Heads of Psalms: Book 5

J. N. Darby.

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We begin here with a new sphere. Israel restored is the occasion of the display of all the characters of God's dealings with the world as to His righteousness and judgment; and, by the introduction of the personal history of Christ in His rejection and exaltation, of deeper principles of His dealings relative to the person of Jesus, as the centre of all economy. It is Jewish, but Jewish as to circumstances which concern all mankind.

Thanks to Jehovah characterize its introduction proclaimed by restored Israel, and witness His mercy their well-known song in the end. Verses 2, 3, especially call for this praise in the circumstance of Israel. The psalm itself speaks of the restoration and, though there was a similar deliverance from Egypt, that shall be nowise mentioned; for they shall not say, Jehovah liveth who brought them up out of the land of Egypt. "They wandered": therefore verse 4 I take to be on their return in the latter day; they had been (ver. 10) sitting in darkness; "for he hath broken the gates of brass." (Ver. 16.) So of their tossings on the sea. From verse 32 is what happens to them after they find their place in the land; and though they are then punished and brought low, yet all iniquity in result shall stop her mouth. Those who observe and understand these things will, in spite of and even through all the miseries of Israel, as ever, understand the lovingkindness of Jehovah. But His dealings are a pattern of instruction for the children of men in these days; and they are called (ver. 31, 32) to execute this praise in Israel, in the assembly joining with them.

326 In Psalm 108 we have the full political arrangements under the glory of Christ. God is to be exalted; Messiah, as man, addresses God; and Jehovah Himself with God making His glory as man the expression of what He is thereto subservient. Jehovah among the peoples as chief of Israel, for His mercy is above the heavens, and His truth above all seats and ways of authority or appearances which may pass through the heavens. He, even God, is to be exalted, that His beloved, the Messiah, Israel in Him, may be delivered; the right hand of God's power is to be manifested. Verse 7: God answers (Elohim) in His holiness from which He cannot depart — thus generally. Verse 10: Edom is singled out, long and specially hostile (see Obadiah 1, 3, 7); and Messiah in the name of Israel demands who will go out and bring him into Edom, the centre of hostile power (so in many passages). Man's help is now vain; God will do it — God's immutable glory leaving all earthly appearances far behind, and producing its own upon the earth. Israel concludes, thus encouraged, "Through God we shall do valiantly."

Having in Psalm 107 the providence, and in Psalm 108 the determined glory of God, we have now (Psalms 109, 110) the part of Christ respectively in rejection and heavenly glory, until His manifestation. In Psalm 109, as the poor man entirely and self-emptyingly dependent upon God; but therefore the prey of the treachery and wanton, but proud hostility of the Jews and those who lead them, who were guide to them who took Jesus. The Jews are manifestly noticed, as verse 4, and Judas, but both headed up in the wicked man who shall be set over them — the representative of both the Jews and Judas; but after all, it was all the Lord's doing; and then let them curse, but "bless thou." Verses 29-31 are faith's estimate as from the Lord's truth of the result.

Psalm 110. We have on this rejection of Messiah the answer of Jehovah, and Christ recognized in the midst of all this suffering and rejection by His Spirit, even in the mouth of the most exalted of Israel, and of all Israel as Lord. David in Spirit calls Him Lord. Foes He had found plenty — the same as all; for His love they were His adversaries; but He was to sit at the right hand of Jehovah until His enemies were made His footstool. Hereafter Jehovah would send the rod of His power out of Zion: He should rule, instead of suffer, among His enemies. His people should be willing, not in the day of His humiliation, but of His power. "The dew of thy youth" is, I apprehend, the progeny given Him in Israel instead of fathers in that day. Moreover, Jehovah hath sworn He shall be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He does not say He is on high — that was not Melchizedek's place, but a royal priesthood of the Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, though the title of His life is not on high. Further, there is a day of Adonai's wrath as well as power. "He shall smite through kings in the day of his wrath." He shall in that day judge also among the heathen which shall be His empire, powerful and decisive His judgment. He shall smite not only many, leaving there their carcases, but the haughty head of a great country. I used to think this Antichrist; but it does not appear to me certain that this is not Gog, for he is exercising apparently his authority rather amongst the Jews than amongst the saints. We may inquire more of both, for both are true, but it is rather, I conceive, Assyrian.* Verse 7: He shall be humbled, in dependence on the refreshings of God in the way: therefore shall He lift up the head. The other had exalted it, and he shall be brought low. Such is the proposed glory of Messiah as such, as Jehovah's answer to His adversaries' betrayal and humiliation.

{*Compare Isaiah 10, 14 and Daniel 8, 11.}

327 The three psalms which follow are the joint Hallelujah upon these things.

In Psalm 111 Messiah leads the chorus, or instructs it rather, of the assembly of His people of the upright. The works of Jehovah in providential power for the accomplishment of all the promises of His covenant are the theme — redemption for them, truth for Him — power and judgment. His covenant proved and established also, as commanded for ever. It is holy glory proved in it — the fear of Him — the way of understanding despite of all the rebellions of man.

In Psalm 112 the difference of the character and results (as God's part previously) of these fearers of Jehovah who delight (for the heart is active in these things) greatly in Jehovah's commandments. Here now is the way even of earthly grandeur, but the desire of the wicked shall perish, the dealings of the Lord, the result and character of uprightness, and His fear in man being shewn.

328 The results break forth in praise in the chorus of those happy through it. Christ summons them in spirit, thus blessed at their head, to praise the name of Jehovah, the subject of the hallelujah in each; for none is like to Jehovah, the God of that people high above all the heathen and His glory above the heavens, all things in heaven and earth united under His possession, and specially blessing the poor and lowly Israel. This is Psalm 113. Note, His name is to be praised to the end of the earth.

Psalms 109 and 110 having brought in the rejection of Messiah by the Jews and His exaltation to the right hand of Jehovah, and so judgment on Antichrist, or at least the head over a great country, on account of His humiliation (it may possibly mean, and, more probably, Israel's after enemies, not Antichrist), then the relation of Jehovah and Israel and what is connected with it, Psalm 114 begins the application and effect of this to the earth — the effect of the presence of Israel's God. It recalls to the earth — to what happened when Israel was first delivered by Him. But Israel was now brought back to refer to God. Their souls were in communion with Him and their minds were so full of Jehovah Elohim that they say 'Him' without mentioning Him. They know Him as their God and conceal His name as it were in a sort of secret triumph as belonging to themselves, and put forth only His works, until having stated them, the psalm calls upon them to triumph before Him, the God of Jacob. There is great beauty and natural power in the structure of this psalm. Of old time this was the case. Israel went out of Egypt; Judah was His sanctuary and Israel His dominion. What happened? How did nature quail before Him, before this power in Israel, before Israel coming forth! What ailed the sea and the mountains? Tremble they now at the presence of Jehovah, the God of Jacob. What joy for Israel! It was the earth, for in Jacob He is in the earth, and when Jacob says, Tremble, he still remembers that to him He was a God of grace. He turned the rock into a standing water.

Psalm 115. But though Israel may boast themselves triumphantly, turning to the earth when it looks on high, it can only say, He hath done what pleased Him. "Not unto us, not unto us, O Jehovah," the expression not merely of humble consciousness but of righteous desire. "Unto thy name give glory;" but His name is identified, for He has identified it, with them: "for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake," for thus His name was manifested towards Israel. If only truth, then must Israel have been rejected, for they had crucified their Messiah as well as broken their law, but the promises of Jehovah must not fail because man does; and therefore in His inscrutable wisdom He brings in by mercy the accomplishment of His truth, and when (instead of going about to establish their own righteousness, they stumble at the stumbling-stone) they take mercy as their only and just hope, then the truth is re-established according to God's own promises and heart, and Jesus is owned as the way of it; for grace and truth came by Him, and, though rejected, will be established with greater additional splendour and glory by Him. This then was now different — a ground for Israel, not the law. The law was given by Moses — that was their righteousness. But they had failed, utterly failed. Such is the ground Israel rests on then, and the question can really be raised between God in Jacob and the heathen acting in scornful despite of their old sorrows and present abasement, saying, Where is He? The answer is of faith. Though Jesus may not yet be publicly manifested, yet by the Spirit of Christ in the midst of them "our God is in the heavens," and as to all the prosperity of the Gentiles and their abasement, they say, as Jesus on the non-repentance of Israel, "He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased." The heathen idols are nothing (compare Isaiah from chapter 40, where the question is raised and the humiliation of Christ also brought in), and so they that trust in them. Then the Spirit of Christ thereon turns and addresses itself to Israel, "O Israel, trust in Jehovah," and asserts also the mercy — He is their helper; and then the promise of millennial blessing from verse 14; but Jewish and earthly then opened. Verses 17, 18 are full of blessing, but blessing for Israel on earth.

329 As in Psalm 115 the Spirit of Christ entered into the confidence of Israel on the footing to them of mercy, so in Psalm 116 into the sorrows in sympathy. Then, as mercy was to them merely, it begins "to us;" here, being their sorrows, it begins at once, "I love Jehovah," though in answer to a cry, for He cried for them (that is, in the world); and was just the One that did, taking their sorrows. Present salvation was the point, when only faith in the Lord could enable Him to speak — such was the persecution. Death so wrought in Him (not θάνατος where this is quoted, as the portion of the remnant partaking of the sufferings of Christ; but νέκρωσις), but here still referring to the Jews' portion. "I will walk before Jehovah in the land of the living," which the Lord as amongst the Jews sought, "if it had been possible;" but it was not, "for sin was in the world." The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die — a man must be born again. But the apostle uses it in the energy of the Spirit, when the sufferings of Christ abounded in him, always bearing about, etc. And after all, if even bitter things were reserved for them, the hairs of their head were all numbered. Satan could do nothing unpermitted (and thus for glory and sowing precious seed of faith, shewing them there was a better resurrection, so that with us men could be baptized for the dead), for precious in the sight of Jehovah was the death of His saints. He did not lightly permit it. O for faith to go straight on in this confidence, not fearing them which can kill the body! And if we have to say, "All men are liars," still speaking because we believe, because we trust in the living God, we shall soon say with Paul, "Thou hast loosed my bands." "I am thy servant" (not to their enemies). He hath delivered us from so great a death, and will (though life was despaired of,) for precious in the sight of Jehovah was the death of His chosen One. Specially will this be manifested in the latter day for the remnant; in the land of the living will they walk before Jehovah. The flesh of the elect will be saved; for their sakes the terrible days will be shortened, and the vows of the Lord will be paid in the presence of His people (that is, the Spirit of Christ in and as the Head of the people, whom when thus persecuted He calls "me" in like manner). "In the courts of Jehovah's house, in the midst of thee" (it is addressed as a present thing) "O Jerusalem." The union between the Church and Christ, and that between the Jewish remnant and Christ, are different: we being His body, and therefore in a heavenly manner, being one spirit with Him; the other, as their Head and standing for them in present blessing and manifested, yet still completely taking their cause as His own, and in His Spirit entirely one with them; and "therefore" in this sense, the passage alluded to in Paul's quotation, I believe, has its force; the latter however was during life, and so with the remnant. Light is here also thrown on the going out of the remnant of Jacob as dew; the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, a more general expression (John baptized could do that), and the outpouring of the Spirit. (See 2 Cor. 6:9; Psalm 44:22; Rom. 8:36; 1 Cor. 15:31.) The practical connection of the then Jewish remnant with those of the latter-day, and those with Christ, may be farther searched out, for it clears up many things; in this also Matthew 24 is involved. We do not attach sufficient importance to the remnant in this character. The Lord looks at it especially.

331 We must remark that Psalm 116 is a psalm of thanksgiving, and on the principle recognized above. He does not love the Lord as under the law but as first loved — as for deliverance because heard when judgment and evil were upon his soul. Christ leads this thanksgiving or return of heart to Jehovah, saying, our God is merciful. (Ver. 5.) It is the thanksgiving cry for deliverance producing love: and love, a voice of praise and thanksgiving in remembrance of their estate. The vows are now to be paid, and they can be paid in the midst of Jerusalem, for the deliverance is wrought. (See Psalm 42:3, 4, and the position there.) Then they are under the sorrow. Here the Spirit of Christ puts Himself in the place of deliverance. Then it was the people we have heard, and Christ the object as King. Here He Himself leads, as a matter too of individual joy to His people. "I love Jehovah." This makes the position quite different. Ever near and a matter of affection and intimacy because of what was wrought, and Christ intimate with Jehovah in union, but as helped, and the people having put Himself in their place, His hand laid on both. This makes this last Psalm (116) more blessed. It is His own Spirit rejoicing in the deliverance as one of the people, and so saying "our God."

Paul quotes both these passages in 2 Corinthians 4 and Romans 8. There is an analogous exercise of the Spirit in us. We may look at Christ taking us as united to Himself, and so presenting us before God, and thus in the highest perfection and place before Him; and also as in us looking up toward Him and saying, "our." The Spirit realizes our union, and then all is liberty and joy because for us accomplished. The Spirit realizes our position and looks up to Him alone there, saying "our;" and here is the difference of the remnant there. Now, or in the apostolic days, when we speak of union, we speak of glory, and perfection, and rest; whereas in the suffering we are substitutes for Christ in the world, though it be only by union we can go through; and we say, as it is written, "I believed," etc. — "we also," and therefore adds positive resurrection de facto as to the direct testimony; whereas He says, "I will walk before Jehovah in the land of the living," and the bands are loosed — the power is shewn. (2 Cor. 1.) Whereas the sufferings being before them as their portion before they find Christ, He comes down as it were, and enters into them, and says, "I;" and thus, while there is a strong connection, there is a real difference. The moment it was a mere fact, and Christ looked at as an object, it could be taken up directly, as it is written, "for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are appointed" — this was common to both.

332 In Psalms 117 and 118 the results are fully brought out.

In Psalm 117 we have all the nations called into the blessing and praise of Israel's deliverance. It is still the mercy and truth of Jehovah. Jerusalem having now been made a centre, they are called around; the possession of blessing in mercy begets the spirit of blessing. Though once forbidding to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, because they rejected mercy, filling up their sins, for wrath was come upon them εἰς τέλος. Now they had tasted mercy, and they can say to the nations, Praise Jehovah, for He is merciful to us. Here note, too, the greatness of the mercy is felt and first put; for so Israel comes in, brought in under mercy, and then the truth (they being morally restored) is proved to have endured and been for ever. They could not find it under their lie, yet their lie had abounded to the enduring glory of His truth: under mercy they had come into this. How deep is the wisdom of God!

The next Psalm (118) takes up mercy as enduring for ever — not merely the sense of the present greatness of it. But when they saw how God's truth had abided in spite of their sin, they see the incomparable patience of God — His own character celebrated in them as of mercy for ever. Israel, Aaron, and all may now say, His mercy endureth for ever. As the Lord's going before or amongst the people had been announced to the earth in Psalm 115, so here we have the fellowship of Christ with the national special sorrows of Israel in that day, and thus bringing Jehovah to be with them. (Verses 4, 5, 7.) All the nations had gathered together against Jerusalem, but Christ was there with them in His heart in the trouble. With Him Jehovah could be, for He trusted in Him, and in His name He destroyed them. The adversary thrust sore to make Him fall, but Jehovah was with him. Lastly, Jehovah had chastened Him sore, but He had not given Him over unto death. There were the three points (and so known in an individual soul): the nations around compassing Him; the adversary thrusting sore; and lastly — the real secret deepest in sorrow, yet the key to all deliverance in it — Jehovah had chastened Him sore. Verses 14-17 are the triumph against the adversary, because the Lord must be exalted, trusting in Jehovah's name, of which this is still the celebration. Jehovah's name must be exalted above all these things. Verse 17 is Jewish confidence clearly. This psalm is a remarkable summary of the identification of Jesus and all the circumstances of the Jews in the latter day; and then, in verse 19, Christ's victory through trust in Jehovah in all circumstances opens to Him the gates of righteousness (now this more deeply true, even in the resurrection).

333 The division of this closing Psalm 118 (closing, that is, as to this subject) is this: first, the celebration of the truth for Israel. Compare 1 Chronicles 16:34 and the structure of that Psalm very particularly; 2 Chronicles 5:13;  7:3; Ezra 3:11; Psalms 106, 107, 136. The Psalm in 1 Chronicles 16 is a summary of the heads of what Jews are interested in as the ground, exhibition, and resting-place of confidence in the latter-day, but there only the blessing and prayer; for it supposes the first step of blessings in accomplishment, and accordingly can rehearse together the statement, "Mercy endureth for ever," and omit the intermediate miseries. Then the summons to each sort of persons to use the song, verse 5, Messiah for Israel and trust in Jehovah, and that answered to verse 9. Verse 10, the circumstance of Israel in the latter day as to the nations. Verse 13, the adversary's part, this Satan, and by Antichrist, but the adversary. Verse 18, Jehovah's hand in it — chastening, but preserving. Verses 10-13, therefore, are in a manner a common subject. Verse 19, Messiah takes the advance, being in this now living, accepted position, and then it is the Lord's relation with Israel in connection with Messiah, not Messiah's connection with Israel in respect of the evil — that was once true. Messiah's grace in subjecting Himself to their sorrows in this, though they esteemed Him stricken, is the way by which He can take them (now again at the last recognizing Him) with Him into the blessedness which (as their head, as the righteous Son) He is going into. The Lord's own use of it makes its force and application manifest.

I question whether it should not be (ver. 27) Jehovah is El (the mighty God).

Psalm 119. This exceedingly beautiful and well-known psalm appears to me to be this: other psalms testify of the circumstances surrounding the remnant as having the Spirit of Christ by that Spirit; this of their state, the Spirit of Christ in them expressing that state, the law written in their hearts, the judgments being executed. Thus there is what shews the Lord's interference, so that the sense of this is expressed, but not yet deliverance finally from the oppressor, their estimate of their whole condition, under and as connected with their circumstances, the mind of the Spirit of Christ in them. It is most interesting in this point of view: — all the holy yet humbled thoughts and feelings of this poor people expressed in the now returning righteous confidence of their delight in God, breaking forth to God, who has put His law in their hearts when He is interfering for their deliverance. Its moral depth too is admirable and blessed in instruction and joy; and our delight in His holy will (the expression, and commandments, and holy roots of His will); for we know His law is spiritual and we carnal. The condition, however, prophetically in strict application is a Jew, a godly Jew, in that day.

334 From Psalm 120 to Psalm 134 is confessedly one series of psalms and ought to be viewed together; they are the songs of Zion, describing, if I may so speak, the process of their restoration. It supposes them to be already altogether in the latter-day times and that in a very definite character. Indeed generally they are retrospective of its earlier character, and, to say the least, commence with the certainty of the destruction of Antichrist, and this is entered into rather by a retrospective operation of the Spirit. It is on the whole of it rather the restoration of Israel — all Israel: that is the subject (the people leaning fully on Jehovah as one they knew and that distinctly, and He known and recognized, and they knowing Him and openly owning Him as their resource not in any uncertainty of position). It has more the character of a recital of what they had been enduring than the expression of those who had none that cared for their souls.

Psalm 120. "In my distress I called on Jehovah, and He heard." This first part tells the cry under Antichrist. The judgment on the false tongue for deceit was his, and characterized him; as Christ was the Truth. The next is the sorrow of sojourning among hostile powers, much connected with Gog. Kedar would come and Mesech before the last capture of Jerusalem, with whom they had no wish for war, but who were men of violence — were not godly men, still less had God for their habitation. They were weary of their spirit.

335 Psalm 121. They will look around them to the hills for help. Whence should it come? Ah there is the well-known truth for Israel! My help comes from Jehovah, who hath made everything man could trust in. He keeps Israel. He never slumbers or sleeps — a secure guardian: no power of evil shall smite them. The Lord shall preserve their going out and coming in from this time forth for evermore. The first of the two, the evil to which they were liable; the second, their sure, safe, and secure refuge, and that for ever.

The happy results in worship (the third part of the sentiments of the delivered remnant, the happiness of Christ in them) is in Psalm 122. It is ever Israel in all this. These three psalms are rather prefatory, such as will be used; but retrospective, as I have said, not historical. From Psalm 123 we enter more into detail. They respect the full restoration, in one form or another, though it may not be viewed as accomplished in them all.

Psalm 122 then is the joy of Christ's Spirit in the fruits of it in others in actually going up; but all is restored joy of Israel, and verse 4 in assembled thanksgiving of worship in the temple; verse 5 is judgment — His delight in the place of judgment. The Lord's heart who once wept here goes out in yearnings over His beloved Jerusalem; and, calling to prayer for its peace, pronounces peace upon it. Two great motives too, animating to the brethren and glorifying to God, draw it out. Them He still is not ashamed to call brethren and companions, and having so blessedly named, He (at once introducing them into full connection with the glory and blessing) says," Because of the house of Jehovah our God, I will seek to do thee good." Nothing could be added to this.

Psalm 123. The intercourse is all here entirely with Jehovah and expresses their position and feelings towards Him. It is this rather than the circumstances that are entered into. They are occupied with themselves and Him, because with Him. Jehovah is looked at as dwelling out of the reach of circumstances where evil really was. Then out of the reach of circumstances the believer could direct his heart, and then there was the ground of patient faith. As Psalm 119 gave the position of the Jewish remnant as regards law in that day, so this as regards faith. It was their condition as to their heart that was in question or expression. They wait on Jehovah their God, who is in the heavens, as the eyes of a maiden or a servant to her master and mistress — helpless, and who have no business, till they get the word of their master, until He have mercy upon them. Patience, submission, the consciousness of no desert, yet the confidence of mercy — this characterized this waiting people. Then their sorrow and despisedness was an occasion for mercy — a plea; and so it is in their mouth, and so ever when one is in this disposition; so in the plea of this confidence of mercy they have to wait. They have nothing else to say but this is strong in the mercy and lovingkindness of Jehovah. There were others at ease and proved they were associated with, and dependent on, Jehovah. This was the blessed, holy, and submissive position of heart of the remnant. This was the perfection of faith in their position, the expression of the Spirit of Christ which enters into all our conditions. In all their afflictions He was afflicted.

336 Psalm 124. It was well they did trust in Jehovah. For if Jehovah Himself had not been on their side, in man all help was utterly lost. Men rose up against them, and the proud waters had gone over their soul, but it was the occasion of their being able surely to say, Jehovah Himself was for them, for there was none else, and to Him they had looked. Such is the effect of extreme and hopeless trouble — in Jehovah's deliverance, the clear certainty that Jehovah is for them. This Israel might now say — a long last word in the revolt of the sorrowing but still loved people, Jehovah is on our side. "Blessed be Jehovah" was now therefore their word. The snare is broken, they are delivered, and they could say now with experience, "our help is in the name of Jehovah who made heaven and earth." This great and hopeless trouble thus becomes the certainty of Jehovah's being with them.

Psalm 125. Here is the celebration of their distinctive confidence. They can now speak about it in the maturity of peace rather than the joyous excitement of deliverance, when they were just saved from being a prey to their teeth. They that trust in Jehovah shall be even as mount Zion which abideth, for the peace of mount Zion is now a witness of deliverance — the same mount Zion as of old, the seat of the gracious counsels of God uncovered. They trust in Jehovah — have the same portion as the mountains round Jerusalem. Verse 2, Jehovah is around His people, and that henceforth even for ever; but then it was a distinctive blessing. It was judgment, the rod of the wicked, and then came against them: it should not rest on the lot of the righteous, there was no peace to the wicked; and this applied to the wicked among Israel. It was not a distinction merely between Israel and the nations, but a distinction in the deliverance of the righteous remnant; so the prayer is for them, the good and upright in heart. As for those that turn aside to crooked ways, Jehovah gives them a portion with the wicked; but there will not be now any more. Therefore, numbered with Israel, peace shall rest with Israel; now accepted and righteous before God, the righteous remnant becomes the nation.

337 Psalm 126. This restoration of the captivity of Zion is now specially noticed. The very heathen were astonished, and noticed the hand of Jehovah for them, and the echo of praise came from His people: "He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad." How simple and eloquent this word! Verse 4 takes the restoration of the captivity of Zion as the fulness of the restoration of the whole people. Verse 5 is the joyful experience of Israel, the humbled and sorrowful remnant grieved and laid low, but with godly sorrow now reaped with joy. But there was One above all who had sown precious seed in Israel, and in love as well as righteousness, and in both continued. He had been a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, their faces hid from Him; but now He filled His bosom with the sheaves, for though sown in tears, the seed was indeed precious seed, and the fruit sweet to His taste, and the joy of His labour of love — now He reaped it. The husbandman had had long patience for it, and waited the early and the latter rain; but now the precious blessed fruit came. First labouring, He now partook of the fruits; He came again rejoicing.

Psalm 127. This is for Solomon, in which character Jehovah builds the house; and we have the expression of the experience of the utter folly of all carnal Jewish expectations and efforts. They might have built the house, and great stones and buildings be there: it was in vain. The Lord did not own it. They might have watched the city, but they had awaked in vain: all had been in vain for Israel till Jehovah arose and had mercy. These Jewish blessings flow forth as upon earth in a gratuity given us — blessing in Jehovah's peace.

Psalm 128. It is the fearers of Jehovah that enjoy this blessing; yea, even to children's children. All the associations of their hearts would be satisfied. It was out of Zion Jehovah would bless them, and they would see the good of Jerusalem all the days of their life. How of Jehovah — and yet how truly earthly, and of man, of human nature, these blessings are!

338 Psalm 129 particularly takes up the enemies, these desolators. Many a time had they done it. And so indeed it was from the days of Chushan-rishathaim onward, till Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon broke the bones thereof; and after, in their yet worse and more terrible (because more real) desolation, their back had been ploughed in and long furrows made. They had just to lie down and be treated at the very will of the enemy who had enslaved them. Yet, wonderful mystery, these had not prevailed against them. But there was One who said He was for them — One who in all their affliction was afflicted. His Spirit now taught them to speak in the recognition of the ways of God; and then comes the sum, for Israel, through mercy, now stood in righteousness. Jehovah is righteous; He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. Their character was now brought out: they hate Zion, with which Jehovah in grace was now identified. But there was not blessing from God or man upon them, when Israel should blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit. No mower would fill his hand with them, nor any goer-by say, "The blessing of Jehovah be upon you."

In Psalm 130 we have Him who truly took this place; and though true of Israel, by Him and in His Spirit casting from the depths His soul on the Lord, and therein leading Israel into all the blessing of its forgiveness. This was the true hope of sinful Israel — the new ground, not under the law at all, and then looking for no other hope but waiting for Him; and so in verses 7, 8, His Spirit fully teaches them. The place of the cry is the leading point here. The place acknowledged Christ's Spirit, who had been in it, taking His place with them in it, and putting loved yet poor Israel into the place of God's thoughts and its true comeliness in it — acknowledgment, faith — but that in mercy. His answer (that is, the answer of the Spirit of Christ) is in verses 7, 8.

His place of holy subjection and littleness is brought out in Psalm 131; and so was the place Christ had taught them and taken. He knew all things, but He had put Himself into the place of quiet subjection to God's will, and therein was in the way of blessing. The things which were revealed He took up and taught to Israel; and there Israel found and would find its blessing. The Spirit is the spirit of all learning and instruction; but it is not the character of the Church's language, but of the quiet child-like subjection of Israel, entering as an obedient child into the place of its hope.

339 Psalm 132.* First of all David's (that is, Christ's) sufferings are the basis of all. Next it is sovereign grace; for responsibility, even under the mercy declared through Moses, was closed when the ark was taken captive by the Philistines. There could be no day of atonement, no blood on the mercy-seat. Ichabod was written on all. God had delivered His strength into captivity, His glory into the enemies' hands. Sovereign grace raised up Samuel the prophet, and then David who brought the ark not into the tabernacle at all, but to Mount Zion, which was thus the seat of sovereign grace in power as contrasted with Sinai. God is called on to arise into His rest; for He will rest in His love.

{*This Psalm being absent from the MS, I insert some manuscript notes of the author written long since the old paper. — Ed.}

Into God's rest we are to enter, when His love will be satisfied and His nature perfectly met through the fruits of it, as in Hebrews 4:4, 5. Christ will see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Hence it is God's rest and of the ark of His strength — a new thing. It is not, "Rise up, Jehovah, and let thine enemies be scattered," and "Return, O Jehovah, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel." But then man's (that is, the saint's) rest is only in this — "Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for Jehovah, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob." His rest, his heart's rest, could only be in the rest of God perfectly glorified. Here we find the rest of the saint's heart in its desires identified with God's, so that it can have no rest till He has rest and is perfectly glorified: a vital principle, the effect of being partakers of the divine nature. And this, we shall see, brings one in this blessed way into God's counsels; as it is written, "Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor that he should instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ — the Holy Ghost by the word leading us into all truth. (Compare Exod. 15 and 29:46.) Our rest is entering into God's rest — an infinite blessing.

But the desire is right according to man, the answer is according to God; the desire is right according to the divine nature and ways, but the blessing according to the riches of grace. The desire (ver. 8) is that Jehovah should arise into His rest, He and the ark of His strength. For the strength and faithful covenant-working of God enter into rest when all is accomplished. The answer (verses 13, 14) is, "Jehovah hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it." It is more than asked, clearly more. The heart led of God has been brought to desire what is God's desire and the object of His election.

So the desire (ver. 9) is that Jehovah's priests be clothed with righteousness, as John the Baptist's father; and the answer (ver. 16) is, I will also clothe her priests with salvation — the full final deliverance of God. The desire is right: righteousness becomes them. The answer is from God, and becomes Him in the power of His grace. The desire again (ver. 9) is, that His saints may shout for joy. All right: the renewed heart must desire the prosperity and joy of God's chosen. And God will give it abundantly (ver. 16): "her saints shall shout aloud for joy."

Remark another thing. In the desire they are Jehovah's priests, and Jehovah's saints — "thy priests," "thy saints." It is so as to "the rest:" and as to the rest it is repeated (compare verses 8 and 14); but as to Zion, This is my rest. And this is what we want: nothing else will do or would be rest. But as to the priests and saints the answer does not say "thy," but "her," that is, Zion's. They are His; but so perfectly does God own the complete association of His people with Him in rest and blessing, that the priests which are His He calls hers (for they do belong to Zion), and the priests which are His to be hers. This in the identity of the rest is of unequalled beauty.

I have omitted the desire (ver. 10) not to turn away the face of God's anointed. The answer (verses 17, 18) also is more: the horn of David is to bud; a lamp is there ordained for Him, and His crown shall flourish on Him. That is, He goes beyond the wish. But note it is "there" — in Zion. Christ literally is King there, as in Psalm 2. There too it was first sung — "His mercy endureth for ever;" for it had blessed Israel after all and in spite of all, and found in the end of His responsibility the occasion and beginning of His perfect grace. We see the outgoings of His goodness in that which He will do for Zion.

Psalm 133. The person of the high priest represented the whole people. But the power and anointing of the Holy Ghost in the fragrance of grace was that which united the whole people; so exactly in Christ — one Spirit and one body. They shall in that day appoint themselves one Head; they shall not be two peoples any more in the land, and this not only in form but in Spirit and unity of blessing. Hermon caught in its lofty head the dew or produced it; but it fell in the central place of divine blessing, thus ministering the power of unity. Hermon was called Zion, but it was with (S), not (Z). This seems to be Zion as we ordinarily understand it, where Jehovah commanded His blessing and life for evermore. It was the place of grace, the hill of grace. Though Hermon, whose head was in heaven as it were, was the attractive place of dew, it was the dew of Hermon, but it fell on Zion. The Spirit will be poured on them from on high, and Ephraim will no more envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim.

341 Psalm 134. Zion thus established, praises rise. Men by night in the sanctuary at peace there, His servants, stand in His courts; and as once the day only brought clearer light on their sorrow, now the night itself is awake with the praises of Jehovah who has restored them and given them cause for praise day and night; and He who has been the centre and power of this blessing — David — is now in Zion which Jehovah has chosen. They bless out of this seat of grace and royalty. The sanctuary owns the royalty — the seat and place of blessing. He who has made heaven and earth, the Jehovah of His people, the Creator of all things is in this power called to bless Him out of Zion, the place of grace and desire to Jehovah. It is not Sinai now; Psalms 132-134 all centre in Zion. Jehovah has chosen Zion — commanded blessing there — blesses Messiah out of Zion. Surely the people is restored now. The priest blesses Jehovah and calls for benediction from Jehovah on Him from this seat of royal grace. Thus is Christ placed, as the remembrance of David and his afflictions, who had no rest till a place was found out for Jehovah: heaven and earth the compass of heaven, but Zion the seat of peculiar blessing; Psalm 133, especially priestly blessing, as Psalm 132, the king. Psalm 134 brings both in, pronouncing and ministering praise and the blessing.

Psalm 135. This and the following psalm seem to me to be the praise to which the songs of degrees have led. Jehovah is celebrated, the name of Jehovah, and is called to be by the servants of Jehovah. They stood now in the house of Jehovah, in the courts of the house of their (Israel's) God. Jehovah had chosen Jacob for Himself. Israel was His peculiar treasure. He was great, and Israel's Adon above all gods. Whatever Jehovah pleased, He did with universal power, as in creation and providence, and that power in delivering Israel, judging their enemies, exercising divine and righteous authority over them in favour of His people, and using that righteous sovereignty in preparing a place for a heritage to them. Verses 13, 14, remarkably take in the record of the name of promise to the fathers given to Moses, as in Exodus 3; and of sovereign mercy in their utter destitution, Deuteronomy 32. The heathen are therein shewn their vanity. Verses 19-21 take up the full Israelitish located blessing according to the ordinance of God in Israel, not His in them, but their return to Him as blessed. At least they are so called in, and in spirit summon their companies, and close with the utterance of the praise itself with a final hallelujah as it began.

342 Psalm 136 takes up the well-known hallelujah, Israel's chorus, "for His mercy endureth for ever." The present occasion of their praises proved that mercy endureth for ever, and that that mercy had really gone on unceasingly, and had preserved them (through their rebellions), and remembered them, as Deuteronomy had said, in their low estate, redeeming them from the hand of their enemies. It still takes up the almighty sovereignty of God, Jehovah, and takes up the same elements of power, but adds Israel's sense of mercy, and that, its having endured for ever, enabling it to take up this very praise now. "He remembered us in our low estate." Then indeed it is that praise really comes out from a humble spirit, and mercy known now, and known in unchanging favour in personal blessing, yet more glorious and lovely, because a love which flowed from itself, not caused by the object, is added to the praises as the sinner's only basis for them all. It is a beautiful expression of this; and the mind, thus taught, recounts them with happy particularity — power, wisdom, skill, grandeur of governance in the objects formed in their proper order, judicial and mighty power in deliverance to the people, for the Creator looks at them, and they are immediately associated with creation in its blessing. He did everything in controlling power over creation for them. Distinctive in judgment, Israel passed through, Pharaoh overthrown. He led them with unceasing care when there was no way, and smote their enemies when they would have checked their entrance into their inheritance, giving their possessions to them His people, and after all redeemed them from their low estate, for indeed His mercy endured for ever; and then blessed in providence all the race of man and the animal creation too, for to this His mercy reached — the God of heaven whose mercy endured for ever. It is not here "of earth" merely; for it is for them as much to look up as the Gentiles who had the earth, and the Church, apt to think God did not mind the earth, to look down and own Him the God of the earth. Messiah's reign in that day shall prove Him gathering both their dislocated elements — failing Israel on earth, and a failing Church for heaven — into perfection and stability.

343 This closes, I think, the rising up by degrees to Jehovah's house, where this or these are sung. What follows takes a wider scope and yet looks back to the interval which has been entirely omitted in these two psalms — discipline and sorrow and humiliation for sin by the way the people visited.

The former two took up merely the land in their introduction into it, and looked at them then in their low estate, and this, whatever its cause, was looked at as an object of compassion. Mercy for ever was the word, and they could truly sing it then. Circumstances are entered into here, connected with visitations and sorrows in strange lands and deliverances there, and all that was associated with Israel's state when far from Jehovah, and Lo-ammi indeed really written upon it — quite another and different aspect of things.

Psalm 137. This therefore gives an important character to this psalm — the period of Israel's rejection, and the impossibility of praising the Lord in such circumstances. It is the Spirit thus in the remnant. Faith put to the associations of God's glory with Israel, but for that reason incapable of uttering the Lord's songs. They might (with a sort of holy boldness in God's own principles and holiness, yet with bowing of heart) say, as elsewhere — "Praise waiteth for thee in Zion." Jehovah had His own law, His own place. This He had made Israel's: were they to forget this? It would have been slighting His favour, renouncing the speciality of His mercy. Babylon they might get — they had got into: their sins had brought them there; but there they must at least hang up their harps, weeping because for them the place of this world's careless and apostate glory. For indeed, if in sorrow, they were identified with the place of God's glory in the earth. Their portion, if the Spirit of righteousness was in them at all, was sorrow then. Well, Jehovah too was very sore displeased with the heathen that were at ease. He was but a little angry, and they had helped forward the affliction. For good He suffered His people to be afflicted, for righteousness too now, but still they were beloved. Now the testimony to their righteousness in sorrow is rendered to them by the Spirit there. And this is the blessed point of this psalm; even if carried away captive, there were those of whom Zion's sorrows were the sorrows, and, in spirit, Jerusalem, the Urim of God's peace, preferred above their chief joy. They, when free, could say this in the truth of the spirit of their state then. So shall it be in the latter day. All the intervening sorrow of a separate people in judgment is witnessed and owned of the Spirit of God. Then we have the three great powers of the world or cities that concerned Zion; but they were Zion's songs, not to be sung but there. "Babylon" (if it could be said for judgment, full judgment, was not yet come about) "who art to be destroyed" — haughty evil. He who would be blessed is he who executed the judgment on it. Then there was a third party, haters of Jehovah, who would be found liars; implacable enemies of Jerusalem, hating it just because it was Jehovah's, and they were ruiners of it; but as they dealt thus in the day of Jerusalem, Jehovah would remember them. We see thus that deliverance from Babylon (and so we may add its fall) precedes its destruction; and before they can triumph in the setting-up of Zion, they can, as delivered, and with the remnant's feelings, speak of their previous position as one that had been. Though Babylon was not destroyed, and Edom yet to come up in remembrance of judgment before God, Jerusalem was still to be spoken of as one remembered, not forgotten — not as one which they possessed and dwelt in peace as their glory. But Babylon is spoken of as one remembered too, and yet in existence. There they had done so and so; and he would be happy that destroyed her; and Edom, still viewed as in power, to be visited of the Lord. It is thus a very instructive and pointed psalm, as well as exceedingly beautiful in its spirit and strength of association with Jehovah in the sense of the appointed place of His favour, blessing, honour, and glory. Jehovah would remember Edom; but Babylon was to have, it seems, some instrumental rewarder of her ways. The judgment on these two closes the psalm.

344 Psalm 138 then takes up the praise before the whole earth — Jehovah's word. His faithfulness in truth was magnified above all His name. Mercy might have done it and be sung; but faithfulness to His promise in spite of all man's unfaithfulness (see verses 1-3) now shone out in all its glory; and they that blessed themselves in earth would bless themselves in the God of truth. This is a glorious position — the position of the strength of the Spirit, while its tender mercy is true too to the needy and in our infirmities. But this was risen above in His strength now. The holy temple was then to be worshipped toward. Every promise had come out in its own glory in spite of the utter unfaithfulness and utter failure of man. It was true the kings of the earth had not yet come to bow to the glory of the Lord, or yet sing consequently in the ways of Jehovah, and Israel had therefore to praise before the gods. Still this in one sense exalted Jehovah's strength. All was not as yet brought into the peaceful blessedness of acknowledged rule; but Jehovah had appeared on Israel's side, so that they had that glory before all the princes of the earth. Israel had cried in the day of his trouble and Jehovah had strengthened him, and now all the kings of the earth would have to hear the words of Jehovah's mouth and would sing, for indeed it would be and was blessing in the ways of Jehovah; for great (the delivered one now can say) is the glory of Jehovah. Such is the substance of the psalm as regards the remnant, as it is in the period after the destruction of Antichrist in the time of Jacob's trouble, the first great act of judgment in the person of the associated oppressor of the remnant, before the earth is subjected or its kings have learnt to bow before Jehovah, the faithful God of His people in blessing. Still the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the great hinge of this psalm, and when the mighty one of death was against Him in His entering into the time of Jacob's trouble, yet (with Israel against Him, associated with him; so that it could be said, This is your hour and the power of darkness) He was strengthened in His soul with strength and met in His own blessed peaceful dignity their apostate rulers that stood up against Him — was heard in that He feared, and could take the ground of resurrection against all that was against Him; and so in the strength of divine favour could in blessed perfect obedience take the cup and thus seal the certainty of this submission of all to Him in the strength of the Lord over all evil, even in the power of death. We have then in the last three verses the three great aspects of Jehovah's ways — high but having respect to the lowly; reviving His true, loved, faithful servant, though such may be in trouble; stretching forth His hand against the wrath of His enemies, perfecting that which concerns His faithful servant. "For his mercy endureth for ever"; and this it is has made way for the glory and manifestation of His truth according to the depth of His wisdom and unsearchable judgments. In Christ indeed, and so of all promises in Him, His word is magnified above all His name — His promises, "Yea and Amen" in Him. Blessed be He who is both Lord and servant. David's son and David's Lord, Israel's sufferer and Israel's Saviour (the same love making Him one that He might be the other in divine perfectness).

346 Psalm 139. The day of Christ's trouble having been thus introduced, the mystery of the Church according to divine righteousness, and searching all things even according to death, is brought in. But the Church being brought out of it stands of course above and beyond the reach of it in judgment, for it stands in the power of it according to the favour due to the person of Christ, and which in Him has raised the Church out of the full result of the judicial fulness of divine righteousness against all that divine righteousness could search; and if it reached heaven or the power of death, the two extremes of that righteousness, it found it in one in perfection, in the other in suffering its full exaction in Him who thus, in it for the Church, and the Church in Him, fills all things. (Verses 17, 18.) The purpose of these thoughts concerning Christ and His glory is referred to, and then, consequent on this, the judgment of the wicked in vindication of His honour (who opposed and rejected Him) and that righteousness may prevail (for in truth His soul was perfect, though He went into the dust of death in its hatred of evil); and so the Church in Him. And thus the searching eye of divine righteousness, desired for it, is disciplinarian and directive — not judicial as to the acceptance of the person. This rests the whole question on higher ground — the highest and fullest ground yet taken in this book as to the manner of its communication to us, and our portion in it. It is the mystery of the Church, but hidden here.* It is not, I will praise thee, for I am searched; but, "I will praise thee; for I am . . . made." The whole Epistle of Ephesians is the Spirit's unfolding and applying according to the full light of an ascended Saviour; the force of this psalm is a commentary on it according to the light of the gospel, and its actual accomplishment. Verse 18 is restoration — His place in spite of death.

{*[The author would doubtless speak more cautiously now. In more mature statements he says: "This psalm goes far in the relationship of man's spirit with God, though it looks to the external judgment of the wicked, and uses language which becomes verified in the Church figuratively, and which is so also in the resurrection." — Ed.]}

Psalm 140. The sacred people being righteous and searched, and the wicked to be judged and slain, these in their relative condition are brought in. And, passing on to the condition of the Jewish people, to speak the words of Christ among the remnant as taking up their cause in that day, it looks for deliverance from them on the earth, possibly in the evil man noticing the last enemy rising from within them, especially the Antichrist; and in the violent, those who seek their own will from without against the men of peace and righteousness. Verses 12, 13, shew the sure confidence of faith in their circumstances. The psalm, however, is one of character in these He sought to be delivered from — the evil ones and enemies (not designation).

Psalm 141 makes a scene deserving of investigation, and enters into the position of the righteous one amongst the people — his being thrown entirely on the Lord for keeping righteousness, so that he may have no part with the wicked, willing that the righteous should smite him. He will pray for them in their trials, though they rebuke and reprove him. All he wants is righteousness; but he desires to be preserved from the vanities of the wicked. Snares they had laid around, but he was securing himself to God, and desiring this only practical acceptance with Him, Jehovah, and to Him only therefore he looks — instructive lesson. Though willing to be smitten by the righteous, verse 6 implies still an owning of them, but their liability to heavy chastisements; but as he prayed in their calamities (for a blessing is in it, in the cluster), so when chastened and overthrown, they would hear his words, for indeed they were sweet. He knew it before the Lord in the day of visitation: there would be hearkeners. Thus the Spirit of Christ took up the people of Israel found in Jerusalem; as for the enemies, it was deliverance from and judgment. In verse 7 He looks at the relentless evil and violence — murder committed against the nations. He calls them in that — in spirit He loves them still; still the individual believers — for it was now on earth a question — on earth would escape, while the wicked would fall into their own nets. Look at David in the time of Saul, and there is much to guide in the understanding of the psalm. Prayer is the position in which he puts himself, praying the Lord to put a watch over him.

Psalm 142. Here we find the loneliness of Christ and consequently of His Spirit in the remnant; but Jehovah was the refuge in loneliness; and where all failed of man, He did not; and the voice of groaning was the glory of the Lord's only faithfulness. The Spirit of the Righteous and Holy One was overwhelmed. So of His yechidim in the latter day. But Jehovah knew His path, terrible, troubled, and trying as it was; and no man would know Him: not only of the peoples none were with Him, but none of His people. And so shall iniquity abound in that day: so are the saints ever tried. Look at Paul — "no man stood by me; but the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me." See the account of these very latter days in Matthew 24. But when His faithfulness was proved, the righteous would compass Him about. This then is desertion, while His persecutors stronger than He pressed on Him, that is, as to the land of the living.

348 Then, in Psalm 143, it is not solitariness as to trial, but judgment, that is the question, that Jehovah might be with him — this between his soul and God. Trials existed — his life was smitten down to the ground — his spirit was overwhelmed within him, and his heart desolate; but judgment could not be met by man. No flesh living should be justified. This is, indeed, just what we have learned by the Holy One entering into it. He shewed this very necessity of all, and the Spirit in Jehovah's remnant expresses just their sense of this; and He, bearing it as their representative, was heard in that He feared. Still it drew His Spirit for Israel (for Israel here it is that is in question, and that in the truth of their latter-day position, oppressed and having enemies, ver. 5) to the Lord as His resource, for the communion with Him was uninterrupted and unbroken. On the cross vicariously the Lord did enter into judgment, but that is just what makes all the rest true for Israel, and this only as purging. Thence direction is sought — teaching, deliverance, guidance, and the cutting off of enemies, for He was Jehovah's servant. This, then, is the psalm of judgment, and Messiah's and the people's part in it is very plain, and how He could plead this for them, and they by His Spirit in them. The cry is founded on God's faithfulness and righteousness — not on theirs as regards the servant's condition. There was no entering into condition. This, I repeat, was just what Christ proved in the atonement. Righteousness is pleaded in all His relationship with the Lord; and then cutting off His enemies is mercy, and only mentioned as to this which puts mercy clearly in a new place — riddance of the earth, that there may be a land of uprightness and an earth of peace, through the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and they that troubled gone in mercy.

349 Psalm 140 then enters into the position of the righteous generally in the latter day, in presence of the enemy of the Spirit of Christ; Psalm 141, His thoughts before the Lord in the midst of the people in that case; Psalm 142, He finds there are none — He is left alone; Psalm 143, the question of the Lord with His servant, through the available intercession of Christ — the presence of the Spirit of Christ in the remnant thus brought before the Lord alone, with the consequent direct supplication from verse 7 to end.

Psalm 144. Jehovah is celebrated by Messiah as in the war and conflict for the people. First (ver. 2), what He is to Him; then subduing His people under Him. Then comes the righteous enquiry for judgment: What is man, that the Lord so long lingers and pauses before He gets rid of the wicked and the evil? (Compare Psalm 8.) For here man is seen the proud adversary on earth of the Man of God's right hand, after lengthened and infinite mercy, bounded first by this state of adversity, which was patience, not with abstractedly possible return, but manifested opposition to good, and therefore would-be feeble acquiescence in evil. Now God's patience had been the patience of perfect power not of feebleness with evil. Man's worthlessness is here thus presented to Him. It was now the hand of strange children, and Messiah (pleading withal for those put for, and then with, whom He was afflicted) must be delivered. Man is like to vanity. "Bow thy heavens, O Jehovah"; and the righteous Messiah claims the intervention of power, and this brings judgment and new songs — judgment in order that righteousness may bear its unhindered and natural fruits of blessing. It is here with intercession for judgment, because of the position of things. Happy the people in this case of blessing of righteousness — Messiah's blessing; yea, the people that have Jehovah for their God. Thus the vanity of man, the judgment and blessing of righteousness, are all identified through Messiah with His people, even the remnant of Israel.

Psalm 145. Messiah extols Jehovah in the millennial blessings of peace (vs 18-20) shewing its introduction by the hearing of the cry of the sorrowful, oppressed, then yechidim ('solitary')mercy and judgment. That first statement gives the force of the psalm, and it is most lovely in unfolding His intercourse: the anthem between Him and His saints and all creation, His works and all flesh — the chorus extolling Jehovah, the blessed in that day. It is a most beautiful psalm in this respect, and carries us far into blessing; and it shall be continuous (we, however, in our own, abiding — in special eternal blessing); this with Messiah below.

350 Psalm 146 to the end is the great chorus of praise to Jah the Lord, the Jehovah, or Eternal One of creation, and of Israel, of which Israel was made dispensatorily the tried and blessed head; Messiah, as of the earth and of the flesh, coming of them and coming to them, and withal Jehovah's earthly sanctuary being in the midst of them, the centre of the blessing and the peculiar place of nearness.

Psalm 147. The deliverer and executor of judgment, Zion's God Jehovah. Messiah announces Him thus — He only could. They were the objects of it. Then He is to Israel, the remnant, "our God;" and praise (and they at peace) is pleasant and comely. How lovely is this peace, and Jehovah's prosperity in them! Yea, He takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy — not their own righteousness. Also they have His word, the oracles of God. He had not dealt so with any nation (the Church is high up above in these blessings). There are two points then: His mercy to Jerusalem, building it up and gathering the outcasts of Israel; and His power in creation (His own strength being the thing displayed and delighting in none else). The connection of Israel with creation-blessing is very strong, and a very cardinal point in the order of God's economies. Christ, as originally coming, would have been (had men not been all sinful) the head over them in this blessing. He shall be (but taking in the heavens on a larger scale, and) elevated on a higher principle of grace, and that in purification and redemption, risen as He shall be (as in Hosea 2:21, 23). Creation shall be restored in their restoration; but these higher things are brought in, and a more glorious source of it; but all linked together by the exaltation of the rejected but returned Man. The Second man is the Lord from heaven; but it is grace and government at this time, and not simple order of beauty with God all in all. He sends His word into the world, and shews it to Jacob. His power in this nearness to Israel, brought low, is the great theme, however, of this psalm. His power — Jehovah is the theme however, not the Father, as in that character; and the heavens shall praise Him; though we in our own special church-position rejoice there in the Father — our Father — "the kingdom," it is written, "of their Father."

Psalm 148. Israel's relation with this general or universal praise is then taken up. This is the great earthly millennial result, but connected, as we have seen, with a sphere beyond it — all creation. "Praise Jah" is still the key-note. First, Praise Jehovah from the heavens; verse 7, praise from the earth. In the heavens are we; but this is not the subject of the Old Testament word. This mystery is hidden from ages and generations; yet we know our place in it; but all the creatures in it are to praise Jehovah, for He created them. Then from the earth; and here the kings of the earth come in, and all people, princes, and judges of the earth. They are to praise the name of Jehovah; for His name alone is exalted — His glory above earth and heaven; but He had elevated the horn of His people. He is the praise of all His chasidim, even of the children of Israel — a people near unto Him. As power was shewn in the former psalm in act, so the place of praise; Israel and creation are shewn here, as alluded to at the close of it in the millennial hallelujah.

351 Psalm 149 rises up to the proper praise of Israel for themselves, as between themselves and God in this nearness. The saints here are always chasidim, that is, Israel so accepted and beloved in mercy — the meek and God-honouring ones — the remnant.

Psalm 150 is the great and comprehensive chorus: God — El — the mighty and strong and only One, who judges and swears in Himself alone, is celebrated — not Jehovah. It looks in the sanctuary: now indeed specially the heavenly Jerusalem is this in the day of glory for the Lamb, but intrinsically in the light which no man can approach unto, His own secret place of holiness and separatedness from all. He is praised in their thought. Spiritual thought by the Holy Ghost on earth at least, alone reaches Him; then not only in His separation above all, but in the firmament of His power, the strength and stability of this place of stedfast testimony of immovable greatness and power; then His acts and greatness; then with man's (still on earth) best praise; and then everything that has breath is to celebrate Jah, the existing One — Him indeed in whom they live and move and have their being and breath to praise. It is our privilege now, but it is anticipative of the time when we shall actually be called on to do so. This shall be the full tide of unhindered praise to God Himself where He is for what He has done, goes with all given energies, and by all that has breath in formal character. It is indeed Jewish and earthly; but, as before, it reached to the heavens — the created heavens — where we may be, here to the sanctuary of El where He is in His own glory. And this must close, as indeed it is the source of praise. For the soul rises up from Ashre Ha-Ish (Blessed is the man) to Hallelu-Jah, Halleloo-el Bekodsho (Praise God in His sanctuary.) Then the soul necessarily stops, at least, finds itself at the infinite close of all. Before it is known only by the Holy Ghost.