The Psalms

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

F. W. Grant.

Book 2. (Psalm 42 — 72.)

Israel's ruin and their redemption in the latter days.

The subject of the second book — as in some sense with every second book in the Bible — is that of ruin and redemption; the one the display of man, the other of God. We have still before us, prophetically, Israel in the latter days, and that more exclusively than hitherto, the first book, as giving the counsels of God as to Christ, being naturally much larger in scope.*

{* Dr. Bullinger has added to the many proofs of the Pentateuchal character of these books, that "all the figures and illustrations" of the first book are from Genesis, as in the second book they are from Exodus: a very interesting and important fact which (not having myself verified it) I give upon his authority ("Names and Order of the Books of the Old Testament," p. 36.)}

The faithful remnant are seen at the commencement in the most complete distress, driven out of Jerusalem, and therefore from the places sacred to God there: a loss of immense significance to those for whom the relationship of God with Israel as a nation is connected with His dwelling in the sanctuary. It is in this way that the covenant-name Jehovah is found so little in the book;* although the loss of the covenant title which it implies leads them at last, as cast upon the mercy of God alone, to know Him better in His own essential nature.** And thus the larger use of the word Elohim — God — is found, not merely in the psalms which speak of the ruin, but in those that speak of the redemption also; in fact, throughout this second book. And this is a principle in His dealings with His people: every experience of need and distress is suffered to be, in order finally to bring out that which in Him meets it, — to give knowledge which shall abide for eternity, and be of unspeakable value for the soul.

{*"The second book of Psalms consists entirely of Elohimic psalms; for whilst in the first book Jehovah occurs two hundred and seventy-two times and Elohim only fifteen, the relation is here reversed: Elohim occurs one hundred and sixty-four times and Jehovah only thirty, and in almost every instance by a departure from the customary mode of expression for reasons that lie close at hand." (Delitzsch, Com. on the Psalms, vol. 2, p. 51.)

**The typical history of Ruth has already shown us the salvation of Israel in this view of it. (See Notes on that book.)}

The banishment of the remnant from Jerusalem shows that we have here the time of the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, the time when they are warned to flee (Matt. 24:15-16); the power of Antichrist being now established there. It is the time, therefore, of unequaled tribulation (comp. Dan. 12:1); which is closed for them by the revelation of the Lord from heaven (Matt. 24:30; and comp. Dan. 7:13, Zech. 14:3, seq.); a time upon which so much of prophecy is concentered, as that in which the conflict between good and evil reaches its crisis, and the issues are reached and realized; which Scripture therefore entitles the time of "harvest." The harvest is reaped by angelic hands (Matt. 13:39, 41, 49).

The book is divided, very similarly to the first book, into three main parts, the first and third of which are, in their main features, Messianic; while the second consists mainly of remnant psalms, which give the experiences and exercises of the faithful in Israel, to which the Spirit of Christ furnishes expressions of faith which (even where transcending their intelligence) will be their comfort and stay in those days of "rebuke and blasphemy" which precede their deliverance.

Subdivision 1. (Psalm 42 — 51.)

The King in Zion.

The truths, then, that are characteristic of this book are, ruin in responsibility, and redemption in grace. The first subdivision, giving as such the introduction to the whole, exemplifies this fully. It consists of ten psalms, the responsibility number, but which are divided again into eight (47 — 49) and two (50, 51). These eight psalms give us thus the new covenant number, which is, as that, the fullest expression of grace, and of the ruin of man under the old. These psalms are, moreover, Korahite psalms; psalm 43 has no title, but is only an apparent exception, its character showing it to be practically a continuation of the preceding one. The sons of Korah are mentioned in the book of Numbers as having escaped the judgment that fell upon their father in the wilderness. They are suited witnesses therefore to that divine grace which is now their theme. The two psalms which follow bring us back to the consideration of the people's sin, which had brought them into the condition of outcasts from Jehovah's presence, which the first psalms of the book so touchingly lament.

But the subject that has pre-eminent place in this subdivision is the coming of the Deliverer-King to Zion, with the deliverance implied by this, whether from external evils or worse internal ones, for which repentance is God's way of escape. The person of the King; as both divine and human; is shown out here also with the most absolute simplicity; displaying the faith of those saints of old in Him who would bring redemption to them; in bright relief to the dishonoring unbelief of the nation afterwards.

Section 1. (Psalm 42 — 49.)

Redemption by power.

Redemption finds its place in this book in its twofold character, as redemption by blood and redemption by power. Both are needed — the ransom-price, which is, of course, for God, and the actual coming in of power, which knocks off the shackles of the slave, and sets at liberty. Redemption has always in it the thought of deliverance accomplished, which takes place spiritually for all who as the people of God come into the value of that already accepted ransom. But they must be really and in heart, not nominally or probationally this, and thus participants of faith; and Israel only in this way find redemption. Thus it is the remnant only, not the nation, the remnant being in result the nation. Redemption by power sets them manifestly in this place; and this is the theme of the first section here.

The first two psalms are in structure and in theme so alike, that — the second psalm also having no separate title as the other psalms of this series have — it is no wonder that they should have been looked upon as one. Delitzsch, after quoting for this Eusebius and a Jewish Midrash, says: "The similarity of the situation, of the general impress, of the structure, and of the refrain, is decisive in favor of these psalms, which are commonly reckoned as two, being one. The one psalm consists of three parts: thrice his pain breaks forth into complaint, and is each time again overcome by the admonitory voice of his higher consciousness. In the depicting of the past and the future there is unmistakable progress. And it is not until the third part (Ps. 43) that complaint, resignation, and hope are perfected by the language of confident prayer which supervenes." Yet there is a difference between the two psalms which (with their connection also) the numerical arrangement indicates. It is not needful to do more here than to refer to it.

Psalms 42, 43.

The cry of the solitary.

Psalm 42.

God the one need of the soul.

To the chief musician, Maskil of the sons of Korah.

This with the following psalm gives the cry of the solitary, — that in the deepest sense; as cut off from Jehovah's presence. "The land of Jordan (the river of death) and of the Hermons" is here very significant. "Hermon" is a word which seems only capable of one meaning. Some would make it mean "prominent, high," which; of course; would suit well enough a mountain that is seen over nearly all the land of Israel. But spiritual meaning in this case would be difficult to find; and the derivation is also merely conjectural. On the other hand, the name seems evidently akin to "Hormah" and herem; the "ban", or dedication to God in the judgment of that which was evil. "For there can be no doubt;" says Keil, "that that which lay at the foundation of the ban was the compulsory dedication to God of something which resists or impedes sanctification; so that in all cases in which it was carried into execution by the community or the magistracy; it was an act of the judicial holiness of God; manifesting itself in righteousness and judgment." If this, then, be the meaning, how clear is the connection between Hermon; the ban upon evil, and Jordan, the river of death, which has in fact its highest source in Hermon! And how the two together characterize the psalm! Israel will indeed; in the day we are contemplating; be in the land of death; and the day of the Lord is just the time of the enforcement of the ban upon evil, so imperatively necessary that blessing may at last come for the distracted earth! And this white-capped mountain, clothed with the light of heaven reflected from her snows; may well represent both the dread and the promise of that day. For the blessing will be through and after judgment.

Hermon might well be thus a prominent feature in the land in Israel's past history; as well as in the future crisis before us now. The land the land of Canaan; — of nations sentenced to extermination for their iniquity; a sentence which Israel was to put into execution as a condition of their own blessing. It was a condition which, as we know, they failed to fulfill; and thus they came themselves under judgment; as having identified themselves with the objects of it. Hermon, as we may say; still dominated the land, the witness of a principle of government necessarily founded upon the holiness of the divine nature.

"The hill Mizar," which is associated with these, may speak of the condition to which; by this dealing of God with it; the soul is brought. It is literally "hill of littleness," which need not be the equivalent of "little hill." The hill may dwarf instead of being dwarfed; and in this way all would be in harmony. God brings down, that He may exalt, and thus the purport of His bringing into the place of judgment may be well expressed.

Hence, then; comes the cry of the soul; shut out from its place of refuge. God has become to it its one necessity; and here we may well find the second of those psalms of instruction, or Maskil psalms, of which we had the first in the memorable thirty-second; the song of grace which imputeth not iniquity. Yes it is grace itself which secures to us the deep and profitable lessons of God's holiness. Israel's covenant-God is acting here, though in disguise, and the sons of Korah are chosen with perfect suitability to give the instruction. Let us give heed none the less because the schoolmaster is one of ancient time.

1. "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God! My soul thirsteth for God; — for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" This is the effect which God has brought about by that withdrawal of Himself which is now to the awakened heart so intense a bitterness. God has become to it the One great Circumstance. And this is no exaggerated estimate, but the simplest reckoning that can be. The Living One is also the Life-giving One; and the very life itself of the soul. The water-brooks are the fit type, as we well know; of the Spirit of God, who both awakens these desires and satisfies them.

To the agony of such absence is added the presence of enemies, who; though they know not God themselves, realize the distress with which they taunt the object of their malice. Naturally; judging by outward signs largely; they even go beyond the truth, unable to understand the mystery of God's dealings with the people that He loves. And the forsaken one, though he refuses the taunt; has yet no answer to it. With Israel the possession of the land and God;s dwelling-place in it were the necessary signs of divine favor toward them. Where else could the blood of atonement for their sins be sprinkled; or the intercessory priesthood appear for them before Him? No doubt; in the "many days" in which they have abode; according to Hosea's prophecy, "without a sacrifice; and without an ephod" (Hosea 3:4), they have got accustomed to such a condition; and hardened themselves against the accusation which it implies. Nay; they can go further, and look at themselves as suffering for the sins of others, rather than for their own. In the days to which we look forward here, and with the remnant in whom God is working; afresh cast out of the land of which they have had brief possession; such arguments will be impossible. Conviction of sin will be doing its bitter but salutary work among them; prophecy and promise emphasizing the contrast of their forlorn condition with the national hopes. Distance from the city with which these are all bound up will not be measured by the few miles which sum it up in space. No, it is moral — spiritual.

Past experiences throng in; to intensify the bitterness. We are made to realize the gladness with which some at least of this people; exiled for so many generations, will return to set up again; as in Ezra's time, their altar to the God of their fathers; under the protection of that covenant with Gentile power (Dan. 9:27) so soon to be broken; and the altar itself devoted to the "abomination" of worse than heathen idolatry. That gleam of sunshine has in this psalm been already swallowed up in the blackness of a tempestuous eclipse. It abides as a memory of distress; "how I passed along with the multitude; how I went on with them to the house of God; with the voice of singing and praise — a multitude keeping festival." And yet the soul cannot let it go as a mere transient vision: faith stirred by it lays hold with its resolute will of this past; to recall it, and make it abiding; the soul rebukes its own despondency: "Why art thou cast down? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God." Yes; here is what is permanent, what is eternal: hope in God, even though thou canst not find Him; though clouds are round about Him, and thou canst not come unto His seat; though His ways are in deepest mystery; though even thou couldst not find a promise that thou couldst claim undoubtedly. He Himself is promise! In His own all-pitying love — in the goodness of His nature, passing all that we can tell or think; — in Himself thou canst find refuge; a door wide open; and strong fortress walls that close around the one who has fled to Him. Can He say; you have trusted Me too much? Nay, He cannot. Here is His word at last that applies; if nothing else does: "Blessed are all they who put their trust in Him."

From this point the soul poises itself for a flight; and a song, "For I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God." You can see that the face has already brightened. There is no argument that a soul that knows not God can at all discern: "the secret of the Lord is" only "with them that fear Him; and His covenant, to show it to them."

{Verse 5. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate versions read here uniformly with verse twelve and Ps. 43:5, which is found also in the Hebrew by a change in the division of the words and verses. As they commonly stand, the words produce no proper closing cadence; while one old Hebrew MS. points out the erroneousness of division here (comp. Delitzsch, Comm.).}

2. Would not one say, then; that the trouble would be over now? And how often we think it is; when in fact we have but been lifted up on the crest of a wave, which presently sinks deeper than before. Thus the second part of the psalm reveals worse perplexity than the first. The distance between the soul and God is more evident; there seems a more positive breach; though the eye is turned as ever imploringly toward Him. It is here that we can localize the place of distance as the land of Jordan and the Hermons, the hill Mizar." The significance of this we have already seen. "My soul is cast down;" says the speaker; and the voices of nature which surround him seem full of a might by which he is confounded and cast down: "deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy cataracts: all Thy breakers and billows are gone over me."

But again he rises with more assured confidence. "Jehovah" — and here for the first time the covenant-Name, the pledge of unchangeable faithfulness, is used — "Jehovah will command His loving-kindness in the daytime; and in the night shall His song be with me, — prayer to the God of my life."

Still the conflict is real; experience is against experience. God is his Rock; and yet God has; as far as experience goes, forsaken him. He urges it to God Himself; and the bitterness of the oppression of the enemy; who with his unanswerable taunts reproaches him with this forsaking of God; — crushing his bones with it, as he says; making his strength collapse at the thought. Yet even while he says it; faith rallies and turns defeat into victory with its old self-rebuke, "Why art thou cast down?" and he reaffirms his former confidence.

Psalm 43.

Deliverance sought from Antichrist and his adherents.

The forty-third psalm goes back to Jerusalem and the state of things there. In the former one; the "enemy" seems naturally to be rather the outside foe, the Gentile. In the present, it is the ungodly nation and the man of deceit and iniquity; with whom they are identifying themselves; — that is; Antichrist. He is "the liar," as the apostle John says, who denying altogether the Father and the Son, — that is, the Christian revelation, — denies also, as to the Jewish, not that there is a Christ (a Messiah), but "that Jesus is the Christ" (1 John 2:22). Thus the psalmist now prays, "Send out Thy light and truth" and "they shall lead me; they shall bring me to Thy holy hill and to Thy tabernacles." Gloriously will these be indeed displayed when the true Christ shall be revealed from heaven, and with the breath of His lips destroy the wicked one. Deliverance will then have come for the godly ones among the people, as in a moment; Israel's holy places be restored, and their worship be resumed, never again to know interruption.

As to the rest of the psalm, it is largely a repetition of the previous one; and in these outline-notes we need hardly dwell upon it.

Psalm 44.

Faith building on the testimony of past deliverances, and sustained, though in contrasted circumstances.

To the chief musician, Maskil of the sons of Korah.

In the forty-fourth psalm, faith goes back to the testimony of days long past, to build itself up on this, amid circumstances which yet are in such utter contrast. And this is what faith supposes, that the circumstances are, at least, not such as one can build upon. Faith is in "things unseen," making that substantial which to mere sight and sense have no reality. Not that it has not foundations, but that these too are beyond natural sight, in the sphere of the spiritual, and thus, to the carnal, dreams.

1. The history of those days so long gone has indeed for Israel to bear the reproach of the meantime experience. Its testimony is of God acting in triumphant power, in behalf of a people now for long scattered and under the heel of the Gentiles, for whom how many vain hopes have kindled, only to be dispersed and put out in worse darkness than before. None more intense can be than that in which the period to which these psalms apply will find those whose exercises are recorded in them. The nation is lapsed into a condition of utter apostasy, for which the hand of God is necessarily upon them, and the remnant remaining true are yet under the shadow of this. From it they emerge at last, with the fruit of needed exercise secured by a discipline which divine love has ordained for them, into the apprehension of favor never to be lost again.

The lesson here is of absolute dependence on God, which to a feeble and oppressed people is the only possible source of encouragement. To leave man out of the question is to leave out an incalculable element, always causing uncertainty and disappointment. To make God all is to make reckoning simple, safe, and the balance sheet an immense surplus, whatever the expenditure. Let things be as they may, His grace is such as to give one amplest title to reckon upon Him. Here boldness of faith is only simplicity of obedience.

If this God is our God, we may claim Him wherever we find Him. All histories of His past ways become light for us. No laws of His in nature are so unchangeable as He Himself is. As He has ordained for us as His creatures a world of fixed realities amid which to walk, this spiritual world in which we find ourselves, living, and walking, and having our being in Him, is still as far beyond it as eternity beyond time, or heaven beyond earth. Here there is no caprice, but immutability itself, inviting absolute confidence. No dispensations — though they may variously reflect Him — change the Eternal. And this is how the very histories of Scripture become for us types and prophecies, and (in another sense than the Preacher meant it) "that which has been is that which shall be."

So the remnant go back here to the beginning of their national history, to that which had come down to them from their fathers, who not with their own swords took possession of the land. God had dispossessed the nations and planted them; He had broken up races, and cast them out. His right hand, His arm, the light of His countenance, had manifested His acceptance of them. All this abode with them for present wisdom. Man's nothingness was just as certain; God's sufficiency was just as perfect.

2. And so now they claim and proclaim this God as theirs. "Thou art He," — Thou art the same, — "my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob." Yes, Jacob, this worm of the dust, can only be delivered by Him who can command deliverances for him. And then, falling upon that arm of strength, there is at once an outburst of confidence: "Through Thee will we push down our oppressors; and by Thy name will we tread down those that rise against us." Here is the application of that past history; and a reckoning like this has in it no element of deception.

3. The remembrance becomes fruitful in the production of character. In self-distrust like theirs, the children of those conquerors of old proclaim their genealogy. "I will not trust in my bow: nor shall my sword save me." Testified by deliverances all along their history, which only His hand could have effected, the divine sufficiency is their only and constant boast, and His name shall be their praise forever. This is that for which He works, that His people may know Him, to their ceaseless joy, this joy in Him being the spring of power in them, and what unites His creatures to Himself forever. The worship of eternity is the seal of its blessing and perfection too. God is in His place, and the creature in his happy place with God.

4. But now we have the testing of faith by those circumstances which seem so thoroughly in contrast with this claim of the divine favor. Here there scarcely needs comment. The facts are plain to all and speak for themselves. The recital naturally goes on gathering gloom as it proceeds. First, though their hosts still go forth, God is no longer with them, as of old. Then there follows necessarily defeat and spoiling. Then they become mere sheep for the slaughter, scattered among the victorious nations. God too acquires no glory by the giving up of His people: those who should have been for His honor have become a reproach; nay, far and wide, an evil proverb and a shaking of the head.

5. These are the circumstances; now they speak of their inward state, exercised by all this, feeling it keenly, covered with shame and confusion of face, able to answer nothing in the presence of those who reproach and blaspheme, of enemies and vengeful men. Yet in spite of all, they cleave to God, neither their heart nor their steps turned aside from Him, though crushed in the place of prowling jackals, covered with the shadow of death. Had they forgotten Him, would they, they ask, be able to conceal it from Him? Their appeal is to One perfect in knowledge.

6. Must there not be, then, a limit to this sorrow? can He forget forever? When their enemies are His enemies, and for His sake they are being slaughtered? Can the hiding of His face continue, and their affliction as if unknown to Him? Now in the utter prostration of their strength, they cry to Him to arise and for His mercies' sake to redeem them.

The next psalm shows the glorious answer to this prayer.

Psalm 45.

The glory of the Messiah; united to His people.

To the chief musician, upon Shoshannim, Maskil of the sons of Korah: a song of the Beloved.

{Verse 2 'fairer far' A reduplicative form, which makes it emphatic.}

Suddenly the Lord will appear. As Zechariah shows (Zech. 14) when Jerusalem is compassed by her enemies, and just falling, nay, has fallen into their hands, — the city taken, the houses rifled, and half of the city gone forth into captivity, while "the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city," — then "shall Jehovah go forth, and fight with those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle." This might be, and has been, taken as a providential visit; but what follows shows conclusively, and in agreement with many other prophecies, (Dan. 7:13-14, etc.) that it is — though indeed Jehovah — the Son of Man who comes: for "His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives … and Jehovah my God shall come, and all the holy ones with Thee."

"Saints" it is in our common version; but we must not press this as necessarily implying men. "The holy ones" may be angels, and more naturally: for it is not till the New Testament that we have it revealed that "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:4). But a personal coming, with at least angels, is clearly announced; and then it is that "Jehovah shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and His name one."

The psalm before us gives us no date nor details of the coming of the Lord; and the veil over its teaching is thick enough to have blinded the critics who with so much pains seek to put themselves back into the Old Testament darkness in order to get the true light thereupon. Here we may choose, if we will follow them, between Solomon, Ahab, Joram, the Syrian Alexander, a Persian monarch, or wander, if we please, further still. With all this we gain no help to spiritual conception, if even we are not led to patch and mutilate after the manner of Cheyne, in order to get rid of any possibility of holding what is in disrepute as the "traditional" one. May not, after all, this traditional one be just the effect of the glory of Christ shining out of Scripture all down the centuries? and thus tradition be but a poor name for the continual witness of eyes that have seen it?

The psalm is another Maskil, or psalm of instruction, — pointed out to us thus as having special wisdom for the time to which all these psalms refer. If it be the appearing of Messiah which is the people's deliverance from all their sorrows; we must see how necessarily this must have its place in such a series.

The psalm is also (along with the sixty-ninth and eightieth) entitled; "al-shoshannim;" or; "upon lilies;" which has been given various conjectural references to instruments or current songs; so purely conjectural and so entirely without spiritual meaning; that we can lose nothing by ignoring them altogether. But the home of the lily, if we may so say; is in the Song of songs; where we shall find it undoubtedly with such spiritual significance emphasized; and in various details, as found in the valleys; growing among thorns; the roes (or gazelles) pasturing among them; as to which Dr. Thompson says, — "Our flower delights most in the valleys, but it is also found on the mountains. It grows among thorns; and I have sadly lacerated my hands in extricating it from them. Nothing can be in higher contrast than the luxuriant velvety softness of this lily, and. the crabbed; tangled hedge of thorns about it. Gazelles still delight to feed among them; and you can scarcely ride through the woods north of Tabor; where these lilies abound; without frightening them from their flowery pasture."

The lily is the ideal thus of purity, beauty; and attractive grace, which may be found (though not necessarily) in lowliest circumstances, and indeed encompassed with the signs of the curse, though foreign to its own nature. Such an emblem may well suit the Lord Himself in His character as Man; and His people too; as by grace partaking with Him in it. In the psalm before us both these are seen together, and to both it may well refer.

Corresponding to this; we have as the designation of the whole psalm; "a song of loves;" or "of the beloved" — "beloved one," in the Septuagint; persons (Olshausen); objects (Delitzsch). The variation is not; after all, a very great one, whether it express the affection of the heart, or the object of the affection; and whether this be simply Christ, or Christ and His people together. The true heart has always found the meaning here; and whether in the Synagogue of old; or the Church of the later dispensation; it has been recognized as a prophecy of the Christ of God.

1. Heart and tongue are in unison in the speaker here. His theme possesses and carries him away. He has to declare his delight in it; how full he is of the "good matter" he pours forth. Even while he speaks he turns from those he is addressing, to the glorious Presence which shines upon him; to pour out his praise directly to Him.

"Thou art fairer far;" he says, "than the sons of men" — Son of man, but transcending them all; and with this personal excellence joins itself a divine quality of speech, — "grace is poured into Thy lips." In this he discerns the ground, not of temporary blessing, as when. God brought forth man at the beginning and blessed them, (Gen. 1:28;) but of eternal. For here is a perfection. which shall not pass away, and One qualified perfectly to communicate between God and man. There is but One such Man: there has never been another — a true "Second Man," in every respect. Therefore there is but this One to whom such language can. refer. Although he does not bring out the full meaning of the passage; we must agree with Alexander, that "on any hypothesis except the Messianic one; this verse is unintelligible."*

{* The perplexity of commentators in rendering this text is strange enough; not indeed when they would apply it to a Persian monarch, or even an Israelitish king, but even when they discern its Messianic reference. The reason is that dull literality which by its dullness even ceases to be literal. "Fairness" or "beauty" — the same word — is ascribed to "wisdom" by the prophet, (Ezek. 28:7,) and so need not be "physical" merely; and it is naive enough, after so interpreting it, to enlarge then on the difficulty, which is of one's own making, how can mere physical beauty be the ground of eternal blessing; and then to affirm the passage itself in proof!

Then "grace poured into the lips" is surely not the same as "grace playing round the lips," and the former expression is not unnatural as expressive of speech that has divine unction. A King of Israel, who finds eternal blessing on this account, — pre-eminent above all the sons of men, can only be the "King Messiah" of whom the Targum understands it here.}

2. Thus the subject of the psalm is defined. But the King thus glorious and owned of God is not on that account welcomed in peace to His throne by the world's homage. No: He has to conquer His kingdom, as had David. The next three verses therefore speak of the putting down. of His enemies. He is invited to gird His sword upon His thigh with glory and majesty; and to ride forth, as He. is seen in the Apocalyptic vision. Truth and the cause of meek (or suffering) righteousness demand the judgment which He comes to execute. Grace has been shown and been rejected: only judgment therefore remains; and "when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9; 10). The "grace poured into His lips" is exchanged therefore for a sword. It is tire answer to the cry of the previous psalm; and in fact the battle is soon over when once the day of long-suffering has reached its limit. The peoples fall under Him: but this is only the prelude to a very different and contrasted scene.

3. The third section flashes out the full glory of the King. The apostle's comment and. quotation, in the epistle to the Hebrews (1:7-9); expressly contrast it with what is angelic merely: "Of the angels it* saith: "He maketh His angels spirits; and His ministers a flame of fire; but of the Son: Thy throne; O God; is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom."**

{*"It" seems preferable to "he": it is simply Scripture to which he appears to refer. And even if God be referred to as the Speaker, this can only be as the true Author of Scripture, as the passage from the psalm before us is clearly no direct divine address.

**The meaning, one would suppose to be thus settled for the Christian. Alas, today there are so many Christians who are not Christian, that no apostolic authority can settle it for them; and wherever Christ is in question, whether in the Old Testament or the New, there Satan is now permitted to show his skill in exegesis. As it needs to be known of what high dignitaries in the Church are capable, let us once more quote the Oxford professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, Cheyne. He translates [and supplements] as follows:
"As for thy throne, [firm is its foundation,]
God [hath established it] for ever and ever:
a sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom."

And he accepts it as probable that the psalm refers to Ahab! "though of course, no editor of temple-songs would have admitted such a poem into his collection had he supposed that it referred to Ahab, or indeed to any king of (northern) Israel. But if he mistook the psalm for a hymn to some typically Messianic king of Judah, or why not say at once, to the Messiah of the future, he might well have admitted it, especially if he read verse 13 a in its present most probably corrupt form, misinterpreted by him.

"For my, own part, I have no doubt that the psalm was preserved in the Psalter on the theory of its original Messianic reference — a theory which few will maintain now."

Coming to the verse before us, he tells us, "If we accept the text" — which he prefers not to do, — "Elohim may here be a title of the king," without the need of admitting that it implies a divine person. This because "the title Elohim is applied to the judicial authority (Ex. 21:6, Ex. 22:8), to Moses (Ex. 7:1), and to the apparition of Samuel (1 Sam. 28:13), and that a prophet, looking into the future, declares the Davidic family to be 'as Elohim, as the (or, an) angel of Jehovah' (Zech. 12:8)." Still, he refuses this: "The one conclusive objection to this view is that in the very next verse Elohim is used with distinct and sole reference to Jehovah (unless indeed, with St. Jerome and Bishop Pearson, we take Elohim there too as a vocative) — a use which corresponds to the pervading tendency of the Korahite psalms. It would be unnatural to interpret the word differently here."

Dismissing this idea, there remains but to read "Thy throne is God," meaning "thy throne is God's throne"; and this again meaning "as permanent as God's throne." But this also he rightly rejects as impossible, and then is brought face to face with the apostle's rendering in Hebrew, (which however he never notices as that) and then his unbelief comes plainly out: —

"The sum of the matter is that the only natural rendering of the received text is that of the versions, 'Thy throne, O God,' and the only natural interpretation that of the Targum, 'Thy throne, O Jehovah'. But is such an abrupt transition to Jehovah conceivable?" The end is that, the application to Christ being inconceivable (to him) also, he must interpolate! Such is the spirit of much of the higher criticism of the day!}

Yes, the kingdom of God is indeed come; never to pass away. Human hands they are that take the empire; but that is a mystery and marvel of the Divine ways. "To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His Name shall be called Wonderful; Counsellor; the Mighty God; the Father of eternity; the Prince of peace" (Isa. 9:6). How blessed the announcement! how clearly has it been made! and that trumpet of jubilee is soon to sound which shall call the saints of every time to enter upon their inheritance. When He inherits, they too shall begin to inherit who are Heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ. God "hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man" (John 5:27); and here also they share (through His grace) with Him; in ways suited (of course) to creature-capacities. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me upon My throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on His throne" (Rev. 3:21).

Here is careful discrimination, with abounding grace. Upon the Father's throne none could surely sit; except Himself. And let us observe that, while here; as soon as His kingdom is announced, we hear — strange as it may seem — of "fellows"; yet the same necessary discrimination is observed. Man Himself, and exalted as Man by God, it is added, "God, even Thy God; hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows."

Striking it is how in this Jewish psalm of Christ, and with millennial glory now in view; we should find just in this place; more than a hint thrown out of what is outside of Jewish blessing altogether. No doubt it is something which, apart from the New Testament, we should not be able to realize; and even with it; we may take it loosely as referring to men at large who as saints are brought into relationship with Him who sanctifies them. But the word "fellows," or "associates," seems to go further than this, and especially if we consider the place in which we find them spoken of here. The "queen" of this psalm, and her companions, are certainly earthly, and not heavenly saints. Here are those who seem to occupy another place; and are spoken of by a title most suited for those whose home is with Christ above; filling thus; too, what for us would be otherwise an unfilled gap; even in this scene of glory. All this would naturally suggest such a view as we are taking.

This glorious King reigns then by divine right on the highest of thrones; and yet is a Man; and as such subject, even upon the throne which here He takes. What a guarantee of stability; and of the perfection of that Will that governs all! Freedom and obedience are only different sides of the perfect blessedness found in such a kingdom for the soul that has truly entered it.

Once more we are reminded of the personal excellences of the King. His "garments" are, of course, as always; that practical righteousness which He has loved and manifested in His human life. They are so perfumed with precious spices that they seem to consist of the very spices themselves. The myrrh and cassia (though the word used for this last is a different one) are principal ingredients in the holy anointing oil (Ex. 30), and therefore certainly typify graces of the Spirit which are found in Him. The aloes are reckoned among the "chief spices" (Cant. 4:14). The myrrh is a gum which distills spontaneously from the plant; though it may be procured also by incision. Cassia seems to be a kind of cinnamon; and a bark aloes also a fragrant wood. But it is hazardous to say more about them until; two latter have been more definitely determined. Perhaps these different characters of the spices may at least present to us more distinctly the whole manhood of our Lord as alike fragrant with spiritual perfection.

Difficulty also attends the rendering of the last part of the verse; as may be seen by the various translations. That which commends itself etymologically, and is most accepted perhaps today; furnishes also a meaning in sweet accord with what is here the theme. We may be able to say little about the "ivory palaces"; although Solomon's ivory throne may give us perhaps the thought of regnant righteousness; — may appear like a symbol of the "great white throne" itself — needing but little transfer of application from a throne to a palace, — the abode of rulers. From such homes of purity; the sound of "stringed instruments" may well gladden the King;s heart. They show man;s power over inanimate nature, to fashion it to harmony of praise. Man's hand it is that draws the music out. Set over nature; he has largely yet made discord of it. Nov the glorious King hears other strains. Here is what is now the result of His own work: He finds in it the fruit of the travail of His soul; — reconciliation carried fully out. And this the "stringed instruments" — controlled by man;s hand entirely — best expresses.

4. The fourth section, as that, defines for us (not without need; if we think of many interpreters) that the relations in which the King is now to be seen are earthly relations. The figure of marriage is, as we know, used to image to us the union of Christ with His Church in glory; it is also used similarly to convey to us the relation of Jehovah to Israel, both in time past and in that to come, — suspended for the present through national unfaithfulness (Isa. 50:1; Hosea 2:2). The relation in the first case is heavenly — to be enjoyed there; in the latter, earthly. The earthly may be also a figure of the heavenly; but the two are thus entirely distinct; and must be kept distinct in our minds; or we fall into confusion. Just so, there are two Jerusalems; put in contrast by the apostle in Galatians (Gal. 4:25; 26), but the earthly in her glorious days to come being again an evident type of the heavenly one (comp. Ezek. 47:1-12 Ezek. 48:30-35 with Rev. 21, 22).

The Psalms are in their whole horizon earthly (Ps. 115:16); and; while there may be hints, as we have already seen, of a higher sphere of blessing; the common Old Testament character attaches to the book throughout. The "queen;" — the bride of the King — as all connections show; is therefore the earthly and not the heavenly bride. The "king's daughters" show us; in a not unusual figure, the representatives of the nations attendant upon One who is Lord of the whole earth. Israel alone has the place of bride; and to import the polygamy of ancient times into this scene of future blessedness not only occasions moral disquietude but is contrary to Scripture statements as to Israel's distinctive place. The "daughter of Tyre" in the twelfth verse is in fact but one of these "kings' daughters;" and indicates their place.

The queen* stands at the right hand of the King, adorned with gold of Ophir: divine glory displayed in "fruitfulness"** from a naturally barren soil. How glorious will God manifest Himself at last in such fruit brought forth from the obdurate heart of man! How will it be "said of Jacob and of Israel" — comparing one with the other — "What hath God wrought!"

{* Shegal is a queen by marriage, a queen consort, not in her own right (Wordsworth).

** Ophir is probably from parah, to be fruitful.}

Now she is called, in view of the grace that has been shown her; to be a Manassite; forgetful of her kindred and her father's house. There must be no turning back to what has been left behind — to a condition wholly incompatible with her relationship to the glorious Person who desires her for Himself. He is indeed the Lord, and claims the entire affection and worship of the soul. It is in yielding Him this that all the sweetness of such a love as His is proved and enjoyed; and if we make Him all; we shall find how more than enough He is for all that heart can seek in Him. This is the knowledge of the new man, that "Christ is all"; all other competing objects having to disappear and give place to Him (Col. 3:10-11).

A simple truth, therefore, this should be to the Christian; and scarcely needing much enforcement. Yet it does need. How few of those who have turned to Him, yea, and found answer from Him; in the deepest need of their souls; have yet frankly taken Him for all other needs! How many have to find cistern after cistern of their own cracked in the hewing; before they apply themselves in full earnest to their own free fountain of living water! How little is it understood that Christ and nothing else will more than satisfy; when Christ and a great deal else to supplement Him will only bring one down to near starvation! Yet should it be difficult to see that a Christ honored and trusted as all-competent will justify that trust, when a Christ dishonored by other makeweights will seem to justify nothing but the distrust?

So it will be found as often as we try it; verification will surely be found by experience on either side. And that is why so often a man's happiest time comes when circumstances should make him most miserable; when, other dependences having broken down; the Voice is heard which says; "Whosoever is athirst, let him come unto ME and drink!" But what a sorrow and what a shame, not to have heard that Voice before, — not to have known that HE was worthy of ALL trust, as surely as He was worthy of any!

Oh for an utter dependence upon Christ for all things! a dependence which shall realize itself as independence of all else beside Himself! How blessed to know that here is a fullness within reach of any man, and of which nothing can deprive the man who seeks it! For it we must be Manassites; with our faces towards heaven; Christ our goal and prize; to win Christ and be found in Him. This is the path of progress and of victory — of enjoyed competency all the way.

Israel shall find what He is for her also in the day which this psalm anticipates; — shall find Who this Joseph is who unknown has fed them in famine. And when the glory of the Lord shall thus have risen upon them; "the Gentiles shall come to their light; and kings to the brightness of its rising." This we find therefore now: "The daughter of Tyre is present with an offering: the rich among the people intreat thy favor." Tyre; the queen city of commerce; whose merchants are princes; and who knows well the value of all earthly things that can be bought; is now attracted by what no riches can purchase. She is here; not with a price; but with an offering. The rich intreat for what is greater riches. This is evidently a typical example of how the "Desire of all nations" will be found in Christ; Tyre; as the great trafficker; being the suited power to illustrate this. The facts here have all of them spiritual significance.

5. So now man is seen with God as never yet: the earth has caught the rays of the Sun of righteousness; the night is over and gone; the golden day is come. But this supposes, on the part of those brought near; the necessary requirements met of the divine nature. The number of this section which speaks of man with God, is that therefore which speaks also of responsibility and exercise, and of a way by which God's destined end is reached.

Accordingly we now return to look at the bride after another manner. She is now not only a king's bride; she is also a "king's daughter." Her birth is royal also: her husband need not be in this respect ashamed of her: as it is said in Hebrews (Heb. 2:11); "For both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one" — from one; of one paternity, — "for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." They are born of God; — as to the new nature; born again; He was Son of God from the Virgin's womb, without taint of sin at all. Enough of difference here, one would think; to make Him ashamed to call them brethren; yet He is not ashamed. So the bride here has; as looked at from one side, kindred she must forget, and yet on the other side, as a king's daughter, is "all glorious within." The spiritual significance illumines the whole; and alone makes it worthy.

This guides as to the disputed meaning of "within." Is this within the palace, or within the litter that is conveying her, when she is "brought unto the king"? or is it "inwardly": is she all-glorious not merely externally; but within herself? Certainly the latter is the most consistent with the context. Is it not really most consistent with the use of the word itself; without any indication of the litter or house or palace? Whose palace? Not the king;s: for her being brought to him follows this. Her father's; say Delitzsch and Moll, or her own chamber, before she is brought forth. If so; it is mere scenery; too much imported into the word to gain so little.* Spiritually there is no gain at all: "the king's daughter" leads us naturally to think of what she is herself spiritually; to which the clothing with its interweavings of gold; as glory put upon what is already in itself glorious; is most perfectly suited. This clothing may be identical with the "embroidery" in which she is brought to the king; or is it possible that the reference here may be, as in psalm 139:15 it certainly is, to the body "curiously wrought" or "embroidered" (the same word) in its variegated structure of muscles and vessels and nerves; an organic web which may well picture the more wondrous interlacing of faculties and powers in the spiritual part? How will the perfect being at last show the painstaking care of God in a marvelous piece of handiwork — a creature that shall glorify Him in its mere existence for ever and ever!

{* Cheyne, as common with him, escapes by a correction. He follows Krochmal in turning penimah, "within," into peninim, and reading — "of pearls in ouches of gold is her clothing."}

The virgins that follow her; her companions; I have again a difficulty in interpreting according to the polygamous relationships of ancient times. Israel's exaltation to a special place of blessing and nearness to her heavenly King seems rather to discountenance than favor such application; while the joy that is awakened among the nations of the earth may well account for the queen's "companions." Nor do I forget; in the moral difficulty suggested; that the wives of David and others are plainly typical of Messianic or divine relationships; the evil being in no wise sanctioned by this overruling of them for good. All that is different, as it seems to me, from what is implied in current interpretations here, and that just because, were they necessarily to be received, they would seem, in a psalm such as the present, to imply some real sanction of polygamy itself, and not a mere toleration of it. Difficulties there are as to this in other connections; and here is not the place to attempt explanation: they must be looked at as we come to them. In this place the interpretation in this way seems more than disputable.

The fruit of Messiah's union with Israel is found in rulers established in all the earth. And the psalm ends with the mention of the blessed King to be in their mouth throughout all generations; and; through this; eternal praise from the subject peoples.

Psalm 46.

The test of experience; — the God of Jacob.

To the chief musician: [a psalm] of the sons of Korah. A song upon Alamoth.

The forty-sixth psalm is a psalm of experience; — a joyful utterance of heart in view of conflict ended and the earth at rest; and in the clear apprehension of the grace that is in the God of Jacob — a God who can take up and glorify Himself in the poverty and weakness and failure of the creature. It is perfectly simple in its meaning; as it is joyous and bright in expression; the repetition of the seventh verse as the conclusion of the whole matter showing where the emphasis is to be laid.

There are three points: the first; the strong expression of the divine sufficiency and of confidence in it: the second; the testimony of the deliverance which shows the safety at all times of the city of God; the third sees God's glory accomplished in it, all that exalts itself against Him being swept away; ending with this refrain that Jehovah of hosts is Jacob's God; He is with us: the entrance into an unspeakable joy.

The psalm is a "song upon Alamoth;" which means, no doubt, "with maidens' [voices];" and may well remind us of Miriam and the women of Israel in their accompaniment of Moses' song of triumph at the Red Sea (Ex. 15). Or as the sixty-eighth psalm: "the Lord gave the word; great was the company of the [women] that published it. Kings' armies did flee apace; and she that tarried at home divided the spoil." Good cause is there for such praise as this from delivered Israel; and the particular word here used; which is in its primitive sense the "hidden ones;" and refers to those hidden as yet in the seclusion of their father's house; may well be applied to the remnant of godly ones who become at last the nation; brought out of their obscurity and owned by their King as His.

1. The first section then here expresses their entire confidence in the divine sufficiency. This has been tested by experience and amply proved. "God is our refuge and strength," is the happy cry; "a very present help in straits." They are bold in utterance of this: "therefore will we not fear though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the heart of the seas." And the actual state of things which they look back upon might have seemed (morally at least) to indicate such engulfing of another deluge: the waters roar and foam; and the mountains shake with the swelling thereof."

2. But this is past, and only revived in memory, to contrast with it the present condition of things. The threatening floods are gone: in their stead is a glorious river, whose divided streams in many channels make glad the city of God. Jerusalem, blessed with the abiding presence of the Supreme, cannot lack the nurture of grace, the vivifying streams of His blessed Spirit. God in the midst of her is abundant security; she shall not be moved: God shall help her at early morn. And so we know the day cannot come for the earth; but to usher it in Israel must get their blessing. And this is what has actually taken place: "The nations raged; the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, — the earth melted." Yes, "Jehovah of hosts is with us": all things then, moving at His bidding, are for us also. Spite of folly and frailty, such is His grace: He is the God of grace, — "the God of Jacob is our refuge."

3. And He has glorified Himself; and will. The desolations of the earth are witness of His right hand of power. Edom (Isa. 34) and Babylon (Isa. 13:20), as lands that have nurtured His enemies, will be thus condemned to desolation. He will make war against war, and the very implements of it shall exist no more. Blessed display of power, which shall everywhere make Him known as God; — make the nations at last perforce to realize this, and exalt Him over the whole earth! For the God of hosts; the Unchangeable, who has shown Himself thus for Israel, is after all the God of grace, — the God of Jacob.

Psalm 47.

"The peoples of the God of Abraham."

To the chief musician: a psalm of the sons of Korah.

"The peoples of the God of Abraham" give us; I believe; the character of the forty-seventh psalm, which is a suited fifth psalm thus; as showing the peoples in connection with God. These are; of course, more than simply the nation of Israel; who naturally occupy the foreground of the picture. Their pre-eminence is strongly insisted on in the first part; but the second shows the praise that their praise awakens in the hearts of the people around made ready by divine grace. The promise is thus made good to Abraham; and he by his faith becomes the "father of many nations." It is not; as in the last psalm, simply that power humbles and subdues; so that men are forced to submit. While that will be true as to many; here is another and a sweeter compulsion. Divine love works and has its way; and God sits upon a throne in this way for which Christ has wrought, and which is the fruit of His work.

1. These "peoples;" then; are exhorted at the beginning (in an anticipative way, characteristic of the beginnings of psalms, as we have seen) to clap their hands and shout unto God with a voice of triumph: for Jehovah, now manifestly the Supreme; is to be feared — with no slavish fear, as the words preceding show: He is a great King over all the earth.

Israel it is whose voice is heard here; and in Israel it is that He has manifested His power, — yea, His grace and truth: for He has come in in fulfillment of many promises, and had mercy upon those of old His people. "He subdueth the peoples under us; and the nations under our feet. He chooseth [also] our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob, whom He loved." Jacob is the suited name all through here; failing, crippled Jacob, saved then not for his own "excellency", though his inheritance be excellent or exalted — better than any other upon earth.

It is accomplished; the work is done: He who came down to the visitation of the earth, has gone up again to His throne over all: He "is gone up with a shout: Jehovah with trumpet-sound." It is the sound of recall from the battlefield, because the victory is won. The first part of the psalm is therefore here complete.

2. But this only leaves room for a new movement which now begins. The newly-restored nation bursts out with exultant praises, to which one excites another: "Psalm unto God, psalm! psalm to our King, psalm! For God is King of all the earth: psalm ye an instruction." The last word is one that we were considering in the thirty-second psalm — "a maskil" and we have seen that there are a number of these maskil psalms, but for instruction, it would appear, in Israel itself, before the time of their deliverance is reached. The psalm now urged would seem, on the other hand, in accordance with the character of what is here, an instruction of the nations. It is not a strange thought in Scripture: "teaching and admonishing one another," says the apostle; "in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16). Joy in the Lord out of one's own heart is in fact a most effectual teaching and admonition of others; and this Israel delivered and restored to God will find. The wave of blessing and praise will flow outward from its centre in Zion, winning hearts on every side to join in it; while holiness manifest in His dealings as to sin, will be the theme; no less than grace — but nothing is holier than grace, — and make the joy deep and serious. "God reigneth over the nations: God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness." Now we see the response: "the willing-hearted of the peoples are gathered together" — grace is gathering them, as is plain; faith has taken effect in their hearts; they are unitedly thus "the (one) people of the God of Abraham." The closing words of the psalm ("the shields of the earth belong unto God") — though there is difficulty in them — look like an allusion to that assurance to Abraham; given just before the promise: "Fear not, Abraham; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Now the shield has grown into many shields, — the protective screens from danger which, whatever may be their nature, all are to be ascribed to Him.

Thus the earth rests: God is known in His power; known in His truth, in His holiness, in His goodness to man. Men look up joyfully, reverently, with worship in their hearts to Him: "HE is greatly exalted." Amen.

Psalm 48.

The victory over the last confederacy.

A Song: a psalm of the sons of Korah.

We have now the celebration of the final victory over the enemies of Israel, which leaves them in peace and gladness to realize the goodness of God, according to all that they had heard from their fathers of His works of old. The victory is plainly that of Ezek. 38, and not the deliverance of Zech. 14, which precedes it. In the one case the city is in the extreme of distress, already partly in the enemy's hands, and on the brink of ruin, when the Lord interferes. Clearly it is not yet the glorious city of God, of which this psalm speaks, but in the misery which is the result of sin and departure from Him. It is saved by the appearing of Christ from heaven, the triumph of the enemy turned into defeat and overthrow. We should naturally conclude that this would be the end of all attempts of this kind; but our conclusions are often mistaken, even when we think them quite secure. The attack of Gog as prophesied in Ezekiel is against the "land that is brought back from the sword and gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel which have been constantly" — not "always" "waste, but is brought forth out of the nations; and they dwell safely, all of them." Here the state of things is quite different from that pictured in Zechariah; and correspondingly there is no hint of any disaster to the people of God, but the contrary: when he comes up against the land of Israel, the Lord says, "my fury shall come up in my face, … and I will call for a sword against him through all my mountains." So in the psalm here: the glorious city of God, strong in the might of Him who dwells in her; laughs the invader to scorn. The kings see, and marvel, and are smitten with fear and overthrown. All the circumstances are in this way different.

1. The first section here therefore begins with the celebration of the city of God, the place where He dwells, His holy mountain. The numerical structure indicates What I doubt not, the blessed unity which the city, indwelt of God; manifests. What a contrast to the strife and corruption hitherto found in her at the best of times! Now she is the home of peace and concord; man fitted to man in the realization of that sweet mutual dependence and ministry of each to each which God has ordained to His creatures for their blessing and comfort and moral invigoration. So in the heavens the home of the redeemed is again a city; the new Jerusalem; "Jerusalem which is above," the "city which hath foundations," — those glorious foundations of light-jewels, Urim and Thummim, the Lights and Perfections of God Himself; and which abides therefore as surely as He abides.

Where He is, there is unity, — intelligent subjection to Him in love; whereby each being occupies his own place in ceaseless activity of service without weariness. And great is Jehovah here, and greatly to be praised. No wonder that this city, beautiful in its elevation, spiritually as physically, should be the joy of the whole earth. It is Mount Zion, the "fixed" place of Jehovah's rest (see 2 Sam. 5:7, notes). There shall be no more alienation from Him, no more Jebusite treading down of holy places forever. Who shall disturb the place of His rest?

"On the sides of the north," adds to this great significance. There is no need to quarrel with any topographical reference that may be suggested, for the typical meaning never displaces the literal and external, but shines through it, and gives it beauty and enforcement. We must not make matter the enemy; but the servant and shrine of the Spirit. Let Mount Zion be actually and literally on the sides of the north; this is the beautiful symbol of a deeper reality. The north — tzaphon — is "what is hidden;" because the north side of anything is the dark; the hidden side. The north therefore is the place of mystery; and of opposition to the light; and "God is light." From the mysterious in nature; the mysteries of God's providence, the clouds and darkness which are round about His throne, — full as all these must be of His wisdom and goodness really; — infidelity derives its arguments, and with these makes its attacks upon the truth of God. In the sides of the north therefore it is that the Babylonian scoffer means to sit (Isa. 14:13) in defiance of the Most High. But here now Mount Zion stands, God's bulwark against the foe; who is (let us note) a northern foe. God opposes to him the grace of His promise, His immutable word; Himself; in short; as that against which the wave of national madness must first break; and break itself to pieces.

And how grandly Mount Zion rises "on the sides of the north," the answer at last to all the mystery of God's dealings with His people; the fulfillment of promise, the sign of peace for the earth itself; God;s ways now to be open; in the sight of men; day having succeeded to night, sight (in some sense) to faith; Jerusalem now the city of the great King, for whom the expectant ages have been looking. Yes; God is known in her palaces as a high place; — Zion itself His symbol.

2. Now the brief passage of the storm-cloud is recited; — how the kings assembled; how in their collective might they passed and were gone! They but looked and marveled, and in the haste of fear started to flee. Fear seized upon them; the pangs of a woman in travail; and then sudden shipwreck, as of vessels broken with an east wind.

3. Zion emerges in her beauty from under this passing cloud. She is untouched. And now they realize in the present what they had in faith received from their fathers as to the days of old. As they had heard; so now they have seen; in the city of Jehovah of hosts as it truly is: God establishes it forever. In the sanctuary of His presence restored to them; they think upon His love. His praise is now; even to the ends of the earth, in accordance with His Name, — that is, with the revelation of Himself. Power has acted in righteousness so as to declare what His right hand is. Experience may well exhort them to exultant joy.

4. The next verses; while easy to understand on the whole; are difficult to particularize. They are urged to make full proof of this city of strength: survey her as a whole, I take it, — consider her points, — to tell it to the generations afterwards. For the God who has taken all this abundant care for His people, such as He has shown Himself in it, is their God forever, — the guide of His flock forever. This is the glorious portion of His people, a portion which, after all measurements; remains unmeasured.

{Verse 14 'until death' or 'ever more'. A difference only of pointing from the common reading, as to which MSS. more or less differ, and expositors decidedly. That given is found in the LXX., and is one of three suggested in the Jerusalem Talmud.}

Psalm 49.

Completed histories.

To the chief musician, a psalm of the sons of Korah.

{* Or "transitory world," cheled; comp. Ps. 17:14.

* "Sons of Adam, and sons of Ish."

* Literally, "wisdoms," "discernments."

* Literally, "mouth."

* Literally, "his soul."}

The last psalm of this series is an inspired "psalm of life," completed, as only revelation could complete it, by a glance at what is beyond this. Thus the folly is apparent which makes the incomplete story all, and in the face of incontrovertible facts, lives as if death were not, and time were eternity.

We must remember; however; that we are still in Israel; and that we have neither resurrection nor a heavenly portion presented, although one verse at first sight does seem to give the former. But it speaks rather of the delivered people as represented by the psalmist himself, their enemies being destroyed, and the "morning" of the millennial day brought in by the uprising of the "Sun of righteousness" (Mal. 4) and dominion given to the "upright." This is the completion of the story on that side, as death with its Sheol mystery is on the other. In neither case have we resurrection.

1. The first section calls all people to hear a truth which has, in the events depicted in previous psalms; received a striking commentary. The psalmist characterizes those he addresses according to what is his theme in it; as dwellers in time. Whatever their various conditions, this is a condition common to all; and bringing all to more equality than commonly apprehended. He premises that he has "wisdoms" — fullness of wisdom — to communicate; and that it is not a mere message; but what has been the meditation of his own heart, and is personal discernment (once more a plural). He uses "proverbial speech," such as his own ear has been attentive to, and the accompaniment of the harp to propound his deep sayings — nature being in fact in harmonious accord with all he utters.

2. The rest of the psalm is, of course, the deep saying itself. It is divided into two equal parts, both ending in a similar refrain. The first gives the false confidence of man which leaves him ashamed at last, transparently the dupe of his own perversity. The last contrasts it with the reality for sinner and for saint.

He begins with a question, which is answered by what follows to the end of the psalm. If man with all his self-confidence is yet the poor creature which this represents, why then should he be afraid in days of evil, though encircled by the perversity of those that would trip him up? Thus it is a psalm of cheer and encouragement for a day that is not yet over when he utters it. The deliverance is not accomplished; but it is assured, and about to come. Faith predicts it and the destruction of the wicked, — inspired by the morality of nature itself, which proclaims throughout the judgment of sin and the triumph of righteousness. Folly is not wisdom, and cannot be followed by the effects of wisdom. He sees easily through these men of abundant resources, confident in what is so manifestly incompetent as against the might of that death which baffles them all. God in His holy government has ordained this for one only possible reason — sin. Let any one of these throw his shield about his brother, and give God a ransom for him, so that he may perpetuate his precious life. Plainly he cannot; it is too costly: he must let that alone forever. He sees and knows, himself, — every one does; — that as to wise and fools alike death knows no difference, makes no exception. It is the point of Ecclesiastes; there greatly enlarged on: a simple, obvious matter indeed, but which makes more astonishing the willful blindness which permits men to dwell securely in possessions held on such a tenure; and call the solid earth by the names of its passing generations. The wheel turns, and they are shaken from it. Man does not, as a rule, lodge for the little night that belongs to him; in honor. He passes; and goes down to silence like the beast.

3. Follow him now to the other side; — where is he? what of his senseless sayings, which yet those who follow him — before whose eyes he passes away — approve! They all like sheep with meek subjection are made to lie down in Sheol; death is the shepherd tending there; and in the morning (after the night of death) no deliverance is there for them: it is the day of dominion for the upright. For them; their very form wastes under the sway of Sheol, so as to find no habitation.

Sheol and the grave are not here confounded: the one is as distinctly the recipient of the soul, as the other is of the body. But Sheol having mastered and retaining the soul; this necessarily entails the wasting destruction of the form that is left behind, so that by and by it needs no habitation. Yet they had thought their dwelling-places should be forever! they — themselves soon to need none!

On the other hand the psalmist professes for himself his confidence: God shall redeem his soul from the power of Sheol: words which; no doubt, would apply to resurrection for those going down to death; but the connection seems rather to show the application to the deliverance of living men from that which might seem to have had them in its grip, — a hold marvelously and miraculously loosened. The further words "for He shall receive me" have been urged in behalf of resurrection; as being used of Enoch when "God took* him." But the word is of various use, and by itself could decide nothing: the occurrence in Psalm 73:24; ("and afterwards receive me to glory,") is perhaps really the most favorable to this view; but it needs to be examined in its connection there. The context in fact, in all cases, is that which will be found to have controlling influence upon interpretation. A largeness belongs to Scripture in such matters which will leave room (and was surely intended to leave room) for application to both Jewish and Christian verities, and these in more ways than one. Those who "are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord;" and of whom Enoch is a real type, will be caught up without seeing death, to meet the Lord in the air. They will surely be "redeemed from the power of Sheol" and received by God, as fully as any that go into it; and so with Jewish saints of similar classes.

{* Laqach, "receive" and "take."}

After this outburst of glowing confidence; the moralizing of the psalm subsides to its lower and accustomed level. Riches give a transitory glory: death dispossesses the owner of it all. Alas, the effect may not be transient; life with this brilliancy about it tends to dazzle the eyes doubly — to what is beyond and what is around alike. Every way shut up within the narrowest limits; man is ignorant of these, blesses himself; and is praised by others. He passes to the generation of his fathers; his taper-light quenched with theirs, never to revive. Alas! "Man that is in honor, and understanding not; is like the beasts that perish."

Section 2. (Ps. 50, 51.)

The testimony of God and the confession of man.

After the full external deliverance thus accomplished; we have the complete internal salvation. Sin is searched out, challenged and confessed, so that there is moral clearance. The two psalms which are brought together in this section are easily seen to be; as in other cases of such pairs, largely a contrast. In the first; God proclaims His righteousness; in the second; man confesses his sin. There is perfect moral harmony; while it is a harmony of opposite things. It is plainly needed; this complete clearance of the moral question, in order that the salvation itself may be complete; and the two sections are similarly in contrast as these psalms are; and with the same fundamental unity. Thus the first subdivision of the book is filled and rounded to a perfect close.

Psalm 50.

A righteous God requiring righteousness.

A psalm of Asaph.

{Verse 5, 'saints' Chasidim, "pious ones"; 'made': literally, "cut."}

In the fiftieth psalm there are two things emphasized: the righteousness of the Judge; and the righteousness required by Him. God Himself, in a world fallen away from Him; has come into question; and no heart amongst mere men; but has more or less admitted the question. In fact the perfect settlement of this on man;s part would be his own perfect restoration to God and complete ability to walk with Him. It would mean absolute faith in God; and faith is that which accomplishes the whole work in man; working by love and purifying the heart. Faith enthrones God on an absolute throne; and yields up to Him all the faculties and powers of the whole being. The fall began with a question of God; and Satan, who first uttered it, knew well its fatal import. Man, entertaining it, lost, with his confidence in Him; his place of dependence, and became necessarily a seeker of his own things, an assentor of his own will, the slave only of his captor who beguiles him by the lusts awakened within him. The disorder produced by the sin which has come in adds to his questions about the government of One who is "far above out of his sight;" and so the mind works with the heart to increase his alienation.

We need not wonder, then, that in the working of God to bring back the soul to Him; a first point should be to make the soul realize the just judgment of its sin; — the righteousness of God who judges it. Only here it must be noticed that already; for those called to do so at this time, deliverance has come in; God's heart has been already told out in a wonderful salvation which has filled their hearts with joy and their tongues with praise. It is "out of Zion, the perfection of beauty;" God's glory shines. Yet they still need the full searching out which here they find. They need apparently also as yet the knowledge of atonement; but this we do not find in the present psalm; and we shall examine it in its evident place in connection with the next one.

It would seem also certain by this psalm that there will be a sessional judgment in Israel, after the appearing of Christ, answering to that among the Gentiles which the Lord pictures in Matt. 25. Here; too; among the people just delivered, there will be "goats" — the wicked — to put upon His left side; and separate from those really His. This the fourth section of the psalm surely intimates; though it be true that there is difficulty in constructing prophetical details out of psalms which are yet clearly prophetical.

This psalm is not one of the Korahite series: that is ended. The singer now is Asaph, "the gatherer," from a word used for the gathering of fruit and also of men (as ver. 5). Twelve psalms are ascribed to Asaph, whether this be the singer of David's time, or (as most think) his family be included under it. The character of these psalms is plain in a general way by the place occupied by the other eleven, at the commencement of the third or sanctuary-book. They are saturated indeed with the thought of God's holiness; and the character and position of the present psalms are perfectly similar. Holiness indeed is an absolute necessity for the gathering of God's people; if it is to be with Him; and that is a principle which this psalm declares.

1. We have in the first section of it the summons of God, who appears in. full majesty. The Mighty One (El), God (Elohim), Jehovah; the Unchangeable, — and this we know to be His covenant-name with Israel, — summons the whole earth to hear His voice. He shines out of Zion; which He has chosen as the place of His rest; and which accordingly is blooming out for Him in bridal attire, "the perfection of beauty." Thus they can claim Him as their own God, who comes out of the sanctuary, and not to maintain silence. The fire of His holiness consumes before Him, and a tempest gathers around Him, — signs that show His holiness can not yet be exhibited in the serenity of complacent love. Nay, it is judgment for which He comes, and heaven and earth are summoned as His witnesses. Let His saints — those that are positionally that, at least, — be gathered unto Him: those who have covenanted by sacrifice to be His own. And the heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God Himself it is who is the Judge.

This gathering of covenanted saints is not, as some have suggested, the saints of the present time. This neither suits the character of the Psalms, nor the connection in this case. The "sacrifice" by which they have made a covenant with Him can hardly be the work of Christ upon the cross; while those spoken of a little later are plainly only the legal ones. Nor is it according to Scripture, and in conformity with the gospel, to speak of our making a covenant with God by the work of Christ. God has covenanted with us by it, if you please to use the expression, at least, the blessings of the new covenant are ours through the "blood of the covenant"; but that is not a covenant which has two parties to it, as its terms prove conclusively (Heb. 8:10-12), but one alone. Those gathered here are plainly those He calls His people in the seventh verse, and are Israel; gathered for judgment: that is, not for the execution of wrath upon them, but that He may plead with them as to their sin. And the "covenant by sacrifice" clearly refers to Ex. 24, when they had as a nation taken upon them to keep all the Lord's words, and the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled upon them. If the heavenly saints come into this psalm, it may be in the next verse, in a much more obscure, but more beautiful way. For "the heavens shall indeed declare His righteousness," when sinners like ourselves shall be seen through the manifestation of this in the cross, in their place in glory, "made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). How the utter failure of man, and the righteousness of God, will be thus declared. together; in grace more marvelous, and yet in principle the same as that shown in the deliverance and blessing of Israel in the day here contemplated!

2. But God's controversy with them must now be declared: the legal controversy, not yet as to the rejection of Christ, which we find however from another side in the psalm following. First, negatively, He declares what it is not about. It is not about their ritual services — peace-offerings or burnt-offerings. He desires no bullock or goat, no flocks or herds of theirs; — He to whom all that exist belong, and who is well acquainted with all His possessions. Were He, as this implied; limited as they, and hungry, why should the Owner of the world bring His wants to them to be satisfied? But did they really think Him an eater of bulls, flesh; or that He drank the blood. of goats? What were they; in fact, who needed such arguments? But they are not conceptions too gross for men; as abundant testimony declares.

3. He goes on to the positive side: what He really sought was thanksgiving, the sign of conscious dependence, and of their realization of the bounties of His bounteous hand. A vow was of a higher character than an offering of thanksgiving (see Lev. 7:11, sq. notes); as the expression of more positive faith in. God under the pressure of circumstances. Here the distinct assertion which has been made of the non-requirement of sacrifice shows that it is the New Testament "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" upon which He insists; with which also must be joined that faith which must underlie this if it be real, which in the day of distress draws nearer to Him instead of wandering off in paths devised by one's own wisdom; or yielding to the pressure. The most encouraging assurance is connected with this: "call upon Me in the day of strait: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me."

The legal sacrifices had not, of course, passed away in the psalmist's day; nor will those thus addressed in the future time to which this transports us, know how (as for us) the type has yielded to the antitype. This is really also, and necessarily, a looking back over the past time when Israel was fully under the legal covenant, and does not speak of change just initiated. What is insisted on is what always had been really the question, — what had always been in the heart of God for them: what in the sin-offering psalm comes out as to be the fruit of the cross, the Holy One inhabiting the praises of Israel. Could less than this possibly yield Him satisfaction? — the whole heart His, and the whole being filled with the joy of what it has found in Him.

4. The practical life will be as the heart is, and the second table of the law share the fortunes of the first. To this the Lord goes on therefore now. A barren profession may consist, alas, with hatred of correction and contemptuous rejection of the words of God; the heart finding its secret delight in that in which there may be no open indulgence, for there are fences put about men which may hinder this. The tongue will constantly be freer than the steps here, and show whereon the heart is set. Yet with a mouth let loose in evil, the tongue will cover this license with deceit. Nothing appears more like righteousness often, than what is really the voice of slander, — never far off from the ready proclamation of another's evil, while this is really thus rejoiced in. The slipping of the righteous is used as against righteousness, often to lower the standard of it practically, and favor that which is not this.*

{*This twentieth verse gives us in the plainest way the sin against the fifth commandment (of the second table of the law), and thus vindicates its numerical place as a fifth verse of the fourth section of the psalm. But I cannot characterize it further, and feel that this does not go to the root of the matter. Why is this fifth commandment such? Probably we have to learn more as to the symbolism of the number itself; as we have learned as to other numbers since this study of the Psalms began: their fullness of meaning is not exhausted yet.}

All this going on under the eye of God, and with no interference upon His part; the patience of divine government comes to be misread as if it were indifference — misread; alas; not only on the side of the wicked; but the cause of gravest exercise on the part of the righteous also, sufferers under it. But the wicked readily believe it to be indifference; for it is as natural for wickedness to believe in wickedness; as it is for goodness to believe in goodness. The accusations made against the righteous are not thus always mere malice. The hypocrite comes easily to believe in the hypocrisy of others; the deceiver may make transparent honesty a mirror in which he only sees deceit. The world knew not Christ, and has never known God, — cannot with all its searching find Him out; and yet "He is not far from every one of us."

So here: "These things thou diddest, and I kept silence: thou thoughtest Me just like thyself." But the limit of patience has been reached: "I will reprove thee, and set them in array before thine eyes."

5. The way and the end are clearly put before all in the closing verse. The simple leaving God out of account is fatal to the one who does this. Nothing beside this is necessary to secure the condemnation; which, if it be slow to come, is no less certain to arrive. On the other hand, the best life cannot avail without salvation. We are not to expect in the book of Psalms the full declaration of the gospel, as we know it; nor would this be just the place in which to find it. But the need of salvation by all, is emphasized, and it is made plain by the contrast with what has just preceded it, that this is no mere temporal deliverance. The close here is a finger pointing to the psalm that follows.

Psalm 51.

The confession of blood-guiltiness (nationally of the blood of Christ; under which they yet find salvation).

To the chief musician, a psalm of David: when Nathan the prophet had come to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

The fifty-first psalm is a spiritual enigma. Bishop Horsley; nearly a century ago; rightly discerned it to be "the penitential confession of the converted Jews." He adds: "The subject-matter of this psalm can have no reference to the Hebrew title prefixed thereto; because David, polluted with adultery and murder, could not say; Against Thee only have I sinned; and because the prayer for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem would have been an inappropriate petition in the days of David. The application of the psalm to restored; repentant Israel, is self-evident. I view this fifty-first psalm as a precomposed form of penitential prayer, afore designed and prepared by Infinite Wisdom for the use of penitent and believing Israel; in the perilous times of the last days."*

{*Quoted from Coleman's "Revision of the Book of Psalms," p. 130.}

While we may safely accept this prophetical view, agreeing, as it does; with the whole character and scope of the book; and suiting perfectly the place in which we find it, the negative side as to the rejection of the Hebrew title is by no means so clear; and certainly perilous in the adoption of a principle which makes a difficulty of this kind a reason for correction of the text of Scripture. Others have, viewing the psalm as really a psalm of David, preferred to suppose the last two verses a "later; perhaps liturgical, addition."* But what is the value of such speculations as to unnamed authors? It will be said that there is not the same assuredness as to the titles of the psalms that there is as to the psalms themselves; and that the Septuagint has many differences.** Yet we have found so far the Hebrew titles to recommend themselves by their general suitability; sometimes to have most unique significance, as in that to the twenty-second. Here it is true that there is difficulty in tracing the connection between David's sin with Bathsheba and the prophetic application to Israel in the latter days. Nor does it seem as if there were or could be typical meaning in this awful blot upon the history of the king. But there may be connection of another nature; and there seems no difficulty as to the details of the history, though here "blood-guiltiness" be the only specified sin. The fourth verse, which is objected; really makes none; and as to the closing prayer, can we undertake to say what shall be the limit of a prophet's vision in predicting the future?

{*See Moll, in Lange.

**Here, however, it agrees with the Hebrew.}

The psalm is enigmatical in more ways than this; nay; it is full of deep meanings which are little more than hinted at. When we consider its latter-day application, this is not so strange. It is in the meanwhile a mystery for faith; but with Christ revealed to us, the key of all mysteries is in our hand.

The psalm is throughout a prayer, — the utterance of a human voice, as that of the last psalm is largely a divine. It answers the challenge there with the confession of sin; but the sin confessed here does not appear a direct answer to the charge before. There are, however, other links of connection between the two psalms: "The same depreciation of the external sacrifice," says Delitzsch, "that is expressed in Psalm 50 finds utterance in Psalm 51; which supplements the former; according as it extends the spiritualizing of the sacrifice to the offering for sin." But this spiritualizing needs careful consideration, and to be governed by the inspired canon of Psalm 40:7, which we have already considered; "In the volume of the book it is written of Me." Nor can we admit Cheyne's assertion that the psalmist holds a different theory of sacrifice from the writer of Psalm 1. In such ways as these, which quite take Scripture from us, how many are following each other, according to the moment's whim; today! But let us study the psalm.

1. The psalmist begins with the expression of deep conviction, which is not without the accompaniment of a faith that discerns in God Himself that which answers to the need of which the soul has been made conscious. He supplicates grace from Him with whom is the fountain of grace; abundance of compassions and loving-kindness: that He should act therefore in conformity with His own nature and blot out his revoltings. He calls these by a strong name, which stamps the outward acts with their true character as emanating from a spirit of rebellion, — not defective obedience, but revolt. He prays for complete removal of all this as defilement, — to be thoroughly washed from his perversity, and cleansed from his sin. He represents how conscious he is of it: his sin is always before his eyes. Experience of it has brought him where his rebellious spirit has been humbled to realize every word of God as righteous, and the spirit which would judge even man's almighty Maker is humbled and broken down before Him.

"Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned" is never true in an absolute way of any sin that man can commit. We are too closely united together in the world for this to be possible. If I have another god than Jehovah; does this hurt no one but myself? If I degrade Him by an idol, or take His Name in vain, is there no reflex influence of such acts upon others around me? Who that was truly convicted of sin could say this or believe it? and how above all the man who has need to plead for deliverance from the guilt of blood-shedding!

On the other hand, as Delitzsch well says; "Every relation in which man stands to his fellow-men; and to created things in general, is but the manifest form of his fundamental relationship to God:" at every point at which we touch His creatures; we touch God Himself; every blow struck at them is struck at Him, just as obedience to Him necessitates harmonious relationship to all His creatures. The guilt of every sin is fundamentally the same, revolt against God: this is; in a true sense; the only sin.

2. In the next four verses, we find the extent and character of the salvation needed. Here the psalmist begins with the corruption of origin; as to which Job asks the solemn question, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" This is often pleaded as in large measure an excuse; as we well know; though an awakened conscience cannot satisfy itself with this. Here it comes in to show how great is the salvation needed. Just as in Romans the apostle begins with personal sins and judgment in view of these, not of the fall of Adam; but afterwards; where he enters upon the subject of the completeness of the remedy, then he begins with Adam and the corruption of our nature (Rom. 5:12; sq.). So here we shall find it: "Behold," says David, "in perversity was I born," — with a moral twist "and in sin did my mother conceive me" — not inside Paradise, but outside. Thus sin is a leprosy, a communicable disease; — so to speak, in the blood; and needing a remedy of corresponding energy to meet it. God turns it to corresponding blessing. The "inward parts" are the reins, the kidneys; — hidden in the centre of the body and enveloped in fat, — the very type of excretory organs; for this is their whole function. In them we have going on continually the purification of the blood from what; if retained, would destroy life. Their special relation is to the processes of nutrition and disassimilation; and thus their work presents to us the plainest analogy to that work of moral discrimination and rejection of the evil which goes on under the oversight of the conscience in the quiet chambers of meditation within the inner man. There God desires "truth" or steadfast fidelity; and in the hidden part makes us to know "wisdom" (chokhma), the word used being one "applied to the discrimination of good and evil" (Wilson).

Thus we find how in God's sovereignty over all things, He turns this close and necessary acquaintance with evil in the innermost recesses of our being into an exercising of our spiritual senses to discern and separate it from that which is of God and good (Heb. 5:14). Would that we knew better this "exercise" which would make us adepts in this work of spiritual discrimination! Here the new nature begins to manifest itself in the quickening of the conscience as the heart is turned to God. Blessed sight, the tender sensitiveness of one new born, thus searched out and exercised, even though yet the gospel be not known so as to give rest before God! and that is the condition here.

But we come now to the gospel, although in that veiled way in which the Old Testament of necessity so largely spoke, and still, as all through this psalm, in the language of prayer for the blessing; not yet as realizing it. "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Here nothing is mentioned that had real power to cleanse, even in the Mosaic ritual! The hyssop was of course only that by which the sprinkling that really cleansed was effected. It was used to sprinkle the passover blood upon the doorposts (Ex. 12:22). It was that which, along with cedar and scarlet, was dipped with the living bird in the blood of its fellow, which then was sprinkled upon the leper; to cleanse him (Lev. 14:6; 7). It was used in the case of one defiled with the dead to sprinkle the water of purification upon him (Num. 19:18). There is no other use of hyssop given us in the Old Testament; and to one of these it must refer.

We can have little difficulty in deciding which is here to be understood. The passover is out of the question. Besides its relation to one special feast, which would hardly make it appropriate to an individual case like this, the blood of the paschal lamb was not sprinkled upon the person; but on the door-posts of the houses within which the feast was being kept. Of the two other occasions, the sprinkling upon the leper might seem to be most appropriate to the case of one so deeply affected with sin; and in a state so naturally incurable; as the fifth verse has shown. In the case of the leper; however, the hyssop has no distinct relation to the cleansing: it is simply dipped in the blood, along with the cedar and scarlet and the living bird, and then it is said only that "he" — the priest — "shall sprinkle." On the contrary, in the ordinance of the red heifer (Num. 19) the hyssop comes again, as at the passover; into unmistakable prominence as the means of sprinkling the blood; while, in contrast with the passover; this is sprinkled upon the person; to cleanse him. Thus the reference in the psalm would naturally be to this. Thus defilement with the dead is expressly what is before us here; while the deliverance sought from blood-guiltiness (in the fourteenth verse) shows us how far beyond ordinary defilement the case here goes. The finger; as it were; points in a certain direction to show us what is in question, but there is still an enigma to be solved: how can the law of the red heifer apply? was it ever ordained for cleansing from. the guilt of blood-shedding? The only answer that can be given is necessarily in the negative.

The truth is that the law necessarily fails to meet the case. No sacrifice was, or could be, ordained to put away the guilt of murder.* The soul was cast for this on the sovereign mercy of God alone. The types here, as just now said; might point in a certain direction, but that was all. The one supreme Sacrifice, to be offered by Him of whom it was all "written in the volume of the book;" alone answers all questions; sets the conscience at rest; purging the soul "to serve the living and true God." Hence the failure of all typical sacrifices in such a case as this is full of instruction and blessing. The sinner here was brought face to face and left alone with God; the types as fingers pointing to that which would do what they could not do — expressly disclaiming virtue to be in them.

{*See the notes on the sin-offering, Lev. 4.}

So the psalmist is beyond law here: it is from God and not from man must come the purging; and yet with a plain reference to the law also; which sends us to it for instruction. Thus viewed, the type of the red heifer, with its confessed incompetency to give us more than the shadow — "not the very image" — may yet help us to find the very image."

In this way another apparent failure must be carefully considered. The ordinance of the red heifer was for the restoration; simply, of a defiled person. It does not in any way speak of the first bringing of a soul to God. But the case here, as we are viewing it, is that of souls brought for the first time to God; and these two things — the salvation of a sinner and the restoration of a saint — are; of course; very different things: how are we to reconcile this difference? or what are we to learn by it?

As reinforcing the reference to the type, the fact of the sin in question being David's sin is very significant and helpful. The very subject of the psalm then is, after all, the failure and restoration of a saint: for, spite of the enormity of his offence, no one would doubt David to have been this. The type referred to becomes therefore really in harmony with the theme of the psalm.

But does it not lead us away from the application we have made of it? If it apply to Israel in the last days and their confession of the awful murder of the Son of God. sent to them; is not this the time of their conversion to God and being brought into a new place of blessing, and not their restoration as saints to a state of blessing enjoyed before? How can "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation" be a suited prayer in their mouth?

Consider it again, and this inconsistency will disappear. For, while of that generation it will undoubtedly be true that they will be then for the first time brought to God; — theirs will be in every respect just the salvation of sinners; — yet; if we remember that this is Israel seeking the Lord; we shall realize that, as to the nation it is in fact a case of restoration. Thus the two things are not in this case contradictory to one another. As Israel's sin, the rejection of their Messiah looks back to their national history.

Another harmony develops from this view of the type. The ordinance of the red heifer provided for the cleansing of one defiled with the dead; not a new offering, not the shedding of blood afresh, but recurrence to an offering before offered; — as far as we have any knowledge; once for all offered. How striking a correspondence is here between the type in question and Israel in the end of her long wilderness journey, cleansed by an offering long before offered! in fact; by that very death on its divine side, of which on its human side they were the responsible and guilty instruments! Thus we find in this application of the water of purification the same recognition of a lapse of time between the offering and its effect in cleansing as we find in the type of the day of atonement and its ordinance of the two goats (Lev. 16, notes).

It is surely the voice of Israel, then, that is heard in the cry, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean." The hyssop itself may speak of Christ as man in the lowest place. It is used thus in contrast with the cedar (1 Kings 4:33) as the type of littleness; — "the hyssop that groweth out of the wall," — while, as with the shittah-tree (or acacia), it grows in the wilderness, as a "root out of a dry ground," — growing indeed in the clefts of the rock and the driest of places. If it be a caper; as Royle and Tristram agree; then, like the shittim-wood; it has the thorns of the curse upon it. Contrariwise, its name is perhaps derived from a word which means "to shine." One would expect that the hyssop in this connection should give us some memorials of the Lord: "purge me with hyssop; and I shall be clean." Then how blessed to be said by a poor sinner; and yet it is only confidence in God;s work being; as it must be; well done: "wash me; and I shall be whiter than snow."

Gospel this is, and he realizes it as such: "make me to hear joy and gladness that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice." It is only prayer as yet however; but a divinely taught prayer surely. We too; if the gospel be "good news;" ought to have the joy of the gospel; and healthful; medicinal it is; even for crushed bones. "The joy of the Lord is your strength."

But we pass on to look more deeply at this inner work.

3. The third section, as we have learned to expect; leads us into the sanctuary; and naturally with this speaks of the sanctification needed for the presence of God. But in the first verse we are reminded that this roots itself in, and builds itself up by, the knowledge of complete acceptance. "Hide Thy face from my sins," he says; "and blot out all my perversities." He must have no cloud upon that glorious Face, into which he contemplates looking. For this is the life of holiness itself, the manifestation of God to the soul, the entrancing joy of which the apostle spoke: "whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God" (2 Cor. 5:13). But this would be impossible if in that holy Presence a single stain of sin were discoverable. Here this thought is expressed only negatively and as prayer: but he knows well no spot must be found. The Christian finds it realized in positive "acceptance in the Beloved," all the value of Christ being accounted to him. Not even the thought of a "Face hidden" is worthy of this. The Face beams with radiant appreciation of Him in whom we are represented, and find unchanging, unchangeable perfection. No cloud can come over this sky, save as unbelief darkens it. The veil being rent that so long prevented it; now; says the apostle, "let us draw nigh."

"Let us draw nigh"! what, need of exhortation? Here is One to know whom is to have all things, — to be without whom is the "outer darkness" of hell! God, Creator, Preserver, Redeemer of men, — Light, Life, Love; — revealed in Christ; His love-gift to us, — opens to us the Sanctuary of His Presence. It is not merely possible to draw nigh; there where Moses could not, and seraphs veil their faces; but God has brought us in, — giving us an abiding-place in the Holiest of all; free right of citizenship in the New Jerusalem of God. Here it is lawful to covet and possess, as far as faith can penetrate, — God's word being the inventory of all that which He has given us richly to enjoy; His Spirit in us "searching the deep things of God:" so that what "eye hath not seen; nor ear heard, nor hath it entered (naturally) into the heart of man," He "hath revealed unto us by His Spirit;" "that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." (1 Cor. 2.) After all this, do we need exhortation to possess ourselves of it; or to draw near to Him who had drawn near to us?

What hinders us? What hinders any one of us? Nothing, let us speak it plainly, but lack of heart; and unbelief that goes with this, — goes before it, and springs from it as well. "The vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver unto one that is learned; saying; Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed; and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying; Read this; I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned." (Isa. 29:11; 12.)

But we have got beyond our psalm. The psalmist realizes at least, as has been said, that God's face — God Himself — is his one necessity; and that one sin discerned by the holy Eye would be impossible for Him to go on with. Does he not realize something of what the ashes of the sin-offering mean, by which just now he has been in reality asking to be purged? We, at least, know this well. But along with the need of sacrifice, there is need of an initial work also; which none but God can effect; — which needs nothing less than the power of the Creator: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me." And we have learned that we are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works; which God hath before prepared, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 10). He does not speak formally of the new birth; nor was this clearly known until New Testament times; but he despairs of any effectual change by any effort of his own; he; like the apostle; with a groan of anguish turns from an impractical "body of death," to find a Deliverer outside himself altogether. To possess a "clean heart," for such as he has discovered himself to be; God must "create a creation;" and for the psalmist as for us, the light of heaven must be made to break out in self-revealing, God-revealing power; over the yeasty confusion of the barren and restless deep. O blessed and beauteous Light of heaven; though Thou showest us but the fury of the untamed swell of passion and unrest! Even so communion has begun, if fitfully, with God. The soul begins to side with Him, even against itself; and there, I suppose, a "clean heart" has begun. But a "steadfast [or fixed] spirit" goes beyond this, just in the removal of that fitfulness: the heart being at rest for communion as the calm lake mirrors heaven. But we miss here the Christian how of this: the need is felt, but the manner of accomplishment is not known.

The next verse shows the believer, while it shows also the conflict with doubt. He prays not to be cast away from the divine presence. He has known it; but knows not the conditions of its permanence. Many Christians do not know them today. So, too, he prays, "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me"; and many would be in agony over this. There is no need to think of anything special to the king of Israel. To the whole work of God in the soul the Holy Spirit was always necessary; in every saint of every time. The Spirit of God as indwelling in the Christian; the Spirit of adoption by which we cry; Abba, Father, and the baptism of the Spirit by which the body of Christ is formed; — these are distinctive blessings of the dispensation to which we belong (John 14:16-17; Gal. 4:1-6; Acts 1:5; 1 Cor. 12:13). The Spirit of God Himself could teach David such a prayer as this: for us it would be unbelief to utter it; for by the Spirit we are sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).

But how do we value blessings so inestimable as these? The breathing after God Himself, so characteristic as it is of the Book of Psalms, may well put to shame the coldness of our hearts in view of it. Where are the souls that pant and long after the presence of God as do these men of another and darker time? We may not use some of their prayers, and can thank God we do not: yes; but do we breathe their longings? Or shall we give men to think that the increase of knowledge and the apprehension of grace chill the heart; and that the more abundantly God has shown us love; the less He is to be loved?

Again the psalmist cries: —

"Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and let a willing spirit sustain me." For heaviness of heart enfeebles both walk and work: the joy of the Lord gives strength and courage. We may not make light of emotion. Our care is to be that it be justified with knowledge and connected with practical result. "The fruit of the Spirit is love; joy, peace" (Gal. 5:22); but then "long-suffering; gentleness; goodness, meekness; temperance;" follow after these and sustain them.

So too the practical result is promised here: "I will teach revolters Thy ways; and sinners shall return unto Thee." Israel in fact will lead the nations in obedience. Israel shall become Jezreel, "the seed of God." "And I will sow her to Me in the earth;" says the Lord God (Hosea 2:23).

4. The theme of the second part of the previous psalm now comes up again; but from another side. The failure of the sacrifices is now proclaimed by the lips of man, the sinner who has found them fail in his own need, and realizes the divine meaning of this failure. The psalmist returns to the thought of his own sin, which he now names distinctly, and from the guilt of which God alone can be the deliverer. As the God of his salvation, his tongue shall sing of His righteousness. This seems too evangelic, if we take it in the Pauline sense of God's righteousness revealed in the gospel, a note of which; however, we have heard in the twenty-second psalm. But to measure the depth of an inspired statement by the intelligence (real or supposed) of the writer, would be a folly that would really leave God out of His Word, and make the meaning of it often an impractical attainment for us. He has in the beginning of the psalm been pleading for mercy according to the known compassion of God, that is, in consistency with His own character. This then is already the "righteousness," of which when delivered he will sing; and thus the righteousness spoken of is as the God of his salvation. The cross is the full explanation of this, and that, as we have seen, is in the psalm also, though veiled under the type referred to in it. He then speaks again of the testimony which in fact restored Israel will render to His praise, when their dumb lips shall be opened.

Now comes the disclaiming of legal sacrifices. "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt-offering." In fact, as has been already said, none could be prescribed for sin like this, a thing which limits very much therefore the absoluteness of this disclaimer. Here the "sacrifices of God" could only be "a broken spirit!" Not as if this were the true antitype of the legal offerings, a supposition of which there has been given explicit denial in the words of Christ Himself by His Spirit in the fortieth psalm: "In the volume of the book it is written of ME." Nor can a broken spirit be the justification of God's grace in salvation, though it may define the condition morally necessary to the sinner's acceptance. And this is the only possible thought here. That would not be a broken spirit which could estimate itself as having atoning value in the sight of God. It is the very confession of sin and worthlessness which makes it possible for Him to come in in mercy; and in this way indeed to come to God may have attaching to it all the certainty which the bringing of sacrifice ensured in those cases in which they were prescribed. In this comparison with the legal sacrifices, the failed creature taking his place must necessarily, with God, far outweigh the ritual service, and in fact permit God to come in in his behalf. He will act according to His heart, and we can trust His heart. The case is in His hand; and divine wisdom will be able to conserve divine righteousness in meeting so desperate a condition. Christ is the answer of wisdom as to this: and now it can indeed be said: "a broken and crushed heart" — so it literally reads — "O God, Thou wilt not despise."

5. In the last section, it is openly Zion's cause that is pleaded: the place in which sovereign grace will act toward Israel, and therefore the place of God's eternal rest. "Do good in Thy good pleasure unto Zion: Thou shalt build the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt Thou be pleased with sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar."

The cessation of animal sacrifices is not implied then in what has gone before; and according to Ezekiel they will be offered even in millennial days. (Ezek. 43:18-28, Ezek. 45:15-25.) If this is not according to our thoughts, we must always be ready to correct our thoughts by Scripture. The millennial has not the perfection of the eternal condition; and the senses will be again appealed to in a way that does not accord with the present dispensation of faith. Of this there are many examples; and there is no surer way of getting into confusion in our thoughts than by judging of what is suited to one dispensation by the analogies of another. The numerical structure seems here indeed to emphasize the confirmation of sacrifice, as before it did its failure; and both things are suited, each in its place. Their retention and revival are, no doubt, God's witness to the world of His way of acceptance and blessing ever, at which unbelief has so largely scoffed. As the carcases of the enemies (Isa. 66) in their doom before men's eyes will be the open testimony to the judgment of hell for the ungodly, — of that Gehenna of which it has already furnished the illustrative images, — and as the city of God will be the perpetual witness of the joys of the blessed, — so it will be good in the Lord's sight to have this commemorative witness of the way by which the joy of His favor can be realized or attained.

Thus these sacrifices will be now "sacrifices of righteousness," because offered with a true heart and with hands "washed in innocency," as David has elsewhere expressed it (Ps. 26:6). And the whole tenor of these closing verses confirms the prophetic character of the psalm as the national confession which will be the necessary pre-requisite for national blessing. This also makes clear the connection with the previous psalm, which is certainly a divine challenge of the nation and of the thought that sacrifices without righteousness could be acceptable to God. The two psalms together give us the double controversy between Israel and the Lord, of which the second part of Isaiah (the second Isaiah of the rationalizing critics) treats at large — the controversy as to the law and as to Christ; of the Old Testament and of the New. One might imagine, from the way that these are presented here, that they would be questions which would be raised with restored Israel in this same order, and that here they have been in the presence of the true Joseph, who has manifested Himself to His brethren; but it may be also that the order is only grounded on the history, and not itself to be thud fulfilled in the history of the future.

Subdivision 2. (Ps. 52 — 60.)

Steps on to Deliverance.

The second subdivision of the second book, like that of the first, speaks at length of Antichrist, as its numerical place might lead us to expect it would; but it goes on, according to the character of the book as a whole, to speak more largely of the deliverance, its grounds and features. There are but two sections, nine psalms altogether; the book hastening on to the manifestation of Christ Himself, which we find, not here, but in the third subdivision.

David is the only writer named as the composer of these psalms; but the titles are again found accurately to divide the two sections from each other; the first four being Maskil psalms, or psalms of instruction, and the five following Michtams: each of these titles being in perfect relation to the contents of the series so designated.

Section 1. (Ps. 52 — 55.)

The identification of the man of sin.

The first section, then, is composed of these Maskil psalms, the character of which we have already considered (see Ps. 32 notes). With one exception (Ps. 54) they all convey instruction as to the Lawless One, the rebel king and false Messiah in Israel in the last days, — the very subject which the "mind that has wisdom," the maskil among men, is called to consider in Rev. 13:18. "The identification of the Lawless One" is therefore the general theme of this first section.

Psalm 52.

The strong man who made not God his strength.

To the chief musician: Maskil of David; when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David came to the house of Ahimelech.

The fifty-second psalm first of all depicts him in this independent character. He is the mighty one who maketh not God his strength"; the deceiver also, according to the description of the apostles Paul and John. The latter marks him out as "the liar," who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22); the former (2 Thess. 2:9-11) speaks of his "coming as after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders (power and signs and wonders, of falsehood) and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness." It is natural therefore that this should be what is set before us in this first "maskil."

The reference to the history of David is, like that in the title of the last psalm, difficult to understand. We have no cause to reject it on that account, confirmed as it is again by the Septuagint. Doeg the Edomite is doubtless but a feeble representative of the great enemy of God. and man at the time of the end; and yet there are evident features of resemblance. The "Edomite" in itself implies the enmity, so unnatural as it is, which derives its bitterness from the rupture of natural relations, and this may easily represent that of outward relations which have professedly a more spiritual character, as that of Judas to the Lord. This is brought out in its application to the great final enemy in the fourth psalm of this series (Ps. 55). Then the herdsman of Saul may seem very little the mighty man of the present psalm; but through his words (which is what is dwelt upon) he was in fact mighty enough to cause a wholesale slaughter of the priestly family. And it is by his words that, as already said, Antichrist will prevail, whatever "power" may accompany his words. The allusion to the "tent" may also borrow significance from the history, as we shall see.

1. The psalm is divided into two parts, which are in contrast with one another, the first seven verses being faith's challenge of this mighty one, as the last two verses give us the man of faith himself and his portion from God. The "mighty man" who uses the little might he has in bitter persecution of the saints is here put in contrast also with El, the "Mighty" God, whose attribute is mercy — mercy enduring daily. How blessed is this gentle goodness of Almighty power. And it is not contradicted either by the presence of this wicked one himself: for even such an one "the goodness of God" would "lead to repentance." The awful end of unrepented evil makes this slowness of dealing with the evil man unspeakably solemn; while he may use it for "storing up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." Meanwhile faith knows that this power of God, with all its apparent slowness, has things completely under its control: so that "He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him; and the remainder of wrath He will restrain." Nothing escapes from this all-seeing, perfect control, which maketh all things work together for good, to them that love Him.

And yet it is "man's day" in which we are; and man avails himself of it. His tongue is indeed his mightiest member, and by his words he may well be justified or condemned. Alas, his tongue, as James declares, is "a world of iniquity"; "yawning depths" of it, as it is put here, "his tongue deviseth": in which, how easily, the unwary may be engulfed. Changing the figure, though the implications are no less murderous, this tongue of the wicked is "like a sharp razor," — cutting before one is aware. And out of the heart the mouth speaketh: "thou hast loved evil rather than good; lying instead of speaking right." How the great enemy of man is discerned in all this! for "he is a liar, and the father of it." Truth will not serve his purpose: that is, the whole, full truth; he is fond of using it, so far as it will give color and attractiveness to his lie, — a film of varnish over a rotten interior, — or like an ice-film of purity over his cavernous iniquity, — itself but a deception, a lure, a deeper lie.

Yet this deceit is itself the confession of weakness: power that is equal to its end has at least no need of it. And this confession that is in it makes it thus far unpalatable to the pride of strength. In its love to devour, the tongue may become a "tongue of deceit"; but this humiliation it does not love. Thus it carries with it the witness of its own frailty and mutability: the seed of mortality is in it, the witness of the judgment of God upon it; and so it is foreseen. "The Mighty One shall likewise smite thee down forever: he shall seize, and pluck thee out of the tent, and root thee out of the land of the living."

There is an expression here, which we must consider in the light of the application of the psalm to the Wicked one of the last days. Moll unites with Delitzsch in interpreting the "tent" out of which the mighty one is to be plucked, as the dwelling-place of Doeg, with an allusion to his herdsman's tent. A much older application is that by Kimchi, adopted by Grier and others, to the holy tent or tabernacle at which Ahimelech ministered, and where we find in the history that Doeg was "detained before Jehovah." Delitzsch says, if this were meant, it would have been "His tent"; but how can we be sure always of just the language which an inspired writer might see fit to use? Nay, one may see reasons for the less distinct expression even in the history itself, and far more in the prophetic reference. Thus, if the show-bread were but common bread while David was in rejection (see notes on 1 Sam. 21) why should not the very house of God itself be less distinctly owned as that on the same account? And if we think of Antichrist's connection with it in the future time, how much more appropriate still would this disclaimer of its being God's house when invaded by idolatry — the abomination that maketh desolate, — be perfectly in place?

One cannot but regard, then, the words here as a fresh indication of what is before us in the psalm. If Doeg alone were contemplated indeed, the application might seem as strained; as it is generally perhaps considered. But we can see how the Spirit of God, in contemplation of the future, might seize upon. such a connection and use it to suggest that all important one in the history of the Wicked one which could. hardly be omitted in such a sketch as the present, and which yet, in the history of David at least, would seem to find elsewhere nothing to suggest it.

Now comes the triumph of the righteous: "the righteous also shall see it and fear, and shall laugh at him. Behold the strong man that made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his deep practice." The last word in the Hebrew here is the singular of the first word in the second verse, and there translated "yawning depths." The correspondence would seem to show correspondence of thought, although in the first case it is his words, in the latter his practice that is refered to.

Thus we have his case summed up. It is but that of fallen man "writ large;" "being in honor, he abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish." Putting away God from him; he puts away his link with life and blessedness; he is not a beast, nor does he come to an end as the beast does. Self-condemned, for him perdition is an evil which to the beast it is not, and which links itself with the eternity of his spirit-nature.

2. The believing remnant are now seen in contrast with this passing of mere human strength: But I am like a green olive in the house of God," — the tree in which abides that which typifies the Spirit of God, green in its freshness of life eternal, and in the house of God, which gives another help to understanding that "tent" out of which the wicked one is cast. Here it is openly named, and suitably to the permanence of all the blessing, a "house," not a "tent." Faith enters it with sure confidence: "I trust in the mercy of God forever and aye." Their praise too abides; and God is known by His glorious Name. Upon this for all developments of the future, he can wait and fear not: it is a Name that is good before the worshiping saints.

Psalm 53.

The progress of evil and the throwing off of God.

To the chief musician, upon Mahalath: Maskil of David.

The fifty-third psalm shows us the growth of the evil, both in breadth and intensity. God is here altogether thrown off, and the wicked one gathers after him a multitude of followers.

The title is a peculiar and significant one: "It is prefixed to two psalms, the fifty-third and the eighty-eighth: 'To the chief musician upon Mahalath.' Some Hebraists have supposed it to intend that the psalm was to be accompanied by an ancient musical instrument which bore such a name; or that, being derived from 'Machol,' it denoted a choral song to be sung in the Levitical service. But this last interpretation would be very unsuitable to the psalms in the inscriptions of which the word occurs. Since psalm eighty-eight is the gloomiest of all the psalms, and psalm fifty-three, although having a bright border, is still also a dark picture, the signification of Mahalath, — 'sickness, sorrow,' — which is capable of being supported by Ex. 15:26, must be retained. 'Upon Mahalath' signifies after a sad tone or manner, whether it be that Mahalath itself is a name for such an elegiac kind of melody, or that it was thereby designed to indicate the initial word of some popular song. So that we may regard Mahalath as equivalent to mesto, and piano, or andante."* The best reason for this strangely sad title is found, indeed, in its mystical fitness to the psalms of which it is the inspired prefix.

{* Delitzsch on the Psalms.}

"It is to be interpreted, therefore, 'upon Sickness,' a title of direction that the words should be accompanied by some soft, sad, melancholy flow of sound, in accord with their deeply sorrowful tone."*

{*"Christ the Key of the Psalter." By an Oxford Graduate.}

The fifty-third psalm is, for the most part, a repetition of the fourteenth; and as such has provoked various criticism. In both psalms the divine Name is found seven times; but in the former one four times it is Jehovah, while in the present Elohim (God) is used in every case. This is, of course, in keeping with the general character of the second book. In either case the sevenfold affirmation of God in the presence of the multitude of the ungodly who deny Him, surely has significance.

(1) As in the fourteenth psalm, the general mass of men, and not merely Israelites, are seen to be deniers of God. As to Antichrist, the man of sin, it is said of him that "he opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped." (2 Thess. 2:4.) And of the lawless one in Daniel, that "he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, … neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, … nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all" (Dan. 11:36-37). John also declares that he shall deny "the Father and the Son." This does not prevent him honoring, instead of the true God, "the God of forces" (Dan. 11:38); even as the second "beast" of Rev. 13 (who is the same person) causes men to worship the first beast (the head of the revived Roman empire) and his image in the temple. This last — idolatry set up in the temple — is the fullest challenge to Him whose throne is there.

Thus he does not abandon all worship of God openly, but uses it for his purpose, and is, of course, atheist in heart. The mass who follow him have the same character. Even the Comtist has his worship of the Grand Etre; but he knows perfectly well that this "Great Being" of Humanity is only a play of imagination, — a concession to the emotional side of his nature, and no real god. So also may the followers of the "beast" have their political god and yet be godless. Their works show what they are at heart, and that to dethrone God there is much easier than to make another.

(2) All the time while they regard not God, He is regarding them. Patiently He searches among them so as to know if there be one that understands or seeks after Him. This anthropomorphism as to God is beautiful. Put it how you will, you must not believe that the living God is careless of His creatures. He will not judge hastily, or in a lump, but with careful discrimination.

(3) But there is not one that can be found: they have turned aside, all of them; they have together become corrupt; none doeth good, no, not one. These statements the apostle applies, as (apart from the grace of God) they must be applied, to the whole human race. That does not show that the design here is not more limited than this. The psalm as a whole, — each psalm as a whole — has plainly indeed such a limited application; but "as in water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man;" and this abundantly justifies the apostle's "no difference" doctrine. The place of the psalm in this series it is that shows the prophetic application.

(4) The next verse accordingly speaks of those whom God calls His people, and who are not to be confounded with these. They are being eaten up like bread by these scornful men here depicted. Yet are these workers of vanity merely, — without knowledge, not knowing even the feebleness, which would have brought them to call upon God.

(5) But the panic of their doom at last and as in a moment falls upon them; and here the present psalm turns away from the fourteenth, which speaks of the general principle, to announce, as if it were accomplished, the doom of those encamped against Jerusalem. "God hath scattered the bones of those that encamped against thee." The feeble remnant also become the executors of divine judgment "thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them."

(6) The psalm ends, as the fourteenth does, with the expression of longing desire that the salvation of Israel had indeed come; and that what faith foresees and declares were already a fact in experience.

Psalm 54.

God realized as manifesting Himself according to His Name.

To the chief musician, on stringed instruments; Maskil of David: when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?

The third psalm of this Maskil series seems to turn aside from the direct subject of them, to show the encouragement given to faith under the trial, in the anticipation of the intervention of God in behalf of His people, suffering under the cruel hands of their persecutors. It is a psalm of the simplest character; for God does not hide His consolation deep in dark speeches from those who have need of it. The Name of God, that is, His revelation of Himself, is that which secures salvation for them. God acts so as to glorify Himself, by the display of His character; and in His salvation all His nature is declared: only the salvation here is an external one, from enemies; though it be true that for Him thus to come in for them their sins must be put away. But this is not before us here.

The occasion of the psalm is difficult in application to the last day trials; which only means that we have little skill in such applications. We know just enough to make us realize our shame that we know no more.

1. Short as it is, the psalm is divided into two parts; the first of which gives us the cry to God, the invocation of His power in behalf of the sufferer. Deliverance for him will be according to righteousness, that is, in consistency with God Himself; which implies no legal righteousness on the psalmist's part. God's righteousness we have learned to recognize in a gospel to sinners: and this is what the work of Christ has accomplished for us. The Name of God has only been revealed in Him: and when we know it, we have fuller ground of confidence than any righteousness possible to man could give. Here also, as regards the enemy, there is right that can be pleaded against him; and so the psalmist can say, "Right me with Thy might." His enemies are also God's enemies, — "strangers" in heart, though (as in David's case) they may be Israelites in the flesh; and violent men, who have not set God before them.

2. The second part anticipates in faith the help that has been sought. God Himself is the Helper: the Lord it is who upholds his soul. The result is then foreseen; simple enough from such premises: "He shall requite evil to them that watch me" with malignant eyes; "in Thy faithfulness," he can ask, "destroy Thou them." The time prophesied of for the earth's judgment is at hand, and God's faithfulness is pledged to fulfill His word.

Then indeed will delivered Israel with a full heart bring her sacrifices to God, and praise Jehovah's Name, once more and now fully made known in their redemption (see Ex. 3:13-17, notes). The last verse gives the experience of this: "He hath delivered me out of all strait; and mine eye hath seen its fill upon mine enemies."

Psalm 55.

The apostate.

To the chief musician, on stringed instruments: Maskil of David.

With the fifty-fifth psalm we reach the close of this Maskil series, and find the last word as to the wicked one. He has been seen in a certain relation to the dwelling-place of God, the "tent" in which He has sojourned among men. We have seen him also among the mass of the godless — atheists in heart — who carry to its height the lawlessness and rebellion of the last days. Here we go back to see how he has broken the bands and cast off the yoke of the Most High. Once an associate of the godly, and moving among the throng of worshipers in the house of God, he is become the persecutor of the righteous, the profaner of his covenant with God and man, his profession all through is shown to be mere subtlety and treacherous wickedness, under which Jerusalem itself becomes like another Babel, and its inhabitants invite a corresponding doom.

These psalms share the character of all prophecy in needing to be put together in order to their full understanding. They are not meant for "private" or "separate interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). They are connected together by the common title of Maskil as instruction for the men of understanding, the wise who are to instruct others (Dan. 11:33; 12:3). Put together, the awful figure of Antichrist emerges clearly enough, and in harmony with prophecies elsewhere, both Christian and Jewish. Like some image formed in the rock, you must catch it at the right angle to discern it; while when there, its features are too marked and many to be possibly mistaken.

The accompaniment of "stringed instruments" is justified as the psalm goes on; though it begins with a wail of sorrow and an inward tumult under which the numerical structure for awhile seems to be lost, but to manifest itself again as faith more firmly lays hold upon divine strength, and the light of a new day begins to penetrate the gloom.

1. The first three verses give us the cry to God, with the cause of the cry, — the voice of the enemy and the oppression of the wicked, by whom the suppliant is traduced as well as suet with open violence. The conjunction of these things is too common to need much comment. Slander makes malice take the form of righteousness; and the strongest tyranny finds the necessity of justifying itself after this manner. Involuntarily it does homage to the moral government of God, even while its homage is itself immoral. "They cast iniquity on me," says the sufferer, "and in anger persecute me."

2. The next section dwells upon the misery of the remnant amid the general departure from God. They long to escape from the city which is yet to them the city of God; but defiled, profaned, the Spirit of Christ makes them cry out for separation from it. Accordingly opportunity is given them, as we know (Matt. 24:15 seq.), and they are found outside it in the first psalm of this book.

The distress is extreme, and the confusion of mind seems to affect the numerical structure itself, which here at least I am unable to trace in two out of the five verses. This may be, of course, only from dullness of sight on my own part, or because the numbers themselves have not been traced out sufficiently in their application in the sphere of human emotion. Yet the only other place in these psalms in which we have hitherto found such an absolute failure (Ps. 10:8-10) is so near akin to this one as at least to suggest a designed connection between them. The former psalm; like the present, gives us a picture of the wicked one; and there the alphabetic construction fails, as well as (and to a greater extent than) the numerical. Thus there seems purpose manifest in this. In the present psalm, however, there is this difference, that the failure is not found in that part of it which speaks of Antichrist himself, but in that which speaks of the effect of the evil in the awful horror and dread which well-nigh overwhelm the godly. This is plainly a great difference, and must justly raise the question again, Is it anything more than a failure of discernment, such as here and there may well be expected in a first endeavor to trace out the numerical clue. On the other hand, it is still possible that as in the tenth psalm the moral disorder is reflected in the structural one, — God's government appearing for a while to be lost in the uprising of human will against it, — so here may be intimated the blur of vision that may be induced by the contemplation of successful wickedness, even on the part of the righteous, and against which the thirty-seventh psalm warns us. In this case, may not the irregularity of the alphabetic structure of both the ninth and tenth psalms (even where it does not fail) point to a similar perturbation? especially as only in the mind of man can the government of God lapse at all, even for a moment.

And is not this indeed an evil so great and so universal as to make it necessary to enforce the warning upon us in an exceptional manner? Alas, how the disorder manifest in the world tends to induce a similar disorder, even among those who dread and abhor it! as with an infectious disease, the dread of which increases the susceptibility of infection. How the simple lesson needs to be continually repeated in our ears, that "God sitteth upon the throne, judging right." How little frankly do we accept this first postulate of faith! and if there be but hesitation here, how the vision fails, how the heart sickens and faints, what a collapse is there of strength! And is it not so in the psalm before us? —

"My heart is writhing within me; and the terrors of death are fallen upon me! Fear and trembling is come upon me; and horror hath wrapped me round!"

Then notice how in the next verse the numerals appear again: for not without meaning is it that the dove, the type of heavenly purity and love and sorrow, — the symbol of the Spirit of Christ, as in the gospels, — is named here rather than any other bird. The wing of the dove bore Christ indeed into the scene of sin and misery to deliver men; but here, when grace has been rejected, and the sin of men has ripened as just ready for the harvest, the dove is preparing for her flight away. Holiness now means only separation from stubborn rebellion and implacable enmity to God; and now the solitude of the wilderness attracts her: the earth is become truly that; and judgment is foreseen, — a tempest of wrath, from which she would hasten the escape of those that sigh and cry for these abominations.

3. And now the city is brought before us — Jerusalem; though her name cannot now be named; she does not answer to it. Rather is she now Babylon, and with the doom of Babylon upon her. Violence and strife issue naturally in divided tongues, into which her whilom unity is broken up. Strife characterizes her, and with violence goes about her walls, which instead of shutting out the evil, shut it in. Cavernous depths of wickedness yawn in the midst of her; and openly in her public streets stalk all the time oppression and deceit.

4. Now we come to the apostate. Not an open enemy had he been in that case it would have been easy to turn away from him as such. But he had been one admitted to terms of equality, an associate, an intimate; nor that only, but professedly also among the godly, and among the throngs frequenting the house of God. Thus we see what bonds had been broken through — Godward as well as manward. For him and those with him the psalmist predicts the sudden calamity of the apostates in the wilderness, death surprising them in such a way that Sheol might seem to swallow them up alive. This is another link with prophecy: for it is written of the two great confederates in evil in the fast-hastening day of the Lord, that they shall be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20).

5. The fifth section of the psalm displays in contrast with all this the assured hope of the righteous. He calls upon God, from whom the wicked had departed; he knows that God will save him. Complain and groan though he may, it is to One who hears his voice. And redemption is realized at last from the midst of many enemies, who are incapable of doing him the harm they seek to do.

6. But again he returns to speak of the wicked one and his company. He sees the Unchangeable and Eternal setting Himself against the unchanging stubbornness of impenitent sinners. Again he singles out one special one among these, marking him out by another sign which is very distinct in prophecy, the breach of the covenant. So the angel says to Daniel of the "prince that shall come," that "he shall confirm a covenant" — make a binding agreement — "with many for one week" — of years; "and in the midst of the week shall he cause sacrifice and oblation to cease." Idolatry takes the place of the worship of the true God: "for the overspreading (or 'wing') of abominations there shall be a desolator" (Dan. 9:27, Heb.). Thus we have the "abomination of desolation" afterwards referred. to (Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Matt. 24:15); and the nature of the broken covenant is plainly shown. Israel back in the land is sheltered by it in the setting up again of their old ritual worship: the "prince" or his representative in the land takes his place with the rest in apparently heartfelt homage to the King of kings. For the first half of the week he is the smooth-tongued hypocrite described in the psalm. Then comes a change; the cessation of prescribed legal offerings; the setting up of idolatry in its place: "he hath put forth his hands against those that were at peace with him; he hath profaned the covenant." This completes the instruction of these Maskil psalms.

7. The seventh and last section closes therefore now with the contrary portions of the righteous and the wicked; in which God appears at last as Jehovah — Israel's God. How the covenant-Name here shines out in contrast with all human dependence! That treacherous covenant they had trusted in, and it had deceived them; now, "cast thy burden on Jehovah, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." On the other hand, "Thou, Jehovah, shalt bring them down to the pit of destruction: men of blood and deceit shall not live half their days; but I will trust in THEE."

Section 2. (Ps. 56 — 60.)

Confirmation of faith.

As the psalms of the former section were connected together by their common Maskil character, so those of the present are by the fact that they are all Michtams, a title which only occurs elsewhere in connection with the sixteenth psalm. Of the various meanings there referred to, the last two seem best to suit as applied to these. They are epigrammatic, the sharp-cut maxims of faith, which here strengthens itself by them. And that connects plainly with the derivation from the word catham; to "engrave," such epigrammatic writing being that found in inscriptions while it is fitted to engrave itself durably on the memory, as these maxims need to be engraved.*

{*The sixteenth psalm, having to do, as it has, with the wondrous path of the "Leader and Finisher of faith," may well be a Michtam in this way, as furnishing what are to be thus maxims for the life of faith, to be graved upon the heart of the disciple.}

"Hidden" their meaning certainly is not. We have only as Christians to remember that it is Israel's voice to which we are listening, and therefore Israel's promises that are before us in them, and they are then in general simple enough. In truth God's comfort is not far to seek; whether men will take it or not is another question. "The confirmation of faith" may well be the title of the whole section, as I have given it; and in this way it fitly follows that description of the wicked one with whom the mass of the nation in the latter days will identify themselves. From the contemplation of that terrible scene, the soul needs to withdraw itself into its strongholds, and comfort itself with the assurance of the goodness and the, might of God. And these psalms are of this nature, not forgetting the evil, but bringing it into the presence of God, that it may be seen in its weakness and mutability. Then are its instruments so truly workers of vanity," that it can even be asked, "Shall they escape by vanity?" — this nothingness which belongs to them: are they too feeble to be taken notice of?

Psalm 56.

God's faithfulness His people's strength.

To the chief musician, upon Jonath-elem-rechokim: Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath.

The special title of the fifty-sixth psalm; "Upon Jonath-elem-rechokim," the "dove of silence of far off places," has naturally suggested Christ to many interpreters. But the whole connection of the psalm; as well as the contents of it, seem to me against the personal application. The connection with the cry of the last psalm — "Oh that I had the wings of a dove" — (and which is evident) is also, I think, against it. The Spirit of Christ is surely in both psalms; but that is a very different thing. The Septuagint is nearer the truth, with its rendering, "Upon the people driven afar off from the holy place"; while the Targum paraphrases it, Concerning the congregation of Israel, which is like to a silent dove, at the time they are removed far off from the cities." If we remember that in the previous psalm we have seen the remnant of Israel in Jerusalem with antichristian wickedness risen to such a height, as to force upon them the necessity of flight, we shall easily realize in the "dove of far-off places" the remnant escaped and outside the city. They are still in danger, but from an outside enemy, they are wandering (ver. 8), and not shut up.

The historical occasion of the psalm is given us as during David's first flight to Achish, "when the Philistines took him in Gath." Delitzsch says of it that it "exhibits many points of the closest intermingling with the psalms of that period, and thus justifies its inscription." But the connection of the history with the prophetic application is more difficult. The Philistines were of course an outside enemy; and David had against him both these and the people of Israel as well, so that he was a wanderer between perils on either hand. In these respects the remnant's experiences resemble his.

The burden of the psalm is the faithfulness of God as being the strength of His people; and, spite of sorrowful circumstances, the confidence expressed is very bright.

1. The circumstances and the strength found to stand under them are given briefly in the first three verses. The enemies are round about, and men are constantly contending with him and oppressing him. The psalmist describes them as wild beasts panting after him. He hears their loud breathing in pursuit, but checks his fears with the thought of what God is for him: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." Perfectly suited to the persecuted people of God at any time, I cannot recognize in such language the experience of the Lord Jesus. For it is here fear of men that is expressed, though checked — the purely personal fear of enemies around, and not the horror of their wickedness. Nor could the blessed Lord have need to still a fear that was never present by calling up a faith that was never absent.

2. But the psalmist rises to a higher altitude, and the faithfulness of God becomes his triumphant assurance. His word is his dependence, which in its fulfillment by Him will surely gain for itself praise. The living word can never stand without a living God behind it; and it fears not to pledge Him to the fulfillment of its promises. Faith may be timid, but not Scripture; and when we realize the riches it guarantees us, we shall fear no poverty for evermore. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" And so here: "In God I have trusted; I fear not: what can flesh do to me?"

The enemies are still there, but they are powerless: torturing his words; plotting evil against him uniting together, consulting in secret, dogging the heels, intent on his life. Even so, in all this there is a consciousness of weakness which strangely contrasts with their number and apparent power. After all, they have uneasy suspicion — they fear a fear, as a former psalm expresses it, for God is in the generation of the righteous: for how much may not that count?

Vain it all is, this malice: they are in hands to which they yield at every point, even where most seemingly triumphant. "He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him; and the remainder of it He restrains." So impotent are they, that it can be asked with Elihu (Job 35:6), "If thou sinnest, what doest thou against Him? and if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto Him?" But if this be so, "on account of" this "vanity, shall they escape?" Can He let it go on, unmoved by it? Nay, he replies, not so: show, Lord, that it is not so; "in anger cast down the peoples, O God!"

And this shall be; but the psalmist does not here go on to it. He turns back to think of the tenderness of divine sympathy towards him, amid all the roughness and sorrow of the way. Here is a comfort to which Christianity has added so much that it seems as if it could not rightly have been known before. The Son of man down in our world, and not in a sheltered place, but in the bitterest blast that ever blew there, — this has changed all for him that has seen it. Yet the Spirit of Christ was in the Old Testament, and the revelation of God clothed itself already in the human form, in anticipation of the Word made flesh. "Thou countest my wanderings; my tears have been put into thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?" Tender counterpart, these tears preserved by Him now, to the future wiping them away with His own hand! But they are noted also in His book, just as they fall!

Now the psalmist looks on to the end; and he can be nothing else but confident. God is for him: therefore when he calls, his enemies shall turn back. This he knows.

The psalm ends accordingly with the fullest assurance and praise to God. The former strain of confidence is renewed and amplified. He repeats, "Through God will I praise the word," — more abstractly than "His word": perhaps, as if there were no word that could be named but His. And then he varies this, claiming God fully as His by the covenant-Name: "Through Jehovah will I praise the word." Then he once more puts forth his challenge "In God I have trusted; I fear not: what can man do to me?" His vowed thank-offerings are ready, too; and he will not fail to have his life also a thank-offering. Like the apostle, who, when he has urged that by Christ we should "offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of the lips, confessing His Name," adds also: "but to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Heb. 13:15-16). So here, the psalmist realizes that the deliverance of his soul from death, and his feet from falling, is that he "may walk before God in the light of the living." This does not mean merely, as Moll says, that he may walk under "divine protection," however much the last phrase may infer this. Nay, he is to walk before God who has protected him. And this means what "to walk with God" meant for Enoch, and means for all in the same path ever since, — the simplest expression for a life suited for such companionship.

Psalm 57.

Faith's present shelter and final deliverance.

To the chief musician, Al-tashcheth: Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul into the cave.

The Al-tashcheth ("Destroy not") which is in the title of the two following psalms, and the Asaphic seventy-fifth, as well as the present, is hard from its brevity to understand, as well as from its apparent applicability in so many ways. The historical occasion of the psalm also, while there is no difficulty attending it, has, in the same way, no special noteworthiness that I can discover. An opportunity this which men will take to disparage Scripture in favor of their own ignorance; but the stars do not the less shine because our sight may be too dull to behold them. Thank God, they do not!

In the psalm itself, there is no peculiar difficulty. It goes on from present shelter to future deliverance and these are (speaking broadly) the two parts into which it is divided, each part being closed with the refrain.

1. In the first part the soul casts itself upon divine grace, as that which will surely meet the faith that takes refuge in it. The bird that, according to the ancient story, would shelter itself from the pursuer in the bosom of man may have cause to repent its confidence; but who shall ever say that his confidence in God has deceived him? Nay, rather, when all other trust is found to be in vain, this becomes the only and all-sufficient one. "Depths" of evil and abysses of sorrow there are indeed on every side; but the shadow of Jehovah's wings is not merely a place of escape but a home rest, where the Eternal Light subdues itself to our weakness, and yet is an infinite glory of truth and holiness and fostering care.

How sweet then may be the self-abandonment to Love so competent: "I cry unto God most High: to the Mighty that accomplisheth for me." Where He has charge of all one's concerns, how surely shall they all prosper; how deep may be the peace resulting.

But there is not merely an indefinite confidence. The future has been marked out for us by Him to whom all His works are known from the beginning; and Israel's portion glows in the page of prophecy, for faith to possess itself beforehand of it. David is himself the forerunner of the later prophets, the leader of that magnificent choir of divine song. Here he foresees the intervention of God for His people: "He shall send from heaven and save me" — "God shall send forth His mercy and truth." In the meanwhile, however, there is plenty to test this confidence; and patience must have its perfect work. "My soul is among lions: I lie among them that are on fire, — children of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword."

But he cries in distress no more. His heart is full of another longing, in which prophecy and prayer are found together, and God fills the whole scene. But then, and thus only, man's blessing is accomplished, as it is indeed by Man — the Son of man — that the prayer is fulfilled. "Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens" has its answer in the psalm of the Son of man, the eighth psalm, "Thou hast set Thy glory above the heavens," while "glory over all the earth" is the well-known result of the uprising of the Sun of righteousness in the appearing of the same blessed Person. God is with men — in Man: a consummation to which these psalms are leading on.

2. Accordingly the second part is occupied with the salvation of Israel — personated by the psalmist — and the blessing following for the earth. It begins with the recompense awarded to their enemies in divine righteousness. They have dug a pit and fallen into it. According to the eternal law of retribution, they have been taken in their own craftiness. Israel is delivered, and their heart, already turned to Him, is established as His by the grace shown them. "They will sing and psalm": not only themselves praise, but make the mute things vocal — which is just man's office as head of the lower creation. Israel's worship accordingly begins: her glory awakes; psaltery and harp awake; and this music of hers awakes the dawn of day for the whole earth. She is the herald of salvation for the nations also, the "first-born," to be followed by the later-born. She praises among the gathered peoples, and sings her psalms among the races of men.

God is with men. His mercy is great unto the heavens: — not, as before and afterwards said, His glory above them. The heavenly people will be witnesses of this mercy; and the parallel of His "truth unto the clouds" would seem to speak of heavenly influences for the earth, — whether the rule of the saints with Christ specifically, or in general the windows of heaven open, no restraint of those ministries from above, upon which all blessing for the earth depends. God is with men; but the supreme triumph of divine love is found even beyond and above this, God in Man, the visible glory and consummation of grace in Christ set above the heavens, while embracing all the earth in the lustre of His beams.

Psalm 58. God manifested in judgment.

To the chief musician, Al-tashcheth: Michtam of David.

{Verse 1: Or else, "Do ye indeed speak the silence of righteousness?" or "in silence speak righteousness?" Some, to escape the difficulty, alter the pointing of one word, and say: "Do ye indeed speak righteousness, ye gods!" i.e., "judges." I follow the London Translation of the Old Testament, on the basis of the French and German of J. N. Darby.

Verse 7 'blunted', literally, "cut off."}

We have now the manifestation of God in judgment, judgment in man's hand having altogether failed. One would say that this had regard in the first place to the mass in Israel, where especially righteousness should have been found; but there does not seem any reason for confining it to these, except what may be derived from the fact of the next psalm plainly contemplating the judgment of the nations. The present one, like the last, is of very simple character, and therefore cannot receive any extended examination.

1. The first two verses show us the cause of this manifestation. Righteousness is silent upon earth; and that where men profess it most, in judgments given to maintain it. God must thus Himself arise for judgment. Deceit has taken the place of uprightness in the heart; and violence is carefully weighed out, as if it were justice.

2. Then the inveterate hostility of the wicked to what is good is shown. Evil is innate in them. They are aliens from God from birth, the falsehood in which they live being wholly in opposition to His truth. The old serpent was "a liar from the beginning, and a murderer"; and with these also there is poison, serpent-like; and they harden themselves in malignity, as the adder which is reputed to stop the ear and render itself inaccessible to the charmer's voice, whatever might be his skill.

3. The judgment of God is then denounced on them. He is prayed to break out the teeth of the lions and make them powerless. And at once the psalmist foresees and predicts the judgment for which he has prayed. The hostile army melts away like waters running off; they have fought their lost battle but with headless arrows. True, a defeated army may recover itself and regain its ground; but this is like the melting of a slug, which is its irremediable dissolution; or like the untimely birth of a woman, which disappoints all the hopes that have been raised by it, and has no future. Nay, they are like thorns which have scarcely warmed the pots under which they are placed, before the sudden violence of a tempest scatters them abroad. The result is that for the righteous recompense is found at last; and men learn that there is fruit for such, and a God who in judgment can put down the rampant evil.

Psalm 59.

The visitation of the Gentile world.

To the chief musician, Al-tashcheth, Michtam of David, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to put him to death.

The next psalm presents the visitation of the world, the last being apparently thus (and as the opening verses would seem to indicate) the judgment in Israel. Its scope is therefore far wider than its occasion would suggest, as the fifth verse plainly shows, where God is appealed to visit all the nations, and that as Jehovah, God of Israel. This agrees with their being seen where the prophecy of Zechariah and others shows them to be gathered when the Lord appears — around the city (impliedly Jerusalem).

The ninth and seventeenth verses compared show, more plainly than the last psalm; the Michtam character.

1. The first section gives the cause (or at least the immediate occasion) of the judgment. Enemies are rising up against the psalmist, workers of vanity and men of blood. He lays his case before Jehovah, Israel's covenant-God, declaring his blamelessness in the matter. He reiterates this, and invites Him to come in and see if it be not so. Jehovah is then again invoked, and specifically as the God of Israel, to visit all the nations, and to stubborn plotters of iniquity to show no grace.

2. Then a brief section puts in contrast the parties opposed. On the one hand the enemies, like a pack of dogs, howling with disappointment, as they roam about in the evening gloom, the words upon their brave lips swords, because they apprehend no hearer. But on the other side is One who hears nevertheless, and, if He keep silence does so as counting all the restless attempts of men for His dethronement at their proper worth. He "laughs" at them: His appreciation of their folly being put, as commonly, in strong human language. Here, then, are the contestants in this strange, abhorrent warfare of the creatures with their God.

3. They have not sanctified Him: He must therefore, perforce, for He is holy, sanctify Himself in them, and at their cost. And this, as we have seen elsewhere, and more than once, is the meaning of the "ban" (Lev. 27:28-29, notes). We have seen it in Hermon (Ps. 42, notes) dominating, in some sense, the land of Israel. The principle of it has been enforced in Israel in the last psalm. Here we find it in the wider sphere of the Gentile nations. God hears the cry of His people, suffering at the hands of those who have cast off all restraint, — a cry which the psalmist here utters in direct appeal to Him. "My Strength," he cries, "I wait upon thee: for God is my high tower." Safe he will be here, lifted up upon that glorious elevation, far above the rage of his adversaries, though to human eyes right amongst them and therefore he says, "My God. will be before me with His mercy; and God' shall make me see my desire on those that watch me," — the keen-eyed wild beasts ready for a spring.

But he cares not for mere extermination; nor is it enough that the enemies should be removed. He realizes the lesson that Israel had to learn in these enemies of theirs, who both in their presence and their removal are but signs, either of divine anger or its passing away. Hasty removal would not do, therefore. The lesson must be rightly learned, so as to abide in them; for it is the lesson of sin and its bitter fruit. "Slay them not," therefore, he says: not meaning that that is not to be in the end, for presently he will be found saying the opposite of that; but keep them sufficiently before the eyes of the people so that the lesson of their doom may take effect: for it is still the lesson of divine holiness and of sin's necessary judgment. "Slay them not, lest my people forget: make them. wander by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield." Thus it would be their own doom for so many centuries, that would be repeated in the case of these their enemies — an impressive reminder of God's equal ways.

Their indictment follows, their ways, which invite and necessitate judgment: the sin of their mouth, the pride of their heart, their profanity and falsehood. For this comes at last the full recompense, not indeed the eternal judgment, but as to the earth which they have polluted with their misdeeds, and which now in its own interests casts them forth. At last it shall be known, even by them, in the blow that falls upon them, that there is a God who rules in Jacob — none the less plainly when he is seen as "Jacob"; and also to the ends of the earth. In this utter consumption from the earth, the ban is fully executed.

4. In the last section of the psalm we have the experience, the brief rehearsal by delivered. Israel, of the story in its simplest elements. Again we see the hungry dogs uttering in the twilight their howl of disappointment; the lusts that crave and conquer and madden them for the prey that after all passes out of their reach. The evening deepens into night, and still the dogs are there; but morning comes and joy, and the phantoms of the night are vanished. In the morning they sing aloud of the mercy that has been with them. God has abundantly fulfilled their prayer. He has been their high tower and refuge in the day of their strait. Well may the "Michtam" ending speak of it as what shall now be forever on their hearts: "Unto Thee, my Strength, I will sing: for God has been my high tower, — my merciful God."

Psalm 60.

The presence of God with His people after disciplinary dealings.

To the chief musician, upon Shushan-eduth: Michtam of David, to teach: when he strove with the Syrians of Mesopotamia, and with the Syrians of Zobah; when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt, twelve thousand.*

{*In 2 Sam. 8:12 (q.v.) the victory is in the Hebrew copies over Aram (Syria), but "Edom" manifestly right. It is ascribed there also to David as king, instead of Joab as general; of whom Abishai (named in 1 Chron. 18:12) was probably the lieutenant. The difference in numbers also (Sam. and Chron., eighteen thousand) may be the difference between those slain in the main battle, as compared with the whole contest.}

The closing psalm of this Michtam series fills very plainly its place as a fifth psalm. It speaks on the one hand of disciplinary dealings of God with His people under which they have suffered, and on the other, of God turning again to be with them; after the discipline has done its work. Again, it is a Deuteronomic psalm, as contemplating restored Israel, like the Israel of the wilderness of old, just ready to enter upon her inheritance in the land, to "divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth." This also shows, as we saw in the last one, how far beyond the immediate occasion which prompted them; these prophetic psalms reach. To "divide Shechem" supposes a new occupancy of the land, such as could not, one would say, at all connect with the Syro-Edomitish war to which the title refers; and such inapplicable things in an inspired composition may well have been permitted expressly to prevent the thought of the immediate application being the whole or the main thing. And this is the case probably with all prophecies. The Spirit of God makes the object which is immediately in view to stand for some object connected with that final consummation, to which as a matter of hope or warning He is constantly directing our attention, — on which all prophetic lines converge. Thus it is that Peter gives us as of primary importance his noted canon of hermeneutics, that "no prophecy of the Scripture is of private" — literally, "its own" — "interpretation." To detach it from the general body of the prophetic Scripture is necessarily to misread it, and pervert it from its proper place and use.

Shushan-eduth, "the lily of testimony," in the title here, naturally carries us back to the forty-fifth psalm; with its "lilies" — shoshannim. And it is as natural to think of the fourth verse here in explanation of the "testimony": "Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that they may stand up because of the truth." As the forty-fifth psalm also is "a song of the beloved" or "of loves," so here the fifth verse follows the fourth with the prayer, "that thy beloved ones may be delivered." Israel is evidently the "lily of testimony"; and it is "among the thorns," — in tribulation, out of which it is brought in triumph by the power and grace of God.

"Michtam of David, to teach," is surely not difficult to understand, if the character of every michtam was epigrammatic, and to give maxims of faith, worthy to be durably engraved upon the memory. If this be the purport of it also, some special emphasis must be put upon the "teaching" in this case, which would suit well also with the character of this psalm; previously noticed, as a deuteronomic fifth.

The psalm has twelve verses, altered from the usual division into 4 x 3 by the shortening of the second section by one verse, which is added to the last one.

1. The first section is the language of conviction on the part of the latter-day remnant, speaking for the nation. They own that in the ruin into which they have been brought, God's hand has been against them. It is He who has cast them off and scattered them: He has been displeased. They own it, — own, therefore, their guilt, and plead for restoration.

The figures of the second verse are those of an earthquake which has rent the land, and with which it is still shaking. An earthquake is a common figure of social convulsions, which, though they come from beneath, are signs of divine displeasure. All the bonds that unite men together have their security in that which unites them to God. Let this be broken through, there must be "breaches" between man and man; the blow which shatters the political fabric coming from below — from the volcanic heavings of fermenting elements that lie everywhere below the surface, the passions of men ready always to discharge themselves, if the repression of the divine hand be removed. "Earthquakes in divers places" the Lord associates with other signs of the approaching end (Matt. 24:7); and the sympathy between man and nature (which has been commonly recognized, but which the occupation with mere material causes leads men to overlook or deny) may well manifest itself in literal outbreaks of this nature. God warns man who will not otherwise hear, by such appeals to his grosser senses; real intelligence would find in them; beyond this, the parables of divine speech.

The convulsions of the land the psalmist interprets in their inner meaning. It is the wine of trembling which God has been causing His people to drink. He has given them up to intoxication, to find the strength of a cup sweet enough to the taste at first, in result the confusion of all their faculties.

2. But there is still ground of appeal to God, and that in effect because of His whole nature. His truth and His love abide, and may be the sure confidence of His people in their distress. The psalmist has already uttered that word, "Thy people," a relationship which for long Israel has had no right to claim. But when they shall accept the punishment for their iniquity, then shall their faithful God be ready with His mercy, as He has promised. For "it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations whither Jehovah thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto Jehovah thy God, and shalt obey His voice according to all that I have commanded thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart and with all thy soul, that then Jehovah thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee" (Deut. 30:1-3).

Thus and in these circumstances will Israel be able to claim God as their God in the days to which these psalms, as we have seen, look forward. And thus the psalmist can now speak of a "standard" which God has put into the hands of those that fear Him, that they may "up-standard themselves," as Delitzsch puts it, "because of the truth." It is hard to express the thought without circumlocution, in English; but the giving them a standard acknowledges them in their corporate relationship, — puts them together, makes of a defeated rabble an army, — and, by His (loin. it, takes them once more as His own. So that now in lifting the standard, they lift themselves up, — they stand up: they are nationalized again, as really the people of God.

The last words here, because of truth," are difficult because of their abstract character. The word (qoshet*) occurs only once beside (Ps. 22:21), where it is translated "certainty"; and the Chaldaic form is found twice in Daniel (Dan. 2:47; Dan. 4:37), in both cases rendered "truth." These passages favor the meaning suggested by the context, that it refers to the absolute fidelity of God to the word He has spoken. His immutable promise is indeed itself a standard under which they may gather with perfect assurance: it is exact, precise truth," as Schultens renders it, "weighed, as it were, in the evenest balance."

{*The Septuagint reads "the bow" (qesheth instead of qoshet), and of course changes the whole meaning: "Thou hast given a token to them that fear thee, that they might flee from the bow." This it is needless to discuss, as it has no probability in its favor; though the Vulgate follows it, and such critics as Cheyne naturally prefer it.}

But truth does not dwell alone, with God. His heart goes with it. So the psalmist has another plea, — an appeal to the other side of the divine nature: ' that Thy beloved ones may be delivered, save with Thy right hand. and answer me." How good to know that God has a heart; and that, not a Master, but a Father's arms, welcome the wanderers! It is the same story essentially, whether we read it in the Old Testament or in the New: for God is the same; only in the New Testament the sun has burst through all the clouds. God was always Light: He now is "in the light."

3. Possession of the land is at once anticipated. "God has spoken in His holiness: I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem; and mete out the valley of Succoth." God has spoken in His holiness: in His grace to them surely, but grace has brought them into true-hearted subjection to Him; so that it is in holiness He can act for them. Israel is in fact now to be the proclaimer of divine holiness to the ends of the earth. But divine favor towards Israel is inseparably connected with their possession of the land; at once therefore they anticipate this. They are going to divide Shechem on the west of Jordan, and the valley of Succoth on the east side: to take possession of both sides of the river. Only these two places are named; but these imply that all the rest is theirs. Shechem and Succoth do not indeed at first sight seem like representative places, especially the latter, and yet in some sense they must be: there must be some special suitability in them to express the divine thought as to this repossession of what they had lost before. They are not again to lose it; and notice, to begin with, that they are now in the track of their father Abraham. Jacob's name connects itself with both places; but his record in connection with them is one of failure, and has no pleasant memory attaching to it. In Abraham's case it is far otherwise. Shechem is the first place in which he rests after reaching the land, and there it is that he has the first promise of the land itself. Shechem means "shoulder," which Issachar afterwards (like the nation hitherto) "bowed, to bear, and became a servant for tribute," imposed by masters which he had preferred to God. Abraham bows his shoulder to God at the oak Moreh, ("instructor,") to learn of Him; and to find blessing at His hand. Shechem stands thus for the spirit of obedience, as it was in fact afterward the place at which Israel heard the law, with its blessings and curses, proclaimed when they entered the land under Joshua. The history soon showed indeed that they knew not the meaning of it; but when they enter the land under the new covenant, it will be with the law written upon their heart. The spirit of obedience will now therefore be fully theirs; so that they will for the first time be able to take complete possession of (or "divide") Shechem. How could their tenure of the land under the "new covenant," and in fulfillment (for the first time really) of the promise given to Abraham there, be better expressed?

But what of the "valley of Succoth"? There seems no reference here to the history at all: there is no notice of it except in that part of Jacob's which seems to be failure throughout. On the other hand, the types speak with the clearest and most beautiful significance. Succoth means "booths" or "tabernacles"; and it is the word used for that "feast of tabernacles" which is the last of Israel's sacred year, and which, as the commemoration of their wilderness wanderings as ended, by those now in the land, carries them on in figure to those millennial days in which their longer wanderings as strangers among the Gentiles shall be over forever, and their final rest be come. Thus Succoth follows Shechem here in a most beautiful manner, and the two together establish the prophetic meaning of the psalm conclusively.

But now the tribes appear as if gathering to enter upon their inheritance. Again, only representative names are given. "Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine Ephraim also is the strength of my head; Judah is my lawgiver." Four names only are here; and of these Gilead is only part of Manasseh. They must be surely significant, as those preceding them have been seen to be: as, let us rather say, everything in Scripture is. Let us try to learn the significance.

Gilead is given by Gesenius as meaning, "hard, rocky"; but there seems, on the other hand, reason for connecting it rather with Jacob's Galeed (Gen. 31:47), "a heap of witness." It would be thus in remarkable antithesis with Manasseh, with which it is linked, and which means "forgetting." A heap of witness is for the very purpose of making forgetfulness impossible.

Manasseh as the natural first-born of Joseph we have read elsewhere (Gen. 48, notes) as the first principle of spiritual "increase.": "forgetting that which is behind," says the apostle, "I press on." But Manasseh has a son, Machir, who is the father of Gilead, and whose name approaches his as closely as possible, meaning "one who recollects," Spiritually, there is no incongruity with all this contrariety: we forget what is behind in order to keep in remembrance what our goal is; and thus one springs out of the other. "The memorial heap" also, as Fausset well observes, "marked the crisis in Jacob's life, when he became severed from his Syrian kindred, and henceforth a sojourner in and heir of Canaan."

Gilead it is we have here, and not Machir and then it is to be considered that Gilead is not just Galeed, even though the meaning be identical, as indeed the words are. A heap of witness is that we may not forget, but the tribe-name means forgetting: here, as we have seen, Israel is ending her long history of sin and sorrow, to enter into possession of her glorious future — her home with God. On the one hand, what more natural than the desire to forget so sad a story? And this, too, the God of grace has provided for by the sweet assurance pictured. for Israel in her day of atonement, when the scapegoat bears the sins of the people into a "land cut off." And this brings once again the new covenant before us, in which God says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

And many have a difficulty in reconciling this with such a scripture as that which Ecclesiastes ends with, that "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." This is, of course, the Old Testament: but the New has what is similar, and in express application to Christians: "For we must all appear" — or "be made manifest" — "before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).

That this is a very different thing from the judgment of the person "according to his works," which is the principle of the final judgment at the "great white throne" (Rev. 20:11-12), should be well known to every reader of his Bible now. "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me," says the Lord, "hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24, Gk.). And the same chapter of Revelation shows that a thousand years before the great white throne those that belong to the first resurrection have found their blessed "part" with Christ, and reign with Him. This has been so often repeated, that I only refer to it in. this place. Scripture never confounds, as many Christians do, the saint with the sinner with regard to judgment to come, nor the "resurrection of life" with the "resurrection of judgment" (John 5:29).

Yet there will be a judgment of works for the saint, though not a judgment by works; a review of things done in the body, and proportionate reward or loss, according as the works which "come into judgment" abide or cannot abide that solemn manifestation. Just in this way will the precious blood of Christ be manifested also, in all its saving power, for the believer. Nothing need be hidden, nothing shall be hidden: grace shall be seen in its full glory in the presence of the sins which have stained the best life ever lived among mere men. Reward that might have been may not be, but that which depends upon the work of Christ alone cannot be lost, if that work fail not.

All shall be manifested: — to ourselves how great a gain! when the story of our lives shall be fully told, and all God's ways with us seen in view of our own ways. Then to have the lives of others bared before us as our own lives, and to see the equal yet various dealings of God with all! The wisdom. of all time, — the harvests of all seasons, — the full store garnered up of all that had seemed to be passed away, — who would lose such riches, that once knew their value? Nay, we shall never lose them: nothing passes, nothing is lost in all eternity; our memories will be as deathless as all else: how else could knowledge of redemption itself be left to us? or how could the praises of the redeemed go on without diminution?

The psalm does not go beyond time, the earth, and Israel; but the same principles are found in it: Gilead and Manasseh abide together. Divine love will put away their sins in such sort that the sunshine of God's favor towards them shall never know the shadow of a passing cloud; and yet the lessons of their past shall abide with them ever: the "heap of witness" shall do its blessed work. The psalmist's voice, representing that of the nation, claims both Gilead and Manasseh. The perfect memory of the one and the forgetfulness of the other, — learned both of Him who unites them in His necessary perfection — shall be found characterizing those who go back into the land to possess it according to the perfect grace of His covenant of promise.

This unites itself, moreover, with the present verse in a very striking way: for of what does "the valley of Succoth" speak, but of the past, as looked back upon from the full blessing reached? Succoth, the "booths," refers to the wilderness-history which is for them now ended; and in these they lived, as it were their life there over again. Their Succoths were, in short, a kind of Gilead for them.

"Ephraim also is the strength of my head," continues the speaker. "Fruitful" Ephraim, with her "myriads" of people, assured her by her prophet-lawgiver, would enable Israel to lift up the head. "As arrows in the hand of a mighty man," says one of the songs of degrees, "so are children of the youth: happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." The blessings on the head of Joseph, enlarged upon both by Jacob and Moses, show how perfectly Ephraim fulfills the name.

But the spiritual meaning shines through here also, and will be realized when Israel, redeemed. from the barrenness of her past history, shall bring forth fruit to God. The barrenness of the past has been a fruitful argument only on the lips of scoffers, as the apostle assures them; "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you" (Rom. 2:24): a principle of universal application to the barren professor. Conversely, the apostle brings forward the fruitfulness of divine grace in the soul to establish it, and to assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us," he urges, "God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:19-22). Thus every way "Ephraim is the strength of the head."

But "Judah is my ruler;" and this, too, carries us back to Jacob's blessing. The spirit of worship, of which Judah speaks, is that which alone gives God. Himself His throne among men. How these psalms themselves, which the arrogant folly of a critic like Cheyne would deny to David, show this character — a praise which ever enthrones God! And this is what fits him for his own place on that representative throne, which was, as such, the "throne of Jehovah" (1 Chron. 29:23). Thus also the "Son of David" who is also David's Lord, is He whose voice is heard saying, "In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee." In Him the two thrones come together in a perfect concord, never to be broken.

Israel is now in condition to receive, therefore, the full inheritance which she has never yet received. In her most triumphant days, Moab, Edom; the Philistines, lay within what was her territory according to the original promise. The first two, indeed, were expressly spared by their divine Leader, along with Ammon, the other son of Lot, and the lands they then possessed were retained to them. But this was only temporarily; for they never turned to God; and their judgment is denounced upon them by the prophets from Balaam on. "The residue of My people shall spoil them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them," says the Lord by Zephaniah (2:9).

Amnion is not mentioned here; but Moab, Edom, and Philistia, are; and, first of all, Moab: "Moab is my wash-pot."

When they were just upon the border of the land, at the time of their first entrance, Moab had been the guilty defiler of the people of God. Upon Midian, its ally in this, summary judgment had been executed, as we know; but Moab had escaped at that time.

"God," however, "requireth that which is past," and the deed of ancient times seems to come here into remembrance. There had, of course, been meanwhile no repentance. Israel, by summary judgment upon the seducer, washes herself clean at last.

In fact also, that which Moab seems to answer to passes away from Israel in judgment at this time. If Moab stands, as I doubt not, for mere profession (see Deut. 2:8-23, notes), then we have the express statement of Isaiah to that effect. "And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughter of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning" (Isa. 4:3-4).

How great a defilement indeed is the mere presence of unbelievers in the midst of the people of God! A wonder it is that, even in dead Sardis, a few should be found who had not defiled their garments (Rev. 3:4). And the mere touch of death defiled in Israel. Familiar the word is, (but oh how it requires to be repeated in dull ears today!) "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? and what path hath he that believeth with an unbeliever? … wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:14-18.) Measure the defilement here by the penalty implied, and what must it be in the sight of God?

Israel is cleansed now in this respect, and of necessity growing into her inheritance. Edom must next give place. The casting the shoe upon it is the sign of taking forcible possession. Edom; the enemy-brother, yields and is displaced. Typically, the old man yields to the new. And with Edom conquered, Philistia bursts into a cry of pain. Typically, this is simple: for Philistia, as we have seen in constant and progressive pictures, (Gen. 20, 26, Joshua 13, Judges 9, 1 Sam. 17, 2 Sam. 5:17-25; 2 Sam. 21:15-22: notes) is the religion of the flesh, which passes away with the "old man's" judgment. These things would take long to unfold in any proper manner, and scarcely need, for one who has learned the meaning of the scriptures just referred to. They will be found to give one consistent meaning throughout — consistent as truth ever is, and with this consistency on every side, as only truth can be.

That Israel is beginning to fill out her divine limits is plain in the letter of it; but this is only the anticipation of faith, as we see by the final section.

4. The sudden drop in the closing part, as a fourth section emphasized in its four verses, need not surprise us. Nor is it needless, this emphasis that is laid upon the human weakness which shuts us up to God for the accomplishment of every hope. It is the creature taking the creature-place, which is, after all, its perfection as such. God is able now on His side to come in and act for us.

All is very simple here. The strength of the enemy is first glanced at: Petra, the rock city of Edom, being pre-eminently strong. They must be led into it by One who has the key to its closed door. But He! alas for the breach that has come in there! Yet, this owned, will He not act for them; shut up to Him as they are, in the vanity of all other hope? Surely He will: when did He fail those whom all else had failed? Nay, out of this utter weakness comes our strength; and the apostle is here one with the poor remnant of Israel. Experience shall make good their confidence: — "Through God we shall do valiantly: for He shall tread down our oppressors."

With this, the assurance of faith is complete: the Michtam series of psalms ends.

Subdivision 3. (Ps. 61 — 72.)

Christ the Restorer.

The third subdivision now returns to Christ as its theme, but to present Him, in a very different way from the first. He is here the Restorer, as we see especially in the sixty-ninth psalm, which is in fact the trespass- or restitution-offering: He there restoring what He took not away. But from the very first psalm here we see Him identifying Himself with His people, taking up their lost cause, and ending with blessing for them of which men unfallen never could have dreamed. In die sixty-eighth psalm; which closes the first series here, He ascends up on high, leading captivity captive, and receiving gifts for men; and on earth, we find in the sixty-fifth, Immanuel fulfilling His Name, and the resulting blessing.

There are two sections in this subdivision: the first, of eight psalms, in which we have Christ as the Representative Head of His people, undertaking for them, and bringing them into the fruit of this: while the second shows once more, in the sixty-ninth, the Cross as the foundation of all for men; with, in the psalms following, Israel renewing her youth, and the glorious reign of her great King, which is the consummation of David's prayers, and of the promise to him. With this the book ends.

Section 1. (Ps. 61 — 68.)

The Head of Blessing.

In the eight psalms of the first section we have the new covenant number; and they carry us fully into the new covenant blessing; while the Mediator of the New Covenant is seen throughout. Of the eight verses of the first psalm here the same thing may be said. It is the inspired introduction to it.

Psalm 61.

The King's vows.

To the chief musician; upon a stringed instrument: [a psalm] of David.

In this, accordingly, we find the King's vows — vows taken up and fulfilled in place of Israel's, which have failed so utterly of fulfillment. The thirtieth chapter of Numbers will be found instructive as to this (see the notes). The title of the psalm has significantly here, al neginah, "upon a stringed instrument," instead of the usual plural, al neginoth. One Hand alone is upon the strings at this time. We may be assured, it is the hand of One who is a Master in harmony, amply sufficient to make all creation responsive. We have already heard Him say, In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee." And that this is in direct connection with His vow, both the twenty-second psalm (ver. 25) and the present one assure us: "So will I psalm unto Thy Name for aye: that I may daily perform my vows."

1. The identification of the King with His people is the explanation of the first part of the psalm. The voice is like that with which the book began, as being the cry of an outcast, "from the end of the earth," which may be of the land," but is perhaps better given its whole depth of meaning. We find as we go on, that the voices are not the same; but the connection between them is full of significance. The Speaker here is pleading to be heard, to gain attention, to be led to a Rock that is higher than He. As the Representative of those whose ease He has taken up, we can understand this, and we have heard Him thus crying out of lower depths than this. And immediately God is owned as His sanctuary-refuge, "a tower of strength from the face of the enemy." As one exposed to danger, He finds His shelter where man must ever find it, "under the covert of Thy wings."

When we realize the Person that is here, there is a remarkable and blessed word which He utters, which cannot be left unnoticed. "I will sojourn in Thy tent for ever," He says. The last word is olamim, "ages," but which is applied to the ages of eternity; and there can hardly be a doubt of its meaning in this case. The use of the plural form is, I think, as we may say, pictorial, — to make emphatic that measureless duration; all the more significant in contrast with the thought of a "tent" and "sojourner," in the same sentence.

But the tent is God's, and must contemplate that which He pitches among men, and which, though it be a "tent," in view of the glory of Him who dwells in it, does not necessarily imply any transience of the abode of the glory in it. For in relation to the new earth, and therefore the eternal state, we have in Revelation exactly the same expression: "The tent of God shall be with men, and He will tent among them" (Rev. 21:3, Gk.): the thing said over twice, after the peculiar emphatic manner that we find in John, and which is the sweet divine assurance of what might seem for man too good to be true.

Thus God abides forever in a "tent," manifesting Himself in infinite condescension to His creatures in such a manner as that they shall know Him in the intimacy of perfect grace. This indeed the humanity of Christ already pledges to us. The Word made flesh could be no temporary condition, nor an isolated, however glorious, witness to the love of God. Rather must its witness be maintained and justified in all things being made conformable to it. The very throne is characterized thus as "the throne of God and the Lamb." The Lamb thus governs all; and the tent of God among men shows how this is to be realized, not simply by the saints in heaven, but by the inhabitants of earth also, — when once the banishment of sin from the earth shall make this possible.

But if this "tent" of God speak of final earthly blessing, how sweetly does the voice of Him who in this psalm is seen acquainted with the trials and sorrows of men, echo and confirm this grace! "I," He says, "will sojourn in Thy tent for ever": if Thou art pleased to have a tent, and sojournest, I too will be a sojourner; and not apart from this, but in the tent in which Thou sojournest, there will I sojourn! Blessed Lord, no wonder that when Thou wast born upon earth, the angels heralded Thee with "on earth peace, good pleasure in men"!

2. In the three verses following, which are thus the normal division of a seven, the eighth verse following not interfering with this, as we know, the same Speaker declares therefore the answer to His vows, in the "possession of those that fear God's Name" being given to Him. His vows are in behalf of these; He takes His place as their Head and Representative; and their blessing comes through Him who has interposed for them. He openly takes accordingly the King's place, with days "added" to the "shortened days" (Ps. 102) of a life that was for their sake "taken from the earth" (Acts 8:33). The prophet Isaiah, of whose words this is the Septuagint version, beautifully supplements and explains these "added days," which at first have a strange look in connection with this glorious Person: "Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him: He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand" (Isa. 53:10). And these prolonged days are not to be simply the still limited days of a merely human life lengthened beyond the natural time: "His years shall be as those of successive generations." The peculiar words show how He still clings to men.

The next verse shows how the kingdoms of earth and of heaven, for so long separated, have come together. "He" — this blessed King — "shall dwell in the presence of God forever." No fear of a breach any more. And the latter part of the verse intimates that this is the voice of the people breaking in. Well may they, not doubtfully, but with the full accord of hearts filled with the prospect before them, cry: "Appoint loving-kindness and truth to preserve Him!"*

{*The verse as it stands in the ordinary text has, however, some difficulty. A few Hebrew MSS. put min instead of man, but then the preposition cannot stand alone, and Coleman therefore proposes a different division of the letters of the two words that come together (originally written without division), and to read thus, "mercy and faithfulness from Me preserve Him." It would thus be the divine voice and not that of the people. The Septuagint reads again differently, and other alterations have been proposed.}

3. With the eighth verse the original voice takes up the word again, and the concord of different speakers has fitness and beauty. "So will I psalm unto Thy Name forever," He says: "that I may daily perform My vows."

For it is to glorify God in the face of sin and rebellion that He has come in, lifting up the fallen and sustaining in its place the new creation, with henceforth no failure. Thus His "vows," which began to be fulfilled in His life on earth, and then in His atoning death, shall still be performed by Him as the Leader of the unending praise that shall fill eternity. And there shall not be a dull note there: no heart but shall be tuned to full harmony with His. Blessed be God!

Psalm 62.

God his dependence for deliverance from men, his enemies.

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

The first psalm of the series has already brought us to the end of it; and this is the common way with Scripture introductions: the beginning has in it the final issue; the fruit is in that sense in the seed. God, who sees the end from the beginning, brings it out.

But here, therefore, we go back, and are in very different circumstances. We may infer from the general character of the series that the speaker is the same; but there is nothing apparently to indicate it. As a second psalm it is full of contrast, affirming his dependence on God alone, and the reason of this dependence; which makes him emphasize what man is, whose enmity he is experiencing. The psalm is thus very simple in character, and only bright in its confidence in God. It resembles in its lament over the vanity of man the thirty-ninth psalm; with which it is united by its title; here, however, not "to" but strictly "upon Jeduthun," (the praise-giver); though this is taken as the equivalent of the other. It is indeed one of those "songs in the night" which show God's mastery over the evil, and which yet men care so little to learn.

The psalm has twelve verses, which divide into four sections; but a verse is taken from each of the first two sections, and added to each of the last two, making the structure quite different from the usual one; the number three entirely dropping out. This, which must have a reason, I am not, however, able to explain.

1. The psalm begins with God, as the only expectation and confidence of the soul; and this is repeated and expanded in the third section. This is indeed the rock-bottom for a foundation; but how much sifting out of abundant sand is there, before we get down fully to it! Trust in Him we may have, and blessed it is to have it; but how long, in general, it takes to learn the power of this "only"! The dealings of God with us have to be therefore very much directed to this end, and how sorrowful are the experiences through which we are brought in this way! Yet we so willingly accept experience as our master, rather than the sure word of truth, which would lead us by a pleasanter and safer path!

2. The hostility of man is seen in the second section, as by and by it will be revealed when the restraint upon it is removed, in those dreadful days which the Jewish remnant will pass through, or as brought out by the Light of the world when in it. How the gospel of John especially reveals this murderous opposition, — the plottings and endeavors to cast Him down from His elevation, who was this Light, and whose personal glory only displayed the darkness of the world through which He passed. It is not changed at all, this world, although it may change its outside demeanor, the more thoroughly to deceive; and alas, our little faithfulness to a crucified Lord permits us an easier path through it.

3. From the contemplation of this the psalmist turns to realize the more his refuge and his joy in God. He re-affirms and expatiates on what God is to him, — what God only is. The words are so simple that they need no commentary: it is the heart-felt satisfaction in them that we may well all covet; and this, as he proceeds to testify, is for all, so that he invites all people to find it where he has found it. How blessed to know, when we have reached this sanctuary-refuge, that the door is not closed behind us, and that we have now a gospel for all men, in the assurance that the door is open!

{Verse 9 'men of low degree', literally" "Sons of Adam, sons of Ish."}

4. But this does not relieve the darkness as to man himself, and without respect to differences of which he makes so much. All alike are vanity — breath! emptier, when weighed in truthful balances, than the breath they spend so freely in their boasting and defiance of God. He addresses them, — he with his own sure confidence in God, — upon the vain trusts which deceive so utterly: power, which they use in tyrannic oppression; wealth, which enwraps the heart away from God. In his ears a divine oracle repeats itself, which, though it be so simple, faith after all alone it is that hears, — that power belongs to God alone; and that this God, so mighty, while to Him belongeth loving-kindness too, as has been already witnessed in the door of escape still open, will yet, in the day of judgment which approaches, give to every man according to his works. Thus the psalm closes: the song of the "praise-giver," like the song of Moses, levels all other confidence, to ascribe greatness and goodness to God alone.

Psalm 63.

Breathing after the Sanctuary.

A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

It is entirely natural that, after this displacing of every false confidence, that God might have His true place as the whole rightful confidence of men, a psalm of the sanctuary should follow, — the breathing of the soul after God as this. "David in the wilderness of Judah" might well be the writer of such a psalm; but his circumstances could be but the occasion, and there is evidently contemplated a much greater King.

1. The first section shows us God as thus sought, the only and eager desire of the soul. He seeks early for Him; his soul thirsting, his flesh pining, in a dry, thirsty, waterless land. The epithets increasing in emphasis show the intensity of the conviction, how thoroughly the truth in the last psalm has been apprehended by the soul. He recalls what he had once seen of the divine power and glory in the sanctuary: — think here of Him who had left the glory which He had with the Father before the world was! — and he longs for this again, praising Him for loving-kindness better than life itself, a joy that makes God supreme in the heart that holds it. And this cup has in it no excess, while it never fails. A joy found in the unchanging nature of God, it shall endure because He endures: so that the heart can say, Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy Name."

2. The second section shows the double confirmation of this joyous confidence, in his own experience and in the end of his adversaries. For himself he can testify to perfect satisfaction of soul; which will bear reflection in those quiet hours when the shadows fall upon all other things, and one is apart from all influences that would hinder realization of the truth. Then in the consciousness of divine succor, the very darkness shall be like the shadow of sheltering wings: rest shall send forth with renewed energy in the track of the glory moving on before, and not without the support of the right hand of strength.

The same hand acts for him against all enemies. While seeking to destroy his life, they themselves go into the depths of the earth. We think of Korah and the great enemies of Christ, the beast and false prophet, gulfed in a living death; while their followers are slain with the sword as here, and left upon the battle-field to the jackals.

And then the King is seen in His victory. It is no mere triumph of strength, but of right and truth, the end of the unceasing warfare since the world began. It is the triumph of faith that has clung to and followed, amid suffering and apparent defeat, the bruised heel of the Captain of salvation. "They shall glory, every one that sweareth by Him" who is the living Truth: "for the mouth of those that speak falsehood shall be stopped."

Psalm 64.

The vanity of evil-doers.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David.

The next psalm is a very characteristic fourth, the vanity of the creature being its theme: as shown, of course, in those who are away from Him; and who therefore are left to the experience of this. The common term for them, indeed, throughout the psalms, is that of "workers of vanity;" and so it is in this psalm. The close of it, which is in the judgment which so fully proves this, makes us think naturally of the last days; but the lesson is intended to be as general as possible, and therefore is given in terms according to this. There is nothing in the title which is distinctive. The ten verses exhibit the number that reminds us of responsibility and recompense, ideas which are, of course, main ones in the psalm; and these are divided into two portions of 6 and 4, as the ten commandments are into 4 and 6, in contrast with one another; the first showing us the wicked in power, the last his humiliation.

1. The first section begins with the cry of the righteous, alone, and suffering at the hands of men. These are they with whom we have seen the Lord identifying Himself in the sixty-first psalm, and thus their sorrows are brought before us here, their cry, as we have often seen before, bringing down the judgment at last upon their adversaries. Whether the Lord Himself is found in it, is. I think, very doubtful; the single expression (ver. 4) the "perfect" is surely used in too large and general a way to prove this; and the tone of the prayer seems distinctly lower than we could attribute to Him. But the world which is against His people is in this against Him; and their cause is fully His.

Wickedness of this kind loves company, and the presence of a multitude in sympathy favors sinning with a high hand. Even for the believer there is need for the exhortation, "Go not with a multitude to do evil:" for evil may be attenuated in our minds very much by the many with whom we share it. Wickedness is naturally cowardly, and loves to share its responsibility with others, even though it may scout the idea of responsibility; while faith walks singly, even amid a multitude. Conscience too is individual, and has a wide reputation for making men stiff and angular, and unfitted for much companionship. Yet a walk with God will be in company with those who walk with Him; but how many are they who unreservedly do this?

Among a multitude the tongue is a mighty instrument, and oratory deals with men's passions and loves emphasis. The "whetting of the tongue" is a thing perfectly familiar to those who affect the crowd. Yet the arrow flies too in secret, and the perfect is above all its mark. The voice of slander, which catches its inspiration from the first tempter, loves insinuation and suggestion, where open assault repelled and a specific charge might establish the integrity attacked. "Hath God said?" might be the voice of innocence itself.

Such arrows fly tentatively, need no justification, are not seen at their work till they have done it; hide their mischief even from one who scatters them; and no sting of conscience results. "Say we not well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" So "they shoot at him, and fear not."

Then they encourage themselves to further evil, and hide snares, as those who brought the adulterous woman to the Lord, or questioned Him about Caesar's penny, as One who "taught the way of God in truth." Here the number of the verse, which speaks of exercise under the government of God, is surely in designed contrast with this nice calculation of successful devices, forgetful of any Eye upon them. The limit is reached in the next verse, where, after searching for iniquitous contrivances, their perfected plan is a consummation of unfailing villainy, in which are seen the awful depths that can be found in the human heart. But now God, who has waited till their scheme is perfected, is ready to interfere.

2. In a moment, as if with the rebound of their own arrow, they are struck by an unerring hand. And it is indeed, after all, the rebound of their own arrow: this is the righteous way of Divine government, as other psalms have presented it to us. Their deeds, their words, come back upon them. "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant," is true in many ways and spheres. God is glorified in this judgment: "all men fear and tell of the work of God. and think wisely of His work. The righteous are glad in Jehovah, and take refuge in Him, and all the upright in heart shall glory."

The day is coming in which these ways of God shall be open to the eyes of all. Meanwhile how dear unto Him beyond expression are the "patience and faith of the saints"!

Psalm 65.


To the chief musician: a psalm of David, — a song.

As to the general scope of this psalm, I quote from another, to whom I am constantly and largely indebted.*

{*The writer of the "Synopsis," so often referred to, in which, however, though more recent, he does not develop it after the same manner, the reference to Christ in it being omitted. There would seem, therefore, to have been some doubt in his mind as to it, after all, in later years; and in the paper from which this is taken, there is a tendency to apply many psalms directly to the Lord, in a way contrary to his after judgment. The present one, however, belongs to a series in large part Messianic; and I cannot but agree with the older interpretation. ("Heads of Psalms," in Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Critical, Vol. 1.)}

"That this psalm," he says, "is the restoration of the Jews. or, more properly speaking, the replacing of the remnant (now a nation) in their old place with God, on 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 one may so speak, of God's interest and man's in it, according to the promises. In verse 2 it is the Gentiles. 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 Isa. 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."

If this be true, then "God with us" — Immanuel — may well be the title of the psalm: and this is in fullest accord with the place, numerically and otherwise, that it has in this series. Let us notice that, to the end of this now, the psalms are also "songs." Thank God, this for us will soon be the end also, that all the psalms shall be songs.

1. The first section is a very simple one. The praise of God from the whole earth, as the second verse shows it is, waits for Him in Zion. Millennial blessing has, as we well know. its beginning and its centre there. While Jerusalem is down-trodden and desolate, the earth cannot come into its rest. Zion is God's rest forever (Ps. 132:14), and there can be no rest, except as He rests: the principle is always true, whatever the apostle's application of it in the passage in question, that we enter into His rest (Heb. 4:5, 11).

Zion is the place which, as we see from another psalm (Ps. 78:68), illustrates God's sovereignty in grace, when man has done all he could to produce utter ruin; and the apostle, in his comprehensive view (Heb. 12:22) of the things which (by faith) we are "come to," places it thus, as the earthly centre opposite to the New Jerusalem; the heavenly one. Zion itself means "fixed," and the first place in which it is mentioned (2 Sam. 5:7) is when David takes it out of the hand of the Gentile "treader down" — the Jebusite (see notes). It becomes then "the city of David," which, we rejoice to remember, means "Beloved," and it will be yet the city of the infinitely glorious One, when the time of Jerusalem's "treading-down" is over.

"Fixed" empire in the hands of the Beloved may well awaken praise to the ends of the earth. Man, alas, rejecting Him at His first coming, in behalf of Caesar has had proof of all kinds of Caesarism ever since. And though it put on, as indeed at Rome itself it did, the forms of democracy, the character of rule is none the less apparent. HOW blessed now the fulfillment of the Oracle which the first David received, just as the sceptre was falling out of his well-proved to be in competent hands! and which seems so fully to answer to the present psalm: —
"A righteous Ruler over men,
A ruler in the fear of God; —
Even as the morning-light when the sun ariseth,
A morning without clouds:
From the brightness after rain
The herb springeth from earth."

This is the inspired picture, and the psalm brings us manifestly to Him whose picture it is, in the latter part of the first verse, which would seem to make the whole utterance here His own. The first psalm of the series opened with the King's "vows," which we long before heard of in the twenty-second also, where there is but One possible to whom they could be ascribed. Vows they are on the part of One competent to utter, because competent to fulfill them; and whose lips could say, like His, "Unto Thee shall the vow be performed"? They are the lips of Him by whom God has found a dwelling-place among men such as He desires, a habitation amid the praises of a redeemed people, and a throne of grace upon earth, — the Mercy-seat sprinkled with His own precious blood. How intimately is this "vow" of His, then, connected with the praise which is to awaken on Zion and to the ends of the earth!

"The Desire of all nations" comes, the Answer to the unspoken wants of myriads that have never known the provision for them. Is HE not the heard prayer of the next verse, which brings "all flesh" to the sanctuary to worship? "I, if I be lifted up from the earth," He says, "will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32). Thus shall the vow be indeed fulfilled, and God in Christ be the joy of every one who has had divinely awakened in him the knowledge of his need. "O Thou that hearest prayer! unto Thee shall all flesh come."

2. But the second section comes now to confirm the first, by carrying us back from the glory now near to come, to show us the hindrance that stood in the way of the blessing, and how it has been removed. The structure of the next verse must not be hastily passed over, nor the changes which it exhibits be confounded with the varying speech of mere poetry. It is by slight notice, and confounding divine inspiration with mere human composition, that much of Scripture becomes necessarily closed to us, as the righteous penalty of unbelief. Notice, then, the change from singular to plural, and the emphatic "Thou" of the second part: —

"Iniquities have prevailed against Me!" cries the single Voice.

And many voices take up what may well be the answer: "Our revoltings, Thou purgest them away." Yes, this is surely the lesson of the Cross learnt at last: that which every sacrifice of the countless sacrifices in Israel pointed to and declared. "Purgation" is by blood-shedding "without shedding of blood is no remission." And these "iniquities" which "prevail against" the innocent Sufferer are "our revoltings." That seeming disaster and defeat, the prevailing of our iniquities over Him; is but their purgation: "Thou purgest them away." How these two lines, then, show us at once in a divine way the hindrance and its removal, the faith also being manifest in them that works with repentance, in the acknowledgment of the sins and of the glorious Substitute! When Israel do this, then indeed the fountain will be opened to them for sin and for uncleanness, as Zechariah shows them (12, 13). And now, therefore, their mouths are opened to declare the effect for them of Christ being their propitiation: —

"Happy is He whom Thou choosest and makest to draw near, to dwell in Thy courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, — of Thy holy temple."

Here we have the same singular and plural as in the previous verse; the same partial disguise which we must be prepared for always in these mysteries of faith as they are given us, especially in the Psalms: a veil easily to be penetrated, if we only have our eyes open, and look carefully, that is, reverently, at what is before us. Put all that has gone before along with this, — let it speak as a whole; let the psalm find its place with the other psalms of the series; observe how the deeper meaning brings out a lustre, a glory, where otherwise there is what is comparatively commonplace; and you will realize that the Spirit that has inspired it all is the Spirit of Christ, and that you must get the point of view which is always His, to realize aright the inspiration.

"He whom Thou choosest" might by itself, of course, be that election of which every saved sinner is an example; and so, naturally, most take inhere. But who is it of whom God in Israel says: "Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, Mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put My Spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles"? (Isa. 42:1.) God's "choice" is no less, although far differently, manifested, when Christ is spoken of as the Object of it, than when a poor sinner is taken up in divine sovereignty. In Christ it is all the fullness of His delight in that which is completely according to His mind and nature, — His Beloved, in whom He is well pleased. And thus the acceptance of any poor sinner is, as we are given to know, "in the Beloved."

"And makest to draw near" would thus imply His priestly access, which is the result of the acceptance of His work in behalf of others; and thus immediately the voice of His people is heard, the third person exchanged for the first, and the singular once more for the plural. "We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, — of Thy holy temple." This house will be Israel's grand distinction and privilege in millennial days.

There follows the intimation of how their acceptance is shown, the answer to their prayer in the day of their distress. "By terrible things in righteousness Thou answerest us, O God of our salvation." But then, for the earth also, the sun glints through the storm: "the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the distances of the sea." Thus the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever" (Isa. 32:17); and we go on to see, in the earth delivered from the curse, the full blessedness of this.

3. The next three verses, therefore, go on to show us, not simply a sanctuary in restored Israel, but the earth, so long disfigured with the marks of sin and distance from Him, now pervaded with this glorious Presence. It is not, as we might at first think, the common testimony of nature to Him. It is the time of peace after conflict, when "His tokens" are seen in the very "ends of the earth," and acknowledged with reverent fear on the part of men. The condition of the earth is but the index of its new peace and reconciliation; as we see in the second verse here, where the stilling of the roar of the seas is connected with the stilling of the "tumult of the races." And so the Lord manifestly connects things in looking at the tumult itself which is here referred to: "And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars, and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring" (Luke 21:25). Now they are stilled: the earth is brought into a stability as yet unknown; the mountains are set fast, human governments now being established by the power of God. He, coming out of the silence and stillness in which the things of earth so often have seemed as if matters strange to Him; girds Himself now with power in which He is manifestly active. Faith may so see Him now, but can little justify itself to men at large. They talk of "laws" as if they were an iron fence around Him; and nature merciless. Now He comes forth from this obscurity, hushing the fury of men's passions, and quieting the earth that these have vexed. And men fear, in the uttermost parts of the earth, at His tokens: for a strange new gladness pervades all the changes of the day: morning and evening sing alike with joy!

4. The fourth section speaks more distinctly of the earth itself; the curse removed, its paradisaic beauty coming back to it; and all plainly at the touch of His hand to whom nature is still and ever perfectly obedient. It is God's visitation: Egypt's fertilizing flood, the type of that bountifulness by which its exhaustion is continually met and its strength renewed, is outdone by the ever full "river of God," which knows no failure, no stint at any time, and which awakens everything to life and activity. The "living" — not stagnant — water is always in nature truly the "water of life." It is what is needful for the activity of every organism, in every part. It is therefore the type of the Spirit in its cleansing, renewing energy, and that which does its transforming work in the land of Israel in the days to which we are looking forward (Ezek. 47), and answers thus (though not in full measure) to that which laves with its glorious stream the New Jerusalem and the paradise of God (Rev. 22). From the sanctuary-throne they both flow, not like Egypt's river, from a distant, perhaps unknown, source. God, enthroned among an obedient people, is the spring of this blessing, deep, wide, perpetual: His necessary, bounteous ministry to creatures who "live and move and have their being in Himself."

Fully it is traced here to Him, the power working everywhere, first preparing the land, then preparing the corn. This is traced more minutely in the following verses: first, the influence upon the land itself (ver. 10); then the seasons of the year arranged with bountiful care (11); then the wilderness receives its bounty (12); and then we have the result everywhere in flocks and crops in which nature with its lavish beauty sings and rejoices (13). Ah, how we, with our sinful independence of God, have stopped this song in nature, and then proclaimed it lifeless, joyless, godless! It is never this; and the day is coming in which such divorce of God from His works shall be no more permitted, — shall be no more possible.

Psalm 66.

The Discipline of God.

To the chief musician a song-psalm.

The sixth psalm of the series celebrates on the part of Israel the discipline of God, now effectual, in which the nations are to learn His holiness, themselves being brought to submission by the display of His terrible power. In the third part the voice of the King is heard proclaiming His thanksgiving vows as now to be performed; and in the fourth the result of His own trial, in which He (so different in this from all others) endured perfectly the test of perfect holiness.

1. The first section celebrates the power of God which has been put forth in terrible deeds on behalf of Israel. But, with Israel, it is the earth's deliverance, and the nations are exhorted to shout aloud to God for what He has done, and urged to bear witness to what He has shown Himself to be, in psalms. His terrible works are to be at least for them the display of irresistible power under which the stoutest enemies must humble themselves. Thus all the earth shall worship, even though by and by it may be found that not all of this is true. The Psalms do not go beyond the millennium, and therefore do not give the uprising at the end, which brings in final judgment, as the book of Revelation shows; but they do intimate in several places, as already in psalm 18, the mere external subjection of many among the millennial nations. Israel alone is all holy (Isa. 4), and their celebration of God collies in the last three verses. His terrible doings toward the children of men have been abundant mercy to themselves. His love to them has triumphed over all obstacles, and nature has owned the might of His presence with them, as the bed of the dried up sea has shown, and the "river": whether this be Jordan, as of old, or that which is more commonly and emphatically called the River — the other boundary of their land as it shall be — Euphrates (Rev. 16:12).

Power has been abundantly shown, then: He rules, and who shall dispossess Him? Omnipotence and omniscience are found together, with Him whose eyes without ceasing watch over the nations. Let not, then, the rebellious vainly ex alt themselves!

2. But again the voice of Israel is heard, and this time to tell the story of their own trials, ended, at last, for them so joyfully. "Bless our God," they say, "ye peoples." They, at least, can own Him that, with a full heart: His laws written upon their hearts, He has become their God in full reality, according to the terms of the new covenant. Thus they claim Him and speak of Him, declaring Him to the nations for their praise. He has, spite of all trials, brought them through, preserved their souls in life, — nay, more, perhaps, set them in what is really that. For "this is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." Such knowledge they now have, assuredly, and thus such life: although as doctrine the Old Testament could not formally develop it.

This "setting their souls in life" is that of which naturally their hearts are full, and thus too their feet find steadfastness. But the way by which they had been brought had been one painful to themselves, while the holiness of God had made it necessary. As silver God had assayed and purified them. Their foes had been made, all unwittingly, to serve them thus. Affliction had been to them, if a severe, yet an effectual teacher; and, the end accomplished, only gains were now to be counted: "we went through fire and water; but Thou broughtest us out into abundance."

3. But now the "we" changes for "I"; and we realize that it is another Speaker. "I will go into Thy house with burnt-offerings; I will pay Thee my vows, which my lips uttered and my mouth spake in my strait." It is not hard, surely, to recognize this Voice, which, immediately upon Israel's tale being told, takes up their praise to utter it before God, as the fulfillment of His own "vows." We know these vows, the King's vows: King of Israel, while much more. And dull must be the eyes that do not see whose are these burnt-offerings. The sweet savor of a perfect life presented to God in an infinite trial, in which the holiness of God searched out all the inward parts of such an One as had not His like among men, but whom; He who commanded the "sword" to "awake" against Him, declared at the same time His "fellow" (Zech. 13:7). Now we understand how Israel's praise itself is discerned as the perfume of this blessed work, — the fulfillment of His "vows": all the fullness of which is presently told out to us in familiar forms, as bullocks, rams, goats, specially connected with burnt-, trespass-, and sin-offerings. (Comp. Lev. 1, 4, 5, notes.) This is, in fact, what all our praise is, — what we ourselves are: we are but the fulfillment of His vows; all is but the fruit of His work. To owe our redeemed selves to Him shall be the fullness of our joy forever.

4. But now we are to have His testimony — how different from Israel's or that of the redeemed at any time! He would have all those who fear God to listen, for the matter is of the deepest possible concern for every one. If Christ is for men, what more important than to know that God is for Christ!

The second verse seems to speak of the character of His service. God was His constant appeal and dependence; God was also the One exalted by Him. But, taking this place, the conditions of divine holiness had to be maintained, and in what circumstances, into which His zeal for God as well as His love to man had brought Him! If that fearful trial had brought out anything but sweet savor! Had there been aught of all that the Word stamps as being under the brand of "vanity" regarded in the heart! But the test was made, and the event has shown with what result. "In the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications unto Him that was able to save Him" — not "from," but — "out of death, He was heard," says the apostle, "for His piety" (Heb. 5:7). All hung upon what He personally was, and being what He was, who for the glory of God had come so low, "He could not be holden of death": "He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father." "Verily God hath heard Me: He hath attended to the voice of My prayer." Well may we join with the praise of Him who, freighted with all our blessings, set His feet on the rock of resurrection! "Blessed be God, who hath not turned away my prayer, not His loving-kindness from Me!"

Thus the psalm is linked together in its various parts, and each of them throws light upon the other, until what at first seems ordinary and unattractive even, is lighted up with beauty. The world, Israel, Christ, the future and the past, are linked together; and He is seen to be the bond and soul of history, as well as the one link with blessing and with God, the Mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus. Simple truths indeed, but they are light and life to us; and like the sun, which, for all its shining on the world so long, will be no less welcome when he shines tomorrow.

Psalm 67.

Complete blessing and rest.

To the chief musician on stringed instruments. A psalm-song.

The sixty-seventh psalm is a bright and beautiful seventh: the number being emphasized as that of the verses also, of which the central one again, by its three lines instead of two, is marked out as the hinge upon which all turns, which is the reign of God upon earth. The grace of God flows through Israel, as the channel of it to the nations; they being the living example of it before the eyes of all. This the first two verses show: "God be gracious unto us" — His people Israel — "make His face to shine upon us, that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy salvation among all nations." There follows the prediction of praise from all the earth: "Peoples shall praise Thee, O God: all the peoples shall praise Thee." And then we have the subject-matter of their praise, the joyfulness of what it is, freed from the misery of self-will and from the wills of others, to serve God and be subject to Him.

This is true blessedness at any time. How strange that it should take so long to learn it; yea, that the world should have at last to be brought by judgment into subjection! But it is the proof which all history gives of the reality of the fall. Simple it is, that creature-blessedness is found just in being creatures, — in letting God be God. "Thou shalt judge the peoples righteously, and lead the races upon earth." How necessarily that last expression fixes our thoughts upon Shepherd care, and upon the good Shepherd," in whose hands the sceptre is.

The next two verses are a good example of the fullness of meaning which the numerical structure brings out of the text. The fifth verse is but an exact repetition of the third, and its character as a third is evident. Praise belongs to the sanctuary; and in this verse there is nothing but praise. Yet precisely the same words come before us now as a fifth, and no possible division of the psalm could make both verses thirds. A fifth is most akin, by reason of its fundamental suggestion of "man with God"; and this can only be aright when God becomes enthroned in the heart, the object of his praise. Thus the fifth verse indicates that Immanuel ("God with us") has become the real characteristic of the new condition of humanity, although this is only beginning and not perfected, in the millennium itself. But it is no longer to take a people out of the Gentiles that God is working, but to produce that condition which the new earth will see accomplished, when "the tabernacle of God shall be with men."

The sixth verse, as such, speaks of the limitation and control of evil; and evil may be, as we know, either moral or physical. The last is also a check upon the first — a means of restraint, of which we all are conscious. Now the previous verse has shown us, in the winning of man's heart to God, the power which has come in to bring about the eradication of physical evil. This therefore is now passing away: the earth is yielding her increase; the curse is removed from the ground; — the blessing of God is operative in antagonism to it.

The last verse gives the general result summed up: God is blessing Israel; all the ends of the earth shall fear Him now!

Psalm 68.

Under the new Head.

To the chief musician: a psalm of David, a song.

The sixty-eighth psalm is characterized by its eighteenth verse; and this is authoritatively interpreted for us by the apostle (Eph. 4:8), though there, with specific application to the Church alone. He does not therefore quote the last clause of it, which clearly refers to Israel: "yea, for the rebellious also, that Jah Elohim might dwell among them."

As the eighth and final psalm of this series, therefore, Israel is seen under the new Head of blessing, the ascended Christ, triumphant over all the power of the enemy, and, for this, over the sin which shuts men up in the great adversary's hand. Under Christ, therefore, Israel fulfills all her by-gone promises of glory; for here is the One to whom all these point. All the wealth of the divine names is poured into the song, for their meaning is now justified and made good. "All that is most glorious in the literature of the earlier period," says Delitzsch, "is concentrated in it: Moses' memorable words, Moses' blessing, the prophesies of Balaam; Deuteronomy, the song of Hannah, re-echo here. But over and above all this, the language is so bold and so peculiarly its own, that we meet with no less than thirteen words that do not occur anywhere else." These various connections, which seem to have led expositors away in different directions, are intelligible when we recognize their relation to Israel's inheritance in Christ, to which they all look forward.

1. The psalm begins with Moses' invocation in the wilderness, when the ark set forward (Num. 10:35), Elohim (God) being substituted for Jehovah. In fact Israel is beginning again her triumphant progress under her divine Leader of ancient times. We go back of all her history in the land, which has been but failure, to see her now on the path of steady advance, all the causes of error and failure being removed, and a new covenant replacing the old, disastrous one, which in their wilfulness they had chosen.

Their enemies are now "the wicked," the enemies of God. It is the conflict between good and evil that is approaching its crisis. The labor of ages to end it, so long ineffectual, will now be compressed into one sharp, decisive encounter. Like wax before the fire, the foes shall melt away before the presence of God. But the righteous shall be glad and exult, yea, leap for joy.

God is now seen as beginning His triumphant march, and as in Jehoshaphat's successful war, the singers go in the forefront of the host. They are to cast up the way before the advancing King. This, of course, is spiritual preparation, and connected in Isaiah (Isa. 57:14; Isa. 62:10) with the removal of stumbling-blocks. The spirit of praise is the spirit of power. The joy of what God is, is holiness itself, the atmosphere of heaven, that which will allow nothing contrary to the character of Him whom it proclaims by His Name Jah, the One who is, — the great Reality, for faith (though not in the pantheistic sense) the One Existence. Ah, if God only were all to us after that manner, as in that scene to which the knowledge of the new man introduces, (as the apostle tells us,) "Christ is all" — how would such joyous faith prepare God's glorious way!

The way of Him "that rideth in the deserts," says the psalmist; and the number here accentuates this. It is not, however, the common word for the wilderness, but that which is the specific name for the deep groove from the lake of Galilee to the Red Sea, in which the Jordan runs down to the Salt Sea, and in which the Sea itself lies, — the Arabah: here in the plural, which may stand for the different parts of one depression, or for all that is similar to this. The word means a "parched, dry place." which in its specific application, Jordan, the river of death, and the salt sea, the lake of fire and brimstone, sufficiently characterize. Death is in itself the stamp of man's condition, his removal from the place which through sin he has forfeited, and thus, if there be no remedy, from the face of God. But it is when he is brought to the realization of this, into the dry, parched place, he finds One that moves there, sovereign over what may seem insurmountable difficulties. It is here the work of Christ manifests itself in all its glorious power; and it is suited therefore to a psalm which brings Israel into blessing under the new Head, Christ, that Jehovah should be revealed as "He who rideth in the Araboth," — who moves serenely in the plenitude of power among these places where human resources are dried up. Fitting too is it that just in this connection the reminder of death should be found accompanied by the assurance of His tenderness and resources for those who suffer from this:" a Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation." And similar things are those that follow also: "He setteth the solitary in families," — removing the curse of barrenness and the sorrow of isolation. Again, "He bringeth out the prisoners," not into liberty merely, but "into prosperity": while "the rebellious" only, but they assuredly, "dwell in a dry land" still. Thus His character both in grace and in righteousness is declared.

2. In the last word we have reached the only cause of the failure of Israel's bud of promise so long ago; and this recalls the psalmist to their history already referred to. There was then on God's part assuredly no lack of power; nor of testimony to it was there any lack: "O God, when Thou wentest forth before Thy people, — when thou movedst through the waste," — not Arabah now, but jeshimon, "desolation, waste," — "the earth quaked, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God; yon Sinai at the presence of God, the God of Israel." They had had the fullest assurance of Who was with them. It was God, and their own God, to whom nature had done homage. Sinai had witnessed the wonderful covenant established between God and His creatures. In the fulfillment of it He had carried them into the land, and showered His gifts upon them in what was His inheritance, but in which He settled them. There they dwelt as His community,* Himself to be their life-bond, and preparing thus in His bounty for a people dependent, in their poverty, upon Him. This characterized His dealings with them ever, while they remained indeed His community and only kept the place of dependence. Were there enemies to be encountered, His word was the effectual routing of the enemy: there were needed, then, only women to spread the glad tidings of the victory. Kings with their hosts were at once in flight; and women — the quiet stayers at home — were sufficient to take the spoil. Such was Israel when with God; and such had been the goodness of God to Israel.

{* Chajah, "living thing"; but used also for a "company" resembling a living organism, and thus even for a "troop" of soldiers.}

3. The words change now into a direct address to the people. But the passage is so difficult, largely from its elliptical character, and it is yet so important to be clear about it, that I shall examine it at more than usual length. It is a good example of the difficulties which sometimes beset both the interpreter and the translator, as well as of the only way in which they can be satisfactorily settled, that is, by Scripture itself; one part being explained by another, as a divine and necessarily self-consistent whole.

The rapidity of transition is very characteristic of the Psalms, and indeed of the prophets generally. From the third person in the preceding verses, we come here to a direct address in the plural, which is exchanged for the third person singular in the following one, and this once more in the second verse after it, for a direct appeal again, but in an entirely different quarter. The elliptical construction is, however, the great difficulty, as already said. "Though ye lie between the hurdles … wings of a dove, covered with silver," etc. There is no verb to the latter part, and no "as," as in the common version. Whatever is put in, as something must be, partakes necessarily of the nature of interpretation.

Then one of the words is doubtful, shephattaim; which only occurs again exactly in this form in Ezek. 40:43, where the common version suggests variously "hooks, end-irons, hearth-stones." and the margin of the Revised has "ledges." But that passage is more difficult than the one before us. In the present one there has also been suggested "hearth-stones," in the common version "pots," by others "borders," but by most now, with the Revised, "sheep-folds," or better "hurdles," pens or stalls for cattle. The word is from a verb, "to place," and as a dual form has as its primary idea two things placed over against one another (Wilson). The reference seems to be to Gen. 49:14 and Judges 5:16, where a word only slightly different in form is used (mishpethaim), and which is generally agreed to mean "hurdles" or "sheep-folds;" and we shall presently find this confirmed by comparison of the passages.

But what must we supply in the gap which follows this? In the common version the "as" is as hypothetical as is the "yet shall ye be"; and one naturally asks, why should Israel be compared to the "wings" of a dove? what special force has "wings" there? It is said, for their special beauty; and Cheyne quotes Miss Whately's description: "Seen in the bright glow of the sun's slanting-rays, the outspread wings of a dove might fitly be described as 'yellow gold'; then, when the bird has wheeled round, and is seen against the light, they might as fitly be called 'molten silver.'" But though this is satisfactory enough, yet there seems more needed for any proper explanation. The wing implies, one would say, action in some way, and the color of the wing can hardly be the whole matter.

The gap is best supplied also in its simplest form, though we can hardly read as simply as Moll, "The wings of a dove are covered," which (besides joining together a plural and a singular in a questionable manner) disconnects this too much from what precedes it, even though that be put in the form of a question: "would you lie between hurdles?" itself unsatisfactory when we consider, as we must now do, the significance of the passage as a whole.

Looking on but a verse or two, we see that we are coming to the thought of the sanctuary which God has chosen for Himself in Zion, and then to see Israel (in the characteristic verse of the psalm) under the new Head, Christ, ascended, on high. Looking back, we have seen them under the covenant at Sinai, a covenant which had so conspicuously failed in securing blessing for them. How, then, shall they now be blessed? The answer to this is evident: it can only be by the work of Christ, by redemption and the work of the Spirit in them. We must look therefore for some reference to this at the point at which we have now arrived.

The connection of the opening words with similar expressions in Genesis and Judges has been already referred to. In the latter case Deborah describes the listless indifference of Reuben to the common welfare, when Zebulon and Naphtali were periling their lives in the field against Jabin, king of Canaan. "Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks?" she asks. It might be more literally rendered, "Why sattest thou between the hurdles?" It is the expression of indolent self-seeking which kept them amid the abundant pasturage of their grassy plains. In Genesis, it is Issachar that is spoken of, and the words come still nearer to what is in the psalm before us: "Issachar is a bony ass, lying down between two hurdles: and he saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant for tribute." Here indolent self-seeking is complete, even though it may miss its end, as so often it does. And in Jacob's prophecy (as we have seen when examining it) the separate tribes represent conditions of the nation, whose remarkable history is pictured in it from the beginning, through the present time, and on into the future to which our psalm also carries us. The nation is before us in both cases, and in the same condition. Hence the application here must be what it is there, or would naturally be so. Issachar shows us the process by which the people of Jehovah became the poor drudge of the Gentiles; and here they are beheld in the same spiritual condition, listless, subject, degraded; in the opposite state to that of blessing, and to that which their own prophecies assure us shall be.

But this is just where grace finds every one of us, — where they too will be found; and therefore we need not wonder at the sudden change which is now indicated as taking place. And here the dove becomes a very striking figure.

The dove is a common figure in the Song of songs, and there doubtless represents Israel. We shall not forget this, while yet we remember that its first and fundamental significance carries us away from this, although there is an easy connection between the different applications.

It is plainly in the New Testament the symbol of the Spirit of God: "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove," says the Baptist, "and it abode upon Him." This necessarily, therefore, is an application which every one accepts; but even in this place it suggests another: the dove, the bird of heaven, the bird which is at once realized as the bird of love and as the bird of sorrow, and which Scripture speaks of in this double character, is so manifestly the representative of Christ Himself, the Man of sorrows, (sorrows that flowed from love, and into which love brought Him down,) that this application is no less evident than the other. Necessarily the symbol is thus a double one: for the dove could only come and abide on Him because here was a congenial home; and conversely, the Spirit of Christ must characterize Christ.

But Scripture confirms this further and without possibility of doubt, in that the dove is (in its two varieties of dove and pigeon) the only specified sacrificial bird. In this way it could, of course, apply, not even to the Spirit of God, but only to the Lord. How at once, then, there gleams upon us the glory of its matchless "wings"! Here the application to Israel even in the psalm before us seems at once excluded. What would be the force of any such to them? But if to Christ, then they may well be emphasized, — "wings" that brought a Saviour down! And all is plain: the wings covered with silver, reminding us of the redemption-money; and that presented first; then, as the light strikes differently, the glory of the green-tinted gold," — divine glory, with the hue of reviving nature in it, as in the "rainbow like an emerald, round about the throne" (Rev. 4:3).

Thus Israel is most unlike these wings of a dove, while they speak of Christ with the clearest evidence. But how then do they come in here? The answer is surely not far to seek. "In the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge;" "I will trust in the covert of Thy wings;" "in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice:" are expressions which we have had in the Psalms elsewhere: what difficulty, then, in seeing Israel here under such covert? And from the New Testament comes one sweet, pathetic word which clasps this from the other side: "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a lien gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

They are rejecting no longer now, and the wings of redeeming love are over them. The effect is seen in the following verse, though difficulties are still found in the language. Most translators have: "when the Almighty scattered kings in it" — meaning the land; but that is surely too far off the reference. "On her account" is abrupt, if referring to the people; but in any case there is a change to the third person. Why not, however, a reference to the dove just mentioned? which would account, moreover, for the impersonal form of the next line: "Thou makest as it were snow in Zalmon," or else, perhaps, "there was as it were." The language, if not the mere history some would make it, must be quite boldly figurative. If it be prophecy of a distant future, then we need not wonder if it be enigmatic. But there is, as we are reading it, consistent meaning, and one worthy of a divine oracle. If it be, on the other hand, merely the defeat long ago of no one knows who, at a place disputed about, then it is hardly worth while to concern ourselves about it.

The truth is, no doubt, that here we have Israel's twofold salvation: from the nations which will be gathered against her when deliverance comes; and this as a sign of a more perfect deliverance which will make her shine out of the darkness which has fallen upon her as snow upon the sides of a "shadowed" mountain.* If this scattering of kings be taken as on her (Israel's) account, there is a very suitable sense in this; if it be on account of the "dove" under whose wings Israel has found refuge, then the sense is one more manifestly evangelic and beautiful. The most commonplace meaning is not, let us be assured, when Scripture is concerned, the best or truest: it is far otherwise; for "the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:10.)

{* Zalmon means "shady."}

When now the hindrances have been removed, God is free to give full expression to His love; and, as of old He dwelt among the people brought out of Egypt, now that redemption has done its full and final work, immediately we hear of His sanctuary. But where is it to be? Not in the mountain-range of Bashan, with its imposing and basaltic peaks, or in any similar heights. The mountains of Bashan, towering up from its level plains, might well suit and symbolize power as it is held by the great ones of earth who lord it over their fellows; but not such is Zion, a mount indeed, but most accessible, raising up men, His worshipers, to the level of His own desires, where condescending grace could meet them. There His desire has brought Him; and there He will abide.

There, too, the chariots of God are round about Him; the living forces which from the centre of His glorious presence go forth to all the earth. Angelic power thus manifested itself at Sinai, though there, necessarily, in a hidden sanctuary, where earthquake and fire shut Him in. Zion is the opposite of this, with all its glory but no fringe of fire. And Sinai was but temporary, for a purpose; Zion is His eternal rest.

But we penetrate closer, and into the presence of this glorious King. He has descended: blessed be His Name, He has descended; that is evident; but "He who hath [now again] descended is the Same also that ascended up." The voice of praise breaks out, but which is but the confession of what He has accomplished: "Thou hast ascended on high; Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou hast received gifts on account of man: yea, even for the rebellious, that Jah Elohim might dwell among them."

Here then the glory of Christ is fully displayed. He it is who having first come down into the lower parts of the earth, ascended up, far above all heavens, that He might fill all things." Here is the tender sympathy of One who has been in every possible human position, and even under the weight of sin itself, that He might be near us, with us. The frowning sublimity of Bashan or Sinai would not indeed suit such an One, but only the "mount Zion which He loved."

Victor in the necessary conflict between good and evil, He has led captivity captive — put an end, that is, to the tyranny of Satan, and released those under his power. But it is not enough for Him to set free: He must enrich these, but now the poor slaves of Satan. He has "received gifts on account of man:" which the apostle carries on to its result, "gave gifts unto men." He applies it to the Church; the psalmist goes on to speak of Israel: "yea, for the rebellious also, that Jah Elohim might dwell among them."

This part ends here with an ascription of praise: "Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits: the Mighty One, our salvation."

4. There are now to the end of the psalm four brief sections of four verses each. The present one shows us now the prostration of the world, out of which God delivers his people. Israel's Mighty One has been shown Mighty for salvation; and as to death itself, the issues from it are His. Destruction must be the portion of His enemies, who persistently, spite of His warnings and His mercy, pursue their evil way. The Lord has said He would bring again His people from Bashan, which has just been used as a figure of the world yea, if it were from the abysses of the sea: and that to see the utter prostration of their foes, left as carcases upon the battle-field.

5. We go on to a very different scene. Israel is now with God, at the end of all her sorrows, in a union never to be broken; and as the ark of old was ushered into its sanctuary-rest amid rejoicing of the people, so now is the divine King Himself welcomed with the heartfelt praises of the delivered nation. The psalmist paints it as an actual scene before his eyes: "They have seen Thy goings, O God," — a plural, which takes in the movement of the whole joyous crowd, and so Delitzsch renders it "procession," — "the goings of my mighty One, my King, into* the sanctuary." This is the very point of what is here, that God is taking His place in the old (and yet how much more than the old!) relationship to His people; and this God is He who is also Man, the glorious King, long since come in humiliation, only to be rejected.

{* B' after a verb of motion. Neither the grammar nor the context necessitates "in holiness," as Delitzsch, Moll, and others, maintain.}

The singers come at the head of the procession. The human voice leads all instruments. This, though but what we recognize as natural, and may overlook because we are so familiar with it, contains a precious and yet solemn truth, that man's heart must be turned Godward before nature will give her true responsive praise; and then, too, his hand must be upon the instrument, as we have often seen. Here, too, we find the maidens with their passionate emotion, soul going with spirit in the glorious outburst of harmonious rapture. Well may the virgins celebrate the Virgin's Son!

They incite each other to praise, now! How often have they incited one another to sin and to rebellion! But henceforth in Israel human association will be found and prized at its true value. They shall have no need to say to one another, "Know the Lord"; for all shall know Him; from the least unto the greatest. There shall be no "counsel of the ungodly" by which to "walk," no "way of sinners" in which to "stand" all this will be entirely passed away. But praise will awaken praise, which will pour out from "the fountain" (the overflowing heart) "of Israel."

The enumeration of tribes that follows has peculiar difficulties. "Little Benjamin, their ruler,"* seems unsuited every way. A reference to Saul is most improbable; and the word implies at least a strict, if not a severe rule. In that future day to which the psalm refers, Benjamin will certainly not be the ruling tribe. I must agree with Moll, therefore, in translating their conqueror," literally, "their treader down," but this as meaning Israel's warrior-tribe. Benjamin was certainly and typically this, as Jacob's prophecy from the first declared him. "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf," says the dying patriarch; and this character was strikingly shown when they braved, though nearly to their own destruction, the united strength of Israel.

{*There is no "with," as in the common version: the revised is as here.}

The typical meaning cleaves to this, as we trace it on from Genesis to Joshua. In the story of Joseph, who is Christ separated from His brethren and rising to power among the Gentiles, Benjamin represents Messiah in that form in which He abides among them — in which they recognize Him; "son of the right hand," not suffering, but reigning. This power he has not openly taken yet. But when the true Joseph reveals Himself to His brethren, Benjamin shall be united to Him — He shall take power after this manner upon the earth. "Little Benjamin" — made little of by the Gentiles, and by the Jews unknown in His true greatness, — shall become the conqueror of the nations, and may well therefore for his typical significance come foremost here. Yet is he, as such, only in the train of that greater glory which waits to be revealed to them, to which their eyes are now so absolutely closed. What an awakening will be theirs! And these thoughts may well underlie the mention, first of all, of "little Benjamin."

But now the princes of Judah have their place. Again a most difficult word is connected with them; a word found only here. But we need not go through the various conjectures as to it, as the most suitable meaning has also the best support.* Judah has, through all her history, and even spite of scattering over the earth, been always more or less a "close-compacted band." Nor shall aught dissolve the tie that binds them to one another. That tie also has always been what their name indicates — their worship; and when this was the true worship, it was the bond that united them into a nation and a kingdom. At the time to which the psalm looks forward, its power will be seen more gloriously than ever; nor will it relax again.

{*The meaning in the text is that given by Gesenius, Delitzsch, and Moll, following some Jewish expositors.}

Next come the "princes of Zebulon," "dwellers in relationship," the thought again clearly answering to the condition upon which Israel are entering now. And lastly, the princes of Naphtali," the wrestlers," who have learned with Jacob, their father, the strength that is made perfect in weakness. They are really, as coming in the fourth place here, the "weak wrestlers." The lesson is surely not hard to be deduced.

How perfect is the inspiration breathing through all this! Every word is in place every line tells in this vivid picture: "which things also we speak," says the apostle, "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth."

6. We have seen in the fourth section the prostration of the enemy's power; we have now the conquest of the earth, its being brought as a whole into subjection to God. Israel has come into a place of power as the seat of divine rule over the earth; and the psalmist seeks confirmation of that which has been wrought for them. God is in His holy temple at Jerusalem, and the kings of the earth bring of course their tribute there. But there are still adversaries who have not submitted. "The beast of the reeds," whether crocodile or hippopotamus, is naturally Egypt; the assembly of bulls is a general figure for defiant strength. The calves are the people following these leaders. But there is no help where the creature strives against the power of God; and all in turn submit themselves. War is at an end with this submission, and the reign of peace ensues. Egypt sends its dignitaries; Cush (or Ethiopia) thrusts out the hands imploringly to God. Altogether it is a different picture from that which men have drawn of the peaceful triumphs of the gospel; but such is the resistance of man's heart to God that (to use the figure of a well-known writer) Mansoul must in any case be taken by siege. Good it is when in any way its pride is humbled, and it is made to sue for peace to Him who is of infinite mercy. "When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteousness."

7. The psalm ends with an exhortation to all the kingdoms of the earth to praise Him. As at the beginning He was seen riding upon the Araboth, the places of man's need and extremity, so now He is seen riding upon the heavens of heavens, high over all created things. Through all He sends out His voice of power, making Himself known in word and deed as Lord of all. All power belongs to Him whose majesty is seen over Israel, and His power in the lightest tracings of the ever changing clouds.

The last verse is the response from all the earth. The Mighty One of Israel is owned as terrible — the object of reverential fear — out of His (heavenly and earthly) sanctuaries, giving power and might unto His people.

Section 2. (Ps. 69 — 72.)

Christ's service of salvation.

The four psalms that close the second book show us the salvation-work of Christ once more: first, in the cross as its basis, though in a different aspect from those in which we have seen it before; then in the revival of Israel, as the people of God; and lastly, in the rule of the King over the whole earth in truth and righteousness. Salvation is here seen therefore in its national and earthly aspect, and the view of the Cross in the sixty-ninth psalm agrees with this. In it we have the governmental side of atonement, — the trespass-offering, — as we had in the twenty-second the sin-offering, and in the fortieth the burnt-offering. The seventieth psalm, following this, is (with but some slight changes) the cut-off end of the burnt-offering psalm itself. But into the meaning of all this we shall have to inquire, as we take up these psalms in detail.

Psalm 69.

The Source of salvation.

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

The sixty-ninth psalm is more frequently referred to in the New Testament than any other, except the twenty-second; and always as fulfilled in relation to the Lord Himself or in the fruits and consequences of His rejection. And it is plain, as Delitzsch says, that "The whole psalm is typically prophetic, in as far as it is a declaration of a history of life and suffering, moulded by God into a factual prediction concerning Jesus Christ, whether it be the story of a king or a prophet; and in as far as the Spirit of prophecy has even moulded the declaration itself into the language of prophecy concerning the future One."

It will not be strange, however, to find, according to the title which we have had already in connection with the forty-fifth psalm; al-shoshannim, "the lilies," (so different as these are,) Christ is not seen alone, but with those for whom He suffered. There is not merely "a lily," but "lilies." For a moment — and it is one of the difficulties of the psalm, — in the twenty-sixth verse, "Thy wounded ones"* are seen, as it were, side by side with "Him whom Thou hast smitten;" and this, with the judgment denounced upon the human persecutors, has been a difficulty in the minds of some in seeing the work of atonement in it at all, though the cross is certainly here, for nowhere else could Christ be smitten of God. But there is no forsaking of God, and "though the fact of smiting is referred to, its expiatory power is not at all treated!"

{*One Hebrew MS. is referred to by Coleman, as well as the Syriac version, (which is perhaps as old as the first century A.D.), as having the singular "him," in both places.}

Now, it is surely true that the deepest suffering of the Cross, and absolutely necessary for atonement, was the forsaking of God (see Lev. 4 notes); yet not all the sacrifices speak of this, but only the sin-offering; and that too, only in its first and highest grades. Yet atonement is said to be made by the lower grades also, as well as by the burnt- and trespass-offerings.

Then, the burnt-offering psalm closes, as has been already mentioned with the denunciation of judgment upon the rejectors of Christ, which is here appended, as the seventieth psalm. So that the present one may be as well the trespass- as the fortieth, the burnt-offering. Two things are plainly in accordance with this, that the One who here suffers, owns, not "sins," as in the common version, but "trespasses" and that He restores that which He took not away. This is not simply vicarious penalty, but that restitutive form of it which the trespass-offering presents.

Moreover the association of others with the Unique Sufferer here comes not, in what may be called the body of the psalm; but late in it, among the denunciations of the persecutors.

Admitting thus in the most distinct way that we have neither the full presentation of atonement, nor the fullness of divine grace flowing forth through this, and that these things are connected together as cause and effect, yet this seems not inconsistent with the character of offering set forth; while the governmental aspect of atonement which it expresses (see Lev. 5:14 sq., notes) prepares us to find here, more strongly emphasized than elsewhere, the judgment upon rejectors.

1. In the first section we have that identification of Christ with His people which is necessarily involved in vicarious suffering. He is heard in His distress, as the waters of affliction penetrate even to the soul. He is sinking beneath the floods, and into the deep mire where there is no standing ground. The "strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him out of death," of which the epistle to the Hebrews speaks, is emphasized in what follows; and then the countless enemies, with their causeless enmity, while He is paying the debt due by others, not by Himself, — restoring what He took not away.

And here, in the light before God, He sees the awful reality of the evil He has taken upon Him, — hating it, the folly (or impiety) and the trespasses which spring out of this, — with the hatred with which God hates it; even while He owns it His, and bears in His soul the anguish of it.

But to this, then, there must be a limit, that those who wait on God in faith and in desire seek Him — Jehovah, God of hosts and God of Israel, their covenant-God through the sacrifice that He is offering — be not put to shame and confusion, in Him in whom are centred all their hopes. For upon His acceptance depends their salvation for whom He stands, their Representative before God. The work accomplished, righteousness in Him can safely appeal to divine righteousness, — and to righteousness in their behalf.

2. In the next section we go back to His previous life among men, to see Him in the constant strife between good and evil in the world, taking His part with God and therefore suffering. "For Thy sake," He says, "I have borne reproach: shame hath covered my face." And that not only among strangers; for here was the true Joseph, separated from His brethren, a stranger and an alien, refused as Israel's Messiah, and to become the Gentiles' Christ. And yet that dwelling-place of God in Israel, and which His work is to secure for them in a time near at hand, was that for which His zeal devoured Him. Twice He vindicated the holiness of what, until His last decisive rejection by them; He spoke of as His Father's house, and which He would have cleansed from the abominations which were driving Him away from them. In fact, through evils such as these, that house was already empty; and they well knew it, yet repented not of the evil, nor recognized the Deliverer who would have restored all, but was rejected: "the reproaches of them that reproached Thee," He says, "fell on Me." Thus it was then that He became a reproach, because He felt the misery of their condition, wept and fasted in His soul because of it. They looked for power simply to be used on their behalf: they found weakness, for in fact the power that He had He could not use for them. Yet in that weakness which they found in Him He could serve them better, and He did — "crucified through weakness." Yet they understood not this sin which He so lamented; and His sackcloth made Him a "proverb"* to them. They reckoned as ways of men merely, and indeed of evil men, the ways of divine holiness in love which mourned for them. And this contemptuous misunderstanding of Him was found among the elders sitting in the gate, and with the drunkards who made music out of Him: all far from God alike.

{*Notice how the "proverb" has to do with divine government, the moral of God's ways with men: to which" I suppose" every proverb can be referred. The book of Proverbs thus comes under the number five" as the verse does here.}

3. From these therefore He turns to God; and though in sorrow, yet with the assurance of acceptance. He is in distress, yet doubts not His goodness nor faithfulness; in view of which last He can expect and claim deliverance at His hand. He prays, therefore, for deliverance from that in which He is sinking, and from the enemies that surround Him. He seeks that the flood may not overflow Him; which, as this has already taken place (ver. 2) must mean, not continuously overflow Him, but give place again. So, "let not the deep swallow me up," implies irrecoverable disaster; and "let not the pit shut her mouth upon me" is similar again in this respect. The expressions therefore correspond well with that in Hebrews, "to Him that was able to save Him," not "from," but "out of death: that is, by resurrection (Heb. 5: 7. Gk.). This was how the Lord was actually answered.

He appeals to experience: He has tasted that "loving-kindness" which "is good," and the "tender mercies," of which He knows that there are a multitude. And He beseeches that God hide not His face from One who is His servant, in this the hour of His strait: an appeal indeed, when we know what this service that He is fulfilling is.

The last verse of this section shows us the extreme point reached. Indeed the two words for redemption used here may seem to present difficulty in any application to the Lord. But there is a redemption by power, as well as by blood, and the application of the first word to the "avenger" (goel from Baal) shows that the latter conception of it is not necessary to the word. It has as its root-thought the demanding back of what has got away from one, and here (as the soul is the life) it is urged that God should intervene in power to restore the life which was His, and had yet passed, or was passing, away. Its restoration would be its "redemption."

The second word also is used for rescuing, setting free, as when it is said that the "people rescued Jonathan, that he died not" (1 Sam. 14:45). In both cases, therefore, it is the kind of redemption we are to consider, rather than the word simply.

4. There are now three verses which as a fourth section speak briefly of His human feelings under the pressure on Him. The reproach, the shame, the dishonor, are all felt and referred to God, as known to Him. His oppressors are before Him. Around there are none to sympathize with or minister comfort to the Sufferer. Yea, "they gave Me gall for My food," He says; "and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." This was, as we know, the last indignity before He died: and this was the last scripture that the dying Saviour saw to be unaccomplished, and to fulfill which He uttered aloud His need. These verses, which evidently stand by themselves bring to an end the account of His sufferings, which now manifestly close in death.

5. The solemn denunciation follows, of retribution upon the enemies of Christ and of His people. It will be realized in an entirely different manner according to our conception of the speaker, and of the spirit which breathes in it. If these are the words of mere personal feeling, we shall naturally put them in contrast with the words of Him who at the cross itself prayed for His murderers. This was what was in His heart, and the plea He makes for them, that they knew not what they did, was the sanction of such a prayer. But then there would be those for whom plainly it could no more be uttered. Divine love itself would have to affirm the righteous doom of those who respond to it but with hatred, and this is the character of those before us* here. Hence there is nothing incongruous in this being the language of the Saviour Himself, though not historically His utterance; nay, it is its being His that makes it all so perfectly and manifestly right. In the words of no other is the truth of retribution so strongly emphasized as in His own. Who so competent to speak of it as He who had come down to save men from it? Who could warn so solemnly as He who is the incarnation of divine love itself? Does not that same love speak here when it is heard saying, Let that be, which as the sentence of the Throne at last will actually be?

There is this difference, however, which may be pleaded: that the judgment is in fact that which overtakes men here, and (except by implication) it does not reach into eternity. This is, as we know, the character of Old Testament judgments generally. They are such as come upon men here, the visible witnesses of that which is invisible and eternal. But that alters nothing as to their essential nature, while it gives an additional reason why it should be brought before us in this manner. The visible government of God on earth, even though clouds and darkness are about it, has its attestations and evidences as that which (to use the words of a noted unbeliever) "makes for righteousness." And the dealings of God with Israel in their disobedience and rejection of Christ are a special example of this kind. Thus God's dealings with men on earth are fitly to be put before us as anticipations and pledges of what in a coming day will come out more manifestly.

Thus we cannot put the Christ of the Old Testament in contrast with the Christ of the New. The grace of the gospel itself exhibits its glory against a background of "eternal judgment." And we need no apology for the language of the psalm, though we may need an explanation of it. If it were not a judgment Christ Himself could affirm; then there could be no justification of it at all, from any lower platform. It would be but the language of human passion and infirmity, susceptible of no further interpretation than as that, and to be left to the condemnation of the enlightened conscience.

The snare of peace and prosperity is what is first insisted on: not, of course, the mere well-filled table of a glutton or an epicure, but this as the image of that enjoyment of present things which for the carnal shuts out what is spiritual and eternal. Thus it is indeed a trap and a snare. How busy, even among Christians, is Satan in shutting out the things of God just by the occupation with and pressure of things which in themselves may not be evil, but which we have not learned to connect with God and to use for God. Alas for the secular part of our lives which in the stealthiest fashion filches away from us so much of "what is really life" (1 Tim. 6:19: "the life which is life indeed," R.V.). And for the man whose heart is set on earthly things, what a silken snare is their possession! We murmur at the evils and miseries that face us everywhere; but what would it be if men were fed to the full! Judgment may come as well in the smiling abundance which fattens and narrows the heart, as in the rougher fashion in which it is easier to discern it.

The time yet comes in which the eyes darken, and that in which was men's confidence is removed. Then the "loins" begin to "shake." The dread of the unseen, never anything else but a dread, comes upon them. God begins to be manifested, but in wrath which lays hold upon the guilty. Presently a desolate camp in the desert, a "wall," as the idea is, — a mockery of protection for the feebleness that sought once to it for shelter, but is gone; the tents there, but empty; — becomes the figure of their doom: themselves, where are they?

These four verses bring us to the natural pause in a septenary series, as this is. The last three unveil, as usual, the spiritual meaning. The fifth gives the reason according to divine government; and here alone it is — in a most fitting place, surely, — we see that there are other sufferers than the One great figure here. The part of the guilty ones whose judgment is here detailed, — their part in the Cross was only persecution: with the divine mystery of it, to which we owe all our blessing, they had naught to do. Yet that "they have persecuted Him whom Thou hast smitten," adds surely to the horror of their crime, — a crime for which they would in this very fact seek its justification rather. Why should they not persecute where God had smitten? When that cry that God had forsaken Him reached the ears of those who stood round the cross, would it not indeed seem like such a justification? They had done as they would, and no intervention of God had come in for Him: God had not smitten them, but Him! Just so do things conspire often to seal the delusion of those who invite delusion. Is it not a sign of such a judicial sentence recorded against them as the next verse speaks of, — their iniquity imputed as iniquity, so that they are given over to what they have chosen? All divine grace is to them now but as the utterance of parables which may have more than one interpretation, and be fatally misconstrued.

The association of others with the Lord in this respect, or the mention of them side by side with Him, need not, as I think, be of any special difficulty here. They are not associated with Him in that which was His atoning work, but only in the persecution by His enemies, which could not possibly have wrought this. It was important, on the other hand, to bring them in, just because the actual persecution of the Lord Himself belonged to one generation only by the necessity of the case, but the persecution of His people is, in one way or other, repeated through all generations. In convicting of this guilt, it was important to show that these things are by the Lord Himself classed together: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?"

Moreover, there is a difference in the experiences: "Thy wounded ones" is not just the same as "whom Thou hast smitten"; and nothing but the parallelism found in the poetry of Scripture could have suggested the rendering of the former as the common version has given it. But the parallel does not require to be carried to this extent.

"Add iniquity to their iniquity" is not also the necessary rendering of the twenty-seventh verse and the moral argument seems against it in any way that this can be explained. The word is not "add," but literally "give," which may be rendered "put," and which in Jonah 1:14 is used for, "lay not upon us innocent blood," that is, "impute" it not. We may safely translate it here, "impute iniquity according to their iniquity," — reckon it for what it is. They have reached in fact the limit of forbearance: let the judgment now proceed. In the next verse, therefore, it is argued that the death-penalty is their desert: "let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written (enrolled) among the righteous."

The victory of Christ and righteousness is now briefly celebrated. It is the victory of God, and His Name is declared and glorified in it. The One who was just now the poor and sorrowful One is set on high; and the song of praise begins with the voice of Christ Himself, filled with the joy of God being magnified in the testimony of this deliverance. What does it not imply of joy that shall never end, that work accepted, sin put away, death annulled, Satan overcome! Now has come the substance of the past shadows. The sacrifices are replaced by that which pleases God better than all these. Balm for the afflicted is here; the seekers of God have a heart-reviving message: for the poor are not neglected by Him, and the prisoners — though justly suffering — are not despised by His grace, when they turn to Him. It is the gospel already beginning to be heard in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:18-19).

Heaven and earth, with the seas and all that are therein, are bidden therefore to praise the Lord together: for Zion shall be saved, the throne of His kingdom upon earth, and the witness of its salvation. Judah too (the worshiper) shall have his cities rebuilt, and dwell in them. And the inheritance shall be for the seed of Jehovah's servants, and for the lovers of His Name. Amen.

Psalm 70.

Contrasted Consequences.

To the chief musician: [a psalm] of David to bring to remembrance.

The seventieth psalm; as has been said, is but (with slight modifications) the last five verses of the fortieth psalm, the burnt-offering psalm; here put by themselves as an appendix to the trespass-offering. Is not this repetition explanatory of what is in the title: "to bring to remembrance"? Assuredly David's heart was not so poor in praise as to be in any need of repeating himself after this manner, except "remembrance" could be in this manner better secured. And assuredly it is not a "fragment accidentally detached," as Cheyne views it, and, of course, accidentally inserted! It is a wonder that such blunders, as this would indicate them to be, should after all give the critics so much labor.

The numerical structure shows that it is as perfectly in place, as the title shows the one who placed it here to have known what he was doing. It is so completely in place that it can be transferred here from the place it fills in the fortieth, with its numbers and their indications all unchanged; and so I have transferred it. Its following the trespass-offering here, as there the burnt-offering, argues something else than chance in such an arrangement. Leave it out of this place, and the two psalms following it are displaced also, and it would be difficult to adjust them satisfactorily to their altered relations.

The psalm is for a remembrance; and therefore the repetition is of much more importance than the differences, which are but slight. The Cross is so central in human history, its consequences are so all-embracing and enduring, that such a reminder as this, appended to each form in which it comes before us, is in no wise strange or to be wondered at. And the strangeness of the manner only calls attention to it the more. Even the apparent clumsiness, as men would account it, — the first word omitted, as if the leaf had been hastily torn out, — to one who believes in inspiration, fixes the eye upon it. The unbeliever scoffs, as he did at the Cross itself; faith inquires, and not only finds answer, but learns to recognize God in what seems most human, — God that was in Christ, most gracious, where in humblest form.

The psalm is so simple as scarcely to need an exposition; and in this also it is suited to its work. It only needs to be put in connection with the psalm it follows. The Lord is then realized to be the Speaker, as is quite clear in the fortieth psalm. The contrary lot of those who are His enemies, and those who love His salvation, is then apparent.

Psalm 71.

The Revival of Israel.

The third psalm of this series is plainly, in accordance with its place, a resurrection psalm. Israel is seen — although anticipatively — renewing her youth. God is glorified in one who has been of old His witness, and who now witnesses for Him in self-abasement, in the old age that is upon her, but in which she finds Jehovah's strength and righteousness her sole confidence and boast. The psalm is almost throughout a prayer, but which turns in the end into joyful assurance and praise.

1. The first section is a simple appeal to God as the confidence of faith, the one sufficiency. As an introduction it gives us, as very commonly, the theme, which the rest of the psalm expands and illustrates. Faith is the expression of self-renunciation, which as such leaves God Himself in what He is, to be its all, and thus occupied with Him without distraction, its plea is founded on His very nature. It is a safe argument, if a true one: "I have put my trust in Thee, let me not be put to confusion." And thus God's righteousness can be pleaded by a sinner, the Cross of Christ being the full declaration and justification of this. The psalmist, divinely taught, goes to the full extent of this, claiming God as his rock-dwelling, to which he can resort whatever the danger. And His word assures him — the prophecies of God concerning Israel? — that He has given commandment to save him: "for Thou," he repeats, "art my cleft of the rock and my fortress."

But Israel is in the sore trial of the last days, and the hand of the wicked one presses sorely upon them. He can only repeat that the Lord Jehovah — the immutable One, supreme over all opposing force, is his hope and his confidence "from his youth."

This last expression in its application to Israel, is an interesting one, reminding us, as it does, of that "remnant according to the election of grace" which has always been among the people, and which is a proof advanced by the apostle, that even now God has not "cast them away." At the time these psalms carry us on to, the Christian dispensation being over, these which are the true "brethren" of the King born in Bethlehem, "will return," according, to Micah's prediction (Micah 5:2-3), "to the children of Israel," — to take their place upon the ground of God's promises to her. This voice of theirs now, then, as heard in the psalm, connecting itself with the long line of faith from the beginning, is itself a witness of God's returning favor to her. Israel is awaking from her sleep of centuries: the resurrection of the nation is begun.

2. Accordingly we find now, in mystical expression, what God has been to His people from the beginning, from their birth as a nation; brought through the various and chequered history in which they have been in so many ways "a wonder to many:" amid all their perils from without and from within, the Lord having shown Himself their "strong refuge." Their preservation is indeed today the standing miracle of history, and a testimony to God, spite of (nay, in) their very unbelief. Now they are openly to glorify Him: My mouth shall be filled with Thy praise, — with Thy glory all the day."

Yet as in the mystery of spiritual things, the soul which is awaking from the sleep of death, awakes to realize the "body of death" which clings to it, so the remnant brought to God in those days will find themselves amid the national decay which might well be the signs of speedy dissolution. It is the time of old age, and strength has failed: the spiritual life is well nigh departed. As the ravens watch the expiring struggles of their anticipated prey, their enemies congregate and consult together. "God has forsaken him" is a verdict that looks so like the truth as to be agony to the soul that seeks Him. Such agonies are often to men the birth-throes of a new life; and so will Israel find it in her day.

3. A grand thing it is when, in the dissolution of all other things, God is found to be the one necessity of the soul. We can reason this out at any time; but to have got it in experience is quite another matter. Thus come to us those days of famine, which may by no means be openly that. The food may be there that does not feed us; the sun may shine as of old, but it does not warm us: the change is in ourselves. Everything seems unreal, but It is the real into which we ate entering, and which is only demonstrating for us the unrealities in which we have lived. No man that knows not God has hold of reality; and it is the mercy of God when we wake up to the truth that the possession of God is the possession of what is real, and, in a true sense, of all that is real.

Israel has been, for long, according to Hosea's prophecy, "without a sacrifice, and without an ephod," ignorant of the better sacrifice that has come, and unable to present the prescribed offerings of their law; and when, with some dawning light among them; they begin to seek approach to God according to the old ritual, Satan will make his last and decisive attack to turn them away from Him to whom the Spirit of God would lead them on. "Another," a false Christ, "will come in his own name," as our Lord predicted, and "him they will receive." Cast out of the land, and with the abomination of desolation in their holy place, the remnant of true-hearted ones may indeed be tempted to think that God has forsaken them." It is a crisis in their history for which, as we know, the Lord has specially provided in that discourse after His own decisive rejection, when their house had now to be "left unto them desolate." And may it not be that just by all this their hearts may be wrought upon and led back to Him whose sheltering wing would (how often!) have been stretched over them; but they "would not."

"Upon the wing of abominations," according to the literal translation of Dan. 9:27, "the desolator" comes! How affecting the contrast! As the desolation follows in answer to the idolatrous challenge from Israel's holy place, will not hearts be opened to respond more intelligently to the love that seeks them? will it not be like the look which awakened Peter to the outgushing of repenting sorrow for having denied His Lord?

Then will the cry go forth indeed, "O God, be not far from me!" and that in intimate connection with the cry against those "adversaries to their soul" that are covering the land. But where faith is begun, the tug upon the heart-strings tunes them to music; and it is not at all incomprehensible, that speedy reassurance: "But for me, I will hope continually, and will praise Thee more and more." Can we not understand, too, as the fruit of this exercise, — perhaps, as a sorrow deeper than their own has been gaining upon them — that return to what, in the first section, we have spoken of as so much the theme of the psalm: "My mouth shall tell of Thy righteousness, and of Thy salvation, all the day: for I know not how to reckon it"

4. Thus they are ushered into the place of blessing: so simple as it is, after all! Just the creature place, from which man departed at the first, seeking to be as God, and thus coming into independence of God: now to take up again dependence, and with the confession of the infinite sin of departure, — the need of salvation already owned.

Now then the place of strength is found, but Whose strength? How significantly do those titles come in again, found in the first section with such thoughts as these, but still more closely and more triumphantly joined together: I will go in the might of the LORD JEHOVAH; I will make mention of Thy righteousness, of THINE ALONE." Yes, the refreshing stream runs low, but oh, the refreshment! The creature place and the creature privilege are never disjoined. If the creature is for God, God is for the creature: and which is it that finds the blessing here?

Intensely interesting, too, is it to find that now they begin to understand how God has been teaching them from the beginning: "Jehovah, Thou hast taught me from my youth:" and they enter into His purpose through them to declare His own marvelous works. It is now that they are beginning intelligently to fulfill this. His witnesses they have ever been in fact, but now in integrity and uprightness they are this.

Still, and because of this, the consciousness of feebleness and decay is with them; and they cry to God as alone their ability to fulfill what is in their heart. And this is no less than to be the witness of God's power to all succeeding generations. This they will assuredly be. Sustained in perpetual strength by this same power, they will be henceforth on earth His living testimony. Age and decay gone, they will abide as in resurrection strength and beauty. The stump of the cut-down tree shall send forth fresh shoots, the holy seed being the sap of it. "Israel shall bud and blossom; and fill the face of the earth with fruit."

5. Israel is now with God. The language of prayer is changed for that of praise and confident expectation. "Thy righteousness, O God, reacheth to the height, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto Thee?" Who indeed? And yet that simple truth, surely and wholeheartedly believed, is the end of all evil, the assurance of all blessing to every soul that receives it. It is the fall overcome, the tempter's suggestion vanquished, — "ye shall be as God," — the restlessness of man's will at an end; sabbatic rest and peace have come where and as far as this is realized. Israel here strikes the key-note of the world's praise.

The full salvation of the people is involved in this. The same hand that humbled will now exalt, and "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." The full truth of the past condition is owned: the nation is quickened and brought up from the depths of the earth — from its living tomb. Nor is this enough for the plenteous grace of God: "Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side."

6. The triumph is now celebrated. It is God's victory, as we have seen. If it were not that, the whole tone and character of what is here would be lowered immeasurably. Israel has been, however she may have failed in real subjection to God, His witness upon the earth. And if men also have failed in discerning this, Satan, the great adversary, has no less used them according to his knowledge, in his opposition to God's purpose in them. This strife has gone on through a large part of human history. Now, thank God, the adversaries are overthrown. The rejoicing is not a mere personal or national one, but in the removal of that which has hindered man's blessing and the glory of God: and these two things are inseparably joined together. Hence the triumph may well be celebrated.

The truth — or faithfulness — of God is the first note of the song; with that accompaniment of stringed instruments, the meaning of which we have in some measure learned. We ought to know, and yet do not, what is the difference between psaltery and harp in this way. If they had been treated as more than curious questions of technical knowledge or antiquarian research, we should no doubt have known. But sheer unbelief has prevailed with us to make the word of God as dull and barren as it first of all concluded it to be; and we have had our reward.

Then, as connected with this truth of God, the soul that God has set free sings aloud to God of this deliverance. Nature, the nations of the earth, as well as Israel, have all their part in this; and if it is not mentioned, it should not need to be. Every reader of Scripture ought to know what is connected with Israel's redemption — in the strong language of an apostle, the apostle of the Gentiles, "if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but LIFE FROM THE DEAD?" (Rom. 11:15).

For this the ban upon evil must be carried out, and "true and righteous" are the judgments of the Almighty. No weak woman's wail must mingle with this triumph. Nay, "my tongue shall talk of Thy righteousness all the day long: for they are put to shame, for they are confounded, that sought my hurt."

Psalm 72.

Salvation for the Earth.

For Solomon.

The last psalm of the salvation-book of the Psalms shows the full extent of the salvation in its earthly aspect, in the Melchizedek reign of Christ, King of righteousness and peace; peace being the effect of righteousness, and thus abiding. And this is a true picture of what is come, although there are things which the New Testament adds to it, which are not seen here, nor in the Old Testament at all. For the Old Testament does not reveal the full and final, eternal condition of things, even for the earth, as the New Testament reveals it, save in that brief intimation of "new heavens and a new earth," with which Isaiah closes. Types and dark sayings, of course, there are, but no plain speech otherwise. For the Old Testament the kingdom of Christ ends all; which is true in a most important sense, but incomplete: for we have not the millennial limitation, the uprise of evil at the end, the judgment of the dead, and the change of the kingdom of the Son of man into the kingdom of the Father, when, having brought all things into the full final condition of blessing, the Son gives up that preparatory millennial rule into the Father's hand. All this could scarcely be revealed till Christ had come; and it is the manner of revelation to increase in fullness to the end. Yet, as Christ, after all, does reign for ever and ever, — the eternal throne being still "the throne of God and the Lamb," the kingdom to which the Old Testament looks on is, after all, eternal; and its view is simply (and necessarily) incomplete, not (of course) wrong. Yet this merging of the millennial in the eternal is that which no doubt has confused the minds of some who think they see more clearly, and have lately come to believe in two successive kingdoms of Christ as man: the millennial being merely introductory (as the Davidic) to the true Solomon reign of uninterrupted peace and much longer duration which yet precedes the eternal blessedness. But the twentieth of Revelation certainly finds no place for such a reign in the brief interval between the millennium and the judgment of the great white throne; while we are told that "when all enemies shall be subdued under Him," — and the last enemy to be subdued is death, — "then shall the Son also Himself be subject to Him that put all things under Him" (1 Cor. 15:28): thus excluding this reign of glory from the other side of it. However, let us take up the psalm.

1. The first section shows the principle of the kingdom, — peace as the effect of righteousness. This is what the apostle speaks of in relation to the antitypical Melchizedek, and which he draws from the language of the history in a way so deeply instructive for the interpretation of Scripture, and so declaring the divine perfection which is found throughout this. "For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, … first being by interpretation 'king of righteousness,' and after that, king of Salem; that is, 'king of peace.'" Melchizedek being as the translation of his own name "king of righteousness," similarly this must come before his official title, "king of Salem," which being similarly translated means "king of peace." The meaning and order of these two Hebrew names are made in this way to define for us the principle that "righteousness" must go before "peace." This is only what Scripture elsewhere declares (in plain words) of that glorious time "when the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever" (Isa. 32:17). But the apostle thinks evidently that there is no need of confirmation of what these two names declare. What an insight into the breadth of Scripture, and what a revelation of its glory, he gives us by this method of proof!

This first section of our psalm, as we shall see, declares the same thing. First of all, in a prayer, the psalmist asks: "O God, give the king Thy judgments; and Thy righteousness unto the king's Son." Christ is both, as we know. Son of David, He takes the throne of David legally as that. But He is King also in a far higher way, and as such, divine righteousness belongs to Him by nature. No merely human hands can be trusted to hold in perfect equipoise this sceptre: and yet they are truly human hands: His of whom as Man, after a life of thirty years in this world, God could give testimony, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Now we have His careful discrimination in judgment, the first line speaking of strict equity; the second, bringing in (as lexicographers tell us), or at least allowing in it, the element of mercy also: "Thine afflicted, with judgment."

Then the effect is found: "The mountains," types of firmly established power, "shall bring peace to the people; and the hills" (the smaller magistracies), "by righteousness." The perfect equity of the Head reflects itself in all that are His representatives.

And while no persons are favored in the judgment, the "afflicted" are tenderly considered, and "the children of the needy" cared for; while He breaks in pieces the oppressor.

2. Such is the character, then, of this government, so unique as it is among the sons of men. We now are called to see the kingdom in progress. Years do not change it: "They shall fear Thee as long as the sun, and while the moon endureth, — for all generations." Those glowing orbs of heaven are indeed the typical representatives of such power as this, the underived and the reflected; lights that have never erred from their appointed place since the day they were commissioned to "give light upon the earth." But no figures suffice to show Him forth aright; the next verse speaks of tender and reviving ministry: "He shall come down like rain on the mown grass" — the field that needs replacement of that which has been removed: "as showers that water the earth." There is no sweeter figure of spiritual influence than this which is the Spirit's own type. And the Spirit indeed it is, who works in unity with this glorious King; so that again we have righteousness and peace, though after a different manner, connected together: "In His days shall the righteous flourish, and there shall be abundance of peace till the moon be no more."

All this is as simple as it is blessed to contemplate: this is the progress of the kingdom in time; now we are to see its progress in extent; and here we naturally begin from the centre — from the land itself. The fourth verse of this section plainly defines the limits of the land itself, of Israel's land. "From sea to sea" is not the way in which dominion over the whole earth would be defined; nor again "from the River to the ends of the earth." The River, without any other definition, naturally means the Euphrates; and this was Israel's limit in one direction, according to the promise given to Abraham (Gen. 15:18). From this point, the "ends of the land" — for so we should evidently understand it — reach to Egypt in the one direction, and to where the land ends, in the opposite direction eastward from this. And there is in this direction, and southward from it, everywhere a coast-line which is its "end." If the number of the verse (4), as that of earthly universality, seems to speak rather of world-wide dominion, all the terms of the description are against this. Must we not take it, then, as what there is little difficulty in applying it to, the whole land?

This, let us remember, is what Israel never yet has got — the land according to the promise to Abraham, — supplemented and explained by many an after-assurance. "From sea to sea," cannot be here from the Mediterranean to the Salt Sea, which would not be in any case a definition save for the very southernmost portion of her narrow possessions, — a straitness to which she limited herself, through unbelief. This could not be the extent of what is spoken of to them as "a good land and a large." The land of the Sidonians, which was promised to them, they never did possess, nor Mount Lebanon, which was a part of it. Edom. Moab, Ammon, Philistia, are all to belong to them, and never did. Though David's empire reached at one point to the Euphrates, it was only over tributary kings, and that land never was Israel's possession. And finally, if we are to interpret (and how can we avoid it?) "all the land of the Hittites," by what we are beginning to realize of what their land was, how far northward in that direction must we carry their boundary-line? (Comp. Gen. 15:18-21; Ex. 23:31; Joshua 1:2-4; Ezek. 47:13 — 48.)

It is not for us here to attempt a solution of the many difficulties which beset this subject, and which (if the Lord permit us to take up the book of Ezekiel) we must do there; but it ought to be evident already that as a definition of the land "from sea to sea" can be no less than from the Mediterranean to the Persian gulf. It is meant to be, and is, a wide dominion; from the Euphrates to the Nile and the Red Sea giving other limits.

But this land, as we find it today, contains many different people, and wide desert tracts. Notice, therefore, in connection with this, the perfect naturalness of the next verse, which speaks of the competency of the King to take possession of this wide and varied tract: "The dwellers in the deserts (or parched lands) shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust" how well does this account for the special mention of such as these in connection with the progress of a victorious King, when one would expect rather to find mention of strong peoples, — foes that it would need special might to subdue! A glance at the map will show its appropriateness, and this "desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose" (Isa. 35:1).

Naturally, now, we are told of "conquests" (as the number would show) in foreign lands. "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts." Tarshish and the isles lie west from Palestine; Sheba and Seba south-east. The "isles," at least, speak of Japhet; Sheba may be Joktanite — Shemitic; Seba, Cushite — Hamitic: all the families of the earth seem thus to be represented in the homage rendered here. The conquests may be entirely peaceful ones. Nothing else is suggested. The names have no certain meaning. The people represent apparently the commerce of the world, which now, for the first time in its history, owns Christ. Its gain is consecrated unto the Lord of the whole earth.

But the tide of homage swells: "all kings bow down before Him: all nations serve Him." The universal empire is at last complete. The cross is really at last the symbol of power and imperial sway, under which the earth reposes, quiet in sabbatic rest.

3. Again, before the book closes. we are called to look at the blessing of a rule which is service, — a glory unflecked with stain or shadow, — a David who is free to show the "kindness of God" to the maimed and ruined children of shame wherever they may be found. "For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth, and the afflicted, and him that has no helper." That is what the sign of the cross denotes, and by this we know the Lord. None that has owed salvation to Him but must know that there was no help possible for him beside, and that it could be found in no other. And "He shall have compassion on the impoverished and needy, and shall save the souls of needy men." Faithful, compassionate, He is thus the sanctuary refuge from the evil of the world, "deceit," the sin of the weak, and "violence" of the strong: and as the refuge-cities of Israel declared of old, "precious shall their blood be in His sight."

Such is He, and such was He in all essential reality, when He was among men, and in their hands, to do with Him as they would. Such was He whom they crucified: and now, though He be Lord of all, how do their hearts respond to this glory of His? How, but as is appreciated the need which He is always meeting, — the grace, therefore, which has come in to meet it. And this is what the fifteenth verse (the fourth of this section) gives, as I believe; although, as so frequently in the case of Old Testament evangel, there is a certain mystery about it, which the loose grammatical structure of Hebrew favors, and with which the character of the psalm as prophecy, and especially as typical prophecy, harmonizes; by which we must not be thrown back, but only made to look more closely at what is before us.

It seems impossible that the whole of the verse can be applied to the Lord. Whether we translate, "he shall live," (with the common version,) or "let him live," as many others, it seems trivial,* and out of keeping with the context, if so applied. On the other hand, the connection with the verse before is too obvious to have escaped notice, even where the full meaning has not been grasped. The revised version gives even "they shall live," which is the meaning, although in a verse like the present, too interpretative, perhaps, to be adopted, especially as it makes a similarly interpretative rendering necessary in the remainder of the verse.** But the "he" is merely a specific example of the delivered ones just spoken of whose blood was precious in the sight of the King.

{*With Cheyne, for instance, it is hardly to be doubted as merely the court phrase, "Let the king live!"

**As in the case of the Revised: "They shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: and men shall pray for him continually; they shall bless him all the day long." Yet in the first and last instance "he" is given as an alternative in the margin.}

But if this be what we start with, to whom shall he give of the gold of Sheba (as the Hebrew literally), and who is this "he?" If it be the delivered one who gives to the King, this (remembering Who the King is) is surely feeble enough, though the expression of thankfulness; and if it he indefinite, there is the loss of connection with what precedes altogether. The receiver of the gift would then be the delivered man; and this is not unsuited to our King of kings. Nay, we have heard of Him in the end psalm of the previous series, as One who has "led captivity captive, and received gifts for men," and understand it to be His manner to enrich those whom He delivers; and the "gold of Sheba" will be still better fitted to express this, if it mean, as seems to be the fact, "the gold of the 'Captor.'"* Typically we take "gold" to be the revelation of divine glory; and this is just the Captor's gold, with which He enriches those whom He sets free. The spiritual application therefore furnishes a consistent and worthy sense all through. Does any other?

{* Sheba in Hebrew, would be undoubtedly akin to the words used in Ps. 68:18: shabhitha shebhi, "thou hast led captive captivity."}

But we have still the second part of the verse to interpret and account for: and here the general consent of commentators seems to apply both clauses to the King. It is the King then that is prayed for, and the King that is blessed. In application to a merely human king, also, this would be simple enough, and by such as fully hold the Messianic one it is urged that "'prayer shall be made continually for him' shows simply that the blessings enjoyed through Him raise the desire and request for His glory and continuance in power." But both this interpretation and the request, even so interpreted, seem to me unnatural. If men know who the King is, — and this, surely, cannot be unknown, — how can they doubt the continuance of it? how can they imagine that the kingdom of God, once come, will pass, save as dawn, perhaps, into full day?

I have no other alternative, therefore, but to believe that we have here expressed the priestly office of the true Melchizedek. Would it not be strange if this were altogether omitted? And if we have had at the beginning of the psalm, and variously through it, the plain reference to this character of royalty, is it not even to be expected that we should have somewhere in it the intercessory work of the "priest of the most high God"?

The same objections do not apply to the common understanding of the last clause of the verse. Consistent rendering throughout would seem to make this also the blessing of the needy one; and thus it would be the answer to the prevailing intercession of the Royal Priest on his behalf. The whole verse would thus be uniform, and any apparent inconsistency be taken away.

Such then being the glorious Mediator who stands for man Godward as for God manward, it is no marvel to find the divine government in response, with marvelous fertility of the ground, and men filling the cities with corresponding increase. The fields of corn shall rustle like the forests of Lebanon. Who can picture the blessing when the earth shows to the full the powers that now lie almost dormant in it?

Thus the King's Name which guarantees all this blessing, shall endure for ever: His name shall continue like the life-giving Sun, His image; and men shall bless themselves in Him; as being the highest possible thought of blessing. All nations shall call Him blessed.

Thereupon follows that outburst of praise with which the second book ends: every line of truth having its natural end and outcome in this joy in God and worship. The Eternal God, the God of Israel, is He who alone doeth wonders. May the whole earth be filled with His glory! In this, as an eighth verse, there is perhaps an intimation of the overflow of this blessedness beyond the bounds of time and into the true eternity which, as we have seen, the Old Testament can hardly be said to enter. The double Amen is here appended to the prayer in testimony of the steadfast longing of the heart for it. The Lord takes it up as His "verily, verily," to make it the token of the steadfastness of the blessed truths with which He connects it, the assurance and rest of the heart which enters into them.

Does not this show us also the character of that final word which has been surely so much misunderstood by the great body of critics, who have shown in the way they have taken it up, how much they are critics of manuscripts — biblio-technics, if I may coin the word for them, — rather than judges of the spirit which pervades Scripture. What simpler way of reading the end of David's prayers than by comparison with the "last words," as we find them in the history? He even calls himself, there as here, "David the son of Jesse," and there also the "sweet psalmist of Israel." And of what are his last words full! Of
"A righteous Ruler over men;
A Ruler in the fear of God;"

and then in some of the images which this very psalm suggests, —
"Even as the morning-light when the sun ariseth,
A morning without clouds:
From the brightness after rain
The herb springeth from the earth."

Nor did he speak with any thought of his mere human house; for he tells us directly that that house was not so with God." Yet he speaks of "an eternal covenant" as to the future, "ordered in all, and sure;" and he adds: "for this is all my salvation and all of delight, though" — as yet in that sorrowful house that he had had, "He maketh it not to grow."

All David's heart then was wrapped up in that glorious prospect: the very same that he has shown us here! What wonder, then, that when he has poured his heart out in the contemplation of this glorious scene, he should express himself in this thankful ejaculation: "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended"! What more simple, heart-felt, and natural?

These are not, we may be sure, the words of a collector who thought he had got together in these first two books of the Psalms all that David had written, and was mistaken. This is but their mistake who have not learned that "the foolishness of God is wiser than man," and that "the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain."