J. N. Darby.
In continuing to communicate to you the headings of the Psalms, which you desire, I must still leave them as they really subsist, as the passage of my own mind through the inquiries, whose results only can give the full satisfaction of more complete thoughts; and those who read them will not find this satisfaction, unless they study the Psalms, and not merely read the notices of them. I am however fully confirmed in the character and precision of the views they lead to, and the justness of the statements contained. Further study of the Psalms led me to divide them into five distinct books, having each distinct characters, the second of which you now have. This division arose from the subjects and the character of the relationship of Christ with Israel, and through Israel with the world, and both therein with God in each of the divisions; and I came to definite, and to my mind interesting, conclusions thereon. I was surprised to find (what want of attention or study had left me ignorant of before) that this division was one marked, precisely as I had marked it, in large editions of the Hebrew Bible. This naturally confirmed me in the idea (whatever the source of these ancient divisions) that my mind had been mercifully led by truth, and not by natural imagination.
265 As noticed heretofore, Psalms 1, 2 having given first the man of perfect legal righteousness and therefore flourishing in all his ways, and secondly the King exalted on Zion's throne of God, and judging and breaking to pieces hostile Gentiles, the Psalms which follow present the astonishing enigma (solved only by the deeper knowledge of the counsels of God) of Him (in whom alone these characters were true, and those united with Him in His ways, and by the working of His Spirit in them), instead of prospering (outwardly), being in misery, afflicted, despised, betrayed among God's people, and forsaken apparently of God (in one sense really), and the Gentiles domineering over them without hindrance. This enigma, in the pleadings of the Spirit of Christ in all the circumstances, the dealings of God in them, and the display of all His ways and depths thereby (for the real sources of it were all the depths of God's character) are brought out in these Psalms, as felt, understood, and expressed by Christ.
The first of these five divisions (Psalms 1-41) views Christ rather in His sufferings in the midst of them, in the discovery of the people He is among, and the responsible relationship to God He therein assumes, as identifying Himself with the saints; it lays the basis therefore of the whole matter.
In the second division (Psalms 42-72) we have Him, and therefore the remnant of the latter day, by the successful supremacy of the Gentiles in their antichristian power (consequent upon the rejection of Him by the Jews, and their dependence on and union with that power), cast out of Jerusalem, and speaking as so cast out by the Spirit of Christ. Thus from Psalm 42 to 49 we have the appeal of Christ's Spirit in them, under the loss of all Jehovah promises against the Gentiles; Psalm 42, against the Jews as an ungodly nation; Psalm 43, their desolation in a state of righteousness and cry; Psalm 44, Messiah the King; Psalm 45, the God of Jacob the refuge of the remnant; Psalm 46, their triumph for and in the presence of the world; Psalm 47, the great moral lesson, Psalm 49, of which resurrection is the real secret as regards all that is in the world. Psalms 50, 51 are a great judicial lesson on Israel, and their confession thereon, and thus righteousness in God vindicated, and grace meeting it restoratively: verses 1, 2, the whole state of things; then the declaration of the manner of it, "coming to judge," "the heavens called," the earth summoned that Israel may be judged but as "Ammi;" the saints assembled below, the heavens however declaring His righteousness, but judgment beginning with the declaration now, "my people," "thy God." Psalm 51 is the full national confession. The other Psalms enter into the various exercises of heart and development of relationship with God, consequent upon the general position stated, of positive exclusion from the enjoyment of known blessings; but bringing in by grace much fuller enjoyment to them, and the truth of man's real state in all the world proved by it. The circumstances connected with these subjects are gone through, though imperfectly, in the notes on each respective Psalm. The character spoken of in this book of the Psalms, occasions that (except in two Psalms of which the study will explain the difference) it is God as such, and not Jehovah who primarily is addressed. Jehovah being the name of existing covenant relations, and not the moral condition of a justly cast out people, then standing in themselves, as even in their nakedness before Him; though the Spirit of Christ might take up their cause and be their strength — strength beginning in their confession of what they were.
266 Psalm 42 seems to be a complaint against the Gentiles, and therefore specially referable to the latter day; while Psalm 43 is against the Jews. That it is the complaint of the godly in the latter days I cannot doubt: compare Joel 2:17. But we must always remember that Christ fulfilled these sufferings in His own person (specially as far as the elect are concerned in them), and therefore was, on the one hand, witness in them of the faithfulness of God for others to act on, and, on the other, able to succour, etc. (Heb. 2:18), and therefore can speak them in His own person. This however is of the remnant more especially themselves. It is not, observe, "of David." We should also observe that, except in verse 8 where it is introduced as the name of faithfulness, it is "God" alone that is used in these two Psalms, not "Jehovah;" and this is a most important point. "God," as such, is the refuge of the soul. We know that Jehovah, He is the God, and God is Jehovah: still the idea is definite and important; I say now not merely prophetically, in which it is uniform and consistent, but in its force as the definite object of the soul. "My soul thirsteth for God;" and all is the "mystery of God;" and note therefore the spirit of these two Psalms much.
267 Psalm 43 I would add, though doubting it at first, that it appears to me verse 1 is characteristic, and its emphasis is on character and not person. Believing the interpretation right, it gives this verse remarkable force, for the Jews are called goi; and note the word lo-chasid.Chasidim, we have elsewhere observed, is the name of the Jewish saints, as in the latter Psalms.
It seems to me the time when the remnant will have lost the privileges of public worship (having been obliged to flee away), the nations in general rather than Gog being the oppressing enemy. It also shews that the remnant, as noticed latterly, will have till then gone with the multitude and counted them chasid, but now la, that is, but a goi; and this explains much.
Psalm 44 is the voice of the remnant arguing from the faithfulness of faith, that it was the Lord and not their own arm which had delivered them, that the same arm could deliver them in any circumstances. It is spoken under the apparent utter dereliction of the latter day; that is, the time between their outward prosperity, in which the wickedness of the Jews had grown up in the land, and the full blessings of Immanuel's deliverance, when the latter-day enemies should then come up on the land, and the remnant should, between them and the ungodly Jews, seem to be deserted. Paul quotes it as evidence of the portion of the remnant (ver. 22 with Rom. 8:36), and as the Holy Ghost recognizes it as the portion of the accepted remnant, or the voice of the Spirit in their mouth, it was evidence of anything but their rejection. And thus the testimony of evil becomes the evidence of acceptance, to secure the faith of those on whom the evil falls when it comes: so our Lord, "these things I tell you before it come to pass." (John 14:29; 16:4.) This is a gracious arrangement of God (the Lord). The written sufferings are the evidence of the acceptance of those on whom they fall, when their faith might be shaken, so that "out of the eater comes forth sweetness:" "we are more than conquerors."
Psalm 45 is Messiah's triumph, reign, and union with the Jewish bride. It seems to me the Spirit as in the remnant. It is Christ as the Head of the Jewish people as King, the full spiritual recognition of Him. Verse 10 manifestly turns from the celebration of Christ the King, to address just admonition to the queen, Jerusalem, at His right hand. This is manifestly (to me) the Jewish bride in its perfect state; but it is as received in the way of grace, and therefore "a daughter," and to forget her father's house — the whole question once argued between Christ and the professors of that people. The people who are to praise her when thus restored are the Ammim, "the gathered" Gentiles of the latter day, or new day rather. Having these points determined, the Psalm is manifest in its contents and full of the richest matter. It is the union of Christ with the Jewish bride in its proper character, with the glory of both celebrated by the Spirit. Righteousness is the character of Christ as a Jew, so "therefore God thy God," etc. It is prophetic; the voice of the remnant, who did not see His glory as a present thing, to Jerusalem, now called to Him in the latter day, and recognizing His glory in Spirit when so coming. Moreover it is consolation for Christ, the real mind of the Spirit in His humiliation; for this spake the "groanings which could not be uttered" in Simeon and Anna, and all those who looked for redemption; and they were so interpreted by God.
268 Psalm 46 is the song of the remnant in the turning-point of the circumstances of the latter day; that the God of Israel was, and had proved Himself to be "their God;" that He was true to them, as His chosen. The exercise of faith on the deliverance and interposition of the latter day, recognizing God, and so putting themselves into the position of His people.
Psalm 47. This triumph of the remnant is quite plain, as also the call unto all people. Verse 9 (ver. 10 in Heb.) is the only one which calls for inquiry, and the expression is a very interesting one, though in the first instance the construction is difficult; "people" is Ammim, a word we have often noticed; Gentiles brought in, having the name of a people now, as on rejoining the Jews, and not in their national distinctiveness of power. "Or ever I was aware, my soul set me in the chariots of Amminadib, my willing people"; here the nadibi ammim (verse 9, translated the princes of the people) are gathering together; "for to him shall the gathering of the ammim be."
The difficulty is the apparent disconnection of Am, but it is, I suspect, as ever in Hebrew, the strength of the sense. They are gathered into unity with the people of the God of him who received as his name and title, "the father of many nations." It is in the exaltation of the Am of the God of Abraham — the people of the Jews, that they, the Gentiles, are brought in under the then presence of God's calling power, into blessing and gathering; so that He should be (Elohi col ha-aretz) "the God of the whole earth." (Isa. 54:5.) "Gathering" is one of the names of Christ, "gathering into one the (Bennai Elohim) sons of God that were scattered," and then all (as here) on earth in Israel; "for the shields of the earth belong to God," or are, in fact, now God's, "who is greatly exalted"; "for the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." God is the shield of Abraham also (Gen. 15:1), therefore He is gathering in heaven and earth all into one. It is a very interesting Psalm; Col ha-aretz, "all the earth," should be its title along with the circumstance, of being sung by them to Malchenu, "our king." (See verses 6, 7, 8, in Heb.)
269 Psalm 48 also is manifest: It is the destruction or disappointment of the antichristian confederacy, and enjoyment by the believing remnant of their former but renewed mercies: "as we have heard, so have we seen." Nothing can be more touching than verse 9. Verse 10 is worthy of notice. His name is indeed what God is to His people, as revealed to their faith. It is, and has been, matter of their faith and reliance upon Him; but now more, He had accomplished that which His name declared.
Psalm 49 seems to me an address of the Spirit in the mouth of the remnant in the latter day, I think, flowing from the state of the Jews, who have taken unbelievingly the promises in a merely earthly way, and therefore not of God; that is, who are living at ease in Palestine; but also referring to the ungodly Gentiles who think to have the world in possession. It marks, however, the false security of the world: chaled, the transitory character of time (Ps. 89:47), which passes away as a moth fretting a garment. It is the security of the people of God, being redeemed from the power of the grave, which would destroy and "gnaws" (ver. 14) the hope and security of those who are not God's. It is enabling faith to say what the Lord said of the remnant, "Blessed are ye poor." It is the instruction qualifying our faith to unite in the expression of the Son of man. The Maschil (the moral which consists in the contrast between the world's attempt to build itself selfishly and individually a house, and the redemption of the poor and rejected godly ones) is simple and manifest. The redemption from the power of the grave does not affirm resurrection, but just this much — deliverance from it. At the same time the principle of all this was fully verified in our Lord — the remnant all through; and as to this last point, His not seeing corruption was a literal fulfilment of it, though He saw death.
270 From Psalm 42 to 49 is one book of the remnant's songs. To the end of Psalm 44 are their sorrows. In Psalm 45 they are turned to the king; then the results, the God of Israel being found to be with them. They are regarded as from the time of the separation of the fleeing remnant consequent upon the heathen getting into possession.
Psalm 50 is the actings and principles of God towards Israel at the time of God's shewing Himself. The thesis is manifest; the application and force of the argument towards Israel, as to its condition intermediately, is very plain. It is the summons of the saints, witnesses of God's righteousness intermediately, and Israel thereon brought into question, with the assertion however, and founded on "I am God, even thy God," when God manifests Himself, when God is Judge Himself. It is the judicial act wherein the saints in covenant with God in Christ are assessors, and the Jewish people, His earthly people, called up to plead; where God, the God of the remnant of the Jews, speaks and comes, calling "the earth, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same." It is applied to the instruction and advice of them who recollect, as well as those who forget God among the Jews, in warning for that time. To verse 6 is the forming of the session. Then from verse 7 is the statement of the pleading on God's part (though there is a nicety of distinction in it, the tenor however, is unaffected by it, which I believe, is what is stated): the word for saints (ver. 5) is not Kodshim but Chasidim. I believe the former, not the latter, are the saints in glory (and these would be the Jewish remnant). The heavens declaring His righteousness (ver. 6) includes the others however; and the great result of blessing, then universal, comes in also unto them. Also note them coming in under the covenant of sacrifice, as indeed they and all saved must; but this is not merely the rescuing the remnant in Palestine, but a much more extensive and indeed universal work, when He shall gather (as the heavens also now declare His righteousness) His elect scattered Jewish remnant from the four quarters of the earth, after the appearance of the glory and the utterance of His voice in Jerusalem. The result is after the appearance of God in Zion: verses 1, 2, state the great result, "speaking" — "calling the earth" — "shined out of Zion." The manner of it, "God shall come" — "He calls to the heavens"; these are the saints whom He brings in — and "to the earth," for He judges His people. The result is, that the gathering, the righteous Jews and the heavens where the saints are already, declare his righteousness; the grounds of the judgment, to wit, on the Jews: against whom the saints coming in glory with Christ are witnesses that it was no unrighteousness on God's part; but it was their practical unrighteousness, and their supposition that, while this was so, the sacrifices were worth anything, as if God were like themselves. This last principle is very extensive. The scene is the session after the resurrection of the saints, bringing in the heavens on the Jews as a people, but, as we have said, with the witness, "I am God, thy God," calling them Ammi. It is an exceedingly interesting Psalm. We learn also that not till and in the judgment of the Jews does Jehovah thus effectually call the earth "from the rising of the sun," etc.; and then He "shines out of Zion the perfection of beauty," saying, "their God," and Ammi, my people.
271 Psalm 51: The application of this to the sin and restoration of the Jews has been observed by others, and the mere carrying the idea through the Psalm will give its application too obviously and forcibly to need comment. There are some points, however, of which I am not at present master; for example, Is there any type in the circumstances, and what is it? I will not enter now into the circumstances of the type, but we may note the wondrous identification of Christ with the Jewish people or with Jewish responsibility, and how the David of the Psalms is just this availing power in the deliverance of the remnant. He bore the very sin of them in His own death, and pleads as their representative for deliverance on this ground; so Isaiah 53. "He was wounded for their transgressions": what was their great transgression? His death! It is the true David thus pleading, thus identified, that this Psalm introduces, saying, "mine iniquities," etc.; for David is not Christ in His glory, though it may include triumph.
In Psalm 52 we have the energy of the Spirit of Christ risen up after Israel's confession of sin to contrast the position and character of Antichrist and the righteous remnant, in fact of Antichrist and Christ in Spirit; violence, self-confidence, deceit, constitute the character of the man of the earth. The contrast is dependence. This is always the Spirit of Christ in the Psalms. It is the helpless but perfect assurance of the believer, the beloved in the remnant, contrasted with the enmity, presumption, and therefore destruction of the last enemy — the Edomite and its consequences; it is simple and pointed.
272 Psalm 53: I do not think Psalms 14 and 53 are the same thing. Psalm 14 is the blessing of the faithful Jews by Jehovah in spite of the ungodly. Psalm 53, the destruction of the ungodly Gentiles also by God: compare Psalm 14: 5 and Isaiah 53:5. The thesis is in verse 1, "The fool." The folly of saying there is no God is proved by God's being in the generation of the righteous. (Ps. 14:5.) This in His character of Jehovah, by His confounding and scattering the camp of their enemies (ver. 5), this proved there was a God, and proved it to them; and in blessing to Israel His chosen.
The election of God is the proof that He is God properly: "ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, that I am God." (Isa. 43:12.) It is a remarkable Psalm from the connection between the evil ones of Israel, and the enemies, and the position in which they find themselves. We know from the apostle (Rom. 3) that those under the law, Jews, are spoken of. But the principle averred of them, stating a general principle, is "no God"; God's judgment looking down, "none doeth good, no, not one." It is in effect the revelation that, when God looked down, He found no good, not even in the Jews, His people nominally. This, though always true, was then manifested. He views them as God, not in Jerusalem, but looking down from heaven at men; for Israel are but as men, thence and indeed Lo-ammi it is every one, man (Benai Adam). The workers of iniquity is the general character, the Jews are found in it. In Ezekiel 34 the conduct even of Jews may be seen; it left them a prey to the beasts, the heathen. "My people," etc. (ver. 4), the remnant are called here in effect according to Psalm 46:2; consequently they, the unrighteous Jews, were in fear where there was no need for fear. "The sinners in Zion are afraid, though they have made a covenant with death, and are at agreement with hell." But there was no need to fear from this pride of men, for God scattered the bones of those who were encamped against Jerusalem. "God" (there is the question of righteousness; the others said, "no God") despised them; then the desire of the Spirit of Christ in the remnant — when God does that; they wait for it (that is, brings back the captivity of His people). It is "out of Zion," first in a remnant (compare Ps. 126), Jacob and Israel, the whole people shall rejoice, and Israel be glad. The existence and judgment (and afterwards actings) of God are the great question of this Psalm, justly adduced by the apostle to determine all questions of righteousness for man as in man. Salvation is another thing. It is cited as said to them under the law.
273 This class of Psalms, from 42 to 72, takes up the condition not merely of what Christ found Himself among the Jews, but in, and as, a separated remnant, who were concerned in the union of the evil antichristian power, the apostasy, and the body of the Jews (this remnant being driven out, as we have seen in Psalm 42); but the character of God in question in the earth from heaven, when He is what He is, not Jehovah in covenant in Jerusalem; the deliverance and interference of God in mercy to the Jews, properly guilty of blood-guiltiness. God in pure grace begins with the worst, through the Messiah whom they rejected, but united in His love with this separated remnant (thence Yachidim). Deliverance being given in Zion, God having scattered the bones of those who encamped against it, the desire for the deliverance and joy of Israel and Jacob bursts forth, and withal is accomplished, as noticed already in Psalm 126.
Psalm 54 is Christ as the object of God's deliverance, or saving power, including the desire of it (verses 1, 2) and acknowledgment (ver. 7), both important as shewing the position of Christ. It takes Him in His whole position as a Jew, from His first trial to the deliverance of the Jews in that day. The "name" is the manifestation of the internal and essential power and character, precisely what is obscured and injured in this world of confusion and evil. The "judging" is just the intervention of that name of power, so as to vindicate the consistency of Christ with it; which is the thread of order, of which Christ was the witness and which was attached to His name in the midst of evil, because He was it, and therefore the vindication of Him was the vindication of God's name. And so the "saving by His name" was peculiarly appropriate, for indeed it was the declaration of the identity of that name in God, with Christ as in the world; for He had that name in weakness. Therefore it is said, "Judge me by thy strength," that is, vindicate to me as in weakness, that very character and name which is Thine in strength, by the putting forth of Thy strength as vindicating itself. Now this is true as regards man by its suitableness, and as regards the object on account of its very weakness, because graciousness of love and faithfulness of kindness is part of the very name to be revealed, as may be seen in Numbers 14:15-19. This cannot be pursued farther here. "Thou hast loved," etc. John 17 is part of it. "O righteous Father" is again another, and "my God, my God," etc., and "therefore doth my Father," etc., "not unto us," etc. (Ps. 115), and even "be merciful to my sin, for it is great" (Ps. 25) proceeds on the same principle.
274 This is a subject full of interest, because the Church can always go on this ground (and it is a ground of unfailing righteousness), and say, "not unto us." The Church is set to declare the character of God, and in its weakness; therefore it cries for the vindication of this character. So Christ was enabled to say, "I know that thou hearest me always," but therefore also judgment must begin at the house of God. Thus Christ put Himself under these things, and it "became him," etc., but if these things be done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? For the judgment and character of God run on unchanged, and as He judges by, so will He judge in, His strength; but Christ is the vindication of the principles of God, because He is their personification in that very weakness in which the question arises. The application of God's power settles it. But we must not pursue this farther here.
It seems to me that this Psalm also would seem to make Christ speak in the language of mediatorial praise, as well as affliction, and observe the reason, (surely blessed be His name He does.) He is the mouth-piece, the efficient representative of our praise (as now), so especially in that day, and more especially as here, of the Jews. As to the application of the Psalm to the circumstances and person of Christ, I add, it is universally the name of God, and the strength of God, which is appealed to; but, as we have seen before, God is found (an only refuge actually for the position in which Christ sees things,) in contrast with all men. It puts the relationship in which the Spirit of Christ finds itself consequent upon the truth of Psalm 53. They are "strangers;" "God was not before them." God is his helper. It was not now a matter of covenant, for all this was forsaken, but abstract faith in God; but this faith produces sense and application of covenant. Christ is alone; but "Jehovah is with them that uphold my soul." The sense of favour on God's principles towards others is the restoration of one's own soul in righteousness; He does not say "with me," for He was as an outcast for our sake; because perfect, His trust in God as the one only perfect man, but this induced, and became the object of all concentrating grace afterwards. Therefore it is Jehovah, and all the trouble in result is passed.
275 Psalm 55 is Messiah's complaint of the Jews, from whom He had expected sympathy and concurrence. It is the departure (Matt. 16:13; Mark 7:24; John 11:54) as it were of Christ (in Spirit in the remnant) from the city in that day. He has discovered, they have discovered their true character. He retires, and His Spirit would retire ever so far from such a scene and state. But there is the energy of righteousness more marked in this (I speak not of its perfection), and the name of Jehovah is more speedily brought in. "How long shall I be with you?" saith the Lord; and even Moses, "accept not thou their offering." The treachery of those nominally associated with Him, the Jews with hostile power which gave it this character, as in Ahithophel. It is the consummation of the evil of Antichrist; the union of wickedness, there was none good; all gone together: thus their character is very remarkable all through here. There was nothing to be had but God, whose character changed not, if the prosperity changed not (ver. 19). A friend or religious associate was the worst because the nearest enemy. How this was personally verified in the blessed Saviour, all know; but it is carried out to all that solemn scene of the latter day, when those that are faithful must follow that faithful One and Guide, led of Him without the camp, blessed be His name!
Psalm 56 is the complaint of the Beloved as trusting in God's word, the faithfulness of God to His trust in Him, when He had to wander, not having where to lay His head in that land of which He was born and anointed King. Compare Hebrews 5:7, Psalm 69:13, 14, and Isaiah 49:8, a chapter singularly indicative of the union, evidently in the mind of the Spirit (in the view here taken) of the Lord and Israel. Though it is quite evident verse 3 of that chapter is literal, in verse 5 this assumption of the remnant into His character is marked. In verse 10 of this Psalm "his" is put in; it is the testimony on which the truth rests; we may notice the expression God and Jehovah, both are the objects of (his) faith: God, is that He is to do it; Jehovah, the covenant relationship on which the accomplishment depends; nothing can be more affectingly interesting than the comparison of David, and the Lord in the days of His wanderings; it is in His Jewish connection He is properly David: though all the covenant is broken now, yet it is sure. We may add, Israel being now judged, Christ speaking as cast out, it is "man goeth about." They all stood on the common ground of contrast with the God of heaven, on the rejection of Him who came amongst them. Verse 13 is the principle so often found of the power of deliverance from death; the resurrection the centre of this. Our portion is to "suffer with," theirs to be "delivered from."
276 Psalm 57 is at once the distress and the confidence of Messiah, when identified with the sorrows of the Jews (the remnant), when ready to be swallowed up (by the adversary). Its result, in full manifestation of the divine power in the heavens, and His glory over all the earth, is manifest. Verse 6, the reader of the Psalms must be familiar with, as the destruction of the enemies in the latter day. We may observe also verse 9 as connected with, and made illatively dependent on, verses 10, 11. The remedy for trouble, that is, the saint's trouble, is the exaltation of God; and then He will be exalted above the heaven, and His glory be in all the earth; the heavens and the earth will be brought together in Him, in reconciliation of full blessing.
In the same troubles and increased, he looks higher; not only trusting in faithfulness on the word, but the day star is arisen in his heart, for the night if long and dark is therefore far spent, "until these calamities be overpast." To the eye of heaven the earth is full of wickedness, but God shall send from heaven; accordingly at the close the praise is not vowed, but from a fixed heart, and called to awake, and praise among the people (Ba-ammim) proposed. For verse 11 is the actual millennial glory viewed as in the glory of God and Messiah desiring it for His (God's) sake. Yet, in fact, He who sought it for God, in Himself only and really is it accomplished. It is then a beautiful Psalm, verse 3, which brings out the beautiful expression of his position: "these calamities" evidently are the situation of the full development of evil in that day: the principle is ever true, for the Spirit of Christ is then manifested.
Psalm 58 is the glory of the righteous judgment of God against the Gentile oppressors. It is the righteous, most righteous, appeal in judgment to the wicked, to men themselves; a sense of righteousness of situation, rising over the manifest character of the wicked — character distinctly manifested by that situation. Therein the righteous judgment manifests itself to His spirit. The Jews are the expression of righteousness on the earth, hence this appeal; and righteousness is a right thing — verse 11, so that a man shall say, "Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth." This position is one of great importance, the Jewish manifestation of righteousness. The earth is the place for the manifestation of righteousness, that is, judicially, though the heavens shall declare it. Heaven is the place for grace, as it is written, "that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace." But God judges in the earth, and the Jews are the people whom He hath known for His; and in the connection of Christ with the Jews this can be accomplished and fully brought out as seen here: righteous in His promises to Abraham and his seed, and Christ in grace associating (in righteousness) a remnant herein to Himself, but here describing the position as in Himself, as perfect in all ways in it, from God and in man; and wickedness being therefore fully manifested, and then after all the grace to them, judgment a righteous desire. It proves in the union with hostile Gentiles to be a deeper principle — man. "He knew what was in man." Compare verse 1. Long His patience and grace, wonderful the salvation of the Church, now it all came fully out — then judgment; but it is from a place of destitution and righteous faith that it is thus set forth. Till Christ took perfect humiliation, in perfect righteousness accomplished it then in the midst of them (rejected) and in perfect grace towards them, justice had not its way. "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin." God could simply in righteousness have punished iniquity, but He could not have displayed Himself; but how then? In Christ He could in uttermost grace, manifesting a head of righteousness. On this being despised and spitefully entreated even after all (and the enemies of God proved), the righteous will rejoice when they see the vengeance — such suitably, not being come in judgment, Christ would feel as to the Pharisees, "My soul abhorred them" (Zechariah 11); but in the humiliation of Christ, with the remnant in the latter day, when wickedness is then accomplished, it is brought into much greater relief. He shall stand up yet for the people (all written in the book), "a time such as never was of trouble." This these Psalms describe by the Spirit of Christ entering actually, as He alone could, into all their estate
277 Psalm 59 is a remarkable instance of the identification of Christ with the house of Jacob in their latter-day extremity. We learn also the mistake of looking for the full meaning of any Psalm in any of the circumstances merely of the writer, as verse 5 abundantly shews. The former point is brought before us in comparing verses 1-3 (verses 1, 2, are the thesis), 5, 10, 11, 16: verse 12 gives the character of the enemies, compare Deuteronomy 17. Verse 13 gives the end or object of all this — verse 6 shews also their character; verse 14 their disappointment. Though the subject of these psalms be the same, we must not suppose that they are tautological. Various are the characters in which sin now come to a head presents itself; pride, lust, tyranny, ignorance of, and enmity against, the Lord Christ taking part in the afflictions of His sin-afflicted and enemy-afflicted people; and many correspondently are the ways, in which the position of Christ is shewn towards God, towards them, and towards their enemies. In these characters different psalms represent Him and them (and God as to the results), and the faithfulness of God drawn down towards them in Him, and due in Him. Therefore He says "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me, and I have declared," etc., "that the love," etc. Consequent upon this intercessional identification of Christ with the remnant against the heathen, we return again to outer enemies, the heathen. It is now, "My God" — "O Jehovah God of hosts" — "the God of Israel," dealing with the heathen, that He has taken up Israel as His people. God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Verse 3 is the character of their evil, it is not now a matter of correction, but pride. Verse 11 exhibits Christ owning them as His people, in this intercessional Psalm.
278 Psalm 60 is the half-doubting (through sense of casting off) but returning confidence of the Spirit of truth in the house of Jacob, through the sense that their enemies are not overcome, but, that the promise goes to results, which include that. In a word, it is the sense of the Spirit in the house of Jacob, when their enemies' presence has brought them into the full sense of their casting off, which indeed was (though the reconciling of the world spiritually) the abrogation of judgment in the earth, and the leaving of it by God; but at the same time led them to that looking to God which at once brought them, through grace, to all the promises; and so "through God we shall do valiantly." We have here, in verse 5, the appropriation of the Davidical name to the remnant, and the identification with him in name. As to its direct prophetical application, it is the remnant, those who feared God, given a banner, and emerging from the consciousness of their casting off, by this mercy, which pushes them to seek, by God's title, their inheritance, casting themselves on the God who had cast them off, as their only strength.
279 It appears from this psalm that Israel is fully recognized with Judah (ver. 7), and Judah in his best character, before God begins to act with them on the enemies around within the territory, and the Jews possess themselves of Edom. After their recovery from positive oppression and trials, they call upon God for help in their weakness for action; and verse 4 shews the latter, as verse 3 the former. Verse 10 invokes the God who had cast them off, as the God of their help. "He had not let them stumble for their fall." They now "stay no more upon those who smote them, but upon the Lord, the Holy One in truth." God and man are again contrasted, verse 11, but in honest faith and sincerity, humble yet sincere truth — after the past act of the positive trouble, under the sense of it looking for the strength which shall order and establish them as against their enemies; going with their anxious acknowledging it was the casting off of God — "accepting the punishment of their iniquity," owning they were cast off, still as with a trembling heart to themselves, yet true, holding the banner of God given to them, and calling themselves His beloved. The truth is to come out in connection with them. God is to tread down their enemies: an old position, on much better ground, to a humbled renewed people in whose heart God has put His laws and revealed their Messiah as Jehovah in righteousness, whom they once rejected. But here it is specially God and the people and the work in them, not the revelation to them. Here He stands at their head, receiving God on their return.
Psalms 61-66 I also find connected together. Instead of being Christ or the Spirit of Christ in the presence of His enemies or the people's (or remnant), it is in the presence of God in these circumstances — the calm appeal and judgment of circumstances in His presence. His Spirit conducts Him as man (and so the remnant) to a Rock higher than He, as man, or themselves. From the end of the earth or land, shut out from His holy presence in His temple, He, God is His tabernacle, God who has heard his vows. He has the heritage of them that fear God's name — his confidence is in Him; it is all through as associated with the Jews, I mean the Jews as distinct from Israel. Verses 6-8 are the expression of the character of this confidence: "generation and generation it shall be," yea for ever; we hear of "mercy and truth" which then shall meet together — a time of praise. In the midst of all the circumstances Psalm 62 calls the soul to wait "only upon God" — calls the people (Am) to "pour out their heart before God, for he is a refuge for us." Men are all vanity — power belongs to God: mercy shewn in justice (now to be manifested for the patient and oppressed). The expression of soul in this is found in Psalm 63. The application of this Psalm to spiritual joy, its character and confidence in this desert world, how often have they been the joy and instruction of the heart of the saint; but here I only follow the sense or explanation. It is most sweetly rich in joy. The King, verse 11, marks the place and consequence, as in Psalm 61. Psalm 64 is the depth of the secret counsel of the wicked, malice and encouragement of the enemies, verses 5, 6; but God shoots at them, whose thoughts are deeper still — they shall be a sign of their own folly and God's judgment; men, all men shall fear, then afterwards the Lord shall be the joy of the righteous upright. Psalm 65 presents Zion as the place accordingly where praise waits for God, as soon as ever the remnant, His people, are set there, praise will begin: and they have it ready there already in their hearts — their sins hindered, they are to be purged away — verse 4, the character and anticipation of this; verse 5, the manner of its accomplishment, its effect and consequences on the earth, as life from the dead. This is a joyful psalm, full of blessed hope, very beautiful in its spring of holy hope. The answer to the cherished hope and vow of the sorrowing righteous, long estranged but righteous, just ready to burst forth. Psalm 66 is a consequent summons to all the nations or lands. It is the song of the righteous, proved such, after their acceptance and so far restoration, but before the submission of the nations. The judgment which delivered them (the remnant) from their immediate oppressors (Antichrist, etc., of whom we have seen) is the occasion of this summons to the earth at large, having been in fullest trouble, they can now say our God in deliverance; Christ is the foundation of it in the close.
280 Psalm 61 seems to be the address of Messiah, Christ, to the Father, as rejected and expelled by the Jews (of whom He was anointed King), that from the end of the earth or land, driven (himself of old in Spirit, in this Enosh character) among the Gentiles, He could still look unto Him to be led to the Rock that was higher than He, as He said, "for my Father is greater than I." (See Ps. 16:2.) In this, as the persecuted Christ, He would abide for ever, for "he put his trust in him." This was His mind in His humiliation. Then we have (with the exception of verse 7, which seems the interlocution of the Jewish remnant) His thoughts as under His deliverance: that is, having taken His people now upon Himself, He would act as became Him in consequence of the responsibilities so acquired, He would daily perform His vows; here then we have Messiah as the exalted man occupied with rendering His vows (for the salvation of His Church, or rather here, more especially His earthly people felt in Himself, as Heb. 5) to Him who had been the power of its deliverance, hearing Him so crying; this with verse 7 is a subject of very deep interest. Compare here Psalms 56:12, 61:8, and 65:1, where the form of the blessing is entered into. I do not here state the inquiry, whether the paying of vows by the Lord Christ is only as the head of His people in the millennial glory, or in the ages of eternity; of the former we have evidence as to the Jews here, for it is in this character, and as connected with them, He specially pays the vows; as with the saints, He is in the glory reigning. I have omitted to refer to Psalm 22, where the subject and result of Christ's vows are fully entered into. The latter part of verse 5 here is worthy of our attention. (Verse 7, compared with our Lord's words in John "and abide in his love," leads us into the force of this subject.)
281 Psalm 62 particularly describes the jealousy of Christ's enemies against Him, and their feebleness, because God was on His side. "His expectation was from him." Verse 8 is His comment upon this, and the statement of His experience in this, to His companions, "the people," and so "a refuge for us": it also glances at the vengeance, as mercy of deliverance to the afflicted children of God; they are indeed bold and unhindered now, but God will recognize me, God will render to every man according to His work, therefore "trust in him," and always "trust not in oppression." See also verse 3 (where the soul is set morally right, the prevalence of all evil is but the evidence that the Lord alone shall be exalted, because there is a God). This is the Psalm of faith, and though I have but briefly touched on it, it is a most instructive and touching Psalm; just the meeting of the mind of faith with what is true in God, but hidden from faith save as it is realized in faith. The identity of Christ with the nation is strongly marked in verse 8; also observe God all through, except the last verse, where it is the covenant name of God — the Lord, the faithful One.
282 Psalm 63 seems to me to be the desire of Christ (now that He has come into a far country from God, in the midst of and under the sin and misery and desolations of man, wandering, yea, departed from God, as utterly estranged) for God, and looking at the full glory of God in the sanctuary (Judah externally was the sanctuary, and the Shechinah of glory was there). The desire of Christ after that glory which He had "with thee before the world was." It is the recollection, so to speak, of Christ applying itself to that which belonged to Him (I see much of this running through John, who is full of the glory); as He says in the very case, "and now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." It is then the thought of Christ in His time of need, of the glory as His delight which He knew in God, and delighted in in His presence; and we may say of another glory which He had with the Father before the world. The enemies that were against Him should be destroyed, who did not know, or they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. In which act, according to the principles of the Psalms, we see that "princes of this world" was a common designation for all.
Psalm 64. The malicious and calumniating enmity of the haters of the Lord (of Christ) shall draw out the wrath of God, and thus unexpectedly shall they be taken in their own wickedness: the character of their own enmity against Christ the perfect One exhibits the principles of their own state, and when drawn out to a head in the act of their own exaltation, draws down the vengeance of God. The very same perfection in power, as Christ was in humiliation (the full character of the enmity, and the result with God, are strongly developed).
That Psalm 65 is the restoration of the Jews, or, more properly speaking, the replacing of the remnant (now a nation) in their old place with God, in the mediation of Immanuel, as introducing millennial blessedness, is, I think, evident. The Jewish portion of this is stated in verse 1, as expected and appointed, and that in the most beautiful manner possible, in the union, if we may so speak, of God's interest and man's in it, according to the promises. In verse 2 is the Gentile portion of this blessedness. In order to this, Christ must take it up: accordingly that which has prevented is stated in verse 3, but in Christ's person as for the Jews, as in Isaiah 53, the latter part being the expression of this by the Jewish remnant; this leads them to celebrate their acceptance in the beloved, the man whom God chose; then comes the manner of their deliverance, as in answer to their faith; the extent of this, "over all the earth," and the fruition of blessedness by the removal of the curse from the earth: such is the scope of this beautiful Psalm. The Psalms here open out more into the glorious results of the union of Immanuel with men rather than with the Jews.
283 Psalm 66 is the blessing of the nations in the deliverance of the Jews in the latter day: Christ at the head of the Jews, or rather as the head of the Jews, ready to pay the vows uttered in the time of their trouble. It is the voice of the upright remnant, He being so really, they in their acceptance having integrity, as spoken of in scripture, as Noah, etc., to God; but really true only in Him, and therefore all this is spoken in His person, and He has fulfilled all this (that is, what in His own person made Him capable of so taking the lead). To verse 4 is the blessing arising from the dealings of God to the nations called to praise Him. Verse 5, in reference to old doings, calls them to see present similar ones, putting down the rebellious. Verse 8 turns to the acknowledgment of for whom, and in what, all this is shewn. "Bless our God." He hath tried, but hath also delivered us. In verse 13 Christ takes up the word, having His mouth opened, as it were, by the blessing of His people, all along in His heart. It is then progressively developative, from the general call to the nations to the special feelings of Christ.
In Psalm 67 there are two things, that the blessing of the Jews is the way of saving health being known to all nations; and next, that the praise of the peoples (brought in) is the object of their desire, and caused by the judgment and government of God, and that the bringing in of the people, their restoration to God, was needful to, and occasional of, the full blessing of the Jews in detail, that producing the fear of Him who blessed them. See Jeremiah 33:9 (as of the earth, for they were the earth's representatives and spokesmen).
Psalm 68 is a noble psalm and triumphs in the thought of the presence of God. The preface is longer than usual; and though the first verse is as a general heading, yet it extends itself to the end of verse 6 — the celebration of blessing because of the assumption of this place in the heavens by Him of the ancient name, His character in association with this, especially as regards the Jews. Compare the desolation of Edom in Jeremiah 49. God arises, God that is all this. The solitary — I should translate, those separated into the unity of estrangement from the evil of those that were around them, the remnant and their estate — He maketh them a house, delivers the captives, and brings desolation on the rebellious, namely, the body of the Jews: it is the constant, I should say almost technical term for them. The Jews are the object of this arising; but it is the wicked, and the righteous, referring them to the presence of God in the wilderness, and the preparation of an inheritance, in which, refreshed with rain from heaven, the incorporation of the Jews (Yachidim) should dwell. In verse 11, then, comes the development, when "Adonai gave the word." Verses 15-17 are the Jewish people, a body; the establishment of God's throne not over, but in Jerusalem, similarly as in Sinai too, and according to its power and enactments. Verse 18 is the recognition of those in whom these things were wrought, and how. "Thou," that is their Adonai, hast ascended on high and received gifts as man, even for "the rebellious" (the Jews), for the dwelling of Jah "Elohim." The apostle does not quote the latter part in referring to the gifts in Ephesians. The rest of the Psalm scarcely requires a note, taken as referable to the latter days. The congregations are not the same word; the Jah Elohim is in the heavens; the strength and salvation of Israel shines through the Psalm. It is a magnificent Psalm.
284 From Psalm 65 to this seem a sort of little book of themselves, a common subject. Indeed the whole from Psalm 51 to this is not merely great general truths (relative indeed to Christ and the remnant), but the actual question between Him humbled, and Him delivered, and His enemies. It is all personal, the personal trial of Messiah as identified with the remnant. Man would swallow Him up, as a man; but God was His strength; when God arises, that being so, the case will be different. "God" will be found to be specially brought before the mind accordingly here (that is, in these psalms). It is the whole course and relationship of God with Israel from beginning to end, as acting on the very same principles (His principles) throughout with and manifested in them, taking the name and word in which He went before them in their first deliverance in the wilderness, and identifying it with Christ in the heavens, Adonai ascended. Verse 18 shews the address to Christ as one who had effected all this. Solitary, are yachidim, it is a principle of action which we have seen all through; that is, we have seen the yachidim in their cry, compare Psalm 22:20. Lord in verse 11, is Adonai, that is, Christ recognized on high. Verse 16, Jehovah. Verse 17, Adonai. Verse 18, Jah. Verse 19, Adonai. Verse 20, Jehovah Adonai. Verse 22, Adonai. Verse 32, Adonai. It is recognizing Jah, the existing God — Elohim, God in covenant, that is, in Himself in consistency of character. Jehovah the accomplisher of all spoken in Israel, in a word, of promise properly — especially Adonai, who is celebrated as Christ risen in verse 18; but the same act, mercy, and protection or powerful deliverance as at first in the desert. "Let God arise." Numbers 10:35. In a word, it is all God's glory and truth as centred and developed in Israel, accomplished and celebrated by Israel in Christ ascended, their Adonai: — God giving deliverances, God giving strength and power unto Israel His people. The triumph is complete and detailed, not only as their ancient God, their God of old, but as in the heavenly glory of Christ. With verses 33-35 compare Daniel 7:7, 9, 13, 22, 27; Deuteronomy 30:26-29.
285 Psalm 69. The deep affectingness and object of this psalm is "he was heard in that he feared." Only we may notice the gracious use of these things in supplication by the Lord. This deliverance, as we have seen before, made the occasion of confidence to the humble: the "humble shall hear this, and be glad;" so they were the objects of His solicitude, verse 6. His identification with the Jews seen herein is manifest; it breaks forth in distinctness in verses 35, 36. See also verse 34.
Christ explains His part in going without the camp (as in effect the sin offering, bearing all reproach), but really that of a wicked world against God, verse 7. Jehovah the God of Israel (we have seen the circumstances of Israel), as obliged to go without, He explains His part towards men, and towards God. Here we see the circumstances of the great Sufferer, not in sympathy, but in fact, alone; and He explains this in His appeal to God first; then to Jehovah as to its effect on the poor, and scorned and low-laid remnant around Him — for it was for Jehovah of Israel's sake — then He pleads the whole case in His own sorrow before God Jehovah. He had done all He could, ever to win them: what had He not suffered for them? His heart had been broken: what had He received? There was none to pity. Then judgment — but He poor — set up on high, praising. The humble hear this, they rejoice and are glad; it is the sign of their confidence and deliverance. All will praise Him, for after all (the wicked having been judged) God will save Zion, and build the cities of Judah, and there will be a heritage for those that love His name, as seed of His servants.
286 Though the object of Psalm 70 is the same, yet its character is different; there is more confidence (I say not more faith), more appealing to God on the rectitude of His favour; its word also is (for it is brought now to a crisis), "make no long tarrying." Also the humiliation of Christ, the way of others' joy, is affectingly brought forward: "Let others," saith He, "rejoice;" as for me, I am content to be humbled, to do thy will for thy sake; "but I am poor and needy," content to be in humiliation, but my joy is in this, making others to enjoy. It is Christ and the poor, as the object of deliverance, not of suffering, a result in fact of His faithfulness in suffering; He poor, the occasion to secure by intercession, the gladness of them that trust in deliverance, but in His poverty He pleads, that they at least might be glad. It is in this spirit Paul says as to the Church, "so death worketh in us, but life in you:" only there in combat, here in intercession.
Psalm 71, though I believe the literal David to be the subject of it, applies, it appears to me, to the anomalous position of the Jews on the setting up of Antichrist, as David driven out by Absalom. This type will fully explain the psalm, looking to the Jews as similarly placed in the latter day, but finding a new place in resurrection, as Daniel 12:2; though that rather applies to another portion of the remnant yet scattered: this to a body of them, in, but now driven out of the land, though not permanently, the last time of Jacob's trouble, closing the typical David history, for then He takes His Solomon power or state. Psalm 70 was personal feeling, therefore, of David properly. The positive application of this psalm is to the Jews as apparently utterly cast off again in the close, the very close of their eventful history. Verse 20 is the confidence, but there is the faith of God's elect in the Lord now after the sufferings of Christ explained, clearly recognized in the outset. It was a Jewish faith of old; it was however to be as in a resurrection, not in what was of old. Solomon, not David, was to build the house — still not forsaken, till God's strength and salvation was to them, to that generation, and those that should come. They should not bear fruit so (that is, according to that generation), but they should introduce a better hope as a risen people.
287 The Jewish people shall be dealt with in the close upon their old principles, but they shall bear fruit upon new, under a new alliance. Therefore we have "old age" as in the trial, "bringing up again from the depths of the earth" as in the confidence. Psalms 42, 43, are probably when David was through Absalom driven across Jordan. So Christ is with the sufferers driven out, but His connection in spirit with the remnant is very different from His appearance in person to deliver, and give joy to the separated remnant, whom sorrow and evil around them have separated and driven cut. With the remnant we have seen Him in the foregoing Psalms, oppressed by those who oppressed them, even the great body of their own people estranged from them, because they were evil, and by them (because they are in power) driven from Zion, and the temple and worship in it.
The purport and application of Psalm 72 is obvious (closing, as it were, the previous David one) so as not to need comment. It is however one of the few which apply to our Lord in His manifestation of righteousness and glory, and it is the end of His desires as Christ. But we must notice only here, that, as of others, it is properly and exclusively Jewish, speaking of the bounds of His dominion, and here describes succinctly but very clearly and fully the nature and extent of His dominion (which is important).
It is the work of Jehovah God, the God of Israel, and relates, as to blessings by Christ, so to the whole earth being filled with His glory, as the desire of David. Verse 15 also marks a character of millennial glory, properly, as I conceive, human (not angelic, that is, as to the desire), and Jewish.