touched again, it is to breathe forth lamentation. It seems to reverse the case stated in Leviticus 26:44, where are long tribulation there is hope of the removing of calamity introduce. Marked as golden, speaking as it does of a change to prosperity. All different here! The tide has ebbed, and no prospect of its coming in appears. We are sold for the most trifling sum, as if the master were only anxious to get his sheep off his hand (v12). We are a by-word (v14), and are put to shame by "the enemy and the avenger" whom you could so easily still (Psalm 8:2).

Yet, the sheep own no Shepherd but the LORD. Their protest is unreserved:
"You have broken us (and laid us helpless), in the place of dragons,
And covered us with the shadow of death,
If we have forgotten the name of the our God
Or (if) we have stretched out our hands to a strange God " - 

We are cut off from society with our fellow men, we are thrust out into dens and caves, we flee to where serpents are the only inhabitants, we are lingering on the brink of the grave.

Yet, we can appeal "if we have forgotten!" This IF is a form of strong asseveration. It is the same form as our Lord uses in Luke 19:42. If you had known, then would blessing have come. It is like Exodus 32:32, "Yet now, if you will forgive their sin." It is like Psalm 95:7, "Today if you hear his voice" - then you shall enter rest.

Having made this protest, they add "Shall not God search this out:?" He knows all things. He knows we love Him. He knows that "our belly is grovelling on the earth" like the serpent.

"Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord?" (v23_
Hope dawns. Their God shall hear.

He allows them to awaken Him, and they in a manner cry through the curtains of his tent "Up, why do you sleep!" (Prayer book version.) The Banner of the Deliverer appears through the gloom. The sleeping Saviour awakes at the cry of his disciples, and is about to arise and still the storm "for his mercies' sake" (v26), - for the sake of the tender love he bears to them.

In the Latter Day we shall see, what is meant by this arising, in its fully glory. Such is this Psalm - The cry of the slaughtered sheep to the Shepherd.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Psalm 43 - The Righteous One's claiming his right to full refreshment.

Many ancient and modern writers make this Psalm a part of the former. They have failed to see that the strain is now more gladsome and hopeful.

The hart is now bounding on to the water brooks. The psalmist is claiming his right to refreshment, and anticipating it as at his very lips.

The gloom of night (42:8) and of mourning (v2) are to be exchanged for favour or light (v3) and truth, i.e. the fulfillment of the promises made to him (Aben-Ezra) shall soon show that he has not been forgotten (42:9); and soon God shall be his jubilee song "joy of his joy" and the harp shall celebrate the well pleased face of "Eloi, Eloi", my God who once seemed to stand far off.

To Christ and to his members, the highest gladness (spoken in v4) comes from The Altar with its accepted sacrifice. Christ risen, and Christ ascended, are pointed out in this; and it is in his resurrection and ascension that we see the sacrifice accepted, and our hearts learn true joy.

No doubt this same source of joy is to be opened up to us more fully still when He appears the second time "without sin" for salvation, and all enemies are put under him.

He, too, shall rejoice afresh in that day, drinking from the coolest of the longed for water brooks. Let us, meanwhile, read and sing this Psalm in happy confidence, as The Righteous One's claiming his right to full refreshment.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Psalm 42 - The Righteous One in his weariness looking up to the Father for refreshment.

The second book of Psalms, according to the Jews, begins here. There is little doubt that this fourfold division of the Book of Psalms is arbitrary, suggested by the single circumstance that Amen occurs at the close of certain Psalms, which close the divisions.

Maschil is a musical reference. As for the sons of Korah, descendants of the rebel Korah whose children, spared by grace, took a conspicuous part in the Temple worship of song. They were only receivers not writers of the Psalm. Probably the Levites who were with David (2 Sam 15:24) include Korah's sons.

We see here the hart in the wilderness panting for the water brooks which it has not found. It stands on some bank hangs over the brook, the water is not reached. Such is the Psalmist's state of soul: "O that I might see the face of God!" is the force of verse 2; and verse 4 is the soul responding to itself saying in remembrance of past joys now withheld: "I will think on this and pour out my soul within me."

The Septuagint has translated this very nearly in the words used in Matt 26:38 and John 12:27.
"My soul, why are you very sorrowful?"
"Why are you troubled within me?"

Our Lord, as well as every troubled and sorrowful one of his people, could use this Psalm, when, as the true David, he was driven out, not by a son, but by his Father for our sakes - driven farther from heaven than Hermon or Jordan, or "the Little Hill" are from Zion and the Tabernacle, hearing deeper floods calling to one another, and mustering their waters, as at the deluge the cataracts dashed upon the ark from above, while bursting fountains heaved it up from below.

Still, He knew the issue: "For the joy set before Him he endured the cross."

He could sing in the gloom, "I shall yet praise him, the salvation of my face, and my God!" The marginal reading is, "His presence is salvation;" but verse 11 is against this.

The meaning is,
I shall praise Him as He who shall change my marred form, and give me beauty; who shall change my humiliation into exaltation; who shall in my case, and then in the case of all my people, exchange the wilderness and its parched sands for the kingdom and its rivers of pleasure.
The secret pang of Christ, arising from reproach and scorn was that which he felt when they cast suspicion on the love and faithfulness of his Father (v10), "Where is your God?"

In proportion as sanctification advances, his members feel this, too, forgetting their own glory, and intent upon his.

In the primary use of the Psalm, this taunt would be felt by David when his enemies insinuated that though God had anointed him king, yet He could not bring him to his kingdom: or even if "the sons of Korah" wrote this Psalm (as Hengstenberg thinks), there would be the same feeling in them in regard to this taunt flung at that devoted leader, whose cause they espoused, coming to him at Ziklag. (1 Chron 12:6)

But the Holy Spirit founded on these circumstances a song of Zion, which was meant for Zion's King, and all his princes in their passage to the throne and kingdom. The Lord Jesus might especially call it to mind, and sing it with his disciples on that remarkable day when, at Caesarea Phillippi (Matt 16:13), he asked what men were saying of him? On that day, Hermon was in sight, and Jordan's double-fountain close beside him, and some "Little Hill" near them, some "Mizar," that, by contrast, called up to mind the Hills of Zion.

On that day, it may be, the Head of the Church made special use of this Psalm, and embalmed it in the hearts of his disciples, who would never afterwards fail to sing it (even as we do), with double refreshment in the thought that it had comforted the Master, expressing, as it does The Righteous One in his weariness looking up to the Father for refreshment. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Psalm 41 - The Righteous One unpitied in his time of need.

The melancholy interest attached to this Psalm has made it well known in Zion. Our Lord quoted it as his own, on the night when he was betrayed (John 13:18, compared with v9), when he saw the traitor take his seat at the Passover table with him, and sit down on his left hand, so near that he could hand him the sop, and dip with him in the dish. The strain, however, is such as suits his family as well as himself; they may use it in Him.

It is the Lord who says, "Blessed is he who acts wisely toward the poor", v1; the same who said "Blessed are the merciful!" and the same who on the day of his coming shall say, "Come, you blessed; I was sick and you visited me." He encourages us to do good works in his Name, especially to those of the household of faith.

What is written from v1-3 is a promise which Barzillai could have claimed; and Eded-melech, who drew Jeremiah from the pit; and Onesiphorus who often refreshed Paul; and the women of Galilee, Susannah and others, who ministered to Christ; and the daughters of Jerusalem, who gave him sympathy as he bore the cross, pitying his marred face.

Perhaps in v4 Christ may be understood as saying, "I, even I, myself, did that to others, and do, therefore, claim the blessing. But how differently my foes act toward me! All my miracles of kindness are forgotten, the memory of all my thousand benefits is drowned in their malice; they wish my death, "When shall He die;" and "his name perish?" (v5) "If he comes to see me" (i.e. to play the spy on me), he goes away saying "Some cursed thing cleaves to him" (v8, literally - is soldered into him.)

But the issue shall disappoint them; I shall not even once err, and I shall soon stand at your right hand;

"My enemy is not to triumph over me;
And as for me, you uphold me in my integrity,
And set me before your face forever." (v12)

In this he anticipates the reward of his obedience to death, and "the glory that should follow" as we may do.

In this prospect it is interesting to hear him say, "Blessed be the LORD, God of Israel" (v13). The rejected and despised One has not forgotten or given up the people who rejected him.

He will be their King, "King of the Jews" though they crucify him; he intends grace and glory for them in the latter day. "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." And that "Amen and Amen," how sweetly it dropped from the lips of the Faithful Witness, who delighted to preface his weighty sayings with "Truly, truly" and who fixes his mark to this blessed Psalm (resembling what Paul does in some of his Letters), as if to say "The signature of me, the Faithful Witness, with my own hand."

The Righteous One unpitied in his time of need.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Psalm 40 - Messiah exhibited as our once-for-all Sacrifice, and all our Salvation.

"I waited, I waited for the LORD." I did nothing but wait (Alexander).

Here is one who cries, "Lo! I come to do your will, O God."

We cannot fail to recognise Messiah here, even if we had not had the aid of the writer of Hebrews 10:5-10.

The iniquities he speaks of in v12 are all ours imputed to him. He might say "And I am a sinner in yoru sight, although I never sinned." 

Christ speaks throughout, so exclusively indeed, that the believer must here take up the words not as his own experience, except where he can follow Christ to gather the spoil, but as the experience of the Captain of Salvation, in fighting that battle which had ended in everlasting triumph.

It is only by accomodation that even v1-3 can be used by the believer in describing his own case. Christ is the Joseph and Jeremiah of this put.

Read v4, and meditate on what He who is the Word suggests - "God's thoughts toward us!"

The unnumbered multitude of his thoughts of love to us! The forests with their countless leaves, the grass on every plain and mounatin of earth with its numberless blades, the sands on every shore of every river and ocean, the waves of every sea, the stars of heaven - none of these, nor all combined, could afford an adequate idea of "His thoughts toward us!" - "there is no comparison to you."

The depth of love in every one of these thoughts! Who can sit down and meditate on Redemption's wonders? Who would not be confounded?

Now the whole Psalm has this as its theme. From v1-3 a summary of God's dealings toward the saviour, ending in the gathering of multitudes to Him as the Shiloh. Verses 4-5, adoration of the purposes of God. From verse 9 to the end, we are mde to witness something of the style in which these glorious purposes were carried on to fulfilment, in the actual coming and suffering of the Saviour.

See him obeying; see him proclaiming the LORD's name in its breadth and fulness, wherever he came, in villages, towns, cities, synagogues, the temple, the open air assemblies: "I have proclaimed righteousness, and I will not at any future time restrain my lips."

Hear in verse 12 his unutterable groanings, when "sorrowful unto death." Then hear him in verse 15 foretelling Israel's desolation and that of others like them, because of their rejection of Him; while verse 16 pictures to us present "joy and peace in believing" with the ultimate result in the ages to come, in the joy of The Kingdom.

It would be endless were we to dwell on the rich and copious suggestions afforded by almost every verse.
Foot note: The much-disputed passage, verse 6: "You have dug through my ears" or "you have prepared ears for me" is rendered from the Septuagint, "A body you have prepared for me" in Hebrews 10:5; because his taking our human nature was the first and most direct step to his being made servant, like a man whose ears were bored to the door post. Possibly, too, there is a reference to his being a Priest prepared for his office, by having his ears tipped with blood, as in Leviticus 14:14; Exodus 29:20. For the Hebrew is scarcely "bored" it is rather "prepared". Alexander says "The Septuagint version may have been retained as suggesting that the Incarnation of the Son was a pre-requisite to his obedience"
It is a manual of the History of Redemption. It is Messiah exhibited as our once-for-all Sacrifice, and all our Salvation. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Psalm 39 - The Righteous One, a Pilgrim and a Stranger

Verses 13-14 of the previous Psalm resemble the first verse here. The two belong side by side. Also, here is one we might call Gershom, for he is a stranger in a strange land, the same speaker (whoever that was) as the previous Psalm.

If the one Psalm spoke "I said, I am ready to halt" (v16) this begins "I said, I will take heed to my ways" and if the one spoke of being "dumb with silence" (v14), no less does this in v2; and if one said v15 "in you do I hope" this also says, v7, "my hope is in you."

The title does not tell us more than that there was a musical chorus, in which, perhaps, "Jeduthun" may have been the name of the presiding singer, to whose care it was committed.

At a glance the contents show a pilgrim spirit, journeying through a world of vanity, praying at every step to be taught and kept in the will of God.

Christ, when "learning obedience" and identifying himself with us (v12), could use it supplicating his Father in v4; sympathising with our feeble frame in v5 "You ahev been me some hand breadths as the length of my days. My life is as non-existence before you." pronouncing the sentence of "vanity and vexation" on all that this world presents, however good and fair to the eye (v6) and in v8 turning toward the LORD, as the only source of bliss.

In v9,10, not only can every believer find his own experience, or what should be his experience under trial, but the Lord Jesus also could have used these words.

On earth, he said, "Even so Father, for so it seemed good in your sight" praying at the same time, "If it is possible, let this cup pass."

The marred face of the Son of Man, in which nothing of the "King in his beauty" could be seen, may be described in the words of v11. Like v5, this verse is followed by a "Selah" calling for silent thought.

Intermixed with all the pilgrim's melancholy laments, do we not recognise his hope and expectation of something better to come? Is not "the vanity" of v6, like Romans 8:20, followed by v8, "my hope is in you." There is "Hope" for this world! Its vanity may give place to reality of bliss.

An Israelite, amid Canaan's plenty, could feel this, as 1 Chron 29:15 shows, as Lev 25:33 had taught them to feel.

And is not v13 a Samson-like cry (Judges 16:28) to be carried through the crisis of a final struggle!

The believer and his Lord could find here a most suitable petition. Alexander notices also how full of reference to Job this verse is. Thus chapter 7:19, 14:6 and 10:20,21. But, "Spare me that I may be refreshed," is a prayer that all in him which sin withered may be renovated, and his sad soul be refreshed with Divine grace.

The Psalmist thus describes Christ when on earth, and at the same time every one of his family while passing through this earth to the kingdom. It is, The Righteous One, a Pilgrim and a Stranger.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Psalm 38 - The Leprosy of sin aborred by the righteous.

Here is "The inhabitant saying, I am sick" - David, and every believer with him, and the Head of all believers, David's Son, when he took his place in our world as The Inhabitant who was to heal the sicknesses of others.

One writer vehemently asserts, "It is a prophetic prayer of Christ; it has no personal reference whatever to David" (Tucker); while one of the ancient fathers is content with saying "It would be hard not to apply to Christ a Psalm that as graphically describes his passion as if we were reading it out of the gospels." (Augustine)

We are content to notice that the tone of the voice of he who speaks is none other than that of the speaker in Psalm 6, as verses 1 in both is sufficient to prove. Nor is it unlike Psalm 22, as verses 21 and 22 suggest (Psalm 22:29).

The difficulty in the way of supposing it used by the Lord Jesus, as descriptive of his feelings and state, when he took on our guilt by imputation, is not at all greater than in some passages of Psalms 40 and 49, which almost no one doubts to be his utterances.

There is some light cast on our Lord's feelings under the imputation of our sins, if we consider verse 5 to be a statement of his abhorrence of the sin he bears: "My woulds stink and are corrupt" - i.e., there is inexpressible loathsomeness in my festering wounds, those wounds which I have been subjected to "because of my foolishness", the folly imputed to me (as in Psalm 49:5), the foolishness, the infatuation and sins of my people.

He was weary of wearing that poisoned garment of our sins; he was weary of having our leprosy appearing on his spotless person; he was weary and woe-begone, and longed for the time when he should "appear without sin" (Heb 9:28).

It is thus that we can understand it to have been used by Christ, and yet to be suitable at the same time, hough in a different manner, to Christ's redeemed ones, who feel their personal corruption and guilt.

In either case, the title is appropriate: to bring to remembrance - just as in Psalm 70. It speaks of God apparently forgetting the sufferer, so that a cry ascends, equivalent to, "Lord, remember David and all his afflictions."

What a cry is verse 1: "Lord, rebuke me not" etc, in the lips of the Head or of the members. It conveys a foreboding apprehension of another wave of the wrath to come, ready to break over the already bruised soul.

"If it be possible, let this cup pass!" What a groan is verse 2, "Your arrows stick fast in me" - one of which arrows we saw on the bow in Psalm 7:12 - arrows that drink up the life blood.

What an overwhelming sight verse 4 presents "My iniquities have gone over my head," - like the tide rising while he is within the tide mark. What convulsive agony is depicted in verse 6, "I am racked with pain, I have bowed down greatly. Day by day I go in sadness."

How terrible in their very calmness are verses 9 and 10:
"Lord all my desire is before you and my groaning is not hidden from you.
My heart pants, my strength fails, the light of my eyes no longer remains in me."

Weeping and sorrow have dimmed the eye; a state to which His members have been at times reduced, as when that remarkable disciple in the Highlands of Scotland wept herself blind through sorrow over sin, after her awakening.

Then the gloomy cloud closes around Him, verse 11. "Lovers and friends stand aloof" - there is no sympathy. Nor does this gloom soon pass; for verse 17 renews the sad complaint.
"I am ready to halt" - to fall and be broken.
The keeper of Israel appears to have forgotten me, and does not keep my feet from sliding (Psalm 121:3).

The deliverance is foreseen in verse 21, "Help quickly" - save me from those who are to me like Satan (v20); and the fulness of it at last is implied and wrapped up in "O, LORD my salvation."

If the LORD is my salvation, then He is to me what he was to Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:2) and my triumph is sure and full.

The Head and his members have a salvation from the LORD of wondrous extent - beginning with the resurrection of the Head, and to be completed at the resurrection of all the members. Read, then, in either application, this Psalm describes: The Leprosy of sin aborred by the righteous.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Psalm 37 - The Righteous One quieting our heart by teaching us to discern between the godly and the wicked.

There are seven alphabetic Psalms and this is one of them. A song of Zion in which precious truths are stored up in the memory with the aid of the alphabetic beginnings of each verse. But, as usual, there occurs one irregularity, to prevent us, perhaps, attaching too great importance to the form of structure.

The two-edged sword gleams bright here; justice and mercy ride together over the field of earth. It is a song suitable for the Church and the Church's Head alike, and for every age of the Church's history.

Yet, how exactly some verses suit special scenes. Thus, v31,32, is a full length portrait of the Just One - word, thought, deed; while Antichrist might be said to have sat for his picture in v35,36. "I saw the wicked." etc.

Our Lord seems to quote this Psalm in Matt 5:2; "Blessed are the meek - they shall inherit the earth." And in this Psalm "the little while" is spoken of, that "little while" of the Church's patient waiting, now so well known to us:
"Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be."
"And the meek shall inherit the earth" (v10,11)

Verses 37-38 describe the final reward, "the End" of the perfect man, and the final doom, "the end" of transgressors on the Great Day, when He comes who has "His reward with him." And so it closes with ascribing all victory to the Lord alone. (v39-40).

The title simply is "of David" and this much we may remark regarding the penman's style in it, that in very many portions his own history supplied striking exemplifications of his doctrinal statements.

In verses 1-6 we have the Lord's treatment of His own. He lets them be tested and tried, while the wicked prosper. David's adversity in the day of Saul's authority, and Nabal's history, might be referred to as illustrating these verses.

"Dwell in the land" may send us to Genesis 26:34, or to 1 Sam 32:1,2, by contrast. Notice how it is faith and hope together that are recommended in v5,6, and remark that judgement may well be rendered "the decision of your cause in favour of the right" just as in Isaiah 42:3,4; John 12:31 and 16:11, it signifies the decision of the controversy pending between God and us, against the great Accuser.

In v7-15, we have The Lord's treatment of his foes. Instead of complaining of our burdens and anxieties and cares and fears, and instead of throwing them off in stoical indifference, let us "roll them on the Lord" (v5), entrusting ourselves to him, and then "wait - be silent" as the people, standing at the Red Sea, til God opens the way.

The meek are those who bow to God's will; they shall as surely inherit the earth as ever Israel entered into possession of Canaan. This is a promise repeated in verses 11,22,29,34, as if to reiterate, "that though you have little of earth and earth's good things now, all shall yet be yours, and the ungodly be gone forever."

From v16-22, we have God's blessing on the substance of the godly, and his curses on what belongs to the wicked. This is seen in the godly enjoying sufficiency at all times, and in their being able (v21) to give to others also; whereas the ungodly are blighted, reduced (v21) as to be found borrowing and unable to repay. All this is a foretaste of the future day described in Matt 25:34,41, and to which reference is made in these words:
"For the Lord's blessed ones shall inherit the earth,
And his cursed ones shall be cut off."

In v23-26, we have contrasts that even now distinguish the lot of these two classes of men. The godly are directed; lifted up when calamity has overtaken them (v24), never forsaken (v25).
"I have never seen the righteous forsaken (of God),
Nor (have I seen) his seed (forsaken) even when in greatest poverty."

No, so far from this, the righteous are enabled to show kindness to others (v26), and leaves blessing to his seed. "For (says one) so far is charity from impoverishing, that what is given away, like vapours emitted by the earth, returns in showers of blessing."

From v27-33, we have an implied invitation to join the godly, whom the Lord so cares for, in cherishing all that is holy. Things are said which in their full sense are realised only in the person of The Righteous One.

In v34-40, we arrive at the final effect of things. Wait - that "wicked one" who is so terrible shall soon disappear - that Saul, that foe of yours, that Antichrist, the Church's foe! And fail not to mark the perfect, "for to the perfect there is a conclusion." This is what Balaam says in Numbers 24:10, the end in the latter day, the resurrection time.

Now let us revert to several expressions, in which we find marked likeness to our Lord's mode of speaking when on earth. We noticed at v22, the resemblance to Matt 25:34,41, the blessed and the cursed, but no less remarkable is the five times repeated "inherit the earth" for our Lord quotes it in Matt 5:5, when promising still future blessing.

Add to these the "little while" of v10, as used by the Lord in John 16:16-19, and also "the end" as parallel to our Lord's "end of the age" in Matt 13:19. With all these expressions before us, may we not say that the Master himself is the chief speaker of this Psalm? It is as properly the lips of David's Son that utter it, as it is the pen of David that writes it. And this is the theme of it - The Righteous One quieting our heart by teaching us to discern between the godly and the wicked.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Psalm 36 - The Righteous One looking up to the God of grace from amid a world lying in wickedness.

He whom the Holy Spirit employs to write in these strains of elevated thought and intense feeling, is not ashamed of his God. It is David; and as in Psalm 18:1, so here he describes himself as "Servant of the LORD."

Perhaps it was especially appropriate to use this designation in a Psalm that shows us so fully the apostasy of people in a world of rebellion. David glories in being "Servant" to Him whom people desert and despise.

Like Balaam (Numbers 24:3) speaking the Lord's name to Balak, so the Psalmist, in a kind of irony, represents "transgression" as uttering its oracle to the wicked. The first verse reads:

"Transgression utters its oracle to the wicked! (i.e. my heart thus apprehends their meaning.)
There is no fear of God before his eyes"

And then he states seven features of the man who has no fear of God. All this prepares the way for the contrast, the LORD's character and thoughts toward us, verses 5-9.

Nor is he done til he has shown us the Fountain of life, surrounded by the redeemed, and then pointed to the ruin of the lost, "See they are fallen!" (v12), scenes that carry us forward to the Great day and its effects.

What a Psalm this is! David, and David's Son, and every member of the household of faith, must always have found it congenial' it is such a picture of earth, and such a glimpse of Godhead-glory and grace.

It suggests the deliverance of all creation, "man and beast", and streams of bliss in reserve for us. It abounds in allusions to Old Testament history - allusions that make it more fragrant and savoury; as when verse 7 sings of the LORD's care of "man and beast" and so calling up before us the ark of Noah, and the rainbow that spanned it after the flood; or when v8 sings of "the river" as if to remind us of the streams that watered Eden, a river of your pleasure. Or when "the fountain" is spoken of, as if to send our thoughts to Deut 30:20, Israel's fountain.

It is such a song of Zion as can be appreciated only by meditation deep and frequent - such solemn meditation as will try to gaze upon those heavens (v5), in which mercy dwells; penetrate those clouds in which faithfulness is hid; climb and explore the massy mountain heights of justice (hills of God, worthy of his greatness, glorious and immense); cast the line into the fathomless deep of his judgements (i.e. his providential dealings); and feel drawn by the grace which leads men to the shade of the Almighty's wings, and then to the rivers of pleasure which flow from the fountain of life.

If asked to describe what we see in this Psalm, we would say, we see here The Righteous One looking up to the God of grace from amid a world lying in wickedness.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Psalm 35 - The awful utterance of the Righteous One regarding those who hate Him without cause.

Reference to bones connects this Psalm to the previous. They are not broken (v20) in the previous, and are "rejoicing" (v16) here. In both we find "the angel of the Lord" acting as the Lord's instrument. Previously to preserve and protect (v6), because the whole song is one of the Lord's care. In the latter the angel acts in the way of vengeance, as an instrument to inflict the Lord's wrath (v5,6) because the burden of this Psalm is an awful intercession against those who hate the righteous without cause.

Throughout this is an awful Psalm. Let us read it as the words of the Lord Jesus. What do we find?

We find Him praying to the Father for help, and consenting to the doom of his relentless, impenitent foes. Rather than pronouncing the doom with his own lips, even as when He shall say to the barren fig tree, "cut it down" and to those on his left "depart". In this spirit he says:
"Let them be confounded.
Let them be turned back.
Let them be as chaff.
Let the angel of the Lord smite them.
Let their way be dark.
Let the angel of the Lord chase them." (v4,5,6)

This is their sentence, utter by the lips of the Judge. It is not the wish of one who is revengeful. It is the utterance of justice, compelled by the state of the parties to speak in stern severity.

Our Lord quotes v19, "they hate me without a cause." in John 15:25, on his last evening with his disciples before his suffering. Then he found himself in the very situation so strikingly described in v11,12 - with false witnesses rising up, men rewarding his whole career of kindness by spoiling his soul.

What a deeply affecting picture do v13,14,15, give of the Saviour's life for us. It may have been literally realised at Nazareth; Christ may have put on sackcloth when he heard of some one in sickness, fasting for the dying man whose soul he longed to save - nonetheless the man was a foe.

Jesus acted as if the man had been "friend or brother" - yes he felt such grief as men usually feel only when a beloved mother dies. So he felt for all this miserable word. But now he says, when the day of my calamity has come, they do not sympathise with me -
"They rejoice and gather together
They gather agianst me the objects.
Even those whom I knew not, tear me, and cease not.
The vile, who mock for a cake, parasites, gnash their teeth at me" (v15,16)

His cry ascends. His pleadings go up before the righteous Father, "Lord, bring back my soul from desolations caused by their ruinous plots." The vehement appeal (v23), "My God, and my Lord!" may have been in Thomas' thoughts on that memorable occasion, John 20:28.

We have the answer in v26,27:
"They are ashamed. They are clothed with shame"

This answer carries us forward to the day when they who rejected Him shall have as their portion "shame and everlasting contempt" while they who favour his righteous cause -
"Shout for joy and are glad
They cry continually, let the Lord be magnified!
Whose pleasure is the prosperity of his servants"

Is this not the Hallelujah of the glorified redeemed?
Is this not their shout of joy, when sorrow and sighning flee away?
Is this not the sound of the Lamb's harp and voice we hear when amid this jubilee of bliss he says: "And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness, of your praise all day long"

Throughout the endless day of eternity the Lord Jesus will himself speak the Father's praise, and shall put marked emphasis on his righteousness which will have been exhibited both in the doom of those who hated the offered Redeemer, and in the salvation of those who received him.

There is nothing in all this that his own may not fully join, especially on that day when their views of justice will be far clearer and fuller than now. On that day we shall be able to understand how Samuel could hew Agag in pieces, and the godly hosts of Israel slay utterly in Canaan, men and women and children at God's command.

We shall be able, not only fully to agree, "let them be confounded" etc. but even to sing "Amen. Hallelujah" over the smoke of torment (Rev 19:1,2,)

We should in some measure now be able to use every verse of this Psalm in the spirit in which the Judge speaks it. We feel ourselves his assessors in judging the world (1 Cor 6:2). We shall at all events, be able to use it on that day when what is written here is accomplished: The awful utterance of the Righteous One regarding those who hate Him without cause.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Psalm 34 - The Righteous One's experience of the Lord's love under the cross.

The Christians used to sing this Psalm at the celebration of the Lord's Supper - most suitably. An able writer on this Psalm has allowed himself to say rather rashly: the title given by the Jewish editors evidently has no connection with the subject.

Now we are not aware of a single case in which there is no connection to be traced between the title and the contents of Psalms; and the face that occasionally this is not very obvious at first seem sto speak rather in favour of its genuineness than against it. A mere inventor would have taken pains to pin on to the composition something that would suggest itself easily to the reader as a probable occasion.  In any case there is a title that in a combination of obscurity and probability inclines us to asset at once to its genuineness - even apart from the fact that we have no authority to reject it.

It has frequently been observed as a most beautiful and appropriate circumstance in the life and experience of David, the man of God, that the first notes of his harp should give out praises at the very time when he "changed his behaviour" (i.e. concealed his intellect, or disguised his reason) before Abimelech who sent him away and he departed. (Abimelech is a generic name for Philistine kings).

Cast out again, homeless, friendless, helpless, David trudges along the highway of Philistia, with the world all before him, in search of rest. Though he does not know where to lay his head, he journey's on singing: I wil bless the Lord! I will bless Him at all times! His praise shall continue to come from my mouth.

Is he not recalling past experience as a source of encouragement, when he says: I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears? (v4)

The word for "they looked" in v5 is used in Numbers 21:9 when Israel looked up to the brass serpent, and Zech 12:11 when they looked on him whom they pierced.

In v6, "this poor man cried" is no other than himself; I who am using my harp to celebrate Him, I who am outcast, this poor man who is before you.

In the same happy strain of faith the whole psalm flows on, til v20 rises to the height of confidence - "he keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken" while the ruin of all his foes is forseen as sure, "evil shall slay the wicked."

Could any circumstance give a more suitable occasion for such a psalm to be given to the Church? Taking advantgae of David's peculiar state and feelings, the Holy Spirit gives the Church a song that might suit her Head, the true David when He came, and might equally suit every member.

Augustine writes "says the Christ, and says the Christians" because the Head and members agree so truly in feeling and experience.

It is one of the alphabetic psalms, carefully arranged for the memory to grasp easily. Yet it is not so invariably regular as to cause us to think there is any mystery in the form. The name Jeohvah occurs in each of the verses, except three.

Our Lord might use it all. He could as truly say, "this poor man cried" as David, for He could point to Gethsemane, and to many a night of strong crying and tears (Heb 5:7). Who more than he could tell of the ministering angel (v7) since after the Temptation and in the agony of the Garden, He obtained such help? It was He who could say "do you think I cannot pray to my Father? Will he not give me twelve legions of angels?"

Even in v11 the expression "you children" comes from his lips more naturally than from any other. For it is He who has spoken of all God's family as "my little children."

The speaker would fain draw us to the Lord by telling us his own experience. We ought to connect v10,11 together. "O fear the Lord; for with him is all that can satisfy your soul. Come to me and I will teach you teh fear of the Lord." Christ is he who utters to us the words of eternal life by revealing the Father; and his disciples follow in his steps.

Having taught us this fear of Jehovah, to cry "Abba Father" and yet also to realise him as Jehovah - taught us, also therefore what real life. He next points out the results.

He shows us in v12,13,14, the holy issues or effects of the fear of the Lord - the lips, the life, the pursuit of the heart, all tending in a holy direction. After this all safety to them (v15-21), while "the Lord's face is with evil doers," as the Pillar Cloud was with Pharaoh to destroy them.

The prophetic reference of this Psalm is in the ending. There the anointed eye of David, and the Son of David, and all the seed of David, beholds the final end of these trials.

The righteous arrive in the kingdom, not one bone broken, even as Christ came down from the cross. His foes were really unable to injure him. They see the wicked slain, and hates of the Righteous One "pronounced guilty" and made desolate. This leads us up to the throne where the sentence goes out: bring my enemies here to slaughter them before me. Depart you cursed! 

The harp of David thus celebrates The Righteous One's experience of the Lord's love under the cross.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Psalm 33 - Forgiven ones adore the Lord in his counsels and ways.

The last note of the former is the first note of this Psalm, "rejoice in the Lord, you righteous!" The last Psalm had much in it of the tone of confession and prayer: this is full of praise; for now the forgiven one is taking up his harp in thankfulness: "give thanks to Jehovah with the harp, make music to Him with a ten stringed instrument"

It is a very simple Psalm, yet full of the feelings which a forgiven soul teems with. Never did any heart so abound in those feelings as the heart of the Lord Jesus; and his saints learn from him.

It is He who is to lead the praise in the great congregation - Psalm 22:22. Let us see the topics taken up in turn:

(v1-3) Preparation for song, shaking the strings of our heart. The call for a new song - a redemption melody.
(v4-5) Praise the Lord for his character.
(v6-9) Praise the Lord for his creation work, which his providence still continues.
(v10-11) Praise the Lord for his counsel.
(v12-19) Praise the Lord for his care of his Church, his chosen ones, who are saved by grace alone (v16-17) and kept by grace (v18-19)
(v20-22) The Responses. As exhorted: rejoice in the Lord (v1) - so we reply: our hearts rejoice in Him!

This will be the eternal response of the saints when the salvation yet in reserve comes. Then their waiting (v20), their Jacob-like waiting, is ended (Gen 49:18); then (as v10,11, Psalm 2:1 sing) the nations have raged in vain; and then, in the fullest sense: Earth is full of the goodness of the Lord, as Hosea 2:21,22 describe in part, and as the seraphim celebrate in Isaiah 6:3.

Then shall it be full of the Lord's glory, when love, redeeming love, the love of the God of Love, shall be felt by all the earth, the Gift of Love himself being in the midst.

It is thus a Psalm in which Forgiven ones adore the Lord in his counsels and ways.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Psalm 32 - the way of forgiveness traversed by the Righteous.

We cannot but agree with Ewald in thinking that the word in the title "Maskil" does not refer to any instrument, nor even to mean "Didactic" but a reference to something artistic in the melody, peculiarly calling for the skill of the singer, or harpist. Similarly in Psalm 47:8. Perhaps a Psalm of pardoning mercy was set to some special music, which it required forgiven ones to appreciate, like some of our hymn tunes.

The mention of transgression, iniquity, sin, recalls the name of the Lord proclaimed to Moses in the cleft of the rock, "forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin" (Exodus 34:7). The imputing and non-imputing were well understood in David's day; for we read in 2 Sam 19:19, Shemei confessing sin and yet asking, "Let not my lord impute it."

We generally take up this Psalm as if it was for the members of Christ alone; but we should not forget that the Head himself traversed the way of forgiveness. He stood for us, in our room, in our very place.

He stood as substitute, and all the sins of all "that great multitude which no man can number" were upon him, laid upon him by imputation.

So dreadful was his position, so truly awful did it seem to him to be reckoned a sinner, that even this, apart from the wrath and curse, would have been sufficient to make him cry "O blessed the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin."

He was dumb for our sakes; his bones wasted away; he groaned from day to day, and during the lonesome hours of midnight was kept awake by our woe.

His moisture (v4) or vigour of vitality was changed, "by means of the drought of summer" (Hengstenberg), from the excessive heat of wrath, resembling the most parching heats of summer's hottest days, when the sun is fiercely shedding down his intolerable rays on the arid earth.

In this state He acknowledged our sin; it was only ours he had to acknowledge; he spread it out before God on the cross; he continued to do so until it was forgiven to him as our substitute.

Our head could use these words in that one way. But in a personal sense, from personal experience of wrath, from a personal consciousness of our own sin, every member of His cannot but use the Psalm as expressing what they have passed through.

Yes they have each felt the silence, the waxing old, the roaring, the drying up of moisture, and the spreading out before the Lord of the whole sin and misery of their case; and each has also found the forgiveness (v5).
"You forgave the iniquity of my sin"

Here is a pause. Here is Selah. Stay and ponder.

"On this account, because you forgive sin, - 
"On this account shall every godly one pray to you."

Forgiveness is so great, a blessing that all else may follow. If the Lord forgives our sin, what next may we not ask?

On this account, then, His people pray. Our Head intercedes, because through Him we have already got pardon, and may get any other real blessing.

Yes, we may get such blessing that "at the time of the floods of great waters" whenever that is, in personal or national calamity, or the waves of the fiery flood, like that of Noah, that shall yet sweep away the ungodly - even then we shall be altogether safe.

The forgiven man is hidden, instructed, taught, guided by God's tender care (v7,8).

A Selah occurs at verse 7. Solemn truth has been spoken, which the worshipper may muse upon till it sinks into his heart; and then a voice from heaven tells that His eye is ever on them. - "And (says Horne) next to the protecting power of God's being, is the securing prospect of his eye."

The forgiven man is sanctified, yielding up his own will to the Lord's, not like the "horse and mule that have no understanding, whose ornament is bit and bridle, because they will not come near unless by force."

Unhappy those who do not pardon! "Many sorrows" are their portion; while mercy compasses the forgiven, so that "they are glad, they rejoice, they shout for joy!"

Already they anticipate the joy of the kingdom, "glad and rejoice;" though it is when the kingdom comes that they shall say emphatically to one another, feeling mercy compassing them about, and no flood, nor drop of flood touching one of them, "Alleluia! the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him!" (Rev 19:7)

Even then they may use this song of Zion; for the Head and his members will often review, as is done here: the way of forgiveness traversed by the Righteous.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Psalm 31 - The Righteous, though forlorn, safe and blessed in the hand of the living God.

The Head and his members are here. The Head said (v8), in the hour when He gave up the ghost, "Into your hands I commit my spirit!" And how often have his members taken up his words, from the days of Stephen to Jan Huss, and from Huss to this hour.

Safety in the hands of the living God, and only there, is the theme of this plaintive Psalm. Safety in life as well as in death. Safety from the enemies' snares, and from all adversity, from grief and reproach, from calumny and contempt, from personal despondency and the pressure of outward adversity.

David needed his theme, the true David needed it even more, and his followers will not cease to need it til the nineteenth verse is realised in all its vastness: "O how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who trust you!"

They get at present (like Joseph's brothers) donkey loads of fine wheat from this granary; but they shall yet stand amid it, and trust, because of the immensity of it. 

In verse 6, there is an emphatic pronoun, unlike those who regard lying vanities, I, for my part, trust in the Lord. In verse 8, the large room seems to be God's unbounded love, wide like a plain that stretches far beyond our knowledge.

The complaint in verse 11 resembles Lamentations 4:15, where the people are represented as treating exiled Israel as a leper, "depart unclean, depart, do not touch!" and forcing them to flee. Verse 12 reminds us of Job on his dunghill, a broken vessel, a potsherd, like what he took to scrape himself off. 

But verse 22 contains an expression which is worth dwelling upon, as it occurs again in Psalm 116:11. It is the expression "in my haste." The words occur in 2 Sam 4:4, of Mephibosheth's nurse, making haste to flee when she heard the evil tidings of Jonathan slain on Gilboa.  In Psalm 48:6 the verb is used of gathered kings making haste to flee and 1 Sam 23:26 of David making haste to get out of Saul's way. It is never used of impatience of heat of spirit, or irritation, or excited temper but always to speedy movement from one place to another. It is to be noticed that the cognate word is used regarding the haste with which they were to eat the passover, Exodus 12:11: eat it in haste. 

From all this, we infer that in this Psalmist is not to anything else than passover-haste. His words are to this effect: I said when I was like a passover-man, hastening out of Egypt, when I felt my condition to be that of one who must make haste to leave a people who had cast him out.

Left in this condition I was ready to say: I am cut off (v22), even as Israel at the Red Sea. We come to the same conclusion, if we suppose the Psalmist refers to such circumstances of danger, and almost of despair, as refered to when the word is used in 1 Sam 23:26.

In verse 17,18, we hear the prayer of the Head and his members for the overthrow of the ungodly, the language of which, as well as the reference in verse 20, reminds us irresistibly of words hat occur in the prophecy of Enoch. 

In this Psalm (as Horsley suggests), the voice from the oracle declares their doom to be: 
"They shall be motionless in hell!
Let lying lips be put to silence,
Which speaks grievous things,
Proudly and contemptuously,
Against the righteous."

In Enoch's prophecy we find the foundation of his cry; and inasmuch as Enoch's prophecy was known in the Church in David's time, would it not comfort the Lord's saints then, and the Lord himself when He came?
"Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of his saints,
To execute judgement upon all,
to convince all that are ungodly among them,
Of all their ungodly deeds,
which they have ungodly committed,
And of all their hard speeches,
Which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 14)

To this expected interposition, the response given is in verse 19,20, "Oh,how great is your goodness!" in which we are reminded of the Lord's granary of goodness, or love, and receive a promise of being hid "from the strike of tongues." 

Verses 21,22, contain the grateful acknowledgement - 
"Blessed be the Lord, for he has shown me marvellous love!
"In a strong city" (i.e. bringing me into his fortress).

This "strong city" is a contrast to the "hasty flight" of verse 22, when he thought he must surely perish.

But again, in v23, the delivered one speaks: The Lord keeps his faithfulness. His promises! And makes reference to the plentiful reward of wrath on the wicked at the Lord's coming, even as verse 19 told of the abundant reward of His own yet to come.

In prospect of that day, his saints are exhorted to persevere (v22); and it is in some measure with a reference to the glory coming that they are called by name. "You who hope in the Lord."

Both now, however in a present evil world, and in the hour of death, and in the end when glory is revealed, the saints are safe, even as was their Head. 

This is the burden of this song of Zion - the Righteous, though forlorn, safe and blessed in the hand of the living God. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Psalm 30 - The Song of the Righteous concerning the Night of Weeping and the Morning of Joy.

A Psalm, a Song of the Dedication of the House; by David. The title refers to the occasion on which the write was moved by the Holy Spirit to take up his harp and touch its plaintively pleasant strings.

It is supposed that "the house of David" means that house or Temple which David wished to have built for the Lord - a house of cedar, a house for my name - 2 Sam 7:7-13.

This house David was not allowed to build; but he was permitted to fix upon the place where it would be built and to dedicate that spot.

This was Ornan's threshing floor on Mount Moriah. The case is recorded in 1 Chron 21:1. The circumstances are altogether such as to furnish a fit occasion for a psalm, whose strains are melancholy intermixed with the gladsome and the bright.

The plague that followed the sin of numbering the people had brought the Psalmist low, to the very gates of death, for the sword was suspended over his head; but the voice that uttered: "it is enough" lifted him up again.

The morning of that day rose in clouds and portentous gloom but its setting sun shed its sweetest rays on Jerusalem from a sapphire sky, and left a forgiven people and a forgiven king reposing in the restored favour of Jehovah.

Our David could take up these strains and adopt them as his own. There was a time when his sacrifice was offered and the temple of his body accepted by the Father.

He too had been low and had been lifted up (v1); had cried and been healed (v2); had been brought up from among the dead (v3). Who could call on men so well as He to sing to Jehovah (v4) and celebrate the memorial of his holiness, that is to celebrate whatever called that holiness to mind, and kept it before men.

Was it not holiness that shone out most brightly in all his suffering? Was it not holiness that shone through the darkness of Calvary? "But you are holy!" was that not the comforting thought that upheld him on the cross?  If the Lord's sore judgement on Israel when 70,000 were cut off for one sin showed David how holy the Lord was, surely infinitely more did the outpoured fierceness of wrath manifest on our David, and to all who are his saints.

Yet even as that wrath was not eternal, for the angel put up his sword in its sheath, so that anger poured out on the true David, "endured but a moment," and his resurrection morning was all joy (v5). And once past, it never returns.

Established on the Rock that never changes, He was able to say,
"In my prosperity, I shall never be moved."
"You, Lord, have imparted strength to my mountains by your love" (v6,7).

Once "you did hide your face and I was troubled." and my prayer then was the prayer of one who sought your glory even under gloom, and who pleaded that "your truth" was pledged to deliver me. And you did deliver, with such a deliverance as calls for everlasting praise, and for praise which never has a break in it from this time and for evermore.

At the resurrection morning Christ began to enter into this joy, for it was then that the Father distinctly said: It is enough! Stay your hand - fulfilling the Type given in the angel's sword put up into its scabbard at the sport where "The House" was dedicated. But no one of his members, all of whom have been (v2) headed, can fail to find in this Psalm very much that suits their own experience.

They have had their moment of anger. When the Lord awoke them, and made them know their guilt, and dropped on their conscience a drop of wrath that might make them cry vehemently for deliverance, though He meant soon to wipe it off.

Each of "his holy ones" has known this "Moment of anger," followed by "life in his favour" from the hour when his anger was turned away. From that time forth they have had their "night of weeping" often, but never any more anger.

They have had their sorrows, weeping has lodged in their dwellings often, and they have walked through many a howling wilderness; but it was always followed by a morning of joy, some sweet beams of love and favour making them feel night turning into day.

They are expecting very soon their Resurrection Morning, when unmingled joy comes, joy like that of their Lord's at his resurrection. It is them, that they will, in the highest sense, sit on their Rock of Ages and have their shouting for joy at morning, singing such a song as this:
"I am in peace. I shall never been moved."
"O Lord, you have given strength to my mountain by your love." - Mountain, Zion the seat of royalty.
"Once you did hide your face and I was troubled."
"And I called to you, O Lord."
"And I made more supplication."
"What profit is there in my blood?"
"Shall the dust praise you?"
"Would your faithfulness not be honoured in saving the chief of sinners?"
"And now you have turned for me mourning to dancing;"
"You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,"
"In order that my glory may sing praise to you, and not be silent."

And with one accord all the holy ones join in the concluding burst of rapturous gratitude, the true David himself leading the song - O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you for ever!

So comes to a blessed close this song of the righteous, which we may call, not improperly: The Song of the Righteous concerning the Night of Weeping and the Morning of Joy.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Psalm 29 - The Righteous One's adoration of the God of Glory, in the Day of His storm.

Our attention is called seven times to the "voice of Jehovah," uttering majesty. The psalm presents such adoration as the Lord Jesus (himself "mighty God") could present to the Father, in the days of his flesh, when listening amid the hills round Nazareth, or at the foot of Lebanon by the sources of double-founted Jordan, to the voice of his Father's awful thunder.

The redeemed, too, feel that such scenes furnish occasion for adoring the majesty and omnipotence of Godhead. At the same time, this seems to be more especially a Psalm of adoration for that great and notable Day of the Lord, when the Lamb's song shall be sung. "Great and marvellous are your works, Lord God Almighty - for all nations shall come and worship before you; for your judgments are revealed," (Psalm 15:9).

It is, in this view, a Psalm to rather than for our King. Dr Allix concludes: "This Psalm contains an exhortation to all the princes of the world to submit to Messiah's empire, when he has established his people and given great proof of his vengeance on his enemies as He did in the time of the Flood." This alludes to v10 and the true rendering of it:
"The Lord at the deluge sat,
"The Lord, forever sits as king."

We might no doubt apply every clause of it to the Lord's display of his majesty in any tremendous thunder storm. An awestruck spectator cries as the lightning plays and thunder rolls; "The God of glory thunders!" (v5). "The voice of Jehovah is breaking the cedars!" and as the crash is heard, "The Lord has broken the cedars of Lebanon."

Travellers tell us of the solemnity and terrific force of storms in the East. The thunders of the Great Day shall most of all call out these strains to the Lord the King. Earth at large, and the heavens too, shall shake on that day, when the Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem (Joel 3:16). While Israel's land from Lebanon on the north to Kadesh to the south, shall be in the vortex of that storm.

Meanwhile, secure as Noah in his ark, He and his redeemed witness the storm sweep along, beating down the wicked; and they burst into this song (Isaiah 30:32):
"Give to the Lord, you sons of the mighty"
"Give to the Lord glory and strength"
"Give to the Lord the glory due to his name." (v1,2)

Like the voice of the people heard in heaven by John (Rev 19:1) saying -
"Salvation and glory!"
"And honour and power"
"Unto the Lord our God"

Followed up by the call "Praise our God - small and great," while the multitude who sing appear to their fine linen, clean and white, corresponding to the description here (v2), "worship the Lord in the beauties of Holiness" - in holy attire, in sanctuary array, in the beautiful robes of the priesthood.

Then again, v9, seems to tell of Earth filled with his glory. In his temple everything says "glory"

Happy are those on whose side Jehovah stands (v11). He can say to the soul as Jesus said to the sea in Mark 4:39, Peace! That this is the full reference of the Psalm, we may fully believe; and yet this reference by no means forbids our using it as an appropriate song to the Lord when celebrating the majesty of his voice heard in the storms that sweep over the land. Or that voice heard in the hearts of men, when He stirs their conscience and speaks his message of grace.

It is the same Lord, and the same majesty, that is shown inn scenes of nature, in the doings of grace, and in the full outburst of glory. Our Lord, in the days of his flesh, might use it in that threefold way, and we still do the same.

We celebrate his present bestowal of strength and of peace in v11. While still we wait for the completeness of both in the day when we shall get the grace that shall be brought us at the Appearing of Jesus Christ. The Psalm is thus suitable for many occasions, though especially for the day of the Lord throughout The Righteous One's adoration of the God of Glory, in the Day of His storm.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Psalm 28 - The appeal and thanksgiving of the righteous as they view the tents of the ungodly.

The cry at the commencement is the appeal heavenward of one who anticipates, in the future (v9), full salvation to the Lord's people, and a time when their Shepherd shall feed them in green pastures, and lift them up as his heritage to their place of dignity and dominion.

The secret persuasion of this final issue pervades this song. If the previous Psalm took us up to a field of Zophim, where we might spy the encamped legions, this Psalm shows us form the same height these hosts of ungodly shattered and dissipated, in answer to the prayer of Him who makes intercession against them.

We may imagine the Psalmist - whether David or David's Son, the Church's head, or any member of the Church - as ascending an eminence, overlooking the tents of the ungodly, and there listening to their mirth and witnessing their revelry!

He is a Moses, crying to heaven against Amalek. It may be David, who is the original Anointed of v8, but he is so as uttering what the Lord and all his own might use in other days.

What intensity of earnest vehemence in v1. Not to be heard will be death. It will be the black despair of those who go down to the pit. But his reasons for being heard are powerful. I lift up my hand toward your Holy Oracle (v2). This is the Holy of Holies, where the mercy seat stood. For the oracle is the spot where Jehovah spoke to men, referring probably to his promise in Exodus 25:22. "There I will meet you and commune with you."

The supplicant refers God, in this brief way, to his own provision for sinful men, and his own promise of blessing whenever that provision should be used. If we take the words as uttered by Christ, how interesting to find him pleading with reference to the Types of his own person and work, presenting them to the Father for us.

If we use them as the words of David, or any saint, they still convey the same truth, namely that the strongest plea which can rise from earth to heaven is drawn from the person and work of Jesus.

No doubt, when Daniel prayed "with his windows open in his chamber toward Jerusalem" (Dan 6:10), he had his eye on "the Holy Oracle," - on the person and work of Him who was set forth in Jerusalem in the significant Types that were to be found in the Holy of Holies.

In v3, the sympathy of the Righteous One in God's love of holiness appears; and in v4, his sympathy in God's justice, even when his burning wrath descends. It is full acquiescence that is expressed  - almost position desire.

But it is only as the redeemed in Rev 19:1,3 are enabled to shout "Alleluia" over the lost; or as the Redeemer (Luke 13:9), in the parable of the Fig-tree, promised to cease at last from intercession, and bid the axe take its swing.

Verse 5 is the answer whispered to the conscious heart of those who pray; which causes thanksgiving and rapturous triumph in the Lord, reviving faith bestowing strength (in v6,7,8) and raising the anticipation of bright days approaching when full "salvation" comes out of Zion (v9), and there shall be no more casting down.

Every stream seems to flow onward to the future day when joy shall no more be pent up within narrow banks, but have unlimited scope - the people "saved" - the "blessing" come - there being no more curse - the heirs arrived at their inheritance, joint-heirs of Him who is "Heir of all things" - the shepherd leading them to living fountains - and reproach all fled away!

We express the tone and substance of the Psalm if we describe it as - The appeal and thanksgiving of the righteous as they view the tents of the ungodly.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Psalm 27 - The Righteous One's confident assertion of safety when lonely amid surrounding foes.

The Righteous One does not walk without opposition. We are led here to a field of conflict; or rather to the height, whence the Righteous One surveys the legions of foes that are embattled against him; and standing by his side, we hear his song of confidence, and cry of dependence, as he looks up to the Lord as his "light and salvation."

Is it Christ that we hear thus expressing what his soul felt? Or is it one of his own who encounters the same foes? It is both; for David was taught by the Spirit to write the blessed experience of the Church and its Head. The Church's experience here is obvious. Let us dwell a little on her Lord's.

Is this, then, "the light of the world" walking through darkness, and staying himself on his Father? What an illustration of his own words, in John 16:32,33, "the hour comes when you shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, for the father is with me. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

And then, soon after, his enemies "stumbled and fell," (v2). The band, with Judas at their head, "went backwards and fell to the ground" (John 18:6), as if in token of the future falling of all that come out against him; while Judas, their leader, stumbled over the cornerstone to his eternal ruin.

So sure is this, that in v3 he appropriates to his own use, and the use of all the righteous, the protecting hosts that Elisha saw round Dothan  (2 Kings 6:15).

Our Lord's words, "Do you think I cannot pray to my Father, and He will presently give more than twelve legions of angels?" were at once a reference to the guard of Elisha, and a breathing forth of the strong confidence of this Psalm.

The words, "In this will I be confident" refer back to the faith of v1, "I will be confident, that Jehovah is my light, salvation, strength,."

We have our Lord's style, so to speak, in v4 - "one thing." He, who on earth pointed out the "one thing lacking," to the Rule: and "the one thing needful," to Martha declares what himself felt regarding that "one thing."

To see the Lord, in his temple where everything spoke of redemption - there to see the Father's beauty, what the essence of his soul's desire. This beauty is the Lord's pleased look; such a look as the Father gave when his voice proclaimed: this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. It also means, all that make God an object of affection and delight to the soul.

Luther understood it: the beautiful services of the Lord. In the Tabernacle, the spiritual truths reflected in the mirror of that symbolic worship.

Nothing could be more desirable to Christ, than this approving look of his Father, telling as it did, his love to the uttermost.

And nothing to us sinners, can equal this look of love; it is the essence of heaven now, and heaven forever. It is the one thing. For from this holy love proceed all the other blessings. To catch glimpses of this beauty in the temple was our Lord's aim. He engaged in no other pursuit on earth.

Neither did David, this true disciple, amid the glory of the kingdom. In the light of this Divine smile, the soul is sure of deliverance manifold, deliverance from every evil, and eternal gladness; and can sing (v7) even now, as if full deliverance were already come.

Real assurance of salvation depends on seeing the Father's beauty, his reconciled countenance, his heart of love, in seeing which, the soul feels certain beyond measure, that his future state will be well, for that love is too deep to change; and so it "sings and makes music to Jehovah."

But, verse 8 has a tinge of sadness again. It is, in our Lord's case, like John1 2:17, "Now is my soul troubled," after a season of peaceful rest. Never was there an experience so varied and full as our Lord's in his human nature; and never as experience which his saints so often turn to as their own.

The cry for help ascends; and perhaps the broken words of v9 are intentional, being the difficult utterance of one in trouble quoting words of hope -
"My heart says to you: see my face."

My soul repeats to you your own call and encouragement. How often have you invited us: seek my face? My heart reminds you of your own words; I will not let you go. To me, and to the sons of men, you have sent out an invitation: seek my face. Therefore, my heart in all its distress holds up to you this call of yours. I will seek your face and I will urge you - Hide not your face (v9).

In v10, the harp sings of a lonely, friendless, orphan stat. My father and mother have left me! But from here faith responds: The Lord will take me in (Josh  20:4, Judges 19:5). Our Lord, no doubt felt as man the desire for a father's and a mother's sympathy and help.

In lack of that sympathy and help, he turns to what he finds in Jehovah; for the Lord has a father's heart. Like a father pities his children so the Lord pities those who fear him. Psalm 103:13. And the mother's affections, too. "As one whom his mother comforts, so the Lord will comfort you." (Isaiah 66:13). Our Lord uses words equivalent to "take me in" in Matt 25:43,

A shrill note of the harp touches upon reproach and calumny in v13,14 "false witnesses have risen up." In Matt 26 these false witnesses come in against our Lord, before the high priest; and on that occasion, our Lord bursts out after long silence to declare: after this you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, coming on the clouds of heaven.

Is this the train of thought in this Psalm? For v15 sees out the hope of seeing what Zecharaiah 9:17 speaks of as to come in great measure: His Goodness. "The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

Our Lord was content, as a real man, to sustain his soul by faith and hope; resting on what He knew of his Father, and animating it in suffering and trouble with the "hope set before him" (Heb 12:2).

Is this not his testimony, and the testimony of all his saints who have used this Psalm, to the advantages and blessedness of hope? The words in the Hebrew run like this: Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord (v15). There is no "I had fainted." It is an imperfect sentence.

There is something to be supplied. It is like our Lord's own words in Luke 19:42. "If you had known" - a sentence never ended, and all the more emphatic and awfully significant for this very reason.

Here, also, there is the same significance. It is "who can tell, what heart of man can conceive, what might have come on me - unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord!" Faith, and the "hope set before Him" carried Him through his darkest hour.

Hence, in v16, He leaves for the Church in all ages the counsel of one who has tried it himself - "Wait on the Lord." Keep your eye ever on the Lord, expecting the light to break and help to come.

The Church, and the Church's head, can lay claim to every clause of this blessed Psalm. That pledge of its truth in v5 has already in ages been found faithfully performed.

The Lord has ever hid his own in evil days, finding an Obadiah to feed his prophets, or sending them to a Cherith, where his ravens shall carry provision. So that Augustine's confidence is that of all saints: his guarantee that he will not abandon his pilgrims. We may call it them - The Righteous One's confident assertion of safety when lonely amid surrounding foes.