Friday, 24 January 2014

Psalm 70 - One of the Righteous One's strong cries for speedy help.

It has been said by some that this Psalm is a prayer upon the 69th. It may be so taken. The title seems to mean, a Psalm "to put God in mind" - Messiah himself being the chief of God's Remembrancers.

v1: The cry
v2,3: First reason why the cry is heard: the guilt of his foes.
v4: Second reason why the cry is heard: the benefit of those who love the Lord
v5: Third reason why the cry his heard: his claims on God for deliverance from this state of humiliation and sorrow.

Thus the cry rises to heaven on the wings of three strong arguments certain to be answered in "the glory that was to follow" implied in the "help."

It is such a Psalm as every member of the Church has often had occasion to use, in sympathy with David, and in which he is sympathised with by the Son of David, whether asking present help or hastening to the day of his Coming, which brings full help and deliverance - "Wait not!"

But still, it is most of all Messiah whose voice is heard here. It may be called, with reference to Hebrews 5:7 One of the Righteous One's strong cries for speedy help.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Psalm 69 - Messiah's manifold sufferings, a savour of death to the unbelieving and of life to the believing.

A deeply plaintive song. It is quoted seven times in the New Testament - no Psalm is quoted so often - as the utterance of Messiah.

Why it is said to be On Shoshannim we cannot tell, till we know more of what that instrument was. It seems to speak of joy; and if so, it suits this Psalm so far that in it sorrow ends in joy.

The plan of it is very simple. There are three parts.

1. Messiah's sufferings are related by himself (v1-21)

What an embodiment of prodigious passion in the cry "Save me" (v1) from the Saviour's lips! Under the sea of wrath, sinking in the slime at the very bottom of this prisoner's dungeon (Jer 38:6), Messiah's voice is heard ascending to the Father. The "slime and mire" represent the loathing he felt toward sin. He is weary with crying, for in his true, real humanity he has all the experience of one in pain, who, during the slow, heavy hours of darkness and suffering feels as if it were never to end.

He is spent with calling on his God; he is unsympathised with, for foes are on every side, and all this at the very time when he is not taking from them, but restoring the blessings which they had forfeited (v4). As to the folly and the trespass imputed to him, he lays it before God - "Lord, you know as to my folly."

You know the history the folly and sin laid to my charge, and why I stand charged. He appeals to him as able to help, for he is "God of hosts," and proved to be willing for he is "God of\ Israel" (v6). While it is out of love to man that he suffers, it is also to glorify God (v7), "for your sake."

He "weeps away his soul with fasting" (v1), for the good of men, and yet they mock him. He pours his sorrows into the heart of his God (v13), at a time when  (perhaps in Nazareth) he was "the song of the drunkard" i.e. the satire (Job 30:9,. Lam 3:14)

"They who sat in the gate talk at me,
And the songs of drunkards do the same.
"As for me, I pray to you, O LORD."

And then he adds (though the punctuation in our version gives a different sense), a passage which Isaiah 49:9 seems to refer to
"O God, in an acceptable time (i.e. a time when you are favourable),
In the multitude of your mercy, in the truth of your salvation,
Answer me!"

Hear and answer me when you see fit, when you are well-pleased. Let there be a time of acceptance. The LORD in Isaiah 49:8 replies to this cry - "In an acceptable time I have heard you" - well pleased with your work, I give you all your desire.

The cry at verses 14-16 is parallel to Hebrews 5:7, and the complaint of lack of sympathy (v20) reminds us how even his three favoured disciples fell asleep during his agony; for here he seeks comforters with the cross in view (v21).

True his whole life might be said to be a life in which he fed on gall, and drank vinegar, grief and bitterness being the everyday portion of the Man of Sorrows - still, the chief reference is to his life's closing scene, the scene of Calvary.

Hence, immediately after this, the stain changes, and we find ourselves in another scene. He has finished his work; and they who crucified Him have gone away unmoved.

2. How these sufferings of Messiah become the savour of death to the unbelieving (v22-28).

It resembles Proverbs 1:22,23. He gives them up, saying "let their table become a snare to them," since they give the Beloved Son only gall and vinegar, "and for a recompense and for a trap" - (so Mendelssohn, Phillips and many others, and Romans 11:9).

Ruin overtakes them at unthought of moments, like 1 Kings 13:20, in the case of the disobedient prophet; and their habitation is desolate, as Matthew 23:38 emphatically threatens.

The cup of iniquity is filling up, drop by drop, and Messiah does not interfere, but on the contrary says to Him who records it in his book, "Add iniquity to iniquity, and let them never be justified." Such is the "savour of death." Instead of "Come to me!" it is now "Let them not come!"

3. The savour of life from Messiah's sufferings. (v29-36)

Himself is delivered and glorified, accepted by the LORD as a full type of, of fulfiller of every sacrifice of clean animals, "ox, and horned bullock with cloven hoof.," (v31).

The sinner who ceases from self, "the humble," finds in him his source of joy, his acceptance with God. Men everywhere over all the earth may thus be blessed in him; and heaven and earth rejoice over the consummation.

Israel who once rejected him, shall then be his, proving that he can soften the most hardened, and pardon the most guilty. Such then in this Psalm - Messiah's manifold sufferings, a savour of death to the unbelieving and of life to the believing.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Psalm 68 - Messiah leading Israel and his Church from the Wilderness to final Rest.

Another Psalm and Song by David, the sweet singer of Israel. As David's days of adversity gave many occasions for appropriate Psalms, which the Son of David and his Church would later use in their times of trail, so the more prosperous season, when the Ark which had been removed in procession by David to Mt. Zion, and afterwards by Solomon to Moriah, seem to have provided fit occasion for this triumphant song.

It has been called "The Magnificent March." Certainly it traces the stately steps of the Lord in his going out for His Church, from the Wilderness toward final rest.

The plan is as follows:

v1-3. Opening strains, celebrating the LORD as almighty to scatter foes, almighty to make friends exult with joy.
v4-6. General characteristics of his ways - grace to the helpless - to all that do not reject his help.
v7-9. His ways, with Israel in the Wilderness - glorious majesty and gracious bounty.
v10-14. His ways, in bringing Israel into Canaan - the irrestible might of a King on behalf of his people.
v15-17. His ways, in fixing his seat on Zion, the ark being carried up - sovereignty.
v18-23. His ways, in the typical setting out on Zion of an ascended Saviour, the savour of life to his own, though the savour of death to his rejecters.
v24-31. His ways, in the Ark being moved afterwards to the temple on Moriah - Israel gathered around it (v26,27), and the Gentiles flocking to Shiloh there (v29,31). All this typical of the Lord's avert, as true Solomon.
v32-35. The closing doxology to the King of kings on reviewing the whole, and seeing "the Kingdom Come."

Such seems to be the plan. It would carry us beyond our limits to go into full details, since almost every verse is rich and laden with meaning. A few hints may be of use, however, on some of the more difficult clauses.

Some render verse 1, "God shall arise," it shall always be thus, as they sang in Numbers 10:35 and Judges 5:31.

In verse 4, the justified ones singing before their justifier cry, "Make a way for him who rides through the wilderness or plan; the Angel of the Covenant who redeemed them from all evil. It is their King whom they honour in this way and so cry "prepare the way!" as in Isaiah 40:3, and as the Baptist did when he saw the King of the kingdom. His name "Jah" expresses the fullness of being and perfection; and Horsley would add beauty too.

In verse 5, Israel's helpless case in Egypt, Earth's helpless case since the Fall,  the sinners state, "without strength" may all be found here. The "widow's judge" implies his managing and ruling affairs of such as have no other to interpose, like Gideon, or any judge of Israel, putting in order a disordered county, and bore the burden of its cares. And James 1:21 refers to this verse for we have "the fatherless", "the widow" and then the "holiness" of the God we serve.

In verse 8, the ratifying of the covenant at Sinai, in circumstances of awful grandeur, is the theme; and verse 9 speaks of the "rain of gifts" (Hengstenberg) that attended Israel all through the desert - manna, quails, water from the rock - when God's heritage pitched their tents on the flinty and scorched soil of that weary wilderness.

Then, in verse 10, the host of Israel "settle down on It," i.e. the well-known, ever-in-view Land of Promise. The Lord "gave the word" - (Psalm 105:19) - as if at every step there had been repeated like Joshua 5:15, "Shout, for the Lord has given you the land!" and responding multitudes, even of the women of Israel , proclaim the victory, and sing, as Miriam sang at the Red Sea:
"King of armies flee! They flee!
And she who waits at home divides the spoil" (v12)

So easily does the LORD conquer! And now, "You lie down amid the borders, and are as doves;" or rather, they who were "lying among the pots" are now like the dove who has washed itself in the streams, and is basking in the sun whose bright beams glance on its feathers with the sheen of silver and gold.

Yes it was easy for the LORD to scatter kings. "There was snow on Zalmon." They fell before him as snow disappears among the thick-wooded heights of Zalmon (Judges 9:48) in the day of tempest.

Israel now at rest, where is the Ark of the Covenant? Not on Basham, i.e. the range of Antilabanus, though that was a "hill of God" such as a hill as reminded one of the power of Him who holds the hills together by his might (Hengstenberg) - nor yet on other lofty hills such as Tabor, Lebanon or Carmel.

The more lowly Zion is selected, and here the sovereign Lord comes with all his hosts. There is resides, as in a pavilion - in that Holy of Holies which combines the manifestation of justice and mercy at the mercy-seat  for Sinai is in the sanctuary. He is as much present here as when the law was given on Sinai.

There, though unseen except by the eye of faith, he reigns, more mighty in his angelic heavenly hosts than ever was king with his chariots, so that Israel need no more fear a Jabin with his nine hundred chariots of iron (Judges 4:2). An anointed eye, like his in 2 Kings 6:27, might see these armies in Israel's land at any moment, under the rule of Israel's king.

Ascended to Zion, no more wandering from place to place, the Ark is the centre of blessing to Israel - there worshippers get gifts; there daily benefits are dispenses. And in this is Typified the Savio9ur, no more a wanderer on earth from place to place, seated at the Father's righht hand, and showering down his gifts on man - the antitype infinitely greater than the Type, and his gifts infinitely more spiritual and plentiful (Eph 3:8).

Here is (v7), a "Selah" the mark of solemn thought; for here is a great mystery of love (v19).

The words are literally rendered, "You have received gifts among men."

Here is a constr.praegn. for "received, and given out among men" (Eph 4:18), even among the rebels.

And then follows, "At the tabernacling of Jah Elohim" (v16), that is at the time when he pitched his tabernacle. But, there is reference

1. To the type on Zion
2. To the days of his First Coming
3. To the still future Tabernacling, Rev 21:3

But again let the harp sing of Him who is thus exalted, mighty to save, and mighty to overcome his enemies. The LORD is "God of our Salvation" and "Selah" calls us to ponder.

Then repeated:
"The God of Israel is God to us, as to salvations.
And to the LORD belong the issues, as to the death" (v21)

He dashes his foes in pieces, cleaving their hairy scalp from the head from which the helmet has been struck. Yes says the Lord,
"I will turn the foes back from Bashan,
I will turn him back from the depths of the sea." (v22)

Though they were to make lofty Bashan their fortress or hide in the caverns of the deep (Amos 7:3, Ob 4)

But all is not yet over. The Ark moves again! It moves to Moriah - to Solomon's temple. Then see the royal procession (v24), and hear the songs of happy thousands under the reign of that Prince of Peace -
"Bless God in the congregations,
The Lord, in the congregations, from the fountain of Israel."

There the gathered tribes are seen; the south sends Benjamen, once their ruler (as it sent Saul, 1 Sam 14:7, and so became the conquering tribe) and Judah, their prince or bulwark. The north is represented by Zebulon and Naphtali. God gave strength to them.

The Gentiles too are there (v29). What a type of the latter days, when the true Solomon, Prince of Peace, has come from the Father's right hand to his own throne - from Zion to Moriah! Then, more fully than in the first Solomon's days, it will be sung:

"He has rebuked the Best of the Reed,
(The Hippopotamus, who, like leviathan, is the type of Antichrist.)
The assembly of mighty ones (bulls, Psalm 22:12),
With calves of the nations." (v30)

These mighty kings and their subjects - bulls and calves - with their leader, are rebuked and destroyed; and along with there, the money-worshipper, "who crouches with pieces of silver;" or rather
"He who prostrates himself on pieces of silver"

The nations that delight in war are scattered, for it is the reign of the Prince of Peace. Egypt sends princes to Zion, and Ethiopia is quick to submit to God. Thus we are led on to the closing strain - the shout of joy over earth now delivered and under the LORD's sway
"You kingdoms of earth, sing to God!
Chant to the Lord!
Who rides in the heaven on ancient heaven."
(i.e. who claims as his domain the inmost recess of the eternal heaven.)
Lo! He utters a mighty voice when he speaks. (v33)

He calls on the universe for praise in v34. But even in that universal hallelujah there is prominence to Israel - "His majesty is over Israel." (v34) as if Israel's land were the spot of the universe where is manifested glory is to be seen in its particular radiance -
"God of Israel, you are a terrifying God from the holy place (v36)
"Giving strength and might to this peculiar people! Blessed be God!"

Let every soul cry "Blessed by God!" Let that be the heart-cry of earth forever. And let it not fail to be ours, while we trace in such a record as this, Messiah leading Israel and his Church from the Wilderness to final Rest.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Psalm 67 - The Prayer of Israel for the blessing which Messiah is to give them, for the sake of the earth at large.

They pray for the outpouring of the full blessing which their High Priest, Jesus, is to bestow by their means on all the earth.

The language of verse 1 refers to Numbers 6:24,25, and very appropriately; for the time is the Lord's Second Coming, when, as true High Priest, he comes forth from the Holiest to bless the people.

The "Selah" at the end of verse 1 and verse 4 is, in both cases, very expressive, indicating, as it does, pauses in the sense and feeling, as well as the music.

"God be merciful to us
And bless us!
And cast the light of his countenance
(So as that it may be) with us." 

Bless us and guide us in your way, your mode of dealing with your people, that by us your way may be known on the earth, as foretold in Genesis 12:3, and since those days in Amos 8:14; Isaiah 60:1,2; Acts 15:15-17; Romans 11:15, and many others places

"The nations shall praise you, O God;
The nations shall praise you." (v3)

The peculiar people here anticipate with joy the time when the whole Gentile people shall praise their God and Saviour, and that through their means.

"Let the tribes (of earth, those who once raged against you - Psalm 2:1) rejoice and sing,
For you judges (i.e. ruled) the nations righteously,
And as for the tribes of the earth, you guide them" (Isaiah 53:11, Hengstenberg)

And again at the happy prospect they cry, "Hallelujah!" for they repeat their song -

"The nations shall praise you, O God,
The nations shall praise you! Every one of them!" (v5)

And now Earth, as well as Palestine, gives its increase, for the curse is away, and the blessing rests on it (Lev 26:4). Israel rejoices in this communication of their blessing to all men -
"Earth gives its increase!
God, our God, blesses us!
God blesses us!
And they fear Him!
All ends of the earth!"
Horsely says, this is "A hymn for the Feast of Tabernacles, prophetic of a general conversion of the world to the worship of God." Dr. Allix entitles this Psalm, "A prayer of the Synagogue for the Second Coming of the Messiah, when her empire is to be extended over all nations,and the temporal blessings which are promised to the Jews in several oracles shall be conferred on them."

But it is simpler, and perhaps more correct to describe it - The Prayer of Israel for the blessing which Messiah is to give them, for the sake of the earth at large.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Psalm 66 - Messiah and his ransomed Israel praising the prayer-hearing God.

This is at once a solemn Psalm and a lively Temple song. It is especially the song of Messiah and the Church of Israel - a kind of Red Sea song, sung, however, in Canaan.

"Raise the shout of joy!
All the earth to God.
Show forth the glory of his name.
Give glory to him as his praise."

Then leading us to such scenes as were spoken in 65:5
"Say to God, how awful are these works of yours!"

There is a Bethel-solemnity in these scenes, though they bring us to the very gate of heaven -
"All the earth shall worship you.
They sing! They sing your name! Selah

This Selah-pause divides the Psalm into portions at suitable times, and intimates a change of scene or tone. Here, as usual, it gives time for solemn thought; and then an invitation is given to men to "Come and see."

As John 1:26,27, at Christ's First Coming, and Rev 6:3,4,5,7, in events leading on to his Second -
"Come and see the works of God!
Awful in his dealing to the sons of men." (v5)

And when we have cast our eye back to Red Sea and Jordan wonders, and have seen Him to be the same forever, still subduing the nations, another, "Selah" gives us time to pause and adore. But the harp is soon struck again (v8),
"Bless our God, you nations"

The Jews are now inviting the Gentiles; for the Jews are life from the dead to the world. They tell how their God refined them; how He "laid pressure on their loins," the seat of strength; yet made their trials act as a furnace to take away the dross.

Even "frail man" were made strong against them; yet Israel passed through desert and flood; and, at length, reached "The wealthy place" (v12) - affluence - refreshing.

Each of their number, as well as their Leader, thus invites the Gentile nations; and they do it by example, and not by word only -
"I will go to your house with offerings;
I will perform my vows to you.
I will offer fat victims as burnt-offerings.
With rams that have incense savour. Selah." v13,14

Another pause - like Wisdom's in Proverbs 1:23. And then once more, voice and instrument together sound forth a cheerful summons to draw near and listen to Messiah and the Church of Israel -
"Come, hear, and I will tell,
All you who fear God,
What he has done for me." (v16)

He was (v17), "Hearer of prayer" to me (Isaiah 65:2); for no sooner did I call upon Him than he answered - turning my prayer into praise. Had I sought to "lying vanities" or had tried crooked paths, I should have failed in finding this blessed result.

But the God of Israel, the Holy One, was honoured.
"Truly God has heard,
He has hearkened to the voice of my prayer." (v19)

But the way to this blessedness is by a holy path, v18. Messiah magnified the law; and in Him, we who come to God through his blood and righteousness do the same, and so shall sing the same song, and bless the same God.

"He has not turned away my prayer.
He has not turned away his mercy from me."

A close equivalent to Revelation 5:8, where golden vials, full of saints' prayers, are held up by the saints, and owned by the Hearer of Prayer on that day.

Far from turning away my prayer. He has done exceeding abundantly beyond all I asked. Instead of turning away his mercy from me, He has brought me to the Wealthy Place! Such is the Song of Messiah and his ransomed Israel praising the prayer-hearing God.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Psalm 65 - Prayers exchanged for praises because of blessings showered on Earth!

"A Psalm of David; a true song," is the import of the title, thus describing the tone that prevails throughout.

Possibly (as some thing) it was composed at Passover time, when the sheaf of first fruits of barley harvest used to be offered.

Every note in this song tells the feeling of a happy soul reviewing the past, and seeing mercy abounding then and now. Messiah and his redeemed ones - the Lamb and his 144,00 - might sing it on their Mount Zion, and we may sing it now.

The Head leads the choice, and this is the substance of the song - "O God, praise is thine!" such praise as leaves the worshipper "silent," because the theme is too great for his harp to handle.

"To you belongs silent-praise;" praise without any tumult (Alexander.) It was been said, "The most intense feeling is the most calm, being condensed by repression." And Hooker says of the prayer, "The very silence which our unworthiness puts us into does itself make request for us, and that in the confidence of his grace. Looking inward, we are stricken dumb; looking upward, we speak and prevail" (v48,4).  Horsley renders it, "Upon you is the repose of prayer."

Now is the vow performed to you! "O Hearer of Prayer, to you (yes, even as far as to You), the Holiest of all, all flesh are coming now." 

Our iniquities (iniquities which have been imputed to our Head) once prevailed against us (as Gen 7:24) like the waters of the deluge, surmounting the highest hills; but you purge them away, and we sing, "Blessed is the man whom you cause to approach to you as a priest" (Num 16:8). Yes, blessed indeed for he shall dwell in your courts, and there be satisfied with good; your house, your holy place yielding him its heavenly stores.

When we cried to you, terrible things (thing of such surpassing glory and majesty as spread awe around) were your answer.

You were God of salvation, displaying your grace in such a way as to draw the confidence of all ends of earth. Creator, too, setting fast the mountains! And God of providence, stilling the raging waves of the most tumultuous sea, and by your wonderful signs (tokens) causing distant lands, the lands of the setting and rising sun, the east and the west, to fear and to rejoice.

And now let us sing together of the crowning act of all, displaying grace, creation, and providence in one - your dealings with this Earth, which you will renew into paradise.

Once we sang, "What is man that you visited him?" and now we sing "You visit his dwelling place, and make it teem with plenty!" Yes, "You have the earth under your care, and water it."

"The fountain of God has plenty of waters" (Hengstenberg)
You prepare (Horsley, make sure) their corn, for you have prepared!" (v9)

What a table spread with abundance is that once barren earth! It is "thus you deal as God, with infinite liberality." The soaking rain descends on her furrowed fields.

"You lay down its ploughed fields;
You moisten it with showers;
You bless the springing up/
You have crowned the year, so as to make it a year of goodness;
Your chariot-wheels drop fatness.
They drop on the wilderness which has pastures now (meadow-lands);
The hills are girded with gladness."

What a changed world! And every season we see some thing of this exhibited. But the yearly return of spring and summer after winter is an emblem of Earth's summer day, when it shall be renewed. Then, even more than now, it shall be sung:

"The pastures are clad with flocks;
The valleys are covered over with corn.
They shout for job! they break out into song!"

Who does not seem, in reading this majestic Psalm, to hear the very melody that issues from the happy people of that New Earth? Originally it may have been sung as a "Psalm of David, a lively song," at a Feast of Tabernacles, when Israel's happy land and prosperous tribes furnished a scene that naturally suggested the future days of a renewed earth - earth's golden age returned.

It is, however, on a much higher key than this; it is a Song of the Lamb, while he leads his glorified ones to fountains of living water, and shows them their old world presenting at length a counterpart to heaven - all paradise again, and better than paradise.

Is it not then, Prayers exchanged for praises because of blessings showered on Earth!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Psalm 64 - Our Joseph and his seed foreseeing the doom of the archers that have shot at them.

It is a probably conjecture that David may have been led to write this Psalm while still a youth at Saul's court, when there discerning the arts and deceits of courtiers.

We may illustrate it by referring to the case of Joseph and his many foes.

Here is the Righteous One, or "the Perfect" (v4), set before us - a name applicable to Christ in its fullest significance but applied also to his members, as being "Perfect" in purpose and in prospects, impartially aiming at the whole will of their God in heart and life.

But the world hates such, as his brothers hated Joseph; the world lays snares, and levels arrows of malignity at them.

"The arches have shot at them" - at our Joseph and his seed.

He says, v5, "They will tell about hiding snares," and they think no eye is on them.

"They search deep into iniquity" (to find out the most deadly device)
"We ahve got it ready! Here is a well-matured plan! (this is their shout over their deep-laid plot)
"And close is each one,
And deep of heart." (v6)

But there is another that is an Archer: "God has shot at them."

God has his bow, and his time is coming (v7). "All their hard speeches," are to be brought into judgement at the Lord's coming (Jude 15); and if they wounded others sorely, sorely shall they in turn be wounded. Theirs shall be a doom like Korah's (v8), when all Israel fled at the cry (Num 16:34).

"He has cast them down, tehir tongues come on themselves." (v8)

All earth shall then discern the righteous ways of God. That is the day of his Redeemed so often spoken of, so long expected - the day when the Righteous shall "enter into the joy of their Lord" and utter aloud their rejoicings and their glorying in Him.

"The Righteous One shall be glad in the Lord,
And flee for refuge to none but him;
And all the upright in heart shall boast themselves." (v6)

May we not, then describe this song of Zion as one in which we find Our Joseph and his seed foreseeing the doom of the archers that have shot at them.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Psalm 63 - The Righteous One finding water-springs in God.

It may have been near the Dead Sea, on his way to the ford of Jordan, that the Psalmist first sang this song. It is a Psalm first heard by David's faithful ones in the wilderness of Judah; but truly a Psalm for every godly man who in the dry world-wilderness can sing - "All my springs are in you" - a Psalm for David - a Psalm for David's Son - a Psalm for the Church in every age - a Psalm for every member of the Church in the weary land!

What assurance, what vehement desire, what soul-filling delight in God, in God alone - in God the only fountain of the living water amid a boundness wilderness! Hope, too, has its visions here; for it sees the ungodly perish (v8,9,10), and the King on the throne surrounded by a company who swear allegiance to the LORD.

Hope sees for itself what Isaiah 65:16 describes - every mouth "swearing by the God of truth;" and what Revelation 21:27 has foretold, the mouth of "liars" closed forever - all who sought others gods, and trusted to other saviours, gone forever.

And when we read all this as spoken of Christ, how much does every verse become enhanced.

His thirst for God!
His vision of God!
His estimate of God's loving-kindness!
Hos soul satisfied!
His mouth full of praise!
His soul following hard after God!

"O God, you are my God," mighty one. You are my omnipotence. It is this God he still seeks. In verse 2 we see: 

"No wonder that I thirst for you; no wonder that my first thoughts in the morning are toward you; no wonder than my very flesh longs for you! Who would not, that has seen what I have seen? So have I gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing such power and glory!"

The "so" is like 2 Peter 1:18, "Such a voice!" And then if the past has been exquitely blessed, my prospects for the future are no less so. I see illimitable bliss coming in as a tide; "so will I bless You while I have being!" (v4)

Yes; in ages to come, as well as in many a happy moment on earth, my soul shall be satiated as with marrow and fatness! 

When verse 7 shows us the soul under the shadow of God's wings, rejoicing, we may say, it is not only like as "the bird sheltered from teh heart of the sun amid the rich foliage sings its merry note," but it is the soul resting there as if entering the cloud of glory, like Moses and Elijah.

O world! Come and see The Righteous One finding water-springs in God.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Psalm 62 - The Righteous one, when threatened, looking to the Rock for help.

This Psalm has three parts, each begins with "truly;" verses 1,4,9.

There was a "Rock" spoken of in Psalm 61:2. The God of Israel had long been known under than name, ever since Jacob, and Moses, and Hannah, had appropriated the Rock, with its many propertises of shade, shelter, strength, solidity, dignity, to give a people accustomed to level deserts and sands an emlem of the Unchanging One to whom the helpless may hold.

This Rock is prominent through this Psalm. At the commencement, the soul of the speaker is seen under it as his shelter - he rests in its shade, and on its strength.

"Only upon God my soul rests." (Horsley) He is a rock, while enemies are as an inclining wall and a fence that has had a shove - on the verge of ruin. Thus he can snig, "Truly in God, my soul takes rest." (v1,6)

Foes and bitter persecutors are around him, and this keeps him very near the Refuge at all times. We ahve here the soul of the Righteous One - Christ and his members - resorting to the LORD while iniquity surrounds them, and persecution tries them.

We hear them calling on Him, and stirring up one another to do the same (v8), affixing the solemn ("Selah",
"Trust in him at all imes, you people." (true Israel of God)

"Our estimate of man (it has been said) depends on our estimate of God;" and here God is felt to be most gloriously great. The sons of men (v9) are a mere vapour; their greantness, even when it shall flush up the splendour of Antichrist's dominion, is a mere mirages.

The sentence against it is on the way. Already you may hear God speaking; it is no fancy. Two things have been declared by our God. That he will bring down the proud and that he has mercy on his own.

As from Sinai, so from the Rock, we hear a voice telling that the LORD is God Almighty, and yet merciful too.

"One thing God has spoken,
Two things there are which I have heard - 
That might is God's;
And that mercy also is the LORD's!" (v11,12)

In this certainty we looked for the Great Day of the Lord - the day when a mismanaged world shall be set in order - a day sure to come, and sure to satisfy us when it has come,
"For you render to each man according to his work."

When the choir of singers, at whose head was Jeduthun, sang this Psalm together, the godly in Israel would feel their souls raised to the very heights of confidence, sympathising with The Righteous one, when threatened, looking to the Rock for help.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Psalm 61 - The Righteous One, when an outcast, looking for the day of his Restoration.

On Neginah (like Neginoth, unknown), and "by David," and perhaps sung at Mahanaim, (Tholuck). In this life, every member of the Church has varied lot - now at rest, then troubled; now hopeful, then fearful; now a conqueror, then a combatant.

Seated as he is on the Rock of Ages, immovably seated, he sees at one time a fair sky and a bright sun; then, the thick cloud spreads gloom over nature; soon, the beam struggles through again, but soon all is mist once more.

Such being the sure complexion of our sojourning here, we rejoice to find sympathy evidenced by our God who knows our frame, and evidenced by the fact that he so often turns in the Songs of Zion from one state of mind to another, and from aspect of our case to another.

Here is the Head and his members in a state of loneliness. As if suggested by the case of dispersed Israel, language (in verse 2) is adopted such as we find in Deut 30:41 and Neh 1:9.

Our Lord could use such a Psalm in the days of his humiliation, looking to the Father, as in John 14:28 "the Rock higher than I," higher than the man Christ Jesus, higher than all his members. This Rock casts its shadow over those beneath it.

The "Selah" at verse 4 gives us time to look upon the believing one's quiet repose under the wings of God, and then we hear the calm acknowledgement of verse 5, which may remind us of Psalm 22:25. The tone of the Song changes; everything after is hope, sure anticipation, a future of bliss realised as already at hand.

"He shall sit (on the throne) before God for ever," verse 7.

Let us especially notice "Mercy and truth" (v7) are the attributes which preserve him. Now, "mercy and truth" are the prominent features of Redemption-blessing; God saying "Live,"and yet to do this without retracting the sentence, "You shall die."

Christ's pillar-cloud was "mercy and truth;" the Christian's pillar-clouds is the same.

Christ, by harmonising, magnified these perfections of Godhead; the Christian magnifies them by pointing the Father to them as harmonised. So this prayer is answered: "O prepare mercy and truth; let them preserve him!"

Perhaps the unusual word, "appoint," "prepare," may have been chosen to suggest a reference to manna, the wilderness-provision.

Give a manna-like provision of mercy and truth. This is our everlasting food while we dwell before God!

Another thing worthy of brief notice is verse 6, "The King."

David's title was "King" though a wanderer in Judah's deserts; David's Son, too, had the same name and title; and in the right of their Head, disciples of Christ claim kingship under him, and look forward with hope and expectation to the days of his visible manifestation as King in the kingdom that has no end.

Here, then, we have The Righteous One, when an outcast, looking for the day of his Restoration.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Psalm 60 - The Righteous One asks and rejoices in, Israel's restoration.

The Sweet Singer outlived the dismal days of Saul. Seated firmly on his throne, he saw his armies go forth adn return crowned with victory.

 One of his victories, gained by Joab, was over the king of Zobah, who it appers had engaged the men of Mesopotamia (Aram-naharaim) to take his side. When the trophies of victory from the river Euphrates (2 Sam 8:3) were brought in, David's harp awoke, touched by the Spirit of God.

 It sang of a happier day to come - happier than that triumphant day of Israel in the birth-land of their father Abraham - a day when Israel's breaches shall be for ever healed, and Israel's strongest foes for ever subdued. Sometimes it is the nation, sometimes it is the leader of the nation, that sings (See v1,5,9.)

It may be used by Israel, or by Israel's Lord as one of themselves. But what is "upon Shushan-eduth"? It must be connected with "joy" or "lilies" and may speak of an instriument as in Psalm 45 and 80. No writer has come near certainty of "eduth" than that it may allude to Israel as the nation that had the "Testimony" or the Ark of Testimony.

"To teach" - as if pointing back to Moses' song, Deut 31:19, and indicating that thsi also is such a National Song.

 The Psalm may be said to take up the hope of the precedinng one. The dispersion of Israel does not last for ever. Though they have been broken, though God has put into their hands the cup of wrath than stuns them (Isaiah 51:22), yet they shall arise.

Their's is not the malefctor's cup of myrrh that deadens pain just as a prelude to death and utter extinction. Though Israel be broken, and his land cleft apart a thousandfold more terribly than David's wars or any of the desolations of his time ever threatended, yet that desolation ends (v4).

 "You have given a Banner to those who fear you." 

 Here is the voice of Israel owning the LORD's gift of Messiah to them.

Messiah is the ensign or banner, Isaiah 11:10.
 "To be lifted up as an ensign, because of truth" 

 Holding up this banner - in other words, owning God's truth, or the fulfillment of his ancient promise to Adam, to Abraham, to all the fathers - Israel may expect favour; and they find it.

 For suddenly, verse 5, Messiah appears, himself urging their request, and at verse 6 he gets a favourable answer; "God speaks in holiness," (or, as Israel's Holy One,) and grants the desire of him who asks. 

Shechem, on the west side of Jordan, where Jacob's first altar was raised, and where ie bought the first parcel of ground (Gen 33:18), and where afterwards destruction threatened the whole feeble family because of Levi and Simeon's enormity, is now re-possessed in peace.

 Succoth, on the east side of Jordan, where Jacob first erected a dwelling (Gen 33:17) and booths for cattle, as one intending to remain, is next claimed permanently.

 The country eastward beyond Jordan, under the name Gilead, where stood the mounatin famed for healing balm, emblematic of healing to Israel, comes next, as well as westward Mannaseh, on the opposite side; thus showing us the stretching of the wing over the breadth of the land.

 Ephraim, full of power, comes in as being to push the foe with his horns (Deut 33:17), while Judah appears as "Lawgiver" or "Ruler", the tribe of Messiah.

 The nations round submit; Moab stands as a slave at his master's foot; Edom picks up the sandal cast down at his feet by his lord (Hengstenberg); and Philistia is compelled to receive the king with triumphant shouts.

 "Philistia, shout to me The Conqueror!"

 And whose power is it that accomplished all this? Who is it that leads the conquering nation and its king to the strong city? Even to Edom's strongholds, and to the battlefield of Edom in the latter day? (Isaiah 58:1) It is the very God who once cast them off - the very God who scattered them. Glory to the Lord of hosts, and to Him only! Israel and Israel's Leader rest on him, and so do valiantly - as Balaam, pointing to Moab and Edom, long since foretold (Numbers 24:18,19).

And thus the scene of Psalm 59 is happily reversed at length.
 The Righteous One asks and rejoices in, Israel's restoration.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Psalm 59 - The Righteous One's appeal against apostate Israel, to the Lord's might and mercy

"His own received him not." The Sweet Singer of Israel knew what it is to be cast of by those who should have been his closest friends; and it was on one of those occasions, when his father-in-law sent a band to take him, dead or alive, from his own house (1 Sam 19:14), that David was taught by the Holy Spirit to pour out his soul in these strains of strong appeal to justice and to mercy.

Perhaps it was at Ramah, when resting in Samuel's dwelling for a time, that this Psalm was written

  • - a Psalm for David himself 
  • - a Psalm for David's Son, when he too should be rejected by his own
  • - a Psalm for all his followers when they would, in later ages, feel that the disciple is not greater than the Master. 

It is another Al-taschith and Michtam.

If a disicple, persecuted "for righteousness' sake" can confidently use the language of verse 4, saying "not for any particular crime in me, nor yet for general unholiness, but because I am yours; without being able to fix on anything to justify their hostility" - if a disicple can use this language, much more the Master.

And in this consciousness of being hated solely for "righteousness' sake," the Head and his members claim the help of the LORD as being:
1. God of hosts and therefore able
2. God of Israel and therefore willing (v5)

It seems to be apostate Israel (Tholuck says, heathen-minded Israel) who are primarily described  in verse 5 as "the heathen", these children of Abraham who are now children of the devilk - Israelites become Goim! (Isaiah 1:10).

They are in character and conduct like city dogs, prowling for prey, feeding on the filth of the town, scouring its streets as if to clear them of the godly.

But the LORD - he who in Psalm 2:4 was seen on teh throne of his glory deriding the kings of earth in their vain attempts - laughs at these impotent apostates.

In verse 7, the Psalmist complainingly utters, "for who is there that hears?"
And then verse 8 as one confident in God he exlaims:

His Strength (Yes, this is our stronghold - the idea flashes hope through the soul -
The LORD's strength - I will wait on you (v9)

The "sins of their mouth" may be especially their declared rejection of Messiah's grace. Then, an intecession ascends, like Elijah against Israel - a prayer that thee blind apostates may be scattered, though not destroyed from the earth.

The prayer of verse 13 -  "Consume them, in wrath consume them til they are no more..." reminds us of 2 Thess 2:16, "Wrath has come on them to the uttermost." As a nation, as a  kingdom, they are "consumed" but as a people they are "scattered," and men to earth's end are taught of Jacob's God by their doom.

It is a doom of retribution for their treatment of the righteous. A solemn "Selah" follows, like that which in verse 5 closed the prayer for divine interposition, that we may ponder the awful judgement, Jacob driven to the ends of the earth! (v13)

Now they are as hungry dogs in another sense than when they snarled at the godly - they prowl about the world for food (v14,15).

In spite of them, the Just One flourishes, singing of the LORD, mighty and merciful, and looks forward to a time when he shall sing louder still - a morning after a dark night, the resurrection-morning. "We contemplate when the morning is over, when the temptations of this world have passed, when robbers, the devil and angels we dread give us no fear, when we walk not by the lamp of prophecy but by the very Word of God, like the sun." (Augustine)

In verse 11, the Righteous One seems to see the sword hanging over apostate Israel, as when it was suspended over Jerusalem in the days of the pestilence that cut of 73,000 men of Isrrael.

Seeing this exterminating sword, he cries, "Slay them not!" He asks for a mitigation of their doom, even that which has been granted - their dispersion instead of their extirpation.  Let them be as Cain, Gen 4:12, "make them wander." 

Still, he fully agrees with the Lord as to their deserving wrath to the uttermost, and expresses this entire agreement in the closing verses.

It is therefore a Psalm in which the Head and members present their appeal against apostate Israel, and then consent to their long-enduring desoluation, in prospect of mercy breaking out of the gloom at last "in the Morning"

It is The Righteous One's appeal against apostate Israel, to the Lord's might and mercy.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Psalm 58 - The Righteous One reasoning with the ungodly in prospect of the day of vengeance.

Tholuck supposes that David was led to write this on the occasion of Joab murdering Abner. At any rate, it might suit that event. The Righteous One reasons with the ungodly in the prospect of their doom.

It is another Al-taschith and Michtam.

A difficulty meets us in verse 1, some rendering the Hebrew by a change in one letter, "You mighty ones, do you speak righteousness?" others retaining this as a verb, "Is justice then silent?" (Deut 1:16), or "Are you, then indeed dumb, so that you will not speak what is right?"  Horsley puts in this way: "Are you in earnest reflection when you talk of righteousness?"

It is addressed to "the sons of men" (v1), not rulers only, though to rulers also, as being among the sons of men. (See Psalm 82:6)
"The wicked are alienated (from God) from the womb;
The speakers of falsehood have gone astray as they are born (v3)

They are of the "seed of the serpent" and like the adder they hide their ears in the dust, in order not to be charmed, let the charmer chant however sweet and long. Men bury their conscience in the things of earth, and shut out the alluring sound of the tidings of love to the guilty.

Hence, judgement comes "woe to you, Chorazin" - woe to you, O earth, who have heard the offers of lover as the demands of law. In verses 6-9, the wrath is shown under which the mighty melt away "as a snail" suggesting (it has been thought) the idea of the filthy trail or mark which their beastly pollutions used to leave behind them.

The coming of the Son of man overtakes them. They are devising much and planning great schemes, but "before their pots can feel the blazing thorn", before their designs of ambition are reached, "he carries them away with a tempest" - the green and the dry, the sodden and the raw, their finished and their unfinished works, and themselves, too, with all their gratified and all their as yet ungratified desires.

There are seven similitudes: the lion's teeth broken; the torrents running off; the bow snapping apart; the snail wasting awway; the abortion that scarcely can be said to have had existence; the pots that never get time to feel the heart; the whirlwind that makes them its victim.

No doubt, at the sight of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, destroyed, angels saw cause to rejoice and sing, "Hallelujah."

Wickedness was swept away; earth was lightened of a burden; justice, the justice of God, was highly exalted; love to his other creatures was displayed in freeing them from the neighbourhood of such hellish contaminations. On the same principles, (entering, however, yet deeper int the mind of the Father, and sympathising to the full with his justice), the Lord Jesus himself and each one of his members shall cry "Hallelujah" over Antichrist's ruined army (Rev 19:3).

"The righteous shall rejoice when He sees the vengeance,
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." (v10)

He shall be refreshed at the end of his journey (John 13:5, Luke 7:44, Gen 18:4). He shall wipe off all the dust of the way, and end its weariness by entering into that strange, divine joy over sin destroyed, justice honoured, the law magnified, vengeance taken for the insult done to the Godhead, the triumph of the Holy One over the unholy.

It is not merely the time when that joy begins - it is also the occasion and cause of that day's rapturous delight. But what follows now?

It is said, v11, "And man shall say." Is not this the effect upon the world at large of turning them to know their God, his law, his justice, his hatred of sin, his love to his own? Now shall John 17:23 be fulfilled.

Seeing Christ and his bride, the Church, triumphant and glorified, "The world shall know that the Father sent him, and that the Father loved them as he loved Christ."

As they gaze on his and their enthroned glory, they shall confess, "Truly there is a reward for the righteous!" and shall bend their knee and say of Him who sits on the throne of his glory, with his princes who truly decree justice (Isaiah 32:1), "Truly, God judges the earth!"

Its government has come into the hands of the Just One and his saints; there is a God, there is a God who judges! O that the sons of men would hear in this their day! O that every ear was opened to these words of The Righteous One reasoning with the ungodly in prospect of the day of vengeance.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Psalm 57 - The Righteous One connecting his deliverance with the LORD's glory.

The title of the previous Psalm was peculiar and suitable to its theme. We may say the same of this Psalm: Al-taschith. i.e. destroy not; for it is suitable, whether taken as a musical term or as indicating the spirit breathed throughout.

We do not, however, think that it is taken from Deut 9:26, nor yet from 1 Sam 26:9 (as many writers suggest), where the sentiment occurs, addressed in the one case to God, in the other to man. We suspect it is a musical term of some sort, perhaps connected with the lofty ideas entertained regarding the harp and its accompaniments - the indestructible - common to all nations as an epithet of poetic and musical compositions.

Christ is the chief Speaker, entering into his own difficulties and those of his Church. The tone is such as we find in John 12:27,28, "Father, save me! Father, glorify your name!" But his people can use every word of it also. Perhaps the publican's prayer was drawn from the first verse, "O God, be merciful to me." (John 5:1)

The calamities, or rather the mischiefs of a malicious world and a malicious hell are spoken of, but spoken in order to fix our attention on the means of victory. The means of victory is (v2) "God Most high" God "who accomplishes all things" in spite of foes.

It is God too doing this with "mercy and truth" - the attributes that are prominent in redemption, kindness to the guilty in consistency with his adherence to everything his mouth has uttered.

"Selah" (v3) gives peculiar force to the words, "The devourer snorts at me! Selah." 

Stop, my soul, and ponder; for God sends help.

As for men they are as lions, in violence; or if you refer to their secret ways, they are equally to be distrusted' for their tongue scoffs at all that is holy (v4,6.)

They have fallen into their own pit - and another "Selah" calls us to ponder.

But God, God in his glory, let me ever be in his hands (v5,7)!

My heart is fixed, my glory (i.e. my soul) bursts into song, "I awake the morning dawn" to sing his praises. For full is He of tender mercy that reaches above the heavens, as well as of truth that stretches to the clouds, - such mercy and truth as was prayed for in v3, and which shines bright in all his redemption acts.

The issue must be glory to himself, infinite glory, glory above the heavens, glory above all the earth.

A flood of glory is to cover this earth above its highest mountains, to cover heaven, above its loftiest pinnacles.

The eye of the Psalmist is gazing on the ages to come in the New Heavens and New Earth, in which dwells righteousness.

David "in the cave" in the very presence of Saul, was taught by the Holy Spirit to sing this way for his own use and the use of the church, and the use of the Son of Man in the days of his flesh.

The Righteous One connecting his deliverance with the LORD's glory.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Psalm 56 - God's word enabling the Righteous One, amid his wanderings, to anticipate final rest.

The reason why fear gains ascendancy in a believing soul on occasions of danger and trouble is sententiously expressed by Augustine: "You see the magnitude of the evil; the power of the physician you do not see.

The faith which penetrates the unseen reaches the case. This Psalm, in verses 1,2, sets forth perils and evils in their magnitude, every day felt, every day repeating their vigorous assaults; but verses 3,4, declare the remedy.

"In the day of my fear, I will trust in you." (v3)

This is nothing less than the voice of the Master, of him who said in John 14:1,27, "Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God;" "Peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

"God I will extol - his Word." (v4)

I will rest my heart in God; I will praise God (Psalm 44:9, and v10 again); I will praise God with a special reverence to "his Word" - his promises, which are not like those of the world.

  • David might refer to the Lord's special promise to him of the Seed who was to come - a promise that of course implied his preservation in order to his accomplishment.
  • The Son of David has his eye on that same promise in another of its aspects, its implied engagement to supply strength and give victory. 
  • Every believing one, in hours of darkness, reverts to that promise, saying to his soul, "He that spared not his own Son, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

It is thus that the Lord "magnifies his Word," making it felt to be the prominent and most attractive to sinful men of all his ways of revealing himself. (Psalm 128:2.)

The world goes on, adding sin to sin. The world goes on seeking daily to overthrow God by overthrowing his people' even as it sought to overthrow God by overthrowing his Son. (v5,6).

But: "Shall they escape by iniquity?" (v7) They have made a covenant with death and hell; shall it stand? No; if they were to escape by their iniquity, by their boldness in defying God, this would be a result wholly unlike the past dealings of God.  "God, in anger, has brought down the nations" (v7) and will do again on that day when their anger is hot against him (Rev 11:18)

On the other hand, He has never failed to take account of the wanderings and tears of his own. Their wandering and his bottle, correspond so far that every tear shed by them in their wanderings is in that bottle of his; as if he had travelled along with them through their wilderness, and never allowed one drop to reach the ground.

His bottle and his book of remembrance have preserved these precious tears; and if so, what good reason have we for exultation (v9-11) and for reiterating: "God I will extol - the Word!" (Fry suggests "God shall be the theme of my praise; He has spoken.)

I will praise the LORD, and why? That Word already referred to, v4, explains all. He has spoken. He has promised. All shall go on well. And then shall come the glorious issue: I shall walk before God in the light of the living. (v13)

Which, while not necessarily confined to the future, yet surely carries us forward to New Jerusalem days, when he who is "Life" and who by being so, is "the Light" of man, shall walk with his redeemed in the kingdom.

He himself is the grand example. His every tear was precious. His every step was marked. The book of remembrance has a record of these so vast, and ample and full, that, were it published here, "I suppose the world itself could not contain the volumes that could be written." 

He arose on the third day, "walking in the light of the living;" no more a prisoner in the darkness of the grave; no more subjected to the gloom of his Father's wrath; no more walking through the dark valley where love was withheld; entering on the endless brightness of divine favour at the right hand.

A believer's course resembles His, ending, too, in this unclouded noon of resurrection glory.

"O come that glorious morning, when the redeemed shall sing eternal praise to the God of salvation, for having delivered their souls from death, and feet from falling, that they might walk before him in the land of the living." (Horne)

One point we have not noticed. The title of this Psalm is peculiar. It is "Michtam" in common with Psalm 16 and many others. But it is also: Upon Jonath-elem-recho-kim. Hengstenberg renders this: The silent dove among strangers. This well expresses the substance of the Psalm, as being the breathing of the One who did not return reviling for being reviled, but groaned his sorrows in the ear of God. Yet we have reason to believe the titles refer to instruments "upon" which the tune was played. No doubt a tune and instrument suited to the subject, used on occasions of melancholy interest such as "Dove among strangers" may suggest.

In either view the title corresponds to what we gather up as the substance of the Psalm, written by inspiration when David had put himself into the hands of the Philistines, and was sore afraid (1 Sam 21:12) namely, God's word enabling the Righteous One, amid his wanderings, to anticipate final rest.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Psalm 55 - The Righteous One's weary soul resting in the certainty of what the Lord will do.

As before we have a Psalm on Neginoth and a Maschil, and then "Of David." We may read these strains as expressing David's feelings in some peculiar seasons of distress, and as the experiences of Christ's Church in every age; for we find much, very much, that accords altogether with humanity in a state of intensely stirred emotion, and affection wounded to the quick.

Yet still it is in Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, that the Psalm finds its fullest illustration. His was the soul that was stirred to its lowest depths by scenes such as those described here.

The quotation of 41:9 by our Lord is almost equivalent to the quotation of verse 13, they are so similarly worded.

It is the wickedness of the wicked that raises this mournful cry and makes him say: "I mourn in my complaint," or "give free course to my sorrow" (v2)

It is no unlikely that our Lord, possessed as he was of true humanity, might often give utterance to this expressive wish (v6), "O that I had wings as a dove," when seeing the turtle dove fly out from the olives of the Mount of Olives over guilty Jerusalem, the city in which He saw "violence and strife" - wickedness, deceit and guile, never absent from her streets.

Either there, or standing on some of the hills around Nazareth, He might witness the home-loving dove's swift flight. Paxton says, the dove when flying to its rest never rests on trees or the like as other birds, but uses one wing while the other rests.

He might hear its peace-suggesting note, and be led to this utterance of strong feeling, not at all unfit for Him who so rejoiced in the thought "And now I am no more in the world! Now I come to you, Holy Father" (John 17:11).

He to whom he was thought to bear so close a resemblance (Matt 16:14), the weeping prophet Jeremiah, gave utterance to this wounded feeling in strains that naturally took a similar form, "O that I had in the wilderness a lodging place" though only that of the wayfaring man! (9:2).

But the melancholy Psalmist here rises a degree beyond this - "I would remain in the desert" (v7)

Then there is a Selah pause, as there is in the middle of verse 19, indicating the calm, solemn state of soul in which these things were uttered.

The prayer in verse 9 reminds us of Babel, where the language of earth was divided that pride might be humbled forever, and its aims irretrievably baffled; while verse 15, "go quick to hell," at once recalls the doom of Korah and his company, who rejected the true High Priest, and the Lord's King in Jeshrun.

Our Lord describes Israel in verse 13, "hi s own" nation (John 1:11), though especially Judah one of his trusted ones who owned him as Master; and "my equal" signifies, "You who were by my side on equal terms."

He permits them to perish in unbelief, they having rejected the true Priest and King. He no longer plays the Intercessor's part toward such, but stands over them as Judge, pronouncing their doom.

Then in v16,17, we hear him express his confidence of full deliverance. "The twelve legions of angels" whom He might at any time have called to his help, have arrived, or rather He sees them on their way.

"For there are many with me.
God hears and answers,
Yes he sits enthroned forever. Selah. (v19)

It is a glance at future redress for every wrong, in the Day of Vengeance and the Year of the Redeemed.

In prospect of this, verse 22 invites us to cast our burden upon the Lord, whatever that burden is, even if it is the crushing weight of persecution, and reproach and treachery.

The Lord will "provide" as Joseph did, Gen 45:11,  and as 1 Kings 4:7, "the godly shall not be tossed about forever;" the Lord shall arise to hurl the foe into "the pit of destruction" (the lake of fire, Rev 20:15), in which Antichrist sinks forever.

In the last verse there is something of an enthymeme (and informal syllogism); for while the clause, "the bloody and deceitful men shall not live half their days" predicts and portrays their doom, as cut off by untimely judgement, the responsive clause, "And I will trust in you" tells of no proper converse, no judgement in favour of the godly.

But it nevertheless contains in it the equivalent to a declaration that his lot shall be the reverse of the bloody and deceitful. It is equivalent to saying, "We go different ways - they on the broad road, where ruin overtaken them speedily, and I on the safe road of faith in you, where I shall soon meet with Him whom unseen I loved, and in whom I believer, though as yet I have not seen him." 

Does not this Psalm depict - The Righteous One's weary soul resting in the certainty of what the Lord will do.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Psalm 54 - The Righteous One's help found in the Lord's name.

The title is such as we have already met with, "On Neginoth" and "Maschil;" and the occasion when it was first written is mentioned as the time when the men of Ziph informed against David.

The burden of this Psalm is simply - to what quarter should one look for help in times of trouble?

Wholly to the Lord. "Save me by your name" (v1), reminds us of John 17:11. We are kept by the putting forth of God's perfections on our behalf, truth, mercy, love, power, wisdom, holiness.

Our Lord was so kept by the Father, when he prayed in the words of verse 1, using them as his own, and giving his Church an instance in himself of that safe keeping.

The Selah pause of thoughtfulness in verse 3 is beautifully followed by "Behold" of verse 4. It is a silent prayer followed by confidence of an answer.

It is in verse 6 and 7 that the future dawns on our view. David, David's Son, and all who follow David's Son, may exult in the prospect of that sacrifice of thankfulness to be offered.

When delivered out of all distress, we shall look with triumph on our enemies; for as Calvin remarks (quoted by Hengstenberg), "Only let the eye be pure, and we can piously and holily refresh ourselves with the manifestations of God's justice."

That will be the time of the hallelujah in Rev 19:1-4, all resulting from his name glorified, his name manifested as "good" (v6.)

We have therefore in this short Psalm - The Righteous One's help found in the Lord's name.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Psalm 53 - The Righteous One's view of earth, and the victory of God's people.

The unknown instrument "Mahalath" (derived from the Ethiopic root 'to sing'), is here fixed on as the one to be used by "the chief Musician." And the music is to be sleected with care, for this Psalm is, like some others, one that has the mark "Maschil."

The state of earth ought to be deeply felt by us. The world lying in wickedness should occupy much of our thoughts. The enormous guilt, the inconceivable pollution, the ineffably provoking atheism of this fallen province of God's dominion, might be a theme for our ceaseless meditation and mourning.

To impress it the more on us, therefore, this Psalm repeats what has been already sing in Psalm 14. It is the same Psalm, with only a few words varied; it is "line upon line, precept upon precept;" the harp's most melancholy, most dismal notes again sounded in our ear.

Not that the Lord would detain us always or disproportionately long amid scenes of sadness, for elsewhere he repeats in like manner that most triumphant melody, Psalm 60:6-12, 113:6-13; but it is good to return now and then to the open field on which we all were found, cast out in loathsome degradation.

There is one variation of some interest. It is in verse 5. The words of 14:5 are referred to, but altered to express much more of triumph and victory on the part of God's despised ones; for the two passages run thus:

"There were they in great fear where no fear was,
For God has scatted the bones of the encamper against you.
You have put them to shame!
For God has despised them!" (Psalm 53)

"There were they in great fear,
For God is in the generation of the righteous.
You shamed the counsel of the poor,
Because the Lord is his refuge." (Psalm 14)

Besides substituting "Elohim" for the LORD throughout, the changes in the Psalm before us seem to have been made on purpose to declare emphatically the complete overthrow of the ungodly.

"You" is emphatic in verse 5, and like Isaiah 37:22, the verse expresses victory over the ungodly. The term in verse 6 is to be noted. In Psalm 14:6 it was, "O that the salvation were become" in this Psalm it is salvations. Full, entire deliverance.

On these grounds they may be right who suggest that Psalm 14 may be read as a report of the Son of man regarding the earth at his First Coming and 53 as his description of its state and prospects at his Second (see Ryland.)

There is certainly more said of the full victory; so that while we gave Psalm 14 the title of "The Righteous One's view of earth and its prospects" we are inclined to state the contents of this as- The Righteous One's view of earth, and the victory of God's people.