The Psalms

(From the Fourth Pentateuch of the Old Testament: Volume 3 of the Numerical Bible)

F. W. Grant.

Scope and Divisions of the Psalms

The Psalms, then, are the uttered harmony of the soul of man under all experiences, a harmony which has its source in God himself, the free obedience of the heart to Him. The unity of God as Creator ensures the unity of creation as His work: man therefore, as obedient to Him through grace, returns into this unity of creation, finds in Him his oneness with himself, his voice in the universal song: for him not without speech, but moral and intelligent. His heart is itself the harp from which the divine hand brings richest music; and that in adversity as in prosperity, in sorrow as in joy. Thus every kind of trial finds its place in the Psalms: there is the minor key as well as the major; ending at last in a tide which carries everything before it, and sweeps out of time into eternity, a perpetual anthem of immortal praise.

That the counsels of God should have their place in this, and make the Psalms largely prophetic as they are, is a matter of course. The blessing that flows back to God has flowed forth from God. The thought that has shaped the ages was that of a Divine Mind before the ages were. The creature has done his best (or worst) against it. The patience of God has given evil its time; that it might be seen in its full character, and judged fully as thus shown. It has uttered its last word and made its plea before the court of the universe, and failed. Goodness has only the more been displayed; grace has become the wonder of eternity: the throne of God has become that also of the Lamb; to God and His creature wedded in the Person of the Redeemer, henceforth never to be sundered, every knee bows and every tongue confesses Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father.

For the mysteries of God as made known in Christianity, however, we have still to go to the New Testament. The horizon of the Psalms is earthly. The people of God in it are earthly people. Jehovah's bride is Israel, not the Church. Not even does the Spirit in the believer cry "Abba, Father;" God's fatherly relation to Israel being quite different from this: for it is not founded upon new birth, nor contemplates eternity, but time and the earth. Christian unity is not that of a nation, but a communion of saints.

Yet in fact the writers of the psalms are saints, and in all that is fundamental to this, whatever the dispensation, we are upon common ground. Beyond this the typical character of Israel comes in to enlarge in every direction the spiritual view, and make the Psalms often fuller in meaning for the Christian than for believing Israel they could ever be.

None the less must we heedfully acknowledge the Israelite character. As Old Testament prophecy the blessing of the Psalms connects itself with the future blessing of Israel according to the new covenant; the nation becoming the channel of grace and mercy to the nations around the centre from which it radiates being the temple-throne of God in Jerusalem, His law going forth from Zion, and the kings of the earth bringing there their willing tribute of praise and worship. In connection with this final condition we find the whole history of the chosen people entered into, the special interest concentrated upon two crises of controlling significance, the first and second coming of Messiah to them: the first time, though rejected, to accomplish that which is, for them and for us, the righteous and only foundation of all blessing the second, to bring in for them nationally the blessing itself, after a disciplinary trial of short duration but unprecedented severity, in which they are brought in repentance and faith to receive their King. This is the "time of Jacob's trouble," the travail-time in which they are new born in order to enter the kingdom of God. These are the prophetic events to which the Psalms give all the pathos of their profound emotion, all their variety of ethical expression, all their glow of divine light. They live and move before us, riveting our attention, inviting our judgment, rousing our affections, interpreted everywhere into the language of the conscience and the heart.

It will naturally follow that the Psalms cannot rightly be treated, as they too generally are, as if independent of one another, or without systematic order, or a well-defined basis of fact or doctrine. On the contrary, they will only be read with due intelligence when it is seen that each individual psalm has its suited place and organic connection with reference to the whole, and to the doctrine and prophecy of the Old Testament, — nay, of the entire word of God. The psalms are individually much what the words in a sentence are to this, and must be studied with reference to the whole. And here once more the numerical structure comes to test and give precision to the meaning in every part. The arrangement is such as that, if it will bear the numerical test, it must needs be pronounced divine. We propose with the utmost stringency to submit it to this test.

It is well known that the Psalms are in Hebrew divided into five books, which the Jews have called "the Pentateuch of David." Delitzsch admits that there appears in these a certain imitation of the Thora (the law). We have had so many instances of this as to expect rather than be surprised at it. These divisions are as follows: —
(Ps. 1 — 41.) — Christ in the counsel of God the source of all blessing for His people (Israel).
(Ps. 62 — 72.) — Their ruin, but redemption in the latter days.
(Ps. 73 — 89.) — The holiness of God in His dealings with them.
(Ps. 90 — 106.) — The failed first man replaced by the Second, and the world established under His hand.
(Ps. 107 — 150.) — The moral conclusion as to the divine ways, in which God and man are found at last together.

Notes.

Many things that are usually put in an introduction we shall consider probably better as we come to them. Gems look better in their settings — God's gems assuredly do: the connection of psalm with psalm, so necessary for the knowledge of them individually, makes much plain as to their application; the numerical symbolism, here as elsewhere, gives precision to and confirms the meaning. Best it seems, therefore, to settle as little as possible at the beginning, and to make our notes take the shape very much of an inductive study, looking at each question as it arises, and as the means of settling it are in our hand. We shall find thus, I doubt not, that God has provided, in the orderly arrangement of the matter, for the progressive understanding of it, though we shall have always to say with the apostle, "We know in part, and we prophesy in part."

The divisions (or Books) of the Psalms are given in the Revised Version; and it will be seen that the first three books (ending with Ps. 41, 72, 89,) are closed with a double Amen; the fourth, with "Amen, Hallelujah;" the fifth ends with five Hallelujah psalms. The number five clings to the whole book; five being, as we have seen, as 4+1, the weak with the Strong, the creature with the Creator, but thus bringing in the governmental ways of God with man, and his responsibility and exercise under this government. The Psalms are 150 in number (3 x 5 x 10), and the five books are a perfect Pentateuch, as we have said.

Book  1. (Ps. 1 — 41.)

Christ in the counsel of God the source of all blessing for His people (Israel).

The first book, as giving the counsel of God as to Christ, does not on that account contain all the Messianic psalms, as we see at once. In fact there are more outside than within it; but those found here are the leading ones as regards His office, person, and work. His kingship in Israel, affirmed in the second psalm, widens in the eighth into full earth-empire as the Son of Man. The sixteenth shows the perfection of His life among men, the ground of appeal to God against His enemies in the seventeenth, which is answered in the eighteenth, His foes being put under His feet. The twenty-second reveals the sin-offering character of His work, as the fortieth does its perfection as the burnt-offering. The forty-first closes the book by showing the double and opposite result for faith and for unbelief respectively. These psalms govern and give character to all the others, as we see; and thus the book as a whole gives us "Christ as the source of blessing for His people."

The plan of the book, and, more or less, of the whole of the psalms, is, as another has remarked, that "some great truth or historical fact is brought forward as to Christ or the remnant," — the faithful in Israel, — "or both, and then a series of psalms follows, expressing the feelings and sentiments of the remnant in connection with that truth or fact." (Synopsis.) Thus the human exercises are seen in relation to such truths, often embodied in the historic facts, and which the historic fact also embodies. This involves a very distinct and purposive grouping of the psalms, as is plain, and prepares us to see spiritual order throughout them. Nor are the series thus formed hard to be discerned in general, often being marked off by their authors, as those of Asaph or of the sons of Korah, — sometimes by their character as "Maschil" or "Michtam" psalms, or "Songs of degrees," — often the subject alone being quite sufficient for the purpose, as soon as we begin fairly to entertain the thought of such divisions. That the titles should be found to have such uses goes far to prove their trustworthiness, so much in dispute; but this will be examined as we go on.

The first book has three subdivisions: —
(Ps. 1 — 8) Christ ordained King in Zion, and, after rejection by His people, to wider rule as Son of Man.
(Ps. 9 — 15.) The enemy and Antichrist, with the conflict and final deliverance.
(Ps. 16 — 41.) Christ in the midst of the people, manifesting God for them, and sanctifying them to God.

Thus in these three subdivisions the character of the first book is made clear; the two main ones being separated by one which shows us the opposition in man and the evil to be overcome, without which the view of Christ Himself could not be rightly seen.

Let us notice that in the first of these subdivisions we have, first of all, two parts, which give us the theme, and of which the second at least is strictly Messianic; the third section, with only one psalm, is again Messianic; the middle section, which expresses those exercises of the faithful-hearted which are the result of the rejection of the King, consisting of five parts, the number which speaks of exercise. In the second subdivision (9 — 15), which speaks of the strife with evil, there are but two sections: two psalms in the first again, giving the theme; five once more giving the exercises. But in the third subdivision we return to an arrangement similar to that of the first, though larger: here nine psalms (16 — 24) are characteristically Messianic; the remnant psalms are increased correspondingly to three fives (25 — 39); and two Messianic psalms close the book. (40, 41.) Certainly in all this there is order, and the numerals are significant throughout, or as suited as if meant to be significant. Shall we not find in each psalm, as we study it, proof of a divine wisdom which has put each in its place as definitely as the earth into its orbit, and arranged its every detail to convey to us clear and consistent meaning?

Is it not good to have this assurance of a divine hand, just there where we are most in danger of seeing only the human? And may we not with corresponding earnestness take up what God has in His grace thus elaborated, to make us realize His handy-work in it?

Subdivision 1. (Ps. 1 — 8.)

Christ ordained King in Zion, and (after rejection by His people) to wider rule as Son of man.

The first eight psalms are naturally an introduction, not merely to the first book of the psalms, but to the whole. We have Christ as King on Zion, but rejected by the banded nations, the threatening of wrath to come for this, but the time of long-suffering too, which is salvation to those who in submission "kiss the Son." We find that, though rejected by the nation of Israel, the people with whom He is in connection are still Israel, if only a remnant of them. Judgment is drawing nigh for the world, the evil which is growing to a head, and its opposition to God and to His own is becoming ever fiercer: so that at last the prayer of the righteous is turned into a cry for judgment, which is not reproved. Yet the fire through which this people pass is to them a necessary purification. They are made to face and bottom the question of sin, until mercy becomes their only plea. It is the time of Jacob's trouble, and Joseph's brethren begin to realize their soul-hunger which will yet bring them penitents to Him. But in this introductory part all is touched as yet with a light hand. We see them humbled that He may exalt them, and we realize that they are accepted, their prayer is answered. But for this deliverance judgment must take its course, and now it does so: Jehovah is praised according to His righteousness, which has acted in the overthrow of the wicked, and is now manifested as in truth "Jehovah most High."

So ends the seventh — the fifth remnant psalm. It is followed by a totally different strain, as an eighth psalm, that of a new period, the celebration of a Man and the Son of man, through whom, set over the whole earth, Jehovah's Lordship is realized and His Name made excellent in all the earth, and man himself is seen as worthy of the original place to which God the Creator destined him. The application can only be to One, and to Him the epistle to the Hebrews accordingly applies it. (Heb. 2:6-9.)

Thus we have reached the point beyond which the Psalms do not go, and the next is therefore plainly a retrogression. The first series is in this way clearly marked off, and is complete in itself. The details we are presently to consider; but it should be plain at once that here is no fortuitous collection of ill-assorted lyrics. Whoever wrote, whoever gathered them, there is a common life that unites them all; they are organically joined together.

Moreover, the scheme to which they are related is distinctly prophetic; purpose, and a divine purpose, rules the whole: whether written in exilic or pre-exilic times, to classify them in this way would give no clue to their meaning, — shed upon them no ray of light. The how of their production is of very small importance compared with the why of their design. They contemplate the last days and the nearing judgment. They project themselves beyond the immediate horizon of the times in which they were written and link together days which are for us now already past, and which have confirmed them as true prophecy, and days which are even yet to come. Every detail throughout is in accordance with this.

Section 1. (Ps. 1, 2.)

The destined King, and the blessedness of obedience and trust in Him.

The first section here shows us Him who is in the purpose of God King in Zion, with whom the destinies of His people are bound up. For the Redeemer shall come unto Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob" (Isa. 59:20): which the apostle paraphrases with "Out of Zion shall come the Deliverer, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob." (Rom. 11:26.) That is, the king must actually be in Zion for deliverance to come: the kingdom of Christ must be openly established in power upon the earth.

But in the second psalm, while the purpose of God abides unrepentingly, Israel and the earth are not yet ready. The powers of the earth are in coalition against Christ, and among these we find "both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel." (Acts 4:27.) Thus the controversy begins, in the days in which we still are, the long-suffering mercy of God delaying judgment, and the gospel going out among men, while Satan is still the "prince of this world," yea, "the god of this" entire "age." (2 Cor. 4:4.)

But with the kingdom in this "mystery" form, or what we call the Christian dispensation, the book of Psalms, as part of the Old Testament, has nothing directly to do (Matt. 13:10, 11, 35); and in the third psalm and those following, a remnant of Israel is still, as we shall find, before us. All the present period is passed over, and we are in the "end of the age" — the Jewish age — concerning which the Lord taught His disciples in the great prophecy on the mount of Olives. (Matt. 24.) This we shall see more of presently: just now we have only what reaches down to the rejection of Christ by the Jews.

The first psalm may give us also the King of Israel, not as such but in His personal character, upon which, of course, all depends for blessing. So looked at He is the perfect Israelite, and the psalm speaks in the most general way of the blessedness of an obedience which is naturally linked in them with faith in Christ Himself, which the second emphasizes. Christ also was "Leader and perfecter of faith" in His own Person, but here it is the faith of others in Him; and the two psalms together show us what must be the foundation of blessing for Israel in the last days, the spirit of obedience and faith, — which the apostle connects together in their true relation to one another as the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5, Gk.), as necessary to Gentile as to Jew, but in these two psalms applying to the Jew. Herein they proclaim this to be the way of safety and blessing for Israel, though but a remnant, — for every individual soul among them.

Psalm 1.

The Blessedness of Obedience.

The first psalm has only six verses, which are manifestly divided into two triplets; in the first of these the godly man is seen in the blessedness of being this; in the second, as contrasted with the character and portion of the wicked. Every verse moreover answers to its numerical place. Let us look briefly at this before we take up the psalm more deeply.

First, then, we have the blessedness of the godly looked at by itself. In the first verse we see his consistent independency of all the various forms and degrees of ungodliness by which he is encompassed. He shakes them off from him, to walk, as far as their advocates are concerned, alone. Such is in fact the necessary commencement of a true walk with God. The first step with Him must be outside of all that is contrary to Him; and to be indifferent is to be contrary!

In the second verse the godly one is seen in his dependency and communion with God. His delight and meditation are in Jehovah's law, which term, while it may include the whole of the inspired Word existing at the time, yet shows the deep subjection of the soul required and rendered.

In the third verse we have the fruitfulness resulting.

The second part contrasts the wicked with this in character and in end. First, their lightness and barrenness — mere chaff. Secondly, they are separated from the godly by the coming judgment in which it is impossible for them to stand. Thirdly, Jehovah's approbation of the way of the righteous manifests itself thus for them; and the path of the wicked breaks down in ruin.

The thread of numerical structure runs evidently through the psalm, and certifies it to be a good note from the King's treasury. One might trace it, I believe, more fully and minutely; but this may suffice us now. The psalm claims, however, from us more detailed exposition.

The psalm has no special title, as one perhaps not suggested by any special occasion, and its principles being of the widest application. Nor is it needful to speculate as to an author, whom Scripture itself has not made known. As to such things, the higher criticism has set itself to most unnecessary work, and necessarily been led astray by its own wisdom. Faith in the word of God — which, indeed, they will not call it — would have made them approve its silence as well as its speech, and found profit from both. Would it not have rather lessened than enhanced the authority of such words as these, to have them commended to us as from David, or from Any other? Conscience alone is needed to respond to them, and will do so with the upright in heart.

The description of the godly man is first negative, then positive. He is first seen in his refusal of any link with the ungodly, whatever be the phase of their ungodliness. The words certainly show us a down-grade of evil, and how its hold strengthens upon those drawn into its vortex. It begins with "counsel," which simply leaves out God. Walk by it, and you shall find that it leads into the way of sinners, — practical and open rejection of righteousness in deed and word. And this has for its natural consummation the brazen hardness of the scoffer, who says, "Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways!" (Job 21:14.) This is the way in which many travel, who strengthen each other by their mutual unbelief, and become for each other the authority which God has lost in their souls. Thus the mass hardens as it compacts together; and this is more and more being seen in days of widespread confederacy such as these are, — confederacy which for the Christian, in its lightest form, means compromise, the overthrow of conscience, of that which is the witness to God's supremacy over man, the divine throne to which alone he is really subject.

The positive side of this description of the godly man is just this subjection of conscience and heart to God. A dependent creature, realizing his relationship to a Being of unchanged perfection, his delight is in conformity to His blessed will, to Jehovah's law. He is exercised by it, occupied with it, meditates upon it day and night. As the psalms themselves even are quoted as "the law" in Scripture (Rom. 3:19), there is no possible reason for limiting this here even to the books of Moses; and the soul delighting in God will seek to possess itself of all that He has communicated. "All Scripture . . . is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness"; so there is nothing impractical in the whole range of that which God has given to us: if we neglect any of it, this may result in serious misunderstanding of the rest. It is a Jew, of course, who is contemplated here, and with the necessarily limited revelation that had as yet been made; and how much the more does this diligent study upon his part speak to us to whom so much more has been vouchsafed! "Labor not," says the Lord, amid an audience of the hard-working poor, whose poverty and need He so well knew, — "Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give you." And did not these wondrous psalms of praise themselves grow largely out of such day and night study of Jehovah's law as characterizes the godly here?

We are next shown the fruit found and produced by one in such a course: "He is even like a tree, planted by the water-streams, that giveth its fruit in its season." No special tree is named; except that it has fruit, we have no further knowledge of it; the vegetable kingdom furnishes the great types of production, as the beast is the typical consumer; the fruit-tree is the natural figure here.

Like all other living things, the tree is also a growth from seed, the development of an organic unity; and this is what the believer is, himself the fruit of seed of God's sowing, and so far as this goes, at one with himself and with the creation of God as such; an organic unity, mind, heart, and moral nature, in response to one another.

This, it is true, is not the whole picture of what the believer is, looked at as a man down here, in whom sin dwells, if it does not reign. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:7); and yet the same apostle who says this gives us afterwards the picture of one born of God, as fair as this is (John 3:9). It is the truth of what the child of God is, as that; it is the ideal regenerate man: for God, when He puts such pictures in His gallery, does it to win us to better imitation. He does not, therefore, in this case put the defects before us for such a purpose, or to dispirit us, as if we were given up to a blotched life, but the contrary. He paints what we dare not say, with the Spirit within us, is not possible, and so encourages us on to make it actual. The sin in our lives in no wise comes from the seed of His sowing.

Some have argued, from what I have called the idealizing of the picture, that it must be the king of Israel alone, the Lord Jesus Christ, that is portrayed in it. That He alone has fully answered to it, we may be sure is true; but it is not, therefore, untrue as a generalized type of the believer. Here is the happiness of the man who does so and so; and in doing this he becomes like so and so. So far as the previous conditions are fulfilled, so far is the likeness found to be like; there is no difficulty in understanding this.

To return: he is "like a tree planted by the water-streams." Here the figure is of tender care and ministry. The fruit-tree is not a natural growth of the soil: a Hand has planted it, and that amid the divided streams of an irrigated land. The "living water" — and we, know this living water prepares soil for root and root for soil; and not without such care will this dependent life be sustained.

Notice, that it is the man meditating day and night upon Jehovah's law of whom this is said: the Spirit of God acts through the word of God; there is no other way than this. As, to handle the Word without the Spirit is but rationalism, so the dream of the Spirit ministering apart from the Word is delusion and fanaticism. The word of God is the work and gift of the Spirit in man's behalf, and He cannot be expected to set aside the very instrument that He has prepared. It is by "all Scripture, inspired of God," that "the man of God" is to be perfect, "thoroughly furnished unto every good work." Let us take care not to sunder what God has joined thus together.

So nurtured, the result is sure: he "giveth his fruit in its season." There is no crude prematurity about it: truth has to be digested and assimilated; but the activity and energy of life are there, and progress day by day. That which presents itself as of God must needs meet the challenge of the conscience ere the heart is free to yield itself to it, and the life is cast into the mould of the doctrine. But the seasonable fruit is found which God can take pleasure in. It is not for the tree itself that the fruit is produced, and it is not what we find in ourselves that is the point, but what the Lord finds. Even when, with the apostle, "I know nothing by myself," — am conscious of nothing wrong, — "yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord." (1 Cor. 4:4.) The soul that is thus able to say nothing for itself is just that in which the Lord will find the fruit He seeks.

And "his leaf shall not wither": it is impossible to forget, as we think of this, that tree upon which once the Lord sought fruit; and finding none, He said, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever," and presently the fig-tree withered away. Thus the leaf withered because the fruit was not to be found, for in the case of the fig-tree the putting forth of leaves takes place after the fruit. "The time of figs" in general was, indeed, as we are told, not yet"; but on this tree, however precociously, there was already the leaf of profession, and the significance of the judgment is therefore apparent.

Not yet was there sign upon earth of subjection to God, save in one nation, to which, therefore, the Lord came. Israel was just as this fig-tree, covered with leaves, zealous of the law, parading their obedience to their "One Jehovah." Surely, then, they would recognize and reverence Him whom Jehovah had openly proclaimed His Son. So the Lord had just, in public fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy, entered the city amid the homage of the multitude, rebuking those who would have rebuked them for it. But He entered to find the temple, His Father's house, made a den of thieves, and to meet the dogged, desperate opposition of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians, all the leaders of the parties that divided the people, united only in refusal of Himself. Thus they had pronounced sentence upon themselves, and His upon the fruitless fig-tree was but the manifestation of their self-assumed position.

How evident the application of this psalm, then, to the real "time of figs" that yet shall be, when the remnant of true believers in Israel shall expand into a nation of rejoicing converts, born as in a day! The fruit being at last found in its season, their "leaf shall not wither"; the perpetuity which is in God's favor shall be theirs. "Thy people shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I Jehovah will hasten it in his time." (Isa. 60:21, 22.)

It is plain, then, that we have Israel before us in this introductory psalm, and in the time of the end; and this is confirmed by the closing verses. It is equally plain that this does not hinder the widest possible application of principles that are ever true, and must abide while God abides. The practical use that all generations have made of the psalms, from the day that they were written, has not been mistaken, except indeed where the necessary differences between Jewish and Christian apprehension and experience have been lost sight of or never appreciated. Upon this there will be need to remark more particularly and frequently enough as we go through the book: we shall not at this time, therefore, dwell upon it.

The second part of the psalm shows the character and doom of the ungodly in contrast with the blessing of the godly. Brief enough is their description, and the image used with regard to them carries us once more onward to the gospels. The Baptist, in his denunciation of judgment to come, draws, as the psalmist does, his similitude from the threshing-floor: He will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Here the figure is not pursued so far: "they are like chaff which the wind driveth away." The rootless, fruitless vain-doer is shown in the judgment of God in his own nothingness, chased away out of the world, as the wind, from the top of the hills on which the threshing-floors were placed, carried off the useless husk of the grain.

The separation is dwelt on in the next verse, and in plain words, Israel thus becoming what it never yet has been, an "assembly of the righteous." And this once more Isaiah declares will be: "And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning." (Isa. 4:3, 4.)

In this Jehovah manifests Himself at last, from under the clouds and darkness which often now are round about Him. That which He approves abides, His seal upon it never will be broken. And thus He "knows" the way of the righteous, — knows it well as what is His own: it is the way in which He too walks, and in which communion is found with Himself. "But the way of the ungodly perisheth."

We have, then, in this introductory psalm the blessedness of a righteous remnant in Israel, cleaving to God in subjection while others wander from Him, and in view of coming judgment which shall leave the whole nation an assembly of the righteous. But this evidently is but a partial view of the matter: the word "faith" has not as yet been uttered; the Object of faith has as yet not been seen. The second psalm must complete, therefore, the picture by presenting these.

Psalm 2.

Christ rejected by the banded nations, but His long-suffering salvation to those that trust in Him.

As already said, even in the first psalm it is Christ who alone perfectly fills out the description. The law, too, was specially to be the study, naturally, of the king of Israel: "it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them." (Deut. 17:19.) To this, even to the "learning," the Lord was pleased in taking manhood to conform. It is He who speaks thus by the prophet, uniting together in the grace of His humiliation things that seem contrary to one another, the power and wisdom of an almighty Saviour, with the lowly obedience of His creature man: "Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering." This upon the one side; now hear how the same voice goes on: "The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learner." (Isa. 50:2-4.)

Thus He magnified the law, and made it honorable. But though the king of Israel has filled this place, and necessarily in perfection, He is not specifically before us in the first psalm. The second, however, is as explicit as the first is reticent in this respect. In this we find Christ as the God-ordained King, though resisted by the banded power of rebellious nations, and His salvation for those who trust in Him. And thus we find completed the character of the godly ones in Israel, who are, in order to be this, believers also in Christ. The blessedness here, not to be divorced from that of the first psalm, is of all those that take refuge in Him.

The psalm has twelve verses, the number of manifest government, which are divided as twelve is usually, — we may say, almost universally in Scripture, when divided at all, — into four threes. The first three show us the rebellion of the nations; the second, Jehovah's opposing attitude and testimony; in the third, Christ is declared to be the Son, with all things in His hand; the fourth is the warning-test for the world, by which the godly are made known. In each of these we find a different speaker.

1. The folly of rebellion is seen at the outset: "who hath hardened himself against Him and prospered?" (Job 9:4.) So great, indeed, is it, that men have to hide from themselves the truth as to what they do, and the "heart is" indeed "deceitful above all things" that can deceive the man himself with a lie that can deceive no other. It is God who asks "who can know it?" and happy is he who will take God's account. The only reason that can be given for the insanity of rebellion against Him is that "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Rom. 8:7.) Satan is the determined enemy of omnipotence, and knows it. Man can bring himself to disbelieve in God, but "the devils believe and tremble." Yet that has no controlling power to bring to an end an opposition which continually increases the judgment they anticipate. How fearful a thing is the power of sin!

The opposition to Jehovah and His Christ is markedly that of the kings and rulers of the earth. The kings desire no "king of kings." They take counsel and confederate together; and Herod and Pontius Pilate of old will have their representatives to the end (fast hastening) of "man's day." That Christ has come on God's part and been rejected and cut off is a fact which remains with all its significance today. It is not a thing of the past only, but has stamped its character upon the world. Not till He breaks it in pieces with the rod of iron will the opposition cease; and at no time will it be more open, earnest, and intense than in those last days, when Jewish unbelief and Christian apostasy will culminate in the reception of him who (as our Lord warns the Jews) comes in his own name," with no manifestation of the Father, and no heaven-sent message, and is received. (John 5:43.)

It was no partial outbreak of human passion that caused the crucifixion. Satan, "the prince of this world," manifested as this by it, was able to unite Jew and Gentile, high and low together, against the One in whom God was reconciling the world unto Himself. Different motives might incite to the deed, and did; but, however the motives differed, the deed was that of all. How rightly could the Lord say of it "Now is the judgment of this world"! It was the final expression of the enmity of man's heart to God: "Now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father." (John 15:24.)

And is the world now other than it then was? The psalm before us shows that its opposition will continue until the rod of iron breaks it down. "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." Even now there is no such thing really as a Christian world. Nay, the most bitter enmity to Christ and Christians has come forth out of the heart of Christendom itself. I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration."

Thus it remains true still (for "Scripture cannot be broken") that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12.) But when the thin veil of profession, now fast wearing out, shall be finally flung away, who shall attempt to depict the reality, when the very powers that "make the whore desolate and naked" shall with the "beast" to whom they give their strength, "make war with the Lamb"? (Rev. 17:12-17.)

The last hours of nearly exhausted patience will be running out, and the lingering judgment at the very doors, when (the saints of the present dispensation having been removed to heaven) the remnant of Israel enter upon the scene, to encounter the full fury of the final storm; and it is with their sufferings and sorrows that the Psalms are filled. The opposition will then be at its height, and it is this crisis which most fully answers to what is here, the nations having thrown off the last semblance of a Christian yoke. It will be then, indeed, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us!" There will be then near in sight the "battle of that great day of God Almighty": "they shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them."

2. The three verses following give us now Jehovah's attitude in view of this hostile gathering. Sitting in the heavens, far above the greatest of their puny efforts, He laughs at their dream of independence and resistance. But presently He too speaks out in His anger, and confounds them in His wrath: "And I," He says, "I have established my king, upon Zion my holy mount." It was as king of the Jews they wrote His title upon His cross: His claim was His condemnation. The ages have passed, and men might think that the long lapse of time had sufficiently voided that title at least; but it is not so. God had even long before declared, as if done, what is as sure as if it were done: "I have established my king on Zion." He calleth the things that are not, as though they were. The might of His voice had brought the worlds into being. The King on Zion is established by the same omnipotent Voice.

3. The King thus ordained comes forward now Himself to announce who He is, and the dominion which is entrusted to Him. As to His Person, He is by nature the true Son of God. The statement by the apostle in his address in the synagogue of Antioch (Acts 13:33, 34) has been taken by some to mean that it is in resurrection, as "first-begotten from the dead" (Rev. 1:5) that these words apply to Him. But the apostle carefully distinguishes there God's "raising up" to Israel "Jesus as a Saviour," and His raising Him up from the dead. To the last he applies the expression, "I will give you the sure mercies of David"; to the former only "Thou art my Son." Had Christ not been already the Son of God in nature, resurrection could not have made Him such; and the angel's words to Mary (Luke 1:35) show distinctly how the title applies: "The Spirit of God shall come upon thee," he says, "and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Thus the Lord's human birth fitly answers to what He was in Deity. In that He was, as John spake of Him, the only-begotten Son, with no "brethren," whereas in human nature it is "among many brethren" that He is "First-born." (Rom. 8:29.) The one title as distinctly excludes any share with others, as the second implies it. Of course it is of His human generation alone that it could be said, "Today have I begotten Thee"; and thus He is Son of David also, and King in Zion.

As such, however, the nations, even to "the ends of the earth," are under His dominion; and He has but to ask to have. When He asks, — the nations being in rebellion, — He must subdue the opposition with "the rod of His strength" (Ps. 110:2), which the psalm before us shows us to be yet a shepherd's rod. The uniform translation of the words in the New Testament (Rev. 2:27; Rev. 12:5; Rev. 19:15, Gk.) proves that the true rendering here is "thou shalt shepherd them," not "break," which the parallelism in the latter part of the verse has commended to many. But a shepherd's rod can smite, and with severity, just because there is heart behind it, — in care of the flock; and we are reminded of Moses, when that rod of his, which had been turned into a serpent, returned to his hand. Forty years he had been in training as a shepherd when he was sent. with that sign of the power entrusted to him, to be the deliverer of Israel, and that rod smote Egypt, so that the nations trembled. Here now is the anti-typical Moses, far greater, yet only the more the true "Shepherd of Israel," who appears for the redemption of His people, and to whose hands is committed therefore the judgment of the world.

But how different is the realization of His inheritance here from that quiet overspreading of the earth by the gospel which so many still imagine! But "as concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes" (Rom. 11:28), is said of Israel now, and with Israel's blessing that of the world is bound up. The prophet Zechariah has shown us very clearly how in the midst of Jerusalem's extreme distress, compassed with enemies and just falling into their hands, "then the Lord shall go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. . . . And His feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives," — how familiar a spot! . . . "and Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." (Zech. 14:3-5.) The blessing flows out consequent upon this, and "one Lord" is owned throughout the whole earth; but again (though in how different a manner from the cross!) it is from the rock smitten that the waters flow out: the judgment of the world is that in which men learn the righteousness of God, and to submit themselves to it.

4. All therefore depends upon His will and word. If He asks, all things are put in His hand, and His enemies are made His footstool. But He has not asked, and the time is that of His "kingdom and patience." He reigns, but on His Father's throne, not yet His own (Rev. 3:21), — His human throne. His saints, therefore, as yet cannot reign with Him, but suffer; and this will be true for Jewish saints even after those of the present period are caught up to meet Him. For as to the earth it cannot yet be said that He has taken His great power and reigned, or that "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ"; and, as we have seen, the sorest time of distress for saints in Israel will be just before the time when He shall appear.

Still, therefore, the warning word goes out to the kings of the earth: wisdom for them will be to submit themselves to Jehovah before the stroke comes that shall effectually humble them, — too late for blessing to them then! Well may those even who do this "rejoice with trembling" for the great peril to which they have been so near. Let them give the Son* at last the homage-kiss of peace and reconciliation now when the slumbering wrath, slumbering so long, is just about to burst out in a blaze that shall sweep all that is exposed to it to destruction.

{*The word in the last verse for "Son" is not the same as that in verse 7, and is claimed as Aramaic, and not pure Hebrew. Exception has been taken to it on this score, and many commentators, following most of the ancient versions, read instead of "kiss the Son," "worship purely," "yield to duty," etc., or give wholly conjectural emendations of the text. Cheyne now accepts the "brilliant conjecture" of Lagarde, "Put on [again] his bonds," making a parallel with verse 3. Delitzsch observes that the clearness of the passage "seems to have blinded the translators." No doubt in many cases it is the great offense. Bar, Delitzsch observes, "has nothing strange about it when found in solemn discourse, and helps one over the dissonance of ben pen."

The context makes "kiss the Son" the only fitting rendering. This is, as is plain, the controversy of which the psalm speaks, and it would be unnatural for the warning not to contemplate this.}

One sanctuary refuge is there only. None from Him; nowhere but in Him. Happy all they who take refuge there!

Thus the two psalms before us are complementary to one another, and together a suited introduction to the rest of the book. In the two, the Old and New Testaments, as it were, join hands, — the double testimony of God is given. After the warning of their long captivity for disobedience to the law, Moses leaves Israel with the assurance, "when thou shalt return unto Jehovah thy God, and shalt hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day, — thou and thy sons, with all thy heart and with all thy soul, that then Jehovah thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion on thee, and will gather thee again from among all the peoples whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee." But that has respect only to one controversy; there is now another, and a far more serious one; and this is what the second psalm brings out: thus they are both needful, and exactly in place. Whoever the writers may be, whoever it may be that has arranged and given them their place in the collection, there has been somewhere the most perfect intelligence as to Israel's condition in times which must have been yet future. Neither as to the psalms nor to their position is there anything haphazard or out of harmony. Order rules in every part; every verse even is in place: the fitness being doubtless little known even to those who were used of God to write and arrange them, and such as even Christians themselves have been slow to appreciate. Whose is this wisdom? And if this be inspiration, what kind of inspiration is it? Most certainly the patchwork of the higher criticism it is not; and probably the more we ponder it, if there be a spirit of reverence in our hearts, the less we shall hesitate to call it "verbal."

Section 2. (Ps. 3 — 7.)

The education of faith in a day of rejection and conflict.

Five psalms follow, which give us, according to the meaning of the number, the exercises of the faithful remnant in Israel, while yet the day of Christ's rejection lasts, although the end, as we have already seen, is contemplated as nigh. Indeed, for there to be a Jewish remnant, with Jewish hopes and expectations, owned as such, after Christ's rejection, means that the present dispensation is over, that the heirs of heavenly blessings are removed to heaven, and that that "end of the age" (not world) is nearly reached, which the disciples in their question on Olivet (Matt. 24:3) connect, as the after-prophecy does, with the personal appearing of the Lord in glory. It is certain they could not be thinking of a Christian, "age": of Christianity itself, and a long delay of the Bridegroom, they knew nothing. It is clear also that we find in the prophecy following a people implied of whom they themselves could be, and were in fact taken as, representatives. For them there would be a recognized "holy place," the danger of being led away by a false Messiah appearing in the midst of Israel, a Jewish sabbatic law, and all this in the land of Judea, and in days, as already said, quite near the end to be brought by the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven.

This nearness may be very definitely proved: for the abomination in the holy place begins a time of trouble for these disciples of His (who must be that, as ready to obey His word) unexampled at any time before or since. It is to be as brief as it is severe: except those days were shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for His elect's sake whom He has chosen He has shortened the days. Here, then, is but a short period; immediately after which the sun is darkened, and then the sign of the Son of man appears, and they "see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

Thus, as clearly as possible, we have depicted here a Jewish remnant in the last days, — Jewish in all their connections and prospects, and yet disciples of the Lord as well. The reference to Daniel which we find here still further defines the period, and shows us this as itself (to speak broadly) "the end of the age," — the broken-off last "week" of the seventy announced to him; but all this will come before us necessarily, as we go through the psalms, and need not be dwelt on now.

The five psalms before us give us then the exercises of such a remnant; as still introductory to the book as a whole, they outline moreover these in general, with reference to the end to which they lead, and for which indeed they are permitted. It is plain enough, from many scriptures, what the end is of all their trials. God's double controversy with the nation is upon them. The broken law has its claim on the one side; their rejected Messiah faces them on the other. When the light begins to rise on Israel, the darkness of an awful eclipse has fallen upon the rest of the world. Christ has gathered all that are truly His in Christendom to Himself. Nothing remains but a rejected mass, — corrupt, and rapidly hastening to apostasy. Israel are in unbelief, and ready, in their refusal of the true Messiah, to receive a false one soon to rise. The conflict of good with evil might seem to have come to an end, and the strife now beginning to be only of the different forms of evil with one another. Without other restraint than that of these collisions, the waves of a new deluge are abroad upon the earth; and yet over this "raging deep," and, in fact, for a new creation, the Spirit of God begins to brood once more.

The five psalms here give us this work of the Spirit in a remnant of Israel, gradually separated by it from the apostatizing mass, at whose hands they suffer increasing persecution until, after God's end is reached for them, the coming of the Lord brings deliverance. The trials through which they pass are used to bring them to the knowledge of themselves, and thus to the apprehension of the mercy of which they have found the need; and this is what we find developed here: not fully, indeed, but sufficiently to serve as the introduction which it is. The eighth psalm, which is of course beyond this series, shows the end reached which we have in the prophecy in Matthew also, the Son of man, deliverer from "the enemy and the revengeful," and set over all the works of God's hands. This finishes the brief introduction, which enables the larger details, worked out afterwards in various ways, to be assigned to their place. For, while the introduction is as to its order historical, the body of the book has a doctrinal basis, the experiences everywhere being connected with the great truths which faith embraces, and by which spiritual life is shaped and sustained.

The Psalms, like all other Scripture, have thus their perfect order and relation to one another, the want of apprehension of which deprives them of definite individuality also, and thus of very much of their power for edification and blessing for our souls. The "higher criticism" would classify them, indeed, but according to theories of authorship and times of composition. for which they have little but conjecture, and that outside of Scripture itself. The meaning given them in this way generally, as we might expect, is of the earth earthy, and lowers their whole character. The application for which we find the warrant in Scripture itself reveals their inspiration, while maintaining them at their highest spiritual value, and justifying their widest use and extension to the needs of practical life. Were it not for this, one could indeed well understand the question, and be prepared both for surprise and incredulity in the asking why the Spirit of Christ in the Psalms should link itself thus with the feeble remnant of a yet future day, in this close and peculiar manner? Certainly the unbelief would be not only natural but justifiable, if it were implied at all that, in the link with these, the intervening generations of God's saints had been forgotten. Their own hearts are, and have been in all time, witness that this is not so. Nay, in the wonderful wisdom and goodness of God, this link with a latter-day remnant of His people is made in a very simple and intelligible way, to minister only the more effectually for being this, to the comfort and blessing of every generation.

A people are taken up at the lowest ebb of hope, into whose cup of sorrow every bitter ingredient is crowded. All the foundations of the earth are out of course. God's four sore plagues are there (Ezek. 14. 21); death in all that makes death terrible; the enemy without, intestine strife within; seduction, and open-handed violence; the wrath of man, the dread of divine wrath; the consciousness of sin aggravated and accumulated: a time of trouble such as never was and never again will be. Surely the hearts that bear this burden have need of special comfort, and from God; while that which can be comfort in the bitterest hour of human trial will be comfort at least equally in any other. Hence the peculiar provision for those in such peculiar need is no less gracious consideration of all lesser need. He who stoops to have mercy on the chief of sinners is not thereby refusing but extending mercy to all grades of such. And He who stoops, as here, to the need of the neediest, is showing heart and resources equal to the need of the less needy.

Looked at in this way, the book of Psalms gets its full character, and the widest possible application to saints everywhere and at all times. While the actual predicted deliverance for those in that unequalled tribulation lies so near at hand, is so mighty, so complete, so altogether of God, that the prophetic anticipations of it which support the faith of the remnant of that day, furnish for the day of trial everywhere those strong and blessed expressions of hope and confidence which faith in all ages has laid hold of as God-sent for its need, and found no delusion. For what are all mornings but the anticipation of that final one whose brightness shall never fade? Or what is the light of that unclouded day but just the full manifestation of that love which, not then beginning, but spanning, as it does, eternity, is as true for faith now as it will be for sight by and by?

But another thing with regard to that day, so brief and yet so often the theme of prophecy: its transience cannot be thus the true measure of its importance; no time-measure can be of human history. The Cross is the glory and wonder of eternity, but how short the time of its continuance! And in this last hour of "man's day," before the day of the Lord has abased all the pride of the creature in the presence of God, — the time of the harvest, when every seed upon earth is permitted to bring forth, that it may manifest itself for what it is, — when the bridle upon evil is removed, and it is allowed to gather all its forces for the final conflict, — what interest for us all attaches to the questions which then reach their final solution, — to the forms of evil which will then receive judgment from the Lord Himself!

What various exercises, then, may we not expect to meet with in the Psalms! And what need shall we have of patient discrimination in seeking to realize the features of a time such as that presented to us! May our God give wisdom; and may we find abundant blessing from the study of this precious book!

Psalm 3.

The sufficiency of the unchanging God.

A psalm of David when he fled from the face of Absalom his son.

The third psalm is, in its title, ascribed to David, when he fled from the face of Absalom his son. "Search the story of David's life from end to end," says Cheyne, "and you will find no situation which corresponds to these psalms" (3 and 4). On the other hand, Delitzsch says "All the leading features of the psalm accord with [the inscription], namely, the mockery of one who is rejected of God (2 Sam. 16:7, seq.); the danger by night (2 Sam. 17:1); the multitudes of the people (2 Sam. 15:13, 2 Sam. 17:11); and the high position of honor held by the psalmist."

1. The psalm itself is simple enough in character. It is the first and most elementary thing in a believer, what indeed makes him such, that is expressed in it, — confidence in the Unchangeable. Here is the soul's sufficiency, and the growing danger has no argument to shake it. As the waves rise, the soul is only driven up higher upon its rock of refuge.

Yet around they murmur, "there is no help for him in God." The many that rightly see God in the circumstances, often wrongly judge of Him by the circumstances alone. There is an easy faith, which was that of Job's friends, that simply accepts the clouds and darkness that are "round about Him," as if they revealed instead of hiding Him, It is a straightforward theology, to which the sufferer himself is often tempted to become a proselyte, that love with Him wears no disguises; whereas it is indeed His delight to find a soul familiar enough with Him to penetrate the disguise, and mount through the darkness to the perfect Light above.

With this shield of faith the psalmist fortifies himself. Nay, better than that, it is God who is his shield; no partial defense, therefore, but "round about" him: perhaps he had not realized Him so near, had not the need been so great. Thus, though the cloud be a reality too, he can say of Him, "my glory," as in the cloud itself for Israel, and in the darkness, the glory had shone out. So he can add, "the Uplifter of my head": for it is not pride or obstinacy that will not give in, or natural courage merely that sustains him, but the sweet apprehension of the "I AM" of God. "I am has sent me to you," was the deliverer of old to say; and with the divine words, when faith admits them into the heart, deliverance might seem already to have come.

At the back of this confidence lie how many experiences! what answers to prayer have already come! how well the present faith is justified by the test of experience! This living intercourse has made familiar to us a living God nor is He man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. I cry, and He answers me! and this is not a possible delusion. The Voice out of the holy mount, the holy Voice that speaks ever from the more wondrous sanctuary of the divine nature, how impossible for it to have been but the mere feeble echo of my own!

2. The psalm passes on from the general to the particular, — to the present distress and the needful deliverance. Here already there has been obtained a foretaste of this, in the peace that has entered and possessed the soul. "I have laid me down and slept," he says; not evidently the sleep of one merely worn out, to whom it has become a necessity: men have been known to sleep on the deck of a ship in action; but not such the sleep that is spoken of here. It is the peace of the known rampart round about which qualifies for this. Night has its special dangers in the midst of warfare, and the imagination pictures in the darkness more than may be found; yet faith can rest and be quiet under the watchful eye of God, and the morning justifies this assurance: I awaked, for Jehovah sustaineth me."

The multitude of enemies are then but witnesses of Jehovah's care of one that trusts in Him. They remain, but faith has already triumphed over them. The cry to God for deliverance is answered in the soul by memories of the past that are at the same time prophetic of the future. The enemies are the same "ungodly" who have been so often before defeated, and gape upon him with jaws that have, as it were, been already broken. They are harmless, and only make indeed Jehovah better known. To Him belongs salvation; upon His people invariably His blessing rests.

All this is simplicity itself, as long as no questions arise from within to disturb the conclusion. God is the same, and from without no question need be for a moment entertained. Beautiful as this faith is, and real, and fully warranted, and sure to be fully justified at last; yet as we follow these psalms to their close, we shall find how many painful experiences may intervene before this childhood instinct becomes maturity of manhood knowledge, — before "I will not be afraid" becomes the abiding realization of the soul. It will become so, for this is true and Spirit-taught confidence, and God cannot be less to it than faith deems of Him. But it is another thing whether faith will be equal to the encounter of all challenges itself has made. This process in some way do we not all pass through? Yet through fire and water we are brought at last into a wealthy place. Such is God's way; and His way is ever perfect. He must needs have His people answer to what His heart craves that they should be. Hence come their trials, and His issue both.

Psalm 4.

Confidence in Jehovah's distinguishing care.

For the chief musician; on stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

We have for the first time here a musical inscription, "To the Chief Musician; on stringed instruments," as psaltery and harp. A gentler, quieter strain is indicated than in the psalm that follows, with its accompaniment of flutes. The themes certainly correspond to this difference, though we may not be able to define it more closely. And who is meant by "the chief musician"? Is it indeed a note of relation to Him who has led in these experiences, "the Leader and Finisher of faith," as Scripture declares Him, and who at the end, "in the midst of the congregation," leads the praises of His people with the gladdest heart among them all? It is surely natural to think so, even though we can give no account why this is found in some of these psalms and not in others. The spiritual sense has had perhaps too little training with us for this.

The psalm corresponds perfectly with its place as second in this series, being so far like the second psalm itself, a contrasted picture of the righteous and the wicked. God has set apart the godly for Himself, and the effects of this are seen, not in outward deliverances, but in the joy of an inward experience beyond telling: the first pleads with the sons of men to make proof of it for themselves. This is an advance evidently upon the last psalm, while it leads on to new ground which by and by may give room for question and experiences of another kind. At present all is confidence.

1. The psalm has two main divisions; the first giving the theme, the second the confirmation of the doctrine of the first. The first declares the righteous One to be for the righteous. The key-note here is righteousness. The "God of my righteousness" is the God to whom all my righteousness has respect, as it must have, to be righteousness. God apprehended by the soul is alone the basis of all right, and ensures it. Apart from this, all virtues are but ciphers, which with a preceding figure only become valuable. Men are themselves, apart from God, such ciphers, and what is duty to them, if He is not regarded in it?

This God of righteousness is a living God, actively interposing in behalf of His own, the godly ones, whom He distinguishes as such. When they call, He hears. Faith is exercised, but answered, and strengthened by the exercise. In the consciousness of this experience of the divine favor, the psalmist turns to plead with the sons of men, who, while ignorant of this, are yet not ignorant of an opposite experience in the paths that they have chosen. He can appeal to them as even consciously loving vanity, and seeking after a lie, — after that which never fulfills the promise that it gives. Surely this is knowledge enough to prevent men mocking at and insulting the believer's glory, which is founded upon experiences of which they can know nothing.

2. The second part of the psalm confirms this on both sides with facts of experience. He bids them only to shut out the vain thoughts that allure them, to retire into themselves, and consult only their own hearts upon their bed in the night. Pursuit of pleasure only manifests that there is not the enjoyment of happiness. It may kill time and keep from reflection; whereas, did they reflect, they would find that the weariness and emptiness experienced were but the necessary fruit of departing from God, of sin which had ruined all. This secret their own hearts held, and would reveal, if they would only take them for their counsellors. Conscience would then convince them of the reality of sin which no forms of ritual service could ever meet: they must offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put their trust in Jehovah, — two things which are very much the lesson of the first two psalms.

The language seems to intimate that while practical ungodliness abounds in Israel, and the righteous are the subjects of reproach and persecution, the apostasy of the mass is not yet consummated, — the "sinners" are not yet full-length "scoffers." The forms of Judaism are yet going on; there are sacrifices, but not "sacrifices of righteousness," nor conjoined with any practical faith in Jehovah. The next step may be into open apostasy; but it is not yet taken.

Thus there is still room for the appeal in the psalm. There is hope that they may be yet touched with the need of a condition in which the wearying question of good that is not found ends surely in the discovery of the vanity of what they have set their hearts upon, — a need which no increase of corn and wine can meet. On the other hand, God is the satisfying portion of His people; not merely a "shield about" one, but a "light," a glory within the soul, true gladness, not the product of the soul itself, nor of man's labor. Yet this gladness how impossible for a soul out of God's presence to imagine! Men have dropped so far away from God as to have lost even the sense of good in Him to be sought after or enjoyed. God's salvation is only for them the sad alternative of hell; God's presence, alas, almost hell itself! So the appeal to the sons of men turns perforce into a prayer: "Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us" the light in which alone we see light. "Thou hast put gladness into my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased."

For us, blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, known to and knowing God in Him, that light has indeed fully shone. Children of the day, no more of night, nor of darkness, "God has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." We are His living witnesses that in His presence is fullness of joy. And this joy is power for walk, for holiness, for service, as nought else is. The joy of the Lord is your strength. How well may we enjoy a possession secured to us as is ours, without one disturbing care! "I will both lay me down in peace and sleep."

This psalm, then, is in evident advance of the previous one, as has been said. There it is God a shield; here it is God a portion. There what He does for me; here what He is to me. Yet we may easily perceive how the ground taken here may permit an after-question in the soul. "Jehovah has set apart the godly for Himself." If that be the root of confidence, will it always be held so certain that "Jehovah will hear when I call upon Him"? At present there may be no doubt, and rightly none; yet will it be as plain through the cloudy and dark day as in the sunshine now? Who that has known what it is to be upon this ground but has felt its instability? When the storm brings up the depths of the heart, will all that is brought up be "godliness"?

Yet the principle is true, quite true. Grace does not set aside righteousness, but confirms and reigns through it. But for this grace must be known as that which secures all; and ere this be apprehended some bitter experience may yet be gone through. Bitter assuredly will theirs be whom these psalms prophetically contemplate; yet shall they return, after all the questioning is over, with only fuller assurance to the blessed reality that the light of His countenance, with all the gladness that it pours into the soul, is theirs forever.

Psalm 5.

The holiness of God's presence.

To the chief musician upon the flutes. A psalm of David.

The fifth psalm is, in many respects, the converse, and in some the opposite of the fourth. He who has set apart the godly for Himself, of necessity "hateth all the workers of iniquity." And here, for the first time, the pleading is against, and no longer with, them. It is one of those psalms whose language most Christians have found difficulty in appropriating as their own. No wonder that they should not be able to assimilate "Destroy thou them, O God," with their Lord's "Father, forgive them," or with Stephen's "Lay not this sin to their charge"! Judaism and Christianity are, in this matter, essentially different; and however people may try to blend them together, their own consciences will bear witness against the attempt. Alas, that the law which says "eye for eye and tooth for tooth" should be brought back to contravene the contrasted words of the Master," But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: . . . love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for those that despitefully use you and persecute you."

But the question will be asked, why should that be right and according to God upon the lips of a Jew, which would be wrong and to be condemned upon the lips of a Christian? The answer is, first, the prayer, "Destroy thou them, O God; for they have rebelled against thee," is not wrong as measured by the test of intrinsic morality. If it be right for God to destroy, as it surely is, it is not wrong in itself to ask Him to do so. Nay, this is here a Spirit-taught prayer, and answered of God, as the Lord says: "And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily." (Luke 18:7, 8.) So, when Elijah asked for fire from heaven to consume those that were sent to take him, the fire came. God put His seal upon that prayer, terrible as it was. Yet, when the disciples asked, in the case of the Samaritans, "Lord, shall we call down fire from heaven to consume them, even as Elias did?" they met with rebuke, not sanction: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." But why should that which was right in Elias be wrong in them? On this account: "for the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

In other words, they were out of sympathy with the mind of God. When Christ had come to save, how altogether unsuited a prayer for judgment! The Lord does not speak of any comparative difference between the Samaritans and the Israelitish companies of old, but reminds them that God was showing grace. How strange and sad that they should not enter more into the spirit of what He was doing, and rejoice in this grace being shown to men. On the other hand, were the day of grace passed, and the time come for judgment to take its course upon the despisers of that grace, what more evident than that the invoking of judgment would be the only right thing, and the prayer for grace itself totally unsuited?

Thus, when the Rider on the white horse comes out to smite the nations, the very saints now praying for God's mercy upon men will come out after Him as the "armies in heaven" to the judgment of the earth, and there is not, and could not be, a solitary cry of intercession.

If Christians, then, are with Christ in the mercy that is now being shown, they will find it difficult indeed to pray, "Destroy thou them, O God"; but when judgment is at the doors, and the foredoomed followers of the beast and of his prophet are arrayed in open, blasphemous opposition to the Most High, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the prayer of the Jewish remnant of that future day will be in accordance with God's mind, "Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against Thee."

These considerations may account also for the change of tone in the fifth psalm as compared with the fourth. There there was, as we have seen, an appeal to the sons of men to consider. Here that is over, and they are treated as having definitely taken their place in rebellion against Jehovah. Entreaty lasted while it might avail. That being found in vain, judgment takes its course. The very purposes of love and goodness, against which the evil is arrayed in opposition, call for the unsparing removal of what hinders the display of that goodness. The "Lamb" will thus be the "Lion." (Rev. 5.) The Great Shepherd will "shepherd with an iron rod." Love will smite, and yet be love: yea, because it is.

The Psalm therefore has the governmental character, and the twelve verses which speak of this; in general, also, the 4 x 3 structure which 12 ordinarily has. Yet there is a difference, the third section being divided again, so that the psalm has five divisions instead of four: all which must be in harmony with the theme. In fact, though showing governmental numbers the psalm is not in the governmental place: it is a psalm of the sanctuary; and its subject, therefore, is the holiness of God, which indeed necessitates the judgment of evil, but the main bearing of it is upon the education of the remnant themselves, as suits the place it has in this series; and this we must go on to consider.

1. The first part is a cry to God the King: the power of evil manifesting itself continually more, the heart rises above it for relief to the divine supremacy. God has not yielded to man the sceptre of His omnipotence. It is Jehovah the Unchangeable on whom he relies as hearkening to his words, and invites to consider even the heart-musing from which they spring. How man, the creature of a moment, sinks into nothing here, in presence of the Eternal!

Yet in this very contrast faith finds its claim upon God. The appeal of our weakness to His strength, of our ignorance to His wisdom, of our sinfulness to His grace, can never be in vain. To those that wait upon the Lord as such, how many are the promises! And here, "if patience has its perfect work," we are "perfect and entire, lacking nothing." (James 1:4.) Thus the plea is here only that of dependence — "I am Thy suppliant"; and there is no sense of its inadequacy: man taking his place before God, — God, too, has His, and relationship is owned between them.

But God being such as He is, the prayer of the suppliant has respect necessarily to His character; the words become "ordered" words, as in His presence: there is earnestness, and expectancy of the mercy sought.

2. In the second part, His nature as against evil is dwelt upon. He is not like one of the mighty ones of the nations, in whom power is conjoined with pleasure in wickedness: not for the briefest moment can evil dwell with Him; even the boaster, with his pretension to more than what is true, cannot maintain himself before the searching eyes of omniscience; and the doers of what is unprofitable and vain He hates. In the issue the actors of a lie perish, and the violence with which men associate their deceit is shown as the abhorrence of the righteous Judge.

3. The third section, or what would have been that in the ordinary division of the number 12, is here divided, as already said, so that only the first verse remains to it; the two others being detached as a plain fourth section. In this one verse the personal assurance of the worshiper expresses itself; but briefly, and without the joyousness that has marked the previous psalms when God's revelation of Himself to the soul has been the theme; and this seems a sign of transition to the psalm that follows. The sense of the divine holiness induces fear of the Holy One, and it is abundant mercy to be permitted to come unto God's house. He worships "toward" it. A certain shadow seems to pass over the soul, rather than the "thanksgiving" being heard, which we have elsewhere "at the remembrance of His holiness." And this agrees well with the abrupt shortening of the section already noticed, if it be not rather the explanation of it. And how, indeed, shall we have "boldness to enter into the holiest," or to draw near to God at all, save "by the blood of Jesus"? It is this, I doubt not, toward which God is bringing His people in this psalm; and for this there is just beginning, and no more, that self-revelation of the soul that must come, for the need and efficacy of the blood to be known aright.

4. At present there is but an intimation of this. The psalmist is still too much in the presence of others whose wickedness, which is evident, comforts him, as it were, with the consciousness of his own uprightness. Yet he feels his weakness under the gaze of those keen and sinister eyes that watch for his halting, and prays to be led in God's path as made straight before his face, the only way of security and peace and power, for God is in it.

Around lie these enemies of the righteous, with a smooth but slippery tongue, their throat a yawning sepulchre, abysses within that none can fathom. Such is the divine picture — we may be very sure, therefore, no exaggerated one — of man away from God. What a morass to engulf the unwary! What a contradiction to the fixed clear certainty of the truth of God!

But let us notice again that all this, right as it is in desire, is nevertheless an intrusion into the third or sanctuary part of the psalm. What would have been completely in place as a proper fourth part, — that is, in the last three verses, — here takes away the larger part of the third, while it is itself diminished also in this way. How perfect is the very disorder that seems here! How full of meaning, and evidently designed! For with a soul not at rest, and for which the abiding presence of the Lord is not known, is it not just the walk, the practical conduct, that is the disturbing element; and that to its own damage? Where Christ is not thus rightly known, self is sure to intrude; and with peace holiness is marred, and God is little honored, though we desire it.

The enemies and hindrances here loom large also invariably, while the sanctuary has not power because not in truth enjoyed — to shut them out. From how many exercises — only needed because we must be driven to it, if without this we do not lay hold of it — would the apprehension of the perfect grace of God deliver the soul!

5. And God must interfere for His own. Can it be a question, when wickedness is leagued against the righteous, with which side He will be? Can He give up the world to riot and misrule? No: He has promises to fulfill, blessings for the earth itself, which can only consist with the destruction of the wicked out of it. These promises are Israel's, as the apostle has very plainly told us. (Rom. 9:4.) These blessings the faithfulness of God, spite of their present condition, will fulfill to them. Let us not wonder, then, at the cry for judgment which we hear in this psalm: all the interests of man himself are bound up with the answer. The last verse gives once more the reason for this governmental interference, as well as the ground for the joy that He does thus interfere: "for Thou, Jehovah, wilt bless the righteous: with favor wilt Thou compass him as with a shield."

Yet, when God's terrible judgments are at hand, not theirs, — righteous in a true sense as these Jewish saints may be — not theirs the attitude of the white-robed elders, peacefully seated on their thrones amid the lightnings and thunderings of the Throne which they surround. Needful, however painful, is the exercise of heart to which we shall find them now subjected. They are under His hand for good and not for evil; and though He lead the blind by a way they know not, He will at length make darkness light before them. The shadow of death shall be turned to morning, — "a morning without clouds."

Psalm 6.

The trial at its deepest felt as divine displeasure against sin, and the need realized of mercy.

To the chief musician, on stringed instruments, upon Sheminith: a psalm of David.

The flutes are silent, and the music of the stringed instruments, better fitted to express the deeper emotions of the heart, follows them: and, indeed, in the bass notes, al-sheminith, "upon the octave" [below]. For, as far as this first series of psalms can go, which are but the beginning, we touch bottom here; and it is no accident that in this fourth of these hymns of experience, which emphasizes the "testing" of a soul, we find also just ten verses,* the responsibility number, according to the full measure of the law, the "ten words." In this psalm there is felt the pressure of that responsibility, and the failure and guilt realized when man is searched out as to the fulfillment of it.

{*As elsewhere, the title and musical inscription form no part of the psalm proper, as should be plain; and the verses should be numbered apart from this, as is the case in our common versions. That this is right is proved by the alphabetic psalms, such as psalms 9 and 34, where the alphabet begins only with the numbered verses.}

1. For here is no longer vengeance invoked on others, no longer is there even the same comfort in the thought that "Jehovah has set apart the godly for Himself." It is, instead, "Jehovah, rebuke me not in Thine anger; and chasten me not in heat of wrath!" The malice of enemies is at work; nay, it is, as we may clearly see, what God has used to bring the soul where it is; but it is as His displeasure that it is realized, and when this presses, the anguish of the thought leaves room for nothing else, the enemies themselves are well-nigh forgotten. It is a cry of repentance and brokenness of heart: for Jehovah's wrath cannot be causeless, any more than powerless. And it is Jehovah, — it is the Unchangeable: this word, so full of comfort at another time, and to which he clings, too, to the end, for all his hope is in it, — has it not, nevertheless, an aspect of another kind in this time of distress? As Job says, "He is of one mind, and who can turn Him?" And yet how could there be any confidence apart from this?

So the soul pleads, and pleads on, for He is gracious, baring its grief and the effect of it even upon the body. Is He not Creator? Has He not made the body? Does He not feel, who has given the very capacity of feeling? The wasting flesh, the quaking of the very bones, all the strong helpers bowed with this distress: what it speaks of a faith that, more than it might seem, knows the tender pity of Him with whom it has to do! Blessed be God, it is so: underneath all the doubt, and amid the darkness, the groping arms turn to the God that is. The cry may be, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" But of Him that it would find it dares not doubt. Grace He has, heal He does, though as yet it sorely feels there is no healing; and as to itself the grace appears not.

And it is this delay that searches out the humbled and stricken one. This "how long?" which it is meant that one should feel, and is a question rightly entertained, how it tests the one who has to ask the question! The help so needed, how can it tarry so long, when His messengers are "angels that excel in strength," and the elements wait upon Him? "How long?" What conditions must be first fulfilled? What survey of the heavens and earth it implies, if to ourselves we would answer it! And this exercise is itself what is wrought in the silence and the darkness, — all the soul awake and alive to its centre, the conscience stirred, the heart attent, the whole man in activity. The travail is, after all, for fullest blessing; the doubtful questioning will at last find assured answer; the heart will be enriched with knowledge of the highest kind, in the joy of which it shall be glad forever.

2. Spite of its crying, the soul descends yet deeper into the darkness, — truly a valley of the shadow of death: for this it is, and as the curse of the broken law, which throws its pall over a living man. And who can plead exemption from death? Here the cry can be only for mercy, — mercy which must be free and sovereign, the bounty of God alone. This is the point to which Israel's remnant, naturally clinging to covenant-privileges, must be brought. According to covenant they can claim nothing but the covenant-curse. If they are to be saved, it must be upon the same ground as the merest Gentile. Pharisaism, which crucified the Son of God sent to them, must be swept out of existence; the cross they gave Him must be their only hope. Well may the sky darken and the lightnings flash from the dread mount by which they have chosen to abide, and from which divine mercy alone can save them. That is plainly the key to what we have here, while the lesson remains for every one, of every time, who needs it.

Death is seen as the curse of the law, as it truly was. Thank God, it does not dominate eternity, nor shut out the mercy of God as to that. As He never said "Do this, and thou shalt go to heaven," so neither did He ever say "Break this, and thou shalt go to hell."* The law itself was handmaid to the gospel, and God had ever in His purpose salvation, through His Son, for believing sinners. Yet as to what was beyond death, the soul that knew no more than law felt, of necessity, its shadow; and from the lips of such as those contemplated in this psalm, the language used in it has no special mystery. To these, and such as these, death as the curse of the law would be the hiding of God's face, the stilling of the voice of praise, the silence of outer darkness. But this is not the uniform language, even of the Old Testament, as to death, — far from it: it is the language of a special class in a certain state of soul, and that is all.

{*It is well known that what is translated "hell" in the Old Testament is "Sheol," or "hades," the abode of the spirits of the dead.}

The effect of this is utter desolation and dismay. We surely see that it is not the ordinary picture of death for all that the psalmist has been drawing. There is no courage to meet what threatens, in which the separation from Jehovah is the overpowering thought. There is no manliness, as we say; no silent submission, even, to the inevitable: and he lets out freely all his emotion, the grief that convulses and unmans him. In the realization of it he floods his couch with tears. He fades away, and shrivels in premature decay. But this is the lowest depth, and having reached and taken it before God, the shadow passes from the soul.

3. In the last portion of the psalm we find this. The enemies are still around, so that circumstances seem not to have appreciably altered. The answer is from God in his heart: what now are the enemies? They are but "workers of vanity," — powerless with all their seeming might. His supplication is heard, and his soul confirmed. He can then calmly assure himself of the defeat of his enemies, and their final confusion.

But in this conclusion there is a lack which makes itself felt. We have nothing of the ground upon which — little of the manner in which — God's mercy meets the man who has justly merited His displeasure. The work of Christ is not yet unfolded. What grace implies cannot therefore yet be expressed. All is of the most elementary character: we simply see that it is mercy which alone can be man's confidence; when that is his plea God comes in for him. Yet even the full and adequate confession of sin as yet there is not, and it is most interesting to see how, after the revelation of the true sin-offering (Ps. 22), that confession is at once found. (Ps. 25.) At present we have but the indication of what is to follow in the book: the finger points the way, but the road is not yet trodden.

Psalm 7.

A pleading for righteous judgment upon the persecutors of the innocent.

Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto Jehovah concerning the words of Cush a Benjamite.

The fifth psalm of this series closes it with another appeal for judgment upon the persecutor. This is now at hand, and the last verse celebrates Jehovah in millennial character as the Most High. The next psalm, as we have seen, carries us beyond the judgment to see the Son of man making God's name excellent on all the delivered earth. Thus all these psalms are linked together.

The word Shiggaion is said to mean a "wandering ode," — perhaps a loud enthusiastic hymn, in which the writer is carried away with his enthusiasm; and this would not be unsuitable to the character of the composition. Of Cush we know historically nothing; with which the descriptive "a Benjamite" agrees, not "the Benjamite," — any noted person. On the other hand, Cush, the "black," or sun-burnt, may be a symbolic name, an enigma to be read through; and so in any wise we must take it. The Benjamite was, as we know, in power in those days of David to which the psalm belongs; and thus far, at least, Cush was connected with the unhappy Saul. In the days to come a darker power will have arisen in Israel, whose words" will be against both God and His people alike. This "wicked one" is to be consumed with the breath of the Lord's mouth and destroyed with the "manifestation of His presence." (2 Thess. 2, Gk.) The fear and the triumph that this psalm expresses, though not confined to him, are such as might well be called forth by the tyranny and overthrow of this antichristian oppressor.

1. In the first division of the psalm, faith takes refuge in God from man, sheltering itself as in a rock in the immutability of its covenant-God. All through the last psalm, when that very immutability might seem to be against it, Jehovah was the name clung to and pleaded; and now it abides in its shelter in the Abiding. Will He cast off this soul that trusts Him? No; "the name of Jehovah is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."

Outside, the "lion" lies in wait, and there there is "none to rescue." Only Jehovah can avail to deliver from those cruel and remorseless jaws; and surely the experience will be repeated, "Thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the jawbone: Thou has broken the teeth of the ungodly."

2. There follows the protestation of innocence as far as these enemies are concerned, and that is a matter of immense importance in view of the government of God. "With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you" is still true under the reign of grace itself, and the lips of perfect grace they were that said it. The apostle also says, "If ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here with fear; knowing that ye are redeemed . . . with the precious blood of Christ." (1 Peter 1:17-19.) So then it is the redeemed who are in this way under the Father's government, as who should be if not the children? Happy are they, then, who can plead what the psalmist here does, that it is absolutely unprovoked, this malice of the enemy. There are no dues to be made up, as far as he is concerned. Nay, he can say more than this, and we recognize clearly David's conduct toward Saul as that which furnishes the text here, — he can say, "I have delivered him that without cause oppressed me." He then puts his seal upon this in the solemn appeal to Him who knows the truth to let the enemy have his way with him if this be not so, — tread down his life upon the earth, and lay his glory in the dust.

3. Now he breaks out in an ardent prayer for Jehovah to come in, set up His throne in judgment, gather the nations round Him, and in this great assembly judge openly his cause, and do him right. In fact, this is what is to take place at the close of the period to which prophetically the psalm looks on. But the judgment will not be a sessional one, but an outbreaking of divine wrath like the flashing of the storm to which the Lord Himself compares His coming. (Matt. 24:27.)

4. The psalmist turns from the thought of his own vindication and deliverance to cry out for the cessation of evil upon the earth, the righteous being established in it, God with perfect knowledge of men making proof of all in the innermost truth of heart and reins. The great tribulation, of which our Lord speaks in the same prophecy, will accomplish this, not only in Israel, which will be in the centre of it, but largely also in the nations round, which will he affected by it. The day of the Lord of hosts will be upon all the pride of man to abase it, and upon all the objects with which he fain would satisfy the void in a heart that has turned from God. "The idols he shall utterly abolish." "And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem, when Jehovah shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning." (Isa. 2:18; Isa. 4:3, 4.)

Well may the soul rejoice if it can say, as to that day, "My shield is upon God, who saveth the upright in heart"! Who, indeed, but He could use the shield for any at such a time?

5. The psalm goes on to contemplate the government of God, which is for righteousness, though patient in a way that may be misunderstood on both sides, — by righteous and wicked alike. Though patient, His anger burns against the impenitent, day by day stored up, until at last it flames forth. The sword is being sharpened, the bent bow makes no sound until the arrow is discharged: then it is a weapon of death, all aflame with divine vengeance.

6. The result as to the enemy of the righteous shows the hand that is over him. He toils to produce what is vain labor, has his toil for his pains, an end which deceives the laborer. It is not merely vain, it is his own undoing: the ditch dug for another is the trap to catch the digger. And thus the fruit of his toil he harvests in unwelcome fashion and most perfect retribution: for God is Master of all, and will be glorified in all.

So the psalm ends in praise to Him who is righteous and Supreme as well. And the millennial name — the "Most High," King of kings and Lord of lords, — shows, as already said, whereto we have arrived. The series is manifestly complete, and its moral purpose is as manifest. The way of the Lord is seen in the abasing of the proud, in the lifting up of the lowly. Therefore the lesson which we find the remnant of Israel here learning. The "sacrifices of righteousness" which we have heard them press on others, include and imply the sacrifices of God," which "are a contrite spirit," the "broken and contrite heart" which He will "not despise." This is produced in them by the discipline of the awful day which seems now so near at hand for Israel and the earth. They "endure," bow under the rod, and are saved at the end when the rod smites.

All this is the utterance of the remnant that shall be, in which the Spirit of Christ has anticipated for them their need, and ministered to it beforehand, showing His intimacy with all their condition, and providing for its expression in words which they will have no difficulty in appropriating, and which lead on to the answer of peace of which the same psalms assure them. How gracious is this special ministry to special need; while the need of any at any time is provided for also. These psalms give us, as others have pointed out, a morning (Ps. 3) passing into evening (4) and night (5), — a night at its deepest in psalm 6, but in the seventh showing the commencement of the dawn. The full day is come in the psalm following.

Section 3. (Ps. 8.)

The Son of man in possession of His inheritance glorifies Jehovah in all the earth.

Psalm 8.

To the chief musician, upon the Gittith: a psalm of David.

{Verse 1 and verse 9, a "plural of majesty."

Verse 5, Angels — "Elohim," God or gods, sometimes applied to angels; and so the Septuagint and Heb. 2:6. (See notes.)}

The third section contains only one psalm, quite distinct in character from the series before it, and which yet leads up to it, as we have seen. But it is (as they are not) Messianic, — a revival, as it were, of those claims of the Son of God to the throne, which, being rejected by the nations, He has forborne as yet to make good in power, as He will surely do. His time of patience has accomplished, in the mean while, the fulfillment of other purposes, even those in which to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, is made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph. 3:10.) Of this we must not expect any intimation here. We are here (as in Old Testament prophecy generally) in the line of Jewish hopes and promises.

Still we have not here the King on Zion, but the wider title of Son of man. This, of course, implies the taking of His other glories, and we shall have many a psalm later on that will present these. Here at the outset we need expect little detail, but the general features sketched of a picture that is to be filled in afterwards. The outline is given with a few bold touches sufficiently comprehensive. Not the King on Zion nor the Son owned of God is here, but the ideal man, the answer to the question, "what is man?" — God's head over the earth, and with gleams of higher glories, — Son of man, nevertheless, (decisively different in this from the first Adam,) through whom God is glorified on earth, and His glory set even above the heavens. Such is the wonderful scene that is here opened out to us.

It is a psalm of David, "upon the Gittith." Two interpretations of this are given, which practically are not far apart, however. "Some Hebrew scholars," says an anonymous writer whom we may often quote, "would regard it as the name of a musical instrument peculiar to Gath, where David once sought shelter from the unrelenting persecution of Saul. Just as there was among the Greeks a Dorian lyre, which had a wide celebrity on account of its excellent sweetness, so, it is suggested, this psaltery, Gittith, was borrowed by David from the citizens of Gath, and thence introduced by him on account of the superior sweetness of its tone and the beauty and elegance of its form. If this be the true interpretation, it suggests also a deeply spiritual reflection: for how often from the saddest occasions of temptation and distress in the devout life arise the gladdest songs of praise! The wild storm often makes the sweetest music on the Aeolian harp.

"But a more likely derivation may be found for this title, Gittith, in a Hebrew root, signifying "wine-press." And now it is an autumnal song chanted by the vine-dressers at the joyful vintage-season, when the blood of the grape is poured into the wine-vat. Still the same idea is prominent: sorrow and anguish, like the trodden clusters, are fruitful in the wine of a holy joy."

Whether it be Gath the city, or gath the wine-press, the root-word, and so the meaning, is the same, and the thought suggested acquires its fullest significance when we connect it with the cross. The wrath borne for men, the blood outpoured, were there for us the cause of a joy that shall never cease. And how simply it brings before us the apostle's quotation of this psalm, and the note which he makes upon the quotation: "we see Jesus, made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor." (Heb. 2:9.) One might easily imagine that the apostle had in mind the "al haggittith" of the psalm from which he quotes.

1. So brief yet so comprehensive as it is, the psalm has comparatively many divisions. It begins and ends with the glory of God, Jehovah's name being now excellent in all the earth. But there is more than this: He has set His glory also above the heavens.

It should be evident when we consider what is the great subject before us, that all this has a deeper meaning than at first sight we might give it. The Lord as Son of man, taking possession of the earth as His inheritance, makes everywhere Jehovah's name excellent in it. When, as Zechariah prophesies, "the Lord my God shall come, and all His saints with Thee," His feet standing upon the mount of Olives, from which He went up, then "Jehovah shall be King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and His Name one." (Zech. 14:3, 5, 10.)

The application in this way is simple, and it throws light upon the rest of the verse: for then surely we can see that the glory that is set above the heavens is connected with the work of this same blessed Person. It is not the glory of moon and stars spread over the heavens, such as the psalmist speaks of in the third verse, but a glory above all created things, however wondrous. Jehovah it is who is manifest in this Son of man, in whose lowly position just the wonder of His condescending love appears. Supreme in power, He is as supreme in moral glory, and in Christ how does this shine out! Thus the praise of earth ascends to Him, owning His rightful rule: "Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth!"

2. Its deliverance has come, therefore, from the oppressor: it is not merely that the voice of calumny has been stopped, as interpreters have taken this verse to mean, but the enemy has passed away. In a fuller sense than could be said of Solomon's peaceful reign, there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent." So then it is by more than the praise of babes and sucklings that the enemy is silenced, and the Lord's quotation of the passage with reference to the hosannas of the children does not at all entail such a consequence as this. It is He Himself who will "smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips destroy the wicked." But yet for this He will establish praise out of the mouth of babes and sucklings; that is, I doubt not, of new-converted souls, humbled and brought down to such conscious littleness and weakness as this implies. We have again from His lips such a comparison in the well-known words, "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven." Thus we see clearly why He must produce such praise in order that the kingdom may come: the heirs of it must be made ready.

The little children in the temple foreshadowed such praise as this, and in this way the language could be suitably used with reference to them. The actual fulfillment will be in those future days to which, as we have seen, these psalms look on.

3. The third section brings us to the central subject of the psalm, a spiritual enigma, no doubt, scarcely read in its true meaning until the New Testament light was thrown upon it. At first sight it is just man — the race — of which the psalmist speaks; and the question asked is really of this nature: but the answer is a secret for the ear of faith, like much more that we shall find as we go on with him. Man (the race) is, in fact, but what the fall has made him; and what can be really said for him? What can justify God's regard for this ruined creature? Go back to his creation, — put him in the seat from which he fell, — think of the earth as subjected to him, — alas, he seems but to mock the approving words with which his Maker greeted him. Restore him, if it were possible, even to that original excellency, how shall the scepter be again entrusted to hands that have failed so signally to Wield it? How, then, could God go on with such an one?

Really you have no answer till you have a Second Man, — until you can find one unruined, and with better pledges for the future: no use in mere restoration, in mending such a broken vessel as the first; set him aside, and let another take his office; if, indeed, that other can be found.

Here Christ then comes in, really a Second Man. Yet "Son of Man" also, linked with the race in that manner, so as to be able to stand before God the representative of those who in faith look to Him, — the "Seed of the woman," who should bruise the serpent's head.

Thus He is "made a little lower than the angels," as the apostle explains, "on account of the suffering of death." It is not merely that man's condition is by creation a little lower, but Christ as become Son of man is made that. It is a true descent that we are to think of here, and the word used for "angels "really "gods," and the ordinary word for "God" (Elohim) — has thus in its very ambiguity peculiar significance. God He indeed was, who had come down to be a little lower than God, — lower even than those habitually representing Him to men,* and so identified with Him, as the angels are: the apostle accepts the Septuagint translation, therefore, "angels."

{*See John 10:34, 35: where, though the principle is the same, the application is to the judges in Israel.}

"On account of the suffering of death" He had to come down there. Man was under death as penalty, and therefore One had to come in who by voluntary submission to the penalty could glorify God as righteous in it, manifest the holiness of His nature as against sin, but thus also manifest His love in providing escape. And for this, humanity had to be taken; immeasurably exalted indeed, by that which was His humiliation, but now how wondrously in His exaltation! For He laid down only to take up again that "body prepared," and as a Man forever is risen and gone up to God. What meaning is in this way given to the words, "with glory and honor Thou crownest Him"!

4. Now we have his dominion, the first man's rule being repeated and emphasized in the Second Man. "Thou makest Him rule over the works of Thy hands: Thou halt put everything under His feet." Here again, as we take earth-angles to measure the heavens, so the earth-kingdom of Adam is made to indicate an empire that is universal. And the apostle teaches us that we may take the expressions here in the uttermost truth of them: "in that He put all things under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him."

The psalm naturally, however, clings to earth, though the things mentioned are not forbidden a deeper meaning: "sheep and oxen" give us, of course, the domestic animals; the "beasts of the field," what we speak of as untamed. The spiritual meaning may without difficulty be found by those that will. The heavens and the deep speak of spheres above and below the earth, as the spiritual ranks of the higher heavens serve with delight the Son of man on the one hand, while He has also on the other "the keys of death and of hell."

In all this we are dull scholars, but the general thought is plain. It is no wonder that the psalm ends with that with which it begins; the whole clasped, as it were, together with the uniting bond that has joined God with man, and thus made His name excellent in all the earth, — with a glory, too, which is set above the heavens!

Subdivision 2. (Ps. 9 — 15.)

The remnant in relation to the enemy and the transgressors in Israel.

In the second subdivision of the first book, upon which now we enter, we find not Christ but Antichrist, though not indeed explicitly as that, but as the enemy of God and man; and in Israel the persecutor of the righteous the lawless one. There are also other and outside enemies from the goyim, the Gentiles, — Antichrist, the false Messiah being a Jew, and owned by the apostate mass as King of the Jews. These things, forming the circumstances of the last days before the coming of the Son of man, and in the midst of which the remnant whose sorrows and whose faith we have been listening to are found, — are not entered into in detail as yet: they will be more and more developed as we go on with the book. We have only here the broad lights and shadows of the picture, — the time, as we have seen, of Jacob's trouble, ended by full and abiding deliverance. Meanwhile faith is exercised; and we have these exercises, in which also to a greater or less extent, every generation of God's saints has shared, and into which, therefore, all may enter. Their character is distinct from that of the last series: the question is that of the power and prevalence of evil upon earth, and of the oppression practised; but although the soul may cry, "How long wilt Thou forget?" it does not dread, as before, the anger of God. Conscience is not now ploughed up as it was before, and the sense of relationship to God is not perplexed.

Section 1. (Ps. 9, 10.)

The theme: The Supreme, and the Lawless One.

There are but two sections in this subdivision: the first giving the theme, the second the exercises; and this last, we may notice, is again a series of five psalms.

The first section has but two psalms, which in the Septuagint and Vulgate are united together, as in a real way they are by an alphabetic arrangement which, though irregular and even defective, can be distinctly traced, and which runs through them both, — psalm 9 ending with the first half of the alphabet, while psalm 10, with a significant omission, carries it to the end. This does not show that they are one psalm, however, nor are they: the subjects are different, though so closely connected: two parts of one theme.

The alphabetic character of the two psalms being admitted, as it generally is, the irregularity of structure, as well as the absence of at least seven out of the twenty-two letters, should be accounted for in order to any full rendering. The doctrine of verbal inspiration, with all that it implies, cannot allow us to lose sight even of letters, when these are brought before us so prominently as they are in this case. Mind — the divine mind — must be realized as governing everywhere, if we would consistently maintain this: if we do not look for it, the loss will be our own; and how great a loss! Yet interpretation after this manner has scarcely as yet been even an ideal; and attempts to realize it have to meet all that indifference and unbelief, supported by the long habit of neglect, can urge against them. For this reason we feel constrained to look the more closely at the problem presented here, — a problem which manifestly makes more intricate that of numerical structure, — if it be not, on the other hand, really a divine help toward intelligence: any way a test for it of the severest character. The ordinary psalms are severe enough: the verses here not the mere artificial human device which in the prose books we have examined we had to disregard in the very interest of the sense, and to which no one attaches any importance. Here, on the contrary, no one has any doubt as to there being, quite as much as in most poetry of our own day, a reality to be taken account of. In ordinary versification, indeed, this is but a question of style: the verses are only, to an extent quite uncertain and irregular, a division of the subject. On the other hand, in Scripture, where the human hand has been overruled — guided better than it knew — by the divine Spirit, we cannot be permitted such a refuge from inquiry. Numerical structure, it would seem, must account for the division of verses, in the same way that it accounts for the larger divisions of the books the larger and smaller having, of course, proportional importance, but still all of them having some importance. At least this is the question we have set out to seek answer to, with the conviction beforehand, such as animates the microscopist in his explorations into nature, that there is meaning to be found.

In these two psalms alone there will thus be thirty-eight divisions, with the addition of those represented by the letters, which amount to fifteen larger ones. Besides this, the very gaps in the alphabet will probably furnish more; while even so the primary divisions, largest of all, are not thus reached. It will be found that there are, as given in our analysis above, fifty-seven divisions to be accounted for and put into meaning, — all these to be united into one consistent whole, which itself fills its own significant place, as one seventy-fifth part of the book of psalms. Certainly, if this be done, if even it be defectively, with any appearance of success, one can only account for it by the fact of the divine inspiration of the psalmist, as one writing much better than he knew, which was, as we know well, only the ordinary manner of the prophet. (1 Peter 1:12.)

The defective and irregular character of the alphabetic structure has naturally elicited some effort to explain it on the part of a few, who have thought so small a matter to be worth their while. Thus one commentator writes:

"These two psalms manifestly constitute one alphabetical composition, comprising twenty-two stanzas, each a quartet, according to the number and order of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet; of these twenty-two stanzas, seventeen now remain. Five stanzas, equivalent to twenty lines, are now wanting. To supply this deficiency, there are thirteen lines, equivalent to three stanzas and one line, which cannot now be arranged in the psalm, because their initial letters correspond not with the missing stanzas. Whenever Hebrew manuscripts shall be brought to light, by their various readings enabling us to insert these lines in their proper place, there will still remain a deficit of seven lines to constitute and complete the missing quartets. It would seem that this division of this alphabetical composition into two psalms was intentional, to conceal the alphabetical arrangement, and to blind men to the deficiency of these seven lines, and to the misplacing of the thirteen lines above. No such division exists in the LXX. or Vulgate versions. Of the 718 Hebrew MSS. and Editions of the Psalms collated by Kennicott and De Rossi, and of the ancient versions, none afford light or authority for the correction of the irregularities, transpositions and deficiencies of this alphabetical psalm."

Thus, according to this writer, the psalm, or psalms, here have got somehow into a disorder, which would seem hopeless, and which copyists, in their hopelessness (it is to be presumed), have striven to cover up. This is hardly to be believed. Such disorder, in an alphabetic psalm of all others, would have been easily detected, and, at the first, quite easily set right. It is impossible to suppose that such wholesale error should have corrupted all other manuscripts and versions; and if we could think it, the question of the Hebrew text today would be indeed a serious one. Nor upon the face of these psalms does there appear any answering confusion of meaning to correspond with such an hypothesis. All is supposition merely, founded upon another supposition as baseless — that the alphabetic structure must have been intended to have perfect regularity; but this is not found completely in some other of the acrostic psalms.

May not the irregularity be itself designed? True, if it be only a (questionable) taste that has given this form to the psalms, — if it be but a help to memory, or even have, as Moll suggests, "symbolic reference to their completeness and wholeness, since only instructive poems and psalms of lamentation present this alphabetic arrangement," — then it seems impossible to see reason for a disturbance of that regularity which alone would suit such ideas. Nor can one well understand why no more psalms than these should take this form, nor why these specially; nor indeed why a psalm of lamentation should require such completeness or wholeness at all. But we have already seen, in Psalm 5, how the breaking in upon the ordinary symmetry of the 4 x 3 arrangement there can have thorough and spiritual significance. And why not equally the disturbance here?

It is surely natural to see in the alphabetic arrangement a symbol of order impressed by a governing mind. A numerical structure by itself expresses this; and an alphabetic one, making use of all the elements of human speech, seems as if it were indeed intended to make that order vocal. Whatever else it may express, it is at least competent to express this.

Now, if we consider the subject of these two psalms as already briefly intimated, and as we shall more fully have before us as we go through them in detail, both the relation of this structure to them, and the reason of its partial derangement also, come at once into the light. The subject is the crisis of Israel's history and the world's: a time in which the conflict of evil with good will have risen to its height, when all foundations may seem to be destroyed, and yet when shortly will be demonstrated, as never before, how thoroughly under divine control all is. The convulsion will be found but the throes and travail of a childbirth, out of which a new Israel and a new world will issue. Thus the general order and control of the alphabetic arrangement, broken in upon (as to its expression) in the gap of six letters which seem to be fallen out near the beginning of the tenth psalm, but then once more coming into sight and maintained to the end.

So the structure vindicates itself, and is in perfect harmony with the contents all through; and examine this more minutely, — put it more fully to the proof, — it will abide the proof, awl still more incontestably reveal the design that is in it. For notice where this apparently structureless gap occurs: not in the ninth psalm, throughout which the reign of the Most High is celebrated, but, as already said, near the beginning of the tenth, where the man of sin is described. As soon as the description is ended, and the appeal begins afresh, "Arise, Jehovah!" the alphabetic structure is resumed. It is this wicked one who seems for a time to resist the government of God, and prevail even against the Most High; but this cannot be really so, — soon and finally his power is gone, and the clouds too from around the everlasting Throne, and Jehovah is, as He has always been, the Eternal and Unchangeable.

Six letters here have dropped out; but in this fact — in the number here — is there not again significance? For what does this number symbolize but just evil risen to its height, and yet limited and controlled by God? and what number then would be just so right as this is to convey the exact truth of what is here, — the needed corrective of the unbelief which the rampant energy of evil must provoke?

We see then that the psalm is as it should be, and that its irregularity as well as its regularity are alike of God. Is there not pardonable a little enthusiasm over the possession of such a revelation from God with its seal upon its front, as thus has come to us? The Lord arouse His people to understand aright the portion He has given them!

Psalm 9.

The throne of righteousness.

To the chief musician. Upon Muth-labben. A psalm of David.

We come now then to the consideration of these psalms in detail. The ninth has for its subject the contemplation of that throne of righteousness which the earth has so long desired to see and found not. Christ as the King of righteousness has been refused, and the world has sought all kinds of substitutes for Him in vain. It must be but in vain! Yet the "desire of all nations" shall come, and shall be found in Him. He shall be "King of kings and Lord of lords."

The inscription is considered a difficult one, and has had, as usual in such cases, many interpretations. Muth-labben means most naturally, however, and is most commonly taken to be, "Death for the son." Remembering the Egyptian oppression out of which Moses and the people of Israel as a whole were saved, and which God remembered against Egypt on the passover night of their deliverance, — and remembering, too, that here we have the final and worst tribulation of the same people Israel, when out of the bitterest persecution they shall be delivered, — there is no great difficulty in the application of the inscription in this way. So taken it confirms from another side the meaning of the psalm.

1. The psalm begins with an outburst of praise to the Most High — that millennial name of God with which the seventh psalm ended. Israel's tongue is loosed, the whole heart united in this praise. It is Jehovah, the covenant God, the Living and Unchangeable, who is now manifested as this, whose wondrous, works have made Him known, and these as being the means of their own deliverance, and with their new-opened mouth, Israel will declare. David the Israelite has long since led, and still leads, in such strains as these; and Christ, the anti-type of David, will lead "in the midst of the assembly," in the days to come.

The speaker repeats, confirms, and amplifies the song of praise. It is God Himself in whom he rejoices, and whom His works make known; it is His name which he celebrates in psalms. This is indeed the joy of joys, that, as is not the case with changeful man, what He has done is the real manifestation of Himself, His nature, — and that is what His "Name" implies. Thus we can know Him better than we can know ourselves: for the heart of man, "who can know it?"

What a joy indeed, to have Him manifestly reigning — Christ the perfect expression of what He is, and Christ upon the throne!

2. Deliverance from the enemy is what now their hearts are full of: righteous deliverance for the righteous, as the seventh psalm has declared it as far as the oppressor is concerned: he has no claim that the divine government can recognize. There is efficient power, and when the work of deliverance begins, it is fully accomplished: when the enemies turn back, they stumble and perish, for God is there. Israel can now say, "Thou hast maintained my right and my cause;" and it is One who plainly sits upon the throne who does so.

Nor is this deliverance local merely. It connects itself with the judgment of the earth, and the destruction of the wicked out of it: even their name is blotted out and disappears; and this involves a moral change of the face of the world, which makes haste in this way to forget them. More than this, the desolations wrought by the reign of evil are over: the "times of restitution" are come, — summer and fruitage for all the earth, with quiet rest under the care of the good Shepherd. For He it is who reigns, and the iron rod has destroyed those only who destroy the earth.

3. Jehovah dwells in Zion, and His rule has all the character of divine beneficence. Man is no longer a stranger and an exile from God. The earth returned to her orbit circles round her central sun.

(a) It is the rule of the Eternal: while other kingdoms arise and fall, this endures: "Jehovah abideth forever." No danger of a failure in the succession; no uncertainty from transmission through many hands: the glorious Priest-King never resigns or forfeits His throne to others; He is Himself the dynasty, and its character will never change: He "establisheth His throne for judgment; and He shall judge the world in righteousness, He shall give judgment in uprightness to the races of men." Thus there is no fear either of the clashing of party interests or of national prejudices, or of aught else. One King is King to all, ministering incorruptible justice to all alike. Rule is now true service, and the oppressed is secure of a ready hearing in the one ever-accessible court of appeal. He is their refuge, their sanctuary, — "a stronghold in seasons of strait." This is no theory merely: there is no contradiction between the ideal and the real. It is known by experience, affirmed by the consciousness of all His people: for "they that know Thy Name will trust in Thee: for Thou, Jehovah, haft not forsaken them that seek Thee."

(b) Israel is naturally the witness of all this in her own experience, and by her deliverance will "tell out His deeds among the peoples" — the nations brought at last to be His own. The persecution even to death of the chosen nation He has now remembered: their cry has come up into His ears. Now He dwells in Zion, and forever; the wings that long since would have sheltered them, are now stretched over them, — at rest in the love that has drawn them nigh.

4. After all this — strangely as it seems, no doubt, — we have the actual cry of distress; and to the end of the psalm, though there are outbursts of triumphant anticipation, the deliverance contemplated is seen not to be really come as yet. And this character of the psalm we shall find repeated in many future ones. The realization of faith comes first, and then the actual circumstances are seen, out of which faith looks to the fulfillment of precious promises, which are indeed as sure as if fulfilled. The stand-point of the psalm is thus that of those for whom it has been specially prepared, and their faith is strengthened by such Spirit-inspired glimpses as we have had into the then so near future, the bright fulfillment of the longings and prayers of successive generations of saints, who died with its light-glow in their faces. And this hope too is ours, with its brightness only intensified by the fact that ours too are heavenly promises, and that as "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" we are to see and rejoice in the earth's bridal-glory, when the Bridegroom-King shall be "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Our interest in these things is not likely to be spoiled by the fact of fuller entrance than Israel herself into this ineffable joy.

Here then we have the experience of Jacob's hour of trial once again, the cry — though with the confidence begotten of previous anticipations — from the very "gates of death." Yet they expect to change this yawning shadow for the "gates of the daughter of Zion," and to praise Jehovah there, exulting in His salvation — not surely a mere temporal deliverance. We have seen already (Ps. 6) what death is linked with in their minds; and corresponding with this is the meaning of deliverance from it for the hearts of these worshipers — a praise that shall be led of Messiah Himself.

5. Thus again faith descries the future from its firm ground in the prophetic word, and rehearses the righteous ways of divine government in quite a similar manner to the seventh psalm. These things need the emphasis of repetition for men's careless ears. The nations sink into a pit their own hands have prepared, and are taken in the net they have hid for their own entanglement. And this is Jehovah's judgment, the unswerving ways by which Jehovah is made known. Higgaion: here is "meditation" for those who do not refuse it: let them "ponder it in their own hearts upon their beds, and be still."

And "the wicked are turned into Sheol, — all the nations that forget God." This is still, of course, the judgment of the world that is in question: final it is, as far as the world goes, but yet not the full eternal judgment which the New Testament reveals. For this, Sheol or hades must deliver up its dead, (held by it only as prisoners for the assize,) and the "resurrection of judgment" introduce them to "the great white throne" for discriminating sentence. (Rev. 20.) This we have not here, nor generally in the Old Testament. Death — what we ordinarily call that — is, as we see it everywhere, the legal penalty, though still with the shadow of divine wrath therefore in it. It is here the doom of "outer darkness," outside the day of earth's festival and joy; the doom of those who "forget God;" and thus we understand the cry of the sixth psalm, though there in the lips of those to whom forgetfulness of God is the misery they dread: "for in death there is no remembrance of Thee; in Sheol who shall give Thee thanks?" It is the doom of those who have chosen to forget God, but as contemplated by those with whom, according to the well-understood parallelism here, to "remember" is to "give Him thanks." Alas, it is the portion they have chosen they will have — aye, and must have, because they have chosen it, not because He has chosen it for them. From so awful a thought as this He has interposed his oath to save us: "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth: therefore turn yourselves and live ye."

6. The psalm concludes with prayer, mingled with the assurance which he who prays whispers to his heart. Frail man, thrusting himself across the path of the almighty purpose! what must be the end? God's people may be indeed the "needy," and with no spirit of self-assertion, scarcely turning as the worm upon the foot of him that treads on it — the "meek." Aye, but it is because, not their despair, but their "expectation" quiets them. "My soul, wait thou upon God," is the reminder with which they control themselves. Shall they be forgotten perpetually, though for a time it seem so? shall such expectation come to naught? shall they who have no hope but in God be disappointed by Him? No: it is impossible to entertain the thought. And so out of that conviction comes the cry —

"Arise, Jehovah! let not frail man be (thus) strong!" has not his success reached already the ordained bound? "let the nations be judged before Thy face!" They have forgotten Thee, and so can boast themselves: let Thy presence convict them of their folly, and rebuke the vain pretension; "put them in fear, Jehovah! that the nations may know themselves to be frail men!"

Thus the psalm ends. Though irregular in its construction, the alphabetic arrangement only lacks one letter, so far as it goes, which is just half-way through the alphabet. Thus, instead of eleven letters, there are ten — the psalm clinging, indeed, to what this number indicates — human responsibility and recompense; while the omitted letter, daleth, standing for the number 4, which speaks of creature weakness and failure, may find in this the reason of its omission from a psalm which throughout so strongly emphasizes the indefectible righteousness of the divine government. Reason will certainly be found everywhere for every "jot and tittle" of the inspired word which we are considering. Believing research will find that every claim that has been made for it on that score fails only in feebleness of statement, not in excess.

Psalm 10.

The wicked one, and the deliverance.

Psalm 10.

The tenth psalm, linked too closely with the ninth to have any separate title, is occupied largely with the description of the wicked one, as we have seen; and this is the cause of a gap in the alphabetic arrangement, six letters (from Mem to Tzaddi) being absent. Delitzsch would find, however, six strophes standing here to represent them, but the numerical division is into five parts, which are very unequal. The larger divisions are three: it is in fact a sort of resurrection psalm.

1. The first division gives us only the cry to Jehovah with the cause of the cry, this being the persecution of the humble by the wicked one. "Why standest Thou afar off, Jehovah? [why] hidest Thou Thyself in seasons of strait?" The previous psalm had declared God to be a stronghold in just such seasons (verse 9). Why such dissimilarity between the faith and the experience? But in truth faith in no wise rests upon experience here, but confesses that, as to His government, clouds and darkness may be round about Him. True, at last experience will come round to faith, and the exercise meanwhile be found needed and helpful. But faith is in the invisible, — sees Him indeed who is so, — has its ground, its arguments, is not credulity, but has sure evidence, all its own.

2. (a) Now we have the picture of the wicked one, the enemy of God and man. Pride and lust characterize him, the tokens of a soul out of the presence of God, but here in distinct and awful rejection of Him. He boasts of his soul's desire, — of having his own way; pursuing it, he refuses all the check of Jehovah's will; he renounces, he scorns Him, is in entire independence: like a "wandering star", he is bound to no orbit, by that very fact indeed showing himself to be in earth-bonds that he knows not, a meteor to he quenched in darkness; safety and permanency are only in the orbit.

He is not only independent of God, he denies Him; but he denies Him in the interest of his own lawless acts. "He will not search out," he says. His plottings, the weaving together of his purposes, are atheistic therefore. His pride and his lusts mutually support each other.

(b) Security is the natural outcome of his pride: God's judgments are out of his sight altogether. If faith has to own often that clouds and darkness are about Him, it is in no wise strange that he should refuse all cognizance of One thus removed out of all natural ken. Nay, if God acts most clearly, the very fact that He makes all things serve Him in it still conceals Him amid the multiplicity of instruments. Then the scale in which God weighs things is too spiritual; the balances are "balances of the sanctuary": a careless and callous conscience cannot appreciate them; the handwriting on the wall needs an interpreter, and who knows if it were correctly given?

He knows not God then, and he derides men: "all his adversaries, he puffeth at them." These things do not always go together: it does not follow that he who has emancipated himself from the restraint of conscience is necessarily free from the fear of man. Man is more intelligible, and yet not always more calculable; he is as to tangibility nearer; and the mystery of one's own heart is dark enough to threaten one with the likeness of other hearts to ours. And yet over this also pride can lift the heart; and it is so here. Nay, he of whom this is spoken can look on indefinitely to the future as one not to be subject to the ills that afflict other men, — "from generation to generation one in no calamity."

(c) Being thus secure, all that is in his heart comes out: "out of the heart the mouth speaketh"; and "his mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression." What is "under his tongue," hidden, and yet ready to show itself, is "trouble" for others, "and vanity" in itself. A short description, indeed, but an effective one. If God be displaced it is to make room for man; and what is the man, then, for whom this is to make room?

(d) So we have now his ways, — a monotony of wickedness which the psalmist, seeking to describe, can only do so by repeating himself in various ways. The figure is that of a wild beast and a beast of prey, — human so far only as there is with it the cunning and forecast of the hunter. Man without God is only such a beast; the spiritual part sunk into the animal only giving to it preternatural potency for evil. This process of degradation a Nebuchadnezzar is witness to; while in the prophet's vision, the imperial powers following him inherit his shame: they are but "four wild beasts."

Even the numerical structure seems in the minor sections to fall through here, which, considering that the alphabetic has already done so, and yet with design, may make us realize design here also, — the three verses manifesting what is yet a nameless horror, like the fourth of the imperial beasts in Daniel's vision. (Dan. 7.)

(e) One closing comment takes us back to his attitude toward the divine government, which yet has its hold upon him: "he hath said in his heart, The Mighty hath forgotten: He hideth His face; He hath never seen it."

3. (a) The alphabet is resumed with Koph, and now continues to the end. Let us notice that this letter is 100 in numerical value, the years of Abraham's life before the promise is fulfilled, and to one "as good as dead" Isaac is born. So now it is time for God to arise and act: this consummation of denial and defiance is the index-hand which points to the last possible limit of divine long-suffering. The living God must show Himself. The Mighty One must put forth might. The suffering of the righteous calls for it; and so does the cool contempt of the wicked. Patience will be no longer forbearance, but the aggravation of the evil.

(b) Faith holds confidently yet to an All-seeing One, interested as He is observant, sure to interfere. The wretched one, plunged in affliction, yet abandons himself to Him, who has proved Himself the helper of those destitute of natural help. The height of the evil is but the supreme necessity which God must respond to, and with which He directly charges Himself. With all help beside cut off, is not the soul in this condition just this "orphan" to whom He is pledged?

(c) Then with the cry comes the flash of recognition: "Break Thou the arm of the wicked and the evil one! Thou shalt seek out his wickedness till there is no more to find." And then the glorious accomplishment seems before the sight: "Jehovah is King for ever and aye: the nations are perished out of His land." Purgation is effected, the evil is cast out; the intrusive presence of the nations in the land that is Jehovah's land is found no more. It is only faith still that realizes this, but it is realized. Faith can be as sure as if the thing were done, and while there may be for it at times the struggle upwards through the mists of the valley, there are also the clear air of the mountain-top and the perfect vision.

(d) And the soul goes on strengthened on its way. There is an experience of faith, braced and energized by communion with God, which makes already the path to shine with the glow of far-off skies, and lifts up the feet with energy and purpose. So it is now, as the soul sings: —

"The desire of the humble Thou hast heard, Jehovah: Thou confirmest their heart; Thou causest Thine ear to hearken, to judge the orphan and the oppressed, that frail man of the earth" — whose abode the earth is — may no more alarm." Thus with a strain of joy and confidence the tenth psalm ends.

Section 2. (Ps. 11 — 15.)

In view of the evil and the enemy.

There follows now a second series of remnant psalms, their exercises in view of the prevalent evil and power of the enemy. There is not the same ploughing up of the soul or question of relationship to God that we found in the first; for even the complaint of forgetfulness is not the dread of wrath; nay, is in fact almost the opposite of that: for the plea is, Canst Thou forget me — Thine own? On this account the connection of the psalms with one another is more difficult to trace; there is not the same process in the soul to be detected which gave each its place in the former case; the eyes of the remnant are more upon their circumstances, less upon themselves. This does not, however, make the psalms less simple to understand individually: they are, on the contrary, quite easy to be read; and orderly connection, too, there surely is; but it is not that of life-development.

We begin, however, at the same point in each series, with faith in an absolute God who governs all, the eleventh psalm being broader and fuller in character than the third, as it is less personal. In the next psalm, the twelfth, we have the words of Jehovah as the resting-place of faith, amid the empty clatter and worse of human tongues. The thirteenth third of the series — is a cry of distress, Jehovah's face hidden and the enemy prevailing, though with realized blessing in the end. The fourteenth sees the ignorant folly of the oppressor, and moralizes on it, though salvation has not yet come. While the fifteenth, thoroughly Deuteronomic in its character, declares the indispensable moral condition of those who at last dwell with God.

These psalms are all very brief, the longest only of eight verses; they are plainly still introductory: outline-sketches to be filled in at a later time.

Psalm 11.

Jehovah on the throne, and ordering all for blessing.

To the chief musician, [a psalm] of David.

The first psalm, though but of seven verses, is of varied character, and has five divisions, — is of itself a little pentateuch. Its theme is the sovereignty of God, as faith owns it, His complete control when things are at their worst, and all foundations in appearance gone. Amid the abysmal sea, He is the one thing that abides; and abiding, bears the soul up and through all surges to the shore. Yet, necessary as this truth is, and blessed as is the assurance of it, there is abundance that will try it in a scene like this, God consenting also, as the psalm says, that it should be tried, that patience may be wrought and have its perfect work: for "tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, a hope that maketh not ashamed"; and if "patience have her perfect work," then are we "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Thus the psalms that follow find their reason and justification.

1. Naturally we begin with Jehovah as the one sufficient stability of the soul. He the living, the unchanging God, is the sure refuge of the faith that cleaves to Him. Yet because no eye but that of faith discerns this refuge, men may mock and threaten the feebleness which alone they see, and see not the enclosing arms that compass about the feeble one. But he publishes his security, and the grounds of it. It is something of which we never can be deprived, while cleaving to it; and confidence grows in the confession of it. "Why say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? In Jehovah I have taken refuge."

2. But now we see the elements that breed unrest. They are of two kinds mainly. The first, in such a day as we have seen the psalms look onward to, looms large and grave enough: it is that of personal peril: "for lo, the wicked bend their bow, they fix the arrow upon the string, that they may shoot in the dark at the upright in heart." The danger is there, and yet, just where is uncertain; but the evil grows, and the moral question of this uprise under the government of God becomes the deepest: "if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The path seems lost in this uttermost confusion.

3. But we have the correcting truth. If Jehovah's sanctuary is to be found no more on earth, — and we must remember that it is Israel to whom the earthly sanctuary is the expression of the distinguishing favor enjoyed by them, which marked them as His people, — yet in His heavenly temple He is; and thence no sin of man can drive him. Thence He still rules the earth; and when, because He is quiet, men little deem this, He exercises the most perfect oversight over them all. Left indeed thus, they show fully what they are; and He remains, too, what He is, the throned and Holy One.

4. But He trieth also the righteous: just those He loves, and because He loves them, for the sake of what the trial works, in them and through them for His glory. And this may make the wicked, the instruments of this trial, forget or ignore that the "wicked and the lover of violence He hates." Not yet is the day of manifestation, when the truth will all come out; but he that will may nevertheless know this now. Conscience alone, if truly listened to, is competent to declare it.

5. But the psalm carries us on to the day of retribution, from its standpoint very near at hand; "upon the wicked He will rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and a scorching wind, — the portion of their cup." The imagery is borrowed from the description of the destruction of Sodom, so solemn a picture of the world's judgment, and referred to by our Lord in connection with His own coming. (Luke 17:28-30, 32.) The "snares" are evidently the fire and brimstone themselves, rained down from heaven,* laying hold of men before they are aware of their danger, as with Lot's wife: "while they say, peace and safety, sudden destruction cometh upon them."

{* Dawson has shown that the instrument of divine judgment upon Sodom was no doubt a "bitumen or petroleum eruption, similar to those which, on a small scale, have been so destructive in the oil-regions of Canada and the United States of America. They arise from the existence of reservoirs of compressed inflammable gas along with petroleum and water, existing at considerable depths below the surface. When these are penetrated, as by a well or bore-hole, the gas escapes with explosive force, carrying petroleum with it, and when both have been ignited, the petroleum rains down in burning showers, and floats in flames over the ejected water, while a dense smoke towers high into the air, and the inrushing draught may produce a vortex, carrying upward to a still greater height and distributing still more widely the burning material, which is almost inextinguishable, and most destructive to life and to buildings. . . . Now the valley of the Dead Sea is an 'oil-district,' . . . and it is well known that petroleum exudes from the rocks both on the sides and in the bottom of the Dead Sea, and, being hardened by evaporation and oxidation, forms the asphaltum referred to by
so many travelers." (Modern Science in Bible Lands, pp. 486-488.) The word used here and in
Genesis 19 for "brimstone" may include "any kind of mineral pitch or oil, and possibly sulphur as well." And the "scorching wind" is therefore not the "simoom" of the desert, as generally supposed.}

On the other hand, as surely as "Jehovah is righteous, loving righteous acts," "the upright shall behold His face." Fellowship here leads on to the fellowship hereafter. Thus the first psalm of this series ends.

Psalm 12.

Man's lying words contrasted with Jehovah's pure ones.

To the chief musician, upon Sheminith. A psalm of David.

The second puts in sharp contrast the lying words of men with Jehovah's pure ones, which bring moreover with them the assurance of salvation to the soul. The outlook otherwise is dark enough, and the psalm is in the same low notes (al sheminith) as the fourth of the former series (Psalm 6). It is characteristic of antichristian times that deception should be so marked a feature, and that they should say, "With our tongues will we prevail." Not that such words have reference necessarily to the poison of false doctrine; but that, as during an epidemic, other diseases take on more or less the prevailing form so under the shadow Of one great deception every form of deception may be hid. And yet, remembering what for the inspired writer the tongue is, we need not be at much loss for the application of the psalm before us to the world round about us today, and indeed take home to ourselves also its warnings.

1. It divides into two equal parts, in the first of which man is the subject, in the second God is before us. With man, his misery and his evil are, that, fallen away from God, believing in His love and care no more, he is become himself the object of his own self-love and care. Self rules him, subjects him, degrades, corrupts him, turns him from the minister of blessing that he should be into the oppressor and scourge of all creation under him.

Here the mass are one, there is no godly man left, the faithful are gone from among the children of men. Their mouth is filled with falsehood, they have the smoothest of lips, and a double heart. Against all such Jehovah will manifest Himself, and against the tongue that speaks great things.

What is it that they say? According to Delitzsch and others we should read, "To our tongues we will give strength," that is, we will talk as loudly as we please; but such a meaning might, one would think, be more simply conveyed. Holding by the common translation, which the Revised Version retains, there results a possible meaning, which for its folly might be discarded as impossible, and which yet may be the meaning here. Nothing can, after all, be too foolish for the lying lips which are the outcome of a deceitful heart, capable of deceiving the very man who is its possessor. Do not men know that they must die? Yet is it not the business of the mass to ignore it, forget it, make the truth untrue? And so the forty-ninth psalm speaks: "Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue forever, and their dwelling-places to all generations; they call the lands after their own names. . . . This their way is their folly; yet their posterity" — or "the men that come after them" — "approve their sayings."

Is not this in effect to say — is it not the real meaning of — "by our words we will prevail," — "we will have the thing so by mere effrontery"? The untrue shall be true if we pronounce it true?

Doubtless a man would never say this openly; would not proclaim so openly a battle with the fact; would not even frame such a thought in speech. But that is just the desperate deceit of the heart, that it can so prevail over the reason; and the numerical structure may just point to the weakness underlying the boasting of the tongue, — this mere puff of breath, as it is, — vox et praeterea nihil. And he may be fitly made to say what in fact he would not care to say, who yet in his life makes just this folly his.

Lips and heart here have broken loose from the curb of divine authority: "who is lord over us?" is the cry. What more than a mere puff of breath is this, save for its wickedness?

2. Jehovah's word comes here into swift opposition to all this; yet it is love and pity that move Him to action, — the oppression of the poor, the sighing of the needy. His promise pledges His interference; whereupon faith celebrates, before this comes, the "pure" words of the Lord, unmixed with any alloy of insincerity or untruth, — words that are like silver, the current medium of exchange, completely purified.

In fact, this is realized. Jehovah keeps His people, yea, preserves them forever from the generation of the false-hearted. Yet the wicked walk around; and so it must be when "vileness" — what should be shaken out and cast away — is held in a place of honor among men. This is the condition of things now among the people once the special people of Jehovah.

Psalm 13.

Brought up from the gates of death.

To the chief musician, a psalm of David.

The third psalm of the series is a resurrection psalm, as agrees well with its position. In it the soul goes down into the depths, but only to find renewal of strength, and fuller blessing. For is it not so in the case of any difficulty met with God, and mastered, as, thus met, it will be mastered? And thus, as it would seem, upon every dealing of God with us, and in every stage of His new-creative work, the stamp of resurrection will be found. We must face nature's ruin, bury the dead, acquiesce in the setting aside of creature strength entirely, that all power may be ascribed where it belongs — to God.

How interesting, in this respect, to find in each of the six days' work wherein, in Genesis 1, we have seen the type of just this new creative work, this same stamp exhibited! On the Sabbath of rest it can be at last omitted. Thus "the evening and the morning" constitute each "day." The day begins with light indeed, but with evening-light, destined, as it would seem, only to make haste to die out and disappear, but to have ere long its resurrection "morning." Here, one would say, the sole purpose of the psalm is to affix this stamp: God thus snapping the ties of nature in all that sin has blighted, ending all creature — so all self — dependence, that all our trust may fasten on Himself. Then, when we make Him all, we find Him all; the natural truth, that "in Him we live and move and have our being," becomes a spiritual truth, spiritually discerned and enjoyed. As here, the soul beginning with a groan ends with a song. We have passed through a tunnel of earth to the unveiled glory of heaven.

1. The six verses fall into three couplets, so that the six is really a 3 x 2. It is at once a discipline and a lesson in mastery that we have in them. The cry here is of one desolate indeed, although, as has been noticed, conscience is not accusing as in the sixth psalm. The psalmist cries a strange cry, bred at once of intimacy and estrangement, that Jehovah — the Unchanging — has forgotten! Then will His forgetfulness now not change? Will it be perpetual? Who, indeed, can read such a riddle as this? Clouds have hid the sun, but who would then identify the sun and the cloud? The cloud passes, but the sun abides.

Simple, all this, — to see and say as to another! With the chill and the shadow upon us, is it always so easy? "Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands; thy words have upholders him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees: but now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled." (Job 4:3-5.) So it is indeed with more than Job: at the critical moment, when demand is made upon us to show strength, there is naught but weakness; the arguments that we ourselves have used with others stand where they did, but they avail not; they have not been refuted, but they do not comfort us. Ah,we need more than argument: the living strength of the God of strength alone suffices in the day of personal need; and a terrible thing it is, perhaps, then to realize how much of the energy that has carried us on has not been that!

Argument? What use in argument, when a soul says, God has forgotten! He used to speak to me, He used to bless me, I used to find Him when I sought; but now! And here is one who has known the favor of Jehovah, and whose prayer has entered into His ears, telling Him he is not the same; asking, Will He remember me no more?

So comes the weary "taking counsel," the strife of thought, of little use indeed, if God be the changeable being we have made Him. All the counsel in our hearts cannot lift care indeed, if God be no more God; "if," as Luther's wife asked him, "God were dead." But He is not, or we would not be at His feet, even to groan out these faithless fears.

2. And at His feet the soul grows bolder: "Consider, — answer me, Jehovah, my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep — death." Aye, the despair of all else shows that faith is about to revive; despair of all else absolutely makes God the one grand resource. We grasp with one hand some unbreakable holdfast, and with the other some poor weed or fragile thread that could not support one for a moment; and then, when this has snapped, we cry, "Oh, the holdfast has given way," when all that is needed is to put both hands upon it! This is now the lesson; and immediately the soul gets the right argument, not with itself but with God: "Lighten mine eyes," it says: "Lord, Thou knowest, Thou art the light of them: yea, the light of life itself; if Thou art not with me, it is only death."

This is the argument; this is the thicket that caught for us the horns of the ram of sacrifice. (Gen. 22:13.) Our feebleness laid hold of the unique power of Christ — power that only was in Him — to bring Him in for us. He had the power, and there was none else, and He knew it: "He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation to Him." (Isa. 59:16.) What an argument to infinite Love to tell Him, if truthfully we can, "Lord, Thou art my one necessity: the light of these poor eyes, the light in which alone we see light; the Life without whom there is only, only death!" This is a prayer taught by the Holy Ghost Himself, — by Him who "maketh intercession for the saints according to God." (Rom. 8:27, Gk.) We put both arms round Him when we say so; and it is a prayer so possible for us all, a child's prayer, — an infant's, — never to be refused by the tender pity of God.

He is the Light and He is the Life: simple truths indeed, yet how needful to remember. The wise of this world, with all the subtlety of human intellect, can never succeed in anything but in deceiving themselves and all that trust in them. Christ alone is wisdom, what can be ever rightly counted such, — true wisdom, because in it alone are found "righteousness and sanctification and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30, Gk.)* Men are lost, and must come to God not as philosophers but as sinners. All cannot be the first; the last of these all are.

{*Almost all versions have obscured the meaning here: the words should read, "who is made unto us wisdom from God: righteousness as well as sanctification and redemption." The Revised Version has in the margin "both righteousness and sanctification and redemption," — a right meaning, in bad English.}

Yet I do not say how deep the psalmist goes here. There may be more in his words than realized by himself. Death physical had not lost its shadow yet for the saint; for He had not come who has "abolished" it. The pressure of the enemy is felt all through these experiences, though by it also God is working blessing as in all things: "He maketh all things work together for good to those that love Him." Here the psalmist pleads that the enemy may not triumph, nor his adversaries be able to exult in his being moved.

3. The third couplet gives the resurrection from the depths. First, faith finds the solid ground under its feet. It has not an elaborate argument, but a very simple one: "I have trusted in His mercy, therefore deliverance shall come!" Perhaps a little more than that: "I have trusted in His mercy: so then I will be glad at once, for deliverance is sure!" It is good to be able to honor Him thus before it comes, and not to be taken by surprise by it. Sorrowful, even in the deliverance itself, never to have given Him credit for it beforehand!

Then the last verse celebrates (I think) the actual deliverance which surely follows. And now in proportion to the distress is the liveliness of the joy. The sigh becomes a song. There are no details all the way through, that we may have before us just the fact which the psalm emphasizes, that God is the God of resurrection, and that so, weaned from all self-trust, He Himself becomes the one sufficiency, — the all-sufficiency of the believing soul.

Psalm 14.

The universality of evil and its folly: God's experience of man.

To the chief musician, [a psalm] of David.

The distress is over: it does not revive. Is it not always true that of what is thoroughly gone through with God, the result abides: true victories are permanent ones? And good reason: for the victory is really found in the judgment and elimination of that confidence in false trusts which leaves us instead with God our confidence, with a strength that the hour of need but justifies and manifests. Faith, faith, faith: that is the lesson of lessons; that is the effectual worker, and in every part of the Christian life and walk.

The soul can now, in peace as to itself, contemplate its surroundings; the enemy, once so formidable, becomes now as weak and foolish as once he seemed strong and prosperous. Jehovah has appeared, is seen to be with the generation of the righteous. and that at once changes everything with regard to their persecutor, who is only dashing himself against the rock. A terrible scene indeed it is to contemplate, and man is seen with the "madness in his heart" of which the preacher speaks. The floods are abroad. and the "floods lift up their waves," but in vain necessarily: they break themselves against the limit God has affixed. God Himself has taken man's measure, and what is he? But a fool, that knows not His maker.

There are seven verses, a real septenary of 4 + 3; the first four being the testing of man; the last three the manifestation of God, — and this very plainly marked. The estimate is complete, as it is brief. The verdict is easily reached, soon uttered. It is a judgment from which no appeal is possible.

( 1) These are emphatically the evil days, and the moral unity of the mass, already seen in the twelfth psalm, is still more solemnly asserted. The fool who says in his heart there is no God, is not an exception to the rest, though it be true that there will be a great leader in this direction, one who "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped." (2 Thess. 2:4.) But here the "fool" of the first sentence becomes a multitude in the very next, who "have corrupted themselves, have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." This is, indeed, what man away from God naturally comes to; for God is the true life of man; and, as the body apart from the soul which is its life, corrupts, so does the soul, if it be apart from God. There cannot be exception here; no law is surer than is this: "there is none that doeth good."

(2) But Jehovah Himself will give His testimony. Knowing perfectly all hearts beforehand, He is yet not content to pronounce, save from actual experience. Looking down from heaven, He considers every soul of man among the children of Adam, to see if there is any one who truly understands, — who, aroused by the want and misery of his condition, seeks after Him whom men's sins have shut off from them.

(3) Alas, no! they have not sought nor cared: they have turned aside; they have gone after their lusts; none doeth good, no, not one. This the apostle long afterwards applies as a general truth, condemning absolutely the whole world. What the grace of God does is another matter. Apart from this there is a monotony of evil, one generation following another, only to add their own sins to their fathers'. This is the result then, God Himself being witness, certifying it from actual inspection of every individual among men.

We may gather this comfort, even from so terrible a condition, that if there be one who does understand enough even to seek after God, God's grace has wrought, He Himself has been the first seeker; and what an encouragement this for him who yet has not found, but only "seeketh." We can realize then how it must be that, as the Lord has said, "every one that seeketh findeth." Even amid the darkness, One to whom there is no darkness is on the way to find him whom by need and famine He has sought before.

(4) But the workers of vanity, have they no knowledge, then? They would eat up God's people just as they eat bread: in every respect like beasts, for these, too, call not on Jehovah." It is man's privilege to know God; not knowing Him, he has no right human "knowledge." "Workers of vanity," therefore, they assuredly will be. The whole description is of a piece: the whole thing goes together. But the human beast here shows his fallen condition by his antipathies: he is against God and His people, as we see; he is such a beast as the serpent was when the devil got into him. Alas, that is really the case, that he has admitted the devil.

(5) With the fifth verse, as already said, God Himself comes into the scene; and man is with Him, "God is with the generation of the righteous." That is the real fear that comes upon the persecutor, the shadow of his approaching doom. These weak, despised people, how often have they, just by the light that shone out of them and around them, thrown a panic into the host of their adversaries! It is in effect what Peter says of the Christian: "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you." (1 Peter 4:14. ) When Jehovah looked out from the fleeing Israelites upon the ranks of the pursuing Egyptians, He troubled the host of the Egyptians; and from the Red Sea down through the long march of history, this has been many times repeated. Without weapon lifted or hostile array, the people of God have forced upon the mightiest the conviction, "The Lord fighteth for them." Well may they be afraid then! "They that be with us are more than they that be with them." (2 Kings 6:16.)

(6) Here, then, is the enemy's limit. "Ye would put to shame the counsel of the humble; but Jehovah is his refuge." "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people." (Ps. 125:2.) Blessed security! He who gave His life for the flock is with them, now "in the power of an endless life." And He says Himself, "Because I live, ye shall live also." (John 14:19.)

(7) But the psalm ends with the salvation of Israel only in sight. It comes out of Zion, by the Deliverer there to come, the King once rejected, then to be greeted with the homage of a willing people. Suddenly this will be accomplished, and then their captivity will be turned as in a moment! "Jacob shall exult, Israel shall be glad."

Psalm 15.

The character of those who dwell with God.

A psalm of David.

The deuteronomic character of the fifth psalm will not be questioned. In it we have no longer experiences, but a moral conclusion, — the character asked and given of those who are to dwell with God. Its connection with the other psalms of this series proves, in opposition to the thought of many, that it is not Christ Himself who is before us in it. but the remnant of Israel in the latter day, with whom already we have seen Jehovah taking part. "God is with the generation of the righteous," as the last psalm has declared; and here we find, in necessary harmony with this, that they are to be with Him. It is, of course, true that their righteousness is defective, and that on the ground of it they could in no wise stand before God; but nothing is said here of the ground of acceptance, and though it be only grace that could accept them, yet they have none the less a positive righteousness of their own which is the work of the Spirit in them, and which He owns as such. Thus it is, then, that they are characterized here.

1. The psalm consists of a question and answer which clearly divide the five verses into two parts. This the numerical structure very distinctly shows. Let any who doubt its reality try the very simple experiment of dividing the psalm differently, and so as to preserve even the show of numerical significance. It seems impossible to do this.

In David's reign the ark abode in a tent on Zion, but this is here only the veil through which we look forward to the future. The "tent" in this way, and the thought of sojourn in it, do not imply anything temporary, but must be viewed as paralleled by that of abiding in God's holy hill. So rightly argues Delitzsch. Each expression supplies something to the full thought. The grace of the wilderness-journey shines out in the first; and God's dwelling among His creatures must in one sense be ever but a tent, though the "abiding" takes away the fear that, after all, He may depart again.

The question is plainly a question of congruity. Let God's grace be all that He has shown it to be, yet He cannot dwell with those who are alien to His nature. Grace itself can only avail to bring us nigh to God by bringing into His likeness also those it brings nigh. Thank God that it really does this, and we have now the character of those who thus are fitted by grace to dwell with Him.

2. The answer has, brief as it is, four parts, the first of these being necessarily that integrity of heart which manifests itself in the walk and ways, the doing of righteousness, the speaking of truth with the heart. These three things are plainly but manifestations of the same spirit governing the whole practical life.

The first thing is righteousness then, which must be the basis of all else. The second is love, for, as the apostle says, "love worketh no ill to his neighbor." That is almost in words what we have here; and to this it is added, "who taketh not up a reproach" — the reproach of another — "against his neighbor." The first thing here, who gaddeth not about with his tongue," is in our common version "backbiteth not"; and the connection, at least, with what follows, is evident.

The third part of this description shows us a soul in the presence of God; and here the translation given by Delitzsch seems preferable to our common version or the revised. The sign of a soul before God Job illustrates for us in this way, though the best man of his day on earth; and the antithesis, as Delitzsch remarks, is well preserved with the following clause, he honoreth those that fear Jehovah." How beautiful this spirit of self-judgment, along with the honor given to another for the very thing that marks himself! Then if he vows to the Lord to his loss, yet he cannot go back or change it.

Finally, he is tested by the opportunity to make gain of his neighbor's poverty, and refuses it: usury was absolutely forbidden as between Hebrew and Hebrew; and he rejects the ready bribe to pervert justice. This completes the picture of the perfect Israelite. "He that doeth these things shall never be moved."

Subdivision 3. (Psalms 16 — 41.)

"In Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and by Him to reconcile."

The third subdivision of the first book contains by far the largest portion of it, twenty-six psalms, and these also larger and more various, on the whole, than those preceding it. When we consider its subject, this is not to be wondered at. We are led in them into the very heart of the book, that being in reality the heart of Christ Himself, which is here unveiled for us in some sense as it scarcely is in the New Testament even. The twenty-second psalm is an illustration of this. The Spirit of Christ that spake in David is indeed here most manifestly declared.

The quotation from Colossians, which I have taken as expressing the theme of this subdivision, seems quite apt to do this. We have not, indeed, in this part of the Psalms the express declaration of Christ's deity, which we do have, for example, in the hundred and second. Yet we have had already, in the second, His divine sonship as born into the world; and we have here, in this glorious Person, God brought nigh to man and ministry to his need in such sort as only divine fullness can explain. And this goes on, as we see, to atonement and its results, — to the complete character of it as sin-offering and burnt-offering both, with iniquity forgiven and sin covered, and the glorious hiding-place of the sinner in God Himself. (Ps. 22, 40, 32.) In the application of this blessed work we of course stop short of the full Christian position, and this will be plain as we go through what is here; but in the revelation of Christ personally, in the wonder of that unique humanity which the New Testament shows us in actual fulfillment in the living Jesus, we shall find what in all Scripture seems not transcended, and in the mystery of the cross itself. May we realize fully, as we take it up, that it is "the mystery of godliness"; and find our hearts afresh warmed, aroused, energized, inspired by it. May He who has written it unfold and use it for our blessing and His praise!

Section 1. (Ps. 16 — 24.)

Christ the Source of Blessing.

The structure of the third subdivision is markedly parallel to that of the first (Ps. 1 — 8). It begins with a Messianic section, which is followed by one giving the exercises and experiences of faith, in a latter-day remnant of Israel specifically, though susceptible of the widest application to believers generally. Finally it closes with a still briefer Messianic section. Thus we begin and end with Christ, as God does; while between come in a multitude of human thoughts, feelings, and experiences, some true and good, some of a very mixed nature, but which in the end find Christ once more as the goal they lead to and their answer and rest.

The first section here consists of nine psalms, a number which we have found generally — which is perhaps always — a 3 x 3, the divine number intensified. So we find it here. The whole section speaks of Christ as the source of blessing to His people, giving in fact nearly the entire theme of the subdivision, only two Messianic psalms remaining for the close.

Series 1. (Psalms 16 — 18.)

Christ identifying Himself with the people, and identified with them by God.

The first series, therefore, is of three psalms only: "Christ identifying Himself with the people, and identified with them by God." This is plainly the key of all that follows, although as yet we have not atonement, which is its necessary outcome. The principle is announced in the very beginning of the next (the sixteenth) psalm, and it is gradually developed in the succeeding ones.

Psalm 16.

The all-Obedient One.

Michtam of David.

{Verse 1, El, God, but also "power, strength."

Verse 2, Adonai, which is the ordinary word for "Lord" when a title of God, but which is a plural form, just like that in Psalm 8, but with the suffix of the first person singular; and so I have translated it, as does the common version.

This and the following verse are very variously translated. The knowledge of what is in the mind of the Spirit is of more value than mere critical acumen. If we see David only or principally, the difficulty of consistent rendering is very great, (as see Moll in Lange's Commentary, who even denies tobhathi to be possibly moral goodness.) The translation here follows the common version, which the revision impoverishes into "I have no good beyond thee"; but that is found, and more strikingly expressed in the fifth verse. The next verse also keeps near to the common version. The "I have said," which seems allowable, and adopted by most today, cannot be connected with "to the saints", as many suggest, because the construct form addirei, "the excellent," requires "in whom" rather than "in them." And the sense would be again greatly impoverished.}

The first psalm here gives us Christ as the obedient One on earth. That He is Himself the speaker we may see from the tenth verse, which exclusively applies to Him. He alone is that "holy" or "pious one" who, as such, could not "see corruption" in the grave. So Peter conclusively argues, and he who knows Christ should recognize the features of his Beloved all through the psalm. The fourth verse is a difficulty, no doubt, although idolatry in its various forms was around the Lord, above all in His Galilean ministry. Galilee was then "Galilee of the Gentiles," and Israel too was far from clear. But the background also seems always that of the last days, or at least these are in prospect; and thus their peculiar features — for Israel will fall again into idolatry in the last days — are specialized accordingly. Perspective in the prophets is often greatly foreshortened; but this feature was not absent during the Lord's sojourn in Israel.

Considering the psalm as a whole, a brief glance will show how fully Christ is told out here. The psalm has five divisions, — is therefore a little pentateuch: for the Pentateuch in the new light of Christianity covers, as we know, the whole of man's spiritual life here, a divine "pilgrim's progress"; and in this case we have the One perfect pilgrim seen all through.

First, in one verse, you have the character of His whole life, — so strange for Him indeed, if we consider what He was; and yet on that very account brought into prominence here. His life a life of dependence, a life of faith, Himself "Leader and Finisher of faith." "Preserve me, O God! for in Thee do I put my trust."

Then, two verses show Him taking distinctly His place, not as God in divine supremacy, but as Man with men, and for men, — for the saints, in whom is all His delight.

Next, three verses proclaim Jehovah Himself His portion; His lot therefore being maintained by Him in pleasant places.

Fourthly, two verses speak of Him as in His path, content to be led, a learner, taught of divine wisdom, the object before Him being only God; and thus of the unfaltering steadfastness ever of His steps.

While, lastly, three verses trace this path to its end in glory; a way of life found through death itself into the presence of God — the pleasures at His right hand for evermore.

The Lord enable us with wisdom and with reverence to look at these things more in detail; and may our "meditation of Him be sweet" indeed.

This psalm is the first with the inscription "Michtam" — "Michtam of David." For this there are three different meanings given, the common one being the marginal one, "a golden psalm"; but some say, "a hidden" one, a psalm with a hidden meaning; and some say "engraved," so as not to pass away. Delitzsch gives "a psalm with pithy sayings," an "epigram." There are five others similarly inscribed, 56 —  60, but of very different character from the present, to which one might conceive either of the first meanings being appropriate; but they add nothing that one can realize as of value to the understanding of the psalm.

1. If the sixteenth psalm be pentateuchal, the comparison with the first pentateuch should have interest for us. The theme of the first book, Genesis, is life, and that not simply of fallen and ruined, but much more of restored and renewed man. Of this not only the typical side of the six days, but also those biographies of which it is so largely composed, very plainly speak. This new life, as developed in a world departed from God and under death, manifests itself in a practical life of faith, whose springs and resources are in the unseen things,which are, in contrast with the seen, the things eternal.

In us, because fallen, life begins with a new birth; and where it exists, it is found in contrast with another principle within us, Cain-like, the elder born. The "works of the flesh," too, alas, are found disfiguring, how much, the life of faith. We are now to contemplate the perfection of One in whom nature was never fallen, in whom there was no principle of evil, and upon whom (after thirty years passed in the world) the Father could set the seal of perfect approbation. There is no dark preface to His spiritual history; and yet as truly as — more truly than — with any of us, His life was a life of faith. Hard as it is (just because of what we know Him to be) to realize this, Scripture assures us of it in the fullest way. The epistle to the Hebrews, in giving the brotherhood of the sanctified to Him by whom they are sanctified, brings forward as applying to Him, a text exactly similar to the one before us: "I will put my trust in Him." (Heb. 2:13). And again, in a passage to which we have referred, asserts Him to be the "author" — rather "leader" — "and finisher of faith," (Heb. 12:2), the One who in His own Person completed the whole course of it. The glory of His Godhead must not, therefore, obscure for us the truth and perfection of His manhood. He is the One of whom it could be said, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given," while at the very same time "His name" was to be called "the Mighty God." (Isa. 9:6.) And the gospel of Luke declares Him as a child to have grown in wisdom as in stature. How impossible for any uninspired writer to have given us such an account of Him who is "God over all, blessed forever"! But God is earnest to have us know the full grace thus expressed. "Descended into the lower parts of the earth" to reach us, He is seeking intimacy. He is assuring us of His ability to sympathize with us in every sinless human experience, "in all things tempted like as we are, sin apart." (Heb. 4:15.)

This, too, is His perfection, which could not be manifest in the same way, if not subject to real and full trial. To explain or reconcile it with His Godhead, we may be quite unable: we are not called to do it. The blessed truth we need, and can accept, reverently remembering that "no one knoweth the Son, but the Father." (Matt. 11:27.) The depths of His love are revealed in the abysses of His humiliation; and here we find our present satisfaction and our joy forever. We must, not for a moment, suffer ourselves to be deprived of it; we must not allow its reality to be dimmed.

"Preserve me, O Mighty: for in Thee have I taken refuge," is the language of One as absolutely in need of God, and hanging upon Him, as any one whosoever. He is in man's world, such as sin has made it, not to hide Himself in any wise from its sorrows, but to know them all. Power may be in His hand, and manifested without stint in behalf of others; but for Himself He has none, will use none: to satisfy the hunger of forty days He will not make for Himself the bread which the need of others shall gain from Him without seeking. Conscious of the bleakness and barrenness of the scene into which he has come, "in Thee," He says, "I have taken refuge." The "dove in the clefts of the rock" is not our emblem only; it was His in days of keen distress when, "though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things that He suffered," (Heb. 5:8); — learned, as a new thing for Him, what obedience was.

Precious assurance for us! Christ the very pattern of faith in its every character, in every circumstance of trial: feeling all. indeed, with His capacity for feeling, where was no callousness, or dullness, or incompetence of any kind. With this, then, the "golden" sixteenth psalm begins.

2. In the next two verses the speaker declares Jehovah to be His Lord. He to whom obedience was a strange thing takes expressly the place of it. We had swerved from the path, even where it began, in Eden, as soon as put on it: had turned every one to his own way, as if it were well proved that our wisdom was more than God's, and as if we owed Him nothing who created us. He, the Creator, comes therefore now Himself to take up and prove the path of His own ordinance, — not as He had ordained it, however, but far otherwise; amid all to show us that it was still no worse than He was content to walk in; — to show how for Him it could be meat and drink to do His Father's will: to approve and vindicate it at His own cost, when it cost Him all.

"Lo, I come to do Thy will, O my God," was the one purpose of His heart on earth. We allow ourselves many objects. We shrink from the intolerable thought of an absolute sovereign will with a claim upon us at all times, and one strictly defined path from which there is to be no wandering. But God revealed as He is now revealed makes that sovereignty the joy of a soul that knows that His will can only be according to His nature. For us, love, able to show itself as that, characterizes all His ways with us. But what was it for Him who had (as we have not) to meet the prior demands of righteousness upon us, that love might be free to show itself toward us? His path was not that which the Father's love to Him would have dictated. Would not a man "spare his own son that serveth him"? But He "spared not His Son, but delivered Him up for us all." How wondrous a Leader have we, then, in the path of obedience, who came expressly to fulfill this: "by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all"! (Heb. 10:10.)

Thus He says now to Jehovah, "my goodness extendeth not to Thee," — words which are explained by that which follows: "it is for the saints that are upon the earth and the excellent." That is, it is not to profit me with Thee: it is, in fact, the expression of that divine goodness, the 'love" that "seeketh not its own," but the blessing of others; and this, while the Speaker takes His place distinctly as the Servant of Jehovah, to do His will. Here, evidently, then, is the keynote of all that follows: how important that we should realize its meaning!

No doubt it will be objected that David could not have used the words intelligently in this way. But he did speak of the resurrection of Christ in the tenth verse, as is plain, and as Peter bore witness to the Jews in his day (Acts 2:30, 31), and there there can be no plea of any typical fulfillment or experience of David himself at all. The prophets spoke better than they knew, and did not always understand what they foretold, as the same Peter insists (1 Peter 1:11, 12). Therefore to limit things to David's intelligence is not intelligent, even if we knew (as we do not know) just how much that was.

Christ alone, then, could be the real Speaker here; and thus moved by Divine love toward men, He does not take the place before God to which His perfection would entitle Him. It is not to avail for Him, to give Him the place due to His absolute obedience: otherwise the death of the cross — death in any way — could never have been His portion. This obedience of His — this goodness manifested in obedience — was for the saints, the excellent of the earth, in whom was His delight. For this it must be "obedience unto death," — going as far as that. (Phil. 2:8.) He must empty himself of all, — sell all that He hath, if He would have what to Him is "treasure." (Matt. 13:44.)

Thus He dignifies His poor people with such titles as the saints, the excellent." Nothing but grace in Him could account them so. Not that there is not in them true spiritual worth and moral beauty: they surely are, they must be, what He calls them. Yes; but they are made so by His call. And His heart looks on to the time of perfect consummation, when the glory of His workmanship shall be seen in them. "According to the time shall it be said of Jacob and of Israel, What has God wrought!" Thus shall we be not only, as Jacobs, "to the praise of the glory of His grace," but as Israels also, "to the praise of His glory," (Eph. 1:6, 12), which then shall be seen upon us.

Thus, then, the Lord descends to a path which displays His love to His own, and in which His personal claim on God is given up, that we might have claim. These two verses, therefore, give fittingly the Exodus section of this psalm, — which, as applied to Him, exhibits, not redemption, but the Redeemer. Not yet, indeed, is it seen how low His grace must stoop: the twenty-second psalm, for the first time, fully discloses that. Here it is the personal love which puts Him upon the path which, to accomplish such a purpose, cannot end but with the Cross.

3. Now comes the Leviticus section,which shows us what God is to this perfect man. He is His all: most beautifully told out in the words, "the measure of My portion and of My cup." As it was said of the Levites, "The Lord is their inheritance," so Christ is seen here as the true Levite.

But first we have, what has been objected as fatal to any Messianic interpretation of the psalms, the emphatic denunciation of those who "run after another" god. When we consider Israel's history, it is not to be wondered that what is emphasized as the sin of the legal dispensation, Jehovah's controversy with His people, even from the deliverance out of Egypt until their captivity in Babylon, should be denounced by the lips of Messiah. To say that in the days of the Herods and of heathen governors, the land swarming with the heathen, this evil was wholly extinguished even in Israel, so that it should be inappropriate for Him to utter His abhorrence of it, would surely be to go beyond the proof. Nor was the Lord's prophecy of an "abomination of desolation, standing in the holy place," fulfilled by the idolatrous ensigns of the Romans after the capture of the city, but looks forward to a form of idolatry yet to be found in the midst of Israel, in days preceding, by a short time only, His coming again. (Matt. 24.) Why, then, such a warning as this should be unsuitable to a Messianic standpoint it would be difficult to say.

To the law which prohibited all other gods, not only does His full heart respond; but he declares Jehovah to be His entire portion, — the measure of it, — its whole content. But who, then, can measure this? It is a measure immeasurable, leaving room for nothing beyond, nothing more to be added to it.

"My portion and my cup:" what is the difference? My portion is what belongs to me, — what is mine, whether or not I enjoy it. My cup is what I actually appropriate, or make my own. Eating and drinking are significant of actual participation and enjoyment. Many a person has in this world a portion which he cannot enjoy; and many a one has a portion which (through moral perversity, it may be,) he does not enjoy. With the Lord, indeed, His portion and His joy were one: Jehovah was the measure of both. He had nothing beside; He wanted nothing beside. These two things should be found, through grace, in the Christian also. For all it is true, that God is the measure of our portion, — we have no other. Oh, that it were equally true that He was the measure of our cup, — of our enjoyment!

How strange and sorrowful that for us both should not be realized! How wonderful that we should seek elsewhere what cannot be found, while we leave unexplored the glories of an inheritance which is actually our own. We covet a wilderness, while we neglect a paradise. "My people have committed two evils," says the Lord Himself; "they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and they have hewn out to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns,which can hold no water." (Jer. 2:13.)

And this is the reason why, when we turn to God, and would fain comfort ourselves in Him, we do not find the comfort. Our portion does not yield us for our cup. Would we wonder if we saw an Israelite returning from the worship of Baal refused acceptance at Jehovah's altar? "Covetousness is idolatry," says the apostle. But what is covetousness? It is just the craving of a heart unsatisfied with its portion, for which the thing sought becomes the end that governs it: their lust, as you may see in many a heathen deity, becomes their god. "Their god is their belly" — the craving part — says the apostle again, "who mind earthly things." (Phil. 3:19.)

And "the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." So here the voice of our blessed Forerunner: "Thou maintainest my lot." It is a sure abiding possession that does not leave the heart to unrest. And how blessed a portion! "The lines are fallen unto Me in pleasant places: yea, my inheritance is fair to Me." Yet it is the Son of God down here in a fallen world, who says this: at the same time a man of sorrows because of what the world was. And for us, be the wilderness what it may, God surely is undiminished by it. Yea. in the wilderness were wrought those miracles which made God known as a living reality. Where else did the manna fall morning by morning? Not even in. Canaan, when they entered there! And where else did the pillar of cloud and fire, changing its aspect for their need, go before them ever in the way, to find the path for them? Child of God, is it an evil path in which the Lord leads thee, and where these wonders are but signs for thee of deeper realities?

4. But the wilderness path itself is what now follows, the proving by the way: and again, how truly a man is He! "I will bless Jehovah, who has given me counsel; my reins also instruct me." It is the same Person who speaks in the prophetic word of Isaiah: "The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learner."* How real thus was His dependence, walking by the daily counsel of God, His ear early wakened to receive it! We remember how in His temptation in the wilderness, He applied to Himself the saying in Deuteronomy, that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God shall man live." So did He live, then, even as we; only in a perfection all His own. On the one hand there was the direct guidance of the word of God; on the other, His own Spirit-led thoughts, the fruit of that Word digested and assimilated, by which all His practical life was formed. What a place with Him had the Word! "Scripture which cannot be broken," as He said of it once in the face of unbelief. What a place should it not have with us!

{*The word is the same as for learned, before; but the sense requires the change.}

This retirement with God, this meditation by night, this daily sought, daily found guidance of God, — how much of it do we really know, in days of so much outward activity as these? The sweet communing of soul with a living Counselor and Lord, how much it is to be feared that this less characterizes the Christian's life than it did of old, — in days that we deem much darker. Yet nothing can really make up for such a deficiency. It is in secret that the roots of faith lay hold of the sustenance that can alone mature into fruit in the outward life. "The secret of the Lord," which is "with them that fear Him," may we not say, is imparted in secret? How much does the Lord insist upon this secret life before God in His sermon on the mount, — "before your Father who seeth in secret"? Surely, there is little of this, as there should be; and must we not fear that it is becoming less?

It is literally, "my reins bind me," — my thoughts hold me fast: those deep inner thoughts, in which what we are in inmost reality expresses itself. Do such thoughts hold us fast? And if so, what is their character? Do they speak joy or sorrow? Peace or anxiety? Of earth or of heaven? Does the Word of God blend with them in harmony, or reprove them? In that season of quiet whose continual recurrence God has ordained for us, to withdraw us from alien influences into ourselves, does the soul freely, gladly, rise to Him? Or where does it wander? Where else does it seek a more congenial companionship? Can we say, with the delight of one of old, "When I awake, I am still with Thee"?

Look now at the purpose which all this implies: "I have set Jehovah always before Me." These are the words of the same perfect Exemplar; and "he that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself to walk even as He walked." And who can doubt how the Man Christ Jesus walked? If we have other ends before us, — money, or reputation, or a life of ease, or what not, — is not our life, in its whole principle, different from His? If it be said, we all fail, — true: but failure in the carrying out of a right principle is one thing, and having a wrong one is quite another. "I have set Jehovah before Me" expresses purpose, the choice of the heart; and He could say "always," which we cannot. The essence of sin is, "we have turned every one to his own way"; and, if "Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all," this is not that, delivered from the curse of it, we may go on under its bondage; still less, as freely following it. No: if this be iniquity, "let him that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

For Him who could say, "I have set Jehovah always before Me," what was the result? "Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." There was no tottering, no unsteadiness in His steps: no circumstances, no power of the enemy, could hinder or turn Him aside. All other aims may be defeated, all other hopes frustrated; but where God is before the soul, it can never miss its aim: this is the secret of all prosperity and success. If we have set the Lord before us, we may go forward with the fullest and most assured confidence. And this is, in fact, found in such a course. What hinders faith like a double mind? What strengthens it like a single eye? How can we trust God for a selfish project? How doubt that He will fulfill His own mind? In the path of faith it is that we find faith for the path; and there alone.

5. And now we have the final, the eternal result. The principles of divine government secure the blessing or the curse, as the contrary goals of obedience or disobedience: and this is what Deuteronomy insists upon. For Him whom we have now before us, the government of God could have no mingled results, no doubtful or hypothetical blessing. If death were before Him, we know it as what He found simply in the path of obedience, and in love to men. From it, therefore, the Father's glory necessitated the resurrection of His holy One: "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest secure: for Thou wilt not leave to Sheol" — hades — "my soul; Thou wilt not suffer thy Pious One* to see corruption."

{*"Holy One" is not the sense, and "Pious (or godly) One" is very feeble; but we do not seem to be able to find a better word in English. Chasid speaks of tender, overflowing affection, in relation to God or to parents, and again of mercy overflowing from God to His creatures.}

There was but One who could come up out of death upon such a ground: He who, not for His sins, but in His matchless grace, went into it. "Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him out of death, and was heard for His piety;* though He were Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and, being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." (Heb. 5:7-9.) Thus as Captain of our salvation was the One always personally perfect perfected. In the psalm we do not see, indeed, this descent into death as an atoning work, but we do see it as part of a path into which His love to the saints had made Him enter. But thus we recognize it as indeed "the path of life," trodden by Him as Forerunner and Representative of the host of His redeemed. "Thou wilt show me," He says, "the path of life."

{*A different word, however, from that which is used in Greek for the Hebrew one of the psalm, and implying reverent fear of God.}

The path of life is the path that leads to this: for life in its full reality can only be enjoyed where God, its Source, is. Death is separation from the source of life. When the soul departs, the body left behind is dead; for soul and life are in Scripture one. So, man departed from God — for here the departure is on the reverse side — spiritual death becomes his condition. And the world takes its character from this: it is out of correspondence with God. The breach is witnessed of through its whole frame; on account of it the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together; and we too who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we also groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption — to wit, the redemption of our body. Thus, though we have life in us, it is a life whose proper display cannot yet be. a "life hid with Christ in God," until "Christ our life shall appear." Meanwhile our path leads up to this: opened for us through death itself by Him who going into it has abolished it, and brought life and incorruption to light by the gospel.

"In Thy presence fullness of joy." What, indeed, to Him who says this, — the Son of the Father, in His self-assumed exile, His face now toward the glory which He had with Him before the world was! There is really no "in," and to leave it out brings out better, perhaps, the force: "fullness of joys, Thy presence! At Thy right hand" — the place of approbation — "pleasures for evermore."

So for us the joy of heaven is defined in this: "we shall be ever with the Lord"; "where I am, there ye shall be also." The knowledge of the Father and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, characterizes now for us eternal life. Life in its fullness means for us, then, this knowledge in its own proper home. "In My Father's house are many mansions," says our Lord to His disciples; "if it were not so, I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you." He would not have suffered them unwarned to have enjoyed so dear an intimacy with Himself, if eternity were not to justify and perpetuate it. And for us, every taste of communion now, every moment of enjoyed intimacy is the pledge of its renewal and perfection in the joy beyond. If it were not so, He would not permit it. The glory into which He is gone could not change the heart of Him who once left it for our sakes. The One who descended is the same also who is ascended up. The Glorified is the Crucified. We shall see in His face above the tender lowly condescension of the days of His flesh: "we shall see Him as He is," only to find Him as He was: nearer as better known.

At His right hand, too, we shall all be; whatever special rewards there are, there will be gracious approbation for all It is sweet to know that whatever differences may obtain among us, the common joys will also be the deepest and greatest. Fruit of our own work which we may have, what can it be, compared with the fruit of His work, which we shall enjoy together? Children of God alike, the Father's heart and home will be for all. To be members of Christ, His bride, joint-heirs with Him, will be our common portion. "Kings and priests unto His God and Father," He has made our common privilege. There is an unhappy legal tendency to make special rewards mean what is real distortion of all this, as if some of His own, after all He has done for them, might be left in comparative distance from Him. Even the "many mansions" of the Father's house have been made to minister to such a thought. Nothing could be less like the real purport of those blessed, assuring words, which just emphasize the room for all, the taking in of all, and for eternity.

Psalm 17.

An appeal against the enemy: on the ground of the perfection of Christ, the Intercessor for the people.

A prayer of David.

The sixteenth psalm, then, has shown us the perfect obedience of One who has come into the path of it in love toward the saints, a path which has led Him as far as death itself, but to find through it a way of life, a way into the presence of God, and the eternal joy there. Now in the seventeenth, we have the effect of this, the identification of Christ with His people, making His appeal against the enemy, grounded upon His personal perfection, to avail for them. The psalm, taken by itself, would but obscurely express this, the work of atonement not having as yet been brought out, as later it will be,when immediately the fullness of grace toward others becomes manifest. Here, for the most part, the psalm is apparently an individual appeal, — Christ, who is most surely the Speaker, pleading in His own behalf. In the seventh verse first a plural is introduced, but in such a way as at first sight only to enunciate the general principle under which His individual case would come; and the common rendering (which is a legitimate one) would make this clearly the meaning. After this again all is individual until the eleventh verse, where we find again a plural, "our steps," but with which, strangely enough, the written text in the Hebrew joins a singular, "they have surrounded me," though the K'ri (the "spoken" amended text) substitutes "us," which the modern translations generally accept.* But the Septuagint has preserved the "me," and gives the first part of the verse quite differently.

{*It involves only the continuation of the stroke of the jod, by which it becomes a vau.}

Thus there have been evident difficulties with this abrupt plural, — which is found no more to the end of the psalm. If we realize no divine order in the series, we lose the clue by which to penetrate the mystery, or more likely see no mystery. If it be of God, on the other hand, that the seventeenth psalm has its place between the sixteenth and the eighteenth, then these verses acquire special importance, and not only become themselves intelligible, but give light upon the whole character of the psalm. And this is constantly so with the "dark" things of Scripture, which in this very way claim special attention from us: the Spirit of God would by this awaken interest on our part, and never, we may be sure, without some special reward for the search to which it prompts. Nor is there anything of this sort so small but that it may cover a great treasure.

When it is seen, by this absolute perfection which He claims unchallenged, Who the Speaker in this psalm is, then the association of others with Him must have very special interest. It has been noticed by others how careful in this particular Scripture is. "My Father and your Father," the Lord says to His disciples; never our Father": that would really falsify the relationship. So He prays for them, and invites them to watch — but never to pray — with Him. All this is perfect in its place. So in this psalm the cry is single, individual; the perfection is His alone who cries; it is "give ear unto my prayer; incline thine ear unto Me; Thou answerest Me." But, if the way in which the seventh verse is rendered here be the right one, then the prayer is for the salvation of all who "take refuge" in God, — that is, of all believers. And then even that which seems most individual in the prayer becomes possible to be read in the light of the truth of the identification of the believer with his Representative before God, — of his being "in Christ Jesus."

How this psalm, then, displays the Mediator will be evident. It at once takes its place with the other psalms of this series; and we are able to see in it the love which has manifested itself to men, as well as the strength of their salvation. Christ is not here asking for Himself; but is the great Intercessor in behalf of His people. Let us take it up in detail.

1. The psalm divides into three main parts, the first of which gives the appeal of the Perfect One on the ground of that perfection. He asks, not for mercy but for righteousness, and in entire confidence in God claims Him as Judge in His behalf. He knows Him, — knows that His eyes regard equity.

It is One with whom He is not meeting for the first time. The all-searching eyes have been upon Him; and in the silence of the night, when truth, freed from the conflict of the world's voices, makes itself most clearly heard, God had been with Him; the Light of light, in the presence of which the slightest breath of evil had been a dense and darkening cloud, bad shone down to meet a perfect response. "Thou hast assayed me; Thou findest nothing!" This is the Voice that said on earth: "I do, always the things that please Him"; and there was but One: "my mouth goeth not beyond my thoughts," is the answer of perfect Truth to perfect Light.

Around Him there was only contradiction to all this: "the works of men" He puts all together, making no distinction, giving them no other name but that. "As for the works of men, by the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the violent," — the breaker forth: that is the character of men at large: God's word, God's will, they persistently break through. Alas, there is nowhere a timid woman, — nowhere the child of a few years, — who could not be characterized in this way.

Let us notice how distinctly He affirms the word of God to be His guide and guard. If a perfect moral nature were enough, He had surely that, — "holy" from His very birth. If there were any who might be supposed superior to the need of a "book" to guide, here was One; yet how perfectly he held to, and upheld at all times the "word of Thy lips." And how great our need, then, of it! How thorough should be our subjection to it! "The word of Thy lips," — the very utterance of God Himself! It is as if the psalmist would utterly refuse to be hindered by that "human element in inspiration," of which in the present day we hear so much, from drawing near to Him who would thus draw near, and who cannot be hindered by any creature-limit drawn about Him, from accomplishing His ends.

The result of this divinely guided course is a steadfast and unswerving step. To be with God is, of necessity, to have God with us, and to introduce His unchanging character into our ways. Thus the apostle, preaching no "yea and nay," but a "yea and amen" Christ, can affirm for himself that with him also there is not yea and nay. (2 Cor. 1:17-19.) Yet though He did not now repent of his previous letter, he had repented. (2 Cor. 7:8.) Only One has trodden perfectly this perfect path, and "left us an example that we should walk in His steps."

2. Thus we have had the ground of the appeal. Now we have the nature of the appeal, as a cry for deliverance from the enemy, so commonly before one in these pages. God is invoked as the God of power, and trusted as the God of truth. Answer, He will; and the certainty of this has drawn forth the cry. What confidence, too, may be ours, with the name of Him whom the Father ever heareth by which to draw near to God.

Yet it is an appeal to "marvelous loving-kindness," because of those for whom, as if entirely for Himself, it is made: for it is a prayer for sinners who not in weakness merely but in the consciousness of unworthiness "take refuge" in the mercy as well as the might of God. This is surely no common ground upon which He as well as they are to find acceptance, but far different from that. He does not associate Himself with these suppliants, but prays for them; and then again His voice is heard as for Himself alone. He is not associating Himself with them, so as to say, "Keep us," but identifying Himself with them, so that He can say, "Keep Me," they being covered with the perfection of His beauty, and God to act toward them as to Himself. Such language we shall find elsewhere in the Psalms: words of a Substitute and Representative of His people, — a glory of Christ, to be found, as we surely know, everywhere in Scripture, though here presented in the peculiar manner of the Psalms, a secret for faith to penetrate and possess.

For Who is it in the fortieth psalm, who, coming into the world simply to do the will of God, and to offer to Him the one offering, now to take the place of all others, cries out "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon Me"? And Who, as the Trespass-offering in the sixty-ninth psalm, "restoring what He took not away," says yet again, "My trespasses* are not hid from Thee"? Such things we are forced, if we apply them (as we must) to Christ, to interpret rightly. Yet here we have only that same truth of representation of which substitution is but the result in suffering and sacrifice, — the Cloud-Pillar of ministrant Glory.

{* Ashmothai; not "sins," as in the common version.}

Looked at as the intercession of Christ for His own, — the saints in whom all His delight is, — how tenderly does He speak of them! "Keep Me as the reflection in the eye," — which is literally, "the little man," the human figure, "the daughter" or product "of the eye." It is the image of Himself which God sees, as it were in the eyes of His beloved Son, ever having Himself before them! will He not preserve that?

Then He draws near to the Father's heart for refuge: "hide me in the shadow of Thy wings." It is the image so familiar to us in the breathings of the Lord's own heart over Jerusalem; but there love that was refused.

"From the wicked that oppress me, — my enemies that with desire [literally, "in soul," — the seat of desire] encircle me: in their own fat are they closed up," — shut up in their own luxurious selfishness; and this is the most evident penalty of sin, which even here begins to stiffen and harden the heart into the unchangeableness of eternity: sin being the coffin, the grave, the final prison of the soul!

Now you see them in their settled enmity against the "righteous; and here the plural comes in again, as we have seen. The wicked associate the Lord's people with Himself; or at least hate His reflection in them. What they do to them, they do really therefore to Him. With the savage intensity of bloodhounds they are here seen dogging the steps of their victims; fastening their eyes on them, ready to pull them down to the ground. Their whole figure is just that indeed of a ravenous beast of prey: humanity is lost with the casting off of God, and the beast made to be taken and destroyed is his only likeness.

3. The third part, from an Israelite standpoint, is a very striking one. It contrasts the portion of the saint, now suffering at the hands of the wicked, with that of the wicked at whose hands they suffer, and who, completely under divine control, and used of God for the accomplishment of His purposes, has from His hand a present portion, soon to pass away. Beyond it lies that of faith, with God and eternal.

We see that this is not the standpoint of law, which "is not of faith," (Gal. 3:12), and which distinctly has its blessings in the present, but answers rather to our Lord's story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), where the one accepted of God is yet unable to claim anything under law, — is but a beggar (comp. Ps. 37:25), while the man careless of God is the "man of this world." For the Jewish believer of the period to which these psalms have special reference, in the short crisis of trouble so often brought before us, and with millennial days in immediate prospect, the portion of faith is not necessarily — not even nominally — in heaven; but rather in the scene which the psalm last referred to pictures, when the meek will possess the earth and the wicked be cast out of it. For the Christian the blessing to be enjoyed is, of course, heavenly; and of the Jewish remnant of the future, of whom these psalms speak, many will be slain, and thus find their place with the heavenly instead of the earthly people. These are the martyrs who, in the final visions of the Apocalypse, are seen to join the company of the throned saints of the first resurrection. (Rev. 20:4-6.)

This part begins with an urgent cry once more for God to interfere. "Arise, Jehovah, confront him, cast him down: rescue my life from the wicked one, thy sword." So (rightly, I believe,) the common version. The revised puts "by thy sword"; remanding the older translation to the margin. But there is no preposition in the Hebrew, though that is often the case where we should put one: the sense given by the common version, however, is more in accordance with the context, and gives the fuller thought. If the lawless persecutor be, after all, God's sword, then how simple for Him to turn it aside! His supremacy is manifest; and this is carried into the next verse, where, however, the same question is raised, shall we say "from men thy hand," or "by thy hand"? But that their portion is from God there is no question. Acting for Him, although they mean it not, indeed mean nothing less, yet He gives them for their work, as He paid Nebuchadnezzar for his blind service against Tyre. (Ezek. 29:18, 19.) But this is not His grace or in the things that His grace bestows. They are but men of the world, or of time, as I have rendered the word, because the sense of transitoriness inheres in it;* they have their portion in a life that passes away. "Full" they may well be, therefore, for a time, and who shall envy them? though they may leave what is more than they can themselves enjoy, with the brief lives in which to enjoy it, — to their babes.

{*As in Ps. 89:47: "Remember how short my time is," — literally, "how transitory I am"!}

The saints' portion, too, can he expressed in a few words; but who can estimate it aright? "For me, in righteousness shall I behold Thy face; I shall be full, awaking in Thine image."

Here in the first place, that it is Christ's own voice is evident. The hope before Him is objective and subjective. On the one hand, as come out of His voluntary exile from it, the beholding of the Father's face in the place of full and supreme manifestation; on the other, His own emerging from all the conditions of manhood in the humiliation in which He had assumed it, so as to be in manhood itself the manifest image and glory of God. We know, indeed, how little of what this implies; but it is the path of His humanity we trace in it, and thus we know that in measure we too are to share it with. Him. Even of man in the old creation it could be said that "he is the image and glory of God." (1 Cor. 11:7.) And if this be sadly obscured by the fall, it is, even apart from this, the shadow only of the ultimate purpose of God with regard to man. And while Christ is its perfect expression, the breadth of this expression must take in all redeemed humanity in some sense. No doubt that here also there are degrees of such glory, — glory celestial and glory terrestrial, as in nature. Thus again God, who is light, is the "Father of lights," — many-hued and many-toned, in order that the light itself may have more adequate expression.

The objective and subjective, while different, are in close connection. "We know that we shall be like Him," says the beloved apostle; and this is the reason he gives for it, "for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2.) On the other hand, "the world knew Him not," (John 1:10, ) because morally it had wandered far from Him. Could untruth apprehend the perfect Truth, or Love be understood by what was "enmity against God"? For us, when the long conflict with sin within us shall be over, how wondrous shall be the soul's vision out of its now undimmed eyes, how shall the "pure in heart" find the blessedness predicted for them, that "they shall see God"!

For the Lord, there could, of course, be no change in this respect. The days of His youth were as holy as His manhood; those of His life on earth no less so than His life in heaven. Such limitations, however, there were assumed in His assumption of flesh as made possible a life of faith, nay, the pattern life. Here we know indeed nothing except that of which the word of God assures us, and would be careful in any reasoning at all upon it. Yet we may be sure that whatever were these limitations they would make possible for Him also a looking forward to behold the face of God, as on earth He had not beheld it. Wonder as we may and must, His humanity was in these respects such as ours, "apart from sin." He abode in it, though divine, subjecting Himself to its conditions, so that He could be really a babe, a child, a man, and then again under the awful shadow of the desertion of the cross! What perfect love — what utter reverence — do we owe Him, for such inconceivable self-humiliation as was this!

Psalm 18.

God manifesting Himself for His Anointed.

(To the chief musician: [a psalm] of David, the servant of Jehovah, who spake unto Jehovah the words of this song, in the day when Jehovah had delivered him out of the grasp of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul. And he said:)

We come now, in the third psalm of this series, to the manifestation of God in behalf of Messiah, whose deliverance and exaltation involve the deliverance and blessing of the people with whom He has linked Himself. But the result is wider than this also: He is made the Head of the nations, and a people that He had not known before serve Him.

But a large part of the psalm is taken up with the way in which God has displayed Himself in all this, — His personal intervention, His character as manifested, — all that makes Him the object of His people's praise. And this revelation of Himself is, as this implies, their blessing and happiness forever, as it is that of all His creatures, — unfallen and redeemed alike.

This psalm is found also at the end of David's history in the book of Samuel,* the occasion of it being given similarly in each place, and the end of the psalm itself assuring us of its application to David in the first place, though a greater than he shines through continually. At this we have no possible cause to wonder, knowing him to be in his life so largely typical of God's "Beloved" and King, for whom we look.

{*A comparison with Samuel will show, however, many differences, for the most part slight, which the known MSS. give us no help in removing, and which, therefore, we may suppose to be designed, even though we may not have read our Bibles carefully enough to apprehend their meaning.}

In perfect accord with its character, the first forty-five verses of the psalm are in triplets throughout; these dividing into six main portions, the seventh closing with five verses of praise.

1. The psalm begins, as it ends, with praise. Jehovah, the living and unchanging God, is celebrated in it as the Rock of faith, and that in double character: the first word "means properly," as Delitzsch observes, "a cleft in a rock, then a cleft rock"; the second, a great and hard mass of rock." Accordingly, in the first, "the idea of a safe (and comfortable) hiding-place preponderates"; in the second, "that of firm ground and inaccessibility. The one figure calls to mind the well-watered Edomitish Sela, surrounded with precipitous rocks, . . . the other calls to mind the Phoenician rocky island Tzur (Tyre), the refuge in the sea." The cleft Rock is a figure for the Christian full of tender, wonderful associations; the firm, impregnable, eternal Rock, yet cleft for a refuge to the soul fleeing to it for escape. And this double thought is varied and expanded through all these epithets with which the psalmist declares the good cause he has for fervent love toward his God. They are capable also of double application, as the language of the Lord, or of those whom we have seen that He here identifies Himself with and represents. We shall find, of course, in this as in other psalms, passages in which One personality shines out, forbidding association of any other with it. We may find, perhaps, those in which it is easier at least to recognize the many for whom He stands (or some of these), than it is their Representative. This we may expect. One passage (verse 23) which, as it reads in the common and other versions, could not be applied to Him, should receive, it is believed, another meaning. In general,we may expect to find unmistakably through these psalms the Voice like which there is no other, while yet we shall sufficiently discern that He who speaks has linked Himself with others, so that His cause and theirs are one.

The third verse gives the realization of Jehovah as the rock of the soul: "I call upon Jehovah, the object of my praise, and I am saved from my enemies." This is what he who speaks has found; and all that follows here is the expansion of it.

2. Accordingly we go back to the "strait" out of which he cries to God, and is answered. And once more we find that it is the shadow which darkens the world which he is facing. The toils of death are round him, escape shut off; and it is death as we have seen it, and as the conscience recognizes it, — death as the doom of sin.

The words are simple enough, but all the more has their meaning to be gathered from their context and connections, rather than learned directly. And this is characteristic of the psalms, as it is of much of the Old Testament. We have to bring in the light of the New in order to be able to see what is hidden in it for us: it is the Old Testament itself that bids us remember that "it is the glory of God to conceal a thing," as it is "the honor [or glory] of kings to search out a matter." (Prov. 25:2.) Would that in this research into Scripture "kings" were more plentiful!

Here the person of the speaker is of all importance; and however He may identify Himself with others, in this psalm it is Christ who is this throughout. Thus, when He says "the torrents of Belial put me in fear," we have to consider in what sense it would be possible for Him to say this. Belial — though it seems better to anglicize than to translate the Hebrew word means, evidently, "worthlessness," the "ungodly men" of the common version, which the revised changes into "ungodliness."* The word is, indeed, much more than the English one, of a moral significance very positive, and not negative merely. In the moral and spiritual spheres, there is nothing merely negative: simple indifference here is crime. Thus Belial is used in the New Testament as standing for the direct opposite of Christ; and the "sons of Belial," in the language of the Old, are always those lawless ones who,whenever the occasion arises, manifest themselves as law-breakers, hostile to God and man. The "torrents of Belial" are undoubtedly such corrupt and lawless men; only marking their wickedness as that which produces fear in Him who speaks here. Their power, whatever it were, surely could not, any more than death could in its physical suffering, or in aught beyond it. For Him, the sting of it would be as judgment from God; and such it was, of necessity, for Him who took it as the Sin-bearer and Substitute for sinners. Thus wrath was in it, separation from Him who was of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, though this was upon Him only.

{*"Perdition," "the abyss," — adopted by Delitzsch and others, are not justified by the texts appealed to, such as Ps. 41:8, Nahum 1:11, and 2 Cor. 6:15: these do not depart from the regular meaning.}

"The torrents of Belial" must then have "put Him in fear," by the horror of what sin was to Him, as He realized it in the light in which He lived with God, from the joy of that well-known, glorious Presence, earth itself but the footstool of Deity. He had come into it but to do, amid sorrow and suffering, the Father's will, which man could violate at his pleasure, and count it pleasure, and imagine it freedom to do so! For this He was to die, taking the sinner's place; men like these — His creatures, with His stamp defaced in them — driving the nails which fastened Him to the cross, plunging the spear into His side, sealing Him up in His grave, defying Him to come out of it again! Giving Himself up freely to all this, while struck with the awful horror of it all, well might He exclaim, "The torrents of Belial put me in fear!"

Sin itself, — just to know it aright, could it be known fully, — in a soul where there was no callousness such as it induces, — what a supreme agony would it be!

And the due of sin, — to bear that death, as no saint has known, — as no sinner could ever know it, — the living death of the Heir and Fountain of Life; the Life eternal proving the nameless woe of the shadow of death, where faith could no more say, "But Thou art with Me."

It is impossible to speak of it aright. Scripture itself leaves the veil upon it. Those who, moved by the Spirit of God to give us the story of the cross, as from their various points of view they regard it, stand in the hush of the night that falls, pointing, as it were in silence, to the sacred Figure "lifted up from the earth," and upon its head the crown of thorns.

"I cry . . . and Thou answerest not," are the words of the psalm of atonement; but then again, "when He cried unto Him, He heard." (Ps. 22:2, 24.) Both things, of course, true: each suited in its place. The psalm here celebrates the hearing, and that out of the sanctuary, — the answer of God in His holiness to the Holy One: with that answer, and its result in blessing for the people of God (that is, for Israel and the millennial nations,) the rest of the psalm is occupied.

3. We have now therefore the appearing of God in behalf of His suffering Holy One. But when we come to the detail of this intervention, while it may well apply to the accompaniments of the resurrection of Christ, and no doubt has this in view, on the other hand the description as a whole irresistibly reminds us of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. Indeed the actual theophany, the heavens bowed as God comes down, the judgment executed upon the enemies, ending with the exaltation of Christ over the nations of the earth, — all this connected as it is together, carries us on to events yet future, when God will out-do the wonders in Egypt in a new deliverance of Israel from the hands of the nations their enemies, and bring in the final blessing of which prophecy is full. (Micah 7:15.) This accounts for the apparent glance back at the exodus; while it is really the answer of God to Christ's work of atonement, which accounts equally for His voice being heard as it is, all through. Thus we find the same representative character of the Lord as in the previous psalm, and the confirmation of the view of that which has been already taken.

(a.) The twelve verses of this section, one might expect to have the usual 3 x4 division, and so they have. The first three show us God as the Almighty, the earth and the heavens bearing witness to His power alike. The earth to the foundations of the hills trembles before Him; His wrath is a consuming fire; the heavens are bowed under Him as He comes down. This witness of nature to His presence, readily as we understand it, and simple as it really is, has yet lessons for us which would serve us well if they were better learned. Creation is not only a mirror of divine perfections: it is pervaded by His power, and sensitive to His slightest movement. There is an intimate sympathy thus between the natural and spiritual, which we feel far better than we can explain, and which makes the face of nature a constant parable of spiritual things. This, superstition has misused on the one hand, while on the other the growing wisdom of the day, with its continual fresh discovery of governing laws, loses sight of or refuses what it helps to demonstrate. For laws governing without a governor are themselves an irrational superstition, no less so because a profane one. There is in nature, as they own, an inscrutable power which transcends it; and this, too, a "power that makes for righteousness." Christianity alone tells us Whose this power is.

(b.) In the second triplet of verses the Almighty becomes the Judge.* The cherub, from the first view in Eden to its Apocalyptic representatives in the last book of the New Testament, is always connected with divine government, — the throne of God as ruling over the earth. The ark and mercy-seat are still this throne in relation to Israel, and the cherubim there are of one piece with the latter, their faces looking to the place where the atoning blood is sprinkled before God. He was said to dwell between the cherubim and these express the executive righteousness of the throne; and in their fourfold character as lion, ox, with the face of a man, and flying eagle, we find represented power, patient service, intelligence, and yet inscrutability. (Prov. 30:19.) The riding upon the cherub here, therefore, indicates judicial action, and the "wings of the wind" combine the speed and power of the storm blast, a figure which the next verses carry on.

{*A new symbolism for the number two; but "judgment" is in fact discernment; that is, division, separation, putting a difference, and thus comes rightly under this number.}

Yet in judgment God is rather hidden than displayed: it is His "strange work." Thus He makes the darkness His covert. It is His contrary, inasmuch as He is love and light; and yet He uses it as His pavilion, and, while not it, is in it. The judgment, where it comes, is in fact, in its most awful feature, separation from Him, — from the Light; while it is yet not merely that. From these thick clouds the light flashes forth, — hailstones and coals of fire (see Ex. 9:13-35, notes); for God is displayed even in the judgment that separates from Him.

(c.) The third triplet gives the full display. It is now plainly Jehovah who thunders in the heavens, and the Most High who gives His voice. And we see where the bolt strikes: His arrows are lightnings, with which Messiah's enemies are scattered and discomfited. The earth is laid bare to its foundations, and the channels of waters are seen: words which remind us of Israel's passage of the Sea, and which may find in the future also their fulfillment in the drying up of the Euphrates. (Rev. 16:12.)

The judgment of God is also the revelation of the earth at all times, and will finally declare the moral character of all its history. This is one great end of prophecy, to enable us beforehand to judge with God the condition of things through which we are now passing, according to that final judgment in which we find them to end. And that final disclosure will it not be in some sense also the eternal safeguard of His people from all the power of evil, the springs of which will be then laid bare? Scripture speaks of that day as the day of manifestation; and this will not be surely of the individual merely to himself, but of all in the presence of all; making all to see light in God's light. Will not the "holiness of truth" be thus fully confirmed and established for eternity, sealed with the broad seal of God, and demonstrated by the example of all, evil and good alike? Will not the books that are opened then be in effect and effectively the Deuteronomy of the land so reached for every pilgrim?

(d) We now come to the experience of the deliverance, in which we find expressions of weakness,which might at first make one doubt as to its being the Lord's voice that is heard at all here. But the connection would assure us of it, and the place of thorough human dependence is that which He takes all through the psalm. Thus it was that, having assumed the burden of sin, and laying down His life, He committed Himself in peace into the Father's hand, to take again from Him the life laid down. The language of the sixteenth psalm we have seen to be the expression of this confidence: "therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest securely: because thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor wilt Thou suffer Thy pious One to see corruption." Thus resurrection is His justification from God, the seal put upon His completed work; the justification, therefore, of all for whom He stands, — of all who through grace believe in Him. In this identification of Himself with them, He comes for the moment into the place of weakness and simple dependence upon the arm of Another for deliverance.

"He reached from above, He took me: He drew me out of many waters." In the last clause of the sentence we have a word only used once beside in the explanation of the name given to Moses, and from which that was derived; but the reference is only by way of comparison; for a greater than Moses is here. "He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me." Thus the deliverance is the manifestation and glory of Jehovah Himself. "They confronted me in the day of my calamity: but Jehovah was my stay."

Jehovah's character is thus brought out, as it is the glory of the gospel in every part, that it reveals Him. We "believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead." Thus we know Him to be for us, in His righteousness as well as in His love, and that very attribute which we had most reason to dread as sinners, is that upon which, because of the work of Christ for sinners, we can rest with undisturbed security. It is His righteousness that justifies the believer in Jesus. It is His righteousness that we are "made" to be now "in Christ." (2 Cor. 5:21.)

4. But we are now to be shown the character of the One for whom God thus comes in; and in this section, under the number which speaks both of testing and practical walk, we have (set side by side with the character of God Himself) His assured and perfect claim to be heard and answered. Nothing is more unmistakable in the Lord, as we see Him in the full truth of manhood upon earth, than the distinct and emphatic assumption of unspotted perfection at all times. "Meek and lowly in heart" though He was, and clear in His enunciation of man's fallen condition, He never for a moment takes His place among men in any sense that could imply the slightest resemblance to them in this respect. His separateness is indeed so plain that He need not much assert it. Yet He can say as the ground of the Father's constant presence with Him (manifested as it was by His mighty works), — "I do always those things that please Him." And to His opposers even can put as a question admitting but of one answer, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" (John 8:29, 46.)

The psalmist maintains here for the One he personates a similar perfection, which David for himself, in his "last words," disclaims. So, indeed, might any among mere men. It is He in whom, opening the heavens to do so, the Father proclaims His delight, who is, as we have seen, the real Speaker, — the true David, who is also David's seed.

(a) The divine delight in Him has its ground and justification in His perfect obedience. He is righteous not only in intent, but in the cleanness of His hands also. With Him is not the misery of shortcoming of the end of His desire and aim. What He designs He carries through. As He speaks so He is; and His speech is with fullest knowledge. Thus He can say, "I have kept Jehovah's ways"; and His recompense is according to His righteousness.

(b) The measurement of all with Him is not by His own thoughts either. He is not a law to Himself, nor does He do simply what is right in His own eyes. Knowing what He is, one might perhaps expect that; and if inspiration were the weak and fallible thing which men now make it, you could not account for the absolute respect which He who even as man had the Spirit given Him without measure, ever paid it. "But how, then, should the Scripture be fulfilled?" was with Him a decisive argument. On the cross, with the parching thirst of the crucified upon Him, it is only "that the Scripture might be fulfilled," that He gives voice to this craving. Truly could He say, then, "All His judgments were before Me; nor did I put His statutes from Me." This was no desultory or fragmentary or unbalanced obedience. All was in due proportion and perfect symmetry. It was obedience: the will of God recognized and governing Him in all things.

"I was also perfect with Him," He says: "and I kept myself from perverseness being mine." * The word rendered "iniquity" in the common version, it is agreed means "perverseness," — the spirit that would distort or turn aside the force of the divine commands. And again He affirms that Jehovah has recompensed Him according to His righteousness, and according to the cleanness of His hands before those holy eyes.

{Verse 25, "Merciful" is not an adequate rendering for chasid, nor do we seem able to give the antithesis in English "pious" cannot be applied to God, nor is "holy" the force as applied to Him. The term as suiting God and man together here should express the affectionate sense of relationship on man's part towards God, and on His part towards man.}

{*The translation here, which differs from that adopted in 2 Sam. 22, though not the simplest, is, I think, the real meaning of me-avoni. Geier, Delitzsch, and Cheyne agree that this is the sense, and there does not seem any way of reconciling "my iniquity" with the perfection of the man, Christ Jesus.}

Now the character of God is put side by side with this. He deals with men according to what He sees them to be. The disposition they show toward Him He shows in like manlier toward them: the attitude which they assume He assumes; while of course His grace beseeches them to change that which is estranged and hostile, and to be reconciled to Him. But this last has no application to Him who is before us here, and does not therefore come in.

Then He brings low the lofty and saves the humble; and death is that by which God levels all the pride of man, bringing up from death itself those who have accepted its sentence in the practical meaning of it. Thus we have the principle of resurrection, in which the power of God acts beyond the sentence, so affirming it, and yet showing His grace. And this grace, after this manner, He has shown in Christ, and shown also to a people identified in grace with Him.

This is the God, then, before whom Christ is, and who answers Him, — though He stoop to death to find the answer, because of His identification with the need of others.

5. We are now carried on into the future, in order to see this answer, as it takes effect in the judgment of the nations who have rejected God and His Anointed. The present time we must not expect to find in Old Testament prophecy; and thus in that to which the Lord appeals in the synagogue of Nazareth (Isa. 61:1, 2), "the acceptable year of the Lord," which He was there to proclaim, passes on immediately to the "day of judgment of our God," and so to the restoration of Israel. The psalm here is in the same way connected with Jewish hopes and promises. The suffering Christ becomes, in exaltation, the Conqueror and Judge. As Son of man He comes in the clouds of heaven; as Son of man all judgment is committed to Him. Thus He still maintains His dependence: "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." We need not wonder, then, that at the beginning of this section, He as the Speaker ascribes in a similar way His power to God.

(a) Besides being a fifth section of the psalm, this has again five subsections, the verses still being in triplets, God manifesting Himself still in all, Jehovah being known in the judgment that He executes.

"For it is Thou that lightest my lamp: Jehovah my God enlighteneth my darkness." So may He say, who, though the Son of God, has been in the darkness of desertion at the cross. We think, naturally, of the tabernacle lamp and its identification of divine glory (the gold) with the almond fruit of resurrection, the sign of coming summer, and we remember how He is presented in the Apocalypse as the "Faithful Witness, and the First-born of the dead, and" — as He is going to be manifested directly — "the Ruler of the kings of the earth." (Rev. 1:5.) Just so where He is coming out as this last, we are permitted first of all to see Him as come out of the darkness, where He has removed all hindrance to earth's blessing, that we may rejoice in His assumption of power and possession of the inheritance which is now His.

All enemies and obstacles are now to give way before Him: "For by Thee I run through a troop: and by my God I leap over a wall." And then we have affirmed the character of Him whom the King represents and in whose power He acts: the Mighty One, perfect in His way; the Unchangeable, whose word is tried; and the sure defense of all who take refuge in Him.

(b) And who beside is God? Where else is the Rock of confidence for faith? This is the question that will be pressed for speedy settlement when Christ appears. For now is the time of which it is predicted that "Jehovah shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and His Name one." (Zech. 14:9.) Heathenism is swept away at once; all forms of idolatry are brought to an end together; infidelity will cease from the earth, and agnosticism be no more: even though man's heart may as really refuse the known, as it once did "the unknown God."

This Mighty One girds with strength the One whose place is still therefore one of loving service to Him, and makes His way perfect as is His own. His progress is uninterrupted, therefore. "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet," — able to surmount all difficulties, — "and setteth Me on my heights," the mountains of the chosen land. For in that day "the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established in the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." (Isa. 2:2.) For Jehovah's throne in Zion shall once again and finally be filled with a human tenant, who shall perfectly represent Him; and "the government shall be upon His shoulder," whose name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Father of eternity,* the Prince of peace." (Isa. 9:6.)

{* Not "everlasting Father," which has led to wrong thoughts, but "Father of eternity": the One who brings all things into the condition in which they will abide forever.}

(c) But the way this is realized is not, as one might think, by the preaching of the gospel of peace. It must be the "effect of righteousness," and the Davidic phase of the kingdom must precede the Solomonic. We return, therefore, to see Him as the warrior-King: His hands trained for war; Himself covered impenetrably with the shield of God's salvation; sustained by His strong right hand; and withal, as meek as a Conqueror as in His life of grace of old, He says, "Thy condescension also has made Me great." His steps are still directed by Him who makes room thus for each one He takes; and His ankles waver not.

(d) Thus we see His enemies now prostrate before Him: He pursues and overtakes them; they fall and rise not; and again it is God who girds Him with, the strength He manifests, and casts the pertinacious foe beneath His feet.

(e) The end is reached in the fifth section. His foes turn their backs and flee in vain: God has given them up into His hand. They cry in despair at last, even to Jehovah now; but there is no reality in it, and they find no Saviour. They are beaten down as dust, and poured out as the mire of the streets.

6. The "rod of iron" of the second psalm is now sketched in three brief but emphatic verses. He is delivered from the strivings of the people — in Samuel, "my" people — Israel, in their old rebellious state, and made head of the nations, a people formerly unknown to Him. These are obedient as soon as they hear of Him; and there is a manifest power which forbids opposition. Strangers in heart bow perforce, though remaining such: and here we see already the cause of that fresh uprising of evil with which the millennial kingdom ends. And this condition of things shows why Satan, bound in the abyss for a thousand years, is permitted to come out of it at the close to bring out the reality. The visible power of God with the blessing attendant upon Messiah's sway is proved vain to bring man to God. Opposition to Him is no mere fruit of ignorance. In that day there will be none: the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea"; and yet of very many it will be said, as it was of those in the day of Christ's previous sojourn among men: "Now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father." (John 15:24.)

Thus the devil is permitted to do His final work. The awful inveteracy of sin is manifested. He comes out of a thousand years' restraint; and with his doom at last before his eyes, to work out still unrepentantly the ruin of others and his own. And men on their side turn from the blessedness in which they have shared to listen to his deception. Thus the last verse finds its fulfillment: "sons of the stranger fade away, and are afraid out of their close places." All is manifest at last, and the work of probation is over: eternity, in fact, has come.

7. The last five verses are an ascription of praise to God, in the same character as at the beginning of the psalm, and summing up in brief the mercies which have been recounted. He is the living and unchanging God, the Rock of faith, the Saviour; the avenging Judge, subduer of the peoples; the God of resurrection, thus lifting up above all enemies. For this cause He is praised among the nations. And the close celebrates the whole as loving-kindness to Jehovah's King, to David and his seed alike.

Thus, it is plain, the first series of these psalms ends; and in the nineteenth we go back to find a new beginning.

Series 2. (Psalm 19 — 21.)

Faith embracing the testimony of God, and laying hold upon Christ's salvation.

The second series accordingly manifests at once a different character from the former one. Christ is no longer in it the speaker; nor in the nineteenth psalm even the subject. We have instead creation and the law, the great testimonies of God before Christ came, — though these had, surely, Christ in view, and were intended to lead on to Him. Thus the twentieth and twenty-first psalms following complete the divine testimony with the witness of Christ Himself in His work and its consequences for men. The real depth of the atoning work remains indeed to be explored in the well-known psalm which follows; but we have here His work as sacrificial, and the result in some sense for the faith that accepts it. In this section we have therefore "faith embracing the testimony of God, and laying hold of Christ's salvation."

Psalm 19.

The power of creation and of the law.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David.

The nineteenth psalm gives us, then, the prior witness before Christ came, but which faith realizes as what the apostle calls the law, — the "word of the beginning of Christ." (Heb. 6:1, marg.) If the knowledge of the new man is that "Christ is all," (Col. 3:10, 11,) then He must be found in creation and law alike, or these must be thrown aside as unworthy of contemplation or regard.

And in fact with the many this seems to have been very much the case; the retribution having now come — who can wonder? — in the one falling into the hands of the higher critic for exposition, the other into those of the Darwinian evolutionist. Scripture has not the responsibility of this, we may be sure; and our only hope is in coming back to Scripture.

1. Even the creed, which has been long called the apostles', and which, though not that, has expressed since the ninth century the faith of the western church, — nay, the Nicene, five centuries earlier, and put forth to maintain the divine glory of Christ, — both of these ascribe the work of creation only to the Father. The apostle Paul, on the other hand, declares of the Son, that "all things were created by Him, and for Him," (Col. 1:16); and the apostle John, that "by Him," as the "Word of God," the Revealer, "all things were made; and without Him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:3.) Thus if "the expanse telleth the work of His hands," we may well expect it not to be silent as to Him in whose Person only there has been full revelation made of God. And it is not silent: for the very orb that brings the day is, as we have long since learned, His symbol; and the night is constituted by the absence of this.

Creation is the earliest witness of God to man, though, as soon as man fell, he had need of, and in the mercy of God found, addition to it. If men turned their back on that, or corrupted it with their own folly, the witness of creation still remained, and they could not silence this. "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead: so that they are without excuse." (Rom. 1:20.)

Here it is the heavens alone that are brought forward in testimony, — those heavens so suggestive of infinity and power, to which in their paths the stars move in orderly subjection. "The heavens declare the glory of God," — El, "the Mighty"; "and the expanse telleth the work of His hands."

The testimony is continuous and progressive. One day adds its tale to that of another, and one night likewise to that which is gone before it. Never exhausted, the story never ends. The day with its multitudinous voices, subdued each by the very multitude of them, is like a river of speech flowing on continuously: while the night, with its quiet breathing, speaks in the hush perhaps more intelligibly to the more attentive ear.

Speech, then, the psalmist ascribes to creation; and he is earnest about it: he would have us know that he means fully what he says. It is "speech" and it is "words," he says, — really that: words, in spite of the sneer of the skeptic, — in spite of the dullness of the people of God themselves, — words really to be heard by those that listen for them. A poor, flat, unprofitable thing to say, affirms the higher critic of the day: out with it! what use in letting us know that words have meaning?* But, indeed, there is signal use in insisting upon that which, after all, is so feebly realized, or even understood. Granted there is something known as "natural theology" which students of divinity are supposed to study, and a few others know something about, — how much does the average Christian hear of this continual witness to God of the multitudinous voices of the day and night? How far are the natural sciences converted to God today? Still more must we ask, how far are they Christianized? What another thing would our lives be, if this were so!

{*So Cheyne, in his pretentious book upon the Psalms, in which the whole parade of modern learning, is turned out to assure the simple believer how impossible it is for him to understand them aright apart from this. This writer has a gift for scenting the air of a certain period — especially the Maccabean — about a psalm, and knows by an instinct that cannot deceive him how impossible it is for a writer to rise — or be raised — above his "period." "Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis." We will let him give us a specimen of his method and results, as we find it in his recent volume of Bampton Lectures (pp. 191,192): —

"Let this lecturer then say for himself that he cannot divide sharply between the age of David, and that, say, of Isaiah. The latter is no Christian, nor is the former a heathen. It is possible, that if we had a sufficient number of the more religious psalms of David, we might detect in them some real affinities to the religion of Isaiah [?! ]. But it may be questioned whether these affinities would have struck an uncritical observer; and, above all, whether either David (who was not a church leader like Zoroaster) or even Isaiah could have dreamed of church hymns such as those contained in the Psalter. That David was a gifted musician is indeed attested, not only by the prophet (Amos 6:5, but not according to the Septuagint), but by one of the very earliest historical traditions (1 Sam. 16:14-23), and we may assume that he could also, like the Arab prince-poet, Imra al Kais, as a 'sweet song-maker' (2 Sam. 23:1) fascinate his half-primitive people. His poetry would, of course, be chiefly occasional in its character. The early races quickly fell into the moods of joy and grief, both of which required the services of the poet;" [for the services of the critic, now so essential, they could, it seems, somehow afford to wait!] "but, strange to say, passionately as the Israelites loved dancing (cf. 1 Sam. 20:11, Jer. 30:19, Jer. 31:4), the only two indubitably Davidic compositions are in the elegiac style. You know them full well: one is in 2 Sam. 1:19-27, the other in 2 Sam. 3:33, 34. . . . But though these may be the only authentic specimens of David's work, and his posthumous fame rested chiefly upon his secular poetry (Amos 6:5), we need not assume that all his compositions had a non-religious character."!!

This is from an "Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture" at Oxford, and a Canon of Rochester. We do not propose to review it: it is a pyramid which will hardly stand upon its apex, as the audacious theorist imagines. It is solemn, indeed, to know that for a system which everywhere eliminates from Scripture that which makes it to be indeed "the word of God," the writer claims "the continual guidance both of the Church and of each faithful Christian by the Holy Spirit." (Bampton Lectures, p. 25.) This, and "the principle of the Kenosis [or, as it has been lately paraphrased, the self-limitation] of the Divine Son" seem to Prof. Cheyne "the only possible foundation for a reform of apologetics suited to our English orthodoxy." One shrinks from putting this into the plain English necessary to convey it to any simple Christian. It means just this: that the only way of saving the mutilated Bible which may be left us by the critics from the contempt of infidelity, is to refer its mutilation to the Spirit of God acting in the critics, and leading them to a more advanced point of view than the Lord Himself, with the limitation of human ignorance to which He was pleased to condescend, ever attained!! This is, alas, to be now "our English orthodoxy", and fearless criticism of the kind adduced is now to be urged as "fearless FAITH in the Paraclete." Surely the enemy of truth is "coming in like a flood." May the Spirit of the Lord lift up a standard against him!}

True, the language here is parabolic: as such the Lord used it; in this way He took up nature, without apology, — sometimes without explanation. And when on a certain occasion He had done this, and the disciples appealed to Him for explanation, He rebuked them for their need of it. "Know ye not this parable?" He asked: "and how, then, will ye know all parables?" (Mark 4:13.) Wonderful words, which show what He expects from us! — which show also what a wealth of understanding may be ours. If nature be in this way the very realm of parables, how then should nature lie open to us throughout its wide extent! How familiar, after all the centuries of acquaintance with it, should its voices sound to us! But, if we will not let Christ be the Teacher of natural things to us, it is not hard to prophesy who will slip into His seat, and teach us. For the strife between Christ and the devil allows of no neutrality: that which is not for Christ is against Him; the unoccupied ground grows weeds and thorns and briars. Nature itself may teach us things like these.

Let us take the shame, then, of needing so simple a thing to be enforced, as that nature's speech is intended to be heard. As the universal witness, its doctrine is not intended to be esoteric, but for all. As a matter of fact, perverted though it be, the speech of all people is in nature's words. The rudest and the simplest use most its picture-signs. "Their line is gone out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world."

{Verse 4, The Septuagint gives "sound" and this the apostle quotes in Rom. 10.}

Across these heavens, from his chamber in the ends of them, goes forth the unfailing sun; in perpetual vigor, spreading around the joy which is associated with his presence: for "a pleasant thing it is to behold the sun." His seems indeed the joy of strength, — the joy that springs out of realized competency. Always filling his place, — always full-orbed, — always the centre of light, though the clouds of earth may gather and shut him in, — always the centre of warmth, though the winter may build up its barrier of frost against him, — darkness and cold and death the sure result of his absence: if this be a parable then, is there any possible way but one in which to interpret it? Or does Scripture fail to reveal its meaning?

The Bridegroom coming forth of His chamber, who is at the same time the "Sun of righteousness" that "shall arise with healing in His wings," source of light, of life, of fruitfulness, to the whole earth rejoicing in His beams: shall we look at this picture and yet find Theism indeed, but not Christology, in nature's lessons? Or shall we speak slightingly of "parables" as after all merely the ingenious play of fancy, brilliant perhaps but unreal, not rooted in the nature of things? able to give, therefore, no deep, true, (if you will,) scientific glance into that nature? Nay: this is their real spiritual equivalent, and spirit is the essence of things, and gives the law of external nature. As it is said of Israel's history, that "all these things happened unto them for types," so it is true of nature that all these things are arranged and ordered so that it should be the true reflection of the glory of God; — so that its voices should tell Him forth. And instead of being unscientific, to follow this out would give us truest science, would relieve us of much that causes sorest perplexity, would bring the material and spiritual into perfect reconciliation, and God into everything that He has made. Is this to be desired? It is the one thing which gives all knowledge value. It is that which alone can establish science itself; nay, lift it up into the sphere of the eternal! It will be its immeasurable exaltation. Finally, it will make our Bible the unifier and key of every kind of knowledge, and Christ, in result, the sum of it. Is this, Christian reader, a thing desirable? Is it to you a thing credible? It is that of which the apostle assures us, that the knowledge of the "new man," "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him," is that "Christ is ALL, and in all." (Col. 3:10, 11.)

If this were apprehended, how would our minds be opened and enlarged to take in truth by every avenue open to us! What a guide should we have in those depths unexplorable by mere human intellect, — "the Spirit" that "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:10.) What a standard by which to judge of all the principles of science! What a confirmation of each by each as these two witnesses (His word and work) were brought into one harmonious testimony! What a satisfaction of the desires of the heart that pants after God!

Not in vain, then, has the psalmist put into his contemplation of the heavens this picture of the Ruler of the Day, this glorious source of energy for the earth, as the science of the time would not hesitate to speak of it. In doing this, he has but been preaching Christ to us from a text broad writ in the heavens. And it is sweet to turn back from this to the first chapter of Genesis, and to see how the books of nature and of Scripture begin together thus with the unfolding of Christ! The "light" of the first day, (which God is, in its spiritual significance,) put, on the fourth, upon its material candlestick, as the Old Testament revelation of God, becomes for us in the New the glory of the Only-begotten in the Man Christ Jesus. And here is what may assure us of the science of Moses, that it is sealed thus with the seal of the King of kings. Christ is in it, a living picture, a likeness speaking for itself as drawn by the Author of nature Himself, and so really still, day by day, pouring forth speech. Moses has only been the scribe recording this utterance; but a faithful one.

Service is blessed work when it is true, and Christ least of all disdains this character of Servant. In the fifth verse we see Him as this, keeping to His God-ordained course, His "circuit," which brings Him back to be in His place in the morning, the earth's timekeeper, as all else. Look but a little deeper, this may seem all upset: it is the earth that is turning upon itself, even while it circles around him; and this only establishes the true relation, after all, between the soul and Christ: to Him it owes its obedience, and revolves around Him, and fidelity to Him is the path in which we find Him, "faithful and true." Yet after all, the first thought was not untrue, — in some sense it was the truest. The tie between the earth and sun is mutual, as the law of gravity assures us, strongest upon the sun's side, which continually pours out upon the earth its fructifying light and heat, "nothing hid from the heat thereof." The "less is blessed of the better." Servant of God for us, Servant even to us in His love, this and His Lordship are not opposed or contrary in the Christ of God. While all our changes, (which, without due self-knowledge, may seem His,) all that they make known of us, do but approve His faithfulness to the ordained path of perfect wisdom and right government.

This is, of course, but an illustration, — a typical example of nature's teaching. It is all we can expect in this place. We are now to listen to another testimony.

2. Creation bears witness to God,who as Creator knows no difference of nations or of classes. Jew and Gentile are equal in His eyes, and men as a whole "His offspring." But they — not He — have got away from this. Hence, even in the interests of men at large, the call of Israel out from the nations, to be the conservator of truth from which on all sides they had departed, otherwise destined to be lost out of the world. Hence her necessary isolation, while yet in the centre of the great lines of the world's traffic: like one of her own cities of refuge, with its roads kept open on every side, and its safe keeping for the man who fled to it.

Israel's law was thus a testimony to Jehovah, Israel's God; who is of course also the Creator, the God of all, but driven, as it were, by the unbelief of men, into this exceptional place. Thus it is that with Israel alone is found the pure record of creation itself; which we find in Assyria and Babylonia overlaid with the perversions of men turning from the truth, and given up to fables. Abundant evidence is there in the comparison of these, that in the beginning the account was one, and that thus the truth they had, which they had given up. "When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

Israel were in themselves no better, and not because of any betterness in them did God take them up. Among them also, if the truth were found, it was found in continual strife with the evil and unbelief of man. If it were maintained, it was maintained with a strong hand which chastened for iniquity. Their history is, as Moses testified against them, that of a stiff-necked and disobedient people; and to our own day what else has been the history of the professing people of God?

But He had in His heart purposes of love to man that must be fulfilled, which the ages slowly, because everything should be written large and fully before the eyes of the universe, and fixed on the tablets of eternal remembrance, — slowly indeed, yet continuously, were to work out. Israel in those purposes were the elect of God; and Jehovah, His covenant name with them, throws up, as a rampart against the power of evil, the pledge of His immutability and truth. His law is thus inflexible, as founded upon the holiness of His nature, and yet wedded indissolubly to these purposes of His grace. If it condemned and humbled, it was yet a "ministration" — a ministry of love in doing this, — a "ministration of death" and "of condemnation." (2 Cor. 3:7, 9.) In itself "holy, just, and good," it was the delight of the renewed nature. But the effect was, on this very account, the humbling of man before God, the abasement of all self-righteousness, and thus in the end the preparation for the gospel of salvation.

The testimony of the law has then its right place just here in this nineteenth psalm, where it is found; and found in this double character also, as testimony to the holiness of God, and so searching the heart before God. In the next psalm we go on to the salvation for the reception of which the way is thus prepared.

"The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul": converting," in the broader sense of the word, would not be wrong, — that is, turning it from any wrong path. Torah, "the law," means literally that which points out the way; and as "perfect" it is an infallible guide. Its certainty for guidance is therefore what is here declared. The soul as the impulsive part of man's nature is that which needs to be turned or restrained from following its own inclinations, and so is named here. How blessed to have the certainty which is found in listening to God's voice. It is the first point of all, clearly, for blessing. Apart from this, wisdom and folly, holiness and unholiness, are names, and nothing else. We seek to please God, and know not but we offend Him. The road we take to heaven may, after all, be the road to hell: for "there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, and the end thereof are the ways of death." (Prov. 14:12.) When God has spoken, and we have heard His voice, our path then becomes that of simple obedience; we are not left to prove it by results, which come all too late for help as to what is before us. Results, so far as these can be depended on even, testify but of what, being past, is already beyond recall.

But in God's path, — realizing that we are there, — results are in His hand. "The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth"; but the servant of God may be well assured that power is in His hand to carry out the purposes of unfailing wisdom. He may be at rest therefore. "Great peace have they that love Thy law, and nothing shall stumble them." (Ps. 119:165, marg.)

This is what, first of all, — priceless boon it is! — the law of the Lord secures: a heart at rest. One may not know the future; but he knows his present Guide: and the future can have no disappointment or surprise for Him who sees the end from the beginning.

And to this the second part of the verse here corresponds. "The testimony of Jehovah" takes quite different ground from that of the "law." Its appeal is not, as that of the latter, to authority, but to fact and truth; and "the testimony of Jehovah is sure," beyond possibility of overthrow. His are the lips of truth: to Him who is the Omnipotent it is yet an impossibility to lie; day to day, night to night, gather a constantly increasing experience which proclaims His faithfulness. So that His testimony "maketh wise the simple" or inexperienced, with the wisdom of experience. Faith, then, is not credulity. It is not necessary to it to shut one's eyes. He who is Light leads in the light. Question, scrutinize, use every faculty that He has given: they shall not be put to shame; only o'erpassed, as finite by the Infinite, and blessed and drawn out by the very overpassing. Not a soul brought to God but the intellect expands as the heart does. Christ dwelling within must needs enlarge the place of His dwelling. His testimony received makes wise the simple.

The next couplet speaks of moral discernment, putting a difference; but the terms used are not exactly what we are accustomed to, and need to be put together according to the parallelism, in order to be clearly seen. We have here on the one hand, not the law as a whole, but its "precepts," — the details in which, with "line upon line," the application of its principles is made to all the circumstances of daily life. These concrete forms more clearly show us the principles they embody, and the "commandment of Jehovah," though not a plural, is only meant in this way to individualize more thoroughly the single precept.

The precepts of Jehovah are right; the commandment of Jehovah is pure: thus we have now moral character. What connects itself with these respectively is that the right precepts "rejoice the heart," the pure commandment "enlightens the eyes." The parallelism is here thought to be maintained by the latter phrase being taken as indicating revival, refreshment, as when Jonathan tasted the honey in the wood, it is said that "his eyes were lightened." The numerical structure seems to plead for a different meaning, and one more consonant perhaps with the parallelism itself, which should not be mere repetition but advance in significance. In Ephesians we find (Eph. 1:18, R.V.) "having the eyes of your heart enlightened," — an expression which connects the two parts of this together. The heart is indeed that which largely governs the eyes; and the joy of the heart in Jehovah's precepts enables the eyes to discern aright. From the opposite of this all error, in fact, proceeds.

In the third parallel, in harmony with its numerical significance, we come to the principle which underlies all this, which is "the fear of Jehovah" Himself, and which is "clean," — frees from the defilement which forbids approach to or communion with Him. Thus it has the real elements of endurance in it: for the favor of God has that; what is in harmony with His mind abides. So also the judgments of Jehovah, to which the fear of Him causes us to cling, are truth; and thus, according to the primary meaning of the word, firm and stable. "They are righteous altogether": and the righteous is an everlasting foundation." (Prov. 10:25.)

From all this comes the value that experience sets upon these divine words," more desirable than gold," — much of it and refined; and for enjoyment, sweeter to the taste than the purest honey, that which drops and is not pressed out of the comb.

Conscience also is exercised by them: a thing which the true servant of God is able to appreciate. Happy is he who can invite the light of God's word to search out all his heart, shunning no ray of it. The "reward" found is both one present and to come, — in that day when no reserve will be possible any longer.

3. The third and last section of the psalm is a prayer to God Himself, into whose presence the soul has thus been brought, to find itself naked and open to Eyes that see beyond all that the fullest self-consciousness can be aware of. And these inaccessible depths, what are they? What may appear in them, when the secrets of all hearts shall be exposed? Alas, it is not because of their profundity, but because of their tortuous labyrinths comes the difficulty — the impossibility — of exploration: "the heart is deceitful above all things . . . who can know it?"

Our comfort, then, must be in turning away from ourselves to Him in whom we can have a confidence that in ourselves we cannot; and in the knowledge that He fully knows us, yet turns not from us because of what He knows. We can understand the joy of the woman of Samaria, who had found the Christ in Him who had told her all things she had done. But He had first opened to her the heart of God, and assured her of her welcome to Him. Grace had heralded the truth to her, and made her glad to have it told her.

So here, with the conviction "who understandeth his errors?" the psalmist turns in confidence to God with the prayer, "Free me from things hidden from me." Sins are not harmless because unknown. They are still sins, as witness the law of sacrifice. (Lev. 4:2, 13, etc.) The dust of a defiling world settles down on us silently, and the mirror of conscience is dulled ere we are aware. The basin and towel in the Lord's hand (John 13) are requisite, not when we are conscious of evil merely, but because we are too little conscious. Hardening is not only by the open front of sin: for the Christian it is more generally through its deceitfulness. (Heb. 3:13.) Satan does not in general present himself as Satan, nor sin as sin; but the dress changes nothing of its character.

Between sins of ignorance and presumptuous sins there is, of course, an immense difference. While all sin is, as already said, sin, and the want of knowledge can never justify us, with God's word in our hand, and Himself so accessible for our enlightenment, yet a sin committed in real ignorance does not shut out God as a sin against conscience does. If it were so, communion would be impossible to any, short of practical perfection. But He is tender and merciful, and of infinite compassion. It would not be this to pass over that which argues a spirit of "revolt," which trifles with His known will. Here, too, we must take care; for we may trifle with His will by refusing to seek the light, as well as by refusing to walk by it when we have it. And this, one must fear, is the cause of many blighted lives among the children of God. They do not know, indeed, the evil paths they are in, but they have, nevertheless, as it were instinctively, turned from and refused the knowledge. Not willing to be disturbed, or to abide the cost of truth, they give up seeking it, — at least, in the dreaded line. But they cannot so escape from the consequences, terrible as some day they will find them, of real disobedience.

We can find our safeguard only in the sanctuary. The Lord Himself is our constant necessity; and the self-distrust is wholesome that keeps us close to Him. So the cry here now: "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins: let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright; I shall be innocent of great revolt." And the psalm ends with the longing desire for positive sanctification, — the acceptance of heart and mouth before God — this God, known in the power of His salvation ever (John 4:22), — "Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Psalm 20.

Christ and His salvation.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David,

With the last word of the nineteenth psalm is struck the key-note of that which follows. This is truly a blessed psalm, and its beauty will be seen the more, the more we contemplate it. Not that there is much wonder about that: the lustre of all God's jewels is only dimmed by our indifference.

The two psalms now before us are Jewish, no doubt: and the lack of the apprehension of this causes much of the difficulty of discerning their true character. We have to distinguish between the form and the essence, — or rather, to give frankly to the ancient people of God all that belongs to them; and by so doing we shall surely find what is our own, and of how little we have deprived ourselves by this mere justice. The Gentile's Christ is also Israel's Messiah; and wherever we find Him we have our inalienable title to and interest in Him. On His head are many crowns; but these can surely not obscure the features with which we are familiar.

The twentieth psalm speaks of Christ and His salvation, objectively given, as contemplated by the people, and not, as in the twenty-second, subjectively, as the language and experience of the Lord Himself. This, as has been said before, is the manner of the middle three of the nine psalms of which this is the central one, and which show us faith's reception of the Messiah. The prophecy is here as direct as Isaiah's picture of Jehovah's Servant, (Isa. 52:13 — 53,) and should be given as direct announcement, and not, as in our common version, as a prayer. The nine verses are, as usual with this number, 3 x 3, the symbol of divine fullness and manifestation intensified by repetition: from which the importance of its contents may be anticipated.

1. The first section declares God to be for "His Anointed," who is seen in the day of His "strait," which is that of His "offering." This Anointed is the King of Israel, whose deliverance is in some way the salvation of His people, and seems to bring their hearts back to the remembrance of Jehovah their God; and thus they "rise and stand upright." There is no difficulty in seeing that, however else the psalm may have had partial fulfillment, Christ alone is the complete one. And this interpretation it is that gives it its place in the series of psalms that we are considering. The partial ones, taken as the whole, if they could be satisfactorily and not merely conjecturally made out, would break up the unity of the book, as well as lower immeasurably the character of the fragments remaining. How insignificant these "offerings" and this "burnt sacrifice" of a king in his "strait," were it Uzziah or Asa or David himself, compared with that one sacrifice of the glorious King, who is always the great subject of the Spirit's testimony.

Looked at in this way, a flood of light is thrown upon the psalm which transfigures it completely. In the very first verse thus, where the king is seen in his strait, it is the name of the God of Jacob" that sets him on high. This is then only another reading of the New Testament text that "Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father." (Rom. 6:4.) God's "name" is His glory: it is the display of Himself. It is this that is the blessedness of the gospel, that God is displayed in it in His grace. Here, too, the God of Jacob, when we realize the meaning of this name, Jacob, and remember the history in connection with it, which the book of Genesis so dwells upon, may well stand for — indeed can stand for nothing else but — the God of grace. Grace alone could take up the "supplanter" to make of him an Israel, a "prince of God." Thus it is for the declaration of God's grace, — of the gospel in its essence, — that the One seen here is delivered from His strait, — is set on high. The resurrection and ascension of Christ give to this its full and blessed significance. The story is that of God's grace, whether it be in the going forth of the gospel in its fullness now, or in the deliverance of Israel in days to come. It is still the work of Christ that is the foundation of all blessing, and by which the glory of God is displayed in abounding grace.

In the second verse there is a twofold answer implied; for the sanctuary and Zion are in different lines of thought. The one is the place of priesthood; the other the seat of royal power. Christ is both Priest and King; but then, in connection with Him, the sanctuary in the midst of Israel can be no more than "the figure of the true:" and this is plainly declared in the sixth verse, where the answer of God is "from His holy heaven." This is the answer with which we are now, blessed be His name, familiar. But we have taken it in such a way as to discredit the other, and to make a difficulty where there is absolute simplicity. Christ is yet to be answered out of Zion, — the kingly power in Israel put into His hand. Indeed in that day the two answers will be brought into fullest agreement: the "priest after the order of Melchizedek" will be a "priest upon His throne." The grace implied in priesthood will be manifested in Him who reigns with absolute power; and this will be full blessing for the people of His choice.

The third verse, Leviticus-like, shows us the basis of all this in sacrifice. The whole range of offerings here comes in; for what less could show the various perfection of the one offering that has once for all put away sin for every soul that trusts it? but yet the burnt-offering holds before God its special place. No wonder! It is that which tells of the perfectly tried obedience found perfect, all of its sweet savor brought out by the fierceness of the flame consuming it.

How blessed a picture is given us then in these three verses! how impossible for it to be the picture of any other than the One whom it so admirably portrays!

2. We have now the effect of this interposition of God for Him in the deliverance and blessing of His people. This is not, however, what we shall find, when His work is fully told out — forgiveness and salvation from sin. He is their King, and His being raised up naturally connects itself with their deliverance. That this is, and must be, in grace, we have already seen; but this is, as yet, more national than individual, and the depths of their need are not as yet explored.

We find at once, however, that there are counsels of His heart, though what these are is left to be inferred by what follows. They are worthy of that work which lays the ground of their accomplishment; and the people, rejoicing in. His deliverance, set up their banners in that Name which has been declared to them, — the name of Jacob's God, the God of grace. There is certainly here a national movement, in the face of enemies, but with confidence; and evidently in His advocacy with whose requests their hearts go out in sympathy. Faith in them has linked itself with Him, and that faith expresses itself in joyful certainty, in the voice of a believing nation in the latter day. These are now receiving the testimony with which the psalm began, and the faith of the prophet in the first part of it is answered at last by that of a generation to be new born to God in days yet to come. The transition here will be no difficulty to those who have noted the similar style of prophecy elsewhere.* Thus Israel will yet awake to the acceptance with God of Him whom as the Crucified they have refused and scorned. They have heard as yet but the Voice which cried, Thou hearest not," and to that which presently said, "Thou hast heard Me," they have been deaf and unbelieving. At last the "Ephphatha" will be uttered which will give ears and tongue alike their office, and they will say, "Now I know that Jehovah saveth His Anointed! He answereth Him from His holy heaven, with the saving strength of His right hand."

{*Thus in Isaiah 52:13 — 53:3 there is a similar transition from the future and the personating by the prophet of the unbelief (as here the faith) of a generation to come.}

3. The third section must be characterized as the resurrection of Israel. We see them in fact brought back to God, as through faith in Christ they will be, with the necessary effect of this, that they find God for them. The last verse, if we are to read it according to the common punctuation, goes on to the further discovery, full indeed of blessing, that Messiah, their King, and Jehovah are the same: a truth certainly not beyond the Psalms to give, and which we shall find fully before us in the fourth book.

The name of God is once more uttered by them here. Well may they be glad to remember it now, after so long a time of forgetfulness. Now no earthly confidence will they boast in, but only in Jehovah. The sure result follows: while other hopes deceive, Jehovah manifests Himself for them. Their enemies (these boasters) are brought down and fallen. Israel rises from her sorrow and degradation and not temporarily merely: they rise and stand upright.

The psalm ends with a prayer, in which Jehovah is invoked still to deliver, a prayer which the "King" is besought to hear. Jehovah and the King are one!

Psalm 21.

Christ appearing in His glory.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David.

The third psalm of this intermediate series now pictures Christ in His glory; although, when we look first at it in this light, there is natural disappointment. The view is still Jewish and the glory, while indeed heavenly, or it would not be His, is seen, however, from an earthly stand-point. As in the Lord's words to Nathanael, Israel sees heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending [in attendance] upon the Son of man. A blessed thing to see, and which many Christians scarcely reach, and yet which is not entrance into those opened heavens themselves. But there is the joy of seeing One on whom the angels wait, who is still "Son of man," who speaks of Himself in this way, is not ashamed of it, not ashamed of human "brethren" in those who are sanctified by His blood! Is it not true that hazy, indistinct views of Christ as man in heaven cause many to lose how much of such joy as this? Yet upon this depends the distinct realization of our place in Him, which cannot be as God but as Man only.

Of this place "in Him" also the Psalms (along with the Old Testament generally) make no explicit mention. (Eph. 3:4-6.) It is here the Anointed King, King of Israel and the earth, — a glorious thing, too, to contemplate! to have the whole world obedient to Him, and the precious fruits of the obedience found. We too can sing with Israel here, and ought to be able to take a note above them.

As to the structure of the psalm, there are three parts in it: two of three verses each which show us His higher glory and then a third and longer one of seven which speaks of His manifestation upon earth, which is the day of manifestation also as to the earth itself, and of putting things straight the wicked, His enemies, being rooted out of it.

1. The first section speaks of His might, which is that of Jehovah also. He joys in Jehovah's strength, and exults in His salvation. We see that His manhood is still insisted on, all judgment being committed to Him because He is the Son of man. (John 5:27.) He has given in Himself the perfect pattern of obedience, and thus has moral title to receive obedience. He requires no more than He yields; nay, He has yielded more than He ever requires. His path to the throne has been by the way of the Cross. The thorns gathered out of man's path have made a crown for Him. He has not sought exaltation for Himself, who needed it not, but has stooped with infinite condescension to accept the government which is laid upon His shoulders, and which He takes that He may minister in it to the needs of men His creatures, and fulfill the Divine counsel of grace and blessing.

Thus the might of God is His. He knows the secret of power, and has acquired it as we also, in our measure, may acquire it. For who can lack power whose simple and supreme desire is to do the will of God in the conviction of its absolute goodness, and to glorify Him? Alas, we seek power, and make impossible the attainment of it by reason of the motive for which we seek it. If we had it, and used it not for Him, we should use it against Him, — use it therefore for mischief every way, and for misery to ourselves. Why then should He who is as wise as good impart it to us? Would we put the energy of steam into an engine off the track? Is He less wise than we?

But here is One fully proved and perfectly trustworthy "the desire of His heart hast Thou given Him, and hast not denied Him the request of His lips." Nothing simpler possible than that! "If ye abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7.) That is positive enough, and simple a perfect account of prevailing prayer. His words form the desires and govern the heart; the will is perfect and so the prayer prevails. Christ the Lord, even upon the throne, is an Example for us, exceptional only as His perfection is exceptional.

It is this satisfaction of His desires that we see, therefore, in the third verse. He is met on God's part with blessings that are really such: a crown of pure gold is set upon His head. What is this but the glory of God, which it is His, as now enthroned, to accomplish? for this was the desire of His heart, and this is what the figure naturally means: (figure, of course, it must be, as a prophecy of Christ). This is in fact the very meaning of His reign, that as by man sin had entered to His dishonor, so by man also shall the evil be undone, to His eternal praise. Thus too shall His work in creation be vindicated, and the creation itself be linked to God forever. Christ is thus the "Father of eternity."

2. The second part insists on this dependent place which He has assumed as man. Gone down into death, even life itself He receives as the gift of God; a life eternal, which becomes thus the portion of the new creation, to which He is Head. "His salvation" becomes in the same way a true salvation of myriads of people, by which it becomes great indeed, and great His glory. And these eternal blessings find their consummation in the presence of God which He for them enters, and to which they find access also in Him. Thus, in this second part, the effects are seen of that dependent place which He has taken: for all these, unlike those of the first section, are shared blessings, blessings which are such to Him in the very fact that they are earned for others. And though this is left for us to discover, and not plainly interpreted; yet in the light of the New Testament interpretation is easy. In all these things He is the Representative of others; and to be this — the Saviour of multitudes who shall adore Him forever. — this without question is that wherein "His glory is great in Thy salvation." We pass on now to what is very different from all this.

3. Yet even in His appearing in glory we are kept in mind of the place He has taken, a dependent place, of which He is not ashamed. His unchanging stability of glory is the answer to that trust in Jehovah's steadfastness which in the depths to which He descended never for a moment wavered. As He believed, so is it done to Him. His sure faith finds the Rock it rests on, and is answered, as one may truly say, by a faith in Him on God's side which can commit all divine interests to the care of Him in whom the Father's delight is. How all through this psalm the "Leader and finisher of faith" is seen, even in the most unlikely places! The principles which are indicated all through apply to us as to Him, only to Him are principles ever declaring His supreme excellency; and this is as it must be.

Now His hand finds out all His enemies: none can escape, when the eye that seeks,them is omniscient. The time of His coming is that which is ordained for the destruction of the banded opposition against Jehovah and His Christ which we have found in the second psalm, and which will be then, as all prophecy witnesses, in fullest activity. The destruction will be sudden and complete, as pictured in these vivid images. Fruit and seed shall alike perish from the earth, for the time of its deliverance from oppression is now come, — the time to "destroy those that destroy the earth." (Rev. 11:18.)

The cause of this action of the divine power is stated in the eleventh verse: it is their malice against Christ, which, as we know, may be shown in the persecution of His people. (Acts 9:4, and comp. Matt. 25:45.) In fact, the Israelitish remnant will be plucked from the very jaws of their adversaries at the appearing of the Lord. (Zech. 14.) The following verse may well speak of the discomfiture of these baffled foes.

{Verse 12, Literally, "turn their shoulder."}

The psalm ends with a prayer that Jehovah would display His strength after this manner; and His people will praise Him for delivering power.

Series 3. (Ps. 22 — 24.)

Atonement and its Results.

We have now come to the final series of these psalms, the Leviticus part, in which, as in that book, the heart of atonement is laid bare to us, which is indeed, though in so strange a manner, the heart of God Himself: God in His holiness; God in His wondrous love. In both respects the first psalm here declares Him; and the joy of this sounds out to the ends of the earth. In the second psalm, the present ministry of love is dwelt upon, the great Shepherd of the sheep, having been brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant, those led of Him find overflowing blessing. In the third psalm, the end is reached: not heaven, for these psalms contemplate, as we know, the earthly people, but what is nearest it on earth, the entrance into Jehovah's house, and standing in His holy place. With this the whole series of Messianic psalms here naturally closes.

Psalm 22.

The concord of divine righteousness and grace through the work of a Unique Sufferer.

To the chief musician, concerning the Hind of the Dawn; a psalm of David.

{Verse 1, In both places "El", elsewhere translated "Mighty."}

The twenty-second psalm is in some respects the most remarkable in the whole book of Psalms. The absorption of the psalmist into the person of Him whom he represents is so complete that from hence arise the difficulties of interpreters,with whom the mere human element has darkened all the glory of the divine. Let the meaning of the first six verses of the psalm be really grasped, there is but One to whom it can refer: David himself is as entirely out of the question as any other. If it be the essence of atonement that is here before us, is it David or any other, save the Christ of God who could make atonement for my sins? Here to look round for any partial anticipation or suggestive circumstances is entirely out of place: the fact here is unique in human history. If the psalm be David's, David is lifted entirely off his feet here, is taken out of all his surroundings, by the power of that Spirit who, he tells us, spake by him, and whose word was on his tongue. And this is an instructive warning, that the Spirit of God is not bound by the limits of the human instrument He is pleased to use. The New Testament applies the psalm thus in the most positive and exclusive way to the Lord Himself; and His adoption of the opening words, with the way in which these are connected in Scripture, and the connection of the psalm itself here with the surrounding psalms, all these unite to fix the interpretation in such a way as that none shall be able to take from it its rightful meaning, except as wresting it manifestly. It is a keystone in the divine foundation upon which the whole structure of truth is built; and God has taken care to have an immovable foundation.

It shows us, as already said, the very essence of atonement, the concord of divine righteousness and grace in the work of the Cross,which it is the very glory of the gospel to proclaim, but which is the result of unique suffering. The foundation of peace is laid in the lowest depths of darkness, that it may support a structure reaching to heaven itself, and giving access to God in confidence and joy of faith. May we enter into all the fullness of what is here opened to us!

The title of this psalm is noteworthy. Aijeleth Shahar, which our common version leaves untranslated, means the "hind of the dawn," a very peculiar expression, of which, apart from its context here, one might well doubt the significance. It refers, however, as Delitzsch remarks, according to traditional definition to "the early light preceding the dawn of the morning; whose first rays are likened to the horns of a hind." He adds that "there is a determination of the time to this effect, found both in the Jerusalem and in the Babylonian Talmud, 'from the hind of the morning's dawn till the east is lighted up.'" Nor is the application which is so simple to us as Christians, strange to Jewish exposition. As Delitzsch says again, "Even the synagogue, so far as it recognizes a suffering Messiah, hears Him speak here; and takes the 'hind of the morning' as a name of the Shechina (Israel's glory-cloud), and as a symbol of the dawning redemption." "And the Targum recalls the lamb of the morning sacrifice, which was offered as soon as the watchman on the pinnacle of the temple cried out, The first rays of the morning burst forth.'"

Certain it is that this psalm points to the true meeting-place of the darkness and the dawn; and the added figure of the hind, while not directly speaking of sacrifice, suggests naturally the suffering of one chased by the hunters, the picture of meek innocence exposed to the fury of such persecutors as the psalm images by dogs and lions. And yet in a mystery which invites our reverent inquiry, that which is thus connected with the darkness, is no less identified with the uprise of the blessed day. How many tender and wonderful associations are there here for us! And to whom alone do they lead us as the subject of contemplation in this most precious scripture, indited by the Holy Ghost?

1. There are twenty-one verses in the first part of the psalm, which gives us the atoning work itself: a number surely significant, especially when we compare it with the thirty-six verses of the trespass-offering psalm, the sixty-ninth. The trespass-offering, as we have seen when looking at it, is the governmental offering, as the idea of restitution in it shows, and that according to a precise estimate of the injury made; and thirty-six — the number of the books of the Old Testament, or "law," — gives us, as 3 x 12 (the divine and governmental numbers), "God in government." The present psalm speaks of the sin-offering, in which the divine nature is in question, not the divine government; and 21 is naturally 3 x 7, the emphatic expression of a divine and perfect work.

It does not follow from this, however, that the subdivision of these twenty-one verses will correspond with this; and, in fact, it does not. There is much else to be expressed, as we shall find; and the minor divisions here are five in number, the verses standing respectively to these as 3.5.3.7.3; the threes guiding us to the divine aspect of what is here, as we might suppose. Every feature is perfect, we may be sure. If we are not able to discern it, let us not charge God with what is due to our shortsightedness, and nothing else.

This first division of the psalm is best characterized by one word which at the same time reveals the depth into which the Lord has descended for us, and along with this His glory who could descend there, charged with the fulfillment of all the divine counsels, with the revelation in that utter darkness of all the glory of God; standing where no foot but His could stand, and laying there the foundations of new creation, never to be disturbed; giving the creature steadfast happiness and God His rest. "Alone" He did this: in human weakness, yet in divine strength, "alone" in a place where no foot had trodden before, which none will tread again. To Him only could there be such desolation; the very height of His essential majesty made but part of the infinite horror, which no soul beside could have room for but His own. Let us bow our heads — let us challenge the deepest reverence of our hearts — while we gaze but at the outside of that into which we can never enter, even within but its outer margin; which it is the glory of His work to have made it impossible for us ever to enter.

(a) In the first three verses the meaning of what follows is declared to us: the nature of the suffering as distinguishing it from all other; the cause of it. The Sufferer Himself puts and answers the question, Why is this? And it is strange, indeed, how little has been understood of what is so clearly put before us. Yet not to understand it is to miss the full meaning of atonement itself. The cry here the Lord made His own, as all know, in the hour of His agony upon the Cross, a time exceptional wholly in its character, and not to be confounded with any other in His earthly history. Nowhere else was He the sin-bearer. Not thus in that blessed life of His, which such a shadow would have changed how sorrowfully for us, did He stand in our place, our Substitute, but "bare our sins in His own body on the tree." (1 Peter 2:14.) Surely, one would imagine, this for Christians scarcely could need statement, much less emphasis; and yet it does need. For what does it mean or imply, this bearing of sin? Joy, peace, communion, the light of God's countenance? Or darkness, agony, the awful horror of being "made a curse"? Could these things go on together? Or are they so near akin that one could be confounded with the other?

Here, then, from lips that could not possibly mistake, and in the hour of His greatest need, when rejected, scorned, abused, crucified by man, He needed all the enjoyment of that favor of God, in the sense of which He had walked continually; — here, in the presence of those who in the malice of their hearts were saying, "There is no salvation for Him with God": here, beyond their uttermost thoughts, as if to justify all that they had done against Him, is His own testimony that God had forsaken Him! Yet He had said beforetime to His enemies, And He that sent Me is with Me; the Father hath not left Me alone: for I do always the things that please Him." (John 8:29.) Now was the time which He had seemed to have before Him then: they had with bold and insulting hands "lifted up the Son of Man" (ver. 28); they had, as it were, with their judgment pronounced upon Him, offered Him up to God for His ratification of their deed. "Let Him deliver Him," they said, "if He will have Him": and the heavens had darkened, not (as, after all, they had dreaded) in anger against them, but, as His own voice now interpreted it for them, in sign that God had forsaken Him!

Yet the voice asked, "Why?" Did He expect, then, some answer from that God who had forsaken Him? But answer had not come: they at least heard none. Still the awful burden hung upon the tree. He had saved others: yes, they knew that! Nevertheless now the hands hung powerless. He could not save Himself. Yet why could not He who had saved others save Himself? Had they not some interest in that unanswered question of His?

They might have turned back to this twenty-second psalm, and found the answer: He had left the key in the lock, where they (and we) might find it. But it is true that God had forsaken Him: the Mighty One; His Mighty One; and power there was not on His side. Plenty of power against Him, and the battle was not to be gained by might at all. Yet it was the crisis of the conflict which had been going on incessantly, ever since man fell away from God. Here was the battle of battles, the sum of all battles, — the strife between good and evil in its fiercest. And here, too, was once more the good apparently prostrate, defeated, heaven uttering no sound, blood flowing again like Abel's (if so much better than Abel's), which had cried so long unavenged.

But here triumph is defeat: the rule of the battle, "they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Goodness is to conquer by submission and without encouragement; — conquer, not with extraneous aid, but by itself as goodness simply; trusting in a God who gives no sign.

Power can do nothing here for another reason, and a deeper one. Power can create a world or a universe; it cannot cancel sin, cannot act as if God were indifferent to sin, cannot take up the sinner and justify him, or bless him while unjustified. Power in God cannot act, nor love act, as if these were His sole attributes, or could act alone. If God act, He must act with all that He is; nay, if He justify, here it is for righteousness to pronounce: it is its place to do so; questions of righteousness can only be settled by righteousness, and it is written, "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to Jehovah." (Prov. 17:15.)

But thus the cry goes up, even from the lips of a Job, — a wail which has no answer: "How shall man be just with God?" (Job 9:2) Here One, standing in the place of men, cries with like result. In this awful place heaven is sealed to Him: there is no answer, nor escape from the full exaction of penalty. This is in effect Job's question, though taken up by Another, who, if there be escape, will surely find it. The conflict is real; the agony is intense: to find no way but that the cup must be drunk forces from Him the sweat as it were of great drops of blood, and an angel has to come from heaven to strengthen Him. But to strengthen Him for what? Only to go forward from the "day" in which still He could cry "Abba, Father!" into the awful "night" beyond. Even in the garden already, as to the drinking of the cup, He cried and was not heard; and the cross also, as we know, had its "daytime" as well as its "night," when the darkness fell upon it. And there no angel comes! No habitant of heaven comes into the "void" of that "raging deep," where out of darkness light is to be made to shine, but as yet is no ray of it.

There is no answer from God: who else, then, can give it? Listen! It is His own voice amid the still unrelieved darkness, — His voice giving answer to Himself, and proclaiming God in that desolation where He is not, and justifying Him in that awful abandonment which is the supreme agony of His soul.

"But Thou art holy!"

This, then, is the answer "why": it is not something apart from this; it is not what remains true, spite of there being none. It is the answer itself; the solution of the mystery; that which gives intelligence as to what is here, and alone gives any proper intelligence. It is because of the holiness of God that Christ is in that darkness of which the "darkness over all the land" is but the external sign. It is because "He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look at iniquity" (Hab. 1:13); and because upon Him who is here the true Sin-offering has been laid the iniquity of us all. Thus, and thus alone, it is that He "dwelleth amid the praises of Israel": these two things together more clearly reveal the deeper reality here than the blood on the mercy-seat on the day of atonement did for Israel bow the tent of meeting could remain among them in the midst of their uncleanness (Lev. 16:16). Yet here is what corresponds, as is plain, with this.

How blessed to think of this lone Sufferer in the outside place contemplating the worship of glowing hearts with which God should encircle Himself forever! Here was Job's question answered for faith forever: man blessed, God glorified for evermore. How plain that only One could fulfill the meaning of this psalm; as only One could stand in the place which is indicated by it.

(b) But the nature of this place is further to be made plain, and put in contrast with any other, that any; of even the comparatively righteous among men, had ever occupied. "Our fathers trusted in Thee," the Voice goes on: "they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them." There was no similarity in this forsaking of God to the experience of any in times before this. "They cried unto Thee and were delivered; they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded." Yet it had been no strange thing for faith to have its martyrs. If being forsaken of God simply meant the being given up to death at the will of their enemies, there was an abundant record of such martyrs, those "of whom the world was not worthy." To reduce the cross of Christ to this is simply to take out of it that which constitutes true atonement. If this were being made sin," then not a martyr that ever died but was made sin — or a sin-offering — also. For it is not here a question of the dignity of the Sufferer, but of the place in which He suffered, and this the psalm itself affirms to be perfectly and utterly exceptional. Just this being forsaken of God was for Him the unspeakable difference.

Exceptional it was not for man to suffer and die. Every form of death that one can imagine, perhaps, man has undergone. "But I," says this unique Sufferer, "am a worm, and not a man": gone down to a depth far below that of any man whatever. The word (tolaath) applies especially to the coccus from which the scarlet dye of the tabernacle was obtained, of course by its death: in that way, how significant of the One before us! But only as suffering under the judgment of sin could this be true of Him: indeed the word is used (Isa. 1:18) for the color of sin, and that of a heinous kind; and thus the application is still clearer: "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21.)

No act of man could make Him sin for man, — no suffering from men could make atonement with God: that was what was wrought by what passed between. God and His burdened soul within that curtained chamber, never to be penetrated by any foot but His, and from which no cry emerges but that one pregnant one, the meaning of which is here revealed as far as may be for the satisfaction of our conscience and the adoring worship of our hearts. What man wrought could only naturally bring judgment upon man. What He wrought with God, and God through Him, brings out from the smitten Rock the river of divine, omnipotent grace.

The "reproach of men" pursued Him into this place which He had taken for men, "despised" even "of the people" (Israel) to whom specially He had been sent. Yea, He was the common mockery of all who saw Him. The gospels distinctly note this wagging of the head on the part of those passing by, and the very words of the psalm used by the chief priests with the scribes and elders in their derision of Him. Outwardly it would seem as if it were the government of God that furnished them with this reproach: in fact it was their hardness and unconsciousness of their own desert, as well as of the holiness and mercy of God, which blinded them to the meaning of the scriptures they were so manifestly fulfilling.

(c) Three verses now show us the inmost heart of the Sufferer, and bring us back to the anguish above all others that He is experiencing. From His birth as Man, God has been His sufficiency and strength. Continuously He has been dependent upon Him. Now in the time of His sore distress, it is for Him that His soul craves. Perfect dependence upon the All-sufficient God: this is the perfection of manhood, and the absolute guarantee of an unstained and spotless life. What leads astray but our own wisdom? What is sin but the working of our own wills? If dependence upon Him were complete, for care, for guidance, for all good, what room would there be for evil or for error? Clearly it would be impossible. Faith, then, is the great work, of necessity; working by love which is implied in confidence such as this. And here was One in whom faith and love were in full possession everywhere, to whom God was all, and who, not having Him, had nothing. Yet in the hour of His distress He cried, and got no answer.

{Verse 10, Eli, "my Mighty One."}

(d) We have now, in seven verses, the completeness of His suffering at the hands of man. As to it all, though we may go over it and give, as it were, the items, who can estimate the reality for Him who had not His like in capacity for sorrow, as for apprehension of all that can exist in the human heart? Yet this, after all, was not even part of the peculiar agony which really characterizes the psalm of atonement. Nothing here enters into the cry with which it begins: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

We are called first to realize the strength of the adversaries. They are bulls, with their horned front and reckless rush; strong beasts fed up on the fat pastures of Bashan, — men whom "fullness of bread" had filled with pride and insolence. That Caiaphas, the Sadducee, the unconscious prophet, inspired consciously only with the instinct of self-preservation, yet with eyes as dull to eternity as keen to present things, was a type of many more like this. How these would eye this Man of another sphere and another law, so unintelligible to such as they were! And if He were this to them, how terrible indeed would they be to Him, so fallen as they were and debased, that from being men they had become mere beasts of pasture!

But the figure changes, and we have instead of the bull the lion. The bull will crush what is in its way or toss out of it; but the lion devours. It is the picture of strength, but along with this of ferocity and rapaciousness, — "like a lion tearing and roaring." His enemies pursue him with a wrath that will be satisfied with nothing less than His destruction. There is a specific hatred toward Him, the opposition of those, not blind, but who "have both seen and hated both Himself and His Father."

And He who meets all this, in what condition is He to endure it? He is come from the agony of the garden; He is facing the worse agony of the Cross. Their "hour" is that of the "power of darkness," and of the forsaking of God. What strength can there be to oppose, when the Father's hand itself is giving Him the cup? His "heart is melted like wax" in the sacrificial fire of wrath against sin.

Thus His strength fails, His tongue cleaves to His jaws: He is as one already in the dust of death, but in fact alive to realize it, and that it is the hand of God. God, and not man, has placed Him where He is.

Then there is the exercise resulting from the floods of iniquity permitted to assail Him. How perfectly man was revealed in the presence of the Cross! "dogs," heartless, shameless, unclean and offal-feeding, hunting in packs like "the assembly of evil-doers" here: gathered by the spectacle of distress unequaled, for which they had no pity, and from which there was no escape: hands and feet pierced, nailed with insufferable agony to the tree of shame!

{Verse 17, I do not find it easy to characterize this verse according to number, while yet I believe the divine sense of what is here is truly expressed by it. It unites closely with the next verse, while yet distinct. Compare the notes.}

Exposed — every bone to be counted — to such eyes as these, that gaze and stare and blench not: not ashamed in the presence of their Judge and Maker. Parting among them the garments they have stripped from Him, and casting the lot — in Israel sacred to Jehovah (Prov. 16:33) — to decide the ownership of that seamless priestly robe which marks Him as what He is, "the Mediator between God and men," upon whom all the blessing of man depends. But this is, of course, to make the Gospels interpret the psalm, or at least give fullness to the interpretation. Does it not, however, answer well to that final number which stands opposite the verse, — this complete stripping of Christ, in the very insanity of passion and unbelief, of all that shows Him to be and to be qualified to be — man's tender and compassionate Saviour?

The meaning of the priestly robes has been elsewhere looked at. (Ex. 28 notes.) But on the day of atonement it was not in the garments of glory and beauty, but in the simple white linen robe of unstained purity, that the high-priest entered the holiest of all. So Christ, in the power of His own perfection, (tested and brought out in the awful place to which He stooped for man) entered the heavens, never to be closed henceforth for us. Was it not, in fact, then, a sign of the most solemn character, men divesting Christ of His raiment, holding Him up thus stripped to the scorn of men? And what more suited to the deed than as it were taking the lot which belonged to God — the sign of His sovereignty even in what man calls "accident" — to dishonor and degrade with it Him for whom God had decreed the highest honor?

Thus the story of the human side of the Cross ends. Man has told himself fully out in it. What more, alas, could be said of him?

(e) Thus all has been gone through before God, and it is seen, indeed, how the high-priest enters the holiest in the white seamless robe of perfect righteousness. The time is come for hearing that hitherto unheard prayer; and He is "heard," as it is expressed in the epistle to the Hebrews, "for His piety." (Heb. 5:7.) He has gone into the place of utmost probation under the burden and penalty of sin not his own, resigning Himself into the hands of God to suffer according to His will what none beside Himself could suffer. We are permitted to hear now His final appeal to God, and to rejoice in His announcement of the answer, which was made upon the Cross and recorded for us in the gospel of John, where (as in Matthew and Mark the cry of abandonment shows the Lord's entrance into the darkness), the words "It is finished" show His emergence from it. Righteousness now claims His deliverance from the place, where God has been glorified by unfailing obedience on the part of Him who went into it for others, and for the glory of God Himself. "God has been glorified in Him; and if God be glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will straightway glorify Him." (John 13:32.)

After the words that speak of the exhaustion of the special "cup," He has indeed to die: for death is part of that which is upon man, which it is given Him by submission to it to lift off. This also is necessary, therefore, for atonement to be complete. But, for His soul, what is death, when He can once more cry, "Father," and commit His spirit in peace to Him? — when He can Himself now take power into His hands again, even in dismissing it?*

{*The expression in Matthew is really "He dismissed (apheke) His spirit" (Matt. 27:50). See for the comparative place in atonement of death and wrath-bearing, and the way the New Testament speaks of these, the notes on the sin-offering, Lev. 4 (vol. 1, p. 289-291).}

Once more, then, in this psalm, the appeal is made: "But Thou, Jehovah, be not far from Me!" After all that man has done or can do, and without making light of this, (though it be for man himself that this is so unutterably grave), still Where is God? is the question of questions. To this, therefore, He returns, pleading that God, His strength shall appear in His behalf Power He refused for Himself to save Him from this place; "by might can none prevail" when in it. But the victory reached, power at last comes to be necessarily and fully on the Victor's side. "Rescue my soul from the sword; my only one from the power of the dog." This is the deliverance in full, for it involves all else, though it be the outward enemies that are contemplated. "My soul," as we see by its use elsewhere (Num. 23:10), is the equivalent in Hebrew of "myself," and "my only one" answers to it in the parallel, though some would give it as "my solitary one," and see in it another reference to what is indeed the controlling thought in all this first part of the psalm. Outcast, however is the Speaker to be no longer: He has been tried to the utmost; He has committed Himself and all that with which He is identified into the hands of God; the decision is to be from Him; all power is with Him: now from the very horns of the aurochs He is answered.

2. The first part of the psalm is ended: the work is completed, and accepted by God as complete. Blessed be God, He who was alone in the sorrow is not alone in the joy that springs from it: He will never be alone again. The corn of wheat for this has fallen into the ground and died. We are now to see the fruit of it: God's grace is to flow out in widening circles, and the knowledge of the Lord to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. In what follows there seem to be three parts: in the first, the Lord is in the midst of the congregation,which at first that of a remnant, widens into the nation of Israel, revived and converted to God; in the second, the "great congregation" gathers in from the whole world. In both there utters itself the voice that cried once in forsaken sorrow and was not heard; while the joy that fills all hearts, and the praise that goes up to God on every side spring out of the blessed fact that at last He was heard. The work of the Spirit to maintain the truth, and a generation for the Lord as the fruit of it, is given in the third part.

(a) In the time of His bitterest distress we have learned how the Lord's heart still could turn to the thought of Jehovah dwelling amid the praises of His people, and we remember that the day of atonement, which is so linked with this precious psalm, emphasizes the same thing. It is no wonder, therefore, that now, immediately His prayer is heard, He is found declaring Jehovah's Name among His brethren, and praising in the midst of the congregation. The apostle John it is who gives us the beginning of this in the message entrusted to Mary Magdalene and His after appearance among the gathered disciples. Suited it is that a woman should be the first to have made to her the glorious announcement of His resurrection and its results: "Go and tell my brethren that I ascend unto my Father and unto your Father, and to my God and your God."

Here is relationship established and the Divine Name declared; declared in relationship, the name of Father, with just that necessary distinction preserved between Himself and His people, — "my Father and your Father," not "our Father," which reminds us of His infinite glory who has been pleased to take us into such kinship with Himself, while it intimates also that it is through Him that this place is given to us. Here is the value of His work told out, and in terms which embrace all the people of God, although saints of the present period are the "first-born ones" (Heb. 12:23) in this relationship. Blessed it is to know that the greatest blessings are also the widest: just like fresh air and sunlight which, from God's side at least, are free to all. And so the apostle argues that "both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11.) How sweet and wonderful to be of the number of those of whom, because of their origin, He is "not ashamed"!

The "assembly" here, as being an assembly of this character, has had no fulfillment, except in Christian times. In Judaism there was no gathering of such a nature: the children of God were scattered abroad by the necessity of a legal system which could give no nearness to God in that it could purge no conscience, give no abiding-place to the worshiper before God. Under the new covenant, however, Israel will be an assembly of this character, an assembly of righteous ones in which the ungodly shall no more stand; and to Israel now the psalm goes on. Those who have but "feared" Jehovah hitherto are now to praise Him, all Jacob's seed to glorify Him, all Israel's seed to reverence Him. For the way of the Lord is being prepared after Isaiah's manner, — the mountains leveled, the valleys filled. The lowly are to find wondrous exaltation; and the very grace of God is to make Him feared. Blessed, indeed, is the self-abasement produced by the knowledge of the marvelous salvation of the Cross. And so it must be: he who treats this grace lightly can but lightly know it.

For this is, indeed, the subject-matter of this song of praise. It is the song of those who have learned the mystery of this strangely afflicted One, and have found in His afflictions the judgment of sin before a holy God; yet have found, too, in the answer of God to Him the way discovered by which the righteousness of God is declared, and His love at the same time made known. Christ risen was, in fact, this answer; and the gospel now to go forth to the ends of the earth. Christ risen and exalted is now the Revealer of God in His full glory, — all the "glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

(b) Israel brought thus to God, her fruit has the seed in itself for the nations of the earth. The grace shown to her is "life from the dead" to these. Thus the glorious Voice is heard in a wider sphere. The "great congregation" of millennial nations becomes the sphere in which Christ fulfills His "vows" of glorifying Jehovah. Yet we cannot but notice that there are lacking apparently the fullness and intimacy of that first declaration of Jehovah's Name which takes place within the smaller circle. Nor is it difficult to account for this. Israel will be entirely a congregation of the righteous, as we have so often been assured; but we have been equally assured that such will not be the condition of the nations beyond. With many here there will be still but a forced semblance of worship, — obedience rendered because it dare not be withheld; sin will be restrained, and yet not banished; and the final outbreak,when Satan is let loose, will be a terrible one.

Hence not yet can there be an unchecked flow of blessing, such as eternity has in store for all the redeemed. And the words here seem to indicate a certain lack of response, as a whole, which acts necessarily as a restraint upon the communications of His love: "I will make good my vows before them that fear Him."

Yet there is abundant blessing for those who do respond, while its limitation to a certain character — always, of course, true is yet here insisted on with an emphasis which is obvious. "The humble shall eat and be full; they shall praise Jehovah that fear Him." The reference is, doubtless, as Delitzsch observes, to the peace-offering which accompanied vows; and here Messiah's vows furnish forth, indeed, a royal banquet upon which, in communion, the humble feed to fullest satisfaction. "Your heart shall live for aye," becomes thus the assurance of the Entertainer to the guests, — an assurance full of blessing.

And this is the voice of recall to man, so long a wanderer: "all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Jehovah: and all the families of the nations shall worship before Thee." And so shall come the universal kingdom, the creature in the creature-place with God, — just to keep which is perfect blessing.

For this the pride and self-satisfaction of man may well come down: "the fat upon the earth have eaten and worship." What are they, apart from Him, but "those going down to the dust"? and on account of which He went Himself to the grave: He "who did not preserve alive His own soul."* This joy and worship of men under condemnation, and who owe their all to His blessed work, is indeed a recompense of love like His, — "the fruit of the travail of His soul."

{*An interpretation which Pridham says "is due, I believe, originally to Mr. Boys."}

(c) The closing part here shows the provision God has made for the perpetual preservation of this upon the earth. Alas, be the work all that it really is, and its fruit ever so necessary and glorious for men, yet except there be a corresponding work of the Spirit, and in sovereign power, there will be no effect. But God has purposed to glorify His Son, and that He should be the Firstborn among many brethren. The announcement of this suitably ends the psalm of atonement. "A seed shall serve Him: it shall be counted to the Lord for a generation." Literally, "the generation": that, I suppose, which is indeed such: a people begotten of God, although the full expression of that thought waits for the New Testament. But they are reckoned as His: He owns them such; and with them it lies to maintain the testimony of the grace they have experienced: "they shall come and shall declare His righteousness to a people that shall be born, because He has done this."

This again comes very near the language of the New Testament. The apostle Paul it is that has taught us that a central truth of the gospel is "the righteousness of God." It is this which the sinner dreads, which the gospel reveals to be for him through the work of the Cross. The righteousness of God as against sin that Cross proclaims (Rom. 3:25, 26); and equally as against a world that knows not the Father, by His being taken out of it, to be seen by them no more. (John 16:10.) But this involves the answer of the psalm before us, and the acceptance of that work to fulfill which He hung upon the tree. And thus Divine righteousness it is that has a gospel for us. (Rom. 1:16, 17.) Justification can be by righteousness alone, and the justification of the ungodly only by penalty in fact endured. (Rom. 3:21-24.) Then, Christ dying for the ungodly, the acceptance of the sinner on the ground of this is really righteousness: "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21.)

Thus the psalm of atonement, though it comes too early for God to speak fully out, touches in its closing strain the very keynote of the gospel.

Psalm 23.

Salvation in progress.

A psalm of David.

The apostle prays for the Hebrew Christians to whom he writes, that "the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, may make" them "perfect in every good work to do His will." (Heb. 13:20, 21.) Coming after the story of atonement, — the blood of the everlasting covenant, — we have no difficulty in recognizing Christ, brought again from the dead, as the Divine Shepherd of His people now.

Like the latter part of the previous psalm, the present speaks of salvation as the fruit of the Cross. There it was its extensive value, reaching out to the ends of the earth, and from generation to generation upon the earth. Here its value is intensive, affecting the individual life, — comforting, renewing, fortifying the believing soul, — leading it on from present communion with its Saviour-Lord, even amid opposition and hostility, to dwell in Jehovah's house where no power of the enemy can penetrate, no distracting voice can mar the sabbatic rest.

Yet even in this spiritual idyll, of which Christian sentiment has so completely possessed itself, there is sufficient witness that its primary application is not Christian; and this is seen, of course, most plainly just where the end is contemplated, even though that end be Jehovah's house. For this — interpreted for us as it is in the psalm following, is not a heavenly but an earthly portion, and quite distinct from that "Father's house" which the Lord has left to be the hope of His people now, even though, and most clearly because, the one is the type of the other.

It is plain that even in the gospel of John itself (John 2:16) the temple is spoken of by the Lord as His "Father's house." That house, though for the time destroyed, is to exist again and to continue on through those millennial times, beyond which the book of the Psalms never carries us. The same prophetic scriptures which anticipated that desolation, now so long realized, look on to the glorious restoration of what is always regarded as the same house. (Micah 3:12; 4:2.) But these were but "patterns of things in the heavens," and "figures of the true" (Heb. 9:23, 24), and it is in this way the Lord uses them in those memorable words which have shone ever since for the hearts of pilgrims, bright with the glory of that other sphere.

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2.)

In the earthly house there were chambers of small size for the priests and Levites (1 Chron. 28:11-13) as they came up to serve in their courses; and to these, but by way of contrast, the word translated "mansions" refers. It is a noun derived from the verb "to abide,"* much used in the gospel, which emphasizes the eternal and divine; itself only once used besides, where it is said, "We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" (John 14:23). The chambers of the temple were only for temporary use; the mansions are abodes for eternity. The first are earthly; the latter heavenly. These are "where," He says, "I AM": His eternal dwelling-place; and therefore He comes to receive us there.

{* mone, from meno, unhappily disguised by various renderings in our common version: "abide, dwell, continue, remain, endure."}

The prior application of this psalm to an Israelitish remnant does not, of course, in the least deprive us of our own right in it, to whom belong the antitypes of Israel's earthly inheritance, and who rightly read in it for ourselves the fuller and higher blessings. This method of interpretation of the psalms, as of the Old Testament at large, only enhances their preciousness; while it neither takes from God's ancient people what is theirs, nor confounds the dispensations by attributing to one the characteristics of the other.

1. As with the first psalm, the six verses divide into two sections of three verses each; the first of which dwells upon the unchanging care of the Unchanging God, Jehovah, the Shepherd, of His people, to us made known in the tender intimacy of manhood. To know Him aright in this relationship He has taken toward us is to be at rest: "Jehovah is my Shepherd: I shall not want." To prophesy here is easy and safe. Here can be no lack of power, of wisdom, or of love. Anxiety is only unbelief: faith is happiness, in exact proportion to its simplicity. It is no question of what we are, of our ability to meet anything that may arise: confidence in ourselves is only that which robs Him of His glory, who is Saviour to the uttermost, and has pledged to us that word by which heaven and earth are sustained in being. The terms of the new covenant admit no intrusion of creature assurance among the glorious "I wills" of a covenant God.

But there is the experience which surely follows to him who walks with God. "I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." Here is the soul's answer to that: "He maketh me lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside quiet waters." The words picture peaceful enjoyment of that which the Spirit of God ministers in unfailing freshness to the soul. The sheep, like other ruminants, — the clean animals of the law, — does not simply swallow its food and make an end of it. Lying down at rest, the gathered food is brought up again and deliberately and perfectly triturated and reduced. How much this process counts for with God, the Mosaic law bears emphatic testimony. The spiritual reality it is, of course, that counts. The lying down is not mere rest, but has to do with the assimilation of that which these "green pastures'' indicate, and to which the "quiet waters" add how greatly! Restful employment with the soul-satisfying treasures of God's word, divinely provided, divinely ministered, — how little does it characterize even the people of God in the present day! And how little "clean" are their ways and thoughts, by reason of this!

But then, too, "He restoreth my soul," — not simply He refreshes or renews it, but brings it back from wandering, as the parallelism seems to assure us: for "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake." These last words give us the principle of these tender and holy ways, — a principle which guarantees their consistency absolutely. He does this "for His Name's sake." His Name is that by which we know Him; it is the manifestation of what He is. God desires to be known by us: known, that we may trust Him; known, that we may delight ourselves in Him. This knowledge of God is that which is all power and blessing for our lives here, — that which awakes and sustains the worship of eternity. If He who is light and love is acting thus in us to make us the vessels of this display of Himself, how gladly should we yield ourselves up to Him for it! How perfectly confident may we be as to the result!

The "restoration" of the soul, as connected with His leading us in righteous paths, would naturally be, therefore, correction by His grace of that continual tendency to wander, which the more we "hunger and thirst after righteousness" the more we shall discover and confess to be in us. How greatly we are His debtors for this "keeping" grace of His, eternity alone will tell. Our resource is that tender ministry of His which He invites us to receive, not simply when we are conscious of straying, but when we may be still unconscious. The dust of evil settles easily, and without giving alarm, in a world in which Satan is "the prince of the power of the air"; and the mirror of conscience becomes quickly dimmed. Thus our constant need of recourse to Him who, girded and ready, desires to use the water and the towel on our behalf, and whose word is, "Except I wash thee, thou hast no part with Me." Was it because they knew the need? or because He knew it? And the words with which we come to Him are not, "Lord, I have searched and tried myself, and I have seen," but rather, "Search me, O Lord, and try me; and see if there be any wicked way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting." (Ps. 139:23, 24.)

Does any one imagine this is legality, to affirm the constant need we have of Him? No; this continual recourse to Him is perfect happiness. To be kept in His presence, to be made to realize this perfect and holy love, is a precious necessity. If we feel it humbling, all the more do we need it. The life which we have in Him is in all its practical manifestations a life of dependence; and in dependence is it nurtured and sustained. "And when He has found it, He layeth it upon His shoulders, rejoicing." This is a text upon the care of the good Shepherd indited from the lips of the Shepherd Himself. Shall we do less than rejoice, that we are to be kept thus by His grace and power, — always the burden upon His heart and arm?

2. We have in the second part of the psalm the difficulties of the way before us, though fully met, and in the end leaving not a mote in the summer sunshine of the soul. Yea, though I walk through the valley of death-shade, I will fear no evil." The valley of death-shade is the world as darkened with that which is the sentence upon man universally, and of which the law of necessity rather deepened the shadow than removed it. We have heard already (Ps. 6:5) the apprehension of saints in Israel in view of death; very different indeed from the assurance expressed here: and by this we may better appreciate the change which the knowledge of atonement has brought in. There is absolute contrast between the former "in death there is no remembrance of thee," and the thankful acknowledgment now, "Thou art ever with me." Yes, there is remembrance, and more than remembrance: there is the presence, and not the mere memory, of the Beloved of the heart. This shall never be lacking. The sun that permits not darkness shall never go down. The Good Shepherd will not leave to itself the sheep that He has recovered, and whose recovery has caused Him such delight of love.

It is not, however, to be understood as if death alone were in question here. This may well stand rather as the concrete expression for all that which stamps the world as fallen away from God. Death is that which speaks God's necessary dissatisfaction with it, while yet He lingers over it in patient love. And the Cross is the fullest confirmation of both these things: at once His judgment of it and His salvation for it. The sin and its attendant misery have indeed brought out this love in completest utterance, so as to make the song of the redeemed in response the highest and the fullest praise of all.

The humanity of Christ is the assurance of the truth from man's lips here, "Thou art ever with me"; and in what follows — "Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me" — while the original figure of the shepherd suggests the language, it would seem as if the full truth had burst through this envelope, and we were made to feel the human tenderness which sought its objects among the sons of men. The rod, it is true, is still the symbol of authority; but the "staff" is, according to the derivation, "what one leans upon," and can hardly apply to the Shepherd in this way, though it be still His staff. It is His word which is thus the stay of the soul; that which, going with us into the furnace of trial, is proved by the same furnace as we ourselves are. Every believer's experience is full of assurance as to this.

But the "rod" is no less a comfort: to be "under authority," and taking the road marked out by Him: knowing that the "sea" will part its waters at His bidding, and Amalek will be defeated as He stretches it forth; knowing also that the discipline of it is the tenderness of His love, and that the lion and the bear have fallen under it already. Who would be without that rod which is the necessary accompaniment of His presence, who is Master in every place in which He is found, and over every circumstance of the varying path?

The figure changes once again, and the Shepherd-Lord becomes the Host. How many figures must be used to "set the Saviour forth"! "Thou spreadest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies." There is quiet satisfaction and communion which the foes may look upon, dumb and without ability to disturb it. "Thou anointest my head with oil" — as was done for the banquet; "my cup runneth over:" no element is lacking to make the joy complete: it is the anticipation of the eternal blessedness when there shall be enemies no longer. Already they are as if they were not. In the East, when any one has assumed in this way the place of the host, he has by this fact assumed at the same time the protection of his guest; and this is what is implied in the words here. How precious and ample the assurance thus given by communion with the King of kings! Anointed with the Spirit of God, sharing the fullness of the divine store with Him whose love has opened all its blessing to me, surely my cup will overflow, and lips and life hear testimony to the grace that has done this for me! It is the pledge as well as the anticipation of the joy to come; and so we are taught to argue: —

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in Jehovah's house to length of days."

This introduces the subject of the following psalm, and closes the present with the foretaste of the fullest bliss conceivable by the soul. For us the blessing is, as already said, to be enjoyed in a higher sphere than could be known by the Israelite. "The Father's house"! what does it mean for us? All that we know of joy already must go into the conception; then to be expanded on every side, — all limits and all that would seem contradictory taken away; leaving then the consciousness that but a shadow of the substance has been reached, a knowledge which, face to face with the reality, will be accounted none. Yea, "he that thinketh that he knoweth anything, knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."

Psalm 24.

The dwellers in Jehovah's house, and Jehovah entering it.

A psalm of David.

The last psalm of the series is self-evidently now before us: we cannot go beyond the dwelling in Jehovah's house; and this is worthily the third psalm of the third section of the nine which open the third division of this Psalm-Genesis. It is the fruit of atonement. It is the expression of that love which has sought man, which in the depth of his need atonement expresses. Christ down here, a man amongst men, has made the grace of it as simple as it is yet ineffable. In the new earth, and so eternally, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, and He will dwell with them. (Rev. 21:3.) The present psalm does not reach as far as this: no psalm does; it is millennial, but in principle the same. God has chosen Zion to be the place of His rest forever (Psalm 132:13, 14); and though its present desolation may seem a long argument against this, He will yet fulfill His purpose. "I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation; and Jehovah shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even forever."* (Micah 4:7.) Thus the end of the seventy weeks of Daniel, which is to bring in the blessing for his people and his holy city, anoints the Most Holy Place. (Dan. 9:24.) But the city itself; like the camp in the desert of old, will be canopied by the cloud of glory, the sign of Jehovah's presence: for "Jehovah will create upon every dwelling-place on Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night." (Isa. 4:5.) This, by the very terms of it, is not the eternal state; but it is the prelude of it.

{* Le-olam va-ed: the strongest expression for eternity in the Old Testament.}

The subject of the psalm is plainly the character of those that draw near to God, a people, as the sixth verse would show, not wholly Israelitish; and this is simple, if in the first we understand — what is certainly the fact — that the whole earth is now become His, His name owned everywhere in it. In the last part Jehovah of hosts enters the sanctuary as manifested "King of glory." The bringing in of the ark to Zion in David's time would naturally seem to be the occasion of the psalm, — as naturally made a prophecy of the fuller and abiding blessing in the time yet to come.

1. The history of Israel and of the earth are inseparably bound up together. The national promises are to be fulfilled to them on earth, and their blessing involves that of the earth at large. As the Christian Church is the "church of the first-born ones written — enregistered — in heaven" (Heb. 12:23), Israel is God's first-born (Ex. 4:22) upon earth; and in both cases this term "first-born" implies a wider relationship. God as seen in Israel is the "God of the whole earth," though, because of sin, redemption here also must make it good, and to know it fully, the earth itself must pass by regeneration (Matt. 19:28) and, as it were, bodily reconstruction (2 Peter 3:10-13) into the eternal glory of the "new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness."

In this breadth, and under these conditions, God appears in Israel as the Creator-Father; and in the first verse claims as Jehovah the whole world as His. The time is come of that "regeneration" of which the Lord has spoken; and now "the earth is Jehovah's, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein." And He has the best of titles to it: "for He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it over the floods."

We see, of course, that it is of that dry land which upon the third day God separated from the waters, and called "earth," that the psalmist is speaking; and not of the earth as a globe. Plainly this foundation is a separation, and the water has ever since been working at this earth of God's establishment, seeking, as it were, to overthrow it; but has not been able. Apt type it is, this struggle, of the fortunes of His people, against whom the strife of centuries has been waged, to overthrow the barrier of God's purpose with which He has hedged them round, and could not. Now is in fact in Israel the time of that later psalm (the ninety-third) in which they sing of the rebuke of such waters which have risen up against the throne of God: —
"Thy throne is established of old:
Thou art from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, Jehovah,
the floods have lifted up their voice:
the floods lift up their waves.
Jehovah on high is mightier than the noise of many waters:
yea, than the mighty waves of the sea."

Not without such significance is it here that Jehovah has founded the earth upon the seas, and established it over the floods. The reckless will of man has met its rebuke from God, and what is to be fruitful for Him is rescued from the destroyer. What more natural than this as the introduction to the question which follows? Rampant evil has been put down: "who" now "shall ascend into Jehovah's hill? and who shall stand in His holy place?" The answer is evident: it is he who has clean hands and a pure heart, — the practical life no Pharisaism, but the real index of the man himself, — "who has not lifted up his soul to vanity," (for it is pride that most of all connects and ends with this: as one has said, "the moment we step out of our nothingness, we step into it,") "nor sworn deceitfully."

The recompense follows: "He shall receive the blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." The preceding psalms have given us the ability to interpret this aright. Righteousness absolutely, as we know, in himself can no man find, nor therefore can God award it. Righteousness in a mere comparative way will not do for the presence of God. For this there must come in two things: one of these has been already before us; the other is not revealed clearly in the Old Testament at all. One is the work for men — atonement; the other is the work in men, the communication of a divine nature, perfect in itself as such, though with many hindrances in this life to its perfect manifestation. In both these ways the righteousness is indeed a gift received from the God of our salvation. From first to last all is of grace, and thus of God, more perfectly than the Old Testament could express it; and we cannot be wrong in reading into it from the fuller revelation what is necessary for its perfect explanation. So read, we can understand how God is true to the requirement of His own character, while yet it is grace all through that alone can be man's sufficiency.

This is the true end of this section of the psalm, although the verse that follows seems, and really is, so closely connected with it. But it is not, in its significance, a real sixth, as the remainder of the psalm is not, what in that case it would have to stand for, a second section. The sixth verse is in fact itself the second section; and has in that position much more to tell us than merely, what is so clearly evident, that those now described are those who are given to stand before Jehovah.

2. The parallelism of this verse does not seem at first sight a true one; and as a consequence, the margin of our common version has seemed to some at least practically right. "This is the generation of them that seek Him (Jehovah): of them that seek Thy face, O [God of] Jacob." But so important a change would have to be supported by more authority than the two MSS. adduced for it, even though aided by the Septuagint and Peshito versions. It is too easy, too likely to be read in by one freely translating.

On the other hand, "Jacob" can hardly be taken as the name of those who seek their God. Its place in the sentence is awkward to convey this meaning, as the name itself seems unsuited to the connection. Taken in the simplest way of reading it, the verse is also most intelligible, — indeed, perfectly clear. God dwells in Jacob — will do so in those coming days to which the psalm refers: those who seek His dwelling-place necessarily therefore seek the people among whom He dwells. And they are Jacob, — such as owe this distinguishing privilege, not to goodness in themselves, but to grace in Him; grace which invites the approach of those to whom in like manner grace can be the only plea.

The consequence follows that not the tribes of Israel alone but Gentiles also are contemplated here; probably Israel in the first clause, "them that seek Him," and Gentiles in the second, those who seek Jacob's face. And this distinction gains support from the different words used for "seek" in these two clauses. The first, Barash, means, primarily, to "tread a place, i.e., to go or come to it, to frequent," thus implying common, habitual recourse, as of those near to and acquainted with God. While the second, baqash, means rather "to seek that which is uncertain and doubtful, with desire of obtaining, and with care and attention." Thus the words exactly suit the respective cases; and all this is again in accordance with the opening of the psalm, in which Jehovah claims, as we have seen, the whole earth as His. Thus the words of the Lord by Isaiah are fulfilled: "Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to Jehovah, to serve Him, and to love the name of Jehovah, to be His servants . . . even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt-offerings and sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." (Isa. 56:6, 7.)

This second section shows us, therefore, the extension of the class of accepted worshipers beyond the nation of Israel, and that, as was said of Cornelius, in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him." (Acts 10:35.)

3. We are now made to see Jehovah Himself enter His temple, to rest at last, after the long strife is over, the glorious King, so long refused or ignored, now clothed with irresistible might. The gates are challenged that had been shut against Him, and bidden to lift up their heads to admit a more exalted Visitant than ever they had known before. The answering question comes, however, as if they who gave it were still unconscious of His majesty, "Who is this King of glory?" To which again it is replied, "Jehovah strong and mighty; Jehovah mighty in war." No doubt, as Delitzsch puts it, the reference here may have been to the conquest of Zion by David in the power of God. But this, as we have seen elsewhere, has also its typical significance (see 2 Sam. 5:6, notes); and the psalm looks onward to the fulfillment of the type. The true David has come forth, the Christ in divine glory, and yet as the apocalyptic Rider on the white horse (Rev. 19:11), the Warrior-King. He has shown Himself for the deliverance of His people and of the earth, "Jehovah mighty in war." The hostile powers of the nations have been smitten down, and the victory is achieved which has made peace — a long peace — possible. He has scattered the people that delight in war. The Jebusites, the "treaders down," are they that have been trodden down, and Zion is now to be His "fixed" abode.

So the reiterated appeal is made: "Lift up your heads, ye gates; and lift them up, ye everlasting doors! and the King of glory shall come in." But from the gates yet again the question comes: "Who is He, this King of glory?" As when of old, in the presence of the risen Lord, the disciples believed not for joy, and wondered," so here the wondrous truth is too great for sudden admittance; it is not easy for the gates to lift themselves so high. But it must be: His grace will take no denial with the magnificence of His universal title He will put down all resistance to His will. Listen, long desolate Zion! Listen, O earth, planet that past been indeed a "wanderer" among the stars, lost prodigal, darkened with the dust of thy servitude, and stranger to the heart of God: there is to be merriment and gladness over thee, restored prodigal, brought back into the brotherhood of stars that shine forever. Listen: "Jehovah of hosts! HE is the King of glory."

Section 2. (Ps. 25 — 39.)

The Testimony of Faith in this Salvation.

There follows in the second section once more a series of remnant psalms, in which their experiences and exercises are told out as before, but into which now the apprehension of divine grace enters in a manner before unknown. This shows again in how orderly a manner the psalms are grouped; and the number of them here bears striking witness to it. For as we have had in each of the two preceding subdivisions five such psalms, testifying by their number to their character as giving the exercises of the heart under divine government, this number is here found multiplied by that number three, which, intensified by self-multiplication, characterises the Messianic psalms preceding as manifesting God. There are now fifteen instead of five; and these are actually divided into 3 x 5: the first five giving the ground of the soul's confidence in God; the second five, the salvation itself, in its detail of various blessing; while the third maintains the holiness of God, both in His judgment of the wicked and in His grace to the saint. Thus the section as a whole gives, the witness of faith to the salvation already announced: there seen objectively, it is now subjectively experienced.

Series 1. (Psalms 25 — 29.)

The grounds of confidence.

The grounds of the soul's confidence are first of all put before us. First of these, we have necessarily the righteousness of God in grace, which atonement has established as the principle of His ways with those who turn to Him. All is surely in place here. Yet we must not look for the same apprehension of the gospel as is found under the full revelation of it now. Principles may be accepted without the knowledge of their complete application; and the blessedness of a place in Christ remained in Old Testament times a mystery still unrevealed (Eph. 3:5, 6). The foundation has been laid upon which the whole superstructure of blessing shall in due time be built: the building upon it we must not expect to find as yet in an advanced state. We are here in the midst of a remnant of Israel, not a company of Christians, dowered with the witnessing "Spirit of adoption." But this difference we shall be better able to appreciate as we go through these psalms.

Psalm 25.

Righteousness in grace.

[A psalm] of David.

God's grace apprehended by the soul brings it the light which manifests it to itself, and opens the heart for its reception. So "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). And so in the thirty-second psalm we find the one "to whom the Lord will not impute sin" is (as a consequence) one "in whose spirit there is no guile." This is simple enough to understand: we cannot refuse confidence, where love like this invites it. And thus it is that in this psalm first we find the full and unreserved confession of sin. God, it is seen, acts "for His name's sake," to declare what He is: and it can thus be pleaded, "Pardon mine iniquity: for it is great." The greatness of the iniquity will only magnify the grace that puts it away. He to whom much is forgiven, the same will love much. Thus fullest grace is what does — and alone does — the work of holiness: the heart set free is bound forever to God by the deliverance.

The psalm is alphabetic, two letters being omitted, however, — vau and koph, answering numerically to 6 and 100*; in place of which resh (200) has two verses, and one verse with pe is added at the end; or else tau, the final letter, is to be taken as a two-versed section. But we shall be better able probably to inquire as to the significance of these changes, as we go through the psalm. Meanwhile the imperfect alphabet may remind us of the imperfection cleaving to all human apprehension of divine grace, and which is manifest in the psalm itself, while a defective life will be the sure accompaniment of this defective apprehension. All human failure — all the blots and disfigurements of a Christian life — are traceable to this: as surely as it is written, Sin shall not have dominion over you, because ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14). Most important it is to realize this.

{*Each letter in the Hebrew standing also for a numeral, as in the Greek alphabet.}

A common thought is that at least the unbalanced apprehension of grace tends to license; and in proof they would quote Jude's comment upon those who "turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness." But Jude's word is better translated "changing the grace of God;" and he is speaking, not of erring saints, but of "ungodly men." The common conception is that it is grace itself which, by an unguarded use of it, — a want of putting it under due conditions, — becomes thus capable of injuring the soul that too frankly and unreservedly commits itself to it. This is a great error, and one that leads to most mischievous results. One might as well think that too much holiness leads to wickedness, or too entire love to God to the casting off of holy fear of Him.

When the apostle speaks of the dominion of sin being taken away from the soul under grace, he is clearly speaking of this very apprehension of grace. He goes on to show us the contrary effect of law, and plainly to one apprehending himself under it. The effect is the discovery of a law of sin to which he is in bondage: thus sin has dominion for the man under law.

Grace is the opposite of law, and the effect is therefore the exact opposite. It is the antidote to the law of sin, the setting free from bondage to it: it is power for holiness, inasmuch as it establishes the sovereignty of God over us: God who is "love," and whose kingdom in the heart can only be realized as the heart is laid hold of for Him — is bound to Him by every faculty of its being. This is what faith produces — the response of the heart to the grace that seeks us, — the grace that in Christ has revealed God in His glory to us, so that He should be God: the light in which we see light evermore.

"Grace reigns" — is sovereign, absolute, to the children of God. Not to the setting aside of government, of holy government, but the very contrary. Grace, declared to us in Christ: in the awful, glorious atonement through the cross, secures to us even the needed discipline of a Father's hand, by which He shows Himself as such: for "what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?" This too is grace, divine favor, taking account of all that it sees in us that is contrary to God; not to bring it against us, but to separate us from it, and work in us conformity to His nature and will. Nothing else would be grace but this sweet, holy, divine action of a Love, for us, just while against the evil in us, wise beyond all our apprehensions of it, strong, so as never to be defeated in its purpose, which is perfect unending blessing. How could any one imagine ill to come, or unholiness to be the fruit, of entire self-committal to such a grace as this? Ungodly men they are, and must be, that change this into licentiousness. Grace needs no balancing with conditions, no modification with another principle, to make it holy: it is that in its essential nature.

1. The psalm is throughout a prayer, except in the third section, which is almost entirely statement, a declaration of what Jehovah is, in those dealings with men which make known the glory of His name. Jehovah is, as that, the God of redemption and of covenant, the living, unchanging God whom man in his feebleness and inconstancy needs so to be with him. All the way through this first book of the Psalms, this Name therefore is pre-eminent. Faith anchors itself in this fastness, and the great mountains of God's faithfulness rise all around its shelter. He so far above, to Him the soul lifts up itself, with felt distance enough to make it yearn, and yet while and because it knows Him after whom it yearns. Enemies too are in view, but faith says and sings that it shall not be ashamed; yea, that none that wait on Jehovah shall be ashamed, while it sees in God's holiness the doom of transgressors. For itself it can only say, (and it is enough to say,) that it "trusts" and "waits."

2. The second section is still prayer; and in the nature of this it reveals that difference between the old dispensation and the new which is so often facing us. The consciousness of sin and need, however, is met by the assurance of God's mercy, which in the third section is expanded into a much fuller and more satisfying statement.

In the first verse here the spirit of obedience is expressed, the necessary effect of divine grace, and of any true and living faith in the soul. Even when, in darkness yet as to the gospel, it makes its vows and resolutions of service to the Lord, with all the deplorable self-righteousness that is in this, yet, if truly seeking after God, this spirit will be found. The legality in it will be purged out; but the spirit of obedience will grow and develop just in proportion as God Himself is known and the freed heart rests and delights itself in Him.

"Make me to know Thy ways, Jehovah! teach me Thy paths!" These are not simply ways in which He would have us walk, but ways which are in principle His own ways. We are called and privileged to "be imitators of God, as dear children" (Eph. 5:1, Gk.). And even the obedience," which is for us an essential element in this, the Son of God has "learned," and learned in suffering, too, down here among us (Heb. 5:8). What an incentive and encouragement for us!

And this God, whose ways we are called to know, is the "God of salvation." This is the spring of worship, as the Lord showed at the well of Sychar (John 4:22); and the spirit of worship is of necessity the spirit of obedience also. This needs no demonstration. Nay, the salvation itself is, of course, a salvation from sin, or it were none at all. How suitable then is the argument, "Direct me in Thy faithfulness, and teach me; for Thou art the God of my salvation"! Faithful He must be to this purpose of His heart; and the glad soul may without weariness "wait upon Him all the day long." Thus it gathers strength, for waiting on Him is itself rest: His patience is that of Almighty power, to which nothing can be ever lacking.

The next verse breathes of the freedom of soul resulting from such knowledge. The psalmist can venture to put God in mind of those unchanging loving-kindnesses which are but the display therefore of His own nature. And thus it may seem but childishness to be putting Him in mind at all. Will the Unchangeable change? Can the Eternal forget? The very prayer avows itself to be mere human weakness, which, however, itself so strongly appeals to these "tender compassions" of God. Nor are we to make His perfections a restraint upon our prayers, but the contrary, — our encouragement to them. Otherwise all prayer would cease at once: for think of influencing the Unchangeable, or even of telling anything to the Omniscient! And yet He must be both of these, or the wings on which we rise would be crippled at once.

How truly we may be thankful then for these prayers, taught of that Spirit who "maketh intercession for the saints according to God!" He then "maketh intercession"! and perhaps in the feebleness even of a "groaning which cannot be uttered" — to us, of course, unintelligible (Rom. 8:26). We are not competent to argue in this way from infinity; and for us what a loss it would be to stifle the utterance which presses so to be uttered, and which, if it be the "fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous, availeth much" (James 5:16). So the word of God itself assures us.

Let then our prayers bear witness of our feebleness, yet may we, with crippled Jacob, have "power with God and prevail." It were the destruction of freedom to restrain with His perfection the pouring out of our hearts before Him to which we are invited. He knows all that is in ours, who yet invites us.

But how good to have the requests to make of Him, which, if He but remember His own perfections, He will surely grant! And in all the matter of salvation, which is the matter here, this is assuredly the case. Salvation is the issue of His own counsels, the outflow of His love, the very display of His own righteousness and holiness. Thus all that He is, pledges itself at once to the lost one who puts himself as such into His hands for the fulfillment to him of this glorious purpose. This we shall find directly more fully expressed.

And now comes the confession. There are "sins and revoltings" not to be remembered: and we know the provision which divine mercy, in the new covenant, has made for this. In Israel, year by year, the scapegoat carried away the sins of the people into a place cut off; and the new covenant, in the mouth of Jeremiah, explicitly declares, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." No specifications here, — no exceptions: how blessed the wide sweep of a statement like this! the universality from which nothing is excluded. Thus well may the soul say, "According to thy mercy remember me, for thy goodness' sake, Jehovah!" The thief on the cross could say as much; and the Lord more than answers that bold, confiding prayer: "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise." When ever did the answer come from God: "You have counted on Me too much: you have imagined in Me a mercy that I have not"?

3. Now therefore the soul can confess something more than its "sins." It can speak of the "virtues of Him who hath called it out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). God in the salvation He has provided manifests Himself; for He has indeed acted for Himself, to satisfy Himself, to give way to His love; and this is the power of the gospel to reconcile — strange words as to the relation between a creature and its God! — to reconcile the heart to Him. The work of the Cross itself is not to present a motive to save, but to enable Him to do it consistently with His own righteousness. God acts for His own Name: to display Himself, which is just the supreme blessing of His creatures, that we should know Him. To "know Him, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent" (John 17:3) is the true pulse-wave in our souls of eternal life.

Thus the psalmist now begins: "Good and upright is Jehovah: therefore will He guide sinners in the way." If there be but the least real desire after that which is good, it is impossible for Him to be indifferent to it. The need of atonement is not spoken of here, nor indeed, as we shall see, in the whole psalm, but the provision of atonement only shows how thoroughly God is for the soul that turns to him. But there is none the less a condition required upon man's part: "the humble will He guide in judgment; the humble He will teach His way." This is as right as the other, and it accounts for our being such poor learners at the best. Humility is the necessary condition of learning in every department of knowledge. To know that we know not marks and makes the true inquirer. And above all must we come to God, not as critics or philosophers, but as babes and weaklings: and this is the plainest judgment of reason itself. Yet this does not mean that He disregards or confounds the faculties He has given. He is light; and He leads in the light. Even so, we have to remember, not our littleness only, but our sinfulness, which tends largely to pervert reason itself. But God does not on this account set aside these enfeebled powers; He does not in this sense "lead the blind by a way they know not" — which is true of providential guidance only: here, on the other hand, He "opens the blind eyes", purges and rectifies the vision of those that wait on Him; and even the depths that transcend our knowledge are seen not as if filled with a fog that shuts out vision, but as the infiniteness between the stars, where the sight itself — welcomed while it lasts — fails through feebleness, because of the greatness of what it surveys.

For "the humble will He guide in judgment" discernment, that is, of difference. The understanding is opened; as it was said to the disciples, "then opened He their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures." Ignorance is not for us the "mother of devotion"; no, nor the child either: it is true that for superstition it is mother and child both; but sanctification is through the truth, and therefore by what is known as truth. Ah, in this way, we may easily indeed dishonor our faculties, and dishonor God in them; yea, dishonor Him of whom it has been said, "He shall lead you into all truth" (John 16:13). So then as Christians to doubt our capacity for this, is to doubt the promise of Christ, and the power of the Holy "Spirit of truth."

The moral character of such guidance distinguishes it from the mere working of the natural intellect. "The knowledge of the holy" it is that "is understanding" (Prov. 9:10). And so here: "all the paths of Jehovah are mercy and truth toward those who observe His covenant and His testimonies."

Here indeed was a serious difficulty for the Israelite — the nature of that "covenant" under which he was with God. The law, as the apostle declares (2 Cor. 3) and the experience of every honest-hearted man confirms, was but the "ministration of death" and "condemnation." None could face its requirements without the cry which we find in the Psalms themselves, "Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." (Ps. 143:2.) If then the law as thus confessed could justify no one, plainly faith, to find courage or comfort at all, must draw this from the foresight of Him whose image was in the sacrifices which the law itself ordained. The believers of those days were, as we are told, "kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed" (Gal. 3:23), with a certain knowledge surely, though variable and fluctuating, of the grace that was to come. This we shall be able to estimate better in the future. Meanwhile the "covenant" — whatever supplement might by and bye be made to it — remained the expression of relationship to Jehovah, their heart able even to delight in the law as holy, just, and good, spite of the certainty that by it they could not stand before God. The condition was an anomalous one; but the practical state of many a child of God today is not less anomalous, and depends too upon the same thing, the mingling together of contradictory elements, which will not really mingle, — a law by which God" can by no means clear the guilty," and a grace in which He "justifieth the ungodly."

For us, however, the perplexity is gone, for the old covenant is gone; and for Israel, when once more they become the people of God, it will be under that new covenant which is grace absolute and unclouded. The remnant, however, for whom these psalms make specific provision will inherit the perplexities of preceding generations, and here they will find how mercy has anticipated their need, and furnished them with the "steps" needed by which they will be able to pass the "slough of despond," and reach the firmer ground beyond. They will find here expressions of confidence in God on the part of those owning themselves sinners in the fullest way, and who could speak, as in this case, at the same time of the "covenant." They will have also — as David had not — Jeremiah's announcement of a future "new covenant."

Whatever the darkness, the faith that clings to God makes no mistake, nor can He be wanting to it. And so this verse itself declares. "Mercy" is pledged to, as it is needed by, those who in their hearts "observe Jehovah's covenant and His testimonies." Holiness is thoroughly maintained, while grace is manifested. "Mercy" leads to and introduces "truth"; and "all the paths of Jehovah" declare these things unitedly. "Mercy and truth" thus "met together", "righteousness and peace" will "kiss each other." The eighty-fifth psalm shows this accomplished.

It is in confidence then that the prayer is uttered: "for Thy name's sake, Jehovah, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." Great sin is great need; great sin pardoned is great grace; consciousness of great sin pardoned makes the heart love much. All this the Lord has Himself shown out in the case of the sinful woman in the Pharisee's house. The fullest gospel we thus find to be the holiest gospel. Grace we see to be the effectual conqueror of sin. Thus, even, the Lord makes known and glorifies His Name in its forgiveness.

We must not expect the Psalms to go beyond this. Justification and the place in Christ were as yet unknown: even in the New Testament we have to wait for the apostle Paul and his gospel to find these developed; but the consideration of what is involved in all this will more naturally come before us when we reach the nearest point of view from which to contemplate it: and that will be found in the thirty-second psalm.

The fear of Jehovah is the next thing dwelt upon, and is that to which the knowledge of His grace, where real, will surely lead. "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared." We might imagine, perhaps, that it would be rather said "loved;" but we may be assured that there is no mistake. The intimacy to which grace leads — the knowledge of God thus acquired by one brought to Him — dispels, of course, not produces, slavish fear. And so it is written: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment: he that feareth is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18): he is like a scholar with an ill-learned lesson, not perfect in that which God in the gospel has been teaching us earnestly.

On the other hand, the light and flippant carelessness by which some would show us their intimacy with God, their knowledge of His grace, proves to absolute demonstration their ignorance of what they profess. He who has seen the Alps but at a distance, may think but little of their majestic height. The nearer we approach, the more they put on grandeur; at their very foot, they tower up in masses which scale the heavens, and make us realize our utter insignificance. How much more, then, will the awful majesty of God be felt by one who has stood in His presence! The little reverence shown today, even by Christians, the freedom of their bold speculations, their critical proficiency in sacred things, the prominence assigned to the "human element" everywhere, reveal plainly enough the citizen of the world's cities, rather than the one who in the stillness of the desert or the mountain top has drawn near, with unshod feet, to God. And thus the man who professedly has the fear of the Lord, cares little to be guided "in the way HE chooseth." He must walk, as he recognizes, in ways morally right; nay, what is this must be estimated from a general Christian stand-point, which means perhaps even something somewhat higher than the average conscience of the special Christian community to which he is attached; but "the way HE chooseth," — how little is this anywhere regarded! how little is even the lack of it known!

Take the Word as guiding: how generally — almost universally — is it too accepted just as interpreted by the people among whom we are (I may say) thrown; how few venture to differ from the fashion in which it is read by these! And the personal guidance day by day as to the details of life, how little, it is to be feared, is this found by "watching daily at the gates" of infinite Wisdom, "waiting at the posts of her doors" (Prov. 8:34)! Yet of such is it said that the man is "blessed." For each of us there is individual guidance: God loving to have us thus apart for Himself; to each one of us the Lord says, "Follow thou Me!" Real communion with the Lord involves this necessarily.

The connection of the next verse with this seems to be what stamps it with its number 6, which must here speak of mastery. For Israel the possession of the land was originally to be won from the Canaanites, and much of it slipped shortly out of their hands after being thus won. Philistines and Amorites pushed back Dan into the mountains; Hazor became after Joshua's time the seat of the kingdom of another Jabin; Reuben lost his cities to Moab. After David and Solomon, the broken kingdom began gradually to yield piecemeal to its foes, until first Assyria and then Babylon carried the whole people captive. After the return, but a fragment of the land was repossessed. The Assyrian captives did not return at all. Samaria was schismatic and hostile. Galilee remained characteristically "Galilee of the Gentiles." Then at last came One who would have gathered them, and they would not, and they bought Aceldama with the price of their Lord's betrayal. Again they were scattered, and the whole world has been to them since, according to the terms of their dread purchase, "a burial-ground for strangers." Thus the possession of the land has been for Israel more plainly than for any other people, a question of mastery, but in which the fear of Jehovah was ever the real condition. Did they fear Him, their fear was upon their enemies. When finally their heart turns to the Lord, and the veil upon it is removed, then the word will be fulfilled, "I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor" — of self-judgment — "for a door of hope" (Hosea 2:15).

All this has an application for us also, and a present application, just as Ephesians, interpreting the book of Joshua, has shown us a present possession of our land which is to be made good by faith, and against the might of banded enemies. Israel's history has here its solemn instruction for us. Never yet has the full extent of the divine gift been realized by them, and for the most part they came sadly short. Have Christians done better as to their spiritual inheritance? Yet not for discouragement, but for encouragement, would one urge this. "There remaineth very much land to be possessed"; and the promise here is strictly individual: what may not faith, in any one of us, even now attain to? what mines of treasure unworked, what fields ready to be harvested, await the man earnest enough to press on after them, whole-hearted enough to take possession!

And again the word pursues us here: "The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear Him; and His covenant, to show it to them." Think of being, as it were, the bosom friends of God, to whom He can speak freely of what is hidden from the rest of men! Here is surely complete blessing. Herein is communion perfected. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secrets unto His servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7.) Is it of Him if we should have to say, "We see not our signs; there is not a prophet any more"? (Ps. 74:9.) Is there no connection with this when the apostle exhorts us all to "covet to prophesy"? (1 Cor. 14:39.)

4. And now we are to face the way of trial. The world is unfailingly that, and Satan himself the sifter of God's wheat. Here we find it, and find it, spite of all that has been said, a very real thing. Indeed it must be felt; for trial that is not felt is not trial; and God has a work to be wrought in us by this, "tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope" (Rom. 5:3, 4). And James urges, Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience; but let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:2-4.)

"Sweet," then indeed, "are the uses of adversity," if they can accomplish for us anything like this. And we see clearly what the great use is. "Patience" — the subjection of our wills, "man's weakness waiting upon God," is the unfailing argument to bring Him in. Only to learn this, this is to be perfect and entire! How easy, one would think, if this be all, just to abide in the place of nothingness, and let God care and minister and show His wisdom and His power and love! Blessed it is, and should be easy; but here it is we prove the will that works in us, the lack of faith which allows will to work. Faith is, in all of us, the great worker of all good: it is no wonder if God try it, call for it, ordain the path to be such as shall require it constantly; while yet He encourages, sustains, answers it with a love which more and more makes the experience of the way an experience that works hope. "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."

The pathway of the remnant of Judah in that day towards which prophecy so often turns is one of peculiar trial. "It is the time of Jacob's trouble," revealed thus as special discipline: a time of trouble "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:21). We can understand therefore the character of what follows here, even while the first words declare the blessing it is working for them: "Mine eyes are constantly toward Jehovah; for He shall bring my feet out of the net." This constant look upwards: how much blessing does it import, whatever the stress of circumstance that produces it! The net is at the feet, and yet the eyes are not there, but constantly above. A brighter object is before them than the earth can furnish, and the heart is steadied and brightened by it. The feet also are better kept than by any possible human wisdom: "He shall bring" rings cheerily out from a man not ignorant of his danger, but who has learned how much more positive he may be in the third person than in the first.

Yet the evil presses hard, and matters seem as if God were looking away: "Turn thee unto me, and be gracious to me: for I am solitary and afflicted." Sorrow individualizes us all, and that is part of the good of it: for thus grace and God become individualized also. The evil presses for attention. God suffers it to be felt, and even to increase: enlarged distresses — when working under the good hand of God — purify and enlarge the heart. This is by no means their necessary effect, however: apart from Him, they may harden and narrow it. But then apart from Him, prosperity will do the same: nothing is good, save as He works in it and through it for good.

In result, man is sifted and known: oneself, in whom affliction and travail connect themselves ever more closely with the sins of which the soul is ever more conscious. The enemies also are there, multiplied and violent. Jehovah is besought to regard it all, and not to make ashamed the faith which can find refuge only in Himself.

5. Two verses express finally the principle upon which the blessing comes. Integrity, uprightness, faith on the soul's part; the redemption from His hand who alone can effect it. In the last verse the speaker links the redemption of Israel with his own.

Psalm 26.

Separation from sinners.

[A psalm] of David.

The twenty-sixth psalm is much shorter, much simpler in character, and in every way less attractive in its theme. Yet it has its place, and fills it, in the divine wisdom — a place the importance of which is seen in its being only next to the very first. We must, first of all, necessarily, learn the grace which alone gives confidence to lay hold of God at all; but having learned this, we have thus passed the line which divides the world into two companies. We have become His, and the mass of men are, alas, hostile to Him. Henceforth separation from evil-doers becomes the necessary condition of going on with God. This is the principle of the psalm before us, conformity to it the plea advanced by the soul: I have separated myself from sinners; unite me not with them: — a true ground of confidence before God, although plainly secondary only. Association is made much of in Scripture, though even Christians (save with the grossest forms of evil) make light of it today. Yet "Scripture cannot be broken:" God will be found to be what His word declares Him.

The twelve verses again show the soul under divine government, although there is once more, as we found in the case of the fifth psalm, a departure from the usual 3 x 4 division. This time it is the second section which is shortened by one verse, in order to supply a fifth section at the end. Governmental ways are thus emphasized, as well as the fact that God has become Lord, in the heart made captive by the grace exhibited.

1. The psalm is so simple as not to need lengthened comment. We have first the plea of integrity which is the accompaniment and fruit also of faith. With the conviction that this is truly his condition, he can appeal to God to try him: to make proof of his reins, (his inmost thoughts,) and his heart. He has learned in the mercy of God to fear Him, and in the truth which he realizes in Him he has walked himself.

2. Hence of necessity his path is now with those only who follow what is true. With the false and dissembling he does not go; and gatherings of evil-doers, brought together by their common wickedness, he refuses and abhors.

Scripture, whether in the Old Testament or the New, makes much of association, and necessarily, for it is a principle of the greatest moral significance, and the world notes it after its manner, and comments upon it as the Scripture does. "Birds of a feather flock together." "Tell me who are your companions, and I will tell you who you are." Our associations are thus a kind of self-classification; and the spiritual life is specially sensitive to the air it breathes. We all know that in Christ's name, and for His sake, we may enter boldly the worst dens of iniquity, if He call us to it; and we all know enough to distinguish this from association with evil. But the least voluntary link is a most serious thing. The two verses of this section may remind us of testimony; which equally defines our liberty and its restrictions.

3. The third section is a very clearly marked Levitical one. It shows the nature of the separation just declared and the spirit in which alone it can be rightly observed. We cannot bring defilement into the presence of God. We cannot force the holy into communion with the unholy. We can, alas, in the effort to do so, fall ourselves from communion. True separation from evil is in order to separation to God. It springs out of and unites itself with all real sanctification.

The first point then here is "innocency," the washing of the hands being an expression derived from the ordinance in Deuteronomy (Deut. 21:6), where the elders wash their hands to attest their innocence of a murder in the neighborhood of their city. The psalmist means therefore to assert his readiness to pledge himself in like manner that he is not bringing defilement to Jehovah's altar, where his praise-offering is to be offered (Lev. 7:11, sq.). But who could praise Jehovah, lifting up unclean hands to Him? And this is with the psalmist no mere outward homage. His heart is won: he has loved the habitation of Jehovah's house, and the place where His glory dwells.

4. On this the plea is based: unite me not then with those from whom I have separated myself; "gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with the very men that would destroy my life: whose hands are full of mischief to those who refuse their alliance, or whose spoil they crave; — full of bribes to those whom they would corrupt." The practical test gives clear result in their case: it is as clear, he says, in his own: "As for me, I walk in mine integrity: redeem me and be gracious unto me."

5. The psalm closes with the answer declared. The issue is found; the government of God manifests itself: the foot of the suppliant is made to stand in an even place (mishor), the word, however, having special and significant relation to the portion of Reuben,* — in type the "upland" pastures of faith (Joshua 13, notes). There, in the sunny and unobstructed high levels in which the child of God finds his inheritance and blessing, the foot that goes not in the company of evil-doers stands firm now; and in the congregations of Jehovah's people the soul can freely praise the One in unchangeable covenant with them all. Thus he has his company, and, choosing where God has chosen, his voice is heard in the concert of praise where none can be silent, — where every separate note is in harmony with the universal song.

{*"It occurs in the Bible in the following passages: — Deut. 3:10, Deut. 4:43; Joshua 13:9, 16, 17, 21; Joshua 20:8; 1 Kings 20:23, 25; 2 Chron. 26:10; Jer. 48:8, 21. In each of these, with one exception, it is used for the district in the neighborhood of Heshbon and Dibon — the Belka of the modern Arabs, their most noted pasture-ground." (Grove, in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible.)}

Psalm 27.

The heart's desire after Jehovah's house and face.

[A psalm] of David.

The third psalm of this series emphasizes the positive side of the separation, from evil, that which makes it true sanctification, the longing desire after Jehovah Himself. This has been already expressed in the previous psalm, but here it is the theme. And this being the fruit of Jehovah's own work in the soul, — the response to His own invitation and command to seek His face, — how could the faithful and unchangeable One possibly deny or draw back from him who now drew near to Him? He had said, "Seek ye My face!" could He have said that in vain? Here then is a third ground of confidence for the heart; and it is a sure one at all times. He who has said, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest," has added to this no limiting word, to be a means of doubt and self-torture to him who would gladly obey His invitation. Nay, He has taken care rather to give special assurance to the laboring and heavy-laden, to those consciously sinners, to the "lost," that His salvation is for them. And to all that come, without exception, He has declared: "Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out." Well may this then be a perfect ground of confidence for the soul that turns to Him for refuge from sin and self, from the judgment to come, from the uncontrollable evil within. Here is the one Haven of refuge, the Shelter from the storm, the Rock of defence: and "blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."

1. The psalm begins with a joyous strain of confidence, in which all fear is dismissed as unworthy and impossible. "Jehovah is my light and my salvation: of whom shall I be afraid? Jehovah is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be in dread?" The argument is short and complete; all the more complete that it does not look round or take account of any special evils, but looks up, and only needs to look up, into Jehovah's face. The "light" not merely manifests what is around me: it is God Himself who is manifested in it; and thus His own character becomes the conscious security of the soul. What an assurance — what a joy and blessing the light is! Beauty, warmth, the vigor of life itself, are all found in it; and thus salvation is closely connected with this primary thought. The light of the first day meant salvation out of its ruin for that world which it disclosed yet buried under the waters; the first pulsation of its rays was the throb of a new life which had come in for it. And with God known the light apprehended is the dawn of an endless day, the power of an eternal life begun, which is but the inner process accomplishing of His salvation.

2. Now we have the testimony of deliverance experienced and the argument from that experience. But the argument transcends the experience: the enemies that he has seen defeated swell into a host, the single battle lengthens into a war, and the sounds of strife which he imagines awaking around have no power to disturb his perfect tranquility. Experience has only called forth the intuition of faith which is not to be measured by it: to which indeed all experience must and does conform, because the law which underlies it has no exception. How grandly is Jehovah, the Unchangeable, realized in these abiding laws of His, which pervade the spiritual realm as they do the natural!

3. Thus the heart reposes in God its strength; and God becomes its one desire and sufficiency. "One thing have I asked of Jehovah; this do I seek after: that I may dwell in Jehovah's house all the days of my life, to behold the graciousness of Jehovah, and to inquire in His temple." One can imagine the attraction for a true Israelite of that place where Jehovah dwelt in the midst of the people, even though the inner sanctuary could not be penetrated. Faith would still, as it were, penetrate it, and God not withhold Himself from the heart thus longing after Him. These longings the Psalms exhibit to us, and they constitute largely the charm of this precious book. To us the "graciousness of Jehovah" has been displayed in a way which makes all that was known before to be only rudimentary knowledge. He has unveiled His glory. He has come out to walk amongst men. He has given us boldness to enter into the holiest, and an abiding place in His presence as priests and worshipers. And yet how little are we beyond the admonition of these yearnings of the men of an elder time! This "one thing" which some of them could speak of, — this burning, seraphic longing after One to sense the Invisible, — have we no need of self-questioning whether to us it is the passion that these psalms express? Ah, have we not need of it? Think of the complete revelation of God now made to us; think of the open volume of Scripture in our hand; think of how of necessity the soul thirsting after God must turn to these stores of heavenly treasures, infinite yet accessible, and exult in the search, with the Spirit given to us, of the "deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:10); think of the intercourse, the communion, enjoyed by those who will come together to compare their individual gains in this way, sharing with others that which in being divided increases the more we divide it. There is no need to ask the extent to which all this is realized; and there can be only deepest humiliation in thinking of how little beyond the surface of Scripture we are or care to be. "To inquire in His temple," when its roof is the whole arch of heaven, — when its length stretches from the beginnings of history to the end of prophecy, — when His word and work unite in Christ as the Life-Centre and glory of all! — ah, how is it possible to imagine how little in eighteen centuries of a completed Bible and the indwelling Spirit has been attained!

The security of the sanctuary the psalmist dwells on next. "He shall lay me up in His pavilion in the day of evil; in the secret of His tent will He secrete me: He will lift me high upon a rock."

The immediate application here is to human adversaries, though the literal sanctuary furnishes, as is evident, only the figure of spiritual truths of much wider range. For us how surely it is true that the way of escape from spiritual foes is just what is here indicated! God has indeed lifted us high upon the rock-foundation of Christ's blessed work; and in Him entered into the heavenly sanctuary, we are securely hidden from the enemy. "Because I live," He says, "ye shall live also" (John 14:19). He there too is our sanctification; and "we all, beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory" (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus the sanctuary is our safe retreat at all times: it is the place where the world takes its true shape for us, where the entanglement with it is loosed, the darkness and mists disappear, sin is rebuked and banished, the holiness of truth is found. The peace of that serene Presence encloses us as with the glory of an eternal summer, unvexed by even the threatening of a storm. Here the head is lifted up over all enemies therefore, and the sacrifice of praise becomes the necessary relief of a full and grateful heart.

4. From all this blessing and joy we drop into a state of trial, in which the voice of supplication is heard instead of praise, and that in tones of distress and uncertainty. Such alternations are common enough and rapid enough in the Psalms, and in the experience of those whose utterance the Psalms are. But the depths that the soul is plumbing are not bottomless. In the place of testing, the ground of his confidence is tested and found firm; and the language of faith becomes thus the language of experience also.

The cry is still to the Unchangeable (Jehovah), and this is the bottom in which faith's anchor alone can hold. The cry is for grace and needed answer, and then what gives confidence is declared and pleaded. This is Jehovah's own invitation and command to seek His face; to which faith has answered earnestly and gladly. The suppliant could say, "I do seek Thy face, Jehovah." And would He now hide that glorious face, and repel with anger him that sought Him? nay, would He, as it were, deny the help that He had given, and though the God looked to for salvation, cast off and forsake? No, assuredly; this could not be: the ground is firm, and the anchor holds; experience will confirm and not put the soul's confidence to shame: father and mother might forsake, but not He from whom came these relationships, with all their tender affection. They might forsake; not He: and if they did, all the more would Jehovah's pitifulness be shown out. Such an outcast would be the object of His special care.

5. Thus relieved and quieted, even though the circumstances remain unchanged, these can be made all the more an argument with the Lord to manifest His care. First of all, to make known His way: for there no pitfall is, and there He, the Wise and Strong, is. The real sense of weakness will not suffer us to seek our own will, but the contrary. What wisdom of our own can be like His? what tenderness like His? And under the eyes of those watching for one's halting, the path with Him will be found really the smooth one, for before Him the mountains are leveled to a plain.

Oppressors are still there, false witnesses, those whose panting eagerness breathes out violence: these the suppliant points out to the Guide and Guard with whom He goes. But he walks firmly, if humbly, counting on deliverance. And the pressure felt in the soul is only made known in the outburst which at the same time reveals the confidence which supports it, — "If I had not believed" — but then I do! — "to see Jehovah's goodness in the land of the living!"

And now a lesson of experience fitly closes the fifth section of this psalm. It is a very brief and a very simple one; yet it is a lesson of perfection, declared in the Word to be that: for "let patience have her perfect work," and we shall be "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:4.) What a glorious result of so simple a matter! "Wait on Jehovah!" wait, and not weakly and timidly, for the call to patience is no cause for fear: "be strong, and let thy heart take courage!" Such, thank God, is the wisdom derived from an "experience" that "worketh hope." (Rom. 5:4.) This harvest is assured to him that quietly will sleep and rise, and let it grow. Test it, prove it, whoever will! who is there that may not prove it for himself? there is none! Let the glad, sure hope cheer the darkest hours with its comfort:
"Wait — wait — on Jehovah."

Psalm 28.

The test of experience.

[A psalm] of David.

We have now in the fourth psalm of this series the ground of experience itself: "I trusted in Him and am helped"; a good argument in its place, and the necessary result of a life lived with God. How can we ignore all that has been gained in this way of practical acquaintance with Him? The richer we are in such experiences the brighter our lives will be, the more energetic, and the more fruitful. In the nature of things experience cannot be the first foundation; and it does not come in that place here.

1. The circumstances are still those of the last days, in which enemies and evil-doers surround the righteous. Jehovah is their one resource: if He interfere not, they will be like those going down to the pit. The psalmist cannot say that he will be among those going down to the pit, but like them. Yet the shadow of death is upon their souls: they fear it. The national deliverance looked for is, of course, not the other side of death, — not out of it, but from it. Death would, of course, end for the individual all hopes of this, though God will, in fact, for those who endure martyrdom, reserve a better place — a place with the heavenly saints of the first resurrection. (Rev. 20:5, 6.) But this does not come into view here. The "pit," however, is for that reason more than the grave, though in the imagery of it. Confidence is based upon the Unchangeable God, and the dependence itself which the needy one has on Him. The prayer of Solomon for all those that pray towards the temple is remembered here, and made a ground of hope (1 Kings 8:30). The mercy of the Lord is ever toward those that fear Him, and toward those that hope in His mercy, which He cannot deny; for He cannot deny Himself.

2. But the judgment of the world is come, and only by judgment can the deliverance of Israel be effected: so again we have the remnant's prayer for the destruction of the wicked. Evil has come to its height, and, in that which threatens because of it, it might well seem that none could at all escape, but that evil and just would alike be swallowed up in undistinguishing ruin. We can well understand, therefore, the cry, "Draw me not away with the wicked!" with whom the smoothness of the outside only disguises the treachery of their hearts. Their works testify against them; their reward, in contrast with the grace to the righteous, is prayed to be according to their works.

3. This is their character manward; but the fountain of all the evil is in their thorough ignorance of Jehovah. His works are before them; the operations of His hands are all around them: ignorance means only alienation from Him; moral incapacity to discern what is of Him is just the sign of the inveteracy of the evil, and which, because incurable, must be extirpated with the sharpest surgery in very mercy to mankind. The prayer changes therefore here to prophecy: he who does discern what God is, has the surest ground for anticipating the future of these stubborn sinners.

4. We have now the experience which works hope: along the way, before the end has come, Jehovah yet manifests Himself in signal interventions, which are the anticipation of the full deliverance to come. How blessed are the foretokens of the dawn, though it has not come. How good the help by the way, sent from Him who awaits us at the end of the way!

So here, Jehovah has heard and helped; Jehovah has shown Himself both strength and shield; prayer has been answered, and praise follows it.

5. But more: the heart is led on to realize the security of the abiding blessing, the necessary issue of what God is to His anointed. He upon whom, because of what He is, the Spirit rests in His fullness (Matt. 3:16, 17) is the One who enlists all the power of God in His behalf, in the conflict between good and evil that must last as long as evil lasts upon the earth. "A stronghold of salvation to His Anointed He!" Thus to be under Him is to find deliverance assured. He is the "Captain of salvation," saving to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. Thus at the close of the psalm faith in the remnant, soon to be the nation, turns to Him, to put the burden of Israel's need upon His strong shoulder. It is a suited close to the series of psalms we have been considering; for the next psalm, though the final one, is in many respects different. Saviour and Shepherd they own Him now, themselves His people and His inheritance: for the lost sheep recovered, the place is upon His shoulder, according to the tender picture which He has Himself drawn. Once again it will be said, in view of this part of their history, — and they will be made to know it too, as never yet, — "He bare them and carried them all the days of old."

Psalm 29.

The judgment-storm with which God comes into the world, to give it the "expected end."

A psalm of David.

It will be noticed how all the psalms of this series have led one into another. The "integrity and uprightness" which "shall preserve me", at the end of the twenty-fifth, commences, and is the main theme of the twenty-sixth. This again, in its "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house," gives us the theme of the twenty-seventh. The twenty-seventh, with its experience of Jehovah's kindness and the closing moral of this, makes way for the twenty-eighth, in which the test of experience is the subject. The twenty-eighth prays for and prophesies the judgment of the wicked, and now the twenty-ninth shows us the passage of that clearing storm which, manifesting and leaving Jehovah supreme over the earth, leaves His people to peace, henceforth undisturbed forever.

This twenty-ninth psalm celebrates therefore the day of the Lord in its prostration of human strength and display of Jehovah's might, which after all are the central lessons for man to learn, when once He has learned what Jehovah Himself is. It is this with which the twenty-fifth psalm opens the series, the display of righteousness in grace, which known gives God His throne in the hearts of His redeemed people. Henceforth the process of sanctification is in the subjecting of the soul to Him, — the anticipation in faith of this day of the Lord in its inner meaning, — the result being perfect blessing and abiding peace: "Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me; and ye shall find rest to your souls." (Matt. 11:28.)

The psalms following the twenty-fifth give us in order, first, the separation of the saint from sinners; secondly, that it is a separation to God; thirdly, to live a life of experimental realization of His presence in the circumstances and conditions of it. The final psalm here shows us the conditions of the realization itself, which is only to say, His governmental ways with us: simple enough if we know but a little who are these two who have come to walk together; God with all His grace forever God; and man His creature, only (and then how fully) capable of blessing so. This shows 'how suitably this psalm ends the present series; while its dispensational form brings it into relation with the prophetic character of the Psalms in general, which has been abundantly established in our study of them.

1. The psalm begins with the exhortation to the "sons of the mighty" to give Jehovah His place of supremacy over all. It is surely not an address to angels, as perhaps mostly held, but to the mighty of the earth, in view of what follows, — a message like that of Rev. 14:6, 7, the message of the "everlasting gospel," which proclaims the coming kingdom of God. They are to ascribe glory and strength to Jehovah as the only Source of these. They are to give Him the glory of His Name, the Ever-living, the Unchanging, abiding the same amid all creature changes; and to give Him allegiance in the only possible way in which He can accept it, adorned with the beauty of the holiness He requires.

2. Now Jehovah's voice is heard approaching, the sound of an impending storm, but no mere storm. Jehovah's voice is heard above the watery canopy of the expanse, controlling and directing the judgment in its path. It is the God of glory who thundereth; and the waters gathering are indeed "great waters." We see it rise and spread: we hear the voice of "power" increasing to awful "majesty." Then the crash comes, and the cedars of Lebanon, the type of loftiness of creature stature, receive the force of the blow, and are shivered and broken down before it. So the prophet announces the on-coming "day of the Lord" (Isa. 2:11-14): "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low; and upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan; and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up." This last the psalm goes on to now: "He maketh them also to skip like a calf: Lebanon and Sirion like a young aurochs." It is no hyperbolism, nor untruth to nature, nor are we to think of an earthquake, which would introduce another element from that with which we are occupied. The storm is not a common storm; and the hills themselves tremble and start like a frightened beast, before Jehovah. The governments of the earth seem to be represented here, as the trees represent the individual potentates: all that is most stable quakes. Amid all this comes the terrible forked flame, — the light, and God is light, but God manifest in judgment, — pure wrath upon the evil. The next verse shows the limit of the storm. Coming from the north of the land of Israel, from Lebanon and Hermon (Sirion), it sweeps to beyond the territory of Judah in the south, disappearing in the wilderness of Kadesh-barnea, the place in which the people had wandered so long after the exodus. Thus it covers the land in its breadth and length, while, of course, it does not follow that it is spent with this. This is, however, the limit of the prophet's observation; — for true prophet he is, — and the course of the storm is that of the invasion of Israel's foes in the last days, — an invasion with which the day of the Lord is identified in its early part (comp. Joel 2). God uses the foe as His rod in a chastisement which works repentance; coming Himself then for their deliverance. It is the "great and terrible day of the Lord", but it ends in refreshment, revival, and eternal salvation.

The final verse here gives us the end in a twofold way. In the first place, the hind is made to calve: the new birth comes for the nation, hastened by that awful visitation which God uses to accomplish blessing. On the other hand, the forests are stripped, which is the judgment-work itself. This is the double aspect of the work of Him who is perfect in it all, and in whose temple — the place where He is seen and known — "all of it" (not, I think, the temple itself or those in it, which would not be in the line of the truth here; but) all His work itself proclaims His "glory." This is itself the perfect end of all.

3. But yet the psalm is not ended. He who delights not in judgment, but in blessing, is yet shown in two final verses in His mastery over the evil and in the abiding blessing that succeeds. The "flood" (mabbul) is here a word only used in Scripture for that which destroyed the world in Noah's day. It does not follow that the direct application is to that and yet the reference must not be slighted. Here is now a second Flood, of which that old flood was, in fact, a type. Another world has now come to an end, and a wholly new state of things follows. At this flood too Jehovah has sat enthroned; and Jehovah now sitteth (openly) as King forever. But He who is on the throne is still — oh, bless Him for it! — the patient Minister to His people's need. Still they have need: for the smooth path now as for the rough one hitherto, they need, and He "giveth strength," and "Jehovah blesseth His people with" unending "peace." Amen.

Series 2. (Psalms 30 — 34.)

The detailed Salvation.

The second series is, like the former, of five psalms; which give us in various detail the salvation which is of God. Of course, it is that as realized by Israel; the Psalms never contemplating Christianity, or the blessing of a heavenly people. Their inheritance is in the land long assured them, and to which at last we are given to see their steps returning. The enemies who seek to keep them out of possession are, naturally therefore, human; although Satan's power works in and through them. The full deliverance is by the Lord from heaven, when His feet stand upon the mount of Olives, and "Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee" (Zech. 14:4, 5). They are blessed under Christ, but not with Him; and these blessings, however great, fall short of that of the "Church, which is Christ's body," in a way corresponding to this.

Still their salvation is, of course, not merely temporal, but spiritual, and thus eternal. They are sinners saved by grace, needing as we the precious blood of Christ to cleanse them from sin and give them a righteous standing in the favor of God; although this in its security and complete blessedness the Psalms cannot free fully from the shadows cast upon it by the legal dispensation. Yet we are made to realize how much, after all, faith could enjoy, and how God could give assistance to faith, which would be realized in proportion to the simplicity of it. We shall find all through how much, even now, we are on common ground with the saints of old, and can enter even into their experiences; our own blessing being not defined by theirs on this account, but wonderfully greater. We must take care not to magnify this difference in such a way as to take from them what grace really made them to enjoy, or limit it to what may be argued from the legal nature of the dispensation simply, as if God had no secrets reserved for the ears of His people, which He had liberty to utter, or power to enable them to receive, even though the time were not come in which they could be openly made known.

The blessings of this salvation are, in these five psalms following, detailed as, first (Ps. 30) in its being a salvation of God, having its roots in His own unchanging nature, and thus secure, whatever the circumstances may be. In the next psalm (Ps. 31) it is seen as deliverance from the enemy; which for Israel, as already said, is the human foe and not the spiritual, though the spiritual foe be behind this. In the third psalm of this series (Ps. 32) we have God as the sanctuary, the hiding-place of the soul, involving cleansing from sin and guidance for the way, personal and not merely providential. Fourthly (Ps. 33), this God of redemption is the God of the whole world also, all circumstances shaping themselves at His bidding therefore: so that finally, in the thirty-fourth psalm, one can bless Jehovah at all times, and His praise be continually in the mouth. This last is a governmental psalm, and fittingly an alphabetic one, though not quite perfect: the perfect praise will be that around the Throne.

Psalm 30.

Whatever else changes, an unchanging God.

A psalm (a song of dedication of the house) of David.

For the title here we seem to have no explanation in the history of David; nor can we therefore decide from it whether the house" be that of Jehovah or David's own. The Septuagint and many commentators accept the last of these applications as the true one; but the king himself does not appear in the psalm, and the "glory" spoken of in the closing verse, as well as the general reference to Israel's last deliverance, speaks strongly for the former.

The psalm has twelve verses, and its normal structure would be therefore 4 x 3; but in fact, the second section loses one of its verses to the third, which is thus increased. The reason of this I cannot clearly give.

1. The psalmist begins with a song of praise to Jehovah for His effectual help. He had lifted him up, and had not allowed his foes to rejoice over him. Moreover it was the answer of God to his cry of distress when smitten, and death was before him; nay, when all seemed over with him. He was already numbered with those going down to the pit, and only the God of resurrection could have brought him up. This we can easily understand as applying to the deliverance of the remnant of the Jews: it exactly describes it. They are saved at the last moment of distress, when their enemies seem to have them in their grasp, and hope is gone. The whole language shows moreover that this condition of theirs is understood and acknowledged to be the effect of sin. The "pit," though it refers to death, is death in the anger of God; and this is plainly stated in the fifth verse. Thus this deliverance is a true salvation.

2. This thanksgiving to Jehovah is followed by testimony for Him; as it will indeed be in the day which is here anticipated. Delivered Israel will be His great witnesses upon the earth; and their deliverance abundant blessing to the Gentiles. But as Judah's deliverance precedes that of the ten tribes, who are afterwards joined to them, and is also out of more extreme distress, it is possible that the "godly ones" here addressed are these tribes of Israel. They are exhorted to sing psalms to Jehovah, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. Holiness had to bring them low in order to raise them up; and they can now rejoice, and bid others rejoice, in that very dealing of God with them, so severe as it might seem, but so effectual, which had wrought in bringing them to repentance, and so to God. He had acted but in consistency with Himself; and this is always a necessity for blessing for any.

Now the cloud had passed, the wrath was gone; after all, it was but for a moment indeed, and in His favor following there had come, in the fullest sense, "life." This is stated here as a principle of widest application to all those who turn, in like manner, to Him. "Weeping may lodge with us at even-tide," and a night of darkness and distress succeed; but God's order is, first evening and then the morning; and for the morning is prepared, instead of sorrow, "a song of joy."

God works for eternity; man is the creature of time. Thus it is sure that man will misconceive Him as long as he clings to his own thoughts. Faith alone brings rest and deliverance; and brings it at once in proportion to its simplicity. Alas, how frequently is the soul even of the saint at issue with Him! and this is what of necessity brings darkness over it. When the conflict of will passes, the morning is at hand. Then we realize for what God works, that it is for His eternity; that night is but the womb of nature out of which the day is born, with its multitudinous voices and its golden fruits.

3. And now the heart of the subject is reached. It is perfectly simple, and yet how difficult to learn in full practical application, where it must be learned: "And I in my prosperity had said, I never shall be moved: Jehovah, in Thy favor Thou hadst made my mountain to stand strong." How hard it is to have a mountain standing strong, and not put our confidence in it! And if the heart refers this to the favor of God, all the more may it be a snare, a false confidence which comes in between it and immediate confidence in the Lord. And how hard it is to resign this (real or supposed) "favor," thus attached to what makes something of us! Privileges, circumstances, experiences, we cling to, only to find them fail us in the day of trial, — everything allowed to be shaken, that that which cannot be shaken may remain. When the eye is turned away to Christ, then in the joy of Him who bare our sins, brought up out of death, we can in a deeper way than Israel here say, "Thou hast brought my soul out of Sheol: Thou hast quickened me from among those going down to the pit." As sinners, in a work done for sinners, we find an immovable foundation, and can no more say, "Thou hidest Thy face," for that to the soul hid in Christ is gone through — He has endured it, — and God can no more hide His face from His Beloved, nor from those who in that Beloved find unchangeable acceptance.

In this psalm, no doubt, all this is not made plain, nor could yet be; nor can we attribute such knowledge to the Jewish remnant until, brought through their deep distress, they have looked upon Him whom they have pierced, their rejected and crucified Messiah. But the prophets prophesied with a knowledge far beyond their own, and we can find in them, as Peter assures us. more than they could understand; while yet there could for them also be thus furnished principles and truths upon which faith could stay itself, whatever the dispensation. Here it is to Jehovah, Jehovah the Unchangeable, Himself, that His people are turned, even by the very hiding of His face. What good in a mountain if that Face were hidden? In fact, it is gone: it cannot abide, if He abide not. But must not He abide who is Jehovah the Abiding? and has He not known, all through, the sin, the folly, the vanity, of the creature? Can it be pleasure to Him, or profit, or glory, to exact the just sentence of death from so frail a being? Will the dust — even though He has said, "Unto dust thou shalt return," — really declare His truth? Will He be satisfied with the curse upon one who, be he what he may, clings to Him for blessing?

Here it is not the death of Christ that is pleaded, as we see, while yet it is the death of Christ which justifies, and how much more than justifies, the plea that the Spirit of God here puts into the heart of the suppliant. Can He desire man's death, who has given up His Son to death to redeem him? Yet God has found thus a way of making death itself a wonderful display, not of His truth simply, but of the love which is His Nature. He has got thus a ground upon which He can show and justify unchanging grace towards one who finds in his very sins his title to the Saviour of sinners. Thus God manifests how safe the plea is, that rests upon what is in Himself. For Israel the end will fully show this; to us it is already fully shown. Would then that for every Christian, "my mountain" were no more the confidence, but Christ the unclouded confidence of the soul! that "Thou hiddest Thy face" were referred wholly to that one darkness which in its endurance has rent the veil of the sanctuary for us, and set God in the light for evermore!

4. Now comes at last the experience which shows that the plea is good. Faith is not to be made to conform to experience; for we cannot be trusted thus to read experience right, and God in Christ transcends all possible experience: but experience will at last surely approve faith; and so it is in this case. The cry for grace and help to Jehovah is answered at last by that which turns mourning into dancing, takes off the sackcloth garment, and girds the loins for glad activity in praise.

The expression, "that glory may psalm to Thee," is not to be reduced to the commonplace of most expositors: another psalmist has declared that "surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land" (Psalm 85:9). This is the display of God Himself in the midst of Israel, in the very time to which we have now reached. This will bear blessed witness to what He is, waking up all nature in accompaniment of praise. This is what glory psalming to Him may well mean. The whole land — the whole earth in measure — responds in harmony, as an instrument to the skilled fingers of the player. Alas, it has found none hitherto to bring out its dormant capacities. Now it awakes, to be silent no more.

We can understand then how this psalm is "for the dedication of the house," — the sanctuary which the end of Daniel's seventy weeks will see anointed to Jehovah. The end of salvation is that God and man may be at last together.

Psalm 31.

Deliverance from the enemy.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David.

We have now what is in itself very simple, but which on that account may seem to have less instruction for us, with whom circumstances are so different, and whose attitude towards those who persecute them is to be so different. For Israel at the time of the end a psalm like this has, of course, the deepest importance. For ourselves spiritual enemies may be imaged in these human ones, and no doubt are: the conflict between good and evil is, in its principles, the same, whatever the part of the field in which we may be engaged.

1. Certain basis-truths are constantly repeated in these psalms; and, simple as they are, the repetition must be as wholesome as it is inevitable. That Jehovah — God in His unchangeable self-consistency — is the rock of faith, needs not, of course, to be proved, nor is it. It is used with God Himself as a prevailing argument for Him to show Himself in that character. Must He not be to the soul that trusts Him all that it counts upon Him for? The suppliant can plead His righteousness even in his own behalf; for does He not encourage faith to lay hold upon Him? "Be to me" therefore, he cries, "a rock of strength, a house of defence, to save me: for my rock and my fortress Thou art." And would He not be known for what He is? that is, act for His Name's sake, — lead and guide His people in conformity with this?

2. Relationship to God is one of dependence necessarily on the side of His creature it is the relation of the weak to the strong, of the foolish and short-sighted to the Infinitely Wise, of those prone to sin to the Ever-Holy. It implies that He is to be their resource and help, even against themselves, and against every form of real evil. Thus the psalmist commits himself into Jehovah's hand, as his mighty and faithful Redeemer his heart cleaving to Him in opposition to every false confidence and senseless superstition of man.

3. Now he realizes Jehovah's mercy. He has seen his trouble, known his soul in straits. How comforting to know that; though deliverance yet there is not! What comfort is there in the presence of one who loves us, even though powerless to bring us other help! But the psalmist can say more than that. He is not shut up in the enemy's hand; his feet are set in freedom, in a large place.

4. After the manner of the Psalms, and indeed according to numerical symbolism, to which the Psalms, as well as all other scriptures, are conformed, the trial comes after the deliverance, or at least the anticipation of this by faith. The whole trouble is spread out before God, with every circumstance of sorrow and distress. The speaker is in strait; his eye shrunk with vexation, yea, his soul and inmost parts; his life is spent with grief, and his years with sighing; his strength fails, the solid bones themselves are shrunken. Nor is this even private misery: all around, his neighbors and acquaintances, realize his condition beset with eager enemies, and avoid him as not willing to share his lot. Even more, like a dead man, or a broken vessel cast upon the refuse-heap, he has dropped out of the memory, — worse, out of the hearts that once held him in affection. And even yet this desolate and cast-off life men cannot leave alone, but have conspired to take it: the extremes and opposites of sorrow meet and are reconciled in the forms of "terror round about."

5. But out of it all he turns to God again. The waves but fling him higher on the rock. "But as for me, I have trusted in Thee, Jehovah: I have said, Thou art my God! My times are in Thy hand." Oh what a song the wind's wild music makes, when that can be said really from the heart! And though the prayer still goes on, "deliver me from the hand of mine enemies," yet the perplexity is gone. "Make Thy face to shine," he says; but its rays are already lighting up his heart when he says so. Then he sees the pillar-glory turn its terror upon his enemies: "the wicked shall be ashamed; they shall be silent in Sheol." And he puts his consenting Amen into a prayer: "Be dumb the lying lips, which proudly and contemptuously speak against the righteous!"

6. The whole ends with a song of victory. The goodness of God was but "laid up" for those that fear Him, when as yet experience there was none; and, though in unseen Arms, His refugees too are laid up, — hidden from conspiracies and the whole strife of tongues; fenced round as in a fortressed city. Alas, there had been alarm, and unbelief had misconstrued God's silence; yet He had heard, all through: and the unburdened heart breaks out in earliest exhortation, bred of this experience. "Oh love Jehovah, all ye godly ones of His! Jehovah preserveth the faithful, and plentifully recompenseth the proud doer." Thus may the hearts of His own be animated with the courage of assured victory: Be strong, and let your hearts take courage: all ye that hope in Jehovah."

Psalm 32.

The soul cleansed and God its sanctuary.

[A psalm] of David, Maskil.

{Verse 1, 'he'. A mere change of the vowel points would make this plural, as in the apostle's quotation, Rom. 4:7.}

The psalm to which we now come is a bright testimony to the terms upon which, even under the shadow of the legal covenant, the souls of His true people were with God. It is striking also as the first of the Maskil psalms, of which there are thirteen altogether, a title which means, according to the margin of our common Bibles, "giving instruction." The Revised Version omits this, and the meaning is disputed.* Delitzsch objects that "there are only two (32 and 78) which can be regarded as didactic poems;" but it is not necessary, as we shall see, that they should be, in any formal way, didactic. There are many lessons to be learned apart from the professional schoolmaster.

{*"The meaning is questioned, but the old interpretation, which connects it with the word askil, which occurs ver. 8, 'I will instruct thee,' is probably correct. A didactic song, intended for instruction; thus the LXX., suneseos; Jerome, 'eruditio.'" (Speaker's Commentary.)}

It is, I have no doubt, to prophecy, and to prophecy of the times we are considering so often in the Psalms, the prophecy of the days of Israel's final tribulation which God uses to bring her to Himself, that we must look for light as to the proper significance of the title. From the prophet Daniel, to whom the Lord refers in His own picture of the times preceding His coming (Matt. 24:15, 21), we learn much of this time (cp. 12:1) and he speaks of "those that understand" the same word, maskilim — "among the people" (11:33, 35), who "shall instruct many," the "wise" (margin, "teachers") — still the same word — who "shall shine as the brightness of the firmament," and who, according to the parallelism, and what is said of them before, are the same "that turn many to righteousness" (12:3). Of these it is further said (ver. 10), that while "none of the wicked shall understand," "the wise shall understand." The word maskilim means either "those who understand" or who "make (others) to understand" and thus we realize the connection between the way it occurs in Daniel and in the titles of the psalms.

Thus we see — what, indeed, is simple enough in itself, when we realize the mercy of God to His people — that, in the midst of the darkness and confusion of the terrible troubles of which we are speaking, God raises up helpers for them, men gifted with special wisdom for the times, realizing what the word of prophecy predicts, and seeking to turn the people to their God. They must get for themselves the instruction they impart to others, and (however God may come in to give direct oracular testimony) this, one would say, according to His regular methods of dealing with His people, through His precious — to those in such straits, how precious — Word.

Now, apart from the direct prophecy such as we find in Daniel, where should we expect such help to be provided, rather than in these very psalms? And why should not these Maskil psalms be marked thus as special instruction for these Maskil men so linked together by the inspired word for each, — whether instruction for themselves, or for others through them?

If we take up the Lord's prophecy of this very period already referred to (Matt. 24) we find clearly directions given by Him, which, of course, are to be recognized and acted on by the remnant of those days: "when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." Notice the special, Daniel-like, reference, — nay, the appeal to be "men of understanding," maskilim, — certain to arouse the attention of those exercised in that time of trial, and acquainted with Daniel.

This involves, of course, the recognition of Christ, and the use of the New Testament among the Jews of that day; and this is most natural, and what, one would say, would be certainly the case. How could the taking away of the multitudes of Christians to be with their Lord have transpired,* and they be ignorant altogether of Him and the Christian Revelation? And yet the light they have may be very partial and uncertain; and we have full reason to expect this. With all God's word open to us today, — open for nearly two millennia, — and with the gift of the Spirit bestowed upon us in a manner and with a Pleasure they will not have — how contradictory are the thoughts of Christians, even on well-nigh fundamental points, in spite of this! In the day we speak of, those whose case we are considering will be permitted to go through thorough exercise of heart as to all the questions of the past, and learn of Him who meets their need as the need itself is realized. Amid all this individual exercise of heart so necessary for them we may be able to give little account to ourselves of their progress in divine truth — different, as it will naturally be, in different persons — until they look upon Him whom they have pierced, and one repentant wave of sorrow prostrates the whole people before God.

{*See pp. 13, 22, 23, and Notes in the beginning of Ruth. For fuller and more orderly detail, consult the prophetic writings of J. N. Darby, W. Trotter, W. Kelly, T. B. Baines, and others.}

But when we turn to the book of Revelation, which* from Rev. 6 — 19 occupies itself with the same scenes as those in Daniel and in the prophecy of the Lord, we find another significant connection with Daniel, and another sign of the use of the New Testament by these Jewish saints. The picture of the "beast" in Rev. 13 must inevitably attract the students of Daniel's prophecy, and there, at the close of the chapter, they will find this special note for the maskilim: "Here is the mind which has wisdom: let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast." No plainer address could there be to those specially marked out in this way by the Old Testament prophet; no inquiry more significant for such as to the signs of the times, than this as to the great enemy and oppressor of the people. Hence the reference is too plain to need any further insistence on it.

{*In chapters 1 — 3 we have the Lord's judgment of the churches, the present Christian state toward the close of which His coming is announced with more and more urgency. In the beginning of the fourth chapter the apostle is caught up to heaven, as the saints will be, and there sees the crowned elders before the Throne, and hears them sing the song of redemption (Rev. 5). The Lamb is now the Lion of Judah (King of the Jews), and with chapter 6 the judgments of the day of the Lord begin on earth. (See Kelly, Baines, and the so often referred to "Synopsis of the Books of the Bible," by J. N. Darby.)}

All this surely, then, prepares us to understand the maskil psalms; and when we take up these individually, we shall find the view that they contain special "instruction" for the last days abundantly sustained. Thus the present psalm is, as such, of the most vital importance, speaking of God's way of forgiveness and a hiding-place with Him, before the forty-second, the second of these, gives the comfort of those cast away from the earthly sanctuary. Next, the forty-fifth celebrates Messiah and His victory, and Israel's blessing under Him. Then a series of four (52 — 55) describe the wicked one and his followers; the seventy-fourth pleads for the violated sanctuary itself; the seventy-eighth recounts the cause of it, the many wanderings of the people from their God; the seventy-ninth mourns again over the desolation of Jerusalem; the eighty-eighth expresses the terror of the broken law; the eighty-ninth reveals "the sure mercies of David;" while the 142d closes the list with the thankful acknowledgment that when other refuge failed and none cared for their souls, Jehovah Himself had known and cared.

Thus, though we may not be able to recognize the distinctive value of each psalm in this way, as a whole they certainly give us what is needed wisdom for the day of Israel's trial. The other psalms link readily with these, for complete "instruction."

The eleven verses of the psalm divide into five parts, in which we learn how God can be with man; not, however, atonement, which we have had before, but the consequences of it. Of these fifteen remnant psalms which come together in the three series, it is the middle one, and the hinge upon which all turns.

1. It is the doctrine of "righteousness without works" that David, as the apostle says (Rom. 4:6), here declares. There is no such text as "happy is the man that keepeth the law," because such a man cannot be found, and the law cannot be satisfied with fragmentary obedience. On the contrary, it proclaims, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal. 3:10.) Nor is this altered when it is given the second time; for the returning sinner, though met with forgiveness, must still "do that which is lawful and right" to "save his soul alive." (Ezek. 18:27.) Thus faith it is that establishes the law (Rom. 3:31), when it owns the impossibility of being righteous by it, and flees for refuge to the hope set before men in the gospel.

And after all the happiness of the sinner saved by grace is far beyond that that could have been known by any one standing in his own righteousness, though this were stainless and flawless in its perfection. For if, in the one, man were exalted and honored, in the other all the heart of God has been poured out upon him. Christ's work it is that has opened heaven to us, and given us blessedness beyond possibility of creature claim. How much is lost by speculations as to the future of an unfallen Adam, going quite beyond the record, and to the constant belittling of the "fifth part more" of the trespass-offering, the exceeding glory of Christ and of His blessed work!

Happy then, indeed, is he whose revolt* is forgiven, whose sin is covered! First, we have that which God's heart would feel first, and which sin is, in its essence, a "revolt" from Him. It is this, therefore, which specially needs, and is met with, forgiveness; then the outcome, the full sad issue of it all, is "covered," — put out of sight. We know how God has provided for this in that precious "blood that maketh atonement for" — covereth — "the soul." But the word used here is not the same as this, for our attention here is fixed, not upon what covers, but upon the fact itself, what leads to it, and what follows from it. The heart is appealed to in the forgiveness; the shame and occasion for charge are removed by the covering. Happy then, again, the man to whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, — or perversity," as the word literally is, and surely in direct connection with what follows, that in his spirit there is now no longer "guile," which is perversity. The latter is the effect of the former: the non-imputation is the moral remedy; grace is that which sets the soul right, enabling it for the honest judgment of sin, and winning it to God, so as to divorce it from this. Such is the power of the gospel! Such is its sweet ministry of salvation, certified in the experience of the saved soul.

{Verse 5,  A plural in the original; but I take it that "my revolting" has the force of a plural.

{*In the common and revised versions "transgression." The Septuagint has (in the plural) anomai, "lawlessness." There is no necessary implication of transgression of the law: it is rather the root from which all sin springs, — what sin is, therefore, in its essence, as in 1 John 4 (R.V.), "sin is lawlessness."}

2. But the psalmist is not satisfied with declaring the blessedness of grace: he goes on to tell us how he attained this blessedness, — just where grace met him and conquered him, after stubborn resistance to it. He tells us of the conviction that pressed on him to confession, and he would not confess. He kept silence, yet with the deep in his soul roaring for the tumult, till the very bones, the most solid parts of the body, wasted under the strife. It was with God, too, as he knew; God's hand lay heavy upon him, and his sap was dried up as by a drought in summer. Truth in the inward parts was wrought at last: "I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and my perversity have I not covered: I said, I will confess my revolting to Jehovah: and Thou forgavest the perversity of my sin." How the promptness of this mercy reminds us of the Lord's illustration of His Father's love to the returning prodigal! Not even, "I did confess, and Thou forgavest," but the forgiveness anticipating the confession itself. Just as when he who, far off indeed from his father, turned in his need to him with words prepared, seeking but a servant's place, — to find his father's kiss anticipating in like manner the confession, and forbidding the thought of that which denied him a father's heart.

3. Thus the sanctuary is found: for God, as we know, will give full way to His grace, and justify it against all cavils of those who will dispute it. What another reminiscence is it of the Lord's parable, "Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance"! Wherever we find God really, be it in the Old Testament or the New, we find Him the same. And so here at once is it declared that this is no exceptional mercy to a David, but a way common to all the "godly," who by grace alone are won and rendered such. "For this shall every godly one pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found." A time may come, it is implied, when He may not be found, and thus "the floods of many waters" which we are now warned of remind us of the ark and of those alone saved when the Lord shut them in. To these no flood could reach; while no others could escape them. Between those inside and the flood,by this that Jehovah had done for them, there stood pledged for their security all the power of Jehovah's arm, all the glory of Jehovah's Name. Thus He was really their hiding-place. Could any flood of waters break through such a barrier? And now that we know Christ as the Antitype of this ark, the glorious Refuge upon whom the storms beat and the floods raged, but who has borne His full freight of blessing safely to the shore, — the soul in Christ can triumphantly say this. In Christ, as Christ: living because He lives; accepted in His acceptance; privileged to turn away even from ourselves, to rejoice in His perfection and delight ourselves in unchanging love. Here all that God is is indeed pledged to us, and with what songs of deliverance are not they encompassed, whom the Ark of their salvation has thus already brought to shore!

But still there comes a flood of waters for the earth, a day of tribulation such as never was, — a day of doom for the rebellious, such as these Psalms continually warn us of, when (the saints of the present already safely sheltered with their Lord above) it will be said to Israel: Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." And the rescued nation will sing, after the manner of this thirty-second psalm, of the Lord their hiding-place: For Thou hast been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall." (Isa. 26:20; Isa. 25:4.) Whatever the day of need may be, there is one way of blessing only, — One only in whom refuge is ever found.

4. According to the constant order in Scripture, which is the moral order also, after the lesson of the sanctuary comes the lesson for the way. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou goest: I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee." The last part of the verse is variously rendered and understood by commentators; and even as to the former part, according to Moll, "almost all recent interpreters, with Calvin and Geier, regard these verses as the words of David, which point all sinners to the God who has pardoned him." But this reduces "mine eye upon thee" to a mean and paltry pleonasm. David' s eye upon the person he is instructing is of very small account God's, of immense significance. Here, too, the numerical structure gives decisive help in favor of the fuller meaning. Even when God is rightly taken as the instructor, all commentators breaking the last part into two — "I will counsel thee; mine eye shall be upon thee" — while unnaturally affecting the structure of the verse, impoverishes the meaning; while the fuller is also the simpler rendering of the words. How blessed, as well as inevitable, is it, that He in whom the soul has found its rest and shelter, must now concern Himself with all its future course. He to whom it is come is now its Lord, but also its most tender Counsellor. It is to act in freedom, but yet in subjection, — two things which go most perfectly together. God's eye is upon the blest and happy object of His favor; and this implies His perfect interest, true; but if the last clause reads, as naturally it should, as a connected whole, this Eye that occupies itself continually with us — with all that concerns us — becomes at the same time a positive guidance for us, which sheds light upon all the intimacy and responsibility of the new relationship. It implies not only on His side the interest of love, which is holy and purposeful; but, on ours, nearness to Him, intelligence of His mind, and prompt responsive activity: things which are full of comfort for us, and as full of earnest admonition.

His interest is the first thing to consider: "He never withdraweth His eyes from the righteous." And this even a Job might find, in the time of his strait, a sore trial rather than a gain: "What is man," he cries in his anguish, "that Thou shouldst magnify him? and that Thou shouldst set Thy heart upon him? and that Thou shouldst visit him every morning, and try him every moment? How long wilt Thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?" (Job 7:17-19.) But Job, with all his outward perfection, had not yet seen God as he was to see Him; and the whole process by which we are won to delight in His constant occupation with us, the 139th psalm will by and by reveal. How blessed, then, when we have seen Him indeed, to know that every step we take in the way is a matter of concern to Him! — that there is not an hour of the day but He has some thought as to how we should spend it!

This is not legality, though it is true we may turn it into this. But he who knows best the folly and misery of his own ways will be most profoundly thankful for the love that has shown itself in this constant care, for a wisdom of which we are free ever to avail ourselves, and which is as perfect and far-seeing as the heart can crave to know.

In the wilderness "there is no way," except as it is marked out for us by the Living Guide Himself. Our path, therefore, must not be merely one of "righteousness," but one of "faith," all through. (2 Tim. 2:22.) We can see, therefore, how unceasing prayer must be with us, and how God would nurture in us a constant dependence, most helpful to our whole development in the new life that is ours. That "we had turned every one to his own way" is the scripture account of sin. (Isa. 53:6.) Alas, naturally we prize this, and count it freedom; but that "in Him we live and move and have our being" is the necessary creature condition, violated by every act of independency, and conformity to which is rest and blessedness.

But this dependency must be free and intelligent, as well as in the intimacy to which He has called us with Himself; and all this is implied in guidance with the eye. Nearness: for the glance of the eye is not intended for those far off, and cannot be read by them. Intelligence: for such guidance supposes that already we have a knowledge of His mind, or we shall not be able to interpret a look. With all this, a constant promptness of attention, as of those waiting to anticipate His will, or we shall not be ready for, or catch it. All this is plain: but how it speaks of our need of acquaintance with Scripture, that we may be "filled with the knowledge of His will"; and of our greater need even of a devotedness which shall make God the real object of our life continually, and fill it with and sanctify it wholly to Himself.

And this gives force to the exhortation following, in which is contrasted the unintelligent intractability of horse or mule who need the restraint of bit and bridle, or you cannot make them approach or yield themselves to your guidance. And how many of the people of God have lives as little yielded up to Him, who must be governed by circumstances, rather than by the eye of God. His desire for us is not the drudgery of a stopped will, but the freedom of a changed one.

5. The next verse speaks plainly of God's governmental dealings with the wicked and the man of faith; which put a song of praise into the mouth of the righteous, exultation and a shout of joy into that of the upright in heart.

Psalm 33.

This God the God of the whole earth.

The psalm following shows us now that Jehovah, the God of redemption, is the God of the whole earth. If this God, then, be for us, all else must be; and this opens the way to the closing praise of the thirty-fourth: "I will bless Jehovah at all times." The theme here, in what is the fourth psalm in the series, anticipates what is more fully brought out in the fourth book, where also Jehovah and the Second Man are shown as One; and thus the security of the earth in blessing is gloriously assured.

1. The psalmist begins with an exhortation to praise Jehovah, the one theme of praise for the righteous. The first verses here are but the expansion of the closing verse of the previous psalm, where we have found that the righteous are such only by redemption. And Jehovah is the name of God as the Redeemer, — the special name under which He takes up the people in the book of Exodus (see Ex. 3, notes); and thus the covenant Name of blessing for the redeemed. It is true that with Israel the legal spirit which inheres in man, and which had to be yielded to in the covenant of bondage at the mount of law, prevailed to obscure for them the glory of this Name, and still obscures it; yet in it, though veiled, their blessings are nevertheless wrapped up, and will be found in the day that is at hand.

Jehovah is the living and unchanging God, acting from Himself necessarily as independent of all else, finding in Himself the sufficient argument for what He does. Thus no consideration of man has to come in, to hinder the fullest blessing for him. If man came in, it would be only to hinder God acting from Himself, for the glory of His Name, His purpose stands.

Thus the exhortation may well be now, "Shout for joy in Jehovah, ye righteous! Praise is comely for the upright"; — for those delivered from guile by the grace that has wrought conviction of sin, and met with salvation the convicted sinner.

This praise, as will be fully the case when Israel becomes the giver of it, will find its response in all creation round. This is what the harp and lyre in Israel's hands declare, who, as the earthly people, will awaken this response. If we knew better what these instruments were, — which is disputed, — we should be able to realize, no doubt, distinctive meaning in them. All that we can say now is that the harp was certainly peculiarly connected with strains of joy; while the "ten strings" of the lyre or psaltery would seem to associate it with the more solemn strains of recompense and judgment, all of which must praise Him too.

But no special instrument is connected with the "new song" of the third verse, which will be, assuredly, both for Israel and the earth, what the numeral probably intimates, a resurrection song. And this, like all resurrection of the higher kind, is not a mere restoration to the primitive condition, which would mean almost certainly that it was a mere turning of the wheel, the beginning of the old cycle of transition and decay, but a new and higher and fixed condition reached, in which the thought of God will now be realized, and His purpose from the beginning attained. No wonder that for the accompaniment now there should need skillful playing with loud sound!

2. We have now the testimony given to Him by His work and word; His work being indeed the product of His word, the creation of His mind and will, bearing the impress, therefore, of His character. The written word does not seem here in question, although of course the same must be true of it, and more manifestly, sin having come in to obscure the witness of creation. But sin also does not come as yet into the picture, except quite inferentially.

"For right is Jehovah's word, and in faithfulness all His work": as in truth the fixed laws that pervade it are a proof, — so fixed, so pervasive, that in all material points we soon get familiar with, and learn to rely on them. And this is an inestimable blessing which only our being so accustomed to it tends to hide from us. Suppose, even, they were certain, and yet so intricate as to make the knowledge of common effects difficult to obtain, what uncertainty would attend all our actions, and what disasters would arise! Instead of this we are in a world generally stable, and with only enough uncertainty to promote dependence. And all this is "faithfulness" to His creatures, the work of His hands who can apprehend these laws; while instinct guides even more surely, though in a more humble manner, the lower races. But moreover, —

"He loveth justice and judgment"; — it is not here in question how men pervert it, but of these same laws in their moral character, which testify for Him. The power which earth manifests is a power that "makes for righteousness." And the earth is full of the goodness of Jehovah." This is that diffuse benevolence which everything displays in nature, the eye, the ear, the senses generally, provided for and gratified; and beauty, melody, variety, showing with much else, (even though we are outside of Eden,) how God has cared for us. Life could go on without what only their prevalence and their inability to pall and injure us, forbid us to call the luxuries of life.

The heavens and their host were called forth by Jehovah's word; a majestic spectacle to arrest attention, wake up wonder and inquiry, and lift our thoughts above the earth. Preachers to us of our littleness and dependence, their testimony is manifestly in the line of His redemptive work. The philosopher Kant, whose critical spirit was not checked with any excessive reverence, unites "the starry heavens" with the "moral law" as that which filled him with unfailing admiration and reverence. And how easily might they have been shut out from our view, if God had not pleased to fling aside the veil, and bid us gaze! Whatever else those brilliant spheres were made for, they have surely been unveiled to impress us with the sight. They are an open Bethel: as, in the mind of the old patriarch, "the gate of heaven" is "the house of God."

Under these — their earthly reflection — stretches the great sea, whose waters, massed as a heap under Jehovah's hand, still more, as with closer application, reduce man to nothingness before Him (Psalm 107:23-30). The number of testing and of weakness points unmistakably to the meaning here, as does the word for "depths," the plural of that in Genesis 1:2, tehom, literally, the "raging deep." These depths He layeth up beneath the quiet and smiling surface, in treasuries from which He bringeth them out whenever He has use for them, with decisive effect. Thus were the heathen sailors who carried Jonah, and Jonah himself, taught the folly of endeavoring to escape from Jehovah's power.

After this, therefore, comes the exhortation, "Let all the earth fear Jehovah: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him": literally, "sojourn," be as sojourners with Him, to whom alone belongs eternity. The argument is given in the next verse: "for He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast:" these mighty and stable powers came into existence by His mere fiat. The number is here the number of mastery; for He who brought them into being manifestly has them still in His control.

3. From this contemplation of creation we are next brought naturally to consider Jehovah as realizing His name (the Unchangeable) in His dealings with His creatures. Against His counsel the counsels of the nations cannot stand. Nor, since the world is away from Him, and in opposition to Him, the thoughts of peoples either. The last would include, as the first does not, even Israel His "people" also. On the other hand, His counsel stands forever: the thoughts of His heart "from generation to generation." The contrast here only results in more abiding comfort for those whose feebleness is anchored to the rock of His stability, "the nation whose God Jehovah is, and the people chosen" by Him (as Israel is) "for His inheritance."

4. From this safe harbor the world of living men is now reviewed. Jehovah Himself regards them: He not only beholds, He scrutinizes narrowly; and He is the One who fashioned them, who has perfect knowledge of all they do. But the result is only that man's nothingness is once snore realized. Not the host that encircles a king can save him, nor the strength of a hero. Nor, even to escape, can the strength of a horse suffice to deliver him. But this is only the necessary prelude to another witness to God Himself.

5. "Lo, Jehovah's eye is toward them that fear Him, — toward those that hope in His mercy, to rescue their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine." And they who speak have realized this: "our soul hath looked for Jehovah: our help and shield is He." The experience is briefly but sufficiently told, that has established the truth of this: "for our heart is glad in Him; because we have trusted in His holy Name." The faithfulness of the divine government is finally invoked: "Let thy mercy, Jehovah, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee."

Thus that Jehovah, the God of redemption, is also the God of creation, is plainly the theme of the psalm; and that He shows Himself the Redeemer by His dealings with the people whose trust is in Him; against whom no creature-strength can possibly avail. This last is taken up and expanded (after the manner of these psalms) in the joyful song of praise with which this series ends.

Psalm 34.

Jehovah with us, and its consequences in divine government.

[A psalm] of David when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.

The thirty-fourth psalm, according to its title, was written when David escaped from Gath, from Achish, here called Abimelech, which seems to have been a common title of the Philistine kings. He had failed sadly, as we know, and as on Philistine ground he always did; and, not honoring Jehovah, had not been honored by Him. This is itself a general principle of divine government, of which the psalm speaks, and which needs little insisting on. Yet God had in mercy delivered him, and he had learned, no doubt, for the time, a lesson from it, though the root of failure, we may well believe, had not been reached. The circumstances seem thus to suit the psalm, though we may be able to point out no precise link of connection between them.

The theme of the psalm, as already said, is that Jehovah is at all times to be blessed, for, whatever the circumstances, He abides the unfailing help and sanctification of His people. As Governor of all things, they too are subject to His government, for what blessing every step of the way the subject soul shall realize, but the end shall declare to all.

1. In the first section it is what Jehovah is that fills the heart and mouth. He is and shall be the constant theme of the soul — its perpetual praise. For this "all times" are alike; all seasons have their summer fruit. The exhortation of the apostle in the New Testament agrees with this resolve of the psalmist in the Old Testament: "Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I will say, Rejoice." If the eye is fully upon Him, this will be realized.

There is a testimony in praise like this, which will be felt. No doubt, it will awaken opposition; but that is not what is spoken of here: it is that the humble will hear, and be glad. "No flesh shall glory in His presence," and we have need thus to be brought down, to receive testimony of such a character.

The heart that is filled with praise will seek associates also in it; and His Name will be common joy: for His Name is but the revelation of Himself. The exhortation to magnify His Name is followed by the experience which makes the text, as it were, of the exhortation. The living God had heard and answered him, and delivered him from all his fears.

2. Now we have this salvation of God, which makes Him known, displayed in its various features. There is first of all in it light, for God is light. Things appear as they are, and we learn to recognize them, — to have truth in the inward parts, and certainty as to the way. And is not an exceptional experience, — it is the universal rule for those that look to Him. They are enlightened; and their faces are never "ashamed." Confusion as to one's thoughts and ways naturally leads to confusion of face as to the result. Where the soul truly seeks God, this is impossible; and thus there is provision made for the simplest and poorest, amid all the babble of tongues that the world is witness of. Nor could it be otherwise, God being what He is.

Again he recurs to his own deliverance. He in his poverty had been heard and delivered: not simply from his fears now, but in fact. And he will go further and maintain that round about those that fear Jehovah the angel of Jehovah camps: and this is deliverance from all that may come, from any quarter.

Then he appeals to men to make the experiment for themselves: let them taste and see that Jehovah is good; for happy is the man (gebher, the strong man, — evidently finding his strength in this) that takes refuge in Him. And then His saints are exhorted to His fear: there is no want to them that fear Him. Finally this is affirmed in the fullest way with regard to those who seek Him; the number showing, no doubt, their "mastery" of circumstances, as the parallel, too, implies: for the lions might seem, amid the lesser animals by which they are surrounded, to be masters if any are. Yet they might lack; but not the man who seeks Jehovah.

3. The third section emphasizes the holiness of the Lord in His ways: a holiness to which he must be conformed with whom He goes. As supreme over all, the fear of Him is for His creature the "beginning of wisdom." A government, to be respected, must first of all he strong; and it is by the exhibition of His power that God humbles Job. He must maintain His place, or all would be lost. We are in His hands, and He will have His way; but then His goodness will make us delight that He should have it. "The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever;" and the psalmist now proposes to instruct men in this fear. If a man wants life, and to see good days, here is the divine preservative for him. Let him keep, then, his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile. For "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and the government of the tongue is the sign of the perfect man. (Luke 6:45, James 3:2.) Let him order his walk so as to depart from evil — the negative side — and do good — the positive. Let him seek peace thus, as "the effect of righteousness" (Isa. 32:17), and earnestly "pursue it." And the psalmist urges the blessing for the righteous, and the end of the wicked: the first, in the continual favor of Jehovah; the last, to be cut off, even in remembrance.

4. This is the holy way of the Lord, then; and this is the portion of the righteous. True as that is, it is not all the truth. There is trial also, and that for the righteous; and, as he presently acknowledges, even much of it. What then, is the meaning of this? Well, first, that it is in being brought down by it that men cry to God, and learn His delivering grace. And then it is to the broken of heart that He is nigh; and the contrite that He saveth. There is thus abundant reason for all the trial of which the world is full.

5. But that is not recompense: it is really mercy. When we think of recompense, it is true that even the righteous suffer; nay, their afflictions are many; but the principle already given applies to them also, and in result it is not forgotten who they are: deliverance out of all awaits them. Suppose they die even: Jehovah guards their bones, and suffers them not to be broken, — an example of such perfect care, as in the case of the Lord was shown in the fullest way, and under circumstances which mark Him as the absolutely Righteous One. None could claim such care in the same sense as He; and so it became for Him a prophecy that needs must be fulfilled (John 19:36), and that to the letter. To others it applies, one would say, in the spirit of it. The application to the Lord in this way does not, of course, make the psalm as a whole Messianic, but the contrary: everything seems as general as possible, though His unique perfection makes it seem intended for Himself alone.

The full realization of these governmental ways of God is given in the last two verses, which manifestly go together as paired opposites, and in a striking way. They remind one of the apostle's language (Rom. 6:23), that "the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." So here the judgment of sin is, as it were, mere congruity: "Evil shall bring death to the wicked; and the haters of the righteous shall bear their guilt." But the deliverance of the soul of His servants is on Jehovah's part a true salvation work, — congruous, of course, with His holiness, and yet only by the grace which shines through all: "Jehovah redeemeth the soul of His servants; and none shall bear guilt that take refuge in Him."

Thus fittingly the second series of these remnant psalms is closed.

Series 3. (Psalms 35 — 39.)

The holiness of God, whether in judgment or in grace.

The third series displays the holiness of God, whether in judgment or in grace, the middle psalm of the series — again a third, — showing this in an especial manner, as might be anticipated, and in both ways. Almost the whole psalm is thus divided by the alphabetic structure into couplets of verses, which develop the contrasted portions of righteous and wicked, and with special reference to the inheritance of the land by the righteous only. The psalms on either side of this, take up respectively (Psalms 35, 36.) God's dealings with the wicked; and (Psalms 38, 39.) those with the righteous. The whole of them are simple in character, as is natural, for they are intended to make things plain. Thus comment will be naturally briefer also.

Psalm 35.

The appeal of the righteous for righteous judgment upon the persecutor.

[A psalm] of David.

The thirty-fifth psalm gives us that of which the Lord speaks in the gospel of Luke (Luke 18:1-8), the cry of God's elect, suffering since Abel's time, at the hand of the persecutor, and for which judgment yet will be poured out. Often a voiceless cry, sometimes exchanged, as in Stephen's case, and the many of Christian times of which he was the protomartyr, for the prayer, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!" it finds at last full expression at the lips of the Jewish remnant of the last days. The long-suffering of God is then fast running out, and the prayer is in full harmony with the mind of God. In this psalm it is a fully argued plea, and one which He admits and acts upon. It shows how fully God's judgment is in sympathy with all that is good and true, in the unequal conflict between good and evil in a fallen world, and in the interests of the earth itself, to destroy those that destroy it (Rev. 11:18).

1. The whole psalm is thus a cry, but especially the first part is purely this, an appeal to power in their behalf. The argument comes later in the character and acts of those against whom judgment is sought. The cry is, however, measured carefully, and the numerical structure is as marked as elsewhere. "Strive, Jehovah, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me:" give them treatment congruous to their own behavior. Then we see how needed is the help he craves: for his first thought is of "shield and buckler "of course, to be interposed between him and his foes. But he soon advances to offensive weapons, and seeks Jehovah to stand in the way, with leveled spear between him and his pursuers: to be Himself his salvation. All that God is would thus be pledged in his behalf. Then he is free to think more of the enemies, first of all praying for their prostration and overthrow; then chased by the angel of Jehovah as the wind chases the chaff; finally that their way as thus pursued may be dark and slippery, so that they will fall and rise no more.

2. Now he brings his plea for their destruction: first, the causelessness of their plots against him, their net hid carefully in the pit into which he is to fall; then, that it will only be to let their own trap catch them — themselves to be the cause of their own destruction: for which none surely will be to blame but they themselves. Jehovah will thus become the exultation of his soul, and that as found in the experience of one needy and afflicted, having no other helper. The righteous and the wicked, God and his creature man, will thus be all in their right place. The plea, brief as it is, has thus in it all the elements of successful prayer.

3. But, while these are the principles, the case needs to be more fully stated; and this is done in the two sections that follow: here, in behalf of the saint; while in the next, that of the sinner alone is in question. And here again, first, personal righteousness is affirmed: unrighteous witnesses — literally, witnesses of violence, violently wresting things to make out their charges — laid against him things of which his conscience was entirely free. Instead of this, he was conscious only of good that he had done them, which they now recompensed with evil, so that his soul stood alone, bereft of the support it might have counted on from it. Then he shows what in reality had been his state towards them, and that before God Himself. When they were sick, he had fasted and prayed, even in sackcloth. He had mourned them as for friends — yea, brother or mother. And now, at the least sign of evil upon his part, the tongues of evil rang out against him, wholly unprepared for it; and with mocking parasites, they gnashed their teeth — in vain, for God had set them their limit. (This is what the gnashing of the teeth, I think, implies, as the numeral does, — a limit against which they chafed: conscious, as it were, of the fence not permitted them to pass, although invisible, which God had put round His beloved.)

This is the case on his side, in attestation of his integrity, which he thus spreads out and puts into the Lord's hand as supreme, urging whether He can any longer be content, knowing it all, merely to look on. There had been indeed a limit: was it not ready now to be overstepped? "Rescue my soul," he cries, "from their destructions! my only one from the lions!" It is the cry of the twenty-second psalm (ver. 20) again: the cry of the chief Sufferer wrung out of others here, as we find features like His in other parts of this description. Is it not intended to remind us that God is Himself linking in this His Well-beloved with these also beloved? putting upon them, as it were, the frankincense of the meat-offering? And so the Priest-Angel of the Apocalypse (Rev. 8:2-5) adds to the prayers of the saints the incense, which find answer then in the judgments by which the earth is to be cleansed and made ready for the coming blessing. Here, too, the blessing is looked on to, the "great congregation" and the "much people" before whom redeemed Israel shall celebrate the God who has come in for them. And this is another link with the twenty-second psalm (ver. 25).

4. Now follows the more distinct statement of the sin that calls for judgment, to which, we shall see in the next section, the judgment exactly answers. First, once more, the causeless hatred of the righteous, which, being causeless, has in fact its cause in their righteousness itself. For righteousness, therefore, must the judgment come: evil must not be permitted to rejoice over it.

Next comes the sin against peace, — the spirit of conflict and war which has so long possessed itself of the earth and cursed it. To those of such a spirit, the quiet in the land would be themselves the cause of opposition. But the Prince of peace comes, who is to restore peace.

Next comes the sin against reality, — here still in the form of opposition to the righteous. But this is linked with all the falsehood elsewhere, the spirit that puts evil for good and good for evil, and miscalls and confuses things all over the world.

Now comes the appeal to Him who knows the reality of things. — whose Presence makes all things at once come to their true form. "Keep not silence: be not far from me! Stir up Thyself and awake for my right: for my cause, my God and my Lord!"

5. The appeal for judgment extends through all the remainder of the psalm, and characterizes this last section, which the twenty-third verse only leads on to, after a manner very common all through this series, and which has been remarked upon before. The appeal here is, first of all, in behalf of righteousness; then for deliverance from those who were just ready to rejoice as having swallowed up the object of their enmity; then for shame and dishonor to be put where they belong, that is, upon the foes of righteousness. And then, as it seems to me, Israel being manifestly the speaker, it is urged that the nations should be made to rejoice in delivered Israel's joy, as we know they will do. While they themselves, the people of God once more, and with no temporary return to God as so often before, will talk of His righteousness and of His praise all the day long.

Psalm 36.

The alienation of the wicked from God contrasted with Him in whom the sons of men take refuge.

To the chief musician: [a psalm] of David, the servant of Jehovah.

The thirty-sixth psalm is a yet more simple one. It is by David, specially marked here as the servant of Jehovah," looking at the condition of those who refuse that pleasant service, and putting in contrast with their infatuation the blessedness of those who find their refuge and satisfaction in His abundant goodness. The last three verses pray for the continuance of this blessedness, and foresee the casting down of the wicked, without power to rise again.

There are twelve verses to the psalm, but quite exceptional in their division as such; nor can I at present give any reason for this.

1. Four verses give us the complete description of the wicked: Godward, self-ward, in his words, and in his ways. His revolt — his lawlessness — is (literally) as a divine utterance, an oracle, within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. And as, where God is hidden, we may be sure it is self that hides Him, so it is that with the poorest flattery that can be, he flattereth himself; to find surely at last the evil of his success, and the iniquity he has loved, to be really hateful. His words, which are here, as always, the index of the heart, are necessarily therefore vanity and deceit. The wisdom that has become discredited with him he has left off, and with it the well-doing which is its sure accompaniment, and assurance for what it is. The folly he has planned upon his bed — at the very time when naturally there would be most sobriety — he carries out in a way that is not good, but which is good to him, for "he abhorreth not evil." There the description ends: the principles are given of his life; all else would be only detail.

2. All this is the result of departure from God; the psalmist, therefore, turns now to speak of God — this God from whom men depart. What is He, that they should do this? do it so simply and naturally, as a thing of course? God! His mercy is in the heavens, — that is, the bounteous goodness which, for Him, is but what His relationship to His creatures implies, and which sun and moon in the heavens preach of daily. His mercy is His faithfulness, firmer than, while expressed in, those laws which bind those glowing orbs to their constant and beneficent circuit. The mountains and the deep, again, speak variously of His stable righteousness and His judgments which are deep — no wonder: for the care of the whole earth is His; man and beast both He blesses and preserves. But for the sons of men alone there is nearer intimacy, the shadow of fostering wings under which they take refuge, blessed and blessing Him who has thus brought them nigh. With the provision of His house He satisfies them, — the world being but this for those who realize His gracious presence in it, His government of it, the treasures with which He has filled it. He makes them to drink of the river of His own pleasures, lifting them up thus to communion with Himself. For with Him is the fountain of creature life; and the light which gives light as to everything is from Himself alone.

3. In the sense of all this, the psalmist commits himself, and all with whom he is linked, to God. He prays for the continuance of this bounteous mercy to those who know Him, and His righteousness to the upright. In the necessary conflict with evil, he prays for deliverance from the foot of pride and the hand of the wicked. And he foresees the necessary collapse of the workers of vanity; an overthrow as complete as final.

Psalm 37.

The manifestation of God for the righteous in their possession of the earth.

[A psalm] of David.

The thirty-seventh psalm, the third and middle one of the series, has already been noted as the hinge or pivot upon which the rest turn, the full blessing brought in for the righteous in Israel, in their possession of the land. And in this Jehovah manifests Himself, and glorifies Himself upon the earth.

The structure has been noted also as alphabetic; and it is almost perfect in this respect, not quite, if the present division of the verses is correct, as, after all, I believe it is, though I had doubted it. This will be examined in its place (verse 28).

The letters, with three exceptions only, have each a couplet of verses attached, in which we are intended perhaps to realize the markedly antithetical character of the psalm — present and future, righteous and wicked, being thus put in contrast.

Contrary to the general character of the psalms of this series also, there is no prayer heard throughout the present one. All is definitely assured, predictive, and admonitory, — prophetic, that is, all the way through, though couched in general terms only, and in this way more suited to the admonitory purpose.

1. The first section insists on the perpetuity of the blessing of the righteous, in contrast with the speedy and perfect end of the wicked: and makes this an argument for entire rest of heart in committing oneself to God. The present apparent success of wickedness naturally excites to fretfulness and envy of him who seems thus to have so much the best of it as to the things here. But this is to forget that faith's part is necessarily in the unseen: "they shall soon be cut down like grass, and wither like the green herb."

Faith is next exhorted to, in view of Jehovah's faithfulness. The soul may be pastured upon this, and dwell secure; — the peaceable fruits of righteousness being thus encouraged. Let the heart cleave to the Lord in love, and love will be sure to respond, and the requests of the heart so purified be fulfilled.

Let the way too be committed to Him, and difficulties will disappear before Jehovah's sufficiency. Not only will one's purposes thus be realized, but thy righteousness too will be made plain as the light, and thy right as the noon-day.

But patience will be needed also; and one may be patient when the end is certain. Let the wicked prosper as he is permitted, and even his mischief prosper. Rest in Jehovah Himself: He is still Jehovah.

The government of God is active still, and sure in the end toward which it works. Cease then from anger and forsake wrath, the only result of which is to make one copy the evil he resents. Evil-doers shall be cut off at last and the quiet waiters upon Jehovah, these shall inherit the earth (or land).

The last couplet simply develops this, — the end of the wicked, completely rooted out of the land, and the meek inheriting the land at last, satisfied with abundant prosperity.

2. The second section, which is a short one, occupies itself only with the wicked His enmity against the righteous is noted, his plots, with still their limit. The Lord derides his folly, and foresees his end. His sword, already drawn, enters his own heart; his bent bow snaps, instead of discharging itself. It is an illustration of the Lord's words, that they that take the sword shall perish with it, and, of course, a pregnant example of divine government.

3. The third section contrasts the portion of the righteous and the wicked. If the righteous have but little, it is better than the abundance of many wicked: one is for a time the other has the enduring support of Jehovah. Jehovah marks and knows the days of the perfect, and even in the evil time they shall not be ashamed, and in famine they shall be satisfied. As for the wicked, they shall be consecrated to the Lord in their death, who would not be in life, and consume away like animals under the ban, consumed by the fire of wrath and not accepted.

4. We have now, contrasted as before, the ways of each, — a longer detail. First, the bounty and grace of the righteous is contrasted with the greed and injustice of the wicked. But those blessed of Jehovah are those in due time to possess the land, while the wicked, grasp as he may, shall be cut off under His curse. This seems to me the evident meaning of the verse, although I may be, perhaps, alone in thinking so. To make the cause of the wicked man's not repaying to be his poverty, and that under the curse of God, while the righteous gives as already possessing the earth, seems an entire inversion of the facts as the psalm presents them, as well as a justification of the "wicked," such as in no wise commends itself.

Next we have the steps of a man (like Psalm 34:8, gebher, implying strength), his firm and prosperous steps are "established of Jehovah." It is from Him they get their strength. "And He delighteth in his way" — a way so blessed and strengthened. Thus, if such a man falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the hand that he lifts to Jehovah is upheld by Him. He "affords it," as Delitzsch puts it, "a firm point of support or fulcrum, so that he can rise up again."

The psalmist adds to this the realization of it in his own experience. From the days of his youth to his present old age he had not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. The character of the righteous is again given as that of one showing grace and ministering — little righteousness has he who can forget the claims of the needy when his own needs are so many — and this the Lord delights to maintain: his seed is," not merely blessed, but "for blessing," — the blessing of others his ministry is perpetuated in those who spring from him, and learn his ways.

Thereupon the psalmist, naturally enough, turns from this encouraging assurance to admonition: "Depart from evil and do good: and dwell forevermore. For," he adds, "Jehovah is a lover of judgment, and forsaketh not his godly ones: they are preserved forever, but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall possess the earth (or land), and dwell therein forever." * With this the fourth section of the psalm ends.

{*The middle verse here, it will be observed, is of unusual length, and instead of two verses under the Samech, there are three: which does not occur under any other letter in the psalm. This of course might very easily be an intentional irregularity, along with the omission of one letter of the alphabetic structure, which is seldom perfectly preserved in these compositions. The two things coming together, however, — the omission of the letter, with the unusual lengthening of the one verse, which if divided in the middle would make four verses here (the regular number if the letter were inserted), naturally raises a question as to the true division. But this seems more than question when we find the omitted letter (Ain) standing thus, with only a prepositional letter before it, at the head of the verse so made. The interposed letter (l') is no doubt still an objection; yet but a slight one: for the 39th has also a letter (the copulative v') before the Tau, which in a similar way is not to be reckoned. The critics mostly therefore correct the division of the psalm accordingly.

But, on the other hand, the numerical structure decides against this, and maintains the common division. The Ain couplet thus restored might be indeed a fifth subsection (a governmental lesson); but the first verse would be but a poor first, if it could be taken as such at all; and the 29th could not stand as a second, while the number 3 is stamped upon both clauses of it. The Septuagint addition, which would make the Samech begin with "the unjust shall be punished," leaving "they are preserved forever" in the previous section, while it shows that what the critics now accept was not then accepted as the true division, would still less suit the numerical structure.}

5. The last section, as a deuteronomic one, sums up these ways of God, whether with the righteous or the wicked. They are simple enough, while requiring for the present faith to realize them: for still, in the government of God, "clouds and darkness are round about Him." But the day comes, to which the psalm looks on, in which all will come out fully. In that day "the righteous shall be recompensed on the earth, much more the wicked and the sinner" (Prov. 11:31). This is the Old Testament side of the truth, let us remember; and we shall fall into great error, if we take it as the whole truth. So taken, it has been used, and is quite competent to prove, that there is no heavenly portion for the saints of the present and the past, and only annihilation of personal existence for the wicked. I do not imply that this would be a light penalty, however light man may be disposed to make of it; but it is not what such texts mean. If "the future of the wicked is, to be cut off," this does not mean that he is to have no future, — that his portion is extinction; but simply that the earth is to be freed from his presence, and thus from the misery caused by that presence. Even the Old Testament shows us, as we have seen in the Psalms themselves, a Sheol which man passes into out of the bodily condition; and the New Testament clearly reveals the Gehenna of the lost on the one hand, the paradise of God for the saved on the other.* I cannot enter into this here, of course: but the "cutting off" and destruction of the wicked are distinctly stated to be "from the earth" (Ps. 104:35; Prov. 2:22; etc.). All application of these earthly judgments to that judgment which is "after" death (Heb. 9:27) involves a necessarily materialistic use of terms which is foreign to Scripture.

{*See "Facts and Theories of a Future State," passim. Loizeaux Brothers, New York.}

We have six subsections here. First, we are given to see the righteous in that obedience of heart to God which makes his mouth meditate wisdom — that is, utter what his heart has meditated. His tongue, therefore, speaketh judgment — practical discernment of things in their moral or spiritual difference. It is the law of his God in his heart that has thus enlightened him; and walking in the light, he walks securely: his steps do not slide.

But just because he is thus obedient to God, he has his enemies in the wicked, who watch him, and even seek his death. They may even go through the form of trial, and encompass themselves with the similitude of justice, to accomplish their cruel ends; but Jehovah is against them, and, spite of all that may seem to be the case, cannot abandon the righteous to their hand, nor condemn him because they do this. Nay, He will surely justify him.

But the way to the inheritance is in a path of patience; yet the righteous shall possess the land, and see the wicked cut off out of it. In the meanwhile, a partial experience will leave the wicked in power, flourishing like a green tree in its own congenial soil. But this is not the end; and every one can furnish examples of the rapid uprooting and passing away of all this show of strength. Presently he is not; and the ends of the two — the wicked and the upright — how different! The end of the one is peace — or prosperity; and of the other, as rebels against God, to be cut off. Victory is for the righteous; their salvation is of One who cannot fail them. Even in the time of strait He is their stronghold; and what a fortress to be beleaguered by the enemy! He shall help and rescue them as surely as they have fled to Him for refuge.

Psalm 38.

The trial of the righteous which is the result of sin in them.

A psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.

The two psalms that close the series here take up the question of the holiness of God in connection with the sufferings of the righteous, which confessedly are many, and which, at the time which is continually before us, will be of such exceptional severity. Still they are both of the most general character, containing no special references to that time which would narrow their application in any way. The present one speaks of sin in the believer as that which necessarily entails suffering for him; the judgment of this being now, that in the day of judgment he may escape it (1 Cor. 11:32). The New Testament shows us this as the Father's judgment, the chastening of His own children that they may be partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:10). Not that this is the whole account, however, as the former passage shows; for God must needs maintain His character as the Governor of His creatures before all. So the apostle Peter warns us that "the time is come when judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely" — or "with difficulty" — "be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:17, 18.)

1. The first section shows us therefore the soul under conviction, and in dread of the divine anger. We must not expect, notwithstanding the grace realized in the thirty-second psalm, that there will be here the clearness of knowledge which the New Testament has brought to us. Sin is felt and owned, and God's anger is dreaded. Nay, already His arrows stick fast in the sufferer, and the mighty hand of God presses down upon him. He feels it in his whole condition, taking soundness from his flesh, and health from his bones. His sin is the burden upon him, a burden he has not strength to carry.

2. We have next the humiliation and misery of it. The wounds become open sores, which stink and are corrupt. But this corruption has its root in "folly," the opposition spiritually to divine wisdom. He is bent and bowed down under the pressure: mourning all the day long. Again, he cries out of the disease that fills him, no soundness anywhere at all; and again he complains of his feebleness, with an anguish that continually increases.

3. But in the very One who smites faith finds its refuge. He, the Omniscient, is not regardless of his desire, nor ignorant of his misery. To Him he turns when he is, as it were, forsaken of himself, and when his intimates avoid him as under the stroke of God; only his enemies remain, busy with plots against his life. With all this he is like a man deaf and dumb his mouth stopped, as one before God (Ps. 39:9). Self-restrained, he has no reproofs, though their wickedness is transparent. But he has left all to God, in whom he anchors himself and is at rest. God shall answer for him.

4. But to Him he can speak therefore, and put it all before Him: and accordingly we find now the trial so put, but more the external part of it, the worst having found relief. First, the attitude of the enemies, ready to use every slip of his to exalt themselves by it. Himself too, so conscious of his readiness to halt, humbled and discouraged by his failure, the reality of his sin which he could not hide, and at which his soul trembled. And that which had abased and cast him down had strengthened and multiplied too his enemies, who persecuted him in fact, not for the failure which he confessed, but for the good which, spite of the failure, he had really followed. Common enough, we all know, is such conduct on the part of those who would fain hide under a cloak of righteousness what is mere hatred of righteousness itself! But how bitter then to the soul those sins of the righteous which give them their desired opportunity! But they use these to their own ruin, while God uses them to the humbling of His people, that He may come in for them.

5. So the psalmist turns to Him once more. The unerring government of God will make no mistake. He knows, after all, those who own Him God, their God; who cling in the consciousness of weakness and worthlessness to Him as Saviour. Their sins cannot make their need of Him less as that, nor change the Unchangeable, who, undeceived from the beginning, and for no good in them, has taken such place of relationship toward them. So the cry that ends the psalm has in it these tokens — so simple as they are — of answer and acceptance, Jehovah my God", "Lord, my salvation"! He who can cry from the heart thus will certainly find God no less than his faith accounts Him.

Psalm 39.

Man's frailty seen in the light of divine government.

To the chief musician, to Jeduthun: a psalm of David.

The closing psalm of this threefold series is most general in its character. It shows us sin as the cause, under divine government, of the frailty and vanity of human life and the heart of the righteous, exercised by this, coming to realize and acquiesce in it with all its humiliation. Thus, spite of its gloomy theme, it is for Jeduthun, the praise-giver," that the psalm is appointed, and this is so according to rule that all the strangeness has passed out of it.

The psalm divides naturally into two parts, the first of which is an Ecclesiastes dirge over the misery of man's "short space," while the second gives the judgment of its cause, the recognition of God's chastening because of sin, and that His "looking away" from man is his only hope. This, of course, is a very partial view of things; but the exclusion of the evangelic treatment of this — of which the psalmist, as we have seen, cannot be thought so ignorant as might appear — only brings more prominently into sight the matter which occupies him, which is, in fact, the evil and not the good; although it be true, and what is sought in it, that the complete judgment of the evil is itself a good, and allows the ever-ready grace to come freely in. The next psalm returns to Christ, and to His work of propitiation.

1. The sorrow into which he is plunged provokes the psalmist to thoughts that are so full of question, that in the presence of the wicked, ever fretting against God, he is afraid to utter them for fear of sin. He muzzles himself, therefore, and is dumb, even as to good, for he dare not trust himself. But the fire in his heart breaks out at last, and he cannot refrain. He speaks, but to the Lord alone.

He cries, then, to know his end, his days that are measured, and yet he knows not the measure. Alarmed at his frailty, he is alarmed also at how little he realizes his frailty. His days are handbreadths merely, and God has given them their limit, a short space which is really nothing before the Eternal. It is the common condition of man: take the most stable, what is he? a puff of air — a breath.

{*Verse 5 'short space' (hand-breadth), Cheled, "transitoriness."}

Then the unreality this gives to things, even while they last! vain disquietude; vain heaping up of what has presently to be left to others, he knows not whom. This is a trite story; but we are too certainly actors in it to allow its triteness to abate its interest for us.

{Verse 6 'Unreality',  Tzelem, "image."}

2. He turns once more to the Lord, to express the hope he has in Him. He has no expectation elsewhere, but here at once the remembrance of his sins confronts him; he needs deliverance from these he prays that on this account he may not be made the reproach of the fool — the impious — with whom, spite of all, he is not. Conscious of the chastening hand upon him, he was dumb, his mouth stopped, for he could not open it against God. Yet he can make supplication for the removal of the stroke, the blow of His hand under which he is being consumed. And such is man's condition: his beauty ephemeral as the moth, but as the correction of perversity: for, with his Father's goods on his hand, he uses them to enjoy himself away from Him, and thus must find the famine in order to be brought back. Every man is therefore but a breath.

Now he breaks out into prayer again, turning his condition into an argument for the pity of the Merciful One. A "stranger" had careful provision made for him in Israel; and a "sojourner," like David's Moabitish ancestress, could reckon upon the shelter of the wings of the God of Israel. "I," too, he cries, "am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, like all my fathers." A stranger and sojourner is the guest of God, and to prove the largeness of His hospitality.

But he goes further than this, and in a prayer that seems at first to be contradictory to it. "Look away from me," he says, "that I may recover strength," (or, more literally, "brighten up,") before I go hence and be no more." But why "look away"? Certainly not that he wants God to forget him, but the contrary; but he is conscious of his sinfulness, which is the cause of all the sorrow and evil of his life; if a holy God is to look at that, what hope can there be for him? Surely none; and he and sin are so identified, God must look away from him — must not regard him — that he may have peace or comfort at all. The psalmist can elsewhere supplement this thought with what is necessary to explain it rightly. He can say, "Look upon the face of Thine Anointed" — Thy Christ (Ps. 84:9); and thus it is that, according to the gospel paradox, God, can regard us, just as not regarding us. Here, as already said, it is the very purpose of the psalm to give expression to the sense of the evil in us: we shall have no difficulty in fitting to it then the compensating and glorious truth. Repentance and faith are but the opposite sides of all real conversion. With the back on self, the glory of Christ is ever manifest.

Section 3. (Ps. 40, 41.)

The manifestation of the heart of Christ, and the hearts of men.

The first book closes with two psalms which are in emphatic contrast with one another; the second containing in itself also a contrast of very significant character, a most fitting close to those counsels of God as to Christ which the first book has so largely for its theme. Such contrasts, when really, as in the present case, complementary to one another, are contained in all competent witness, and necessary to it; and the two psalms here become thus an inspired nota bene, — a moral to which our attention is called, and worthy of the deepest possible consideration.

As a third section of the third subdivision of the book, these psalms lead us into the holy of holies, — the sanctuary of the divine thought. And in the fortieth psalm it surely is so. We have here the heart of Christ laid bare to us, the ark of the covenant opened, and the foundations of the throne of God among men, as a veritable "mercy-seat," discovered. "Thy law," says the One coming forward to take up His predestined path of suffering to maintain it, — "Thy law is within my heart." Thus the meaning of sacrifice becomes apparent also, just where Israel's shadows fade away; that which God could have no delight in being replaced by that which is now His complete satisfaction, — which has in it therefore the savor of eternal rest and the assurance of perfect blessing. As the twenty-second psalm is that of the sin-offering, as we have seen, and the sixty-ninth, as we shall see, if the Lord will, hereafter, is that of the trespass-offering, so here we have plainly the burnt-offering, — that which, tried fully by the fire of divine holiness, has nothing in it but sweet savor, and all goes up to God therefore as such. The number of the psalm, as that of perfect trial, may have to do with this, even though it is but seldom that in the whole series of the Psalms, the separate numbers shine out as this does. They may yet do so, if the Lord give competency to interpret the higher arithmetic involved. We shall not, however, prophesy as to this, but simply call attention to its suitability in this case.

The forty-first psalm, as already said, is in entire contrast with the preceding one. Here the heart of man is opened to us indeed, but it is not that of the perfect Man, but of men, either conscious of their need, and turning to Him whose grace alone can meet it, or else hardened and ignorant, and misinterpreting what grace has done. The perfect Man is, however, in this psalm also, but in a guise which to unbelief is sure to be a stumbling-block, — a guise which faith alone can penetrate. And it is not an arbitrary decree which has made it so: it is a necessary result of man's false judgment of himself. Repentance and faith go necessarily together: only the lost soul needs and finds the Saviour of the lost.

Psalm 40.

The one obedience by which many are made righteous.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David.

The fortieth psalm has plainly for its theme that one perfect obedience of the Man, Christ Jesus, which sets aside and replaces all the sacrifices of the law, — is therefore that in which the believer finds acceptance before God, the obedience whereby many are made righteous. And this, though essentially what all offerings speak, is what the burnt-offering explicitly brings before us. The sin-offering shows the place of distance and wrath from God necessitated by the holiness of God, if atonement is to be wrought by it. The trespass-offering presents the thought of restitution, the amends made by it to the government of God. The peace-offering dwells upon the effect, the breach repaired, peace made, communion with God enjoyed. But the burnt-offering alone exhibits the voluntariness of the offering, the perfection of the sacrifice in its inner reality, the full trial according to divine holiness, the Offerer being in view as well as the offering, and the sweet savor resulting. It is thus the offering which fulfills the purpose of the altar, and gives it its character as the "altar of burnt-offering," being indeed that which goes up to God continually upon it.

1. The psalm divides into two parts, the first of which gives us the blessed obedience itself; the second, the contrasted consequences for friends and enemies: the world being thus indeed divided necessarily by the reception or rejection of that which in its own intent is peace to all. This is seen also in the psalm that follows, as already noted, but in a different manner, as will be realized on taking them up.

(a) The first section gives us, according to what we have seen to be so commonly the manner in the Psalms, the deliverance out of the sorrows which the rest of the psalm then takes up and describes. Jehovah's faithfulness and sufficiency are here the theme: manifested in answer to the patient endurance of One who has been in the very "pit of destruction," but to be delivered out of it necessarily by this very faithfulness. He leaves his case wholly in Jehovah's hands. All is to be determined by Him, and thus effectually and forever.

Self-deliverance is indeed impossible for any beside Himself, in this place into which He has come. The "miry clay" would prevent any effort of this kind being effectual. But this patient Sufferer meditates no escape. The deliverance being of God, will be for the bringing of many to the blessedness of confidence in Jehovah, and to delight in His wondrous ways. "We believe," says the apostle, "on Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead: who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:24, 25). This resurrection of Christ identifies God with this suffering Saviour, and bears witness to the salvation as complete and accepted. Where those blessed feet have found the "rock," the feet of every poor sinner may find it now. His resurrection is the clearing from guilt of all those whose sins He bore, and has borne away. He is in heaven, all the shadow passed from His blessed face, and the glory of God shining there instead. What a "gospel" is this "glory of Christ"* for one who apprehends its meaning!

{*As 2 Cor. 4:4 should be translated. The translators have rendered it as a mere Hebraism, "glorious gospel," instead of "gospel of the glory," as the Revised Version rightly gives it.}

And thus the song of the Risen One is truly a "new song" begun: the song of accomplished redemption, — of God able to tell out all His heart, and having told it out, awaking the eternal echoes with His praise, "many shall see it and fear, and put their trust in Jehovah." Now, how blessed is the man that does so! And how blessed will be his portion in those dark days of prophecy which the Psalms continually look on to, when "the proud and those who turn aside to lies" will be found on every side! the days of Antichrist, "the liar" (1 John 2:22), and of the "strong delusion" to be sent on those who "believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:11, 12).

This section ends with the joyful ascription to God of wondrous works, and gracious "thoughts to usward," quite beyond utterance. It reminds us of John's similar declaration as to the works of Christ, which, "were they all written every one, even the world would not contain the books that should be written." Suitable, indeed, to awaken such thoughts, that interposition in behalf of men which both the psalmist and the evangelist have before them. It is the theme of eternity, and time is all too narrow for it.

(b) We now go back to see the path that led into these depths, and the principle which carried Him on and sustained Him in it to the end. We find it is a path of service and testimony to God, which reminds us of the characteristic bullock of the burnt-offering. The ox we know to be the type of the patient laborer (1 Cor. 9:9, 10). And here first we have that reference to the sacrificial offerings, the true meaning of which is so perfectly in contrast with that given it by so many of the blind critics of the day, who see in it the disclaiming of the divine institution of sacrifice in Israel. Leave out Christ indeed out of the passage, — make it simply David, or some nameless Maccabean writer, or any one else you please, — then the consequences of this unbelief will naturally follow, and darkness result from leaving out the light. But we may well take the apostle's application, with the consistent unity which the whole psalm gains by it, as a sufficient justification for the omission of all the reasoning on that side. It is true that the One personated by the psalmist here does represent Jehovah as having no delight in "sacrifice and offering"; but it is because He has in view, not the fragmentary and spotted obedience of any ordinary man, but the glorious Antitype of these sacrifices, who could say in a sense no other could, "ears hast Thou digged for Me," and anticipate thus the time when "burnt-offering and sin-offering" would be no more required. To put the past for the future is the common style of Old Testament prophecy; and the preceding "ears hast Thou digged for Me" is of course as much a past of this kind as is that which follows it.

The apostle accepts the reading (or interpretation) of the Septuagint, "A body hast Thou prepared Me," as at least the fair equivalent of the Hebrew here. The "ears digged" are to hear the divine Word; the "body prepared" is to do service with. In either case it is the perfect humanity that is before us of One in whom was no taint of evil, and no consequence of sin inherent. The reference in the Hebrew seems not to be to the bored ear of perpetual service, as in Ex. 21 although it is Christ that is typified there, surely, and the line of truth is here so remarkably akin. But the expression is not the same in this case, and we have the plural and not the singular, while "a body hast Thou prepared Me" could not be derived from, or given as the rendering of, such an expression as this. It is generally agreed therefore that "ears hast Thou digged for Me" speaks in fact of creative gift. And yet it is surely true that this perfect humanity, this body prepared, is in fact the sign of a service which is not taken to be given up again. Man the Lord is still; and Man He will ever be. And this truth conveys to our hearts the precious assurance of His desire to be near us, with us, and to serve us still. Thus this difference seems after all to be scarcely in result a difference.

The ears are digged, the body is prepared: He then presents Himself for the accomplishment of the divine purpose, according to all that Scripture had foreshown of Him. The point of time — "then said I" — can only be, as the context shows, after manhood has been assumed. The words spoken also show this: not, as in the common version, "Lo, I come," but, as in the revised, "Lo, I am come."* He is already in the world, in the scene in which the purpose of God is to be fulfilled by Him, and signifies thus that He takes up His mission. The words that follow do not, I believe, refer to the book of divine counsels for eternity, (counsels which, however, are sufficiently declared by them,) but to the volume of inspiration which He opens for us: "in the volume of the book," He says, "it is written of ME." That is, "This very institution of sacrifice, in which, in the mere ceremonial fulfillment of it, Thou couldst have no delight, — this is written of Me: I am the One to whom it looked forward; my work is its true fulfillment."

{* Bathi; in the Septuagint and the Epistle to the Hebrews, heko, not erkomai.}

This surely completes the thought as to the insufficiency, and now the abrogation, of these legal sacrifices, while it puts honor upon them by showing their divine end. A most important statement it is, and from lips so manifestly inspired of God, that this law of sacrifice was written with regard to Christ! And this links with the next verse as plainly: "I delight to do Thy pleasure, My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." No doubt, this cannot be confined to the law of sacrifice, and yet it shows, as connected with what has gone before, what in fact the will of God which He came to do has specially in contemplation here: as the apostle applies it, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).

How this declares the way in which the Lord yielded Himself to the will of God as witnessed in Scripture! showing us at once the Author of those ritual observances held by many now in such dishonor, while at the same time giving them their true significance and power. It is the same glorious Person of whom we read in the gospels, saying to His disciples, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." and then, "after they had sung a hymn," going forth to that suffering by which the passover was to be fulfilled.

His public testimony corresponded with this inmost desire of His heart. Spite of the pressure of evil, righteousness in Him uttered itself aloud, and the world hated Him because He bare testimony of it that its deeds were evil. "I have preached righteousness," He says, "in the great congregation: lo, I have not withheld my lips, Jehovah, Thou knowest."

But most of all, it was to God He bare witness. "I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation: I have not hid Thy righteousness and Thy truth from the great congregation." Such was He then for whom man decreed as His reward the cross; and for whom God's good pleasure meant also the cross! God and man strangely at one in this, with yet most opposite thoughts and purposes; while He, with perfect consciousness of it all, moved onward toward the place which Satan alone — and he, with the knowledge which men had not, of His personal glory — would have forbidden Him!

(c) Behold Him then in the "pit of destruction"! there where innumerable evils press upon Him, and that as the righteous wrath of God upon iniquities as innumerable! He is suffering for that which, as He apprehends it, lying with its hideous shadow over Him, its awful weight pressing Him down, makes His heart fail, and His eyes unable to look up. These iniquities He confesses as His own, while yet He can appeal, not only to God's "loving-kindness," but to His "truth," to deliver Him. We can understand this of the Sin-bearer alone. The two verses that come together in this section of the psalm are both needful in order to explain the character of what is here. It is One of whom indeed the Levitical law of sacrifice was written; whose perfect obedience in the sinner's place sets it aside by complete and glorious fulfillment once for all. The salvation of which He had testified is here wrought out; God glorified, sin utterly condemned, in that which in the place of utter abandonment brings in the testimony to His righteousness and love. Righteousness and love can therefore come in in answer, and in behalf of those for whom this sacrifice is offered.

2. The second part of the psalm presents the contrasted consequences of this glorious work, according as men accept or are found in hostility towards it. The repetition of this part, with very slight changes, as an independent psalm (Ps. 70), will be better considered when we shall have reached it; but it was to be expected that the fact of this repetition should awaken conjecture, as it has done. But all is so perfectly in place, that there is not the least need to concern ourselves about it. There it follows the trespass-offering psalm, as here it forms the last part of the psalm of burnt-offering, — occupying thus an analogous place in regard to the corresponding view of the Lord's work, and answering to the last ten verses of the sin-offering psalm (the twenty-second).

We have here first the cry to Jehovah, the Unchangeable, the appeal being to His faithfulness as such, as we have seen before. Thereupon the Speaker realizes the confusion of His enemies, and sees the utter shame of those that mock at Him. On the contrary, those that seek God shall be joyful in Him, and those that love His salvation glorify His Name. He is poor and needy, yet the Lord hath regard to Him; and He concludes with a confident appeal for speedy deliverance.

Psalm 41.

The cross as seen by faith and by unbelief.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David.

The first book closes now with the double view of the Cross; as seen by faith or by unbelief; with the occasion and the true ground of the latter. The work is accepted of God, who raises up the Worker, and sets Him before His face forever, while faith finds in it that which brings help and deliverance in every kind of trial and evil. The book ends with the ascription of praise; as the numerical structure indicates; from all the earth.

The psalm has three parts essentially; the fourth being but the praise with which all ends. The first part gives us the blessedness of the knowledge of that Poor Man; whose poverty makes many rich. Only with such an application can we see the true significance of this blessedness. To make it the recompense of mere benevolence; as is the common thought; would be not merely unevangelic, but render the body of the psalm wholly unintelligible. The Lord's own application of the ninth verse to Judas (John 13:18) would seem almost; at first sight; to necessitate that of the Speaker to Christ Himself. But the fourth verse; on the other hand; seems just as plainly to forbid this. How could He say, as the psalmist does, "Heal my soul; for I have sinned against Thee"? But the subject of the psalm, as even the first verse shows; implies a mystery. There is something which needs an understanding heart, and that something concerns in some way the "poor man;" to whom we may then naturally expect our attention to be directed. Faith penetrates the mystery, and finds unspeakable blessing. Unbelief reads it in quite another way, and its recompense is in correspondence with this; an opposite one.

This word "poor;" although a possible rendering of the Hebrew; is not the only one possible; nor (I believe) its significance in this case. The meaning of the original is "swinging, waving to and fro;" hence "wavering; weak, exhausted," and thus may be used as synonymous with "poor;" but this weakness may; of course; be produced in a very different way, — as by injury or by sickness; and here the enigma of the psalm begins. "Weakened" the Sufferer is; but from what cause? Look on to the fourth verse, and his own words seem to make it still more equivocal: "I said; Jehovah, be favorable unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against Thee." Indeed, this seems more than equivocal: healing must; no doubt, be as needful in the case of "bruising" as of disease; but how explain of the Sinless One; "I have sinned against Thee"? Strong as the expression is; even this is not decisive; and; if we cannot easily accept it as suitable from the lips of the Substitute for sinners; Bishop Horsley has well reminded us that the same word exactly is used by Judah; in the book of Genesis; where we must unquestionably render it; as the common version does, "bear the blame" or "sin" (Gen. 44:32: chatathi lo.).

The words; then; may be equivocal, and designedly so; and yet all the more suit the application to the Lord here. For here is just the mystery which faith is called to penetrate. Granted that this suffering implies sin, and is owned to do so; yet is it "in;" or only "on," the One who suffers? Think of the darkness on the Cross; and the awful cry that God had forsaken Him; — the seeming justification of the accusations of His enemies! How natural to the heart; ignorant of its need; to say; "A thing of Belial cleaves to him," which the common version renders; "an evil disease": unbelief so interpreting this "heal my soul"; while faith; adoring, sees the atoning sacrifice!

Thus; then; the meaning of the psalm emerges; completely in accordance with its connection with the preceding one, and its place at the conclusion of the book. It is the moral conclusion: unbelief the result of hostility in heart to Him who has in the very revelation of God to man; revealed him to himself. Thus "Me the world hateth;" He says; "because I bear witness of it; that its deeds are evil." Unbelief is the issue of unrepentance; and fatally misinterprets all the divine ways. Grace is an offense to it; the humiliation of Christ a stumbling-stone; the cross an inconceivable requirement on God's part: the whole mystery of "God manifest in flesh" is utterly rejected.

1. "He weakened my strength in my journey," says the Sufferer of the 102nd psalm; "He shortened my days." Yet this is He who of old laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the work of His hands. They, therefore; may pass, but He remaineth (comp. Heb. 1:10-12). We can realize; therefore; the happiness of the man who understandeth as to the Weakened One. It is the clear sight of faith which discerns the glory of Christ under the veil of His sufferings: therefore "in the evil day Jehovah will deliver him." Whatever the character of the evil, grace will manifest its sufficiency. Enemies; though there may be many in a hostile world; cannot prevail against him: "Jehovah will preserve him, and keep him alive; and Thou wilt not give him up to the will of his enemies." Be the attack from within, and upon the forces of life, "Jehovah will sustain him on the bed of languishing: Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness."

2. These, then, are blessings attendant upon faith; though in their character as here given; they have the external aspect so marked in the Old Testament. The psalm, then — though the Speaker may be the same — takes voice as the utterance evidently of the Weakened One Himself, — faith's mysterious object. And here is the text with all its mystery, upon which unbelief now comments after its own manner: "I said, Jehovah, be favorable to me: heal my soul, for I have sinned [or, borne sin] toward Thee." There is the mystery: "sinned," "borne sin," — which is it? And this is that which the heart-stricken cry upon the cross involves. Even now, multitudes of even true believers have never realized its true meaning. Was that forsaking simply His being given up to death? was that the unequaled sorrow, — unequaled only because of the glory of Him who endured it? Here that very glory which faith discerns in Him, seems as if it had blinded it to the depths into which He must descend. In the darkness over the cross at mid-day, they see not the outward expression of the Light of light withdrawn, but nature's sympathy with the dying Saviour. They talk of "equivalent penalty", nay, of "substitute for penalty," and of His death as but the "close of His life-work." From this descent has been made through every possible phase of unbelief to the complete denial of atonement, in any true sense of the word. But we will not follow this now: look back only at the sin-offering (Lev. 4 — 5:13), and see how great may be the "poverty" of apprehension, to which God has been pleased yet to come down, because in the Christ that faith confesses there is a divine sufficiency, where the apprehension of the work itself is yet all-insufficient.

But we turn to look back at the awful enmity of his maddened adversaries. "Mine enemies speak evil of me: When will he die, and his name perish?" True it is, they are strangers to His glorious Name, or they could not ask such a question. As the apostle says, "Whom none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor. 2:8). Of course: they would not have dared. None the less had they seen in Christ the image of God, and seen it to hate it only. He who hates goodness hates of necessity the God of all goodness, and yet may not know that it is God he hates. Thus Christ in the world tested the world, and "the world knew Him not" (John 1:10); and yet "light had come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). Thus, in either way, the story may be truly told, and in either way be the same story: for evil knows not good, — cannot fathom it, or believe in it; "the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5). Faith in the light is only coincident with a new birth — a new nature.

In the next verse the hypocrisy that links itself with this real enmity is manifest: "And if he come to see me, he speaketh deceit: his heart gathereth falsehood to itself; when he goeth without, he speaketh it." Thus he finds just what he looks for; his heart is a magnet that, by a terrible principle of natural selection, attracts wickedness to itself; — wickedness which it has forged first. Then he goes out and proclaims his acquisition; but indeed to show himself out for what he is.

Then come plots and treacherous whisperings, and they persuade themselves that God is against the One they would make their victim. "A thing of Belial," they say, "cleaveth fast to him; and now that he lieth, he shall rise up no more." How readily the cry upon the cross would be for such an implication of guilt! God Himself confessedly against the holy Sufferer; and this was but the last, doubtless, in their eyes, of many similar things. The betrayal of Judas closes the story of man's uttermost wickedness with the spurning heel of a false friend. The sop dipped in the dish was the sign of friendship: he receives it, and goes out; love's last witness finding no response, — "after the sop, Satan entered into him" (John 13:27).

3. Such, then, is man, and towards Him who in grace has come to be his Deliverer. But if he is thus in his innermost heart revealed, God manifests Himself at length in behalf of the object of his enmity. This is not needful here to be told at length, for it has been again and again the subject of these psalms; but it is clearly enough shown out in the words of the same Speaker who has been heard throughout. He is answered in resurrection, raised up for the recompense of friends and foes alike. The enmity of His adversaries cannot prevail against Him in whom Jehovah delights. His perfection is owned, and in it He is sustained, and set before the face of God forever. There is but One of whom all this could be said, and the psalm as a whole speaks of Him, as we have seen. It is thus a most suited close to this precious first book of the divine counsels as to Christ.

4. The formal close in the last verse is, I believe, indicated by the number as the voice of man universally at last, giving praise to the God of Israel, the Eternal, from that eternity before time began, and now on to eternity — a praise therefore which contemplates all time from first to last, the period of the creature and his failure, and of the dishonor done to the glorious Creator by his means. It is sealed with the Old Testament "verily, verily," which the Christ of the New has taken up and made His own.