and our connection with them.
Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892, p. 311.
These three psalms give us three experiences of the Lord. First, when glorified; second, when on the cross; third, as a Man walking on the earth. Into the first experience of Psalm 22 (the cross) we can never enter. We can never know the experience of His holy soul when "made sin" and "forsaken of God"; but into the experiences of Psalms 21 and 23 we should, through, His grace, and in our measure, enter now. His death was to bring us into this communion which He Himself knew both on earth and since His death, and it is effected in us by the presence of the Holy Ghost, maintaining the soul in the present reality of having "part with" Him. As He said, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." (John 13:8.) Into the joy of both of these Psalms it is then the privilege of a believer to enter, but it will be "in part" - for we know nothing yet as we ought to know - we know in part.
The order in which the experiences are entered into by the soul now is, I take it, as presented to us here. That is, you have the experience of Psalm. 21 before you get that of Psalm 23. There is in Psalm 21 the blessedness and joy of a new order of things - a new sphere into which the soul has entered by faith, and it is only then, as I see it, that though yet in "the valley of the shadow of death" - this world - you can know what it is to walk there, and "fear no evil," for evil is rampant all round. Yet nothing can equal the calmness and confidence in God which faith gives green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, a cup running over, such is the experience of the soul day by day and continuously. We may look at each psalm alone a little.
Psalm 21. The cross is here past, and CHRIST GLORIFIED is before us; it is His own personal experience as out of the judgment and in all the joy, an experience into which by grace we too can enter. He is glorying in God's salvation "He asked life of Thee, [Jehovah] and Thou gavest it Him, even length of days for ever and ever." It is clear here that death is past, life is His; that is, He is glorified. "His glory is great in Thy salvation." (Here we see where He is.) "Honour and majesty hast Thou laid upon Him." Then follows one of the few passages in scripture where the Lord's present experience is related, an experience with which the Holy Ghost fills the soul of a believer in worship, because we have "part with Him." (John 13.) What is it? "Thou hast made Him most blessed for ever: Thou hast made Him exceeding glad with Thy countenance." Does not the soul already know something of this? HE is "exceeding glad." Once a "Man of sorrows," He is now the "Man of joy." We talk of the happiness of heaven. My delight is that there is One there whose joy is, and ever will be, beyond that of everyone else. Christ is there, and He is "anointed with the oil of gladness"; and though joy is the very atmosphere there, in which every heart is filled, He is anointed "with the oil of gladness" ABOVE HIS FELLOWS. (Heb. 1.)
After this, in this psalm He executes judgment and justice on His enemies, preparatory to the millennial reign. "Thine hand shall find out all Thine enemies Thy right hand shall find out those that hate Thee. Then comes the millennium in the last verse, "Be Thou exalted, Lord, in Thine own strength: so will we sing and praise Thy power." As we are kept and led by the Spirit, through grace, in the experience of this Psalm (21), we shall have also the experience of Psalm 23. I think too that the order in which they come is important, and that the experience of them must be learnt in that order in the soul, and it cannot be reversed.
Psalm 23. Here the Lord is the speaker, but He is speaking as a man on earth. The "valley of the shadow of death" is around Him. He "fears no evil" there. Jehovah is His shepherd. He does not want, and He never will want. On the contrary, He is in the midst of fulness. "Green pastures" and "still waters," the "prepared table" and the "head anointed" with oil, testify of it, and He can only say, "My cup runneth over." Are not these the experiences of the saints, through the "great salvation"? Have not the saints "part with" Him where He is? (Psalm 21.) And do they not know His path in all its blessed experiences day by day - His, who was a perfect Man upon the earth? (Psalm 23.) One thing presses upon me, no one can deny that the victory is won. Psalm 22 brings Him who won it into the midst of the assembly, as the mighty Victor to sing praises there. (See verses 25, 26.) May we in spirit and in the Spirit follow Him whose glory is great in God's "salvation." May there be that subjection to the Spirit in us, that these things may dwell in us as the truth, and the joy of the Lord be, as
it ought to be, in reality, "our strength." H. C. A.