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.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Psalm 26 - The confidence of the Righteous in the Lord's righteousness.

The distinguishing peculiarity of this Psalm, in the tone of its appeals, is, that it dwells so much on the Righteousness of Jehovah's character.

Having in the previous one dealt much with his mercies it was fitting to trace the channel down which these mercies flow to sinners.

Our Head himself speaks here as well as his members. We may consider Him as teaching his members to take up his words, and address them to the Father in his name.

"Judge me, O Lord" (v1). Who could so well speak thus as He who prayed that prayer and spoke in John 17 - examine me, O Lord, test me. My heart and reins have been tried as gold is tried (v2) John 17:4.

And who could so well say as Jesus in v3, -
"Your lovingkindness is before my eyes - as Deut 6:8
And I have walked in your truth."

He fears not to invite this searching of heart and reins, for he knows the "lovingkindness" of the Lord; and he fears not to be driven from any favourite path he is upon, for his desire is to walk habitually in his truth. I love the Father, said Jesus (John 14:31). I come to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). We might thus go through the Psalm and show its application to Him.

More particularly we observe v6,7:

"I will wash my hands in innocence" ( Gen 20:5, Deut 21:6)
"I will compass your altar O Lord" (as Jericho was compassed, Josh 6:3)
"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving,
And tell all your wondrously accomplished works."

The meaning is, that he will go round and round the altar, looking at it, looking at the blood on its base, and the blood on each of the four horns, north, south, east and west, beholding the smoke of the fire, and thinking of the sacrificial victim that has died there - all in the way of joyful thanks, for salvation provided for me!

It is a survey of redemption work taken by the Redeemer! Such a survey, as every member of his body often takes after having felt the power of felt forgiveness, and while aiming at innocence. For the compassing of the altar takes place after pardon. It is made in order to view it slowly.

Jesus loved the Types and that Typical Temple because they showed his work:
"Lord I have loved to live in your house,
And the place where your honour dwells" (v8)

Where his Glory dwelled, and where God was shown just, while gracious. He hated the thought of sin; and though numbered withe transgressors, abhorred their company as hell (v9,10). And is not this the feeling of every member of his mystical body? And do not all join in the the resolution and prayer of v11?

We consider v12 as anticipating the future. The even place seems to be the place of security, where no farther danger of falling shall occur. It may express also the present sure standing of the soul in God's love. At all events it points farther than the assemblies of God's people on earth.

However pleasant these may be they are by Types of better things. They are but shadows of those multitudes, numbers without number, in the kingdom, and their voice of praise, but the prelude to the anthems that shall arise from blessed voices uttering joy, when the Lord shall have gathered his great innumerable multitude.

Till that day dawns let us use this Psalm in order to enter fully into sympathy with the appeals of the Righteous One and his members. It is throughout, a breaking forth of The confidence of the Righteous in the Lord's righteousness.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Psalm 25 - The confidence of the Righteous in the Lord's mercies.

The enquiry may have crossed the reader's mind, why was this Psalm placed next to the 24th? We almost think we can answer that question; and if our answer is right, it gives us a key to the structure of the Psalm. We suppose that the resemblance of v12 to the style of the closing verses of 24 may account for the juxtaposition. The resemblance is much closer than it first seems.

As in 24:8, like Jeremiah 30:21, we had Messiah introduced to our notice with a question, so in v12 of this Psalm we find the question suddenly put: Who is this man who fears the Lord?

Up to that verse, we may suppose the Psalmist speaks in the name of a member of the Church, such as himself, amid snares (v15) and troubles (v17) at a time when Israel, too, was tried (v22) - times when David was as a partridge on the mountains.

This member of the Church prays for deliverance and guidance, appealing to the Lord's compassion. He feels sure that the Lord will guide the meek, those who give up their will to His, in judgment, on the highway where all is lawful and right.

At v11, he utters the appeal: Pardon my iniquity for your name's sake, throwing his burden down as too heavy for him to bear. For it is great. At this point the scene changes. An answer is coming to the petitioner. His eyes fix on the Perfect One, who seems suddenly to come into sight.

"Who is THIS MAN who fears the Lord,
Whom he teaches the way that he shall choose?:
His soul lodges at ease,
And His seed will inherit the earth."

What a blessed vision! What a sweet sketch of Messiah and his blessings! Himself in his glorious rest, and his seed filling the earth! Instantly in v14 it is added that a share in this bliss belongs to all who fear the Lord:

"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him,
And he will show them his covenant"

All the blessings of the covenant are yours. The hidden treasures of the Lord's friendship (secret) are yours, O fearer of Jehovah. Having seen and heard all this, the Psalmist exclaims:

"Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord"

who provides such blessings, present and future, and thus makes my soul dwell at ease, while I behold Him.

And so he prays again in full hope and confidence. When he reaches v20, "Let me not be ashamed for I put my trust in you," we are reminded of Coriolanus taking himself to the hall of Attius Tullus, and sitting as a helpless stranger there, claiming the king's hospitality, though aware of his having deserved to die at his hands.

The Psalmist throws himself on the compassion of an injured God with similar feelings: I trust in you!

It is to be noticed, that throughout the appeals of this Psalm are far more to the compassion and mercy of the Lord than any other attribute. Only let his pity awake, and he has a righteous channel down which to pour it. In Psalm 26 as we shall see, it is different. but here the general strain of all the appeals is that of verses 5-8, 10,11.

This is the first fully Alphabetic Psalm. Each verse begins with a  letter of the Hebrew alphabet in succession. There seems nothing peculiar in this sort of composition; and as if to guard us against the idea of any mystery in it, the regularity is twice broken in upon in this Psalm, as in most of the others of the same structure. These irregularities are not the effect of careless transcription; for every manuscript agrees in the readings.

The Alphabetic form teaches is that the Holy Spirit was willing to thrown his words into all the moulds of human thought and speech; and whatever ingenuity man may exhibit in intellectual efforts, he should consecrate to the Lord making him the Alpha and Omega of his pursuits.

It is a Psalm where the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used to help the memory and to vary the structure - to enable the Church in every age to do as the Psalmist does here, to confess and pray for pardon, help, guidance, deliverance, with the eye on Hi who is set before us in v12: This Man, the true pattern of all who fear the Lord.

Who would not say with the Church in every land, and with the souls under the altar, as with David here:
"Redeem Israel, O God, from all his troubles" (v22)

If the day when that prayer was first answered by David being raised to the throne was glorious, much more the day when the true David ascends his throne and dwells at ease and his seed inherit the earth! Let us learn to use the Psalm if we would fully enter into The confidence of the Righteous in the Lord's mercies.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Psalm 24 - The path of the Righteous to the throne of glory

This may have been written by David when the ark was brought up to Zion. Every eye in the universe is looking on, and every ear listening in heaven, earth, and under the earth. The strain of this Psalm brings up our thoughts, Revelation 5:2,3, for it is as if a voice proclaimed:

"The earth is the Lord's" and then "It is He, and no one else who founded it above the surrounding seas."

The claim of the Lord's dominion is made in hearing of the universe; and the proclamation challenges a denial. This is done in v1,2, and no one in heaven, or earth, or hell, is found, who does not acquiesce in this declaration of Jehovah's sovereignty.

Amid the universal attention of all beings, a voice asks the question: who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? (v3).

The import of the question is this. There is in that world a tabernacle of Zion, typical of God's prepared mansion for his redeemed. Who shall enter and stand (that is keep his place) there, claiming as his proper home both that Tabernacle and the better things of which it is the type?

The voice states the character of the accepted one in v4 - he that has clean hands. That is, he who washes in the water of the laver after being at the altar. This, O men of Israel, has been shown. Is not that every day exhibited in the tabernacle? No priest enters the holy place until he has washed at the laver after being at the altar, (Exodus 30:19).

Or, to express it without a type -
"He that has a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to vanity,
Nor sworn deceitfully" (v4)

He must be pure, free from charge of sin against God and man.

This is the man who receives "the blessing" (Gen 27:36); this is the man who receives it, not as Jacob by stealth, but as the award of righteousness, being treated as righteous by the God of salvation. Messiah is this man.

But Israel knew the way to obtain this purity. He holy place presented to him in a type the provision that the God of salvation had revealed for a sinner. And so the voice pronounces, referring to a company who resemble The Man descried:

"This is the generation of them who seek him:
That seek your face, O Jacob." (v6)

The generation of those who seek Jehovah are such. And this further praise is given to them: the diligent seekers of your face are Jacob. i.e. persons who have a claim to the name of the peculiar people. We also understand it to mean - those whose hands are clean are true seekers of Jehovah: and they are taking the true way to get Jacob's birthright and Jacob's blessing - they seek your face O Jacob; they do not seek Esau, with the fatness of earth, but you Jacob who have got the blessing from the Lord.

Proverbs 7:15 and 29:26 have "seeking the face of" in the sense of seeking the favour or showing delight. Their delight is not in Esau, who got the fatness of the earth (Gen 27:39) as his portion.

If we understand it in reference to the possession of his birthright and blessing, that is, to the promise of Messiah and the pre-eminence involved in it, we see a reason to introduce the name Jacob. Properly and directly it is Christ only who can advance the claim to be regarded as pure and in all respect unspotted.

It is Christ who in his own person is accepted as such, and proclaimed as righteous.

All He does and receives is on behalf of his people; and so the words "this is the generation of those who seek Him" - here is a generation of such men.

There is a pause - intimated by Selah (v6) - not unlike in Proverbs 1:23-24, and the voice having previously declared who may hope to enter the Lord's presence, suddenly announces that their King is at hand! The accepted, pure and righteous One is the King!

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Be lifted up, you everlasting doors;
The King of glory shall come in. (v7)

Where does that name, KING OF GLORY come from? Is it not from the cloud of glory in the Holy of Holies? Is He not thus designated as being the Antitype of that symbol of the Divine presence? And the doors are called Everlasting because he who enters them is to keep for ever and in everlasting freshness this palace and sanctuary which He makes for himself in our Earth.

"The beams of his house are to be cedar, and the rafter fir," (Song 1:17) because the upholder of all is come. Earth is now to be his sanctuary and palace - Earth full of his glory - Earth with New Jerusalem come down from heaven.

It is the Lord himself, perhaps who asks at the wondering universe, just as the Elder asked wondering John (Rev 7:13), concerning his Well-beloved, now brought into the world in honour, glory and majesty not as his first coming, in humiliation: Who is this King of glory? (v8)

It is like Jeremiah 30:21, "who is this who has engaged his heart to approach me?" says the Lord. And the reply also is the Father's who tells of his Son who has gained victories and overcome in battles, and so won the Kingdom.

But when the proclamation is repeated and wondering onlookers half incredulous again ask the question: Who is this King? the Father's reply is: "The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory!" thus proclaiming the oneness of our King with Jehovah before all creation.

Selah ends the Psalm - a solemn pause before the people depart from the spot where they heard this lofty song.

It is a glorious hymn for the Church in all ages. Paul writing to Corinth (1 Cor 10:26) claims a believer's right to the things of earth on the ground that this Psalm claims for God a right to it: the earth is the Lord's and all the fulness of it. Evidently Paul associated himself and his fellow saints with The King of Glory, in whose train we are also expected to enter through the everlasting gates.

The Psalm describes our mode of joining the royal procession, and so passing on to glory with the King. There is no Psalm which with such sublime and simple grandeur describes: the path of the Righteous to the throne of glory.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Psalm 23 - The Righteous One's experience of the leadings of the Shepherd.

After the conflict of the preceding Psalm, and its bright glimpse of triumph, we might have thought that such an ode as we find in Psalm 24 wouild have immediately followed, leading us to survey the scenes of victory anticipated by the sufferer.

Instead, we suddenly find ourselves in the quiet peace of the quietest valley that imagination could paint; where is seen One walking by his shepherd's side singing - the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack.

The arrangement seems intentional; the soothing after the exciting, the stillness of the still waters after the fury of the tempest, the calm of rural peace before the engrossing and enrapturing of the Mighty One's dominion.

It is like the pause of Milton's angel -
"As one who in his journey bates at noon,
Though bent on speed, so here the Archangel paused,
Between the world destroyed and world restored."

And, besides, it is most suitable that between the conflict finished successfully in man's behalf and the glorious issues of that conflict, as seen from the throne of dominion, there should interpose a view of that state of soul toward the Father in which the Head and his members pass through their wilderness.

The Church has so exclusively (we might say) applied this Psalm to herself, as almost to forget that her shepherd, that Great Shepherd, once needed it and was glad to sue it. The Lamb, now in the midst of the throne ready to lead us to its living fountains of water, was once led along by his Father.

He said to his disciples, yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me (John 16:32).  Was not the burden of his song - the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack (v1)? When he said, John 10:14,15, I know my sheep and am known by mine, as the Father knows me, was he not saying: I lead you as my Father leads me?

Try every clause, and every syllable will be found applicable not to David alone, but to David's son, to the Church and to the Church's Head. If v1 sings, I shall not lack, it is just a continuance of the testimony of Moses in Deut 2:87, the Lord your God - knows your walking through the wilderness these forty years, and has been with you, you have lacked nothing. Christ and his Church together review their wilderness days and praise the Lord. The song of the Lamb is not less complete than that of Moses.

The occasional retreat to the Sea of Galilee, and desert places, and the Mount of Olives, furnished Christ with many such seasons as v2 celebates: he makes me lie down on pastures of tender grass. His saints know so well that it is his intent to do this in their case, that the Song of Songs asks not: do you make your flock rest at noon? but only, "where?"

As the Lord of the Ark of the covenant (Numbers 10:33) sought out for Israel a place to rest, so did the Father for his true Israel - that Prince with God - giving him refreshing hours amid his sorrow; as it is written, "He is at my right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did my heart rejoice" (Acts 2:25)

In temptation seasons, or after sore conflicts with man's unbelief, the Lord "restored his soul" (v3); that is revived it with cordials, even as he does his people after such seasons, and after times of battle with their own unbelief.

When in the hour of trouble and darkness he cried: what shall I say? the Father "let him in paths of righteousness, for his name's sake" glorifying his own name in his Son as we read in John 12:27.

It was not once only (though especially as the Garden and the Cross drew near) that hsi soul was in the valey of death-shade (v4). But he passed all in safety; even when he came to that thick gloom of Calvary.

He who led Him through will never leave one of his disciples to faint there. The rod and staff that slew the bear and lion, made David confident against Goliath; so do we obtain confidence from knwoing how our Shepherd has already found safe way through wolves and perils.

In v5, the table and the oil and the cup might be illustrated in Christ's case by the day of his baptism, the shining forth of his glory, by such a miracle as Lazarus' resurrection, the light of the Transfiguration scene, as well as by the meat to eat which the world did not know, and the rejoicing in spirit as he thought upon the Father's will - in which all blessings the sheep still share from time to time, getting occasional exaltations, and moments of joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Even those scene of woe, the essence of whose anguish is expressed in Psalm 22, did not make the Master doubt that "goodness and mercy will follow him" til he reached his home, his Father's house, with its many rooms.

Shall any member doubt his persevering to the end? Loved to the end with the love that first loved him, til he becomes a guest forever in his Father's house?

What is the House of the Lord, the true Bethel, where the ladder is set between heaven and earth? The Tabernacle was a Type. The antitype Christ spoke when leaving his few sheep in the wilderness and amid wolves, he said: in my Father's house are many rooms (John 14:1,2). It is New Jerusalem.

He is gone to the right hand of the Father to gather in his elect. Then at length to raise up their bodies in glory, that they may enter into the full enjoyment of that House in the kingdom prepared for the blessed of his Father.

Fear not, then, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom - and if so, you must be kept for it; goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, bringing up the rear of the camp, and leaving no straggler to perish.

It will be then that every sheep of his pasture will fully know and use the words of thsi Psalm, which sets forth with inimitable simplicity - The Righteous One's experience of the leadings of the Shepherd.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Psalm 22 - Messiah, bearing the cross and wearing the crown.

What a change! Instead of the songs of victory, we hear the moaning of one in anguish. It is not the voice of those who shout for the mastery, as were the preceding songs of Zion, but the voice of one who cries in weakness.

Yet this abrupt transition is quite a natural one. We saw the warrior - we saw the fruits of his victory - we saw the prospects of yet farther glorious results from that victory.

Now then we are brought to the battlefield and shown the battle itself. The battle which virtually ended the conflict with Satan and all his allies. We hear the din of that awful onset. Our David in "the irresistible might of weakness" is before us crying in the crisis of conflict: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani! the words uttered on Calvary, and preserved in every syllable as they were used by the Saviour then.

Some have sought to mingle the believer's confidence with Christ's in this Psalm. But it is too awful in its strain to admit this application, though we may learn from Christ's example as well as words on the cross as Peter is fond of showing in his first letter.

The words of v1 may indicate that such cries were uttered more than once during the Redeemer's days of anguish. There were other seasons beside the cross when the Father was near to lay on Him the weight of the burden of guilt, and when, for a time, he left Him, forsaken.

These were seaosns of the hottest trial ever known in warfare, for it was warfare in which nothing could exhaust the resources brought up against the champion, while also there were divine supplies on his side.

The scheme of this Psalm is evident at a glance. There are two parts.
From v1-21a is Messiah's sufferings. 
From v21b to the end is his entering into his glory. 

His first coming is the theme of the one; his glorious kingdom established fully at his second coming is the theme of the other. This is so very obvious that we shall be brief in our remarks, leaving the reader to meditate for himself with the history of the Lord in the Evangelists before him for the first part, and his eye glancing through the Apocalyptic visions for the second.

The Psalm is quoted in Hebrews 2:11 where v23 is cited. The piercing of hands and feet, v17, may be considered in Luke 24:39, John 20:27.

The title is strange: On Aijeleth Shahar - literally "the hind of the morning".
It tells of joy to anguish and anguish to joy.
The hind leaps from height to depth, valley to hilltop, rising from its quiet lair, where it has reposed til morning, when met by a hunter's cry.

That there was such an instrument used we cannot tell - it is a mere conjecture; at the same time it is interesting to notice how truly the scene of the hind roused at morning from its rest (not to bound at liberty like Naphtali in Gen 49:21 but) to be chased by the hunters, corresponds to the tale of persecution related here, when dogs encompass him.

Without attempting to explore the riches, the unsearchable riches of these mournful cries, let us listen to a few of their sad echoes.

In v3, we have a declaration that Israel's Holy One shall be praised more than ever for his holiness, because of his impartial treatment of Him who cries "why have you forsaken me?" Strange as it may seem it shall turn out to be an illustration of his holy character; and if before this He inhabited Israel's praises, much more hereafter.

In v4, that note "Our fathers" (as Psalm 40:5) from such lips may well touch our hearts. He is not ashamed reader to call you and me his brothers. He identifies himself with us. Our fathers are His fathers, that His Father may be ours. How like Him who afterwards (v22) calls us "my brothers" and who on earth did say after his resurrection "go tell my brothers."

We do not dwell on the ample field of remarks opened by v6-22. The people in v6 is especially His own Israel. The taunt v8 is equivalent to his saying "commit your way to the Lord!" (Psalm 37:5). In v20, "my only one" is understood to be the soul described as dear like an only son. How appropriate on the lips of Him who asked the memorable question in Matt 16:26: What will it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?

It is in v21 that the tide turns. The clauses, you have heard me, ought to be taken by itself. It is a cry of delight. IT is like Luke 22:43. The lamentation of v2 is over now - He is heard now! And his being heard is not a blessing to him alone. He runs to bring his disciples word: I will declare your name to my brothers (v22).

These words are characteristic of Him who spoek John 17:26, and whose first resurrection act was to send word to his disciples, by the name "my brothers" and then to send them to all the earth. His special love to Israel is apparent when he said, beginning at Jerusalem. Here he calls them:
"You seed of Jacob, glorify Him -
For He has not abhored the affliction of the poor." (v23,24)

He has not treated the poor sinner as an unclean thing to be shrunk from (Lev 11:11), passing by on the other side (Luke 10:31). All shall yet praise Him who makes their heart live forever by feeding them on this sacrifice (v26).

Verse 28 shows us the Kingdom come, and Christ the Governor among the nations; at which time we find a feast partaken of by all nations, and observed by sinners who were ready to perish:
"All that are fat on the earth shall eat and worship. (v29)
Before Him shall bow all that go down to the dust.
And he who could not keep alive his soul."

The essence of the feast is indicated at v26, as consisting in knowing and feeding upon Him who is our Paschal Lamb, even as in Isaiah 25:8, the feast of fat things is Christ Himself, seen and known, eye to eye.

The people of that time are "the seed" of v30. If men do not at present serve Him, yet their seed shall - there is a generation to rise who shall do so.
"Posterity shall serve Him,
It shall be related of the Lord to the generation to come.
These shall go forth (on the theatre of the world) and declare his righteousness
To a people then to be born
For He has done it!

The Hebrew is very elliptical. It seems as if the word were used intentionally in an absolute and indefinite way to fix our thoughts on the thing being done. A finger points to the scene, a voice says: He has performed. Here is deed, not word only. Here is fulfilment, no promise only.

The meek may eat and be filled. It is done. Jesus did it all as he cried: It is finished. In that hour He saw his sufferings ended and his glory begun, and could proclaim victory through suffering.

What a song of Zion is this. Messiah at every step beginning with Eli, Eli, and ending It is Finished: Messiah, bearing the cross and wearing the crown.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Psalm 21 - Messiah's present joy and future victory.

We have entered on a series of Psalms that more directly fix the eye on Messiah alone as their theme.

It takes up the theme of the former Psalm. We are at once shown the King Messiah, already triumphant at the Father's right hand; and yet, as King, to triumph more before all is done.

David now on the throne at Hebron, and soon to be on a loftier throne at Jerusalem, might be the original of the Typical scene; but certainly he was not more than this. It is of our King that the Holy Spirit speaks.

The plan is very simple. From v1-7 we have Messiah's exaltation after his suffering; then v8-12, His future acts when He rises up to sweep away his foes; and v13, the cry of His own for that day, as their day of realised bliss:

"Be exalted, Lord, in your strength!
So will we sing and praise your power."

He who was the "man of sorrows" and "whose flesh was weak", now (v1), "joys in your strength, greatly rejoices."

And how sweet to us to hear v2, "you have given Him His heart's desire," remembering in connection with it John 11:42, "I know that you hear me always" for it assures us that He did not mistake the depth of the Father's love, or err in His faith in the Father's kindness of purpose toward Him.

He knew what was in man, but he knew what was in God also, and declares it to us, sealing it with the "Selah" pause of solemn thought.

The Father "came before Him with" or rather anticipated, outran, His desires; for that is the meaning of "for you prevented him with the blessings of your goodness."

And in the crown of pure gold, already set on His head, we see this verified, as it is not the crown which he is to get at his appearing.

The Father has at present given Him the crown, mentioned in Hebrews 2:9, "glory and honour" but is as an assurance and pledge of something more and better, the "many crowns" (Rev 19:12).

Let us often stay to rejoice that the man of sorrows is happy now - "most blessed for ever!"

He feeds among the lilies. Shall we not rejoice in the refreshment of our Head - in the ointment poured on him - in the glory resting on his brow - in the smile of the Father which his eye ever sees!

Shall the members not be glad when their Head is so gladdened and lifted up?
Shall such verses as v5,6, not form our frequent themes of praise?

In v4, his prayers are refered to  - those prayers that He offered during the lonely nights, when He made the desert places of Galilee echo to his moans and the voice of His cry - such prayers as Hebrews 5:7 tells of, and such as Psalm 139:10,11, give.

He asked for deliverance from death and the grace - and lo! He has now "endless life" (Heb 7:16) in all its power.

Verse 6 resembles in construction v9 and so presents the contrast of meaning more forcibly. The one is "you have set him blessings" and the other "you have set them like a furnace."

And here we see that "He is the author and finisher of faith" for if his prayers and cries prove him to have had truly our very humanity in sinless weakness, no less does v7 show that his holy human soul fixed itself for support, like ivy twining round the tower, on the Father by faith.

In this He was our pattern.
"The King trusted in the Lord." (v7)

He is the true example of faith, surpassed all the elders who have obtained a good report; he is captain and perfector of faith; he leads the van and brings up the rear in the examples of faith given on this world's theatre.

And the Father's love rests on Him forever; that love (tender mercy, v7) of which he prayed in John 17:26, that the same might ever be on us.

And now the scene changes; for lo, he has risen up !
"Your hand finds out all your enemies;
"Yes, your hand finds all who hate them!

"You put them in a furnace of fire" (v8,9)

It is his rising up to judgment! His foes hide in the caves and rocks of earth, but he finds them out. It is the day which burns as an oven (Malachi 4:1) that has come at length. It is the time of his presence; the day of his appearing; the day of his face - that face before which heaven and earth flee.

His enemies flee. They perish in their impotence. His arrows strike them through, v12. They formed a design which they could not effect. This is truly the history of man's attempts to thwart God, from the day of Babel's tower to the day when Babylon and Anti-christ perish together.

Who would not have it so? Who will not join the Church in her song - "Rise high, O Lord, in your strength?" - the song of Messiah's present joy and future victory.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Psalm 20 - Messiah prayed for, and prayed to, by his waiting people

What typical occurrence, or what event in Israel's history, may have given the groundwork of this Psalm? Luther calls it a "battle cry"; while others have imagined it appropriate to such an occasion as that of the high priest going in to the Holiest place on the Day of Atonement, and reappearing to the joy of all who waited outside in anxious prayer.

We think the truth may be reached by finding some scene that may combine the battle cry and the priestly function, such as was once presented in Numbers 31:1-6 when the zealous priest Phinehas was sent out at the head of the armies of Israel to battle. David may have been led to recall some such scene as he sang.

Full of zeal for his God, Phinehas in his priestly attire and with priestly solemnity - with "Holiness to the Lord" on his mitre - prepares for the conflict with Jehovah's and Israel's most subtle foes. We may suppose him at the altar before he goes, presenting his offerings (v3) and supplicating the Holy One of Israel (v4), amid a vast assembly of the camp, small and great, all sympathising in his enterprise.

This done, he takes the holy instruments and the silver trumpets in his hand and goes out. There is now and interval of suspense - but soon tidings of victory come and the priestly leader reappears, crowned with victory, leading captivity captive. The confidence expressed in v5 is not vain, for victory or salvation has been given.

Perhaps there were times when David was in such circumstances as these and there are still times when any member of the Church may be, in some sense, so situated; while "all weep" with the one member that weeps, and then "all rejoice" in the joy of the one.

But still the chief reference is to David's Son, our Lord. He is the Leader and the Priest, the true Phinehas, going out against Midian. It is "the Anointed" (v5) that is principally the theme.

This Psalm is the prayer which the Church might be supposed offering up, had all the redeemed stood by the cross or in Gethsemane, in full consciousness of what was happening there.

Messiah, in reading these words, would know that He had elsewhere the sympathy he longed for, when he said to the three disciples "Wait here and watch with me" (Matt 26:38). It is thus a pleasant song of the redeemed in their Head, whether in his sufferings or in the glory that was to follow.

In v1-4 they pray:
"Jehovah, hear in the day of trouble.
"The name of He who manifests himself by his deeds to be the God of Jacob defend you..
"Send help from the sanctuary" where his well-pleasedness is seen.
"And bless from Zion" not from Sinai but from the place of peaceful acceptance.

The solemn "Selah" pause comes in when sacrifice has been spoken of, and then in v5, they exult at the success which has crowned his undertaking; and observe, reader, they speak now of Him as one who makes petitions - "The Lord fulfil all your petitions."

Is not this recognising Him as now specially employed in interceding? Applying His finished work by pleading it for us? It may, at the same time, remind us of that other request which the Intercessor is yet to make, and to make which, speedily, the Church is often urging him, v15, "Ask of me and I will give you the peoples for your inheritance" (Psalm 2:8).

In v6-7, they exult again "knowing whom they have believed" (2 Tim 1:12) both as to what the Father has done for Him and what the Father will do.

They reject all grounds of hope not found in King Messiah; express their souls' desire for complete deliverance, when He shall appear at least, and answer by complete salvation (Heb 11:28) the continual cry of His Church "Come Lord Jesus!"

Verse 9 teaches us to expect both present and future victories, by the arm of our King; and in hope of these further exploits, we often look upward to the right hand of the Father and cry "Hosanna!" -

"Save, Lord" or give victory.
"Let the King who sits there hear us when we call."

It is a Psalm differing in its aspects from most others, for it presents to us - Messiah prayed for, and prayed to, by his waiting people

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Psalm 19 - The Righteous One's meditations on the two fold witness to Jehovah's glory.

Standing on the platform of earth, but looking away from what in it is merely man's work, the eye of him that speaks in this Psalm has rested first on the glorious heavens, and then on the law that reveals Him who dwells in the heavens. Law here is equivalent to Revelation, that is - what he teaches.

There will be a time when, under the seven-fold light of the New Heavens that will stretch their canopy over a New Earth, it may be said yet more emphatically than now that "without voice or articulate sound",

"The heavens are telling the glory of God
"Day to day pours out a gushing stream of speech." etc.

And then too shall we be better able to read that glorious revelation that tells of Jehovah - for we shall see better then than we do now how perfect it is, how sure, never failing in threatening or promise, how right, how really eternal, better than gold, and what a future as well as present reward there is in keeping it.

But why should we not even now reach far into the understanding of all this? His revelation of his will, his teaching, is perfect or entire. Nothing is lacking. And so it can furnish the soul that needs to be restored with what suits its case. His testimony, his witness (with tacit reference to the Tabernacle of Witness) or declaration of what is really good and evil, sweet and bitter, is sure. It is worthy to be trusted as true, not being like the speculations and systems of philosophy; and so it is the very thing for the man who is easily misled, and who hitherto has had no decided principles: the simple.

His statutes are always according to rectitude. These His special charges in special circumstances (such as that at Sinai, not to touch the mountain) are right, being wisely accordant with circumstances; and so instead of being grievous, they become the occasion of gladness.

His commandment, every single precept of the law (Rom 7:12) is pure, clear, fair (Song 6:9,10) and so is a heart-cheering object, and would impart to the man who kept it (who dipped his rod in this honey - 1 Sam 14:27), cheerfulness and vigour of mind, arising from clearness of conscience and freedom from gnawing corruption. (Enlighten the eyes means invigorate, see Ezra 9:8 etc)

His fear is the solemn impression made by God's perfections on the soul, as on Jacob at Bethel. Instruction in regard to this is in its nature clean (Lev 13:18), there is in it no defilement condemned by the law to be cast out, no pollution and therefore nothing that requires removal. It stands fast forever. In a word, his judgements, his decisions as to our duty, and his modes of dealing or providential actings, following out his decisions, are all according to truth. Not capricious. Firm principle guides them: they are thoroughly righteous.

There was once one in our world who used this Psalm, and was guided by it to gaze on the glory of God, in the heavens and in the law. Our Lord and Saviour loved his Father's works and word.

Often did He sit on the high mountain's of the land of Israel, or look abroad over its broad plains and then turn upward to the blue canopy over all, to adore his Father. Often did Hew unroll the volume of the Book or sit listening to its words read in the synagogue.

He saw evil on every side; his own holy soul was the only ark which this deluge had not overtaken; and with this in full view, He might often pray: keep me clear from secret faults (v12) as well as "from presumptious sin" in a world where none are free from sin, and few care to know that they do sin; and thus shall I be found:

"Upright and innocent from transgression that abounds."

We can easily imagine our Master thus using these two witnesses to his Father's glory. Let us trace His steps; let us turn our eye from vanity to the contemplation of the glory of God.

The two witnesses resemble and help each other. Hengstenberg remarks that the law is from the same source as the sun and firmament, and has accordingly, many features of resemblance.

In all probability , the special description of the sun going forth as a bridegroom and warrior (v5), with all the images of cheerfulness and joy it is fitted to suggest was designed to hint to us a counterpart in the firmament of the spiritual heavens, which are reflected in the law.

Christ is the Sun, the Bridegroom, the Warrior whose words (v4) and going forth shall yet be from one end of the world to the other and nothing be hid from His heat.

Then shall Romans 10:18 be more thoroughly accomplished. But even if the two witnesses did not resemble each other, they do at least help each other, and point to the same object; and happy is the man who is led thereby to the glory of God.

For truly there is a GREAT REWARD (v11), both in the act of keeping His Revelation, and as the Lord's mark of approval for having kept it. A present and future recompense of reward, such as Hebrews 10:35 holds us to our view.

Happy they who are found upright and innocent (v13) because "found in Christ," found "without spot and blameless" (2 Pet 3:14) even in these last days when iniquity abounds. O Jehovah, accept this meditation, fulfil these prayers!

You are
"My rock" never shifting from your promise.
"My Deliverer" from every evil work (v14).

Thus sings this worshipper, perhaps at early dawn. But now the sun is up - gone forth on his fiery race; the altar's smoke is ascending - busy men are abroad, each pursuing his own calling, and he must join them.

We seem to see him rise up from his place of calm contemplation and return to his active duties for a season, quickened by what these two witnesses for God have presented to his soul, leaving us to ponder and apply, The Righteous One's meditations on the two fold witness to Jehovah's glory.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Psalm 18 - The Righteous One saved and glorified.

This is a Psalm of "The Lord's Servant", a title given to one called to specific services for God. It was given into the hands of "The Chief Musician" on the day when the Lord had delivered from every foe. The circumstances were peculiar, and so is the style of the song.

Thus, v1, "I will love you" is expressed with unusual language, we might translate "My bowels yearn in love to you." Sternhold felt there was something very energetic in this so he versified in this way with considerable success:

"O God, my strength and fortitude, of force I must love you;
You are my castle and defence, in my necessity"

The next term, "my strength" is rare but very expressive and equivalent to "You who have held me up firm and fast."

It is meant for a greater one than David, but David's circumstances furnish an appropriate occasion for giving to the Church a song that might suit Messiah, and all his members too. David's circumstances, that made him suitable to be the vehicle of this divine communication, have moulded the language but we are not to carry the allusion to his history too far.

Some have supposed that v7-15 refer to some tempest that helped David's victory on some occasion but we may be content with observing that the style is coloured by David's experience. So, v2 amplifies v1 to say that the Lord is my precipitous rock (like 1 Sam 22:28) which foes find inaccessible. My deliverer, not leaving me simply to the defence of rocks, but himself standing for me with his loving arm.

My God, not deliverance only to me, but every thing, my all in all. My firm immovable rock who never changes. In Him will I trust - in one like this may I not be satisfied? And when I go out to the battle field this Jehovah is "My Shield"; and by Him I win victory; the horn of my salvation!

As I return to my camp on the heights, as 1 Sam 26:13, far above the reach of foes I sing of Him as "My High Place" - the height where I rest secure.

But the Psalm was meant for the Lord Jesus especially. It presents a singular history of some portions of our Lord's mighty undertakings, all related in such a manner as that his members (and David among them) might use it often for themselves.

In Hebrews 2:13 the second verse is quoted as our Lord's words: I will put my trust in him; to show that Christ as our brother leaned on God, just as we ourselves would lean our weakness on Almighty strength. Again in Romans 15:9 this Psalm is quoted "I will confess to you among the peoples" to show Christ's deep interest in the world at large. So that we have, by these two references, the whole Psalm marked out, beginning and end, bracketed, as belonging to Christ in a special and direct way.

It is then our Brother who sings here. He begins telling his younger brothers what his Father (His and ours!) did for him in the day of the sadness of his heart. He is relating some of the hidden things, which are nowhere else recorded, but which fit in the time of Gethsemane suffering, and the three hours darkness, and the earthquake, and the tearing of the Temple veil - things that took place in the view of other spectators than man, when the prince of the air was overthrown, and the Father, with his legions of angels came forward to deliver.

The mention of the cherub in v10 is not to be overlooked, "He rode upon an angel". Like a king or warrior, the Lord is represented as going out in his chariot; but he mounts on that memorable day a chariot whose coat of arms is The Angel. He goes out in his Angel Chariot., and this is sufficient to show the errand on which he has gone out: it is redemption.

For that symbol is the redemption-symbol. Angels in paradise after the fall, angels on the mercy seat with their feet touching the blood, and their whole weight on the ark. Angels on the veil that was torn. Everywhere angels, representing, as the four living beings in Revelation 4, the Redeemed.

How significant to the universe, when Jehovah rose up with the symbol of man's redemption, to go out to the aim of man's Redeemer.

Let us begin, then. The true Sweet Singer of Israel, the firstborn among many brothers, stands on the shore of his Red Sea, and sings, in v1 and v2, the grace and glory of his God.

What a God he is: My strength. My rock. My rock-like-God. My fortress. Then comes the story of his awful conflict. He traverses the field with us and tells us of his cries that pierced the heavens and the Father's heart (v3-6) - a commentary on Hebrews 5:7.

From v7-15 what a scene of terrific incidents is opened to view. The cords of the hunter "death" were enclosing him, and the torrents of Belial - floods swollen with all the mischief of hell and hellish men - sweeping down upon him, when his cry began to be noticed, and the Father rose up.

Earth shook - smoke and fire were seen by those same angels who were witnesses of the smoke and fire on Sinai attesting to the majesty of the law; and the same heavens bowed that bowed when the Law was given. The same darkness attended this descent for now the Law-fulfiller was about to present the law fulfilled. He came with the Angel-symbol to bring redemption from the curse of the law.

But there was no abatement of his glory - no obscuring of his majesty. On the contrary, there was the same covering of darkness as when the law was given and afterwards the same brightness shot out. Hailstones too as when he overcame his enemies at Bethhoron, attested the presence of the same majesty and power. The same thunder uttered its voice. The same lightning arrows flew around. It was Israel's God in his majesty. Yes the same who laid bare the Red Sea's channel (v14,15) who then appeared in still greater displays of majesty. It was a scene not seen by mortal eyes but no doubt by angels.

In time the Redeemer was delivered. He sent from above. He took me. He drew me out of many waters. v16-18. In vain do the scribes and elders triumph, sealing the stone tomb, and setting a watch. In vain does Satan exult as if he had crushed the woman's seed.

"The prevented me (i.e. got before me, as if between me and my refuge) in the day of my calamity."

But Jehovah came - resurrection followed, and all its consequences.

He stood in a large place and soon sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high. In that hour every member of his body was virtually "raised with Him, and made to sit with Him in the heavenly places" - in a large room.

This was all done in conformity with law and righteousness. The law was honoured then and is honoured and magnified for ever by all that the Redeemer wrought. v20-26 declare:

"Jehovah rewarded me according to my righteousness.
"According to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.
"Because I kept the ways of the Lord - 
"All his judgements were before me,
"And I did not put away his statutes from me.
"Yes, I was upright before him..." etc.

Henceforth, nothing hinders the application of his redemption work on the part of God; and on man's part there is nothing required by the poverty of spirit that is willing to receive a gift.

Pride that cause the fall, hinders the rising again of the fallen.

"For you will save those who are poor
But will bring down the high looks.." (v27)

Our Brother having brought us thus far in his history, tells us once more of the Father's love to Him and his people and how fully the Father, who equipped Him for the former struggle, has equipped him for whatever remains for him to do (v28-35).

The Father loved the Son and has given all things into his hands. He seems suddenly to remind the Father of this (v25-26) in preparation for what is coming saying -

"Your gentleness has MADE ME GREAT."

Then follows the final assault, long deferred, upon his unyielding enemies (v37-42). It is evidently the day of his Second Coming; for we hear the cry (v41) when "there are none to save." The Master has risen up and shut the door. Rocks and mountains cannot shelter foes, any more than the cave of Makkedah the five kings who fled to it.

Our Joshua calls them out, and puts his own foot upon their necks (v40, compare Joshua 10:24).

Then the earth is subdued under Him (v43,44,45). Isaiah 52:15 is fulfilled. Nations come to Him like the Queen of Sheba, attracted by the report of his grace and glory.

The Lord alone is exalted in that day. The glory resounds to Him (v46-48) and there is congratulatory acclamation (1 Kings 1:25,31) of all the earth. Jehovah lives! Jew and Gentiles are seen in union; for the Deliverer (v49-5) declares his celebration of Jehovah's name among the peoples while he shows kindness to David and his seed forever.

We may join with all the members of our Head. Made more than conquerors in Him and enjoying our share in all these triumphs with Him, crying out:

"You who make great the salvations of his King!"

The full salvation-work wrought out by our appointed King is done in might and majesty.

Now we see how we too may sing all this. Even as David could sing it, and David's son. We sing of our delivereances and remember all the while that the source of them was God's rising up for us in all his power, invisible yet awfully great.

Then in v20-27, we like David may speak before the Lord of the righteousness we have got and of the purity He himself has bestowed. It is with our eye on Christ's righteousness imputed, and Christ's Spirit imparted, we sing, humbly declaring what He has wrought for us.

As for v28-36 they tell of our experience in life. V37-45 tell of the day when we shall share with our Head, in bruising Satan under our feet, and when Rev 3:9 shall be fulfilled.

What are we that we should be called upon to join in such a song!
What are we, Lord, that your Son should be our elder brother and work all this for us!

Enable us for evermore to love, serve, glorify, and follow fully that Saviour who was saved when he took our place! And never may we sing this Psalm but with burning love to Him as we think of: The Righteous One saved and glorified.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Psalm 17 - The Righteous One's dissatisfaction with a present world

The same strain again - only here the sin and sorrow of the world are brought together and the Righteous One is seen lifting his eyes to heaven, as sure conqueror over both.

Earth, whether viewed from the top of Peor, or the field of Zophim, is still the same fallen earth; and not less gratefully does the shout of the King of Jeshurum greet our ears by whatever cliff of Pisgah it may happen to be echoed back. It is called A Prayer for it consists of strong appeals to God.

While fully satisfied with his lot, the Righteous One tells us how little reason there is to be satisfied with teh world in which his lot was cast for a time. Deissatisfied with man's judgement he appeals to the Lord, and verse 1 is equivalent to those two words in his prayer (John 17:25) "O righteous Father." 

Before Him he spreads his cause, expecting (v2,3) a reversal of the world's sentence. The Father "proved him and could find nothing." Was it to this he referred in John 14:30, when telling of Satan's attempt? Mysterious trial, all perfect righteousness! Heaven and hell have tried it; and neither the holiness of God nor the envy of Satan could detect a flaw.

We find him appealing to the Father as to his heart (v3), as to his words (v4) and as to his ways (v5) - sure of the verdict from the lips of Holiness itself. And, united to Him, each believer may make the same appeal, with teh same success, while he is led also, in the very act of so doing, to plant his steps in the footsteps of his all-perfect Surety. In v6, emphasis reons on I, "I have called"; let others do the same.

Still dissatisfied with men, v6-8, He seems to unbosom himself to the Father, fixing his eye on the marvellous love shown in redemption, "the tender mercies" or "bowels of mercy" by which the "dayspring from on high has visited us" (Luke 1:78).

"Single out your loving kindness, deliverer of those who trust you."

Saints are called "Trusters" and the prayer is "set apart" (Psalm 4:3) for me some special mercy. Make it appear in its singular brightness, O you who delivers me who trusts in You, and will deliver all others who simply trust in You through me!" 

We, too, may follow Him even into the very secret of the Most High, when in v8, he presses forward and sist down under the wings of majesty and love - at rest in the "God of Israel, under whose wings he has come to trust."

And here we may, with our Head, survey the turmoil of human wickedness, beholding (v9-14) their assaults, their snares, their lion-like anger, their conspiracies, and in v14, their luxury and worldly ease.

"My soul deliver from the wicked, by the sword,
From men, by your hand, O Lord,
From men!" (Perhaps, frail, dying men...)
"From the transitory world!"

Grieved at such scenes, the Righteous One suddenly darts his eye into the future and anticipates resurrection glory - a glory that shall cast human splendour into the shade, and leave the Lord' speople without one unsatisfied desire. Our Head sung, in prospect of his resurrection, and we his members, sing, in prospect of ours -

"But as for me, I shall behold his face in righteousness" (v15)

O righteous Father, O holy Father (John 17), I come to you and forever dead to sin, and escaped from the world's miry clay, I shall stand before You who are righteous in the beauty of pure righteousness. And my dissatisfactions shall be forgotten when entering that enjoyment - you appear in glory to meet me, and I conform to the glory that meets me at my rising,

"I shall be satisfied when your likeness awakes" - 

This likeness is spoken of in Numbers 12:8. It is the manifestation of God in his glory. The "glory of the Father" (Rom 6:3) met Christ at the sepulchre, and He arose glorious, soul and body. So shall it be with each of His members.

Christ our Life, the incarnate manifestation of the likeness of God, shall appear in glory; and we shall instantly be conformed to Him "seeing Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).

The appearing of that glory, in our dark world, whence it has so long been exiled, seems to be meant by the "awakening of His likeness." Psalm 73:20 speaks of it again, and attributes to that event the eternal confusion of the worldlings who had their portion and cup full for a reason.

It was in the act of singing these words, as they stand in the metrical version, that one of our Scottish martyrs, Alexander Home, passed from the scaffold to glory. With a solemn eye and glowing soul, he was able amid gathered thousands to express his rest and hope in these words -

"But as for me I your own face
In righteousnss shall see;
And with your likeness when I wake
I satisfied shall be."

And, who of all the saints would not join him? Who would not take up every clause of the whole Psalm? Who would not sympathise in -  The Righteous One's dissatisfaction with a present world?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Psalm 16 - The Righteous One's satisfaction with his lot.

It is not sin alone that characterises our world. Misery goes in hand with sin. And hence, as the preceding Psalm set before us One who was holy in the midst of a world lying in wickedness, though breathing its air, walking on its highway, handling its objects, and conversing with its inhabitants, so this Psalm exhibits One who is happy, truly happy, not withstanding a world of broken cisterns around him,and the sights borne to his ear on early breeze.

This happy one is "the Man of Sorrows" - no other than He! For Peter, in Acts 2:31, declares, "David speaks concerning Him!"

This happy One (followed in all ages by his chosen ones) walks through many a varied scene, and at every step expresses satisfaction and perfect contentment with the Father's arrangements. In verses 1,2, he tells, with complacent delight, into whose hands it is he has committed his all: "you are my Lord" - my soul has said this with all its strength.

And "My goodness is not over you;" whatever is good or blessed in my lot makes no pretensions to add anything to your blessedness, to overshadow you; nor do I allow the bliss I enjoy to supersede Him who blesses me.

And does not every member of his body respond to all this! Who of them does not reply, "My Lord and my God" You are the very bower of bliss under which I sit. We are blessed in you; but you need not us to bless you!"

Satisfied with his Father as God, and Lord, and Guardian, he is equally so with the sphere within which he must move: "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." None on earth seem to Him so pleasant and honourable as the saints. See Psalm 8:1.

And no less is He pleased with his separation from all idols and idolatry (v3 and v4). Does not every member of his body respond, Amen! gladly recognising their own company as the circle within which is "all their delight." But how instructive and wonderful it is to find, in verse 5, such entire contentedness with the Lord's doings, and such a recognition of his will. For it was enemies that brought him many a bitter draught to drink, the vinegar and the gall, it was "not an enemy", but far worse, a perfidious friend, that plunged the dagger into his heart; and yet in all this he sees the Lord giving him his cup and portion.

No less remarkable is it to hear, in verse 6, the Man of Sorrows tell that his lines have fallen to him in pleasant places! He that had nowhere to lay his head, how happy is He! What a calm contentment sits upon his pensive brow! Earth and hell are unable to destroy his blessed lot. He has (v7) found communion with his Father, when others sleep - in the retired valleys and hills of Galilee's, on the Mount of Olives, in the wilderness.

The presence and care of his Father is a fund of enjoyment in itself (v8). All may be scattered and leave him alone; bu yet he is not alone, for the Father is with him.

Such joys as these still gladden every believer's soul, even as they did refresh the "Author and Finisher of our Faith." He drank of these brooks by the way, "therefore was his heart glad."

That he might endure to the end, and as man endure he tasted of needful draughts in his sore undertaking' and his draughts of refreshment were of the kind which we have seen above. We, too, can taste the same, and we need the same.

Nor less do we need what follows in v9, secure confidence in prospect of death, and v10, the hope of blessed resurrection. Our Head laid his flesh in the Joseph's sepulchre, expecting the future result, a speedy resurrection. His soul was not to be left long separate form his body, out of paradise it was soon to come, and on the third day to rejoin its body before corruption could begin.

But we too, his members, are as sure of a return of our souls from paradise to join our bodies on the Resurrection Morn, when "this corruptible shall put on incorruption." And thus to the Head and members shall their full satisfaction be realised, and that forever.

He and they shall tread the path of life, and enter into "fulness of joy, pleasures for evermore," - the blessedness of the eternal kingdom.

Such are the riches of this Psalm that some have been led to think the obscure title, "Michtam" has been prefixed to it on account of its golden stores. For the word is used of the hold of Ophir (Psalm 45:10) and might be a derivative from that root. But as there are five other Psalms with this title (56, 57, 58, 59, 60) whose subject matter is various, but which all end in a tone of triumph, it has been suggested that the Septuagint may be nearly right in their title "A Psalm to be hung up or inscribed on a pillar to commemorate victory."

It is, however, more likely that the term Michtam, like Maschil, is a term whose meaning we may have lost and may only recover when the ransomed house of Israel returns home with songs. Meanwhile, the subject matter of this Psalm is very clearly - The Righteous One's satisfaction with his lot.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Psalm 15 - The dweller in the Holy Hill of God.

We heard of a righteous generation in Psalm 14, and here is one of them as a representative of the whole. None can be said to have fulfilled the conditions, or come up to the character sketched here, except Christ, if viewed in its strictness. Although every member of His body lays claim to His imputed obedience and exhibits a goodly specimen of the effect of this imputation in producing personal holiness.

We consider this Psalm as descriptive or our Head in His personal holiness, and of his members as made holy by Him.

It is one thing to state how holiness is attained, and quite another to assert that perfect holiness is possessed. When you describe a worshipper in the Holy Hill as one who is holy, you do not on that account maintain that his holiness was self-derived, or that it was his primary qualification.

Far less do you assert that holiness of character stands in the place of the blood that cleanses the conscience. there are several links in the golden chain, and my pointing to one of these does in no way interfere with my conviction of the necessity of the rest.

If I find it said of our Lord:

"It is Christ that died; yes, rather that is risen again!
Who is even at the right hand of God. Who also makes intercession for us,"

I may take up one feature of this Redeemer, and may say, "He who saves us is One who is risen again;" but by so saying I do not deny, but rather necessarily include, the assertion, that He died first of all.

So also if I say, "He who is saved is one who has holiness" I do not by saying this deny that the man has first of all been made clean by the blood: on the contrary, I imply that as a thing of course, necessarily preceding the other. Again if I say, "that Priest has washed his hands and feet in the laver."

I do not deny, but, on the contrary, necessarily imply, that first of all he was at the Altar, and touched the blood there. Or, once more, if I read 1 Tim 1:5,

"Now the end of the commandment is charity,
Out of a pure heart, 
And out of a good conscience,
And out of faith unfeigned."

I may fix on the middle clause and say, the love, or charity, aimed at by the law, is the product of a "good conscience." But do I, on account of that statement, at all deny that "faith unfeigned" is needful in order to arrive at a good conscience?

It is even thus with our Psalm when received as stating what belongs to the members of Christ. It tells of their "pure heart;" but then that pure heart came from "a good conscience;" and that good conscience was the effect of "unfeigned faith" in the blood.

It is, however, only our Head that can fully realise the character given here. "Holiness to the Lord" is on our High Priest's mitre, while we, as inferior priests, go forward in his steps, to dwell in the Tabernacle.

The question is asked, v1: who shall dwell? abide, be a guest forever, in the palace of our King and God? Verse 2 tells the outward purity required, and the inward guilelessness. Verse 3, the purity of word; verse 4 company; verse 5, disinterested and self-denied love to His neighbours; verse 5, uprightness, if He once promise he will not "exchange" his promise for anything more convenient to himself, and will not fail to show the heart of a brother in everyday transactions.

These are signs of a renewed nature, very rare in our world, and such as manifest the man to be, "though in the world, yet not of the world." In verse 4, we have the key to the difference between such a one and the man of earth. "He honored those who fear the Lord;" his heart lies in the company of those who fear Jehovah; and if so, then he himself prefers Jehovah's company to all besides. He is one who has fellowship with God.

But we must not fail to notice the "Tabernacle" and the "Holy Hill," where this man's dwelling shall be forever. The Tabernacle of Moses, which, in David's days, was pitched on the slopes of Zion Hill is the type of greater things.

In that figure we see God in the cloud of glory over the mercy seat, dwelling with men, and the Priest entering in on the atonement day to His presence. All this was typical of what is now before us in clearer light.

The redeemed go in with the blood of the Redeemer through the torn veil, for the atonement day is now, to Him who is in heaven.

And when the Lord returns, and the Tabernacle of God is with men, when Christ, the true mercy seat is here - then shall we go to that Tabernacle, and see Him, on that Holy Hill, where his presence shall be manifested. We see more of this in Psalm 24.

But on that day none shall ascend that Hill or approach that Tabernacle who are not sanctified. On this point Revelation 21:27 corresponds with our Psalm - into New Jerusalem "there shall in no wise enter anything that defiles or make a lie." Over its gate is written "without holiness no man shall see God."

Here then we have before us a description of The dweller in the Holy Hill of God.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Psalm 14 - The Righteous One's view of earth, and its prospects.

As we read these verses, we seem to pass from gloom to deeper gloom; and when v7 suggests a remedy, it is as if a "speak of light had been struck out from solid darkness." David wrote it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but we know not when. It may have been in his wilderness days when Judah seemed nearly as indifferent to Jehovah as the Gentiles.

Hengestenberg considers it's title "Upon Mahalath" to mean "Upon the sickness", the moral sore and sickness described in the Psalm. A instrument may be intended, used for melancholy subjects. Gesenius has found an Ethiopic root signifying "to sing."

Messiah is the speaker far more than David. Though David could call the sheep of the house of Israel "my people" as being given him by the Lord, yet it is Messiah who tends to speak this way. He is the shepherd whose voice we recognise here, saying "they eat up MY people" (v4).

It is He who describes our world's condition - Oh, how unlike the heaven He had left! But amid the flood, He describes the waters receding. He sees the overflow of the ungodly (v5) and from where the grand deliverance will come (v7). Deliverance will appear on Zion's walls. "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).

From Israel comes the Saviour, born at Bethlehem, but crucified, rising, ascending at Jerusalem. Out of Israel too comes life from the dead to the world, when the Redeemer returns again, for "Behold darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people. But, the Lord shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising£ (Isaiah 55:2,3)

Let us then read this Psalm as our Lord's report on the state of the earth and its multitudes.

  • v1. O Father, they are denying that you have any being. The whole earth is replenished with fools who say in their heart; there is no God. They are corrupt. They are doing abominable things. There is none who does good.
  • v2. O sons of men, the cry of earth's wickedness came up to heaven. The Lord looked down to see if there were any who understood and sought after God.
  • v3. Alas! It is altogether according to the cry. They are all gone astray. They have all become filthy. None do good. NO, NOT ONE.
  • v4. Yet they do not see their folly. Who has bewitched them? Have they no knowledge that theyeat up my people and do not call on Jehovah?
  • v5. But their damnation does not sleep. On the very spot where their folly has been wrought I see them trembling. Terror overtakes them; for God is among the generation of the righteous.
  • v6. Where now is your mouth with which you said: who is the Lord that we hsould serve Him? Is this not the peopel who you despised? You cast shame on the counsel of the poor, because he made the Lord his refuge. You scorned the policy of those who made the Lord their wisdom; but the Lord has now laught you to scorn.
  • v7. O let the day dawn and the shadows flee away. Come quickly, year of my redeemed! Isaiah 58:4.
"Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad. At the Lord's bringing back the captivity of His people."

Let the time come when earth shall hear Israel's shouts of joy at the opening of their prison, at the termination of their exile, at the restoration of their long-lost prosperity, at the return of their Shepherd to dwell among them.

For when the earth shall hear that shout of joy, it shall be a token that now the time has arrived for the full accomplishment of that promise to Abraham: in your seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.

Thus, does the true Righteous One survey the world lying in wickedness and turn his eye toward the dawn of day, every member sympathising with the Head. We may describe the Psalm as a setting forth of - The Righteous One's view of earth, and its prospects.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Psalm 13 - The Righteous One's, Lord, how long?

When David wandered in Judea, and mused on the long-deferred promise of the Throne of Israel, he might use these words first of all.

When he saw no sign of Saul's dominion ending, and no appearance of the Seed of the Woman, he was in such circumstances as fitted him to be the instrument of the Holy Spirit in writing for all after-times words which might express the feelings of melancholy weariness.

The Son of David came in the fulness of time. He passed through many nights of darkness. Sometimes the very shades of death bent over Him. "My souls is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death." Could He not most fitly take up v4, as He carried his cross along the Via Dolorosa? Who better could appeal:

"Consider, hear me, O Lord my God (Eli! Eli!)
Make my eyes glisten with joy
Lest I sleep in death
Lest my enemy says: I have prevailed against him.
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved."

High Priests, Govenors, Scribes, Pharisees, Herodians, Saducees, common priests and common people, were all on the eve of shouting triunph if He did not rise from the grave. A burst of joy from hell would respond to their derision if He failed to arise and failed to show himself to be the King of kings.

But not our Head only, every member of his body also, has found cause often to utter such complaints and fears.

A believer in darkness.
A believer under temptation.
A believer under the pressure of some continued trial.
A believer spending wearisom nights lying awak.
Each may find appropriate language here to express his feelings to God.
All the more because it is associated with the Saviour's darkness and so assures us of sympathy.

We take up the harp which He used in Galilee and Gethsemane; and touching its strings, do we not recall to our Head the remembrance of "the days of his flesh?"

How glorious too, for the Church to join with her Head in the prospect of v5:

"But as for me, I have trusted in your mercy" etc.

Leaning on the Father's love amid these sorrowful appeals He was sure, and in him they are sure, of a day of glory dawning - joy coming in the morning.

Verse 6 anticipates not only His own resurrction, but the resurrection of the saints also, and the glory of teh kingdom:

"I will sing to the Lord, for He has dealt bountifully with me."

Glory much more abounds. Joy has set in instead of sorrow in full tide. Fruition more than realising the most "ample propositions that hope made" to the weary soul. And this is teh belssed issue of what Calvin would perhpas have called How Lord,  and which we may call, The Righteous One's, Lord, how long?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Psalm 12 - The Righteous One's consoling assurance that the Lord's word, though mocked at, shall not fail.

A Psalm for all ages, as well as for David's time. Elijah could sing it. Jeremiah could sing it. And never was there a time when this Psalm was more appropriate than in our day. Though written by David and handed over to his Chief Musician to be played by the fingers of a Levite whose heart could sigh in sympathy with its strains of sad foreboding and present gloom, it is at the same time a Psalm for the last days.

The Lord is called to arise for the godly are perishing. You see a little band gathered under the floating banner of their King who had promised to come to their aid in due time. One after another sinks down, wearied and worn, while the remaining few, at each occurrence, cry to their King -

"Help, Lord!" (v1)

This is the cry that ascends from the saints, as one after another of their number is successively gathered to the tomb; while "I will arise" (v4) is the response that faintly reaches their ear.

Help Lord! is their cry as they witness the increase of bold infidelity (v2) and hear such mutterings of boastful pride as these:

"Through our tongues we are strong. Our lips are with us. Who is lord over us?" (v2-3)

The power of human talent and the grandeur of man's intellect are boasted of; while v2 shows that these same persons flatter each other into deceitful peace and are living without regard for the holy law of love.

Meanwhile the remnant who sigh in secret to the Lord - a remnant hated and often in danger (v5) are sustained by the sure word of promise. They tell their hope and faith in v6, when they describe Jehovah's words:

"The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times."
  • All He has spoken about the Woman's Seed from the beginning...
  • All He has spoken of Him in whom all nations shall be blessed...
  • All He has spoken of David and David's Seed...
  • All is sure, all shall come to pass.
And so they sing (v7) "you shall keep your own and preserve them from this generation." A generation so corrupt and evil one may say of it it -

"The wicked walk on every side, vileness is held in honour by the sons of men."

This is descriptive of Adam's race in the latter days. How like the times of which Peter speaks when he says men shall "speak great swelling words of vanity" (2 Peter 2:18) and boldly ask "where is the promise of his coming" (3:4). How descriptive too of the consolation of the saints: for Peter tells us that this shall be their comfort - "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise" (v9) and "according to his promise" they shall continue looking for the renewed heavens and the renewed earth (v13). They know that the words of the Lord are pure words. They cannot fail.

Some features of this scene are found in all the conflicts that have risen between the Woman's seed and the Serpent's. At the same time, the times when David was persecuted even though he was the anointed King where comparable to those before the coming of the Son of Man.

The flatterers of Saul hated David's person and David's principles. They could not fail to try to cast contempt on the Lord's words about him and his seed. Such also were the days of the True David, our Lord, when He appeared in our world as The Lord's Anointed.

We can easily see how the proud Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees might be characterised by v2,3. And not less how, on such an occasion as the Baptist's death, Jesus could use v1. Let us follow the Baptist's disciples who have just buried their master. They walk along in silent sadness; for a witness to the truth has perished.They seek out Jesus (Matt 14:12) and tell Him all that the foes of God have done. Jesus hears and sympathises; and may we not imagine the whole company of disciples, with the master as chief musician, sitting down in a solitary place (v13) and making it echo with the plaintive cry -

"Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases" etc.

The church's eye, anointed with eye-salve, has ever since been able to discern in the world resemblance to the same state of things; and never more than now. Hence David and David's Son, and the seed of David's Son, have ever found the strain of this song fitted to express what the world made them feel.

Horsley entitles it, "Of free thinkers; their cunning audacity, and final excision." But this is only one aspect of it. It is rather, The Righteous One's consoling assurance that the Lord's word, though mocked at, shall not fail.