David, the instrument that God employed to give us the Psalms, as also the other Psalmists, passed through the circumstances of which they speak. Hence there are found in them more experiences than prophecies. They are all prophetic no doubt, but at the same time characteristically give us experiences. It is the Spirit of Christ which by means of the prophet thinks and speaks of these experiences. The prophet meets with like circumstances, and the Holy Spirit gives him to express his feelings. One knows the circumstances which occasioned several of the psalms; but the Spirit of God has an object to which the circumstances correspond. The first verses of the psalm contain ordinarily the summary.
David, seeing his glory defamed, figures the Messiah here. The circumstances are like those of Jesus before Herod. David is in a strait. The proofs of the power of God with respect to Israel fail him; he was also according to man in despair. All the authorities were against him. He had lost all with those who followed him. The Amalekites had swept everything away. David had nothing left but the Eternal. The soul and the church find themselves in like circumstances.
The latter half of verse 6 is the answer to the demand, "Who will shew us any good? Jehovah, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us." When the soul rests entirely on the Eternal and has nothing but God, it enters into peace and joy. It is easy to bless God when the circumstances are as we wish. But if God leaves us there, He leaves us far from Him, preoccupied with the things that perish. Eden is now impossible. If man is content with what he finds here below, he is content with death, with that which passes away. The soul is ever pushed to the point of saving, "Who will shew us any good?" There is nothing that abides as the stay of the soul. One finds oneself outside Eden; God seems not for us; Satan is against us. One must be driven there to understand that all around is far from God, without seeing any good in self or any resource outside it.
If God reveals Himself to the soul, it feels its condition, and that, instead of escaping from God, it must find Him. Outside Him is no rest. It is then the soul can say, "Lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us." If the soul withdraws from God, it occupies itself with things here below as its object. God exercises discipline to recall from such a state. Faith finds in Him the same answer. When the soul gets back to God, it no more has other resources or other desires. It says, LORD, lift thou up, etc. It is entirely satisfied with being in the light of God's countenance. When in the midst of hankerings and difficult circumstances the soul turns to God, a great work is already done in the heart. Sin is come into the world, and there is nothing that is not infected with it. God can find nothing in the world to enrich us with, nothing that does not fill the hand of death which seizes all. He gives and makes known Christ, and thus sets apart the godly for Himself with the confidence that He hears us (v. 3). Thus by Him we learn the truth as to all.
56 The moment Christ is thus recognised by virtue of the Holy Spirit, the heart attaches itself to Him, and finds its treasure in Him, seeing that there is nothing good in itself. The more one sees in man the ignorance of spiritual things, the more also one feels the necessity of knowing what we are. This discovery of the state of our souls makes us understand that all is vanity by the revelation of that which fixes and attaches us to God in His unchanging goodness. For as Christ has been judged for all that was evil and vain in us, so God discovers to us all that He is in our favour. We have always the assurance, founded on Christ, that God will lift on us the light of His countenance. There is in Him no variableness nor shadow of turning; and we know that He has before Him the Beloved, and has chosen us in Him, and we cannot seek peace in vanity.
After creating all, God rested from His work; but sin has spoiled it all and turned it into vanity, so that God cannot any longer rest there. There is one only man, Jesus, in whom He finds His good pleasure. He does not change the world, but chooses the Beloved before His face. There is the rock of our assurance - Christ and His work on our behalf. Faith finds its rest and peace in God, whatever be the difficulties. To enjoy the favour of God and the light of His countenance is our sole good. This goes deep into the heart - whether we are content with all if God lifts upon us the light of His face. There is what gives uprightness.
If I look to the countenance of God, the opinions of men do not shake me. If we think there is any good thing in us, we are still in rebellion against God. The world is content to receive good things from God; but the moment they cease, the heart's rebellion and ingratitude are manifest. It is in Christ alone that God has all His complacency, because the world is all alienated from Him. He is also our Beloved, for He has reconciled us to God. The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me. The Beloved of God is my Beloved.
57 Am I content whatever the circumstances provided that God lifts upon me the light of His face? If we are not, there is still in us something which the Holy Spirit condemns. If the heart acts on the circumstances, happiness is lost when they change, and one cannot say, LORD, lift Thou upon me the light of Thy countenance. When the heart is attached to Christ, we find in Him all that can be conceived, Yea, all that God can reveal of blessedness. A Christian ought not day by day to desire any other thing than Christ. Then we enjoy the light of God's countenance shining on us and reject all that is inconsistent with Him and His glory.